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Israel Prayer Update, September 17, 2021

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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.

Two Terror Attacks in 24 Hours as Tensions Simmer

by Ilse Strauss

Scene of the terror attack at the central bus station in Jerusalem on Monday

Tuesday, 14 September 2021 | Simmering tensions in Israel yesterday boiled over with two Palestinian terror attacks in less than 12 hours. This brings the terror tally over the past four days to three, with another attempted attack in the Old City of Jerusalem foiled on Friday afternoon.

The first attack came yesterday morning at the Gush Etzion Junction in the Judean hills, a hotspot for past terror attacks. According to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), a 27-year-old Palestinian terrorist armed with a screwdriver approached a soldier standing guard at the junction and attempted to stab him. The soldier managed to fight off the terrorist, while a second soldier neutralized the threat by shooting the attacker in the hand.

The second attack came a few hours later in the heart of downtown Jerusalem on bustling Jaffa Street just outside the central bus station. A 17-year-old Palestinian terrorist armed with a knife attacked two young Israeli men, stabbing and moderately wounding them. A policewoman put a stop to the stabbing spree by shooting and critically injuring the terrorist.

Both the terrorist and his victims were evacuated to the same hospital, where they are being treated for their injuries. The two victims suffered stab wounds to their upper bodies and are both in stable condition.

Rabbi Alon Navon, the father of one of the victims, expressed his gratitude to “the Creator of the World” for preventing a bloodbath. “Thank God, it ended at a relatively low level,” he said.

The three attacks over the past four days might have come to naught, but Israel fears that they are merely the tip of the iceberg.

“There is no doubt that an escalation is occurring,” Cmdr. Doron Turgeman, the Jerusalem police chief warned in the aftermath of yesterday’s attacks.

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev took a more conservative tone. “I don’t know if we are on the verge of an escalation,” he told the Kan public broadcaster. “But we are definitely in a very sensitive period…Any incident could set off the entire area, so we are preparing for an escalation in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and Gaza.”

The sensitive period Barlev referred to pertains to simmering tensions over the past week after six Palestinian prisoners escaped last Monday. Israeli police managed to capture four of the six fugitives over the weekend, while two remain at large. According to officials, the two remaining prisoners are likely somewhere in the Palestinian areas of Judea and Samaria, receiving shelter and assistance from residents.

Many Palestinians regard the fugitives as “heroes,” publicly celebrating their “valor” and following their quest to evade capture with hearty enthusiasm. The news of four of the terrorists’ apprehension over the weekend turned the public celebration into public outrage, sparking a number of violent protests, a volley of rockets over the weekend and now the three attempted terror attacks.

Hamas, the terror group ruling the Gaza Strip, is capitalizing on these sentiments, spurring its people on to further acts of violence. Both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the second largest terror group in the Strip, hailed yesterday’s “heroic” stabbing, explaining that it came “within the framework of the freedom uprising launched by our Palestinian people in solidarity with the heroic prisoners.”

Vowing to escalate tensions, Hamas spokesman Abdelatif al-Qanou said, “Sustaining the clash with the Zionist occupation and escalating the pace of operations by various means is the best option to confront the Zionist occupation.”

Israel is taking the threat seriously, and with the Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) holiday coming up, the powers-that-be are not taking any chances. According to Channel 13, security forces are on high alert and some 2,000 police officers will be stationed across Jerusalem to maintain order.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 14, 2021)

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Stefan Edward Alexander Mihaescu/facebook.com

Prayer Focus
Cry out to God that the escalation Cmdr. Turgeman is predicting will not materialize. Pray that Israel’s preventative measures will keep things in check with no further violence and beseech the Lord that the incitement from Palestinian leadership will fall on deaf ears. Pray that the Lord will bless His people with a peaceful and joyful holiday season.

Scripture

Have mercy on me, O LORD! Consider my trouble from those who hate me, You who lift me up from the gates of death, that I may tell of all Your praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion.


- Psalm 9:13–14a

Bennett Rules Out Meeting with Palestinian Authority President

by Attila Somfalvi

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett

Wednesday, 15 September 2021 | Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday ruled out meeting with Palestinian [Authority] President Mahmoud Abbas to promote a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

“My perception is different than that of the defense minister, although we work in harmony. I oppose a Palestinian state, and I think it would be a grave mistake to import the failed Gaza model of Hamas, which shoots rockets at us, and turn the entire West Bank [Judea and Samaria] to that,” he told Ynet in an interview.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz met Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah late last month in the highest-level public meeting between Abbas and an Israeli minister since Israel’s new government was formed in June, and the highest-level meeting of an Israeli official with Abbas since 2010.

In that meeting, the former IDF [Israel Defense Forces] chief told Abbas that Israel would take measures to strengthen the Palestinian Authority’s [PA’s] economy.

Bennett, however, was less enthusiastic about meeting with the Palestinian leader.

“I see no logic in meeting Abbas when he’s suing our soldiers in the Hague [International Criminal Court] and accuses our commanders of war crimes. In [my] opinion, the PA is a failed entity,” he said.

Bennett also reiterated his opposition to the reopening of the US General Consulate to the Palestinians in east Jerusalem, saying that “Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel and no other country.”

Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip from Jordan and Egypt in the 1967 Six Day War. The Palestinians claim these territories for a future state, with east Jerusalem as its capital.

The premier also said that a full-blown conflict with the Gaza-ruling Hamas terrorist group could be prevented, as cross-border tensions with Israel have reached new highs since both parties fought an 11-day war against each other in May, with Hamas shooting rockets into Israeli border towns, prompting Israel to respond with air strikes.

“Hamas is a jihadist organization that has made it its motto to fight us to the end. My responsibility is for the security of the citizens of the State of Israel and the residents of the south in particular,” Bennett said.

“I’ve got three missions: One, stopping rocket fire…Two, we can’t ignore their military build-up for the sake of peace like [what] has happened in Lebanon over the past 15 years, with Hezbollah building an arsenal of 150,000 rockets under Israel’s nose. And third is that I must care for our sons,” he said, referring to the bodies of two Israeli soldiers and another two Israeli civilians held by Hamas.

Bennett said that he would agree to a prisoner swap with Hamas under the terms that Israel dictates.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on September 14, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: U.S. Secretary of Defense/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for PM Bennett and the three missions that he has outlined. Cry out to the Lord for wisdom for all of Israel’s leadership as they deal with critical, long-term security issues. Also pray for true unity among the decision makers.

Scripture

Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name. Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, just as we hope in You.


- Psalm 33:20–22

The Abraham Accords: A Year On

by Janet Aslin

The signing of the Abraham Accords at the White House on September 15, 2020

Tuesday, 14 September 2021 | Tomorrow will mark one year since the seemingly impossible was accomplished—the normalization of relations between Israel and two Arab states before resolution of the “Palestinian issue.” The historic signing of the Abraham Accords on the White House lawn defied the wisdom of prior US administrations which said there would be no peace in the Middle East until the Palestinians had a state of their own.

On September 15, 2020, Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former US President Donald Trump signed the original Abraham Accords, ushering in a new era of cooperation and goodwill in the turbulent region.

Two additional countries soon followed the lead of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain. Sudan and Israel signed a normalization agreement in October, while Morocco and Israel inked their agreement in December. These represent the first initiations of formal diplomatic ties between Israel and neighboring Arab countries since her 1994 agreement with Jordan.

The momentous achievement was celebrated last night at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan in an event organized by Israel’s mission to the UN. Hosted by Israel’s UN ambassador, Gilad Erdan, UN ambassadors from three of the four signatory nations as well as Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, were in attendance. Although it does not yet have official diplomatic relations with Israel, the country of Oman was represented by its deputy ambassador to the UN, Ahmed Dawood Ali Al Zadjal.

In his remarks, Erdan summed up the sentiment that brought the Accords to life one year ago: “The moderate countries in the Middle East must unite to tackle our shared challenges, such as climate change, and form a regional alliance to confront our shared threats, first and foremost, Iran.”

The Abraham Accord agreements differ from Israel’s two previous ones with Egypt (1979) and Jordan which were mainly government-to-government in scope. While new embassies have been opened and diplomatic representatives appointed, the Accords also include people-to-people interactions as a result of direct flights and tourism to places that had previously been off-limits. Economic ties are blossoming as well.

In a recent post, foreignpolicy.com noted that “a list recently compiled by the UAE contains 63 examples of public cooperation with Israel initiated during the first year of peace alone. They include joint coronavirus research and an agreement by Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala sovereign wealth fund to buy a [US] $1 billion stake in a Mediterranean gas rig co-owned by Chevron and several Israeli energy companies.”

And the agreements have withstood their first serious test—the 11-day conflict in May between Hamas and Israel. Previously, these Arab nations might have broken off the newly-formed diplomatic ties with Israel in order to stand publicly on the side of Hamas. However, they chose to stay out of the fray and keep moving forward in their normalized and open relations with Israel.

Additional events to commemorate the signing have been planned for Washington DC and Jerusalem.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 14, 2021)

Photo Credit: Tia Dufour/Trump Whitehouse Archive/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for the progress toward peace and cooperation that is being forged out of the Abraham Accords. Pray for the Lord’s hand to be on all negotiations and agreements as the relationships continue to grow and expand in scope. And beseech the Lord that the region and the world will begin to recognize Israel as the peace-loving, God-empowered nation that it is.

Scripture

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.


- Proverbs 3:5–6

IAEA Chief Visits Tehran to Discuss Iran’s Nuclear Program

IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi

Tuesday, 14 September 2021 | International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi met with the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Mohammad Eslami on Sunday to discuss issues related to the oversight of Iran’s nuclear program.

“We had constructive negotiations. There are essentially technical issues between the two sides. We agreed to participate in the next summit and to continue our negotiations on the sidelines of the summit,” Eslami said after the meeting, referring to the upcoming IAEA General Conference (Sept. 20–24).

The meeting came after the IAEA issued two reports last week criticizing Iran for blocking IAEA inspectors’ access to its nuclear facilities.

One of the reports complained that Iran had not let the nuclear watchdog agency reset monitoring equipment and replace memory cards before they ran out, reported the Wall Street Journal.

The two sides said in a joint statement released after the meeting that the “IAEA’s inspectors are permitted to service the identified equipment and replace their storage media, which will be kept under the joint IAEA and AEOI seals in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The way and the timing are agreed by the two sides.”

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addressed the reports at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting, warning that Iran’s nuclear program was “at its most advanced point ever.”

“These reports have given an official stamp to what we have been saying for a long time: The Iranians are advancing unhindered with their nuclear program. They are ignoring the IAEA guidelines. They are simply disrespecting it, and are trying to disguise the fact that their program was and remains a nuclear-weapons program,” he said.

“The Iranians understand that they are facing world powers that are very interested in returning to the nuclear deal at almost any cost—and I remind you, we do not believe in this agreement,” he said. “It does not provide the necessary benefit.”

However, he continued, “the Iranians are dragging things out and making progress in the meantime. According to the second report, Iran is ignoring the IAEA demands to investigate evidence that indicates the existence of a weapons program in Iran.”

“I hereby call on world powers not to be misled by the Iranian smokescreen that will lead to further concessions. There can be no giving in on the investigation of the sites, and the most important message is that time must be allotted for this,” said Bennett. “They are delaying, but a distinct and clear deadline must be set that says ‘no more.’”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on September 14, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Dean Calma/IAEA/Wikimedia Commons/JNS.com

Prayer Focus
Pray that the Lord will open the eyes of the nations to the deceit that permeates the negotiations regarding Iran’s nuclear program. Cry out to Him that PM Bennett’s warnings will be heard and understood by world leaders and such discussions will cease with no concessions being made.

Scripture

For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is destruction; their throat is an open tomb; they flatter with their tongue. Pronounce them guilty, O God! Let them fall by their own counsels.


- Psalm 5:9–10a

Bennett Meets with Egypt’s El-Sisi to Lay “The Foundation for Deep Ties”

by Kate Norman

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi

Tuesday, 14 September 2021 | Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi yesterday in the first official meeting between the two nations’ leaders in over a decade.

Meeting in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, the leaders discussed “a series of issues in the diplomatic, security and economic spheres, as well as ways to deepen ties and strengthen the interests of our countries,” Bennett said in a statement released by his office.

Bennett described the meeting as “very important and very good,” adding that he and President el-Sisi “created a foundation for deep ties in the future.”

“Israel is increasingly opening up to the countries of the region, and the basis of this longstanding recognition is the peace between Israel and Egypt,” the prime minister added. “Therefore, on both sides we must invest in strengthening this link, and we have done so today.”

Unlike past meetings between Israeli and Egyptian officials, this meeting was open and publicized, with Prime Minister Bennett even photographed seated in front of the Israeli flag bearing the Star of David.

Egypt became the first Arab state to sign a peace treaty with the Jewish state in 1979, but the peace has largely remained on the intergovernmental and security level rather than people-to-people peace.

However, Monday’s meeting is the latest in a series between Israel and Egypt, signaling warming ties between the neighboring states.

Egypt’s intelligence director visited Israel last month to meet with Bennett on “diplomatic, security and economic issues,” and also extended the invitation from el-Sisi for Bennett to visit Egypt—which the prime minister eagerly accepted.

Just days after that meeting, Israel downgraded its travel warning for the Sinai Peninsula, previously known as a hotbed for Islamic State militants and other terrorist groups.

The last public visit of an Israeli prime minister to Egypt was in 2011 when then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with then-President Hosni Mubarak. Netanyahu reportedly made secret trips to Egypt in the succeeding years, but no more official visits.

Egypt has filled the role of mediator between Israel and Hamas, the terrorist group in control of the Gaza Strip. Sharing its own border with Gaza, Egypt has long sought quiet in the volatile region and is credited with the tentative cease-fire that ended the volatile 11 days of fighting in May as well as continued efforts to negotiate a long-term cease-fire to bring calm to the region.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 14, 2021)

Photo Credit: Kremlin.ru/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for the growing relationship that Israel is forming with Egypt. Thank the Lord for the peace that has existed between the two nations since the 1979 treaty and their security cooperation which has brought stability to the region. Ask the Lord for His guidance and direction as leaders discuss “investing in strengthening the link” between them.

Scripture

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.


- Psalm 32:8

Slovakia Apologizes for World War II Laws against Jews

Slovakian Jews being deported during World War II after authorities signed an agreement with Germany in March 1942

Friday, 10 September 2021 | The Slovakian government apologized on Wednesday for World War II-era laws that stripped Jews of their rights.

On the 80th anniversary marking the adoption of the “Jewish Code” on September 9, 1941, the Slovakian government said in a statement that it “feels a moral obligation today to publicly express sorrow over the crimes committed by the past regime,” reported the AP.

The laws, passed by the Nazi puppet state during the war, facilitated the transfer of Jewish assets to non-Jewish owners and prevented Jews from access to education.

According to census dated December 15, 1940, about 88,951 Jews lived in Slovakia. In March 1942, Slovakia signed an agreement with Germany that permitted their deportation. It was the first Axis partner to consent to the deportation of its Jewish residents as part of the Final Solution.

The authorities sent more than 70,000 of their Jewish citizens to Nazi concentration camps, where most of them—as many as 60,000—were murdered.

Dianne Lob, chair; William Daroff, CEO; and Malcolm Hoenlein, vice chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, issued the following statement:

“We welcome the declaration by the government of Slovakia apologizing for its anti-Semitic World War II era laws and actions,” said Lob, Daroff and Hoenlein in a statement. “By this public recognition and statement of regret for the crimes of its wartime government, Slovakia is taking a welcome step towards atonement and reconciliation that was long overdue.”

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on September 9, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the declaration by the Slovakian government apologizing for its anti-Semitic World War II policies, especially in the wake of the recent opposite position taken by the Polish government. Pray that other European leaders will follow suit and ask that restitution will follow.

Scripture

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.”


- Isaiah 49:15–16

Israelis Remember 9/11 on the 20th Anniversary

by Janet Aslin

Bridges for Peace volunteers honoring the fallen at the 9/11 Memorial in Jerusalem

Monday, 13 September 2021 | This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the deadliest terror attack on American soil—the Al Qaeda suicide bombing of New York’s Twin Towers and subsequent deaths of nearly 3,000 with another 6,000 injured.

Israel, America’s closest ally in the Middle East, understands suicide terrorism on a first-hand basis. Therefore it is no surprise that there were two separate ceremonies held in Israel to commemorate the tragedy.

The first was organized by Keren Kayemet LeIsrael–Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF), the Jewish National Fund–USA and the US embassy who held a joint memorial ceremony at the 9/11 Living Memorial plaza, located in the Azarim Valley near Jerusalem.

The Living Memorial plaza, which covers five acres, contains a 30-foot monument in the shape of an American flag which is transformed into a flame at its tip. The names of the victims, who included five Israeli citizens, can be found on the circular wall. This is the only location outside the United States where the complete list of victims is memorialized in such a monument.

The second memorial event, headed by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, took place at the Foreign Ministry’s flag pavilion. A number of dignitaries from the US and Israel looked on as the US flag was lowered to half-mast, and later raised, by US Marines.

Lapid addressed those present: “As we mark 20 years since that terrible day, I want to send a message to the people of the United States and all those who seek to harm them: An attack on America, is an attack on us. We share the same values of freedom. Of equality. Of tolerance. And we share the same enemies. America is our greatest friend and ally. An attack on our friends, is an attack on us.”

The attacks of 9/11 were a wake-up call to America and to the world as well—suicide terror attacks were not confined to the region of the Middle East and concentrated on the tiny nation of Israel. Twenty years have passed but the need to fight the war against terror is as great today as it was then.

As the flag was raised during the Foreign Ministry’s ceremony, US Chargé d’Affaires Michael Ratney stated: “We recall how America and its friends and allies and partners—most definitely including Israel—recovered from that initial shock to deliver a new, concerted, global drive against terrorism.”

Once again, by marking the anniversary of 9/11, Israel has demonstrated her firm commitment to her relationship with the United States. As FM Lapid avowed, “America is our greatest friend and ally. An attack on our friends, is an attack on us.”

The war against terror is not over.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 13, 2021)

Photo Credit: Michio Nagata/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for the relationship that exists between Israel and the United States and for FM Lapid’s remarks, a statement of commitment to that relationship but also a warning to terrorists who would continue the war on the people and the values of the two nations.

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.


- Psalm 140:7–8a

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