9,000 Attackers Protest Outside the Walls (Revelation 11)

9,000 Attackers Participate in Gaza Border Violence

Hana Levi Julian

22 Elul 5779 – September 21, 2019

Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson’s Office via Twitter

Thousands of Gazans riot at the border with Israel, throwing live grenades and explosives at IDF soldiers and into Israeli territory

More than 9,000 Arabs gathered Friday at multiple locations along the security fence protecting southern Israel from Gaza terrorists to inflict more violence on Israeli soldiers stationed there to protect the area’s Jewish communities from would-be attackers.

As every Friday after mosque, some 9,000 Hamas-sponsored terrorists rioted along the Gaza border. Explosive devices, grenades, and firebombs exploded next to IDF jeeps. Troops opened fire on a group of 30 Muslim terrorists who attempted to invade Israel.

As they do every Friday, the attackers burned tires and threw rocks, explosives, grenades, flaming Molotov cocktails and live fireworks at the soldiers.

The IDF responded with standard riot dispersal measures and in some cases, gunfire.

Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization claimed via its “Health Ministry” that 76 attackers were injured in the violence. It is impossible, however, to independently verify the claim.

Iran Prepares for War (Daniel)

Iranian general warns broad response awaits any U.S. military move

TEHRAN – Should the Americans think of orchestrating a plot against Iran, they will be faced with the Iranian nation’s response from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean, says Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, a top military adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Leader of the Islamic Revolution.

“The Americans [should] take the remarks of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah seriously …. Any anti-Iranian move will transform the [entire] region,” Rahim Safavi said on Friday at the Friday prayers in Tehran.

The Americans know well that we are endowed with a wise and courageous leader and powerful armed forces,” he said. “Iran’s policy is to establish peace and sustainable security in the West Asia region through the withdrawal of transgressive foreign forces.”

General Rahim Safavi also advised U.S. President Donald Trump to learn from the fate of his predecessors, who tried in vain to exert their political will on the Iranian nation and government.

“Trump will go down in history with his pipe dream of subduing the Iranian nation,” asserted Safavi, who was chief of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) from 1997 to 2007.

The Iranian general made the remarks a day after Washington said it was seeking to create an anti-Iran coalition. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had claimed that the initiative was “aimed at achieving peace.”

Washington’s so-called “coalition” announcement came in response to an attack led by Yemeni Armed Forces against Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.

The attack effectively halved the kingdom’s oil production.

The Yemenis officially took credit for the attacks, but Pompeo swiftly blamed Iran. Furthermore, U.S. President Donald Trump said that the U.S. was “locked and loaded” for a response at the behest of the Arab kingdom, although he later said that he wanted no conflict with any country.

Tensions have significantly risen as a result of the accusations leveled against Iran, which Tehran has rejected, calling them an attempt by the White House to shift from a failed campaign of “maximum pressure” to one of “maximum deceit” against the Islamic Republic.

Despite Iran’s denial and the Yemenis’ claiming of responsibility, the U.S. accusation against Iran has prompted speculation that America may take military action against Iran or Iranian interests.

In a tweet on Thursday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the remnants of the B-Team plus its ambitious allies are trying to deceive President Trump into a war with Iran.

“For their own sake, they should pray that they won’t get what they seek,” he tweeted. “They’re still paying for much smaller #Yemen war they were too arrogant to end 4yrs ago.”

The “B-team” is a term thrown into popular usage by Zarif. It refers to a group of politicians who share an inclination toward potential war against Iran, and the letter “b” in their names. They include Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and, former U.S. national security advisor John Bolton.


More Protests Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Over 8,000 Palestinians take part in weekly protests along Gaza border

76 said hurt by IDF fire as rioters attack soldiers with explosive devices and rocks, attempt to sabotage fence

By TOI staff20 Sep 2019, 6:11 pm

Over 8,000 Palestinians took part in weekly protests along the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel on Friday afternoon.

Some of the Gazans attacked Israeli soldiers with improvised explosive devices and rocks, and others attempted to sabotage the security fence.

Palestinians reported that 76 people were hurt by the IDF response, 48 of them from live fire.

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The demonstrations come after a week in which seven Palestinians were wounded when a rocket fired from the Strip towards Israel exploded near a house inside the coastal enclave.

Palestinian eyewitnesses said two of the three rockets struck outside a home in the southern city of Rafah Wednesday, and a third fell near the fence separating Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Last Friday, several thousand Palestinians protested along the Gaza border, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that war with terror groups in the Gaza Strip could break out “at any moment.”

Some 4,000 people took part in the demonstrations, with several hundred rioting and throwing rocks and explosive devices at Israel Defense Forces troops who responded with tear gas and occasional live fire.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said 30 people had been wounded, including 15 from live fire.

Earlier in the month two Palestinian teens were killed in clashes which the IDF called “especially violent.”

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

The Asymmetric Fury of the Iranian Horn

Image result for iran missilesHow Iran Would Unleash an ‘All Out War’: Lots of Missiles

Key Point: Iran’s interest in ballistic missiles has its origins in the 1980–88 Iran-Iraq War.

Like the rest of the Iranian Armed Forces, the Iranian Air Force was crippled by postrevolution purges. Although numerically and technologically superior to the Iraqi Air Force, Iran was unable to achieve air superiority and unable to accurately strike targets deep within Iraq.

In response, Iran purchased a number of Soviet R-17 (“Scud B”) short-range ballistic missiles from the Libyan government. These strikes, as well as retaliatory strikes by Iraqi ballistic missiles, constituted the so-called “War of the Cities.” The lack of accuracy of the missiles made cities the easiest targets, and both Iranian and Iraqi civilians bore the brunt of the crude missile campaign.

The wartime need for ballistic missiles, as well as Iran’s historical enmity with Israel, led Iran to develop its own missile industry. The first missiles were copies of existing Scud missiles. The Shahab (“Shooting Star”)-1 missile is based on the Scud-B; the Nuclear Threat Initiative estimates Iran maintains an inventory of two to three hundred missiles. The liquid-fueled Shahab-1 can loft a two-thousand-pound high-explosive or chemical warhead up to 186 miles, but like the original Scud-B, its accuracy is lacking. Just half of the warheads from a Shahab-1 would land within a half mile of the target—the rest landing even farther away. Another version, Shahab-2, has a range of 310 miles. Both versions are likely being phased out in favor of a new generation of solid-fuel rockets.

A third missile, Shahab-3, is actually a variant of North Korea’s Nodong-1 missile. Also developed from the Scud, the Nodong-1 has its origins in Pyongyang’s desire to hit U.S. bases in Japan from the Korean Peninsula. There are differing claims to the distance the Shahab-3 can deliver payloads. The Nuclear Threat Initiative states that it has a maximum range of 621 miles, which falls short of the Nodong-1’s range. The Center for Strategic and International Studies states that the Nodong-1 has a range of 932 miles, but credits the Shahab-3 a range of 1,242 miles, a significant improvement.

While the Nodong-1/Shahab-3 offers greater range than previous missiles, it is miserably inaccurate, with half of warheads expected to fall within 1.5 miles of the target and the other half even farther away. The first Iranian test of the Shahab-3 was in 1998, and the missile was declared operational in 2003. Arms-control experts theorize North Korea sold Iran a complete Nodong assembly line, while others believe Iran received approximately 150 missiles in return for financing development of the missile.

The Shahab-3 has spawned at least one variant, the Ghadr-1, which has a slightly shorter range but is reportedly much more accurate, to within six hundred feet. A new warhead developed for both missiles, known as Emad, appears to bring even greater stability, maneuverability and accuracy to Iran’s medium-range ballistic missiles.

Iranian missile development took a giant leap with the fielding of the Sejil medium-range missile. Unlike previous liquid-fueled missiles, the solid-fueled Sejil does not have to be fueled before launch and can be stored ready to fire. A Sejil missile in the field also does not need a telltale convoy of refueling vehicles that can be spotted by enemy forces. Iran’s solid-fuel expertise is thought to have come from China in a late 1980s technology transfer.

First tested in 2008, the Sejil carries a one- to two-thousand-pound warhead and has a range identical to the older Shahab-3. Sejil may in fact be a replacement for the older missile. While the Sejil’s accuracy is unknown, it could hardly be worse than its liquid-fueled predecessor. There are unconfirmed reports of longer-range variants. A missile named Sejil-2 was reportedly tested in 2009, and a three-stage Sejil-3 with a 2,400-mile range is reportedly in development.

According to a 2005 report in Germany’s Bild Zeitung newspaper, Iran imported eighteen Musudan intermediate-range missiles in kit form from North Korea. The existence of these missiles was disputed for years, but an April 2017 launch was said by U.S. government officials to be a Khorramshahr, allegedly the local name for the Musudan. The Iranian missile apparently flew for six hundred miles before it exploded, a level of success North Korea itself did not experience until its sixth Musudan test. This is an unusual discrepancy, and could be indicative that the test was of another missile type entirely. Unlike its other missiles, Iran has never publicly displayed a Musudan-type missile.

In the meantime, Iran has gone back and updated its fleet of short-range, or battlefield short-range, ballistic missiles. Tehran’s latest missile, the Zulfiqar, is also based on Chinese solid-fuel technology. The Zulfiqar can carry a thousand-pound high explosive or submunition warhead that Iran claims is accurate to within fifty to seventy meters. The missile has a range of 434 to 466 miles. While it has a smaller warhead than the Shahab-1 and -2, the Zulfiqar is much more accurate and has a greater range, making it a viable replacement for the older, liquid-fueled missiles.

Iran does not currently have an intercontinental ballistic missile. Could Tehran’s missiles someday reach Washington, DC? North Korea has demonstrated that even a determined country of limited means can build a credible missile program. The Nuclear Threat Initiative lists Shahab-5 and -6 missiles as possible ICBMs that have been mentioned in Iranian literature, but these names seem to be assigned to notional design goals and not operational missiles. Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran has agreed to halt its nuclear-weapons development. Resumption of ICBM research and development would be a clue that Iran’s nuclear ambitions have reignited, something that would put the country on a collision course with the United States.

Iran’s ballistic-missile program began from a wartime requirement for a strategic terror weapon, and progressed to the development of nuclear delivery vehicle. Iran, like North Korea, is proof of the dangers of ballistic-missile proliferation, and how trade in even short-range missiles like the Scud can lead to the development of far more dangerous weapons down the road.

Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009 he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami. This first appeared back in 2017 and is being reposted due to reader interest.

The Persian Lion’s Fury

Image result for iran lion

Khamenei Adviser Says Saudis Have Learned ‘Not To Play With Lion’s Tail’

Radio Farda

The military adviser of Iran’s Supreme Leader has said, Saudi Arabia realized that “Playing with the lion’s tail is fraught with serious danger”.

Iran’s Fars news agency close to the Revolutionary Guards quoted Hossein Dehqan (Dehghan), an IRGC senior officer, as saying that if there is any actions against Iran, there will be no future for Saudi Arabia in the region.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s advisor Dehqan referring to the September 14 attack on Saudi oil facilities said that Riyadh “is lost and confused” and wants to blame Iran to save its reputation and honor.

Dehqan added that missiles used in the attack were manufactured by Yemen’s Houthis. Saudi Arabia displayed wreckage of missiles and drones trying to prove that the weapons used were Iranian.

Other senior Iranian officials have also argued that the weapons were made by Yemenis.

Immediately after the surprise attack the U.S. and later Saudi Arabia insisted the attack had not come from Yemen, as Houthis had claimed, but originated from the north. Om Thursday, CBS News quoted an unnamed U.S. official who said the weapons were fired form southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz.

Since the start of the war in Yemen in 2015 there have been many reports and claims that Houthi forces were using sophisticated Iranian weapons.

Why the Saudis are Afraid of Iran

Expert on why Saudi Arabia won’t explicitly blame Iran for attacks: ‘They would be toast’ | Fox News

September 19, 2019

On Fox Nation’s “Deep Dive,” a panel of experts analyzed the world response to last weekend’s crippling attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure and explained why the Saudi government seems hesitant to explicitly accuse Iran of carrying out the strikes.

If you look at the sophistication of the attack, the ranges of the weapons used, and how this was perpetrated, it can only be Iran really,” said Lt. Col. Dakota Wood, who is a retired Marine and Senior Research Fellow for Defense Program at the Heritage Foundation.

At a press conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, the Saudis displayed broken and burned drones and pieces of a cruise missile that military spokesman Col. Turki Al-Malki identified as Iranian weapons collected after the attack.  Tehran has denied that it carried out the attacks and Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility.

Speaking from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Wednesday U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Iran is responsible for the attack, telling reporters that the strike was “an act of war.”

It wasn’t immediately clear the extent of the damage from the drone attack. (US Official)

However, the Wall Street Journal notes that the Saudis have stopped short of explicitly accusing Iran of conducting the strikes.

Wood concluded that the Saudi’s are not pointing the finger squarely at Tehran because that may cause an escalation in an already fraught situation in the region.

“If [Saudi Arabia] names Iran as the aggressor then it’s beholden…that they have to respond in some ways,” Wood said, “Is their military, which is well-equipped, is it tactically competent? And then are they willing to suffer the consequences of some kind of a conflict when they are so dependent on this energy infrastructure.”

Judith Miller, Adjunct Fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Pulitzer-winning journalist and Fox News contributor said that the Saudis know that they are not able to defeat Iran in a full-blown conflict.

“The Saudis either don’t believe the Americans or don’t want to believe the Americans, because they don’t want to be saddled with the burden to respond militarily to Iran because they understand that in such a contest they would be toast,” said Miller.

Miller added that President Trump has found himself in a difficult situation, as members of his own party are pushing him to engage the Iranians over this aggression.

“It is the Republicans, Lindsey Graham, General Jack Keane…who really are demanding that something be done…lest we risk even more aggressive action on the part of the Iranians, who at this point may think that they can get away with everything.”

Recently, member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Lindsey Graham R-Sc., tweeted that the President’s “measured” response to the downing of a U.S. drone over the Strait of Hormuz this summer emboldened the regime.

The President responded to Graham tweeting, “No Lindsey, it was a sign of strength that some people just don’t understand!”

Wall Street Journal Assistant Editorial Features Editor, Jason Willick added that Saudi Arabia’s apparent unwillingness to take on the Iranians may complicate the President’s plan to reduce the U.S. footprint in the Middle East.

“The strategy for us leaving could have been to empower allies…the Gulf States and Israel to create a balance of power with Iran and the question is if Iran is just going to totally break the balance then that’s not going to create more instability or a situation in which we can leave,” he said.

Iran Confirms Their Attack on Saudi Arabia (Daniel 8:4)

Saudi Arabia displays the wreckage of the Iranian weaponry

US Report: Khamenei Approved Saudi Attack

Thursday, 19 September, 2019 – 09:00 –

Asharq Al-Awsat

An American report revealed Wednesday that Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei had approved the attack against two Saudi Aramco oil facilities last week.

He gave his blessing “but only on the condition that it be carried out in a way that made it possible to deny Iranian involvement,” a US official told CBS News.

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday displayed wreckage of Iranian cruise missiles and drones. The circuit boards can be reverse engineered to determine the exact route the weapons flew, said the report.

“But US officials said the most damning evidence is still unreleased satellite photos showing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard making preparations for the attack at Ahvaz Air Base in southwestern Iran,” it added.

The satellite photos were of no use in stopping the attack since their significance was not realized until after the fact, explained the report.

“We were caught completely off guard,” one US official said.

The Trump administration and Saudi Arabia have pointed the finger at Iran for the September 14 raids, which hit the world’s biggest crude oil processing facility and initially knocked out half of Saudi output.

The French army spokesman said it sent seven experts to Saudi Arabia to join an investigation.

UN officials monitoring sanctions on Iran and Yemen are also helping probe the attack.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the attacks, which he described as an “act of war” against Saudi Arabia, would be a major focus of next week’s annual UN General Assembly meeting.

He had arrived in Jeddah on Wednesday for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.

Thursday, 19 September, 2019 – 08:45 –

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. (Reuters)

Asharq Al-Awsat

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Thursday that the Iran-backed Houthi militias’ claim of responsibility for the attack against Saudi Arabian oil facilities was “not very credible.”

“There is an international investigation, let’s wait for its results. I don’t have a specific opinion before these results”, he told C News television, adding the probe into the Saudi oil attacks will be fast.

The Trump administration and Saudi Arabia have pointed the finger at Iran for the September 14 raids, which hit the world’s biggest crude oil processing facility and initially knocked out half of Saudi output.

The French army spokesman said it sent seven experts to Saudi Arabia to join the investigation.

UN officials monitoring sanctions on Iran and Yemen are also helping probe the attack.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the attacks, which he described as an “act of war” against Saudi Arabia, would be a major focus of next week’s annual UN General Assembly meeting.

He had arrived in Jeddah on Wednesday for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.

Pompeo Claims Iran Crossed the ‘Redline’

A satellite image of the Abqaiq processing plant in Saudi Arabia on Saturday. United States officials have blamed Iran for airstrikes there.

Pompeo Calls Attacks on Saudi Arabia ‘Act of War’ and Seeks Coalition to Counter Iran

By Ben Hubbard, David D. Kirkpatrick, Edward Wong and Richard Pérez-Peña

Sept. 18, 2019
Updated 7:17 p.m. ET

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran on Wednesday of carrying out an “act of war” with aerial strikes on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia last weekend, as he met with Saudi leaders to discuss building a coalition to deter further attacks.

Mr. Pompeo’s condemnation was the strongest yet from any American official about the attack on Saturday in Saudi Arabia, which cut oil production, left two of the kingdom’s most vital facilities smoldering and exposed failures by the Saudis and their American allies in detecting an incoming aerial assault.

The attack also raised fears that tensions between the United States and Iran, which have been rising since President Trump abandoned the Iranian nuclear agreement last year, could escalate into a new war.

Despite Mr. Pompeo’s statement, President Trump pushed back against another American military entanglement in the Middle East, speaking only of unspecified new sanctions on Iran.

Asked about a possible retaliatory American attack on Iran, Mr. Trump told reporters in Los Angeles: “There are many options. There’s the ultimate option and there are options a lot less than that.”

In Saudi Arabia, military officials displayed parts of destroyed drones and cruise missiles that they said pointed to Iranian complicity. But they did not specify who exactly had carried out the attack, from where or what action they wanted the United States to take.

The attack shocked Saudi leaders and Trump administration officials, who have spent years casting Iran as the prime troublemaker in the Middle East and vowing to confront it forcefully. But as the days have passed since the strike, it has become clear that other factors are restraining them from putting bellicose rhetoric into action.

Mr. Trump, who ran on pledges to end America’s wars abroad, has indicated he would like another option short of dragging the United States into a military conflict over an attack that killed no Americans.

And as much as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, hates Iran’s rising regional influence, analysts said that he has reasons to tread carefully: The attack laid bare the kingdom’s vulnerabilities; Prince Mohammed questions the support he would get from the Trump administration in a real war with Iran; and further violence could dampen interest in his proposed public sale of stock in Aramco, the Saudi state oil monopoly.

The Aramco stock offering is central to Prince Mohammed’s plans for the country, which include diversifying the economy away from oil and creating more jobs for young Saudis.

Such caution toward Iran marks a U-turn for the 34-year-old crown prince, who has belittled Iran’s military abilities, compared its Supreme Leader to Hitler and suggested that Saudi Arabia would take the fight to Iran inside its own borders.

“We will not wait until the battle is in Saudi Arabia,” he told an interviewer in 2017. “We will work so that the battle is for them in Iran, and not in Saudi Arabia.”

Who Was Behind the Saudi Oil Attack? What the Evidence Shows American officials have offered only satellite photos, which analysts said were insufficient to prove where the attack came from, which weapons were used and who fired them.

But the attack showed that Iran, which has spent years building a network of allied armed groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, can hit Saudi Arabia in its most sensitive spots, and in a way that gives Iran a level of deniability.

“He knows he has a lot to lose,” said Bernard Haykel, a professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, referring to Prince Mohammed. “You live in a castle with an arsonist next door, and the arsonist doesn’t have a castle — he has nothing to lose. And the arsonist has shown he can hit you again and again, with precision.”

The drones and cruise missiles said to have been used flew hundreds of miles undetected in a region dotted with American military bases. That raised questions about whether Saudi Arabia can protect itself even with American pledges of help, said Ali Shihabi, a Saudi commentator who speaks frequently with Saudi officials.

“The fact that this thing was able to slip through the American line of defense and then through the Saudi line of defense and hit with the precision that it did, frankly, it was an eye-opener,” he said. “So the question is can you get into a war today when you are not sure what the Americans will do?”

Both Prince Mohammed and Mr. Pompeo sought on Wednesday to frame the attack as the world’s problem.

In a phone call with the president of South Korea, Prince Mohammed called the attack “a true test of international will to confront sabotage that threatens international security and stability.”

In comments to reporters after a flight to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where he met with Prince Mohammed, Mr. Pompeo accused Iran of having carried out the strikes.

“We were blessed there were no Americans killed in this attack,” he added, “but anytime you have an act of war of this nature, there’s always a risk that could happen.”

Instead of threatening a military response, Mr. Pompeo spoke of assembling an international coalition to deter further strikes, without specifying who it would include and what it might do.

“That’s my mission here, is to work with our partners in the region,” he said. He spoke of working with European countries and planned to visit the United Arab Emirates, a close Saudi ally, before returning to Washington.

The State Department said in a statement after their meeting that Mr. Pompeo and Prince Mohammed had “agreed that this was an unacceptable and unprecedented attack that not only threatened Saudi Arabian national security, but also endangered the lives of all the American citizens living and working in Saudi Arabia, as well as the world’s energy supply in general.”

It said they “discussed the need for the international community to come together to counter the continued threat of the Iranian regime.”

Earlier, at a news conference in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, the Saudi Defense Ministry provided new details about the weapons it said had been used and showed remnants of drone and cruise missiles it said were plainly of Iranian origin.

A ministry spokesman, Col. Turki al-Maliki, said 18 drones struck one site and four cruise missiles hit another, while three missiles had fallen short of their target.

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, center, in Tehran on Wednesday. Mr. Rouhani has said he would meet President Trump only if sanctions were lifted first.

Saudi Arabia had yet to determine who exactly had launched the attack or from where, but he said it had come from the north, in the direction of Iran and Iraq, not the south, in the direction of Yemen.

The attack, Colonel al-Maliki said, “was unquestionably sponsored by Iran.”

American and Saudi officials have said previously that the attack used Iranian weapons. The Americans also have said that evidence, not yet made public, points to a strike launched from Iran.

The Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have been bombed by a Saudi-led coalition for more than four years, claimed credit for the attack while Iran, which backs the Houthis, has denied any responsibility. Iranian officials have said the attacks were in response to the deaths and destruction wrought by the Saudis in Yemen.

American and Saudi officials have said the Houthis possessed neither the sophistication nor the weapons to have carried out the aerial assault on the oil facilities, a point Mr. Pompeo reiterated on Wednesday.

“As for how we know, the equipment used is unknown to be in the Houthis’ arsenal,” he said.

The attack came amid tensions that have been rising between the Trump administration and Iran since President Trump renounced the 2015 agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear program in return for economic relief. Since then, the United States has been applying a strategy of “maximum pressure” of economic sanctions to punish Iran for what the Trump administration considers its malign activities in the Middle East.

On Wednesday morning, Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter that he had told the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, “to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran.” It was not immediately clear how extensive the latest round of penalties would be, but Mr. Trump said details would be released within 48 hours.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran responded on Twitter that Mr. Trump was “escalating U.S. economic war on Iranians.”

Mr. Trump and Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, have been expected to cross paths at the annual United Nations General Assembly session in New York next week, and there was speculation this summer about a possible face-to-face encounter.

But on Wednesday, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported that an Iranian advance team had been unable to travel to New York because the United States had not granted visas. As a result, it said, Mr. Rouhani and his delegation might not attend the gathering, which runs from Tuesday through the following Monday.

Mr. Pompeo declined to comment on the visa situation. Asked about it at the United Nations, Secretary General António Guterres told reporters he had been “in contact with the host state in order to solve all outstanding visa problems in relation to delegations,” and he hoped that would “solve the problem.”

A senior Trump administration official said that Iran had sought visas for 124 people to assist its delegation, and that the State Department had denied around 40 to those found linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which the administration designated as a terrorist organization in April.

The State Department did not deny a visa to Mr. Zarif, the official said, although his movements are limited to the area close to the United Nations.

Mr. Trump has said repeatedly that he is open to a meeting with Mr. Rouhani, which would be the first between leaders of the two countries after four decades of antagonism, but Mr. Rouhani has said the United States must first lift economic sanctions.

Mr. Rouhani sent a formal note on Monday to the United States denying an Iranian role in the Saudi attack and warning that any American action against Iran would bring retaliation, Iranian state news media reported on Wednesday. The note went through Swiss envoys who act as intermediaries because the United States and Iran do not have diplomatic relations.

Follow Richard Pérez-Peña and Edward Wong on Twitter: @perezpena @ewong

Ben Hubbard, Rick Gladstone and Lara Jakes contributed reporting.

Pompeo Says His Boss Screwed Up

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday acknowledged that the current crisis with Iran was a “direct result” of actions taken by President Donald Trump.

Since Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, his administration has engaged in a “maximum-pressure” campaign against Tehran, Iran’s capital, in an effort to cripple the Iranian economy with harsh sanctions. The end goal of this is to squeeze Iran into coming back to the negotiation table to agree to a more stringent version of the nuclear deal that prevents Iran from building nuclear weapons.

But so far, Trump’s hard-line strategy has not been successful, and there’s little evidence this is changing.

Pompeo defended this approach to reporters traveling with him to Saudi Arabia, saying, “There is this theme that some suggest that the president’s strategy that we allowed isn’t working. I would argue just the converse of that. I would argue that what you are seeing here is a direct result of us reversing the enormous failure of the JCPOA.”

He was referring to the formal name of the 2015 nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The secretary of state was addressing the recent attack on two major Saudi oil facilities and facing questions on how the attack was possible despite Saudi investments in US defense technology, as well as how such incidents could be deterred moving forward.

Though Pompeo conceded the attack was “of a scale we’ve just not seen before,” he made the case that without the Trump administration’s sanctions, Iran could have access to even more complex and dangerous weapons systems.

In the process, he inadvertently captured why the US and Saudi Arabia were in the situation in the first place — Trump’s decision to pull the US from the Iran nuclear deal — as he said, “What you are seeing here is a direct result of us reversing the enormous failure of the JCPOA.”

‘There is a direct line you can draw from Trump’s violation of the Iran deal and the risk of conflict today.’

Since Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal, relations with Iran have rapidly spiraled downward. The situation has become so contentious in recent months that it has raised fears of a new conflict in the Middle East.

As the Trump administration has ramped up the economic pressure on Iran, the Iranians have responded with aggressive behavior in an effort to cause problems for the US and its partners.

If Iran is indeed responsible for the Saudi oil field attacks, experts and former US officials say Trump’s decision to withdraw from the JCPOA opened the door for the attack, as well as the broader tensions surrounding it.

Barbara Slavin, the director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council, said in an op-ed on Wednesday, “This is what happens when you unilaterally pull out of a nuclear deal and then try to smother another country.”

“The results of this ‘maximum-pressure’ campaign are now clear: growing instability in the Persian Gulf, including an unprecedented attack on Saudi oil installations that caused a bigger disruption of world oil markets than the Iranian Revolution, and an incremental but steady resumption by Iran of nuclear activities proscribed by the JCPOA,” Slavin added.

Trump’s choice to pull the US from the JCPOA was condemned by nuclear experts and US allies who were also signatories to the deal.

Pompeo on Wednesday described the deal as an “enormous failure,” but there’s little evidence to back that assessment up. The UN’s nuclear watchdog repeatedly reported Iran was in compliance with the deal, including well after Trump pulled out of it. It was not until tensions with the US reached a boiling point this summer that Iran began to take steps away from the deal.

In short, the nuclear deal began to crumble and be violated in significant ways only after Trump withdrew the US from it — and Iran still has a long way to go to enrich uranium to levels necessary to build nuclear weapons.

There is no question in my mind that this entire cycle of crisis and escalation is a direct result of the Trump administration and its decision to violate the JCPOA,” Jon Wolfsthal, who served as the nuclear expert for the National Security Council under Obama and is now a senior adviser at Global Zero, told Insider.

“While it is possible that if Trump could have stayed in the pact and sought to confront Iran in a variety of military ways that we could have ended up here, the reality is that with its economy under pressure and the US not fulfilling its obligations under the nuclear deal, Iran is going to look for ways to increase leverage on Europe to compensate Tehran and to push back against the US ‘maximum pressure,'” Wolfsthal added.

Wolfsthal said this did not excuse any possible attacks from Iran against the Saudi kingdom but went on to say that none of what has recently occurred “needed to happen, and there is a direct line you can draw from Trump’s violation of the Iran deal and the risk of conflict today.”

More Rockets Fired From Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Rockets fired from Gaza fall short, wound 7 Palestinians

Associated Press

September 18, 2019, 8:54 AM HST

JERUSALEM (AP) — Seven Palestinians have been wounded after a rocket barrage from the Gaza Strip exploded near a house inside the coastal enclave.

Palestinian eyewitnesses said Wednesday that two of the three rockets struck outside a home in the southern city of Rafah, and a third fell near the fence separating Israel and the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military said it had identified “a failed launch attempt” from the Gaza Strip, but that no projectiles entered Israel.

Gaza’s health ministry said seven people were wounded, but didn’t elaborate on their condition.

It wasn’t clear which Palestinian militant group in Gaza was behind the rocket fire.

Israel and Hamas reached an informal cease-fire in May, following the worst bout of fighting since a 2014 war between them, which has largely held.

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) HASSAN AL ABEDI, 55 YEAR-OLD PALESTINIAN, SAYING: “We tell Netanyahu, and whoever follows him, you will not break the Palestinians’ will, you will never break our will, never, never.” Palestinians tilling the land of the fertile Jordan valley as their fathers and grandfathers did, say they will hold on to it at all costs. Despite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledges to annex the land if he wins reelection next week. The right-winger says he’ll, quote, “apply Israeli sovereignty” to the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea. Formally annexing the Jordan Valley would mean that any future Palestinian state would be encircled by Israel. Ismael Hassan says the land is not Netanyahu’s in the first place. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) ISMAEL HASSAN, 75-YEAR OLD PALESTINIAN, SAYING: “We don’t accept this whether he (Netanyahu) will succeed or not, we don’t accept, this is our land, not Netanyahu’s land. This land is for Palestine, for the Palestinians, not for Israel.” About 50-60,000 Palestinians live in the area, including its main town Jericho, as well as about 13,000 Israeli settlers. The Palestinians call the fertile valley their “breadbasket.” Netanyahu says the annexation will boost Israel’s security, and he’s counting on help from a friendly U.S. administration under Donald Trump. Which has already broken with decades of policy to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. But Palestinians, Arab leaders and the United Nations say Netanyahu’s plan would represent a serious violation of international law.