Michel de Nostredame Earth-shaking fire from the center of the earth.Will cause the towers around the New City to shake,Two great rocks for a long time will make war, And then Arethusa will color a new river red.(And then areth USA will color a new river red.) Earth-shaking fire from the center of the earth.Will cause the towers around the New City to shake,Two great rocks for a long time will make war
There is recent scientific evidence from drill core sampling in Manhattan, that the southern peninsula is overlapped by several tectonic plates. Drill core sampling has been taken from regions south of Canal Street including the Trade Towers’ site. Of particular concern is that similar core samples have been found across the East River in Brooklyn. There are also multiple fault lines along Manhattan correlating with north-northwest and northwest trending neo-tectonic activity. And as recently as January and October of 2001, New York City has sustained earthquakes along these plates. For there are “two great rocks” or tectonic plates that shear across Manhattan in a northwestern pattern. And these plates “for a longtime will make war”, for they have been shearing against one other for millions of years. And on January 3 of 2010, when they makewar with each other one last time, the sixth seal shall be opened, and all will know that the end is near.
And then Arethusa will color a new river red.
Arethusa is a Greek mythological figure, a beautiful huntress and afollower of the goddess Artemis. And like Artemis, Arethusa would have nothing to do with me; rather she loved to run and hunt in the forest. But one day after an exhausting hunt, she came to a clear crystal stream and went in it to take a swim. She felt something from beneath her, and frightened she scampered out of the water. A voice came from the water, “Why are you leaving fair maiden?” She ran into the forest to escape, for the voice was from Alpheus, the god of the river. For he had fallen in love with her and became a human to give chase after her. Arethusa in exhaustion called out to Artemis for help, and the goddess hid her by changing her into a spring.But not into an ordinary spring, but an underground channel that traveled under the ocean from Greece to Sicily. But Alpheus being the god of the river, converted back into water and plunged downthe same channel after Arethusa. And thus Arethusa was captured by Artemis, and their waters would mingle together forever. And of great concern is that core samples found in train tunnels beneath the Hudson River are identical to those taken from southern Manhattan. Furthermore, several fault lines from the 2001 earthquakes were discovered in the Queen’s Tunnel Complex, NYC Water Tunnel #3. And a few years ago, a map of Manhattan drawn up in 1874 was discovered, showing a maze of underground waterways and lakes. For Manhattan was once a marshland and labyrinth of underground streams. Thus when the sixth seal is broken, the subways of the New City shall be flooded be Arethusa:the waters from the underground streams and the waters from the sea. And Arethusa shall be broken into two. And then Arethusa will color a new river red.
And then areth USA will color a new river red.
For Arethusa broken into two is areth USA. For areth (αρετη) is the Greek word for values. But the values of the USA are not based on morality, but on materialism and on wealth. Thus when the sixth seal is opened, Wall Street and our economy shall crash and “arethUSA”, the values of our economy shall fall “into the red.” “Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’” (Revelation 6:15-17)
Reports of Vanderbilt skyscraper having major shakes caused chaos in New York City
Donald Trump’s possible arrest is not the only news coming from New York City, there were real moments of panic taking place at the One Valderbilt skyscraper. People inside the building felt some major shakes that made many believe an earthquake was taking place in the city. As all were evacuated, many realized there was no earthquake happening at all. But these shakes were extremely violent, everybody wodered what happened to the building. A spokesperson for Vanderbilt tower revealed the shakes were produced by an elevator malfunction. But this reason doesn’t feel right for many Twitter users who are getting to read the news.
When was the One Vanderbilt skyscraper constructed?
Worth $3.3 billion and with a 98-feet height, the One Vanderbilt skyscraper is one of New York City’s tallest towers. One would think an old tower could shake more than a recently-built one, but one would be wrong. The One Venderbilt skyscraper was built two years ago and it is one of the town’s most important touristic attractions. People who go to New York can pay $39 for admission to the tower to $59 for folks who want to experience the glass elevator, which rises 12 more stories. The place where the elevator malfunction took place was at the Summit One Vanderbilt, which has an outdoor terrace over 1,200 feel in the air. Those elevators are made of clear glass.
People who were inside the building are tweeting and offering more details about the incident. One user named @DevineBridgette wrote: “Working at One Vanderbilt today and it felt like the floor dropped 5 feet and continued to bounce. Evacuation to Madison Avenue and multiple floors are reporting this. 13, 33, and 60. So far they say they are investigating and there is ‘no cause for concern’. It is very scary,” wrote the user on Twitter. There are multiple reports like this one telling the same experience. So far, it all appears to have been a major scare. But that’s all, for now.
He asked the officials of his movement not to leave Iraq during Ramadan
About 5 months after the formation of the Shiite “coordinating framework” forces, the most prominent opponents of the leader of the “Sadr movement” Muqtada al-Sadr, its government, headed by Muhammad Shia al-Sudani, al-Sadr decided to break the silence that he adhered to throughout that period, with an invitation that confused his supporters as well as his opponents.
According to a statement from one of al-Sadr’s associates, the latter told “a group of his leaders not to travel outside Iraq during the month of Ramadan for important issues.”
Mustafa Al-Yaqoubi, the administrative official in Al-Hanana (Al-Sadr’s residence), said that the invitation not to travel includes “Mahmoud Al-Jayashi, Haider Al-Jabri, Aoun Al-Nabi, Hassan Al-Athari, Jalil Al-Nouri, Ahmed Al-Mutairi, Kazem Al-Issawi, and Muayad Al-Asadi.” The decision prohibits members from traveling outside Iraq during the month of Ramadan for “important matters related to the public and private situations, and adherence to the devotional approach for the month, in addition to the presence of several important meetings.”
Al-Sadr remained silent after the formation of the current government, headed by Al-Sudani, despite the attempts made by Iraqi political and party leaders to refrain from boycotting the political process, and to grant him ministerial seats equal to the number of his deputies withdrawing from the Iraqi parliament. However, Al-Sadr rejected all calls in this direction, and at the same time did not ask his supporters present in various state institutions to withdraw from the government, which led to a kind of stability in the relationship between him and Al-Sudani.
Despite al-Sadr’s preoccupation with tweets of a religious nature throughout the past period, the only political decision he made a short while ago was to announce the freezing of the “Peace Brigades”, which is his armed faction in Diyala province, after a series of bloody events in that province. This suggested that al-Sadr wanted with this decision to give the government the full opportunity to enforce the law, after the decision taken by al-Sudani to send troops from Baghdad to Diyala for this purpose.
While al-Sadr’s decision seemed surprising, it comes at a time of increasing differences between the traditional and civil political forces over the election law, most of its paragraphs were voted on at dawn, a few days ago by Parliament, according to the “St. Lego” law, which would exclude civil currents and forces. From the possibility of obtaining seats in Parliament, due to its adoption of a single district, and not multiple districts.
In this context, academic and political researcher Dr. Ghaleb Al-Daami told Asharq Al-Awsat, “It is clear that Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr has a clear activity during the next stage. Either preparing for the elections, participating in the elections, or objecting to the election law.”
Al-Daami explained that “the Sadrist movement has been silent a lot and has moved away from the political scene, but it is clear that there are indications of a return, especially after a series of hasty recent tweets that concern the Sadrist issue specifically,” pointing out that “the call for a number of leaders of the Sadrist movement not to travel, which is What is happening for the first time means many things, including that we are still present in the political scene, and there are other unpredictable visions for the Sadrist movement, as no one expected its withdrawal, but it withdrew.
Muqtada al-Sadr’s supporters, like his opponents, were preoccupied with a vague call from him to await “important matters”, with his movement’s officials calling not to leave Iraq during the month of Ramadan, apparently breaking his 5-month fast on political speech.
Representatives from the “coordinating framework” saw that the Baghdad-Erbil agreement laid the cornerstone of a rising alliance, taking advantage of the absence of the “Sadr movement.”
A Shiite political source told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the coordination framework is fully prepared to install new rules for Iraqi political life,” but “the leader of the Sadrist movement will not allow the coordination framework to move forward in changing the rules, away from its influence,” expecting “an imminent move by tenderness.” To put the stick in the wheel, and perhaps pave the way for the return of his political activity.
Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the expected moves may go beyond an attempt to abort the proposed election law, if the ongoing regional settlements impose a different reality and will prompt al-Sadr to move quickly.”
Muslims attend Friday prayers on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, March 24, 2023. Photo by Jamal Awad/Flash90.
(March 26, 2023 / JNS) Security forces led by Jerusalem District Police have been preparing for possible violence during Ramadan, which began on Wednesday evening and is due to continue until April 21. Hamas leaders threatened to respond to any perceived upset to the status quo on the Temple Mount with “an explosion,” and called on Palestinians in Judea and Samaria to continue terrorist attacks against Israelis.
Hamas representatives have been issuing threats in recent days to escalate the security situation if they believe that Israel is acting against Palestinians and “against the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” which they view as a “red line” that could ignite the region, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.
The report noted a rare public statement by Hamas’s deputy “military” wing commander, Marwan Issa, who said that any change in the situation surrounding the mosque would cause an “earthquake” in the area.
To counter efforts by Islamist terrorist factions to pour fuel on the fire, international, Israeli and regional Arab government officials have in recent weeks attempted to institute de-escalation measures. These efforts included two security summits, held in February and March in Jordan and Egypt, respectively, involving representatives from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, the United States, Egypt and Jordan.
At the same time, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit in the Israeli Defense Ministry announced a series of steps to ease conditions for the Palestinian population during Ramadan.
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Freedom of worship
The Jerusalem District Police will increase forces in Jerusalem with emphasis on the inflammable eastern section of the city and the holy places, where violence has flared up during Ramadan in past years. The district announced last week that it had completed preparations for the holiday month, as many worshippers and visitors are expected to begin flowing into the Old City.
An increased police presence is in place in and around the Old City and other popular sites. Police are also working with local authorities to manage crowds and heavy traffic flows, in particular in the Old City area, the Temple Mount and other holy places.
The police expressed its commitment to allowing freedom of worship while maintaining security and public order. Jerusalem District Police chief Cmdr. Doron Turgeman held coordination meetings with a large number of units, and took several steps at the operational and community policing levels ahead of the holiday, police said. These included meetings with residents of eastern Jerusalem.
Jerusalem District officers have been joined by Border Police officers, and reinforcements from other districts, with an emphasis on the Old City as well as on roads leading to the area, and the seam zone between the eastern and western parts of the city, police said.
Changes in traffic arrangements are expected during the coming month as well. Passover will begin on the evening of April 5 and on April 9, the mass priestly blessing event will be held at the Western Wall.
Jerusalem Police said it would use an array of technological capabilities and means to detect and treat unusual incidents, prevent violence and direct a response effort to thwart terrorism and to provide a “determined and uncompromising treatment of those seeking to attack civilians or security forces.”
A police cyber control center will be operated in the Jerusalem District in an expanded manner, staffed by members of intelligence agencies, police investigation units and others. Its main mission will be to monitor and counter incitement across the internet and to coordinate with security forces in the field.
In addition, a district investigative task force has been established that will process those who are arrested for public order violations, incitement and related offenses.
“Past experience shows that during Ramadan there are those who try to take advantage of the holiday days to spread incitement materials, false rumors and disinformation, especially in relation to the holy places,” particularly that coming from terrorist organizations, police said.
“These cynically exploit young people who feed on the incitement and cause them to desecrate the holy places while hurting a large public of worshippers and the holiday routine, including through rioting and misconduct,” police added.
The Meir Amit Center noted that Hamas sees itself as the guardian of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and is trying to enforce a new equation created by its May 2021 conflict (“Operation Guardian of the Walls”) with Israel, according to which it responds to escalations in Jerusalem with rocket fire from Gaza.
A message from Hamas
The terrorist organization’s statements, “led by Marwan Issa’s remarks, are in fact a strategic message from Hamas’s top military hierarchy and may be an indication of Hamas’s intentions this month,” said the report. The message is that if Israel is perceived to cross ‘red lines,’ Hamas will attack with rocket fire, but that this scenario can also be avoided and that Hamas is content to let Palestinians in Judea and Samaria lead the violence at this stage.”
Khaled Mashaal, head of Hamas’s overseas bureau, said Palestinians are headed for an escalation during Ramadan and that “hot days” are ahead. Saleh al-Arouri, the Lebanon-based Hamas deputy political bureau chief, said the “resistance” in Judea and Samaria will not stop, and that Hamas is closely following developments in Jerusalem.
On March 20, the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) intelligence agency announced that it uncovered a terrorist network in Judea and Samaria led by operatives from the Gaza Strip and thwarted a shooting attack in Jerusalem. The network was centered on two members of the Popular Resistance Committees in Rafah, southern Gaza, who were placed under covert surveillance as they recruited young Palestinians in Judea and Samaria and provided them with training and guidance on conducting terrorism.
Two Palestinians from Judea and Samaria were arrested recently on suspicion of being part of the cell. During their questioning, it emerged that they had received instructions from the handlers in Gaza, and security forces recovered a gun earmarked to be used in “a significant shooting attack in Jerusalem in the coming days,” said the Shin Bet.
The Popular Resistance Committees terrorist group is supported and funded by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the agency added.
BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 2,006, April 25, 2021
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Three months after Joe Biden entered the White House, his administration is exhibiting symptoms of naiveté, misunderstanding, and disregard for past failures in its foreign policy. These issues are of particular concern to Israel.
To stop the Iranian race to nuclear weapons, the Obama administration made mistakes in both the negotiation process and the nuclear deal it ultimately reached with Iran in 2015. Barack Obama was overly eager to reach an agreement, and though he repeatedly warned Iran that all options were on the table, it was clear he had no intention of taking military steps. This hardened Iran’s positions and eventually yielded a compromise that worked to the advantage of the Islamic regime.
Biden removed the Houthis (Iran-backed Shiite forces fighting the Saudi-backed Yemeni government) from a list of countries and organizations supporting terrorism. He assumed this move would reduce the violence inside Yemen and against Saudi Arabia so the severe humanitarian crisis caused by the civil war could be addressed. The result was exactly the opposite. Encouraged by Tehran, the Houthis intensified their attacks, especially on Saudi Arabia.
In February, Biden gave the go-ahead for a measured attack on a pro-Iranian militia base on the Syria-Iraq border in retaliation for an attack on a US base in Iraq. He also, however, reduced American forces in the Gulf.
Biden’s spokesmen leaked a claim to the American media that Israel attacked Iranian ships smuggling oil and weapons into Syria. More recently, they leaked information on an alleged Israeli attack on the Saviz, an intelligence ship owned and operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), in retaliation for Iranian attacks on two Israeli-owned commercial ships. In doing this, Biden signaled that even if negotiations fail, he will not countenance an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities and opposes an Israeli military strike. As it did in 2015, the US administration is tacitly reassuring Iran that it need have no fear of a military attack. Because it has received this reassurance, Tehran will feel free to take tougher positions in the negotiations.
Democrats often tout human rights as a central value in their foreign policy decision-making, but their highly selective application of this principle raises questions. When Secretary of State Antony Blinken presented the 2020 State Department Report on Human Rights, he named countries seriously violating human rights such as Myanmar, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Syria, but omitted Iran. The report also significantly reduced the number of Iranian citizens who were murdered, wounded, and detained by the IRGC during the 2019 mass protests against the regime. A similar phenomenon occurred in 2009, when the Obama administration refrained from condemning the Iranian Islamic regime for brutally suppressing mass protests against the rigging of the presidential elections. The motivation in both cases was to avoid enraging the Islamist regime and undermining the nuclear negotiations.
All these missteps have only toughened Iran’s positions. The regime has agreed not to direct talks but to indirect pre-negotiation talks with the US in Vienna, with the other powers that signed the 2015 deal acting as mediators. This tactic is designed to prevent the US and its European allies from forming a united front. Iran has also begun enriching uranium with state-of-the-art rapid centrifuges, a move that is driving it closer toward the bomb. This is hardly a gesture in the direction of compromise and agreement; it is exactly the opposite.
Iran is insisting on two preconditions for negotiations with the US. First, it wants all sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump to be lifted, including those related to issues other than the nuclear program, such as violations of human rights. Second, it demands a return to the terms of the 2015 agreement without any changes or amendments. Iran is thus signaling to the US that it expects concessions before it agrees to begin negotiations. In a timid response, the Biden administration said Iran doesn’t have to be the first side to make a concession.
Vis-à-vis international organizations, President Biden is reversing US policy. Secretary of State Blinken announced that the US will rejoin the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and lift the personal sanctions Trump imposed on Fatou Bensouda, the outgoing prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague (ICC). Trump imposed sanctions on Bensouda and her team over her decisions to investigate the US and Israel for alleged war crimes in Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories, respectively.
Trump rightly withdrew the US from the UNHRC because it is a ludicrous, highly politicized body dominated by countries that are among the world’s worst violators of human rights, such as China, Russia, Cuba, Pakistan, Libya, Venezuela, and Somalia. The UNHRC is also an antisemitic body. It has one agenda item just for Israel and another for the rest of the world. It often publishes biased and false reports on Israel—and it is upon these reports, among other things, that Bensouda based her decision to investigate Israel.
Secretary of State Blinken explained that the return of the US to the UNHRC is intended to fix its poor performance and deficiencies from within. This is a waste of time. Blinken has clearly learned nothing from similar policy failures in the past. The current UNHRC was formed in 2006 after its predecessor, the Human Rights Committee, was dismantled because it was highly politicized and constantly failed to deal with the issues for which it had been founded. The Bush administration was unimpressed with the name change and demanded significant reforms of the UNHRC’s structure and conduct. The Council refused, and Bush decided to keep the US out of it.
The Obama administration reversed this policy, claiming that the US was joining the Council to repair it from the inside. But nothing changed. Trump demanded changes in the Council’s functioning, was rebuffed, and withdrew the US from its ranks in 2018. The Biden administration’s return to the Council indicates the resurrection of naive assumptions that have been proven wrong time and again.
When lifting the sanctions imposed on ICC Prosecutor Bensouda, Blinken reiterated Washington’s criticism of her decision to investigate the US and Israel but argued that the way to deal with it is through talks and persuasion rather than sanctions. This, too, is a self-deluding belief. Blinken ignored Bensouda’s endemic hostility to the US and Israel and her clear attempt to force the investigations on her successor, Karim Khan, two months before her retirement.
Blinken should have conditioned the lifting of sanctions on Bensouda on her refraining from opening the investigation of Israel and leaving the decision to her successor. He didn’t do this. If Khan decides to continue the investigation of Israel, equal treatment of states requires that he either open an investigation of the US as well or prove the saying “might is right,” which would cause even more damage to the dysfunctional ICC.
Biden is reversing Trump’s decisions to stop several hundred million dollars’ worth of annual US aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian Refugees. Here, too, opportunities for necessary and long overdue reforms have been missed. Biden could have conditioned the resumption of aid on the PA’s setting up transparency procedures that would clearly verify where the money goes. A significant portion of international aid to the Palestinians lands in the pockets of their leaders. Since Biden opposes the ICC’s preoccupation with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he could have demanded that the Palestinians withdraw their complaint to the ICC, which was filed in flagrant violation of the Oslo Accords and was behind the ICC’s decision to investigate Israel.
As a recent investigation showed, UNRWA is a corrupt institution that perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem and allows its institutions to conduct antisemitic incitement against Israel. Biden could have demanded the abolition of UNRWA and the transfer of treatment of the Palestinians to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the agency that handles refugees from everywhere else in the world.
Biden’s policies follow the values and principles of the Democratic Party—but for the most part, appeasement of foreign actors achieves exactly the opposite results from those intended. This is not how a superpower should project influence and deterrence against extremist authoritarian regimes like Iran and corrupt international organizations like the UNHRC and the ICC. Trump left Biden with leverage in terms of pressure and influence, but instead of using it to achieve US foreign policy goals, Biden has been giving it away for free. Biden’s missteps on Iran, the Palestinians, and international organizations are jeopardizing Israel’s key national interests and will therefore require a calculated and cautious approach.
Eytan Gilboa has been a professor of political science and communication and is a senior research associate at the BESA Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.
At the height of the US occupation of Iraq there were few figures American troops loathed more. As a Shiite preacher, Moqtada Al Sadr used Friday sermons to rail against the invaders who deposed Saddam Hussein. “The little serpent has left and the great serpent has come,” he told a western journalist in 2004. It led to him being labelled a firebrand cleric and, eventually, almost three years of self-imposed exile in Iran. It has not been the easiest journey but the shape-shifting 44-year-old, whose political alliance appears to have won the highest number of seats in Iraq’s election, is on the verge of a remarkable transformation. The corruption that plagues Iraq appears to have created his political opening. Cultivating an outsider image, Al Sadr has navigated shifting allegiances, military Embracing an Iraqi nationalist identity, staunchly against foreign influence, made him stand out in a field of post-invasion leaders at one time or another seemingly beholden to foreign states. He is now a potential king-maker. Born in the religious city of Najaf, the young cleric came to prominence after 2003 by raising an insurgent army, leveraging his influence as the son of a revered Grand Ayatollah killed for opposing Saddam. Armed with Kalashnikov rifles and improvised explosives, the Mahdi Army led the Shiite resistance against the American invasion. During Iraq’s brutal sectarian war in 2006-2007, the militia was accused of running death squads, seeking to remove Sunnis from areas of Baghdad. The Pentagon once declared that the group had “replaced Al Qaeda in Iraq as the most dangerous accelerant of potentially self-sustaining sectarian violence.” Al Sadr later fell foul of the Iraqi government following violence between his militiamen and the rival Shiite group, the Badr Organisation. It wasn’t until the Iraqi army cracked down on the Mahdi army in 2007 – years after an arrest warrant had been issued against Al Sadr – that the heat finally got too much. He fled to Iran – studying to become an ayatollah at the preeminent Shiite religious centre in Qom – before returning in early 2011. The Mahdi army remobilised as the Peace Companies in 2014 to fight against ISIS but today Al Sadr’s influence rests more on his ability to rouse his followers. In 2016, he reasserted his political relevance when his supporters stormed Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone in protests demanding better services and an end to corruption. He drew upon that same support base and anger to mobilise voters last weekend.
Campaign slogans such as “corruption is terrorism” resonated across Iraq, but particularly in neglected areas of Baghdad such as the sprawling working class neighbourhood that bears his family name. Sadr City was once Saddam City but was renamed in memory of the protests which were crushed there following Al Sadr‘s father’s murder in 1999. Uncollected rubbish piles and open sewers fuel resentment at the lack of development. Like most Iraqis, his “Sadrist” followers want change, lacking faith in the post-invasion political elite to deliver. But whereas many Iraqis stayed home on Saturday, either as a boycott or from apathy – turnout was only 44.5 per cent – the Sadrists voted in force, believing in his determination to tackle corruption. He had earlier cleaned house within his own ranks, banning current MPs – accused of corruption – from running. Instead, Al Sadr formed an alliance with Iraqi communists and secularists, allowing him to inject new faces and complete his move from sectarian militia leader to Iraqi nationalist.
The move worked, with his Sairoon bloc winning the nationwide popular vote with more than 1.3 million votes, and gaining an estimated 54 of parliament’s 329 seats. “He has undergone a transformation – he is more mature now – but that’s also true of the atmosphere around him,” said Dr Muhanad Seloom, associate lecturer in international relations at the University of Exeter. “I don’t think he’s a different beast as people say, he’s the same person, he still holds the same convictions, political and religious, but he’s a nationalist.” Al Sadr immediately began negotiations to form a coalition government, another role he is familiar with. In 2010, after the Sadrist bloc won 39 seats in parliament, Al Sadr showed his ability to bury the hatchet, playing coalition partner to former enemy Nouri Al Maliki. The pact allowed Al Maliki to retain the premiership. This time Al Sadr will be in a stronger position, though political office is not his aim. As he did not stand as a candidate himself, he cannot be named prime minister. And as in previous elections, when prime ministers have been selected with the consultation of both the US and Iran, Al Sadr‘s bloc will have to contend with rivals. The US will be wondering whether it can maintain influence with a man they once labelled a thug but may take solace in his strong stance against Iran. Iran may be more inclined toward supporting Al Sadr‘s rivals, Shiite militia leader Hadi Al Ameri, and, once again, Al Maliki. Ahead of the election, a senior Iranian official said: “We will not allow liberals and communists to govern Iraq,” a reference to Sadr’s allies in the Sairoon bloc. Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, has given indications it would be willing to work with Al Sadr, who visited the kingdom last summer to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi minister of state for Arab Gulf affairs and former ambassador to Iraq, Thamer Al Sabhan congratulated Iraq on its elections, tweeting: “You are truly on marching toward wisdom, patriotism and solidarity. You’ve made the decision for change towards an Iraq that raises the banners of victory with its independence, Arabism and identity.” If Al Sadr were able to form a government, it could be a step in the right direction for Iraq, Dr Seloom believes: “He wants a technocratic government, he wants Iraq to be democratic and he wants to fight corruption.”
Ramadan will officially begin on March 23, 2023 and end on April 21, 2023. Given the current tension in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem and the events of past years, Palestinian sources, especially in the Hamas leadership, reiterate that the situation is unstable and likely to deteriorate sharply. They threaten escalation and worse if Israel continues its “activities against the Palestinians and al-Aqsa mosque,” for them the red line which could ignite the region. Marwan Issa, the deputy head of Hamas’ military-terrorist wing, gave a rare interview where he claimed that any change in the status quo of al-Aqsa would cause “a regional earthquake.” The security prisoners in Israeli jails also claimed they would go on hunger strikes throughout the month.
International and Arab efforts are being made behind the scenes to prevent escalation and increased tension during Ramadan. Two security summit meetings were held, one in February 2023 in Aqaba and the other in March in Sharm el-Sheikh, where representatives from Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA), the United States, Egypt and Jordan tried to reach understandings and reduce tensions. In the meantime, the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced measures to ease the Palestinians’ lives during the month. The police in Jerusalem will increase their forces, especially in the eastern part of the city and the holy sites.
In recent years Ramadan has become a time for rising tension and an increase in violent clashes between the Palestinians and the Israeli security forces. The violence spread to the Gaza Strip and, after Operation Breaking Dawn in May 2021, caused Hamas, which regards itself as the “defender of the holy sites,” to predicate a “new equation:” any activity they choose to interpret as an attempt to “attack” east Jerusalem and al-Aqsa will be met with escalation in the south and rocket fire into Israel.
Statements from Hamas spokesmen and especially from Marwan Issa are essentially strategic messages from the Hamas military-terrorist hierarchy and may indicate Hamas’ intentions for the coming month. They are also a message meant to inform Israel that any change in the status quo on the Temple Mount or an increase in the presence of Jews or Jewish prayers will be met with a “response.” However, most of the spokesmen, including Marwan Issa, note that the ball is in Israel’s court, and if Israel does not cross what they have defined as their red lines, Hamas will not be “forced” to respond and for the time being will leave the battle to the terrorists in Judea and Samaria.
The Temple Mount and Old City of Jerusalem decorated for Ramadan (Shehab Twitter account, March 14, 2023; Wafa, March 21, 2023)
On March 23, 2023, Ramadan will officially begin and will end on April 21, 2023. Given the current tension in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, Palestinian sources have reiterated that the situation is unstable and likely to deteriorate sharply. They threaten escalation and worse if Israel continues its activities against the Palestinians and al-Aqsa mosque, for them the red line which could ignite the region.
In the meantime, the media office of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails announced that the leaders of the Fatah, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) prisoners would begin a hunger strike on the first day of Ramadan. The office also called on the Palestinian public to participate in protest marches in the various cities. According to reports, six prisoners representing the Palestinian organizations have already begun the hunger strike and are supposed to be joined by 2,000 more (prisoners’ media office Telegram channel, March 21, 2023). The announcement was disseminated by the Palestinian organizations’ media.
Statements from Hamas leaders
For some time the Hamas leadership has been warning that given the current situation on the ground they expect an “explosion” during Ramadan and that their patience is running out. The threats come in the wake the recent terrorist attacks, which they supported, praised, and celebrated, and Israeli threats of counterterrorism activities in Judea and Samaria. However, Hamas spokesmen claim escalation will only occur if Israel changes the status quo (“crosses the red lines”) in Jerusalem, and for the time being they leave confrontations to the terrorists in Judea and Samaria.
A particularly important statement was made by Marwan Issa, the deputy commander of Hamas’ military-terrorist wing, who does not often appear in public. Interviewed by Hamas’ al-Aqsa TV, he said that the political program in Judea and Samaria had come to an end because Israel had destroyed the Oslo Accords, and promised that “the coming days will be full of events.” He warned that any change in the status quo of al-Aqsa would lead to a “regional earthquake.”However, he claimed, they would give an opportunity to the “resistance” [anti-Israeli terrorist activities] in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, since at this point in time those were the locations for action with strategic influence. He claimed giving the “resistance” in Judea and Samaria an opportunity did not mean Hamas was abandoning them or that the Gaza Strip would be silent. He claimed they would defend the Palestinians with all their forces should the need for intervention arise. He added that the Palestinians’ “spirit of martyrdom [for the sake of Allah]” in Judea and Samaria was unprecedented, and that the Palestinians and their “struggle” in Judea and Samaria were in excellent condition. They had a high level of awareness for the “resistance project” and national unity for dealing with Israel. He also claimed “resistance activity” in all “Palestine” was necessary and had to be supported materially, and its morale and media also needed support to keep the Palestinians from having to “struggle” alone. He added that in the meantime the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades [Hamas’ military-terrorist wing] would increase its strength and construct a “resistance strategy” (Safa, March 15, 2023).
Blurred picture of Marwan Issa attached to statements made to al-Aqsa TV (Hamas website, March 15, 2023)
Other statements were the following:
Khaled Mashaal, chairman of the Hamas leadership abroad, said the Palestinians were going to “escalate” during Ramadan and the days in the shadow of Israel’s aggression would be intense. He claimed the Palestinians understood they could not restore their homeland by any means except “resistance.” He called on the Palestinians to unite as the “resistance” had already united in Nablus, Jenin and Gaza (Shehab, March 4, 2023).
Saleh al-‘Arouri, deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau, who directs Hamas activities in Judea and Samaria, said in an interview that the “resistance” in Judea and Samaria would continue because they had no other option, and Israel had to know that the future “would be more difficult.” He said Hamas closely monitored Israel’s activities in Jerusalem, and its attempts to exploit Ramadan to enforce its polices and allow the settlers to hold religious ceremonies would be met with a Palestinian response (Hamas website, March 14, 2023). On a later occasion, during a ceremony in Gaza City to launch a book about Amad Aqal, a former Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades commander, al-‘Arouri gave a speech in which he called on every armed Palestinian to use his gun in clashes with Israel, the settlers and Israel’s security forces (Hamas website, March 20, 2023). He made no specific mention of Ramadan.
Saleh al-‘Arouri (Hamas website, March 20, 2023)
Khalil al-Haya, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, claimed they were in an ongoing confrontation with “the occupation” and might begin a new battle during Ramadan. He said the “resistance” was improving its organized activity against the “occupation” in various locations, among them Nablus, Jenin and Jericho. He added that while the PA was “unpatriotic,” Hamas would not condemn its security services because they were part of the Palestinian people’s “resistance” (al-Aqsa TV Telegram channel, March 19, 2023).
Muhammad Hamada, Hamas spokesman for Jerusalem affairs, interviewed by al-Aqsa TV, said Israel was worried about everything related to Ramadan, and that the area in front of the Western Wall was one of the most sensitive and dangerous sites for Israel. He said the Palestinian people would now allow the “occupation” to attack al-Aqsa, and aggression against it would be a ticking time-bomb. He claimed Israel was pushing for a religious war against al-Aqsa and Jerusalem, and was delusional if it thought aggression against al-Aqsa would not have a price [sic] (al-Aqsa TV Telegram channel, March 18, 2023).
Muhammad Hamada interview on al-Aqsa TV (al-Aqsa TV Facebook page, March 18, 2023)
Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem claimed an increase in Israel’s aggressive activities against al-Aqsa, particularly during Ramadan, was liable to open the door to a dangerous escalation. He added that al-Aqsa was a place of great sanctity, and any attack on its worshippers or its holy nature would ignite the entire region. He also said Marwan Issa’s statement that any attempt to divide al-Aqsa [i.e., the times of prayers] would be met with an “unprecedented reaction” from the “resistance” (sabaq24, March 16, 2023). Hamas also organized a march in Khan Yunis in support of al-Aqsa, Judea and Samaria and the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. During the march he warned Israel not to engage in dangerous escalation in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem during Ramadan. He said Israel was playing with a burning fuse, noting the “equation” [attack in response to “attack”] determined by Hamas during Operation Guardian of the Walls was still in place (Hamas website, March 17, 2023).
Hazem Qassem speaking during a march in Khan Yunis (Hamas website, March 17, 2023)
Political commentary on Marwan Issa’s statements
Palestinian political commentators discussed Marwan Issa’s interview, most of them regarding it as a call for escalation or even confrontation in the Gaza Strip during Ramadan. The more prominent were the following:
Husam al-Dajani, a political columnist and commentator from Gaza, said Marwan Issa’s statements had reflected the regional political situation, and that the situation was “explosive.” He said they were a message for the mediators, because if they did not restrain Ben-Gvir and Netanyahu there would be an upheaval, especially in the Gaza Strip. However, in his opinion the existing tense atmosphere in the Gaza Strip would not allow for a confrontation during Ramadan (Dunia al-Watan, March 15, 2023).
Iyad al-Qara, a political columnist and commentator from Gaza, said the statements made by Saleh al-‘Arouri and Marwan Issa were a warning to Israel regarding Judea and Samaria and the situation in the Gaza Strip in general and al-Aqsa in particular (Dunia al-Watan, March 15, 2023).
Taysir Muheisen, a political columnist and commentator from Gaza, said Marwan Issa’s statements had come at a very important time because they had been made close to Ramadan, and might lead the Palestinians to a confrontation with Israel (Dunia al-Watan, March 15, 2023).
Mustafa al-Sawaf, a Hamas-affiliated political commentator, said Marwan Issa’s statements indicated they were on the brink of an extensive, comprehensive confrontation. He claimed the statements were meant to inform Israel that any damage done to al-Aqsa was a red line that would ignite the region and turn it into an earthquake [sic] (Shehab, March 15, 2023).
 Amad Aqal was the commander of Hamas’ military-terrorist wing. He died in a targeted killing in November 1993 after he had been pursued by the Israeli security forces for two years, during which he carried out a series of shooting attacks against IDF soldiers. ↑