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Firm through the Trials

Friday, September 29, 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.

Israel Facing ‘Dozens’ of Terror Threats ahead of Sukkot

by JNS

Jews pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem during Sukkot.

Wednesday, 27 September 2023 | As Israel prepares for the Sukkot [Feast of Tabernacles] holiday, the country’s security services are still confronting “dozens” of Palestinian terrorist plots every day, Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai warned on Tuesday.

“We are still very much on alert for the Tishrei [September–October] holidays, with dozens of warnings and intentions to carry out terrorist attacks [being detected],” Shabtai said during a briefing with senior police staff.

The week-long Sukkot festival starts at sundown on Friday and will see tens and thousands of Jewish worshippers flock to the Western Wall for the traditional Priestly Blessing.

“I am asking everyone today to refresh procedures on the ground, for high vigilance, quick response to events, and visibility and presence in crowded places. The general quiet is deceptive and can change in an instant,” Shabtai instructed officers.

The fast of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), which was observed from Sunday night to Monday night, passed without any terrorist attacks, Israel’s top cop noted as he praised the Israel Police, IDF [Israel Defense Forces] and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).

On September 13, in a press briefing ahead of Rosh HaShanah [Jewish New Year], Jerusalem District Police Commander Doron Turgeman first warned of “an increase in warnings and actionable threats of all types, also during the days of Selichot [penitential prayers], on weekdays and holidays.”

Every synagogue in Jerusalem will be guarded by armed security personnel this High Holiday season, Turgeman told reporters, adding that since the beginning of 2023, police have thwarted 31 attempted attacks in the holy city.

Special efforts are being made to maintain the fragile calm on the Temple Mount in the Old City, Judaism’s holiest site, which sees an uptick in Jewish pilgrims over the holiday season, said Turgeman.

Thousands of Israel Police officers, Border Police officers and security volunteers have been deployed to guard Israel’s holy places, recreational sites, parks, beaches and roads.

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

Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for a terror-free holiday season for His chosen ones. Pray for the security services and their ability to stem the tide of violence and keep the country safe during this holy time. Pray for vigilance, quick response, alertness and “visibility and presence in crowded places.” Also pray that God will dispatch an army of angels with chariots of fire as He did for the prophet Elisha, an army that cannot be defeated.


So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

- 2 Kings 6:16,17b

Israel to Europe: Iran Refusal to Cooperate with IAEA Is ‘Red Alert’

by Joshua Spurlock ~ The Mideast Update

Netanyahu shared his concerns regarding Iran with Scholz (pictured).

Friday, 22 September 2023 | Following Iran’s expulsion of more nuclear inspectors last week, Israel is sounding the alarm to Europe as international meetings are at full swing at the United Nations and beyond.

During a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the Iranian approach to ejecting inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) “unacceptable.”

An Israeli readout of the meeting, which took place in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting, said the two leaders “discussed Iran’s defiant actions in disseminating global terrorism and aspiring to attain nuclear weapons.” Germany, along with France and the United Kingdom, comprise a trio European nations known as the E3 that is crucial to the nuclear negotiations with Iran.

The conversation follows IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi warning that Iran had effectively kicked out about one third of the nuclear watchdog’s core group of the most experienced Iran inspectors. In comments posted to the IAEA website, Grossi slammed the move and said that insufficient cooperation with Iran would ultimately prevent the IAEA from verifying the non-military nature of Iran’s nuclear program.

Iranian nuclear activities have already moved out of civilian use and the Islamic Republic is approaching weapons-grade enriched uranium. Efforts to revive the now defunct international nuclear deal with Iran have so far failed. This has led the United States and the “E3” group of nations to maintain sanctions on Iran, while hoping diplomacy will work.

On Tuesday in Jerusalem, Israeli President Isaac Herzog met with ambassadors from France and the UK, the other two members of the E3. In accepting the incoming ambassador credentials, Herzog told French Ambassador to Israel Frederic Journes, “The challenges facing our country, among them Hezbollah’s activity in Lebanon and Iran’s refusal to cooperate with IAEA inspectors, must be a red alert for your government.”

Herzog also brought up Iran with UK Ambassador to Israel Simon Walters, calling Iran the “chief” issue for discussion between the Israeli and British governments. Walters already agrees with Israel on the wide-ranging danger posed by Iran.

“Iran is not only a threat to the Middle East, but a threat to the entire world,” Walters said. “The British Government’s position regarding Iran has been very firm.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Mideast Update. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: European Parliament/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that the United States together with the E3 will maintain a firm stance against anything that would allow Iran to continue on its path to nuclear weapons. Beseech Him that the nations will recognize Iran’s defiant actions of ejecting IAEA inspectors and disseminating global terrorism as well as their proximity to weapons-grade enriched uranium as clear indications of Iranian intentions.


The way of peace they have not known, and there is no justice in their ways; they have made themselves crooked paths; whoever takes that way shall not know peace.

- Isaiah 59:8

Netanyahu: US Trip Brought ‘Many Achievements’ for the State of Israel

by JNS

The United Nations General Assembly hall in New York City

Tuesday, 26 September 2023 | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu departed for Israel from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport early on Sunday morning, wrapping up a six-day trip to the United States that included meetings with heads of state and an address to the United Nations General Assembly.

Netanyahu touched down in Tel Aviv on Sunday afternoon, just after Israel’s airspace officially closed for the Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) holiday, but before the holiday started at sundown.

“I think this visit brought many achievements, and with your help, and thanks to you, we were able to do lots of good things for the State of Israel,” the premier told fellow members of the Israeli delegation shortly before takeoff, noting he had met with some 20 leaders from five different continents during the visit.

“I also want to thank many of you for the congratulations [that I received] on the UN speech, which, to my joy, was not only broadcast live on US television networks but also live in Saudi Arabia. This is, of course, a blessing for next year; next year will be a good year for us,” he added.

The premier began the visit, his first to the United States since being voted back into office in November, with a visit to California on September 18, where he met with X (formerly Twitter) owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk at the electric vehicle company’s plant in Fremont.

On Tuesday morning, Netanyahu and his entourage landed in New York to participate in the annual gathering of world leaders at the UN General Assembly [UNGA].

Netanyahu met with US President Joe Biden in New York on Wednesday, marking the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders since Netanyahu was re-elected nine months ago. Their closed-door meeting focused on the Iranian threat, Saudi–Israeli normalization, the Palestinian issue and Israel’s judicial reform push.

On the sidelines of the UN assembly, Netanyahu also held meetings with the leaders of Germany, Turkey, South Korea, Ukraine, Paraguay, Congo, Malawi, South Sudan and the Pacific nations of Palau, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Fiji and Papua New Guinea, as well as with UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

During meetings with Netanyahu, leaders of Congo and Paraguay announced their intentions to open, or reopen, embassies in Jerusalem.

Capping off his week-long visit, Netanyahu addressed the UNGA on Friday. His speech largely focused on ongoing efforts to forge a normalization agreement between the Jewish state and Saudi Arabia.

A looming peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia will have far-reaching implications, including encouraging other Arab nations to normalize relations with Israel, Netanyahu predicted.

He called the Abraham Accords “a pivot of history,” and said the whole world is reaping their benefits. “All these are tremendous blessings,” said the premier.

Before returning to Israel, Netanyahu also sat down with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Source: (This article was originally published by Jewish News Syndicate on September 24, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Patrick Gruban/cropped and downsampled by Pine/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s trip to the United States and the opportunities he had for discussions with leaders from all over the world. Pray that those conversations will bear much fruit, including more embassies in Jerusalem and stronger support in the global arena.


Thus says the LORD of hosts: “In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”

- Zechariah 8:23

History Made: First Israeli Minister on Public Visit to Saudi Arabia

by JNS

Israeli Tourism Minister Haim Katz in Riyadh

Wednesday, 27 September 2023 | Tourism Minister Haim Katz on Tuesday became the first Israeli Cabinet member to lead a public delegation to Saudi Arabia.

Katz arrived in Riyadh to take part in a conference of the United Nations World Tourism Organization and mark World Tourism Day, celebrated annually on September 27.

“Tourism is a bridge between nations. Partnership in tourism issues has the potential to bring hearts together and economic prosperity,” he said in a statement released by his office. “I will work to advance cooperation, promote tourism and the foreign relations of Israel.”

Katz’s visit comes on the background of growing relations between Israel and the kingdom as the two work toward a normalization deal.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) said last week that peace with the Jewish state is “getting closer every day.”

On September 20, US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke openly on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly debate in New York about a coming agreement.

Earlier this month, an official Israeli delegation arrived for the first time in Saudi Arabia for a meeting of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

In July, a team of Israelis competed in Saudi Arabia in the annual FIFAe World Cup, which sees participants play the latest version of the popular soccer video game. This month, a delegation of Israeli athletes competed in the 2023 IWF World Weightlifting Championships in Riyadh.

Earlier Tuesday, a Saudi delegation arrived in Ramallah for a meeting with Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas.

The delegation is headed by Saudi Ambassador to Jordan Nayef al-Sudairi, Riyadh’s first-ever non-resident envoy to the PA [Palestinian Authority] and consul general to Jerusalem.

After presenting his credentials to Abbas, al-Sudairi referred to bin Salman’s recent statements, in which “he clearly indicated his great interest in the Palestinian issue and the Palestinian people,” according to the PA-controlled Wafa news agency.

Al-Sudairi, who is considered close to the royal family, also said that Saudi Arabia plans to open a consulate in the eastern part of Jerusalem.

Last month, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said that Israel “won’t allow the opening of a diplomatic mission [to the PA] of any kind [in Jerusalem].”

Because Saudi Arabia does not have a diplomatic mission in the Israeli capital, al-Sudairi’s appointment did not require approval from the Netanyahu government.

Source: (This article was originally published by Jewish News Syndicate on September 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
Pray for the growing relationship between the Saudi kingdom and Israel as they continue on the path toward normalization. Pray for wisdom and discernment in ongoing negotiations and for final agreements that do not compromise Israel’s security but strengthen her position in the international community of nations.


For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He guards the paths of justice, and preserves the way of His saints.

- Proverbs 2:6, 8

Incendiary Balloons Spark Fires in Forest on Gaza Border

by Matan Tzuri

Helium balloons bearing flammable materials launched from the Gaza Strip, drifting into Israel

Thursday, 28 September 2023 | KKL–JNF [Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund] workers and foresters reported that two fires broke out on Wednesday afternoon in the Be’eri forest located on the border with the Gaza Strip due to arson. Fire crews arrived at the scene and got the fires under control. At the same time, disturbances began at the border fence with the Gaza Strip, and Israeli security forces were on the scene. According to Palestinian reports, some rioters “launched incendiary balloons” from the east of the Gaza Strip toward the border communities.

As they have nearly every day for the last two weeks, dozens of young Palestinians also rioted Tuesday in several locations near the border with the Gaza Strip. Incendiary balloons were set off, and a fire broke out in the Shaar HaNegev Regional Council. An investigator from the Fire and Rescue Service determined that an incendiary balloon caused the fire. In the afternoon, farmers in the Eshkol region reported that they had identified balloons with explosive charges attached that  had exploded in the air.

In addition, an Israel Defense Forces [IDF] sniper position located right near the border was set on fire on Tuesday, and in response, the Air Force attacked a Hamas position in Rafah using a drone. About an hour later, the IDF attacked two Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip again.

Tuesday’s rioters were filmed burning tires they brought to the scene. In one case, the rioters also threw an explosive device on the perimeter fence. The IDF said in a statement that the riots included a wave of firing by terrorists at the security forces. The forces used dispersal measures to quell the demonstrations and used live fire at central instigators. Several hits were detected.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on September 27, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: MinoZig/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for calm on the Gaza border. Pray that the IDF will be successful in stopping riots in the area. Also pray that incendiary devices will not reach their targets and that balloons loaded with explosives will continue to explode in the air.


For the LORD your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.

- Deuteronomy 20:4

Israel First in Middle East in US Visa Waiver Program

by JNS

The Seattle–Tacoma International Airport in Washington State

Thursday, 28 September 2023 | US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced on Wednesday that Israel has been admitted officially as the 41st nation in the US Visa Waiver Program.

The announcement, which the secretary made in consultation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, means that as of November 30, Israelis will be able to visit the United States for fewer than 90 days without a visa.

“The designation of Israel into the Visa Waiver Program is an important recognition of our shared security interests and the close cooperation between our two countries,” Mayorkas stated.

“This designation, which represents over a decade of work and coordination between the United States and Israel, will enhance our two nations’ collaboration on counterterrorism, law enforcement and our other common priorities,” the secretary added. “Israel’s entry into the Visa Waiver Program, and its stringent requirements, will make both of our nations more secure.”

Blinken said Israel’s admission “represents a critical step forward in our strategic partnership with Israel that will further strengthen long-standing people-to-people engagement, economic cooperation and security coordination between our two countries.”

“This important achievement will enhance freedom of movement for US citizens, including those living in the Palestinian territories or traveling to and from them,” he added.

‘A Significant Milestone in the Relationship’

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations welcomed Israel’s admission into the program and called the announcement “long overdue.”

“Israel’s entry into the Visa Waiver Program will bring tangible benefits to both American and Israeli citizens,” stated Harriet Schleifer and William Daroff, chair and CEO, respectively, of the Conference of Presidents.

“The relatives of Jewish Americans in Israel will no longer be forced to go through a lengthy, expensive and cumbersome process to visit their families,” the leaders added.

The two added that Israeli admission into the program is a first for a Middle East nation, which “is emblematic of the deeply-rooted partnership shared by the United States and Israel.”

Michael Herzog, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, called the announcement “a significant milestone in the relationship between Israel and the United States.”

“Our people-to-people ties, which are the backbone of our special relationship, will only grow stronger,” he said. “Israelis and Americans will be able to more freely travel between our two countries, interacting and connecting on a personal and professional level.”

The World Jewish Congress stated that the “vitally important” program “boosts homeland security, strengthens business ties, supports people-to-people connections and promotes cross-cultural understanding.”

AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] called Israeli admission to the program “a historic accomplishment that will further strengthen the ironclad partnership between America and Israel, benefiting both countries and ensuring the US-Israel relationship remains strong for years to come.”

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on September 27, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Davslens/Shutterstock/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Thank God that Israel has finally been officially admitted to the US Visa Waiver Program. Pray that the designation will enhance “collaboration on counterterrorism, law enforcement and our other common priorities,” as stated by the US Secretary of Homeland Security. Pray also that the “people-to-people ties” will be strengthened and for increased travel between the two nations.


Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

- Psalm 133:1

Yom Kippur: When a Nation Repents

by Ilse Strauss

Friday, 22 September 2023 | Sunday will be no ordinary day for the people of Israel. The frantic hubbub on city streets as a country goes about its morning routine on the first day of the week will be more subdued, more focused. The reason is simple. On Sunday, the nation will prepare for the Sabbath of Sabbaths…

Schools, universities and offices will send students and employees home early. Shops, markets and restaurants will shut their doors tight at around noonday. Busses and trains will carry their last passengers to their destination long before dusk. Traffic will die down to a trickle and then disappear altogether from the usually congested highways and streets. Radio and television stations will wish their listeners and viewers an “easy fast” before shutting down for the next 25 hours.

Then, right before the sun slips behind the white walls of Jerusalem, a holy hush will fall over the Land of Promise, as sundown ushers in Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)—the holiest day of the year for the people of Israel.

The Jewish nation is not the only ones who view Yom Kippur as sacred. Leviticus 23:26–27a tells us that this biblical festival is also holy to God. “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls…’”

Today, thousands of years after God gave Moses these instructions, the people of Israel are once again preparing for God’s appointed time as per His directives: by afflicting their souls. This entails abstaining from all fleshy comforts—including all food or drink—and fasting and praying for a 25 hour period.

The purpose of Yom Kippur is explained in Leviticus 23:28, “… for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God.”

In biblical times, this was the only day per year on which the High Priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies where the presence of the Almighty dwelt. There, the High Priest would call upon the name of God, offering a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins on behalf of the people of Israel. Yom Kippur is thus a special day of repentance.

Today is no different. Yom Kippur is a day of self-assessment and repentance of the sins of the past year. Synagogues throughout Israel are usually filled to capacity and snatches of prayers can be heard drifting through the quiet streets all day.

Throughout the ages, Yom Kippur has acted as a unifying and regenerating factor for the Jewish people. Regardless of physical location, conviction or belief, the Day of Atonement stirs a spark in the heart of many a Jew.

The same holds true today. Despite the severity of the fast—with complete abstinence from any food or liquids for more than 24 hours—the majority of Israelis chooses to observe Yom Kippur.

The awe and reverence that wraps itself around the country and its people on this day is spectacular to behold. For many, the concept of an entire country and its people grinding to a complete standstill to seek God’s face in repentance—in answer to an ancient command—is unheard of. Yet that is exactly what happens today, millennia after the Almighty shared His heart with the great, great, great grandparents of those who still choose to obey today.

While the Day of Atonement is observed with the awe and reverence due a day so sacred to both the people and the God of Israel, there is also an element of joyous expectation that comes with this feast. In fact, some in Israel refer to it as the happiest day of the year. The reason is simple: on Yom Kippur, the Almighty graciously bestows undeserved atonement to His people.

As the city outside grows quiet and a holy hush descends over the nation and Israel prepares to afflict their souls according to the instructions their ancestors received from God Himself, Bridges for Peace joins our hearts with the Jewish people as a nation repents.

Please note that our offices will be closed on Monday, 25 September. We will, however, resume normal operations, including news, on Tuesday, September 26.

Photo Credit: (Bridges for Peace, September 22, 2023)

Photo Credit: zeevveez/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord that Yom Kippur came and went with no terror attacks and that the people of Israel were able to fast and pray free from violence. Pray for the nation as it enters a new year with millions of its citizens turning their hearts and minds to the God of their Fathers. Pray that the Yom Kippur experience of drawing close to the Lord, repenting of sin and crying out to the Lord for a year of walking with Him panim al panim (face-to-face) will linger and not be pushed aside by the cares of the world.


The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.

- Psalm 34:17–18

Israeli Startup Converts Trash into Energy

by Kate Norman

An Israeli landfill

Thursday, 28 September 2023 | Israeli start-up Zohar Cleantech is seeking to tackle what its website called the “biggest challenge ever” for modern society in the form of municipal solid waste.

By 2025, the global expense for waste treatment will reach an estimated US $375 billion per year, according to the Zohar Cleantech website, and some 70% of those expenses will stem from urban areas.

Zohar Cleantech offers a solution in the form of the ZoharX, which the website refers to as an “all in one box” that treats unsorted waste on-site, and without needing to expand or build new waste disposal sites.

The ZoharX uses thermal gasification technology to consume the waste, according to the website. By heating municipal solid waste to 1,000°C [1832°F] with a controlled amount of oxygen, the waste breaks down to produce carbon monoxide, hydrogen and carbon monoxide. It also produces a byproduct called slag, an environmentally friendly, reusable material.

This technology eliminates all the waste that would normally be transported to a landfill, Zohar Cleantech asserts on its website. It can also convert household waste into energy, all on site. It can reduce the volume of urban waste and can be used in current waste areas without needing to expand or rebuild.

The company garnered attention in September when it won an Arena Challenge competition in Herzliya. The competition was part of an urban climate-technology exhibition sponsored by multiple private, public and academic partners, including Herzliya’s Center of Innovation HiCity.

The ZoharX will first be used in Israel’s central coastal city of Herzliya by businesses and academic institutions interested in beta testing the system.

This innovative system is just one of the many ways in which Israel, nicknamed the Start-up Nation, is blessing other nations.

As God promised Abraham in Genesis 23:3 (NKJV), “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Providing a simple and effective solution to a growing problem like urban municipal waste is indeed a blessing for future generations and nations the world over.

According to Zohar Cleantech, the average person produces an estimated 1.5 to 2 kilograms (3.3 to 4.4 lbs.) of waste per day. With more than 8.1 billion people in the world, that adds up to a lot of garbage. Not only does the ZoharX solve the ever-growing problem of how to dispose of the world’s increasing waste, but it also turns that waste into energy.

This system is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and eliminate landfills. It can be used in municipalities, malls, hotels and other commercial assets, according to Zohar Cleantech.

With its widespread, simple use, ZoharX is one of the many fruits of God’s blessing over Abraham’s seed thousands of years ago.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 28, 2023)

Photo Credit: ilana shkolnik/ אילנה שקולניק /wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Praise God for this remarkable innovation that has the potential to help the nations deal with the growing global problem of waste treatment. Pray for the success of ZoharX and ask the Lord for a realization that this is more than an invention; it is a blessing in fulfillment of a prophecy spoken millennia ago.


“I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.”

- Genesis 12:2