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.
- IDF Begins Ground Operation in Gaza
- Determined to Do the Right Thing: PM Netanyahu
- Tunnel Attack Thwarted
- Behind the Headlines: Hamas War Crimes
- Turkish PM Erdogan’s Comments Against Israel “Harshly Incendiary”
- “Death to the Jews,” Chants and Firebombs in France
- Syria’s Assad “Elected” for another Seven-Year Term
- Deadline for Iran Fast Approaching
- Why IDF Soldiers Bring Tears to My Eyes
- Summer Science Fun for Children
IDF Begins Ground Operation in Gaza
Following ten days of Hamas attacks against Israel by land, air, and sea – and after repeated rejections of offers to deescalate the situation – the Israel Defense Forces has started a new phase of Operation Protective Edge.
A large IDF force of infantry, tanks, artillery, combat engineers, and field intelligence is entering the Gaza Strip. The force is supported by the Israel Air Force, Navy, and other Israeli security agencies.
Their mission is to target Hamas’ tunnels that cross under the Israel-Gaza border and enable terrorists to infiltrate Israel and carry out attacks.
- (Press Release by Israel Defense Force, July 17, 2014)
- Photo Credit
We cry out to You, O God, Israel’s strong tower. As the IDF has entered Gaza, go before them, Lord, into every tunnel, every street, every building. Protect each soldier and guide them to accomplish the mission of destroying the terrorist infrastructure and returning Israel to quiet and safety.
Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. 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 61:1–3
Determined to Do the Right Thing: PM Netanyahu
Quotes throughout the past week give insight into the issues and concerns of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhu as the conflict with Hamas continues.
Thursday, July 9, 2014. “Hamas is known throughout the world as a terrorist organization, the international community must strongly condemn the continual firing by Hamas and the other terrorist organizations at Israeli cities.”
Sunday, July 13. “But one must understand how our enemy operates. Who hides in mosques? Hamas. Who puts arsenals under hospitals? Hamas. Who puts command centers in residences or near kindergartens? Hamas. The leadership of Hamas and the other organizations has chosen—at a time when they are using the population of Gaza as human shields—to hide under ground, to flee abroad and to deliberately put civilians in the line of fire.”
Tuesday, July 15. “I am determined to do the right thing and I know that you rely on me and on us to ignore the background noise and concentrate on the main task— guarding your security and your lives.”
Wednesday, July 16 “Yesterday I accepted the Egyptian ceasefire proposal. This was a proposal that was endorsed by the UN Secretary General and by the Arab League. Israel accepted the ceasefire, Hamas rejected it. We held our fire for six hours, and during that time Hamas continue to barrage our cities with rockets. Hamas thus shut the door to a diplomatic solution and it therefore bears the sole responsibility for the continuation of the violence."
Thursday evening July 17: Statement released from Prime Minister’s office: "The prime minister and the defense minister have ordered the IDF to begin a ground operation in order to damage the underground terror tunnels constructed in Gaza leading into Israeli territory. Such a tunnel was used earlier this morning by Hamas terrorists to enter Israeli territory, with intent to cause massive harm to Israeli civilians. The IDF successfully thwarted this attempt at terrorism as well.”
"In light of Hamas' unending criminal attacks, and its dangerous incursions into Israeli territory, Israel is forced to defend its citizens. Operation Protective Edge will continue until it achieves its objective—to restore quiet and safety to Israelis for a long time to come, while significantly harming the infrastructure of Hamas and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip."
- (By Bridges for Peace, July 9–17, 2014)
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Thank you, O Lord, that Benjamin Netanyahu is “determined to do the right thing” in this critical time. Give him and the other Israel leaders Your guidance, wisdom, and protection. Deliver and preserve Israel from the schemes of violent men, who continually gather together for war against Your people.
Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their hearts; they continually gather together for war.- Psalm 140:1–2
Tunnel Attack Thwarted
Early this morning (July 17) IDF forces thwarted an attack by Hamas terrorists attempting to infiltrate Israel via a terror tunnel.
Just a few hours before the start of a humanitarian ceasefire, IDF forces identified approximately 13 terrorists attempting to infiltrate Israel through a terror tunnel constructed by Hamas.
The tunnel led underground from the southern Gaza Strip towards Kibbutz Sufa, near the Kerem Shalom Crossing through which humanitarian aid enters Gaza. IDF forces thwarted an impending terror attack, preventing the terrorists from attacking an Israeli kibbutz. The foiled attack could have had deadly and devastating consequences if carried out. No injuries were reported to IDF soldiers.
On Wednesday evening (July 16, 2014), UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry submitted a request for a humanitarian pause to commence on July 17 at 10:00 a.m., for the duration of five hours. Israel acceded to this request: The IDF will hold fire for a humanitarian window between 10:00 and 15:00. Should the humanitarian window be exploited by Hamas or other terror organizations for the purpose of launching attacks against Israeli civilian or military targets, the IDF will respond firmly and decisively.
Since the start of Operation Protective Edge, at least 1,350 rockets have been launched at Israel. 1,027 of those rockets hit Israel, and approximately 265 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. Hamas claimed responsibility for most of the rockets fired, including those fired at the coastal plain south of Haifa, Dimona, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
The IDF has targeted over 1,872 terror targets, from the air and the sea. Among the sites targeted: long-range rocket launchers, Hamas leadership facilities, terror and smuggling tunnels, compounds and training sites, communications facilities, and additional sites used for terror activities targeting Israel, including command and control centers.
- (Excerpts of a press release by Ministry of Foreign Affairs, July 17, 2014)
- Photo Credit
- Ministry of Foreign Afairs
We praise Your Name that these infiltrating terrorists were discovered before they brought intended devastation on the residents of Kibbutz Sufa. Lord, help the IDF to uncover and destroy all other terror tunnels from Gaza into Israel.
Show me a sign for good, that those who hate me may see it and be ashamed, because You, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.- Psalm 86:14
Behind the Headlines: Hamas War Crimes
Many of Hamas' commanders use their own homes for military purposes—including weapons storage, command and control centers and military communications. In videos uploaded to the IDF's YouTube channel, secondary explosions can be seen following IDF attacks on some of these houses—clearly indicating their military use. Under international law, when the exploitation of these residential houses makes an effective contribution to Hamas' military actions, these buildings clearly become legitimate military targets.
When attacking these lawful targets, the IDF makes every effort to ensure such attacks are proportionate and to minimize any unavoidable civilian harm. The IDF has no desire to harm civilians, and is acting solely to weaken Hamas terrorist infrastructure and safeguard our civilians.
The IDF conducts its operations in full accordance with international law. IDF commanders are trained in international law and legal advisors are embedded at the highest level of the chain of command. The IDF employs a range of tools, including distributing flyers, personalized phone calls and SMS, to warn people in the vicinity of an impending attack.
Instead of raising doubts regarding Israel's commitment to the rule of law, the international community should be questioning why Hamas deliberately embeds its military operations in residential homes and civilian areas. A terrorist organization that uses its civilian population as human shields, and deliberately fires at the Israeli civilian population, is conducting war crimes—and should be denounced for doing so.
Hamas' actions are in clear violation of the most fundamental principles of the laws of armed conflict, including the principle of distinction. This principle requires parties to an armed conflict to refrain from deliberately targeting civilian population or civilian objects. Likewise, it requires parties to distinguish its military operations and the civilian population, and to refrain from using the presence of the civilian population to shield military objectives.
These actions clearly constitute war crimes, as defined by international law and may also amount to crimes against humanity.
- (Excerpt of a Press Release by Ministry of Foreign Affairs, July 13, 2014)
- Photo Credit
- Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
As the terrorists in Gaza fire rockets at innocent civilians and use civilians as shields for military protection, we appeal to You, Creator of mankind, to bring this deception into the light, to bring about justice and righteousness. May these criminal practices be brought “down to the ground,” by Your Mighty Hand.
The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; you who say in your heart,- Obadiah 1:3
Who will bring me down to the ground?
Turkish PM Erdogan’s Comments Against Israel “Harshly Incendiary”
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today [July 15] said that remarks made by Turkish Prime Minster Erdogan on the Israel-Hamas conflict were “highly inappropriate” and expressed outrage at his “harshly incendiary” comments.
“According to reports, you made the unthinkable comparison of an Israeli politician to Hitler and accused Israel of ‘terrorizing the region,’ of ‘disregard of international law’ and of ‘tyranny,’” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, in a letter to the prime minister. “Comparisons to Hitler of this kind are never acceptable.”
The League also highlighted Prime Minster Erdogan’s one-sided statement with no mention of Hamas, and its deliberate acts of terror against Israeli civilians.
“Meanwhile, no mention was made during your remarks of the terror perpetrated against millions of Israeli civilians by the well-over one thousand rockets launched by Hamas and others into densely populated areas of Israel,” Mr. Foxman wrote. “It is clear, however, that such incendiary comparisons and accusations focused exclusively on Israel serve to provoke ill-feelings and anger against Israel, and play no constructive role in bringing the parties together or promoting a cease fire.” ADL called on Turkey to “set a different tone” and refrain from “hateful and unhelpful rhetoric.”
- (Press release from the by Anti-Defamation League, July 15, 2014)
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- Photo License
O Lord, attacks are coming at Your people, Israel, not only by rocket and mortar, but from the mouths of leaders of other nations. Thank you, Father, for shielding and lifting up the heads of Israel’s leaders and people. Protect them from every attack. May Your Name be honored.
Lord, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me…But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head.- Psalm 3:1,3
“Death to the Jews,” Chants and Firebombs in France
Anti-Semitism and attacks on the French Jewish population is on the increase as Israel’s conflict with Hamas rages. A pepper spray attack was reported to police on July 8 in Paris by a 17-year-old Jewish woman. She said her attacker came up to her and said, "Dirty Jewess, inshallah [Allah willing] you will die," while spraying her with the pepper spray.
This past Friday (July 11) a firebomb went off at the entrance to the synagogue of Aulnay-sous-Bois near Paris. No one was hurt and there was a small fire with minor damage.
Another protest, one of several this weekend, occurred Saturday in a suburb of Paris. "Death to the Jews" and "slaughter the Jews" were chants heard from a crowd of a few dozen people protesting the Israel conflict.
On Sunday (July 13) three men were taken to the hospital with injuries after a demonstration protesting Israel's actions against terrorist Hamas got out of hand and clashes erupted with the men guarding a synagogue. The attackers were a splinter group from the protesters and began advancing to the synagogue when it was full of approximately 200 people. The synagogue was besieged and the guards were attacked.
According to JTA (the Global Jewish News Source), "France, notably the Paris region, recently [has] seen an elevated level of anti-Semitic attacks. BNVCA [National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism] President Sammy Ghozlan warned that attacks may become even more frequent because of the fighting in Gaza.
- (By Leslie McLinden, Bridges for Peace, July 13, 2014)
- Photo Credit
- www.wikipedia.org/Tristan Nitot
- Photo License
Almighty Father, open the eyes and mouths of those in France who are silently observing anti-Semitism as it increases. Rise up and protect the innocent, deliver them from the hand of foolish ones who would destroy them solely because they are Jewish.
- Jeremiah 15:20b–21
But they shall not prevail against you; for I am with you to save you and deliver you,says the Lord.
I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem you from the grip of the terrible.
Syria’s Assad “Elected” for another Seven-Year Term
Despite the utter decimation of his country during his second term of office, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad took the oath of office for a third term on Wednesday [July 16]. Assad’s opponents called the election a sham, but Syria’s president won an overwhelming victory as the nation was embroiled in the fourth year of a civil war that has left more than 170,000 dead and millions of others displaced from their homes, 3 million of whom are in camps in neighboring countries.
The United Nations reports 4.7 million Syrians in need of help are living in hard-to-reach areas. Assad was under intense international pressure to step aside, but with the support of Russia and Iran has been able to maintain his grip on the reins of power despite the carnage. The official tally showed Assad winning 88.7% of the vote, but the vast opposition boycotted the election. Assad became president in 2000 upon the death of his father, Hafez.
- (By The Media Line, July 17, 2014)
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- Photo License
Ask for heavenly protection for the innocent Syrian people, who have endured the “utter decimation” of their country under the rule of Assad. Pray for justice and peace in this war-torn nation. Pray that supplies will reach those in great need.
Though his hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness will be revealed before the assembly.- Proverbs 26:26
Deadline for Iran Fast Approaching
This past weekend (Sunday, July 13), US Secretary John Kerry and the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany "failed to reach a breakthrough with Iran on uranium enrichment and other issues standing in the way of a deal that would curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for the end of nuclear-related sanctions on Tehran," according to Fox News. In January, a six-month interim agreement went into effect with Iran and its nuclear program. All parties agreed to reach a final deal by July 20.
With large divisions reportedly existing between negotiating parties, top US and Iranian diplomats met Monday to work on a breakthrough. While the basic nuclear issues are being discussed, such as Iran's insistence that it needs to expand enrichment to make reactor fuel and the western world believing that it could easily switch from fuel to manufacturing the core of nuclear missiles, the conflicts and activities throughout the Middle East have also become part of the discussions.
The Israel/Gaza conflict is adding another layer to the discussions. Gaza has flown two unmanned aircraft into Israeli airspace. The suspected source for Hamas' UAV is Iran. Iran is a strong supporter of Hamas and it has also been shown that the more sophisticated rockets were of Iranian origin. Rockets and missiles are now coming into Israel from Syria, Lebanon and the Sinai, and Iran is suspected as being involved in these latest developments.
Another layer is the spread of ISIS throughout Iraq and Syria. With the Sunni terrorist group attempting to make a caliphate in Iraq and Syria, all the parties are in agreement that they should be stopped. Also being discussed is Afghanistan and its contested election. Kerry recently visited the country to broker a "power-sharing agreement" between the rival presidential candidates.
With the deadline drawing closer, Israel and Saudi Arabia are closely watching the negotiations. Netanyahu has expressed that no enrichment program within Iran is acceptable. Both Saudi Arabia and Israel are skeptical that this will be the outcome.
- (By Leslie McLinden, Bridges for Peace, July 13, 2014)
O Lord, leaders in Iran have claimed the goal of the destruction of Israel. We beseech You to stand in the way of Iran’s ability to achieve enriching uranium to atomic bomb capacity. Only You, Father, can prevent this for Your ways are well beyond the ways of man.
- Isaiah 55:8
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,declares the Lord.
Why IDF Soldiers Bring Tears to My Eyes
Although I am a grown man, watching groups of Israeli soldiers marching to pray at the Western Wall, singing, "We are believers, the children of believers and we have no one to rely on other than our Father in Heaven," brought me to tears. We Jews must risk the lives of our young men and women to defend the nation against an enemy so brutal and lacking in morals that it does not even respect the life of its own people.
These brave young soldiers have behind them one of the most technologically sophisticated military capabilities, an air force that is the best in the world and all the tools of battle they will ever need. Yet as they prepare for war, the song they choose to sing declares, "We have no one to rely on other than our Father in Heaven."
This is the Jewish way. This is what the Torah teaches us. In fact, one may argue that the entire point of Judaism is to inculcate this very idea within us as human beings. Without God we have nothing. All of our own power is worthless without blessings from on High.
We as Jews understand that it is never "my strength and the might of my hand" (Deuteronomy, 8:17) that achieves anything. Rather, it is always the hand of God that "gives us the power to produce greatness" (Deuteronomy, 8:18). God in the Torah tells us that the ability to see the hand of God in our own success and to be able to rely on Him is the secret to being able to maintain Jewish power over the Land of Israel (ibid).
So seeing our brave young soldiers singing these words before they enter into battle moves me deeply. It moves me because it represents a significant truth: We Jews really are alone in the world. We only have one thing to truly rely on and that is our Father in Heaven.
- (by Rabbi Levi Brackman, Ynetnews, July 15, 2014)
- Photo Credit
- Israel Defense Force
“May God be with the Israel Defense Forces. May He protect their coming and going so that they all come back to their families in safety and health after completing their mission successfully.” ~Rabbi Levi Brackman
O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle. Do not grant, O Lord, the desires of the wicked; do not further his wicked scheme, lest they be exalted.- Psalm 140:7–8
Summer Science Fun for Children
Israel’s MadaTech science museum in Haifa is turning science into fun for children up and down the country. “This room gets extremely noisy,” warns Eyal Amir, spokesman for MadaTech, Israel’s National Museum of Science, Technology and Space, as we enter an exhibition hall filled with engineering devices built from the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci.
MadaTech, located in Haifa’s Hadar district, has a vast outdoor Noble Energy Science Park devoted to the inventions of [the] world’s great scientists. Control the flow of toy ships through the series of locks based on da Vinci schemes. Ride in a hand-and-foot propelled helicopter and human yo-yo to better understand aerodynamic principles pioneered by Swiss physicist Bernoulli.
Nobody expects every child coming through the museum—4,000 a day during summer months—to leave with a burning desire to become a scientist.
“We won’t have young geniuses coming out of here and going straight to the Nobel Committee,” says Amir. “But we can raise their curiosity. We can make the words ‘science’ and ‘fun’ related… it’s very important to have a positive attitude toward science.”
The cornerstone of the historic building housing MadaTech’s 600 hands-on exhibits was laid by a group of German Jews in 1912. It was to be the Technicum, the world’s first academic institution teaching engineering to Jews, who were not welcome in such schools in their native countries.
Half of the visiting schoolchildren are Arab-Israelis, so the signage is bilingual. Overseas visitors will find that many exhibits are marked in English as well. But the youthful patrons barely give these placards a glance in any language.
“Kids don’t read explanations. They want to learn through doing.” Amir continues. “Here you can see the magnets, mirrors and other secrets behind classic tricks. “We show that there is no magic; it’s all science.”
- (By Avigayil Kadesh, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, July 13, 2014)
- Photo Credit
- Israel ministry of Foreign Affairs
As thousands of children in Israel frequently run for bomb shelters this summer, we thank You, Lord for Israel’s love and care for its youngest residents. We thank you for this wonderful science center where children can learn and have fun. We pray for these children to come into full realization of the mighty wonders of their Creator, who gives what is good!
Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Yes, the Lord will give what is good; and our land will yield its increase.- Psalm 85:11–12