The “Zone” of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Matt Fagan, Staff writer, @fagan_nj

It had been relatively quiet this year, until geologists recorded a 1.3 magnitude quake last weekend in Morris Plains, and then a 1.0 magnitude quake Saturday in Morristown.

Last weekend’s tremor was reported by Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Observatory to the Morris Plains Police Department, which issued an advisory to residents on Monday morning.

Lamont-Doherty spokesman Kevin Krajick said the quake was pinpointed to a shallow depth of 6 kilometers just north of Grannis Avenue, between Mountain and Sun Valley ways, about 500 feet southeast of Mountain way School.

Rutgers Newark geology professor talks about earthquakes in northern New Jersey. Matt Fagan/NorthJersey.com

“It was a very small earthquake at a very shallow depth,” Krajick said. “Most people would not feel an earthquake that small unless they were absolutely right under it, if that.”

“To date (there) were no reported injuries or damage related to the earthquake and no Morris Plains residents reported any activity to this agency,” according to Morris Plains police Chief Jason Kohn

On the other hand, Butler Police Lt. Mike Moeller said his department received “a bunch of calls about it, between 9:30 and 10:30 p.m.”

Saturday’s earthquake was so minor that Morristown police said they received no calls from residents

Earthquakes are generally less frequent and less intense in the Northeast compared to the U.S. Pacific Coast, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. But due to geological differences between the regions, earthquakes of similar magnitude affect an area 10 times larger in the Northeast compared to the West Coast.

The 16 tremors recorded in 2016 were minor, generally 1 or 2 magnitude, often misinterpreted as explosions, said Alexander Gates, geology professor at Rutgers University Newark campus.

“A lot of people in Butler felt them over the course of the last year, but a lot of them didn’t know it was an earthquake,” Gates said.

Butler is the borough, but also the name of the fault that sits at the end of aseries of others belonging to the Ramapo Fault, Gates said.

The Ramapo fault, Gates said, is the longest in the Northeast and runs from Pennnsylvania through New Jersey, snaking northeast through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic, and Bergen counties before coming to an end in New York’s Westchester County, not far from the Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant.

“I’d be willing to bet that you’d have to go all the way to Canada and all the way to South Carolina before you’d get one that active,” Gates said of the area which runs from the New York state line in the Ringwood and Mahwah area down to Butler and central Passaic County, Gates said.

Of last year’s 16 earthquakes, 12 were directly associated with the faults around Butler, Gates said.

Butler Councilman Ray Verdonik said area residents are well aware of the frequency of earthquakes and agrees they are often difficult to discern.

During one earthquake, the councilman said he and his neighbors rushed from their homes.

“We thought it was from Picatinny Arsenal or a sonic boom.” he said.

Won-Young Kim, director of the  Lamont-Doherty Cooperative Seismographic Network, which  monitors earthquakes in the Northeast, said often very shallow, the low magnitude quakes’ waves cause much ground motion. He said even though the waves don’t travel very far, they can seem more intense than the magnitude suggests.

They may not topple chimneys, he said but can crack foundations and frighten residents.

To put earthquake magnitudes in perspective, experts said each year there are about 900,000 earthquakes of 2.5 magnitude or less recorded annually by seismograph. These mild tremors are usually not felt.

There are 30,000 that measure between 2.5 and 5.4, and these are often felt, but cause minor damage.

About 500 quakes worldwide are recorded between 5.5 and 6 magnitude per year and cause slight damage to buildings and structures.

The 100 that fall within 6.1 and 6.9 may cause lots of damage in populated areas.

The 20 or so which fall within the 7 and 7.9 magnitude per year are considered major and cause serious damage.

Those that measure at 8 or greater can totally destroy communities near the epicenter and average one every five to 10 years.

The earthquake recorded in Mexico last week measured 7.1 magnitude.

Gates said he has identified most of the region’s numerous faults, but has yet to name them all. Among the unnamed include the faults responsible for last year’s quakes in the region.

Earthquakes in this region are intraplate ones,Gates said, meaning they occur within the plates. Earthquakes of this type account for more than 90 percent of the total seismic energy released around the world.

Plates are the masses of the earth’s crust that slowly move, maybe as little as a few centimeters a year to as much 18 centimeters, around the globe. Faults such as the San Andreas are interplate and occur near where two plates meet.

The plate North America rides upon runs from the Mid Atlantic Ridge to the Pacific Coast. The theory is that as plates interact with one another, they create stress within the plate. Faults occur where the crust is weak, Gates said. Earthquakes relieve the built up pressure.

Boston College Geophysics Professor John Ebel said he and a Virginia Tech colleague, believe the seismically active areas in New York and South Carolina are where some 200 million years ago, the plates tried to break off but failed. This led to a weakening of the earth’s crust which makes them susceptible to quakes.

While not predictable, the data collected seem to suggest earthquakes occur somewhat periodically, 40 active years followed by 40 less active, Gates said.

“We are over due for a 3 or 4” magnitude, Gates said. “A 4 you’d feel. It would shake the area. Everybody would be upset.”

Ebel does not fully agree. He said saying “overdue” might be somewhat misleading.  Earthquakes happen through a slow process of rising stress, “like dropping individual grains of sand on the table.”

You never know which grain will cause the table to break, he said.

Still all three experts say statistically it is only a matter time before a magnitude 5 quake is recorded in the northern New Jersey area.

The scientists said quakes in the Northeastern part of the United States tend to come 100 years apart and the last one was recorded in 1884 believed to be centered south of Brooklyn. It toppled chimneys and moved houses from their foundations across the city and as far as Rahway.

Washington D.C. experienced a 5.8 magnitude quake in 2011, which was felt in the Northeast, Gates said. That quake cracked the Washington Monument.

A similar quake was recorded in 1737 in Weehawken, Gates noted.

“Imagine putting a 5.5 magnitude earthquake in Weehawken, New Jersey next to the Bridge, next to the tunnel,” Gates said. “Boy that would be a dangerous one.”

In 2008 Columbia University’s The Earth Institute posted an article titled: “Earthquakes May Endanger New York More Than Thought, Says Study.”

“Today, with so many more buildings and people, a magnitude 5 centered below the city would be extremely attention-getting,” the article’s co-author John Armbruster wrote. “We’d see billions in damage, with some brick buildings falling.”

The threat though, is not tangible to many, Armbruster wrote.

“There is no one now alive to remember that last one, so people tend to forget. And having only a partial 300-year history, we may not have seen everything we could see. There could be surprises — things bigger than we have ever seen,” Armbruster wrote.

The Earth Institute’s article did note New York City added earthquake-resistant building codes in 1995.

New Jersey also began to require earthquake-resistant standards in the 1990s. The state, following the 2011 Virginia quake, now requires lake communities to make dams able to withstand a magnitude 5 earthquake.

The issue, Gates said, is that many of the buildings were built before these codes went into effect. A “sizable” earthquake could cause much damage.

Then there’s the prediction that every 3,400 years this area can expect a quake at 7 magnitude.

According to the Earth Institute article, a  2001 analysis for Bergen County estimates a magnitude 7 quake would destroy 14,000 buildings and damage 180,000 in that area alone.  Likewise, in New York City the damage could easily hit hundreds of billions of dollars.

Ebel noted that depending on the depth and power of a severe quake, damage could be also be wide ranging. In 2011, Washington D.C., 90 miles away from the epicenter, which was located in central Virginia, suffered significant damage.  Cities like Philadelphia fall within that radius.

“The big one could happen tomorrow or 100 years from now. That’s the problem,” Gates said. It geological terms 100 years is just a spit in the ocean, he noted.

Then again North Jersey is more likely to be hit by hurricane in the next three years, Gates added.

Email: Fagan@NorthJersey.com

Staff Writer William Westhoven contributed to this report.

New Jersey’s top earthquakes

• Dec. 19, 1737 — Weehawken, believed to be a 5-plus magnitude quake, could be very serious if occurred in same spot today.

• Nov. 29, 1783 — Western New Jersey. Geologists are not exactly sure where it happened because area was sparsely populated. Estimated magnitude varies from 4.8 to 5.3. Felt from Pennsylvania to New England.

• Aug. 10, 1884 — A 5.2 earthquake occurred somewhere near Jamaica Bay near Brooklyn. The quake toppled chimneys and moved houses off their foundations as far Rahway.

• The biggest earthquake in the last 45 years of data available form USGS was a 3.8 quake centered in Carneys Point in Salem County on the morning of Feb.28, 1973

• New Jersey has never recorded a fatality due to an earthquake, according to the DEP.

More Violence Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

IDF reinforces Iron Dome amid Gaza violence

By ANNA AHRONHEIM,EZRA TAYLOR

The IDF reinforced its Iron Dome missile defense batteries on Friday in southern Israel in anticipation of possible rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

The batteries were reinforced a day after a Hamas member was killed by IDF troops along the border fence in what the military said was a misunderstanding.

The man, identified as 28 year old Mahmoud Ahmad Sabri al-Adham, was shot by troops as he approached the border fence in the northern Gaza Strip.

Hamas’ military wing stated that Adham’s death will not go “unpunished” and that Israel would “bear the consequences of this criminal act.”

“Israel  intentionally fired at one of our members while he was carrying out his duties. We are carrying out an investigation into this crime,” the group added.

According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit 6,000 Palestinians violently demonstrated in several spots along the Gaza border on Friday.

Serveral Palestinians were also identified as crossing the border fence into Israeli territory in the southern part of the Strip and immediately returned.

In addition, the military said that serveral explosive devices were thrown at IDF troops, no injuries were caused.

During the riots IDF troops used riot dispersal means against the demonstrators.

According to Palestinian reports, 40 protesters were injured including one seriously wounded after being hit in the stomach by IDF fire.

During the riots an IDF Jeep was hit by a Molotov cocktail thrown by protesters. There were no reported injuries.

Thousands of Gazans have been protesting along the security fence on a weekly basis taking part in Great Return March demonstrations which began last year, calling for an end of the 12 year long Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza over 300 Palestinians have been killed and about 17,000 others injured by IDF since the beginning of the protests.

Also on Friday, a delegation of senior Egyptian intelligence officials entered Gaza for talks with the Hamas leadership over reconciliation with Israel and the attempts to reach a reconciliation with Fatah.

Senior Hamas official Fathi Hammad said that Israel “has one week to implement the understandings and end the siege,” and warned “we have means to act that are awaiting approval,” if Israel does not carry out the “understandings.”

“We are on the verge of an explosion not only in the Gaza Strip, but also in the West Bank and abroad,” Hammad said.

The Rich Men Will Hide in Caves (Revelation 6:12)

WW3 preparation: Where billionaires are building underground bunkers for nuclear doomsday 

The super rich are building bunkers ready for nuclear war (Image: GETTY/RISING S)

WORLD WAR 3 is on the minds of the super-rich, who are snapping up secret underground bunkers in preparation for a nuclear war.

By CALLUM HOARE

PUBLISHED: 14:27, Thu, Jul 11, 2019

UPDATED: 15:17, Thu, Jul 11, 2019

Soviet Union built secret underground bunkers in preparation for nuclear war, reveals travel expert Ben. The bunkers were first discovered in 1985 by Western satellites.

World War 3 is the label slapped on a hypothetical sudden escalation of worldwide tensions leading to a full-scale military conflict that would surpass the events of World War 1 and World War 2. The term has been loosely thrown around since as early as 1941 – with Cold War uncertainty and the War on Terror arguably being the closest the world has come to all-out conflict. However, the situation is far more sobering than the conflicts of the past, with global superpowers – including but not limited to, Russia, the US, the UK, France, India, Israel and China all boasting an arsenal that includes nuclear weapons.

The magnitude of this threat does not need to be repeated to the global elite, who are already mapping out their survival plans in the event of nuclear war.

Seven tech billionaires from Silicon Valley have snapped up real estate in New Zealand in case they need to flee California.

Rising S Company are building bunkers in New Zealand (Image: RISING S)

Gary Lynch, the company’s general manager said last year: “New Zealand is an enemy of no one.

“It’s not a nuclear target and it’s not a target for war.

“It’s a place where people seek refuge.”

Their top of the range bunker, “The Aristocrat” costs £8.9million excluding the installation fee.

It has a capacity for more than 50 people in varying degrees of luxury and features bulletproof doors, a solar generated charging system, a swimming pool, bowling lane and gun range, amongst other luxuries.

The former New Zealand Prime Minister has noticed the uptick in interest from wealthy Americans in his country as an escape plan.

John Key, who held office until 2016, said: “I’ve had a lot of people say to me that they would like to own a property in New Zealand if the world goes to Hell in a handbasket.”

A total of 17 American citizens took advantage of the New Zealand Investor Plus Visa – which requires an £8million investment over 38 months – last year.

It is believed that the rush of investment from billionaires fearing the worst could have been one of the motivating factors behind a new law banning many foreigners from buying homes.

Paypal co-founder, and Facebook billionaire, Peter Thiel is among those to have brought a property in New Zealand in the past few years.

The company ship their bunkers worldwide (Image: RISING S)

The inside of one of the bunkers (Image: RISING S)

The bunkers come with everything needed to survuve (Image: RISING S)

There are a number of options available (Image: RISING S)

Mr Theil built a £3.7million home in Queenstown complete with a panic room, but remains adamant there is no doomsday bunker.

However, his friend and fellow entrepreneur, Sam Altman said last year that he has plans to catch a flight out there if a pandemic ever hits.

LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman told The New Yorker last year that, “saying you’re ‘buying a house in New Zealand’ is kind of a wink, wink, say no more”.

Other wealthy US entrepreneurs who have bought properties in the country include film director James Cameron and billionaire hedge fund manager Julian Robinson.

Iran strikes back at Israel (Daniel 8:4)

Iran Launches Strikes in Iraq and Responds to Israel’s Threat As It Vows to Defend Itself Against Any Attack

By Tom O’Connor On 7/12/19 at 12:49 PM EDT

Iran has conducted strikes against targets in neighboring and responded to a recent threat from Israel as the Islamic Republic’s armed forces vowed to defend their country’s borders.

The Revolutionary Guards announced Friday that they conducted strikes against anti-Iranian government insurgents operating along the Iraqi border in the Kurdistan region. The move came after such groups, potentially Kurdish separatists, clashed with Iranian troops in the north and northwest in recent days, killing three.

Iran’s semi-official Press TV outlet shared footage that appeared to show Iran’s domestically-produced Mohajer M-6 drone as well as various howitzers and short-range missile systems striking targets. The Revolutionary Guards called on the people of Iraqi Kurdistan to avoid militant strongholds so as not to be used as human shields and warned that the recent strikes followed repeated warnings to Iraq’s regional Kurdish government.

“As asserted several times, the national security and preserving the Iranian nation’s calm and peace of mind, particularly for the dear and gallant people of the border provinces, is the red line of the country’s Armed Forces, particularly the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Ground Force,” the Revolutionary Guards statement read, according to the semi-official Tasnim News Agency.

Though no timeframe was provided, the operation may have lasted more than a day as Ahmed Qadir, mayor of the northeastern Erbil village of Choman, told the Kurdish news outlet Rudaw on Thursday that “this shelling has taken place for two days in a row.” He condemned the operation as an “indiscriminate” offensive, calling on Iran to “stop the shelling as soon as possible.”

Like many countries in the region, Iran has complex ties with Kurdish groups, supporting some and opposing others. The head of one of the hostile organizations, Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) co-chair Zilan Vejin, warned in May that her group would “not sit idly by” if war broke out between the U.S. and Iran and could “form a democratic front” in the event of a conflict. But she noted that she felt “Iran and the U.S. are fighting for their own interests,” according to Kurdish outlet Rojnews.

U.S.-Iran tensions have worsened since President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the deal was based on his assertions that it did not do enough to stop Iran’s funding for militant groups or ballistic missiles. His move was hailed by Israel, along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, but condemned by the agreement’s other signatories, including China, the European Union, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Tuesday that his F-35I Adir warplanes “can reach anywhere in the Middle East, including Iran and certainly Syria.” In response, Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami stated Friday that “any enemy at any level intending to violate the sacred territorial integrity of the Islamic Republic of Iran will be met with a decisive and crushing blow that will instill regret,” according to the country’s official website.

Hatami also referenced earlier remarks made by Netanyahu at the Negev Nuclear Research Center, where the Israeli leader said “those who threaten to wipe us out, put themselves in a similar danger.” Both Iranian and Israeli officials have long swapped such grave threats, but recent nuclear-fueled tensions have escalated to the point of crisis.

Israel is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons but has neither confirmed nor denied such an arsenal, while Iran has maintained that its own nuclear program was only for civil purposes. Still, Iran was hit with international sanctions only lifted by a 2015 deal that the United States left last year, leaving Tehran with minimal incentives to remain as new U.S. restrictions bound its economy and geopolitical frictions grew critical.

A U.K. patrol ship is seen near Iranian supertanker Grace 1 off the coast of Gibraltar, July 6. Tehran has demanded that the U.K. immediately release an oil tanker, accusing London of acting on behalf of the U.S. after the Iranian ship was accused of violating EU sanctions by allegedly carrying oil to Syria and detained. JORGE GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images

Around the anniversary of the U.S. exit in May, the White House began to warn of an alleged heightened threat posed by Tehran and its allies to Washington’s interests in the Middle East and the Pentagon deployed additional assets to the region. Meanwhile, Iran has begun enriching uranium slightly beyond levels restricted in the 2015 deal.

Washington has also blamed Tehran for two series of attacks against oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Iran has dismissed the claims but shot down a U.S. Navy drone last month traveling within or near Iranian airspace, a move that nearly led Trump to consider, but ultimately cancel, launch strikes against the Islamic Republic. In the latest flare-up, the U.S. and the U.K. have reportedly accused the Revolutionary Guards of attempting to seize a U.K. vessel Wednesday, only to turned back by a U.K. frigate escorting the ship.

The Revolutionary Guards denied the incident, but Iranian officials have continued to threaten retaliation for the seizure of an Iranian supertanker detained by authorities in U.K.-controlled Gibraltar, where the ships captain and at least three other crewmembers have been arrested for attempting to transport oil to Syria, a violation of EU sanctions.

Iran and Syria have both denied this, but have argued that they were not subject to the EU’s sanctions anyway. Trump and Netanyahu spoke Wednesday and condemned “Iran’s malign actions,” while Russia and China both called for calm.

The Church’s Blessings on Nuclear War

Intercontinental ballistic missile Topol-M exhibited at the annual Victory day Parade dress rehearsal on May 6, 2012 in Moscow, Russia. Credit: Pukhov K / Shutterstock

Russian Orthodox Church considers ending blessings for nuclear weapons

Moscow, Russia, Jul 10, 2019 / 05:00 pm (CNA).- The Russian Orthodox Church is debating an end to the practice of blessing large scale weapons, including nuclear missiles. 

Last month, a committee on ecclesial law met in Moscow and recommended ending the practice of blessing missiles and warheads, and suggested that priests should instead bless only individual soldiers and their personal weapons.

According to a report by Religion News Service, Bishop Savva Tutunov of the Moscow Patriarchate said that it would be more appropriate to bless only the warrior who is defending their country, and their own personal weapon–instead of bombs.

“One can talk about the blessing of a warrior on military duty in defense of the fatherland,” said Tutunov.

“At the end of the corresponding ritual, the personal weapon is also blessed — precisely because it is connected to the individual person who is receiving the blessing. By the same reasoning, weapons of mass destruction should not be sanctified,” he said.

The proposal to end the blessings for larger weapons has yet to be approved by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Weapons systems, including Topol-class intercontinental ballistic missiles, are frequently blessed by members of the Russian Orthodox clergy during military parades and other events. These blessings are seen as a way of spiritually protecting the country.

In 2007, Russia’s nuclear weapons were consecrated in a service at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. In Russian Orthodoxy, the patron saint of Russia’s nuclear weapons is St. Seraphim.

Tutunov’s view is not universally held in the Orthodox Church. According to  the piece published by Religion News Service, Fr. Vsevolod Chaplain, a former spokesman for the Patriarch of Moscow, said that Russia’s nuclear arsenal is akin to the “guardian angels” of the country and are needed to protect Orthodoxy.

“Only nuclear weapons protect Russia from enslavement by the West,” Chaplin said to a Russian newspaper.

Patriarch Kirill is rumored to have been a KGB agent prior to the fall of the Soviet Union. His predecessor, Patriarch Alexy II is also believed to have been a KGB agent. The Moscow Patriarchate denies this.

The Catholic Church is explicitly opposed to nuclear weapons, and supports countries dismantling their arsenals.

Pope St. John XXIII called for the banning of nuclear weapons and wrote that “a general agreement must be reached on a suitable disarmament program, with an effective system of mutual control” in his 1963 encyclical Pacem in Terris.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes acts of war aimed at the indiscriminate destruction of entire cities or large areas as “a crime against God and man.”

“A danger of modern warfare is that it provides the opportunity to those who possess modern scientific weapons – especially atomic, biological, or chemical weapons – to commit such crimes.”

In November, Pope Francis is expected to visit Nagasaki and Hiroshima–cities where the United States deployed two atomic bombs during World War II–on his apostolic visit to Japan.

Hamas Prepares for War Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Why is Hamas test-firing missiles?

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, has intensified its test-firing of missiles in recent months in the framework of developing its military capabilities. However, the timing of these tests conveys military and political messages, especially to Israel.

Most recently on July 3, al-Qassam Brigades launched 10 missiles of different ranges from the northern and southern Gaza Strip to the sea, a few hours before the Israeli Cabinet convened in the Gaza envelope in the presence of senior army commanders and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the stalled truce with Hamas.

After the meeting, Netanyahu threatened Hamas, saying, “Our policies are clear. We want the truce to go back to what it was, but at the same time we are preparing for a large-scale military operation, if it comes down to it. These are my instructions to the army.”

On June 28, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh phoned UN Middle East envoy Nikolay Mladenov and assured him that Israel’s reluctance to implement the truce understandings would have negative effects.

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The two sides made minor steps after the new truce agreement was reached June 28. Hamas and other factions reduced the firing of incendiary balloons toward southern Israel. Israel resupplied the Gaza Strip with fuel, expanded the fishing space for the Palestinians and returned 20 Palestinian fishing boats it had held for years.

However, the Palestinians found Israel’s steps insufficient. On July 8, Israel announced that it had intercepted a Palestinian helicopter heading toward southern Israel.

These tests, which have been the largest in recent months in terms of rocket numbers and ranges, have raised concerns among Israelis who heard loud explosions in the Gaza envelope. False alarms went off in Sderot near the northeastern border of the Gaza Strip during missile trials.

A military official in the Popular Resistance Committees told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that the missile trials carried out by Palestinian factions come within the framework of the continuous development of their military capabilities, which they have resorted to in order to overcome the difficulty of smuggling such missiles into Gaza.

He said that the resistance — Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees — is focusing in its recent test-firing of missiles on precision and destructive force while attempting to overcome the Israeli anti-missile systems, namely the Iron Dome defense system.

He explained that the Palestinian factions succeeded during the last round of escalation with Israel in early May to jam the work of the Iron Dome system, which could only intercept a few missiles; the Palestinian missiles were able to reach their targets accurately, causing losses in the targeted locations.

The Palestinian missiles that struck the city of Beersheba on Oct. 17, 2018, and the Sharon area north of Tel Aviv on March 25, as well as those that hit the city of Ashkelon on May 5, show how developed and accurate the missiles used by Palestinian factions, specifically Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have become.

Hamas’ artillery commander who goes by the alias Abu Moaz told al-Qassam Brigades’ official website June 2 that the rate of missile firing during the last round of fighting with Israel in May was the highest in the history of confrontation between the two sides, as it witnessed the launch of 700 missiles in two days. Hamas, he said, was seeking to overcome the Iron Dome defense system, and it launched a new type of locally made S40 missile carrying large warheads.

Al-Monitor contacted Hamas political and military officials to comment on the recent test-firing of missiles, but none of them agreed to comment, arguing that military capabilities and experiences are confidential information they cannot share with the media.

Hamas and other Palestinian factions, such as Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and Al-Aqsa Brigades, have resorted to manufacturing domestic missiles to overcome the difficulty of smuggling missiles into the Gaza Strip, in light of the Israeli-Egyptian-US efforts to prevent arms shipments to the Gaza Strip from Iran or Libya via Sudan.

Hamas manufactured its first domestic missile in 2001 and continued to work on its missiles until it developed an arsenal estimated by Israel at 20,000 missiles. On Nov. 3, 2009, Israel detected the movement’s first test-firing of missiles toward the sea, which reached a range of 60 kilometers (37 miles). That same M-75 missile was used against Tel Aviv during the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip in 2012.

Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar revealed May 30 that Hamas is developing its military capabilities thanks to the Iranian support it enjoys. Israeli military sources said May 17 that Hamas possesses an arsenal of high-quality, precision-guided missiles that had been manufactured by Iranian experts and that constitute a challenge for the Iron Dome defense system.

Amir Bohbot, military correspondent for Israel’s Walla news website, tweeted June 3 that Hamas’ test-firing of missiles conveys a message to Israel whereby “if no progress is made in the truce talks, we are heading toward confrontation.”

Israel and the Palestinian factions in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip have been engaged in 10 rounds of military fighting between August 2018 and May 2019, in light of the failure to implement the truce understandings. The factions have mainly relied on missiles of different ranges and sizes.

Wassef Erekat, a former PLO artillery commander, told Al-Monitor that Hamas’ continuous test-firing of missiles conveys military and political messages whereby it is ready for any Israeli war on the Gaza Strip. They aim at showing that the Gaza blockade will not prevent the movement from developing its missile capabilities.

Israel usually conveys threatening messages to the Gaza Strip through military maneuvers, and Netanyahu threatened July 3 that Israel is prepared to enter a military battle in Gaza should the truce efforts with Hamas fail. So Hamas wanted to send its own message this time around.

Hamas military expert Rami Abu Zubaydah told Al-Monitor that Hamas is seeking to develop its missile capabilities in preparation for any future military confrontation to influence the course of the battle and achieve political and military gains.

He said that the movement wants to send a message to Israel that it is prepared to use these missiles if it continues to delay the implementation of the truce. Abu Zubaydah noted that the message was clear as the test-firing of missiles took place just hours before the Israeli Cabinet convened in the Gaza envelope.

This comes amid warnings that Israel and the Gaza Strip would slide into a full-scale confrontation if they do not make any progress in the truce talks.

Iran Threatens the British Horn

Britain will be ‘slapped in the face’ for seizure of Iranian tanker, cleric says

Britain will soon get “slapped in the face” for last week’s capture of an Iranian supertanker, a cleric was quoted as saying Friday amid rising tensions between the two nations in the Gulf.

Cleric Kazem Sedghi, an adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told worshipers during Tehran’s Friday prayer sermon broadcast live on Iranian state TV that the United Kingdom should be worried for their actions off the coast of Gibraltar.

“Iran’s strong establishment will soon slap Britain in the face for daring to seize the Iranian oil tanker,” he said.

IRAN WARNS OF ‘REPERCUSSIONS’ FOLLOWING ‘MEAN AND WRONG’ SEIZURE OF OIL TANKER

Sedghi’s warning came after the Iranian government on Friday called Britain to immediately release the oil tanker that British Royal Marines seized last week on suspicious it was breaking European sanctions by taking oil to Syria.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman accused London of playing a “dangerous game” a day after police in Gibraltar, a British overseas territory on the southern tip of Spain, said they arrested the captain and chief officer of the supertanker.

Abbs Mousavi told Iranian state news agency IRNA that “the legal pretexts for the capture are not valid … the release of the tanker is in all countries’ interest.”

“This is a dangerous game and has consequences,” he added.

BRITAIN’S SEIZURE OF IRANIAN OIL TANKER WON’T GO ‘UNANSWERED,’ OFFICER SAYS

Gibraltar has insisted its decision to detain the Iranian tanker was taken alone and not on orders from any government, despite a senior Spanish official previously saying the interception was carried out at the request of the United States.

“All relevant decisions in respect of this matter were taken only as a direct result of the government of Gibraltar having reasonable grounds to believe the vessel was acting in breach of established E.U. sanctions against Syria,” Fabian Picardo, the territory’s chief minister, told reporters. “There has been no political request at any time from any government that Gibraltar should act or not act on one basis or another.”

The detained vessel contained 2.1 million barrels of light crude oil, he added.

TRUMP VOWS TO ‘SUBSTANTIALLY’ INCREASE SANCTIONS ON IRAN IN RESPONSE TO URANIUM ENRICHMENT

The British navy said Thursday it had stopped three Iranian paramilitary vessels from disrupting the passage of a British oil tanker through the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf. The brief but tense standoff stemmed from the U.K.’s role in seizing the Iranian tanker.

In this image from file video provided by UK Ministry of Defence, British navy vessel HMS Montrose escorts another ship during a mission to remove chemical weapons from Syria at sea off the coast of Cyprus in February 2014. Five Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps gunboats tried to seize a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz Wednesday but backed off after a British warship approached, a senior U.S. defense official told Fox News. (AP/UK Ministry of Defence)

On Friday, the British Ministry of Defense said it was moving up its timetable for relieving the HMS Montrose, a frigate operating in the Persian Gulf, with the larger HMS Duncan destroyer in the wake of the recent developments.

“This will ensure that the UK alongside international partners can continue to support freedom of navigation for vessels transiting through this vital shipping lane.”

Iran recently began surpassing uranium enrichment limits set in its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the accord a year ago. He also has re-imposed tough sanctions on Tehran’s oil exports, exacerbating an economic crisis that has sent its currency plummeting.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lucia I. Suarez Sang is a Reporter & Editor for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang