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Friday, January 27, 2023

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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.

‘We’re Preparing IAF Pilots for Difficult Wartime Scenarios’

by Yaakov Laapin ~ JNS

A pilot during the IAF’s “Staging Threat” exercise.

Thursday, 26 January 2023 | The Israel Air Force [IAF] is training its helicopter pilots to deal with extreme scenarios not only at the operational level but also at the cognitive level, according to IAF Maj. L.

On January 22, the IAF launched its “Staging Threat” exercise for helicopter squadrons. The exercise, which will run to January 26, is being led by the IAF’s “Red Squadron”—Squadron 115— which simulates the enemy and is based out of the Uvda Air Force Base in southern Israel.

The exercise subjects helicopter crews to extreme situations, and tests their response to mission-failure scenarios.

According to Maj. L, who commands the Joint Forces Section of “Red Squadron,” the Middle Eastern combat theater is constantly evolving.

“We understand that the enemy is learning, is upgrading itself and acquiring capabilities from day to day in the Middle East,” he said, adding, “We have to constantly challenge ourselves.”

The commander stressed that the exercise simulates not only complex and challenging operational scenarios, but also is designed to build true mental resilience.

“This is a very special exercise that took months to plan…It’s aimed at getting the air crews to encounter the main scenarios of the next war,” said Maj. L.

“We want to train them on two main elements. The first is uncertainty. I put them into a ‘playground’ that they know nothing about. They take off with a certain intelligence picture, and they meet something completely different in the air. In addition, I want them to encounter significant failure,” he stated.

Crews lift off believing they are facing one kind of threat, and then, in mid-air, discover that the enemy possesses completely different capabilities, he explained. The aim is to undermine the crews’ central assumptions, he explained.

Both transport and combat helicopter crews participated in the exercise.

After the simulations, said Maj. L, the crews take part in in-depth after-action reviews.

“First of all, we control what is taking place [during the drill] through a magnifying glass. We have a control center in the Kirya [IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv], and we hear everything that the aircrew says and see what they do. All decisions, all dilemmas that they run into—we…track how each person chose to respond to each situation,” he explained.

“We also learn systematic lessons every day. Meaning that if we recognize an error that is not specifically tied to a pilot’s error, we later submit these to the relevant departments in the air force, so that they’re aware of what aircrews should do in operations and what they’ve done in training in those situations,” he added.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on January 25, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: The IDF Spokesperson's Unit/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that each crew member involved in these exercises will glean everything possible from this training, making them better at their jobs and adding another layer of protection for Israel’s citizens. Also ask the Lord for His protection to surround each one, keeping them safe in every situation.

Scripture

“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; the God of my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my Savior, You save me from violence.”


- 2 Samuel 22:2–3

Netanyahu Travels to Jordan to Meet with King Abdullah II

by Kate Norman

The King of Jordan, King Abdullah II

Wednesday, 25 January 2023 | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Jordan on Tuesday to meet with King Abdullah II in a visit that was only publicized after the fact.

In their first public meeting since 2018, Netanyahu and the king “discussed regional issues, especially strategic, security and economic cooperation between Israel and Jordan, which contributes to regional stability,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement.

“They also praised the long-standing friendship and partnership between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom,” the statement continued.

The visit was also Netanyahu’s first trip out of Israel since returning to his position as prime minister last month. Though Israel and Jordan signed a formal peace treaty in 1994, relations between the neighboring countries have been chilly.

The Jordanian statement on the meeting highlighted different subjects of discussion.

“King Abdullah stressed the importance of respecting the historical and legal status quo in Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif,” the Hashemite palace said in a statement, referring to the mosque constructed on the Temple Mount.

The Temple Mount is where the First and Second Temples once stood, making it the holiest site in Judaism. Now the site holds the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.

The site was under Jordanian control until Israel recaptured eastern Jerusalem in the defensive Six Day War in 1967. To maintain peace, Israel allowed Jordan to retain its role as “custodian” of the holy sites in Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount.

Under the status quo, only Muslims are allowed to pray on the Temple Mount. Jews and people of other religions are allowed to visit but not to pray.

Earlier this month, Israel’s new national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, drew a hailstorm of international condemnation when he visited the Temple Mount.

“The Temple Mount is the most important place for the people of Israel,” Ben-Gvir said at the time of his visit, as quoted by the Times of Israel. “The Temple Mount is open to all—Muslims, Christians and yes, Jews too.”

Another recent incident at the site drew ire when the Jordanian ambassador to Israel was briefly delayed by Israeli police to double check his documents.

In both incidents, the Israeli ambassador to Jordan was summoned for a dressing down. However, in the second incident, the Israeli ambassador received a letter from the Jordanian foreign ministry that the Times of Israel described as “measured and showed a desire to move on,” citing an Israeli official.

The Jordanian king in meeting with Netanyahu also “stressed the need to maintain calm and cease all acts of violence in order to pave the way for a political horizon for the peace process, calling for an end to any measures that could undermine peace prospects,” the Jordanian statement continued.

King Abdullah II also reaffirmed Jordan’s support of a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict that would see an independent Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines with eastern Jerusalem as its capital, the Jordanian statement added.

Netanyahu and the king were joined by Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, director of the king’s office Jafar Hassan, General Intelligence Department Director Maj. Gen. Ahmad Husni as well as Netanyahu’s delegation from Israel, according to the Hashemite statement.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 25, 2023)

Photo Credit: World Economic Forum/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for this warming of relations between Jordan and Israel. Pray that the two nations’ differences will not lead to confrontation or violence, and ask the Lord to protect the border they share.

Scripture

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


- Psalm 20:7

Meet the Refugee from the Nazis Who Helped Create the Haganah and IDF Canine Units

by Avi Kumar ~ JNS

Esther Cohen at home in Haifa

Thursday, 26 January 2023 | Esther Cohen was born in 1930 in Würzburg, Germany as Else Karola Sichel. Her family fled before the Holocaust and she subsequently joined the Haganah [Jewish underground defense force] militia and later the IDF’s [Israel Defense Forces] canine division, the Oketz Unit.

“I remember the Nazi rise to power and Hitler visiting my town,” Cohen told JNS.

She witnessed the gradual deteriorating circumstances for Jews. She recalls an incident around Christmas time in 1934. She was out with her grandmother and they saw decorations. A lady asked, “Are you excited that Santa Claus will bring you presents?”

A four-year-old Cohen replied, “We don’t believe in Santa Claus, we have the Hanukkah [Festival of Lights] man.”

Her grandmother interrupted, telling the bewildered German lady: “The child doesn’t know what she’s talking about!”

She recalls another incident where she wanted to see a Shirley Temple film but Jews were forbidden from going to the cinema after the Nuremberg Laws had been passed in 1935. However, a sympathetic non-Jewish neighbor volunteered to take her. But she did not enjoy the film for fear that someone would figure out that she was Jewish.

Her family escaped to the British Mandate of Palestine in September 1938, when she was eight years old.

Cohen said that it was not easy adjusting to a new country. They managed to get her grandparents out of Germany shortly after Kristallnacht, following much paperwork. Her parents opened a grocery store.

It was in the store that she met Austrian-born cynologist (canine scientist) Rudolphina Menzel (1891–1973).

Menzel helped to establish the canine unit for the Haganah, the forerunner of the modern-day IDF Oketz Unit. “I always loved dogs,” Cohen said.

Menzel used mostly Boxers that she had brought over from Austria. The Haganah also relied on German-origin breeds such as German Shepherds, Dobermann Pinschers and Great Danes because these were the breeds that Jews had brought from Europe.

Menzel was also involved in reviving Canaan Dogs, Israel’s national dog breed. But Cohen said that Canaans cannot be used for battle because “they are not so courageous.” She describes Menzel’s work with dogs as “highly innovative” and “adaptable.”

Cohen was in a scout movement as a child and many in her circle of friends ended up joining the Haganah. Her work in the dog unit began in a camp at Kfar Haim, near Haifa. She eventually became an officer and an instructor for the unit. Cohen said that she acquired much of her skills from Menzel and from her own practical experience.

One of her first tasks was to teach a group consisting of a few Holocaust survivors about dog mating habits. “I was only 19 and yet here I was facing people who were much more experienced in life than me, and I had to explain something difficult. It was very challenging. But after that was done, I was not afraid to do anything.”

Cohen recalls one incident at the outbreak of the 1948–49 War of Independence when she and her family took a bus to see her grandparents near Haifa and were forced to turn back due to fire by Arab forces.

Her Haganah training included instruction in the KAPAP [Hebrew acronym for Krav Panim el Panim] system of defensive tactics, hand-to-hand combat and self-defense. She also learned stick fighting and jujitsu. She had a sidearm.

The Oketz Unit trained dogs for numerous tasks, including guard duty and search-and-rescue. Cohen also revealed that they utilized messenger dogs and employed spies embedded deep within the Arab lines who used a whistle that had a frequency that humans could not hear to summon the messenger canines. These spies would send valuable information via these dogs back to the Israeli side.

“Long before modern-day communication, this was a safe and efficient way to send messages that really helped in the war,” Cohen said.

“Dogs are pack animals and you have to show them who the alpha is. But you also have to reward them,” she said. Cohen also recalls one particular dog that would fake a limp when asked to perform difficult drills, and they therefore could not use it. Not many dogs were killed in action, but she witnessed seven of them succumb to rabies.

She was later stationed at Tzrifin. On one occasion, Egyptian forces saw a massive Great Dane in the Negev and mistakenly reported that the Israelis were using “trained tigers.”

Cohen left the IDF in 1950. The Oketz Unit she helped create was disbanded in 1954, although the military continued to use dogs. Oketz was revived in 1974 and the unit saw action in Lebanon.

Cohen eventually married her childhood friend, Alexander Cohen, and the couple moved to a farm. Today she enjoys a quiet retirement in Haifa and has two children, six grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on January 26, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Courtesy/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for Esther Cohen and the contributions she made to the building of the State of Israel. Ask the Lord for His blessings of peace and health to rest upon her for her remaining years. Also pray that all of the elderly in Israel, many of whom are survivors of the Holocaust and/or the various wars Israel has fought, will experience those same blessings.

Scripture

For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined. We went through fire and through water; but You brought us out to rich fulfillment.


- Psalm 66:10, 12b

Netanyahu: US Has ‘Genuine’ Desire to Reach Understandings on Iran

by JNS

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

Monday, 23 January 2023 | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that the United States “genuinely” seeks to reach an understanding with Israel with regard to the threat posed by Iran.

In his opening remarks to the Security Cabinet, Netanyahu said that last week’s visit to Israel by US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan had come at a “special time, one of serious challenges to our national security, and of serious opportunities for peace with our neighbors.”

His discussions with Sullivan had focused on “regional security challenges, especially Iran,” as well as ways the two countries could cooperate against this common threat, said Netanyahu.

“I must say that regarding the meetings, I was impressed that there is a genuine and mutual desire to reach understandings on this issue, which is of decisive importance to the security of the state,” he said, adding that further discussions on the issue will be held in the coming weeks.

Netanyahu last week described the United States as a “trusted partner” in matters of shared security and advancing peace, and expressed gratitude for President Joe Biden’s commitment to stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

During his trip, Sullivan also met President Isaac Herzog, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, Mossad [Israeli intelligence agency] chief David Barnea and his Israeli counterpart Tzachi Hanegbi, among others.

Sullivan is the highest-ranking Biden administration official to travel to Israel since the establishment of the new government.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on January 22, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for the valuable relationship Israel has with the United States. Pray that they will remain “trusted partners” in matters of security and advancing peace in the region. Cry out to the Lord that President Joe Biden’s strategies in dealing with Iran will be predicated on Israel’s security needs.

Scripture

Save Your people, and bless Your inheritance; shepherd them also, and bear them up forever.


- Psalm 28:9

“This Charade Is a Performance of Lies,” Israeli Ambassador to Palestinian Counterpart at UN

by Mike Wagenheim ~ JNS

Gilad Erdan, the permanent representative of Israel to the UN, addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

Friday, 20 January 2023 | The Israeli and Palestinian Authority [PA] ambassadors to the United Nations slung barbs at each other in a fiery debate on Wednesday at the UN Security Council.

During the body’s quarterly open debate on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan told his counterpart from Ramallah to “save your false cries of victimhood,” telling Riyad Mansour that his remarks to the council were a “charade” and a “performance of lies.”

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have been rising, as the sides have argued over the recent visit to the Temple Mount by Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, the Palestinians’ pursuit of an International Court of Justice [ICJ] investigation into Israel’s policies and near-daily clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians in Judea and Samaria.

Erdan heavily criticized a recent vote by the full UN General Assembly to seek an ICJ advisory opinion on the conflict, calling it part and parcel of the Palestinian “jihad [holy struggle against unbelievers] war of multilateral terror.”

As a result of the General Assembly resolution, which passed with less than a majority of the member states supporting it, Israel packaged a set of retaliatory measures against the PA. This includes the transfer of tax revenue away from Ramallah and to victims of Palestinian terrorism, along with the stoppage of Palestinian construction in Area C of Judea and Samaria and the stripping of some VIP benefits for Palestinian leadership.

In response, the Palestinians gathered more than 90 signatures to a statement condemning Israel’s response, including some member states that had sided with Israel on the General Assembly resolution.

“Terror comes in many forms. At its core, terrorism is a means by which to scare people into capitulating to demands,” Erdan said. “One of the weapons they use in this jihad war is the manipulation and abuse of international bodies. They weaponize these bodies in order to force Israel into surrendering to 100% of their demands.”

Perennial Anti-Israel Majority

He said the Palestinians continually exploit the perennial anti-Israel majority at the UN to implement unilateral measures while avoiding negotiations on a political settlement.

The ICJ probe demand “was a clear unilateral step initiated by the Palestinians with the sole purpose of destroying Israel as a Jewish state,” Erdan said. “Israel’s guilt has been predetermined,” he continued, adding that “destroying the Jewish state has always been the Palestinians’ only goal.”

Erdan chided the UN for issuing misleading statistics by inflating Palestinian casualties, omitting key context such as whether those casualties include members of terrorist groups and underreporting Israeli deaths and injuries. A UN spokesperson said the body stands by the accuracy of its reporting.

Mansour said Israel’s retaliatory measures “strike at the heart of multilateralism and the heart of the international law-based order,” and urged the council and the larger international community to step in.

He also continued to hammer away at Ben-Gvir’s January 3 visit, which was conducted according to all status quo protocols allowing Jews to ascend to, but not pray on, the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.

Mansour described the quiet 13-minute stroll by Ben-Gvir as part of “illegal unilateral measures in Jerusalem aimed to undermine the historic status quo.”

Tor Wennesland, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, started Wednesday’s Security Council meeting with a warning that “Israelis and Palestinians remain on a collision course amid escalating political and inflammatory rhetoric as well as heightened violence in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria], both with potentially grave consequences.”

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield called for the return by the Hamas terrorist group of two Israelis and the remains of two soldiers being held in Gaza. Earlier this week, Hamas released a video believed to be of Israeli civilian Avera Mengistu, who entered the Gaza Strip eight years ago and was taken captive. Mengistu is mentally ill.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on January 19, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: UN Photo/Manuel Elías/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the UN’s call for an ICJ advisory opinion will be recognized for what it is, a clear example of the Palestinians’ attempts to weaponize international bodies to achieve their goal of the eventual destruction of the State of Israel. Cry out to the Lord that the deep-seated anti-Israel bias that exists at the UN will be recognized and done away with.

Scripture

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

Hezbollah Built 20-plus Posts along Border with Israel

by JNS

Hezbollah flags fly over southern Lebanon.

Tuesday, 24 January 2023 | The Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist organization has built more than 20 observation and guard posts along the Israel–Lebanon border over the past year.

According to UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War between the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] and Hezbollah, the terrorist group is forbidden from operating near the frontier.

Hezbollah launched the project in parallel to Israel’s construction of a fortified perimeter fence along the 140-kilometer [87-mi.] shared border, Ynet reported on Monday.

Israeli media reported in June that Hezbollah had built 15 outposts on the Israeli border, with each such site containing an outlook position or tower, two to three housing units and storage facilities.

“The problem is that as soon as Hezbollah builds a post like this, the Lebanese army and UNIFIL [the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon] no longer arrive [in the area],” the reports quoted a senior IDF Northern Command source as saying at the time.

The same month, the IDF said that the Lebanese terrorist group had established an intelligence-gathering outpost on the Israeli border disguised as an environmental protection facility.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan demanded in July that the UN take action against Hezbollah over military posts the group had recently erected along the border.

The flag of a supposed Lebanese civil organization, “Green without Borders,” flies over the posts, but the IDF has exposed this as a fictitious group founded by Hezbollah back in 2018.

In a letter to the Security Council and UN Secretary–General António Guterres, Erdan warned that the “new reality on the Israel–Lebanon border points to a clear escalation that could ignite the entire region” and argued that the true objective of the posts is intelligence gathering.

“Under the guise of the so-called ‘Green without Borders’ environmental organization, Hezbollah is expanding its terror footprints on a daily basis, just mere meters from Israel’s northern border, and from within UNIFIL’s area of operations,” he said.

“The use of this organization as a front for Hezbollah’s malign activities has been recognized by the UN and described in several periodic reports of the secretary–general. As has been flagged by several UN reports and noted in relevant UN resolutions, this perverse tactic, of terror organizations hiding behind non-profits and NGOs, is a growing phenomenon that is not only employed by Hezbollah but by many other terror groups across the globe as well,” stated the letter.

“These are military outposts for all intents and purposes, established and maintained by Hezbollah terrorists and not innocent Lebanese environmentalists. This is part of the broader picture of Hezbollah’s growing presence in southern Lebanon and yet another example of its ongoing hostile activity in the area,” the letter continues.

“Israel continues to stress that the responsibility for Hezbollah’s expansion lies squarely on the shoulders of the Lebanese authorities, and expects the Lebanese government to take immediate action to curb Hezbollah’s advancements and military buildup,” wrote Erdan.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on January 23, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: John Grummitt/Shutterstock/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the UN will respond to Ambassador Erdan’s demands by actually taking action against Hezbollah’s military buildup on Israel’s northern border. Cry out to the Lord that the nations will recognize the danger this escalation presents for the entire region and ask that Hezbollah terrorists will no longer be able to maintain their absurd charade as innocent environmentalists.

Scripture

The LORD is righteous; He has cut in pieces the cords of the wicked. Let all those who hate Zion be put to shame and turned back.


- Psalm 129:4–5

Germany to Renew Probe into Killing of Israelis at Munich Olympics

by Korin Elbaz-Alush ~ Ynet

Pictures of the 11 Israeli athletes who were murdered in the Munich Massacre

Thursday, 26 January 2023 | Germany announced Tuesday its intention to relaunch the investigation into the killing of 11 Israelis by Palestinian terrorists during the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Germany said the archives will be reexamined and investigated by Israeli and German historians.

In a meeting held in Tel Aviv between Israeli families of the victims and German Deputy Interior Minister Juliane Seifert and Vice Chief of Staff for the President’s Office Dr. Oliver Schmolke, the officials said the investigation will resume following an official apology by Germany.

Reopening the archives of the massacre was agreed on between the families and the German government following a call to action made by Ilana Romano and Anki Schpitzer, whose husbands Yosef and Andrei were killed in the Palestinian massacre.

The two claimed the German government failed to deliver justice, and refused the compensation payments, saying they were nothing but “charity.”

Following the announcement of the relaunching of the probe, Romano said that “our battle is over.” Schpitzer added: “All of the families are excited that our request to open the archives has finally been answered. We owe it to the victims and to history.”

The daylong massacre started unfolding before dawn on September 5, 1972, when eight members of a Palestinian group called Black September clambered over the unguarded fence of the Olympic village.

They burst into the building where the Israeli team was staying, killing wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg and weightlifter Yossi Romano, and taking nine others hostage. The attackers demanded a plane and safe passage to Cairo. After a day of tense negotiations, the assailants and their hostages were allowed to leave aboard two helicopters for Fuerstenfeldbruck.

At the airfield, however, German special forces opened fire at the terrorists, prompting them to hurl a grenade into one of the helicopters carrying hostages, which exploded. The hostages in the other helicopter were shot dead.

Seifert told Ynet: “Our attitude toward the families is different now, and we believe that our previous treatment of them was wrong. We’ve reached an agreement, acknowledged their pain and wish to look into memorializing it. The German president took full responsibility for the incident because we want to recognize the families’ grief.”

Siefert added that Germany intended to form a committee to look into the case, and will now begin looking into potential members to chair it.

Schmolke added: “Fifty years after the massacre, it’s time to figure out what really happened. We want to look into it with a committee of historians to see what happened before, during and after the event. Making things clear is part of Germany’s honor.”

The initiative’s first phase includes opening the archives, with some of its content still labeled as classified information. “We want to allow the committee access to all of the information. To that extent, we have founded a team, with the Interior Ministry in charge of this matter.”

The families’ fight against German authorities included threats to boycott the ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the massacre.

Romano added: “Keeping the memory of the families alive was important to us, and so was Germany taking responsibility and apologizing. They assisted our fight and I believe the truth will be revealed thanks to them.”

Yael Arad, head of the Olympic Committee of Israel, said that closure for the families is finally within reach.

“I want to thank the German government for their assistance to the families. After unveiling a cenotaph in Munich, issuing an apology and compensating the families, reopening the archives and relaunching the investigation mark another step in exposing the truth and bringing justice.”

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on January 25, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Avi1111 dr. avishai teacher/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Thank God for Germany’s “change in attitude” toward the families of the victims of the Munich massacre. Pray that Germany’s acceptance of responsibility will bring some measure of peace and closure to those who have sought the reopening of the archives for decades. Also, beseech the Lord that Germany’s investigation will indeed reveal what really happened on that September day in 1972.

Scripture

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, Who keeps faith forever; Who executes justice for the oppressed.


- Psalm 146:5, 6b, 7a NASB

Israeli Foreign Minister Accepts Invitation to Visit Kyiv

by Kate Norman

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen

Friday, 20 January 2023 | Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen accepted an invitation from his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, to visit Kyiv after the two had a phone conversation yesterday.

This will be the first visit of a top Israeli official to Ukraine since Russia invaded last February, officials from both countries told the Times of Israel.

The visit could take place around the end of February or early March, an unnamed Ukrainian official told i24NEWS. The timing would depend on when the Israeli embassy in Kyiv fully reopens, the official said.

Foreign Minister Cohen promised Kubela in their conversation yesterday that the Israeli embassy in Kyiv would permanently reopen within 60 days. Due to the conflict with Russia, the Israeli staff have mostly been working from Poland, with sporadic periods of reopening the Kyiv embassy for two-week periods.

Cohen also said in a statement on Twitter that he promised that Israel will continue providing Ukraine with humanitarian aid, focusing on restoring energy infrastructure, as Russian bombing has targeted crucial infrastructure, leaving many Ukrainians without electricity amid the bleak winter.

He also promised aid in the areas of water and medical equipment as well as continued training for professional emergency management and trauma care, according to the foreign ministry.

Cohen pointed out Israel’s delivery of generators last month to the besieged southern city of Khershon, i24NEWS reported, as well as the Israeli embassy in Kyiv’s organization of a “resilience point” to provide a safe, warm place for Kyiv residents without electricity and water.

The foreign minister pointed out that Russians are using weapons provided by Iran to kill innocent Ukrainian citizens and called on his Ukrainian counterpart to join other European countries in declaring Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization.

Israel has denied Kyiv’s request for weapons and defense technology in its ongoing fight to get Russian soldiers out of Ukraine. Though the Jewish state has been dispatching humanitarian aid to Ukraine since the start of the war, Jerusalem has stopped short of sending lethal weapons for fear of angering Moscow.

Israel has worked to maintain good relations with Russia in light of its strong presence in Syria and control over Syrian airspace. Should Russia close the Syrian skies to Israeli jets, the Israeli military would not be able to conduct strikes against terrorist groups in the region, such as Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shows little signs of slowing down, as it has nearly turned into a proxy war between the Kremlin and Western powers in a throwback to the Cold War.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who serves as deputy chairman on the Kremlin’s security council, warned NATO yesterday in a Telegram post that if Russia loses the conventional war in Ukraine, a nuclear war could break out.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 20, 2023)

Photo Credit: Ofir Abe (אופיר אייבי)/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for Israeli officials as they walk a tightrope between the West and Russia vis-à-vis the war in Ukraine. Pray that Israel’s humanitarian aid, restoring of infrastructure and provision of medical equipment and training will be a profound blessing to the Ukrainian people, and that Israel will be able to maintain its pivotal relationship with Russia. Also cry out to the Lord for an end to the war.

Scripture

Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has made desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire.


- Psalm 46:8–9

Number of New Israeli Businesses More than Doubled in 2022

by Kate Norman

The number of new Israeli start-ups is growing.

Tuesday, 24 January 2023 | Keeping true to its moniker of “the Start-Up Nation,” Israel saw more than double the number of new companies in 2022 compared to 2021.

A record-breaking 142,100 new companies registered with the Israel Tax Authority in 2022, i24NEWS reported, compared to 64,900 in 2021—a 100% increase.

The CEO of Keren Shemesh, a not-for-profit organization that mentors and supports Israeli entrepreneurs, told i24NEWS that the spike in new businesses opening files with the Tax Authority “is not surprising.”

“In 2021, there was a significant decrease in the number of new businesses due to the coronavirus,” Keren Shemesh CEO Monica Lev Cohen added. “In 2022, when the economy started to recover, many employees who were laid off or went on unemployment went into entrepreneurship.

“Some have undergone training which has enabled them to open a new business,” Cohen continued, “while others have decided to open a business at the same time as they were employed.”

Cohen predicted that the trend of new businesses opening will continue throughout 2023, i24NEWS reported, as many high-tech employees have been laid off and will likely stage a comeback as freelancers.

Israel’s tech industry took a slump in 2022, when funds raised by start-up companies were nearly cut in half, the Times of Israel reported earlier this month, citing a report by Start-Up Nation Central, which monitors trends in the Jewish state’s tech sector.

Start-ups raised a mere US $15.5 billion in 2022, compared to US $27 billion the year before. The beginning of 2022 started off well, but took a turn in the latter half, the Times of Israel reported, with rising inflation and the global supply chains affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The downturn led to thousands of layoffs in Israel’s tech industry. Start-Up Nation Central CEO Avi Hasson told the Times of Israel that Israeli tech companies either slowed their growth or laid off between 5% and 10% of their staff.

But according to Cohen, the laid-off Israeli tech workers are turning their lemons into lemonade by starting their own companies.

Last year was another fruitful year for Israeli innovation. NoCamels, a news site that covers Israeli innovation, published a list of 10 “wow” Israeli innovations from 2022. The list included the world’s first all-electric airplane, a de-printer that erases ink from printer paper and allows businesses to reuse paper, a stand-up wheelchair, milk made from lettuce, flying robotic fruit harvesters and an outdoor air conditioner powered by liquid nitrogen rather than electricity.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 24, 2023)

Photo Credit: Jernej Furman/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for Israel’s entrepreneurship and the 100% increase in the number of new companies in 2022. Pray for the success of these new endeavors and for the remarkable innovations they are producing to make the world a safer, healthier and happier place. Pray for a resurgence of growth in the tech industry and for the overall strength of the Israeli economy in 2023.

Scripture

And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.


- Deuteronomy 8:18

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