Don’t Forget About the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Don’t forget about earthquakes, feds tell city

Although New York’s modern skyscrapers are less likely to be damaged in an earthquake than shorter structures, a new study suggests the East Coast is more vulnerable than previously thought. The new findings will help alter building codes.By Mark FaheyJuly 18, 2014 10:03 a.m.The U.S. Geological Survey had good and bad news for New Yorkers on Thursday. In releasing its latest set of seismic maps the agency said earthquakes are a slightly lower hazard for New York City’s skyscrapers than previously thought, but on the other hand noted that the East Coast may be able to produce larger, more dangerous earthquakes than previous assessments have indicated.The 2014 maps were created with input from hundreds of experts from across the country and are based on much stronger data than the 2008 maps, said Mark Petersen, chief of the USGS National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project. The bottom line for the nation’s largest city is that the area is at a slightly lower risk for the types of slow-shaking earthquakes that are especially damaging to tall spires of which New York has more than most places, but the city is still at high risk due to its population density and aging structures, said Mr. Petersen.“Many of the overall patterns are the same in this map as in previous maps,” said Mr. Petersen. “There are large uncertainties in seismic hazards in the eastern United States. [New York City] has a lot of exposure and some vulnerability, but people forget about earthquakes because you don’t see damage from ground shaking happening very often.”Just because they’re infrequent doesn’t mean that large and potentially disastrous earthquakes can’t occur in the area. The new maps put the largest expected magnitude at 8, significantly higher than the 2008 peak of 7.7 on a logarithmic scale.The scientific understanding of East Coast earthquakes has expanded in recent years thanks to a magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia in 2011 that was felt by tens of millions of people across the eastern U.S. New data compiled by the nuclear power industry has also helped experts understand quakes.“The update shows New York at an intermediate level,” said Arthur Lerner-Lam, deputy director of Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “You have to combine that with the exposure of buildings and people and the fragility of buildings and people. In terms of safety and economics, New York has a substantial risk.”Oddly enough, it’s not the modern tall towers that are most at risk. Those buildings become like inverted pendulums in the high frequency shakes that are more common on the East Coast than in the West. But the city’s old eight- and 10-story masonry structures could suffer in a large quake, said Mr. Lerner-Lam. Engineers use maps like those released on Thursday to evaluate the minimum structural requirements at building sites, he said. The risk of an earthquake has to be determined over the building’s life span, not year-to-year.“If a structure is going to exist for 100 years, frankly, it’s more than likely it’s going to see an earthquake over that time,” said Mr. Lerner-Lam. “You have to design for that event.”The new USGS maps will feed into the city’s building-code review process, said a spokesman for the New York City Department of Buildings. Design provisions based on the maps are incorporated into a standard by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which is then adopted by the International Building Code and local jurisdictions like New York City. New York’s current provisions are based on the 2010 standards, but a new edition based on the just-released 2014 maps is due around 2016, he said.“The standards for seismic safety in building codes are directly based upon USGS assessments of potential ground shaking from earthquakes, and have been for years,” said Jim Harris, a member and former chair of the Provisions Update Committee of the Building Seismic Safety Council, in a statement.The seismic hazard model also feeds into risk assessment and insurance policies, according to Nilesh Shome, senior director of Risk Management Solutions, the largest insurance modeler in the industry. The new maps will help the insurance industry as a whole price earthquake insurance and manage catastrophic risk, said Mr. Shome. The industry collects more than $2.5 billion in premiums for earthquake insurance each year and underwrites more than $10 trillion in building risk, he said.“People forget about history, that earthquakes have occurred in these regions in the past, and that they will occur in the future,” said Mr. Petersen. “They don’t occur very often, but the consequences and the costs can be high.”

Commander of Babylon the Great wants more nukes: Daniel 7

Commander of United States Strategic Command wants more nukes

On April 21, U.S. Admiral Charles Richard was all warning and concern, urging the U.S. Senate to consider a simple proposition.

He said:

As Commander of the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM), his audience was the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services. His theme: that the nuclear deterrent was there to be polished and improved rather than reconsidered.

His address formed the annual Posture Statement Review. Its centrepiece is the continued relevance of strategic nuclear deterrence.

He explained:

Were it to fail:

This decisiveness will be achieved ‘with a modern resilient, equipped, and trained combatant-ready force’.

To avoid the failure of such deterrence also required revisiting ‘a critical forgotten lesson that deterrence operates continuously from peacetime, through the gray zone, worldwide, across all domains, and into conflict’.

The fate of the U.S. Republic is indelibly linked to three important features:

According to the Admiral, the fundamentals of deterrence had not changed in this Century. Principles keeping terror in play remained. Adversaries had to be assured they would suffer greater loss than any gain derived from their offensive actions.

In what turned out to be a revelation, Richard showed his worldview with jaw-dropping candour:

The unanswered question here is what would make such an adversary behave in that way.

Part of the concern is a fear that weapons systems are ageing. Lawmakers have simply not been attentive to the needs of greater investment. It was a source of some wonder in 2019 that part of the Pentagon’s modernisation effort involved moving its nuclear command and control system off eight-inch floppy disks.

Uncertainty rife as U.S. exits nuclear disarmament treaty

Professor Ramesh Thakur unpacks the nuclear landscape and whether Australia should host U.S. missiles.

What the Admiral ignores is that older systems have their advantages, notably, when considering the problems that come from cyber threats.

Those inclined to nostalgia will have every reason to fear that moving away from such seemingly rudimentary technology will come with its own risks of breaches and glitches.

As Lt. Col. Jason Rossi of the US Air Force’s 595th Strategic Communications Squadron realised:

Not, however, for the Admiral.

The message to lawmakers is clear: spend more on nuclear weapons and make them dazzlingly modern. If system capabilities are eroded such that intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) are removed from the triad, the grave Commander recommends returning to that absurd policy of keeping nuclear-armed U.S. Air Force bombers airborne on 24-hour alert.

It was a policy ripe with “broken arrow” opportunities. the rather bland term for the hideous danger posed by nuclear weapon accidents. The U.S. alone has had 32 broken arrows across the globe, with six nuclear weapons lost and never found.

For those wishing to be terrified, Rudolph Herzog’s A Short History of Nuclear Folly goes into some detail about this regime of danger, error and incompetence.

Central to the latest Posture Review is the continuing concern shown towards Russia and China. Russia retains its position in the U.S. security psyche as the ‘pacing nuclear strategic threat’.

China, however, was menacing in its improved capabilities. The modernisation of nuclear forces by both powers meant that the U.S. was ‘facing two nuclear-capable peer adversaries at the same time’ for the first time in its history.

Such fears are eerily reminiscent of those shared by paranoid Cold War warriors of the 1950s. In the late 1950s, Washington, seeing Soviet advances in ICBM technology (testing had taken place in August 1957) and the success of Sputnik in October, began nursing an obsession: the Soviets had in their possession a superior missile capability.

HELEN CALDICOTT: Our nuclear arms obsession is a countdown to extinction

America could lead the way in reallocating its arms budget towards fixing the planet’s problems.

Fears were further fanned by the report of the Gaither Committee, a group of woolly-headed external experts who were willing to feed what came to be known as the “Missile Gap” fallacy. Their baseless, pointed recommendation was to dramatically increase the military budget to combat the fractious Soviet Bear, whose ‘intentions are expansionist’.

Amongst various suggestions was the suggested increase of the ICBM inventory from 80 to 600.

Richard accordingly takes it upon himself to inflate Beijing’s credentials in order to woo the Senators and fill STRATCOM’s begging bowl.

China was:

In his oral testimony, the Admiral was beside himself regarding weekly revelations about China’s capabilities. The stock of current intelligence information on China’s nuclear arsenal, given a month’s lag, was probably dated by the time it reached STRATCOM. He could only conclude that ‘China’s stated “No First Use” policy declaration and implied minimum deterrent strategy’ should be questioned.

Richard was also convinced that Beijing had moved a number ‘of its nuclear forces to a Launch on Warning (LOW) posture and are adopting a limited “high alert duty” strategy’.

Playing the role of a military Cassandra, Richard’s testimony is filled with italicised warnings:

Through social media, STRATCOM, showing an almost sociopathic disregard for public concern, gave forewarning about Richard’s testimony.

The Admiral’s words on war being neither linear, nor predictable, and the possibility that adversaries might consider nuclear use as their least bad option, was tweeted at midnight on April 20.

Newsweek considered it ”bizarre’. Those at STRATCOM, ensnared by the lunacy of nuclear doctrines, thought it perfectly sensible.

Dr Binoy Kampmark was a Cambridge Scholar and is an Independent Australia columnist and lecturer at RMIT University. You can follow Dr Kampmark on Twitter @BKampmark.

The Fate of the Planet is Prophetic: Revelation 16

The Fate of the Planet: Unconventional Takes On Pandemics and Nuclear Defense Could Protect Humanity From Catastrophic Failure
By American Physical Society on May 16, 2021

From engineered pandemics to city-toppling cyber attacks to nuclear annihilation, life on Earth could radically change, and soon. Scientists forecasted the fate of the planet at a press conference during the 2021 APS April Meeting.

“Our Earth is 45 million centuries old. But this century is the first when one species—ours—can determine the biosphere’s fate,” said Martin Rees, the United Kingdom’s Astronomer Royal and a founder of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risks at Cambridge University.

“Our globally-linked society is vulnerable to the unintended consequences of powerful new technologies—not only nuclear, but (even more) biotech, cyber, advanced AI, space technology,” he added.

Royal astronomer predicts the world in 2050 and beyond

Rees thinks biohackers pose a particularly underappreciated threat to humanity. In the near future, simple equipment will enable people to reengineer the human genome irrevocably or build a superspreading influenza. Like drug laws, regulations could never prevent all such actions—and in a world more interconnected than ever before, the consequences would spread globally.

He will discuss other dangers: population rise leading to plummeting biodiversity, disastrous climate change, uncontrollable cybercriminals, plans for artificial intelligence that erodes privacy, security, and freedom.

But Rees is an optimist. He will offer a path toward avoiding these risks and achieving a sustainable future better than the world we live in today.

“If all of us passengers on ‘spaceship Earth’ want to ensure that we leave it in better shape for future generations we need to promote wise deployment of new technologies, while minimizing the risk of pandemics, cyberthreats, and other global catastrophes,” he said.

Scaling back missile defense could prevent a nuclear attack

A single nuclear weapon could kill millions and destroy a city instantaneously. Hundreds of weapons could wipe out functioning society in a large nation. Even a limited nuclear war could cause a climate catastrophe, leading to the starvation of hundreds of millions of people.

Recently, Russia, China, and North Korea have deployed new types of nearly unstoppable missiles.

“Missile defense is an idea that can sound appealing at first—doesn’t defense sound like the right thing to do?” said Frederick Lamb, astrophysicist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, cochair of the 2003 APS Study of Boost-Phase Missile Defense, and chair of the current APS Panel on Public Affairs Study of Missile Defense and National Security.

“But when the technical challenges and arms race implications are considered, one can see that deploying a system that is intended to defend against intercontinental ballistic missiles is unlikely to improve the security of the United States,” he said.

Lamb points to the United Kingdom’s decision to increase its nuclear arsenal by 44%, possibly motivated by Russia’s new missile defense system around Moscow. He sees the move as yet another sign that existing limits on nuclear weapons are unraveling. Even missile defenses that would never work in practice can catalyze the development of new nuclear weapons and increase global risk.

Lamb will share what may happen if the United States ramps up new missile defense systems.

“What is done about nuclear weapons and missile defenses by the United States and other countries affects the safety and survival of every person on the planet,” he said.

Iran Champions Palestinians Trampling Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Hamas leader: Iran among front-runners in championing Palestinian cause

Monday, 17 May 2021 8:26 AM [ Last Update: Monday, 17 May 2021 8:50 AM ]
US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The head of the political bureau of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has offered his warm gratitude to Iran, saying the Islamic Republic is one of the front-runners in championing the cause of Palestine and Jerusalem al-Quds.

“Through your Excellency, I would like to send my regards to the Leader and the people of Iran and emphasize that the Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the leading countries in supporting the cause of Palestine and Holy al-Quds,” Ismail Haniyeh said in a phone call with Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

Haniyeh pointed out that an extensive battle is ongoing for the liberation of al-Quds and said resistance is a symbol of sacredness and purity which has unified all Palestinians to support al-Quds and al-Aqsa Mosque.

“We ask God to make Islam and Muslims victorious both in Palestine and in Iran,” he added.

Velayati also thanked Palestinians for their struggle, courage, prudence and perseverance in the face of Israeli crimes, voicing hope that a meeting will be held in Iran soon after the Palestinians’ victory.

“The honorable people of Palestine have resisted the crimes of the occupying Zionist regime for more than a quarter of a century. They have fought and offered martyrs to show that they are the flag-bearers of the Islamic awakening,” said Velayati, who is also the secretary general of the World Assembly of Islamic Awakening.

Israel committing gravest intl. crimes amid UNSC’s deadly silence: Iran envoy
Israel committing gravest intl. crimes amid UNSC’s deadly silence: Iran envoy
Iran’s envoy says the Israeli regime is busy committing the full range of gravest international crimes amid the UN Security Council’s silence.
On Sunday, Velayati told Ziyad al-Nakhalah, the secretary-general of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, that Iran will continue to fully support Palestine against the Israeli regime’s atrocities.

He predicted that the divine promise on the liberation of all occupied Palestinian lands and Jerusalem al-Quds will come true.

Nakhalah, for his part, hailed Ayatollah Khamenei’s brave stance on the Palestinian issue and said no other country has adopted such a position.

Tehran: ‘Legitimate resistance’ only way to fight Israeli occupation

Iran’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement, strongly condemning Israel’s incessant aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip, which entered its second week on Monday, saying the attacks are a blatant violation of human rights, humanitarian law and international law.

“Regrettably, due to the disgraceful support of some Western states, we see that the aggression of the Zionist regime has intensified, and therefore, the Palestinian people, who are fighting to regain all their rights, have an inherent and natural right to defend themselves,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said at the beginning of his weekly press conference on Monday.

Khatibzadeh said “legitimate resistance” is the only way to counter the aggression and occupation of the Israeli regime until the steadfast nation of Palestine achieves all its rights and exercises its sovereignty over the entire land of Palestine.

He underlined that safeguarding Palestine’s rights is not an “Arab-Islamic” issue, and urged the international community to join hands with Islamic and freedom-seeking countries to stand by the brave people of Palestine against Israeli violence.

“We also call on nations, organizations and Islamic governments, especially the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), to stand in a united front with the oppressed and defenseless people of Palestine against the blatant aggression and terrorist acts of the Zionist regime’s army,” he said.

Zarif: Systematic human rights violations taking place against Palestinians
Zarif: Systematic human rights violations taking place against Palestinians
Foreign Minister Zarif says the sole aim of Israel’s hypocritical gestures is to divide Muslims and isolate the people of Palestine.
The spokesman further said Israel’s criminal activities must be recognized in the world as “genocide” and “crime against humanity”.

He added that the regime tries to foment insecurity and instability across the region to reach its evil goals, calling on the UN Security Council to pressure the illegitimate regime in Tel Aviv to end its terrorist acts against Palestinians.

In conclusion, Khatibzadeh noted that the only way to resolve the Palestinian issue is to hold a referendum in which all true citizens of Palestine, including Muslims, Christians and Jews, can vote and decide the future of their country.

Iranian officials have denounced Israel’s aerial bombardments of Gaza, which has so far killed at least 197 Palestinians, including 58 children and 34 women, and injured more than 1,200 others.

The current conflict was initially caused by confrontations in Jerusalem al-Quds, where Israeli forces and settlers attacked Palestinian worshipers at al-Aqsa Mosque, and Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, where the regime has tried to force Palestinians out of their homes to build new illegal settlements.

According to latest updates by the Gaza health ministry, Israeli assaults against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem al-Quds in the past eight days has left 21 dead and more than 4,300 others wounded.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Hamas is Just as Responsible for the Trampling Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Christine Flowers: Failure to condemn Hamas unconditionally is equally evil

If you’re the sort of person who sees no difference between the Israeli military defending its citizens and Hamas terrorizing civilians, you might want to pass on this column. You simply aren’t in the same ballpark with me. In fact, you are playing an entirely different game, so let’s just agree to disagree (and that you are crazy) and not engage. We will both avoid, as my grandma Mamie would say, a jumpy stomach.

This column is for the sort of person who realizes that violence is horrible, that killing civilians is horrific, that politics is dirty and that the world is not designed for the peacemakers. This column is also for those who will disagree on how we get to a point where warring tribes can come to some middle ground of safety and understanding. It is a column that recognizes the profound policy clashes between Netanyahu and Abbas, and it’s directed at those who might even differ on the role that the United States should be playing as mediator.

What it is not, is a press release written by Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, that focuses on the humanity of Palestinian children while ignoring that Israeli children have a right not to have their schools, homes and highways destroyed by rockets subsidized by Russia, Iran and the other usual suspects.

I would also mention that those Israeli children shouldn’t expect that the United States would, even inadvertently, help pay for those rockets by supplying what some call “humanitarian aid” to Palestine. As I noted on my Facebook page, money is fungible, and any of it that goes for food and other “humanitarian needs” frees up money for decidedly non-humanitarian things, like rockets.

If I sound bitter, I am. I have many Jewish friends with family in Israel who’ve spent the last week on the phone, on the internet, and on their knees praying. I also have many Arab friends, some Muslim, some Christian, who are horrified at this renewed Intifadah that threatens the welfare of their own loved ones. Not one of those friends, regardless of how they pray, supports Hamas. Not a one.

And that’s the point of this column, which I hope is not being read by the sort of person who finds equivalence between an organization of terrorists and the only true democracy of the Middle East. That sort of person doesn’t understand logic, let alone have access to the lexicon of human decency. That sort of person is represented by the rhetoric of Ilhan Omar, who has put her anti-Jewish bigotry on defiant display. That sort of person finds communion (excuse the pun) with Rashida Tlaib, whose concern for dead children seems limited to those in Gaza.

I am not an expert in the geopolitical conflicts in the Middle East. I am an expert in refugees and the displaced, and have handled the cases of Palestinians who were forced to carry passports from “Jordan” or some other country that had given them refuge. I understand the pain of loss, of severed roots, of wandering with no fixed destination. My own roots sink deep into the soil of my ancestors, Irish and Italian, French and Swedish. My identity is tied up in people who died centuries before I was even born.

So I do not dismiss the pain of the Palestinian, the ones who seek a home and a peace they can bequeath their grandchildren.

But I cannot ignore the Faustian bargain that some Palestinians and their more vocal western supporters have made with the devil, a devil that rains rockets down on the heads of innocent Israeli children. That is not a myth. That is what is happening as you read these words, in your safe corner of the world.

You can talk to me about Sabra and Shatilla, and other atrocities, and I will listen politely. You can talk to me about the arrogance of settlers, and I might even agree with you. You can talk to me about Netanyahu’s hard line in the fertile earth, and I would not reject it. You can even talk to me about the fact that America has poured billions over the decades into the Israeli army that is using its weapons against Hamas, and in the process, killing innocent citizens used as human shields by the terrorists.

I will agree that it is not a black and white situation.

But what is black and white is that Hamas is evil, and the failure to condemn it unconditionally is equally evil.

What has no nuance is the fact that Israel has been fighting for her existence since before I was born, surrounded by enemies or, at the very least, people who would not weep if her buildings were razed and her people pushed into the sea.

Sadly, many of those people also live here, in America. They hide their bigotry behind political platitudes. They write editorials. They send money to organizations that, through indirect means, support terror campaigns. They invite speakers to college campuses who push for the destruction of our best ally in the holiest of lands. They do all this, but they cannot hide their intentions. They are Ilhan, and Rashida, and the members of CAIR, and all of those who make no distinction between children murdered with deliberation by terrorists, and children who were the tragic and collateral damage of an attempt to cut out the terror tumor.

God bless the innocent, and the children. And God save Israel.

Christine Flowers is an attorney. Her column appears Sunday and Thursday. Email her at

Israel Tramples Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Israel strikes Gaza home of Hamas leader, destroys AP office

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israel slammed the Gaza Strip with airstrikes, in a dramatic escalation that included bombing the home of a senior Hamas leader, killing a family of 10 in a refugee camp — most of them children — and pulverizing a high-rise that housed The Associated Press and other media.

The Hamas militant group continued a stream of rocket volleys into Israel, including a late-night barrage on Tel Aviv. One man was killed Saturday when a rocket hit his home in a suburb of the seaside metropolis.

With a U.S. envoy on the ground, calls increased for a cease-fire after five days of mayhem that have left at least 145 Palestinians dead in Gaza — including 41 children and 23 women — and eight dead on the Israeli side, all but one of them civilians, including a 5-year-old. President Joe Biden, who has called for a de-escalation but has backed Israel’s campaign, spoke separately by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Still, Israel stepped up its assault, vowing to shatter the capabilities of Gaza’s Hamas rulers. The week of deadly violence, set off by a Hamas rocket Monday, came after weeks of mounting tensions and heavy-handed Israeli measures in contested Jerusalem.

Early Sunday, Israeli warplanes struck several buildings and roads in a vital part of Gaza City. Photos circulated by residents and journalists showed the airstrikes created a crater that blocked one of the main roads leading to Shifa, the largest hospital in the strip.

The Health Ministry said the latest airstrikes left at least two dead and 25 wounded, including children and women. There has been no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

On Saturday, Israel bombed the home of Khalil al-Hayeh, a senior figure in Hamas’ political branch, saying the building served as part of the group’s “terrorist infrastructure.” There was no immediate report on al-Hayeh’s fate or on any casualties.

The bombing of al-Hayeh’s home showed Israel was expanding its campaign beyond just the group’s military commanders. Israel says it has killed dozens in Hamas’ military branch, though Hamas and the smaller group Islamic Jihad have only acknowledged 20 dead members.

Since the conflict began, Israel has leveled a number of Gaza City’s tallest office and residential buildings, alleging they house elements of the Hamas military infrastructure. On Saturday, it turned to the 12-story al-Jalaa Building, where the offices of the AP, the TV network Al-Jazeera and other media outlets are located, along with several floors of apartments.

“The campaign will continue as long as it is required,” Netanyahu said in a televised speech on Saturday evening. He alleged that Hamas military intelligence was operating inside the building. Israel routinely cites a Hamas presence as a reason for targeting certain locations in airstrikes, including residential buildings. The military also has accused the militant group of using journalists as human shields, but provided no evidence to back up the claims.

The AP has operated from the building for 15 years, including through three previous wars between Israel and Hamas, without being targeted directly. During those conflicts as well as the current one, the news agency’s cameras from its top floor office and roof terrace offered 24-hour live shots as militants’ rockets arched toward Israel and Israeli airstrikes hammered the city and its surroundings.

“We have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building,” AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said in a statement. “This is something we actively check to the best of our ability. We would never knowingly put our journalists at risk.”

In the afternoon, the military called the building’s owner and warned a strike would come within an hour. AP staffers and other occupants evacuated safely .

Soon after, three missiles hit the building and destroyed it, bringing it crashing down in a giant cloud of dust.

“The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today,” Pruitt said. “We are shocked and horrified that the Israeli military would target and destroy the building housing AP’s bureau and other news organizations in Gaza.”

“This is an incredibly disturbing development. We narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life,” he said, adding that the AP was seeking information from the Israeli government and was engaged with the U.S. State Department to learn more.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken later spoke by phone with Pruitt, offering “his unwavering support for independent journalists and media organizations around the world and noted the indispensability of their reporting in conflict zones,” according to a statement.

Mostefa Souag, acting director-general of Al-Jazeera Media Network, called the strike a “war crime” aiming to “silence the media and to hide the untold carnage and suffering of the people of Gaza.”

Later in the day, White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that the U.S. had “communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility.”

In the early hours Saturday, another airstrike hit an apartment building in Gaza City’s densely populated Shati refugee camp, killing two women and eight children.

Mohammed Hadidi told reporters that his wife and her brother’s wife had gathered at the house with their children to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr holiday ending the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The only survivor was Hadidi’s 5-month-old son, Omar.

The blast left the children’s bedroom covered in rubble and smashed the salon. Amid the wreckage were children’s toys, a Monopoly board game and, sitting on the kitchen counter, unfinished plates of food from the holiday gathering.

“There was no warning … You filmed people eating and then you bombed them?” a neighbor, Jamal Al-Naji, said, referring to Israel’s surveillance over the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In his call with Netanyahu, Biden expressed his “strong support” for Israel’s campaign but raised concern about civilian casualties and protection of journalists, the White House said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin tweeted Saturday that he had spoken again with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself and condemned “Hamas’ deliberate targeting of Israeli citizens.” Austin added: “I also expressed my hope that calm can be restored soon.”

The bombings took place a day after U.S. diplomat Hady Amr arrived in Israel as part of Washington’s efforts to de-escalate the conflict. Israel turned down an Egyptian proposal for a one-year truce that Hamas rulers had accepted, an Egyptian intelligence official said Friday on condition of anonymity to discuss the negotiations.

Mediators from Egypt, which works closely with Israel on security issues and shares a border with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, appeared to be growing alarmed. The intelligence official said Egypt hopes the U.S. intervention could halt the Israeli assault. The U.N. Security Council was set to meet Sunday.

The tensions began in east Jerusalem earlier this month, when Palestinians protested attempts by settlers to forcibly evict a number of Palestinian families from their homes and Israeli police measures at Al-Aqsa Mosque, a frequent flashpoint located on a mount in the Old City revered by Muslims and Jews.

Hamas fired rockets toward Jerusalem late Monday, triggering the Israeli assault on Gaza. Since then, Hamas has fired more than 2,000 rockets, though most have either fallen short or been intercepted by anti-missile defenses. Israel’s warplanes and artillery have struck hundreds of targets around blockaded Gaza, where some 2 million Palestinians live.

The turmoil has also spilled over elsewhere, fueling protests in the occupied West Bank and stoking violence within Israel between its Jewish and Arab citizens, with clashes and vigilante attacks on people and property.

Palestinians on Saturday marked the Day of al-Nakba, or “the Catastrophe,” commemorating the estimated 700,000 people who were expelled from or fled their homes in what was now Israel during the 1948 war surrounding its creation. Thousands of Arab Israelis marched in a Nakba rally in the northern Israeli city of Sukhnin, and scattered protests took place in the West Bank.

Palestinian health officials reported the deaths of two Palestinians by Israeli fire in the West Bank on Saturday. One of the shootings occurred when the army said it thwarted an alleged car ramming.

Keath reported from Cairo. Associated Press writers Bassem Mroue in Beirut and Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed to this report.