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Zohar: You Are Not Alone!

Friday, May 17, 2024

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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 [email protected] if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.

Netanyahu: ‘If Necessary, We Will Fight with Our Fingernails’

by JNS

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers remarks on the Jewish state’s war against Hamas, May 9, 2024.

Friday, 10 May 2024 | Jerusalem will win the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip with its fingernails, if necessary, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Thursday night, a day after United States President Joe Biden said he would cut arms supplies to the Jewish state if Israel launched a major attack in Rafah.

“If we need to stand alone, we will stand alone,” he stated. “But we have much more than fingernails, and with that same strength of spirit, with God’s help, together we will win.”

The premier noted that Israel will celebrate its Independence Day on Tuesday, per the Hebrew calendar.

“In the War of Independence 76 years ago, we were the few against the many. We did not have weapons,” he said. “There was an arms embargo on Israel, but with great strength of spirit, heroism and unity among us, we were victorious.”

The Biden administration has withheld approval of a sale to the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] of two types of precision-guided bombs, as US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told a Senate committee on Wednesday.

Biden told CNN on Wednesday evening that Washington would stop providing weapons to the Jewish state if Israel goes into Rafah, the last Hamas terrorist stronghold located in the southernmost Gaza Strip.

Earlier on Thursday, Netanyahu implicitly reaffirmed Jerusalem’s resolve to defeat Hamas in Rafah, even if it has to fight without US backing.

Sharing a recording of his May 5 speech at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem on social media, the premier reiterated that “no amount of pressure, no decision by any international forum will stop Israel from defending itself.”

“Eighty years ago, in the Holocaust, the Jewish people were totally defenseless against those who sought our destruction,” Netanyahu said in the speech, delivered on the occasion of the first Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah) since Hamas’s October 7 massacre.

“Today, we again confront enemies bent on our destruction,” he added. “As the prime minister of Israel, the one and only Jewish state, I pledge here today, from Jerusalem, on this Holocaust Remembrance Day, if Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on May 9, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Prime Minister's Office/jns.org

Prayer Focus
As the Lord appears to be removing any dependence on the strength of her allies, pray that Israel and her leaders will be strengthened in their faith and fully put their trust in the Lord. He created them to be a people “dwelling alone” and not like other nations.

Scripture

For from the top of the rocks I [Balaam] see him [the Israelites], and from the hills I behold him; there! A people dwelling alone, not reckoning itself among the nations.


- Numbers 23:9

IDF Announces First Fatality in Rafah Battle

by JNS

Israeli soldiers during operational activity in eastern Rafah

Thursday, 16 May 2024 | An Israeli soldier was killed in action in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, marking the first fatality since the Israel Defense Forces’ [IDF] Rafah operation began last week.

Sgt. Ira Yair Gispan, 19, from Petach Tikvah, served in the 7th Armored Brigade’s 75th Battalion.

Gispan’s death brings IDF fatalities to 273 since the start of the Gaza ground incursion on October 27. Since the start of the war on October 7, 621 soldiers have died on all fronts.

The IDF began what it has described as a “precise operation” in eastern Rafah on the night of May 6, taking operational control of the border crossing with Egypt and capturing the Salah a-Din road.

Israeli tanks rolled further into eastern Rafah on Tuesday while the country was observing its 76th Independence Day.

“During Memorial Day and Independence Day alone, we eliminated about 100 terrorists in Gaza. In the south of the Gaza Strip, forces from Division 162 continue targeted operations against terrorist targets and Hamas centers in the Rafah region,” IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said on Tuesday.

“Since the beginning of the operation in Rafah, the forces have eliminated about 100 terrorists, destroyed launchers, located about 10 underground routes and located many weapons, including anti-tank missiles, rockets, and explosives,” Hagari continued.

Israel began evacuations of noncombatants from eastern Rafah to an expanded humanitarian zone in Al-Mawasi last week. According to the United Nations [UN], 450,000 Gazans have so far evacuated from the city.

IDF Spokesperson Lt. Col. (res.) Peter Lerner on Tuesday shared footage of Hamas terrorists standing outside the central logistics compound for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees [UNRWA]. Additional video showed one of the terrorists firing at civilians.

“Gunmen, likely Hamas terrorists, hanging out at an UNRWA warehouse in eastern Rafah a few days ago and identified by an IDF drone,” tweeted Lerner. “The UN needs to answer some serious questions. Imagine what would’ve happened if we were to target them? The hypocrisy is astounding.”

The Israeli Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories [COGAT] unit said in response to the video that it had called on the UN to conduct an “urgent investigation” into the matter.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz also shared the video on X, describing it as “Hamas terrorists firing at civilians from within a UNRWA facility next to UN vehicles in Rafah.”

Israeli forces are also active in northern Gaza, where they have returned to Jabalia and Gaza City’s Zeitoun neighborhood to quell a Hamas resurgence there.

The IDF announced on Wednesday that in the morning hours, the Nahal Infantry Brigade concluded its operation in Zeitoun and began preparing for additional activities in Gaza, while the 2nd “Carmeli” Reserve Infantry Brigade continues to operate in the area.

“In an operation of the Nahal Brigade in the Zeitoun area, the soldiers eliminated dozens of terrorists in encounters and airstrikes, destroyed terrorist infrastructure and located many weapons, including dozens of AK-47s, grenades, magazines and intelligence management assets of the Hamas terrorist organization,” the IDF said.

“Guided by intelligence, the soldiers located a workshop containing many weapons belonging to Hamas near the Zeitoun School, including gun barrels, AK-47s, ammunition, explosives and machines for producing rockets and launchers were found.”

On Wednesday morning, the IDF said that its air defenses intercepted a projectile launched from the Jabalia area. The launch triggered sirens in several communities near the Gaza border. However, the IDF later clarified that the launch was not intercepted and that the rocket hit a building in Sderot, damaging the structure.

No injuries were reported, and the incident is under investigation.

Source: (This article was originally published by Jewish News Syndicate on May 15, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDF/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Intercede for the situation in the Gaza Strip, especially as the IDF has entered Rafah, the last Hamas stronghold. Ask the Lord to strengthen the soldiers, to be their Deliverer from the plans of the enemy. Pray that the IDF would receive accurate intelligence as areas have been booby-trapped by Hamas. Also pray that all noncombatants would heed IDF directives and move to the safe areas that have been prepared.

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 22:2b–3

The Flowers Will Bloom in the Gardens Again

by Gal Ganot ~ Ynetnews

Herb garden in Kibbutz Lotan (illustrative)

Wednesday, 15 May 2024 | A defining characteristic of farming communities in Israel, whether on the northern border or in the western Negev Desert is their green color. Vast lawns, gardens with flowers in bloom and trees create the sense of living among nature.

After many of those communities were evacuated at the start of the war, the gardens were abandoned and that was unacceptable for many in the Kibbutz Movement.

They established an initiative to bring gardens back but that was only part of the mission that these volunteers took upon themselves when they headed south to rehabilitate the communities in the Negev.

Seniors living in Kibbutz Beit Hashita, moved south to live in Kfar Aza, devastated by the Hamas massacre, and rebuild their gardens. “When others heard what they were doing, they too wanted to participate,” said Rotem Shcinitzky and Shir Goren, who organized the initiative.

“We are contacted by members of kibbutz [collective community] charged with gardening, who tell us what requirements are from volunteers, the Kibbutz Movement then coordinates between the communities in need and those wishing to help, and we make sure it all works out,” they said. In some of the communities, people who were evacuated, ask for their private gardens to be tended to while others tend to larger community gardens. They take care of things from watering the plants, to mowing the lawn.”

Most of the work is physical and often requires long hours in the hot sun. Some of the volunteers are young people just out of the military service who work alongside pensioners. Some are professional gardeners while others come from field agriculture.

“We cannot take for granted the fact that people are volunteering wholeheartedly, and many ask to return after their work is done. This is a success in our book,” Shir said.

Some 100 people have thus far volunteered to rehabilitate the gardens of Kfar Aza, Beeri, Nir Oz, Nirim, Reim and other communities who were victims of the Hamas massacre. Others have headed north where, communities there, too, were evacuated.

Since October 7 we’ve seen Israeli society come out in strength to offer help. Now seven months since that horrible day, it is moving to see that this volunteering spirit remains. Many tell us that this is their commitment. They feel the duty to help and back communities that have been through hell and continue to live with uncertainty,” They said.

Editor’s Note: Although not a part of this particular initiative, Bridges for Peace volunteers have gone to areas of Israel devastated by the war and helped to harvest green onions and avocadoes. The strength and unity of the citizens as well as “sojourners in the Land” to help those who have suffered much is gratifying to see.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on May 14, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: צילום:ד"ר אבישי טייכר/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Give thanks for all the Israelis—young and old alike—who have given freely of their time and energy to help restore the beauty of communities that were devastated on October 7. Pray that these restored gardens will blossom abundantly and bring joy to those whose homes they beautify.

Scripture

And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing.


- Isaiah 35:1b–2a

Action
Please consider a donation to our Crisis Fund that will help restore what has been destroyed in Israel’s southern communities.

UN Security Council to Hold First Meeting Since October 7 Devoted Fully to Hostages in Gaza

by Mike Wagnheim ~ JNS

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US ambassador to the United Nations, briefs reporters on the situation in Gaza

Thursday, 16 May 2024 | The United Nations Security Council [UNSC] is scheduled to hold its first meeting since October 7 that will focus solely on the hostages Hamas terrorists continue to hold captive in the Gaza Strip.

The meeting, titled “Condemning hostage-taking in Israel on October 7 as a psychological tool of terrorism,” will take place at 3 p.m. on Thursday.

Gilad Erdan, the Israeli ambassador to the UN, requested the discussion, and Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US envoy to the global body, pushed for it. Josh Lavine, a spokesman for the Israeli mission to the UN, told JNS that the meeting is a “big step.”

Israel has been highly critical of the UN Security Council for neglecting to focus on the plight of the hostages and focusing overwhelmingly on the concerns of civilians in Gaza

About 20 countries are set to participate in the “Arria-formula meeting,” a relatively recent Security Council practice that is less formal. A member of the council must call for the meeting, and members of the group or groups advocating for a particular position or issue lead the meeting.

A concept note, which the US mission distributed, blames Gazan terror groups, including Hamas, alone for kidnapping the hostages and for their treatment of them.

UN leaders and some member states have sought to qualify, and even excuse, the massacre and hostage-taking with Palestinian grievances and a broader view of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

Council members France and the UK are among the meeting’s 16 co-sponsors.

Lavine thanked Thomas-Greenfield. “She’s been a true friend to Israel throughout this process,” he said. “The headlines always report the bad stuff, but behind the scenes, Israel and the US worked very closely on this and Israel trusts the US on this topic specifically.”

Five US citizens are still hostages in Gaza, among about 130 hostages kidnapped on October 7. It isn’t known how many are still alive.

JNS has learned that Thomas-Greenfield wanted for months to fulfill Erdan’s request for a session focused on the hostages, but Washington held off, fearing that the content of the meeting could disrupt ongoing brokered negotiations between Israel and Hamas on a ceasefire and hostage-for-security prisoner exchange deal.

The Israeli mission declined to comment on whether Washington had held off on calling for the meeting.

Unconditional Release

Thursday’s meeting will “focus on the demand that Hamas and other armed groups immediately and unconditionally release all hostages,” as well as the “long-term health and psychological impact” on the hostages and their families.

The meeting will also focus on how the Security Council can help facilitate access to those being held and how to support efforts to inform families of the condition of their loved ones in captivity.

Participating countries are also expected to discuss ways to prevent future hostage crises.

Israel’s UN mission invited Shoshan Haran, a Kibbutz Be’eri abductee who was released in the first ceasefire deal, and Ayelet Samerano, the mother of the late Jonathan Samerano, whose body UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees [UNRWA] staff abducted, to attend the meeting.

The Security Council will finally have to look into Haran’s and Samerano’s eyes, “and realize that Israel will not stop until the hostages are released and that the correct address for applying pressure is the monstrous terrorist organization Hamas,” said Erdan.

Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, former vice chair of a UN committee that addresses discrimination against women and an Israeli legal scholar, is listed as a session briefer. Two other briefers will be announced shortly before the event, according to the concept note.

Pramila Patten, UN special representative on sexual violence in conflict, was reportedly scheduled to brief meeting participants but has since pulled out.

Patten authored a report released in March that found “clear and convincing information” to indicate that hostages held in Gaza were subjected to “sexual violence including rape, sexualized torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.”

The report’s findings were listed in the concept note for Thursday’s meeting.

Patten’s office told Israeli media she won’t attend the meeting, though didn’t say why.

A diplomatic source told JNS that Patten was pressured to pull out of the meeting because some would see her presence as an indication that she is slanted towards Washington and Jerusalem, and because the meeting is to focus broadly on the hostages, whereas her specific purview is sexual violence in conflict.

The meeting is expected to discuss sexual violence against the hostages.

The diplomatic source said the pressure came from someone with “sway,” but could not confirm if it came from the office of António Guterres, the UN secretary-general, or elsewhere. A spokesman for the secretary-general referred JNS to Patten’s office, which has declined to comment.

Source: (This article was originally published by Jewish News Syndicate on May 15, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

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

Prayer Focus
Beseech the Lord for the success of this meeting, the first of its kind since the hostages were taken into captivity over seven months ago. Give thanks for the persistence of Gilad Erdan and Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Israeli and US ambassadors to the UN, who refused to allow the hostages to be forgotten on the global stage. Pray that this meeting will bring pressure on Hamas and result in the unconditional release of the remaining hostages.

Scripture

He [the wicked] lies in wait to catch the poor; he catches the poor when he draws him into his net. So he crouches, he lies low, that the helpless may fall by his strength. He has said in his heart, “God has forgotten; He hides His face; He will never see.”


- Psalm 10:9b–11

Five IDF Soldiers Mistakenly Killed by Tank Fire in Jabalia

by JNS

An Israeli military tank on the border with Gaza.

Thursday, 16 May 2024 | Five Israeli soldiers were killed by friendly fire in Jabalia in northern Gaza on Wednesday.

A platoon commander and four soldiers from Battalion 202 of the Paratroopers Brigade died and eight additional soldiers were wounded by Israel Defense Force [IDF] tank fire, three seriously. The rest of the wounded soldiers were evacuated to hospital in moderate and light condition.

The casualties were identified by the IDF on Thursday morning as Capt. Roy Beit Ya’akov, 22, from Eli; Staff Sgt. Gilad Arye Boim, 22, from Karnei Shomron in Samaria; Sgt. Daniel Chemu, 20, from Tiberias; Sgt. Ilan Cohen, 20, from Carmiel; and Staff Sgt. Betzalel David Shashuah, 21, from Tel Aviv.

Beit Ya’akov is the son of Hadas and Avidan, the chairman of Eli [a large community in Samaria].

“The family, the town of Eli—whose residents and alumni are on the front lines of the war—and the entire Binyamin Region, are in great pain,” said Binyamin Regional Council head and Yesha Council chairman Israel Ganz.

“How great is the pain involved in the nation of Israel’s renewal in its Land. How many heroes do we have who sacrifice their lives so that we will win and live here, in the Land of Israel, with peace and security? In their merit, we will win,” he added.

Israeli forces are currently conducting a major operation in Jabalia to quell a Hamas insurgency there. The friendly fire incident occurred at an axis captured on Wednesday morning in a raid that included two tanks.

At around noon, soldiers entered a three-story building some 10 meters [32 ft.] from the tanks. According to a preliminary investigation, the tank crews were unaware that the deputy commander of the 202nd Battalion had set up field headquarters in the building, and fired on what they thought were enemy fighters.

“The army still does not know the reason for the shooting and the apparent deviation from the boundaries of the sector, since the armored force that erred organically belongs to the 202nd Battalion’s combat team, so it is not clear how such a fatal mistake occurred,” Ynet reported.

Three brigade combat teams are operating in Jabalia, and around 130 terrorists have been killed so far. Most of the city’s civilian population has been evacuated.

Source: (Excerpt from an article published by Jewish News Syndicate on May 16, 2024. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Chaim Goldberg/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Join with the people of Israel as they are in shock over this error in judgment that resulted in such a tragic accident. Pray that there will not be any blame or recrimination for the incident but that it will rather be understood in terms of what can be learned from the tragedy. Pray especially for the soldiers in the tank and families of those whose precious sons were killed.

Scripture

To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in You; let me not be ashamed; let not my enemies triumph over me.


- Psalm 25:1–2

Video Reveals Hamas Shooting Civilians at UNRWA Facility in Rafah

by JNS

A sign on the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) building in Rafah, the southern Gaza Strip

Wednesday, 15 May 2024 | Lt. Col. (ret.) Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces [IDF], shared footage showing Hamas terrorists standing outside the central logistics compound for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees [UNRWA]. [An] additional video also showed one of the terrorists firing at civilians.

“Gunmen, likely Hamas terrorists, hanging out at an UNRWA warehouse in eastern Rafah a few days ago and identified by an Israel Defense Forces drone,” Lerner wrote on X. “The UN needs to answer some serious questions. Imagine what would’ve happened if we were to target them? The hypocrisy is astounding.”

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories [COGAT] said in response to the video that “following the event of which terrorists were seen armed inside an UNRWA logistics compound in eastern Rafah, we conveyed the findings to senior officials in the international community and called on the UN to conduct an urgent investigation into the matter.”

Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz also shared the video on X, describing it as “Hamas terrorists firing at civilians from within a UNRWA facility next to UN vehicles in Rafah.”

Katz insisted that no lie from António Guterres, UN secretary-general, and Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner general of UNRWA, will hide the truth: “UNRWA is an arm of the terrorist organization Hamas. Lazzarini must resign!”

Source: (This article was originally published by Jewish News Syndicate on May 14, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for a fear of the Lord to come over the reporters who cover Israel and the Middle East that will result in truthful, unbiased coverage of the conflict. Pray for a revelation of the future that awaits those who willfully ignore the one true God.

Scripture

Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD, they would have none of my counsel and despised my every rebuke. Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled to the full with their own fancies.


- Proverbs 1:29–31

Israel’s South Comes Under Repeated Rocket Fire as IDF Advances in Gaza

by Ynetnews

Remnants of rockets fired from Gaza into southern Israeli communities (illustrative)

Monday, 13 May 2024 | Rocket sirens blared Israel’s south and north on Sunday, including Ashkelon, Sderot, Kerem Shalom and western Galilee.

Sirens warning of hostile UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] intrusion were activated in northern Israel, while in the south within an hour two rocket sirens were heard in Sderot, as one rocket was intercepted, the other fell in an unpopulated area.

Earlier, a rocket was also fired from Lebanon to the Margaliot area. No injuries or damage were reported. In addition, a rocket siren was also activated in Ashkelon—for the second time in the past day. Overnight an apartment was severely damaged by a rocket. Three people sustained minor injuries.

Meanwhile, the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] continues to advance in Jabaliya, Zeitoun, and Rafah, and the military reports that more than 150 terrorist targets were destroyed in the Gaza Strip.

Following the evacuation calls for civilians in Jabaliya to seek shelter in western Gaza City, the IDF initiated an operation overnight, acting on intelligence indicating Hamas’s attempts to rebuild its terrorist infrastructure and presence in the area. Before ground forces moved in, Israeli Air Force [IAF] fighter jets and other aircraft targeted about 30 terror sites, eliminating multiple Hamas terrorists.

Concurrently, based on IDF and Shin Bet intelligence, operations continue in specific zones of eastern Rafah and the Gazan side of the Rafah Crossing. The IDF uncovered and dismantled several tunnel entrances and ready-to-launch rocket platforms aimed at Israel. Moreover, IDF forces intercepted ten armed Hamas terrorists leaving terror facilities, promptly neutralizing them with the help of IAF airstrikes and ground troops.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on May 12, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Michio Nagata/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Pray for Israelis who live within missile range of Gaza as they have endured these attacks for nearly 20 years. Also pray for Israelis who live near the northern border who have been subjected to UAV and rocket attacks since the latest conflict began. Give thanks to the Lord who protects His people, with many of the missiles never reaching their intended destination. Pray that Israelis in all areas of the country will look to God for their protection and security and will not fear.

Scripture

Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident. One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple.


- Psalm 27:3–4

May Their Memory Be a Blessing

by Janet Aslin

According to Jewish custom, memorial candles are lit in remembrance of loved ones who have died.

Monday, 13 May 2024 | When it comes to remembering those who have died, no other people or nation can compare with the way Jewish people and the State of Israel honor the lives of those who are no longer with them. At 8 p.m. last night, Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism, began when a siren sounded throughout the land for one minute. Today is a somber day of remembering as the entire country remains in a time of mourning, one of shared grief with the immediate families of those whose fathers, mothers, husbands, sons and daughters have given their lives in the defense of the State of Israel. Yom HaZikaron is especially difficult this year.

The nation’s main ceremony took place at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem but there were many, smaller ceremonies around the country. I was invited by an Israeli friend to accompany her to one that specifically honored Israel’s Lone Soldiers. Twenty-eight men and two women were included in the group of Lone Soldiers who have fallen since October 7. They came from around the world: Russia, France, Ukraine, Ethiopia, the United Kingdom, Kazakhstan, the United States and even one from Ghana. They ranged from 20 to 39 years of age with one thing in common: a love for Israel and a passion to defend the Jewish people from their enemies.

The evening was filled with short video clips where friends shared special memories of the slain soldiers, poignant and painful interviews with mothers whose grief is still very raw and taped messages from President Isaac Herzog and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. Ofir Sofer, the current Minister of Aliyah and Integration, gave his address in person.

One strength of the Jewish people is their solidarity in times of crisis or tragedy. The grieving families do not mourn alone. In her testimony, one grieving Jewish mother from a distant country described the day that her son was laid to rest. She looked in amazement at the hundreds and hundreds of mourners who had come from around the country to honor her son’s sacrifice. In her message she said, “They didn’t know him, yet they came.” I’m sure there were many in the crowd last night who had not been directly impacted by the death of a loved one. Yet, it was important that they come to the ceremony and stand in unity with those who had.

At the close of the ceremony, a cantor sang the Kaddish, the mourner’s prayer for the dead followed by “Shema Israel” whose familiar and haunting words call to the Jewish people saying, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.” He sang one final prayer, the El Malei Rachamim (God full of mercy) before we all joined in singing Israel’s national anthem, HaTikvah (the Hope). The songs themselves offered a transition from mourning, to looking to God who is full of mercy and finally one of thanksgiving that the Jewish people are home, in the land of their inheritance after 2,000 years.

As a Gentile and “sojourner in the Land,” I cannot fully grasp the depth of suffering the Jewish people have endured over the centuries. And today, with the world turning more and more against them that pain increases. After the last song, my Israeli friend turned to me for a hug and I felt the smallest bit of understanding the pain she feels. I was humbled that we could share that moment of standing together in remembrance of 30 Lone Soldiers who came to Israel and made the ultimate sacrifice. Last night I received a tiny glimpse of what it means to be Jewish. May I never forget.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 13, 2024

Photo Credit: Elena/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Remember the grieving families of those who have given their lives in defense of the nation. Pray that each will find comfort and solace in God and in those He brings into their lives to walk this difficult journey with them. Pray that they will receive sensitivity and understanding from those they come in contact with.

Scripture

“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” says your God. “Speak comfort to Jerusalem…”


- Isaiah 40:1¬–2a

Israel’s Population May Reach 10 Million Next Year

by Kate Norman

Population pyramid of Israel in 2023

Thursday, 16 May 2024 | Israel’s current population of 9.9 million people is estimated to exceed 10 million within a year, the country’s Central Bureau of Statistics [CBS] reported earlier this month.

The CBS publishes a report on Israel’s population data every year ahead of Israel’s Independence Day. The modern State of Israel was reborn on May 14, 1948, though Israelis celebrate Independence Day (Yom Ha’Atzmaut) on a different day every year, according to the lunar Hebrew calendar. This year it began on Monday night and ended Tuesday night.

This year as the country marked its 76th birthday, the CBS reported that Israel currently holds a population of 9.9 million people. Some 73.2% of the population is Jewish (7.247 million people), 21.1% are Arab (2.089 million), and 5.7% of the population (564,000 people) falls into neither category, comprised largely of non-Arab Christians or other religions.

The 9.9 million population shows a growth of about 1.9%, or 189,000 people, compared to last year, according to the CBS data.

This growth reflects the birth of 196,000 new babies, 37,000 new immigrants, and the death of 60,000 people since last Yom Ha’Atzmaut, when Israel celebrated its 75th anniversary.

The CBS said it also accounted for additional people as a result of family unification and for people who have been out of the country for longer than a year. The Times of Israel said it could not reach the CBS for clarification on these points.

The percentage of Jewish births spiked 69% in 2023 from 1995, Israel National News reported, citing the CBS data, while the Arab birth rate rose 17% within the same period.

The 2022 data, Israel National News reported, reflects a Jewish fertility rate of 3.03 births per woman, which is higher than the Arab fertility rate of 2.75 births per woman. The report noted that the Arab fertility rate in Israel is higher than other Muslim countries, except for Iraq and sub-Sahara nations.

Israel’s population of 9.9 million people represents a booming growth, twelve times higher than the country’s population when the state was reborn in 1948. At the time, the population was 806,000 people, according to the CBS.

The Jewish state is teeming with a young population, the Jerusalem Post pointed out, citing the CBS data. Twenty-eight percent of the population are between the ages of 0 and 14, the Jerusalem Post reported, and the 65+ population stands at just 12%.

Some 45% of the global Jewish population lived in Israel as of 2022, the Times of Israel reported—a decline of 1% compared to the previous year.

Israel’s population is expected to continue growing, with a projected population of 11.1 million by 2030 and 13.2 million by 2040, the Times of Israel reported, citing data published in 2018. When the Jewish state turns 100 in 2048, The Times of Israel reported that the population is expected to reach 15.2 million.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 16, 2024)

Photo Credit: Tweedle/UN World Population Prospects/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Give thanks for the growing Jewish population in Israel as the Lord fulfills His promise to bring them back from the four corners of the earth. Offer praises for the high birth rate and youth of this nation, praying that they will prosper in the Land of their inheritance.

Scripture

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy, and gathered out of the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.


- Psalm 107:1–3

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