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.

The Australian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

Australia Considers Lifting Its Nuclear Energy Ban

August 17, 2019, 9:00 AM MDT

Australia has been historically opposed to nuclear energy–on their own land, that is. While the nuclear option has long been dismissed in the land down under and was officially banned in 2009 in reaction to Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster, Australia also has a long history of capitalizing on the global nuclear industry as a whole. Last year the country exported over 7,000 metric tons of uranium, earning Australia nearly $600 million Australian dollars ($407 million United States Dollars).

As the Australian edition of The Conversation points out, “This uranium produced nearly as much energy as Australia uses in a year, but with less than 10 percent of the carbon dioxide from coal-fired power stations.” The comparison to coal is an important one, as Australia’s economy itself is coal-fired. According to the Australian government’s own statistics, “Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal. Coal accounts for more than half of Australia’s energy exports.” The government page “Australia’s Energy Production, Consumption and Exports” goes on to say that, “Australia’s primary energy consumption is dominated by coal (around 40 percent), oil (34 percent) and gas (22 percent). Coal accounts for about 75 per cent of Australia’s electricity generation, followed by gas (16 percent), hydro (5 percent) and wind around (2 percent).” 

While Australia has doubled down on its current and future coal production, it is also one of the world’s largest exporters of uranium, and risks sowing the seeds of serious diplomatic trouble with their Pacific Island neighbors if they don’t begin to clean up their carbon act in a hurry. It’s therefore unsurprising that there are many proponents of bringing nuclear into Australia’s domestic energy mix, and after many years it seems that the nuclear option may finally be back on the legislative table.

In fact, Australia is on the verge of conducting a parliamentary inquiry into the viability of developing a nuclear energy program on Australian soil. A statement by Queensland Liberal National parliamentarian and The Standing Committee on Environment and Energy leader Ted O’Brien, head of the standing committee on environment and energy said that, “this inquiry will provide the opportunity to establish whether nuclear energy would be feasible and suitable for Australia in the future, taking into account both expert opinions and community views.”

While political and public opinion of nuclear energy is shifting in Australia, however, there is still more opposition than support of the initiative, with the vast majority of Australians taking a “not in my backyard” approach to the issue. As the Asia Times reports, “a recent survey by pollster Essential showed community views are increasingly in favor, but still fall below 50 percent. However, when respondents were asked to consider a reactor being built close to their homes, property-obsessed Australians voted ‘no’ at a rate of 78 percent, the poll showed.”

While opposition to nuclear power has long been one of the very, very few bipartisan bits of common ground in Australia, times are changing, and so is nuclear power. The means of nuclear power production themselves have evolved considerably over the last decade, making nuclear cheaper and safer than ever before. In Australia, “the renewed interest [in nuclear energy] is being spurred by Minister for Energy and Emissions Reductions Angus Taylor’s enthusiasm for newfangled small modular reactors (SMRs), which are cheaper, allegedly safer and use less water,” says the Asia Times. “Those reactor-types will be a focus of the upcoming parliamentary inquiry. British engineering company Rolls Royce, for one, is leading a UK consortium involved in developing SMRs aimed at producing affordable energy with a lower carbon footprint.”

While nuclear seems to be going the way of the dodo in the United States (thanks to public and political mistrust not unlike in Australia, astronomical nuclear waste-maintenance costs, and a hyper-competitive energy market flooded by cheap natural gas) Australia will not be an outlier if they decide to embrace nuclear energy. In fact, far from it. The rest of the world, Russia and China in particular, are all leaning into nuclear energy as one of the most powerful, efficient, and green options for a carbon-choked planet with ever-expanding energy demands. Despite its many drawbacks, it’s becoming the common sentiment in the international community that nuclear is simply the best of our bad options. 

By Haley Zaremba for Oilprice.com

Shi’a Horn Targets Remote Saudi Oil Field

Yemen rebel drone attack targets remote Saudi oil field

By JON GAMBRELL, Associated Press

FILE – In this Monday, March 8, 2004 file photo, an industrial plant strips natural gas from freshly pumped crude oil is seen at Saudi Aramco’s Shaybah oil field at Shaybah in Saudi Arabia’s Rub al-Khali desert. Saudi state TV reported Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, that a fire had been controlled at the…  (Associated Press)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Drones launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels attacked a massive oil and gas field deep inside Saudi Arabia’s sprawling desert on Saturday, causing what the kingdom described as a “limited fire” in the second such recent attack on its crucial energy industry.

The attack on the Shaybah oil field, which produces some 1 million barrels of crude oil a day near the kingdom’s border with the United Arab Emirates, again shows the reach of the Houthis’ drone program. Shaybah sits some 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) from Houthi-controlled territory, underscoring the rebels’ ability to now strike at both nations, which are mired in Yemen’s yearslong war.

The drone assault also comes amid heightened tensions in the wider Mideast between the U.S. and Iran, whose supreme leader hosted a top Houthi official days earlier in Tehran.

State media in Saudi Arabia quoted Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih as saying production was not affected at the oil field and no one was wounded in the attack Saturday. The state-run Saudi Arabian Oil Co., known widely as Saudi Aramco, issued a terse statement acknowledging a “limited fire” at a liquid natural gas facility at Shaybah.

Their acknowledgement came hours after Yahia Sarie, a military spokesman for the Houthis, issued a video statement claiming the rebels launched 10 bomb-laden drones targeting the field in their “biggest-ever” operation. He threatened more attacks would be coming.

“This is in response to their aggression toward us and our people in Yemen,” Sarie said.

Al-Falih linked the attack to a May assault by Houthi drones that targeted the kingdom’s crucial East-West Pipeline, a 1,200-kilometer (746-mile) link between its eastern oil fields and the Red Sea. He also mentioned recent explosions on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz that the U.S. blames on Iranian-planted limpet mines. Iran denies being behind those attacks.

“This act of terrorism and sabotage is only an extension of those acts that have recently targeted the global oil supply chains, including oil pipelines in the kingdom, and oil tankers,” al-Falih said. “This cowardly attack once again highlights the importance of the international community’s response to all terrorist actors who carry out such acts of sabotage, including the Houthi militias.”

The oil field at Shaybah is in the Arabian Peninsula’s Empty Quarter, a sea of sand where temperatures routinely hit 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit). Saudi Aramco on its website refers to the field as “the most remote treasure on Earth,” home to reserves of 14.3 billion barrels of oil and 25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

The field’s distance from rebel-held territory in Yemen demonstrates the range of the Houthis’ drones. U.N. investigators say the Houthis’ new UAV-X drone, found in recent months during the Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen, likely has a range of up to 1,500 kilometers (930 miles). That puts Saudi oil fields, an under-construction Emirati nuclear power plant and Dubai’s busy international airport within their range.

Unlike sophisticated drones that use satellites to allow pilots to remotely fly them, analysts believe Houthi drones are likely programmed to strike a specific latitude and longitude and cannot be controlled once out of radio range. The Houthis have used drones, which can be difficult to track by radar, to attack Saudi Patriot missile batteries, as well as enemy troops.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE launched their war against the Houthis in March 2015 to back the country’s internationally recognized government. The UAE recently began withdrawing troops from the conflict while UAE-allied separatists recently seized the city of Aden, further complicating a war seen as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

___

Associated Press writer Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed to this report.

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

On the Verge of the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

India, Pakistan once again on verge of full-scale war

News Desk

August 17,2019

Pakistan, on its part, denies any involvement in the Pulwama bombing. Prime Minister Imran Khan told New Delhi that his government was ready to take action against JeM if it provided concrete evidence about its involvement in the deadly attack. Islamabad also denies backing any Islamist group in Kashmir or anywhere else in the region.

ISLAMABAD: India and Pakistan are once again on the verge of a full-scale war. It is an unimaginable scenario as the two South Asian neighbors possess high-tech nuclear arms. They have fought three wars over Kashmir, which they both claim in full, but rule in part. Any escalation of military conflict between the two countries has a dangerous risk of a nuclear confrontation. New Delhi justifies its airstrike inside Pakistan by saying that it targeted a militant camp run by the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militant group, international media reported on Friday.

The group claimed responsibility for the February 14 suicide bombing in Kashmir’s Pulwama district, which killed more than 40 Indian troops. JeM, which allegedly has links to al-Qaeda, regularly targets government installations in Indian-Held Kashmir. So India claims its military operation was actually an act in self-defense.

Pakistan, on its part, denies any involvement in the Pulwama bombing. Prime Minister Imran Khan told New Delhi that his government was ready to take action against JeM if it provided concrete evidence about its involvement in the deadly attack. Islamabad also denies backing any Islamist group in Kashmir or anywhere else in the region.

Pakistan has limited means to respond to India bombing. A day after India’s military action, Pakistan said its aircraft launched strikes across the de-facto border from within Pakistani airspace. Islamabad also claimed that it shot down two Indian jets near the Kashmir border. The escalation, many fear, has increased the risk of a full-fledged military confrontation between the two nuclear-armed countries.

The biggest worry for the international community at the moment is that this could lead to a nuclear confrontation. Although, both countries have played down the risk of a nuclear war, regional and international players remain watchful.

“All wars are miscalculated, and no one knows where they lead to,” Pakistani PM Khan said in his address to the nation on Wednesday following Pakistan’s retaliatory strikes against India. “World War I was supposed to end in weeks, it took years. Similarly, the US never expected the war on terrorism to last 17 years,” he added.

“I ask India: with the weapons you have and the weapons we have, can we really afford such a miscalculation? If this escalates, things will no longer be in my control or in Narendra Modi’s,” the prime minister continued.

Nuclear capabilities: Both India and Pakistan have ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. According to the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), India possesses nine types of operational missiles, including the Agni-3 that can reach targets up to 5,000 kilometers. Pakistan’s missiles can also reach any part of India, CSIS said.

Both countries also have smaller nuclear warheads that can be attached to short-range missiles (50-100 kilometers). According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Pakistan is estimated to have around 140 to 150 nuclear warheads, compared to India’s 130-140 warheads.

Climate scientists simulated the effects of limited regional nuclear war between the two countries and found that nuclear explosions could start firestorms that send millions of tons of smoke into the atmosphere. That could cripple the ozone layer, cause global cooling, and trigger food shortages.

The newest simulations showed that the effects could be “about five times worse than what we’ve previously calculated,” one researcher said. Climate scientists warn that if either country launches just a portion of its nuclear weapons, the situation might escalate into a global environmental and humanitarian catastrophe.

“This is the premier nuclear flashpoint in the world,” Ben Rhodes, a political commentator, said on Wednesday’s episode of the “Pod Save the World” podcast.

For that reason, climate scientists have modeled how an exchange of nuclear weapons between the two countries — what is technically called a limited regional nuclear war — might affect the world.

Though the explosions would be local, the ramifications would be global, that research concluded. The ozone layer could be crippled and Earth’s climate may cool for years, triggering crop and fishery losses that would result in what the researchers called a “global nuclear famine.”

“The danger of nuclear winter has been under-understood — poorly understood — by both policymakers and the public,” Michael Mills, a researcher at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, said. “It has reached a point where we found that nuclear weapons are largely unusable because of the global impacts.”

Analysts agree that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme is driven by its perception of the threat posed by India. “Pakistani officials state that their nuclear weapons are ‘India-specific,’ and as India’s military power grows —with its much larger economy, it is able to invest more in modern military capability —Islamabad believes it needs more nuclear weapons to maintain deterrence with India,” Toby Dalton, a co-director of the Nuclear Policy Programme at the Carnegie Endowment, told DW in a previous interview.Gregory Koblentz, an Associate Professor at George Mason University and author of a 2015 Carnegie report “A normal nuclear Pakistan,” says that the Pakistani military has adopted a strategy of “full spectrum deterrence” so it can “continue to engage in asymmetric warfare against India and deter even limited Indian conventional military retaliation with the threat of tactical nuclear weapons.”

This inequality between Indian and Pakistani military strengths could pose a huge risk, experts say.

Michael Kugelman from the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars is of the view that because Pakistan’s conventional military capacity is much inferior to that of India, the possibility of a nuclear conflict thus increases. “Pakistan’s retaliatory action in the present scenario could be met with a destructive Indian response. If that happens, we have to start worrying about a nuclear scenario,” Kugelman said.

But Talat Masood, a former Pakistani army general and defense analyst told DW that he does not think the latest Kashmir conflict could escalate into a nuclear conflict. “Yes, there are fears because the tension is rising and no talks are being held. Pakistan has offered talks but India will not hold such talks because of the [upcoming] elections there,” Masood said.

Russia’s Awesome Nuclear Arsenal (Daniel 7)

Graphic of Poseidon Intercontinental Nuclear-Powered Nuclear-Armed Autonomous Torpedo.
Russian Defense Ministry

Russia Testing Nuclear-Powered Mega-Torpedo Near Where Deadly Explosion Occurred

Aug 17, 2019,

Details are still emerging of the explosion of a nuclear-powered engine that killed at least seven people in northern Russia last week. Conflicting reports, rumors and speculation center around whether the engine was for a nuclear-powered cruise missile, codenamed Skyfall by NATO, or some other weapon-related reactor. One of the possible weapons in the frame is the Poseidon mega-torpedo. This new weapon is described as an Intercontinental Nuclear-Powered Nuclear-Armed Autonomous Torpedo by the U.S. government.

The unique drone-like weapon is in an entirely new category. Launched from a large submarine, potentially from under the protection of the arctic ice cap, it would have virtually unlimited range and Russia claims that it will run so deep that it cannot realistically be countered with existing weapons. It’s designed to be armed with a nuclear warhead, reportedly of 2 megatons, which represents a slow but unstoppable death-knell for the residents of coastal cities such as New York or San Francisco in the event of a nuclear war. The Russian Ministry of Defense also claims that it will be usable against high value maritime targets such as the U.S. Navy’s carrier battle groups.

It is massive, around 30 times larger than the heavyweight torpedoes commonly used aboard submarines, and twice as large as submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). Specially constructed submarines will be able to carry six Poseidon each. Unlike existing missile submarines, which are termed SSBNs, this type of submarine doesn’t even have a designation yet. Possibly SSDN will be used to denote a nuclear powered drone-carrying submarine.

Poseidon is being tested in the region, my analysis of information gathered from public sources shows. For trials it is being launched by a special submarine based in Severodvinsk, near the Nyonoksa testing site where the explosion occurred. The submarine is named Sarov after the city where the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Physics, which developed the nuclear engine involved in the explosion, is based. Sarov is also the city where the victims of the blast were laid to rest. In recent years the Russian Ministry of Defense has been open about Sarov’s role in the tests. The submarine rarely puts to sea but my analysis of information gathered from public sources shows that it did venture out into the White Sea in June, pointing to possible recent test launches.

Poseidon was first revealed to the public in dramatic fashion by Russian state media in the fall of 2015, when a slide on the new weapon was visible during a meeting with President Putin. The apparent security lapse was probably not by accident.

The project itself has since been traced back much further to the end of the Cold War, and defense watchers had an inkling of a giant torpedo-like weapon under development for about five years prior to the staged leak.

The weapon has been in testing since around 2014 and is likely to be nearing the production phase with deployments at sea from the early 2020s. The first submarine slated to carry the weapon operationally was launched in April in Severodvinsk. The gigantic Belgorod submarine is still undergoing fitting out and will not be operational for a few years. The second submarine, Khabarovsk, is also nearing completion and two more SSDNs are expected to follow, providing Russia with a new dimension in nuclear deterrence.

Babylon the Great’s Response to the Iranian Tanker

Iran tanker: US issues warrant to seize Grace 1 supertanker – BBC News

Reuters

Grace 1, which is currently anchored in the Strait of Gibraltar, is carrying 2.1m barrels of oil

The US justice department has issued a warrant to seize a detained Iranian oil tanker, a day after a judge in Gibraltar ordered it to be released.

The Grace 1 supertanker, which is carrying 2.1m barrels of oil, was detained on 4 July on suspicion of illegally transporting oil to Syria.

A last-minute legal attempt by the US to keep the tanker detained was rejected by Gibraltar on Thursday.

Iran previously called the detention of Grace 1 an “illegal interception”.

Two weeks after Grace 1 was detained, on 19 July, Iran seized the British flagged tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz.

Although Iran claimed the ship had violated “international maritime rules”, the seizure of Stena Impero was widely believed to be an act of retaliation.

What is the US saying?

The warrant, issued by a US federal court in Washington on Friday, is addressed to “the United States Marshals Service and/or any other duly authorized law enforcement officer”.

It called for the tanker and the oil on board to be seized. It has also ordered the seizure of $995,000 (£818,000) from an account at an unnamed US bank linked to Paradise Global Trading LLC, an Iranian company.

The justice department said the ship and the firm had been involved in violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, bank fraud, money laundering and terrorism forfeiture statutes.

“A network of front companies allegedly laundered millions of dollars in support of such shipments,” federal prosecutor Jessie Liu said.

She added the parties involved were linked with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the US regards as a foreign terrorist organisation.

Although the warrant orders “any” law enforcement officer to seize the tanker and its cargo, it is unlikely to result in any action by the UK or Gibraltarian authorities, according to Prof Fawaz Gerges, a professor of Middle Eastern politics and international relations at LSE.

He said: “It would take a great deal of arm-twisting [by the US] to really persuade another Gibraltarian court to take the tanker back.”

What happened in Gibraltar?

Gibraltar’s government said it had received assurances from Iran that Grace 1 would not sail to countries “subject to European Union sanctions” – that is, Syria.

The British territory’s chief minister Fabian Picardo added: “We have deprived the Assad regime in Syria of more than $140m worth of crude oil.”

Video caption Grace 1: Inside the seized supertanker

After a judge ordered the tanker’s release, Mr Picardo earlier told the BBC that the vessel would be able to leave as soon as the logistics had been figured out: “Could be today, could be tomorrow.”

Neither Britain nor Gibraltar have responded to the US warrant.

32 Palestinians injured Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

32 Palestinians injured as thousands protest on Gaza border

Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90

Palestinian security forces loyal to Hamas prevent demonstrators from getting closer to the border during a protest along the border with Israel, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on August 2, 2019.

16 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces along the security barrier

Several thousand Palestinians protested along the Gaza Strip border on Friday, with dozens injured in clashes as rioters hurled stones and explosive devices at Israeli troops.

Israeli forces responded with tear gas and live fire to disperse rioters who approached the security fence and hurled projectiles.

Sixty-three Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces amid the clashes, including 32 by live ammunition,  according to the Palestinian health ministry based in Gaza.

Later in the evening, three rockets were fired at southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, causing no injuries or damage as one was intercepted by Israel and the other fell in open areas.

Rocket alert sirens sound in Gaza border communities | August 16

Tens of thousands of Palestinians have amassed at various flash-points along the Gaza border for the Hamas-backed protests nearly every week since March 30, 2017.

The protests often turn violent with demonstrators burning tires, hurling rocks and other incendiary devices across the border, and at times planting explosive charges along the security fence.

The demonstrations have given Palestinians an opportunity to put an end to the decade-long Israeli blockade of the impoverished Gaza enclave, which Israel says is necessary to isolate Hamas and ensure the security of its borders.

In past weeks, tensions on the border have flared amid there deadly clashes between Gaza militants and Israeli forces, leading Israel to bolster its defenses.

Israel is reportedly developing plans to build a massive wall in the northern section of the Gaza security fence in an effort to protect border communities from threats like terrorist infiltrations, attack tunnels and anti-tank weapons.