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What Would Jesus Do?

Thursday, October 28, 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.

Report: Israel to Start Training for Strike on Iran Nuke Program

by Ilse Strauss

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An IAF training exercise over Masada

Tuesday, 26 October 2021 | Simmering tensions between the Jewish state and the Islamic Republic kicked up another notch with the Israeli Air Force (IAF) allegedly set to start training for a strike to dismantle Iran’s nuclear program as early as the beginning of next year, the Times of Israel reports.

The report comes nine months after Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi instructed the military to begin drafting operational attack plans and a week after Israel announced that NIS 5 billion (US $1.6 billion) has been allocated to prepare for the execution of such plans.

According to the report, the IDF’s strike plan is currently still in the “draft” stage. Some aspects may, however, be ready shortly. Others may take up to a year and more to be finalized.

Drafting an actionable attack plan and then training to set such a plan in motion is, of course, a massive feat, with its scope going well beyond the strike itself, according to the Times of Israel. Apart from the operational execution, which entails setting up the means to strike the Iranian facilities burrowed deeply underground using special weapons and tactics that Israel might not possess at present, the IAF will also have to devise ways to circumvent the increasingly advanced Iranian air defenses guarding the nuclear installations. Then there is also the very real possibility of Iranian retaliation and the need to safeguard the Israeli home front against attacks launched by Tehran or one of its terror proxies in the region.

Israel crafting a military answer to Iran’s nuclear ambitions comes amid growing uncertainty over the Islamic Republic’s return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (2015 nuclear deal). The return talks have been at an impasse since the election of Iran’s ultra conservative President Ebrahim Raisi in June, with no date set yet for a seventh round.

The 2015 nuclear deal offered the embattled Islamic Republic sanction relief in exchange for curbing its nuclear ambitions. And for its part, the Times of Israel explains, it prompted “Israel [to] put the issue of a military strike on the Iranian nuclear program on the back burner, allowing the IDF to invest its resources into other areas.”

However, Jerusalem’s priorities shifted with the US withdrawal from the deal in 2018 and more specifically, Tehran’s subsequent violation of restrictions which advanced its program significantly in the race to the nuclear breakout threshold—a line Israel vows it won’t allow Iran to cross. Israel sees Iran going nuclear as an existential threat, and it is precisely Iran’s vigorous dash for Israel’s red line that has reintroduced the need to prepare a strong military threat to dissuade the mullahs from realizing their nuclear ambitions.

US President Joe Biden believes in a diplomatic solution and favors a return to the 2015 accord, but Iran has new prerequisites and additional hoops for world powers to jump through before calling a halt to their nuclear advances. Tehran demands that the US drop all sanctions, while the US insists that Iran make the first move.

Amid the stalemates, ambiguity and duplicity, there is Israel’s warning that Iran is inching closer to the bomb with every passing week. Jerusalem is clearly not banking on a diplomatic solution either.

In his speech to the United Nations General Assembly last month, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned that “Iran’s nuclear program has hit a watershed moment, and so has our tolerance. Words do not stop centrifuges from spinning…We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.”

Bennett’s vow, together with the necessary budget to make good on that threat and now the report of preparations for a strike plan mean only one thing: the mullahs should sleep with one eye open.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 26, 2021)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the One who watches over Israel without sleeping or slumbering, reminding Him of His promise to be the shield around the apple of His eye. Pray that the Lord will be the author and architect of any and all of Israel’s plans to thwart the existential threat of a nuclear Iran. At the same time, pray that He will bring Iran’s nuclear ambitions to naught and that Israel will not need to implement these plans.

Scripture

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies.


- Psalm 18:2–3

Another Step Forward: Budget Passes Knesset Finance Committee

by Kate Norman

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The Knesset (Parliament) in session (illustrative)

Thursday, 28 October 2021 | The Israeli government early Thursday morning approved the national budget proposal for 2021–2022. The budget proposal will have to pass two more readings in the Knesset (Parliament) and be voted through by November 14 in order to avoid snap elections.

The budget was approved by the Knesset Finance Committee around 3 a.m., following hours of meetings, a “heated” six-hour debate and 30,000 objections filed by the opposition.

The approval was a victory for the broad coalition government headed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who will take the reins as prime minister in 2023.

It’s an important victory, as failure to pass a budget is what toppled former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s unity government with Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz December 2020.

The Knesset has been unable to pass a budget since March 2018. Bennett and Lapid are the next at bat, and their broad coalition, comprised of a variety of parties across the political spectrum, overall seems determined to set the major issues aside until after they finalize a budget and stave off another election. If they cannot meet the November 14 deadline, the Knesset will automatically dissolve, sending Israel into another round of elections.

Until the current government was sworn in in June, Israel went through a major political crisis that saw four elections in under two years that left no stable government until Bennett and Lapid were able to patch together a broad coalition after the March elections.

Knesset Finance Committee Chair Alex Kushnir called this morning’s approval a “very significant process,” noting that the last budget was passed in March 2018—three-and-a-half years ago.

“I want to thank all the coalition members and the opposition members,” Kushnir said in a statement. “Members of the coalition—nobody here had experience in passing a budget, but we did it on time and we did it well.”

The preliminary budget proposal was first presented by Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman on September 2 and was passed by a majority of 59–53. This morning’s second approval was the next hurdle, and the budget needs to pass through two more readings in the Knesset for final approval.

“The reforms that we have approved focus mainly on lowering the cost of living, developing infrastructure, transportation and real estate,” Lieberman said, as quoted by i24News. “We have also implemented important reforms to reduce bureaucracy and thus make life easier for Israelis.”

The budget reportedly allocates NIS 609.1 billion (US $191.5 billion) for 2021 and NIS 572.9 billion (US $180 billion) for 2022.

Of those funds, the opposition agreed to withdraw most of its 30,000 objections in return for NIS 50 million (US $15.6 million) in 2021 and NIS 41 million (US $12.9 million in 2022) earmarked for specific projects, including religious education, projects to strengthen Jewish identity, hospital renovation and boarding schools in Judea and Samaria.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 28, 2021)

Photo Credit: איציק אדרי-Itzik Edri/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for yet another hurdle passed in this crucial process. Also pray for the two readings the budget must still pass through before it is finalized. Ask Him to pave the way, staving off yet another election and providing Israel with a budget for the first time in over three years.

Scripture

Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way you should go.”


- Isaiah 48:17

IDF Launches Exercise to Boost Military Readiness on Gaza Border

by JNS

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The Israel Defense Forces Artillery Corps near the Gaza border

Wednesday, 27 October 2021 | The Israel Defense Forces [IDF] launched a two-day exercise on Tuesday in areas near the Gaza Strip designed to improve its readiness for defensive missions along the volatile border, the military has announced.

“The exercise is intended to improve the IDF’s readiness [for defense] along the Gaza Strip border and will examine the way the lessons from Operation Guardian of the Walls…are implemented, while exercising the response to different scenarios of attacks by terrorist organizations from the Gaza Strip, including surprise attacks,” the IDF said in its statement.

“The exercise was planned in advance as part of the 2021 training program,” it added. “The IDF operates at all times to maintain readiness along the Gaza Strip border with the sole goal of protecting the residents of the south.”

The military’s Gaza Division and its Northern and Southern Brigades conduct routine border defense missions on an ongoing basis under the auspices of the Southern Command.

In March, the IDF and Defense Ministry completed the construction of an underground anti-tunnel barrier straddling the length of Gaza’s border with Israel. The IDF has almost finished building a new aboveground border barrier as well, complete with advanced warning sensors.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on October 26, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Intercede for the young men and women who shoulder the responsibility of standing guard over Israel and her people. Ask that the One who knows each and every one of them by name will provide for their individual needs—physically, emotionally and spiritually. Also pray for their physical and emotional well-being during this often highly demanding and challenging season of serving in the IDF.

Scripture

But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.”


- Isaiah 43:1–2

Israel Clinches Deal with EU to Join Largest R&D Program

by Ilse Strauss

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European Union flags

Wednesday, 27 October 2021 | Israel and the European Union (EU) clinched a deal that will see the Jewish state join Horizon Europe, the EU’s largest and most coveted scientific research and innovation program, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday.

Thanks to the agreement, Israeli researchers and scientists will be able to participate in EU-funded projects and have access to €95.5 billion (US $111 billion) allocated in grants between 2021 and 2027.

According to Foreign Affairs Minister Yair Lapid, joining the Horizon Europe program “situates Israel as a central player in the largest and most important R&D program in the world” and “will bring high-quality jobs, technological advancement, new Israeli businesses and create economic and scientific opportunities.”

“It marks another step in connecting the science and technology sector in Israel with its counterparts on the continent,” Lapid added.

Sealing the deal comes after a year of intensive negotiations between Jerusalem and the EU to hammer out terms. The agreement was supposed to be inked months ago, but a number of sticking points resulted in delays. One of the main stumbling blocks was the EU’s guidelines regarding funding for companies in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights—so-called contested areas. As a solution, research funds will not be used in these areas, while a clause was added to state that Israel disagrees with the EU’s definition of territory it classifies as contested.

Israel will profit from participation in the program in various areas, including scientific research, the high-tech industry and the economy. It also means open doors for Israeli companies eager to break into the European market.

But Israel is not the only one that stands to benefit. According to Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General for Economics Yael Rabia-Tzadok, the deal constitutes Europe’s vote of confidence in Israel as a science, technology and innovation asset.

The EU agrees. “In return to giving Israel access to a vast international research network, the European Research Area has benefited from Israel’s high levels of excellence as well as outstanding innovation capacity,” an EU statement said.

The deal is expected to be signed before year-end, once both parties have concluded their endorsement procedures.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 27, 2021)

Photo Credit: Thijs ter Haar/Flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Sing praises to the Lord for opening the wonderful door of opportunity for the Israeli scientific community. Thank Him for His favor, and pray that this deal will result in a multitude of highly lucrative ventures, bringing a harvest of blessing, prosperity, inventions and scientific progress—for the people of Israel but also for the nations of the world.

Scripture

Let them shout for joy and be glad, who favor my righteous cause; and let them say continually, “Let the LORD be magnified, who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.”


- Psalm 35:27

Survey: One-third of Jewish College Students Experienced Anti-Semitism

by JNS

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A swastika scrawled in a tunnel at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Wednesday, 27 October 2021 | A new national survey conducted for Hillel International and the Anti-Defamation League revealed information about the number of Jewish college students across the United States who personally experienced anti-Semitism on campus during the last academic year.

According to the survey, 32% of Jewish students were targeted in anti-Semitic incidents, which most commonly were offensive comments online or in-person, and damage or defacement of property. A total of 79% said that it happened to them more than once.

Additionally, 31% of Jewish students witnessed anti-Semitic activity on campus that was not directed at them. Many respondents said they saw swastikas drawn on campus, in addition to the vandalism of Jewish fraternities, sororities and cultural buildings.

Among students who experienced anti-Semitism firsthand, 51% said they felt safe on campus. Some 37% said they reported anti-Semitic property damage, defacement and vandalism, while reporting was higher for physical violence and threats of violent attacks.

In addition, 24% reported anti-Semitic slurs and comments online and 23% reported incidents when they took place in person.

A smaller sampling, 15% of Jewish college students, also said they felt the need to hide their Jewish identity from others on campus, and just 12% said they were blamed for the actions of the Israeli government because of their Jewish faith.

The survey was conducted by College Pulse, an online survey and analytics company that focuses on college students, from July 7 to August 21. It included 756 undergraduate students who identify as Jewish and are currently enrolled in 270 different four-year colleges and universities across America.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on October 26, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Elan Karoll/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Beseech the Lord to expose this ancient hatred of anti-Semitism, shining His light on the perpetrators so that they will be held accountable for their abhorrent actions. As this dark disdain for the Jewish people continues to sweep the nations, thank the Lord for a safe haven in Israel, and pray that more and more Jewish people will heed God’s call to return to the Land of their promise.

Scripture

Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.


- Isaiah 40:30–31

Bennett, Putin Discuss Iran, Syria during Five-hour Meeting

by JNS

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Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, left, meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia

Monday, 25 October 2021 | Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday that his recent meeting in Sochi with Russian President Vladimir Putin had been “very good and in-depth.”

In his opening address at the weekly Cabinet meeting, Bennett said that among the topics he and Putin had discussed during their five-hour meeting were Syria and Iran.

“[I]n a certain way, the Russians are our neighbors to the north, and it is important that we manage the delicate and complex situation there smoothly, without mishaps,” said Bennett, according to an official statement.

The two leaders had reached “good and stable conclusions” to that end, said Bennett, adding that he had found Putin “attentive to Israel’s security needs.”

“We also discussed the Iranian nuclear program, the advanced state of which worries everyone,” he said.

In joint remarks to the press ahead of the meeting, Putin said that Israel and Russia had established a “businesslike and trusting relationship” under Bennett’s predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, and expressed his hope that Bennett’s government would pursue a “policy of continuity,” according to the AP.

Bennett called Putin “a true friend of the Jewish people,” and noted that the two countries were currently celebrating the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations.

“In Israel we have a million ambassadors, Russian-speaking Israelis who constitute a great contribution to Israeli culture. They bring with them a mentality of hard work and strength. This is a very great contribution to the State of Israel,” said Bennett.

Bennett also thanked Putin for the Russian nation’s contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, noting Israel had built two memorials to Russia’s war effort, both of which Putin inaugurated.

Following the meeting, Bennett tweeted that the discussion had been “excellent” and that Putin had invited him to an additional meeting in St. Petersburg.

“We will continue to strengthen the ties between the countries,” said Bennett.

The meeting, which went longer than planned, led to Bennett, who is religiously observant, spending the Sabbath in Sochi.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on October 24, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Koby Gideon/GPO/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Bring Israel’s leadership headed by PM Bennett before the Lord. Ask Him to infuse the decision makers with godly wisdom, fortitude and insight so that they will lead His people and His land according to His perfect plan. Pray that they will look to Him for the answers and solutions instead of trusting in human understanding.

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

Report: Israel Allegedly Strikes Syrian Forces on Border

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The border crossing between Israel and Syria

Monday, 25 October 2021 | Israeli aircraft allegedly struck Syrian regime military targets near the border early this morning, Syrian media reported.

The Israeli planes targeted missile batteries belonging to the Syrian state “and its allies” in the Quneitra region of the Syrian Golan Heights, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported.

No casualties have been reported yet, SOHR said, but the strikes did reportedly cause material damage.

The Syrian state “allies” mentioned referred to Hezbollah, the Lebanese-based terror army backed by Iran, the Times of Israel reported, adding that the targets of this morning’s strike were part of the terror puppet’s Golan File.

The Golan File is Hezbollah’s attempt to build a fighting force in the Golan Heights specifically to attack Israel.

And Israel has vowed to prevent that from happening. Jerusalem did not comment on its alleged involvement in this morning’s strikes, in keeping with its longstanding policy of declining to comment in cross-border strikes. However, Israeli leaders over the years have acknowledged that the Jewish state has conducted hundreds of strikes throughout the Syrian Civil War, which began in 2011, in order to prevent Iran from establishing a foothold in the area and use it as a launch pad for attacks on Israel.

Most of the Israeli strikes target weapons shipments bound for Hezbollah with love from Tehran.

Today’s strike comes just days after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s visit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi.

Bennett said the two discussed Syria, among other things, as Russia maintains a presence in Syria and has close ties with the state regime headed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia plays the middle man, as it maintains ties with Assad’s regime and even provides the state with missile defense batteries to intercept Israeli strikes. But Russia also maintains partial control over the Syrian skies and reportedly clears the Israeli aircraft to travel through Syrian airspace when conducting strikes.

“In a certain way, the Russians are our neighbors to the north, and it is important that we manage the delicate and complex situation there smoothly, without mishaps,” Bennett said in comments published by his office. “We reached good and stable conclusions and I found President Putin to be attentive to Israel’s security needs.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 25, 2021)

Photo Credit: Escla/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Continue to intercede for the situation on Israel’s northern border, where Iran seeks to gain a military foothold and use the chaos in Syria as a cover to funnel state-of-the-art weapons to its terror proxy, Hezbollah. Cry out to the Lord to provide Israel with supernatural insight into the enemy’s plans and to furnish Israel with the strategies to dismantle every new and existing threat.

Scripture

Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered; let those also who hate Him flee before Him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away; as wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God; yes, let them rejoice exceedingly.


- Psalm 68:1–3

UAE Air Chief Lands in Israel for “Blue Flag” Exercise

by Janet Aslin

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A United Arab Emirates Air Force crew chief secures a pilot’s seat harness during a training exercise.

Tuesday, 26 October 2021 | Ibrahim Nasser Muhammed al-Alawi, head of the Emrati air force, arrived yesterday to participate in a special conference for senior officials during Israel’s 12-day “Blue Flag” exercises, an international aerial drill.

Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin, head of the Israel Air Force (IAF), welcomed his Emrati counterpart with an honor guard reception at the IAF’s Palmachim base. This marks al-Alawi’s first official visit to Israel since the Abraham Accords were signed last year.

This year’s “Blue Flag,” which began on October 17, is the fifth to have taken place since the event was first held in 2013. Brig. Gen. Amir Lazar, head of the IAF’s Training and Doctrine Division, said that al-Alawi’s visit this year is “very significant.”

Although the United Arab Emirates (UAE) did not send fighter jets to the event this year, Israeli and Emrati pilots flew together earlier this year in an exercise held by Greece.

Lazar continued, “We believe that holding the exercise has great strategic value for the Israeli Air Force and the State of Israel. As part of the exercise, we are hosting a day for senior officials on Tuesday, in which 11 air force chiefs from around the world will take part, including—for the first time—the head of the United Arab Emirates air force,” as reported by the Times of Israel.

Seven nations have joined Israel to fly in what has been described as “Israel’s largest and most advanced aerial exercise ever.” Seventy fighter jets with over 1,500 personnel from Germany, Italy, Britain, France, India, Greece and the United States are participating.

In addition to being the first time one of Israel’s neighbors has taken part in the exercise, several other “firsts” were noted by Israel’s i24News: “The event marks the first deployment of a British fighter squadron in Israel since the establishment of the country, as well as the first deployments in Israel of an Indian “Mirage” fighter squadron and French “Rafale” fighter squadron.”

IAF chief Norkin said, “I thank you, Maj. Gen. Al Alawi, for this visit to Israel. This is a truly historic day with tremendous significance for the future of cooperation between our air forces,”

Now that the UAE has broken the ice, perhaps the 2023 “Blue Flag” exercise will see the participation of other countries in the region.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 26, 2021)

Photo Credit: Robert Sullivan/flickr

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the reports that continue to come in of warm relations and increased cooperation between Israel and the UAE—something that seemed out of the question in the not-so-distant past. Ask the Lord to open the eyes of the neighboring countries where hostilities for Israel still rage so that these nations will clearly see the abundant fruit of peace with Israel and follow in the UAE’s footsteps.

Scripture

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion…Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.


- Ecclesiastes 4:9–10a, 12

Israel to Approve 3,000 New Housing Units in Judea and Samaria

by Elisha Ben Kimon

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Ofra, a Jewish community in Judea and Samaria (illustrative)

Friday, 22 October 2021 | The planning commission in the civil administration of the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] on Thursday announced it would be approving a plan to construct 3,000 housing units in West Bank settlements and prepare planning for an additional 1,344 units.

This is the first time construction in settlements is to be approved since US President Joe Biden took office.

The approved construction will be inside existing settlements, all across the West Bank.

The commission will also approve 1,300 housing units for West Bank Palestinians.

Officials in the settlement movement demanded of the prime minister’s office to convene the planning commission to approve the construction after it had failed to meet since last August.

The previous government, headed by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, made a commitment to the settlers that the planning commission would convene every three months to advance construction plans.

The pending initiative will see an addition of 1,000 units for settlers and 500 for Palestinians, all in various stages of planning.

In the August meeting, the commission approved 1,000 units to be built by the Palestinian Authorities in areas under Israeli control.

Area C, where the construction was approved, makes up 60% of the West Bank.

Meretz MK [member of Knesset/Parliament] Moshe “Mossi” Raz said the decision to build more units in the West Bank settlements will harm Israeli interests. “The decision was not taken by the entire government,” Raz said “It will compromise future chances for a secure future for all residents of this land,” he said.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on October 21, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Sarah Yoder/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Bless the Lord for the decision to construct additional housing units in Judea and Samaria, Israel’s biblical heartland, allowing many more Jewish families to make their home there in the fulfillment of prophecy. Beseech the Lord to open the eyes of the international community—particularly believers—that they will see this development as the faithfulness of God and react with praise instead of condemnation.

Scripture

“I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them,” says the LORD your God.


- Amos 9:14–15