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. REPORT: Iran’s President Says Sanctions Are Collapsing
  2. Election Deadline Approaching
  3. Arms Race Underway in the Middle East
  4. A Squall of Violence Hits the Jewish State
  5. Growing Threat from Israel’s Northern Border
  6. Israel in Nepal: “It’s Like a Bomb Went Off”
  7. Palestinians Vote for Iran’s New Ally: Hamas
  8. Nepal’s Earthquake a Wake-Up Call for Israel
  9. GreenWall Brings Food to Life
  10. Why Do Israelis Live Longer Despite Stress?
  1. REPORT: Iran’s President Says Sanctions Are Collapsing

    by Brian Schrauger

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Thursday, 30 April 2015 | Speaking two days ago to 12,000 workers in Tehran, Iranian President Rouhani taunted the United States and threatened Israel. Rouhani's message appeared to signal the Islamic Republic's disregard for whether or not an international agreement is reached regarding its nuclear program. Reporting from Tehran, the Iranian Mehr News Agency carried the story.

    The intent of negotiating nations appointed by the UN, the P5+1, has been to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. For its part, Iran has sought to end international sanctions. Now, according to Mehr, Rouhani is asserting that, apart from a negotiated agreement, "the sanctions regime [is] on the verge of complete collapse."

    In fact, sanctions are collapsing. Russia is selling the regime its state-of-the-art S-300 missile defense system. European nations are jockeying for position to restart trade. China, thirsty for oil, is primed and ready to import Persian crude.

    “We [sought] two issues at the negotiation table," Rouhani said. "First, to clear all accusations. ...Secondly, to remove all obstacles the malevolent countries have created on our path toward having a constructive interaction with the world."  Based on Iran's regular denunciations of the United States and Israel, Rouhani's reference to "malevolent countries" and their "obstacles" is a transparent reference to these countries.

    It appears that Iran is on the cusp of achieving everything it wants: nuclear weapons and international trade. With the ability to construct nuclear warheads in as little as a month and economic relief already in the offing, Iran does not need a deal. It is getting everything it wants without one. And as it gets those things, Iran's president indicated that it intends to act.

    According to Rouhani, "no country [will] continue exerting pressure on Iran in the future." As noted above, this assertion includes plans "to remove all obstacles by malevolent countries." Clarifying, Rouhani warned “we will continue the path of constructive interaction with the world under the guidance of [our] Leader," Ali Khamenei.

    "No country in the world," he pledged, will "continue exerting pressure and imposing sanctions against Iran in the future.”

    Source: (Bridges for Peace, 30 April 2015)

    Photo Credit: Mojtaba Salimi/wikipedia.org

    Photo License: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hassan_Rouhani.jpg

    Prayer Focus

    Beseech the Lord on behalf of His people whose existence is being threatened by the nation of Iran. As they have done so many times in their history, pray that leaders and people of Israel will cry out to the Lord for wisdom and understanding in the face of this grave danger.

    Scripture

    They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.

    - Psalm 83:4

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  2. Election Deadline Approaching

    by Janet Aslin

    On March 25th, Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, charged current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the task of forming the nation’s 34th government. The deadline for announcing the members of the coalition is May 7th, a little less than a week away. Negotiations with the multiple parties that make up Israel’s political scene have been taking place for weeks. Based on previous elections, it has not been unusual for these talks to continue right up until the deadline at which point the coalition is announced.

    Upon his acceptance of Rivlin’s charge, Netanyahu said the new government would be faced with two challenges: building Israel’s security and improving its social welfare. Attention to its security is vital as the nation of Israel exists in the turbulent neighborhood that is the Middle East. The selection of Israel’s next government is critically important.

    Source: (Bridges for Peace, 30 April 2015

    Prayer Focus

    Intercede for the next government of Israel, praying that its members will be the ones the Lord has specifically chosen for this time.

    Scripture

    The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.

    - Proverbs 21:1

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  3. Arms Race Underway in the Middle East

    A Saudi missile (illustrative) Tuesday, 28 April 2015 | Conflicts in the Middle East are pushing nations in the region, led by Saudi Arabia, into an arms buying spree that could reach an unprecedented $18 billion in 2015, The Times of Israel reported Friday.

    “’(The) Saudi-led military operations in Yemen (are) the latest manifestation of Arab interventionism, a trend that has been gaining momentum in the Middle East since the uprisings of the Arab spring,’ Tobias Borck, an analyst at the UK’s Royal United Services Institute, told The Guardian. ‘Middle Eastern countries appear to be increasingly willing to use their armed forces to protect and pursue their interests in crisis zones across the region.’

    “Borck warned that the increased trade ‘neglects the regional political dimensions, with arms sales taking place with a lack of regard for that context and without long-term strategic awareness.’

    “He noted that the sales could also be encouraging proxy conflicts in the region, with Russia seeking to counter Western support to regional allies by increasingly backing its own partners such as Iran and Syria.”

    It was reported last month that Saudi Arabia had become the world’s biggest arms importer.

    Though not addressed in the Times’ article, Iran has been aggressively asserting itself in the region, especially in Yemen and Iraq, benefiting, in part, from the funds freed up as a result of the nuclear negotiations with the West.

    In "On This Battlefield, the U.S. and Iran Work Hand in Hand," which was published in the April 2015 issue of The Tower magazine, Michael Pregent describes how Iran uses Iraq’s instability to further its own influence.

    “It is necessary to look clearly at the situation we have arrived at. In 2010, a report of Suleimani on the ground in Iraq would have meant a wake-up call to the U.S. president. Now Suleimani is leading victory parades after taking back areas from ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria]. Five years ago, IRGC [Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps] was killing Americans through its proxies in Iraq. Now we are providing them air cover as they push into the Sunni heartland to settle scores dating from as far back as the Iran-Iraq War.

    “ISIS presents an extraordinary opportunity for Iran to increase its influence over the government of Iraq. And let’s not kid ourselves. Iran has no interest in defeating ISIS in Iraq or in Syria. It needs the ISIS threat to Baghdad and Damascus in order to make both capitals dependent on Iran for their survival.

    “Iran had no intention of improving the security situation in Iraq during the U.S. occupation, and to think it has changed now is naïve. All we are seeing now is an accelerated, concerted effort by Iran to get everything it can while Washington is looking the other way.”

    Source: (The Israel Project, in their publication The Tower, originally published this article on 24 April 2015. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

    Prayer Focus

    Petition the Lord on behalf of the nation of Israel, an island of calm in a region filled with violence and conflict. Ask Him to surround Israel as with a shield, to protect His people from the increasing instability in neighboring countries.

    Scripture

    For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield.

    - Psalm 5:12

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  4. A Squall of Violence Hits the Jewish State

    by Brian Schrauger

    Three policemen were injured, one seriously, when a Palestinian car ran down a group of Israeli policemen in East Jerusalem Monday, 27 April 2015 | While worldwide attention has been drawn to the earthquake disaster in Nepal, an unexpected squall of violence has hit the Jewish state during the past five days.  

    Passions were ignited against Israel on its Independence Day last Thursday. The so-called “West Bank” grumbled with a day-long buildup of repressed resentment.

    Just before midnight [Thursday], two missiles were fired from Gaza toward Israel. Warning sirens sounded all throughout the south. One missile hit an open field, the other was not found. No one was hurt, but nerves were rattled.

    The next day, Israel discovered that, just across its northern border, Hezbollah had constructed an airport for sophisticated drones, including what the US military has dubbed, "suicide kamikaze drones." This report combined with Israel's concern about Hezbollah's growing arsenal of missiles, now more than 130,000, made it virtually certain that IDF generals would have to take some kind of action, and soon.

    Threats were cropping up outside Israel's borders—and inside too.

    Early Saturday, 16-year-old Ali Abu Ghannam, a Palestinian from At-Tur near the top of the Mount of Olives, armed himself with a butcher's knife and a short thrusting blade. Making his way to a checkpoint just east of Jerusalem, he crept toward Israeli border police. Recognizing the attack, police barked a warning. Failing to stop, Abu Ghannam was then shot and killed.

    Hours later and about 30 miles south, Mahmoud Abu Jheisheh, 21, decided to try achieve what Abu Ghannam could not. He succeeded, stabbing a border policeman in his head and chest. The victim was standing guard at the Cave of the Patriarchs, burial site for Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah. The wounded policeman survived. But Abu Jheisheh, like Abu Ghannam, was killed during his attack.

    While violence was erupting within its borders, Israel reportedly decided to strike without, bombing weapon depots in Syria that same day. According to Arab media reports, the depots housed long-range Iranian-made scud missiles.

    With two deaths from unrest within Israel's borders and military action just across its borders, there was a tension in the air, a sense that something bad, very bad, could erupt at any time. So far, however, rage has not ignited a full-blown outbreak of terrorism.

    Inasmuch as any fire requires oxygen to feed, the oxygen of Palestinian terror is media coverage. Removal of that oxygen, sucked away by the earthquake in Nepal, may have extinguished Israel's domestic threat of a full-blown Spring jihad. At least for now. But the events of the past few days make it clear that there is plenty of fuel to light a blaze of raging hate against the Jewish state in summer months to come.

    Source: (Excerpt of article, Bridges for Peace, 27 April 2015)

    Photo Credit: Photo by Ashernet

    Prayer Focus

    Call upon the Lord to fight the battles Israel is facing. Give thanks that He knows the plans being formed against His chosen people and Land. Pray Israel’s border police and the IDF will receive the accurate intelligence needed to prevent terrorist attacks.

    Scripture

    He catches the wise in their own craftiness, and the counsel of the cunning comes quickly upon them. They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope at noontime as in the night.

    - Job 5:13–14

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  5. Growing Threat from Israel’s Northern Border

    by Brian Schrauger

    Israeli Defense Forces
    on the northern border
    Wednesday, 29 April 2015 | Yesterday's "spillover" rockets that hit open fields to Israel's north, in its Golan, did not make headline news. Behind the headlines, however, Israel is preparing for war with Hezbollah while Iran, Hezbollah's puppet master, makes plans to establish a front against Israel at its Golan border with Syria.

    Hezbollah, literally "the party of Allah," is currently estimated have 130,000 missiles in its arsenal, maybe more. For several months, Israeli military experts have issued warnings that these missiles, manufactured with Iranian technology, are sophisticated, long-range and deadly. It is estimated that when the next conflict starts, Hezbollah will launch as many as 1,500 missiles into Israel—every day. Many of these missiles, these same experts warn, will be able to reach targets anyplace in the Jewish state.

    This conflict, when it comes, will not be so easily contained as last year's war with Hamas in Gaza. Fewer missiles will be intercepted and casualties will be greater. There will be no place in the country to which beleaguered civilians can escape from Hezbollah's assault.  

    Iran's not-so hidden hand inside the 'glove' called Hezbollah was exposed on Facebook two days ago. The Tower, a news division of The Israel Project, reported that "an analyst with close ties to the Iranian defense ministry...posted that Iranian, Syrian, and Hezbollah officials will meet shortly to discuss their combined response to recent attacks in Syria that have been attributed to Israel."

    The analyst, Amir Mousavi, is "director of the Center for Strategic and International Relations in Tehran and a former advisor to the Iranian Ministry of Defense." Over the past week, several Hezbollah weapons depots in Syria have been destroyed. Their destruction has been attributed to unconfirmed Israeli operations. Tipping its hand that, in fact, these were expensive (hence, sophisticated) Iranian missiles, Mousavi called the ops "the beginning of the straw that broke the camel's back."

    What might Iran do? According to Mousavi, Tehran may step out from behind its Hezbollah curtain and openly place its own troops, the Islamic Resistance Brigades, throughout southern Syria. Assad's government, for its part, said Mousavi, would transfer its forces to northern Syria. Once divided, Assad to the north and Iranian troops to the south, Mousavi said that Tehran's troops will "deter the Zionist enemy" from further depot destruction and do so with "major surprises" that "this criminal entity" (Israel) cannot anticipate.

    Iran's apparent willingness to place its own troops in southern Syria may indicate a change in Tehran's Hezbollah policy. If Hezbollah is released from involvement in Syria, it will be free to focus all of its destructive ambitions—and firepower—on Israel. And it will be empowered to so by Iranian troops at its side, just across Lebanon's border in southern Syria.

    Mousavi's scenario may also signal Iran's laissez faire attitude toward negotiations regarding its nuclear program. Already able to produce a nuclear weapon in as little as one month, Iran's primary goal for negotiations has been removal of international economic sanctions. In recent weeks, those sanctions have begun to crumble without a negotiated agreement.  

    If both of these things are so, war from Israel's north may come sooner than later.

    Source: (Excerpt of article, Bridges for Peace, 29 April 2015)

    Photo Credit: IDF/Ashernet

    Prayer Focus

    Intercede for the residents of northern Israel who live in an area where war could break out at any time. Pray for the Israel Defense Forces who are guarding the northern border. Ask the Lord to guide and direct Israel’s leaders, especially Gadi Eizenkot, IDF Chief of Staff.

    Scripture

    From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy.

    - Psalm 61:2–3

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  6. Israel in Nepal: “It’s Like a Bomb Went Off”

    by Ilse Posselt

    Devastation following the earthquake in Nepal Wednesday, 29 April 2015 | Mere days after a mammoth earthquake shook the Himalayan nation of Nepal to its core, a state-of-the-art Israeli field hospital opened its doors this morning to treat those injured in the weekend’s disaster. Encountering the devastation first-hand, one Israeli volunteer says, “it’s like a huge bomb went off.”

    Israel is no stranger when it comes to offering advanced medical care under the direst of circumstances. In the past, the Jewish state received international acclaim for the scope and efficiency of its field hospitals in disaster-stricken Haiti, Japan and the Philippines. However, the field hospital that opened this morning in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu is Israel’s largest effort of its kind to date.

    The high-tech 60-bed hospital comprises some 50 tons of medical equipment and comes equipped with a surgical department, emergency facilities, x-ray equipment, a laboratory and various types of specialists. According to Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) spokeswoman, Libby Weiss, natural disasters often give rise to pregnant women going into premature labor. As such, the field hospital also offers an advanced obstetrics department.     

    Staffed by almost 130 trained and experienced medical personnel, the hospital has the capacity to treat more than 200 patients per day.

    In the four days following the magnitude 7.8 earthquake in the South Asia nation, various Israeli delegations equipped with tons of medical equipment, supplies and aid materials have arrived in Nepal. This includes the 230-person team from the Israeli Defense Forces. While the medical personnel engaged in setting up the field hospital, the IDF search and rescue teams and canine units embarked on operations immediately to search for survivors buried under collapsed buildings. As of yet, no survivors have been found.

    Apart from the IDF delegation, the Jewish state also has teams from Magen David Adom and the Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid (IsraAID) providing hands-on assistance to the Nepalese people. An Israeli-based humanitarian organization that responds to emergencies all over the world with targeted help, IsraAID currently has an Advance Emergency Relief Team operating in Kathmandu. A further team of 15 search and rescue specialists are also en route.

    Briefing his team at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel before take-off for Nepal, Eran Magan, IsraAID’s search and rescue leader, described their mission as a race against time. “The next 7 days are crucial if we want to save people still buried under the rubble or stranded in remote locations.”

    As off this morning, the death toll in the Himalayan nation has passed the 5,000 mark and continues to rise. Speaking to Reuters yesterday, Nepalese Prime Minister, Sushil Koirala, revealed that the total estimated toll is feared to top 10,000. As many areas remain unreachable due to landslides blocking the roads and halting transportation, the true extent of the tragedy continues to unfold.

    Speaking from Nepal, Yotam Polizer, IsraAID’s head of Mission and Asia Director said, “It’s like a huge bomb went off here… I fear thousands of bodies are still buried under the rubble in villages.”

    As the people of Nepal continue to reel from the horror that has shaken their world, the people of Israel are devoted to come alongside them and offer a steady hand. “We are committed to helping Nepal recover from this terrible tragedy, both now in the short-term, and in the long-term, long after the news crews are gone,” promised Shachar Zahavi, Founding Director of IsraAID.

    To join Bridges for Peace in helping Israel bring aid to Nepal, click here.

    Source: (Bridges for Peace, 29 April 2015)

    Photo Credit: Krish Dulal/wikipedia.org

    Photo License: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nepal_Earthquake_2015_01.jpg

    Prayer Focus

    Give thanks, once again, for Israel’s willingness to send medical and other aid to an area which has encountered a natural disaster, this time the nation of Nepal. May the God of Israel be glorified by the actions of His chosen ones. Ask the Lord how you can partner with Bridges for Peace as we link arms with Israel by providing financial support.

    Scripture

    A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation.

    - Psalm 68:5

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  7. Palestinians Vote for Iran’s New Ally: Hamas

    Author: by Khaled Abu Toameh ~ Gatestone Institute

    Hamas supporters Wednesday, 29 April 2015 | Hamas's crushing victory in the April 22 student council election at Bir Zeit University shows that the Islamist movement continues to maintain a strong presence in the West Bank [Judea–Samaria].

    Hamas supporters on campus won 26 seats, compared to 16 for their rivals in the Fatah faction, headed by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas.

    The results of the election mean that Bilal Barghouti, who is serving 16 life terms in prison for his role in a series of suicide attacks against Israel, has become the "Honorary Chairman of the Bir Zeit University Student Council."

    Besides being a political and moral victory for Hamas, this is a vote of no confidence in Abbas and Fatah.

    The landslide victory of Hamas at Bir Zeit University came in spite of an ongoing security clampdown by Abbas and Fatah on supporters of the Islamist movement in the West Bank.

    In recent months, the crackdown reached university and college campuses, where dozens of students affiliated with Hamas have either been detained or summoned for interrogation by Palestinian Authority security forces.

    Hamas sees its electoral triumph as a "victory for the project of resistance" against Israel. "This is a referendum that shows the strength of Hamas (in the West Bank)," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. "It's also a victory for our project of resistance."

    What the Hamas officials are saying is that many Palestinians continue to prefer the option of an armed struggle to peaceful negotiations with Israel.

    The Hamas victory at Bir Zeit University shows why it is not a good idea, at this stage, to hold parliamentary or presidential elections in the Palestinian territories. Abbas himself has long been aware that a free and democratic election would result in another Hamas victory.  

    But Abbas is not the only one who should be worried about the Hamas electoral victory. This is also bad news for efforts to revive the stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

    Hamas has apparently now realigned with Iran, which is "rebuilding relations with the military wing of Hamas." Iran also, it seems, has sent Hamas millions of dollars over the past few months. Hamas shares "the same long-term objectives as the ayatollahs: the complete destruction of the state of Israel," and to that end, wants to undermine and destroy anyone who recognizes Israel.

    To avoid this, the Palestinian Authority must first stop its ongoing campaign to delegitimize and isolate Israel. This campaign is being waged through the media, mosques and public rhetoric.

    The Palestinian Authority must also maintain security coordination with Israel. The coordination is vital to the PA itself, not just Israel. Without Israel's help, the PA will not be able to prevent Hamas from taking over the West Bank.

    Finally, to stop the Palestinians from rallying around Hamas, the Palestinian Authority in general—and Fatah in particular—need to embark on comprehensive reforms. Above all, they need to stop blocking the emergence of new leadership, and get rid of all the icons of corruption and bad government.

    Unless the PA does these three things, Hamas's popularity among Palestinians will continue to rise, bringing the Islamist movement closer to taking over the West Bank.

    Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published by The Gatestone Institute on 24 April 2015. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

    Photo Credit: Hoheit/www.wikipedia.org

    Photo License: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yasin_Rantisi_Hamas_Wahlkampf.jpg

    Prayer Focus

    Pray for the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria as Hamas, with its violent agenda, gains strength. Ask the Lord to strengthen Israel’s leaders in their resolve not to compromise the security of the nation by considering Fatah as a possible peace partner.

    Scripture

    Those also who seek my life lay snares for me; those who seek my hurt speak of destruction, and plan deception all the day long.

    - Psalm 38:12

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  8. Nepal’s Earthquake a Wake-Up Call for Israel

    by Brian Schrauger

    Tuesday, 28 April 2015 | Yesterday's Jerusalem Post (JPost) included an official editorial that called Nepal's earthquake a "wake up call" for Israel. Noting the devastation and loss of life in the Himalayas, the paper praised Israel's quick response in providing humanitarian aid.

    "But," it said, "there is another Israeli connection. Israel could follow Nepal in becoming the epicenter of a major earthquake." Earthquakes happen in Israel. In fact, there are usually several temblors each year. But most of the time they are so small that many do not notice them.  

    "Every 80 to 100 years on average, there is an earthquake of 6 or more on the Richter scale," JPost writes. "The last one took place in 1927."

    In other words, Israel is due for a major shaking. Geologically, the Jewish state "is located on the Syrian African Rift." This rift, otherwise known as a fault, "stretches from the Bekaa Valley in the north," then "passes through the Hula Valley into Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee)." It "continues south through the Jordan Rift Valley to the Dead Sea."

    The paper notes that "an earthquake scenario was prepared [for Israel] about five years ago." Its findings were sobering. "In a case where an earthquake with a 7.5 magnitude strikes in the North, the committee estimated that 16,000 would be killed, 6,000 would be seriously wounded, 83,000 would be moderately injured and 377,000 would be made homeless."

    JPost acknowledges that, since 1980, buildings here were constructed "by Israel Standard 413, an internationally accepted building code designed to protect against earthquakes." The problem is that many buildings here are more than 35 years old. Recognizing this, Israel passed "Tama 38, a nationwide program to reinforce older residential buildings." The program included "various incentives such as state-subsidized renovations and room additions in exchange for agreeing to participate." But the responsibility for making reinforcements fell to individual property owners. In cities with rising real estate values, owners were able to borrow to make changes. In "outlying areas," however, Israel's Construction Ministry estimates "70,000 apartments in danger of collapsing in the event of a massive earthquake."

    And in certain places, there are important public buildings that remain at risk. "A number of hospitals in the North and in the South have not been reinforced to sustain the shock of an earthquake, according to the report.

    There is also a threat to schools. "In 2013, Dr. Efraim Laor of the University of Haifa, an expert in natural disaster preparedness, warned in an interview with The Marker that if an earthquake were to hit Israel during the day, when children are at school, the tragedy would be multiplied because many of our schools are not constructed to stand up to an earthquake."

    Issuing a summons to Israel's newly elected government, JPost called on it to "take the horrific devastation visited upon Nepal as a wake-up call. Public buildings such as schools and hospitals must be reinforced. We have no control over when the next major earthquake will hit Israel," the paper concludes. "But we can prepare for the worst, before it is too late."

    Source: (Excerpt of article, Bridges for Peace, 28 April 2015)

    Photo Credit: Giovanni Antico/iStock.com

    Prayer Focus

    Pray that those buildings which do not meet the current earthquake safety codes will be reinforced—especially the schools and hospitals. Ask the Lord to give wisdom to the Home Front Command as they are tasked to prepare the people of Israel for the possibility of an earthquake. Pray that any thoughts of an impending earthquake will not bring fear but instead trust in the Lord.

    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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  9. GreenWall Brings Food to Life

    by Rivka Borochov

    Green wall almost ready for opening of Expo Milano 2015 Made from living plants, sturdy construction materials and high-tech sensors, the wall will frame the Israeli pavilion of agro-tech innovation which will open in Milan on May 1.

    Global investors see a lot of “green” in agriculture technologies of the future. As the world gradually expands to a population of eight billion people, there are business opportunities in feeding that many mouths, and doing it more sustainably. Israel as innovator is a key to unlocking the potential of earth’s limited resources and helping farmers make more money.

    Israel will be building a large pavilion at the upcoming world expo, Expo Milano, to be held in Italy in May 2015, to showcase forward-thinking Israeli agriculture technology. The local Israeli company GreenWall, which specializes in vertical gardening, will be constructing a 1,000-square-meter living wall on which corn, rice and wheat are growing. The wall is being incubated and hatched in Israel and will be shipped to Milan in time for the expo, says company CEO Guy Barness.

    While the GreenWall vertical garden seems to be a low-tech creation, it comes with thoughtful technologies—solutions that consider how to control water and the local environment of plants with roots that need to seemingly defy gravity.

    Working with local partners like Netafim and Galcon, “we’ve developed a lot of technology for our GreenWall from unique fertilizers to unique pots, drippers, design and how to control the water,” says Barness.

    He has built about 100 green walls in Israel already for residential urban clients on a small scale and larger walls encompassing hundreds of meters for Israeli branches of tech-savvy companies including Intel, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook.

    Many of his clients request walls of ornamentals. Plants such as succulent cactuses do well in heat and with little water. Even planting vertical gardens that you can’t eat makes a lot of sense beyond the basic beauty of them, Barness explains.

    Green walls buffer buildings from noise and from extreme heat or cold—about 10 degrees Celcius in either direction. In addition, they suck up local pollution, cleaning the air and acting as a carbon sink for greenhouse gas.

    Barness believes that one day soon green walls and vertical gardens in cities will have an important role in supplementing the world’s food production. If produce can be grown in cities on real estate that is not currently used, people will be able to eat more locally, freshly and with fewer food transportation miles, says Barness. And it’s also sustainable agriculture. “We develop edible walls that you can replace as you eat them,” Barness points out.

    An expected 20 million people are expected to visit the Expo in 2015. Will you be there seeing how Israel feeds the world?

    Source: (Excerpt of article, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, April 27, 2015)

    Photo Credit: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    Prayer Focus

    Give thanks for the fulfillment of prophecy; that the Jewish people have returned to Israel and are eating fruit from the gardens they have planted. Give thanks also, that they are sharing their knowledge with the world, showing those in poor countries innovative ways to produce the food they need to sustain themselves.

    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.

    - Amos 9:14

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  10. Why Do Israelis Live Longer Despite Stress?

    by Dr. Itay Gal

    Close family and social support help combat stress Sixty-seven years after its establishment, the State of Israel is still facing many threats. Israelis live in a constant state of stress due to military operations, a nuclear threat and a shaky economic situation. Nonetheless, Israel is among the countries with the highest life expectancy in the world.

    An overall calculation of both sexes puts Israel in the third place with an average of 82 years. Japan has the highest life expectancy (84), followed by Australia, Italy, Singapore and Switzerland with an average of 83 years.

    We asked three experts to try to explain what makes Israelis survive the daily difficulties, overcome the different obstacles, fears and threats, and live longer.

    Efi Gil, Psychologist: The Israeli Warmth

    "We are in a constant state of fighting," says medical psychologist Efi Gil. "Since the state's establishment to this very day, we have been experiencing outbursts of fighting, the Iranian nuclear program stresses us out, soldiers walk around with weapons, and the Israeli population has developed a mechanism of adapting to the existing stress.

    Gil adds that alongside the relatively high resistance to existential threats, one of the most significant causes of longevity in this country is the Israeli warmth: "We have close relations with our family members. We live relatively close to our parents and siblings, just a few minutes to two hours away from each other. They help maintain a warm relationship.

    "The existence of social support in Israel has a major influence on people's mental state and personal strength as well. We can drop by our friends' house for coffee without warning, or offer our friends a shoulder to cry on at any given moment. The warm friendly relationship here is a significant element in our survival, much more than the economic situation.

    Prof. Gabi Ben-Dor, Sociologist: Optimism

    Prof. Gabi Ben-Dor has been conducting the "national strength survey" for 15 years now. The results, he says, have been consistent over the years.  

    "The public here lives with a high level of fear of terror, conventional attacks and threats, but is very surprising," says Prof. Ben-Dor. "On the one hand it is afraid, and on the other hand it believes that things will work out in the future.

    "It's not so much because we have successful leaders, but because the Israeli society is basically healthy. People here are proud to be Israelis, believe in values and believe that we will manage to face the threats in the future as well.

    In Prof. Ben-Dor's annual surveys, the Israeli optimism index stands at 4.6 on a scale of 1 to 6. Compared to similar international surveys, the Israeli average is very high.

    Prof. Devora Lieberman, Geriatrics: Good life

    "All in all, things are very good here for the elderly," says Prof. Devora Lieberman. "We see elderly people hospitalized here from all sectors, all sexes and all socioeconomic classes, even the most difficult, yet they aren't neglected. It's true that they sometimes have to wait in line for many hours, but the medical services here are pretty good.

    "People are much more aware of preventive medicine today, receive vaccinations which prevent serious diseases and live longer, consuming proper nutrition rich in fibers and low on sodium and fat.

    "There is no doubt that in the future we will see more and more people over the age of 100, and we always ask where is the limit. A person has a right over his body, and some of them often say that their body is betraying them, that longevity makes them suffer. We try to improve the elderly people's quality of life, and the medicine knows how to significantly prolong their lives.

    Source: (Excerpt of article originally published by Ynet News on 26 April 2015. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

    Photo Credit: Noam Armonn/shutterstock.com

    Prayer Focus

    Offer praise and thanksgiving to the faithful God of Jacob, the One who helps the people of Israel. Rejoice that the Jewish people are once again planted in the land of their inheritance.

    Scripture

    Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God…

    - Psalm 146:5

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