Columbia University Warns Of Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

   Earthquakes May Endanger New York More Than Thought, Says Study
A study by a group of prominent seismologists suggests that a pattern of subtle but active faults makes the risk of earthquakes to the New York City area substantially greater than formerly believed. Among other things, they say that the controversial Indian Point nuclear power plants, 24 miles north of the city, sit astride the previously unidentified intersection of two active seismic zones. The paper appears in the current issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.
Many faults and a few mostly modest quakes have long been known around New York City, but the research casts them in a new light. The scientists say the insight comes from sophisticated analysis of past quakes, plus 34 years of new data on tremors, most of them perceptible only by modern seismic instruments. The evidence charts unseen but potentially powerful structures whose layout and dynamics are only now coming clearer, say the scientists. All are based at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, which runs the network of seismometers that monitors most of the northeastern United States.
Lead author Lynn R. Sykes said the data show that large quakes are infrequent around New Yorkcompared to more active areas like California and Japan, but that the risk is high, because of the overwhelming concentration of people and infrastructure. “The research raises the perception both of how common these events are, and, specifically, where they may occur,” he said. “It’s an extremely populated area with very large assets.” Sykes, who has studied the region for four decades, is known for his early role in establishing the global theory of plate tectonics.
The authors compiled a catalog of all 383 known earthquakes from 1677 to 2007 in a 15,000-square-mile area around New York City. Coauthor John Armbruster estimated sizes and locations of dozens of events before 1930 by combing newspaper accounts and other records. The researchers say magnitude 5 quakes—strong enough to cause damage–occurred in 1737, 1783 and 1884. There was little settlement around to be hurt by the first two quakes, whose locations are vague due to a lack of good accounts; but the last, thought to be centered under the seabed somewhere between Brooklyn and Sandy Hook, toppled chimneys across the city and New Jersey, and panicked bathers at Coney Island. Based on this, the researchers say such quakes should be routinely expected, on average, about every 100 years. “Today, with so many more buildings and people, a magnitude 5 centered below the city would be extremely attention-getting,” said Armbruster. “We’d see billions in damage, with some brick buildings falling. People would probably be killed.”
Starting in the early 1970s Lamont began collecting data on quakes from dozens of newly deployed seismometers; these have revealed further potential, including distinct zones where earthquakes concentrate, and where larger ones could come. The Lamont network, now led by coauthor Won-Young Kim, has located hundreds of small events, including a magnitude 3 every few years, which can be felt by people at the surface, but is unlikely to cause damage. These small quakes tend to cluster along a series of small, old faults in harder rocks across the region. Many of the faults were discovered decades ago when subways, water tunnels and other excavations intersected them, but conventional wisdom said they were inactive remnants of continental collisions and rifting hundreds of millions of years ago. The results clearly show that they are active, and quite capable of generating damaging quakes, said Sykes.
One major previously known feature, the Ramapo Seismic Zone, runs from eastern Pennsylvania to the mid-Hudson Valley, passing within a mile or two northwest of Indian Point. The researchers found that this system is not so much a single fracture as a braid of smaller ones, where quakes emanate from a set of still ill-defined faults. East and south of the Ramapo zone—and possibly more significant in terms of hazard–is a set of nearly parallel northwest-southeast faults. These include Manhattan’s 125th Street fault, which seems to have generated two small 1981 quakes, and could have been the source of the big 1737 quake; the Dyckman Street fault, which carried a magnitude 2 in 1989; the Mosholu Parkway fault; and the Dobbs Ferry fault in suburban Westchester, which generated the largest recent shock, a surprising magnitude 4.1, in 1985. Fortunately, it did no damage. Given the pattern, Sykes says the big 1884 quake may have hit on a yet-undetected member of this parallel family further south.
The researchers say that frequent small quakes occur in predictable ratios to larger ones, and so can be used to project a rough time scale for damaging events. Based on the lengths of the faults, the detected tremors, and calculations of how stresses build in the crust, the researchers say that magnitude 6 quakes, or even 7—respectively 10 and 100 times bigger than magnitude 5–are quite possible on the active faults they describe. They calculate that magnitude 6 quakes take place in the area about every 670 years, and sevens, every 3,400 years. The corresponding probabilities of occurrence in any 50-year period would be 7% and 1.5%. After less specific hints of these possibilities appeared in previous research, a 2003 analysis by The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation put the cost of quakes this size in the metro New York area at $39 billion to $197 billion. A separate 2001 analysis for northern New Jersey’s Bergen County estimates that a magnitude 7 would destroy 14,000 buildings and damage 180,000 in that area alone. The researchers point out that no one knows when the last such events occurred, and say no one can predict when they next might come.
“We need to step backward from the simple old model, where you worry about one large, obvious fault, like they do in California,” said coauthor Leonardo Seeber. “The problem here comes from many subtle faults. We now see there is earthquake activity on them. Each one is small, but when you add them up, they are probably more dangerous than we thought. We need to take a very close look.” Seeber says that because the faults are mostly invisible at the surface and move infrequently, a big quake could easily hit one not yet identified. “The probability is not zero, and the damage could be great,” he said. “It could be like something out of a Greek myth.”
The researchers found concrete evidence for one significant previously unknown structure: an active seismic zone running at least 25 miles from Stamford, Conn., to the Hudson Valley town of Peekskill, N.Y., where it passes less than a mile north of the Indian Point nuclear power plant. The Stamford-Peekskill line stands out sharply on the researchers’ earthquake map, with small events clustered along its length, and to its immediate southwest. Just to the north, there are no quakes, indicating that it represents some kind of underground boundary. It is parallel to the other faults beginning at 125th Street, so the researchers believe it is a fault in the same family. Like the others, they say it is probably capable of producing at least a magnitude 6 quake. Furthermore, a mile or so on, it intersects the Ramapo seismic zone.
Sykes said the existence of the Stamford-Peekskill line had been suggested before, because the Hudson takes a sudden unexplained bend just ot the north of Indian Point, and definite traces of an old fault can be along the north side of the bend. The seismic evidence confirms it, he said. “Indian Point is situated at the intersection of the two most striking linear features marking the seismicity and also in the midst of a large population that is at risk in case of an accident,” says the paper. “This is clearly one of the least favorable sites in our study area from an earthquake hazard and risk perspective.”
The findings comes at a time when Entergy, the owner of Indian Point, is trying to relicense the two operating plants for an additional 20 years—a move being fought by surrounding communities and the New York State Attorney General. Last fall the attorney general, alerted to the then-unpublished Lamont data, told a Nuclear Regulatory Commission panel in a filing: “New data developed in the last 20 years disclose a substantially higher likelihood of significant earthquake activity in the vicinity of [Indian Point] that could exceed the earthquake design for the facility.” The state alleges that Entergy has not presented new data on earthquakes past 1979. However, in a little-noticed decision this July 31, the panel rejected the argument on procedural grounds. A source at the attorney general’s office said the state is considering its options.
The characteristics of New York’s geology and human footprint may increase the problem. Unlike in California, many New York quakes occur near the surface—in the upper mile or so—and they occur not in the broken-up, more malleable formations common where quakes are frequent, but rather in the extremely hard, rigid rocks underlying Manhattan and much of the lower Hudson Valley. Such rocks can build large stresses, then suddenly and efficiently transmit energy over long distances. “It’s like putting a hard rock in a vise,” said Seeber. “Nothing happens for a while. Then it goes with a bang.” Earthquake-resistant building codes were not introduced to New York City until 1995, and are not in effect at all in many other communities. Sinuous skyscrapers and bridges might get by with minimal damage, said Sykes, but many older, unreinforced three- to six-story brick buildings could crumble.
Art Lerner-Lam, associate director of Lamont for seismology, geology and tectonophysics, pointed out that the region’s major highways including the New York State Thruway, commuter and long-distance rail lines, and the main gas, oil and power transmission lines all cross the parallel active faults, making them particularly vulnerable to being cut. Lerner-Lam, who was not involved in the research, said that the identification of the seismic line near Indian Point “is a major substantiation of a feature that bears on the long-term earthquake risk of the northeastern United States.” He called for policymakers to develop more information on the region’s vulnerability, to take a closer look at land use and development, and to make investments to strengthen critical infrastructure.
“This is a landmark study in many ways,” said Lerner-Lam. “It gives us the best possible evidence that we have an earthquake hazard here that should be a factor in any planning decision. It crystallizes the argument that this hazard is not random. There is a structure to the location and timing of the earthquakes. This enables us to contemplate risk in an entirely different way. And since we are able to do that, we should be required to do that.”
New York Earthquake Briefs and Quotes:
Existing U.S. Geological Survey seismic hazard maps show New York City as facing more hazard than many other eastern U.S. areas. Three areas are somewhat more active—northernmost New York State, New Hampshire and South Carolina—but they have much lower populations and fewer structures. The wider forces at work include pressure exerted from continuing expansion of the mid-Atlantic Ridge thousands of miles to the east; slow westward migration of the North American continent; and the area’s intricate labyrinth of old faults, sutures and zones of weakness caused by past collisions and rifting.
Due to New York’s past history, population density and fragile, interdependent infrastructure, a 2001 analysis by the Federal Emergency Management Agency ranks it the 11th most at-risk U.S. city for earthquake damage. Among those ahead: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland. Behind: Salt Lake City, Sacramento, Anchorage.
New York’s first seismic station was set up at Fordham University in the 1920s. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, in Palisades, N.Y., has operated stations since 1949, and now coordinates a network of about 40.
Dozens of small quakes have been felt in the New York area. A Jan. 17, 2001 magnitude 2.4, centered  in the Upper East Side—the first ever detected in Manhattan itself–may have originated on the 125th Street fault. Some people thought it was an explosion, but no one was harmed.
The most recent felt quake, a magnitude 2.1 on July 28, 2008, was centered near Milford, N.J. Houses shook and a woman at St. Edward’s Church said she felt the building rise up under her feet—but no damage was done.
Questions about the seismic safety of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, which lies amid a metropolitan area of more than 20 million people, were raised in previous scientific papers in 1978 and 1985.
Because the hard rocks under much of New York can build up a lot strain before breaking, researchers believe that modest faults as short as 1 to 10 kilometers can cause magnitude 5 or 6 quakes.
In general, magnitude 3 quakes occur about 10 times more often than magnitude fours; 100 times more than magnitude fives; and so on. This principle is called the Gutenberg-Richter relationship.

Israel Ground Forces Shell Outside the Temple Walls as Fighting Intensifies: Revelation 11

Israel Ground Forces Shell Gaza as Fighting Intensifies
The surge in fighting left Israel in an unprecedented position — fighting Palestinian militants on its southern flank as it sought to head off its worst civil unrest in decades.

May 13, 2021
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Israeli artillery firing toward Gaza on Thursday night.
Israeli artillery firing toward Gaza on Thursday night.Dan Balilty for The New York Times
Israeli ground forces carried out attacks on the Gaza Strip early Friday in an escalation of a conflict with Palestinian militants that had been waged by airstrikes from Israel and rockets from Gaza.

It was not immediately clear if the attack was the prelude to a ground invasion against Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls Gaza.

An Israeli military spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, initially said that “there are ground troops attacking in Gaza,” but later clarified that Israeli troops had not entered Gaza, suggesting the possibility of artillery fire from the outside. He provided no further details.

The surge in fighting highlighted the unprecedented position Israel finds itself in — battling Palestinian militants on its southern flank as it seeks to head off its worst civil unrest in decades.

It followed another day of clashes between Arab and Jewish mobs on the streets of Israeli cities, with the authorities calling up the army reserves and sending reinforcements of armed border police to the central city of Lod to try to head off what Israeli leaders have warned could become a civil war.

Taken together, the two theaters of turmoil pointed to a step change in the grinding, decades-old conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. While violent escalations often follow a predictable trajectory, this latest bout, the worst in seven years, is rapidly evolving into a new kind of war — faster, more destructive and capable of spinning in unpredictable new directions.

In Gaza, an impoverished coastal strip that was the crucible of a devastating seven-week war in 2014, Palestinian militants fired surprisingly large barrages of enhanced-range rockets — some 1,800 in three days — that reached far into Israel.

Israel intensified its campaign of relentless airstrikes against Hamas targets there on Thursday, pulverizing buildings, offices and homes in strikes that have killed 103 people including 27 children, according to the Gaza health authorities.

The funeral of members of Hamas after they were killed in an Israeli bombardment in Gaza City on Thursday.
The funeral of members of Hamas after they were killed in an Israeli bombardment in Gaza City on Thursday.Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times
Six civilians and a soldier have been killed by Hamas rockets inside Israel.

Egyptian mediators arrived in Israel Thursday in a sooner-than-usual push to halt the spiraling conflict.

Most alarming for Israel, though, was the violent ferment on its own sidewalks and streets, where days of rioting by Jewish vigilantes and Arab mobs showed no sign of abating.

The unrest in several mixed-ethnicity cities, where angry young men stoned cars, set fire to mosques and synagogues, and attacked each other, signaled a collapse of law and order inside Israel on a scale not seen since the start of the second Palestinian uprising, or intifada, 21 years ago.

The violence follows a month of boiling tensions in Jerusalem, where the threatened eviction of Palestinian families from their homes coincided with a spate of Arab attacks against Israeli Jews, and a march through the city by right-wing extremists chanting “Death to Arabs.”

The jarring violence this week caused Israeli leaders, led by President Reuven Rivlin, to evoke the specter of civil war — a once unthinkable idea. “We need to solve our problems without causing a civil war that can be a danger to our existence,” Mr. Rivlin said. “The silent majority is not saying a thing, because it is utterly stunned.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Lod, a working-class city with a mixed Arab-Israeli population that has emerged as the center of the upheaval. Hulks of burned-out cars littered the streets where, a few nights earlier, Arab youths burned synagogues and cars, threw stones and let off sporadic rounds of gunfire, before gangs of Jewish vigilantes counterattacked and set their own fires.

.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking in the city of Lod on Thursday.Pool photo by Yuval Chen
On Thursday, a Jewish man was stabbed as he walked to a synagogue there, but survived.

“There is no greater threat now than these riots,” said Mr. Netanyahu, who vowed to deploy the Israel Defense Forces to keep the peace in Lod. A day earlier, he described the violence as “anarchy” and said: “Nothing justifies the lynching of Jews by Arabs, and nothing justifies the lynching of Arabs by Jews.”

To secure Lod, the government brought in thousands of armed border police from the occupied West Bank, and imposed an 8 p.m. curfew, but to little effect.

Arab residents, who account for about 30 percent of the town’s 80,000 people, continued a campaign of stone-throwing, vandalism and arson, while Jewish extremists arrived from outside Lod, burning Arab cars and property. Arab protesters erected flaming roadblocks.

As night fell there were signs that the violence might escalate when a large convoy of armed Jews in white vans moved into town.

Palestinian leaders, however, said the talk of civil war by Jewish leaders was a distraction from what they called the true cause of the unrest in Lod — police brutality against Palestinian protesters and provocative actions by right-wing Israeli settler groups.

“The police shot an Arab demonstrator in Lod,” said Ahmad Tibi, the leader of the Ta’al party and a member of Israel’s Parliament. “We don’t want bloodshed. We want to protest.”

Israeli security forces on patrol in Lod on Thursday night.Ahmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Mr. Tibi said that Mr. Netanyahu, who has frequently aligned with far-right and nationalist parties to stay in power, had only himself to blame for the political tinderbox that has exploded with such ferocity across Israel.

On Thursday evening, the State Department urged American citizens to reconsider traveling to Israel and warned against going to the occupied West Bank or Gaza. In an advisory, the department noted rocket attacks that could reach Jerusalem, protests and violence throughout Israel and a “dangerous and volatile” security environment in the Gaza Strip and on its borders.

The trouble started on Monday, when a heavy-handed police raid at Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque — the third-holiest site in Islam, located atop a site also revered by Jews — set off an instant backlash.

But beyond the images of police officers flinging stun grenades and firing rubber bullets inside the mosque, Palestinian outrage was also fueled by much wider, decades-old frustrations.

Human Rights Watch recently accused Israel of perpetrating a form of apartheid, the racist legal system that once governed South Africa, citing a number of laws and regulations that it said systematically discriminate against Palestinians. Israel vehemently rejected that charge. But its security forces are now confronted with a swelling wave of fury from the country’s Arab Israeli minority, which complains of being treated as second-class citizens.

“‘Coexistence’ means that both sides exist,” said Tamer Nafar, a famous rapper from Lod. “But so far there is only one side — the Jewish side.”

The rocket attacks from Gaza are also quantitatively and qualitatively different from the last war in 2014. The more than 1,800 rockets Hamas and its allies have fired at Israel since Monday already represent a third of the total fired during the seven-week war in 2014.

A house that was hit by a rocket fired overnight from Gaza in Petah Tikva, Israel.Dan Balilty for The New York Times
Israeli intelligence has estimated that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian militant groups have about 30,000 rockets and mortar projectiles stashed in Gaza, indicating that despite the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the coastal territory, the militants have managed to amass a vast arsenal.

The rockets have also demonstrated a longer range than those fired in previous conflicts, reaching as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

They have also proven more effective. In the 2014 war, they killed a total of six civilians inside Israel, the same number killed in the last three days.

Those casualties appeared to be a product of Hamas’s new tactic of firing more than 100 missiles simultaneously, thwarting the American-financed Iron Dome missile-defense system, which Israeli officials say is 90 percent effective at intercepting rockets before they land inside Israel.

Israeli’s Iron Dome air defense system launching to intercept rockets fired from Gaza on Thursday.Ariel Schalit/Associated Press
Gaza residents have no such protection against Israeli airstrikes, which crushed three multistory buildings in the strip after residents were warned to evacuate. Israeli officials said that the buildings housed Hamas operations and that they were striving to limit civilian casualties, but many Gaza residents viewed the Israeli attacks as a form of collective punishment.

Thursday was supposed to be a day of celebration for Palestinians as they marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan, a day when Muslims typically gather to pray, wear new clothes and share a family meal. In Jerusalem, tens of thousands of worshipers gathered at dawn outside the Aqsa Mosque, some waving Palestinian flags and a banner showing an image of Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas.

Muslims gathered for prayers outside the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on Thursday.Mahmoud Illean/Associated Press
In Gaza, though, it was a somber day of funerals, fear and missile strikes. Some families buried their dead, others laid out prayer mats beside buildings recently destroyed in Israeli airstrikes, and still others came under attack from Israeli drones hovering overhead.

“Save me,” pleaded Maysoun al-Hatu, 58, after she was wounded in a missile strike outside her daughter’s house in Gaza, according to a witness. An ambulance arrived moments later, but it was too late. Ms. al-Hatu was dead.

American and Egyptian diplomats were heading to Israel to begin de-escalation talks. Egyptian mediators played a key role in ending the 2014 war in Gaza, but this time there is little optimism they can achieve a quick result.

Israeli military officials have said their mission is to stop the rockets from Gaza, and the military moved tanks and troops into place along the border with Gaza on Thursday in preparation for a possible ground invasion.

A residential building that was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike on Thursday in Gaza City.Hosam Salem for The New York Times
The decision to extend the campaign is ultimately political. Analysts said that a ground operation would likely incur high casualties, and it was unclear if the troop deployment was anything more than a threat.

But the political calculation grew more complicated on Thursday after the collapse of negotiations between opposition parties seeking to form a new government.

Naftali Bennett, an ultranationalist former settler leader who opposes Palestinian statehood, pulled out of the talks, citing the state of emergency in several Israeli cities.

His withdrawal increases the likelihood of Israel holding a general election later this summer — in what would be its fifth in just over two years. And the collapse of the talks appears to benefit Mr. Netanyahu, making it impossible for opposition parties to form an alliance large enough to oust him from office.

Mr. Netanyahu, who is on trial on corruption charges, is serving as caretaker prime minister until a new government can be formed.

On the Palestinian side, the indefinite postponement last month of elections by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, created a vacuum that Hamas is more than willing to fill.

Isabel Kershner contributed reporting from Lod, Israel; Iyad Abuheweila from Gaza City; Patrick Kingsley, Irit Pazner Garshowitz and Myra Noveck from Jerusalem; Gabby Sobelman from Rehovot, Israel; Mona el-Naggar and Vivian Yee from Cairo; Megan Specia from London; Steven Erlanger from Brussels; and Lara Jakes from Washington.

Rockets land in Iraqi base hosting Babylon the Great’s contractors

Rockets land in Iraqi base hosting US contractors
Updated 03 May 2021 AFP May 03, 2021 20:05
BAGHDAD: Three rockets were fired Monday evening toward Iraq’s Balad air base north of Baghdad, a security source told AFP, but without causing US casualties or damage, the Pentagon said, citing initial reports.
The rockets fell in an area where US company Sallyport — the contractor that maintains F-16 aircraft Iraq has purchased from the US in recent years — is located, the security source said.
“Initial reports are that there are no US casualties or damages,” said Commander Jessica McNulty, Pentagon spokesperson.
No US or coalition troops are assigned at Balad, although US citizen contractors work there, the Pentagon said.
It is the second attack targeting US interests in under 24 hours, after two rockets Sunday targeted an air base at Baghdad airport housing US-led coalition troops. Sunday’s attack did not cause casualties.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for either attack.
Around 30 rocket or bomb attacks have targeted American interests in Iraq — including troops, the embassy or Iraqi supply convoys to foreign forces — since President Joe Biden took office in January.
Two foreign contractors, one Iraqi contractor and eight Iraqi civilians have been killed in the strikes.
Washington routinely blames Iran-linked Iraqi factions for such attacks on its troops and diplomats.
In early April, two rockets hit near Balad, without causing casualties or property damage.

Fighting Escalates Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Israel begins firing shells into Gaza as fighting escalates

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Hamas sent a heavy barrage of rockets deep into Israel on Thursday as Israel pounded Gaza with more airstrikes and shells and called up 9,000 more reservists who could be used to stage a ground invasion. The hostilities intensified despite mediation efforts by Egyptian negotiators who held in-person talks with both sides.

In another potential escalation, at least three rockets were fired from southern Lebanon toward Israel, an attack that threatened to open a new front in the fighting.

The artillery and tank shells that began falling into Gaza in the evening forced scores of families to flee their homes, Palestinian witnesses said. The use of artillery fire in Israel’s four-day-old offensive raised the likelihood of civilian casualties.

Previous fighting between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers, including a devastating 2014 war, was largely confined to the impoverished and blockaded Palestinian territory and Israeli communities on the frontier. But this round seems to be rippling farther and wider than at any time since the 2000 Palestinian intifada, or uprising.

While some rocket attacks have reached the Tel Aviv area, Arab and Jewish mobs have rampaged through the streets, savagely beating people and torching cars. Flights have been canceled or diverted away from the country’s main airport.

Weary Palestinians, meanwhile, somberly marked the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on Thursday as militants fired one barrage of rockets after another and Israel carried out waves of bone-rattling airstrikes. Since the rockets began Monday, Israel has toppled three high-rise buildings that it said housed Hamas facilities after warning civilians to evacuate.

Youtube video thumbnail
Gaza’s Health Ministry said the death toll has climbed to 87 Palestinians, including 18 children and eight women, with 530 people wounded. Islamic Jihad confirmed the deaths of seven militants, while Hamas has acknowledged 13 of its militants killed, including a senior commander. Israel says the number of militants dead is much higher.

Seven people have been killed in Israel. Among them were a soldier killed by an anti-tank missile and a 6-year-old child hit in a rocket attack.

Many world leaders have condemned the violence and urged restraint, and a visit by Egyptian security officials was a significant development in international efforts to bring about a cease-fire; such efforts have been key to ending past rounds of fighting. The officials met first with Hamas leaders in Gaza before holding talks with the Israelis in Tel Aviv, two Egyptian intelligence officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.

Still, both Israel and Hamas seemed determined to press ahead.

Even as word came of the mediators’ presence, Gaza militants fired a volley of some 100 rockets nearly simultaneously, raising air raid sirens around southern and central Israel.

There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties — but the barrage appeared aimed at demonstrating that Hamas’ arsenal was still full even after three nights of airstrikes and the killing Wednesday of several Hamas leaders involved in the rocket program.

“The decision to bomb Tel Aviv, Dimona and Jerusalem is easier for us than drinking water,” a spokesman for Hamas’ military wing declared in a video message. Dimona is the site of Israel’s nuclear reactor.

It was unclear who was responsible for the rockets fired from southern Lebanon, according to Lebanese security officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. The rockets were launched from the Qlayleh area north of Naqoura, near the border with Israel.

The Israeli military confirmed that the rockets fell into the Mediterranean. South Lebanon is home to Palestinian militant factions as well as the powerful Shiite Hezbollah group.

The evening shelling occurred in northern communities near the Israeli frontier and in eastern Gaza City. Resident Ibrahim Jamal said about 200 people sought shelter in a United Nations school.

In another sign fighting could escalate further, Israel’s defense minister approved the mobilization of 9,000 more reservist troops, and Israel’s military spokesman said forces were massing on the border with the Gaza Strip.

The Defense Ministry said Thursday that the latest mobilization approved by Defense Minister Benny Gantz was an “exceptional call-up.”

The military’s chief spokesman, Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman, said forces were “preparing the option of a ground maneuver.” He told Israeli public television station Kan that tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery were being readied “for this option for mobilization at any given moment.”

But the level of forces was not believed to be strong enough yet for a possible ground invasion.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited batteries of the Iron Dome missile defense system, which the military says has intercepted 90% of the 1,200 rockets that have reached Israel from Gaza so far.

“It will take more time, but … we will achieve our goal — to restore peace to the State of Israel,” he said.

The previous evening, Israeli TV reported Netanyahu’s Security Cabinet authorized a widening of the offensive that the military says has already hit 600 targets in Gaza.

In Gaza, a pall was cast over Eid al-Fitr, the holiday at the end of Ramadan’s month of daily fasting. It is usually a festive time when families shop for new clothes and gather for large feasts.

Instead, Hamas urged the faithful to mark communal Eid prayers inside their homes or the nearest mosques instead of out in the open, as is traditional.

Hassan Abu Shaaban tried to lighten the mood by passing out candy to passers-by after prayers, but acknowledged “there is no atmosphere for Eid at all.”

“It is all airstrikes, destruction and devastation,” he said. “May God help everyone.”

In Gaza’s southern town of Khan Younis, dozens of mourners marched through the streets carrying the bodies of an 11-year-old and a 13-year-old killed when an Israeli airstrike hit near their home Wednesday.

In Israel, rocket fire brought life to a standstill in southern communities near Gaza, but also reached as far north as the Tel Aviv area, about 70 kilometers (45 miles) away, for a second straight day.

Israel diverted some incoming flights from Ben Gurion International Airport, near the city, to the Ramon airfield in the country’s far south, the Transportation Ministry said. Several flights have also been canceled.

Hamas said it fired its most powerful rocket, the Ayyash, toward Ramon, 180 kilometers (110 miles) from Gaza. The rocket landed in a desert area, and no air raid sirens sounded, Israeli media reported. Still, flights were briefly suspended at the airport, with several planes left circling before landings and takeoffs were resumed, according to tracking websites.

“We’re coping, sitting at home, hoping it will be OK,” said Motti Haim, a resident of the central town of Beer Yaakov and father of two children. “It’s not simple running to the shelter. It’s not easy with the kids.”

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the “indiscriminate launching of rockets” from civilian areas in Gaza toward Israeli population centers, but he also urged Israel to show “maximum restraint.” U.S. President Joe Biden called Netanyahu to support Israel’s right to defend itself, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was sending a senior diplomat to the region.

The current eruption of violence began a month ago in Jerusalem, where heavy-handed Israeli police tactics during Ramadan and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers ignited protests and clashes with police. A focal point of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police was Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, built on a hilltop compound that is revered by Jews and Muslims.

Israel regards Jerusalem in its entirety as its capital, while the Palestinians want east Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state.

The recent fighting has also set off violent clashes between Arabs and Jews in Israel, in scenes unseen in more than two decades. Netanyahu warned that he was prepared to use an “iron fist if necessary” to calm the violence.

Ugly confrontations erupted again late Wednesday. Jewish and Arab mobs battled in the central city of Lod, the epicenter of the troubles, despite a state of emergency and nighttime curfew. In nearby Bat Yam, Jewish nationalists dragged an Arab motorist from his car and beat him until he was motionless.

Israeli police said two people were shot and wounded in Lod and an Israeli Jew was stabbed. An Arab citizen was stabbed and seriously wounded in Jerusalem’s central Mahane Yehuda market.

In the occupied West Bank, the Israeli military said it intervened in a Palestinian shooting attack that wounded two people. The Palestinian Health Ministry said the suspected gunman was killed.

Still unclear is how the fighting in Gaza will affect Netanyahu’s political future. He failed to form a government coalition after inconclusive parliamentary elections in March, and now his political rivals have three weeks to try to form one.

They have courted a small Islamist Arab party, but the fighting could hamper those efforts.


Krauss reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press writers Samy Magdy in Cairo, Isabel DeBre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Karin Laub in the West Bank and Ashraf Sweilam in al-Arish, Egypt, contributed.

Iran’s former hardline president Ahmadinejad to take over the Iranian Horn

Iran’s former hardline president Ahmadinejad to run again
May 11, 202110:27 PM HST
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad listens to a question during a joint news conference with Najaf governor Adnan al-Zurufi in Najaf, Iraq, July 19, 2013. REUTERS/Karim Kadim/Pool
Iran’s hardline former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday registered to run again in an election in June which is being seen as a test of the legitimacy of the country’s clerical rulers.

Vilified in the West for his questioning of the Holocaust, Ahmadinejad had to step down in 2013 because of term limit rules, when incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, who negotiated Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, won in a landslide.

“People should be involved in Iran’s decision-making process… We must all prepare ourselves for fundamental reform,” state TV quoted Ahmadinejad as saying after submitting his registration.

Candidates began signing up for the polls on Tuesday with the clerical rulers hoping for a high turnout which may be hit by rising discontent over an economy crippled by U.S. sanctions reimposed after Washington exited the nuclear deal three years ago.

Registration will end on Saturday, after which entrants will be screened for their political and Islamic qualifications by a 12-member vetting body, the Guardian Council. Six members of the hardline body are appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Khamenei backed Ahmadinejad after his 2009 re-election triggered protests in which dozens of people were killed and hundreds arrested, rattling the ruling theocracy, before security forces led by the elite Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) stamped out the unrest.

But a rift developed between the two after then-president Ahmadinejad explicitly advocated checks on Khamenei’s ultimate authority. Ahmadinejad was disqualified by the Guardian Council in the 2017 presidential election.

In an open letter to Khamenei in 2018, Ahmadinejad called for “fundamental reforms” in the three branches of government – executive, parliament and judiciary – as well as the office of the Supreme Leader.

A former officer of the Guards, who has tried to re-brand himself as a moderate politician by criticising the clerical establishment, Ahmadinejad relies on Iran’s devout poor and working class who have grown impatient with the mounting economic pressure.

However, his popularity remains in question and hardline political groups are expected to back prominent cleric and judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi if he decides to run.

Rouhani cannot seek re-election under Iran’s constitution.

Several hardline candidates, including some IRGC commanders, have said they would withdraw if Raisi enters the race to avoid splitting the vote.

Appointed by the supreme leader as head of the judiciary, Raisi has emerged as one of Iran’s most powerful figures and a contender to succeed Khamenei.

Antichrist’s Men assassinate protesters with impunity

In Iraq, powerful militias assassinate protesters with impunity
Image without a caption
Mourners carry the body of Iraqi anti-government activist Ehab al-Wazni during his funeral at the Imam Hussein Shrine in Karbala on May 9, 2021. (Mohammed Sawaf/AFP/Getty Images)
BAGHDAD — The killings take place in public and are captured on surveillance footage. Those videos are then watched by millions. But even if the gunmen are identified, no one is prosecuted, and the cycle starts again.

Across Baghdad and southern Iraq, a rising tide of attacks on activists and journalists is alarming what remains of a protest movement that has demanded the ouster of Iraq’s U.S.-molded political system and the usually Iran-linked armed groups that prop it up.

Mass street demonstrations were crushed last year with deadly force, often by paramilitary groups that the protesters have denounced. Now as some activists prepare to run in elections, prominent figures in the protest movement are being picked off while they walk the streets or drive home at the end of the day.

Story continues below advertisement

The assassinations, officials and human rights monitors say, underscore the reach of Iraq’s militia network — to punish citizens who dare to criticize it and control a political system meant to hold it accountable.

Early Sunday, videos showing the murder of one of Iraq’s best-known activists, Ehab al-Wazni, made their grim procession across millions of Iraqi cellphone and television screens. Black-and-white footage from hours earlier in the southern city of Karbala showed a gunman calmly approaching Wazni’s car. He stopped by the driver’s window, shot the activist at the wheel and ran off into the night.

Less than 24 hours later, news of another attack rippled through social media: This time the victim was in surgery after surviving a bullet to the head and shoulder. A photo posted to social media Tuesday morning showed journalist Ahmed Hasan lying in a hospital bed, his eyes closed and an oxygen mask on his face.

In Iraq, fear spreads among protesters as government cracks down

“It’s a message to us all,” said another Karbala-based activist, Saeed Askar, reached by phone after scrambling to move his family to another city overnight. “No matter what we do, the situation will always remain the same. Those death squads will always be in power.”

Iraq is experiencing a period of relative stability after decades when conflict repeatedly left ­civilians caught in the middle. In 2019, an anti-government protest movement occupied parts of Baghdad and southern cities for months as a generation raised in the shadow of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion decried the corrupt political system it had installed, as well as the influence of neighboring Iran.

Story continues below advertisement

At first, the protests appeared to weaken long-standing taboos against criticism of militia groups linked to Tehran. In scenes reminiscent of the fall of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, protesters used sandals to beat photos of militia leaders, and graffiti denounced the men as killers.

That moment did not last: Iraq’s human rights commission says it has registered 81 assassination attempts against anti-
government activists and journalists since the protests began. At least 34 have been killed, almost a third of them after the appointment of a new prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who came to power vowing justice for the slain activists.

Mounting threats are now being made against their friends and associates. Disillusionment and fear have forced many into exile. “They came to my father two weeks ago and told him my name was on their list” said one photographer, speaking on the condition of anonymity out of concern for his family’s safety in Baghdad.

Story continues below advertisement

“I left Iraq and everything I love,” he said. “My work, my friends, my family. But they still came to my house.”

Activists say they now think twice about criticizing the militias publicly. Many have left social media. Others stay in what are effectively safe houses, or lie low as they move from place to place.

“Those who are carrying out these assassinations are very powerful armed actors who are beyond the control of the government,” said Belkis Wille, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The human rights situation in Iraq has really become dire when it comes to the safety and security of individuals who are openly critical.”

Iraq’s militia network, known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), has a presence throughout the state. Representatives of the PMF — which encompasses groups linked to Iran as well as loyalists of powerful Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr — are members of Iraq’s official security forces. They are lawmakers, cabinet members, senior civil servants and powerful business executives.

Story continues below advertisement

Experts say that this diffuse power makes the militias particularly hard to tackle and that arrests or even killings — as in the case of President Donald Trump’s decision to assassinate their leader, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad last year — have done little to change their overall power.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Kadhimi vows justice for slain protesters

In a TV interview after Wazni’s killing, Kadhimi insisted that his government was making progress. He cited arrests in the city of Basra after another journalist, Ahmed Abdulsamad, was killed in January and claimed that “tens” of militiamen were in detention.

But high-profile arrests have often been followed by quiet releases, monitors say, and none of those detained are known to have been prosecuted.

Story continues below advertisement

The highest-profile assassination of all — that of prominent journalist and government adviser Hisham al-Hashimi — has not brought any arrests.

“Listen, you have to understand that their people are everywhere,” said a senior government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “We can’t move against them easily.”

Attempts to rein in the Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah group backfired early in Kadhimi’s term when the arrest of 14 militiamen accused of rocket attacks on U.S. targets prompted fighters to storm Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, almost reaching the prime minister’s home.

Another group accused of targeting activists, Saraya al-Salam, is the armed wing of a political movement led by Sadr. Western officials say that Kadhimi may ally himself with the movement in an attempt to maximize his chances of reelection in the fall.

Story continues below advertisement

This week, Kadhimi said he was committed to seeking justice for slain activists and praised Sadr as the “master of the resistance.”

In a video posted to Facebook a week before Wazni’s death, the activist was thronged by demonstrators as he addressed a local police chief through a megaphone. Wazni, who had already survived one assassination attempt, reminded the security official that he had been receiving death threats.

“I’ve already sent you their names,” he shouted as he jabbed the air with his finger. “If I get killed, then the police haven’t protected me.”

Wazni’s slaying has cast fresh doubt on the ability of activist candidates — already underdogs — to participate in elections scheduled for October. The holding of early elections was one of the demonstrators’ key demands.

Story continues below advertisement

Another was an end to Iraq’s culture of impunity.

One party affiliated with the protest movement, Beit al-Watani, has said it will not field candidates. Others say they are still deciding.

“We demanded change in a peaceful way, but our conditions have not been met,” said Hussein al-Ghorabi, a lawyer who was a prospective candidate for Beit al-Watani. He has been unable to return to his home city of Nasiriyah since unknown assailants planted an explosive device outside his home, he said.

The explosion followed months of texts and phone calls from unknown phone numbers, warning him to keep quiet, the lawyer said. “People are getting killed; they’re getting kidnapped. If we participate in this election, then we are giving legitimacy to a government that is protecting the killers.”

35 killed outside the Temple Walls as violence escalates: Revelation 11

35 killed in Gaza, 3 in Israel, as violence escalates

By Syndicated Content
May 11, 2021 | 7:31 PM

By Nidal al-Mughrabi, Jeffrey Heller and Stephen Farrell

GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Hostilities between Israel and Hamas escalated overnight, with 35 Palestinians killed in Gaza and three in Israel in the most intensive aerial exchanges for years.

Israel carried out hundreds of air strikes in Gaza into the early hours of Wednesday, as the Islamist group and other Palestinian militant groups fired multiple rocket barrages at Tel Aviv and Beersheba.

One multi-story residential building in Gaza collapsed and another was heavily damaged after they were repeatedly hit by Israeli air strikes. Israel said it attacked Hamas targets, including intelligence centres and rocket launch sites.

It was the heaviest offensive between Israel and Hamas since a 2014 war in Gaza, and prompted international concern that the situation could spiral out of control.

U.N. Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland tweeted: “Stop the fire immediately. We’re escalating towards a full scale war. Leaders on all sides have to take the responsibility of de-escalation.

“The cost of war in Gaza is devastating & is being paid by ordinary people. UN is working w/ all sides to restore calm. Stop the violence now,” he wrote.

Into the early hours of Wednesday morning, Gazans reported their homes shaking and the sky lighting up with Israeli attacks, outgoing rockets and Israeli air defence missiles intercepting them.

Israelis ran for shelters or flattened themselves on pavements in communities more than 70 km (45 miles) up the coast and into southern Israel amid sounds of explosions as interceptor missiles streaked into the sky.

Hamas’s armed wing said it fired 210 rockets towards Beersheba and Tel Aviv in response to the bombing of the tower buildings in Gaza City

In Tel Aviv, air raid sirens were heard around the city. For Israel, the militants’ targeting of Tel Aviv, its commercial capital, posed a new challenge in the confrontation with the Islamist Hamas group, regarded as a terrorist organisation by Israel and the United States.

The violence followed weeks of tension in Jerusalem during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, with clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in and around Al-Aqsa Mosque, on the compound revered by Jews as Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.

These escalated in recent days ahead of a – now postponed – court hearing in a case that could end with Palestinian families evicted from East Jerusalem homes claimed by Jewish settlers.

‘A VERY HEAVY PRICE’

There appeared no imminent end to the violence. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that militants would pay a “very heavy” price for the rockets, which reached the outskirts of Jerusalem on Monday during a holiday in Israel commemorating its capture of East Jerusalem in a 1967 war.

The outbreak of hostilities led Netanyahu’s political opponents to suspend negotiations on forming a coalition of right-wing, leftist and centre-left parties to unseat him after an inconclusive March 23 election.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid has three weeks left to establish a government, with a new election – and another chance for Netanyahu to retain power – likely if he fails.

The Arab League, some of whose members have warmed ties with Israel over the last year, accused it of “indiscriminate and irresponsible” attacks in Gaza and said it was responsible for “dangerous escalation” in Jerusalem.

Hamas named its rocket assault “Sword of Jerusalem”, seeking to marginalise Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and to present itself as the guardians of Palestinians in Jerusalem.

The militant group’s leader, Ismail Haniyeh, said Israel had “ignited fire in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa and the flames extended to Gaza, therefore, it is responsible for the consequences.”

Haniyeh said that Qatar, Egypt and the United Nations had been in contact urging calm but that Hamas’s message to Israel was: “If they want to escalate, the resistance is ready, if they want to stop, the resistance is ready.”

The White House said on Tuesday that Israel had a legitimate right to defend itself from rocket attacks but applied pressure on Israel over the treatment of Palestinians, saying Jerusalem must be a place of coexistence.

The United States was delaying U.N. Security Council efforts to issue a public statement on escalating tensions because it could be harmful to behind-the-scenes efforts to end the violence, according to diplomats and a source familiar with the U.S. strategy.State Department spokesman Ned Price urged calm and “restraint on both sides”, saying: “The loss of life, the loss of Israeli life, the loss of Palestinian life, It’s something that we deeply regret.”

He added: “We are urging this message of de-escalation to see this loss of life come to an end.”

PLUMES OF BLACK SMOKE

Israel said it had sent 80 jets to bomb Gaza, and dispatched infantry and armour to reinforce the tanks already gathered on the border, evoking memories of the last Israeli ground incursion into Gaza to stop rocket attacks, in 2014.

More than 2,100 Gazans were killed in the seven-week war that followed, according to the Gaza health ministry, along with 73 Israelis, and thousands of homes in Gaza were razed by Israeli forces.

Video footage on Tuesday showed three plumes of thick, black smoke rising from a 13-story Gaza residential and office block as it toppled over after being demolished by Israeli air strikes.

The Israeli military said the building, in Gaza City’s Rimal neighbourhood, housed “multiple” Hamas offices, including ones for military research and development and military intelligence.

The existence of one Hamas office, used by political leaders and officials dealing with the news media, was widely known locally.

Residents in the block and the surrounding area had been warned to evacuate the area before the air strike, according to witnesses and the Israeli military.

A second residential and office building in the same neighbourhood was heavily damaged in Israeli attacks shortly before 2 a.m. on Wednesday. Residents and journalists working in the building had already left.

On Tuesday Gaza health ministry officials put the death toll at 32, but a Hamas-affiliated radio station later said three more people, including a woman and a child, were killed shortly before 2 a.m. on Wednesday in an Israeli air strike on an apartment above a restaurant.

Israeli political leaders and the military said they had killed “dozens” of militants, and hit buildings used by Hamas.

Defence Minister Benny Gantz said Israel had carried out “hundreds” or strikes, and that “buildings will continue to crumble.”

Gaza’s health ministry said that of the 30 reported dead, 10 were children and one was a woman.

Israel’s Magen David Adom ambulance service said a 50-year-old woman was killed when a rocket hit a building in the Tel Aviv suburb of Rishon Lezion, and that two women had been killed in rocket strikes on Ashkelon.

(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi, Dan Williams and Ari Rabinovitch; Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Nandita Bose and Steve Holland in Washington and Michelle Nichols in New York, and Stephen Farrell and Rami Ayyub in Jerusalem; Writing by Kevin Liffey; Editing by Howard Goller)