Preparing for the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Scenario Earthquakes for Urban Areas Along the Atlantic Seaboard of the United States

The Sixth Seal: NY City DestroyedIf today a magnitude 6 earthquake were to occur centered on New York City, what would its effects be? Will the loss be 10 or 100 billion dollars? Will there be 10 or 10,000 fatalities? Will there be 1,000 or 100,000 homeless needing shelter? Can government function, provide assistance, and maintain order?

At this time, no satisfactory answers to these questions are available. A few years ago, rudimentary scenario studies were made for Boston and New York with limited scope and uncertain results. For most eastern cities, including Washington D.C., we know even less about the economic, societal and political impacts from significant earthquakes, whatever their rate of occurrence.

Why do we know so little about such vital public issues? Because the public has been lulled into believing that seriously damaging quakes are so unlikely in the east that in essence we do not need to consider them. We shall examine the validity of this widely held opinion.

Is the public’s earthquake awareness (or lack thereof) controlled by perceived low SeismicitySeismicHazard, or SeismicRisk? How do these three seismic features differ from, and relate to each other? In many portions of California, earthquake awareness is refreshed in a major way about once every decade (and in some places even more often) by virtually every person experiencing a damaging event. The occurrence of earthquakes of given magnitudes in time and space, not withstanding their effects, are the manifestations of seismicity. Ground shaking, faulting, landslides or soil liquefaction are the manifestations of seismic hazard. Damage to structures, and loss of life, limb, material assets, business and services are the manifestations of seismic risk. By sheer experience, California’s public understands fairly well these three interconnected manifestations of the earthquake phenomenon. This awareness is reflected in public policy, enforcement of seismic regulations, and preparedness in both the public and private sector. In the eastern U.S., the public and its decision makers generally do not understand them because of inexperience. Judging seismic risk by rates of seismicity alone (which are low in the east but high in the west) has undoubtedly contributed to the public’s tendency to belittle the seismic loss potential for eastern urban regions.

Let us compare two hypothetical locations, one in California and one in New York City. Assume the location in California does experience, on average, one M = 6 every 10 years, compared to New York once every 1,000 years. This implies a ratio of rates of seismicity of 100:1. Does that mean the ratio of expected losses (when annualized per year) is also 100:1? Most likely not. That ratio may be closer to 10:1, which seems to imply that taking our clues from seismicity alone may lead to an underestimation of the potential seismic risks in the east. Why should this be so?

To check the assertion, let us make a back-of-the-envelope estimate. The expected seismic risk for a given area is defined as the area-integrated product of: seismic hazard (expected shaking level), assets ($ and people), and the assets’ vulnerabilities (that is, their expected fractional loss given a certain hazard – say, shaking level). Thus, if we have a 100 times lower seismicity rate in New York compared to California, which at any given point from a given quake may yield a 2 times higher shaking level in New York compared to California because ground motions in the east are known to differ from those in the west; and if we have a 2 times higher asset density (a modest assumption for Manhattan!), and a 2 times higher vulnerability (again a modest assumption when considering the large stock of unreinforced masonry buildings and aged infrastructure in New York), then our California/New York ratio for annualized loss potential may be on the order of (100/(2x2x2)):1. That implies about a 12:1 risk ratio between the California and New York location, compared to a 100:1 ratio in seismicity rates.

From this example it appears that seismic awareness in the east may be more controlled by the rate of seismicity than by the less well understood risk potential. This misunderstanding is one of the reasons why earthquake awareness and preparedness in the densely populated east is so disproportionally low relative to its seismic loss potential. Rare but potentially catastrophic losses in the east compete in attention with more frequent moderate losses in the west. New York City is the paramount example of a low-probability, high-impact seismic risk, the sort of risk that is hard to insure against, or mobilize public action to reduce the risks.

There are basically two ways to respond. One is to do little and wait until one or more disastrous events occur. Then react to these – albeit disastrous – “windows of opportunity.” That is, pay after the unmitigated facts, rather than attempt to control their outcome. This is a high-stakes approach, considering the evolved state of the economy. The other approach is to invest in mitigation ahead of time, and use scientific knowledge and inference, education, technology transfer, and combine it with a mixture of regulatory and/or economic incentives to implement earthquake preparedness. The National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP) has attempted the latter while much of the public tends to cling to the former of the two options. Realistic and reliable quantitative loss estimation techniques are essential to evaluate the relative merits of the two approaches.

The current efforts in the eastern U.S., including New York City, to start the enforcement of seismic building codes for new constructions are important first steps in the right direction. Similarly, the emerging efforts to include seismic rehabilitation strategies in the generally needed overhaul of the cities’ aged infrastructures such as bridges, water, sewer, power and transportation is commendable and needs to be pursued with diligence and persistence. But at the current pace of new construction replacing older buildings and lifelines, it will take many decades or a century before a major fraction of the stock of built assets will become seismically more resilient than the current inventory is. For some time, this leaves society exposed to very high seismic risks. The only consolation is that seismicity on average is low, and, hence with some luck, the earthquakes will not outpace any ongoing efforts to make eastern cities more earthquake resilient gradually. Nevertheless, M = 5 to M = 6 earthquakes at distances of tens of km must be considered a credible risk at almost any time for cities like Boston, New York or Philadelphia. M = 7 events, while possible, are much less likely; and in many respects, even if building codes will have affected the resilience of a future improved building stock, M = 7 events would cause virtually unmanageable situations. Given these bleak prospects, it will be necessary to focus on crucial elements such as maintaining access to cities by strengthening critical bridges, improving the structural and nonstructural performance of hospitals, and having a nationally supported plan how to assist a devastated region in case of a truly severe earthquake. No realistic and coordinated planning of this sort exists at this time for most eastern cities.

The current efforts by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) via the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) to provide a standard methodology (RMS, 1994) and planning tools for making systematic, computerized loss estimates for annualized probabilistic calculations as well as for individual scenario events, is commendable. But these new tools provide only a shell with little regional data content. What is needed are the detailed data bases on inventory of buildings and lifelines with their locally specific seismic fragility properties.Similar data are needed for hospitals, shelters, firehouses, police stations and other emergency service providers. Moreover, the soil and rock conditions which control the shaking and soil liquefaction properties for any given event, need to be systematically compiled into Geographical Information System (GIS) data bases so they can be combined with the inventory of built assets for quantitative loss and impact estimates. Even under the best of conceivable funding conditions, it will take years before such data bases can be established so they will be sufficiently reliable and detailed to perform realistic and credible loss scenarios. Without such planning tools, society will remain in the dark as to what it may encounter from a future major eastern earthquake. Given these uncertainties, and despite them, both the public and private sector must develop at least some basic concepts for contingency plans. For instance, the New York City financial service industry, from banks to the stock and bond markets and beyond, ought to consider operational contingency planning, first in terms of strengthening their operational facilities, but also for temporary backup operations until operations in the designated facilities can return to some measure of normalcy. The Federal Reserve in its oversight function for this industry needs to take a hard look at this situation.

A society, whose economy depends increasingly so crucially on rapid exchange of vast quantities of information must become concerned with strengthening its communication facilities together with the facilities into which the information is channeled. In principle, the availability of satellite communication (especially if self-powered) with direct up and down links, provides here an opportunity that is potentially a great advantage over distributed buried networks. Distributed networks for transportation, power, gas, water, sewer and cabled communication will be expensive to harden (or restore after an event).

In all future instances of major capital spending on buildings and urban infrastructures, the incorporation of seismically resilient design principles at all stages of realization will be the most effective way to reduce society’s exposure to high seismic risks. To achieve this, all levels of government need to utilize legislative and regulatory options; insurance industries need to build economic incentives for seismic safety features into their insurance policy offerings; and the private sector, through trade and professional organizations’ planning efforts, needs to develop a healthy self-protective stand. Also, the insurance industry needs to invest more aggressively into broadly based research activities with the objective to quantify the seismic hazards, the exposed assets and their seismic fragilities much more accurately than currently possible. Only together these combined measures may first help to quantify and then reduce our currently untenably large seismic risk exposures in the virtually unprepared eastern cities. Given the low-probability/high-impact situation in this part of the country, seismic safety planning needs to be woven into both the regular capital spending and daily operational procedures. Without it we must be prepared to see little progress. Unless we succeed to build seismic safety considerations into everyday decision making as a normal procedure of doing business, society will lose the race against the unstoppable forces of nature. While we never can entirely win this race, we can succeed in converting unmitigated catastrophes into manageable disasters, or better, tolerable natural events.

Russian Horn Crazy Enough to Use Nukes: Revelation 16

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during an event marking the 100th anniversary of domestic civil aviation at the State Kremlin Palace, on February 9, 2023 in Moscow, Russia. State television pundits have discussed the possibility of nuclear war, with one suggesting “crazy ones here” could lead to “catastrophe.”CONTRIBUTOR/GETTY IMAGES

Kremlin ‘Crazy’ Enough To Use Nukes, Russian TV Pundits Warn

BY ELLIE COOK ON 2/13/23 AT 7:56 AM EST00:25

Kremlin ‘Crazy’ Enough To Use Nukes, Russian TV Pundits Warn

There are “crazy ones” in positions of power who will likely “lead to a catastrophe” with nuclear weapons, a Russian state television guest has said during a broadcast.

Appearing in a February 9 clip, translated and published on Monday by Ukrainian internal affairs advisor, Anton Gerashchenko, Russian state media commentators can be seen discussing nuclear weapons detonations in the context of Vladimir Putin’s ongoing war in Ukraine.

He said the West was banking on the idea that “at some point, we [Russia] will give up, and that we are not crazy.” This was disputed by another guest, before Russian commentator Maxim Yusin jumped into the conversation.

Referencing a comment he said was made to him by fellow guest, Kremlin-aligned military expert Aleksey Leonkov, he said: “Alexsey, whom I deeply respect, said a brilliant phrase – I even wrote it down. ‘They think we don’t have crazy people, but we have sovereignty first.'”

“We think they don’t have crazy people, but they have ideology, illusions overriding,” Yusin added. “So, there is a very high probability that the crazy ones here and there will lead to a catastrophe.”

Russian state television has long openly discussed nuclear weapons use. In a clip posted on Saturday by journalist Julia Davis, who runs the Russian Media Monitor service, state television host Vladimir Solovyov appeared to advocate for Russia to use nuclear weapons first in the war.

“Let’s change our doctrine by allowing a pre-emptive nuclear strike,” Solovyov said.

On February 8, Gerashchenko posted and translated a clip of a former Russian commander and serving Duma member, who argued that nuclear weapons should be used, after a run of military setbacks in Ukraine

“We need to win, that is all,” Andrey Gurulyov said during the clip from Russia-1’s Evening with Vladimir Solovyov. “We have to achieve this with the means that we have. I would remind you that a nuclear weapon is not just a bomb, it is the heritage of the whole Russian people.”

“We have the right to use it to defend our homeland,” he added. “It is worth making a decision.”

In a previous episode, Gurulyov said that Americans “won’t come to their senses” until they “get hit with a nuke on their skull,” according to a translated excerpt published by Davis.

Chinese Horn to TRIPLE stockpile of nuclear warheads by 2035: Daniel 7

Chinese President Xi Jinping

China to TRIPLE stockpile of nuclear warheads by 2035 amidst US, Taiwan tensions – Reports

China’s nuclear warheads are likely to increase to 550 in 2027, and to 900 in 2035, sources noted as per a news report.

Updated Feb 13, 2023 | 12:40 PM IST

Chinese President Xi Jinping 


Beijing: China is likely to triple its stock of nuclear warheads by 2035 amidst soaring tensions with the United States over Taiwan, claimed a report by Kyodo News that cited a source close to the matter. The report, citing Chinese sources, added that the blueprint, prepared by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), has been approved by President Xi Jinping, as per ANI. Notably, the current stockpile is estimated to be more than 400.

China’s nuclear warheads are likely to increase to 550 in 2027, and to 900 in 2035, the sources noted as per the news report.

Notably, a Pentagon report in December 2022 claimed that China is likely to have a stock of about 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035. Pentagon, in its annual report to the Congress on China’s ambitious military buildup, noted that ‘Beijing’s current nuclear modernisation exercise has exceeded the previous modernisation attempts in both scale and complexity’.

In response to the Pentagon report, China’s defence ministry slammed the US calling it a ‘trouble maker’. Chinese defence ministry called the report mere speculation. ‘United States was gesticulating and absurdly guessing about the modernisation of China’s nuclear forces,’ read a statement by the Chinese defence ministry.

It is important to note here that already strained relations between China and the US deteriorated even further when US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August. 

Fears have been growing about a plausible attempt by China to exert control over Taiwan, which the former claims as its own territory.

China has stepped up diplomatic, military and economic pressure in recent years on Taiwan. The Taiwanese government has, time and again said it wants peace but will defend itself if the need arises.

Notably, China frequently opposes official exchanges with Taiwan and has reacted with condemnation to visits by Western politicians to the self-governed island.

Israel launches air strikes against underground Hamas rocket factory outside the Temple Walls

Israel launches air strikes against underground Hamas rocket factory in Gaza

IsraelEdited By: Anamica SinghUpdated: Feb 13, 2023, 03:40 PM IST

Fire and smoke rise above buildings in Gaza City as Israel launched air strikes on the Palestinian enclave early on February 13, 2023. Photograph:(AFP)

The latest air strikes followed what Israel described as its shooting down over the weekend of a rocket that had been fired over the border from Gaza. No claim for the launch was made from the Palestinian territory.

Israel launched overnight air strikes against a Hamas complex in Gaza in response to a rocket fired from the Palestinian enclave, the military said early Monday. Israel’s military said it attacked an underground site used by the Hamas Islamists to manufacture rockets.

“In response to the Saturday rocket launch from Gaza into Israel, IDF fighter jets struck overnight an underground complex containing raw materials used for the manufacturing of rockets belonging to the Hamas terrorist organisation,” the Israel Defense Forces said on Twitter.

There were no immediate reports of any casualties.

Palestinian sources told Reuters that Israeli ground forces also fired on Hamas border positions on Monday. Sirens could be heard in Israeli towns near the Gaza border, warning of ossible new rocket launches.

Meanwhile, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, witness reports suggested that troops had surrounded a house in the city of Nablus, leading to gunfire and possible casualties. The Palestinian Red Crescent said one person was killed in the pre-dawn Israeli army raid in Nablus. The army did not immediately comment on the raid.

Hamas cadres seized control of Gaza in 2007 and have fought several wars with Israel there since. When smaller Gazan factions attack Israel, it generally retaliates against Hamas.

Israel to legalise nine West Bank settlements

Israel announced on Sunday that it would legalise nine settlements in the occupied West Bank following a series of attacks in east Jerusalem, including one that killed three Israelis.

“In response to the murderous terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, the security cabinet decided unanimously to authorise nine communities in Judea and Samaria,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement. The statement carried the name Israel uses for the West Bank, Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967.

“These communities have existed for many years; some have existed for decades,” it said.

Known as “wild” settlements, these were built without authorisation from the Israeli government.

“The Civil Administration Higher Planning Committee will be convened in the coming days to approve the construction of new residential units in existing communities in Judea and Samaria,” the statement said.

Netanyahu has said earlier on Sunday that he wanted to “strengthen settlements”, which are illegal under international law. More than 475,000 Israelis reside in settlements in the West Bank, where 2.8 million Palestinians live.

(With inputs from agencies)

Who is the Antichrist? (Revelation 13)

who is muqtada al-sadr karadsheh jsten orig_00004724Who is Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr?

By Joshua Berlinger, CNN

Updated 5:20 AM ET, Fri May 6, 2016(CNN)

Muqtada al-Sadr isn’t an ayatollah.

He’s not a general and he’s not a politician, at least in the conventional sense. But with a single speech he can spark a protest that ends up in with hundreds of Iraqi Shiites storming their parliament. He’s commanded a militia of thousands, some who fought and killed U.S. and Iraqi soldiers. And he’s been on TIME Magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people on the planet.

Iraqi protesters overrun green zone

This is how he’s managed to gain such prominence — and retain it.

The Sadr family

Sadr was born in 1973 in the Shiite holy city of Najaf to a prominent family.

The city, which is about 100 miles south of Baghdad, is home to the Imam Ali shrine, where the eponymous cousin and son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad is buried. Shiites believe that Ali was the rightful successor to Muhammad.

Sadr’s father, Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, was an important Shiite figure in Iraq who openly spoke out against Saddam Hussein and his ruling Baath party.

The elder Sadr and two of his sons were assassinated in 1999 in Najaf, and many believe that he was killed either by the dictator’s forces or Sunnis loyal to him.

Despite the cult of personality Muqtada al-Sadr has developed in recent years, he is still a relatively private man. He does not appear in public often and his exact age was not known until recently.

Protesters in Kadhimiya, Iraq, hold up pictures of Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, Muqtada al-Sadr’s father.

The Mehdi Army

Sadr is best known to Western audiences for his role leading the Mehdi Army, which he formed in 2003 during the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The militia is considered the armed wing of the Sadrist movement, which followed the teachings of Sadr’s father. Its power base was in Najaf and the massive Sadr City in eastern Baghdad, which is home to more than 2 million Shias.

Sadr himself opposed the presence of outside forces in Iraq — be they al Qaeda’s Sunni fighters or U.S. forces — and hoped to establish Islamic rule within the country, clashing with the Iraqi Army, U.S. forces and fellow Shias.

By 2004, forces loyal to Sadr battled the U.S. for control of Najaf. President George W. Bush labeled him an enemy and ordered the U.S. military to take him out.

U.S. Marines in northern Kuwait gear up after receiving orders to cross the Iraqi border on March 20, 2003. It has been more than 10 years since the American-led invasion of Iraq that toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein. Look back at 100 moments from the war and the legacy it left behind.

“We can’t allow one man to change the course of the country,” he said, according to Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez.

Within a week, Bush changed course and decided not to go after him.

“That reversal was the turning point in al-Sadr’s rise to power,” Sanchez, who commanded U.S. forces in Iraq from 2003 to 2004, said. “It gave him legitimacy and enhanced his stature within the broader Iraqi community.”

Later that year, Sadr made peace with the most powerful Shia religious figure in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who brokered a truce between U.S. forces and the Mehdi Army. The deal brought together the unquestioned spiritual leader of Iraq’s Shia population and the man who could mobilize the Shia “street.”

The Mehdi Army in Najaf in 2007.

As part of the agreement, the Iraqi government agreed not to press charges after a judge issued an arrest warrant for Sadr in connection with the killing of another prominent Shia leader, Ayatollah Abdul Majid al-Khoei.

But the Mehdi Army became even more deadly as the war dragged on.

The militia was linked to much of the sectarian violence that reached fever pitch in Iraq in 2006 and 2007. It was accused of running death squads, killing Sunni Arabs and fighting with rival Shiite factions, though Sadr would denounce the violence from time to time.

After more than 200 people were killed in an attack on Sadr City in 2006 — one of the deadliest periods in the Iraq war — Shiite militants responded by burning people to death and attacking Sunni mosques.

By the end of the year, Pentagon leaders assessed that the Mehdi army had replaced al Qaeda as “the most dangerous accelerant” of sectarian violence in Iraq.

But the Mehdi Army also clashed with other Shiite militias. The group often clashed with Badr Brigades for control of parts of Iraq’s Shiite-dominate south. At one point the Badr Brigades partnered with Iraqi security forces to fight the Mehdi Army.

However, the Mehdi Army’s power and influence began to subside by the end of 2007, in part due to the U.S. troop surge.


Sadr’s capacity to reinvent his role in Iraqi politics, and to tap into a strong vein of Shia protest, has helped him survive and outmaneuver many rivals over the past 13 years. His latest initiative reinforces his place as one of the most influential figures in Iraq.

He and the Iraqi government signed a ceasefire in 2008, and later that year he formally disbanded the Mehdi Army.

The organization is now called Saraya al-Salam, which means the Peace Brigades.

His plan was to transition it into a socio-political populist movement to help Iraq’s poor Shiites through a combination of political and grassroots activities — following a similar model to the structure of Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Sadr would move to Iran later that year for religious study. Some believed that he hoped to achieve a higher religious standing, like Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah, in order to strengthen his leadership position.

Muqtada al-Sadr delivers a speech in Najaf in 2011.

He returned to Iraq permanently in 2011 — more than three years later — without a new title, but with ambitions to become an Iraqi nationalist leader who could make a difference by growing his movement and pushing his followers to the ballot box.

“We have not forgotten the occupier. We remain a resistance,” he said in one of his first speeches back. Sadr did strike a conciliatory tone with fellow Iraqis: “Whatever struggle happened between brothers, let us forget about it and turn the page forever and live united,” he said. “We do not kill an Iraqi.”

Though Sadr rarely makes public appearances, his plan seems to have worked so far.

During Iraq’s 2010 elections, his supporters were key to helping then-Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki secure a second term; today they make up the second-largest bloc in Iraq’s Parliament.

Muqtada al-Sadr and former Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in 2006.

But Sadr and Maliki have since had a nasty falling out, and now are considered rivals in Baghdad.

After the 2010 election, Sadr referred to Maliki as a “dictator.”

He often called for the government to better include moderate Sunni elements, a faction that most say was marginalized by the Maliki government, which led to his ouster (and in part contributed to the rise of ISIS).

His support for Iraq’s current Prime Minster, Haider al-Abadi, is lukewarm at best.

Sadr is now focusing his efforts on reshaping Iraq’s government — he wants more technocrats appointed and to go after corrupt politicians.

Sadr’s supporters held massive protests earlier this year to push Abadi to form a new government and enact reforms. The demonstrations were called off after Abadi trimmed the size of his Cabinet and submitted a new list of nonpolitical ministers for approval by parliament.

And it was Sadr’s impassioned speech late April that spurred protesters to occupy the Iraqi Parliament and Baghdad’s Green Zone, a normally off-limits area housing government buildings and foreign embassies.

CNN’s Tim Lister, Hamdi Alkhshali, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Elise Labott contributed to this report

China Prepares to Boost Nuclear Arsenal: Revelation 16

Report mulls major boost to China’s nuclear arsenal
12th February 2023, 09:43 GMT+11

The stockpile of warheads possessed by Beijing will more than double in just over a decade, sources told Kyodo news agency

China is aiming to increase the number of its nuclear warheads to 900 by 2035 as a deterrent against the US, Chinese sources have told Kyodo news agency. 

According to people familiar with the matter, President Xi Jinping has already approved the plan to double the country’s nuclear arsenal, the Korean agency reported on Saturday.

The top brass of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army reaffirmed the importance of nuclear deterrence in November, the sources said. According to those, they did so after drawing conclusions from the conflict in Ukraine, where the West, despite providing weapons, funds, training, and intelligence to Kiev, has refrained from a direct confrontation with Russia due to its possession of the world’s most nuclear warheads.

The number of China’s warheads is likely to grow from around 400 to 550 by 2027 and reach 900 in 2035, Kyodo’s interlocutors claimed.

The figure provided by the agency is smaller than the prediction made by the Pentagon in the fall, when it said that it expects Beijing to have 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035.

In any case, China will still be far behind Russia and the US, which boast 5,977 and 5,428 citizens, respectively, according to estimates by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.  

Tensions between Beijing and Washington have been mounting in recent months over the self-governed island of Taiwan, which is claimed by China as part of its territory. The US, which sells weapons to Taipei and supports its push for independence, has promised to defend the island if the Chinese government decides to retake it by force.

In late January, the head of US Air Mobility Command, General Mike Minihan, warned his subordinates in a memo that the conflict between Washington and Beijing over Taiwan could break out as early as 2025.

Bloodshed Rises Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

FILE -Members of Zaka Rescue and Recovery team work at the site of a car-ramming attack at a bus stop in a Jewish settlement in east Jerusalem, Feb. 10, 2023.
FILE -Members of Zaka Rescue and Recovery team work at the site of a car-ramming attack at a bus stop in a Jewish settlement in east Jerusalem, Feb. 10, 2023.

February 11, 2023 7:39 PM

An Israeli settler shot and killed a Palestinian in the northern West Bank Saturday, Palestinian health officials said, while an 8-year-old child died of injuries suffered a day before in a car-ramming attack in Jerusalem.

As night fell, warning sirens sounded in southern Israel when Palestinian militants fired a rocket from the Gaza Strip that was intercepted by Israeli aerial defenses, the Israeli military said. There was no immediate statement from Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza.

Saturday’s events were the latest escalation in months of surging violence in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

In the northern West Bank, near Salfit, a farming village of olive groves, video footage showed Israeli settlers racing down the hills and tearing into the town. As Palestinians poured into the streets to see what was going on, an Israeli settler opened fire, killing a 27-year-old villager, said Ghassan Douglas, a Palestinian official who monitors Israeli settlements in the Nablus region. The settlers dispersed when the Israeli military arrived, he said.

The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the villager who was killed as Methqal Rayan and said he was shot in the head. Video shared by the village council shows the settlers firing at least 10 gunshots toward the residents.

FILE- Israeli police march in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, Feb. 10, 2023.
FILE- Israeli police march in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, Feb. 10, 2023.

Douglas said that the northern West Bank has seen an intense wave of settler violence in recent days. On Friday, he said, just after the car-ramming attack in Jerusalem that killed three Israelis, settlers similarly streamed into the village and stole several sheep from a farmer. Settlers attacked and wounded Palestinians who tried to defend the farmer, he said.

Israeli police opened an investigation into the shooting of the Palestinian, the military said. It said Israeli security forces de-escalated the situation after the Palestinian was taken to the hospital.

In Jerusalem, Asher Menahem Paley, 8, died a day after a Palestinian man rammed a car into a bus stop in an Israeli settlement in the eastern half of the contested capital, which Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war. Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem announced his death Saturday. His 6-year-old brother was killed in the car-ramming, along with a man in his 20s.

After the attack, Israel’s new hardline government vowed a harsh response. Almost immediately, Israeli police arrested and interrogated the relatives of the suspected assailant, 32-year-old Hussein Qaraqa from the gritty east Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya.

Qaraqa’s family said he was born in Jerusalem but has family in Bethlehem. His uncle, 63-year-old Adnan Qaraqa in Bethlehem, told The Associated Press that his nephew had been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder.

Qaraqa said Hussein’s mental problems started in 2008, when he was arrested for the first of several minor offenses. He alleged that Israeli interrogators badly beat Hussein in detention, from which he emerged “irrevocably changed.”

A few years later, Hussein fell from a crane at a construction site, his uncle said, sustaining a severe injury that worsened his mental condition. Hussein bounced between psychiatric wards for years, Qaraqa added, and was released from a hospital just two days before plowing into the crowded bus stop Friday.

Locator map of Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
Locator map of Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

The West Bank has been on edge since Israel stepped up raids in the territory last spring, following a series of deadly Palestinian attacks inside Israel.

Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 2022, making it the deadliest year in those territories since 2004, according to leading Israeli rights group B’Tselem. Last year, 30 people were killed in Palestinian attacks on Israelis.

The pace of death has quickened this year. So far, 45 Palestinians have been killed, according to a count by The Associated Press. Palestinians have killed 10 people on the Israeli side during that time.