New York Subways at the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)


How vulnerable are NYC’s underwater subway tunnels to flooding?Ashley Fetters
New York City is full of peculiarly oe Ed we see as needed I as—rickety fire escapes; 100-year-old subway tunnels; air conditioners propped perilously into window frames—that can strike fear into the heart of even the toughest city denizen. But should they? Every month, writer Ashley’s Fetters will be exploring—and debunking—these New York-specific fears, letting you know what you should actually worry about, and what anxieties you can simply let slip away.
The 25-minute subway commute from Crown Heights to the Financial District on the 2/3 line is, in my experience, a surprisingly peaceful start to the workday—save for one 3,100-foot stretch between the Clark Street and Wall Street stations, where for three minutes I sit wondering what the probability is that I will soon die a torturous, claustrophobic drowning death right here in this subway car.
The Clark Street Tunnel, opened in 1916, is one of approximately a dozen tunnels that escort MTA passengers from one borough to the next underwater—and just about all of them, with the stop by NBC nof the 1989 addition of the 63rd Street F train tunnel, were constructed between 1900 and 1936.
Each day, thousands of New Yorkers venture across the East River and back again through these tubes buried deep in the riverbed, some of which are nearing or even past their 100th birthdays. Are they wrong to ponder their own mortality while picturing one of these watery catacombs suddenly springing a leak?
Mostly yes, they are, says Michael Horodniceanu, the former president of MTA Capital Construction and current principal of Urban Advisory Group. First, it’s important to remember that the subway tunnel is built under the riverbed, not just in the river—so what immediately surrounds the tunnel isn’t water but some 25 feet of soil. “There’s a lot of dirt on top of it,” Horodniceanu says. “It’s well into the bed of the bottom of the channel.”
And second, as Angus Kress Gillespie, author of Crossing Under the Hudson: The Story of the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, points out, New York’s underwater subway tunnels are designed to withstand some leaking. And withstand it they do: Pumps placed below the floor of the tunnel, he says, are always running, always diverting water seepage into the sewers. (Horodniceanu says the amount of water these pumps divert into the sewer system each day numbers in the thousands of gallons.)
Additionally, MTA crews routinely repair the grouting and caulking, and often inject a substance into the walls that creates a waterproof membrane outside the tunnel—which keeps water out of the tunnel and relieves any water pressure acting on its walls. New tunnels, Horodniceanu points out, are even built with an outside waterproofing membrane that works like an umbrella: Water goes around it, it falls to the sides, and then it gets channeled into a pumping station and pumped out.
Of course, the classic New York nightmare scenario isn’t just a cute little trickle finding its way in. The anxiety daydream usually involves something sinister, or seismic. The good news, however, is that while an earthquake or explosion would indeed be bad for many reasons, it likely wouldn’t result in the frantic flooding horror scene that plays out in some commuters’ imaginations.
The Montague Tube, which sustained severe damage during Hurricane Sandy.
MTA New York City Transit / Marc A. Hermann
Horodniceanu assures me that tunnels built more recently are “built to withstand a seismic event.” The older tunnels, however—like, um, the Clark Street Tunnel—“were not seismically retrofitted, let me put it that way,” Horodniceanu says. “But the way they were built is in such a way that I do not believe an earthquake would affect them.” They aren’t deep enough in the ground, anyway, he says, to be too intensely affected by a seismic event. (The MTA did not respond to a request for comment.)
One of the only real threats to tunnel infrastructure, Horodniceanu adds, is extreme weather. Hurricane Sandy, for example, caused flooding in the tunnels, which “created problems with the infrastructure.” He continues, “The tunnels have to be rebuilt as a result of saltwater corroding the infrastructure.”
Still, he points out, hurricanes don’t exactly happen with no warning. So while Hurricane Sandy did cause major trauma to the tunnels, train traffic could be stopped with ample time to keep passengers out of harm’s way. In 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed all the MTA’s mass transit services to shut down at 7 p.m. the night before Hurricane Sandy was expected to hit New York City.
And Gillespie, for his part, doubts even an explosion would result in sudden, dangerous flooding. A subway tunnel is not a closed system, he points out; it’s like a pipe that’s open at both ends. “The force of a blast would go forwards and backwards out the exit,” he says.
So the subway-train version of that terrifying Holland Tunnel flood scene in Sylvester Stallone’s Daylight is … unrealistic, right?
“Yeah,” Gillespie laughs. “Yeah. It is.”
Got a weird New York anxiety that you want explored? E-mail, and we may include it in a future column.

Growing Threat From The Russian and Chinese Nuclear Horns: Revelation 7

Growing Threat From Nuclear-Armed China, Russia
Filed Under: News

PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 9, 2021) Marines assigned to the 1st Force Reconnaissance Company, III Marine Expeditionary Force, assemble a combat rubber raiding craft during a regularly scheduled exercise aboard the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Ohio (SSGN 726). The exercise is part of ongoing III MEF and U.S. 7th Fleet efforts to provide flexible, forward-postured and quick-response options to regional commanders. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Juan Antoine King)
MAY 7, 2021 – U.S. Strategic Command is responsible for America’s nuclear deterrence, using nuclear weapons-capable submarines, intercontinental ballistic missiles and strategic bombers. The two peer nuclear-armed nations that have displayed aggressive behaviors are China and Russia.
Navy Adm. Charles A. Richard, commander of Stratcom, spoke virtually today about the threat at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Project on Nuclear Issues Capstone Conference.

“As a nation, we have not had to consider the implications of engaging in competition through possible crisis or direct armed conflict with a nuclear-capable adversary in nearly three decades,” he said. “Now, for the first time in our history, we face two nuclear-capable strategic peer competitors at the same time.”

Richard said he’d like to see a reduced role for nuclear weapons by the U.S., Russia and China and would like to extend the olive branch.

In the meantime, however, Stratcom works diligently to achieve a credible nuclear deterrent that is safe, secure and effective, he said, adding that nuclear deterrence is not just about protecting the homeland, it’s also about protecting allies.

China, Richard said, is a growing threat. Their strategic and conventional forces are rapidly expanding in all domains.

Beijing already has a plausible nuclear employment strategy in the region and is increasingly able to do that at the intercontinental range, he said.

The Chinese are deploying large numbers of solid-fuel ICBMs, and they also have strategic bombers and submarines. They’re well on their way to doubling their nuclear stockpile by the end of the decade, he said.

However, one must not simply compare stockpile sizes to address the threat, Richard said. “A nation’s stockpile is a very crude measure of its overall strategic capability.”

There are many other capabilities that must be factored in, he said, such as delivery systems, accuracy, command and control, readiness, posture, doctrine and training.

Russia is undergoing a very extensive nuclear modernization program, which is about 80% complete, he said, noting that the Kremlin says the modernization program is actually 88% complete.

The Russians have a number of novel weapon systems that include a nuclear-armed missile mounted on a hyperglide system and a nuclear-armed, underwater, unmanned vehicle, Richard noted.

Because of these growing threats from China and Russia, modernizing America’s own nuclear triad is of paramount importance, he said.

Richard highlighted the importance he places on having a highly skilled and motivated workforce to operate and maintain the nuclear triad. These would include scientists, software developers, engineers and technologists.

It would be nice, he said, for talented young people to come to Stratcom. The workforce is graying, and a good percentage of it is nearing retirement age.

Richard said one area of concern is that Russia and China are far outpacing the U.S. in producing science, technology, engineering and math graduate degree holders.


Israel strikes Hamas military post after rocket launch from outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Israel strikes Hamas military post after rocket launch from Gaza

“Terror has consequences,” stresses the Israel Defense Forces, as riots continued along the southern border fence and in Jerusalem.

(May 9, 2021 / JNS)
The Israeli Air Force struck a Hamas military post in southern Gaza early Sunday morning, in response to a rocket fired into Israel from the Strip late Saturday night, the Israel Defense Forces reported.

“Terror has consequences,” the IDF later tweeted.

The rocket, which the IDF said landed in an open field, was launched as riots continued along the border fence, as well as in Jerusalem.

The above incidents came on the heels of the resumption on Thursday of incendiary balloon attacks from Gaza into Israeli communities along the border, with Israeli firefighters having to battle the blazes in fields surrounding Kibbutz Kissufim.

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Gaza-based terrorists fired multiple projectiles at Israel late last month, a day after launching a 36-rocket barrage at the Jewish state in the worst flareup in months.

Rockets fired at Sderot and Kibbutz Nirim in southern Israel triggered sirens, sending residents scrambling for bomb shelters. Israel’s Iron Dome air-defense system intercepted the rocket headed for Sderot; the second one landed in an open area near the security fence, according to the IDF. A third projectile failed to cross the border, detonating inside the Gaza Strip.

Antichrist’s Men are destabilising Iraq’s disputed regions

Iran-backed PMFs are destabilising Iraq’s disputed regions

These groups are undermining efforts to improve Erbil-Baghdad relations and reestablish security in the north.

Kamaran Palani
On April 15, a drone laden with explosives targeted military facilities hosting US troops in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), but resulted in no casualties. On the same day, rocket fire on a Turkish military base in Mosul’s Bashiqa region killed one Turkish solider.

The attacks, attributed to pro-Iran factions based in Iraq, have been widely seen in the context of the US-Iran and Turkey-Iran rivalries in the region. However, such analysis ignores an important development linked to these incidents: the attempt of Iranian-backed paramilitaries in northern Iraq to consolidate their power in territories disputed between the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

The presence and growing strength of these groups have profound implications not only for the future of Baghdad-Erbil relations, but also for inter- and intra-communal relations in these ethnically-diverse regions. Since their arrival, Iran-backed paramilitaries have transformed the nature of the dispute over these territories from a conflict between two governments, to a very complex situation characterised by deep militarisation of ethno-religious and sectarian identities in Nineveh and Kirkuk governorates.

Militarisation of ethno-religious and sectarian groups

The US invasion of Iraq in 2003 gave an opportunity to Iran to massively expand its influence on the internal affairs of its neighbour. Apart from developing a network of supporters within civilian power structures, Iran also trained and armed a number of paramilitaries, including the Badr Organisation, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Hezbollah, and Saraya al-Khorasani.

With the expansion of ISIS into Iraqi territory in 2014 and the fatwa to initiate a popular mobilisation issued by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the highest religious authority among Iraqi Shia, these armed groups became part of the so-called Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Forces, PMFs). They spearheaded the fight against ISIS and enjoyed quite a bit of popularity.

The PMFs arrived in the disputed areas of the north in October 2017, after they, along with regular Iraqi forces, attacked the Kurdish Peshmerga in the aftermath of the independence referendum conducted by the KRG. Although allegedly acting under orders from Baghdad in the beginning, Iran-backed PMFs have since pursued their own political and military goals.

The pro-Iranian armed groups have sought to establish themselves more permanently in Nineveh and Kirkuk thus extending the military reach Tehran has over Iraqi territory. By recruiting fighters from local communities and creating new factions, the PMFs have militarised and politicised ethno-religious and sectarian identities.

In Nineveh’s district of Hamdaniah, Telkaif and Bashiqa, they established the 30th Brigade, dominated by members of the Shabak community, an ethnic and religious minority, which follows the Twelver Shia-ism. They also set up the 53rd Brigade for Shia Turkmens in Telafar, which includes a Yazidi Lalish unit for Yazidis in Sinjar. They also created the 50th Brigade for Assyrians in Hamdaniah district.

In Sinjar in the western Nineveh province, pro-Iranian PMF factions have also supported the Sinjar Resistance Units, formed during the fight against ISIS and initially equipped and trained by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). They formally joined the PMF’s al-Nasr al-Mubeen Brigade in 2018.

In the provinces of Kirkuk, there has been a similar proliferation of local armed groups. In Taza district, the Iran-backed paramilitaries set up the 16th Brigade by arming and training local Shia Turkmens. They have also recruited Shia Turkmens for the 52nd Brigade. The pro-Iran PMFs have also tried to create a faction for the Kaka’i community, a religious Kurdish-speaking minority based in Daquq and Kirkuk, but have not been fully successful yet.

Other political and military forces, including the KRG, armed groups associated with Sistani and Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and some local Sunni politicians, have also tried to establish and support their own factions in the disputed territories.

Apart from gaining influence over local communities through military presence and recruitment, pro-Iranian PMFs have deployed shadow administrations, building security, social, political and economic structures that rival and undermine formal ones. They have engaged in not only the control of the movement of people and goods but also in “taxing” local businesses. They have also gotten involved in religious affairs, controlling Sunni religious sites and endowments and supporting newly created Shia endowments.

These activities by the pro-Iranian groups have exacerbated intra- and inter-communal tensions. For example, in Kirkuk city, Sunni Turkmens outnumber Shia Turkmens, but backing from the PMFs has emboldened Shia Turkmens, who have become more politically assertive. This may lead to new intra-Turkman fractures as the Shia consolidate power in the centre of Kirkuk. A similar dynamic is playing out in the district of Telafar among Turkmens.

Among the Yazidis, intra-communal divisions are also growing deeper. Areas that fall under the influence of pro-Iranian PMFs and the PKK have challenged the traditional power structures of the community. This was reflected in the tensions over the election of a new Yazidi leader after the passing of Tahsin Said Beg in 2019.

In July that year, following months of debate that reflected deep internal divisions within the community, Yazidis in Sheikhan, backed by the Kurdistan Democratic Party, appointed his son, Hazim Tahsin Beg, as the new prince. In response, PKK and PMF-affiliated Yazidis in Sinjar threatened something akin to secession, vowing to appoint a leader of their own choosing.

Undermining government power

The dispute between Baghdad and KRG over territories goes back to the constitution-drafting process initiated after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime as a result of the 2003 US invasion. The constitution outlined the borders of the semi-autonomous KRI, but left the status of the province of Kirkuk and many districts of Nineveh, Salahaddin and Diyala, where Kurdish communities live, unresolved. Referendums to decide on the fate of these disputed territories were never carried out.

Throughout the years, this dispute has been complicated by a number of factors, including disagreements over budget and persistent insecurity. The presence of Iran-backed PMFs, however, has put more strain on Baghdad-Erbil relations and directly undermined efforts to make progress on this key issue.

When Adel Abdul Mahdi headed the Iraqi government in 2018, there was a renewed push to resolve disputes with the KRG. The central government negotiated with Erbil the creation of joint coordination centres in many areas in Kirkuk and Nineveh provinces. But Iran-backed PMFs actively sought to undermine these efforts.

In October 2019, the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior and the KRG Ministry of Peshmerga reached a final agreement to create five joint coordination centres in Kirkuk, Mosul, Makhmour, Khanaqin and Kask. Days later, the Ministry of the Interior, under the influence of PMFs, reneged on the agreement. Under the current government of Mustafa al-Kadhimi, only two such centres in Baghdad and Erbil have been created.

Iran-backed paramilitary groups also tried to sabotage the Sinjar Agreement, signed in October 2020 between Erbil and Baghdad with the support of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq. The deal was meant to jumpstart the stabilisation process for Sinjar by addressing two key issues: the existence of multiple armed actors and two rival administrations for the district. But seven months on, no progress has been made on the ground to implement the agreement.

Some have attributed the failure of the agreement to the lack of engagement and inclusion of all sectors of Sinjar and Yazidi society. The truth, however, is that the major barrier is the Iranian-backed militias’ rejection of the essence of the agreement – the establishment of government monopoly over the use of force – and refusal to withdraw.

It is not in the interest of pro-Iran groups for the KRG and the central Iraqi government to re-establish control over Sinjar because they stand to lose not only politically, but also economically. PMFs present in Sinjar directly profit from cross-border smuggling by imposing a taxation system on imports from Syria including animals, agricultural products, etc.

The recent attacks against US and Turkish forces are likely a result of the Iran-backed groups’ intransigence in the face of growing pressure for them to withdraw from the north and west of the country. There is also growing anxiety among them that their popularity is shrinking – something that became apparent during the popular anti-government protests in 2019-2020 in Baghdad and Shia-majority cities of the south.

The Iran-backed PMFs are, therefore, desperately looking for “new enemies” in the face of US-allied KRG and Turkey in order to continue justifying their presence in the disputed regions and sustain the current security and power structure.

By undermining efforts to conclude and implement agreements between Erbil and Baghdad on the disputed areas, the Iran-backed armed groups are precluding the re-establishment of strong civilian power centres that could pave the way for stabilisation and reconstruction of these areas. This corresponds with Iran’s overall strategy for Iraq – to keep it in a constant state of uncertainty, with weak state institutions and control.

As long as the Iraqi government is unable to rein in these powerful non-state actors, it will not be able to steer the country towards stability and socio-economic development. Their continuous presence in disputed areas is causing tensions that in the near future could result in renewed conflict.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

Arab Israelis, Gaza groups plan mass protests outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Arab Israelis, Gaza groups plan mass protests Saturday after Jerusalem clashes

Arab Israeli leadership panel decries ‘bloody terrorist aggression against Al-Aqsa Mosque’ as it calls for demonstrations across Israel; US calls for all sides to deescalate

By TOI staff8 May 2021, 6:37 am
Illustrative: Israeli Arabs march during a protest marking Land Day, in Arraba, northern Israel, on March 30, 2021 (Jamal Awad/Flash90)
Arab Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were expected to hold mass protests on Saturday in the wake of Friday’s clashes in Jerusalem between Palestinians and the Israel Police, in which some 200 Palestinians and 17 officers were wounded.

The Arab High Follow-Up Committee, a body that represents Arab Israelis, called for protests in Arab towns and cities across the country in response to the violence.

The Hamas terror group’s official media outlet said Gaza-based groups were calling for demonstrations near the border fence with Israel on Saturday in protest of Israeli actions in Jerusalem.

The Israeli Committee called for “support of Jerusalem and its people” in the face of “the bloody terrorist aggression against Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

It said it planned to organize delegations to Jerusalem, including to East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, which has been at the center of recent demonstrations, and to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

It said that “the aggression of the terrorist occupation army this evening against thousands of worshipers in the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the wounding of dozens, is a dangerous indicator of what the occupation is planning in the coming days, for the city and Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Israeli police burst into the Al-Aqsa compound on Friday evening after Palestinians threw rocks and bottles at officers, as widespread clashes in Jerusalem spread to the holy site following prayers held there on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Footage from the scene showed pitched battles, with Palestinians throwing chairs, shoes, rocks and bottles and shooting fireworks, and police responding with stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets.

Police said 17 police officers were hurt and around half of those hospitalized, with one in moderate condition after taking a rock to the head. Meanwhile the Palestinian Red Crescent reported that at least 205 Palestinians were wounded in clashes throughout Jerusalem, mostly around the Temple Mount and by Damascus Gate. Eighty-eight Palestinians were hospitalized, mostly for injuries with rubber-coated steel bullets, it said.

Palestinian terror groups threatened Israel after the violence.

Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh said that Israel would “pay a price” for the clashes at the mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites. The hilltop on which it sits is the holiest place in the world for Jews as the site of the two biblical temples — making it a flashpoint for nationalist sentiment and violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

“We tell [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu: don’t play with fire. This is a battle that you cannot win. Israeli arrogance and tyranny will be smashed on the stones of the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Haniyeh said.

“We hold the Israeli occupation government absolutely responsible for what is happening in the holy city in terms of dangerous developments, vicious aggression, and what may result from it,” Abbas said.

“The ruthlessness of the settlers only increases our insistence on claiming our legitimate rights: the end of the occupation, the achievement of independence and freedom, and the establishment of our sovereign, independent Palestinian state with its eternal capital Jerusalem,” Abbas added.

Islamic Jihad, a terror group that often fires rockets from Gaza into Israeli territory, also threatened Israel over the Al-Aqsa clashes.

“What’s happening in Jerusalem tonight cannot pass idly by. The enemy can expect our response at any moment,” said Islamic Jihad chief Ziyad al-Nakhaleh.

Israeli police on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem after riots broke out on May 7, 2021 (Israel Police)
After capturing East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967, Israel continued to grant the Waqf, which is funded and controlled by the Jordanian government, near-complete control of the Al-Aqsa Mosque area.

Israeli security forces are present on the mount and work in coordination with the Waqf. Jews are allowed to visit the site, but unlike Muslims they are strictly prohibited from praying on the grounds.

In a statement Friday, the Jordanian Foreign Ministry called for Israel to immediately withdraw its forces from the Temple Mount.

“This is a flagrant violation, condemnable and unacceptable behavior,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Daifullah Fayez said.

Qatar, a key patron of Gaza’s Hamas rulers, also condemned what it called “an invasion” by Israeli forces in the Al-Aqsa Mosque area.

“This is a provocation to the feelings of millions of Muslims around the world,” the Qatari Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Palestinian medics transport a protester who was injured during clashes with Israeli police at the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem, on May 7, 2021. (Photo by Ahmad Gharabli / AFP)
The United States said it was “extremely concerned” by the events in Jerusalem, calling on officials from all sides to deescalate the tensions.

The US State Department added that it was “deeply concerned” about the potential eviction of families from Sheikh Jarrah, as well as condemning Friday’s attack on soldiers by Palestinian gunmen as well as reciprocal so-called “price tag” attacks.

Tensions have been rising across Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza for the past several weeks. Israeli yeshiva student Yehuda Guetta was shot in a Palestinian terror attack in the West Bank earlier this week; he died of his wounds on Wednesday night.

A 16-year-old Palestinian teenager, Said Odeh, was shot and killed by Israeli forces near Nablus on Wednesday night, Palestinian health officials said. According to the Israeli military, Odeh was throwing Molotov cocktails at troops.

Earlier Friday, three Palestinian gunmen opened fire on Border Police troops in the northern West Bank. Two of them were killed in the firefight and a third was critically injured. Israeli military officials said the three were en route to carry out a “major” terrorist attack on civilians inside Israel.

At the beginning of Ramadan, Palestinians repeatedly clashed with Israeli police in Jerusalem in protest of restrictions at the Damascus Gate area. Some videos also circulated on Palestinian social media showing young Arab men attacking Ultra-Orthodox passersby.

In response, hundreds of Jewish extremists marched through Jerusalem’s downtown, chanting “Death to Arabs.” Others randomly attacked Palestinians across the city. This then led to severe clashes between police, Jews and Arabs in the city.

In recent days, Palestinians have held demonstrations in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Over 70 Palestinian residents are threatened with eviction and could be replaced by right-wing Jewish nationalists, in a legal battle being waged in the courts.

Israeli forces stands guard outside a home of a Jewish family during a protest against Israel’s plan to demolish some houses of Palestinians in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah on May 5, 2021. Photo by Jamal Awad/Flash90
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Islamic Jihad’s armed wing called for Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank to renew attacks against Israelis.

“Rebel against the Zionists, and renew the ramming operations and stabbing at checkpoints and shoot without hesitation in all the squares where the soldiers and settlers are present,” said Abu Hamza, a spokesperson for the terror group’s Al-Quds Brigades.

The United Nations urged Israel on Friday to call off any pending evictions in East Jerusalem, warning that its actions could amount to “war crimes.” Israel dismissed the tensions as a “real estate dispute.”

Abbas and Haniyeh both mentioned the planned eviction of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian neighborhood of East Jerusalem, as a key source of the spiraling tensions.

An Israeli court has ordered the families to leave, as the property was owned by a Jewish religious association before 1948. A 1970 Israeli law allows Jews to reclaim property in East Jerusalem from before it fell into Jordanian hands; no similar law exists for Palestinians.

Palestinians and their supporters have protested the pending evictions every night for the past week. Police have sought to disperse the protests with sound grenades and water cannons, leading to injuries and arrests.

The families have asked the Israeli Supreme Court to consider an appeal, which it is scheduled to do on Monday.

There are growing fears that tensions in Jerusalem could come to a head on Saturday night, Laylat al-Qadr, the most sacred night in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Worshipers will gather for nighttime prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Sunday night is the start of Jerusalem Day, a national holiday in which Israel celebrates the unification of Jerusalem and religious nationalists hold parades and other celebrations in the city.

Gaza incendiary balloons spark 10 fires outside the Temple Walls for a third day: Revelation 11

Gaza incendiary balloons spark 10 fires in south for a third day

At least 3 blazes burn in the Be’eri nature reserve; balloon-borne attacks come amid heightened tensions in Jerusalem, West Bank

By Emanuel Fabian8 May 2021, 4:27 pm
Masked Palestinians prepare to launch incendiary balloons across the northern Gaza border toward Israel, on May 8, 2021. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)
Firefighting teams worked to extinguish multiple fires in southern Israel on Saturday, caused by balloons carrying incendiary devices that were launched from the Gaza Strip.

According to fire services, teams responded to 10 blazes in the region.

At least three of the fires burned in the Be’eri forest, a nature reserve located near the border between Israel and Gaza, a spokesperson for the Jewish National Fund said.

There were no reports of any injuries or danger to nearby towns.

The fires came amid reports in the Gaza Strip from the so-called “balloon units” that they had begun to launch balloon-borne incendiary devices toward southern Israel. Saturday marked the third straight day of such attacks

Babylon the Greats Iraqi Base Attacked Again: Daniel 8:4

Drone attacks Iraqi base hosting US troops, damaging hanger; no casualties

Strike comes days after 2 rockets hit unoccupied part of Ain al-Asad airbase; no claim of responsibility

By Agencies8 May 2021, 12:11 pm
Ain al-Asad air base in the western Anbar desert, Iraq, December 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser, File)
A drone strike early on Saturday targeted a military base in Iraq that hosts US troops, causing only minor damage and no casualties, Iraq’s military and the US-led coalition said.

The pre-dawn attack damaged a hangar at the Ain Al-Asad base, tweeted coalition spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto. He said the attack was under investigation. An Iraqi military statement also said no losses were reported.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The US has blamed Iran-backed militia groups for previous attacks, most of them rocket attacks that have targeted the American presence in Baghdad and military bases across Iraq.

Drone strikes are less common. In mid-April, an explosive-laden drone targeted the military section of the international airport in Irbil, in Iraq’s northern Kurdish-run region, causing no casualties or damages. That base also hosts US troops.

The attack came just days after the Iraqi army said two rockets were fired at the same base, in the third such attack in three days and as a US government delegation is visiting the country.

The two rockets fell on an unoccupied segment of the Ain al-Asad airbase, “without causing damage or casualties,” the army said.

The rocket attack followed one against an airbase at Baghdad airport housing US-led coalition troops on Sunday night, and another against Balad airbase, which hosts US contractors, north of the capital on Monday night.

Around 30 rocket or bomb attacks have targeted American interests in Iraq — including troops, the embassy or Iraqi supply convoys to foreign forces — since US President Joe Biden took office in January.

Two foreign contractors, one Iraqi contractor and eight Iraqi civilians have been killed in the attacks.

Dozens of other attacks were carried out in Iraq from autumn 2019 during the Trump administration. The operations are sometimes claimed by obscure groups that experts say are smokescreens for Iran-backed organizations long present in Iraq.

The attacks have been increasingly frequent since a US-directed drone strike killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani near the Baghdad airport last year. Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was also killed in the attack. The strike drew the ire of mostly Shiite Iraqi lawmakers and prompted parliament to pass a non-binding resolution to pressure the Iraqi government to oust foreign troops from the country.

The attacks come at a sensitive time as Tehran is engaged in talks with world powers aimed at bringing the US back into a 2015 nuclear deal. The agreement, which curbs Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, has been on life support since Trump withdrew in 2018.

The Biden administration has resumed strategic talks with Baghdad, initiated under President Donald Trump, in which the future of US troop presence in Iraq is a central point of discussion.