A 3.6-magnitude earthquake shook Bliss Corner, Massachusetts, on Sunday morning, officials said — startling residents across the Northeast who expressed shock about the rare tremors.
The quake struck the area about five miles southwest of the community in Buzzards Bay just after 9 a.m. — marking the strongest one in the area since a magnitude 3.5 temblor in March 1976, the US Geological Survey said.
With a depth of 9.3 miles, the impact was felt across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and into Connecticut and Long Island, New York.
“This is the strongest earthquake that we’ve recorded in that area — Southern New England,” USGS geophysicist Paul Caruso told The Providence Journal.
But the quake was still considered “light” on the magnitude scale, meaning that it was felt but didn’t cause significant damage.
The quake, however, was unusual for the region — which has only experienced 26 larger than a magnitude 2.5 since 1973, Caruso said.
Around 14,000 people went onto the USGS site to report the shaking — with some logging tremors as far as Easthampton, Massachusetts, and Hartford, Connecticut, both about 100 miles away.
“It’s common for them to be felt very far away because the rock here is old and continuous and transmits the energy a long way,” Caruso said.
Journalist Katie Couric was among those on Long Island to be roused by the Sunday-morning rumblings.
“Did anyone on the east coast experience an earthquake of sorts?” Couric wrote on Twitter.
“We are on Long Island and the attic and walls rattled.”
Closer to the epicenter, residents estimated they felt the impact for 10 to 15 seconds.
“In that moment, it feels like it’s going on forever,” said Ali Kenner Brodsky, who lives in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.
Hamas is now trying to write a new equation: quiet in the south in exchange for a Temple Mount cleansed of Jews. Israel must respond with a resounding and public “no.”
Hamas’ demand that Israel start prohibiting Jews from visiting the Temple Mount “in exchange” for quiet in the Gaza sector, can only come from a terrorist organization that feels immune to repercussions for its untamed behavior – whether this includes firing rockets at southern Israel or carrying out a terrorist attack in Jerusalem, Lod or Judea and Samaria. Hamas is presenting an opposite reality: Instead of Israel deterring the terrorist group – Hamas is looking to deter Israel. It has succeeded in doing so in the past.
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The organization that has leveraged the modern-day libel of “al-Aqsa is in danger” and turned it into an assembly line for producing terrorist attacks to “save,” “liberate” or “redeem” al-Aqsa from the Jews and Israel who “defile its Muslimhood,” is now taking it one step further.
Hamas is no longer content with libeling the State of Israel, which it accuses of wanting to destroy the Temple Mount mosques; it is no longer satisfied with knife and car-ramming attacks across Israel “on behalf of al-Aqsa” and its “liberation.” Neither is it placated anymore by lone-wolf stabbers who boasted in their interrogations of trying to commit knife attacks at the Temple Mount entrance to disrupt and prevent Jews from visiting the site.
Now, Hamas is allowing itself to go one step further and put things on the table: No more Jewish visits to the Temple Mount. Essentially, it wants to return to the time when Jews were banned from visiting their own most holy sites.
We need to hope that no one in any of the Zionist political parties, defense establishment, or Israel Police is even remotely entertaining this impertinent demand. The ability to visit the Temple Mount is all the Jews have left after former Defense Minister Moshe Dayan decided in 1967 to prohibit Jewish prayer at the site.
Israeli governments throughout the years have since adhered to this “status quo,” even though the Muslims have violated the “sacred status quo” on the Temple Mount on numerous occasions since Dayan’s decree. They built two additional mosques at the site. They also turned the Gate of Mercy area into a place of worship, destroyed and desecrated Jewish antiquities on the Temple Mount, and greatly expanded Jordan’s influence at the site, to the point that it became an equal partner with Israel in the site’s management. They have also established a foothold in the “Mount’s environs” and occasional influence or veto changes at the Temple Mount’s walls (eastern, southern and the western).
In recent years, Jews have been murdered and wounded by terrorists with ties to Hamas, which desired these attacks to “block” or “disrupt” Jews from visiting the Temple Mount or to “harm them.” Such was the case with Masabah Abu Sabih, who on October 9, 2016, opened fire on commuters at the Ammunition Hill light rail station, murdering Levana Malihi, 60, and police officer Yossi Kirma. Such was also the case with Mohammed Nasser Tra’ayra, 19, who in 2016 murdered 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel as she slept in her bed in Kiryat Arba. As was the case of the Palestinian terrorist who stabbed and wounded an Israeli in November 2015 outside a supermarket at the Sha’ar Binyamin Industrial Zone, who wrote that he “devoted himself to protecting the al-Aqsa mosque.” And this was the case with Baha Elian and Balal Abu Gaanam, the two terrorists who shot and murdered three Jews on a bus in Jerusalem in October 2015. They and many more like them linked their atrocities to the al-Aqsa mosque.
Each of these hundreds of attacks in recent years “for the sake of al-Aqsa” and to “block the Jews” from going there have not helped Hamas, which is now trying to write a new equation: quiet in the south in exchange for a Temple Mount cleansed of Jews. We must understand and internalize this. Israel must respond with a resounding and public “no,” if nothing else than to rehabilitate its deterrence with Hamas.
For decades, the canard that Israel tricks America into fighting wars on its behalf has been a favorite of anti-Semites of both left and right. Among those who have echoed it is Colin Kahl, who served as then-Vice-President Joe Biden’s national-security adviser and whose nomination for undersecretary of defense for policy is now being considered by the Senate. Kahl made the insinuation after Israel announced the capture of an Iranian nuclear archive in 2018, tweeting, “Let’s see what this is. But this sure has an eerie pre-2003 Iraq vibe to it”—implying, it seems, that Jerusalem hoped the U.S. would use the finding as reason to invade the Islamic Republic. Tony Badran comments:
By JON GAMBRELL and ISABEL DEBRE , Associated Press April 27, 2021 – 9:50 AM
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A remotely piloted boat packed with explosives targeted the Saudi port of Yanbu in the Red Sea on Tuesday, the kingdom said, with the blast sending black smoke into the sky off the coast.
Palestinian group calls for ‘our noble resistance in Gaza to keep their fingers on the trigger’; IDF Chief of Staff Kohavi reportedly says neither side seeking escalation
By Aaron Boxerman and Judah Ari Gross 25 Apr 2021, 3:24 pm
After two consecutive nights of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip toward Israeli cities and communities, the Hamas terror group told armed Gaza factions on Sunday to “keep their fingers on the trigger.”
“We call on our noble resistance in Gaza to keep their fingers on the trigger, to keep their rockets on standby to target the enemy’s fortresses and military and vital structures,” Hamas said in a statement.
Gazan armed factions have launched over 40 rockets into Israel over the last two days. On Saturday, a number of Palestinian terror groups fired experimental rockets toward the Mediterranean Sea as a show of force.
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Palestinian terror groups have said that the weekend’s rocket attacks were in response to ongoing unrest in Jerusalem, where Arab residents have demonstrated for several days against Ramadan restrictions on congregating near Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate.
Some of the gatherings have turned violent when police sought to expel Palestinians from the area, with Palestinians throwing stones at armed officers and setting garbage cans ablaze. Police have responded with sponge bullets and sound grenades, arresting over 100 Palestinians since the beginning of Ramadan two weeks ago.
Far-right Jewish supremacists also held violent rallies, seeking out and attacking Palestinians in the capital’s downtown, while some Palestinian residents of Jerusalem have attacked and beaten a number of Jewish Israelis across the city.
Rockets are fired toward the sea during a military drill by members of the Mujahideen Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian movement of the same name, along a beach off of Gaza City, on April 24, 2021. (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP) Two Gaza factions, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and a branch of Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, have claimed responsibility for the rocket fire. But Israel holds Hamas directly responsible for all fire from the enclave into Israeli territory, charging that it takes place with the terror group’s consent.
The Hamas leadership called East Jerusalemites to continue “mobilizing in the Old City and at its gates.” Hamas also said night patrols of Palestinians ought to be formed to protect East Jerusalem residents from assaults by Jewish extremists.
“You are proving to the world, yet again, that Jerusalem is the heart of Palestine,” the terror group told East Jerusalem Palestinians.
The widening circle of clashes has sparked concerns in Israel that the situation could escalate across the West Bank and Gaza.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Saturday for the military to “prepare for any scenario” with Gaza. Defense Minister Benny Gantz similarly said that the Israel Defense Forces “will do what is necessary so the calm is preserved,” following security consultations at defense headquarters in Tel Aviv.
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi canceled his planned visit to Washington, DC, amid concerns that the fighting in Gaza would escalate, the military said
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi hosts a meeting with senior military officials on April 24, 2021 amid soaring Gaza tensions. (Israel Defense Forces) The Israeli military notably refrained from conducting retaliatory strikes in the Gaza Strip on Saturday night in an apparent bid to ease tensions. Israel normally adopts a tit-for-tat strategy, responding to Gazan rocket fire by shelling Hamas observation posts or imposing restrictions on the Gaza Strip.
Kohavi said on Monday that the rocket fire from Gaza had posed a “dilemma” on how to respond, according to comments from a closed meeting reported by the Ynet news site.
“Neither in Israel, nor in Gaza, is there any wish to escalate the situation,” Kohavi was said to tell local mayors during a briefing, Ynet reported.
“We are dealing with violent incidents on the Palestinian front in a number of locations and we are working to return stability and calm to southern communities. At the same time, we are preparing fully for the possibility that the situation will ramp up or widen, and we are conducting preparations for this as needed,” Kohavi added in a statement by the IDF.
The IDF chief also met with top officers from the IDF General Staff and Southern Command to discuss the situation and called for “continued preparation for a variety of scenarios on the southern front,” the military said.
The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, the military arm of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades claimed responsibility for the attacks. They said the attacks were in response to the current clashes between Arabs and Palestinians in Jerusalem with Jewish extremists and police.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday held a meeting with defense officials to assess the situation in the wake of the attacks. He said following the meeting that the IDF should “prepare for any scenario” with Gaza. Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in a statement that the military “will do what is necessary so the calm is preserved/”
Meanwhile, the IDF announced that IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi would postpone a scheduled trip to the United States due to the current situation of unrest.
BAGHDAD – Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr has pledged to support Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi for a second term, if the latter decides not to run a party of his own in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
An Iraqi political source familiar with the matter revealed to The Arab Weekly the existence of electoral understandings between Kadhimi and Sadr. According to these , the source said, the Sadrist movement will support the current prime minister to remain at the head of the government in exchange for Kadhimi’s commitment not to form a party or a bloc and not to enter the parliamentary elections that are expected to take place this October.
The source confirmed to The Arab Weekly that these understandings are supported by Shia political forces represented by the former premier Haider al-Abadi and the head of the Wisdom Movement Ammar al-Hakim, as well as by Sunni forces represented by parliamentary speaker Muhammad al-Halbousi and Kurdish groups led by the former president of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani.
Kifah Mahmoud, the media adviser to the Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani, confirmed that Kadhimi is still quite popular as a political figure, noting the premier’s serious efforts towards resolving the country’s differences with the Kurdistan region. Mahmoud also stressed the good personal relations Kadhimi has with Barzani and the other Kurdish political leaders.
He added that Kadhimi is viewed as the closest Iraqi politician to the Kurdish leadership.
Kadhimi, Mahmoud explained, had enjoyed Kurdish support ever since he took office as prime minister in May 2020.
This comes at a time when Sadr is warning of attempts by some parties to weaken security in Iraq with the aim of delaying or cancelling the general parliamentary election.
“There are parties who want to weaken security in Iraq for many reasons, the most important of which is delaying or cancelling elections.” said Sadr in a tweet on his personal account. “To achieve this, these parties are tasking unruly militias with mounting attacks against the occupying forces, hoping to cancel their withdrawal. The presence of occupying forces is, in fact, the only excuse for the militias to remain active,” .
Political forces are betting on Kadhimi as the safest option in order to control the street and prevent the outbreak of new protests, especially in the light of the progress of the anti-corruption campaign that has targeted graft involving a number of political figures.
An Iraqi parliamentary source said, “If Muqtada Sadr changed his position from initially wanting a Sadrist as the next PM to supporting Kadhimi for a second term, then this is only some sort of practical understanding of the reality on the ground.”
Kadhimi represents an ideal option for the Sadrists, especially if they can achieve an electoral victory in the upcoming polls.
However, Iraqi academic and political analyst Rahim al-Kaabi warned, “The road is still long for Kadhimi to dispel Iran’s fears and doubts about his person. Iran’s trust is the most crucial factor that can decide the fortunes of a candidate to the position of Iraq’s Prime Minister.”
Kaabi told The Arab Weekly that Kadhimi needs more than “cross-quota alliances” to secure a second term.
Political observers agree that the upcoming elections, if held on time, will witness a fierce competition between state forces and non-state actors, particularly Iranian militias.
The pro-Iranian agents are aware that it is difficult to win the battle for the position of the next prime minister, but they are working hard to prevent any party from getting the required majority to name the next premier by itself.
Though Sadr is the spiritual father of all armed militias, his problematic relationship with Tehran has put him in the complex position of no war and no peace with Iran, a position that can be changed at any time.
Iraqi political forces and parties believe that Sadr, not the state, is the one who is capable of standing up to non-state actors. The cost of such a scenario will be the replacement of currently uncontrolled weapons with a spread of less uncontrolled weapons.
Two Shia camps are set to emerge ahead of and during the upcoming election. The first is what can be called the national Shia forces, the forces of moderation, or as some call them “the state forces”. These include Kadhimi, Abadi and Hakim, as well as Sadr, if he continues his current approach and does not make a U-turn as he has done before.
The second Shia camp includes militia groups that have political ambitions, such as the Badr Organisation led by Hadi al-Amiri and the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq led by Qais Khazali. The second camp also includes the Islamic Dawa Party headed by Nuri al-Maliki, and parties known as “loyalists” because of their absolute loyalty to the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, or other non-state actors.
Iraq’s old political figures, experts say, know that they will not be able to control the scene anymore, especially after their sectarian strategies and tactics have become ineffective when it comes to mobilising voters. This will push part of the political class to declare its support for Kadhimi in his attempt to gain the public’s confidence and change in the political balance within the House of Representatives.
Kaabi, however, believes that the political class in Iraq is well aware that the elections are nothing but “a show” to give substance to their political projects, and finalise their already-settled deals.
“Iran, which is ecstatic with its nuclear negotiations with the international community, wants to reposition itself in Iraq, and Kadhimi will not be its ideal option, even if he is the godfather of Tehran’s normalisation of relations with Saudi Arabia – a normalisation that will top the agenda of Iran’s Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif’s visit to Baghdad,” Kaabi said.
“Tehran has its allies and means of pressure inside Iraq and this will make Washington and the democrats, who are restless about the Iraqi file, lose patience,” he added.