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.

  1. French Peace Initiative Postponed, but not Shelved
  2. Israel Successfully Tests “Iron Dome of the Sea”
  3. Poll: Most Jewish Israelis Call Themselves Zionists
  4. Iran Has Plans to Control Palestinian State
  5. Israeli General: Hamas, ISIS Cooperating
  6. Bill Clinton: In Defense of Israel
  7. Iran Mocks Holocaust in International Cartoon Contest
  8. Netanyahu Appreciates Egyptian Call for Israel-Palestinian Peace Deal
  9. A Day in the Life of an IDF Medic
  10. “Day to Praise” -  Jews, Christians Unite to Praise God for the Miracle of Israel
  1. French Peace Initiative Postponed, but not Shelved

    by Ilse Posselt

    French Foreign Minister Jean-March Ayrault Wednesday, 18 May 2016 | French Foreign Minister Jean-March Ayrault made the announcement last month. France would host a special summit on 30 May 2016 in Paris to re-launch the Israel-Palestinian peace process. Ministers and representatives from some 30 countries would attend the high-level get-together, Ayrault explained. Neither Israel nor the Palestinians would, however, be invited to join the meeting aimed at deciding their fate.

    Yet with less than two weeks to go before the promised peace summit, French President François Hollande announced yesterday that the international conference had been postponed. France’s reason for rescheduling at such a late stage? Apparently the proposed date did not suit the schedule of United States Secretary of State, John Kerry.

    “John Kerry cannot come on May 30,” Hollande said in an interview. “It’s postponed.”

    The French president was, however, quick to add that the summit had not been cancelled but merely rescheduled. “It will take place; it will take place in the course of the summer,” he assured.

    According to Hollande, the summit is absolutely imperative to reaching a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians. “The initiative is necessary because if nothing happens, if there is no strong French initiative, then … attacks, terrorist attacks and several conflicts are going to continue,” he said.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, strongly disagrees with Hollande’s point of view. In an objection to the French initiative raised earlier this year, he said that it constitutes “an incentive to the Palestinians to come along and not compromise.”

    The only avenue to true peace between Israel and the Palestinians, he explained, is through direct negotiations without any preconditions. “Any other attempt,” he warned, “only makes peace more remote and gives the Palestinians an escape hatch to avoid confronting the root of the conflict.”

    France announced its intention to host an international peace conference aimed at resuscitating the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks as early as January 2016. The declaration came with a thinly veiled threat to Jerusalem: if the French peace efforts failed, Paris would recognize a Palestinian state.

    Ayrault has also been quite clear as to the direction the French initiative will take and which concessions Israel will be expected to face. “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 April 2016.

    Discussions during the summit, Ayrault explained last month, 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 outright.

    Whether the parameters for the French initiative still stand and whether Paris intends to make good on its threat of recognizing a Palestinian state, should the peace process fail, remain unanswered questions. In the meantime, all eyes are riveted on France to see when—and if—the date for the rescheduled summit is released.

    Source: (Bridges for Peace, 18 May 2016)

    Photo Credit: Screenshot/facebook.com

    Prayer Focus

    Proclaim the truth that the Lord God almighty reigns! His plans and purposes for the nation of Israel and His people are the ones that will be fulfilled. When the world’s leaders try to implement their own plans, pray that Israel will remain steadfast and look to Him alone.

    Scripture

    The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.

    - Psalm 33:10

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  2. Israel Successfully Tests “Iron Dome of the Sea”

    by Ilse Posselt

    Iron Dome of the Sea Thursday, 19 May 2016 | The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) yesterday announced a new edition to its defense arsenal. According to the military, it had successfully tested the “Iron Dome of the Sea.” The maritime missile interception system, based on Israel’s renowned Iron Dome, has proven its mettle in intercepting short-range ballistic missiles from aboard a moving ship.

    The live tests took place two weeks ago, showing the Iron Dome of the Sea capable of shooting down rockets similar to those fired from the Gaza Strip, explained Col. Ariel Shir, head of the operational systems in the navy.

    The system, Shir said, successfully destroyed “several” rockets. In fact, the battery mounted to a moving ship intercepted the entire salvo of short-range ballistic missiles fired from land.

    According to Shir, the tests “proved the Israeli navy’s ability to protect Israel’s strategic assets at sea against short-range strategic rockets.”

    The Jewish state has a number of assets at sea, including a multi-billion shekel offshore gas rig located some 16 nautical miles from Gaza. Previous attempts by Hamas to target the rig from Gaza have proven unsuccessful.

    The Iron Dome system has been operational since 2011. However, it was during Operation Protective Edge, the 2014 summer war between Israel and Hamas, that the value of the system was established in the heat of battle. In just 50 days, the Hamas militants fired nearly 5,000 rockets and mortars from the Gaza Strip at Israeli targets. Over the searing days of the summer conflict, the Iron Dome proved invaluable, achieving an astonishing intercept success rate of 90%, and saving countless Israeli lives.

    Numerous video clips of the Iron Dome in action surfaced on social media, turning the Jewish state’s short-range air defense system into an international household name. More importantly, the Iron Dome system demonstrated its mettle in keeping Israelis safe from rockets and mortars fired from short distances of up to 75 km (47 mi).

    The Iron Dome of the Sea functions on similar technology as the traditional Iron Dome, with a number of adjustments to allow for operation from a moving vessel at sea. The naval missile interception system has been under development for a number of years. 

    The Iron Dome of the Sea was designed as part of a multi-layered air defense system, aimed at protecting the Jewish state, her people and assets against threats launched from all ranges, angles and directions. 

    To say that the nation of Israel is located in a hostile neighborhood is somewhat of an understatement. Over the past decade or so, the Middle East has, after all, earned a reputation as one of the most volatile regions on earth. Moreover, the Jewish state has never enjoyed particularly warm relations with those who share the region with her. In fact, her neighbors and her neighbors’ neighbors have publicly expressed their desire to spearhead her destruction. Bitter experience has taught the people of Israel to take such threats seriously—especially when they are made by those with the capacity and the fire power to inflict terrible damage.

    In nearly 70 years since its rebirth, the Jewish state has suffered countless attacks from its neighbors—from full-scale war to persistent barrages of rockets and missiles aimed at civilian populations and waves of terror attacks. That is why Israel is so committed to stocking its weapons arsenal with the most up-to-date, revolutionary defense systems.  

    The multi-layered defense system currently comprises an impressive array of weapons. The Iron Dome system has the capacity to intercept short-range rockets and mortars fired from distances of up to 75 km (47 mi). David’s Sling, Israel’s answer to medium-range aerial threats, passed its final round of interception tests in December 2015 and is expected to go operational during this year. According to reports, David’s Sling has the ability to target rockets, aircraft and low-flying cruise missiles within a range of 100 to 200 km (62 to 124 mi). Then there is the Arrow 3, Israel’s long-range ballistic air defense system. Aimed at intercepting ballistic missiles, especially those carrying weapons of mass destruction, at ranges of more than 1,000 km (620 mi), the Arrow 3 also passed its final round of tests late in 2015.

    And yesterday, the Iron Dome of the Sea became the latest edition to Israel’s defense arsenal, adding another layer of protection and ensuring that Israeli waters are shielded.    

    Source: (Bridges for Peace, 19 May 2016)

    Photo Credit: Screenshot/facebook.com

    Prayer Focus

    Give thanks that the capacity of the Iron Dome, a defensive weapon which has saved many Israeli lives from death or wounding, has been expanded. Pray that the “Iron Dome of the Sea” will be effective in protecting Israel’s coastline and offshore gas rigs.

    Scripture

    To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises; for God is my defense, my God of mercy.

    - Psalm 59:17

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  3. Poll: Most Jewish Israelis Call Themselves Zionists

    by Ilse Posselt

    Visionary behind modern Zionism Theodor Herzl Friday, 20 May 2016 | According to a poll released on Wednesday, 90% of Jewish Israelis define themselves as Zionists. The poll also revealed that an overwhelming majority believe that Zionism is still relevant in modern times.

    The Herzl Center conducted the poll in honor of Herzl Day, which celebrates the birthday of Theodor Herzl, the visionary behind modern Zionism and the first president of the World Zionist Organization.

    Zionism originated from the belief that Jews should return to their ancient homeland and that a Jewish state should be re-established. Following the birth of the modern State of Israel in 1948, Zionism lived on in Israelis’ dedication to the development and protection of the Jewish state.

    Although Herzl was not the first to propagate these beliefs, he is held as the foremost leader who rallied the Jews of his day behind the idea. Herzl died in 1904, before witnessing the rebirth of Israel and his life’s work coming to fruition.

    As part of the poll, respondents were also asked to quantify the extent to which they would define themselves as Zionists, with ten being the highest score and one the lowest. Just over half (51%) ranked themselves a nine or a ten, while 39% scored themselves between five and eight.    

    The poll also revealed that 82% of Israeli Jews still believe the idea of Zionism is relevant today, 68 years after the re-birth of the State of Israel, while 61% felt that the Zionist vision has not been completely fulfilled. According to Israel National News, this trend indicates an understanding among respondents that the effort to defend and develop Israel is ongoing. 

    The Israeli Midgam polling company conducted the survey among a representative sample of some 500 Israeli Jews.

    Source: (Bridges for Peace, 20 May 2016)

    Prayer Focus

    Praise the Lord, who placed in the hearts of His people the desire to return to Zion. Give thanks that prophecies such as this one in Jeremiah are being fulfilled today. Pray that the connection Israelis feel for their Land would never diminish.

    Scripture

    But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.

    - Jeremiah 23:3

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  4. Iran Has Plans to Control Palestinian State

    by Khaled Abu Toameh ~ Gatestone Institute

    Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Friday, 13 May 2016 | The Iran nuclear deal does not appear to have had a calming effect on the Middle East. The Iranians seem to be deepening their intervention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in general and in internal Palestinian affairs in particular. This intervention is an extension of Iran's ongoing efforts to expand its influence in Arab and Islamic countries. The general sense among Arabs and Muslims is that in the wake of the nuclear deal, Iran has accelerated its efforts to spread its influence.

    Iran's direct actions in the Palestinian arena are still ignored by the world. That Iran provides financial and military aid to Palestinian groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad has never been a secret. Iran funnels money to these groups because they share its desire to eliminate Israel and replace it with an Islamic empire.  

    But puppets must remain puppets. Iran gets nasty when its dummies do not play according to its rules. Relations between Iran and Hamas floundered a few years back over the crisis in Syria. Defying their masters in Tehran, Hamas leaders refused to declare support for the Iranian-backed Syrian dictator, Bashar Assad. Things between Iran and Hamas have been pretty bad ever since.

    Islamic Jihad got it next. Iranian mullahs woke up one morning to realize that Islamic Jihad leaders have been a bit unfaithful. The Iranians discovered that Islamic Jihad was still working closely with their erstwhile allies in the Gaza Strip, Hamas. Iran had had high hopes for Islamic Jihad replacing Hamas as Tehran's major proxy in the Palestinian arena. But here were Islamic Jihad leaders and activists working with their cohorts in Hamas, in apparent disregard of papa Iran.

    Outraged by Islamic Jihad's apparent disloyalty, Iran launched its own terror group inside the Gaza Strip: Al-Sabireen (The Patient Ones). This group, which currently consists of several hundred disgruntled ex-Hamas and ex-Islamic Jihad members, was meant to replace Islamic Jihad the same way Islamic Jihad was supposed to replace Hamas in the Gaza Strip—in accordance with Iran's scheme.

    Al-Sabireen has also failed to please its masters in Tehran and is not "delivering." Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip say that Iran has realized that the investment in Al-Sabireen has not been worthwhile because the group has not been able to do anything "dramatic" in the past two years. By "dramatic," the sources mean that Al-Sabireen has neither emerged as a serious challenger to Islamic Jihad or Hamas, and has not succeeded in killing enough Israelis. So Iran has gone running back to its former bedfellow, Islamic Jihad.

    For now, Iran is not prepared fully to bring Hamas back under its wings. Hamas, for the Iranians, is a "treacherous" movement, thanks to its periodic temporary ceasefires with Israel. The Iranian leaders want to see Hamas killing Jews every day, with no break. Ironically, Hamas has become too "moderate" for the Iranian leadership because it is not doing enough to drive Jews out of the region.

    In a surprise move, the Iranians hosted Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shalah and senior officials from his organization, in a renewed bid to revive Islamic Jihad's role as the major puppet of Tehran in the Gaza Strip. Islamic Jihad officials said that the visit has resulted in the resumption of Iranian financial aid to their cash-strapped organization.  

    One thing is clear: The Iranians are taking advantage of the nuclear deal to move forward with their efforts to increase their influence over some Arab and Islamic countries. Iran is also showing that it remains very keen on playing a role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—one that emboldens radical groups that are bent on the destruction of Israel and that share the same values as the Islamic State terror group.

    Iran's latest courtship of Islamic Jihad is yet another attempt by the mullahs to deepen their infiltration of the Palestinian arena by supporting and arming any terror group that strives to smash Israel. For now, it seems that Iran's scheme is working, largely thanks to the apathy of the international community, where many believe that Iran has been de-clawed by the nuclear deal.

    If this keeps up, the Iranians themselves will puppeteer any Palestinian state that is created in the region. Their ultimate task, after all, is to use this state as a launching pad to destroy Israel. And the Iranians are prepared to fund and arm any Palestinian group that is willing to help achieve this goal.

    Source: (Excerpt of article originally published by Gatestone Institute on 9 May 2016. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

    Photo Credit: Screenshot/twitter.com

    Prayer Focus

    Call out to the Lord on behalf of His people and the Land to which He brought them back after their exile among the nations. Iran and its proxies have challenged the Lord Himself with their calls for Israel’s destruction. How long, O Lord will You allow this to continue?

    Scripture

    Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, O God! For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones.

    - Psalm 83:1–3

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  5. Israeli General: Hamas, ISIS Cooperating

    Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai Monday, 16 May 2016 | Coordinator of Government Activity in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, told a Saudi news website that ISIS activists have entered Gaza from Sinai and are trading weapons and money to Hamas in return for medical care.

    Mordechai was speaking with the Saudi online newspaper Elaph. He stated that the members of ISIS entered the Gaza Strip a few days ago from Egypt via the tunnels. The purpose of their visit was to carry out military exercises in the strip, the major general relayed, which they coordinated with a source close to Hamas, Said Abed Al-Aal.

    In the interview, the coordinator explained that Hamas is aiding ISIS by providing medical treatment for its people in Gazan hospitals in exchange for money and weaponry. According to Mordechai, there is mutual coordination between the military echelons of Hamas and ISIS, which is known to Hamas's senior political leaders as well.

    Elaph also reported that wounded have been recently transferred from the Sinai Peninsula, where ISIS is active, to Gaza.

    This report is expected to embarrass Hamas before Egypt, with whom the terrorist organization is attempting to rehabilitate its relationship. One of Hamas's goals with Egypt is to persuade the government to open the Rafah Crossing [sole crossing point between Egypt and Gaza] with Gaza.

    Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 14 May 2016. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

    Photo Credit: Chaim Tsach/GPO

    Prayer Focus

    Pray for Israel’s southern border with Gaza and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula as ISIS forces have become active in those areas. Ask the Lord to lead, guide and protect the IDF’s forces, from Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, head of the Southern Command down to the newest private who is stationed there. Pray also that the Lord will be a shield of protection for the area’s civilian residents.

    Scripture

    As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.

    - 2 Samuel 22:31

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  6. Bill Clinton: In Defense of Israel

    Former US President Bill Clinton Tuesday, 17 May 2016 | Former US President Bill Clinton spoke of Israel and the support that both he and his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, have for the peace process.

    The topic came up when he was detailing his wife's policies and a voice in the crowd called out, "What about Gaza?" Clinton answered, referencing the negotiations led by then-Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi during Operation Protective Edge, "(Hillary) and the Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt stopped the shooting war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza."

    The interjector again interrupted, "She said neutrality is not an option," which led the audience to boo.

    Clinton replied, "Depends on whether you care what happens to the Palestinians as opposed to the Hamas government and the people with guided missiles."

    Still dissatisfied, the vocal audience member persisted, calling out, "There were human beings in Gaza."

    "Yes, there were," agreed Clinton, who then added, "Hamas is really smart. When they decide to rocket Israel, they insinuate themselves in the hospitals, in the schools, in the highly populous areas. They are smart." This led the crowd to raucous applause.

    "So they try to put the Israelis in a position of either not defending themselves or killing innocents," he continued.

    The former president then shared his own disappointing experiences in attempting to bring peace to the region. "I killed myself to give the Palestinians a state," he said. "I had a deal they turned down that would have given them all of Gaza, between 96 and 97% of the West Bank [Judea-Samaria], compensating land in Israel—you name it."

    Finally returning to promoting his wife's candidacy, Clinton complimented his wife's success as secretary of state: "Hillary got the only three face-to-face meetings between Mr. Netanyahu and the leaders of the Palestinians, President Abbas."

    According to Politico, Clinton continued, "There’s nobody who’s blameless in the Middle East, but we cannot really ever make a fundamental difference in the Middle East unless the Israelis think we care whether they live or die. If they do, we have a chance to keep pushing for peace.

    Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published in Ynetnews on 15 May 2016. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

    Photo Credit: Screenshot/facebook.com

    Prayer Focus

    Give thanks for the strong stand former-president Clinton took in support of Israel. Ask the Lord to give you opportunities stand with Israel and to reveal the truth about her enemies that most of the world’s media refuses to broadcast or print.

    Scripture

    Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.

    - Ecclesiastes 4:9–10

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  7. Iran Mocks Holocaust in International Cartoon Contest

    by Ilse Posselt

    Holocaust cartoon contest entries Tuesday, 17 May 2016 | The contest launched with an exhibition on Saturday in Tehran. Numerous artists from some 50 countries all over the world scrambled to submit 150 cartoons for public display. The prize money for the winning cartoon was, after all, a whopping $12,000. Some blatantly accused Israel as using the Holocaust to garner international sympathy. Others portrayed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as Adolf Hitler. More still compared the situation of the Palestinians to that of the Jews during the Holocaust.

    Yet regardless of the specific lie, slander or libel the relevant artist chose to embellish in each of the 150 artworks, the singular aim of Iran’s Holocaust Cartoon Contest was to mock and belittle the genocide of the Jewish people during the Second World War era, in which the Nazis and their cohorts killed some 6 million Jews.  

    Netanyahu addressed the issue at the weekly opening of the Knesset (Israeli government) on Sunday. “Over the weekend Iran convened a special Holocaust-denial cartoon contest,” he said. “We raise this here because it must be understood what our problem with Iran is. It is not just its policy of subversion and aggression in the region; it is the values on which it is based.”

    The contest, Netanyahu explained, “denies and belittles the Holocaust,” while Iran covertly prepares for yet “another Holocaust.” A renowned state sponsor of terror, the Islamic Republic has long since backed armed groups committed to the destruction of Israel. Its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has also repeatedly called for the annihilation of the Jewish state. Moreover, Israeli leaders fear that Iran’s nuclear program might be applied to threaten its existence.

    Referring to the Holocaust cartoon contest, Netanyahu proclaimed, “I think that every country in the world must stand up and fully condemn this.”

    In a rather unprecedented move in support of the Jewish state, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) spoke out almost immediately. “Such an initiative, which aims at a mockery of the genocide of the Jewish people, a tragic page of humanity’s history, can only foster hatred and incite to violence, racism and anger,” Irina Bokova, director general of UNESCO said over the weekend. “This contest goes against the universal values of tolerance and respect, and runs counter to the action led by UNESCO to promote Holocaust education, to fight anti-Semitism and denial.”

    The US State Department spokesperson, Mark Toner, followed suit soon after in a briefing to reporters. “Such offensive speech should be condemned by the authorities and civil society leaders rather than encouraged. We denounce any Holocaust denial and trivialization as inflammatory and abhorrent. It is insulting to the memory of the millions of people who died in the Holocaust,” the Associated Press reported him as saying.

    `The powers-that-be in Iran were, however, quick to negate any accusation of ill intentions. "We have never been after denying of the Holocaust or ridiculing its victims," contest organizer Masuod Shojai Tabatabaei claimed. The contest, they explained, was merely aimed at criticizing alleged Western double standards regarding free speech and expression.

    Despite Tabatabaei’s claim, denial or questioning of the Holocaust is not uncommon in the Middle East. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is renowned for penning a PhD dissertation in 1982 that argues for a covert relationship between the Nazis and the Jews to goad Jewish immigration to British Mandate Palestine. Former Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is another Middle Eastern leader infamous for his refusal to believe that the Nazi genocide took place as per recorded history. The Holocaust, he claimed, was merely a “myth.” In fact, in the wake of his presidency, Ahmadinejad hailed his public Holocaust denial as one of his term’s achievements.

    Iran’s first Holocaust Cartoon Contest took place on Ahmadinejad’s watch in 2006. A second contest followed last year in May, when a twelve-day exhibition of anti-Semitic, genocide-mocking opened in Tehran.

    This year’s event was organized by non-governmental bodies enjoying the strong support of Iran’s hardliners. The exhibition, which is open to the public, will run through 30 May 2016. At the time of publication, judges were still deliberating to choose 16 finalists from the more than 150 entries. The top 16 artists will each share in the total prize money of $50,000, while the winner will walk away with $12,000.   

    Source: (Bridges for Peace, 17 May 2016)

    Photo Credit: Screenshot/facebook.com

    Prayer Focus

    Pray that this contest will have the opposite effect to that intended by its organizers and will instead cause viewers to seek out the truth about the Holocaust. Pray that it will bring a spirit of repentance rather than a mocking of this horrific tragedy.

    Scripture

    Fools mock at sin, but among the upright there is favor.

    - Proverbs 14:9

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  8. Netanyahu Appreciates Egyptian Call for Israel-Palestinian Peace Deal

    by Joshua Spurlock

    Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi Thursday, 19 May 2016 | The leader of the Arab nation with the longest running peace deal with Israel called for peace between Israel and the Palestinians on Tuesday, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his appreciation of the message. The speech from Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi comes after a meeting between him and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and ahead of an Arab summit on the topic of Middle East peace, according to a report from Ahram Online.

    The article quoted el-Sisi as arguing that a solution to the conflict would give “hope to Palestinians and security to the Israelis.” He further said that Arab nations are working on the matter in various ways. Netanyahu, who has repeatedly called for direct peace talks with Abbas that the Palestinians keep rejecting, said in a press release that “Israel is ready to participate with Egypt and other Arab states in advancing both the diplomatic process and stability in the region.”

    El-Sisi called for the Palestinians to achieve internal unity first “as to be able to reach a real reconciliation.” The primary Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah have been largely divided since 2007, despite multiple attempts to reunite.

    El-Sisi noted that many did not think Israel-Egyptian peace was possible—but here it is almost four decades later. While it is considered a “cold peace” now, el-Sisi expressed the belief that peace between his nation and Israel would grow “much warmer” only if there is peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

    Perhaps taking a cue from former President Anwar Sadat who set up the peace accords with Israel by making a speech in Jerusalem, el-Sisi called for his speech to be broadcast in Israel multiple times.

    Netanyahu responded warmly. In comments released by his office, he said, “I welcome Egyptian President el-Sisi’s remarks and his willingness to make every effort to advance a future of peace and security between us and the Palestinians and the peoples of the region… I appreciate President el-Sisi’s work and also draw encouragement from his leadership on this important issue.”

    Netanyahu has repeatedly slammed efforts to impose or predetermine peace terms from the outside—including a recent proposal from France—while inviting Abbas to discuss peace directly time and again.

    Source: (This article was originally published in The Mideast Update on 17 May 2016. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

    Photo Credit: Screenshot/facebook.com

    Prayer Focus

    Pray that this recent call of Egypt’s leader will cause the Palestinians to reconsider their current path and return to direct negotiations with Israel. Bring this complex situation before the Lord, acknowledging that apart from Him there will be no true peace.

    Scripture

    I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things.

    - Isaiah 45:7

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  9. A Day in the Life of an IDF Medic

    Friday, 20 May 2016 | For the past year, Israel has been confronted with a steady stream of terror attacks, many coming from Judea and Samaria. We recently sat with Captain Bar, the Etzion Regional Brigade Medical Commander, who reflected on her eight years as a medic in the IDF [Israel Defense Forces]: Her stories, insights, and memories.

    What has your daily routine been like in the past few months? We actually don’t have a routine. Whenever we get called to the scene of a terror attack – we immediately come. Even when it’s a regular civilian emergency, we don’t miss an opportunity to help.

    How do you feel about the work you do in light of recent events? There were weeks with at least one attack a day. Every terror attack tears us apart. It breaks our hearts. We simply have no choice but to rise from the ashes. We return from the incident, wash the ambulance, wash the equipment, and we wash ourselves. That includes our minds. We must clear our minds and be mentally ready to treat the next victims.

    As a medic, you are responsible for treating anyone in need. That must be tough, especially when you must provide medical care to the attackers.

    The fabric of life in Judea and Samaria is unreal. There are Jews, Muslims, religious and nonreligious people living together. The feeling is very close. It is family-like. The situation is hard for everyone. I won’t lie, it’s difficult for me when I realize that I am saving the attacker’s life, but I swore to help anyone – ally and enemy. This is our job. We do it to the best of our ability.

    Do you ever reminisce about the people you have treated? You can’t forget them. Ever. After being stabbed in Gush Etzion, Maj. Eliav Gelman was later killed as a result of errant fire. I was the last person to see him alive. I was the last person to touch him. I was the last person to speak to him. I watched him die in front of me. It breaks my heart. It wasn’t his family or friends. It was my fellow medics and I. It’s a chilling feeling. We understand how meaningful these last moments are.

    It’s impossible to detach yourself from those that are killed or wounded. I find myself thinking about them long after the attack is over. And it isn’t just me. We are connected to those that we treat. My medics and I visit the people we save in the hospitals. In less fortunate events, we go to their funerals. Often, the injured also find it important to know who saved them.

    What are your thoughts and wishes for the future? Right now, the situation is tense. Nevertheless, unless we are no longer physically able, we will not stop risking our lives to save the lives of others. This is what gives us a real feeling of accomplishment and pride.

    Source: (The Israel Defense Forces originally published this article on 17 May 2016. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original story at this link.)

    Photo Credit: IDF blog

    Prayer Focus

    Bring the IDF’s medics before the Lord, asking Him to strengthen them as they risk their lives to save others—friend and foe alike. Pray that the Lord will comfort them as they mourn and surround them with His peace each new day.

    Scripture

    I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

    - Psalm 4:8

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  10. “Day to Praise” -  Jews, Christians Unite to Praise God for the Miracle of Israel

    by Ilse Posselt

    Monday, 16 May 2016 | Some 2,500 years ago, God pledged through the Hebrew prophet Isaiah, “Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, She gave birth to her children” (Isaiah 66:8).

    On 14 May 1948, more than two millennia later, the promise was fulfilled: the State of Israel was reborn–­in one day, as God had promised.

    The restoration of the Jewish people to their God-given homeland has long since been regarded as nothing short of miraculous. Every Independence Day, Israel marks the occasion with thanksgiving and praises to God. This year, as part of the “Day to Praise” initiative, a group of Christians traveled to Gush Etzion in Judea to join their voices with a group of Jewish people to praise God as one for the creation of the modern State of Israel.

    The initiative is the brainchild of Dr. Shlomo Riskin, Chief Rabbi of the Israeli town of Efrat, and founder of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding  and Cooperation (CJCUC). Now in its fourth year, it aims to unite Jews and Christians—particularly on such a miraculous occasion—in praise to God, their voices resounding across the world, acknowledging the tremendous miracle He has done in our lifetime.

    This year, “Day to Praise” took place on Thursday, 12 May 2016, Israel’s Independence Day.  According to tradition, the 120 Jewish and Christian attendees celebrated by reciting the Psalms 113-118.

    “Psalms 113-118 has a rich history in Jewish liturgy. It is recited during the morning prayers on biblical feasts such as Passover, Shavout (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles)… This series of psalms is entitled Hallel, which means praise.”

    A year after Israel’s rebirth, the Chief Rabbinate instituted Independence Day as a minor holiday within the sacred calendar of the Jewish people. That is why reciting the Hallel on this day is regarded as an integral part of the celebrations.

    The purpose of Hallel, says David Nekrutman, Executive Director of CJCUC, is to thank God for His extraordinary redemptive acts towards His people. The rebirth of the State of Israel according to God’s promise is not only a Jewish miracle, but something that Christians can also rejoice in.

    According to Nekrutman, the inspiration for the initiative is found in the Hallel itself. Psalm 117 issues a clear invitation to the nations to praise God for His covenantal love and faithfulness towards Israel. At first glance, Nekrutman argues, this mandate may appear strange. “It makes sense that the recipient of God's loving-kindness should be the one to thank God. However, why does the psalmist require the nations to praise God for what He has done for Jewry?”

    The answer, explains Nekrutman, lies in the two reactions of thanksgiving and praise in response to a miracle. Thanksgiving, he says, comes from “the beneficiary of the miracle itself.” Praise, on the other hand, is the reaction of one who sees something awe-inspiring or miraculous.

    The return of the nation of Israel to its homeland after some 2,000 years in exile arguably qualifies as awe-inspiring and miraculous. “No other rational explanation in the world can explain the phenomenon of Israel's existence today except that God continues to be faithful to His covenantal promise made thousands of years ago to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” says Nekrutman. “The miracle of Israel today should serve as an inspiration to other nations to bless the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is our hope that one day the fullness of Psalm 117 will be witnessed in our lifetime.”

    This year, the reading of the psalms was done in a particularly prophetic manner. Each of the participants recited Psalm 117 in his or her mother tongue, after which all attendees read the psalm together in Hebrew. According to Nekrutman, this fulfils the prophecy in Zephaniah 3:9, “For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one accord.”

    The location for this year’s event is not without significance. Over the past six months, the Gush Etzion region has seen numerous terror attacks. The Gush Etzion junction is also where three teenage boys were abducted and murdered by Hamas operatives in 2014, resulting in Operation Protective Edge. “The affirmation of faith in a place where Israel’s enemies have attempted to crush the Jewish right to the land made the event especially poignant,” Breaking News Israel reported.

    “This gather[ing] is meant as an act of solidarity intended to comfort Israel in the heart of its suffering,” Nekrutman affirmed.

    Next year’s “Day to Praise” will take place on 2 May 2017

    Source: (Bridges for Peace, 16 May 2016)

    Photo Credit: David Nekrutman/facebook.com

    Prayer Focus

    Even though the specific “Day of Praise” has passed, let us continue to lift our voices in praise and worship to our covenant-keeping God who fulfilled His promise to bring the Jewish nation back to life. Pray that even more Christians will join next year’s celebration.

    Scripture

    Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples! For His merciful kindness is great toward us, and the truth of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!

    - Psalm 117:1–2

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