Israel Prayer Update

Every week, we post from seven to ten news stories from Israel with a suggested prayer focus and scripture for each one, guiding readers how to pray for Israel's most urgent needs. This Prayer Update is also sent to over 19,000 subscribers every Friday by e-mail. Fill out the form on the side if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.

We are sending our regular Friday update out today because it is the erev of the seventh day of Pesach. Friday, the seventh day, is set apart as a shabbat and our office will be closed in observance.

  1. France Announces Israel–Palestinian Peace Summit in May
  2. East Jerusalem Elementary School under Investigation
  3. IDF Carries Out Major Exercise in Golan Heights
  4. Palestinian Youth Support Knife Terror Attack against Israel
  5. Facebook, Twitter Shutting Down Hamas Accounts
  6. Israeli Industrialists Go to Egypt for the First Time in 10 Years
  7. American Olim Delighted with Life in Israel
  8. Journeys to Freedom: IDF Rescue Operations
  9. Israeli Aid Teams Bring Relief in Disaster-stricken Japan and Ecuador
  10. Israeli ‘Liver On A Chip’ Could Help Scientists Fight Cancer
  1. France Announces Israel–Palestinian Peace Summit in May

    by Ilse Posselt

    France (dark green) and European Union countries (light green) Monday, 25 April 2016 | Late last week, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced that ministers and representatives from some 30 countries and international organizations will flock to Paris for a special summit on 30 May 2016. The high-level get-together, he explained, has a singular purpose: re-launching the Israel-Palestinian peace process.

    Neither Israel nor the Palestinians have, however, been invited to participate in the meeting aimed at mapping out their future.

    Speaking to four international newspapers, including Israel’s Haaretz and pan-Arab daily, Al Quds Al-Arabi, Ayrault explained that the summit has been called in an attempt to hammer out the parameters for a future international peace conference between Israel and the Palestinians. World powers, he clarified, would thus have the opportunity to forge a common strategy for imminent negotiations without the presence of either Israeli or Palestinian officials.

    The prospective peace talks, planned for the second half of this year, will once again be hosted in the French capital. And this time, he acknowledged, both Israel and the Palestinians would be invited.

    Israel has not commented on the announcement yet, but has critiqued the French approach sharply in the past, calling it “mystifying” and counterproductive.

    As early as January 2016, the former French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, announced France’s intention to convene an international peace conference aimed at breathing new life into the Israeli–Palestinian peace talks. Yet the French declaration came with a thinly veiled ultimatum to Jerusalem: if the peace efforts came to naught, Paris would recognize a Palestinian state.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to hit back at the French “threat”, saying it constituted “an incentive to the Palestinians to come along and not compromise.”

    “It says, ‘We shall hold an international conference but, if it doesn't succeed, we are deciding in advance what the consequence will be—we shall recognize a Palestinian state,’” Netanyahu told reporters during a visit to Berlin in January.

    Whether France plans to stick to its resolution should the prospective peace talks fail remains to be seen. Ayrault was, however, clear regarding France’s definition of a successful agreement. “There is no other solution to the conflict than a two-state solution, Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace and security with Jerusalem a shared capital,” he said in Paris.

    “The two sides are more divided than ever,” he conceded. “I’m not naive, but am acting in good faith. There is no alternative.”

    According to Ayrault, discussions at the May summit will be based on the 2002 Saudi Arabia peace initiative. The initiative demands the Jewish state withdraw to pre-1967 borders, divide Jerusalem and welcome an influx of “Palestinian refugees.” In exchange, Israel would receive the promise of normalization of ties with Arab countries. The Arab League accepted the plan. Israel rejected it.

    France’s announcement comes in the midst of the most severe Palestinian terror wave since the Second Intifada. Over the past six months, numerous stabbing, shooting and car ramming attacks have claimed the lives of 34 Israelis.

    Netanyahu has stated clearly that provocative statements by Palestinian leaders are to blame for the actions of their people. “It has been proven again that the wild Palestinian incitement leads to acts of terrorism and murder,” he said.

    Earlier this month Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations warned that there are no shortcuts to peace. “The only path to moving negotiations forward begins with denouncing terrorism and stopping incitement, and ends with direct negotiations between the sides.”

    Source: (Bridges for Peace, 25 April 2016)

    Photo Credit: NuclearVacuum/wikipedia.org

    Photo License: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:EU-France.svg

    Prayer Focus

    Praise the Lord for His covenant with Israel. Beseech Him for Israel’s leaders to keep their eyes focused on Him and to stand firm against the world’s pressure to compromise the safety of God’s chosen Land and People. Pray that God will bless the land with peace that will eliminate future acts of terrorism.

    Scripture

    I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the LORD. 

    - Exodus 6:7-8

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  2. East Jerusalem Elementary School under Investigation

    by Roi Yanovski

    Jabel Mukaber, east Jerusalem Thursday, 28 April 2016 | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has requested Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to investigate whether or not a speaking engagement by the parents of terrorists at an east Jerusalem elementary school constitutes incitement. Meanwhile, Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan also turned to the police several days ago to determine the same. The Jerusalem police have already opened an initial investigation.

    Earlier this week, Ynet reported that a special convocation at the Jabel Mukaber elementary school in east Jerusalem was held, whereby parents of terrorists killed by Israel in the recent wave of terror came and spoke to the children. The convocation itself took place three weeks ago. The Jabel Mukaber neighborhood is located next to Armon HaNatziv.

    Amongst those who spoke at the meeting was Mohammad Aliyan, the father of Baha Aliyan who, along with another terrorist, killed three Jews on a bus in Armon HaNatziv.

    The Jerusalem municipality responded by saying that the event took place at a private school that isn't regulated by the municipality or the Israeli Ministry of Education. Therefore, they don't have the ability to interfere with what is being taught there.

    There are many private schools in east Jerusalem which are not under the purview of the Israeli Ministry of Education, and they receive no funding from the ministry or from the municipality. The Jabel Mukaber school is operated by an association called "Jabel Mukaber," which is funded by Islamic officials.

    Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 27 April 2016. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

    Photo Credit: Tamarah/wikipedia

    Photo License: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gabbel4.jpg

    Prayer Focus

    Bring these children and their school before the Lord. Beseech Him that private schools will not use their facilities to poison the children’s minds with acts of terrorism. Pray for parents of terrorists to find peace and forgiveness and teach children positive things.

    Scripture

    And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

    - Deuteronomy 6:6-7

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  3. IDF Carries Out Major Exercise in Golan Heights

    by Yoav Zitun

    IDF exercise on the Golan Heights (illustrative) 25 April 2016 | The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] completed a large-scale military exercise in the Golan Heights last week that simulated a conflict with armed groups in Syria.

    The unannounced exercise began at the behest of IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot. It included drills against terror attacks on Golan Heights communities such as rocket and missile barrages, and ground infiltration of terrorist cells armed with machine and hand guns, anti-tank missiles, and other explosive devices.

    During the exercise, trainees in the Nahal Infantry Brigade and the 401st Armored Brigade carried out emergency war protocols and joined the battle. The two brigades were joined by air force combat squadrons, CH-53 helicopters, UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles], special intelligence forces, and other elite IDF units.

    The exercise was a continuation in a series of exercises that the new Regional Division has carried out in the Golan Heights in the past year.

    The Golan Regional Division also performed an emergency response drill, a multilateral exercise which included reservists, and a divisional exercise. These exercises are similar to other exercises that were carried out to simulate a surprise attack emanating from the southern or central Golan Heights.

    This year, the Golan Regional Division finished building a new barrier along the Syrian border with advanced observation posts overlooking Syrian territory, most of which the Syrian regime no longer controls. Rebel groups, including the Free Syrian Army, Jabhat al-Nusra (which identifies with al-Qaeda) and the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade (which pledged allegiance to ISIS), now control these territories and are fighting amongst each other, with loyalties changing almost weekly.

    The IDF has maintained a policy of non-intervention on the Syrian side of the border, but has provided humanitarian aid and medical treatment to wounded Syrians. Israel also has foiled terror attacks aimed at hitting Israeli targets in the Golan Heights.

    The IDF said the exercise was planned and not connected to ongoing events, but it did take place after recent IDF operations on the Syrian side of the border.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed a week ago that the IDF has undertaken tens of preemptive strikes against weapons shipments to Hezbollah.

    Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 21 April 2016. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

    Photo Credit: Ashernet/IDF spokesperson

    Prayer Focus

    Intercede for the IDF as they prepare for any kind of attack on the Golan Heights. Beseech the Lord for wisdom to be given to the soldiers in training and protection and comfort for the communities along the border. Praise the Lord for His outstretched arm and the IDF that provides humanitarian aid and medical assistance to those hurt in Syria.

    Scripture

    Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands.

    - Psalm 138:7-8

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  4. Palestinian Youth Support Knife Terror Attack against Israel

    by: Joshua Spurlock

    Violent demonstration in Jerusalem (illustrative) Thursday, 28 April 2016 | Almost 6 out of 10 Palestinian youth support ongoing knife attacks on Israelis according to a new poll, while two-thirds doubt that negotiations and diplomacy can solve the Israel–Palestinian conflict. The poll, done by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre and posted to their website, found that Palestinians aged 15-29-years-old in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) were more moderate than their counterparts in Gaza but still held some extreme views.

    For example, support for knife attacks was overwhelming in Gaza, with 78.6% of Palestinian youth there backing the attacks, as opposed to 46.4% support in the West Bank. But that wasn’t true in every case—slightly more West Bank youth backed lone wolf attacks (12.8%) as the “best way for young Palestinians to instigate positive political change.” In Gaza, 10.7% backed the isolated terrorism.

    While Gazans tended to take more extreme positions than West Bank young persons, both were strongly opposed to working with “like-minded Israelis” to end the conflict with Israel: 58.1% of West Bank resisted cooperation, while 75.1% of Gazans felt that way.

    The poll indicates a troubling degree of extremism among Palestinian young people, against the backdrop in which some of the terror attacks in the current wave have been carried out by Palestinian teenagers.

    Anti-Israel sentiment among young people was on the mind of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday. In comments released by his office, the Israeli leader announced an investigation into a school in the Arab area of Jerusalem on whether an invite by the school to “parents of terrorists who had committed attacks to appear before pupils” is incitement.

    Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this article on 26 April, 2016. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

    Photo Credit: Isranet

    Prayer Focus

    Ask for the Lord’s intervention in the youth of Gaza and the West Bank (Judea–Samaria). Pray they will have a change in heart from the extremist view and that they will stop approving of violence. Ask the Lord for opportunities to reconcile the youth of Israel and Palestine to bring about a positive political change in Israel resulting in peace.

    Scripture

    The violence of the wicked will destroy them, because they refuse to do justice.

    - Proverbs 21:7

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  5. Facebook, Twitter Shutting Down Hamas Accounts

    by Elior Levy

    Monday, 25 April 2016 | Facebook and Twitter have been shutting down Hamas-affiliated accounts in light of Israeli accusations that the terror organization uses the social media platforms to spread its message of hate and incitement.

    Although the social media giants have been removing Hamas-affiliated accounts for over a year, the trend has only started becoming noticeable over the last few months.

    Facebook closed down Hamas's official page and later closed the "Shihab" page, which was affiliated with the Gaza terror group and had over a million followers. A new page was opened soon after and quickly garnered 5.5 million followers. Facebook hasn't shut the page down thus far, despite the fact it features inciting content that calls for an escalation of the intifada and glorifies terrorists.

    Several other Facebook pages in major Palestinian universities in the West Bank [Judea-Samaria] that were connected to Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad have also been taken down over the past week, alongside other pages that focused on Hamas's efforts to further escalate the ongoing wave of terrorist attacks.

    Meanwhile, the Hamas military wing took a hard hit from Twitter. The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades have been using the social media platform for years to spread their message.

    But over the past few weeks, Twitter shut down the Hamas military wing's official pages in Arabic, English, and even in Hebrew, as well as the account of Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida, which had 156,000 ollowers.

    However, the Hamas military wing hasn't given up and is constantly opening new Twitter accounts to replace the old ones.

    Hamas stated that "while Twitter opens its platform to racist and extremist Israeli organizations and people, the platform has closed, for the third time in two weeks, the official accounts of the al-Qassam Brigades."

    Hamas further accused Twitter of choosing a side in the conflict and for not remaining neutral or safeguarding the freedom of expression for those who use it.

    Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 24 April, 2016. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

    Photo Credit: JulianMaker77/wikipedia.org

    Photo License: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Basic_Twitter_activities.jpg

    Prayer Focus

    Thank the Lord that Twitter and Facebook are now choosing to standing firm against terror organizations. Ask the Lord to bless those in charge of these social media platforms with wisdom and courage when they are making decisions to shut down accounts. Pray for the 5.5 million followers of Hamas’s new Facebook page—that they have a change of heart and will choose life and not follow these messages of hatred which are intended to escalate acts of terrorism.

    Scripture

    The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity. You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. 

    - Psalm 5:5-6

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  6. Israeli Industrialists Go to Egypt for the First Time in 10 Years

    by Navit Zomer

    Logo from factory in Egypt's industrial town of Helwan (illustrative) Wednesday, 27 April 2016 | A delegation of 38 Israeli captains of industry went to Egypt under the framework of the Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZ) last week for the first time in 10 years. The delegation was sent in an attempt to determine the viability of strengthening Israeli economic cooperation with Egypt.

    The industrialists were warmly welcomed by their Egyptian counterparts, who were enthusiastic about the prospect of enlarging the scope of trade between the two countries. A similar delegation of Egyptian industrialists is expected to visit Israel at the end of 2016.

    Very little has been done to develop Israel–Egypt trade and economic relations over the past few years. Now, however, with renewed political stability in Egypt, the council decided to open; once again to encourage the strengthening of ties between the two countries; and to strengthen the interpersonal relationships between the two peoples.

    Chairman of the Egyptian Textiles Union, Mohammed Qasem, prepared the meeting schedule, whereby the Israelis met with Egyptian and other existing customers, and had the Israeli industrialists go on tours of local Egyptian factories.

    Most of the industrialists who took part in the delegation work in textile, chemical, plastic, or packaging production, and were looking into the possibility of expanding exports of different products to Egypt.

    Israeli exports to Egypt in 2015 amounted to $113.1 million, compared to $147.1 million in 2014. Meanwhile, Israeli imports from Egypt are much less: $54.6 million dollars worth in 2015 and $58.3 million in 2014.

    2011 was the last year that trade between the two countries was at full strength, with Israel exporting $236 million worth of goods to Egypt and imports of $178.5 million. The drastic reduction in trade came about as a result of the Egyptian Revolution which came about as part of the Arab Spring.

    Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood and other opposition party members have attacked Egyptian President Abdul Fatah al-Sisi for trying to create a high level of normalization with Israel. Their indignation began as a result of the Central [Bank] of Egypt's decision to allow the foreign exchange of shekels. It's the first time that the bank has recognized Israeli currency, and even set an exchange rate: 2.19 Egyptian pounds to a shekel.

    Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 22 April, 2016. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

    Photo Credit: Darouet/wiki

    Photo License: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Misr_Helwan_logo.jpg

    Prayer Focus

    Offer thanksgiving for this renewed relationship between Israel and Egypt. Praise the Lord for strengthening the economic trade and expanding exports of Israeli products to Egypt. Pray for fruitful meetings and to future relationships.

    Scripture

    For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; He guards the paths of justice, and preserves the way of His saints.

    - Proverbs 2:6-8

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  7. American Olim Delighted with Life in Israel

    by: Neta Wolf

    New immigrants to Israel (illustrative) Wednesday, 27 April 2016 | NEW YORK - Lillian, 87, Yoni, 17, and Michaela, 27, do not know each other. However, they share a 2,000-year-old dream: to live in Israel. While many Israelis still fantasize about an American visa or the American dream, hundreds of Jews who recently met in New York at a Nefesh B'Nefesh-hosted aliyah (immigration) meeting intend to begin a new life far away from Central Park, from Fifth Avenue or from Macy’s.

    What attracts American Jews to Israel despite the current security climate? Rivka Friedman, 27, who already made the move, says, “Already by age 15 I couldn’t understand why all Jews didn’t live here in Israel. The weather, the people...It is amazing that there are all kinds of different Jews here. I live in Tel Aviv, and I love the fact that I am Jewish and that my neighbors are Jewish. I go to people’s houses for Friday night dinner, and on Yom Kippur you see everyone in the street.”

    Friedman, who works for the popular Israeli public transport application company, MOOVIT, said that Israeli culture, food, life and style create an “energy that doesn’t exist anywhere else.” While acknowledging the high quality of life in New York Friedman insisted that her life in Israel "is ten times better. Here there is unity; in New York there isn’t.”

    In Israel I can be who I am—Lillian Steffield, 87, waited many years to fulfill her dream. She hopes move to Israel with her son Richard and reunite with her other son Avigdor, and her three grandchildren who live in Ma'ale Adumim. "Israel has a pleasant environment of Judaism and purity," Steffield says, adding that she simply wants to be with her family and that she is not put off by the security situation.

    "Terrorism does not at all frighten me," says Jonah Rothsteinm 20. "This is life in Israel. I feel closer to my Jewish side than my American side, I feel I can be who I am much more in Israel." As an observant Jew, Rothstein, who moved to Israel from Minnesota, also said that he is unable to connect with his Judaism in the U.S. “I am connected with the language and the people in the land of Israel,” he insists. 

    To be afraid only lets them win—Ari Bornstein, 24, from New York works for Microsoft and intends to continue here in a new capacity developing startups and expanding them into the global market after completing his immigration process.

    So what brings him to leave his coveted job and move to Israel? "I feel that Israel is my home, and I want to be there and contribute to it. I know that my job is good, but a great career awaits me in Israel."

    Ideology motivates Yoni Meiri, 17, to leave Brooklyn to study in a Yeshiva in Gush Etzion. Yoni then plans on enlisting in the military and hopes to join the special forces. Fortunately for the young teenager, he has the full support of his mother. "We educated him to care about Israel and love the land," his mother Beth says, "so I have to support him."

    She is not afraid. "Israel is our place. To be afraid is to let them win. I already have plans to visit next year. I am also thinking to move to Israel, but I don't have a special plan. I plan to make aliyah after I retire. I feel a strong connection to Israel, and we have family there."

    Yoni Meiri is just one of thousands who leave the land of opportunity to serve in the IDF each year. Sophie Loziraf, 19, will soon be departing her home state of New Jersey as she embarks on a similar track and joins a combat unit. "When I first came to Israel, I felt at home. I want Israel to be my home," Sophie said.

    Sophie has the full support of her parents. However, her good friend, Alexa Schwartz, 21, does not yet share her interest in joining her brother who currently lives in Jerusalem.

    Despite her wonderful life in New York, and the lack of family support, Schwartz says that she determined to settle in Israel. "There is Jewish life in New York, but I would much prefer to life in Israel. People ask me why I am doing this; they are mostly people who were never there."

    Neta Wolf was a guest at the Nefesh B'Nefesh aliyah conference.

    Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 23 April 2016. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

    Photo Credit: Ashernet/sasson tiram

    Prayer Focus

    Pray that many more Americans will make Israel their home and be happy in the Land God has given them. Offer thanksgiving for those coming with expertise and for those joining the IDF, that all will experience a sense of belonging and connection to Judaism.

    Scripture

    I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them," says the LORD your God.

    - Amos 9:14-15

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  8. Journeys to Freedom: IDF Rescue Operations

    Beta Israel, arriving at the Lod airport, Israel, in Operation Moses Tuesday, 26 April 2015 | On Passover, the Jewish people celebrate their liberation from slavery in Egypt and their journey to freedom in the Land of Israel. In honor of the holiday, we’re honoring stories of daring crossings and escaping persecution. There was no need to part the seas—airlifts sufficed for bringing hundreds of thousands of Jews to safety. Here are three stories of these rescue missions. 

    Operation Magic Carpet: Yemenite Jews have long had ties to the Land of Israel. Religious zeal and an upswing of anti-Semitism brought waves of immigration in the 19th and early 20th centuries to places like Silwan in Jerusalem and Kerem HaTeimanim in Tel Aviv-Jaffa. After the 1947 UN Partition Plan, which called for the establishment of a Jewish state, state-sanctioned oppression of Yemen’s Jewish community only increased. Violent riots broke out that year in the port city of Aden, Yemen, killing 82 Jews and injuring tens of others. Jewish property was destroyed, and shops owned by Jews were looted.

    In 1949, with the situation rapidly deteriorating for its Jewish population, the Imam of Yemen decided to allow Jews to leave the country. Worried they would have a small window of time before the Imam changed his mind, Israel undertook Operation Magic Carpet (also known as Operation on Wings of Eagles) to airlift Yemen’s Jewish population to Israel. The operation was challenging. Jews traveling to the meeting point, a camp called “Geula” (redemption) near Aden, needed to move covertly to avoid hostile locals and authorities. From September 1949 to September 1950, about 500 Yemenite Jews were airlifted to Israel every day. 50,000 Yemenite Jews immigrated through Operation Magic Carpet, including Haim Oshri, one of the paratroopers featured in the iconic Six-Day War photo of the liberation of Jerusalem.

    Operation Moses: In 1974, the Derg, a military junta rose to power in Ethiopia. This new government, led by Lieutenant Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, was hostile to the country’s ancient Jewish population, the Beta Israel. The situation for the Beta Israel continued to worsen into the 1980s. Famines, civil war, and the influence of the Derg’s Soviet patrons exacerbated the difficulties of the Jewish population, who were forbidden from emigrating by the government. Some Ethiopian Jews fled by Israeli ships, departing from Sudan. In 1984, the Israeli government deemed this process too dangerous, and ended it. That November, in a closed-door session, the Israeli government decided that the IDF would airlift the Beta Israel to safety in Israel.

    In order to carry out the operation, Ethiopian Jews were urged to cross into Sudan. The journey from Ethiopia to Sudan took between two weeks and a month. It was often traveled by foot over unforgiving terrain, leaving travelers vulnerable to robberies, hunger, and sickness; many perished along the way. From the refugee camps in Sudan, Israeli Air Force planes flew over 8,000 Ethiopian Jews to new life in Israel. The mission was dubbed Operation Moses, after the biblical patriarch who led the Jewish people out of Egypt to the Holy Land, just as the Beta Israel crossed the desert to freedom in Israel. More rescue operations followed; Operation Moses and the two operations that followed, brought waves of Ethiopian Jews to safety. Over 130,000 Ethiopian Jews now live in Israel.

    Operation Ezra and Nehemiah: The Jews of Iraq have a long history of culture, philosophy, trade, and study, and that was reflected for centuries in their high status in Iraqi society. Even after Iraq gained its independence from Britain, Jews continued to hold important cultural and governmental posts. But as anti-Zionist sentiment grew and Nazi propaganda started flowing into the country in the 1930s, the Jews of Iraq found themselves victim to terrible violence. The 1941 Farhud, a massive pogrom that took place in Baghdad on the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, was the culmination of this anti-Jewish provocation. Hundreds of Jews were killed, and hundreds more were injured. Jewish properties and businesses were destroyed and looted. Shaken by this extreme violence, Jewish communities were no longer safe in Iraq.

    With the declaration of the State of Israel, the Iraqi government tightened its hold on the Jewish population. Jews were barred from holding many professions, and Zionism carried a death sentence. Jews were regularly rounded up on suspicion of “treason” or related offenses, only to have their assets seized. In March 1950, the government decided that Jews who wish to emigrate could do so—so long as they renounced their Iraqi citizenship, never returned, and forfeited all of their assets and property. The Israeli government quickly organized a rescue mission, dubbed Operation Ezra and Nehemiah, after the biblical figures who led the Jews out of their exile in Babylon.

    At first, very few people were willing to register to leave, fearing that the registration lists would expose them to the government. As violence persisted, though, most Iraqi Jews took the opportunity to leave. Each Jew leaving Iraq was allowed to bring one 66 pound [29.9 kg] suitcase and $140, the rest was seized by the government. Israel flew 125,000 Jews from 1950–1951.

    Source: (The Israel Defense Forces originally published this article on 25 April, 2016. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

    Photo Credit: IDF blog

    Prayer Focus

    As the week of Pesach draws to a close, exalt the Lord for His covenant-keeping faithfulness to once again, provide a physical refuge for His people. Give thanks that today the State of Israel has been established on the Land He gave to Abraham millennia ago. Pray for His continued blessing of this nation.

    Scripture

    That the LORD your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the LORD your God has scattered you. If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you.

    - Deuteronomy 30:3-4

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  9. Israeli Aid Teams Bring Relief in Disaster-stricken Japan and Ecuador

    by Ilse Posselt

    Devastation caused by recent earthquake in southern Japan Tuesday, 26 April 2016 | In the normal course of things, Ecuador and Japan do not have all that much in common. Diverse in terms of culture, belief and religion, the two countries are also thousands of miles apart, situated practically on opposite sides of the world. Yet last week, multiple devastating earthquakes rattled both nations, causing widespread death and destruction. And mere days after disaster struck, the tiny nation of Israel dispatched relief delegations to both areas to join the rescue efforts.

    A team from the Israeli humanitarian aid agency, IsraAID, left for Ecuador to assist in emergency efforts after a 7.8 magnitude quake tore through the country. The earthquake was the worst to hit the Andean country in nearly seven decades and left at least 646 people dead and 12,500 injured.

    The relief team from Israel will offer medical treatment, psycho-social outreach and child resources in the affected Ecuadorian regions.

    For its part, IsraAID’s delegation, situated in the disaster-stricken regions of southern Japan, has already started distributing crucial supplies and opening child care centers in the affected areas.

    Nearly 50 people were killed and thousands injured when a pair of powerful tremors shook Japan’s Kumamoto province last Thursday and Friday. The tremors resulted in dangerous landslides and caused large-scale damage to roads, bridges and other infrastructure. According to Japanese media, some 180,000 people are currently in temporary shelters, while 62,000 homes remain without electricity and up to 300,000 houses have no access to water.

    Israel21c reports that the IsraAID delegation situated in southern Japan is the only international aid organization still in the area after it arrived there some five years ago in March 2011 to offer relief in the wake of a devastating tsunami. Volunteers and workers were thus on the ground and able to reach the worst affected areas in a matter of days.

    Despite constant attacks and criticism from across the globe, Israel is often the first to rush to the aid of those in need. The tiny nation’s commitment to offer a helping hand is a long-standing one. Within a decade of the birth of the modern State of Israel, the government and its people demonstrated a deep dedication to international relief efforts. “Over the years, the country has extended international humanitarian aid assistance to more than 140 countries, even to those who do not maintain diplomatic relations with the Jewish state,” says Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    Perhaps tiny Israel’s willingness to help stems from the concept of tikun olam or repairing the world. Tikun olam is expressed as the obligation or responsibility of every Jewish person to work towards a better world for all of mankind.

    Maybe that is why dedicated Israelis will continue to go to the four corners of the earth to provide help in time of need. In visible and practical ways, they are demonstrating the Lord’s commandment that “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18).

    Source: (Bridges for Peace, 26 April 2016)

    Photo Credit: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Facebook

    Prayer Focus

    Rejoice in the Lord as Israel blesses the nations of Japan and Ecuador after the earthquakes. Thank Him that children are being cared for and crucial supplies distributed. Pray for these Israelis to be a light to the survivors and those who have lost family members. Ask God to comfort them in rebuilding their lives.

    Scripture

    I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.

    - Genesis 12:2

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  10. Israeli ‘Liver On A Chip’ Could Help Scientists Fight Cancer

    Human mitochondrion (illustrative) Wednesday, 27 April 2016 | Israeli researchers have developed a tiny “liver-on-chip” that could help scientists fight liver disease, cancer, and a host of other conditions.

    The chip is made up of human tissues, with sensors for oxygen, glucose, and lactate. Measurements can be tracked in real time, and readouts appear immediately on a computer. The technology, developed at Israel’s Hebrew University, will enable the study of cellular processes, and will further the understanding of what happens when cells are damaged due to disease.

    In the study, led by Prof. Yaakov Nahmias of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, researchers explain their use of micro-sensors to measure changes in cells when they are exposed to new drugs. Liver toxicity can limit the use of new medications, so the tool can be used to screen for less toxic drugs.

    The scientists used the chip to study the medication troglitazone (Rezulin), which had been used for diabetes and inflammation until it was removed from the market in 2000 because it induced severe liver injury. The drug cost its manufacturer more than $750 million in lawsuits.

    Interestingly, conventional tests did not show liver damage from troglitazone, but the new liver-on-chip technology detected mitochondrial stress. The mitochondria are the organelles that generate energy for the cell. They are found in every cell of the human body except red blood cells, and convert the energy of food molecules to power most cell functions. Mitochondrial stress can be an early sign of eventual cell death—which the chip can detect early on.

    Redefining cancer research

    “The ability to measure metabolic fluxes using small numbers of cells under physiological conditions can redefine the study of neuro-degenerative disease, stem cells, and cancer, in addition to drug discovery,” Nahmias said in a statement.

    According to a Hebrew University statement, the study demonstrates it is possible to monitor in real time metabolic functions of cells exposed to different drug concentrations over a long period of time, using ‘organ-on-chip’ micro-devices.

    The study, recently published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could revolutionize in vitro methods (studies that are performed with microorganisms outside their normal biological context), presenting a real alternative to animal experimentation for evaluating toxicity of chemicals.”

    Source: (NoCamels Inc. originally published this article on 24 April 2016. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

    Photo Credit: Kelvinsong/wiki

    Photo License: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mitochondrion_(borderless_version)-en.svg

    Prayer Focus

    Offer praise and thanksgiving to the Creator of our physical bodies, who has enabled the Hebrew University researchers to develop a new tool that will be used to fight cancer.

    Scripture

    For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…

    - Psalm 139:13–14a

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