Quakeland: New York and the Sixth Seal

Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake

Roger Bilham

Given recent seismic activity — political as well as geological — it’s perhaps unsurprising that two books on earthquakes have arrived this season. One is as elegant as the score of a Beethoven symphony; the other resembles a diary of conversations overheard during a rock concert. Both are interesting, and both relate recent history to a shaky future.

Journalist Kathryn Miles’s Quakeland is a litany of bad things that happen when you provoke Earth to release its invisible but ubiquitous store of seismic-strain energy, either by removing fluids (oil, water, gas) or by adding them in copious quantities (when extracting shale gas in hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, or when injecting contaminated water or building reservoirs). To complete the picture, she describes at length the bad things that happen during unprovoked natural earthquakes. As its subtitle hints, the book takes the form of a road trip to visit seismic disasters both past and potential, and seismologists and earthquake engineers who have first-hand knowledge of them. Their colourful personalities, opinions and prejudices tell a story of scientific discovery and engineering remedy.

Miles poses some important societal questions. Aside from human intervention potentially triggering a really damaging earthquake, what is it actually like to live in neighbourhoods jolted daily by magnitude 1–3 earthquakes, or the occasional magnitude 5? Are these bumps in the night acceptable? And how can industries that perturb the highly stressed rocks beneath our feet deny obvious cause and effect? In 2015, the Oklahoma Geological Survey conceded that a quadrupling of the rate of magnitude-3 or more earthquakes in recent years, coinciding with a rise in fracking, was unlikely to represent a natural process. Miles does not take sides, but it’s difficult for the reader not to.

She visits New York City, marvelling at subway tunnels and unreinforced masonry almost certainly scheduled for destruction by the next moderate earthquake in the vicinity. She considers the perils of nuclear-waste storage in Nevada and Texas, and ponders the risks to Idaho miners of rock bursts — spontaneous fracture of the working face when the restraints of many million years of confinement are mined away. She contemplates the ups and downs of the Yellowstone Caldera — North America’s very own mid-continent supervolcano — and its magnificently uncertain future. Miles also touches on geothermal power plants in southern California’s Salton Sea and elsewhere; the vast US network of crumbling bridges, dams and oil-storage farms; and the magnitude 7–9 earthquakes that could hit California and the Cascadia coastline of Oregon and Washington state this century. Amid all this doom, a new elementary school on the coast near Westport, Washington, vulnerable to inbound tsunamis, is offered as a note of optimism. With foresight and much persuasion from its head teacher, it was engineered to become an elevated safe haven.

Miles briefly discusses earthquake prediction and the perils of getting it wrong (embarrassment in New Madrid, Missouri, where a quake was predicted but never materialized; prison in L’Aquila, Italy, where scientists failed to foresee a devastating seismic event) and the successes of early-warning systems, with which electronic alerts can be issued ahead of damaging seismic waves. Yes, it’s a lot to digest, but most of the book obeys the laws of physics, and it is a engaging read. One just can’t help wishing that Miles’s road trips had taken her somewhere that wasn’t a disaster waiting to happen.

Catastrophic damage in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1964, caused by the second-largest earthquake in the global instrumental record.

In The Great Quake, journalist Henry Fountain provides us with a forthright and timely reminder of the startling historical consequences of North America’s largest known earthquake, which more than half a century ago devastated southern Alaska. With its epicentre in Prince William Sound, the 1964 quake reached magnitude 9.2, the second largest in the global instrumental record. It released more energy than either the 2004 Sumatra–Andaman earthquake or the 2011 Tohoku earthquake off Japan; and it generated almost as many pages of scientific commentary and description as aftershocks. Yet it has been forgotten by many.

The quake was scientifically important because it occurred at a time when plate tectonics was in transition from hypothesis to theory. Fountain expertly traces the theory’s historical development, and how the Alaska earthquake was pivotal in nailing down one of the most important predictions. The earthquake caused a fjordland region larger than England to subside, and a similarly huge region of islands offshore to rise by many metres; but its scientific implications were not obvious at the time. Eminent seismologists thought that a vertical fault had slipped, drowning forests and coastlines to its north and raising beaches and islands to its south. But this kind of fault should have reached the surface, and extended deep into Earth’s mantle. There was no geological evidence of a monster surface fault separating these two regions, nor any evidence for excessively deep aftershocks. The landslides and liquefied soils that collapsed houses, and the tsunami that severely damaged ports and infrastructure, offered no clues to the cause.

“Previous earthquakes provide clear guidance about present-day vulnerability.” The hero of The Great Quake is the geologist George Plafker, who painstakingly mapped the height reached by barnacles lifted out of the intertidal zone along shorelines raised by the earthquake, and documented the depths of drowned forests. He deduced that the region of subsidence was the surface manifestation of previously compressed rocks springing apart, driving parts of Alaska up and southwards over the Pacific Plate. His finding confirmed a prediction of plate tectonics, that the leading edge of the Pacific Plate plunged beneath the southern edge of Alaska along a gently dipping thrust fault. That observation, once fully appreciated, was applauded by the geophysics community.

Fountain tells this story through the testimony of survivors, engineers and scientists, interweaving it with the fascinating history of Alaska, from early discovery by Europeans to purchase from Russia by the United States in 1867, and its recent development. Were the quake to occur now, it is not difficult to envisage that with increased infrastructure and larger populations, the death toll and price tag would be two orders of magnitude larger than the 139 fatalities and US$300-million economic cost recorded in 1964.

What is clear from these two books is that seismicity on the North American continent is guaranteed to deliver surprises, along with unprecedented economic and human losses.Previous earthquakes provide clear guidance about the present-day vulnerability of US infrastructure and populations. Engineers and seismologists know how to mitigate the effects of future earthquakes (and, in mid-continent, would advise against the reckless injection of waste fluids known to trigger earthquakes). It is merely a matter of persuading city planners and politicians that if they are tempted to ignore the certainty of the continent’s seismic past, they should err on the side of caution when considering its seismic future.

More Tremors Before the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Earthquakes alarm CT residents — today, and centuries ago

Meghan Friedmann | on July 27, 2019

DURHAM — Residents in and around Durham took to social media Saturday morning to talk about the rumbling they felt and heard.

“What the hell was that?!” one man asked in a public Facebook group.

As it turned out, they had experienced a 1.9 magnitute earthquake, centered some 2 miles from Durham and 5 miles from Middletown, according to the United States Geological Survey.

Those who wondered what was going on were not the first in Connecticut to be alarmed by rumblings in the ground.

In 1791, residents as far away as Boston and New York felt an earthquake that was centered near Moodus, a known hub of seismic activity, according to the Northeast States Emergency Consortium.

An earthquake hit near Hartford half a century later, sending terrified citizens running from churches, the site said, and another struck the Bridgeport area in 1845.

More recently, the Plainfield region faced a “swarm” of tremors in 2015, CBS reported.

Saturday’s quake hit shortly before 8:00 a.m., Facebook posts show.

meghan.friedmann@hearstmediact.com

Trump’s Inevitable Nuclear Miscalculation (Revelation 16)

It’s OK, he says he doesn’t want to do it | Omer Messinger/SIPA USA/PA Images. All right reserved

A winnable nuclear war: Trump revives his generals’ dreams

Republican presidents always want ‘small’ nukes for use, not deterrence. What’s worrying is that US military chiefs are thinking the same way.

Paul Rogers

25 July 2019

This week’s White House visit by Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, was a step towards ending the 18-year war between the Taliban and the US. The diplomacy was overshadowed, however, by President Trump’s remarkable assertion that the US could end that war in a matter of days. As he put it:

If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I would win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people. Does that make sense to you?

Reinforcing the comment, he added:

I have plans on Afghanistan that, if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth, it would be over literally in 10 days. I don’t want to go that route.

For a number of commentators, this had to mean the use of nuclear weapons, a prospect that seems incredible with the Cold War era now thirty years in the past.

In reality, though, it is not so far-fetched. The idea of fighting ‘small nuclear wars in far-off places’ has been a feature of US nuclear planning for well over half a century. This is also true for the UK: go back to the end of the 1950s, when Britain first developed its own nuclear weapons, and you will find open reference to using tactical nuclear weapons in a possible conflict with China.

One of the very early columns in this series, published in 2002, covered this ‘small nuclear wars’ issue. Soon after the end of the Cold War, it noted, there were studies about the potential value of small nuclear weapons in conflicts that might fall well short of world-wide war.

Back in 1991 the US Strategic Air Command had commissioned one such study, which became known as the Reed Report. The final version was toned down, but the leak of a draft gave some indication of the line of thinking. As I wrote then:

… it stated the belief that the growing wealth of petro-nations and newly hegemonic powers is available to bullies and crazies, if they gain control, to wreak havoc on world tranquillity. The study itself called for a new nuclear targeting strategy that would include the ability to assemble a Nuclear Expeditionary Force…primarily for use against China or Third World targets.

This period also saw US weapons laboratories working on designs for small nuclear warheads. Some of the thinking behind this was revealed in a paper that two staff members of the Los Alamos laboratory wrote for Strategic Review, titled ‘Countering the Threat of the Well-Armed Tyrant: A Modest Proposal for Small Nuclear Weapons’.

This work was curbed after the election of Bill Clinton as US president in 1992, only to come back centre stage when George W. Bush succeeded him eight years later. To quote my 2002 openDemocracy piece:

When Bush came to power, he brought with him very hard-line security advisers, some of whom had worked in think-tanks that had been diligently investigating new nuclear strategies that were uncannily like those of the early 1990s. Once in power, they were given their head, with the results that have been reported so widely this week.

What has surprised most people is the apparent willingness to consider using nuclear weapons first, using them on a small scale, and doing so on the assumption that this is a reasonable component of an international security policy.

Eight years later the new Obama administration downgraded this approach once again, only for it to re-emerge with Trump’s presidency. Just last month the US Joint Chiefs of Staff published the latest thinking on nuclear strategy in a paper called ‘Nuclear Options’, which showed that the possibility of using nuclear weapons on a ‘small’ scale was once more on the agenda. In the view of the Joint Chiefs:

Using nuclear weapons could create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability. Specifically, the use of a nuclear weapon will fundamentally change the scope of a battle and create conditions that affect how commanders will prevail in conflict.

Not surprisingly, this caused plenty of comment and the Pentagon took the document off the open web within a few days. Before that, though, the Federation of American Scientists had downloaded it and posted it on its own site, so it remains freely available.

At the root of the approach is the belief that small-scale use of very powerful weapons could end a conflict on US terms. It fits with the long-standing NATO policy of flexible response – although that policy envisaged the first step in a nuclear war with the Soviet Union in terms of ‘demonstration shots’, intended not to kill millions but to shock Moscow into holding back from a conventional attack. The ‘Nuclear Operations’ view is much more one of ending a war in a more Trumpian manner.

There is history to this, too, which dates back to the years after the first Iraq war in 1991. After that war it became clear that Iraq had developed a limited but potentially potent force of chemical and biological weapons. One result of this was a development in US nuclear thinking illustrated by the ‘Global 95’ wargaming exercise. conducted under carefully controlled conditions at the US Naval War College. As an Oxford Research Group briefing a couple of years ago reported, it had been:

… a ‘twin crisis’ exercise centred on Korea and the Persian Gulf. Within the terms of the exercise both crises escalated to the use of chemical weapons against US forces, but a resurgent Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq went further, using biological weapons to devastating effect against US military forces and Saudi civilians. The United States responded with a nuclear attack on Baghdad, ending the war. The wargame was reported in the US military journal Defense News ([Theresa Hitchens ‘Wargame finds US short in biowar’] 28 August 1995), as raising a number of critical issues:

“The United States has virtually no response to the use of such potentially devastating weapons other than threatening to use nuclear weapons, a Joint Staff official said Aug. 22. But it is unclear whether even nuclear weapons would provide a deterrent, unless the US was willing to take the difficult moral step of destroying a city, he said. On the other hand, if the United States did launch a nuclear attack in response, ‘no country would use those weapons for the next 100 years’ the official said.”

Replace Iraq with Iran or Afghanistan and it all comes a bit too close to home, but there is another element to this. If the US did kill millions in a small nuclear war it would not prevent any further nuclear attacks for a hundred years, as Theresa Hitchens argued. The new certainty would be the direct opposite: any such US nuclear use would prompt clandestine attacks on US cities within a few years at most.

This all seems more like Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Dr. Strangelove’ than the world of today. But the very attitude is not many miles away from that of Donald Trump and, far more worryingly, fits in uncomfortably with official US nuclear strategy as illustrated by ‘Nuclear Operations’.

Russia’s Newest Nuclear Weapon (Daniel 7)

Russia test-fires Topol-M nuclear missile capable of hitting entire USA

Zee Media Bureau Jul 27, 2019, 22:01 PM IST,

The 11,000-kilometre range Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile hit its target in Kazakhstan`s Sary-Shagan range over 2,500 km away. Topol-M can target the entire United States of America.

Russia on Friday successfully test-fired Topol-M nuclear missile from the Kapustin Yar practice range in the south-western part of the country. The 11,000-kilometre range Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile hit its target in Kazakhstan’s Sary-Shagan range over 2,500 km away. Topol-M can target the entire United States of America.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the test was carried out by the country’s strategic missile forces. “On July 26, 2019, a combat unit of the strategic missile forces conducted a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile of the Topol mobile ground-based missile system from the Kapustin Yar state central practice range in the Astrakhan region. The missile’s exercise head hit the target at the Sary-Shagan range in Kazakhstan to the specified accuracy. The tasks of the launch were executed in full,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a press release.

Topol-M is also known as SS-27 Mod 1, Sickle B, RS-12M1, RS-12M2 and RT-2PM2. The same p-mobile, as well as silo-based missile, is the first one to be developed by Russia following the breakup of the Soviet Union although work on it had started in the 1980s. But the missile was redesigned in 1992 and has been in service with the Russian military since 1997.

The 21.9-metre long, 1.9-m wide Topol-M has a launch weight of 47,200 kilogrammes. While the missile was initially developed to carry a single 500-kilo tonne nuclear warhead, the Russians later armed the Topol-M with a 1 metric tonne nuclear bomb and have also been able to place six Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicle (MIRV) warheads to hit more than one enemy locations.

Guided by the Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), the Topol-M has a Post-Boost Vehicle (PBV) system to activate and launch its warhead. Equipped with countermeasures and decoys to penetrate enemy anti-missile shields, the Topol-M reentry vehicle can also undertake evasive manoeuvers to home in onto its target. The missile also has the capability to counter radiation, electromagnetic interference and physical disturbance.

Currently, Russia is believed to have 80 Topol-M missiles, according to a US report. Russia had in 2009 declared that it would not build any more Topol-M missiles.

Iran Advances Her Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:4)

Iran says missile tests defensive, needs no one’s permission

Saturday, July 27, 2019 7:46 a.m. CDT

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran said on Saturday missile tests were part of its defensive needs and were not directed against any country, after Washington said Tehran had test-fired a medium-range missile.

A U.S. defense official said Iran tested what appeared to be a medium-range ballistic missile on Wednesday that traveled about 1,000 km (620 miles), adding that the test did not pose a threat to shipping or U.S. personnel in the region.

“An informed source at the armed forces staff said Iran’s missile tests are natural within its defensive needs. This missile capacity is not against any country, and only aims to respond to possible aggression,” Iranian news agencies reported.

Iran does not need the permission of any power in the world for its self-defense,” the reports quoted the military source as saying.

U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program last year and stepped up sanctions on Tehran.

He said the nuclear deal was flawed because it did not include curbs on Iran’s development of ballistic missiles or its support for proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq.

Iran has ruled out talks with Washington over its military capabilities, particularly the missile program that it says is defensive. It denies the missiles are capable of being tipped with nuclear warheads and says its nuclear program is peaceful.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Mark Potter and Edmund Blair)

The Nations Trample Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Shadow war: Egypt and Iran battle for influence in Gaza

Two of the Middle East’s fulcrum powers are waging an increasingly bitter fight for influence in Gaza, offering radically different paths forward for the beleaguered Palestinian territory.

For its part, Iran is deepening ties with Hamas, teasing the possibility of a second military front with Israel to complement the threat already posed by Iranian allies Hezbollah and Syria in the north. Closer ties between Gaza and Tehran could endanger the uneasy truce between Hamas and Israel in place since October 2018.

Neighboring Egypt, for its part, is offering an alternative and more pragmatic path. Cairo has led a diplomatic campaign to reconcile Hamas — which governs Gaza — with the Palestinian Authority (PA), which oversees the West Bank and claims authority over Gaza. Egypt also has lines out to Israel to prevent another confrontation over Israel’s accidental killing of a Hamas member earlier this month.

It looks like Khamenei and Hamas leaders agree on everything …

Last week, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei received a senior Hamas delegation in Tehran. The mood was warm and effusive. Khamenei said the Palestinian cause is a “religious matter,” the “first and foremost issue for the Muslim world” and that Iran has never wavered in its support for the Palestinian resistance.

Saleh al-Arouri, deputy chairman of the Hamas political office, responded by insisting that “any hostile action against Iran is indeed a hostile action against Palestine and the resistance movement, and we consider ourselves to be at the forefront of supporting Iran.”

… but is the reality more or less than meets the eye?

“Perhaps in Hamas’ present condition,” writes Shlomi Eldar, “words are important even if they have no connection to reality.”

Hamas cut relations with Syria, a close ally of Iran, in 2012, when popular demonstrations broke out against the Syrian government. This decision upset ties with Tehran, which were never completely severed. Hamas began to reconsider its approach to Iran and Syria in 2017, around the time Ismail Haniyeh became leader of the Hamas political bureau, as Ahmad Melhem explains. Born in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza, Haniyeh, who spent time in Israeli jails, emerged as the most influential Hamas politician inside Gaza, serving as chief of staff to Hamas founder and spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, and as prime minister after Hamas won elections in 2006.

Iran is counting on the despair and frustration of Palestinians today, especially in Gaza, to bring Hamas even more firmly into the anti-Israel “resistance” camp. Iran thrives in confrontation, not compromise. A more hard-line approach has its constituency, especially in Gaza. A recent poll of Palestinians reflects widespread feelings of abandonment by Arab countries and bitterness over the Trump administration’s peace initiative.

Iran has been consistent in its rhetorical support for the Palestinians, its disparagement of the US peace initiative and its willingness to send money and weapons, including missiles and parts, to Hamas and Islamic Jihad factions.

But getting closer to Iran brings lots of risk. Israel and the United States consider Hamas and Islamic Jihad to be terroristgroups. Israel is unlikely to consider steps to alleviate conditions in Gaza if Hamas takes ties with Iran to another level. And an alignment with Iran would only deepen Hamas’ isolation from other Arab capitals. Saudi Arabia, in particular, has intensified its campaign against Hamas leaders.

Mahmoud Mardawi, a member of Hamas’ national relations bureau, perhaps offering some cover for the Tehran meeting, told Al-Monitor’s Adnan Abu Amer, “Iran is backing Hamas, but it is not seeking help from the movement in its conflict with the US, despite Hamas’ supportive stance.”

Iran gains traction even with the PA 

PA President Mahmoud Abbas is also seeking new allies and funding, including from Iraq, as Daoud Kuttab reports, and Kuwait, as Abu Amer explains. Both Iraq and Kuwait boycotted the “Peace to Prosperity” workshop, a US-sponsored event, in June, as of course did Iran.

The visit of Nabil Shaath, Abbas’ adviser for international relations and head of the PLO’s Refugee Affairs Department, to Baghdad June 23-27 also contained some signals to Iran, writes Abu Amer.

Palestinians don’t have a problem with Iran, as Iran has been supporting the Palestinian struggle,” Shaath said in Baghdad. “We seek to strengthen our relations with Tehran, and we don’t consider it an enemy. The enemy is Israel. We, however, do not interfere with Iranian [Persian]-Arab differences.”

Here, too, there may be less than meets the eye. Sure, relations with Israel are at a low, and there is friction with key Arab and international supporters. But Iran seems ultimately a bridge too far for the PA. Shaath’s messaging may be more about keeping good relations all around, especially when in Iraq, and blunting, somewhat, Hamas’ outreach. But it is also a sign of the dire predicament of Palestinian diplomacy in recent years.

Egypt looks to take the diplomatic lead

Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who recently extended a countrywide state of emergency linked to threats in the Sinai, as we reported here, has his diplomats working overtime to reconcile Hamas with the PA and, in the process, bring some relief for Gaza citizens suffering under the blockade.

An Egyptian source told Rasha Abou Jalal that the Egyptian plan includes Hamas transferring control of Gaza to the PA, followed by a national unity government that would include Hamas and other factions, followed by elections, and that the PA, as the ruling authority, would be required to pay salaries for government employees and restore electricity and services. That would be a major move, given that Gaza has been under Israeli and Egyptian blockade since 2007, when Hamas took control from PA security forces.

Abou Jalal concludes, “The Palestinian public doesn’t seem too invested in this rapprochement effort, probably because of repeated failures in the past. However, it’s waiting impatiently for a serious Fatah-Hamas reconciliation that would put an end to a dark era.”

Egyptian envoys have also sought to prevent an escalation over Israel’s accidental killing of a Hamas member July 11 on the Gaza-Israel border. Israel has declared the killing a mistake, and Egypt is trying to prevent an escalation while turning crisis into opportunity. According to Ahmad Abu Amer, “Israel gave the Egyptian delegation several economic incentives … expediting the entry of construction material and tools needed to build a hospital in northern Gaza, allowing the entry of Qatari funds to build the industrial zone in eastern Gaza and speeding up the launching of a power line from Israel to the Strip.”

By the way, that it was Arouri, rather than Haniyeh, meeting with Khamenei in Tehran was the handiwork of Egypt, as Eldar and Adnan Abu Amer explain. Haniyeh had hoped to lead a fundraising tour of Iran, Turkey and Qatar — all on Cairo’s blacklist these days. But Egypt prevented Haniyeh from leaving Gaza, so the call went to Arouri, who is based in Beirut.

Closing the Iranian margins

The Palestinian cause has been a mainstay of Iranian rhetoric since the revolution, but Tehran’s influence has flourished only at the margins, among the more radical factions of Hamas and with Islamic Jihad. Egypt, Israel and the West would like to close those margins, not expand them. Doing so requires support for those diplomatic efforts that seek to bring relief to the people of Gaza.

Otherwise, the road to Tehran is open.

More Wounded and Killed Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Palestinian killed by Israeli fire in Gaza border clashes

Gaza’s Health Ministry says a Palestinian has been killed by Israeli gunfire during a protest along the territory’s frontier with Israel.

A picture taken in Dar Salah on July 26, 2019, shows a Palestinian protester waving the national flag as an Israeli border guard stands behind a fence during a demonstration after Friday prayers at the site of demolished buildings in the occupied West Bank. (AFP)

Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian on Friday afternoon during weekly protests along the border with Israel, Gaza health officials said. Forty others were wounded throughout the day.

The health ministry says 23-year-old Ahmed al Qarra was struck with a bullet in his stomach Friday and died at the hospital. It is the first fatality since June related to weekly protests along the perimeter fence separating Gaza from Israel.

Since March 2018, Palestinians in Gaza have been holding often violent demonstrations along the heavily-guarded Israeli border.

Israeli forces often fire on the demonstrators, saying they are seeking to prevent the border from being infiltrated.

At least 296 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza by Israeli fire since then, the majority during the border demonstrations.

Seven Israelis have been killed.

The protests have declined in intensity in recent months and Qura’s was the first death in weeks.

Right to return protests

Palestinians demand to return to their homes in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the establishment of Israel.

They also demand an end to Israel’s 12-year blockade on Gaza, which has destroyed the coastal enclave’s economy and deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.

West Bank protests

The Israeli army used rubber bullets and teargas shells to disperse Palestinian protesters in the occupied West Bank, a Palestinian official said.

“The Israeli army attacked the weekly march [in the Kafr Qaddum town], using rubber bullets and teargas shells,” Murad Shtewi, the protest organiser, told Anadolu Agency.

Every Friday, Palestinians across the Israeli-occupied West Bank stage demonstrations to protest Israel’s decades-long policy of building Jewish-only settlements on the confiscated Palestinian land.

According to estimates, 640,000 Jewish settlers currently live on 196 different settlements built with the Israeli government’s approval and more than 200 settler “outposts” built without Israeli approval, throughout the West Bank.

International law regards the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, occupied territory and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity there to be illegal.

#Israel’s military and police laugh as they blow up #Palestinian house in #WestBank

Palestine-Israel ties

The Friday protest came a day after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called Israel’s demolition of several dozen Palestinian homes on the outskirts of occupied East Jerusalem “ethnic cleansing.”

He said he will take steps to terminate all agreements with Israel.