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Friday, May 27, 2022

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Every week, we post 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.

Police on High Alert ahead of Jerusalem Day Flag March

by Ynet

Jerusalem Day celebration

Thursday, 26 May 2022 | Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai on Wednesday has ordered high alert in Jerusalem and other cities with mixed Jewish–Arab populations ahead of the nationalist flag march on Jerusalem Day next Sunday.

As per the order, more than 3,000 police officers will be deployed in Jerusalem and hundreds more in mixed cities as police fear violence might ignite in a repeat of last year’s Jerusalem Day, when high tensions eventually culminated in violent racially motivated riots across the country and an 11-day conflict in the Gaza Strip.

Jerusalem District Commander Doron Turgeman noted that starting Thursday, uniformed and plainclothes police officers, as well as Border Police cops, will be stationed throughout the Old City, the Temple Mount and other flashpoints around the capital.

The police added it had conveyed its recommendations to the political echelon to allow the march to pass through the capital’s Muslim Quarter, as well as through the volatile Damascus Gate area, which acts as a gateway for tens of thousands of Palestinians wishing to reach the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The police added that forces will allow Jews to ascend the Temple Mount regardless of the flag march, and pending developments at the site.

The police further reported that more than 100 preventive arrests were made in preparation for the flag march, adding that most of the detainees are residents of east Jerusalem and northern Israel.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on May 25, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: D. Hudson/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Pray for God’s hand of protection over Israel’s security forces who are on high alert in the flashpoints across the nation. Ask for God’s hand of protection over Israelis in Jerusalem as they celebrate Jerusalem Day, the reunification of the Jewish state’s capital after the Six Day War of 1967. Lift up the Jerusalem Day celebrations in prayer, asking the Lord for His protection over everyone involved and that the celebrations will not spark conflict like it did last year.

Scripture

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.”


- Psalm 122:6

Shin Bet Busts Jerusalem Hamas Cell Plotting to Assassinate Parliament Member

by JNS

Hamas plotted to assassinate MK Itamar Ben-Gvir, head of the Otzma Yehudit Party

Thursday, 26 May 2022 | The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and Jerusalem District Police revealed on Tuesday the existence of an eastern Jerusalem Hamas terror cell that had been planning to assassinate Israel public figures.

Among those targeted by the cell, which was first discovered early last month, were Knesset [Parliament] member and Otzma Yehudit Party head Itamar Ben-Gvir, according to the Shin Bet.

Cell members had purchased a drone and were planning to arm it for an attack on the Jerusalem light rail system, the Shin Bet said.

It named Rashid Rashak, a prominent Hamas operative and a resident of the Old City of Jerusalem, as allegedly plotting shooting or suicide bombing attacks in Jerusalem, together with Mantzur Tzafadi, another Hamas operative, from the Abu Tur neighborhood south of the Old City.

“The Shin Bet investigation revealed that the cell members planned to hide out in Hebron or Jenin after carrying out the attacks,” said the security agency.

Rashak also “set up a system of operatives in Jerusalem aimed at conducting disturbances in neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem and the Temple Mount during the last Ramadan [one of the Five Pillars of Islam when stringent disciplines are observed] period to undermine stability on the Temple Mount and Jerusalem. Operatives received many fireworks, flags and Hamas ribbons in the east of the city and the Temple Mount for use during disturbances during the Ramadan month,” it added.

Five of the suspects were charged with severe security offenses on Tuesday by Jerusalem District prosecutors.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on May 24, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord and thank Him that Israel’s security forces thwarted these evil attempts to harm Israelis and saved lives. Pray against all other plots and schemes by Hamas and other enemies of Israel and the Jewish people to spill blood. Lift up the nation and people of Israel before the Lord, asking for His supernatural protection over them.

Scripture

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; defend me from those who rise up against me. Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloodthirsty men.


- Psalm 59:1–2

Israel Hammers Out Deal to Supply Natural Gas to Europe via Egypt

by David Isaac ~ JNS

Natural gas processing rig in the Tamar field off Israel’s southern coast

Thursday, 26 May 2022 | For the past month Israel has been negotiating an agreement to sell natural gas to Europe via Egypt, Israel’s Energy Ministry revealed on Sunday.

The negotiations were spurred by a meeting between Israel’s Energy Minister Karine Elharrar and European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson in Paris in late March, according to an Energy Ministry spokesman. The Europeans told the Israelis at the meeting that if they could not find alternatives, “they would return to coal mining, despite the great environmental damage caused by it,” the spokesman told JNS.

Following the meeting, an Israeli–European team was set up to work out a political framework in coordination with the Egyptians to enable gas to flow to Europe. Energy Ministry Director-General Lior Schillat, who is leading the talks, said Egypt is involved because Israel doesn’t have the technical resources to send gas to Europe directly. The best way, he said, is to send the gas to Egypt’s liquefied natural gas terminal near Alexandria, where it would be processed and sent on to Europe by ship.

The catalyst for Europe’s urgency is the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has awakened the continent to the danger of relying on Russian fossil fuels; Russia has exploited Europe’s dependence to impose its will. It appears, for example, that European energy companies will submit to Moscow’s demand that it receive gas payments in rubles, a move that would help shore up Russia’s economy while undermining European sanctions.

To free itself of Russian influence, Europe is now talking about building more gas infrastructure, extending the life of coal plants and finding other ways to replace Russian gas. It’s a dramatic reversal, according to Nati Barenboim, general manager of Israel’s Independent Power Producers’ Association.

“If we looked at the European market a year ago, they were talking seriously about closing all their fossil fuel power plants, including gas, and relying only on renewables and batteries. Now they’ve completely changed their philosophy about natural gas,” Barenboim told JNS.

Israel has been looking to export gas to Europe for years, signing a deal in 2020 for an EastMed pipeline that would have extended from Israel’s offshore reserves to Greece. However, the pipeline was put on ice when the Biden administration pulled its support in January, reversing the policy pursued by the Trump administration.

At the same time, the Israeli government’s enthusiasm for gas has cooled.

In December, Elharrar announced that no new offshore gas exploration licenses would be issued this year, in order to enable the government to focus on renewable energy.

Chen Herzog, partner and chief economist at BDO Israel, told JNS that the European request has had an impact on the Israeli government’s attitude and that there are “indications from the government that the stop on gas exploration will not be extended.”

“It has become clear to Israel and the Europeans that natural gas, if only as a transition fuel on the way to renewables, is still important and required,” said Herzog.

The gas deal is a win-win, according to Herzog, as it will strengthen Israel’s economic and geopolitical ties with Europe, and still more so, with Egypt. It will also encourage the future development of Israel’s gas reserves, he said.

“It’s true that the quantity Israel will supply, in relation to the European demand, is not a game-changer,” he said. “But it is important for the Israeli economy because it really opens the possibility for Israel to continue and develop more discoveries.”

While acknowledging the need to help Europe, Barenboim is nonetheless concerned that Israel not give away too much. “We need to think seriously about keeping enough gas for the local market for at least the next 30 to 40 years,” he said, adding that Israel’s consumption of natural gas was increasing by about 1 billion cubic meters a year. (In 2019, Israel consumed about 11.25 billion cubic meters.)

He cited three reasons for the growth: 1) Israel’s population is expanding by almost 2% every year; 2) Israel is building new power and desalination plants that will require gas; and 3) Israel is switching its transportation system over to gas and batteries. He called this last point the “biggest vector increasing demand.”

“With all due respect to the European market, we are surrounded by enemies. We are an island. And thank God we are independent. We should keep our independence…Nothing will replace the natural gas, not renewables, and unfortunately, due to political issues, also not nuclear power plants,” he said.

Israel’s Ministry of Energy told JNS that reserves in production today are estimated at about 800 billion.

“We will not find an additional Tamar or an additional Leviathan,” said Barenboim, referring to the two biggest reserves off Israel’s coast. “We’ll find a medium-sized reservoir. So that’s why we need to be very careful about how much we allow Europe to export from our reserves.”

Herzog is less worried, basing his confidence on the assumption that Israel will by then have shifted to renewable energy, and the fact that Israel has “set quotas and restrictions on the amount of exports that each company or each field can export in order to ensure long-term energy security.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on May 25, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Cover this export deal in prayer, asking the Lord to bless all the negotiations and details in such a way that will be a blessing to Israel, Egypt and all the European nations involved. Pray that this endeavor will be successful in strengthening ties between Israel, Egypt and Europe and that it will help to break Europe’s dependence on Russia for fuel.

Scripture

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.


- Ecclesiastes 4:9–12

CNN Claims IDF Targeted Al Jazeera Journalist

by Ilse Strauss

CNN International logo

Wednesday, 25 May 2022 | In an accusation Israel slammed as “entirely unfounded,” CNN claimed yesterday that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) deliberately targeted and killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in a firefight between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen in Jenin on May 11. The network said it came to this conclusion after conducting its own inquiry into the incident.

Akleh, a 51-year-old Palestinian–American duel citizen, died from a bullet wound to the head while covering an Israeli counterterror raid in Jenin, a Palestinian-governed city in northern Samaria that has been at the heart of recent roiling tensions in Judea and Samaria—also known as the so-called West Bank.

Akleh’s death sparked a battle of narratives. The Palestinians blame Israel, slamming the incident as “deliberate,” “cold-blooded murder.” Israel immediately launched a full investigation, involving the army’s General Staff and the entire chain of command, including Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi.

The results of the IDF’s preliminary probe narrowed down the possibilities of what happened. Akleh might have been killed by a Palestinian gunman firing indiscriminately, hoping to hit Israeli soldiers and striking her instead. Alternatively, she might have been hit by an Israeli soldier in a military vehicle shooting through a “designated firing hole” at a Palestinian gunman firing at the vehicle. In fact, the IDF said last week that it may have identified the soldier’s gun that fired the bullet that killed Akleh.

There’s one problem, though. The Palestinian Authority (PA) took control of Akleh’s body, performed an autopsy before her burial, retains the bullet and staunchly refuses Israel’s calls for a joint investigation. So unless the PA turns over the bullet that killed Akleh to Israeli investigators for analysis, it’s impossible to be sure who fired it.

Now CNN weighed in, adding its voice to the Palestinian narrative in an article entitled “‘They Were Shooting Directly at the Journalists:’ New Evidence Suggests Shireen Abu Akleh Was Killed in Targeted Attack by Israeli Forces.”

What basis does CNN have for this blunt accusation? According to the network, it consulted with so-called experts to come to the conclusion.

First, forensic audio experts who examined audio from the incident allegedly found that the shot that killed Akleh was fired from approximately 200 meters (656 ft.) away—the apparent distance between the IDF forces and the journalist, the Times of Israel reported.

Second, CNN asked Chris Cobb-Smit—whom the article identifies as a security consultant, British army veteran and apparently also a firearms expert—to examine photos of markings left on a tree where Akleh was standing when the bullet struck her, the Times of Israel explains.

Cobb-Smit believes the bullet markings show that the fire that killed Akleh came in controlled, targeted shots as opposed to stray bullets.

“The number of strike marks on the tree where Shireen was standing proves this wasn’t a random shot; she was targeted,” CNN quoted Cobb-Smit as saying. The Palestinian gunfire on the other hand, he said, shows “random sprays.”

“From the strike marks on the tree, it appears that the shots, one of which hit Shireen, came from down the street from the direction of the IDF troops. The relatively tight grouping of the rounds indicate[s] Shireen was intentionally targeted with aimed shots and not the victim of random or stray fire,” he charged.

The IDF dismissed the accusation as false and baseless. “In no way would the IDF ever target a civilian, especially a member of the press,” an unnamed senior Israeli security official told CNN, the Times of Israel reported.

The IDF also released a statement late yesterday in response to the CNN article, saying, “The claim that the gunfire was aimed [at Akleh] is entirely unfounded.”

The statement explained that the military had launched a thorough investigation into the incident but was unable to identify the shooter with certainty without access to the bullet. The IDF again called on the PA to make the bullet available for examination.

In the two weeks since Akleh was killed, a number of news outlets and research groups have launched their own investigations. Yet since these probes are often based on video clips, audio recordings and photos taken in the area during the incident, examining the scene and reconstructing the episode after the fact and the accounts of those around Akleh, the findings are inconclusive.

In fact, as long as the PA refuses to share crucial evidence, a definitive answer is unlikely. And perhaps that is exactly what the PA wants. With reports like that of CNN circulating and turning public opinion against Israel, who needs an actual guilty verdict?

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 25, 2022)

Photo Credit: CNN/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Beseech the Lord for a swift, definitive and just ending to the question of who is responsible for Akleh’s death. Ask the Lord that the truth will come to light. Pray against any anti-Israel, anti-Semitic hatred that might be sparked by this incident, and that the nation of Israel will be blessed for its willingness to investigate the situation and make it right—even if Israel itself is at fault.

Scripture

Blessed are those who keep justice, and he who does righteousness at all times!


- Psalm 106:3

Israel Raises Alert after Assassination of Senior IRGC Officer

by Ilse Strauss

Was Israel behind the assassination of a chief IRGC officer on Sunday?

Tuesday, 24 May 2022 | Israel is reportedly on high alert after a high-ranking Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) officer was assassinated on Sunday in one of the most secure areas in Tehran in what Israeli media called a carefully coordinated operation.

Fearing revenge attacks from Iran for the death of Colonel Hassan Sayyad Kodayari, an elite officer in the IRGC’s shadowy elite Quds Force, the Jewish state apparently raised the security alert level at international embassies and consulates. Jerusalem also prepared for the possibility of assaults on Jewish targets abroad as well as strikes from Syria or Lebanon.

The mullahs in Tehran have not officially accused Israel for killing Kodayari. And the powers-that-be in Jerusalem have offered no official comment on the hit. So, if Iran doesn’t officially blame Israel and Israel didn’t officially own up to the assassination, why the heightened security?

Kodayari was driving near his home in one of the most secure areas in Tehran—Mohahedin-e Eslam Street, home to other senior officials in the IRGC and Quds Force—when two gunmen on a motorcycle approached his vehicle and fired five bullets at him from a point-blank range using a silenced weapon before speeding off. Kodayari was killed instantly.

The gunmen have since disappeared into thin air, prompting a massive manhunt to find the men who shot to death a senior member of the high-profile IRGC on his own street.

For one thing, the style of the attack links Sunday’s hit to previous assassinations of other high-ranking Iranian officials, most notably Iran’s top nuclear scientist and father of its nuclear program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, which Tehran blamed on Israel. In fact, the hit on Kodayari was the most high-profile strike in Iran since Fakhrizadeh’s death in November 2020.

And although the mullahs have not pointed a finger at Israel outright, there are hints to whom Tehran holds responsible. The IRGC blamed the killing on “global arrogance,” code for the United States and Israel. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi echoed the accusation, attributing Kodayari’s death to “elements linked to the global arrogance.”

Moreover, according to unsourced media reports in Hebrew media, intelligence points to a foreign body behind such a brazen strike on such a high-profile Quds Force target in the heart of Iran, which again raises the possibility of the United States and Israel.

Then there’s motive. Unsourced Israeli and international reports identify Kodayari as the mastermind behind a number of planned kidnappings and other attempts to attack Israeli and Jewish targets internationally.

According to Iranian opposition media outlet Iran International, Kodayari coordinated a series of attacks on Israeli officials in a number of countries in 2012, including a car bomb targeting an Israeli diplomat in New Delhi, which injured the envoy’s wife, and a string of failed bombings in Thailand the next day set to murder Israeli officials.

If the report is true and if Israel is behind Kodayari’s death, surely it’s a bit late in the game for payback for the 2012 attacks. The implication? If Israel ordered the hit and pulled the trigger, chances are Kodayari was working on something big, something aimed at hitting Israel hard.

Channel 13 news reported that Mansour Rasouli—a member of the IRGC who confessed during an interrogation that he was ordered to assassinate, among others, an Israeli diplomat in Turkey—worked under Kodayari’s command.

Channel 12 news said that Kodayari orchestrated an Iranian scheme to lure Israeli academics, businesspeople and former defense officials abroad with promises of business deals and academic conferences and then possibly kidnap them.

The exact details of what that something big entails may just go to Kodayari’s grave with him, together with the identity—and nationality—of the gunmen who shot him and the true motive behind his death. Israel isn’t about to divulge anything, and this time even Iran is remaining mum.

Meanwhile, the mullahs have pledged bloody payback—as they always do. In the past, the revenge came in the form of token attacks that failed to inflict any real damage but allowed the Iranian powers-that-be to save face among their people. Whether this time’s retribution will follow the same pattern is anybody’s guess. The same goes for whether Iran actually blames Israel and is merely playing its cards close to its chest. Regardless, Jerusalem is not taking any chances.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 24, 2022)

Photo Credit: jorono/pixabay.com

Prayer Focus
Pray a covering of God’s protection over Israel—particularly its international embassies and consulates as well as its northern borders, where Iran would most likely seek to execute revenge attacks. Pray that any attempts by the Islamic regime to avenge its IRGC commander—who was also plotting evil against the people of Israel—would come to nothing.

Scripture

The wicked plots against the just, and gnashes at him with his teeth. The Lord laughs at him, for He sees that his day is coming.


- Psalm 37:12–13

IDF Simulates Destruction in Tel Aviv as Part of Drill

by Elisha Ben Kimon~Ynetnews

The IDF Search and Rescue Brigade practices saving lives in different scenarios.

Monday, 23 May 2022 | The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] last week completed its second week of a large-scale exercise to prepare its forces for the event of a large-scale war that could involve damage to civilian areas and widespread rioting.

The purpose of the military [drill] was to train for extreme scenarios, where multiple populated concentrations would be damaged while riots would break out in mixed cities and on major roads.

“The goal was to practice complex scenarios which could occur in the future,” a senior Home Front Command officer said on Thursday.

“In the next military conflict, we could experience more frequent and intense rocket fire, especially from Hezbollah, and the potential of more racially motivated riots across the entire country, after the May riots last year,” the officer said. “Therefore we must practice evacuating civilians from danger zones under fire, and be prepared for any scenario,” he said.

The IDF said the military trained in 42 cities and towns, and in industrial areas across the country, activating sirens in as many as 61 communities as part of the drill.

Another senior official said that during the exercise, the military practiced its ability to connect online with local authorities, government ministries and the police, using special software

“If major roads are blocked by rioters, we are preparing a dedicated force able to address the issue and ensure traffic can continue safely,” he said.

The IDF also said its Home Front Command trained in handling mass casualty events and major destruction caused by rocket fire.

The Home Front Command drill was part of a month-long military exercise that includes all branches of the IDF.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on May 19, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Ask the Lord for a special blessing and protection over the IDF as it seeks to keep the nation and people of Israel safe from enemies who would seek to attack from multiple fronts. Pray over the IDF’s month-long Chariots of Fire exercise, that it will be successful in helping the military prepare for any and all situations in which it must defend against enemy attacks. Pray also that the people of Israel will recognize the One who truly keeps them safe, who never slumbers nor sleeps.

Scripture

He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep…the LORD shall preserve you from all evil.


- Psalm 121:3–4, 7a

US Brokers Deal between Egypt and Saudi—with Israel’s Help

by Kate Norman

Map showing the islands of Tiran and Sanafir in the Red Sea

Tuesday, 24 May 2022 | The United States is reportedly mediating talks to transfer two islands in the Red Sea from Egypt’s control to Saudi Arabian control. The swap also affects Israel, meaning the Jewish state is hovering in the background of the talks—which could warm ties between Jerusalem and Riyadh.

Tiran and Sanafir are both islands in the Red Sea that lie between the Gulf of Aqaba to the open Red Sea. Hovering in the middle of the Straits of Tiran, control of these uninhabited islands yields control of a strategic shipping passage that connects Israel’s Eilat port to the rest of the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi signed a deal in 2016 to transfer control of the islands to Saudi Arabia. The deal sparked protest among Egyptians and faced legal hurdles in 2017 from Egyptian courts who questioned its constitutionality.

Now the subject is back in the light as Axios reported yesterday that US President Joe Biden is working to broker the agreements ahead of his visit to the Middle East next month.

Original ownership of the islands is murky depending on the source. Egypt claims control of the islands as early as 1906 when it drew up official borders with the Ottoman Empire, France24 pointed out.

However, most sources point to original Saudi ownership of the islands, which the kingdom then leased to Egypt in 1950.

The islands factored into the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, allowing Israeli ships passage through the Straits of Tiran under the monitoring of US-led multinational observers patrolling the islands.

Transferring ownership of the islands—and therefore control of the vital waterways—means putting Israeli access in question. Israel reportedly approved of the transfer, Axios reported, citing Israeli and US sources in the know, as long as the multinational observer force remains in place, guaranteeing continued Israeli passage.

Saudi Arabia, however, does not want to keep the force on the islands, Axios reported, but agreed to maintain the demilitarized status of the islands as well as continued freedom of passage for Israeli ships.

Talks are still underway to iron out the final few sticking points of the transfer, US and Israeli sources told Axios.

Successful negotiations could lead to warmer ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia, following in the footsteps of the landmark Abraham Accords in 2020, in which Israel normalized ties with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Saudi Arabia at the time was rumored to be one of the next Arab countries in line to make peace with its Jewish neighbor, as the two countries currently do not have diplomatic relations.

Saudi Arabia, though it approved of the Abraham Accords, did not join itself, citing the reason of wanting more progress in solving the Israeli–Palestinian conflict before establishing its own formal relations with the Jewish state.

However, Riyadh did open up some of its airspace after the Accords to Israeli flights traveling to the UAE and Bahrain. Israel is also seeking more Israeli access to Saudi airspace to significantly shorten flight times to China, India and Thailand, as well as direct flights to Saudi Arabia so Israeli Muslims could travel from Israel’s Ben Gurion airport to the Muslim holy cities of Medina and Mecca.

A successful end to the land transfer could be a diplomatic win for US President Biden on the eve of his visit to the Middle East next month, particularly to participate in a summit with the leaders of Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the Times of Israel reported.

A happy ending to the land agreement, which involves and affects Israel, could also be the next step to drawing Saudi Arabia into the Abraham Accords fold.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 24, 2022)

Photo Credit: US Central Intelligence Agency/en.wikipedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Lift up these negotiations, that God’s will be done and that it will be a blessing to everyone involved. Pray that these talks will indeed lead to warmer ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and that it will lead to Saudi Arabia being the next Arab state in line to make peace with the Jewish state.

Scripture

The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.


- Isaiah 32:17–18

Iran Used Classified UN Records to Skirt Scrutiny of Nuclear Program, WSJ Reports

by Ynet

IAEA safeguard inspectors at a nuclear power plant in Slovakia (illustrative)

Thursday, 26 May 2022 | Iran has used classified documents from the UN’s nuclear watchdog to cover up and conceal work on nuclear weapons, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Wednesday, citing Middle East intelligence officials and documents examined by the New York-based daily.

According to the report, the documents—which were retrieved in an audacious, clandestine operation of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency and exposed by then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2018—reveal how the mullah regime in Tehran tried to hoodwink the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors who sought to scrutinize its nuclear weapons program about two decades ago.

The WSJ claims that the documents examined by it have not yet been made public. Intelligence sources who spoke to the newspaper said the Iranians managed to secure access to classified internal IAEA reports and circulated them among various officials in its nuclear program, along with other Iranian documents, between 2004 and 2006.

Former IAEA inspector and current president of the Institute for Science and International Security David Albright told the WSJ that the leaks gave the Iranians foreknowledge of what information was available to the IAEA and allowed them to formulate answers that would only provide existing information without divulging new one.

The report lays out several instances of Iran using internal IAEA documents. In one such case, Iranian intelligence services circulated one such report among senior Iranian officials on May 19, 2004, to prepare them for an IAEA inspection at a nuclear facility in Arak three days later.

The report included detailed satellite imagery, evidence obtained from open sources regarding Iran’s activity at the site and a list of 18 questions that the IAEA intended to ask about said activity.

One of the officials made privy to the information was Ali Shamkhani, then the Islamic Republic’s minister of defense and currently the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council.

However, the report stressed that the IAEA over the past decade determined that Iran has led a “coordinated effort” to develop nuclear weapons at least until 2003. Israel claims that Iran never ceased pursuing nuclear arms. Tehran denies its nuclear program ever had a military dimension and is strictly for peaceful purposes.

The report comes against the background of protracted talks between Tehran and world powers to revive a 2015 pact aimed at bridling its nuclear program, with IAEA inspections remaining one of the main sticking points.

In that agreement, Iran has agreed to significant restrictions on its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of much of the West’s financial sanctions imposed on it but is now violating it in response to the US withdrawal from the agreement in 2018 under the Donald Trump administration.

Talks have come to a standstill, among other things due to the Iranian demand that its powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) be removed from the US Foreign Terrorist Organizations list, a demand that President Joe Biden rejected.

Iran also demands that the IAEA investigations into its previous nuclear activities be closed before signing any agreement.

Iran and the IAEA have agreed to hold intensive talks with the aim of answering the unresolved questions of nuclear inspectors—such as the source of the processed uranium particles found at some old and undeclared sites—but the atomic energy agency claims Tehran continues to evade answering these questions.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on May 25, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Dean Calma/IAEA/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Pray that Iran will be held accountable for these dishonest actions, especially amid the ongoing attempts to revive the nuclear deal. Ask the Lord to remove the scales from the eyes of international leaders who refuse to recognize Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Pray against all the plans and attempts by Iran to deceive the world and continue its nuclear development.

Scripture

Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but counselors of peace have joy. No grave trouble will overtake the righteous, but the wicked shall be filled with evil.


- Proverbs 12:20–21

Bank of Israel More than Doubles Key Rate to 0.75% in Second Hike in Two Months

by Gad Lior ~ Ynetnews

Israel’s inflation is expected to continue rising over the next few months amid the global spike in oil prices.

Tuesday, 24 May 2022 | The Bank of Israel more than doubled its benchmark interest rate on Monday in the second hike in as many months in a bid to combat fast-rising inflation.

The central bank lifted its key rate to 0.75% from 0.35%, a month and a half after a previous 0.25% rise.

The increase, which comes amid growing fears among some that Israel is on the verge of a recession—was brought on by the accelerated inflation in Israel, which has gone beyond 4% in 2022, despite the bank’s original 1.6% forecast.

According to analysts, the country’s inflation will most likely continue to rise over the coming months, especially as the price of fuel is expected to rise again on June 1 due to the global hike in oil prices.

Analysts further estimate that Israel will see at least two more rate increases in 2022, and that in a year, the basic interest rate of the Bank of Israel will stand at 1.5% and perhaps even higher.

This means that the prime interest rate will jump within a year from 1.6% to 3% and more, meaning that Israel’s notoriously high cost of living is only expected to get worse.

While the intensity of the hike caught some analysts by surprise, Israel has actually held off raising interest rates.

In the UK, the central bank has already raised its interest rates four times in five months, while the US raised its interest rate two months ago, first from 0.25%–0.5% and then again to 0.75%–1%.

One of the reasons for the high global inflation is the war in Ukraine, which caused a significant hike in the price of raw materials, some of which rose by 100%–200%.

The global interest hikes themselves are aimed at preventing a mounting rise in prices brought on by two years of COVID and the consequent freeze of some economic activities, which reopened in full force only in recent months.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on May 23, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: RJA1988/pixabay.com

Prayer Focus
Beseech the Lord for His mercy and compassion on the people of Israel and the rest of the world who are affected by rising inflation, interest rates and increasing prices. Lift up the needy in prayer, asking the Lord to meet their needs, financially as well as spiritually, that they will not be discouraged.

Scripture

But I am poor and needy; yet the LORD thinks upon me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God.


- Psalm 40:17

Action
The further hike in key rates is devastating news to the already impoverished Israelis on our Food Program. These needy families, new immigrants, single mothers, Holocaust survivors and widows are struggling to make ends meet as it is, and often have to make the heartbreaking choice between putting food on the table or paying rent. As prices and rates soar, we want to help them weather the tough times. Will you help us help them? Please donate generously to our Food Project to ensure that they do not go hungry.

Tens of Thousands March in New York City to Show Support for Israel

by Faygie Holt ~ JNS

Children march in the “Celebrate Israel Parade” in New York City on May 22, 2022

Tuesday, 24 May 2022 | NEW YORK, NY—Growing up, Jeremy Mazurek and Rachel used to march up Fifth Avenue in New York City with their schools to celebrate Israel, waving to family and friends on the sidelines who cheered them on during the Israel Day Parade.

The couple, who lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia, returned to do the same on Sunday for the 58th annual “Celebrate Israel Parade,” this time with their three children—Yosef, Gabriella and Eliana—who are now marching with their own schools.

“We’ve been coming since we were little in the 1980s, and it’s exciting to be back post-COVID,” said Jeremy Mazurek. “It gives us a sense of pride, and it’s very emotional. We’re happy to bring the next generation to show our support for Israel.”

Yosef Mazurek, a 10th-grader at the Mesivta High School of Greater Philadelphia, believes that the rally shows that “people really do care, and it makes me happy to see people supporting Israel and that the whole world doesn’t hate us.”

As this was the first parade since the pandemic started, the theme was “Kulanu B’Yached” (“Together Again”). That sentiment was visible on floats and T-shirts worn by participants.

Despite temperatures well into the 90s [32°C+], tens of thousands of people of all ages walked the 1.5-mile [2.4-km.] parade route to show their support for Israel. They waved flags, danced, sang, shook blue-and-white pom-poms and even blew bubbles at the crowds. Signs were held by groups affiliated with schools, synagogues and other groups, and a solid representation came from local and national leaders, including New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.

“It’s heartwarming to see such a huge crowd,” said Robin Feit of Long Island, NY, whose son, Marc, was marching with his school. “It’s a real morale boost and pride to know there’s so much support for Israel. We hear so much in the media about anti-Semitism, but this turnout shows they are not going to stop us.”

Among those who experienced the Israel Day Parade for the first time was Dan Elbaum, head of the North America division for the Jewish Agency of Israel.

“It was amazing,” he said, “to see so many people turn out to cheer, despite the weather. It was really inspirational.”

The parade sends a message that despite two years of coronavirus lockdowns and occasional political disagreements, he said, “a significant amount of American Jews—not just Jews from New York but from around the country—come to wave the Israeli flag and show their solidarity, and to be there in a physical sense for the State of Israel.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on May 23, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Don Pollard/Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for these people who proudly marched to celebrate Israel and stand in solidarity with the Jewish people. Pray that more and more people around the world will follow suit, proudly supporting the Jewish state and its people. Ask the Lord to bring more and more people into the fold of blessing Israel and receiving blessing in return.

Scripture

“I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”


- Genesis 12:2–3

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