Babylon the Great’s Vulnerable Nuclear Triad

America’s Vulnerable Nuclear Triad

The most survivable leg of the U.S. strategic nuclear Triad of bombers, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) are the submarines. Ballistic missile submarines are the last best line of deterrence and defense to defeat surprise nuclear attack.

Today, U.S. strategic bombers and ICBMs have never been more vulnerable to surprise attack.

U.S. strategic bomber bases are reduced from 45 during the Cold War to just 3 today. Unlike Cold War readiness, today no U.S. strategic bombers are nuclear-armed on strip alert, ready to fly on short-warning.

Even North Korea could destroy all U.S. B-52 and B-2 bombers by surprise nuclear attack on their three bases at Minot AFB (North Dakota), Whiteman AFB (Missouri), and Barksdale AFB (Louisiana).

U.S. ICBMs are reduced from about 1,000 during the Cold War armed with about 2,000 warheads, to 400 ICBMs with 400 warheads today.

Russia’s SS-18 ICBM, armed with 10 warheads, or China’s DF-5 ICBM, also 10 warheads, could with just 50 missiles deliver 500 warheads having yield/accuracy combinations capable of a disarming surprise first strike destroying:

— All U.S. strategic command centers, like NORAD HQ at Peterson AFB and NORAD’s Alternate HQ inside Cheyenne Mountain;

— All U.S. strategic bombers;

— All U.S. ICBMs;

— Two-thirds of U.S. SSBNs (9-10 submarines) normally anchored at King’s Bay, Georgia and Bangor, Washington.

Thus, the chief U.S. deterrent against surprise nuclear attack are 4-5 U.S. SSBNs normally on patrol at sea, from a total fleet numbering 14 ballistic missile submarines (reduced from 35-45 Cold War SSBNs). Today’s 14 Ohio-class SSBNs will be replaced beginning in 2031 with a smaller new fleet numbering 12 Columbia-class SSBNs, slightly reducing submarines sustainable on daily patrol from 4-5 boats to 4 boats.

Anything that threatens survivability of U.S. submarines on patrol at sea would fundamentally undermine U.S. nuclear deterrent credibility and could invite surprise nuclear attack.

Old fashioned spy-craft and new-fashioned cyber-espionage could pose a mortal threat to U.S. submarines — as spying did during the Cold War.

Cold War Soviet agent John Walker and his spy ring, for example, had access to information disclosing positions of U.S. submarines that he provided to the USSR.

Soviet KGB officer Vitaly Yurchenko had Walker in mind when, describing how the KGB scored against the U.S. Navy, he remarked: “We deciphered millions of your messages. If there had been a war, we would have won.” (See John Barron’s excellent book „Breaking the Ring: The Bizarre Case of the Walker Family Spy Ring“ for quotes from Yurchenko, Lehman, Studeman, Carver and more.)

U.S. Navy Secretary, John Lehman, shared Yurchenko’s opinion of damage done by the Walker spy ring: “Had we been engaged in any conflict with the Soviets, it could have had the devastating consequences that Ultra had for the Germans.”

Then CIA Director, Admiral William Studeman, said Walker ring betrayal of U.S. Navy secrets created “powerful war winning implications for the Soviets” and “jeopardized the backbone of this country’s national defense.”

Then-CIA Deputy Director, George Carver, who spent much of his 24-year career working cryptography and communications, believed Moscow could continue exploiting the Walker data “for years and even decades.”

Carver: “The United States…can never be positive that it has locked all the barn doors…cannot be totally confident about the security of its communications, particularly its military and especially naval communications. And the damage thus done…could significantly, if not irrevocably, tilt the very strategic balance on which our survival as a nation depends.”

Whether and to what extent Russia and China can find U.S. SSBNs is unknown. Maybe they are completely in the dark. Or maybe their spies know the location of every U.S. submarine.

During the Cold War and today, Moscow for decades spent vast resources on an enormous array of technologies, including satellites like EORSAT, trying to locate U.S. submarines hiding at sea.

Today, Russia and China have hydroacoustic capabilities for locating SSBNs far more technologically sophisticated than those available to the USSR during the Cold War.

Cold War defense analyst Roger Speed, then a consultant to the U.S. Navy, calculated Soviet ships sweeping the oceans with towed hydrophone arrays could locate U.S. SSBNs for destruction in two days. According to Speed’s book „Strategic Deterrence in the 1980s“:

“The development of a line array of hydrophones that can be towed through the water represents a potential breakthrough in acoustic ASW technology….this new technology could pose a serious threat to SSBNs. If the detection range is…at least 50 nm, the SSBN patrol area can be searched in two days or less.”

Modern technology is making possible miracles, such as rendering transparent the jungles of Guatemala. LiDAR (Light Detection And Range) in 2018 used airborne laser technology to penetrate Guatemala’s thick jungle canopy, discovering 60,000 previously unknown Mayan ruins, including hundreds of previously hidden Mayan cities and towns, revolutionizing archaeology and re-classifying the Maya as among the greatest civilizations.

LiDAR’s revolution in surveillance technology is the product of collaboration between private sector Teledyne Optic Titan and the University of Houston — not great power nation states.

We should not rule out the possibility Russia and China have achieved a technological breakthrough in locating submarines — which they would keep secret until wartime.

If submarines can be found, they can be destroyed.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Dr. Peter Vincent Pry is executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security. He served on the Congressional EMP Commission as chief of staff, the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, the House Armed Services Committee, and the CIA. He is author of „Blackout Wars.“ For more of his reports,

Trump Is Helping the Saudis Go Nuclear

By DOUGLAS BLOOMFIELD

If the Saudis decide to pursue nuclear weapons, they can turn to Trump’s dear friend Kim Jong Un, whose cash-strapped regime has developed its own and the missiles to deliver them.

US President Donald Trump recently took another step toward bringing Saudi Arabia into the nuclear club. While Israeli-Saudi ties have warmed in recent years, helping the desert kingdom go nuclear – with its ongoing support for the most extreme Islamic radicals in the world – can hardly be good for the Jewish state.

Secret negotiations with the US Energy Department over many months have led Washington to “transfer highly sensitive US nuclear technology, a potential violation of federal law,” to Saudi Arabia, according to House Oversight Committee sources cited by The Washington Post.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) revealed last week that at least two transfers were approved since the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Saudis say they want to begin building their own nuclear power plants with their own enriched uranium, even though it could be purchased elsewhere more cheaply. That raises suspicions that their real goal isn’t producing electricity. By enriching their own uranium, they could begin diverting it to highly enriched weapons grade, especially if they bar international inspectors, as they’ve insisted.

The Iraq Horn Helps the Iran Horn (Daniel 8:8)

Treasury Sanctions Iraqi Firm Accused of Smuggling Arms for Iran

Move is part of broader pressure campaign against Tehran

Treasury’s blacklisting of the South Wealth Resources Company, or Manabea Tharwat al-Janoob General Trading Company, is part of the Trump administration’s broader pressure campaign against Tehran that the White House says is meant to coerce the government into a nuclear and regional security pact. The latest sanctions also affect two Iraqi men the U.S. accuses of aiding the IRGC’s weapon imports.

“Treasury is taking action to shut down Iranian weapons smuggling networks that have been used to arm regional proxies of the IRGC Qods Force in Iraq, while personally enriching regime insiders,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The secretary said Iraq’s financial system must bolster efforts to counter illicit Iran-directed activity.

The sanctions block any property the firm and men may own within U.S. territory, and the exposure of the alleged activities could hinder the operations going forward.

The Trump administration, which withdrew from the nuclear agreement between Iran and other world powers, says Iran is a source of regional instability and has used sanctions to bolster its effort to persuade reluctant allies to join it in pressing for a new nuclear accord and security pact.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The Iraqi firm, whose details are listed on the website for the Trade Promotion Organization of Iran, couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

The U.S. Treasury said the Iraqi company is a front for the Quds Force, Iran’s elite military unit that directs Tehran’s interventions in conflicts throughout the Middle East. Washington accuses the Quds Force of orchestrating terrorist attacks across the world.

The Iraqi firm and the two sanctioned men, the U.S. said, helped the Quds Force covertly access Iraq’s financial system and funnel arms to Iraqi militias backed by Iran.

Two Centuries Before The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Image result for 1755 massachusetts earthquakeThe worst earthquake in Massachusetts history 260 years ago

It happened before, and it could happen again.

By Hilary Sargent @lilsarg

Boston.com Staff | 11.19.15 | 5:53 AM

On November 18, 1755, Massachusetts experienced its largest recorded earthquake.

The earthquake occurred in the waters off Cape Ann, and was felt within seconds in Boston, and as far away as Nova Scotia, the Chesapeake Bay, and upstate New York, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Seismologists have since estimated the quake to have been between 6.0 and 6.3 on the Richter scale, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

While there were no fatalities, the damage was extensive.

According to the USGS, approximately 100 chimneys and roofs collapsed, and over a thousand were damaged.

The worst damage occurred north of Boston, but the city was not unscathed.

A 1755 report in The Philadelphia Gazette described the quake’s impact on Boston:

“There was at first a rumbling noise like low thunder, which was immediately followed with such a violent shaking of the earth and buildings, as threw every into the greatest amazement, expecting every moment to be buried in the ruins of their houses. In a word, the instances of damage done to our houses and chimnies are so many, that it would be endless to recount them.”

The quake sent the grasshopper weathervane atop Faneuil Hall tumbling to the ground, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

An account of the earthquake, published in The Pennsylvania Gazette on December 4, 1755.

The earthquake struck at 4:30 in the morning, and the shaking lasted “near four minutes,” according to an entry John Adams, then 20, wrote in his diary that day.

The brief diary entry described the damage he witnessed.

“I was then at my Fathers in Braintree, and awoke out of my sleep in the midst of it,” he wrote. “The house seemed to rock and reel and crack as if it would fall in ruins about us. 7 Chimnies were shatter’d by it within one mile of my Fathers house.”

The shaking was so intense that the crew of one ship off the Boston coast became convinced the vessel had run aground, and did not learn about the earthquake until they reached land, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

In 1832, a writer for the Hampshire (Northampton) Gazette wrote about one woman’s memories from the quake upon her death.

“It was between 4 and 5 in the morning, and the moon shone brightly. She and the rest of the family were suddenly awaked from sleep by a noise like that of the trampling of many horses; the house trembled and the pewter rattled on the shelves. They all sprang out of bed, and the affrightted children clung to their parents. “I cannot help you dear children,” said the good mother, “we must look to God for help.

The Cape Ann earthquake came just 17 days after an earthquake estimated to have been 8.5-9.0 on the Richter scale struck in Lisbon, Portugal, killing at least 60,000 and causing untold damage.

There was no shortage of people sure they knew the impretus for the Cape Ann earthquake.

According to many ministers in and around Boston, “God’s wrath had brought this earthquake upon Boston,” according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

In “Verses Occasioned by the Earthquakes in the Month of November, 1755,” Jeremiah Newland, a Taunton resident who was active in religious activities in the Colony, wrote that the earthquake was a reminder of the importance of obedience to God.

“It is becaufe we broke thy Laws,

that thou didst shake the Earth.

O what a Day the Scriptures say,

the EARTHQUAKE doth foretell;

O turn to God; lest by his Rod,

he cast thee down to Hell.”

Boston Pastor Jonathan Mayhew warned in a sermon that the 1755 earthquakes in Massachusetts and Portugal were “judgments of heaven, at least as intimations of God’s righteous displeasure, and warnings from him.”

There were some, though, who attempted to put forth a scientific explanation for the earthquake.

Well, sort of.

In a lecture delivered just a week after the earthquake, Harvard mathematics professor John Winthrop said the quake was the result of a reaction between “vapors” and “the heat within the bowels of the earth.” But even Winthrop made sure to state that his scientific theory “does not in the least detract from the majesty … of God.”

It has been 260 years since the Cape Ann earthquake. Some experts, including Boston College seismologist John Ebel, think New England could be due for another significant quake.

In a recent Boston Globe report, Ebel said the New England region “can expect a 4 to 5 magnitude quake every decade, a 5 to 6 every century, and a magnitude 6 or above every thousand years.”

If the Cape Ann earthquake occurred today, “the City of Boston could sustain billions of dollars of earthquake damage, with many thousands injured or killed,” according to a 1997 study by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Israel Kills Twelve Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Israeli Airstrikes Kill 13 Civilians; Palestinian Rockets Kill 6

(Jerusalem) – Fighting between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza in early May 2019 involved unlawful attacks by both sides, Human Rights Watch said today. Fifteen Palestinian civilians and four Israeli civilians died during the fighting.

Four Israeli airstrikes struck targets that appeared to contain no military objective or may have caused disproportionate civilian loss in violation of the laws of war. Civilians killed included a pregnant Palestinian woman, an infant, and a 11-year-old boy. Unguided rockets launched by Palestinian armed groups toward Israeli population centers were unlawfully indiscriminate.

“Nearly every new round of fighting in Gaza leaves civilians dead and wounded,” said Tom Porteous, deputy program director at Human Rights Watch. “Both Israel and Palestinian armed groups are carrying out attacks with disturbing disregard for the protection of civilians.”

Human Rights Watch interviewed 20 Palestinians and Israelis who were survivors or witnesses to attacks, relatives of those killed, or residents of targeted areas. Human Rights Watch also visited the sites of strikes, inspected remnants of munitions, and reviewed statements by Israeli officials and Palestinian armed groups.

In a separate investigation, the Israeli rights group B’Tselem also documented the civilian consequences of the May Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.

Hostilities broke out on May 3 when Israeli security forces fired on largely unarmed Palestinian demonstrators gathered near the fences between Gaza and Israel as part of the “Great March of Return,” killing two people. Palestinian armed groups retaliated with gunfire, wounding two Israeli soldiers. Israeli forces then struck a Hamas post, killing two fighters. This triggered barrages of rockets into Israel by armed Palestinian group; in turn, the Israel Defense Forces carried out a three-day aerial bombardment campaign.

The Israeli military said it struck “350 Hamas and PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] terror targets” between May 4-6, including “rocket launch sites, terror squads, terror operatives, command centers, weapon storage facilities, observation posts, and military compounds,” as well as rocket or weapon manufacturing sites and Hamas facilities, including a cyber headquarters. It also acknowledged targeting as many as 30 homes of people it said were “terrorist activists,” claiming that some of the targets “had been intentionally embedded and concealed in densely populated civilian areas.”

The Israeli strikes killed 25 Palestinians and injured 153 more. Human Rights Watch investigated four May 5 airstrikes that killed 13 civilians, including 2 people sitting in a café, a teacher at a tutoring center, and 10 people at their homes. The Israeli military also killed 12 Palestinian fighters, including the two Hamas fighters killed on May 3, eight of whom Islamic Jihad identified as members of its armed wing, one whom Hamas’s armed wing identified as a “field commander” and another belonging to a Hamas-affiliated armed group, which said he was killed while firing mortar shells into Israel. A group of international humanitarian organizations also documented33 residential units destroyed in Gaza, 327 people left homeless, and 700 housing units partially damaged.

Palestinian armed groups launched 690 unguided rockets toward Israeli population centers, according to the Israeli military. These strikes killed three Israelis—all citizens,  including a father of four at his mother-in-law’s house, a Palestinian Bedouin working in an Ashkelon factory, and a 21-year-old man in Ashdod—and injured 123. An anti-tank guided missile killed a fourth. In addition, a Palestinian rocket that landed inside of Gaza was most likely responsible for the deaths of a pregnant Palestinian mother of nine and a 14-month-old toddler.

In two of the four Israeli attacks investigated, Human Rights Watch found no evidence of a military objective – such as enemy fighters or weapons or other military material – needed for an attack to be lawful under the laws of war.

In the two other attacks, there were apparently legitimate military targets. In one of these attacks an Islamic Jihad fighter died; in another attack on a large residential building, an Islamic Jihad commander appeared to be present. These attacks would be unlawfully disproportionate if the expected civilian loss from the attack was excessive compared to the anticipated military gain. At the same time, parties to a conflict should avoid deploying among civilians.

Rockets used by Palestinian armed groups cannot target a specific military objective, making their use in areas containing civilians inherently indiscriminate in violation of the laws of war.

In a statement on behalf of the “Joint Operations Room of Resistance Factions,” Islamic Jihad said that it launched rockets in response to Israeli killings of Palestinians, “assassinations” of fighters, and targeting of military sites and residential buildings. It said it fired an anti-tank missile at an armored personnel carrier, but furnished no information showing that it fired at a military target.

The Israeli military on May 4 blocked accessto Gaza’s territorial waters, including for fishermen, and halted the movement of people and goods at its Gaza crossings, except for a few critical medical patients and fuel for Gaza’s power plant. It maintained the restrictions at sea until May 10 and crossings remained closed until May 12. These measures, which the military said it took in response to the rocket attacks, amount to collective punishment in violation of international humanitarian law.

These restrictions come amid Israel’s near-total closure of Gaza since 2007. Instead of specifically monitoring or restricting the flow of arms and material, Israel imposes sweeping restrictions on the movement of people and goods, including a generalized travel ban for residents of Gaza outside of “exceptional humanitarian cases.”

The May hostilities follow several smaller-scale flareups in July, August, October, and November 2018, and March 2019, some of which resulted in civilian casulties.

Israel and Hamas, as the de facto authority in Gaza, have a duty to investigate allegations of serious violations of the laws of war. Israeli authorities have taken inadequate steps and Palestinian authorities no steps to investigate alleged war crimes and to hold members of their forces accountable. These failings highlight the importance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor opening a formal investigation into the situation in Palestine.

“There is little hope for reining in attacks that violate the laws of war so long as both Israeli and Palestinian forces can commit them with impunity,” Porteous said. “The continued unlawful killing of civilians underlines the need for a formal ICC probe in Palestine to help bring a measure of justice for the victims and their families.”

Zoroub Strike, Rafah (May 5) 

Three Israeli munitions hit the lower floors of a six-floor commercial building in Rafah in south Gaza known as the Zoroub Building after its owner, Ibrahim Zoroub. The attack, about 5:40 p.m. on May 5, killed three apparent civilians: Mousa Moamer, 35; Hani Abu Shaer, 37; and Ali Abdul Jawad, 50.

Ahmad Zoroub, a 19-year-old relative of the building owner, said that he and his friends – Abu Shaer, a digital advertiser, and Moamer, owner of al-Fakher café in the Zoroub Building’s basement – were sitting at the café when the first munition struck. Zoroub did not recall that anyone else was in the café at the time. The owner of a stationery store in the building said that no warning of the attack had been given.

Two more munitions struck several seconds later, witnesses said. Hassan Shiqaqi said he heard the explosions as he was teaching English to eighth-grade students in a building directly facing the Zoroub Building. Hundreds immediately streamed out of the buildings in the area.

Ahmed Zoroub said the blast threw him five meters. He dug himself out from under chairs and rubble and crawled, amid small blazes, smoke, and dust, in search of Abu Shaer and Moamer, following their voices. He found both badly injured: Moamer with “flesh and bones” coming out of his abdomen and upper legs and Abu Shaer’s left leg nearly severed from his body. Zoroub said he crawled toward the door and called out for help, but he lost consciousness. He awoke to find himself in a hospital with Abu Shaer and Moamer, who later died.

Ibrahim Zoroub, the building owner, found the body of the third victim, Ali Abdul Jawad, an English teacher, in the tutoring center Abdul Jawad operated on the ground floor. Zoroub believes that Abdul Jawad had cancelled classes for the day and was alone at the time of the strike.

Human Rights Watch visited the damaged building 11 days after the attack. Weapons remnants examined were found to be from a GBU-39 series guided bomb. The first strike appeared to hit the first floor, where there had been the tutoring center, a construction company, and a clothing store, but exploding on the ground floor and causing damage in the basement. Subsequent strikes hit the second floor, which had two engineering offices and an accounting office, but also damaged floors below.. The building also included two other tutoring centers and apartments, the building owner said.

At 5:36 p.m. and again at 6:39 p.m., the Israeli military said on Twitter that it attacked “terrorist operatives” in south Gaza, but did not say what or where the targets may have been. Three local residents said that Islamic Jihad had a media office on the second floor, but one noted that the office had moved to a different location months before. Ibrahim al-Zoroub said there had been no Islamic Jihad office in the building during the three years he had owned the building.

Human Rights Watch uncovered no evidence of a current military objective.

Container Strike, Beit Lahiya (May 4) 

On May 4 at about 8 p.m., an Israeli airstrike struck a metal shipping container outside a businessman’s villa in Beit Lahiya in north Gaza, killing an apparent civilian, Khaled Abu Qleeq, 24. Atallah al-Attar, 30, a friend of Qleeq who worked as a security guard at a wedding hall next door, said that Abu Qleeq approached him at the wedding hall, where he came to make tea, and invited al-Attar to join him in the container, where he worked. They sat together and as Qleeq began to eat some food, a missile struck the shack.

The two men ran toward a villa about 10 to 15 meters away seeking medical care for injuries they sustained in the strike, al-Attar said. Near the villa doors, another missile struck, he said. Al-Attar, who had been wounded by fragments in his eye and leg, said Abu Qleeq was struck in the head. He sat beside Abu Qleeq awaiting an ambulance, but, before it arrived, Abu Qleeq stopped responding and died and he lost consciousness. The Israeli military has not reported on the attack. Human Rights Watch found no information that would indicate that Abu Qleeq, al-Attar, or anyone living in the villa had any connections to armed Palestinian groups.

Sheikh Zayed Strike, Beit Lahiya (May 5)

An Israeli airstrike struck the top floor of a five-story residential building, No. 12 in the Sheikh Zayed residential complex in Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza about 8:00 p.m. on May 5. The attack appeared to target an Islamic Jihad commander who was in the building at the time, but killed six civilians: Eman Asraf, 29, and Ahmad al-Ghazali, 30, and their 3-month-old daughter, Maria; and Talal Abu al-Jedyan, 48, Raghda Abu al-Jedyan, 46, and their 11-year-old son, Abdulrahman.

Ahmad al-Ghazali’s sister, who lives on the first floor, said that she spent the early evening in her brother’s apartment on the fifth floor watching the news with him and his wife, Eman. She said Ahmad worked at a juice factory, while Eman served as a legal adviser for the Interior Ministry in Gaza. She advised them to spend the night in her apartment, maintaining that lower floors would be safer during the fighting, and shortly before 7:30 p.m. she left their apartment to prepare hers for them. Minutes later, without warning, she said, she “heard a heavy explosion” and “saw a light.”

Ahmad’s brother, Mahmoud al-Ghazali said that shortly thereafter he arrived at Ahmad’s apartment to find a scene of devastation. The apartment lay in ruins and had collapsed into the floor below. Al-Ghazali accidentally stepped on his brother’s corpse: his leg and pelvis had been severed from the rest of his body and Mahmoud said he mistook it for a mattress. He did not recognize his niece Maria, whose skull and backbone had been broken.

The strike also killed three members of the Abu al-Jedyan family, who lived in the adjacent fifth-floor apartment. Mohammad Abu al-Jedyan, one of Talal and Raghda’s four children, said he had just returned to the building from visiting his sister and was walking up the stairs when the airstrike hit. He said the strikes dismembered his relatives’ bodies. A neighbor who lives directly across from the Abu al-Jedyans said that the next day, he found pieces of flesh in his damaged home. He said his son had played football with Abdulrahman, a sixth grade student.

The Israeli military has not reported the reason for attacking the residential building. On a visit to the area 10 days after the strike, Human Rights Watch saw a site with an observation tower belonging to the armed wing of Hamas about 20 meters from the targeted building, but two rows of residential buildings were closer to the tower. A local journalist told Human Rights Watch that a senior commander from Islamic Jihad said to him that he had just entered the residential building and was walking up the stairs when the strike took place. The commander was not injured, the journalist said. The owner of a recreational site near the al-Qassam observation site said that two strikes hit his establishment four hours later.

Even if the Israeli forces were targeting the Islamic Jihad commander, a valid military target, this attack on a large residential building raises concerns that it was indiscriminate or disproportionate.

Al-Madhoun Strike, Beit Lahiya (May 5) 

An Israel Defense Forces missile strike hit a three-unit home in Beit Lahiya in northwest Gaza, killing a member of Islamic Jihad’s armed wing along with three civilians and wounding others. The strike, on May 5 at about 5:30 p.m., killed Abdullah al-Madhoun, 21; his 60-year-old father, Abdul Rahim; his 36-year-old pregnant sister-in-law, Amani al-Madhoun; and his unemployed brother-in-law and neighbor, Fadi Badran, 33.

Ahmad al-Madhoun, Abdullah’s brother, told Human Rights Watch that the house included three small residential units – one belonging to him, one to his brother Mohammad, and one to their father. That afternoon, 15 family members, including several relatives who do not live in the house and a neighbor had gathered there before going to a funeral, he said. The missile struck the eastern side of the house as Abdullah prayed in his father’s unit and his father worked in his small grocery store in front of his house.

The strike leveled the house. Amani, a mother of three, was killed when the asbestos ceiling in southeast side of the house collapsed on her. Several relatives who were on the western side of the house were wounded; fragments gashed Ahmad’s 2-year-old daughter in the neck.

Fragments also penetrated the walls of a nearby three-unit residential building belonging to a neighbor, Fadi al-Badran. Fadi’s brother Ahmad al-Badran, who lives in the building, said that shortly after the strike Fadi emerged from his house injured, carrying his daughter. A local resident said that when he arrived he saw men rushing Fadi, who was bleeding from the mouth from a fragmentation wound to the abdomen, to a hospital.

Human Rights Watch examined weapon remnants from the destroyed compound 10 days after the strike and determined they were of a GBU-39 series guided bomb, also known as a “small-diameter bomb,” which the Israeli military has in its arsenal.

At 5:03 p.m., the Israeli military tweeted that “IDF aircraft attacked a short time ago terrorist operatives in the northern Gaza Strip.” It has not said whom it targeted. Islamic Jihad, however, identified Abdullah al-Madhoun as a member of its armed wing, but otherwise did not describe his position. Al-Madhoun had a walkie-talkie-type device often used by Islamic Jihad fighters to communicate with each other, though his brother Ahmad said Abdullah only used the device to listen to the news.

As a member of the Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, Abdullah al-Madhoun would have been a valid military target. However, the nature of the attack, on a home containing many civilians, raises concerns that it was disproportionate.

Rocket Attacks Launched Toward Israel

In early May, Palestinian armed groups launched unguided rockets against Israeli population centers that killed three Israeli civilians: Moshe Agadi, 58; Zaid al-Hamamda, 49; and Pinchas Menachem Prezuazman, 21. Agadi, a father of four, died when a rocket hit his mother-in-law’s house. A rocket launched on May 4 killed al-Hamamda, a Palestinian Bedouin civilian as he was working in a factory in Ashkelon in Israel. A neighbor said that the loss of al-Hamamda, a father of eight, had devastated his extended family, whom he provided for, and his community, where he was a leader. Agadi’s brother-in-law said that residents of southern Israel “live in consistent fear… that a rocket might fall on our heads at any moment.” A rocket that struck in Ashdod killed Prezuazman.

These rocket attacks were inherently indiscriminate – not able to distinguish between civilians and military targets – in violation of the laws of war.

In addition, an anti-tank guided missile fired from Gaza killed 68-year-old Moshe Feder on May 5 in southern Israel just north of Gaza. Feder had no apparent affiliation to the Israeli armed forces.

Rocket Strike Landing in Gaza

On May 4, a munition struck the al-Zaytoun neighborhood in eastern Gaza, killing Falastin Abu Arar, a 38-year-old mother of nine, and her 14-month-old niece, Siba Abu Arar. The Gaza Health Ministry included both on a list of people killed by Israeli airstrikes, but the Israeli military said that it did not conduct the lethal strike.

Human Rights Watch was unable to investigate the strike for security reasons and Israel’s repeated denial of permits to Gaza for foreign researchers. A field worker with a Palestinian organization who visited the site said that unlike at other sites, Palestinian authorities quickly removed remnants of munitions and described damage that make it more likely that the strike came from an errant Palestinian rocket.

Save the Oil (Revelation 6:6)

Two oil tankers struckt in suspected attacks in Gulf of Oman: The Guardian

Two oil tankers have been hit in suspected attacks in the Gulf of Oman and the crews evacuated, a month after a similar incident in which four tankers in the region were struck.

The US navy’s fifth fleet said it was assisting the tankers, which issued distress calls from off the coast of the United Arab Emirates near the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

Reports of the explosions originally came from the same Hezbollah-linked news agencies in Lebanon that correctly reported attacks on tankers docked off the coast of the UAE in May. The US blamed those attacks on Iran – an accusation Tehran has denied.

Front Altair was carrying 75,000 tonnes of naphtha, a petrochemical feedstock, when it was “suspected of being hit by a torpedo”, said Wu I-Fang from Taiwan’s state oil refiner CPC, which chartered the tanker. Iran state media reported that the Front Altair had sunk, though the ship’s operator, Frontline, said this was not the case.

The Kokuka Courageous was damaged in a “suspected attack” that breached the hull above the water line while on passage from Saudi Arabia to Singapore, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement said. “The ship is safely afloat,” it added.

Iranian state TV reported 44 crew had been evacuated from the tankers to an Iranian port.

United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, part of the Royal Navy, said it was investigating. “We are deeply concerned by reports of explosions and fires on vessels in the Strait of Hormuz. We are in contact with local authorities and partners in the region,” a British government spokeswoman said.

Gulf tensions have been close to boiling point for weeks as the US puts “maximum economic pressure” on Tehran in an attempt to force it to reopen talks about the 2015 nuclear deal, which the US pulled out of last year.

Iran has repeatedly said it has no knowledge of the incidents and did not instruct any surrogate forces to attack Gulf shipping, or Saudi oil installations.

An inquiry by the UAE into the attacks on 12 May found the sophisticated mines were used by state-like actors, but did not identify Iran or any other state as the culprit. The US national security adviser, John Bolton, said Iran was almost certainly involved. An alternative explanation is that the attacks were undertaken by Houthi rebels fighting the Saudi-led efforts to oust them from Yemen.

The latest incident came as the Japanese prime minister, Shinzō Abe, held talks with the Iranian leadership in Tehran in a bid to find a basis for discussions between the US and Iran. Japan’s trade ministry said the two oil tankers involved in Thursday’s incidents carried “Japan-related” cargo.

The Japanese stressed they were not bringing specific messages from the US president, Donald Trump, and said nothing in the first day of talks suggested a breakthrough was imminent.

Abe, seen as close to Trump but also a supporter of the original 2015 deal, met both the Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, and the president, Hassan Rouhani. On Thursday Abe also met Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

In a sign of how the Yemen civil war and the wider US-Iranian tensions are becoming intertwined, Riyadh accused Tehran of ordering a Yemeni rebel missile strike that wounded 26 people at a Saudi airport on Wednesday.

“The continuation of the Iranian regime’s aggression and reckless escalation, whether directly or through its militias, will result in grave consequences,” Saudi Arabia’s deputy defence minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman, said.

Iran and the Yemeni rebels both follow branches of the Shia sect of Islam but Tehran has always denied providing more than moral support to the rebels.

The rebels say missile and drone strikes against Saudi Arabia are one of the few ways they can retaliate after more than four years of bombing by the Saudi-led coalition, which has exacted a heavy civilian death toll in Yemen.

Iran Unbending Toward Babylon the Great

img_5589TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The deputy commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Ground Force highlighted Iran’s preparedness to counter foreign threats and said if enemies dared to take military action against the country, the Armed Forces would give a crushing response with an “iron fist”.

Addressing a conference in Marivan in the western province of Kurdistan on Wednesday, Brigadier General Ali Akbar Pourjamshidian shrugged off foreign threats and warmongering remarks against the Islamic Republic.

If the enemies “cast a mischievous eye” toward Iranian borders, cities, and villages in the west and northwest and southeast of the country, they will face “the iron fist” of the Iranian Armed Forces, he stated.

The commander further described “sustainable development” as a key to achieving “lasting security” and emphasized that sustainability of security depends on the Iranian administration because it needs to provide welfare for the people so that they can actively contribute to security.

Iranian officials have on various occasions underlined the readiness of the Armed Forces to respond to any action against the country.

In comments in May 2017, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei cautioned the adversaries about the “harsh reaction” they will have to suffer in case of any offense against Iran, stressing that the era of hit and run is over.

“The enemies should know that if they come up with the idea of an act of aggression against Iran, they will face a harsh reaction,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, reminding the enemies that they might begin a war against Iran, but the decision to end it would not be theirs.