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President Trump: Iran Stepped Back from the Brink of War
by Ilse Strauss
Thursday, 9 January 2020 | Following nearly a week of sabre rattling, screaming bloody revenge and firing a barrage of ballistic missiles on American targets, the Islamic Republic of Iran is apparently backing away from the brink of war. Speaking from the White House Grand Foyer yesterday, US President Donald Trump told the nation in an official address that “Iran appears to be standing down.”
The president’s remarks come after Tehran early Thursday morning sent more than a dozen surface-to-surface ballistic missiles raining down on two Iraqi military bases housing American troops in retaliation for the US killing Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force late commander General Qassam Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad last week. The attacks marked the most direct Iranian assault on America since the 1979 seizing of the US Embassy in Tehran.
President Trump, however, did not open his address with an update on the attack. His first words were a vow to the powers-that-be in Tehran: “As long as I am president of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.”
The president has made similar promises in the past—but perhaps the Iranian mullahs are now more inclined to listen. The past week has, after all, made it clear that the US president’s promises regarding Iran are more than tough talk. With that clarified, President Trump turned his attention to the Islamic Republic’s strikes in Iraq.
“I’m pleased to inform you: The American people should be extremely grateful and happy no Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime. We suffered no casualties, all of our soldiers are safe, and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases.”
The president continued by allaying fears that Washington and Tehran were about to face each other on the battlefield, embroiling the entire Middle East in war. “Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world.”
According to the Times of Israel, President Trump’s message indicated that he planned no response to the Iranian strike, which signals a de-escalation in the knife-edge tensions.
The president emphasized, however, that he would be keeping a close eye on the Islamic Republic and that the era of the Tehran terror regime bullying the region unchecked had come to an end. “For far too long—all the way back to 1979, to be exact—nations have tolerated Iran’s destructive and destabilizing behavior in the Middle East and beyond. Those days are over. Iran has been the leading sponsor of terrorism, and their pursuit of nuclear weapons threatens the civilized world. We will never let that happen.”
Commenting on the targeted killing of Solemani last week, President Trump highlighted the “world’s top terrorist’s” bloody résumé of terror. The second most powerful man in Tehran, Trump said, was “personally responsible for some of the absolutely worst atrocities,” including training “terrorist armies,” “launching terrorist strikes against civilian targets,” fueling bloody civil wars all across the region” and “viciously” wounding and murdering “thousands of US troops, including the planting of roadside bombs that maim and dismember their victims.”
“In recent days, he was planning new attacks on American targets, but we stopped him,” President Trump continued. “Soleimani’s hands were drenched in both American and Iranian blood. By removing Soleimani, we have sent a powerful message to terrorists: If you value your own life, you will not threaten the lives of our people.”
President Trump concluded by addressing Iran’s nuclear ambitions, announcing that the US will “immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions” until the Islamic Republic calls a halt to plans and activities to become a nuclear power.
Condemning the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as “defective” and giving “Iran a clear and quick path to nuclear breakout,” President Trump called the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia and China to “recognize this reality,” “break away from the remnants of the Iran deal” and “work together toward making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place.” Iran, in turn, “must abandon its nuclear ambitions and end its support for terrorism.”
Throughout the weeks of heightened tensions, Israel continued to reiterate its support for the US. While Jerusalem made it clear that it played no part in Soleimani’s killing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publically declared his approval.
“Qassem Soleimani was responsible for the death of countless innocent people,” Netanyahu said yesterday. “He destabilized many countries. For decades, he sowed fear and misery and anguish. And he was planning much worse.
“President Trump should be congratulated for acting swiftly, boldly and resolutely against this terrorist-in-chief, who was the architect and driver of Iran’s campaign of terror throughout the Middle East and throughout the world,” he added.
In the aftermath of the Iranian strike yesterday morning, President Trump spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu, discussing “critical bilateral and regional issues,” a statement said. No further details of the discussion were provided.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, 9 January 2020)
Photo Credit: CNN/Youtube/Screenshot
Praise the Lord that the Iranian leadership has stepped back from any further action that might lead to all-out war. Pray that US President Trump and PM Netanyahu will proceed with caution yet decisively to keep Iran from achieving its nuclear ambition and stop Iranian sponsorship of terrorist organizations in the Middle East and around the world. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the entire region.
For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you.
Tens of Thousands March against Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem, New York
by Kate Norman
Tuesday, 7 January 2020 | Thousands of people from all backgrounds and religions gathered in New York City on Sunday to march across the Brooklyn Bridge demonstrating solidarity with their Jewish neighbors who experienced a dramatic spike of anti-Semitic attacks in December.
An estimated 25,000 from multiple states gathered in support of Jewish people in the region after a horrible spate of December attacks, including a mass shooting outside a kosher supermarket in New Jersey that killed four people, and most recently the violent stabbing of five people during a Hanukkah (Festival of Light) celebration in Monsey, New York. Several Jewish people in Brooklyn’s Orthodox neighborhoods also experienced verbal and physical assaults.
Top US politicians, including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, led the march behind the event’s official banner bearing the words “No hate. No fear.”
Cuomo promised to ramp up governmental action against anti-Semitic hate crimes by designating them as domestic terrorism (allowing for harsher punishment under the law), allocating more money for security at religious sites including schools and cultural centers, and increasing police presence in volatile communities.
“What has happened in Brooklyn, what has happened in Monsey, New York, was an attack on every New Yorker and every New Yorker has felt the pain,” Cuomo declared at the event, as quoted by the Jerusalem Post. “Racism and antisemitism is anti-American and we have to remember that.”
The city’s public advocate said he thinks the problem goes deeper than not having enough police officers on the street and instead proposed increasing education against hate and stepping up treatment for mental health, the Jerusalem Post reported.
“I think cops should be used for acute situations and we have to work with our police officers, but anytime we directly go there and we have to have more cops for everything, that means the rest of us are failing,” Jumaane Williams said at the event, as quoted by the Jerusalem Post. “I don’t know if it’s a problem that cops can solve. We as a community have to get together and make sure people are not just tolerating folks but understanding and accepting the beauty of everyone’s culture, the beauty of everyone’s religion, and that takes time.”
Six thousand miles away, Israelis in downtown Jerusalem held their own rally in solidarity outside the Jewish Agency for Israel headquarters.
“We stand with the many thousands of our brothers, sisters and friends in NYC marching against the rising Antisemitism,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted in support of New York’s demonstration. “We will not waver in our battle against Antisemitism and hate.”
Over a two-day period during Hanukkah (Festival of Lights), six anti-Semitic incidents were reported in New York City and New Jersey, five of those incidents assaults, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) New York/New Jersey. The ADL regional director called it “appalling, shocking and unacceptable.”
Jewish people living in highly vulnerable communities around New York and New Jersey—especially Hasidic Jews, who are easily identifiable by their style of dress—say the recent anti-Semitic attacks are causing anxiety within their communities.
“It’s getting very scary, and it’s putting a lot of stress on our daily lives,” Esther Weiss, a Hasidic woman living in Brooklyn’s Jewish haven, Williamsburg, told NPR.
Her husband, Yehuda, said he doesn’t think everyone should have guns or weapons, but he is considering carrying Mace spray for self-defense. Their 12-year-old son, Lazar, described the anxiety of swapping harassment stories with other Jewish children his age, seeing security posts outside his religious school and participating in shooter drills at school.
“Coming home I see a white car, it goes fast and I turn around and see it’s opening its door. I started running,” he said.
No one should have to live like that, the ADL New York/New Jersey regional director asserted in a statement.
“Every single person should be free to walk down the street without having to look over their shoulder. Every single person should be free to practice their religion without fearing they will be targeted,” Williams said.
“It is not enough to simply condemn these incidents; we must come together as a city to address the root causes of hatred and bigotry within our communities,” he added.
“But it also falls on each and every one of us, regardless of our backgrounds, to stand up to hatred and bigotry each and every time, regardless of its source and regardless of the intended target. Enough is enough; this stops today.”
Source: (Bridges for Peace, December 7, 2020)
Photo Credit: Barely Informed with Elad/Youtube/Screenshot
Thank God for the incredible support for the Jewish people shown by the citizens of New York and New Jersey. Pray that Governor Cuomo will make good on his promises to increase protection and classify anti-Semitic hate crimes as domestic terrorism. As anti-Semitism increases globally, pray for the safety of God’s chosen people worldwide.
For he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.
IDF Annual Report: More Rockets, Less Terror Acts
by Yoav Zitun
Monday, 6 January 2020 | Acts of Palestinian terrorism are on the decline while rocket fire at Israeli population centers is on the rise, the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] said in a recent report summarizing military activity throughout the calendar year of 2019.
In 2019, there were 1,295 documented rocket launches from the Gaza Strip. Of that number, 729 landed in open areas and an additional 478 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system—about 85% of all rockets launched at populated areas.
This is the highest number of rockets launched at Israeli communities in a calendar year since 2014, when Israel fought its third war in Gaza, a conflict that lasted seven weeks.
Nearly 93% of rocket launches were recorded during various rounds of escalation between Israel and Gaza’s terror factions.
Two IDF soldiers were killed in 2019 by terrorist activity and a further eleven soldiers were moderately to seriously wounded.
Despite a tumultuous year in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria], terrorist activity seems to have decreased.
Only 19 shooting incidents were documented during 2019 as opposed to 33 and 34 in the years 2018 and 2017 respectively.
Molotov cocktail attacks decreased threefold in 2019 to 290 incidents in comparison with the previous year and the number of stone-throwing incidents dropped from 1,881 incidents in 2018 to 1,469 during the past year.
There was also a significant decrease in the sums of money confiscated by the IDF in the West Bank—NIS 972,560 [US $278,957] was seized throughout 2019, compared to NIS 2,156,989 [US $618,684] throughout 2018.
The number of Palestinians arrested in the West Bank also declined, from 3,173 arrests in 2018 to 2,238 arrests made in the past year. By comparison, even more Palestinians were arrested in 2017—a total of 3,527.
This trend is indicative of the downturn in popular terrorist acts after a wave of Palestinian violence recorded in 2016 and 2017, known as “the lone wolf intifada [uprising]” or the “knife intifada,” led to the deaths of 38 Israelis and left more than 500 wounded.
This can also be seen in the number of attacks recorded throughout the year across the West Bank and Jerusalem, with just 51 attacks in 2019 as opposed to 76 attacks in 2018, 75 attacks in 2017 and 141 attacks in 2016.
On the northern front, the IDF sought to focus its attention on the Iranian effort to establish a military presence in Syria and the strengthening of Hezbollah in Lebanon with the delivery of advanced, precision weaponry. The IDF reports carrying out 54 attacks on targets on the Syrian front throughout the year.
The Israel Air Force [IAF] has recorded one of its busiest years in the past decade, with more than 1,800 combat deployments, over 600 operational helicopter deployments, over 900 transport missions and more than 40,000 flight hours with unmanned aerial vehicles.
The IAF evacuated 158 wounded in 213 rescue missions, mostly civilians.
At the same time, Israeli Navy missile ships recorded about 11,250 hours sailing at sea, while seaports hosted foreign fleets 32 times in 2019.
The IDF also reported that the cyber defense community led by the Computer and IT Directorate thwarted hundreds of cyber attacks against the State of Israel, also citing Hamas’s first-ever cyber attack attempt against Israel.
Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/flickr.com
Photo License: flickr.com
Thank the Lord for the decrease in terror attacks in Israel in 2019, resulting in fewer deaths and injuries. However, beseech the Lord that the rocket attacks from Gaza will decrease as well until no such activity occurs and Israelis, especially those in the south, feel safe in their own homes.
The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! You shall again be adorned with your tambourines, and shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice.”
Israel, Greece and Cyprus Ink Landmark Gas Agreement
Friday, 3 January 2020 | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, yesterday in Athens met in the context of the seventh trilateral at which was signed the agreement for the EastMed gas pipeline that will run from Israel through Cyprus and Greece to Europe. Signing the agreement were Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, Greek Environment and Energy Minister Konstantinos Hatzidakis and Cypriot Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Georgios Lakkotrypis.
This inter-governmental agreement is pursuant to the 2017 MOU [memorandum of understanding] and the subsequent preliminary feasibility study. The agreement anchors the commitment of the three countries to the establishment of the project.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said at the joint declarations with the leaders:
“This is a historic day for Israel, because Israel is rapidly becoming an energy superpower, a country that exports energy.
“Just days ago, we opened the Leviathan gas field, and it is producing enormous yields. But with the exportation that will become possible via this pipeline, we will be able to provide hundreds of billions of shekels in revenue to the citizens of Israel—for their welfare, for health, for the young people and the elderly, for everyone. This is an extraordinary development.
“I would also like to mention that we signed a supply agreement with our Arab neighbors. This strengthens the peace, the economy and the future.
“This is also a historic day because the cooperation between Greece, Cyprus and Israel is growing stronger. This is a true alliance in the Eastern Mediterranean that is economic and political, and it adds to the security and stability of the region. Again, not against anyone, but rather for the values and to the benefit of our citizens.
“We call on any other country that wishes to join us to do so. Italy will be added first, but also Egypt and any other country that is interested in doing so. This will strengthen our alliance.
“This is a tremendous change. Israel was always a ‘fringe country’, a country that did not have any connections, literally and figuratively. Now, in addition to our foreign relations, which are flourishing beyond all imagination and everything we have known, we have a specific alliance towards these important goals in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu earlier held bilateral meetings with Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis and Cypriot President Anastasiades.
Source: (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs originally published this article on January 2, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: AFP News Agency/YouTube/screenshot
Praise God for this incredible step forward for Israel. Thank Him for the Leviathan gas fields and the economic and diplomatic relationships being built because of them. Pray that God will protect the fields from attack or terrorism and rejoice that He continues to fulfill promises made to His ancient Land.
And behold, the LORD stood above it and said: “I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.
Sandbags and Storms: Israel Braces for New Bout of Wintry Weather
by Ahiya Raved, Gilad Cohen and Itay Blumenthal
Wednesday, 8 January 2020 | Just days after a storm claimed the lives of four people, authorities across Israel are bracing for a new bout of turbulent winter weather, which is expected to begin Wednesday and will continue through the weekend.
Fire fighters, police officers and volunteers will be deployed throughout the country, and police are warning people to avoid using elevators in the event of power outages and flooding.
Local authorities are also preparing for the storm. In Tel Aviv, sandbags have been distributed in locations designated as emergency centers.
Nahariya municipality in the north, which saw devastating flooding last week, will even move to an emergency footing in the afternoon hours.
According to the forecast, the weather system will affect most areas of the country.
Large amounts of rainfall are expected, leading to flooding across the country, especially in the north and the center, where thunderstorms are also forecast.
During the day, the rain will spread to the center, temperatures will drop and it will become colder than usual for the time of year.
There is a fear of flooding in cities and of rivers. A snowstorm is expected at Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights, and there may be light snow Wednesday morning in the northern Golan.
In the evening, the rain will reach the northern Negev with fear of flooding. There may also be wind gusts of up to 80km [49mi] per hour.
Police are bolstering their forces and are urging the public to contact the emergency hotline in the event of any unusual incidents. In addition, the police recommended people not to travel or hike in flood zones.
“Avoid travel on roads where there is flooding, keep your distance [from other vehicles], and reduce your speed during inclement weather,” the police said. “It is advisable to cancel trips that are not necessary or to areas that may be flooded.”
Fire and Rescue Service Commissioner Dedi Simchi has instructed all districts to prepare for various scenarios, with a focus on a quick response.
He ordered operational reinforcements at fire stations throughout the country and placed volunteer units on full alert.
The Fire Service also emphasized that in the event of flooding, people should avoid subterranean parking lots and refrain from using elevators below ground level.
Last weekend, 25-year-old couple Dean Shoshani and Stav Harari drowned in when they became trapped in an elevator in their Tel Aviv building’s underground car park as it filled up with floodwater.
Rescue services also advise people to avoid open spaces and stay away from antennas and trees in the event of a lightning storm.
The Electric Corporation also announced that it is on high alert and has halted disconnections for people who have not paid their bills.
It has warned that there is zero chance that the power grid will emerge unscathed from the severe weather.
Photo Credit: Катаклизмы и катастрофы природы/Youtube/Screenshot
Pray that the rains will come and water the earth, but that the Lord will protect the Land from turbulent weather. Pray that Israelis will heed the warnings of authorities, and intercede for the emergency workers as they labor to keep people safe.
God thunders marvelously with His voice; He does great things which we cannot comprehend. Also with moisture He saturates the thick clouds; He scatters His bright clouds. And they swirl about, being turned by His guidance, that they may do whatever He commands them on the face of the whole earth.
Israel Unveils Revolutionary Laser-based Air Defense System
by Yoav Zitun
Thursday, 9 January 2020 | After decades of expensive experiments, failed projects and fruitless ventures, [the] Israeli defense establishment unveiled its latest revolutionary technological achievement. The Ministry of Defense announced Wednesday it has successfully developed a laser-based air defense system.
The system is meant to intercept aerial threats ranging from mortar fire, drones, medium range Grad rockets and anti-tank missiles as well as long-range missiles, currently at the disposal of Iran-backed terror groups in Syria and Lebanon.
The system is set to be tested in six months’ time at an undisclosed location in northern Israel. If the interception test is successful, the laser-based system will be dispatched for field use along Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip.
The laser, which was developed and manufactured by the government-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Elbit Systems over the past decade, has so far proven its interception capabilities during comprehensive testing over its lengthy development cycle.
The plan is to extend the laser’s uses and mount its systems on armored vehicles and trucks meant for battlefields in order to protect ground troops in hostile territory. In addition, there are plans to install the system on the Israeli Air Force jets in an effort to start intercepting long-range missiles from above.
“After many years of dreaming of an energy-based weapon system that doesn’t include any kind of ‘flying metal’ I can finally say we are so very close,” said Dubi Oster, the head of Optoelectronics at the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure.
“The capabilities we developed are based on electric lasers as opposed to the less reliable, more common chemical laser,” said Oster, “meaning we’ll be able to target and intercept a flying target from a distance of five kilometers (3.1 miles).”
The system’s interception will also be much cheaper than that of the Iron Dome, since it does not require expensive interceptor missiles. “The system basically has endless munition,” said Oster. “The system is also plugged to a power source, so there’s no need to reload regular ordnance.”
The new laser system is expected to complement existing active defense systems in the future, such as the Arrow, Patriot and the Iron Dome.
For all its innovations, the system does have its downsides—mainly its field of view, which is highly dependent on weather conditions since the system relies on optics in order to successfully hit the intended target.
“If we successfully attach the system to an aircraft, we could overcome the hurdle of [unexpected] weather…we could potentially intercept rocket fire right above the enemy’s heads,” said the Defense Ministry.
“The Israeli mind keeps paving the way, the new laser project will turn Israel’s defense into deadlier and more advanced,” said Defense Minister Naftali Bennett. “It’s a clear message to our enemies, our capabilities are vast.”
Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published in Ynetnews on 8 January 2020. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: Haaretz.com/Youtube/Screenshot
Praise the Lord for yet another Israeli innovation that will help keep His people safe. Pray that the development of this new laser-based air defense system will proceed without difficulties and be implemented quickly to bring another layer of protection to the nation. At the same time, pray that the Lord will cause peace to reign and that such military equipment will never be forced into action.
Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men! You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion.
IDF Pushing for Thousands of Gazans to Work in Israel
by Yoav Zitun
Tuesday, 7 January 2020 | Israel Defense Forces [IDF] Chief of General Staff Aviv Kochavi made a dramatic announcement on Wednesday in which he declared his support for the plan to offer Gaza’s citizens certain relief in return for calm in southern Israel.
The plan, which Kochavi refers to as “government policy,” would see thousands of Gaza citizens enter Israel for employment purposes, and is nothing less than a breakthrough since it deals with a subject that was considered taboo in Israel ever since the doors to Gaza were locked 13 years ago.
Bringing workers from Gaza into Israeli territory is a step which was publicly sanctioned by the IDF and will potentially be endorsed by new Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, who tends to adopt the classic “carrot and stick” method, which proved itself when it successfully prevented a third intifada (uprising) four years ago.
According to this method, civil and economic relief will be given to the people of Gaza as long as calm persists, but if Hamas instigates an attack on Israeli soil for any reason, it will be the people of Gaza who will pay the price—which will be high, uncompromising and extremely severe.
Israel hopes that this will cause the people of Gaza to rein in Hamas with demands for calm, effectively forcing the group or any other instigators in the Strip to adhere to the people’s wishes.
Quietly and effectively, Israel has increased the number of Gaza merchants and workers allowed to enter its territory.
As further proof for the progress being made in Gaza, Hamas officially announced on Thursday that it will dramatically decrease the number of protests in the Strip.
The plan is not without its hurdles though. The Shin Bet (Israeli internal security organization) domestic security service is vehemently opposed to the idea of letting any more Gazans into Israeli territory, fearing that some of those granted entry will either operate on behalf of Hamas or turn into lone wolf terrorists, gathering intelligence or going on sporadic killing sprees while inside Israel.
The Shin Bet is also concerned Hamas will use this opportunity to make contact with terror groups located in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria], groups that are thirsty for money and guidance from the Hamas leadership.
Furthermore, Israel’s powerful right-wing political bloc fears that agreeing to let in more Palestinians from Gaza would result in public criticism that would hamper its chances of success in the March 2 elections.
Such fears could result in the next elected prime minister abolishing the idea, causing further deterioration in the relationship with Hamas, resulting in another unwanted engagement.
Either way, the IDF is bent on seeing its idea through, even if it’s only so that it can focus on their central objective—denying Iran the opportunity to establish itself in Syria, while denying its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah the chance to get its hand on advanced weaponry.
Photo License: Wikimedia.org
Photo Credit: Mujaddara/Wikimedia.org
Pray for great wisdom for Israeli leaders as they make decisions such as this one, determining whether or not to allow increasing numbers of Gazans into Israel in order to improve the quality of their lives. Pray that the carrot-and-stick method preferred by Defense Minister Naftali Bennett will be effective in reducing violence and terror, bringing stability to the nation.
Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.
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