Millions Will Starve Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Palestinian children pose for a picture outside a house in an impoverished area of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on May 22, 2019. (MAJDI FATHI/NUR PHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES)

The Scenario of a Million Palestinians Going Hungry in Gaza

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs,June/July 2019, pp. 20-21

Gaza on the Ground

By Mohammed Omer

THE HUMANITARIAN NEEDS OF MORE THAN 2 MILLION PEOPLE in Gaza do not seem to interest international media, let alone make headlines. Unless it is actual bloodshed, any news of Gaza, with only a few exceptions, steers clear of reporting on the daily suffering of its people.

While sparsely reported, the situation is worsening. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) announced its fears that some 1 million Palestinians in Gaza—half of the territory’s population—“may not have enough food” in June. “This warning drops more salt on our deep wounds” said 68-year-old Hajjah Fathiah Oudeh, whose family depends on the minimal amounts of rice, flour, lentils, cooking oil, and powdered milk she receives from UNRWA. “How do you explain to a child that there is no bread to fill his stomach?”

UNRWA, which is responsible for providing humanitarian relief to 5 million Palestinian refugees across the Middle East, warned that the agency must secure at least $60 million in emergency funding in the next month or a million Gazans relying on food aid will be at risk.

ABJECT POOR, ABSOLUTE POOR

The U.N. agency declared that 620,000 of the one million Gazans who are dependent on food aid are living in abject poverty. The agency defines them as “those who cannot cover their basic food needs and who have to survive” on about $1.60 per day. The remaining 390,000 are “absolute poor,” surviving on about $3.50 per day. Without food assistance from UNRWA, the agency says these Gazans “cannot get through their day.”

UNRWA, funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support, has been outpaced by the growth in population needs. From fewer than 80,000 Palestine refugees receiving UNRWA social assistance in Gaza in the year 2000, there are now more than a million people relying on emergency food assistance.

“This is a near 10-fold increase caused by the blockade that led to the closure of Gaza and its disastrous impact on the local economy; the successive conflicts that razed entire neighborhoods and public infrastructure to the ground; and the ongoing internal Palestinian political crisis that started in 2007 with the arrival of Hamas to power in Gaza,” said Matthias Schmale, director of UNRWA operations in Gaza.

The U.N. also notes the death of 195 Palestinians, including 14 students from UNRWA schools, and the long-lasting physical and psychological injuries of 29,000 people during the year-long demonstrations known as the Great March of Return. These events come on the heels of three devastating conflicts in Gaza since 2009, which resulted in at least 3,790 deaths and more than 17,000 injuries combined.

Today, with an unemployment rate of more than 53 percent among Gaza’s population, and with more than a million people dependent on the quarterly UNRWA food handouts, it is mostly preventive humanitarian action of U.N. agencies, including UNRWA, and remittances from abroad that have held Gaza back from the edge of total collapse. Already battered by joblessness, the Palestinian economy will come under additional strain, as the World Bank predicts a financing gap that could exceed $1 billion in 2019.

The presence of the U.N. is one of few stabilizing elements in a complex environment in Gaza, but the dwindling of resources is expected to fuel demonstrations and an escalation of confrontations in the coming weeks.

SHORTFALLS OF FUNDING

The U.N. reported at the end of 2018 that despite a rise in humanitarian needs across the occupied Palestinian territory, funding levels for humanitarian interventions declined significantly: only $221 million had been received, compared to the $540 million requested in the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan. In 2017 a U.N. report predicted that Gaza would be unlivable by the year 2020.

On a slightly positive note, the U.N. in Gaza was able to offer work for a few thousand people. A 42-year-old Palestine refugee Tahani Ali, who lives with her seven-member family in Beit Lahia, in northern Gaza, received three-months’ work in a strawberry field as part of a cash-for-work program. “I am ready to work on any farm and hope I will find more opportunity for ongoing support for my family,” she said, noting that when the strawberry fields have been harvested in two months she will be unemployed and her family will be, among many others, once again vulnerable to hunger and instability.

Unless the international community responds to the dire humanitarian needs in Gaza, a new security concern could erupt. Then it would be another revolution of hungry masses, trapped in abject desperation. But as Hajjah Fathiah Oudeh says, “Waiting for a crisis to happen is not an option—food security should be a concern for everyone. Don’t humiliate us further,” she adds. “There should be no reason on earth why we have to explain to our kids that they should go hungry to bed.”


Award-winning journalist Mohammed Omer reports regularly on the Gaza Strip. Follow him on Twitter: @MoGaza

West Bank Fights Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Israeli and Palestinian forces exchange fire in West Bank

JERUSALEM — Israeli and Palestinian forces have engaged in a rare shootout in the West Bank.

Palestinian officials say one officer was lightly wounded in Tuesday’s gunfight, which erupted overnight in the city of Nablus.

Despite poor political relations, Israel and the Palestinians maintain close security cooperation in the West Bank in a shared struggle against the Islamic militant group Hamas.

The Israeli military said its soldiers identified a group of armed suspects that they realized only later were Palestinian security. Media reports said the soldiers opened fire mistakenly.

But Adnan Dmeiri, spokesman for Palestinian security, said Israel knew “exactly” where the Palestinian forces were stationed. He accused Israel of opening fire intentionally “for political reasons.”

The Israeli military announced an investigation. Dmeiri says the Palestinians refused to join the investigation.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Trump and the Last Nuclear Arms Race

How grimly galling, as Donald Trump ostentatiously marks today’s 75th anniversary of one of the world’s biggest battles, that he is so ready to risk starting another one of potentially greater magnitude. What could possibly be that dangerous, you might ask. Answer: selling American nuclear know how to Saudi Arabia without radiation-proof guarantees that it will not be used to make atomic bombs.

Belated confirmation came this week that the US department of energy has issued seven separate permits to allow transfers of nuclear technology to Riyadh. Belated, because the information was purposefully withheld until Democrats insisted on seeing it. Belated also because Trump, his family and associates are doubtless aware of suspicions that they could benefit financially from these or future sales.

The fact that two licences were issued after last autumn’s murder of the US-based Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, is not the worst of it. Rather than punish the Saudi regime for the killing, as decency and the facts demanded, Trump went ahead regardless. Nor is another noxious fact – that the Saudis are prosecuting a merciless war against the people of Yemen – the single most powerful reason for objecting.

More terrible than any of that is the blindingly obvious danger that providing nuclear expertise to Riyadh will push Iran, their sworn enemy and regional rival, into developing its own nuclear capabilities. Supposedly the whole point of Trump’s campaign of threats and sanctions is to deter Tehran from doing just that. To provoke Iran in this fashion is astonishingly stupid – and hypocritical.

It is simply not good enough to say that two planned Saudi reactors, for which multibillion dollar tenders will be sought next year, are intended for civilian, not military use. So far at least, Riyadh has reportedly refused to offer standard guarantees that it will eschew uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing, two well-worn pathways to nuclear weapons, or accept independent inspections.

Senator Tim Kaine
 Senator Tim Kaine: ‘I have serious questions about whether any decisions on nuclear transfers were made based on the Trump family’s financial ties rather than the interests of the American people.’ Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP

Since it signed a UN-endorsed agreement in 2015 to curb its nuclear-related activities, Iran is said to have abided by its terms, including allowing anytime, anywhere inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Full cooperation may soon end, due to Trump’s daft decision to renege on the pact. Yet the escalatory prospect of a Saudi A-bomb could propel Iraninto an all-out, headlong race to arm itself.

Nor is it good enough to say, like Rick Perry, Trump’s energy secretary, that if Washington does not give the Saudis what they want, others will. This is a hackneyed, age-old argument used by gun-runners the world over. Perry has claimed that China and Russia do not give a “tinker’s damn” about non-proliferation. Even if that were true, is he really suggesting that the US can or should ignore its own rules and those of the UN and nuclear allies such as Britain and France?

Congressional critics suspect the White House is using one-off licence approvals to surreptitiously bypass the so-called “123” safeguarding process. They also point to connections between the Trump clan and the Saudis. “I have serious questions about whether any decisions on nuclear transfers were made based on the Trump family’s financial ties rather than the interests of the American people,” said Democratic senator Tim Kaine.

If all this were not enough to convince any sensible person that Trump’s Saudi sale-of-the-century is a thoroughly irresponsible idea, consider this: Mohammed bin Salman, the hotheaded Saudi crown prince, vowed last year that if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, “we will follow suit as soon as possible”. Since Saudi and Israeli officials maintain that Iran is already doing exactly that, the implication is clear.

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018.
 Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018. Photograph: Hasan Jamali/AP

The burgeoning nuclear deal is of a piece with Trump’s wider Saudi sycophancy and, in part, is payback for Riyadh’s help in keeping world oil prices low. Another product of this toxic relationship is Trump’s recent overturning of a congressional ban on conventional arms sales. The ban reflected broad concerns about Yemen but also about the autocratic regime’s unsubtle interventions in Libya and Sudan, its persecution of women’s rights activists, and the unresolved Khashoggi affair. Evidently, such concerns are not shared in

Trump and the Saudis is a bad combination. Trump and nukes is even worse. At his behest, key nuclear arms control treaties, like the INF pact with Russia, have been torn up on a whim or, like New Start, will simply be allowed to lapse. As next year’s review conference of the landmark 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty approaches, the US is merely offering more talks about talks, rather than a commitment to finally honour the treaty’s dog-eared promise of nuclear disarmament.

Trump claims he wants rid of nuclear weapons. But this is double-speak from a notoriously two-faced man. The global non-proliferation consensus is unravelling; just look at North Korea. The US, like Russia and China, is modernising its existing nuclear arsenal and seeking new weapons. Others may follow suit. And as his shady Saudi deals show, Trump would rather make a killing – no matter who gets killed.

 Simon Tisdall is a foreign affairs commentator

America Overdue For The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2015/08/11/22/2B4727DF00000578-3194241-image-m-12_1439326939787.jpg

New Study: America Overdue For Major Earthquake … In States You Didn’t Suspect

Written by: Daniel Jennings Current Events

Most Americans have a reasonable chance of experiencing a destructive earthquake within the next 50 years, the US Geological Survey (USGS) has concluded.

The survey’s new National Seismic Hazard Map show that the risk of earthquakes in parts of the country — such as the Midwest, Oregon and the Rocky Mountains — is far higher than previously thought. All total, Americans in one-third of the country saw their risk for an earthquake increase.

“I worry that we will wake up one morning and see earthquake damage in our country that is as bad as that has occurred in some developing nations that have experienced large earthquakes,” Carl Hedde, a risk management expert at insurer Munich Reinsurance America, said of the map in The Wall Street Journal. “Beyond building collapse, a large amount of our infrastructure could be immediately damaged. Our roads, bridges and energy transmission systems can be severely impacted.”

Among the findings:

  • The earthquake danger in parts of Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois and South Carolina is as high as that in Los Angeles.
  • 42 of the 50 states have a reasonable chance of experiencing a damaging earthquake in the next 50 years.
  • Parts of 16 states have the highest risk of a quake: Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois, Kentucky and South Carolina

“We know the hazard has increased for small and moderate size earthquakes,” USGS scientist William Ellsworth told The Journal. “We don’t know as well how much the hazard has increased for large earthquakes. Our suspicion is it has but we are working on understanding this.”

Frightening Results From New Study

The USGS used new computer modeling technology and data collected from recent quakes such as the one that struck Washington, D.C. in 2011 to produce the new maps. The maps show that many Americans who thought they were safe from earthquakes are not.

New Relocation Manual Helps Average Americans Get Out Of Harms Way Before The Coming Crisis

Some of the survey’s other disturbing findings include:

    • The earthquake danger in Oklahoma, Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Virginia, New York and parts of New England is higher than previously thought.
    • Some major metropolitan areas, including Memphis, Salt Lake City, Seattle, St. Louis and Charleston, have a higher risk of earthquakes than previously thought. One of the nation’s most dangerous faults, the New Madrid fault, runs right through St. Louis and Missouri. It is the nation’s second most active fault. On Dec. 16, 1811, the New Madrid Fault was the site of the most powerful series of earthquakes in American history.

“Obviously the building codes throughout the central U.S. do not generally take earthquake risk or the risk of a large earthquake into account,” USGS Seismologist Elizabeth Cochran told The Journal. Her take: Earthquake damage in the central US could be far greater than in places like California, because structures in some locations are not built to withstand quakes.

Others agree.

“Earthquakes are quite rare in many places but when they happen they cause very intense damage because people have not prepared,” Mark Petersen, the project chief for the USGS’s National Seismic Hazard Map, told The Journal.

This new map should be a wakeup call for Americans.

Babylon the Great is Threatening War with Iran

U.S., not Iran, is threatening war

Once again, the U.S. is threatening war against a smaller and weaker nation, this time on Iran. Have we learned nothing from Washington’s catastrophic wars since 2001? Are we going to study, think about the issues, and stop a war on Iran?

The Brown University Costs of War Project (2018) has estimated the human cost of these U.S. wars: between 480,000 and 507,000 people killed in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq; some 500,000 killed in Syria, where Obama supported alleged rebels who were mostly al-Qaida/ISIS terrorists. Through 2017, the number of displaced people, external refugees and asylum seekers was nearly 13 million.

U.S. deaths in these wars total more than 7,000 U.S. soldiers and 8,000 military contractors. In addition, although the Congressional Research Service “has stopped releasing regular updates on U.S. military casualty statistics,” its most recent report in 2015 found “that more than 300,000 troops have suffered traumatic brain injuries.”

Trump, Pompeo, and Bolton threaten Iran, aided by Democrats. Presidents simply involve us in endless wars that violate the Constitution and the U.N. Charter, which states, “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.” Since the Charter was ratified by the Senate, it is the law of the land and binding on our representatives.

The escalating U.S.-Iranian crisis comes without detail or public evidence; Iran allegedly poses an increasing threat to U.S. forces and facilities in the Middle East. A similar scenario was used to soften us up for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Now, as then, lies and distortions are peddled by the corporate media. We know how the invasion turned out — a war crime that killed a half million Iraqis and created the virulent al-Qaida/ISIS terrorist franchise.

Recent history provides the context for the present crisis: the CIA-British 1953 coup against Iran’s democratically elected prime minister that put the Shah in power; an uprising in 1979 that overthrew him; and in 1980, the U.S.-supported Iraqi invasion of Iran that left 1 million people dead. Saddam’s forces “regularly employed poison gas to attack Iranian formations [and] … U.S.-supplied satellite imagery allowed Iraq to better calibrate these illegal, immoral, chemical attacks.” The U.S. Navy also waged an undeclared war in the Persian Gulf (Danny Sjursen, Truthdig, June 6).

What is unfolding, award-winning Alternative Radio producer David Barsamian writes, “are hyped-up threats” that are “never spelled out” but involve “Israel and the feudal, fundamentalist monarchies of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the [United Arab Emirates].” These U.S. threats “are never qualified as alleged, possible, supposed, rather they are stated as fact and are attributed to anonymous sources. The [corporate] media with few exceptions [parrot] the official line” (Counterpunch, May 17).

Peace activists Zeese and Flowers assert that the “root cause of the problems” between the United States and Iran “is not because [that nation] has oil, an Islamic government, nuclear weapons or [its] role in the Middle East — it is because in 1979, Iran ended 26 years of U.S. domination.” Iran’s crime is that it has successfully defied the U.S. and acted as an independent nation. Since then, “the U.S. has sought to dominate Iran using sanctions and threats of military aggression. Iran has responded by seeking negotiation with the U.S. … Although Iran fulfilled its side of the [recent] nuclear agreement, the U.S. did not relieve the sanctions, as promised, and under the Trump administration, increased the sanctions and left the agreement.” Instead of abiding by the agreement, the U.S. has engaged in a blatant aggressive move “to isolate [that country] politically and economically” (Counterpunch, March 13).

The U.S. has failed to live up to the carefully negotiated nuclear agreement between Iran, U.N. Security Council members, and Germany; Iran has complied with every requirement.

In such U.S. international crises, however, the very language we use becomes corrupted. Therefore, we must choose the right words in order to understand and end this danger. Washington is threatening war, not Iran. We must stop it.

John Marciano lives in Talent.

More Fires Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

A general view of the West Bank city of Hebron July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Incendiary balloons ignited three fires Tuesday in the Kissufim forest on the border with the Gaza Strip.

A day earlier, incendiary balloons ignited four fires — several in the same forest and another in a wheat field — that burned dozens of acres.

The balloons, carrying flammable materials, are lit and sent to fly over the border fence with Gaza toward southern Israel.

The arson attacks are a violation of an unofficial cease-fire between Israel and terror groups in the strip.