Saturday, March 31, 2018

Easter Hope

3 Compelling Reasons for Hope

By Jonathan C. Brentner
Jesus’ tomb is empty; it’s an established historical fact. All the attacks on Jesus’ resurrection come in the form of trying to explain the vacant grave. They do this because they cannot deny the reality that His body was missing from His tomb.
However, no one has ever been able to come up with a credible explanation for Christ’s empty grave. Jesus is indeed alive!
The resurrection matters so much to our faith because if Jesus did not walk bodily out of His grave, if His body was buried somewhere else in ancient Israel, then humanity has absolutely no hope.
Paul said this in 1 Corinthians 15:17-19, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins…If in Christ we have hope in this life only we are of all people most to be pitied.” Do you understand what the apostle is saying here? If Christ did not rise from the dead, then our faith in Him is totally worthless and we are more to be pitied than anyone else in the world. Wow!
The reality of Jesus’ resurrection matters to our hope in so many ways!

1. The Resurrection Verifies Jesus’ Claims

I hear so many people say Jesus was a good moral teacher, but they deny most, if not all, the claims Christ made about Himself.
What would happen if I were to go through the area where I live making these claims?
– That I was equal with God the Father
– That I was the only way to God the Father and eternal life
– That those who reject me will perish; they will end up in hell
– That as God I had the ability to forgive sins
– That after three days I would rise from the dead
– That someday I would return to the earth in great glory with all the world watching
Would I be hailed as a great teacher after making such claims? Something inside me says, “No!” I would more than likely end up in the psych ward at the local university hospital under lock and key.
No one can make the claims listed above (all of which Jesus made during His ministry) and later be regarded as a fantastic teacher. It’s impossible.
You cannot make the assertions Christ did without backing them up in a convincing and overwhelming way. Jesus’ resurrection did exactly that!

2. The Resurrection Establishes Jesus’ Credibility

So many people say they worship and trust Jesus, but then state they do not believe so many of the things He said.
Suppose you are selecting a guide to take you on a three-day hike deep into a dense and dangerous wilderness territory. You have read Surviving in the Backwoods written by candidate A and although he said many things in his book that you like, you believe he got almost everything wrong about what it takes to survive in the wild. And on top of that, he has never ever hiked in the area you want to explore.
Would you hire him? Unless you feel a tad suicidal at the moment, probably not.
Is this not what so many do with Jesus? They believe He was wrong about the Genesis story of Adam and Eve, the Genesis flood, and the credibility of the Old Testament but claim to worship Him. I do not understand such logic. Why would anyone revere someone who in their mind was flat out wrong about so many basic aspects of their faith?
The resurrection verifies that Jesus is trustworthy not only in His claims about Himself, but in everything else He said. It also proves He is able to do the impossible.

3. Jesus Alone Is Able to Take Us Home

Jesus’ resurrection gives us hope because it demonstrates He is able to give us eternal life.
If I am alive when Jesus returns, He will change my earthly body into an immortal and imperishable one and take me to His Father’s house, to a place He has specially prepared for me. The same is true if I die before His appearing. It should be beyond obvious I cannot do any of this for myself once I am dead.
So, how can I trust Jesus to do the impossible in raising me from the dead and at the same time say his beliefs about the purpose of marriage, God’s creation of each of us as either male or female, and His views on morality and the sanctity of life are not only totally wrong but highly offensive? I absolutely cannot do that. Either Jesus is right about marriage and life or He is a fraud incapable of giving me eternal life or providing any hope in this life or in eternity. There is no middle ground.
If Jesus got these basic things totally wrong then He is still in a grave somewhere, is either a lunatic or a liar (if not both), and my faith is utterly in vain (at best). The tens of millions of people throughout history who died refusing to denounce Christ gave their lives totally in vain failing to denounce some liar who lived long ago.
Are you beginning to see why I cannot say Jesus was wrong about these controversial issues and still have an ounce of faith in Him?
Listen to the words of the apostle Paul again, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of all those who have fall asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). This is where our hope rests!
Jesus is alive; He rose from the dead; His words are true regardless of what anyone says about them.
Because Jesus rose from the dead, we know that all His words are true regardless of how unpopular they are at the moment. Popularity does not establish credibility or truth; Hitler was incredibly popular in Germany during the 1930’s and early 1940’s. Now his name is an anathema everywhere on earth.
Jesus was the most unpopular person of His day. But today, two thousand years later, hundreds of millions of people trust Him to give them everlasting life because His tomb is empty. Jesus’ resurrection forever establishes his words as true and gives us an unfailing foundation for our hope. He is alive; He is coming again!!!
The resurrection is why we treasure the words of Jesus and trust Him. It’s why we possess an unfailing hope of spending eternity with Him.
It’s why we can have supreme confidence in His claims, words, and supernatural power.
He’s alive! He’s alive indeed!

U.S. Blocks UN Resolution Condemning Israel, Just In Case Anybody Forgot.....

US blocks UN resolution condemning Israel for deaths in Gaza clashes

The United States on Saturday blocked a draft UN Security Council statement urging restraint and calling for an investigation of clashes on the Gaza-Israel border, diplomats said.
Kuwait, which represents Arab countries on the council, presented the proposed statement, which called for an “independent and transparent investigation” of the violence.

The draft council statement also expressed “grave concern at the situation at the border.” And it reaffirmed “the right to peaceful protest” and expressed the council’s “sorrow at the loss of innocent Palestinian lives.”

The Israeli military on Saturday night identified 10 of the 16 people reported killed during violent protests along the Gaza security fence as members of Palestinian terrorist groups, and published a list of their names and positions in the organizations.

The draft statement was circulated to the council on Friday, but on Saturday the United States raised objections and said it did not support its adoption, a Security Council diplomat told AFP.
The US mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request from AFP for comment.
The proposed statement also called “for respect for international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including protection of civilians,” according to the draft seen by AFP.

Council members “called upon all sides to exercise restraint and prevent a further escalation,” the draft said. The proposed statement stressed the need to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians based on a two-state solution.
The Palestinian Authority on Saturday blamed the US and Britain for obstructing the Palestinian and Arab effort to persuade the Security Council to issue a resolution blasting Israel for the 16 Palestinian fatalities.
Yusef al Mahmoud, spokesperson for the PA government in Ramallah, said that Washington’s and London’s opposition to a resolution condemning Israel “turns them into accomplices in the horrific massacre committed by the Israeli occupation army against our defenseless people.”
Mahmoud accused the US and Britain of displaying “bias in favor of oppression and suppression.” He claimed that the Friday protests were “peaceful marches and demonstrations” to mark the 42nd anniversary of Land day.
The Israeli government alone, he charged, was “directly responsible for this dreadful massacre, which resulted in 16 martyrs and hundreds of wounded.”
The Security Council held a closed meeting on Friday night to discuss the clashes along the Gaza-Israel border, despite a request from the US and Israel to postpone deliberations for Saturday due to Passover holiday eve.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced on Friday that he had instructed his envoy to the UN, Riyad Mansour, to ask the Security Council to provide “international protection” for the Palestinians.
On Saturday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for “those concerned to refrain from any act that could lead to further casualties.” He also called for an independent and transparent investigation into the deaths and injuries during Friday’s clashes.

Just in case anybody forgot, Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip to the pre-1967 lines in 2005. It uprooted thousands of Israeli settlers from their homes. It dismantled all military infrastructure in the Strip. It has no physical presence there. It makes no territorial claims there.
Just in case anybody forgot, Hamas, an Islamist terrorist organization that avowedly seeks the destruction of Israel, seized power in Gaza in 2007 in a violent takeover from the forces of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Having attempted to terrorize Israel into capitulation with its strategic onslaught of suicide bombers in the Second Intifada, it has, since grabbing hold of Gaza, continued its efforts to terrorize Israel by firing thousands upon thousands of rockets indiscriminately across the border.

Were it not for the Iron Dome rocket defense system, much of Israel would, as Hamas had hoped, have been reduced to rubble.
Hamas has also been incessantly digging attack tunnels under the border — another terror avenue that Israel appears to have gradually been closing off with new technology and underground barriers.
Just in case anybody forgot, Hamas has cynically and relentlessly exploited Gazans — a large proportion of whom have supported it in elections — by storing its rockets near or even inside mosques and schools, firing rockets from residential areas, and digging tunnels from beneath homes and civilian institutions. 

It has subverted all materials that can be utilized for the manufacture of weaponry, necessitating a stringent Israeli security blockade whose main victims are ordinary Gazans.

Organizing and encouraging mass demonstrations at the border in the so-called “March of Return” to face off against Israeli troops, while sanctimoniously and disingenuously branding the campaign non-violent, is merely the latest iteration of Hamas’s cynical use of Gazans as the human shields for its aggression.

Just in case anybody forgot, demanding a “right of return” to Israel for tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants is nothing less than a call for the destruction of Israel by demographic means.

No Israeli government could accept this demand, since it would spell the end of Israel as a Jewish-majority state. Israel’s position is that Palestinian refugees and their descendants would become citizens of a Palestinian state at the culmination of the peace process, just as Jews who fled or were forced out of Middle Eastern countries by hostile governments became citizens of Israel.

Just in case anybody forgot, the late prime minister Ariel Sharon oversaw the wrenching withdrawal from Gaza out of a declared desire to set Israel’s permanent borders, and did so unilaterally because he concluded that he could not reach a negotiated agreement with the Palestinian leadership. Had Gaza remained calm, and Sharon remained healthy, it is likely he would have ordered a pullout from much of the West Bank as well — paving the path to Palestinian statehood.

Hamas, of course, is not interested in Palestinian independence. Again, it strives for the elimination of Israel.

So, finally, just in case anybody forgets the context for Friday’s latest escalation of violence, they need only listen to Hamas’s Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar setting out the ultimate goal.  

As he put it in an address to Gazans at the border on Friday, “The March of Return will continue… until we remove this transient border.” The protests “mark the beginning of a new phase in the Palestinian national struggle on the road to liberation and ‘return’… Our people can’t give up one inch of the land of Palestine.”

We Are All Barabbas

We Are All Barabbas

Let’s take a look at the story of Barabbas as it relates to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. How does Pilate’s release of a criminal relate to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus?
For a fascinating teaching which reveals the deeper insights concerning the purpose of the resurrection of Jesus found in the story of Barabbas, we invited Doug Greenwold, a Bible scholar who serves as the senior teaching fellow for a ministry called Preserving Bible Times, to our television program Christ in Prophecy. Doug uncovers often missed insights into dramatic biblical stories by digging deep into the overall biblical context that provide poignant spiritual applications to the reader today.

Doug Greenwold: Let’s consider Barabbas. Some things we know about him. For instance, his story is mentioned in all four Gospels. How very rare that somebody is mentioned in all four Gospels. Barabbas gets more ink than even Judas Iscariot does.
The first thing that jumps out involves linguistics. Let’s evaluate Barabbas’ name. Where is Barabbas’ first name? We read of a Simon Bar-Jonah, meaning Simon son of Jonah (Mat. 16:17). Bar means son in Hebrew. So, for Barabbas, his name starts with bar, so his name means “the son of Abba or Abbas,” depending on the Aramaic or Hebrew. Well, we’ve run across this word before. Abba means father, so Barabbas’ name actually means “Son of the Father.”
Let’s put a plural on this. Maybe Barabbas represents the sons of all the fathers. Theology hold to the notion called the federated person, or the federated man. Adam is considered to be the federated man, in that he existed as the best possible man to stand for humanity, and when he fell, we fell as well. I want to suggest to you that Barabbas was the federated man for the Passion of Jesus. He is our best possible representative for the Passion of Jesus. Barabbas is us.
Barabbas was likely so well know that no one needed to mention his first name. Just Barabbas is all you needed to say because he was a well known seditionist at the time of Christ. Barabbas was also a murderer and a thief. He’d been tried in a Roman court of law and found guilty, sentenced with a perfectly fair verdict.

Barabbas awaited execution, and because his crime was sedition against the Roman Empire, his death would be by crucifixion. Rome could not tolerate sedition.
Israel played a special role in the Roman Empire. The nation acted as a buffer state between the Parthians or Persians in the north and the Egyptians and all the grain production in the south. Rome couldn’t ever let the Parthians steal their grain. Some 95% of the whole Roman Empire was run on Egyptian grain. And that is why they couldn’t tolerate sedition in Israel. The province was just too strategic. Any rebellion then must be immediately crushed.
Imagine you’re Barabbas. You are sitting in a dank cell. You’re shackled. The rats are nipping at your feet. Its pitch dark. You sit all alone waiting for your death. But, you have no complaint whatsoever. You’re guilty and you know the consequences.
Let’s pause here to consider what another theologian once said: “When the holiness of God is the yardstick, the difference between you and I and Adolf Hitler gets lost in the rounding.” That means we don’t ever want to think too highly of ourselves. That’s why I think we need to identify with Barabbas during Passion Week.

So, there Barabbas sat waiting to die a horrible death. Meanwhile, outside, unbeknownst to Barabbas, a chess game waged on between the Roman governor Pilate and the Jewish Sanhedrin, who were the Jewish authorities at the time, on what to do with Jesus. Pilate didn’t want anything to do with having the blood of Yeshua on his hands. And so, he sent Jesus to Herod Antipas. Antipas ruled the Galilean district and recognizes the political treachery of this. He also didn’t want to touch this case, even though Jesus resided in his jurisdiction. So, Herod Antipas sent Jesus back to Pilate for final judgment.

Not able to pass the buck, Pilate decided on a good idea. This would become his master stroke. There was a tradition that the Jews had at Passover to release one prisoner. Pilate ordered his administrative staff to find the worst possible prisoner in the system that they could find. Pilate wanted to offer Jesus as compared to this worst criminal, Barabbas. He believed the crowd would see the murderous Barabbas and then decide to save Jesus. If Pilate’s plan would save Jesus, the governor would be off this political tightrope he’d been walking on with the Sanhedrin.

This plan would, of course, backfire. If you are going to give a crowd an offer, you’d better understand your crowd. This crowd was not the crowd that sang “Hosanna” on Palm Sunday. Those people loved Jesus. I’d imagine 90% of the people had loved Jesus ever since Jesus taught, “Blessed are the poor.” No one ever said “blessed are the poor” in that day.
No, the crowd that gathered in Pilate’s courtyard of Herod’s Palace consisted of 200 or 300 handpicked people who had been coached by the aristocracy to say a certain thing at a certain time. When you get into the original meaning of the word for crowd, the underlining word means “a gathering of people.” So, the crowd gathered before Pilate was not the same crowd from Palm Sunday. That distinction has often been lost, so it’s important to note here. The crowd Pilate faced consisted of paid protesters. They’d been coached and trained by Israel’s religious leaders.
So, Pilate offers the Jews, “Okay, here’s my new idea. You have this tradition, so I’m going to give you a choice. We can crucify Barabbas, or we can crucify Yeshua. One will be set free.” Pilate expected everyone to say, “Save Jesus!” But, instead the crowd cries, “Give us Barabbas! Give us Barabbas!”
Meanwhile, back in his pit, from his cell Barabbas heard, “Give us Barabbas! Give us Barabbas!” He had no context for that phrase. I can imagine he took it personal. “Man, they are so worked up they want to kill me as fast as they can.” And then a couple minutes later Barabbas heard, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Not knowing that this demand was directed to Jesus by the crowd, Barabbas also took it personally. “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Barabbas concluded, “It’s all over for me.”
Then Barabbas heard the shuffling of the jailer coming down past the cells. He finally stopped at Barabbas’ door. The jailer proceeded to swings open the door and said, “Barabbas,” and his life is over in his eyes, “you’re free!”
If you’re Barabbas, what’s going through your mind? “What?! I’m free? How can that be?” The jailer answered, “Someone took your place. Come with me now, okay?”
Barabbas may have asked who took his place. The jailer responded, “His name is Yeshua.” Barabbas incredulously inquired, “You mean that rabbi? The one that many people claim is the Son of God? He’s taken my place?” The tired jailer murmured, “Yep. You’re free.” And then, unshackle, unshackle, unshackle. Barabbas has been freed!
Barabbas could have stood in the doorway asking, “Where can I see this Jesus?” And the reply, “Well, last I heard Jesus was winding towards Golgotha. They’re going to crucify Him.”
“Oh, no!” So, Barabbas works his way through the crowd. He gets there a little bit late, but in time to see Jesus crucified. He cries out, “Those are supposed to be my hands. He really did take my place.” Of course, I don’t know whether Barabbas actually witnessed Jesus crucified, but he could have.
Ask yourself, “If you were Barabbas, how would that scene have affected you?” After all, we are Barabbas. We have to identify with Barabbas.
Freeze that thought. Let’s go to the old video tape days. Push rewind. I want to go back into the cell. Okay. I’m Barabbas. I’m chained. The rats are nipping at my feet. The door opens and the jailer says, “Barabbas, you’re free!” But, this time, Barabbas replies, “I’m not interested. I’m going to stay right here.” The stunned jailer prods, “No, Barabbas, you don’t understand. You’re free. It’s an absolutely free gift. You haven’t deserved it, but it’s yours. It’s free!” But, Barabbas continues, “I’m not interested.” He slams the door and locks it up.
Does that sound outrageous? Sure does! And yet, thousands of people do that very thing every single day. When they hear about the free gift of eternal life from Yeshua, they respond with, “Not interested.”
Lazarus may have set the stage as to why Resurrection Sunday was going to happen, but Barabbas became the reason the Crucifixion and Resurrection Sunday had to happen — to set the prisoners free. Quite a story!

Can China Succeed With Petro-Yuan?

China can succeed with petro-yuan where Gaddafi failed

Muammar Gaddafi wanted to shatter the dominance of the greenback in the Middle East by introducing gold-backed dinar, but failed. China has a chance to finish what he started, one industry expert has told RT. 
“Ideas related to oil trade in currencies other than the dollar arose more than once. Some of them were severely suppressed by the United States, one example is Muammar Gaddafi, who proposed the introduction of a regional currency gold dinar and trading oil in the Middle East in this currency,” Aleksandr Egorov, foreign exchange strategist at TeleTrade, told RT.

However, this time, an attempt to oust the dollar could be successful. China has launched oil futures backed by yuan, and Beijing has what Gaddafi didn’t, according to the expert.
“Along with the Chinese role in the global economy and the growing interest in the renminbi, China is also protected by a nuclear shield. It can afford to try to shatter the monopoly in oil trade. This will give even more weight to the Chinese yuan. In addition, China's economy is the world's largest consumer of oil, and consequently, all world producers of raw materials will have to reckon with the strategy of the Chinese authorities,” Egorov said.
According to the analyst, the timing for the launch of the petro-yuan is perfect. Key oil producers Russia, Iran and Venezuela are under pressure from US sanctions, and it is a good moment for them to ditch the dollar in oil trade and substitute it with the yuan.
Mikhail Mashchenko, an analyst at social network for investors eToro, agrees. “From the point of view of Russia's geopolitics, it is certainly beneficial to reduce the role of the dollar in foreign trade. And it has been done, let’s recall the record growth of the country's gold reserves. The other states that are constantly under the threat of new sanctions, like Iran and Venezuela, can profit, too. The contracts in RMB will allow to trade oil without US approval,” he told RT.

Both analysts agree that it will take time before the petro-yuan can become a real threat to the dollar. China needs to win the support of the world's largest oil producers Russia and Saudi Arabia, or the initiative is doomed, says Mashchenko. He added that the yuan is fully controlled by Beijing, which could also spook potential investors.

Things To Come: The End Of Nation States

The end of nation states? Germans seeks EU federalization

Imagine a Europe with no dissent. Imagine a large imperial powerhouse, commanding all of Europe. Imagine a Europe with the a single military force immediately ready for mobilization at a moment’s notice. Imagine a Europe wherein one centralized economic powerhouse dictates foreign and domestic policy without any pesky deliberation. If this brings to your mind Imperial Rome, you’d be wrong, but not all that far off the mark. It’s the new federalized Europe envisioned by France, Germany, Spain, the Swedes, and some others.
In this new federalized Europe, smaller countries effectively have no say in policies affecting their peoples. Here, smaller, less influential nations have to send their kids off to war without really getting to have a say in the matter. Additionally, also to take the demographic consequences of such belligerent policies, once again, without the power to efficaciously object.
This idea of scrapping the concept individual nation states in the European Union was recently advanced by some European parliamentary leaders:

We must have the courage to share sovereignty in the many areas wherein the efforts of individual States are now largely ineffective and doomed to failure: from climate change to energy policies, from financial markets to immigration policies, from tax evasion to the fight against terrorism.
The time has come to move towards a closer political integration: a federal Union of States with a wide range of powers. We know that this concept stirs some controversy,  but the reluctance of some cannot impede the action of all. Those who believe in the european ideal must be ready to act, rather than stand by and helplessly observe its gradual decline. Member states who are not yet ready to join this closer union, may do so at a later point.

Former State Secretary for defense and Vice President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and European Cooperation, Willy Wimmer, says that this proposal is part a movement within the EU to erode individual, national, obstacles to larger EU strategies. Wimmer said recently:

“We face critical decisions in the European Union these days. I think there is a major obstacle to the development of the EU because Brussels – mainly France and Germany – want to get rid of the nation states. [Bringing together nation states] had been the founding principle in the European community as we know it since 1956. This principle [is something] that the Polish people, or the Dutch people, the Swedes, the Spanish and also the Germans are not willing to go astray from.”

This proposal would provide Brussels the power to impose policy and implement strategies that might otherwise face serious objection from some other EU member nations. Wimmer mentioned the recognition of Kosovo and the recent migrant quotas imposed on EU member states, as examples.

The big boys, like Germany and France, want to have the power to dictate to the rest of Europe how things are gonna go down. Essentially, France and Germany get to call the shots, backed up by their buddies, while the smaller countries, namely those in the East, just have to take whatever their German friends dish out. This move would result in a loss of sovereignty by yielding this simple majority to the West.

…”Merkel made a decision by herself – not by the German parliament and not by the German law – to open up the German borders,” Wimmer said.
“They want to change the internal laws in Europe just to make it possible for German decisions or French decisions to overrule the independence of countries like Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic or Slovakia.”

Israel Threatens To Expand Response If Gaza Clashes Continue

Israel says it will expand response if Gaza clashes go on

The Israeli military said Saturday that if violence drags on along the Gaza border, Israel will expand its reaction to strike the terrorists behind it.
IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis said the military has thus far restricted its response to those trying to breach its border, but if attacks continue it will go after terrorists “in other places, too.”
Thousands of Palestinians marched to Gaza’s border with Israel on Friday in the largest such demonstration in recent memory, calling for Palestinians to be allowed to return to land that their ancestors fled from in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said 16 Palestinians were killed and over 1,400 injured by Israel during the mass protests. It said more than 750 people were hurt by live rounds.
Manelis said all those killed were engaged in violence. He said Gaza health officials exaggerated the number of those wounded, and that several dozen at most were injured by live fire while the rest were merely shaken up by tear gas and other riot dispersal means.
A spokesman for Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital said it received 284 injured people Friday, the majority with bullet injuries. Ayman Sahbani said 70 were under the age of 18 and 11 were women.
He said 40 surgeries were performed Friday and that 50 were planned Saturday. “These are all from live bullets that broke limbs or caused deep, open wounds with damage to nerves and veins,” he said.
Around 200 demonstrators protested near the Gaza border on Saturday noon, according to Palestinian media.
The local Shehab news agency reported protests east of Jabaliya and Khan Younis. It said the Israeli military fired at some of the demonstrators, and that two were injured.
Shehab also claimed that the bodies of two demonstrators killed on Friday were in Israeli hands.
On Friday evening, Gaza’s Hamas leaders called on protesters to retreat from the border area until Saturday.
Protest organizers have said mass marches would continue until May 15, the 70th anniversary of Israel’s creation. Palestinians mark that date as their “nakba,” or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands were uprooted during the 1948 war over Israel’s creation. The vast majority of Gaza’s 2 million people are descendants of Palestinians who fled or were driven from homes in what is now Israel.
Manelis reiterated Saturday that Israel “will not allow a massive breach of the fence into Israeli territory.”
He said that Hamas and other Gaza terror groups are using protests as a cover for staging attacks. If violence continues, “we will not be able to continue limiting our activity to the fence area and will act against these terror organizations in other places too,” he said.
The violence appeared to die down after sundown, but the army said it was remaining on high alert amid fears of persisting attacks, including infiltration attempts and rocket fire. Tanks and jets bombed Hamas sites in the early evening, after two Gazans opened fire on troops, the IDF said.
Hadashot news reported Saturday morning that three rockets were launched from the Strip towards Israel overnight following the demonstrations, but that all three fell inside Gaza.
The Palestinian Authority declared Saturday a day of mourning for those killed.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel was “fully responsible” for the violence. In a speech broadcast on Palestine TV, Abbas said he has asked the United Nations to immediately work toward providing protection for the “defenseless” Palestinians. “The large number of martyrs and injured in peaceful demonstrations affirms the need for the international community to intervene to provide protection for our people,” Abbas said.

Friday, March 30, 2018

12th Major Quake Hits Papua New Guinea This Year

A magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck off the southern coast of Papua New Guinea’s New Britain Island on Friday, initially triggering a tsunami warning for surrounding coastlines, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

The shallow quake struck close to the coast, around 100 miles (162 km) southwest of Rabaul, a much more remote region than the country’s mountainous mainland highlands where a magnitude 7.5 tremor struck on Feb. 26, killing 100 people.

Incredibly 12 of the 31 major quakes this year have occurred in or around Papua New Guinea.
Today's major quakes were the 8th of March and brought the total to 31 in 2018, 14 more than the same time period of last year.

Of the 31 major quakes reported this year, 30 of them have occurred during coronal activity on the sun.

Solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole is brushing against Earth's magnetic field today.

The Passover Sacrifice Reenactment: Approaching The Glory Of The Temple

The Passover Sacrifice Reenactment: Approaching the Glory of the Temple [PHOTO SPREAD]

The Passover Sacrifice Reenactment: Approaching the Glory of the Temple [PHOTO SPREAD]

“The glory of this latter House shall be greater than that of the former one, said God of Hosts; and in this place I will grant prosperity—declares God of Hosts.” Haggai 2:9 (The Israel Bible™)
On Monday, the United Temple Movements held a full-dress reenactment of the Passover sacrifice, coming as close as possible to replicating one of the central ceremonies in Judaism as it appeared in the Temple. Over 1,500 people gathered to watch and even get a physical taste of what once was and what will soon be again: the glory of the Jewish Temple.
(Photo property Adam Propp)
A firepit is prepared to roast the sacrifice which, in Temple times, was eaten with herbs and matzah (unleavened bread). The lamb must be roasted whole and entirely consumed before sunrise.
(Photo property Adam Propp)
Two sheep sanctified for the sacrifice. They are rigorously checked before and after slaughter to ascertain that they are kosher, with no blemishes on their organs.
(Photo property Adam Propp)
Used for washing their hands and feet, the laver is the first aspect of the service the priests encounter. The seven-branched menorah was a permanent fixture inside the Temple.
(Photo property Adam Propp)
This model of the altar was created for the reenactment. The real altar is made of unhewn stones. The red line, called the chut hasikra, was used to determine where to sprinkle the blood on the altar.
(Photo property Adam Propp)
The rack for the showbreads was a permanent fixture in the Temple that stood just outside the Holy of Holies.
(Photo property Adam Propp)
Removing the organs and the skin from the Passover sacrifice before roasting.
(Photo property Adam Propp)
Rabbi Yehudah Glick, a Member of Knesset and Temple Mount Activist, took part in the proceedings.
(Photo property Adam Propp)
Kohanim wash their hands and feet in preparation for the service. The Temple service is always performed barefoot.
(Photo property Adam Propp)
Just some of the Kohanim that were present for the ceremony.
(Photo property Adam Propp)
Spilling the blood on the model altar.
(Photo property Adam Propp)
Silver horns specially prepared for use in the Third Temple.
(Photo property Adam Propp)
The sacrifice is roasted and ready to be eaten. The Passover sacrifice is, after all, a Thanksgiving feast to honor God for bringing the Jews from slavery into the Land of Israel.
(Photo property Adam Propp)

UN Security Council Calls Emergency Meeting On Gaza As World Slams Israel

UN calls emergency meeting on Gaza as Arab world slams Israel

The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on Gaza Friday night, after Palestinian officials said 16 Palestinians were killed and over 1,400 more injured in deadly clashes with Israeli troops during a massive border protest.
The meeting, to be held at the request of Kuwait, was to begin at 6:30 p.m. New York time, a diplomat said on condition of anonymity. It was to be held behind closed doors, meaning Israeli and Palestinian representatives would not be able to attend.
The move came as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he had asked the United Nations to immediately work toward providing protection for the “defenseless” Palestinians.

Friday’s clashes were the deadliest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 2014 Gaza War. Israeli troops used live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas to keep thousands of Gazans from trying to approach the border fence. The military said protesters threw firebombs and rocks at soldiers, rolled burning tires at them and in one incident opened fire.
The IDF spokesman Ronen Manelis said the IDF faced “a violent, terrorist demonstration at six points” along the fence. He said the IDF used “pinpoint fire” wherever there were attempts to breach or damage the security fence. “All the fatalities were aged 18-30, several of the fatalities were known to us, and at least two of them were members of Hamas commando forces,” he said in a late afternoon statement.
Israel was condemned by the Muslim world over the violence, with many accusing it of using “disproportionate force” against Palestinian rioters.
“We strongly condemn Israel’s use of disproportionate force against Palestinians during the peaceful protests today (Friday) in Gaza,” Turkey’s foreign ministry said in a statement Friday.

The Turkish foreign ministry expressed “concerns” over the casualties. “It is necessary that Israel rapidly ends use of force that would further raise the tensions in the region,” it said. “We are inviting the international community to fulfil its responsibility to convince Israel to give up on its hostile attitude.”
Jordanian minister Mohammed Momani said Amman was holding Israel responsible for the use of “excessive force” against what it said were peaceful demonstrators, the state-run Petra news agency said.
Egypt also condemned the use of “violence” against what it said were unarmed civilians and called on Israelis to avoid excessive force.
The Arab League put out a statement condemning Israel “for its brutal handling of peaceful demonstrations,” according to the UAE-based al-Bayan news outlet.

Ahead of the meeting, Israel’s ambassador to the UN told the Security Council that Hamas was intentionally endangering the lives of innocent civilians, and urged member states not to be
“Today we saw yet another example of Hamas exploiting civilians as they sent children to the fence with Israel intentionally endangering their lives. The international community must not be deceived by Hamas’ attempts to conceal their crimes,” Ambassador Danny Danon said in statement.
Gazan leaders have vowed that Friday’s protests were only the beginning of a new campaign against Israel. Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar said the demonstrations would continue until there was no longer a border. The protests are expected to culminate with a march “through” the border fence on May 15.
Hamas is an Islamist terror group that seeks to destroy Israel. It seized control of Gaza from Abbas’s Fatah in 2007.

Israeli Tanks And Planes Bomb Hamas Sites In Gaza Strip After Gazans Fire On Troops, Abbas Says Israel Fully To Blame As Death Toll In Clashes Rises To 15

Israel hits Hamas sites with tanks, jets after Gazans fire on troops

Israeli tanks and planes bombed Hamas sites in the Gaza Strip Friday evening after troops came under fire amid intense day-long clashes on the border.
The Israel Defense Forces said it targeted three sites belonging to Hamas with tanks and from the air. There were no immediate reports of injuries from the attack, which came as the death toll in clashes along the border rose to 12, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry.
The reprisal attack came after troops were shot at by two Gazans approaching the security fence. No Israeli troops were hurt in the exchange, the IDF said.

“In response, IDF troops immediately fired according to the rules of engagement, targeting the terrorists,” the IDF said in a statement. The army would not say if the two were hit.
The IDF said troops also fired at suspects who had infiltrated into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip via the security fence. The statement did not say if the suspects were still in Israeli territory.

A picture taken on March 30, 2018 shows Palestinians fleeing as tear gas grenades begin to drop during a demonstration near the border with Israel east of Gaza City to commemorate Land Day. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)

The army earlier said troops were firing on suspects who approached the border fence out of fears they could use the chaos of Friday’s large demonstrations as cover to plant bombs or infiltrate into Israel.
A spokesperson said the shooting attack was “further proof that the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip use these violent riots in order to camouflage terror.”
“The Hamas terror organization is responsible for violent riots and everything taking place under its auspices. The IDF will not allow the security fence to be turned into an area of terror,” the spokesperson added.
The cross-border exchange capped a day that saw some 30,000 Gazans protest at several points along the security fence, as part of a so-called March of Return that is expected to last six weeks, with Gazans camping in tent cities near the security fence ahead of a larger protest planned for mid-May.
Gazan sources said at least 12 people were killed and over 1,000 more injured in the fighting. The army said protesters hurled firebombs and stones at troops and burned tires. Many of the injuries came from rubber bullets and tear gas inhalation, though the IDF used live ammunition as well.

The shooting attack, which came as the darkness fell Friday, came shortly after an army official said troops would remain deployed along the border amid fears of persistent attacks.
The official said this could include any number of things, including attempts to infiltrate the border, attacks with improvised explosive devices or rocket fire.
“We are ready for any scenario,” an official said

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel was “fully responsible” for deadly clashes that left at least 15 Gazans killed and over 1,000 more wounded amid violent clashes with IDF troops along the security fence Friday.
In a speech broadcast on Palestine TV, Abbas said he has asked the United Nations to immediately work toward providing protection for the “defenseless” Palestinians. “The large number of martyrs and injured in peaceful demonstrations affirms the need for the international community to intervene to provide protection for our people,” Abbas said.
Friday’s clashes marked the bloodiest day since the 2014 Gaza war, kicking off what Gaza’s Hamas rulers envision as a campaign of mass sit-ins along the border, meant to spotlight the demand of uprooted Palestinians and their descendants to return to what is now Israel.
On Friday evening, Gazan leaders called on protesters to retreat from the border area until Saturday, with the demonstration planned to extend six weeks, until the inauguration of the new US embassy in Jerusalem around May 14.
The army said it estimated some 30,000 demonstrators took part in the protests throughout Friday, with some Gazans throwing firebombs and rocks at troops and rolling burning tires toward soldiers.
The protests appeared to die down after sundown, but the army said it was remaining on high alert amid fears of persisting attacks, including infiltration attempts and rocket fire. Tanks and jets bombed Hamas sites in the early evening, after two Gazans opened fire on troops, the IDF said.
“This severe shooting attack is further proof that the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip use these violent riots in order to camouflage terror,” the IDF said in a statement, hours after a top general said terrorists were using the protests as cover for carrying out attacks.
Israeli security forces also used a drone to fire tear gas toward those along the border from overhead in one of the first uses of the device, a police spokesman said.
The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry confirmed 15 people killed during the day-long violence. Another 1,416 people were injured, including 758 from live fire, according to the ministry. The death toll included a farmer killed in early morning shelling. Palestinians said he was working his land, but Israel said troops directed tank fire toward suspicious figures on the border.

The army confirmed that soldiers had shot at “main instigators.” The military maintained that it would not allow Palestinian protesters to “violate Israel’s sovereignty” by crossing the security fence.
Abbas’s office said the Palestinian leader had decided to declare Saturday a “day of national mourning.”
Abbas instructed the Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, Riad Mansour, to “take the necessary measures to demand international protection for the Palestinians,” said a statement released by the PA president’s office in Ramallah on Friday.
The PA Ministry of Information accused Israel of targeting “peaceful” marches with live ammunition and said this was proof of the need to provide international protection for the Palestinians. The ministry praised Palestinians for heeding calls to take part in demonstrations marking the 42nd anniversary of Land Day in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar joined mass protests along the Gaza border Friday, warning Israel that it should take heed of the tens of thousands of Palestinians demonstrating for the right to “return” to Israel.
In a fiery message, Sinwar called on those “besieging” the Gaza Strip to “recalculate” their position and absorb the message emanating from the protest.
If they are hungry, the people of the Gaza Strip will “eat the livers of those besieging” the coastal enclave, Sinwar warned, using an Arabic idiom that means to take revenge on someone.

Sinwar, the head of Hamas inside the enclave, appeared at the site of the mass protests on the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel along with other Hamas leaders.
The protests, dubbed the March of Return, are expected to last for six weeks, culminating in a large demonstration in mid-May meant to coincide with the anniversary of Israel’s creation and the dedication of the US embassy in Jerusalem.
Thousands of Gazans are expected to camp in a tent city erected near the border fence for the duration, with demonstrations expected every Friday to protest for the return of Palestinian refugee and their descendants to lands now within Israel.

Over 60 Palestinians were injured in clashes with IDF troops that took place across the West Bank Friday, as Palestinians commemorated deadly fighting over 40 years ago and gathered in solidarity with the “March of Return” demonstrations being held en masse along the Gaza border.
The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that at least 27 Palestinians were injured in Land Day demonstrations held in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and that 63 were injured in total.
An IDF spokesman referred to the scattered West Bank protests, which attracted some 900 demonstrators, as small scale.

Palestinian media reported Israeli troops firing tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators near Nablus and Ramallah.

The protests were a small fraction of much larger demonstrations on the Gaza border, where over 30,000 Palestinians massed near the security fence in what was a termed the “March of Return,” encouraged by the Hamas terror group that rules the Strip.