East Coast Still Unprepared For The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

East Coast Earthquake Preparedness
By By BEN NUCKOLS
Posted: 08/25/2011 8:43 am EDT
WASHINGTON — There were cracks in the Washington Monument and broken capstones at the National Cathedral. In the District of Columbia suburbs, some people stayed in shelters because of structural concerns at their apartment buildings.
A day after the East Coast’s strongest earthquake in 67 years, inspectors assessed the damage and found that most problems were minor. But the shaking raised questions about whether this part of the country, with its older architecture and inexperience with seismic activity, is prepared for a truly powerful quake.
The 5.8 magnitude quake felt from Georgia north to Canada prompted swift inspections of many structures Wednesday, including bridges and nuclear plants. An accurate damage estimate could take weeks, if not longer. And many people will not be covered by insurance.
In a small Virginia city near the epicenter, the entire downtown business district was closed. School was canceled for two weeks to give engineers time to check out cracks in several buildings.
At the 555-foot Washington Monument, inspectors found several cracks in the pyramidion – the section at the top of the obelisk where it begins narrowing to a point.
A 4-foot crack was discovered Tuesday during a visual inspection by helicopter. It cannot be seen from the ground. Late Wednesday, the National Park Service announced that structural engineers had found several additional cracks inside the top of the monument.
Carol Johnson, a park service spokeswoman, could not say how many cracks were found but said three or four of them were “significant.” Two structural engineering firms that specialize in assessing earthquake damage were being brought in to conduct a more thorough inspection on Thursday.
The monument, by far the tallest structure in the nation’s capital, was to remain closed indefinitely, and Johnson said the additional cracks mean repairs are likely to take longer. It has never been damaged by a natural disaster, including earthquakes in Virginia in 1897 and New York in 1944.
Tourists arrived at the monument Wednesday morning only to find out they couldn’t get near it. A temporary fence was erected in a wide circle about 120 feet from the flags that surround its base. Walkways were blocked by metal barriers manned by security guards.
“Is it really closed?” a man asked the clerk at the site’s bookstore.
“It’s really closed,” said the clerk, Erin Nolan. Advance tickets were available for purchase, but she cautioned against buying them because it’s not clear when the monument will open.
“This is pretty much all I’m going to be doing today,” Nolan said.
Tuesday’s quake was centered about 40 miles northwest of Richmond, 90 miles south of Washington and 3.7 miles underground. In the nearby town of Mineral, Va., Michael Leman knew his Main Street Plumbing & Electrical Supply business would need – at best – serious and expensive repairs.
At worst, it could be condemned. The facade had become detached from the rest of the building, and daylight was visible through a 4- to 6-inch gap that opened between the front wall and ceiling.
“We’re definitely going to open back up,” Leman said. “I’ve got people’s jobs to look out for.”
Leman said he is insured, but some property owners might not be so lucky.
The Insurance Information Institute said earthquakes are not covered under standard U.S. homeowners or business insurance policies, although supplemental coverage is usually available.
The institute says coverage for other damage that may result from earthquakes, such as fire and water damage from burst gas or water pipes, is provided by standard homeowners and business insurance policies in most states. Cars and other vehicles with comprehensive insurance would also be protected.
The U.S. Geological Survey classified the quake as Alert Level Orange, the second-most serious category on its four-level scale. Earthquakes in that range lead to estimated losses between $100 million and $1 billion.
In Culpeper, Va., about 35 miles from the epicenter, walls had buckled at the old sanctuary at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, which was constructed in 1821 and drew worshippers including Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart. Heavy stone ornaments atop a pillar at the gate were shaken to the ground. A chimney from the old Culpeper Baptist Church built in 1894 also tumbled down.
At the Washington National Cathedral, spokesman Richard Weinberg said the building’s overall structure remains sound and damage was limited to “decorative elements.”
Massive stones atop three of the four spires on the building’s central tower broke off, crashing onto the roof. At least one of the spires is teetering badly, and cracks have appeared in some flying buttresses.
Repairs were expected to cost millions of dollars – an expense not covered by insurance.
“Every single portion of the exterior is carved by hand, so everything broken off is a piece of art,” Weinberg said. “It’s not just the labor, but the artistry of replicating what was once there.”
The building will remain closed as a precaution. Services to dedicate the memorial honoring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were moved.
Other major cities along the East Coast that felt the shaking tried to gauge the risk from another quake.
A few hours after briefly evacuating New York City Hall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city’s newer buildings could withstand a more serious earthquake. But, he added, questions remain about the older buildings that are common in a metropolis founded hundreds of years ago.
“We think that the design standards of today are sufficient against any eventuality,” he said. But “there are questions always about some very old buildings. … Fortunately those tend to be low buildings, so there’s not great danger.”
An earthquake similar to the one in Virginia could do billions of dollars of damage if it were centered in New York, said Barbara Nadel, an architect who specializes in securing buildings against natural disasters and terrorism.
The city’s 49-page seismic code requires builders to prepare for significant shifting of the earth. High-rises must be built with certain kinds of bracing, and they must be able to safely sway at least somewhat to accommodate for wind and even shaking from the ground, Nadel said.
Buildings constructed in Boston in recent decades had to follow stringent codes comparable to anything in California, said Vernon Woodworth, an architect and faculty member at the Boston Architectural College. New construction on older structures also must meet tough standards to withstand severe tremors, he said.
It’s a different story with the city’s older buildings. The 18th- and 19th-century structures in Boston’s Back Bay, for instance, were often built on fill, which can liquefy in a strong quake, Woodworth said. Still, there just aren’t many strong quakes in New England.
The last time the Boston area saw a quake as powerful as the one that hit Virginia on Tuesday was in 1755, off Cape Ann, to the north. A repeat of that quake would likely cause deaths, Woodworth said. Still, the quakes are so infrequent that it’s difficult to weigh the risks versus the costs of enacting tougher building standards regionally, he said.
People in several of the affected states won’t have much time to reflect before confronting another potential emergency. Hurricane Irene is approaching the East Coast and could skirt the Mid-Atlantic region by the weekend and make landfall in New England after that.
In North Carolina, officials were inspecting an aging bridge that is a vital evacuation route for people escaping the coastal barrier islands as the storm approaches.
Speaking at an earthquake briefing Wednesday, Washington Mayor Vincent Gray inadvertently mixed up his disasters.
“Everyone knows, obviously, that we had a hurricane,” he said before realizing his mistake.
“Hurricane,” he repeated sheepishly as reporters and staffers burst into laughter. “I’m getting ahead of myself!”
___
Associated Press writers Sam Hananel in Washington; Alex Dominguez in Baltimore; Bob Lewis in Mineral, Va.; Samantha Gross in New York City; and Jay Lindsay in Boston contributed to this report.

Religious violence spreads outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Religious violence spreads across Israel as death toll from Gaza airstrikes mounts

Updated on: May 13, 2021 / 1:45 PM
/ CBS News

Bat Yam, Israel — Religious violence unlike anything seen in decades has spread across Israel. CBS News correspondent Imtiaz Tyab reports that Jewish and Arab neighbors who’ve lived side-by-side for generations have started to turn on each other.

On Wednesday night an Arab-Israeli man was pulled from his car in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam and beaten unconscious by dozens of far-right Jewish Israelis.

The brutal attack, labelled a “lynching” by Israeli media, was broadcast live on TV. It was condemned by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the country’s chief rabbi.

“I think this is different from anything I’ve seen, and I’ve been living here for 24 years,” Tel Aviv resident Dahlia Scheindlin told CBS News. “I just want to point out that we’re all Israelis, so Jews, Arabs — we’re all Israelis.”

Violence escalates in Israel-Gaza conflict
Images of a horrifyingly similar scene were posted on social media from Acre, in northern Israel, showing a Jewish-Israeli man allegedly being attacked by a group of young Palestinian Arabs.

“We had a nightmare of a night, a real riot by hundreds of Arab youths,” said Avraham Sagron, the rabbi of a nearby synagogue. “They came in masses, torched car after car, trash bins, broke windows and it was really dangerous to leave the house.”

People, homes, businesses and places of worship have all been targeted.

Just a few days ago the violence sweeping across towns and cities with mixed populations of Jews and Arabs was unthinkable, but the fear now across the region is that there may be much more to come.

Israel-Gaza Conflict

The nightmare is being felt nowhere more acutely than in the Gaza Strip. The tiny, densely populated Palestinian territory controled by the Hamas group has been pummelled by Israeli airstrikes for four days.

The strikes are wreaking havoc, while Hamas’ military wing and other Palestinian groups continue to fire rockets at Israel. More than 1,000 were let loose on Wednesday night alone.

Israel strikes kill Hamas commanders
Since Monday, more than 80 Palestinians have been killed, including 17 children, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Israel says many of those killed have been Palestinian militants. Seven Israelis have died so far in the tit-for-tat war, including one soldier.

Israel’s military said two infantry units and an armored unit had been sent to the Gaza border, and that plans for a theoretical ground incursion had been prepared and could be submitted to military chiefs for consideration as soon as Thursday. Any such invasion would require approval by Netanyahu’s government, and mark a hugely controversial escalation in the conflict.

But with mounting calls by the U.S. and other countries to step back from the cross-border hostilities, it was the widespread civil unrest inside Israel causing the most immediate concern across the region, stoking fears that the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict could be headed into new, deeply dangerous territory.

There was, however, merciful calm on Thursday morning at one flashpoint in particular — the al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City, where this latest round of violence began.

Thousands of Muslims offered Eid prayers there on Thursday, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. There were no reports of violence, but the normally joyous celebration was undeniably on edge.

Threat to air travel

There was yet another worrying sign on Thursday that the tension and the violence could get worse before it gets better. Hamas’ armed wing in Gaza warned that civilian flights in and out of Israel should be halted, because they could be hit by the group’s rockets.

“We call on international airlines to stop their flights to Israel,” a spokesman for the al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement posted to the group’s website. “We tell the enemy that all your airports, and every point from north to south Palestine, are within range of our missiles.”

Streaks of light are seen as Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon
Streaks of light are seen as Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel May 10, 2021. AMIR COHEN / REUTERS
Already Israel’s civil aviation authority had diverted all incoming passenger flights headed to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport, the main air hub in Israel, to the secondary airport called Ramon. But the Qassam Brigades claimed it had specifically targeted Ramon airport on Thursday, and there were reports in Israeli media that a rocket did land about 7 miles away.

Spokespeople for United Airlines and American Airlines told French news agency AFP that they’d already cancelled all their flights from the U.S. to Israel at least until Saturday.

Appeals for calm

United Nations and Egyptian officials have said that efforts to establish a cease-fire are underway, and an Egyptian delegation arrived Thursday in Israel, but there have been scant signs of progress yet, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has vowed to widen the offensive.

President Joe Biden called Netanyahu to support Israel’s right to defend itself, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was sending a senior diplomat to the region to push for a truce.

Blinken also spoke on Wednesday with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah faction governs the West Bank but holds little sway in Hamas-controlled Gaza. The top American diplomat “expressed his condolences for the lives lost as a result” of the violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories, according to a readout of the call provided by the State Department.

“The Secretary condemned the rocket attacks and emphasized the need to de-escalate tensions and bring the current violence to an end. The Secretary also expressed his belief that Palestinians and Israelis deserve equal measures of freedom, dignity, security and prosperity,” the readout said.

CBS News’ Pamela Falk reported on Thursday that Israel’s U.N. delegation had asked the rest of the Security Council member states to clearly voice support for the country’s right to defend itself from attack.

Tunisia, China and Norway’s U.N. delegations had requested that the Council hold an open, emergency meeting on the Mideast crisis on Friday, but a source familiar with U.S. policy told Falk that the American delegation would prefer an open meeting next Tuesday to give space for diplomacy at the highest levels.

By late Thursday, the U.S. and other nations agreed to hold an emergency open virtual meeting on Sunday.

The source said the U.S. was working behind the scenes to de-escalate the situation, but wanted “to ensure that Security Council action de-escalates tensions,” and that officials were hoping for a ceasefire.

First published on May 13, 2021 / 3:06 AM

© 2021 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

India more likely to start the first nuclear war: Revelation 8

India more likely to respond with military force against Pakistan, reveals US report

Report states there are minimal chances of general war between India and Pakistan but the crises between the two are likely to become more intense, risking an escalatory cycle
The prospects of striking a peace deal in Afghanistan during the next year remain dim: report
Fahad Zulfikar Updated 16 Apr 2021

(Karachi) India is more likely to respond with military force to “perceived or real” provocations from Pakistan under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a report released by US intelligence revealed.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) in its Annual Threat Assessment report to the US Congress, stated that there are minimal chances of general war between arch-rivals, India and Pakistan. However, the crises between the two are likely to become more intense, risking an escalatory cycle.

The report said, “Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is more likely than in the past to respond with military force to perceived or real Pakistani provocations, and heightened tensions raise the risk of conflict between the two nuclear-armed neighbours, with violent unrest in Kashmir or a militant attack in India being potential flashpoints.”

The ODNI report transpired that tensions between the two nuclear states are a concern for the world.

It stated that the fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, violence between Israel and Iran, the activity of foreign powers in Libya, and conflicts in other areas including Africa, Asia, and the Middle East have the potential to escalate or spread.

About the Afghan peace process, the report assessed that the prospects of striking a peace deal during the next year remain dim.

“The Taliban is likely to make gains on the battlefield, and the Afghan Government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support. Kabul continues to face setbacks on the battlefield, and the Taliban is confident it can achieve military victory, it said.

“Afghan forces continue to secure major cities and other government strongholds, but they remain tied down in defensive missions and have struggled to hold recaptured territory or reestablish a presence in areas abandoned in 2020,” the report highlighted.

Regarding Iran’s role in Afghanistan, the report said: “Iran will hedge its bets in Afghanistan.” It added that Iran publicly backs Afghan peace talks, but it is worried about a long-term US presence in Afghanistan. As a result, “Iran is building ties with both the government in Kabul and the Taliban so it can take advantage of any political outcome,” the report mentioned.

Report notes the Iranian Horn’s higher uranium purity

Report notes Iran’s higher uranium purity

BERLIN — Iran has enriched uranium to slightly higher purity than previously thought because of “fluctuations” in the process, the United Nations’ atomic watchdog said Wednesday.

The report underscores the challenges diplomats face in ongoing talks, that began in April, to bring the United States back into the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran, which is supported by President Joe Biden.

Morning Newsletter
Stay connected and informed with NWADG.com news updates delivered to your inbox.

The initial announcement from Iran that it would start enriching to 60% — which is not weapon’s grade but its highest purity yet — was made just as the talks were to begin in Vienna. Rafael Grossi, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, reported to member agencies Tuesday that the latest inspections confirmed Iran continues to enrich uranium at up to 60% purity in its Natanz plant.

Additionally, samples taken April 22 “showed an enrichment level of up to 63% … consistent with fluctuations of the enrichment levels experienced in the mode of production at that time,” the agency said.

The agency added that on Monday inspectors had “verified that Iran had again changed the mode of production” by which it was producing uranium enriched to 60% purity.

Iran has been steadily violating the restrictions of the landmark 2015 deal after then-President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out unilaterally in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions. The deal promised Iran economic incentives in exchanges for curbs on its nuclear program.

Iran has intended the violations to pressure the other nations involved — Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia — into finding ways to offset the U.S. sanctions, so far unsuccessfully.

The U.S. is not at the table for the talks that began in April, but the other members of the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, have been shuttling between an American delegation also in Vienna and the Iranian delegation.

The pact is meant to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb, something the country insists it does not want to do. The government in Tehran has said that it is prepared to reverse all of its violations but that Washington must remove all sanctions imposed under Trump — including measures imposed over issues not related to its nuclear program.

In addition to exceeding the purity of uranium enrichment past the 3.67% allowed, Iranian violations of the nuclear deal have included installing more advanced centrifuges and stockpiling more enriched uranium than permitted.

The U.S. has insisted that Iran must return to full compliance, but just how that would be carried out is still being discussed.

Despite its violations of all major restrictions of the nuclear deal, the other countries involved have insisted that it has been worth preserving, if nothing else because it has meant atomic-agency inspectors have been able to continue monitoring Iran’s nuclear program.

That access may be further restricted soon, however.

Iran in February began restricting international inspections of its nuclear facilities, but under a last-minute deal worked out on Feb. 21 during a trip to Tehran by Grossi, some access was preserved.

Under the agreement, Iran said that it no longer would provide surveillance footage of its nuclear facilities with the U.N. agency but promised to preserve the tapes for three months.

It then will hand them over to the agency if it is granted sanctions relief. Otherwise, Iran has vowed to erase the recordings.

May 21 represents the end of that three-month window, though there has been some suggestion Iran may extend the deadline if it is satisfied with the progress of the Vienna talks.

Information for this article was contributed by Amir Vahdat of The Associated Press.

FILE – This Jan. 15, 2011 file photo shows Arak heavy water nuclear facilities, near the central city of Arak, 150 miles (250 kilometers) southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran. The United Nations’ atomic watchdog says Iran has enriched uranium to slightly higher purity than previously thought due to “fluctuations” in the process in a report that underscores the challenges diplomats face in ongoing talks to bring the United States back into the nuclear deal with Tehran. (AP Photo/ISNA, Hamid Foroutan, File)
FILE – This Jan. 15, 2011 file photo shows Arak heavy water nuclear facilities, near the central city of Arak, 150 miles (250 kilometers) southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran. The United Nations’ atomic watchdog says Iran has enriched uranium to slightly higher purity than previously thought due to “fluctuations” in the process in a report that underscores the challenges diplomats face in ongoing talks to bring the United States back into the nuclear deal with Tehran. (AP Photo/ISNA, Hamid Foroutan, File)

More Than 30 Dead Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

More Than 30 Dead in Gaza and Israel as Fighting Quickly Escalates
Hamas fires rockets at Israeli cities. Israel hits Gaza with airstrikes. Civilians suffer the most casualties, but leaders on each side may reap political benefits.

Published May 11, 2021Updated May 14, 2021
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Video player loading
Fighting between Israelis and Palestinians intensified on Tuesday to the highest levels seen in seven years, as militants fired rockets into Israel and the Israeli military responded with airstrikes in Gaza.Mahmud Hams/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
ASHKELON, Israel — The worst fighting between Israelis and Palestinians in seven years intensified on Tuesday night, as Israeli airstrikes began targeting Hamas offices in Gaza City and militants in Gaza fired rockets at the metropolis of Tel Aviv, the southern city of Ashkelon and Israel’s main airport.

In Gaza, at least 35 Palestinians, including 10 children, had been killed by Tuesday night, and 203 others were wounded, according to health officials. In Israel, five people were killed in strikes on Tel Aviv, Ashkelon and Lod, and at least 100 were wounded, according to medical officials.

Away from the military conflict, a wave of civil unrest spread across Arab neighborhoods as Palestinian citizens of Israel expressed fury at the killings in Gaza and longstanding complaints of discrimination inside Israel itself.

While the surge in strikes, the worst since 2014, brought fear to millions in Gaza and Israel, they nevertheless bolstered an unlikely pair: Hamas, the Islamist militant group that runs the Gaza Strip, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.

For Hamas, the conflict has allowed it to revitalize its claims to the leadership of Palestinian resistance. It framed its rockets as a direct response to a pair of Israeli police raids on the Aqsa Mosque compound, a religious site in East Jerusalem sacred to both Muslims and Jews. In the process, the group presented itself as a protector of Palestinian protesters and worshipers in the city.

Israeli forces and

Palestinian militants

exchanged hundreds

of strikes at multiple

locations in

Gaza and Israel.

Police raided Al Aqsa

Mosque on Monday to disperse crowds and protesters.

For Mr. Netanyahu, the distraction of the war, and the divisions it creates between the disparate opposition parties currently negotiating a coalition to topple him from power, have given him half a chance of remaining in office, just days after it seemed like he might finally be on the way out.

“It is the story of every previous war between Israel and Hamas,” said Ghassan Khatib, a politics expert at Birzeit University in the occupied West Bank. Both governments “come out of it victorious, and the public of Gaza comes out of it as losers.”

Both sides seized on the charged symbolism of the holy city. The Israeli military code-named its operation Guardians of the Walls, a reference to the ancient ramparts of the Old City of Jerusalem. The militants had their own code name: Sword of Jerusalem.

For the victims of the violence, the first 36 hours of the renewed conflict brought little but terror and loss. The Palestinian militants and Israeli military are unevenly matched — the former armed with rockets, the latter with fighter jets and a sophisticated antimissile defense system, the Iron Dome, partly financed by the United States.

Israel’s sophisticated antimissile defense system, the Iron Dome, is partly financed by the United States.
Israel’s sophisticated antimissile defense system, the Iron Dome, is partly financed by the United States. Amir Cohen/Reuters
Israeli airstrikes aim for strategic targets in densely populated Gaza, killing civilians even as Israel insists it takes measures to avoid them. Hamas’s rockets, on the other hand, aim for civilian population centers but often miss the mark.

Osama Soboh, a 31-year-old civil servant in Gaza City, lost his mother, Amira, and brother, Abdelrahman, when an Israeli strike on their apartment block — aimed at a militant leader — also took out his family.

“This is my mom,” Mr. Soboh said by phone on Tuesday afternoon. “It’s a very hard thing to say farewell to the most precious person you have on earth.”

Mr. Soboh questioned why Israel had targeted a civilian building. “It’s not a military barracks, it’s not posing any danger to Israel,” he said. “This was an old woman with a child with cerebral palsy.”

Thirteen miles to the north, in a sleepy suburb of Ashkelon, in Israel, a grandmother trod across the shards of glass and detritus left by a Hamas rocket that had sliced through her apartment block.

“What have I done wrong?” asked Maria Nagiv, 61, a former soldier who was born in Ukraine. “I didn’t do anything and they still send us bombs.”

Ms. Nagiv understood little about the events at the Aqsa compound that had preceded the attack.

“What happened in Jerusalem?” she asked as shards crunched beneath her feet. “I haven’t been following anything about that.”

Taking cover in Ashdod, Israel, on Tuesday as sirens warned of incoming rockets from Gaza.Abir Sultan/EPA, via Shutterstock
Later that day, an Ashkelon City Council member, Amichai Siboni, ran through the city’s streets, searching frantically for a bomb shelter, while bomb sirens sounded overhead.

“There is a siren right now,” Mr. Siboni said as he narrated his experience to an Israeli broadcaster. “I am looking for a safe room in a supermarket. I see around me elderly shoppers getting down to the floor. They are anxious and holding on to each other on the ground.”

In Gaza and Israel, the rockets and airstrikes reached an intensity considered rare for this early stage in a conflict here.

In Gaza, Israeli pilots quickly moved on from solely military targets, turning Tuesday to an apartment block said to house the home of a leading militant, and a tower block housing offices of several Hamas officials.

An Israeli military spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, said early Tuesday that 15 militants had been killed in strikes by jets and unmanned drones.

As multiple salvos of rockets streaked out of Gaza in rapid succession, one hit a school in Ashkelon. The school was empty because the Israeli authorities had ordered all schools within 25 miles of Gaza closed in anticipation of rockets.

A giant fire raged on the outskirts of the city, where an oil facility was hit.

An oil facility in Ashkelon was hit by rockets fired from Gaza.Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Unrest also broke out among Palestinian citizens of Israel, who were angered by the strikes on Gaza, the raid on the Aqsa compound and the looming expulsion of several Palestinian families from their homes in Jerusalem. Protesters waving Palestinian flags gathered in several Arab towns across Israel, some of them burning cars and Jewish properties.

Palestinians rampaged in the mixed city of Lod, where a state of emergency was declared early Wednesday. Protesters set fire to a synagogue and dozens of cars. One Palestinian man was fatally shot.

A municipality office that was burned during a night of violence between Israeli Arab protesters and the Israeli police in the town of Lod.Heidi Levine/Associated Press
A popular, Jewish-owned fish restaurant went up in flames in Acre, and television images showed a Jewish mob stoning Arab vehicles in Ramla.

In a speech recorded in Qatar and aired on a Hamas-affiliated television channel, a senior Hamas political leader, Ismail Haniya, struck a triumphant tone.

“We have managed to create an equation linking the Jerusalem and Gaza fronts,” he said. “They are inseparable. Jerusalem and Gaza are one.”

For Hamas, analysts said the new round of fighting gives the group the chance to reclaim some of the luster it had as a resistance movement that had faded after years of governing the Gaza Strip. Since coming to power in 2007, Hamas has lost popularity because of what many Gazans see as its authoritarian approach and poor governance.

Evacuating a building in Gaza City on Tuesday. The cross-border military conflict escalated rapidly.Mahmud Hams/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
But its self-presentation as the defender of Jerusalem has allowed the group to piggyback on widespread anger at Israeli police behavior at the Aqsa compound. And it has also allowed the group to ride the coattails of a grass-roots campaign to prevent the eviction of the Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

The families’ plight resonated widely because it embodied the broader effort to remove Palestinians from parts of East Jerusalem and of the past displacements of Arabs in the occupied territories and within Israel.

“The events in Jerusalem became very popular among Palestinians,” Mr. Khatib said. “They wanted to move in support of that, in order to get credit.”

The rocket fire also allows Hamas to outmaneuver President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, which exerts partial autonomy in parts of the West Bank. Mr. Abbas recently canceled what would have been the first Palestinian elections in 15 years, denying Hamas the chance to legitimize itself through electoral success.

Now Hamas wants to prove its relevance through other means, said Mkhaimar Abusada, a political scientist at Al Aqsa University in Gaza.

“Definitely what is happening is an indirect message to the Palestinian Authority and to Abbas,” said Mr. Abusada. “If he is not willing to reorganize the Palestinian internal house, that’s another reason why Hamas is escalating.”

Palestinian demonstrators during anti-Israel protests near the Jewish settlement of Beit El near Ramallah.Abbas Momani/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
The war also gives Mr. Netanyahu political breathing space.

Mr. Netanyahu’s opponents have three weeks to cobble together an unlikely coalition — and their success depends on far-right Jewish politicians and Arab Islamists putting aside fundamental differences to join forces in government.

But a war with Gaza makes that less likely, since it becomes far harder for Arab politicians, who oppose confrontations with Gaza, to find common cause with right-wingers who firmly back military action.

Mansour Abbas, an Islamist politician whose party holds the balance of parliamentary power, canceled coalition talks on Monday, as military escalation appeared inevitable. And Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who has pledged to oust Mr. Netanyahu, is now distracted by the war effort.

“It won’t work,” said Yaakov Amidror, a former Israeli national security adviser. “Abbas can’t justify to his public supporting a government that is fighting in Gaza.”

Mr. Netanyahu, also sounding a note of defiance, suggested the hostilities might not end any time soon.

“Hamas and Islamic Jihad have paid, and will pay, a very heavy price for their aggression,” he declared in a late-night address. “This campaign will take time.”

But among civilians left grieving by the conflict, these political questions meant little.

Carrying the body of an 11-year-old, Hussain Hamad, during his funeral in Beit Hanoun, Gaza, on Tuesday. He was killed in an explosion during the conflict.Khalil Hamra/Associated Press
In Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza, the al-Masri family buried two young boys who were killed on Monday evening.

Ibrahim, 11, and Marwan, 7, had been playing outside their home when a missile struck, according to their uncle, Bashir al-Masri, 25.

For Mr. al-Masri, the attack showed that Israel had no concern for civilian life.

“They target buildings with children, they target ambulances, they target schools,” he said by telephone. “And all the world, beginning with America, says that people in Gaza are terrorists. But we are not terrorists. We just want to live in peace.”

On Tuesday night, it was impossible to predict when that would come. The rapid escalation to high-value targets could mean that each side was ramping up for a major conflict.

It could also mean that each is trying to make a powerful final statement before the fighting ends.

But Colonel Conricus said Tuesday that the military’s air campaign was still in its “early stages.”

Reporting was contributed by Iyad Abuhweila from Gaza City, Myra Noveck and Irit Pazner Garshowitz from Jerusalem, and Gabby Sobelman from Rehovot, Israel.

Israel steps up Gaza offensive outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Nuclear,jerusalem,revelation 11,Israel,jihad,andrewtheprophet,plague,Netanyahu,

Israel steps up Gaza offensive, kills senior Hamas figures

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israel on Wednesday pressed ahead with a fierce military offensive in the Gaza Strip, killing as many as 10 senior Hamas military figures and toppling a pair of high-rise towers housing Hamas facilities in airstrikes. The Islamic militant group showed no signs of backing down and fired hundreds of rockets at Israeli cities.

In just three days, this latest round of fighting between the bitter enemies has already begun to resemble — and even exceed — a devastating 50-day war in 2014. Like in that previous war, neither side appears to have an exit strategy.

But there are key differences. The fighting has triggered the worst Jewish-Arab violence inside Israel in decades. And looming in the background is an international war crimes investigation.

Israel carried out an intense barrage of airstrikes just after sunrise, striking dozens of targets in several minutes that set off bone-rattling explosions across Gaza. Airstrikes continued throughout the day, filling the sky with pillars of smoke.

At nightfall, the streets of Gaza City resembled a ghost town as people huddled indoors on the final night of Islam’s holiest month of Ramadan. The evening, followed by the Eid al-Fitr holiday, is usually a time of vibrant night life, shopping and crowded restaurants.

“There is nowhere to run. There is nowhere to hide,” said Zeyad Khattab, a 44-year-old pharmacist who fled with a dozen other relatives to a family home in central Gaza after bombs pounded his apartment building in Gaza City. “That terror is impossible to describe.”

Gaza militants continued to bombard Israel with nonstop rocket fire throughout the day and into early Thursday. The attacks 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) to the north, for a second straight day.

The military said sirens also wailed in northern Israel’s Emek area, or Jezreel Valley, the farthest the effects of Gaza rockets have reached since 2014. The Israeli army also shared footage showing a rocket impact between apartment towers in the Tel Aviv suburb of Petah Tikva early Thursday, apparently sparking a large fire. It said the strike left people wounded and caused “significant damage.”

“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.”

Gaza’s Health Ministry said the death toll rose to 69 Palestinians, including 16 children and six women. Islamic Jihad confirmed the deaths of seven militants, while Hamas acknowledged that a top commander and several other members were killed.

Rescuers pulled the bodies of a man and his wife from the debris of their home that was hit by rockets in the latest Israeli airstrikes early Thursday, relatives said.

A total of seven people have been killed in Israel, including four people who died on Wednesday. Among them were a soldier killed by an anti-tank missile and a 6-year-old child hit in a rocket attack.

The Israeli military claims the number of militants killed so far is much higher than Hamas has acknowledged.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, said at least 14 militants were killed Wednesday — including 10 members of the “top management of Hamas” and four weapons experts. Altogether, he claimed some 30 militants have been killed since the fighting began.

More raids conducted early Thursday were aimed at several “strategically significant” facilities for Hamas, including a bank and a compound for a naval squad, the military said.

While United Nations and Egyptian officials have said that cease-fire efforts are underway, there were no signs of progress. Israeli television’s Channel 12 reported late Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Security Cabinet authorized a widening of the offensive.

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.” President Joe Biden called Netanyahu to support Israel’s right to defend itself and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said he was sending a senior diplomat to the region to try to calm tensions.

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 was the Al-Aqsa Mosque, built on a hilltop compound that is revered by Jews and Muslims, where police fired tear gas and stun grenades at protesters who threw chairs and stones at them.

Hamas, claiming to be defending Jerusalem, launched a barrage of rockets at the city late Monday, setting off days of fighting.

The Israeli military says militants have fired about 1,500 rockets in just three days. That is roughly one-third the number fired during the entire 2014 war.

Israel, meanwhile, has struck over 350 targets in Gaza, a tiny territory where 2 million Palestinians have lived under a crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockade since Hamas took power in 2007. Two infantry brigades were sent to the area, indicating preparations for a possible ground invasion.

In tactics echoing past wars, Israel has begun to target senior members of Hamas’ military wing. It also has flattened three high-rise buildings in a tactic that has drawn international scrutiny in the past.

Israel says the buildings all housed Hamas operations centers, but they also included residential apartments and businesses. In all cases, Israel fired warning shots, allowing people to flee, and there were no reports of casualties.

The fighting has set off violent clashes between Arabs and Jews in Israel, in scenes unseen since 2000. Netanyahu warned that he was prepared to use an “iron fist if necessary” to calm the violence.

But ugly clashes erupted across the country 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, a mob of Jewish nationalists attacked an Arab motorist, dragged him from his car and beat him until he was motionless.

In the occupied West Bank, the Israeli military said it thwarted a Palestinian shooting attack that wounded two people. The Palestinian Health Ministry said the suspected gunman was killed. No details were immediately available.

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.

His rivals have courted a small Islamist Arab party. But the longer the fighting lasts, the more it could hamper their attempts at forming a coalition. It could also boost Netanyahu if another election is held, since security is his strong suit with the public.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since the Islamic militant group seized power in Gaza from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.

The International Criminal Court has launched an investigation into possible war crimes by Israel and Hamas. In a brief statement, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said she had noted “with great concern” the escalation of violence and “the possible commission of crimes.”

The ICC is looking into Israeli actions in past wars in Gaza. Israel is not a member of the court, does not recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction and rejects the accusations. But in theory, the ICC could issue warrants and try to arrest Israeli suspects while they are traveling overseas.

Conricus, the military spokesman, said Israeli forces respect international laws on armed conflict and do their utmost to minimize civilian casualties. Israel blames Hamas for civilian casualties because the group fires rockets from residential areas.

Emanuel Gross, a professor emeritus the University of Haifa law school, said Israel should “take into consideration the concerns of the ICC.” But he said he believes the military is on solid legal ground while rockets are striking Israeli cities.

“That’s the real meaning of self defense,” he said. “If you are attacked by a terrorist group, you defend yourself.”


The Federman reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press writer Ilan Ben Zion in Jerusalem contributed to this report.