In Beit She’an, employees were evacuated from city hall as part of the standard procedures during an earthquake. A school was also evacuated in nearby Afula.
An unnamed resident of Beit She’an told the Walla news site that they were concerned a larger quake could be on the way.
“We felt a short earthquake just like it during the night. We left the building and waited a few minutes. It is very surprising that there was another earthquake and there is concern there may be a bigger one soon,” they said.
A resident of Nazareth told Channel 12 news that they also “felt the earthquake strongly.”Advertisement
The quake came just hours after an earlier minor quake in northern Israel, late Saturday night.
Israel’s Geological Survey said that 3.7-magnitude earthquake began at 11:36 p.m. on Saturday. The epicenter was around 19 kilometers northeast of Beit She’an, near Israel’s border with Jordan.
“It went on for a relatively long time. It moved things around in my house,” a Haifa resident told Walla news after the first quake. “My desk was moving by itself for four or five seconds. The whole house, the bed, the room shook.”
“My whole body was trembling with fear. I started grabbing my kids to get outside. The bed really moved. All the windows were shaking,” a woman from Tiberias said.
Authorities on Sunday reminded residents of earthquake protocols, with anyone who might be in danger told to head for an open space.
People unable to leave their building should enter their bomb-proof secure room, leaving the doors and windows open, or go into the stairwell and head down. If neither of these are options, they should shelter in the corner of a room.Advertisement
Those who are outdoors at the time of a quake should stay away from buildings, trees, power cables and any items that could fall.
Anyone close to a beach should move away at least one kilometer away from the water, or make sure they are on the fourth floor or above in case of flooding or a tsunami.
Anyone driving at the time of a quake should stop at the side of the road and wait inside the vehicle until the end of the earthquake, but should avoid stopping under a bridge or at a junction.
Abu Dhabi, UAE (CNN) – The United States appears to be keen to tell the world that it wasn’t the target of Iranian missile strikes in Iraq on Sunday.
Iran said it was targeting Israeli “strategic centers” in the northern city of Erbil, but Iraqi-Kurdish authorities said the missiles fell close to a US consulate under construction. Baghdad summoned the Iranian ambassador. The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office refused to comment on the Iranian claim.
It was the first Iranian attack to strike so close to US interests since Tehran struck the Ain Al Asad air base in western Iraq in January 2020 in retaliation for the US killing of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.
“The US was not the intended target,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. “Press speculation otherwise is simply wrong.” The White House said the attack targeted a “civilian residence.”
The attack came as world powers are engaged in talks with Tehran to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement. A conclusion of the talks could see over a million barrels a day of currently sanctioned Iranian oil coming to the world market, giving reprieve to an oil price rally as Western states scramble to find alternatives to Russian energy exports. Crude prices last week hit an eight-year high on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent Western sanctions on Moscow. The US has so far failed to convince its oil-producing allies in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to raise supply and help tame the rise in prices.
“The message is clear,” said Saman Vakil, senior research fellow at London’s Chatham House think tank. “That regional stability is not something we should take for granted and that Iran, as a regional state that projects power beyond its border, has the potential to be destabilizing.”
Some Republican politicians weren’t convinced by the Biden administration’s narrative of the events. Lisa McClain, a representative for Michigan, called for an “immediate halt in negotiations with Iran,” while Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton said sanctions relief should be “off the table.”
An acknowledgement by the Biden administration that the US was the target of the attack would oblige it to retaliate at a time when it wants to settle disputes with Tehran diplomatically, said Trita Parsi, vice-president of the Quincy Institute in Washington, DC. The Iranians were likely sending a message to Israel as “they’ve been taking a lot of hits in Syria, where the Israelis have been targeting them.”
“There is probably a signaling at the US as well, since the US is essentially allowing the Israelis to do what they are doing in Syria,” he said. “The Iranians [are saying] they will not tolerate it. They are striking close to the consulate and not at the consulate.”
Paris said it was “reckless” of Iran to conduct the strike amid the nuclear talks but added that it may not have an impact on the negotiations.
“The US is trying to compartmentalize regional issues from the nuclear ones,” said Vakil. “Iran’s accelerating nuclear program remains a problem if not a crisis for the international community.”
The fate of the nuclear talks was uncertain last week after a surprise last-minute demand by Russia for guarantees that its trade with Iran wouldn’t be affected by Western sanctions on Moscow. The US rejected the demand and the talks were paused.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian will visit Russia on Tuesday for “frank and forward-looking talks,” Iran’s Nour News reported. Despite Moscow’s stalling, Tehran on Monday placed the blame for delays on the US, saying the decision to conclude the talks lies with Washington.
The appeal came during a meeting on Wednesday in Beirut between PIJ Secretary-General Ziyad al-Nakhaleh and Saleh al-Arouri, deputy head of the Hamas Politburo.
Hamas officials Osama Hamdan, Ali Barakeh and Ahmed Abdel Hadi attended the meeting with the PIJ leader.
The call for stepping up “resistance operations” against Israel came amid mounting tensions between the Palestinians and Israel in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
On Tuesday, two Palestinians – one from the Balata refugee camp near Nablus and the other from the Kalandiya refugee camp in the Ramallah area – were killed during clashes with the IDF.
AdvertisementA group Israeli tourists begin their visit to Al-Aqsa/Temple Mount on October 31, 2021; the iconic Dome of the Rock shrine is seen ahead. (credit: MAYA MARGIT/THE MEDIA LINE)
The Palestinian Authority, Hamas and PIJ have warned that Jews are planning to “storm” al-Aqsa Mosque compound (Temple Mount) during the upcoming Jewish holidays.
They called on Muslim worshipers to converge on the mosque in the coming days to “thwart” the planned “incursions,” warning that Israeli measures could lead to a religious war in the region.
During the Wednesday meeting, “the two sides discussed the latest developments of the Palestine issue in light of the ongoing Israeli escalation on our land, our people and our holy sites, and the attempts of the occupation authorities to Judaize Jerusalem and displace its people, as well as the continuation of settlement construction, the siege of the Gaza Strip and the abuse of prisoners and detainees,” according to a statement issued by PIJ.
The two sides “stressed the need to confront the Israeli aggression in Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and our occupied territories in 1948, and to escalate the resistance against the occupation,” it said.
Hamas and PIJ also “stressed the importance of the steadfastness of our people in occupied Palestine and abroad,” and praised the Palestinian “heroes” for confronting the IDF and settlers.
The terrorist groups said that they discussed the readiness of the armed groups in the Gaza Strip to defend al-Aqsa Mosque and the residents of east Jerusalem as they did during last year’s war between Israel and Hamas.
“The priority at this stage of national liberation requires working to unify the resistance forces and escalate the confrontation with the Israeli occupation and force it to retreat from all Palestinian soil,” the statement read.
The two groups also discussed “the danger of normalization” between Arab countries and Israel, and called on the PA to halt security coordination with the Israeli security forces.
In a separate statement, Hamas called on Palestinians to hold mass prayers at al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday in solidarity with the east Jerusalem murabitat (female defenders of the faith) who have taken it upon themselves to defend the mosque.
Senior Hamas official Abdel Hakim Hanini praised the Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank who recently engaged in clashes with the IDF.
“The youth will not retreat from this revolutionary path,” he said. “Rather, they will escalate their comprehensive resistance in all cities of the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem until the goals of our people are achieved with liberation and the return of the refugees.”
PIJ spokesperson Tareq Ezz al-Din warned of the “serious consequences of the escalating calls of the settler groups to storm and desecrate the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque.”
He held Israel and its leaders fully responsible “for this dangerous escalation, and for providing cover for these provocative attempts by the settlers.”
The PIJ official called on the Palestinians to head to al-Aqsa Mosque to protect it against the “settlers’ incursions and desecration.”
Zelenskyy called upon US President Joe Biden, among others, because of a treaty known as the Budapest Memorandum. This 1994 deal followed the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union, which saw the newly independent Ukraine inherit one-third of the Soviet nuclear stockpile. At the time, Ukraine owned the third biggest nuclear weapons arsenal in the world with 1,900 warheads, more than six times what China currently possesses, with explosive yields of 400-550 kilotons each, or 27-37 times the Hiroshima atomic bomb.
Through persistent negotiation and persuasion by the United States, Ukraine agreed to let go of its nuclear arsenal and join the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT). In exchange, the US, the United Kingdom and Russia said they would provide protection if Ukraine’s sovereignty was endangered. The Memorandum noted that the major powers would “seek immediate United Nations (UN) Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine” should any threat come.
Two decades after the agreement, the world witnessed Russia violating the Budapest Memorandum through its annexation of Crimea in 2014. The 2022 invasion of Ukraine shows that even great powers can be rendered helpless bystanders when a nuclear weapons state like Russia goes on the offensive.
If agreements such as the NPT or the Budapest Memorandum can be violated by the major powers who sign them and leave non-nuclear countries unable to deter an attack because of the threat of nuclear retaliation, it may convince countries like North Korea, India and Pakistan to hold onto their nuclear warheads. Countries with uranium-based energy production may consider ramping up to building nuclear arms.
The threat may reverse a global trend of nuclear disarmament. From 2020 to 2021, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute recorded a minor decline in the total number of nuclear weapons in the world (from 13,400 to 13,080). Nine countries maintain possession of nuclear weapons — the US, Russia, the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.
Within the same period, the number of nuclear weapons deployed to standby within operational forces increased from 3,720 to 3,825. This increase was led by the US and Russia who primed around 50 additional nuclear warheads since the start of 2021.
But if this conflict proves the catalyst for another nuclear arms race, it will be nothing like the decades-long Cold War.
In the 21st century, instead of a Cold War, a cyber war is more likely. The cyber-technological race to secure and/or attack facilities controlling nuclear capabilities would shape any conflict. Since the Stuxnet computer worm infiltrated and damaged Iran’s nuclear facilities in 2010, governments have realised that cyber-weapons capability is as important as nuclear arms ownership — if not more important.
With current treaties unable to prevent Russia’s nuclear threat re-emerging, the threat of further attacks looms large. But as we enter a new era of defence, along with finding new ways to protect non-nuclear nations, nuclear weapon states will likely need to bolster protections to prepare for the next wave of cyber-attacks.
Fitriani is a Senior Researcher at the Dept. International Relations in CSIS Indonesia and a lecturer at University of Indonesia.
The U.S. believes that Russia may lean into its nuclear threat to project its strength as its invasion of Ukraine drags on, according to an assessment from the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, director of the agency, detailed the assessment in a report on worldwide threats submitted to the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Intelligence and Special Operations submitted on Thursday.
The report, which was based on information available as of Tuesday, comes as the U.S. warns that Russia was growing more desperate as its advance into Ukraine hasn’t been moving as quickly as expected.
“As this war and its consequences slowly weaken Russian conventional strength, Russia likely will increasingly rely on its nuclear deterrent to signal the West and project strength to its internal and external audiences,” he wrote.
Debate on how Russian President Vladimir Putin would use nuclear weapons has ramped up since he ordered his deterrence forces on “special combat duty” in late February. At the time, he blamed his decision on the West making aggressive statements about Russia.
In the report, Berrier said the order and other comments from Moscow touting its nuclear arsenal “are likely intended to intimidate.”
He added the comments reflect Russia’s view that the threat of nuclear weapons could either compel an adversary to negotiate an end to the conflict on terms favorable to Moscow, or deter other parties from entering the war as progress elsewhere stalls.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has entered its 23rd day, and the U.S. fears that it will escalate its attacks on Ukraine despite the unexpected resistance it has received.
Berrier writes that Russia is “determined to restore a sphere of influence over Ukraine and the other states of the former Soviet Union which is a key driver for Russian military aggression against Ukraine.”
Therefore, despite the unexpected resistance, Moscow “appears determined to press forward,” he said, noting the indiscriminate attacks destroying cities and increasing civilian deaths.
“The Kremlin likely calculates that a victory over Ukraine will compel most of the Soviet successor states to align themselves more closely with Moscow, but a military setback for Russia or a lengthy drawn-out campaign in Ukraine probably will have the opposite effect,” he continued.
A civil defence source told i‘s David Parsley: “No one thought Putin would invade Ukraine, a democratic nation. So, how do we know he’s not mad enough to attack the UK, places like London, our naval bases and our nuclear power stations. However unlikely such an attack is, it’s a great deal more likely than it was a few weeks ago.”
Last weekend Cabinet minister Michael Gove said he was concerned that Russia may use nuclear weapons in the war with Ukraine, adding that President Putin was capable of “terrible, terrible violence”.
James Acton, a nuclear expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Pace in Washington DC, told BBC News President Putin may resort to nuclear weapons if he continues to be frustrated in Ukraine.
“I am legitimately worried that in that circumstance Putin might use a nuclear weapon, most likely on the ground in Ukraine to terrify everyone and get his way. We are not at that point yet,” he said.
What would happen if Russia targeted the UK?
A nuclear strike on any UK city would kill everyone within a 1.2-mile radius instantly. Anyone exposed within a 6.8-mile radius of the impact would almost certainly suffer third-degree burns, while hundreds of thousands would be likely to die due to radiation fallout.
The UK Government has no active system in place to provide the public with early warning of a nuclear attack, i revealed this week.
The Government has been working on a new emergency system that will use push text alerts to mobile devices since last year, but disputes between ministers over which Government department will pay for it have caused delays.
These alerts could also only be sent to smartphones. They would sound a loud siren on a phone or tablet for around ten seconds even if the device is set to silent, but not work if the device was off.
The Government webpage for the alert system states: “The Government and mobile phone networks are testing emergency alerts. You may get an alert if you live in, or travel through, a test area.”
A Cabinet Office source told i: “There is no public warning system because the Government has dithered on it as no one department wants to pay for it, whether that the Home Office, the Defra or the Cabinet Office. We are totally unprepared.”
In 1968 the Government developed an operation, codenamed Python, to disperse the key figures in groups to different parts of the country, including on yachts at sea.
These plans date from the Cold War and will have changed considerably, but nuclear war expert Julie McDowall, who hosts the Atomic Hobo podcast, says the notion of dispersing small groups of ministers and staff would still be the safest way to ensure some form of government could continue after a nuclear attack.
Where could Russia target?
A missile strike by Russia on London would not be Vladimir Putin’s primary goal should the UK and other nations be dragged into the war in Ukraine, a senior defence official has told i.
The official, who requested anonymity, said Putin would “strike London for its symbolic impact” but would also prioritise Britain’s nuclear submarine fleet and its three main naval bases in Clyde, Devonport and Portsmouth.
“A strike, whether using conventional or nuclear missiles, would almost certainly occur in London should Putin push on with his threats against the West,” said the source. “However, while that would create the pictures around the world Putin would want, he would be more concerned with hitting our nuclear submarines, three of which can be in or around any of the UK’s main naval bases.”
The UK has 58 US-made Trident missiles with UK-made warheads. The nation’s four Vanguard-class nuclear submarines can each carry up to 16 missiles. One is always at sea.
The defence source added: “In the event that an attack from Putin became more likely then the UK would send all the submarines out into the oceans to protect them.
“While there is no imminent threat from Russia, the nuclear drills around our naval bases have increased in frequency in recent months, as has security around other military bases.”
The fourth suspect, who lives in Beit Hanina, was arrested with $155,000 in cash, vehicles, and had other assets seized. Along with this, a bank account belonging to a charitable organization was frozen.
Lajnat Zakat al-Quds, a charity with offices in the Temple Mount complex, was accused of funneling money for Hamas.
He was accused of assisting in transferring Hamas funds from Turkey to Jerusalem, distributing them to Hamas operatives and their families, disguising it as charity.
Much of the funding from the charity went to families of Hamas members killed while committing terror attacks, prosecutors charged. In contrast, the charity advertised itself as assisting orphans, according to ToI.
Lajnat Zakat al-Quds has a total income of nearly $8.6 million between 2007 and 2020, the indictment stated.
Sabah traveled to Turkey in late January to meet with Hamas officials, discussing the group’s preparations for Ramadan, in case of clashes with Israeli forces.
“During the meeting, the defendant agreed he would purchase a weapon for this purpose, if necessary,” the indictment read, ToI reported.