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.
- Netanyahu: Israel Fully Supports Obama Against ISIS
- Disturbing, Special Gaza War Poll
- Hamas Rebuilding Gaza Terror Tunnels
- Israel Wants International Oversight in Gaza
- Nahal Oz Residents Begin to Rebuild
- Hunger Looms before the Holidays
- Removal of Belfast Monument to Chaim Herzog
- ISIS More than a Terrorist Organization
- Palestinians at Work: in Israel and West Bank Jewish Communities
- Syrian Boys Travel by Donkey Seeking Medical Help in Israel
Netanyahu: Israel Fully Supports Obama Against ISIS
Less than 24 hours after US President Barack Obama laid out his strategy for the new chapter in the war on terror [September 10], Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “Israel fully supports Obama’s call for a united action against ISIS.”
Netanyahu asked the crowd to imagine [what] “would have happened if on 9/11 al-Qaeda had nuclear weapons? You know they would have used them against New York and Washington.”
Netanyahu warned an audience of diplomats and experts assembled at a counter-terrorism conference in Herzliya that Hamas, al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other terror groups were “all branches of the same poisonous tree.”
The Likud leader stressed that all terror groups “present a clear and present danger to the peace and security of the world and to our common civilization” and that if “they gain ground somewhere, they gain ground everywhere.”
Fighting these groups “requires weapons, defensive and offensive, but above all it requires—I believe—clarity and courage. Clarity to understand they’re wrong and we’re right. They’re evil and we’re good. No moral relativism there, at all,” insisted Netanyahu.
The prime minister continued: “It requires courage and responsibility—because all the other qualities that we can bring to bear in the battle against terrorism are meaningless if you don’t have courage.”
The Israeli leader said the threat of global terror has also shifted the balance of power in the region and allowed for ”new alliances in the Middle East“ now that previous rivals ”understand that Israel is not their enemy, but their ally, in this battle against a common foe.”
On a hopeful note, Netanyahu suggested the united front against terror could be an “opportunity for peace.”
The Israeli leader emphasized that Islamic extremism poses a specific threat to Jews, but also to other ethnic and religious groups. “We have been able to predict in the past that radical ideologies which inflame the minds of millions set their sights on minorities, usually starts with the Jews but it never ends with the Jews.”
[Editor’s note: Netanyahu ended his address with these words: “Clarity and courage, alliances as broad as we can make them with those who understand that we’re in a common battle, and courage to see this through, to roll back an ultimate victory. I'm confident that militant Islam will perish, but we must not allow anyone to perish with it before it goes down. That’s our task.”]
- (Excerpt from an article by Ynetnews, September 11, 2014)
- Photo Credit
- Kobi Gideon/gpo/Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Cry out to the Lord for clarity and courage for those who face this common threat of ISIS and extreme militant Islamism. Pray for a strong united front to achieve ultimate victory against this common foe. Pray for peace in the region and world.
The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.- Psalm 34:16–17
Disturbing, Special Gaza War Poll
The most influential of the Palestinian Arab opinion polling organizations, Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) from Ramallah, came out with what they called a Special Gaza War Poll Tuesday [September 2].
As bad as this war (most assuredly) was for the ordinary people of Gaza, there is an incredible appetite by them for more. They believe they won. And if you won, why would you not want more, more, more?
Mostly in our [ThisOngoingWar.blogspot] words, the main findings:
Two thirds (64%) of Palestinian Arabs say the Gaza Strip has the ability “to remain steadfast against Israeli attacks” and they attribute this capability to the intervention of Iran, Turkey and Qatar.
More than that, overwhelmingly, and despite the evidence of devastated buildings, facilities and neighborhoods, the Palestinian Arab street believes this fighting was won by Hamas. No fewer than 79% of them see it as a victory.
How much support is there for the Hamas strategy of firing rockets indiscriminately into Israeli? Well, on this there can be little doubt: a phenomenal 86% support it. They know that this is considered terrorism, and they don’t care one bit.
The poll shows how the Palestinian Arab street ranks its heroes based on how they conducted themselves in this just-ended war. Now a deep breath: Khaled Masha'al, who did not once leave his air-conditioned luxury suite in Qatar—he gets a 78% approval rating. And Hamas: 88% approval.
Not to be overlooked: non-violent “resistance” gets 62% support, but thoroughly violent warfare—“an armed intifada” in the language of the pollsters—gets a very impressive 60%. The pollsters say “It is worth mentioning that two months ago only 41% indicated support for a return to an armed intifada.”
Inescapable inference: the average man and woman in the street of Palestinian Arab cities and villages have been persuaded that violence against Israeli civilians works and they are getting behind the strategy. It remains only for us to point out that once you have that in place, all that’s needed to sustain a war of terror is a reliable source of arms. Iran’s Fars News-agency [reports]: “Iranian Armed Forces Describe Arming West Bank as Forefront against Israel,” datelined August 27, 2014.
To be a little clearer about that last point: a “larger majority” favors the transfer of Hamas’ armed approach to the West Bank. Support for emulating Hamas in the West Bank stands at 70% among West Bankers and 74% among Gazans.” That's a state-of-mind worth remembering as the already-rising toll of violent and armed attacks on civilian Israelis ratchets upwards. If there's a bright, peace-compatible side to these data, we're struggling to find it.
- (Excerpts from an article by Arnold Roth, ThisOngoingWar.blogspot, September 5, 2014)
- Photo Credit
- Photo 2: Screenshot/Palestinianmediawatch.org
Seek the Lord for the protection of Israelis who live next to Gaza and in Judea–Samaria as they face increasing hatred and an appetite for violence from their Palestinian neighbors. Pray for the ordinary Palestinians, blindly following the deception of their leaders, that He will open their eyes and give them a desire for leaders who speak truth.
He who speaks truth declares righteousness, but a false witness, deceit.- Proverbs 12:17
Hamas Rebuilding Gaza Terror Tunnels
A senior political source warned on Sunday [September 7] that Hamas has renewed its rocket manufacturing and smuggling operations and has begun rebuilding the terror tunnels destroyed by the IDF, despite the ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Gaza group less than two weeks ago.
During Operation Protective Edge, the IDF destroyed more than 30 tunnels in the Strip. But just as the two opponents were set to begin indirect negotiations in Cairo to reach a long-term accord, Hamas has decided to challenge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and test whether he will respond to the group's extensive reinforcement efforts.
Given the lack of an official truce agreement, it remains unclear how Israel will respond to Hamas rearming, resupplying, and—most importantly—rebuilding the tunnels leading into Israeli territory.
On Friday, Yedioth Ahronoth's political analyst Shimon Shiffer said that the Military Intelligence Director is expected to present in the coming days a comprehensive report to the political establishment regarding Hamas’ rehabilitation efforts.
On Saturday, a senior Hamas official in the West Bank, Mahmoud al-Zahar, said that “if the Palestinian resistance in the West Bank held a quarter of the tools at the disposal of the resistance in Gaza—Israel would be demolished in a day.”
He said the security coordination in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] between the Palestinian Authority and Israel was a crime, and that if the largest force in the West Bank changed direction towards resistance, Israel’s days would be numbered. Al-Zahar further claimed that countries which had previously considered Hamas to be a terror organization had changed their opinion during the fighting and have now expressed interest in dialogue with the group. The Hamas official also dismissed Israeli claims that the IDF destroyed all the group's tunnels. “Who is stopping us right now from building new tunnels?”
- (By Attila Somfalvi, Ynetnews, September 7, 2014)
- Photo Credit
Intercede for Israel’s leaders—that they would seek the Lord’s sound wisdom regarding the threat of Hamas’ plans to rebuild the tunnels destroyed by the IDF. Thank the Lord for His presence as a shield, protecting and preserving His people from their enemies.
For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; He guards the paths of justice, and preserves the way of His saints.- Proverbs 2:6–8
Israel Wants International Oversight in Gaza
Israel wants European monitors to oversee the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip and ensure that the Islamist Hamas movement does not re-arm. The Israeli foreign ministry is discussing several options including a European-Union [EU] force, a Western-force which would include the US and Canada, a United Nations force, and a NATO battalion.
According to a proposal which was detailed in the Ha’aretz newspaper today [September 7], the monitoring force would be armed and would be able to confiscate any weapons it finds coming into Gaza. It would monitor the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, as well as a small strip of land between Gaza and the Sinai, which is part of Egypt and has become a center for weapons smuggling into Gaza.
The EU has already announced that it is willing to act as a monitoring force as it did at the Rafah crossing between 2005 and 2007, until Hamas unilaterally took over Gaza.
An EU source told The Media Line that the EU has discussed the rehabilitation of Gaza, which is expected to cost billions of dollars, with both Israel and the Palestinians. He said the EU is interested in pursuing the idea of a sea lane directly from Gaza to the Cyprus port of Larnaca, for bringing building materials into Gaza. However, the source said, neither Israel nor the Palestinians seemed interested in discussing the sea lane.
Fatah spokesman Abdullah Abdullah told The Media Line. “What is needed is not what the Israelis want, but what the Palestinians need… not one that positions one part of the Palestinians against the other, which is what Israel intends.”
Hamas seems even less likely to accept any Israeli-backed proposal for an international force in Gaza which could confiscate weapons. Israel insists that Gaza must be demilitarized, but Hamas says it will not give up its rockets.
Abdullah H. Erakat contributed reporting
- (Excerpts of an article by Linda Linda Gradstein, The Media Line, September 7, 2014)
Ask the Lord to continue to be the strength of Israel’s leaders as they insist on the demilitarization of Hamas in Gaza. Pray for unbiased monitoring of Gaza by a neutral force; that the funds donated for its rebuilding will not be used in any way to aid further terrorist activities.
The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; my father's God, and I will exalt Him.- Exodus 15:2
Nahal Oz Residents Begin to Rebuild
The beleaguered residents of Kibbutz Nahal Oz returned Thursday [September 4] to their homes, for the first time after leaving in the wake of four-year-old Daniel Tregerman's death by Gaza mortar fire.
The families made the trip home to the kibbutz as a semblance of calm settled over the area, after an extended stay in Kibbutz Orim, where their kids had been incorporated into the local school system.
Kibbutz Nahal Oz came under heavy mortar fire during Operation Protective Edge, [but] is preparing to open its kindergartens on Sunday—though most of the homes that were damaged during the fighting had only been repaired Thursday morning.
The veteran members of the kibbutz, which had stayed put throughout the latest round of hostilities, went house to house in the morning to help their neighbors clean and prepare for their families' arrival. The children made the return trip home in the afternoon.
On Friday [September 5] the kibbutz hosted a festive Shabbat dinner to mark the return of the families who had left—composed mostly of those with young children.
However, several families have already announced that they will not return home, while others have said they left for a “sabbatical year.”
As the kibbutz slowly filled up with residents, the veterans expressed a sense of relief, having worried of a rapid exodus following the heavy fighting. “We have a lot of hard work—not only in rebuilding the place, but in rehabilitating the community,” said Esther Toronto.
“Many families have lost the feeling of safety, there is a lack of faith, there is fear, and we need to fix it. We are a strong community which suffered a severe trauma after Daniel’s death; we are at a low point, but we must look at it in only one way—from here, things can only get better.”
She emphasized the importance of the kibbutz to its residents. “This is the only way for us to continue to survive here. Nahal Oz is our home, we will rehabilitate it, we will build anew—and going into the future we will continue to build and to absorb new people.”
But Toronto stressed that “none of this can happen if we do not receive assistance from the government, to improve the kibbutz, to increase our security measures, adequate protection of this community.”
Yael Lehiani returned early to the kibbutz on Thursday to prepare her home for her children's return. “It’s sad that some families are leaving, especially when it’s at one time. We have had many miracles over the last 14 years, so it’s hard to understand. But we ran out of miracles and had a massive disaster.”
She added: “When you have run out of miracles, you lose your sense of security. There is no sense of joy, but at least we still have the feeling of coming home, to a place that we love.”
- (By Matan Tzuri, Ynetnews, September 4, 2014)
- Photo Credit
- Photo License
Cry out on behalf of the families, especially the children, who have returned to their communities after the trauma of the past summer’s rocket and mortar attacks. Proclaim the Lord’s promise that He will comfort Zion and that from this comfort, the people of Nahal Oz will regain their hope, sense of security and their joy.
For the LORD will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of melody.- Isaiah 51:3
Hunger Looms before the Holidays
As the high holidays approach, Israel's largest charities have reported an increase in the number of those seeking aid by dozens of percentage points in comparison to the same period in 2013.
Angel Musikant, a 70-year-old resident of Rehovot, is one of those feeling the difficult effects of the current aid crunch. Musikant’s income support amounts to NIS 2,500 [US $690] every month—earnings which leave him in a constant struggle for survival. “Every day is worse and I never know how I’m going to survive it,” said Musikant.
According to the latest poverty report from the National Insurance Institute, more than 1.7 million Israelis lived below the poverty line in 2012. Experts estimate that the new report to be submitted at the end of 2014 will show an increase in poverty.
The reasons for increasing demands are varied, but charities are pointing to more requests from those who are employed as well as the recent fighting in Gaza.
According to Pini Fefer, Relations Director at Leket [a charity], “We hear more and more about the working poor who turn to charity…Some of the people in disadvantaged communities are poor workers who were already living on the edge, their children weren’t in school, and that’s a very large [food] expense. The area cries out.” The recent military operation also led to a decrease in donations according to Fefer.
The chairman of Pitchon Lev, Nissim Zioni, said that the new requests include, “families in the south with two parents who have full time jobs, but because of Operation Protective Edge their incomes suffered dramatically.”
[Editor’s Note: Because of the generous donations from Christians around the world, Bridges for Peace maintains active food banks in Jerusalem and in northern Israel. Each month we provide over 60 tons of food, touching and helping to feed thousands of Israelis in communities throughout Israel.
Help us feed Israelis, blessing them in this holy day season of Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot: Click here]
- (Excerpts of article by Omri Efraim, Ynetnews, September 11, 2014)
- Photo Credit
- D'Arcy Leck/BridgesForPeace.com
Pray for all who are hungry; that they will enjoy the blessing of good food during the holidays and throughout the year. Thank the Lord for those who are able to give, so the hungry can know they have not been forgotten by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Is this not the fast that I have chosen…Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out.- Isaiah 58:6a, 7a
Removal of Belfast Monument to Chaim Herzog
Israeli Ambassador to the United Kingdom Daniel Taub has sent an official letter to the Northern Ireland leadership expressing his "very deep concern" over the removal of a plaque in Belfast marking the birthplace of Chaim Herzog, the sixth president of Israel.
The monument on Cliftonpark Avenue, which was placed there in 1998, was removed in August, at the height of Operation Protective Edge, due to repeated vandalism. Herzog was president of Israel from 1983 to 1993.
“I am writing to express my very deep concern at the removal of the plaque,” Taub wrote in a letter obtained by Ynet, which was sent Monday [September 8] to First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
In the letter, Taub recalled, “I learned from my own visits to Northern Ireland together with my Palestinian counterpart in the course of the Israeli–Palestinian peace negotiations that it is only through the recognition of the past that we can hope to move forward. This attempt to efface both Belfast’s Jewish past and its historic connection to the State of Israel is troubling because of what it says in relation to Israel and the Jewish community, but no less so because it suggests a lack of resolve or indifference to the consequences of allowing prejudice and hatred to fester.”
Herzog was “not only champion of security for the State of Israel but also a profound advocate of peace,” Taub concluded. “Now more than ever, the principles for which he stood need to be broadcast, not silenced.”
A local politician from the Democratic Unionist Party, Brian Kingston, said at the time that he was shocked by move, “This is a shocking indication of the level of tension and anti-Semitism which currently exists in parts of Belfast. It is disgraceful that this item of Belfast history has being repeatedly targeted due to its connection with Israel,” the Irish Times quoted Kingston as saying. “This should serve as a wake-up call for the public to the dangerous level of intolerance and the anti-Israeli mentality which some are encouraging.”
- (Excerpts from an article by Sara Miller, Ynetnews, September 10, 2014)
- Photo Credit
- Photo License
Thank the Lord for bringing this evidence of underlying anti-Semitism to the surface. Pray for a change in the hearts of those who commit these acts of violence and also in the hearts of those who silently stand by; that they will understand they are harming God’s chosen people.
He found him [the Lord’s people] in a desert land and in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye.- Deuteronomy 32:10
ISIS More than a Terrorist Organization
Much has been written about the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria—ISIS. Most of the commentators have looked at ISIS as another terrorist organization. In fact, ISIS is much more than a terrorist organization; it is a terrorist state with almost all governing elements.
Over the last three years, the Islamic State [now IS] developed from an extremist fringe and marginal faction to become the strongest, most ferocious, best funded and best armed militia in the religious and ethnic war that is waged today in Syria and Iraq.
According to the maps published by the Islamic State, the Islamic State will include [Israel, Jordan], Spain, North Africa, West Africa, Central Africa, Ethiopia, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Yemen, Azerbaijan, Pakistan and part of China, Iran, Turkey, and parts of Europe, mainly the Balkans.
Caliph Ibrahim is the sole decision-maker in the Islamic State and his decisions are implemented with no avenue for recourse…he holds absolute power and does not share authority with any of his lieutenants—the Islamic State seems to be partly composed of former military officers who served in the Iraqi Army until Saddam Hussein’s ousting.
In any case, events on the ground have shown some of the more brutal facets of the management of the Islamic State [IS]. The Islamic State’s first priority was to wage “ethnic cleansing” to eliminate any potential foes and opposition as well as to observe its religious creed.
Once the area controlled by IS became more or less homogenous, [they] decided to implement Phase Two in its pursuit of power: Islamic education according to the Islamic State philosophy.
IS has been so successful in creating an atmosphere of hatred against all “heretics” and all that Western civilization represents that it has succeeded to attract thousands of foreign and Arab volunteers to abandon previous allegiances and apply to the ranks of the Islamic State. By one estimate, “perhaps 12,000 foreign fighters” have joined the IS ranks.
The Islamic State does not seem like a passing phenomenon. Uprooting the IS phenomenon will be a long and arduous road. Without reaching a lasting political solution that will put an end to Sunni-Shiite rivalries, the chances of success will remain negligible.
- (Excerpts from an article by Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, September 8, 2014)
- Photo Credit
Pray that the danger to the people in the Middle East, as well as the rest of the world, will become clear as the true strength and deadly motives of this organization is revealed. Ask for protection from the Almighty Father from this evil.
The violence of the wicked will destroy them, because they refuse to do justice.- Proverbs 21:7
Palestinians at Work: in Israel and West Bank Jewish Communities
RAMALLAH— Emad Halabi first worked in Israel when he was 16 years old. Now, at the age of 50, he still takes jobs in the Jewish state or in Jewish communities, when he can get them. “When you landed a job working in Israel or the ‘settlements,’ people envied you and considered you lucky because there’s no substitute. That’s still the case today,” he told The Media Line, adding that he was never harassed for being Palestinian.
Halabi says on average, a Palestinian makes $420 a month working in the West Bank [Judea & Samaria], while in Israel workers earn double this. “When I see my kids can’t eat until I go to the settlement to work, of course I’m going to go so I can not only feed them, but give them a good life,” he said.
To get [an Israeli work] permit, men need to be married, have at least one child, and be at least 24 years old. Israel believes that men in these categories are less likely to commit terrorist attacks.
The office of the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said the number of working permits for Palestinians to enter Israel has increased because of the “regional stability and security.” According to its 2013 statistics, COGAT issued 42,731 permits to Palestinians working in Israel and 24,812 permits to those working in Jewish communities in the West Bank.
The Palestinian Labor ministry is trying to encourage Palestinians to work in Palestinian factories and industries, but not finding it easy. According to Abu Baker of the Labor Ministry, “High desirable salaries have kept the Palestinians sneaking in to Israel or working in settlements.”
In 2010, the PA created a fund to provide alternative employment and grants in an effort to both discourage Palestinians from working in the settlements and boost the West Bank economy. But that did not bear fruit. The instability in the West Bank did not give hope either.
Economist Nasr Abdelkarim says, “It’s not a political decision. Palestinian laborers are motivated by the economic factors.” He suggests…strengthening ties with the rest of the world. “The government should design a policy to attract investors to the agricultural and manufacturing industries,” he told The Media Line. This would result in job creation, as well as bring money into the Palestinian economy.
- (Excerpts of an article by Abdullah H. Erakat, The Media Line, September 8, 2014)
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Thank the Lord for blessing the nation of Israel with economic stability and the opportunity to pass that on to the Palestinian residents of the country. Pray that those who support economic boycotts of Israel will come to understand that they hurt both Israel and the Palestinians.
You water its ridges abundantly, You settle its furrows; You make it soft with showers, You bless its growth.- Psalm 65:10
Syrian Boys Travel by Donkey Seeking Medical Help in Israel
A 12-year-old Syrian boy was brought to the Ziv Medical Center in Safed for medical treatment over the weekend [September 6] after he was severely wounded near Damascus. The boy told the hospital staff that he had been taken by his brother to the Israeli border, on the back of a donkey.
The young boy apparently sustained the wounds several weeks ago when a mortar shell hit his home in the outskirts of Damascus. He lost sight in both eyes, and was severely wounded in both his arms and one of his legs...his family had initially taken him to a hospital in the Beqaa Valley in east Lebanon where doctors amputated his right hand.
He was discharged after being given superficial treatment for his other injuries. Due to the fighting in Syria, the family could not return the boy to his home in Damascus, at which point his brother decided to try to take him to Israel for treatment...[they] crossed the Syrian side of Mount Hermon on a donkey until they reached an Israeli military post at the border.
Israel Defense Forces [IDF] soldiers transferred the boy to the medical center in Safed. “The boy came in with one of his arms severed below the elbow and the other hand shattered as a result of the blast,” said Dr. Alexander Lerner, head of the orthopedic department at the hospital.
“He also suffers from a fracture and loss of tissue in one of his legs, and he has lost his vision. The boy is conscious, and although he is still agitated, he is communicative and understands what happened. He most likely had to go through a difficult journey to get here.” Dr. Lerner believes that despite the severe injury, the boy will be able to walk again. “We intend to perform a series of operations on the boy’s wounded leg and foot...”
"He is facing a long, difficult treatment period, but the goal is to eventually bring back his ability to walk and function with his damaged hand. According to the few stories we heard, this is a brave boy who has been through a difficult ordeal and survived—therefore I am optimistic and believe that he will be able to walk again,” Lerner added.
- (By Ahiya Raved, Ynetnews, September 8, 2014)
Praise the God of Israel! Declare that the knowledge of His presence among His people will be known among the nations. Pray for the continued healing and comfort of this young Syrian boy who knew he would find help in Israel.
In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying,- Zechariah 8:23
Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.