Compassion

Helping new immigrants when they arrive in Israel

Friday, June 23, 2017

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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 18,000 subscribers every Friday by e-mail. Please contact us at intl.office@bridgesforpeace.com if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.

Netanyahu to Iran: “Do Not Threaten Israel”

by Ilse Posselt

Iranian missiles (illustrative)

Wednesday, 21 June 2017 | The situation on Israel’s northern border with Syria escalated on Sunday as the Islamic Republic of Iran stepped up its involvement in the conflict by striking targets in the east of the war-torn nation.

The rare strike, which marks the first time in nearly three decades since the Islamic Republic fired medium-range missiles for combat purposes, targeted the Islamic State in response to a terror attack the group carried out earlier this month in the Iranian capital. Yet while the Iranian missiles struck miles from the Promised Land and the marks in the crosshairs were not Israeli, Tehran still used the incident as an opportunity to threaten Israel.

According to Sheikh Hussein al-Islam, an adviser to the Iranian foreign minister, the attack served as a means to show off Tehran’s military prowess to the Jewish state. Speaking to the Arabic news network, Al Mayadeen, on Monday, al-Islam said, “Israel is [Iran’s] chief enemy and should tread carefully. I think it got the message the missiles sent.”

Mere hours after al-Islam’s menacing message hit the press, Israel responded with a warning of its own. “I have one message to Iran,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Do not threaten Israel.”

Addressing members of his Likud political party during a faction meeting, Netanyahu advised the Islamic Republic against testing the Jewish state’s resolve and to concentrate on watching their own back instead.

“The military and our security forces are constantly monitoring the activity of Iran in the region,” Netanyahu explained. “This activity also includes their attempts to establish themselves in Syria and, of course, to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah and other operations. We monitor their actions and their words,” he assured.

Israel’s Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, echoed Netanyahu’s statements. “Israel is not worried,” he said. “Israel is prepared for every development. We have no concerns or worries.”

On Sunday, Tehran launched six medium range ballistic missiles from Iran at multiple Islamic State targets within a range of 650 to 700 kilometers [404-435 mi] in the east of Syria. The strike marks the first by Iran outside its territory since the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988.

Head of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) aerospace wing, General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, confirmed the attack on state television, saying, “The missiles were fired from Iran and they passed over Iraq and landed in Syria. Firing these missiles from 600 or 700 kilometers [373 – 435 mi] away onto a small building,” he boasted, “demonstrates Iran’s capacity and intelligence capabilities.”

The IRGC confirmed on Monday that the strike took place in coordination with the Syrian government. General Ramezan Sharif, head of the IRGC Public Relations Department, hailed the strike as a success and told the Tasnim agency that the missiles found their intended marks, killing “a large number of terrorists” and destroying Islamic State headquarters, ammunition and logistics depots.

For its part, sources from the Jewish state contradict Iran’s claim to accuracy. According to Israel’s Channel 2 News, most of the projectiles missed its intended targets. Only one projectile reportedly hit an Islamic State target. Three of the remaining missiles fell in Iraq, while a fourth accidentally struck the Syrian city of Mayadin.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 21 June 2017)

Photo Credit: Hosein Velayati/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
O Lord, cause the arrogant threats of Iran against Your people to be blown away like a puff of smoke. Give Israeli military and security forces specific, accurate and timely intelligence regarding Iran’s involvement in Syria so they will be able to respond accordingly.

Scripture

I have heard the reproach of Moab, and the insults of the people of Ammon, with which they have reproached My people and made arrogant threats against their borders.


- Zephaniah 2:8

Trump Dispatches Top Aides to Israel to Talk Peace with Netanyahu, Abbas

by Ilse Posselt

Jared Kushner, one of Trump’s top aides, in Israel for peace talks

Tuesday, 20 June 2017 | US President Donald Trump has never made any bones about his ambitions to broker what he refers to as “the ultimate deal,” an accord that will put an end to decades of violence between Israel and the Palestinians.

Mere days after being chosen as America’s next commander-in-chief, Trump revealed that the Middle East peace process would be high on his administration’s foreign policy itinerary. True to his word, peace between Israel and the Palestinians topped the agenda during Trump’s meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and a number of other Middle Eastern leaders. Then, Trump visited the Jewish state last month amid speculation that he had already set the wheels in motion to kick-start a flailing Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative and might start the process of setting up a peace summit shortly after he returned home.

Now, less than a month after his trip to the Promised Land, Trump has dispatched two of his top aides to Jerusalem and Ramallah to lay the groundwork for prospective negotiations.

A White House official said on Sunday that Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor to the president, Jared Kushner, and the president’s special envoy to the peace process, Jason Greenblatt, will visit Israel this week for discussions with Netanyahu and Abbas “about their priorities and potential next steps.” Greenblatt landed in the Jewish state yesterday, while Kushner reportedly arrives tomorrow.

The meetings this week will allegedly follow on the discussions that Trump had with Netanyahu and Abbas last month. According to the official, diplomatic talks have been ongoing behind the scenes in the weeks since the US president’s Israel visit.

The official added that no breakthroughs were expected during this week’s trip and that this type of visit may be the first of many in a protracted pursuit for peace. “It is important to remember that forging a historic peace agreement will take time and to the extent that there is progress, there are likely to be many visits by both Mr. Kushner and Mr. Greenblatt, sometimes together and sometimes separately, to the region and possibly many trips by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to Washington, DC, or other locations as they pursue substantive talks.”

“Even while working behind the scenes to advance direct, bilateral negotiations between the parties,” the official explained, “we will continue to communicate with the relevant constituencies throughout the region, to remind all that peace is possible and to demonstrate the many positive benefits that would arise from successful negotiation.”

The official reemphasized Trump’s commitment to the process and highlighted that “the president has asked some of his most trusted advisers to spearhead the peace effort.”

“President Trump has made it clear that working toward achieving a lasting peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians is a top priority for him,” the White House official stressed. “He strongly believes that peace is possible.”

Trump has tasked Kushner and Greenblatt with relaunching negotiations aimed at reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians. The latest effort in a long line of unsuccessful peace efforts in the Middle East fell apart in 2014 under then-Secretary of State John Kerry.

Kushner’s appointment to take the lead in brokering a peace deal in one of the world’s most troubled neighborhoods met with international skepticism. While Kushner, who is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka, is a respected businessman, he has no prior diplomatic experience. Yet the US president held fast that his son-in-law is the perfect candidate for the job as he “knows the region, knows the people, knows the players.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 20 June 2017)

Photo Credit: Lori Berkowitz/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Ask God to order PM Netanyahu’s steps he meets with the US envoys in order to discuss priorities and potential steps to revive peace talks between Abbas and Israel. Pray for wisdom, discretion, discernment and a solution according to God’s will.

Scripture

For You are my rock and my fortress; therefore, for Your name’s sake, lead me and guide me.


- Psalm 31:3

Israeli Policewoman Murdered in Jerusalem Terror Attack

by Ilse Posselt

23-year-old Israeli border police officer, Staff Sergeant Hadas Malka

Monday, 19 June 2017 | The attacks came early Friday evening, just after the sun slipped behind the hills of Jerusalem to signal the start of Shabbat. While Jerusalemites sat down to dinner or made the final few preparations before winding down for the day of rest, three Palestinian terrorists set out to murder.

The terrorists came ready to kill, armed with semi-automatic weapons and knives. They struck simultaneously, launching a coordinated shooting and stabbing attack in adjacent locations in Jerusalem’s Old City. Two terrorists opened fire on a group of police officers stationed at Zedekiah’s Cave, while the third terrorist attacked and stabbed 23-year-old Israeli border police officer, Staff Sergeant Hadas Malka, a stone’s throw away near the Damascus Gate.

Gravely injured, Malka fought her attacker for a few seconds, before her fellow officers shot and killed the terrorist. She was evacuated to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Mt. Scopus Hospital, where she underwent emergency surgery, but the young police officer later succumbed to her wounds.

All three terrorists, Palestinians from Judea and Samaria aged 18 and 19, were shot and killed by Israeli security officers at the scenes.

Jerusalem District Police Commander, Yoram Halevy, described the twin attacks as follows: “At one scene, near Sultan Suleiman Street, two terrorists—one armed with a semi-automatic weapon and the other a knife—attacked police. Police responded and killed both attackers at the scene. Several meters away, at the Damascus Gate, an additional terrorist stabbed a border policewoman, critically wounding her. The terrorist was shot by other officers in the area.”

Malka, who police chief, Roni Alsheich, hailed as a “fighter who loved people,” was laid to rest just after midnight on Sunday morning in the military cemetery in the coastal city of Ashdod. According to Israeli media, thousands of mourners made their way to the funeral to pay their respects to the young border police officer who died fighting terror in the Israeli capital. Aside from friends and family, those who came to say a final farewell to Malka also included army and police officials as well as a number of prominent politicians and government officials.

In a touching eulogy, Malka’s brother, Guy, said, “You had so many dreams. Get up, Hadassi, tell us it is a dream. A terrorist destroyed all our dreams. We will never forget you as our hero sister who protected Jerusalem.”

Malka started her mandatory military service in the navy, but dreamt of being a combat soldier. A transfer to the border police a few months into her service fulfilled that dream. After serving her required two years, Malka extended her military service with an additional 15 months and became an officer.

Moments before the attack, Malka sent a selfie of herself on guard duty to a group of friends on WhatsApp, wishing them a “Shabbat shalom.” As news of the attack in the City of Gold spread, Malka’s friends desperately tried to contact her to make sure that she was safe. “Every time there was an attack in Jerusalem I would SMS her to see if she was okay and she would answer,” a heartbroken friend shared. This time, Malka did not respond.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement on Saturday, expressing his “deep sorrow” at the young border police officer’s death. He also demanded that the Palestinian Authority (PA) and other countries around the world condemn the attack.

Yet no condemnation for the acts of terror seems to be forthcoming from the Palestinian side. In fact, Fatah the political party of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, blames Israel for the terrorists’ death, calling it a “war crime” committed against “three Palestinian teens.”

In an interesting twist of events, both Hamas and the Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attacks. ISIS’s news agency, Amag, posted a message on Friday evening, saying that “the attack was carried out by three lions.” They added that the attack “will not be the last.” This is the first time that ISIS has claimed responsibility for an attack on Israeli soil.

Yet a few hours later, Hamas dismissed ISIS’s statement and claimed the attack as their handiwork, saying that it had been carried out by “two Palestinians from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and a third from Hamas.”

For its part, Israel responded to the statements, saying that the attackers formed part of a local terror network and that there was no proof of ties with either ISIS or Hamas.

Friday’s attack took place at the end of the third Friday of Ramadan, which saw tens of thousands of Palestinians from Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria attend prayer services at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City. Ramadan is the ninth—and also the holiest—month on the Islamic calendar. Muslims believe that the Koran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed during the 30-day period of Ramadan and his followers mark this period annually with intense prayer, dawn-to-dusk fasting and joyous nightly feasts.

In theory, Muslims are required to observe Ramadan as a month filled with piety, charity, self-restraint and peace. Yet practice is often far removed from theory. Over the past few years, Ramadan has become synonymous with an upsurge in bloodshed, as religious extremists across the globe use the time as a rallying cry to sow violence. The holiest month in Islam has turned into a month devoted to terror, a period which many in Israel and around the world anticipate with dread.

According to Ynetnews, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) perceive the final ten days of Ramadan as “a particularly sensitive moment for security” and have raised their level of alertness to guard against further attacks.

Speaking in the aftermath of Friday’s twin attacks, Jerusalem District Police Commander Halevy said, “We are in the third part of Ramadan and as we near the end of the holiday, the more sensitive the situation becomes. We will have to make difficult decisions such as whether or not to allow people to come to Jerusalem, if we should allow them to pray in such large numbers, which can lead to terror attacks.”

“We will conduct a situational assessment with security forces and it is possible that there may be serious consequences in regards to the issue of Ramadan, which only ends in ten days.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 19 June 2017)

Photo Credit: (Courtesy of Israel Police)

Prayer Focus
Fight the good fight of faith as we earnestly seek the Lord’s help and protection against terror attacks in Israel. Pray for them to stop! Beseech Him to bless the IDF soldiers male and female, with watchfulness, focus and fearlessness as they guard the nation of Israel. Ask God to comfort Hadas’s family and friends.

Scripture

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.


- Deuteronomy 31:6

Abbas Aims to Drag Hamas to War with Israel, Defense Minister Warns

by Yoav Zitun

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman

Friday, 23 June 2017 | Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday of increasing pressure on Hamas in the Gaza Strip to “drag it to war with Israel.”

Lieberman, who spoke at the Herzliya Conference, warned that “the situation in Gaza can’t last forever.”

“This is an internal Palestinian crisis that’s not going to end,” he said of Abbas’s decision to pay less for electricity to the Strip, leaving Israel no choice but to reduce the electricity it provides Gaza, thus exacerbating the crisis.

“Abbas is going to increase cuts and soon stop the payment of salaries in Gaza and the transfer of fuel to the Strip as a two-pronged strategy: Hurt Hamas and drag it to war with Israel. Abbas is doing this unilaterally, without having coordinated with Israel or Egypt,” Lieberman said.

Regardless, he stressed, Israel “has no intention to go to war—not in the north, nor in the south… we’re leading a clear policy against Gaza, without trailing behind.”

He also spoke about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying a solution can only come as part of “a full regional agreement with all moderate Sunni states, including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, when the agreement with the Palestinians is a byproduct of that. An agreement between Israel and the moderate Sunni states will bring $45 billion to the State of Israel.”

Lieberman went on to say that “The Palestinians don’t have the ability to sign an agreement with Israel on their own.”

Turning his sights north, the defense minister said Israel only acts in Syria “when there’s a ticking time bomb leading to a terror attack, and we work to thwart it; or when we come under fire; or when there’s an attempt to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah.”

Lieberman argued Hezbollah “was taking advantage of the situation in Syria to open a front against us in the Golan and to smuggle advanced weapons systems, so it can establish itself on the border against us.”

With that in mind, he sent a message to the Syrian regime, saying it would “bear the responsibility for that. The Damascus International Airport cannot be used as a smuggling channel for Hezbollah. When (the situation) reaches a certain line, we won’t hesitate to act.”

The defense minister went on to say that while he hoped “the US and Russia reach good agreements on Syria, it won’t affect our freedom of action in the north.”

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published in Ynetnews on 22 June 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Michael Thaidigsmann/wikipedia

Photo License: Wikipedia

Prayer Focus
Bring Mahmoud Abbas and the enemies of Israel before the Lord of hosts who sees the motives and secret intents of the heart. Pray for God's intervention in the situation in Gaza. Thank God for Defense Minister Lieberman and his ability to analyze the strategy of Israel's enemies and plan accordingly. Continue to pray for Israel and the IDF and thank God as He blesses them with wisdom to plan ahead.

Scripture

He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.


- Psalm 23:3-4

Crossing into “ISIS Land” with Givati Fighters

by Yoav Zitun

Givati special forces (illustrative)

Wednesday, 21 June 2017 | A group of children dangle their feet in a hidden pool, in the steep slopes descending from Kibbutz Meitzar in the southeastern Golan Heights. The ravishing image is completed by the nearby meadow, with cows and horses and the trickling water from the Yarmouk and Ruqqad rivers. An IDF [Israel Defense Forces] tank shields the children from above, as the new fence on the Israel-Syria border, just a few dozen meters away, winds southward to the border triangle with Jordan. The view from the armored forces soldiers’ post is breathtaking. The calm sounds nothing like the artillery fire which is heard here on an almost weekly basis.

On the other side of the border, as the Israeli children bathe undisturbed in a hidden jewel of nature, a Syrian boy from the nearby village of al-Sharaf learns how to fire an assault rifle, guided by an Islamic State member, in an improvised shooting range between an abandoned United Nations post and the slopes of the Ruqqad River.

“Everything here is green, people hike here and enjoy the nature and the amazing landscape, and only several kilometers away there is total chaos,” says Lieutenant Colonel Nir Ben Hamo, commander of the Givati patrol unit, who has been responsible for this area in the past few months. The same view—from two different worlds.

While the heart of Ben Hamo’s regiment belongs in the south, keeping one eye on Gaza at all times, and his forces are constantly preparing for war in Givati’s home zone, for several months in the past year Lt. Col. Ben Hamo and his soldiers were in charge of the most dangerous and explosive region, where they had complete lack of control and limited intelligence on the enemies. This time, it was neither the familiar Hamas nor Hezbollah, which remains the army’s primary scenario, or even 1,000 ISIS fighters scattered across a huge area in Sinai, who the Egyptian army is working to crush.

Only last week, Arab media reported on an attack—likely the first of its kind—of ISIS posts on the Syria-Israel-Jordan border, which was most probably carried out by the international coalition’s aerial forces. According to foreign sources, Israel has been helping the forces that are fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq for years, providing intelligence on targets, and it’s quite possible that it did the same this time too. Nevertheless, the explosive tensions and the incomprehensible discrepancy between the pastoral view and the moment that everything could blow up continue as the forces move northward along the border fence.

Israel is not taking in Syrian refugees yet, but they are already knocking on its door. In the past year, refugee encampments have been slowly piling up near and north of Har Chozek, close to the orchards of the Druze town of Buq’ata, a few meters from the fence. The IDF has also institutionalized the handling of wounded Syrians: The field hospital in the northern Golan Heights has been shut down, and military teams have been trained to provide quick care on the ground and examine every wounded person in an armed and secured booth on the fence, before evacuating them into Israel.

The fighters along the border not only hear the sounds of explosions and bursts of gunfire, but they also read press reports sometimes about alleged Israeli attacks and targeted killings of Hezbollah and regime supporters who are active in the Syrian Golan Heights. “These incidents definitely prompt us to raise the alertness and tension level among the fighters, out of a common sense that the Syrian regime may react against us,” explains Lt. Col. Gidi Kfir-El, commander of the 9th Battalion of the 401st Armored Brigade, who is responsible for the central and northern Golan Heights area.

“The perception of our activity in the defense mission,” he adds, “has become just like our activity vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip: Regimental combat teams of the engineering, armored, infantry and canine forces, with combat intelligence gathering and aerial guidance if necessary. We are capable of getting a tank ready for action within minutes, and like in Gaza, it has possible targets beforehand for a counter-attack over a spillover from Syrian fighting.”

The problem with ISIS in the Golan Heights is that it is largely based on locals—a few thousand ISIS-supporting residents in villages in the southern Golan, who are trying to increasingly wear out the Al-Nusra Front organization, al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, which is considered more moderate and which still controls a considerable part of the border strip with Israel. In between, there are a number of small outposts which still belong to the army of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who recently fought back and succeeded in regaining control of a few parts of the northern Golan Heights. The southern part remains black, painted in ISIS colors.

“It is for a reason that the IDF constantly stations the regular reconnaissance units here, the finest units with specific patrol, antitank and destruction abilities,” says Lt. Col. Ben Hamo, who during Operation Protective Edge replaced his commander, Major Benaya Sarel, who was killed near Rafah while chasing the kidnappers of Lt. Hadar Goldin. Ben Hamo asks his fighters to exercise quite a lot of restraint and intelligence against the enemy.

“In a regimental or even company region,” he says, “there could be a few rules of engagement, sometimes for the same fighters, in accordance with the type of gunmen they see. In this region, we get to exercise our specific abilities excellently. We see members of Shuhada al-Yarmouk (the ISIS organization’s name in the Syrian Golan Heights) attacking more areas controlled by the other rebels. They have diverse weapons, western arms, antitank missiles, explosive devices and even some armored vehicles, including a few tanks.”

Lt. Col. Ben Hamo prefers to hold his peace when he is asked if wounded Syrians are offered humanitarian aid in his region as well. Up until recently, Israel took a lot of pride in this activity, but then it apparently decided to keep a low profile for some reason. The field hospital that was built on the border in the northern Golan Heights halted its activity, the official reason being an optimization of the way the wounded are evacuated to Israel. In the southern part of the Golan Heights, which is controlled by ISIS, the IDF prefers to keep mum on the humanitarian issue.

The IDF refers to the Syrians who live in the Golan Heights as “locals,” and has detected that they prefer to keep the war as far away from their villages as possible. Nevertheless, the army does not approve of the southern villagers’ support for ISIS, which was implemented about nine months ago when mortars and gunshots were fired at a Golani force that was in the middle of conducting an ambush operation as it crossed the fence while remaining in an Israeli enclave in the southern Golan Heights. There were no casualties among the soldiers, but the IDF launched a quick response: Tanks and aircraft killed the cell members and destroyed a United Nations Disengagement Observer Force post, which was used by the Shuhada fighters.

When First Lt. Gal Yaniv, deputy commander of the armored company from the 9th Battalion of the 401st Armored Brigade, which operates in the region together with Givati, talks about “the incident,” he isn’t referring to the Golani incident or to previous incidents that took place on the border. He is addressing an incident which has yet to happen: The infiltration of a cell of dozens of ISIS terrorists through blind spots. It’s only a matter of time before this happens, he believes. “Within minutes, we are ready to bring a strong fire into this incident, even if it arrives without any intelligence warning,” the officer says as he directs Merkava Mk 4 tanks with Trophy active protection systems.

In Gal’s battalion, the fighters are versatile: Some perform infantry missions like ambushes and patrols near the fence, while their fellow fighters cover from back posts with the armored monsters, hidden from ISIS antitank cells. “Tanks have already attacked posts in retaliation fire, including in the recent incident with the Golani patrol unit, but we are ready and prepared for a shelling of other targets in another incident, ‘the incident,’ with the same tanks, in an evolving incident,” the young officer explains.

The Givati patrol unit’s commander speaks calmly, practically whispering, as we cross the intimidating fence that has been built along the entire border strip, from Hamat Gader to the foot of Mount Hermon. He points to the next “Hourglass Project” in his region: A considerable upgrade of the barrier in the border triangle, facing the Jordanian side as well, which is also concerned by the ISIS spillover to the south, into its territory. “The new barrier there will do a better job explaining exactly where the border passes to whoever needs an explanation,” the battalion commander indicates.

Scouts, fighters from the Oketz canine unit and observation devices open up the area for us. On the surface, there is no more barrier to separate us from dozens of ISIS gunmen in the village of Abadin, which is located about 2 or 3 kilometers [3-5 mi] away, on the eastern bank of the Ruqqad River. In front of us, down the mountain extension, we see the sooty remains of an ISIS post that was bombed by the IDF in an encounter with Golani.

“ISIS fighters are training in the constructed area and eastward in the open area, sometimes in improvised firing ranges too,” Lt. Col. Ben Hamo explains. “They have headquarters which rise and fall, and fighters who come from the outside. Our job is to create a barrier between them and the farmers here, who keep working the land to the very last inch, as well as the many hikers and Golan Heights residents.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 15 June 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: www.idfblog.com

Prayer Focus
Proclaim the Lord’s name as the Defender of Israel! Pray for the safety of residents who live and farm along the Israeli-Syrian border. Give thanks for the men and women of the IDF who stand ready to protect the nation against the threat of ISIS and other terror groups.

Scripture

My defense is of God, who saves the upright in heart.


- Psalm 7:10

Palestinians to Claim Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron as World Heritage Site

by Itamar Eichner

Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron

Monday, 19 June 2017 | The Palestinian Authority (PA) is requesting from the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, whose annual meeting will take place on July 1 in Krakow, Poland, to register the Old City of Hebron—including its Cave of the Patriarchs—as a Palestinian World Heritage Site.

There are 1,052 UNESCO-listed World Heritage Sites in the world, nine of them Israeli, two of them Palestinian. The registration process and declaration of each site usually takes a number of years, but the PA want to take advantage of a clause in the regulations that allows to fast-track this procedure by claiming the sites are endangered.

The PA claims that the site is in danger of destruction by the “occupying force.” Among other things, they claim that Israel carried out an exceptionally large concrete casting at the site, while Israel claims that it is only a small addition to the site, and that it was coordinated with the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf.

The Heritage Committee has 21 member countries, and its composition is very problematic for Israel: Finland, Poland, Portugal, Croatia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Tunisia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Angola and Tanzania—none of which is among the ten countries that voted for Israel on the UNESCO Executive Committee concerning Israeli conduct in Jerusalem and Gaza.

Each request is accompanied by the opinion of a professional assessment body that makes a recommendation. In the two previous sites inscribed by the PA in 2012 and 2014—the Church of the Nativity and the Battir terraces—the professional body’s recommendation was negative, but the committee voted for its approval following pressure from the Arab-Muslim lobby.

The Israeli delegation to UNESCO, headed by Ambassador Carmel Shama-Hacohen, has already begun making efforts to stop the PA’s plans about a month ago.

Israeli ambassadors in the member states joined, and given the sensitivity of the issue, it appears that the prime minister will be required to address the matter personally. In order to prevent the inscription, Israel must mobilize at least one-third of the voting countries in its favor—an almost impossible task. If the decision is made, the Palestinians will be able to claim that the control over the site should be transferred to them, which will bring international pressure on Israel.

“This is a clear continuation of the attacks and hallucinatory outrageous votes in UNESCO regarding Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall,” said Shama-Hacohen. “Israel respects Muslim sensibilities and ensures freedom of worship, order, security, routine maintenance, and the development of infrastructure supporting the holy sites.

“Not only is the very essence of their claim outrageous, but also the way in which the Palestinians accuse Israel with blood libel that never occurred.”

(Translated & edited by Lior Mor)

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 16 June 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Ooman/www.wikipedia.org

Photo License: Wikipedia

Prayer Focus
Thank God that there is not enough accurate evidence to verify this claim. Pray for Ambassador Shama-Hacohen and his team to have a miraculous breakthrough as they present overwhelming, undeniable evidence that will negate the pressure from the Arab-Muslim lobby. Pray for truth to prevail.

Scripture

Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with malice. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongues they tell lies. Declare them guilty, O God! Let their intrigues be their downfall. Banish them for their many sins, for they have rebelled against you.


- Psalm 5:9-10 NIV

Israel and Jordan Intensify Cooperation as Iran Tightens Grip on Southern Syria

Thursday, 22 June 2017 | Israel and Jordan have intensified diplomatic relations over the last weeks as a response to the changing situation on the ground in Syria and Iraq, Haaretz reported Wednesday.

The two countries have noted with growing concern the renewed strength of the Assad regime in southern Syria, particularly in regards to the role played by Iran. Tehran is propping up the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in order to consolidate power in Syria and Iraq, as well as to ensure that its proxy Hezbollah has the continued capability to wage war against Israel.

The United States has also warned about gains made by Iran-backed Shiite militia along the Iraqi side of the border, which eventually linked up with forces affiliated to the Assad regime in Syria.

Iran will likely try to exploit recent territorial gains made by the Assad regime and its proxies by deploying forces from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards and allied Shiite militias along the Syrian borders with Israel and Jordan.

The Hashemite kingdom is both under threat from Sunni Islamist groups like Islamic State and the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as Iran’s growing influence in the region. Since the stability of Jordan is a priority for Israel, American and Arab sources have reported that Jerusalem has provided the kingdom with intelligence and security assistance to better equip the Jordanians against the threats they face.

Disturbed by a report a few months ago from Israel’s ambassador to Jordan, Einat Schlein, who painted a grim picture of the security situation inside the kingdom, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot is said to have promised behind closed doors that Israel would lend support to the Jordanians if needed. It is not clear what manner of assistance he had in mind.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 21 June 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Lightspring/shutterstock.com

Prayer Focus
Give thanks for the relatively stable and peaceful relationship Israel has with Jordan. Ask the Lord to guide and direct Israel as her military leaders attempt to assist this neighboring country in its fight against radical terror groups.

Scripture

No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.


- Joshua 1:5

Israel Furious as UN Set to Host “50 Years of Israeli Occupation” Event

by Itamar Eichner

Headquarters of the United Nations

Thursday, 22 June 2017 | Israel is gearing up to push back against a conference being hosted next week by the UN in the organization’s New York headquarters to mark what it describes as the “anniversary of the Israeli occupation.”

According to a report by the Ministry for Strategic Affairs, headed by Minister Gilad Erdan, several BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] and anti-Israel organizations will be taking part in the conference, which in the past has undertaken efforts to implement a series of hostile measures against Israeli officials.

These include, [among other things], issuing arrest warrants and prosecuting IDF [Israel Defense Forces] officers and other officials for war crimes, openly calling for the boycotting of Israeli goods, promoting draft dodging in Israel and calling for Israelis to be tried in the International Criminal Court in The Hague for war crimes.

The conference—titled “UN Forum to Mark the 50th Anniversary of the Israeli Occupation”—is being organized by the UN Committee on Palestinian Rights, and will be held at the UN headquarters in New York from June 29-30.

Minister Erdan appealed to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to prevent the conference from being held and to avoid UN funding for BDS events and UN entities whose sole purpose is to blacklist Israel.

“As Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs, responsible for leading Israel’s response to the international delegitimization and boycott (BDS) campaign against Israel, I write to you to protest in the strongest possible terms the use of UN funds and facilities to support an event aimed directly at promoting the delegitimization and boycott of Israel,” Erdan wrote to Guterres.

“Many of the organizations that will be given a platform by the UN at this event, including the American Friends Service Committee, Jewish Voice for Peace, Al-Haq, Al Mezan, Zochrot and others, are leaders of the anti-Israel BDS and legal warfare campaign,” he continued. “These organizations dedicate the majority of their energies to promoting economic, academic and cultural boycotts of Israel, attacking Israel in international legal and diplomatic forums, and delegitimizing Israel’s basic right to exist.

“Several have connections to designated terror groups while others publicly glorify convicted terrorists.”

Erdan also sought to rally behind his cause the staunchly pro-Israel Republican senator Marco Rubio, whom he met earlier this month, discussing his fight against the efforts to delegitimize Israel and voicing his concern.

“I urge you to continue speaking out against the UN’s use of member states’ funds to promote the BDS campaign,” Erdan wrote after thanking Rubio for his “important initiatives for countering BDS,” as well as his “recent engagements with the UN secretary-general” in his efforts to correct the “long-standing anti-Israel bias at the UN.”

In April, all 100 US senators signed a letter sent to Guterres urging him to act against discrimination against Israel in the United Nations.

(Translated & edited by Lior Mor)

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 21 June 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Steve Cadman/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Intercede for those leading the fight against this event. Pray that UN Secretary General Guterres will intervene and apply pressure to the organizers of the event, ordering its cancellation. Give thanks for all who are raising strong voices of support for Israel.

Scripture

The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.


- Proverbs 11:3

Action
Contact your elected officials, asking that your nation refuse to condone the use of UN funds for events that delegitimize one nation—Israel. Ask that the UN be held accountable to its purpose of maintaining world peace, developing relations among nations, and fostering cooperation.

Israeli Air Force Packs Five Times More Power than during Second Lebanon War

by Ilse Posselt

Iron Dome defense interceptor

Thursday, 22 June 2017 | Eleven years ago in the summer of 2006, Israel fought a 34-day conflict known as the Second Lebanon War against the Shiite terror group and Iranian proxy, Hezbollah. Today, more than a decade after a United Nations-brokered ceasefire signaled the end of the war, the military threat perched on Israel’s northern border has not diminished. Yet the Jewish state’s capabilities to face this threat have also increased.

According to the head of the Israeli Air Force (IAF), Major General Amir Eshel, Israel possesses up to five times the aerial striking power that it did during the 2006 war—and would use the military strength at its disposal during any war with the Lebanon-based terror group.

Speaking during the IDC Herzliya Conference 2017, the IAF head explained that thanks to a number of upgrades and improvements in the air force over the past decade, Israel now possesses the ability to accomplish in just two or three days the same amount of bombings it carried out in the month-long 2006 war.

“What the air force was able to do quantitatively in the… Lebanon war over the course of 34 days we can do today in 48-60 hours,” he explained. “This is potential power unimaginable in its scope, much different to what we have seen in the past and far greater than people estimate.”

Eshel told the audience that any future conflict with Hezbollah would be fought largely in the air. “In the next war we will be called on to fight while our bases are under fire,” he held. “We are investing a lot in ensuring that in any future state of conflict we have full air superiority a lot faster than in the past, taking into account the capabilities of our foes in Lebanon.”

Highlighting Hezbollah’s practice of using civilians on Lebanon’s border with Israel as human shields, Eshel said that “every four out of five homes have weapons hidden in them.”

“We are doing whatever possible to reduce any collateral damage to civilians in any war, and we aspire toward zero civilian casualties,” he assured. “But I cannot delude myself; in every war there will always be people who are harmed inadvertently. I have a recommendation to the people of Lebanon: Hezbollah has chosen to stay and infiltrate some of your homes. If you leave your homes as soon as the conflict erupts, you will not be harmed,” he advised.

While Israel’s military might has grown over the last eleven years since its last conflict with the Lebanese terror group, Hezbollah’s weapons arsenal has also increased. According to reports, the terror group has a stockpile of up to 100,000 missiles perched on the border with Israel. Some of these projectiles are capable of striking deep into the Promised Land.

Over the past few years, the powers-that-be in the Jewish state have gone to every effort to prevent Hezbollah from adding additional sophisticated weapons to its growing cache. A number of senior Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, have disclosed that the Jewish state has acted in Syria to ensure that chaos of civil war is not used as a cover to smuggle advanced weapons to Hezbollah for use against Israeli targets.

In fact, early in December 2016, Lieberman admitted to a strike in Syria, saying that it was launched to prevent the Lebanese terror organization from obtaining “advanced weapons, military equipment and weapons of mass destruction.”

In an apparent reference to Israel’s actions, Eshel said, “Our activities in this period in between wars, beyond removing the threats over us, have an effect that will be measured only with hindsight. What we are currently doing, and the results which are very well known to our enemies, to my mind are postponing a war. Does this mean there won’t be a war? One cannot promise that.”

Hezbollah sparked the Second Lebanon War on the morning of 12 July 2006 with a bombardment of a town in the north of Israel. Under the cover of the rocket fire, terrorists slipped over the border into Israel and attacked an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) patrol. Eight IDF soldiers died in the first day of fighting.

Over the next 33 days of the conflict, the terror group unleashed thousands of rockets from Lebanon, putting more than a million Israelis in the north of the country under heavy fire for just over a month.

The rain of rockets inspired the Jewish state to develop a state-of-the-art missile-defense system, which includes the Iron Dome short-range interceptor. The Iron Dome has since proven its mettle in combat during two wars between Israel and Hamas, the terror group ruling the Gaza Strip.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 22 June 2017)

Photo Credit: IDFblog.com

Prayer Focus
Offer thanksgiving to the Lord for blessing Israel with a strong military, a much-needed defense in a violent neighborhood. Thank God for the advances Israel has made in the area of technology which help their air force. Pray that Israel will have many more opportunities to intercept weaponry destined for the enemy’s camp.

Scripture

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.


- Psalm 20:7

New Technology Reveals First Temple-Era Inscription Reaffirming Jewish Ties to Israel

Facsimile of the Arad ostracon

Tuesday, 20 June 2017 | Previously unseen Hebrew writing from the First Temple-era that reaffirms a historical Jewish connection to Israel has been discovered on pottery from almost 3,000 years ago, The Times of Israel reported Wednesday.

The ink-on-clay piece of pottery, called an ostracon, was originally discovered in the 1960s in the city of Arad, near the Negev Desert. Over 100 ostraca inscribed in biblical Hebrew were found in the citadel, which is the largest and richest collection of inscriptions from the biblical period ever discovered in Israel.

For the past 50 years, the shards have been prominently displayed at the Israel Museum, after leading scholars had deciphered the legible writings on the pottery. But now, using revolutionary technology in multispectral imaging, researchers at Tel Aviv University have found a way to illuminate previously hidden messages on the ostraca that could shed light on ancient Hebrew history.

The researchers discovered three lines of writing from two and a half millennia ago—containing commands regarding supply of commodities (wine, oil and flour) to military units—that would otherwise have been lost to the annals of history.

The discovery raises the possibility that other “blank” pottery from the same period may also contain previously unseen texts and a wider re-examination of the pieces are in planning.

“My heart aches when thinking of all the inscriptions [on finds believed to be blank] that were perhaps thrown into the trash, because it was impossible to discern them in the field,” Arie Shaus, a doctoral student at Tel Aviv University, told The Times of Israel.

Last September, scientists reconstructed a 2,000-year-old biblical text from a burned scroll found in Israel that is thought to contain the earliest known copy of biblical scriptures in standardized form.

A month later, the Israel Antiquities Authority unveiled an ancient papyrus from the First Temple period containing the earliest Hebrew mention of Jerusalem outside the Bible.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 18 June 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Michael Cordonsky/Tel Aviv University

Prayer Focus
Glory to God that more evidence which reaffirms Jewish ties to Israel has been discovered. Thank God for all the technology that enable scientists and archaeologists to find historical evidence confirming that the Bible is true.

Scripture

Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.


- Psalm 119:89 NIV

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