Israel’s Bloody Destruction Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Wissam al-Loulou and Muna Awad with the sheet that was wrapped around their unconscious daughter on her journey home. Khaled Azaiza

Opinion The Israeli Clerks With the Blood of Children on Their Hands

The people at COGAT (the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories) are childless. So are the members of the Shin Bet security service. Parents could never do what they do to the children of Gaza and their parents. There is blood on the hands of the COGAT people, blood on the hands of the Shin Bet people, the blood of little children, the vengeance for which the poet has already written.

They don’t shoot children and they don’t execute them. But what they do, which sometime leads to their death and always causes them agony, will never be forgiven. How can you sleep at night, dear COGAT and Shin Bet people? Do you sometimes think about what you are doing to the sick children in Gaza? Do imagine what would happen if anyone did this to your little ones? Have you ever told them about your work? I’ll tell them.

You caused a 5-year-old girl from Gaza to die alone, without her parents, with no relative or anyone she knew by her side in her final days. Aisha al-Loulou, who had a brain tumor, was sent from Gaza to a hospital in East Jerusalem, accompanied by a stranger, for complicated surgery and chemotherapy not available in Gaza under closure, and no one in her family, including her aged grandmother, could be with her. The bureaucracy of the occupation prevented it. The girl was sent, lonely and frightened, to death’s door and was returned in a coma, wrapped in a sheet, until her death. The doctors who treated her said that the fact that she was alone contributed to her decline.

But not even that was enough for the clerks of the occupation. Instead of expressing remorse, the small, mean mind, the COGAT spokesman’s office, published a statement no less evil than the events that preceded the statement, which boasted that it had allowed the girl to leave Gaza, in its mercy and compassion, and denied any responsibility with a claim that could be no baser or more despicable: “The parents signed a declaration that they do not want to leave Gaza with the girl.”

The sin of hardheartedness is thus compounded by the crime of a blood libel. The parents did not want to leave Gaza with their daughter. That’s what parents in Gaza are like. They don’t love their children and they don’t want to be with them when they are dying. Wissam and Muna, who ran panicked from one doctor to another in Gaza, who were driven crazy by the thought that they were sending their daughter to an operation in a hostile country alone “did not want to leave.”

And the usual sweet talk: “As a policy, the Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration demands that parents accompany minors, out of the understanding that a child needs his parents at such moments.” Janusz Korczak has been resurrected at the Kirya military center in Tel Aviv.

And now, for the facts. Aisha’s parents did everything parents locked in a cage could do to save the life of their daughter and leave with her to the hospital in East Jerusalem, which, by the way, is also under occupation. The Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs, which deals with exit requests, have criteria that the Israelis dictate for filing such requests. There, the father was told that because of his young age, his background check would take three weeks. As for the mother – she is not registered in the Israeli population records and so she had no chance from the outset. The requests of the elderly grandmother, the aunts and an uncle were also rejected. The parents could do nothing but sign the document they were dictated, so that their daughter could get to the surgery, even accompanied by a stranger.

Physicians for Human Rights is currently dealing with four other cases in which COGAT and the Shin Bet are not allowing parents to accompany sick children. A., the mother of a six-year-old boy, has been waiting for two months for permission to go with him for treatment in Jordan. A four-year-old girl, A., has been waiting for almost a year for a permit for her grandmother to accompany her for surgery in East Jerusalem. The grandmother is banned from leaving for security reasons. A terrorist. Another toddler, three-year-old R., who swallowed acid, is waiting for an operation in Nablus and has already missed her appointment. D., the mother of a four-year-old suffering from leukemia, who has been undergoing chemotherapy in Nablus without his parents for 43 days now, has once again been turned down.

Their blood cries out.

The Nefarious Leaders of Babylon the Great

Trump, Obama and Congress will all be to blame for what happens with Iran

An F/A-18F Super Hornet flies over the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea on Wednesday. (Handout/Reuters)

Difficulties with Iran will recur regularly, like the oscillations of a sine wave, and the recent crisis — if such it was, or is — illustrates persistent U.S. intellectual and institutional failures, starting with this: The Trump administration’s assumption, and that of many in Congress, is that if the president wants to wage war against a nation almost the size of Mexico (and almost four times larger than Iraq) and with 83 million people (more than double that of Iraq), there is no constitutional hindrance to him acting unilaterally.

In April, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was pressed during a Senate hearing to pledge that the administration would not regard the 2001 authorization for the use of military force against al-Qaeda and other nonstate actors responsible for 9/11 as authorization, 18 years later, for war against Iran. Pompeo laconically said he would “prefer to just leave that to lawyers.” Many conservatives who preen as “originalists” when construing all the Constitution’s provisions other than the one pertaining to war powers are unimpressed by the framers’ intention that Congress should be involved in initiating military force in situations other than repelling sudden attacks.

The Economist, which is measured in its judgments and sympathetic to the United States, tartly referred to the supposed evidence of Iran’s intentions to attack U.S. forces, allies or “interests” as “suspiciously unspecific.” Such skepticism, foreign and domestic, reflects 16-year-old memories of certitudes about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction: Remember Secretary of State Colin Powell spending days at the CIA receiving assurances about the evidence. There also are concerns about the impetuosity of a commander in chief who vows that military conflict would mean “the official end” of Iran, whatever that means.

U.S. policy makes easing economic sanctions against Iran contingent on Iran doing 12 things, most of which (e.g., halting development of ballistic missiles, withdrawing from Syria, ending support for allied groups) it almost certainly will not do. This U.S. policy is congruent with U.S. disregard of this truth: Any nation, however prostrate, poor or ramshackle, that ardently wants nuclear weapons can acquire them. Just four years after Hiroshima, the Soviet Union, which had been laid to waste by World War II, became a nuclear power. China was an impoverished peasant society in 1964 when it detonated a nuclear weapon. Pakistan’s per capita income was $470 in 1998 when it joined the nuclear club. In the more than a decade since North Korea acquired nuclear weapons, U.S. policy has pronounced this “unacceptable.” But U.S. behavior has been to accept it while unfurling the tattered flag of arms control — hoping to talk North Korea into giving up what it has devoted three decades to develop.

Fifteen years ago, Condoleezza Rice, then President George W. Bush’s national security adviser, said that an abstraction (the “international community”) would not “allow the Iranians to develop a nuclear weapon.” Allow? In 2012, President Barack Obama said: “Iran’s leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment. I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” If — probably when — that policy fails, we shall have a policy of containment, or a major war.

Trump’s national security apparatus might include a plucky cohort of regime changers who, undaunted by 18 discouraging years (Afghanistan, Iraq), cling to the fatal conceit that U.S. policies, such as sanctions, can manipulate the internal dynamics of societies such as Iran’s. In any case, today’s president is, in one respect, like his predecessor: Obama denied that hundreds of U.S. airstrikes that killed hundreds in Libya and helped to destroy a regime constituted involvement in “hostilities.”

Trump recently vetoed a congressional resolution that would have terminated U.S. involvement with Saudi Arabia and its allies in the war in Yemen, by the terms of the 1973 War Powers Resolution. It forbids the “introduction” of U.S. forces into “hostilities” for more than 90 days without congressional authorization. It defines “introduction” to include the assignment of U.S. military “to command, coordinate, participate in the movement of, or accompany the . . . military forces of any foreign country or government when such military forces are engaged . . . in hostilities.”

The U.S. military is providing intelligence, logistical support and, for a time, occasional in-flight refueling of Saudi bombers. This certainly constitutes involvement in the commanding, coordinating and movement of military forces. This is similarly certain: Whatever the United States does to Iran militarily will be decided unilaterally by this president. But his predecessor, and today’s Congress and previous Congresses, will be implicated in the absence of restraint by laws or norms.

Followers of the Antichrist Hold Anti-war Protests

Followers of Iraqi cleric hold anti-war protests as Iran-US tensions grow

Followers of Muqtada a-Sadr gather in Baghad’s Tahrir Square, May 24, 2019. (Photo: Social Media)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) ­– Followers of influential Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Friday launched a series of anti-war demonstrations in the capital of Baghdad and other cities to the south as tensions escalated between the US and Iraq’s eastern neighbor, Iran.

Crowds chanted, “Yes to peace… No to war!” in central Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, a popular site of Friday demonstrations. Local sources told Kurdistan 24 that security forces were deployed to the area, as is normal when protests are being held.

The demonstration comes amid concerns that Iraq could be plunged into a possible proxy conflict between arch-foes US and Iran after a notorious Iranian military commander recently called on Tehran-backed Iraqi militias to prepare for war.

Citing two intelligence sources, The Guardian reported last week that the head of the Quds force of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Qasim Soleimani, had earlier met with Iraqi militia leaders and told them to “prepare for a proxy war.” The US designated the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization in early April.

Sadr, A long-time critic of foreign powers’ intervention into Iraq’s internal affairs, has already stated his opposition to actions that could lead to conflict. “I am not for fueling war between Iran and America,” he said in a Twitter statement.

At a sit-in held in the city of Najaf the week before, security forces killed at least four people and injured 17 others, according to initial reporting. Those taking part were protesting corruption that has squandered the country’s resources and left the public enraged.

The protest, like Friday’s, began at the behest of Sadr, whose coalition was the winner of last year’s parliamentary elections. He had called on his supporters to surround “corrupt” business centers and “disrupt their affairs” for three days.

After the sit-in turned to violence, with fires and gunshots erupting near a local mall, Sadr quickly walked back his statement and urged his followers not to engage in violent behavior.

Beginning in the summer months of 2018, residents in the southern province of Basra staged dozens of protests that spread across much of Iraq in which they demanded improved public services, clean water, regular electricity supply, employment, and an end to widespread corruption in Iraqi government institutions.

Editing by John J. Catherine

Trump Sends More Troops Towards Iran

President Donald Trump at the White House on May 16, 2019. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

More Troops Will Be Sent to the Middle East, Says Trump

May 24, 2019 Updated: May 24, 2019

“We’re going to be sending a relatively small number of troops,” the president told reporters outside the White House on May 24, Fox News reported. “Mostly protective. Some very talented people are going to the Middle East right now. And we’ll see what happens.”

The plan is designed to bolster the security of American and allied forces in the region. It’s also designed to deter Iran from launching any attacks.

Members of the Iranian revolutionary guard march during a parade to commemorate the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war, in Tehran
Members of the Iranian revolutionary guard march during a parade to commemorate the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), in Tehran . (Reuters/Stringer)

Officials told Fox that submarines and destroyers sent to the region will be loaded with Tomahawk cruise missiles.

No U.S. Army brigade combat teams are to deploy. However, those officials said they are to deploy more Patriot missile batteries, another warship or submarine, and more surveillance aircraft.

Air Force fighter jets might also be deployed in the area, said officials.

The U.S. Navy guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey fires a Tomahawk land attack missile April 14, 2018. (U.S. Navy/Lt. j.g Matthew Daniels/Handout via REUTERS.)

Some news outlets, including The Associated Press, reported that 1,500 troops would be deployed while Fox reported that 2,000 would be sent.

The forces would number about 1,500 and would deploy in the coming weeks, “with their primary responsibilities and activities being defensive in nature,” AP reported, citing a government notification.

The AP report noted that there are still about 5,200 U.S. troops in Iraq and 2,000 in Syria.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a briefing on Iran at the State Department in Washington
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a briefing on Iran at the State Department in Washington on April 8, 2019. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan on May 23 rejected reports that between 5,000 and 10,000 troops would be sent to the Middle East, saying it was “not accurate,” Fox reported.

“Our biggest focus at this point is to prevent Iranian miscalculation,” Shanahan told reporters earlier in the week about a troop surge. “We do not want the situation to escalate.”

“Our efforts and our ultimate objective over the past days has been to deter Iran,” added Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

An Iranian military speedboat patrols the waters as a tanker prepares to dock at the oil facility in Iran’s Kharg Island, on the shore of the Persian Gulf, on March 12, 2017. (ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

Earlier this month, the U.S. sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region to counter Iran.

Meanwhile, the officials stressed that the troop increase was about preventing any attacks.

“Our job is deterrence. This is not about war,”Shanahan told reporters, according to Bloomberg.  “We have a mission there in the Middle East: freedom of navigation, you know, counterterrorism in Syria and Iraq, you know, defeating al-Qaeda in Yemen, and then the security of Israel and Jordan.”

FILE PHOTO: A U.S. Air Force B-52 flies over Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek
A U.S. Air Force B-52 (R) flies over Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, January 10, 2016. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo)

But this week, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, publicly criticized the country’s foreign minister and president, saying he disagreed with how the country implemented the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

“To some extent, I did not believe in the way that the nuclear deal was implemented,” Khamenei said, Al Jazeera reported. “Many times I reminded both the president and the foreign minister.”

This WILL Be Where the Very First Total Nuclear War Starts (Rev 8)

This Might Be Where the Very First Total Nuclear War Starts

And where billions of people die.

by War Is Boring

Undoubtedly, for nearly two decades the most dangerous place on Earth has been the Indian-Pakistani border in Kashmir. It’s possible that a small spark from artillery and rocket exchanges across that border might — given the known military doctrines of the two nuclear-armed neighbors — lead inexorably to an all-out nuclear conflagration. In that case the result would be catastrophic. Besides causing the deaths of millions of Indians and Pakistanis, such a war might bring on “nuclear winter” on a planetary scale, leading to levels of suffering and death that would be beyond our comprehension.

Alarmingly, the nuclear competition between India and Pakistan has now entered a spine-chilling phase. That danger stems from Islamabad’s decision to deploy low-yield tactical nuclear arms at its forward operating military bases along its entire frontier with India to deter possible aggression by tank-led invading forces. Most ominously, the decision to fire such a nuclear-armed missile with a range of 35 to 60 miles is to rest with local commanders. This is a perilous departure from the universal practice of investing such authority in the highest official of the nation. Such a situation has no parallel in the Washington-Moscow nuclear arms race of the Cold War era.

When it comes to Pakistan’s strategic nuclear weapons, their parts are stored in different locations to be assembled only upon an order from the country’s leader. By contrast, tactical nukes are pre-assembled at a nuclear facility and shipped to a forward base for instant use. In addition to the perils inherent in this policy, such weapons would be vulnerable to misuse by a rogue base commander or theft by one of the many militant groups in the country.

In the nuclear standoff between the two neighbors, the stakes are constantly rising as Aizaz Chaudhry, the highest bureaucrat in Pakistan’s foreign ministry, recently made clear. The deployment of tactical nukes, he explained, was meant to act as a form of “deterrence,” given India’s “Cold Start” military doctrine — a reputed contingency plan aimed at punishing Pakistan in a major way for any unacceptable provocations like a mass-casualty terrorist strike against India.

New Delhi refuses to acknowledge the existence of Cold Start. Its denials are hollow. As early as 2004, it was discussing this doctrine, which involved the formation of eight division-size Integrated Battle Groups. These were to consist of infantry, artillery, armor and air support, and each would be able to operate independently on the battlefield. In the case of major terrorist attacks by any Pakistan-based group, these IBGs would evidently respond by rapidly penetrating Pakistani territory at unexpected points along the border and advancing no more than 30 miles inland, disrupting military command and control networks while endeavoring to stay away from locations likely to trigger nuclear retaliation.

In other words, India has long been planning to respond to major terror attacks with a swift and devastating conventional military action that would inflict only limited damage and so — in a best-case scenario — deny Pakistan justification for a nuclear response.

Islamabad, in turn, has been planning ways to deter the Indians from implementing a Cold-Start-style blitzkrieg on its territory. After much internal debate, its top officials opted for tactical nukes. In 2011, the Pakistanis tested one successfully. Since then, according to Rajesh Rajagopalan, the New Delhi-based co-author of Nuclear South Asia: Keywords and Concepts, Pakistan seems to have been assembling four to five of these annually.

All of this has been happening in the context of populations that view each other unfavorably. A typical survey in this period by the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of Pakistanis had an unfavorable view of India, with 57 percent considering it as a serious threat, while on the other side 59 percent of Indians saw Pakistan in an unfavorable light.

This is the background against which Indian leaders have said that a tactical nuclear attack on their forces, even on Pakistani territory, would be treated as a full-scale nuclear attack on India, and that they reserved the right to respond accordingly. Since India does not have tactical nukes, it could only retaliate with far more devastating strategic nuclear arms, possibly targeting Pakistani cities.

According to a 2002 estimate by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, a worst-case scenario in an Indo-Pakistani nuclear war could result in eight to 12 million fatalities initially, followed by many millions later from radiation poisoning. More recent studies have shown that up to a billion people worldwide might be put in danger of famine and starvation by the smoke and soot thrown into the troposphere in a major nuclear exchange in South Asia. The resulting “nuclear winter” and ensuing crop loss would functionally add up to a slowly developing global nuclear holocaust.

Last November, to reduce the chances of such a catastrophic exchange happening, senior Obama administration officials met in Washington with Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif — the final arbiter of that country’s national security policies — and urged him to stop the production of tactical nuclear arms. In return, they offered a pledge to end Islamabad’s pariah status in the nuclear field by supporting its entry into the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group to which India already belongs. Although no formal communiqué was issued after Sharif’s trip, it became widely known that he had rejected the offer.

This failure was implicit in the testimony that DIA Director Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart gave to the Armed Services Committee this February. “Pakistan’s nuclear weapons continue to grow,” he said. “We are concerned that this growth, as well as the evolving doctrine associated with tactical [nuclear] weapons, increases the risk of an incident or accident.”

Strategic nuclear warheads

Since that DIA estimate of human fatalities in a South Asian nuclear war, the strategic nuclear arsenals of India and Pakistan have continued to grow. In January 2016, according to a U.S. congressional report, Pakistan’s arsenal probably consisted of 110 to 130 nuclear warheads. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India has 90 to 110 of these.

China, the other regional actor, has approximately 260 warheads.

As the 1990s ended, with both India and Pakistan testing their new weaponry, their governments made public their nuclear doctrines. The National Security Advisory Board on Indian Nuclear Doctrine, for example, stated in August 1999 that “India will not be the first to initiate a nuclear strike, but will respond with punitive retaliation should deterrence fail.”

India’s foreign minister explained at the time that the “minimum credible deterrence” mentioned in the doctrine was a question of “adequacy,” not numbers of warheads. In subsequent years, however, that yardstick of “minimum credible deterrence” has been regularly recalibrated as India’s policymakers went on to commit themselves to upgrade the country’s nuclear arms program with a new generation of more powerful hydrogen bombs designed to be city-busters.

In Pakistan in February 2000, President General Pervez Musharraf, who was also the army chief, established the Strategic Plan Division in the National Command Authority, appointing Lt. Gen. Khalid Kidwai as its director general. In October 2001, Kidwai offered an outline of the country’s updated nuclear doctrine in relation to its far more militarily and economically powerful neighbor, saying, “It is well known that Pakistan does not have a ‘no-first-use policy.’”

He then laid out the “thresholds” for the use of nukes. The country’s nuclear weapons, he pointed out, were aimed solely at India and would be available for use not just in response to a nuclear attack from that country, but should it conquer a large part of Pakistan’s territory (the space threshold), or destroy a significant part of its land or air forces (the military threshold), or start to strangle Pakistan economically (the economic threshold), or politically destabilize the country through large-scale internal subversion (the domestic destabilization threshold).

Of these, the space threshold was the most likely trigger. New Delhi as well as Washington speculated as to where the red line for this threshold might lie, though there was no unanimity among defense experts. Many surmised that it would be the impending loss of Lahore, the capital of Punjab, only 15 miles from the Indian border. Others put the red line at Pakistan’s sprawling Indus River basin.

Within seven months of this debate, Indian-Pakistani tensions escalated steeply in the wake of an attack on an Indian military base in Kashmir by Pakistani terrorists in May 2002. At that time, Musharraf reiterated that he would not renounce his country’s right to use nuclear weapons first. The prospect of New Delhi being hit by an atom bomb became so plausible that U.S. Ambassador Robert Blackwill investigated building a hardened bunker in the embassy compound to survive a nuclear strike. Only when he and his staff realized that those in the bunker would be killed by the aftereffects of the nuclear blast did they abandon the idea.

Unsurprisingly, the leaders of the two countries found themselves staring into the nuclear abyss because of a violent act in Kashmir, a disputed territory which had led to three conventional wars between the South Asian neighbors since 1947, the founding year of an independent India and Pakistan. As a result of the first of these in 1947 and 1948, India acquired about half of Kashmir, with Pakistan getting a third and the rest occupied later by China.

Kashmir, the root cause of enduring enmity

The Kashmir dispute dates back to the time when the British-ruled Indian subcontinent was divided into Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan, and indirectly ruled princely states were given the option of joining either one. In October 1947, the Hindu maharaja of Muslim-majority Kashmir signed an “instrument of accession” with India after Muslim tribal raiders from Pakistan invaded his realm.

The speedy arrival of Indian troops deprived the invaders of the capital city, Srinagar. Later, they battled regular Pakistani troops until a United Nations-brokered ceasefire on Jan. 1, 1949. The accession document required that Kashmiris be given an opportunity to choose between India and Pakistan once peace was restored. This has not happened yet, and there is no credible prospect of it taking place.

Fearing a defeat in such a plebiscite, given the pro-Pakistani sentiments prevalent among the territory’s majority Muslims, India found several ways of blocking U.N. attempts to hold one. New Delhi then conferred a special status on the part of Kashmir it controlled and held elections for its legislature, while Pakistan watched with trepidation.

In September 1965, when its verbal protests proved futile, Pakistan attempted to change the status quo through military force. It launched a war that once again ended in stalemate and another U.N.-sponsored truce, which required the warring parties to return to the 1949 ceasefire line.

A third armed conflict between the two neighbors followed in December 1971, resulting in Pakistan’s loss of its eastern wing, which became an independent Bangladesh. Soon after, Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi tried to convince Pakistani president Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to agree to transform the 460-mile-long ceasefire line in Kashmir (renamed the “Line of Control”) into an international border. Unwilling to give up his country’s demand for a plebiscite in all of pre-1947 Kashmir, Bhutto refused. So the stalemate continued.

During the military rule of Gen. Zia al Haq from 1977 to 1988, Pakistan initiated a policy of bleeding India with a thousand cuts by sponsoring terrorist actions both inside Indian Kashmir and elsewhere in the country. Delhi responded by bolstering its military presence in Kashmir and brutally repressing those of its inhabitants demanding a plebiscite or advocating separation from India, committing in the process large-scale human rights violations.

In order to stop infiltration by militants from Pakistani Kashmir, India built a double barrier of fencing 12-feet high with the space between planted with hundreds of land mines. Later, that barrier would be equipped as well with thermal imaging devices and motion sensors to help detect infiltrators. By the late 1990s, on one side of the Line of Control were 400,000 Indian soldiers and on the other 300,000 Pakistani troops. No wonder Pres. Bill Clinton called that border “the most dangerous place in the world.”

Today, with the addition of tactical nuclear weapons to the mix, it is far more so.

Kashmir, the toxic bone of contention

Even before Pakistan’s introduction of tactical nukes, tensions between the two neighbors were perilously high. Then suddenly, at the end of 2015, a flicker of a chance for the normalization of relations appeared. Indian prime minister Narendra Modi had a cordial meeting with his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, on the latter’s birthday, Dec. 25, in Lahore.

But that hope was dashed when, in the early hours of January 2nd, four heavily armed Pakistani terrorists managed to cross the international border in Punjab, wearing Indian army fatigues, and attacked an air force base in Pathankot. A daylong gun battle followed. By the time order was restored on Jan. 5, all the terrorists were dead, but so were seven Indian security personnel and one civilian.

The United Jihad Council, an umbrella organization of separatist militant groups in Kashmir, claimed credit for the attack. The Indian government, however, insisted that the operation had been masterminded by Masood Azhar, leader of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e Muhammad — the Army of Muhammad.

As before, Kashmir was the motivating drive for the anti-India militants. Mercifully, the attack in Pathankot turned out to be a minor event, insufficient to heighten the prospect of war, though it dissipated any goodwill generated by the Modi-Sharif meeting.

There is little doubt, however, that a repeat of the atrocity committed by Pakistani infiltrators in Mumbai in November 2008, leading to the death of 166 people and the burning of that city’s landmark Taj Mahal Hotel, could have consequences that would be dire indeed. The Indian doctrine calling for massive retaliation in response to a successful terrorist strike on that scale could mean the almost instantaneous implementation of its Cold Start strategy. That, in turn, would likely lead to Pakistan’s use of tactical nuclear weapons, thus opening up the real possibility of a full-blown nuclear holocaust with global consequences.

Beyond the long-running Kashmiri conundrum lies Pakistan’s primal fear of the much larger and more powerful India, and its loathing of India’s ambition to become the hegemonic power in South Asia. Irrespective of party labels, governments in New Delhi have pursued a muscular path on national security aimed at bolstering the country’s defense profile.

Overall, Indian leaders are resolved to prove that their country is entering what they fondly call “the age of aspiration.” When, in July 2009, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh officially launched a domestically built nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, the INS Arihant, it was hailed as a dramatic step in that direction. According to defense experts, that vessel was the first of its kind not to be built by one of the five recognized nuclear powers — the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia.

India’s two secret nuclear sites

On the nuclear front in India, there was more to come. Last December, an investigation by the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity revealed that the Indian government was investing $100 million to build a top secret nuclear city spread over 13 square miles near the village of Challakere, 160 miles north of the southern city of Mysore.

When completed, possibly as early as 2017, it will be “the subcontinent’s largest military-run complex of nuclear centrifuges, atomic-research laboratories, and weapons- and aircraft-testing facilities.” Among the project’s aims is to expand the government’s nuclear research, to produce fuel for the country’s nuclear reactors and to help power its expanding fleet of nuclear submarines. It will be protected by a ring of garrisons, making the site a virtual military facility.

Another secret project, the Indian Rare Materials Plant near Mysore, is already in operation. It is a new nuclear enrichment complex that is feeding the country’s nuclear weapons programs, while laying the foundation for an ambitious project to create an arsenal of hydrogen bombs.

The overarching aim of these projects is to give India an extra stockpile of enriched uranium fuel that could be used in such future bombs. As a military site, the project at Challakere will not be open to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency or by Washington, since India’s 2008 nuclear agreement with the U.S. excludes access to military-related facilities.

These enterprises are directed by the office of the prime minister, who is charged with overseeing all atomic energy projects. India’s Atomic Energy Act and its Official Secrets Act place everything connected to the country’s nuclear program under wraps. In the past, those who tried to obtain a fuller picture of the Indian arsenal and the facilities that feed it have been bludgeoned to silence.

Little wonder then that a senior White House official was recently quoted as saying, “Even for us, details of the Indian program are always sketchy and hard facts thin on the ground.” He added, “Mysore is being constantly monitored, and we are constantly monitoring progress in Challakere.”

However, according to Gary Samore, a former Obama administration coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction, “India intends to build thermonuclear weapons as part of its strategic deterrent against China. It is unclear, when India will realize this goal of a larger and more powerful arsenal, but they will.”

Once manufactured, there is nothing to stop India from deploying such weapons against Pakistan. “India is now developing very big bombs, hydrogen bombs that are city-busters,” said Pervez Hoodbhoy, a leading Pakistani nuclear and national security analyst. “It is not interested in … nuclear weapons for use on the battlefield; it is developing nuclear weapons for eliminating population centers.”

In other words, as the Kashmir dispute continues to fester, inducing periodic terrorist attacks on India and fueling the competition between New Delhi and Islamabad to outpace each other in the variety and size of their nuclear arsenals, the peril to South Asia in particular and the world at large only grows.

Image: Reuters

16 rioters injured outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Demonstrator hurls rocks at Israeli troops on Gaza border

Demonstrator hurls rocks at Israeli troops on Gaza border

Reuters

16 demonstrators were injured on Friday in clashes with IDF troops on the Gaza Strip border, Channel 13 News reported, citing the Hamas-run “health ministry” in Gaza.

The victims were injured by gas inhalation and by rubber bullets fired by the soldiers.

According to the report, some 4,000 Palestinian Arabs took part in the weekly riots, a lower number compared to the last few months, likely due to the heat wave in the region.

The violent weekly riots along the Gaza-Israel border, known as the “March of the Return”, have been taking place every Friday for more than a year, since March 30, 2018.

Hamas openly admitted last year that most of the Gazans who have been killed in the border riots were members of the group.

Friday’s protests took place two days after Israel announced it would reduce the fishing zone in the Gaza Strip to a range of up to 10 nautical miles until further notice.

According to the announcement, the decision was made following the firing of incendiary balloons from Gaza into Israeli territory.