New York Subways at the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

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

Hamas Parades Defiantly Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Hamas defiant with military parade, appearance of top leader | Newser

A Hamas police officer passes an crater of an airstrike that destroyed a station building prior to a cease-fire reached after an 11-day war between Gaza’s Hamas rulers and Israel, in Gaza City, Saturday, May 22, 2021. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) (Associated Press)
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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Hundreds of masked Hamas fighters brandishing assault rifles paraded in Gaza City and the group’s top leader made his first public appearance on Saturday, in a defiant show of strength after the militants’ 11-day war with Israel.

Saturday marked the first full day of a cease-fire, and Egyptian mediators held talks to firm up the truce which ended the fourth Israel-Hamas war in just over a decade.

In the fighting, Israel unleashed hundreds of airstrikes against militant targets in Gaza, while Hamas and other militants fired more than 4,000 rockets toward Israel. More than 250 people were killed, the vast majority of them Palestinians.

In Gaza City, residents began assessing damage.

One of Gaza City’s busiest commercial areas, Omar al-Mukhtar Street, was covered in debris, smashed cars and twisted metal after a 13-floor building in its center was flattened in an Israeli airstrike. Merchandise was covered in soot and strewn inside smashed stores and on the pavement. Municipal workers swept broken glass and twisted metal from streets and sidewalks.

“We really didn’t expect this amount of damage,” said Ashour Subeih, who sells baby clothes. “We thought the strike was a bit further from us. But as you can see not an area of the shop is intact.” Having been in business for one year, Subeih estimated his losses were double what he has made so far.

Drone video and photos showed some city blocks reduced to rubble, in between homes and businesses left standing.

Both Israel and Hamas have claimed victory.

On Saturday, hundreds of Hamas fighters wearing military camouflage paraded past the mourning tent for Bassem Issa, a senior commander killed in the fighting. The top Hamas leader in Gaza, Yehiyeh Sinwar, paid his respects in his first public appearance since the war began.

Israel bombed the house of Sinwar, along with that of other senior Hamas figures, as part of its attack on what it said was the group’s military infrastructure. Israel’s defense minister, Benny Gantz, has said Israel delivered a punishing blow to Hamas, and that top Hamas figures remained targets.

Still, there was a widespread expectation that the cease-fire would stick for now, even if another round of fighting at some point seems inevitable. Underlying issues remain unresolved, including an Israeli-Egyptian border blockade, now in its 14th year, that is choking Gaza’s more than 2 million residents and a refusal by the Islamic militant Hamas to disarm.

The fighting began on May 10, when Hamas militants in Gaza fired long-range rockets toward Jerusalem. The barrage came after days of clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Heavy-handed police tactics at the compound and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers had inflamed tensions.

The war has further sidelined Hamas’ main political rival, the internationally backed Palestinian Authority, which oversees autonomous enclaves in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Hamas’ popularity seemed to be growing as it positioned itself as a defender of Palestinian claims to Jerusalem.

On Friday, hours after the cease-fire took effect, thousands of Palestinians in the Al-Aqsa compound chanted against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his self-rule government. “Dogs of the Palestinian Authority, out, out,” they shouted, and “The people want the president to leave.”

It was an unprecedented display of anger against Abbas. The conflict also brought to the surface deep frustration among Palestinians, whether in the occupied West Bank, Gaza or within Israel, over the status quo, with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process all but abandoned for years.

Despite his weakened status, Abbas will be the point of contact for any renewed U.S. diplomacy, since Israel and the West, including the United States, consider Hamas a terrorist organization.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is to meet with Abbas and Israeli leaders when he visits in the coming week. Abbas is expected to raise demands that any Gaza reconstruction plans go through the Palestinian Authority to avoid strengthening Hamas.

Abbas met Saturday with Egyptian mediators, discussing the rebuilding of Gaza and internal Palestinian relations, according to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

An Egyptian diplomat said that two teams of mediators were in Israel and the Palestinian territories to continue talks on firming up a cease-fire deal and securing long-term calm.

The diplomat said discussions include implementing agreed-on measures in Gaza and Jerusalem, including ways to prevent practices that led to the latest fighting. He did not elaborate. He was apparently referring to violence at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the planned eviction of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem.

The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss behind-the-scenes deliberations.

Separately, a 130-truck convoy with humanitarian aid and medical supplies reached the Gaza border from Egypt on Saturday, according to a senior Egyptian official at the border crossing. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

Across Gaza, an assessment of the damage to the territory’s already decrepit infrastructure began.

The ministry of public works and housing said that 769 housing and commercial units were rendered uninhabitable, at least 1,042 units in 258 buildings were destroyed and just over 14,500 units suffered minor damage.

The United Nations said about 800,000 people in Gaza do not have regular access to clean piped water, as nearly 50% of the water network was damaged in the fighting.

Israel has said it was targeting Hamas’ military infrastructure, including a vast tunnel system running under roads and homes, as well as command centers, rocket launchers and the homes of commanders. The Israeli military has said it was trying to minimize harm to civilians and accused Hamas of using civilians as human shields.

The Gaza Health Ministry says at least 248 Palestinians were killed, including 66 children and 39 women, with 1,910 people wounded. It does not differentiate between fighters and civilians. Twelve people were killed in Israel, all but one of them civilians, including a 5-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl.

Israel has accused Hamas and the smaller militant group of Islamic Jihad of hiding the actual number of fighters killed in the war. Prime Minister Netanyahu said Friday that more than 200 militants were killed, including 25 senior commanders.

Islamic Jihad on Saturday gave a first account of deaths within its ranks, saying that 19 of its commanders and fighters were killed, including the head of the rocket unit in northern Gaza.

Magdy reported from Cairo. Associated Press writer Sarah El Deeb in Beirut contributed reporting.

China widens her nuclear horn: Revelation 7

Xi building 2 nuclear reactors: Nuke-weapons China’s main aim?

The two reactors being built on Changbiao are nuclear breeder reactors with a closed fuel cycle. They generate plutonium. This plutonium could be reprocessed and used as fuel in other nuclear reactors. It could also be used to produce a large number of nuclear warheads in a short period of time

The island of Changbiao, in China, has recently gained recognition for being home to China’s first two CFR-600 sodium-cooled fast-neutron nuclear reactors, jutting out from the shoreline of Fujian province. The first of the two reactors, which is currently under construction, is expected to connect to the grid in 2023, with the second around 2026. They will work together to generate non-fossil-fuel-based renewable energy, which could lead China closer to its 2060 carbon-neutral goal.

The two reactors being built on Changbiao are nuclear breeder reactors with a closed fuel cycle. They generate plutonium. This plutonium could be reprocessed and used as fuel in other nuclear reactors. It could also be used to produce a large number of nuclear warheads in a short period of time. Outside of the Chinese officials and companies overseeing the projects, no one knows whether the intended use is solely for civilian energy or if it also serves a dual purpose for the country’s perceived nuclear deterrent needs.

This question became even more pressing this week after a US official accused Beijing of refusing to participate in bilateral talks with Washington on nuclear risk reduction. According to Navy Admiral Charles Richard who is the commander of the United States Strategic Command,’ With a fast breeder reactor, now China has a very large source of weapons-grade plutonium available that will change the upper bounds of what China could choose to do if they wanted to, in terms of further expanding its nuclear capabilities.

The reason for the secrecy surrounding these breeder reactors is that China, which had previously been transparent about its civilian plutonium programme, ceased annual voluntary declarations to the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] on its civilian plutonium stocks in 2017 and has yet to add the reactors to the agency’s database.

According to the findings by several non-proliferation experts, China could “conservatively produce 1,270 nuclear weapons by 2030 simply by exploiting the weapons-grade plutonium produced by this program,” or even increase that by a factor of two or more if China used highly enriched uranium or composite uranium-plutonium cores from the reactors in bombs and missiles. This would add a significant increase in the number of estimated nuclear warheads in China’s arsenal, which is currently estimated to be between 300 and 350.

China’s step to secure more nuclear arsenal for itself, while the world fights a pandemic shows the megalomania of a country that has time and again shown blithe unconcern for the world’s wellbeing. The two nuclear reactors are shrouded in mystery and China has demurred from giving an official statement. Ongoing debates about the origin of the coronavirus and the ambiguity in China’s response to it have posed serious questions at Xi Jinping. After Biden’s call of more solidarity among the Quad nations, China’s chicanery is sure to be questioned.

A nuclear crisis is much closer than you think: Revelation 16

A nuclear crisis is closer than you think

Today, 5:02am
A nuclear crisis is closer than you think
Lieutenant Alexandra Olsson on the HMS Vigilant, one of Britain’s four Trident submarines (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
It has long been widely accepted as orthodoxy that the world was saved from nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis because of the wisdom of John F. Kennedy and the diplomatic backchannel his aides had with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. But this is only half true. The Soviet sources that have emerged since the end of the Cold war as well as recently declassified KGB archives suggest that, more than anything, we were saved from nuclear annihilation by sheer luck.

In the late hours of 27 October 1962, the crucial day of the crisis, American ships targeted a Soviet nuclear-armed submarine with practice depth charges, forcing it to surface. A negotiation by means of searchlight signals began. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, an American plane appeared and began dropping incendiary devices to light up the scene for its cameras. Assuming the Americans were attacking, commander Captain Valentin Savitsky rushed down from the bridge into the submarine, barking his order to get the torpedoes ready to be fired. The Soviet signal officer on the bridge tried to follow his commander into the submarine but got stuck with his searchlight in the hatch of the submarine’s conning tower. In that moment of delay, Savitsky’s superior, captain Vasilii Arkhipov, saw the American plane dropping fares, signalling their apology and cancelled the order to ready the nuclear missiles, ending the incident.

Could such a close-shave unfold today? The recent shift in how Britain is to manage its nuclear arsenal suggests lessons have not been learnt from the Sixties. While nuclear technology has advanced phenomenally in the last few decades, the command and control system can always be a victim of human fallibility.

Take the example of Britain’s Trident submarines. To reach the commander of a British submarine, an order has to come from London. Only the prime minister, his designated survivors, or ‘nuclear deputies’ are empowered to issue it. This order must be transmitted through a number of intermediaries, in particular the headquarters of the task force, and a transition centre with the capacity to communicate it. But there is a question over whether all the links in this chain would survive the outbreak of a nuclear conflict and if the prime minister would be in position to convey his orders to a submarine thousands of miles away.

Technological advancement can help only to a limited extent. In the era of cyber warfare, it might be difficult to decide who controls which computers and who issues which orders. Every captain of a Trident submarine has a letter from the prime minister that may or may not contain an order to strike. If the line of communication is broken, then a letter written before the start of the crisis, in complete ignorance of its circumstances, will decide the question of war and peace.

The Cold War’s nuclear proliferation treaties are now fading into history: the US and Russia broke with a treaty two years ago that had been signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. Now Boris Johnson has reversed Britain’s long-established policy of reducing the nuclear stockpile. As part of the integrated review, the Prime Minister increased the amount of Trident nuclear warheads from 180 to 260. It came in part as a response to Britain’s rivals ‘increasing and diversifying their arsenals’.

Given that Boris Johnson’s new strategy also implies the possibility of responding with a nuclear strike to a non-nuclear threat, the chances of issuing a wrong order could lead to a modern-day Dr Strangelove scenario. In Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film, Strangelove’s ‘doomsday machine’ consisted of nuclear bombs that would detonate automatically at the time of an enemy strike. If they went off, the world would be destroyed.

Britain is joining the new nuclear arms race, led by the US, Russia, and China. Last month, in fact, it was announced that Russia is to press ahead with plans to test Poseidon missiles in the Arctic, which could trigger radioactive tsunamis off America’s eastern coast. This worrying development came after three Russian nuclear-powered submarines simultaneously broke through Arctic ice in an exercise designed to show its military might.

Putin has made clear that Russia would respond to any perceived aggression with a response that is ‘asymmetric, fast and tough’. He explained in his recent State of the Union address: ‘I hope that no one will think of crossing the red line with Russia. And where this line will be, in every particular case, we will determine it ourselves.’

The true story of the Cuban Missile Crisis shows that the uncontrolled nuclear arms race leads to crises that very well could end in a full-scale nuclear war. The belief that the leaders at the top are fully in control of a nuclear crisis is an illusion. Accidents happen, just as they did during the Cuban Missile Crisis. There is no guarantee that we will be as lucky as the world was in 1962.

The Iranian Horn Congratulates Palestine: Revelation 11

In a statement on his official website, Iran’s supreme leader noted that Israel was “powerless against the unified rise of Palestine”.

Hamas’ political chief Ismail Haniyeh on Friday thanked Iran for “providing funds and weapons” to the movement [Anadolu Agency via Getty]
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Friday said Israel was “forced to accept defeat” by Palestinian armed groups, after a ceasefire between the Jewish state and Hamas in Gaza.

“I thank dear and almighty God for the victory and honour bestowed upon Palestinian fighters,” he said in a statement on his official website.

“The continuation of crimes and the ceasefire were both (part of Israel’s) defeat. They were forced to accept defeat,” he added, noting that Israel was “powerless against the unified rise of Palestine”.

“The readiness of the Palestinian youth and the show of power” by armed groups in Gaza “will make Palestine more powerful by the day and the usurping enemy weaker and more despicable”, he added.

The ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza strip, and other armed groups in the enclave appeared to be holding Friday, after 11 days of fighting.

Israeli strikes on Gaza since May 10 have killed 243 Palestinians, including 66 children, Gaza’s health ministry says.

Rockets fired into Israel from Gaza have claimed 12 lives in the Jewish state, including one child.

Khamenei also called for legal measures against the Israeli government, including its prime minister.

“All the effective elements of this regime and the criminal (Benjamin) Netanyahu must be pursued by international and independent courts and be punished,” he said.

The Islamic republic does not recognise Israel, and supporting the Palestinian cause has been a pillar of Iran’s foreign policy since soon after the country’s 1979 revolution.

Hamas’ political chief Ismail Haniyeh on Friday thanked Iran for “providing funds and weapons” to the movement.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman had earlier today praised a “historic victory” and reaffirmed Tehran’s support for the Palestinian cause.

“Congratulations to our Palestinian sisters and brothers for the historic victory. Your resistance forced the aggressor to retreat,” Saeed Khatibzadeh wrote on Twitter.

“PROUD to support your just resistance,” Khatibzadeh added.

Israel unleashes airstrikes outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Israel unleashes airstrikes after vowing to press on in Gaza; truce expectations rise

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israel unleashed another wave of airstrikes across the Gaza Strip early Thursday, killing at least one Palestinian and wounding several, and Hamas fired more rockets, even as expectations rose that a cease-fire could be reached.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pushed back against calls from the U.S. to wind down the Gaza offensive, appearing determined to inflict maximum damage on Hamas in a war that could help save his political career. Still, officials close to the negotiations say they expect a truce to be announced in the next 24 hours.

In another possible sign of progress, Netanyahu scheduled a meeting later Thursday with his Security Cabinet, where the issue of a cease-fire was likely to be debated.

Explosions shook Gaza City and orange flares lit up the pre-dawn sky, with bombing raids also reported in the central town of Deir al-Balah and the southern town of Khan Younis. As the sun rose, residents surveyed the rubble from at least five family homes destroyed in Khan Younis. There were also heavy airstrikes on a commercial thoroughfare in Gaza City.

The Israeli military said it struck at least three homes of Hamas commanders in Khan Younis and another in Rafah, targeting “military infrastructure,” as well as a weapons storage unit at a home in Gaza City.

With hundreds already killed in the worst fighting since Israel and Hamas’ 2014 war, U.S. President Joe Biden told Israel on Wednesday that he expected “a significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire” — but Netanyahu pushed back, saying he was “determined to continue this operation until its aim is met.” It marked the first public rift between the two close allies since the fighting began and poses a difficult test of the U.S.-Israel relationship early in Biden’s presidency. 

Cease-fire hopes increase

Still, an Egyptian intelligence official said a cease-fire was likely late Thursday or early Friday, after the U.S. appeal bolstered Cairo’s own efforts to halt the fighting. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the delicate talks.

Khalid Okasha, director of the Egyptian Center for Strategic Studies, which has close ties to the government, also said a cease-fire was likely in that timeframe, as did Osama Hamdan, a senior Hamas official.

Visiting the region, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Israel has “the right to defend itself against such unacceptable attacks.” But he also expressed concern about the rising number of civilian victims and voiced support for truce efforts.

United Nations Mideast envoy Tor Wennesland was in the Gulf state of Qatar to help press forward with efforts to restore calm, a diplomatic official said. Energy-rich Qatar often helps mediate between Israel and Hamas and has donated hundreds of millions of dollars for development and humanitarian projects in Gaza in recent years to help maintain calm. The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.

In New York, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged for an immediate cease-fire, speaking at the start of a U.N. General Assembly emergency meeting. He called on Israel and Hamas “to allow for mediation efforts to intensify in order to bring the fighting to an end.”

Airstrikes overnight pound Gaza

Even as the diplomatic efforts appeared to gather strength, an Israeli airstrike smashed into the Khawaldi family’s two-story house in Khan Younis, destroying it. The 11 residents, who were sleeping outside the home out of fear, were all wounded and hospitalized, said Shaker al-Khozondar, a neighbor.

Shrapnel also hit his own home, killing his aunt and wounding her daughter and two other relatives, he said. Al-Khozondar spoke from his aunt Hoda’s bedroom where she had died. The windows were shattered and the bed pillows and rubble were stained with blood.

Weam Fares, a spokesman for a nearby hospital, confirmed the death and said at least 10 people were wounded in strikes overnight.

Palestinians see victory in Gaza truce outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Palestinians see victory in Gaza truce as Israel warns Hamas

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Palestinians rallied by the thousands Friday after a cease-fire took effect in the latest Gaza war, with many viewing it as a costly but clear victory for the Islamic militant group Hamas. Israel vowed to respond with a “new level of force” to further hostilities.

The 11-day war left more than 250 dead — the vast majority Palestinians — and brought widespread devastation to the already impoverished Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. But the rocket barrages that brought life to a standstill in much of Israel were seen by many Palestinians as a bold response to perceived Israeli abuses in Jerusalem, the emotional heart of the conflict.

Like the three previous wars, the latest round of fighting ended inconclusively.

Israel claimed it inflicted heavy damage on Hamas but once again was unable to halt the rockets. Even as it claims victory, Hamas faces the daunting challenge of rebuilding in a territory already suffering from high unemployment and a coronavirus outbreak, and from years of blockade by Egypt and Israel.

The conflict brought to the surface deep frustration among Palestinians, whether in the occupied West Bank, Gaza or within Israel, over the status quo, with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process all but abandoned for years. 

The continued volatility was on display when clashes broke out between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police following Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a flashpoint holy site in Jerusalem sacred to Jews and Muslims. Clashes there earlier this month were one of the main triggers for the war.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fended off criticism from his hawkish base who said he ended the offensive prematurely without a more decisive blow to Hamas. 

Israel had done “daring and new things, and this without being dragged into unnecessary adventures,” he said. Its forces caused “maximum damage to Hamas with a minimum of casualties in Israel,” he added.

Netanyahu warned against further attacks, saying, “If Hamas thinks we will tolerate a drizzle of rockets, it is wrong.” He vowed to respond with “a new level of force” against aggression anywhere in Israel.

He said Israeli strikes killed more than 200 militants, including 25 senior commanders, and hit more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) of militant tunnels. Hamas and the Islamic Jihad militant group have only acknowledged 20 fighters killed.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a televised speech from the Qatari capital of Doha that the war “opened the door to new phases that will witness many victories.” He called it a “quantum leap” that will build support among Palestinians for “resistance” rather than failed negotiations.

The Gaza Health Ministry says at least 243 Palestinians were killed, including 66 children, with 1,910 people wounded. It does not differentiate between fighters and civilians. Twelve people were killed in Israel, all but one of them civilians, including a 5-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl.

Celebrations erupted in Gaza, the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem at 2 a.m. when the cease-fire took hold. 

In Gaza City, thousands took to the streets, and young men waved Palestinian and Hamas flags, passed out sweets, honked horns and set off fireworks.

At noon prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, hundreds held similar celebrations, waving flags and cheering Hamas. It was unclear what sparked the ensuing violence, in which police fired stun grenades and tear gas, and Palestinians threw rocks. Israeli police said they arrested 16 people. Similar clashes broke out in parts of the West Bank.

Gazans had a day of recovery after 11 days of Israeli bombardment.

Shoppers stocked up on fresh fruit and vegetables at a Gaza City open-air market that reopened after being closed during the fighting. Workers swept up rubble.

“Life will return, because this is not the first war, and it will not be the last war,” said shop owner Ashraf Abu Mohammad. “The heart is in pain, there have been disasters, families wiped from the civil registry, and this saddens us. But this is our fate in this land, to remain patient.”

Residents in the hard-hit town of Beit Hanoun surveyed wrecked homes. 

“We see such huge destruction here, it’s the first time in history we’ve seen this,” said Azhar Nsair. “The cease-fire is for people who didn’t suffer, who didn’t lose their loved ones, whose homes were not bombed.”

Rescue workers were still recovering bodies. Five were collected Friday in the town of Khan Younis, including that of a 3-year-old, the Red Crescent emergency service said.

Tens of thousands returned home after sheltering in U.N. schools. At the peak, 66,000 people were crammed inside, but on Friday the number fell under 1,000, U.N. spokesman Sephane Dujarric said.

After the cease-fire, the U.N. sent 13 trucks with food, COVID-19 vaccines, medical supplies and medicines into Gaza. The world body also allocated $18.6 million in emergency humanitarian aid.

The bombardment struck a blow to the already decrepit infrastructure in the small coastal territory, home to more than 2 million Palestinians. It flattened high-rises and houses, tore up roads and wrecked water systems. At least 30 health facilities were damaged, forcing a halt to coronavirus testing in the territory.

The fighting began May 10, when Hamas militants in Gaza fired long-range rockets toward Jerusalem. The barrage came after days of clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police at Al-Aqsa. Heavy-handed police tactics at the compound and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers had inflamed tensions.

Competing claims to Jerusalem have repeatedly triggered bouts of violence. Israel captured east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 war and the Palestinians want them for their future state.

Hamas and other militant groups fired over 4,000 rockets at Israeli cities. Dozens landed as far north as the bustling commercial capital of Tel Aviv.

Israel, meanwhile, conducted hundreds of airstrikes. A senior Israeli army official said it hit 1,600 “military targets.”

The United States, Israel’s closest and most important ally, initially backed what it called Israel’s right to self-defense against indiscriminate rocket fire. But as fighting dragged on and deaths mounted, the Americans increasingly pressured Israel to stop the offensive, and Egypt brokered the cease-fire.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to visit the region “to discuss recovery efforts and working together to build better futures for Israelis and Palestinians.” the State Department said. He spoke Friday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who asked that Washington follow up on stopping Israeli measures in Jerusalem, like raids on the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the planned evictions of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, Abbas’ office said.

President Joe Biden welcomed the cease-fire. He said the U.S. was committed to helping Israel replenish its supply of interceptor missiles and to working with the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority — not Hamas — to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Later Friday, he said there has been no shift in his commitment to Israel’s security, but insisted a two-state solution that includes a state for Palestinians remains “the only answer” to that conflict.

Speaking at the end of a visit by the president of South Korea, Biden also played down the idea that the newly ended fighting had opened a rift among Democrats, as scores of Democrats split with Biden’s “quiet diplomacy” with ally Israel to publicly demand a cease-fire.

“My party still supports Israel,” Biden said. “Let’s get something straight here,” he added. “Until the region says unequivocally they acknowledge the right of Israel to exist as an independent Jewish state, there will be no peace.”

The Palestinian militants claimed Netanyahu had agreed to halt further Israeli actions at Al-Aqsa and the Sheikh Jarrah evictions. An Egyptian official said only that tensions in Jerusalem “will be addressed.”

Netanyahu faced heavy criticism from members of his hawkish, nationalist base. Gideon Saar, a former ally who leads a small party, called the cease-fire “embarrassing.” 

Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the far-right Jewish Power party, told Israeli TV’s Channel 13 that, with the cease-fire, the government “spat in the face of residents of southern Israel,” and said it should topple Hamas and reoccupy Gaza.


Krauss reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press writers Isabel DeBre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Laurie Kellman in Tel Aviv, Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations, Jamey Keaten in Geneva, Iris Samuels in Helena, Montana, and Karin Laub in the West Bank contributed.