Updated: Dec 25, 2022 19:59 GMT – just 25 Dec 10:53 UTC: First to report: VolcanoDiscovery after 9 minutes.Earthquake detailsDate & timeDec 25, 2022 10:43:53 UTC – 9 hours agoLocal timeSunday, Dec 25, 2022 at 5:43 am (GMT -5)StatusdisregardedMagnitudeunknown (3?)Depth10.0 kmEpicenter40.87913°N / 74.69107°W (New York, United States)ShakingVery weak shakingFelt1 reportPrimary data sourceVolcanoDiscovery (User-reported shaking)Nearby35 km (22 mi) W of Wayne (New Jersey) (pop: 57,900) | Show on map | Quakes nearby 38 km (23 mi) WSW of Wanaque (New Jersey) (pop: 11,800) | Show on map | Quakes nearby 39 km (24 mi) SW of West Milford (New Jersey) (pop: 27,000) | Show on map | Quakes nearby 44 km (27 mi) W of Manchester (New Jersey) (pop: 147,800) | Show on map | Quakes nearby 44 km (28 mi) W of Clifton (New Jersey) (pop: 86,300) | Show on map | Quakes nearby 61 km (38 mi) WNW of New York(pop: 8,175,100) | Show on map | Quakes nearby 62 km (38 mi) W of Manhattan (New York) (pop: 1,487,500) | Show on map | Quakes nearby 298 km (185 mi) NE of Washington (District of Columbia) (pop: 601,700) | Show on map | Quakes nearbyWeather at epicenterBroken Clouds -12.2°C (10 F), humidity: 70%, wind: 3 m/s (5 kts) from S
On Dec. 14, tens of thousands of Hamas supporters and operatives gathered at Gaza City’s Katiba Gardens to mark the movement’s 35th anniversary.
Yahya al-Sinwar, the Islamist group’s leader in Gaza, reiterated the organization’s well-known slogans but emphasized their urgency due to the imminent swearing-in of a right-wing Israeli government.
Palestinians are in “open confrontation” with Israel, he said, the Al-Aqsa mosque on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount is in danger from the “Talmudic, fascist, Zionist, rightist government,” he claimed, and Hamas would respond forcefully to any threat, he warned.
“We will come to you with an endless number of rockets; we will come to you with an endless number of soldiers,” said al-Sinwar, while adding that Israel’s soon-to-be government was seeking a “religious war.”
Of the 4,300 rockets fired at Israel during the 11-day conflict in 2021, most were Hamas’s, and since then, Hamas has been busy replenishing its arsenal using Iranian know-how. Many of its rocket production sites were funded by foreign sources including Iran, which provides Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the second-largest terror faction in Gaza, with a combined annual budget of $150 million.
Faced with a terrorist faction that does not recognize its right to exist, Israel has, since Hamas’s violent coup in Gaza in 2007, in which Hamas toppled its bitter rival from power, the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority, relied on force to deal with the Islamist group.
Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, the outgoing Israel Defense Forces chief of Staff, noted in a speech this month that “these have been two of the quietest and most stable years that southern Israel and Gaza have experienced. That is a result of a strategy [by Israel] whose central plank is the use of force.”
Israeli military operations have produced a reality in which “Hamas is not only not responding to our attacks, it’s not even thinking of responding,” he said. “This is mainly because of the activation of force.”
Prof. Kobi Michael, a senior researcher at the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies and editor-in-chief of INSS’s Strategic Assessment: A Multidisciplinary Journal on National Security, told JNS that while Hamas is more disciplined and more meticulously hierarchical than Fatah, it is not a monolithic entity.
Michael, also a professor at the International Centre for Policing and Security at the University of South Wales in the U.K. and former deputy director-general and head of the Palestinian desk at the Israeli Ministry for Strategic Affairs, said that al-Sinwar controls the most important, strategic asset that Hamas has, the Gaza Strip, where he has been able to consolidate the movement’s civilian regime and military wing.
“It’s not that al-Sinwar is uninterested in the West Bank. He certainly is looking at it, at east Jerusalem, at Arab Israelis, but his first focus is on Gaza,” said Michael.
Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’s overseas political bureau, in contrast, has a broader view of the group’s role as part of the global Muslim Brotherhood movement.
Haniyeh’s deputy, Saleh al-Arouri, operates out of Istanbul, Damascus and Beirut. He “is focused first and foremost on the West Bank, and, under an orchestrated Iranian and Hezbollah effort, works to build up Hamas militarily and politically there as well as to boost its influence over Arab Israelis,” said Michael.
Working towards a third intifada
“Al-Arouri works closely with Hezbollah and Iran, and coordinates with PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad]. His logic is that an increase in the level of friction between Palestinians and the IDF would cause far higher Palestinian casualties, which in turn would recruit the Palestinian street to a kind of third intifada, which would undermine the P.A.,” Michael assessed.
Prof. Boaz Ganor, founder and executive director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, shared this assessment.
“At surface level, the organization is pleased by its control of the Gaza Strip, after it repressed all possible resistance by the Fatah movement or by other radical elements like Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Salafist elements, and others. The set payments that Qatar sends to Gazan civilians, after Hamas and Israel agreed to this arrangement, strengthen the stability and the regime of the organization in Gaza,” he told JNS.
“In general, the organization has strived in the past and strives today to take over the entire Palestinian arena, including Judea and Samaria, the Palestinian Authority and the PLO. From this perspective, Hamas has not had it easy, and it believes that after P.A. chief Mahmoud Abbas leaves the scene (whether naturally or through other means), and after he did not prepare a successor, and since his departure will likely spark severe rivalries between those who see themselves as potential successors in the Fatah movement, that is when Hamas as an established, strong and organized entity can take over Judea and Samaria as it did Gaza, even if this involves a great deal of bloodshed,” said Ganor.
According to Michael, Hamas and Fatah are competing in a zero-sum game, all but ruling out a real reconciliation between them.
“Hamas in Gaza and al-Arouri all see themselves as the replacement of Fatah,” he said.
According to Ganor, Hamas is a hybrid terror organization, since it controls territory and a population in the Gaza Strip. As such, “it embeds its military systems in the civilian population and uses it as a shield while at the same time the organization sets up political and government systems for the daily management of life in the territory it controls.”
Often, a contradiction exists between the organization’s terrorist essence, which continues to carry out terror activities against Israeli civilian targets, whether through rocket fire at the Israeli home front or by orchestrating attacks in Judea and Samaria, as well as incitement of individuals to go out and conduct such attacks, and the need of the organization to provide the population in Gaza with essential services – food, water, electricity and fuel, Ganor said.
“Hamas is in fact creating multiple fronts against Israel, five fronts designed to deliver a punch of terrorism against Israel from Gaza, east Jerusalem, southern Lebanon, the West Bank and from Arab Israelis,” said Michael.
“Operation Guardian of the Walls [in 2021] was the opening shot of Hamas’s attempt to link all of these things. It began in east Jerusalem, continued with an ultimatum from Gaza, developed into rocket attacks from Gaza, and ended up with fire on Israel’s streets and rockets from southern Lebanon,” he said.
“Alongside this focused effort of building capabilities on five fronts, Hamas in Gaza pursues a logic of separation. This means keeping Gaza quiet while building capabilities in all arenas, and activating the non-Gazan arenas. The reason for this is that Gaza is currently in a type of positive vector of rebuilding, economic growth, Israeli work permits, imports and exports. Egypt is leading significant construction programs, fueled by $500 million of Emirati funding,” said Michael.
Hamas uses this economic cover to achieve quiet, and in turn, uses the quiet to build up its force and prepare for the day of conflict, he cautioned.
“The general idea is to win control of the hearts and minds of the Palestinian public, and to activate all fronts on the day that the order arrives,” said Michael.
“The military leadership leaves the political leadership in Gaza to manage the affairs of the regime set up in Gaza, and in fact does not intervene in the various civilian affairs, but it reserves for itself the autonomy to manage military affairs—arming itself, recruiting operatives to the military wing, and of course the military and terrorist activities against Israel,” he said.
“This wing also acts on occasion to rein in other factions in Gaza, like PIJ. Within Hamas, the overseas leadership has seen a decrease in importance over the years, but it remains the body that represents the interests of the organization vis-à-vis Arab states and the states that provide support for Hamas, foremost among them Qatar, Turkey and Iran. The overseas leadership also maintains ties with Hezbollah in Lebanon,” said Ganor.
Ultimately, Michael said, Hamas believes it will be able to destroy Israel and replace it with a Palestinian Islamic state.
“Hamas knows how to exhibit operative and even strategic pragmaticism, but that’s not the same as moderation. Its final goal is clearly stated in the Hamas Charter,” he said. Unlike the West’s conception of time, which is based on rational cost-benefit future analysis, Hamas views the past, presence and future all together, and wishes to return to a past period of Islamic glory, he continued.
“Hamas in its vision liberates ‘Palestine’ from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River, and this becomes part of a bigger puzzle, the Islamic nation, from Marrakesh to Bangladesh,” said Michael.
Israeli deterrence and the economic angle
In the more immediate time frame, said Ganor, Israeli policy towards Hamas reflects the assessment by governments over the years that their paramount goal is to preserve, as much as possible, the quiet on the southern border, to reinforce the border with the Strip with advanced technology, a smart fence and military units that can protect civilian communities and allow farmers to work their land in the area without endangering lives.
“This goal is achieved through defensive military means but, over recent years, also through a policy of zero tolerance for hostile military or terrorist activities from Gaza—rocket and mortar fire, explosive balloons, infiltration attempts into Israeli territory through attack tunnels or the sea, and more,” said Ganor.
“Israel has designated Hamas as being responsible for all that occurs in Gaza and every attempted attack on Israel, even if conducted by a ‘rebellious’ organization, triggers a response against Hamas so that it reins in other organizations,” he said.
Exceptions to this policy include the Israeli operations against PIJ only—“Operation Black Belt” in November 2019 and “Operation Breaking Dawn” in August 202—during both of which Hamas sat on the sidelines and allowed the weaker PIJ to absorb blows from the IDF without intervening.
“In order to preserve the quiet, Israel agreed to the transfer of funds and salaries from Qatar to Gazan residents. Under the Bennett-Lapid government, Israel increased the number of work permits for Gazans into Israel. It appears as if the combination of an improvement in the economic situation in Gaza together with a policy of zero tolerance for any hostile act from Gaza towards Israel obtained the goal and led to relative quiet since ‘Operation Guardian of the Walls’ in May 2021,” said Ganor.
However, he warned, “the current quiet could however be deceptive. Hamas has not ceased its armament efforts and is growing its rocket arsenal while trying to enlarge the rockets’ range. Hamas has increased its attempts to incite Palestinians in Judea and Samaria to attack within Israel, and also encourages them to rebel against the P.A. If no military eruption occurs beforehand, it seems that the boiling point will occur with the start of the battle to succeed Abbas.”
When you think of natural disasters striking New York state, you may think of only blizzards, floods, or hurricanes. However, while the West Coast gets all the attention when it comes to powerful earthquakes, they do occur in New York as well. Most here are small and have little damaging effect on any surrounding areas. But every now and then the Earth will surprise us. According to the NESEC, around 551 earthquakes were recorded in New York state from 1737-2016.
The first earthquake to hit the state of New York in 2022 was a 2.3 magnitude tremor in Boonville on January 10. Most earthquakes that happen within the state are either far north towards Quebec, in western New York around Lake Ontario, or closer to the New York City area. The most well known fault line near our area is the Ramapo fault line. The 185 mile system of faults runs through parts of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and has been known to spawn smaller earthquakes.
But could something as strong as a magnitude 7.0 ever occur on this fault?
Some say this fault system is much more complex and extensive than originally thought. A 2008 study proposed that there may be an additional fault zone extending from the Ramapo Fault into southwestern Connecticut. There are also many smaller faults that criss-cross across New York City, and the city could be long overdue for a significant earthquake.
There is also the Western Quebec Seismic Zone, which can produce larger quakes that can be felt up and down the eastern coast of the United States, particularly for their neighbors directly south in the Empire State. This is where the strongest quakes happen near us.
New York state’s all-time most powerful earthquake?
According to the NESEC, the largest earthquake centered in New York state happened on September 5, 1944. The magnitude 5.9 quake, with an epicenter beneath the New York-Canada border, did major damage in the towns of Massena, NY, and Cornwall, Ontario. Heavy damage was recorded in the town of Massena (St. Lawrence County), with a number of chimneys, windows, housing foundations, and a high school gymnasium reported destroyed.
New York City has suffered two damaging quakes of note. The first was December 18, 1737, when a 5.2 struck in the Greater New York City area. However, since it was so long ago, little is known about the epicenter or the extent of the damage. Another 5.2 quake struck on August 10, 1884, in Brooklyn, which cracked houses, tossed objects off shelves and shook towns in New York and New Jersey.
An interesting note
When earthquakes hit states like California, they typically are felt across a smaller area. But when the slightly weaker quakes occasionally strike the eastern U.S. or Canada, they can be felt over a much wider area, extending hundreds of miles. Why is this? According to CBS, the Earth’s crust over this region is much older, colder, and more healed versus out west which is far more seismically active. But when a quake does occur here, the harder, smoother ground is more effective at conducting seismic waves. One Columbia University professor compares it to striking a bell. So, a strong quake in the middle of Quebec, or even New Jersey, can be felt across many portions of New York.
(Bloomberg) — North Korea fired two suspected short-range ballistic missiles Friday ahead of a major political meeting to set policy for the new year, after ratcheting up tensions with a record number of launches in 2022.
The suspected ballistic missiles were fired at around 4:32 p.m. from an area near Pyongyang’s main international airport toward waters off North Korea’s east coast, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said. They traveled a distance of about 250 kilometers (155 miles) and 350 km respectively before falling into the sea, it said.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is finding space to ramp up provocations and conduct tit-for-tat military moves against the US and its allies as President Joe Biden focuses on Russia’s war in Ukraine. The launch came three days after the US sent a bomber and F-22 stealth fighters to the peninsula for joint drills with South Korea.
The US military command for the Indo-Pacific said in a statement hours after the missiles were launched that “we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to US personnel or territory, or to our allies” but it “highlights the destabilizing impact” of North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs. It said US commitments to defend South Korea and Japan “remain ironclad.”
Kim has called for a meeting of his ruling Workers’ Party at an unspecified date in late December to review economic and political efforts for this year and decide on policy plans for 2023. The North Korean leader has shown no interest in returning to nuclear disarmament talks that have been stalled for almost three years, and has stood firmly to a pledge to never give up his atomic arsenal.
North Korea tested a new rocket engine earlier this month and on Dec. 18 fired off what South Korea said were two medium-range ballistic missiles. The joint US-South Korean air drills followed those launches.
The North Korean leader has been modernizing his inventory of missiles over the past several years to make them easier to hide, quicker to deploy and more difficult to shoot down. This year, he has tested missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons to US allies South Korea and Japan, as well as firing off intercontinental ballistic missiles with ranges to hit the American mainland.
North Korea on Nov. 18 test-fired an ICBM with Kim’s daughter on hand for the launch, marking her first official appearance in state media. The move signaled that there’s another generation ready to take over the Cold War’s last continuous family dynasty and it will depend on nuclear weapons for its survival.
North Korea may soon raise regional tensions even higher with its first nuclear test since 2017. The US, South Korea and Japan have said for months that Pyongyang appears ready to test a device at any time and the three have pledged stern and coordinated punishments if Kim goes ahead with an atomic test.
The US push to isolate Vladimir Putin, coupled with increasing animosity toward China, has allowed Kim to strengthen his nuclear deterrent without fear of facing more sanctions at the UN Security Council. There’s almost no chance Russia or China, which have veto power at the council, would support any measures against North Korea, as they did in 2017 following a series of weapons tests that prompted former President Donald Trump to warn of “fire and fury.”
–With assistance from Go Onomitsu and Isabel Reynolds.
(Updates with US military comment in fourth paragraph)
Mossad chief David Barnea promised that Iran will never have nuclear weapons
December 23, 2022 1:33pm EST
The chief of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency has warned that Iran plans to deliver more weapons to Russia, while Tehran continues to deny that it has supported Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
David Barnea, Mossad’s chief, spoke to employees at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem and stressed that his agency is “still warning about Iran’s future and intentions, which it is trying to keep secret,” including Tehran’s efforts to “deepen and expand the supply of advanced weapons to Russia.”
Iran has allegedly provided Moscow with weapons over the past few months, starting with a shipment of Shahed-136 “Kamikaze” drones. Tehran has repeatedly denied supplying Russia with any weapons, saying that it “has not and will not” do so.
But Barnea said in a speech to his agency’s employees that they had shared intelligence with Western allies earlier in the year that proved Iran planned to share the drones with Russia, with plans to prepare more deliveries in the coming months, Iran International reported.
Barnea also called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — also known as the Iran nuclear deal — an “absurd” agreement, echoing criticisms voiced by Prime Minister-Elect Benjamin Netanyahu.
“We are warning about Iran’s intention to expand its uranium enrichment program, and its intention to increase its influence over friendly Muslim countries in the region in various ways,” Barnea said.
Iran reportedly reached 60% enrichment of uranium at its Fordow enrichment plant, marking a dangerous step closer to the country’s goal of obtaining nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran had informed the agency that it had started to enrich uranium at the higher levels.
“We warn against Iran’s future intentions, which they are trying to keep secret, to deepen and expand the supply of advanced weapons to Russia, to expand the uranium enrichment project and to intensify their attacks against friendly Muslim countries in the region,” Barnea said.
The spy chief described the Iranian regime as “brazen,” and said: “As one arm sends Iranian diplomats to Vienna for negotiations, the other arm sends Iranian terrorists to kill innocents across the world.”
Saudi Arabia blames Iran for a major attack on oil infrastructure in the east of the Kingdom in 2019, using the same armed drones now being deployed by Russian forces in Ukraine. The Kingdom has also been hit repeatedly in recent years by drones, missiles and mortars launched by the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen. The Houthis also attacked Abu Dhabi with drones in January this year.
The US has expressed alarm over a “full-scale defense partnership” between Tehran and Moscow, which invaded Ukraine last February. Tehran has admitted it had sent drones to Russia, but insisted they were supplied before the invasion.
Earlier this month Washington described an extensive relationship between Iran and Russia involving equipment such as helicopters and fighter jets as well as drones, which led to new US sanctions.
Moscow’s UN envoy Vassily Nebenzia told the Security Council that Russia’s military industrial complex “doesn’t need anyone’s assistance” and said the drone allegations had been rebutted several times.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the Tehran regime, after more than three months of civilian protests, was “striking sordid deals” with Moscow “in a desperate attempt to survive.”
Iranian-manufactured drones supplied to Russia have played a “central role” in attacks on civilian targets in Ukraine, Britain’s Foreign Office said.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry said it would not “seek permission from anyone” to expand relations with Russia.“Cooperation between Iran and Russia in various fields including defense is expanding within the framework of common interests … and is not against any third country,” ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said.