If the past is any indication, New York can be hit by an earthquake, claims John Armbruster, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.Based on historical precedent, Armbruster says the New York City metro area is susceptible to an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 once a century.According to the New York Daily News, Lynn Skyes, lead author of a recent study by seismologists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory adds that a magnitude-6 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and magnitude-7 every 3,400 years.A 5.2-magnitude quake shook New York City in 1737 and another of the same severity hit in 1884.Tremors were felt from Maine to Virginia.There are several fault lines in the metro area, including one along Manhattan’s 125th St. – which may have generated two small tremors in 1981 and may have been the source of the major 1737 earthquake, says Armbruster.There’s another fault line on Dyckman St. and one in Dobbs Ferry in nearby Westchester County.“The problem here comes from many subtle faults,” explained Skyes after the study was published.He adds: “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.”“Considering population density and the condition of the region’s infrastructure and building stock, it is clear that even a moderate earthquake would have considerable consequences in terms of public safety and economic impact,” says the New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation on its website.Armbruster says a 5.0-magnitude earthquake today likely would result in casualties and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.“I would expect some people to be killed,” he notes.The scope and scale of damage would multiply exponentially with each additional tick on the Richter scale. (ANI)
“Did we make atomic bombs to show them in a museum? We don’t need missiles, atomic bombs or a huge army if they can’t be used to liberate Palestine,” says Maulana Chitrali.
Reactions across the Muslim world to Operation Guardian of the Walls in Gaza have varied between burning hatred to deafening silence, for example in Azerbaijan. In Pakistan, however, even the customary blind hatred toward Israel has reached new heights.
On Tuesday, Pakistani MP Maulana Chitrali said on camera that his country should launch a “jihad” (holy war) against Israel.
“This is the only option for Pakistan,” Chitrali said.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-0&features=e30%3D&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1394658355755487238&lang=en&origin=safari-reader%3A%2F%2Fwww.israelhayom.com%2F2021%2F05%2F19%2Fpakistani-mp-calls-for-use-of-nuclear-weapons-against-israel%2F&theme=light&widgetsVersion=82e1070%3A1619632193066&width=550px
He didn’t stop there, though, and called on his country to use its nuclear weapons against the Jewish state.
“Did we make atomic bombs to show them in a museum? We don’t need missiles, atomic bombs or a huge army if they can’t be used to liberate Palestine and Kashmir,” he said.
Chitrali’s comments came after Pakistani Ambassador to the United Nations Munir Akram on Sunday called on the UN Security Council to initiate steps to “hold Israel accountable for its war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
“Above all, the Security Council must promote the full implementation of the relevant UN resolutions especially for the realization of the two-state solution through the establishment of a viable, independent and contiguous Palestinian state with pre-1967 borders and Al-Quds Al-Sharif (Jerusalem) as its capital,” Akram told the Security Council.
At the root of Pakistan’s foreign policy in regards to Israel is Islamabad’s absolute dependency on investments from Turkey, which has been spearheading an extreme anti-Israel stance in international bodies.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead with a fierce military offensive in the Gaza Strip
By FARES AKRAM and JOSEPH KRAUSS Associated Press
May 19, 2021, 8:07 PM
International pressure to end violence in Israel, Gaza
The Associated Press
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Wednesday to press ahead with a fierce military offensive in the Gaza Strip, pushing back against calls from the United States to wind down the operation that has left hundreds dead.
Netanyahu’s tough comments marked the first public rift between the two close allies since the fighting began last week and could complicate international efforts to reach a cease-fire. His pushback also plunges the pair into a difficult early test of the U.S.-Israel relationship.
Israel continued to pound Hamas targets in Gaza with airstrikes, while Palestinian militants bombarded Israel with rocket fire throughout the day. In another sign of potential escalation, militants in Lebanon fired a rocket barrage into northern Israel.
After a visit to military headquarters, Netanyahu said he appreciated “the support of the American president,” but he said Israel would push ahead to return “calm and security” to Israeli citizens.
He said he was “determined to continue this operation until its aim is met.”
He spoke shortly after U.S. President Joe Biden told Netanyahu that he expected “a significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire,” the White House said.
Biden had previously avoided pressing Israel more directly and publicly for a cease-fire with Gaza’s Hamas militant rulers. But pressure has been building for Biden to intervene more forcefully as other diplomatic efforts gather strength.
Egyptian negotiators have also been working to halt the fighting, and an Egyptian diplomat said top officials were waiting for Israel’s response to a cease-fire offer. The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Moussa Abu Marzouk, a top Hamas official, told the Lebanese station Mayadeen TV that he expected a cease-fire in a day or two.
Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he would fly to the region Thursday for talks with Israelis and Palestinians.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said the foreign ministers of Slovakia and the Czech Republic would join him after being invited “to express their solidarity and support” for Israel.
Earlier in the day, the Israeli military said it was widening its strikes on militant targets in southern Gaza to blunt continuing rocket fire from Hamas. At least nine people were killed Wednesday in the Gaza Strip.
The current round of fighting between Israel and Hamas began May 10, when the militant group fired long-range rockets toward Jerusalem after days of clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a flashpoint site sacred to Jews and Muslims. Heavy-handed police tactics at the compound and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers had inflamed tensions.
Since then, Israel has launched hundreds of airstrikes that it says have targeted Hamas’ infrastructure, and Hamas and other militant groups embedded in residential areas have fired some 4,000 rockets at Israeli cities, with hundreds falling short and most of the rest intercepted or landing in open areas.
At least 227 Palestinians have been killed, including 64 children and 38 women, with 1,620 people wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, which does not break the numbers down into fighters and civilians. Hamas and Islamic Jihad say at least 20 of their fighters have been killed, while Israel says the number is at least 130. Some 58,000 Palestinians have fled their homes.
Twelve people in Israel, including a 5-year-old boy, a 16-year-old girl and a soldier, have been killed.
The rockets fired by militants in Lebanon into northern Israel threatened to open up a new front in the fighting. The rocket attack, which drew Israeli artillery fire in response but did not cause any injuries, raised the possibility of dragging Israel into renewed conflict with the powerful Lebanese militant group Hezbollah to its north.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack, and Hezbollah, which fought a monthlong war against Israel in 2006, has stayed out of the fighting for now. The rockets were widely believed to be fired by Palestinian factions based in south Lebanon.
But they cannot operate without Hezbollah’s tacit consent, and the barrage appears to be carefully calibrated to send a political message that the group, which has tens of thousands of missiles, could join the battle at any time. Israel considers Hezbollah to be its most formidable threat and has threatened widespread destruction in Lebanon if war were to erupt.
In Gaza, one of the Israeli airstrikes destroyed the home of an extended family.
Residents surveyed the piles of bricks, concrete and other debris that had once been the home of 40 members of al-Astal family in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis. They said a warning missile struck the building five minutes before the airstrike, allowing everyone to escape.
Ahmed al-Astal, a university professor, described a scene of panic, with men, women and children racing out of the building.
“We had just gotten down to the street, breathless, when the devastating bombardment came,” he said. “They left nothing but destruction, the children’s cries filling the street. … This is happening, and there is no one to help us.”
Another strike in nearby Deir al-Balah killed a man, his wife and their 2-year-old daughter, witnesses said. Iyad Salha, a brother of the man who was killed, said the family had just sat down for lunch when the missile hit.
Among those killed Wednesday were a reporter for Hamas-run Al-Aqsa radio and two people who died when warning missiles crashed into their apartment.
The Israeli military said it was striking a militant tunnel network in southern Gaza, with 52 aircraft hitting 40 underground targets.
Military officials, meanwhile, said a mysterious explosion that killed eight members of a Palestinian family on the first day of the fighting was caused by a misfired rocket from Gaza. “This wasn’t an Israeli attack,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman.
Since the fighting began, Gaza’s infrastructure, already weakened by a 14-year blockade, has rapidly deteriorated. Medical supplies, water and fuel for electricity are running low in the territory, on which Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade after Hamas seized power in 2007.
Israeli attacks have damaged at least 18 hospitals and clinics and destroyed one health facility, the World Health Organization said. Nearly half of all essential drugs have run out.
Among the buildings leveled by Israeli airstrikes was one housing The Associated Press’ Gaza office and those of other media outlets.
Netanyahu has alleged that Hamas military intelligence was operating in the building. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that Israel had given the U.S. information about the bombing, without elaborating.
The AP has called for an independent investigation. The news organization’s president, Gary Pruitt, has said the AP had no indication Hamas was present in the building.
The fighting, the worst since a 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, has ignited protests around the world and inspired Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories to call a general strike Tuesday. It was a rare collective action that spanned boundaries central to decades of failed peace efforts. Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza in the 1967 Mideast war, territories the Palestinians want for their future state.
Krauss reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press writers Bassem Mroue and Zeina Karam in Beirut, Isabel DeBre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Samy Magdy in Cairo and Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to this report.
By YONAH JEREMY BOB MAY 17, 2021 18:24
If Iran gets nuclear weapons, it could deliver them not only with land-based ballistic missiles, but also by ship-based cruise missiles, a top Iran nuclear expert has told The Jerusalem Post.
In a new book, Iran’s Perilous Pursuit of Nuclear Weapons, obtained exclusively by the Post, Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) president David Albright and researcher Sarah Burkhard say that “the most straightforward way to dramatically reduce Iran’s prospects of building nuclear weapons is to focus on the nuclear explosive production and nuclear weaponization pillars.”
Part of the reason the focus should shift to IAEA inspections of weaponization, notes the book, is because realistically, “the elimination of the [nuclear] delivery system pillar is more difficult to thwart because Iran has so many options for delivering nuclear weapons, ranging from ballistic missiles to cruise missiles to ships.”
A ship-based cruise-missile nuclear-weapon option for Iran has not been discussed much.
Further, Albright writes that: “Negotiations should aim to limit ballistic missiles, but it should be recognized that eliminating this pillar in its entirety is impossible,” given years of Western complacency and Iranian progress on the issue.
Before even getting to some other powerful revelations, Albright’s book in some ways upends the entire way that the nuclear issue is viewed by Iran hawks – of which Albright is one of the more prominent in the camp.
Conventionally, the fight over US policy toward the Islamic Republic divides into those who are for or against returning to the 2015 nuclear deal, including lifting president Trump’s sanctions if Tehran returns to the deal’s nuclear limitations.
While Albright has pointed out holes in the 2015 deal for years, he is also a realist.
Given the Biden administration’s posture, Albright explores how the US and other interested countries could try to head Iran off from getting a nuclear weapon even if some of its “nuclear pillars” are not blocked as much as he might hope.
Put simply, if the Biden team returns to the 2015 deal, how could Iran still be contained?
ONE OF the items on punch lists of Iran critics has been that the 2015 deal did not limit Iran’s ballistic missile program.
Albright would have wanted this program limited years ago.
But given Iran’s progress since 2015 and Washington’s current posture, he is saying that blocking Iran on this front might be a lost cause.
He explains that the Islamic Republic has too many different kinds of ballistic missiles it can use.
Also, Albright says that Tehran could even use ship-based cruise missiles, so putting partial limits on some ballistic missiles would be ineffectual.
Rather, he suggests that a major benefit of the 2018 Mossad raid on Tehran’s secret nuclear archive is that it gives the world powers much more insight into how to supervise and block the Iranian weaponization-efforts side of the nuclear program.
Of course, this would require a much more forceful approach by the IAEA and world powers in terms of resolving where each element of weaponization revealed by the archive is being stored, and then monitoring them all.
In some ways, this would, in and of itself, be a game-changer approach – but Albright suggests that it could be palatable given the new information and the idea that the elements being monitored have no use except for weaponization.
There are at least three items he cites that the IAEA would need to explore and monitor regarding Iran’s efforts.
One would be the Islamic Republic’s “maintaining the capability to use computer codes to simulate a nuclear weapons explosion. Greater use of simulations would make component testing less necessary.”
A second would be “retaining a mastery of the multi-point initiation system, e.g., the shock wave generator, including possibly having conducted a successful ‘cold test’ of a nuclear explosive with a surrogate nuclear core.”
In a May 2019 ISIS report describing some of what was revealed in the Iranian Nuclear Archive, he explained that a shock wave generator “has the purpose of uniformly initiating a spherical shell of high explosives, or the ‘main charge,’ which in turn compresses the nuclear core made from weapon-grade uranium to achieve a supercritical mass for a nuclear explosion.”
The third item would be “having the capability to make the neutron initiator.”
In another ISIS report that month, he said that “Iran planned on using a relatively sophisticated neutron source, or initiator, to trigger a chain reaction in the weapon-grade uranium core of its nuclear weapons.”
All three of these elements, if not policed by the IAEA, could help Tehran move much more swiftly to being able to explode the uranium it enriches for a nuclear bomb.
IN CONTRAST, if the IAEA gains new inspection powers over these elements exposed by the Mossad, Iran could be prevented from developing a nuclear weapon despite other major holes in the 2015 nuclear deal.
In terms of how much time Iran would need to enrich uranium to weaponizable levels, Albright explores scenarios where the currently discussed three to four months could drop to two months or even just over one month by the end of 2020.
The idea is that as the Islamic Republic enriches more uranium up from the 5% level to the 20% level and some even to the 60% level, the distance it has to cross to get to the 90% level is significantly reduced.
Despite this warning, Albright told the Post that the volume of uranium which Iran has enriched to the 60% level is quite small, and the bigger problems in reducing its time to a nuclear weapon relate to the volume of 20% enriched uranium and to advanced centrifuges like the IR-4 or IR-6.
Advanced centrifuges can enrich uranium at a much faster rate than the country’s standard IR-1, which makes up most of its nuclear program.
Another solution Albright suggests is getting Iran to agree to nuclear limits which would leave it two years from a nuclear weapon instead of one year.
This would require Tehran to roll back both its advanced centrifuge program and possibly to cut in half the number of older IR-1 centrifuges it was allowed to operate under the 2015 deal.
Though the book notes that the assassination of Iran military nuclear chief Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in November 2020 was a significant setback in managing weaponization efforts, it adds that he had prepared a whole new generation of nuclear scientists to take his place.
This accounts for how Iran can continue to present such a nuclear threat despite his loss.
The book also gives an impressive history of Iran’s nuclear program as well as tremendous depth in discussing the findings of the secret nuclear archive.
U.S.-Russia showdown looms as top diplomats meet in Iceland
By — Matthew Lee, Associated Press
World May 19, 2021 4:56 PM EDT
REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) — Top diplomats from the United States and Russia are set to square off in Iceland for their first face-to-face encounter that comes as ties between the nations have deteriorated sharply in recent months.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russia’s longtime Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov plan to talk in person on Wednesday on the sidelines of an Arctic Council meeting in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, a city with deep history in U.S.-Russian relations.
The meeting is set to take place just as the Biden administration plans to announce new sanctions on Russia over a controversial European pipeline. The administration is expected to hit eight Russian companies and vessels with penalties for their involvement in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, while sparing two German entities from similar penalties, according to congressional aides and the German government.
READ MORE: Russia won’t block Twitter, but partial slowdown to continue
Even before Wednesday’s talks — that are ostensibly to prepare for a summit between President Joe Biden and Russian leader Vladimir Putin next month — the two diplomats laid down near diametrically opposed positions for the meeting, previewing what is likely to be a difficult and contentious exchange.
This follows a spate of tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions as U.S.-Russian relations threaten a return to Cold War lows. The nuclear powers are at odds on myriad issues including Ukraine, the Arctic, Russia’s treatment of opposition figure Alexey Navalny and accusations of cyber malfeasance, including claims that Russia-based hackers were responsible for a ransomware attack on a key U.S. pipeline.
“It would be our preference to have a more stable and more predictable relationship with Russia,” Blinken said Tuesday. “At the same time, we’ve been very clear that if Russia chooses to take reckless or aggressive actions that target our interests or those of our allies and partners, we’ll respond. Not for purposes of seeking conflict or escalating but because such challenges cannot be allowed to go forward with impunity.”
Blinken also tweeted Tuesday U.S. condemnation of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. “We condemn Russia’s abuses in Crimea, especially on May 18 as we reflect on the 77th anniversary of Stalin’s deportation of countless Crimean Tatars from their native peninsula,” he posted.
Perhaps anticipating Blinken’s position and the expected sanctions announcement, Lavrov had offered a prebuttal at a news conference Monday in Moscow.
“Apparently, a (U.S.) decision was made to promote stable, predictable relations with Russia,” he said. “However, if this includes constant and predictable sanctions, that’s not what we need. Our attitude toward the U.S. includes the hope that normalized relations will be based on specific actions rather than words of which we have heard too many.”
READ MORE: Armenia asks for Russian help amid tensions with Azerbaijan
Blinken said his meeting with Lavrov would be an important opportunity to test the proposition that the U.S. and Russia can work collaboratively on certain issues, like climate change, the Mideast, Iran and North Korea, despite bitter disagreements on others. The meeting comes as much of the world is focused on the Israel-Palestinian war.
Blinken noted that despite the vitriol, the U.S. and Russia had agreed early in the Biden administration to a five-year extension of a key arms control pact that President Donald Trump had declined to renew before he left office. Trump left a decidedly mixed legacy on Russia that included a personal friendly relationship with Putin, while his administration still imposed sanctions and other punitive measures.
Lavrov said Moscow would determine its own “red lines” and emphasized that in the sphere of strategic stability, it’s going to insist on putting both offensive and defensive, nuclear and non-nuclear weapons on the negotiation table.
Another, more immediate area of disagreement in Reykjavik, the site of the famous 1986 summit between President Ronald Reagan and Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev, is the Arctic, where Russia has been expanding its military presence and pursuing policies to expand its influence to the alarm of the Americans.
Blinken rejected Russian calls to resume a military component of the Arctic Council and expressed concerns about Russia’s increasing military activity in the region known as the “high North.” On Wednesday in successive meetings with foreign ministers from other Nordic Council members, Blinken repeatedly referred to the importance of “continuing to maintain this region as one of peaceful cooperation.”
“We have concerns about some of the recent military activities in the Arctic,” he said. “That Increases the dangers of accidents and miscalculations and undermines the shared goal of a peaceful and sustainable future for the region.”
Blinken also took Russia to task for proposing new navigational regulations for the region and decried Lavrov for comments in which he dismissed such criticism because the Arctic “is our territory, our land.”
“We have to proceed all of us, including Russia, based on the rules, based on norms, based on the commitments that we’ve each made and also avoid statements that undercut those,” Blinken said.
READ MORE: School shooting in Russia kills 9 people; suspect arrested
In his comments Monday, Lavrov noted the grievances about Russia’s military activities in the Arctic. “It has long been common knowledge that this is our territory, our land. We are in charge of keeping the Arctic coast safe. Everything Russia is doing there is absolutely legal,” he said.
Moscow and Washington are also embroiled in a bitter dispute over the status of their respective embassies and consulates after the diplomatic expulsions. Russia has given the U.S. until Aug. 1 to get rid of all non-American staff at its diplomatic missions, something the U.S. says will make it nearly impossible for its facilities to function.
Associated Press writer Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.
This story contains graphic images. Viewer discretion is advised.
Ashdod, Jerusalem and Gaza City (CNN) — The Israeli military pounded Gaza with airstrikes on Monday, saying it was targeting the homes and infrastructure of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed “to continue to strike at the targets of terrorism.”
The Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health said 212 people had been killed and 1,400 others injured since violence flared last week, in what has become the most serious Israeli-Palestinian confrontation in years. Sixty-one children and 36 women are among the dead, the ministry said.
Smoke rises above buildings in Gaza City as Israeli warplanes target the Palestinian enclaves early Monday.
Smoke rises above buildings in Gaza City as Israeli warplanes target the Palestinian enclaves early Monday.
In the background, Israel’s Iron Dome system intercepts rockets fired by Hamas from northern Gazaa towards southern Israel on Sunday.
In the background, Israel’s Iron Dome system intercepts rockets fired by Hamas from northern Gazaa towards southern Israel on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Hamas rocket fire from Gaza has killed at least 10 people in Israel, including two children, since the start of the flareup, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
On Monday, a fresh barrage of rockets from Gaza once again set off sirens and sent Israelis fleeing into bomb shelters in Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beer Sheva. At least one residential building in Ashdod was hit, the IDF said. Three people were slightly injured, according to the Israeli Red Cross.
The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday released photos purporting to show Hamas rocket installations and tunnel entrances placed in close proximity to civilian infrastructure like hospitals and schools. The IDF said that “Hamas deliberately and systematically places military targets within the civilian population, exposing their citizens to danger.”
A health clinic hit
Dozens of Israeli jets bombed more than nine miles of Hamas’ tunnel system in Gaza overnight and targeted 14 residences Monday that the Israeli military said belonged to commanders from the Palestinian militant group.
Hamas authorities and video from the ground showed a health clinic in Gaza City damaged by an Israeli airstrike on a nearby target, its windows blown out. The Ministry of Health in Gaza said the clinic was one of its main coronavirus testing centers.
At least two floors of the nearby building that was targeted were destroyed, according to a CNN journalist on the scene. The Qatar Red Crescent reported damage to its office inside the building.
The ministry earlier warned Monday that Israeli strikes on homes, medical facilities and infrastructure had created the conditions for an “upcoming wave” of Covid-19 cases, and that those fleeing to shelters would be “exposed to the spread of infectious diseases, especially the danger of spread of the coronavirus.”
People clean debris from a damaged synagogue after it was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, Israel, Sunday, May 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
JERUSALEM (AP) — Sirens wailed just before the Jewish holiday of Shavuot began on Sunday evening, sending Chen Farag and her family once again running for cover as they have dozens of times over the past week since the latest war between Palestinian militants in Gaza and the Israeli military erupted.
The Farags live in Ashdod, Israel’s largest port on the Mediterranean coast. The city of about 225,000 people is around 30 kilometers (18 miles) north of the Gaza Strip. Six adults, two dogs and a parrot huddled in their home’s reinforced safe room — a routine precaution for hundreds of thousands of Israelis in the country’s south.
After an explosion shook the building, they rushed outside to see cars on fire, including their own. Their home’s front door had been blown off, windows were blasted and shrapnel was embedded in walls.
“We are in shock. It’s a nightmare,” said Farag, a 24-year-old cable technician. “It’s hard to sleep, because we are thinking, what if Gaza tries to hit us again?”
The cycle of fighting and cease-fires has repeated itself numerous times in the past 15 years since the first rockets were fired at southern Israel from the Gaza Strip. The barrages have caused deep frustration for residents, many weary over what they see as the government’s failure to change to the situation. Many children who have grown up in the area suffer from trauma-related issues.
Since the latest war erupted last week, Palestinian militants have fired more than 3,200 rockets at Israeli cities. Most were intercepted or fell short, in Gaza, but hundreds made it through.
The Farag home is one of 146 buildings in Israel that were hit by rockets fired from Gaza, according to military statistics. They include homes, apartment blocks, schools, kindergartens and an oil storage tank.
When sirens signal incoming rockets, Israelis can seek shelter in communal shelters or in reinforced rooms in their apartments, a feature of newer buildings. Many have been pinned down indoors, fearing they couldn’t reach shelter in time.
So far, 10 people have been killed in Israel, most from rocket fire. This includes a soldier, a 5-year-old boy and two people who died from injuries sustained while running for cover. Paramedics say at least 106 people suffered shrapnel and blast wounds.
In Gaza, at least 212 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli airstrikes, including 61 children and 36 women, with more than 1,400 people wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
Fighting erupted on May 10, when Hamas fired seven rockets at Jerusalem following clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters at a shrine considered holy to both Jews and Muslims. Since then, Palestinian militants have fired heavy barrages at cities deep inside Israel, and the Israeli military has carried out hundreds of strikes on targets in the Gaza Strip.
For hundreds of thousands in communities in southern Israel — cities, towns, kibbutzim and farming villages — air raid sirens have been unrelenting as missiles rain down.
“There were two difficult days. The rockets didn’t stop falling,” said Ronit Ifergan, 47, a mother of three from Kfar Aza, a kibbutz just a couple of miles from the Gaza Strip.
Almost everyone left the kibbutz to seek safety elsewhere; Ifergan and her family are staying with relatives in the nearby town of Ofakim. Her children are too scared to use the bathroom, terrified they would get caught in a barrage, she said.
“I don’t know where to flee to. I am afraid of every place I need to go,” she said.
Ifergan and other residents of the area say the past week of fighting has been far more intense than previous rounds, with Hamas firing near-nonstop barrages of rockets indiscriminately into Israel.
This is the fourth Israel-Hamas war since the militants seized the Gaza Strip in 2007, driving out the Palestinian Authority, which administers autonomous enclaves in the occupied West Bank.
Israel and Egypt have enforced a border blockade of Gaza for the past 14 years, with the aim of preventing Hamas from building up its weapons arsenal. But despite the chokehold, the militants have been able to produce thousands of rockets, even as the blockade caused growing hardships for the tiny territory’s 2 million people.
On the Israeli side, Yoash Hagay, 53, said his hometown of Ashkelon — just 11 kilometers (6 miles) from Gaza — has been hit hard, with a couple of rockets making it through Israel’s Iron Dome defense system with every barrage.
“Every time you hear a couple interceptions by the Iron Dome, and two or three explosions on the ground,” he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to press on with airstrikes against Gaza militants “as long as necessary in order to return calm and security to all Israeli citizens.”
Ifergan says southern Israel has seen “many years of neglect” by the government, exacerbated by what she describes as unfinished military campaigns against Gaza militants. She criticized the government’s handling of the past month of mounting tensions in Jerusalem, violence that heralded the Gaza fighting.
“We are tired of this,” said Farag, whose house was damaged in Ashdod. “We always hope that it will end. And it will be just be quiet.”
“It never happens,” she added.