The Sixth Seal Will be in New York (Revelation 6:12)

By Simon Worrall

PUBLISHED AUGUST 26, 2017

Half a million earthquakes occur worldwide each year, according to an estimate by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Most are too small to rattle your teacup. But some, like the 2011 quake off the coast of Japan or last year’s disaster in Italy, can level high-rise buildings, knock out power, water and communications, and leave a lifelong legacy of trauma for those unlucky enough to be caught in them.

In the U.S., the focus is on California’s San Andreas fault, which geologists suggest has a nearly one-in-five chance of causing a major earthquake in the next three decades. But it’s not just the faults we know about that should concern us, says Kathryn Miles, author of Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake. As she explained when National Geographic caught up with her at her home in Portland, Maine, there’s a much larger number of faults we don’t know about—and fracking is only adding to the risks.

When it comes to earthquakes, there is really only one question everyone wants to know: When will the big one hit California?

That’s the question seismologists wish they could answer, too! One of the most shocking and surprising things for me is just how little is actually known about this natural phenomenon. The geophysicists, seismologists, and emergency managers that I spoke with are the first to say, “We just don’t know!”

What we can say is that it is relatively certain that a major earthquake will happen in California in our lifetime. We don’t know where or when. An earthquake happening east of San Diego out in the desert is going to have hugely different effects than that same earthquake happening in, say, Los Angeles. They’re both possible, both likely, but we just don’t know.

One of the things that’s important to understand about San Andreas is that it’s a fault zone. As laypeople we tend to think about it as this single crack that runs through California and if it cracks enough it’s going to dump the state into the ocean. But that’s not what’s happening here. San Andreas is a huge fault zone, which goes through very different types of geological features. As a result, very different types of earthquakes can happen in different places.

As Charles Richter, inventor of the Richter Scale, famously said, “Only fools, liars and charlatans predict earthquakes.” Why are earthquakes so hard to predict? After all, we have sent rockets into space and plumbed the depths of the ocean.

You’re right: We know far more about distant galaxies than we do about the inner workings of our planet. The problem is that seismologists can’t study an earthquake because they don’t know when or where it’s going to happen. It could happen six miles underground or six miles under the ocean, in which case they can’t even witness it. They can go back and do forensic, post-mortem work. But we still don’t know where most faults lie. We only know where a fault is after an earthquake has occurred. If you look at the last 100 years of major earthquakes in the U.S., they’ve all happened on faults we didn’t even know existed.

Earthquakes 101

Earthquakes are unpredictable and can strike with enough force to bring buildings down. Find out what causes earthquakes, why they’re so deadly, and what’s being done to help buildings sustain their hits.

Fracking is a relatively new industry. Many people believe that it can cause what are known as induced earthquakes. What’s the scientific consensus?

The scientific consensus is that a practice known as wastewater injection undeniably causes earthquakes when the geological features are conducive. In the fracking process, water and lubricants are injected into the earth to split open the rock, so oil and natural gas can be retrieved. As this happens, wastewater is also retrieved and brought back to the surface.

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Different states deal with this in different ways. Some states, like Pennsylvania, favor letting the wastewater settle in aboveground pools, which can cause run-off contamination of drinking supplies. Other states, like Oklahoma, have chosen to re-inject the water into the ground. And what we’re seeing in Oklahoma is that this injection is enough to shift the pressure inside the earth’s core, so that daily earthquakes are happening in communities like Stillwater. As our technology improves, and both our ability and need to extract more resources from the earth increases, our risk of causing earthquakes will also rise exponentially.

After Fukushima, the idea of storing nuclear waste underground cannot be guaranteed to be safe. Yet President Trump has recently green-lighted new funds for the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada. Is that wise?

The issue with Fukushima was not about underground nuclear storage but it is relevant. The Tohoku earthquake, off the coast of Japan, was a massive, 9.0 earthquake—so big that it shifted the axis of the earth and moved the entire island of Japan some eight centimeters! It also created a series of tsunamis, which swamped the Fukushima nuclear power plant to a degree the designers did not believe was possible.

Here in the U.S., we have nuclear plants that are also potentially vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis, above all on the East Coast, like Pilgrim Nuclear, south of Boston, or Indian Point, north of New York City. Both of these have been deemed by the USGS to have an unacceptable level of seismic risk. [Both are scheduled to close in the next few years.]

Yucca Mountain is meant to address our need to store the huge amounts of nuclear waste that have been accumulating for more than 40 years. Problem number one is getting it out of these plants. We are going to have to somehow truck or train these spent fuel rods from, say, Boston, to a place like Yucca Mountain, in Nevada. On the way it will have to go through multiple earthquake zones, including New Madrid, which is widely considered to be one of the country’s most dangerous earthquake zones.

Yucca Mountain itself has had seismic activity. Ultimately, there’s no great place to put nuclear waste—and there’s no guarantee that where we do put it is going to be safe.

The psychological and emotional effects of an earthquake are especially harrowing. Why is that?

This is a fascinating and newly emerging subfield within psychology, which looks at the effects of natural disasters on both our individual and collective psyches. Whenever you experience significant trauma, you’re going to see a huge increase in PTSD, anxiety, depression, suicide, and even violent behaviors.

What seems to make earthquakes particularly pernicious is the surprise factor. A tornado will usually give people a few minutes, if not longer, to prepare; same thing with hurricanes. But that doesn’t happen with an earthquake. There is nothing but profound surprise. And the idea that the bedrock we walk and sleep upon can somehow become liquid and mobile seems to be really difficult for us to get our heads around.

Psychologists think that there are two things happening. One is a PTSD-type loop where our brain replays the trauma again and again, manifesting itself in dreams or panic attacks during the day. But there also appears to be a physiological effect as well as a psychological one. If your readers have ever been at sea for some time and then get off the ship and try to walk on dry land, they know they will look like drunkards. [Laughs] The reason for this is that the inner ear has habituated itself to the motion of the ship. We think the inner ear does something similar in the case of earthquakes, in an attempt to make sense of this strange, jarring movement.

After the Abruzzo quake in Italy, seven seismologists were actually tried and sentenced to six years in jail for failing to predict the disaster. Wouldn’t a similar threat help improve the prediction skills of American seismologists?

[Laughs] The scientific community was uniform in denouncing that action by the Italian government because, right now, earthquakes are impossible to predict. But the question of culpability is an important one. To what degree do we want to hold anyone responsible? Do we want to hold the local meteorologist responsible if he gets the weather forecast wrong? [Laughs]

What scientists say—and I don’t think this is a dodge on their parts—is, “Predicting earthquakes is the Holy Grail; it’s not going to happen in our lifetime. It may never happen.” What we can do is work on early warning systems, where we can at least give people 30 or 90 seconds to make a few quick decisive moves that could well save your life. We have failed to do that. But Mexico has had one in place for years!

There is some evidence that animals can predict earthquakes. Is there any truth to these theories?

All we know right now is anecdotal information because this is so hard to test for. We don’t know where the next earthquake is going to be so we can’t necessarily set up cameras and observe the animals there. So we have to rely on these anecdotal reports, say, of reptiles coming out of the ground prior to a quake. The one thing that was recorded here in the U.S. recently was that in the seconds before an earthquake in Oklahoma huge flocks of birds took flight. Was that coincidence? Related? We can’t draw that correlation yet.

One of the fascinating new approaches to prediction is the MyQuake app. Tell us how it works—and why it could be an especially good solution for Third World countries.

The USGS desperately wants to have it funded. The reluctance appears to be from Congress. A consortium of universities, in conjunction with the USGS, has been working on some fascinating tools. One is a dense network of seismographs that feed into a mainframe computer, which can take all the information and within nanoseconds understand that an earthquake is starting.

MyQuake is an app where you can get up to date information on what’s happening around the world. What’s fascinating is that our phones can also serve as seismographs. The same technology that knows which way your phone is facing, and whether it should show us an image in portrait or landscape, registers other kinds of movement. Scientists at UC Berkeley are looking to see if they can crowd source that information so that in places where we don’t have a lot of seismographs or measuring instruments, like New York City or Chicago or developing countries like Nepal, we can use smart phones both to record quakes and to send out early warning notices to people.

You traveled all over the U.S. for your research. Did you return home feeling safer?

I do not feel safer in the sense that I had no idea just how much risk regions of this country face on a daily basis when it comes to seismic hazards. We tend to think of this as a West Coast problem but it’s not! It’s a New York, Memphis, Seattle, or Phoenix problem. Nearly every major urban center in this country is at risk of a measurable earthquake.

What I do feel safer about is knowing what I can do as an individual. I hope that is a major take-home message for people who read the book. There are so many things we should be doing as individuals, family members, or communities to minimize this risk: simple things from having a go-bag and an emergency plan amongst the family to larger things like building codes.

We know that a major earthquake is going to happen. It’s probably going to knock out our communications lines. Phones aren’t going to work, Wi-Fi is going to go down, first responders are not going to be able to get to people for quite some time. So it is beholden on all of us to make sure we can survive until help can get to us.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Iran Trains the Iraqi Horn for War (Daniel 8:3)

Iran trains Shia militia proxies in Iraq to wage war on US – report

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN

Iranian proxies in Iraq are training  for war against the US and will continue to fire rockets at US forces in Iraq until the US leaves, a new report says. Iranian-backed militias such as Asaib Ah al-Haq, Kataib Hezbollah and the Badr Organization have also been using “extreme measures to quell protesters, including opening fire on demonstrators,” the US said in a new report. The quarterly Lead Inspector General report for Operation Inherent Resolve pivoted in the last months to focus on Iran as the US is increasingly concerned about Iran’s threats to US forces in Iraq.

The unusual focus on Iran’s role in Iraq has been building over the last two years in these reports. The report draws on information from US Central Command, the Defense Intelligence  Agency, State Department and other reports.  The new report is unprecedented in focusing on Iran’s role. A special diagram shows the main aspects of Iran’s network of influence in Iraq through Qasem Soleimani. Soleimani was the IRGC Quds Force leader killed in a US airstrike on January 3. The US says that an Iraqi named Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi was also killed by US forces travelling with Soleimani in the same strike that killed Kataib Hezbollah leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

Who was Ibrahimi? He was a member of the Badr Corps which fought against Saddam Hussein alongside Iran in the 1980s. He returned to Iraq in 2005, was elected to parliament and advised prime ministers. He became a Kataib Hezbollah commander. Then he was killed by the US.

Who else is on the list of Soleimani’s cohorts in Iraq? Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the BAdr Organization and Fatah Alliance party. The US sees the Fatah Alliance as a union of pro-Iran supporters. It is also home to militia members from the pro-Iranian Shi’ite militias or Popular Mobilization Units. Akram al-Kabi, leader of the Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba group. He broke off from Asab Ahl al-haq in 2012 to form the group and has said he would overthrow Iraq’s government if Iran gives him the order. He is a designated terrorist and has threatened US forces. Qais Khazali, leader of Asaib, is another part of the Iranian nexus. He visited Lebanon in 2017 and threatened Israel.

The US designated him a terrorist in December. Mohammed Al-Hashemi, also known as Abu Jihad, is another man the US points to. A member of the Fatah Alliance party, which is led by Badr’s Hadi al-Amiri, he is  a “key leader in the pro-Iran Bina Alliance,” the US says. The Us says he was linked to bringing former Prime Minister Adel Abdel-Mahdi to power in 2018. “He was a key ally of al-Muhandis and a conduit for the PMU influence in the prime minister’s office [in Baghdad].” Lastly there is Shibli al-Zayddi, a friend of Muqtada al-Sadr. He worked with Muhandis and the IRGC to form the Kataib Imam Ali units. The US has sanctioned him.

The US says Iran’s activity has hindered the US ability to fight Islamic State in Iraq. US forces are in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government to fight ISIS. The recent US-Iran tensions were not  envisioned as part of this mission. There was controversy in December 2018 when US President Donald Trump said the US might us Iraq to “watch” Iran. Iraqi politicians linked to pro-Iran groups opposed the comments and have threatened to order the US to leave Iraq.

The picture the US report paints is one in which Iranian-backed groups have gunned down hundreds of protesters and are loyal to Tehran more than Baghdad. They worked with Soleimani and swear allegiance to Ayatollah Khamenei. They are willing to overthrow the Iraqi government or hijack it for their needs, as they have increasingly done. They target US forces and demand only those they choose can become Prime Minister.

The US says that from October to December “Iraqi militias aligned with  Iran carried out multiple attacks on US forces in Iraq.” This included the killing of a US contractor on December 27. According to the report CENTCOM thought the strike on Soleimani and Muhandis had weakened Iran’s role and the PMU. But the report says that rockets continue to be launched at US forces and the US embassy, including a January 26 attack.

Iran wants to use Iraq as part of its “land bridge” to Syria and Lebanon. The US doesn’t have much options to reduce the Iranian-backed  militia presence. The report says that the PMU partners with Iraqi armed forces on operations, “despite concerns about Iran’s influence over Iranian-aligned militias.” The US begrudgingly admits the PMU presence is a “net positive” in fighting ISIS.

The US concluded that, according to CENTCOM, “Iran funds, arms, trains and directs Shia militia groups in Iraq to wage a proxy war against the United States.”

Iran sends rockets and other munitions to the militias  and the US DIA says that these are meant to achieve an objective of disrupting and harassing US forces and to pressure the US to leave Iraq. “Iran sought to solidify Iranian influence within Iraq’s security infrastructure as a way to pressure the US to withdraw.”  CENTCOM now believes that as long  as the US maintains a presence in Iraq, Iran will seek to carry out harassing  attacks against US forces. Not only that, Iran will use the militias, who are also official paramilitaries of the government, to suppress  protests.

There are so many US concerns about Iran’s role in Iraq and Syria that the number of mentions of Iran run to almost 150 and an entire classified appendix is devoted to “Iranian activity in Iraq.” Iran’s role in Syria is not highlighted as much by the new report but the US  says it is protecting oil fields in Syria to prevent oil proceeds  going to Iran or the Syrian regime. The US is seeking the “removal of all Iranian-led forces and proxies in Syria.”

Antichrist Escapes US Assassination Plot

AhlulBayt News Agency – ABNA – Shia News

February 6, 2020 – 2:38 PM

Leader of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq Resistance Movement Qais Khazali said that the US had plotted to assassinate prominent Shiite Iraqi leader Muqtada al-Sadr and put the blame on Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, but failed.

“The first US-Israeli plot to be implemented in Iraq was assassination of Muqtada Sadr to put the blame on Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq and start internal bloodshed,” Khazali said in a TV program named Liqa al-Khas.

He added that Sadr and Iran were informed of the plot and it failed.

Sadr is an Iraqi Shiite cleric, politician and leader of the Sadrist Movement. Sadr is one of the most influential religious and popular figures in Iraq, despite not holding any official title in the Iraqi government.

In May 2018, al-Sadr’s Sairoon electoral list won 54 seats in the first Iraqi parliamentary election since the ISIL was declared defeated in Iraq.

He rejected US interference in the formation of the new Iraqi government, saying that “the US is an invader country; we do not allow it to interfere” in Iraqi affairs.

The Coming Nuclear Armageddon (Revelation 16)

The Creeping Armageddon

Imran MalikFebruary 06, 2020

Israel’s maintenance as the strongest military (and sole nuclear) power of the Greater Middle East Region-North Africa (GMER-NA) and its unqualified security have been inviolable paradigms of US’ foreign policy. The US’ seamless appeasement of Israel has continued unabated, too. President Trump’s (Non)Deal of the Century has been a massive non-starter and has been thoroughly rejected by the Palestinians and the world at large. The international community too is unlikely to meekly accept Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, acknowledge Israeli settlements on the West Bank and recognize Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights from Syria, etc!

The US and its coterie of allies have solid historical grounds to appease Israel. They remained criminally insensitive and non-committal while the Jews suffered unyielding persecution, inhuman atrocities, racial discrimination, injustice, torture and painful death in the erstwhile Nazi Germany. They found an extremely ingenuous way of overcoming their guilt and compensating the Jews for their abominable negligence, silence, criminal inaction and timid placation of the then Nazi Government. They helped create the State of Israel. Furthermore, in a stroke of devious ingenuity, instead of themselves paying penance for all their acts of omission and commission during the holocaust, they got the little brown Arabs of the GMER to do so in terms of lost territories and sovereignty and brutal subjugation to Israel.

To this day the Palestinians-Arabs continue to atone for sins they never committed!

One look at the map of the GMER-NA will reveal the manner in which the US-led West has assiduously gone about neutralizing and eliminating all possible threats to the State of Israel. This can be viewed in three concentric arcs emanating from Israel. The immediate neighbours like Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon etc were defeated in the 1956, 1967 and 1973 wars. Egypt and Jordan were made to sign peace treaties with Israel. The middle-distance neighbours like the Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia, UAE, and the rest of the GCC were neutralized through sublime diplomacy, adroit management/appeasement of their royal families, extravagant arms sales to them and pure bullying as and when required. The US might have already engineered far reaching albeit favourable changes in the policies of both the KSA and the UAE through their Crown Princes. Both countries are now favourably inclined towards Israel. The farther neighbours like Iraq and Iran were made to fight each other for eight years (it supplied arms and munitions to both belligerents throughout the war!); this Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88 effectively decimated the two major militaries of the then Islamic World/GMER-NA. Thereafter Iraq was invaded twice within a decade or so and completely destroyed as a military threat for a very long time to come. Yet Israel’s abiding insecurities remained unsatiated. The GWOT and the Arab Spring were thereafter generated by the US-led West to further weaken, subdue and dominate all nations in the GMER-NA. Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Egypt etc – all Muslim states – have suffered the disastrous effects of manipulated international terrorism, regime changes or attempts thereto, coercive economic and other sanctions, manipulation through IFIs, sponsored internecine strife, disruptive uprisings etc. Today, the GMER-NA less Israel lies in tatters, ruined, devastated beyond recognition and incapable of threatening Israel in any proactive, kinetic manner! The US-led West however, continues to hover ominously in the background!

This has been the price that the GMER-NA has had to pay to satiate Israel’s enduring insecurities and the US-led West’s vital interests in the region!

Iran has been in the cross-hairs of the US since long. President Trump has summarily rejected and walked out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran. He feels that in its present form the JCPOA neither blocks Iran’s potential to make nuclear weapons comprehensively nor neutralizes its ballistic missile prowess. A future nuclear-ballistic missile armed Iran would not only alter the current contrived strategic (im)balance in the GMER drastically, but would also severely circumscribe Israel’s strategic reach in the region. It will also limit Israel’s freedom of action to militarily overwhelm its neighbours. The US-led West-Israel Combine will not tolerate a competing nuclear-missile power in the GMER-NA and thereabouts (Pakistan-?) that could even remotely threaten Israel and by implication its own vested interests.

In its latest action against Iran the US assassinated General Qassem Solaimani, Commander Quds Force, in a drone attack in Baghdad. Iran struck back promptly, albeit in a measured manner, obviating further escalation. Both belligerents appeared keen to avoid all-out war, Iran for obvious reasons and President Trump because of his re-election imperatives. Therefore, for the time being Iran might have been spared the rigors of a war/invasion. However, it is a question of time only when the US-led West will move decisively to not only scuttle Iran’s nuclear weapons’- ballistic missile programs totally, neutralize its threat potential fully and ensure Israel’s unchallengeable military-nuclear primacy in the GMER-NA. Iran will never be allowed to meaningfully contest or define Israel’s strategic reach or its sphere of influence ever. Israel clearly feels that the general decimation of threats from Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, KSA-led GCC, Egypt, Libya etc are not enough. Apparently, its insecurities might only be sated once the potential threats from Iran too are eliminated – or will they?

Having failed to bludgeon the Iranian nation into submission through its coercive policies of diplomatic isolation, economic and other sanctions thus far, the US-led West will now have to come up with a different strategy. Will it be a kinetic military approach or a saner diplomatic one or a combination of both? President Trump, the self-styled Dealmaker, will have to come up with a New Deal that not only meets Iran’s national aspirations but also blocks its nuclear weapons-ballistic missile programs and its so-called malign influence in places like Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Yemen and the Shiite majority areas in the KSA, Bahrain and Kuwait etc. These are mutually exclusive objectives!

This US-led West’s Armageddon has left massive devastation and destruction in its wake. Will it stop here or will it continue to creep further East of Iran?

(To be continued)

Imran Malik

The author is a retired Brigadier from the Pakistan Army. Email: im.k846@gmail.com Twitter:

Eight Dead as Antichrist’s Men Turns Gun on Najaf Protests

Anti-government protesters try to extinguish their burning tents in Najaf, Iraq, Wednesday, February 5, 2020. IAP Photo

Eight dead as Al Sadr’s militia turns guns on Najaf protests

ReutersFeb 6, 2020

At least eight people were killed in clashes in Iraq’s southern city of Najaf on Wednesday after supporters of populist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr stormed an anti-government protest camp.

Medical sources said at least 20 were wounded in the violence.

Security sources said supporters of Mr Al Sadr, known as blue hats, tried to clear the area of anti-government protesters, who pushed back.

Fights broke out as the blue hats threw petrol bombs at protester tents and gunfire rang out shortly afterwards, wounding and killing eight people, they said.

Iraq’s designated Prime Minister Mohammed Allawi, who was given the task last week of forming a new government, condemned the violence and called on Twitter on the departing Cabinet to “protect protesters”.

Mr Al Sadr, who supported Mr Allawi’s candidacy in an agreement with Iran-backed parties that dominate Iraq’s government and state institutions, has at different times supported and abandoned Iraqi protesters, who demand the removal of the entire ruling elite.

The cleric says he opposes all foreign interference in Iraq but has aligned himself more closely with parties backed by Tehran in recent months.

Mr Al Sadr urged followers last week to help authorities bring “day-to-day life” back to Iraq’s streets by clearing roads blocked by sit-ins and ensuring businesses and schools can reopen.

There has been months of protests in which nearly 500 people have been killed in clashes between demonstrators and security forces.

Mr Al Sadr has also urged the blue hats to allow protests to continue.

Updated: February 6, 2020 09:45 AM

Palestinian killed in clashes outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Palestinian killed in clashes as tensions rise over US plan

FILE – This July 9, 2004 file photo shows the golden shrine of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem’s Old city can be seen behind a section made of concrete walls of the controversial separation barrier Israel is building in the village of Abu Dis in the outskirts of Jerusalem. In the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation, Egyptian forces took control of the Gaza Strip and Jordan took over the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Israel captured the territories when it launched a surprise attack in 1967 at a time of soaring tensions with its hostile Arab neighbors. Enric Marti, File AP Photo

JERUSALEM

Israeli forces shot and killed a 17-year-old Palestinian during clashes with demonstrators in the West Bank on Wednesday, the first death since tensions rose following the release of President Donald Trump’s Mideast plan, according to Palestinian officials.

The shooting came hours after Israel struck Hamas militant targets in Gaza in response to rocket fire toward Israeli communities overnight.

The teenager was killed in Hebron, where a few hundred hard-line Jewish settlers live in a heavily guarded enclave in the heart of a Palestinian city. Relatively small protests have broken out across the occupied West Bank since the Trump plan was unveiled last week, with demonstrators often throwing stones and firebombs at Israeli forces.

The Palestinian health ministry said Mohammed al-Haddad was shot in the chest and succumbed to his wounds after being taken to a hospital.

The Israeli military said troops fired at a Palestinian who had thrown a firebomb at them. It said dozens of Palestinians have taken part in “violent riots” in Hebron in recent days.

The Palestinians have roundly rejected Trump’s Mideast proposal, which offers them limited self-rule in scattered chunks of territory with a capital on the outskirts of Jerusalem while allowing Israel to annex large parts of the West Bank. Protesters have burned U.S. and Israeli flags as well as posters of Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Israeli military has said a soldier was lightly wounded by a firebomb at one protest. It says it has instructed troops to “contain” the protests and not respond forcefully, concerned that Palestinian casualties would set off further violence.

In Gaza, the military said it targeted a Hamas weapons manufacturing site. There were no reports of casualties. The exchange comes amid an uptick in cross-border rocket and “explosive balloon” launches from the Hamas-controlled territory.

The Gaza Strip has been relatively calm in recent months as part of an informal truce between its Hamas rulers and Israel, but tension has increased since President Donald Trump unveiled his plan, which heavily favors Israel, last week.

Under the plan, Israel would be allowed to annex all Jewish settlements in the West Bank, as well as the strategic Jordan Valley. The Palestinians were offered limited self-rule in Gaza, parts of the West Bank and some sparsely populated areas of Israel in return for meeting a long list of conditions. The Palestinians, as well as much of the international community, view the settlements in the West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem — territories seized by Israel in the 1967 war — as illegal and a major obstacle to peace.

Hamas had recently curbed rocket fire from Gaza and rolled back weekly protests along the frontier that had often turned violent. In return, Israel eased the blockade it imposed with Egypt on Gaza after the Islamic militant group seized power from forces loyal to the Palestinian Authority in 2007.

Hamas rejected the Trump plan and vowed that “all options are open” in responding to the proposal, but the group is not believed to be seeking another war with Israel.

Following the latest rocket fire, the military said it viewed the incident with “great severity and is prepared for various scenarios.” It said the zone available for fishing off the coast of the Palestinian territory would be tightened from 15 nautical miles to 10 in response to the rocket fire and explosive balloons.

Meanwhile, the Western-backed Palestinian Authority based in the West Bank announced it has stopped importing Israeli vegetables, fruits, beverages and mineral water. That’s the latest step in a brewing trade war with Israel that began in September, when the Palestinians decided to stop importing beef from Israel.

The P.A. claimed most of the 120,000 head of cattle the Palestinians import monthly from Israel was itself imported and that they therefore prefer to import directly from abroad. The move appeared aimed at reducing the Palestinians’ economic dependence on Israel.

Shortly after the September announcement, Israeli cattle ranchers saw a drop in their market and pressured Israeli authorities to take action. Defense Minister Naftali Bennett retaliated with a ban on Palestinian beef and other products, triggering the Palestinians to expand their boycott.

The Palestinian minister of economy, Khaled al-Osaily, said the latest decision was meant to pressure Israel into revoking its ban on importing vegetables. He said the P.A. annually imports from Israel some $300 million worth of fruits and vegetables while exporting only $55 million.

“We told them this decision has come as a response to the Israeli decision and will be revoked the moment they back off,” al-Osaily said. “We have chosen these products since we have an alternative or we can live without them.”

Israeli warplanes strike targets outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Israeli warplanes strike Hamas targets in Gaza

Army claims airstrikes carried out in response to rocket attack

Gulsen Topcu   |

05.02.2020

GAZA CITY, Palestine

Israel said Wednesday that it launched airstrikes targeting positions of the Palestinian resistance group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Positions belonging to the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, in the southern city of Khan Yunis were hit by missiles launched from Israeli warplanes, said sources on the ground.

There were no casualties according to initial assessments by local sources.

The Israeli military claimed the airstrikes were carried out in response to rockets launched from Gaza into Israel

*Writing by Fahri Aksut