The Sixth Seal Is Past Due (Revelation 6:12)

https://www.cheatsheet.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/aftershock-640x484.png?044193 

by , 03/22/11

filed under: News

New York City may appear to be an unlikely place for a major earthquake, but according to history, we’re past due for a serious shake. Seismologists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory say that about once every 100 years, an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 rocks the Big Apple. The last one was a 5.3 tremor that hit in 1884 — no one was killed, but buildings were damaged.

Any tremor above a 6.0 magnitude can be catastrophic, but it is extremely unlikely that New York would ever experience a quake like the recent 8.9 earthquake in Japan. A study by the Earth Observatory found that a 6.0 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and a 7.0 magnitude hits about every 3,400 years.

There are several fault lines in New York’s metro area, including one along 125th Street, which may have caused two small tremors in 1981 and a 5.2 magnitude quake in 1737. There is also a fault line on Dyckman Street in Inwood, and another in Dobbs Ferry in Westchester County. The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigationrates the chance of an earthquake hitting the city as moderate.

John Armbruster, a seismologist at the Earth Observatory, said that if a 5.0 magnitude quake struck New York today, it would result in hundreds of millions, possibly billions of dollars in damages. The city’s skyscrapers would not collapse, but older brick buildings and chimneys would topple, likely resulting in casualities.

The Earth Observatory is expanding its studies of potential earthquake damage to the city. They currently have six seismometers at different landmarks throughout the five boroughs, and this summer, they plan to place one at the arch in Washington Square Park and another in Bryant Park.

Won-Young Kim, who works alongside Armbuster, says his biggest concern is that we can’t predict when an earthquake might hit. “It can happen anytime soon,” Kim told the Metro. If it happened tomorrow, he added, “I would not be surprised. We can expect it any minute, we just don’t know when and where.”

Armbuster voiced similar concerns to the Daily News. “Will there be one in my lifetime or your lifetime? I don’t know,” he said. “But this is the longest period we’ve gone without one.”

Via Metro and NY Daily News

Images © Ed Yourdon

Indian Point’s Final Days Before the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Earth Matters: Indian Point’s Final Days – Nyack News and Views

by Barbara Puff

Indian Point has been the crown jewel of the nuclear industrialist complex and closing it is a big step to a sustainable energy future. — Susan Shapiro, environmental lawyer.

When scientists began exploring nuclear power in the 1950s, pollsters didn’t ask the public their opinion as support was almost unanimous. By the ’60s, there had been a few protests and opposition increased to 25%. So when Indian Point opened on September 16, 1962, it was greeted with enthusiasm, fanfare, and, in hindsight, naivete.

Within a few years, increased pollution, loss of wildlife, and accidents at the plant elicited concern. In response, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and Riverkeeper were formed in 1966. After incidents at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986, public opinion began to turn against the use of nuclear power.

In 1984, her first year as a legislator, Harriet Cornell formed the Citizens Commission to Close Indian Plant. A glance at her press releases over the years shows her convictions regarding closing the plant. In a recent speech she noted: “Were it not for the superhuman efforts of concerned individuals and dedicated scientific and environmental organizations focusing attention on the dangers posed by Indian Point, who knows what might have happened during the last 40+ years.”

Simultaneously Riverkeeper began documenting incidents, including:

1 An antiquated water-cooling system killed over a billion fish and fish larvae annually.

2 Pools holding spent nuclear fuel leaked toxic, radioactive water into the ground, soil, and Hudson River.

3 Recurring emergency shut-downs.

4 27% of the baffle bolts in Unit 2 and 31% in Unit 3, holding the reactor core together, were damaged.

5 The plant was vulnerable to terrorist attack.

6 Evacuation plans were implausible.

7 No solution for spent nuclear fuel, posing the risk of radioactive release and contamination of land.

8 The plant was near two seismic zones, suggesting an earthquake over 6.2 could devastate the area.

9 Asbestos exposure.

These and other issues led the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to rate Indian Point in 2000 as the most trouble-plagued plant in the country. Lamont-Doherty Observatory agreed, calling it the most dangerous plant in the nation.

As individuals realized the seriousness of the situation, urgency for a solution grew and Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition was formed in 2001. Comprised of public interest, health advocates, environmental and citizen groups, their goals were to educate the public, pass legislation, and form a grassroots campaign with hundreds of local, state, and federal officials.

Clearwater also began monitoring the plant around that time. Manna Jo Greene, Environmental Action Director, recalls, “We were concerned when one of the planes that struck the WTC flew over the plant, including several buildings that hold huge fuel pools, filled with spent fuel rods and radioactive waste.” Had anything happened, the nuclear power industry had provided protection for themselves while neglecting surrounding communities. Powerful lobbyists, backed by considerable financing, induced Congress to pass the Price-Anderson Act in 1957. This legislation protected nuclear power plant companies from full liability in the event of an accident, natural disaster or terrorist attack.

With such warnings, it’s hard to believe as late as 2010, The New York Times stated, “No one should be hoping for a too hasty shutdown.” Over time, the cost of litigation by New York State proved more fatal to the continuance of plant operations than protests, though they were a crucial factor and led to initial filings. Attorney General Schneiderman was very active in filing contentions, legal reasons the plant shouldn’t be relicensed, and won several important court cases on high-level radioactive storage.

In 2016, The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation denied Entergy a discharge permit for hot water into the Hudson River, part of their once-through cooling system. This permit was necessary for continued operation of the plant and a requirement for relicensing. The New York State Department of State, Bureau of Coastal Management, denied Entergy a water quality certificate the same year, which it also needed to relicense. After more than four decades of danger to the environment and residents, Governor Cuomo announced in January 2017 the plant would finally be closing. Unit 2 would cease production on April 30, 2020 and Unit 3 would end productivity on April 30, 2021.

Later that year, in March 2017, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board allowed Entergy to renew the plant’s licenses until 2021, dismissing final points of contention between the company, New York State, and Riverkeeper. Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino attempted to sue the state and reopen the plant in April 2017 but failed.

Ellen Jaffee, NYS Assemblywoman, stated, “After 46 years of operation, I am glad to finally see the closure of Indian Point. Since joining the Assembly, I have long fought for its closure. I would not have been able to pursue these efforts if not for the environmental advocates, like the Riverkeeper, who fought long and hard beside myself to close the plant. The plant’s closure must be conducted in a safe manner, where all radioactive materials will be properly disposed of, without inflicting further harm on our environment. The closure of Indian Point shows that we can reduce our impact on the environment.”

Harriet Cornell said, “We have waited years for this to happen and frankly, it can’t happen soon enough. The facts have long shown there is no future for this dangerous plant.”

“The closure of Indian Point marks the shutdown of dirty polluting energy,” noted Susan Shapiro.

Holtec, the company chosen to oversee decommissioning of the plant, has a horrific track record. New York State Attorney General Tish James released a statement in January expressing multiple grave concerns about them. According to Riverkeeper, they have a scandalous corporate past, little experience in decommissioning, dubious skills in spent fuel management, workplace safety infractions, and health violations. Another fear is the cost will exceed a decommissioning fund set aside by Entergy, Holtec will declare bankruptcy, and the public will absorb the difference.

“Entergy made huge profits from Indian Point,” said Manna Jo Greene. “They’ve hired Holtec, a company with a poor record of decommissioning, to complete the work. Entergy plans to declare bankruptcy, thereby having taxpayers foot the bill. We are not out of danger. It is a different danger.”

Richard Webster, Legal Program Director at Riverkeeper, adds, “Decommissioning must be done promptly, safely and reliably. Selling to Holtec is the worst possible option, because it has a dubious history of bribes, lies, and risk taking, very limited experience in decommissioning, is proposing to raid the decommissioning fund for its own benefit, and is proposing leaving contaminated groundwater to run into the Hudson River.”

State Senator David Carlucci warned, “The NRC Inspector General Report shows there is much to be done by the NRC to gain the confidence of myself and the public, as the commission is charged with overseeing the decommissioning of Indian Point and ensuring the health and safety of Hudson Valley Communities. We demand answers from NRC Chairman Kristine Svinicki. The Chairman needs to come to the Hudson Valley immediately and outline the steps being taken to address our safety and explain how the commission will properly inspect and guard the pipeline near Indian Point moving forward.”

One of the gravest dangers in decommissioning is the storage of spent fuel rods. A fuel rod is a long, zirconium tube containing pellets of uranium, a fissionable material which provides fuel for nuclear reactors. Fuel rods are assembled into bundles called fuel assemblies, which are loaded individually into a reactor core. Fuel rods last about six years. When they’re spent and removed they are placed in wet storage, or pools of water, which is circulated to reduce temperature and provide shielding from radiation. They remain in these pools for 10 years, as they are too hot to be placed in dry storage, or canisters. Even in dry storage, though, they remain extremely radioactive, with high levels of plutonium, which is toxic, and continue to generate heat for decades and remain radioactive for 10,000 years.

“Elected officials and government groups became involved once they understood the fatal environmental dangers nuclear energy creates for millenium,” said Susan Shapiro. “It is the only energy that produces waste so dangerous that governments must own and dispose of it.”

Robert Kennedy, Jr., of Waterkeeper, explained “If those spent fuel rods caught on fire, if the water dropped, the zirconium coatings of the spent fuel rods would combust. You would release 37 times the amount of radiation that was released at Chernobyl. Around Chernobyl there are 100 miles that are permanently uninhabitable. I would include the workplaces, homes of 20 million Americans, including the Financial District. There’s no evacuation plan. And it’s sitting on two of the biggest earthquake faults in the northeast.”

On April 24, 2020, Beyond Indian Point Campaign was launched to advocate for a safe transition during decommissioning. Sponsored by AGREE, Frack Action, Riverkeeper, NIRS and Food and Water Watch, they’re demanding Cuomo hire another company, opposing a license transfer before the State Public Service Commission and NRC and pushing state legislation to establish a board to supervise the decommissioning fund. When decommissioning is finished Beyond Indian Point hopes to further assist the community in the transition to renewable energy. These include wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and hydrothermal power. Sign an online petition on their website to support their work, future generations and earth at BeyondIndianPoint.com, Facebook, or Twitter.

“Bravo to everyone involved in making this historic day come to pass,” said Susan Shapiro.

Raised in the Midwest, Barbara Puff is a writer who lives in Nyack, NY.

Antichrist incites violence against LGBT+ citizens while neglecting calls for reform

Iraqi officials incite violence against LGBT+ citizens while neglecting calls for reform

While much of the world is celebrating International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOBiT), political and religious leaders in Iraq—Muqtada  al-Sadr, Ahmed al-Sahaf, and Ali al-Bayati among them—are busy scapegoating LGBT+ citizens to distract the public from pressing issues at home, including COVID-19 and the need to form a government that can respond to the demands of Iraqi protestors.

In a recent tweet, influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr condemned the European Union in Baghdad for raising the rainbow flag in recognition of IDAHOBiT, describing LGBT+ citizens as “sexually deviants and mentally ill.” And as recently as early May, Al Bayati, a member of the Iraqi Commission for Human Rights, and Al Sahaf, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called for “punishing” LGBT+ people—despite the Iraqi government having recognized the importance of respecting the right to life for all regardless of sexual orientation in their submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee in February.

These officials cite Islam as the basis for condemning LGBT+ people while calling for violence against them and those who advocate for them. Muqtada Al Sadr’s Saraya al-Salam militia, formerly known as the Mahdi Army, has systematically killed LGBT+ people since 2006 in documented killing campaigns. These actions clearly violate the core principles of Islam, which call for peace. Most importantly, they violate Iraq’s obligations under national and international law to protect the right to life for all its citizens regardless of their backgrounds.

LGBT+ Iraqis are not calling for the erasure of the Iraqi identity or the importation of western values. We are calling for recognition that the Iraqi identity is larger than what figures like Al Sadr aim to portray. We are calling for the protection of human lives. These are universal human rights, not western values. I believe these officials realise that a growing share of Iraqis hold similar beliefs. The protests that have erupted across the country since October 2019 are proof of this. Women, youths, LGBT+ citizens, and others called for, among other demands, the separation of religion and state as we no longer want to be ruled by extremists who rely on their personal beliefs and interpretations of the law.

In the years ahead, we as a country must respect and uphold human rights. That starts with government officials, who must protect the lives of LGBT+ citizens not because their personal beliefs permit them to do so, but because it is their duty under national and international law. They must also hold accountable those who promote and perpetrate violence against LGBT+ people.

At the same time, the international community must continue to mark important days like IDAHOBiT. But it must do so with the understanding that raising the rainbow flag is symbolic. Creating lasting change for human rights requires more than symbolic action. It requires working with civil society organizations like IraQueer, advocating through UN channels, and lobbying the Iraqi government on behalf of LGBT+ Iraqis.

Amir Ashour is an Iraqi human rights defender with 11 years of experience working with Iraqi and international organisations. He is the founder and executive director of IraQueer, Iraq’s first national LGBT+ organisation. He has a masters degree in human rights from Columbia University. Amir was an honouree at the QX Gay Gala in Sweden and has been nominated to other awards including the Raoul Wallenberg Academy Prize and The David Kato Voice and Vision Award.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rudaw.

Note:  Dr Ali al-Bayati took to Twitter on Tuesday to respond to Ashour’s piece for Rudaw English, denying that he had called for the punishment of LGBT+ people on a March 31 show centered on the role of foreign embassies, including Britain and the US, in “encouraging homosexuality” and trying to legalize it in Iraq. The show referred to some “so-called” NGOs and specifically named Ashour’s organisation IraQueer as trying to impose “western imported norms” onto conservative Iraqi society.

On the show, Bayati said that “the Iraqi prosecutor can easily interfere here [LGBT+ rights] and have their own say, but it should be according to the Iraqi constitution which all Iraqis agreed on, in which it claims that Islam is the state religion and majority of Iraq are Muslims, and at the same time it should not violate the principles of democracy. So these kind of matters can be considered either it is a crime, or not, or it is punishable or not. I am sure in future we would have lots of issues, because the western concepts can not be fully implemented in Iraq,” Bayati told al-Aheed TV on March 31.

“Human rights should be for all and without discrimination, as we believe that the rights should be guided by Iraqi constitution and it’s principles,” read Bayati’s tweet on Tuesday.

In the subsequent interaction between the two on Twitter, Ashour pointed to a May 3 interview of Bayati for TV channel al-Ghadeer al-Iraqiya.

When asked by the al-Ghadeer al-Iraqiya presenter if any government department is watching and working on legal procedures against non-governmental organisations advocating for LGBT+ rights, Bayati answered:

“The state can follow legal procedures to deal with the matter,” Bayati said. “The government has a duty to supervise organisations promoting the LGBT+ community, according to Iraqi law. The people who are gay are Iraqi people at the end, and they have rights, but the government can provide them with support in order to be more educated and leave the concept of being gay.”

Ashour maintained in email correspondence to Rudaw English on Tuesday that Bayati called for punishment of LGBT+ people in the al-Aheed interview. Rudaw English reached out to Bayati for direct comment, but he has yet to respond.

Israel fires on Gaza fishers outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Israel fires on Gaza fishers 100 times amid pandemic

Maureen Clare Murphy Rights and Accountability 21 May 2020

Israeli forces have fired on Gaza fishers more than 100 times so far this year.

Ashraf Amra APA images

Israeli navy attacks on Gaza fishers spiked in April against the backdrop of increased economic uncertainty in the besieged territory amid COVID-19 restrictions.

Spring is the sardine fishing season, one of the most profitable harvests for Gaza fishers. Israel’s use of lethal force against Gaza fishers, particularly at a peak season, further undermines the fishing industry and food security in the coastal territory.

Gaza has been under a tightened Israeli blockade since 2007, severely debilitating its economy and plunging the territory’s two million residents, most of whom are refugees, into widespread poverty.

Three human rights groups are calling on Israel’s attorney general and military advocate general “to put an immediate end to the harassment of fishermen and investigate past incidents.”

Israel fired at fishing boats inside Gaza’s fishing zone more than 100 times in the first four months of the year, according to Al Mezan, a human rights group based in the territory.

Nearly 40 of those live fire incidents occurred in April, reflecting a 70 percent increase in the cases over the first three months of 2020.

Six fishers were injured and seven arrested during those incidents, and seven boats were badly damaged and one vessel seized.

Israel shot at Gaza fishers around 350 times in all of 2019.

Terror

A recent incident illustrates the terror Gaza fishers encounter when trying to ply their trade.

The Israeli navy fired rubber-coated metal bullets at two fishing boats on 8 May, hitting one fisher in the head and another in the hand. Naval forces used live fire against the boat engines, destroying them, and fired water cannons at the boats, injuring a fisher.

The human rights groups have drawn attention to how Israeli military policies “permit the use of force and live fire against fishermen in the absence of any immediate threat to human life.” Such policies violate the 1907 Hague Regulations – a cornerstone of international law which prohibits the targeting of vessels used exclusively for fishing.

Israel announced changes in access to Gaza’s coastal waters around 20 times last year as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has treated its fishing industry “a lever for pressure” over the territory’s population as a whole.

Israeli military bodies have openly admitted to using Gaza fishing restrictions as a form of collective punishment.

The punishment of a civilian population over acts for which they bear no responsibility is prohibited under the Fourth Geneva Convention, which was ratified by Israel.

The International Committee of the Red Cross holds that the air, land and sea blockade on Gaza “constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law.”

Crimes at sea

Palestinians are pursuing investigations of alleged Israeli war crimes at the International Criminal Court.

Palestinian human rights groups largely welcomed a recent response from court’s chief prosecutor reaffirming jurisdiction in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

But those groups object to the prosecutor’s omission of Palestine’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from her understanding of the court’s jurisdiction.

The EEZ is a sea zone over which a state has special rights for exploration and resource extraction, stretching 200 nautical miles from its coast.

In September last year, having acceded to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the State of Palestine declared its maritime boundaries, including its EEZ.

Palestinian human rights groups have posited that if a state is authorized by that UN convention “to exercise exclusive jurisdiction over EEZ natural resources as a sovereign right, then it is equally within the jurisdiction of the coastal state to exercise its jurisdiction over relevant Rome Statute crimes in that area.”

Rome Statute crimes are international crimes that would fall under the ICC’s purview. The four core international crimes established by that statute are genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

The rights groups pointed to Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza’s coastal waters, “the harassment and attacks on fisheries workers, and the pillage of natural resources at sea and on land.”

Indo-Pak hybrid wars before the first nuclear war (Revelation 8 )

The future of Indo-Pak hybrid wars

This case perfectly fits in on what is going on between Pakistan and India for the last few years. Since 1971, Pakistan has focused on its comprehensive defence against India bringing it to the ebb of current conventional military and nuclear capabilities. India was well aware of Pakistan’s growing capabilities. For the last one decade, India has directly been involved in Balochistan; the major fault line of Pakistan’s politics and society. This decade following 9/11 and US involvement in Afghanistan, India was provided with adequate space on Afghan land to sponsor and facilitate asymmetric incursions into Pakistan.

A very important recent addition to the literature on security matrix of Pakistan and India is “Not War, Not Peace” By George Perkovich and Toby Dalton. That book explicitly develops the case for India that the security paradigm of South Asia is fast transforming which limits India’s options against Pakistan as it does not enjoy a wide range of conventional choices to intimidate Pakistan.

Furthermore, massive border incursions, airpower, naval power are no more effective against nuclear Pakistan. Economic sanctioning, diplomatic pressures are also limited options owing to various other factors. The recommendations plausibly put up the options of targeting Karachi and Balochistan, the major and potential economic hubs and social creeks of Pakistan. This book justifies its recommendations on the ground of threats India might have from terrorist groups in Pakistan like Lashkar e Taiba.

Pakistan has long been raising voice against Indian involvement in Balochistan which left no doubt after Kulbashan Yadav case. The changing global political landscape has transformed South Asian security matrix too deeply. Emerging China with the vision of BRI offered Pakistan CPEC which elevates Pakistan to a position of clear advantage over India. With rising opportunities threats and limitations are also attached. Same is the case of Pakistan

Why is India failing to isolate Pakistan?

India’s efforts during the last few years to isolate Pakistan diplomatically are fading out due to Pakistan’s active role internationally. Its unchallenged importance to the US in Afghan dialogue has further limited India’s options. Pakistan’s security-centric approach has widely been criticized within and without, but last year’s Pakistan-India standoff deterministically established that this approach paid off. Post Pulwama attack crisis further limited India’s military options against Pakistan through the determination of the latter’s conventional superiority.

The revocation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and elimination of the special status of Indian Occupied Kashmir speaks of the frustration Modi administration is facing in the wake of rapidly transforming security matrix in South Asia. India has been using various excuses to unleash nonconventional threats against Pakistan which may socially disrupt and cripple it. As in 2016, Modi administration has equivocally considered revoking the Indus Water Treaty which it could not do due to the obligation it has under the signed treaty. But since then the rhetoric in India puts forward its position to dismantle Pakistan’s water security to trigger social disruption.

Gilgit Baltistan which is integral to CPEC due to its northern artery is the target of Indian policy statements claiming it part of Indian territory. India’s claim further exacerbated with the very recent groundbreaking of Diamir Bhasha Dam in the region. Despite the unprecedented global crisis in the wake of Covid-19, India has heightened the tensions on the border to engage the military already on the frontline in relief activities.

Social anxiety in Pakistan

The social problems Pakistan faces in Gilgit Baltistan may provide India with a ripened opportunity to unleash a hybrid war against Pakistan by fueling the social disruption. No one can deny that the people of Gilgit Baltistan and Balochistan face severe economic, political and social disparity which is augmented by racial and sectarian politics.

The biggest challenge we face is of political instability and poor governance which are clearly in play during the days of fighting the Covid-19. The centre-province rivalry, mismanagement, unsatisfactory health system and economic meltdown deepen the social woes of the population. This situation provides with ample opportunity to socially disrupt the state as the society in Pakistan is already stronger than the state.

The social disruption may be caused in Pakistan through various means. We live in the age of information not that of knowledge. The social media is an active weapon of social disruption. Economic crisis amid the lockdown has hit the already underprivileged parts of Pakistan much hard giving rise to social disturbance highlighting the vulnerabilities of the social and political system much more than ever before. There is an immediate need to address these problems and shift the focus of security to the grass-root level of society through administrative and political redressing.

Zainab Ahmed is a PhD Scholar at the Department of Political Science, University of Punjab, Lahore. Her areas of interest are national security, Water security and regional security. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.

Trump Asks China For The Impossible

Three’s a crowd – Donald Trump wants China to join a nuclear-weapons pact | China | The Economist

May 23rd 2020

Three’s a crowd

Donald Trump wants China to join a nuclear-weapons pact

Why prospects look dim

SINCE TESTING its first nuclear bomb 56 years ago, China has never revealed even a ballpark figure for the size of its arsenal. So recent debate on Chinese social media about the number of warheads the country ought to amass has been striking for its specificity. It began on May 8th with a suggestion by the editor of a nationalist tabloid in Beijing that China should expand its stockpile to 1,000 nuclear weapons. These, he said, should include 100 DF-41s, a new kind of intercontinental missile capable of hitting anywhere in America. Thousands of commentators have cheered him on. A few have called for more restraint.

America, while not welcoming such a build-up, would like it if China were to make its intentions so clear. It wants the country to end its obsessive secrecy and join America and Russia in setting limits to the size of their nuclear arsenals. The DF-41s, first displayed in public last October at a National Day parade in Beijing (see picture), are one reason why America is growing ever more keen to get China talking. They are China’s first missiles with such a range that can go on roads, making them more difficult for American weapons to knock out than ones fired from silos or fixed launchers. They can probably carry multiple warheads, making it even harder to protect America from their devastation.

Iran’s Stand Against Israel (Daniel 8:4)

Official Khamenei website/Handout via REUTERS

(Reuters) – Iran will support any nation or group that fights Israel, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday, ahead of this week’s annual observance of Quds (Jerusalem) Day to express support for Palestinians.

“We will support and assist any nation or any group anywhere who opposes and fights the Zionist regime, and we do not hesitate to say this,” Khamenei said in a post on his official English-language Twitter account.

Iran, Israel’s arch-enemy in the Middle East, has been a key supporter, along with Russia, of President Bashar al-Assad during Syria’s civil war, sending military advisers as well as material and regional Shi’ite militias.

Israel, which monitors neighbouring Syria intensively, has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria targeting suspected arms and troop movements by Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas that Tehran sponsors.

Separately, Khamenei said on Wednesday that Iran’s enmity toward Israel was not the same as hostility toward Jewish people.

“The elimination of the government of Israel does not mean the elimination of Jews. We don’t have an issue with Jewish people,” Khamenei said in a post on his official Farsi-language Twitter account.

“‘Elimination of Israel’ means the Muslim, Christian and Jewish people of #Palestine choose their own government themselves and push out foreigners and thugs like [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu,” the post added.

Khamenei is scheduled to speak on Friday to commemorate Quds Day.

Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney