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Reaching Out in Love to Widows and Orphans

Friday, April 1, 2022

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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.

Five Dead in Terror Shooting in Tel Aviv Suburb

by JNS

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First responders on the scene of the terror attack near Tel Aviv

Wednesday, 30 March 2022 | Five people are dead in a terror attack that took place at about 8 p.m. in the city of Bnei Brak, confirmed Magen David Adom [Israel’s ambulance service].

The shooter was killed by police. The terrorist was a 27-year-old resident of the village of Ya’bad in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] who spent time in Israeli jail in the past, according to the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet).

Officers were scouring the area, some 20 minutes by car east of Tel Aviv, to ensure that no other shooters were at large.

“I call on the city’s residents to stay in their homes for the time being and wait for clear instructions from the security forces,” Bnei Brak Mayor Avraham Rubinstein said in an interview on Israel’s Channel 12.

It appears that the terrorist first opened fire on Herzl Street at the corner of Jabotinsky in Bnei Brak, where he killed a first man who was sitting in his car, according to Israel Police. He then opened fire at a store on a second street, killing two more people. Finally, he shot another person on that street and then moved on to the nearby city of Ramat Gan to the south, where he again opened fire and seriously wounded a fifth person—this time, a police officer—before being shot dead by security forces.

The police officer was treated at Beilinson Hospital and later died of his wounds.

Magen David emergency responders were on the scene.

“I live on Hashneim Street in Bnei Brak and was at home when I heard gunshots,” said MDA EMT Menachem Englander, who treated the victims of the terror attack. “I immediately went out to the street and saw a terrorist pointing a weapon at me. By a miracle, his weapon jammed, and he couldn’t shoot. I immediately went back to my house, locked my door and reported to the emergency dispatch center. Once the police arrived at the scene and cleared it, I went back downstairs.”

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz held a situation assessment together with the Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces [IDF], Lt.–Gen. Aviv Kochavi; director of the Israel Securities Authority (ISA); head of the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT); head of the Israel Defense Intelligence (IDI); and head of the IDF Operations Directorate immediately following the incident.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will hold a security consultation at 10 p.m. with the participation of the minister of defense, the minister of internal security, the chief of staff, the chief of the Shin Bet, the Israel Police chief and other officials, his office said.

On Twitter, Bennett said that Israel “is facing a wave of murderous Arab terrorism.”

“My heart goes out to the families who lost their loved ones tonight, and I pray for the well-being of the wounded,” he wrote. “We will fight terror with perseverance, stubbornness and an iron fist.”

This is the third terrorist attack in one week.

Seven days ago, an Arab Israeli influenced by ISIS opened fire in the southern city of Beersheva, killing four people. This past weekend, two 19-year-old Israel Border Police officers were killed in a shooting attack in Hadera.

So far, 11 people have died in these attacks. In total, there have been 10 terrorist attacks this month.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 29, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for His comfort and peace to envelop every Israeli who has been affected by these latest terror attacks. Pray for physical and emotional healing for victims, for family and friends of those who were senselessly murdered, and for the police and security forces who must deal with these situations. Pray that every terrorist involved in these incidents will be captured and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Scripture

LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, You will make Your ear attentive to vindicate the orphan and the oppressed, so that mankind, which is of the earth, will no longer cause terror.


- Psalm 10:17–18 NASB

Negev Summit Boosts Abraham Accords, but Concern over Iran Issue Remains

by David Isaac ~ JNS

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Foreign ministers gathered at the Negev Summit on March 28, 2022

Tuesday, 29 March 2022 | A bright sun shone over the oasis-like Kedma resort hotel in Israel’s southern Negev Desert during what was dubbed the Negev Summit, hosted by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and featuring US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and four Arab foreign ministers.

So successful was the summit that the ministers decided to make it a recurring event. “Last night, we decided to make the Negev Summit into a permanent forum. Together with our closest friends, the United States, we are today opening a door before all the peoples of the region,” said Lapid at a press conference on Monday.

Attending the summit were the foreign ministers of three of the four Arab countries that signed the Abraham Accords, along with Egypt, the first Arab country to make a peace deal with Israel in 1979. They included the UAE’s Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Bahrain’s Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, Morocco’s Nasser Bourita and Egypt’s Sameh Shoukry.

Several high-level figures at the summit told JNS that if someone had suggested such a gathering only a few years ago, the idea would have been dismissed as “wishful thinking,” a “dream” and a prediction more suited to the realm of “prophecy.”

Describing the Negev Summit as “definitely historic,” Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Herzog told JNS that it “symbolizes the changes in our region—the fact that more and more countries are coming together. Behind it are deep geopolitical and socioeconomic crises in the region—the Iranian challenge for one, which faces all of us, and the desire to work together with the United States to counter all of these challenges.”

The top concern among Israel and the Arab states is the likelihood that an agreement to restore the 2015 Iranian nuclear agreement, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is in the offing. They oppose a return to the deal, warning it will economically revitalize an Iran weakened by tough sanctions and accomplish the reverse of its intended goal by making it easier for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. The Biden administration, however, supports reviving the deal, arguing that it’s the best way to put Iran’s nuclear program “back in the box.”

Blinken sought to assure US allies during his trip, saying at the summit’s press conference that the United States will “confront common security challenges and threats, including those from Iran and its proxies.”

Despite the sharp differences on this key issue, Herzog said discussions over Iran were carried out in a “constructive way.” He said the ministers looked for means “to confront this danger and work together to see how we can address this security challenge.”

‘Something We Are All United on’

Israeli Ambassador to the UAE Amir Hayek agreed, telling JNS: “There are some disagreements about Iran, but there is no disagreement about the need to see an Iran without nuclear weapons. This is something that we are all united on.”

However, it is clear that the key driver of the summit was unhappiness with America’s determination to bring back what the other summit participants considered a terrible deal.

As to the question of whether the current US administration is fully behind the Abraham Accords—given reports that it was initially reluctant to even use such an evocative term for the agreements—Hayek told JNS that Biden’s team is on board: “They are fully committed. We are filling them in on each and every step. We are collaborating with them, and we are thankful for them and for the former administration, of course.”

Eitan Na’eh, Israel’s ambassador to Bahrain, commenting on the heartfelt speeches given by the Arab foreign ministers, who expressed their desire for a true peace with Israel—in the words of Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, “a paradigm-shaping” peace—told JNS that he was moved by the summit. “It’s really one of those moments that you call historical and defining in one’s lifetime, and I think in the lifetime of the Middle East,” he said.

Expressing the optimism that characterized the summit, Na’eh concluded: “This is the first one. There will be more. There is much work to do to bring the region together—to pull the countries that are present today closer together and those that may join us later, united by a common goal to make this region a better place.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 28, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Yair Lapid/Twitter/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for the success of this historic summit and for the determination of the nations involved to work together to achieve a true and lasting peace in Israel and the region. Pray for the Lord’s wisdom as they deal with “geopolitical and socioeconomic crises” and the Iranian challenge, issues that have profound regional and global implications.

Scripture

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


- Psalm 32:8

Israel Braces for New Round of Violence ahead of Ramadan

by Liran Levi ~ Ynetnews

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Israeli security officials anticipate a surge in violent clashes during the month of Ramadan (illustrative).

Wednesday, 30 March 2022 | Israeli security forces claimed it was just a matter of time before riots break out between Arab and Jewish citizens as they had in May of 2021, brought on by violent clashes during the holy month of Ramadan.

The riots last year that spread from Jerusalem to mixed Jewish and Arab cities culminated with a round of fighting against the Palestinian factions in Gaza.

Following the recent terror attacks in Beersheva and Hadera, and [ahead] of the Muslim holidays, which will coincide with the Jewish Passover and the Christian [holiday] Easter, the Israel Police was anticipating a surge of violent clashes.

Police commissioner Kobi Shabtai held a series of meetings with senior police brass in preparation for what they call “Operation Guardian of the Walls 2,” named after the May 2021 war.

The police said they are expecting up to 35 days of possible violence, and incidents three times the magnitude of those that occurred last year, with dozens of hot spots throughout the country and possible missile fire from Gaza.

The commissioner estimated that there was a shortage of 4,500 police and military troops needed to keep the peace and an urgent need to call up 4,000 reservists.

The commander of an elite police unit admitted that in the past, the force needed some 72 hours to prepare before they could be deployed as was needed to stop riots in mixed cities.

Riots were expected to break out with no prior warning and to include the use of firearms against security forces and civilians. Many roads may be blocked, and civilian cars could become targets for the rioters and terrorists.

The police [were] also bracing for clashes in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria], which may ignite unrest among Palestinians held in security prisons.

The police may also have to attend to areas that may come under massive missile and rocket attacks and fires, which may be ignited by incendiary devices sent from Gaza.

The force was preparing for a scenario in which many of its own troops would be called up for military duty, compounding their deployment difficulties.

Police districts mapped out potential scenarios and presented them to commissioner Shabtai. The central district was expecting violence in the mixed cities of Lod and Ramla, with Jews and Arabs residents in confrontation and the involvement of right-wing instigators. Arab rioters were expected to vandalize Jewish owned property, set fire to synagogues and use firearms.

The Jerusalem district said in addition to ongoing tension in Sheikh Jarrah and around the Al Aqsa Mosque, West Bank clashes may spill over into the city, disrupting traffic at border checkpoints. Jerusalem may be a hub for the religious extremists.

The Southern district commander said he anticipated roads would be blocked by rioters throughout the Negev with Bedouin residents participating in demonstrations.

The Tel Aviv district was eying Jaffa, the southern sector of Tel Aviv, where extremists were expected to opt for violence.

In the West Bank, police [were] concerned that Palestinian rioting would include the use of firearms, in spite of a curfew that will likely be imposed on the entire area during the holidays.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on March 29, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israel Police/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Plead with the Lord for an end to this “wave of murderous Arab terrorism.” Cry out to Him that the anticipated 35 days of violence will simply not materialize. Pray for ineffectiveness and disorganization to hinder the plans of Israel’s enemies. Pray for firearms to jam, rockets to fall to the ground unspent, weapons to be exposed before they can be used, incendiary devices to be turned back toward those who launched them, and every “violent clash” to be neutralized before anyone is hurt. Beseech the Lord for supernatural wisdom and alertness for every member of the police, IDF and security forces as they work around the clock to protect the people of Israel. And pray that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be recognized and honored as the protector and defender of the land He calls His treasured possession.

Scripture

As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect.


- Psalm 18:30–32

Israel and US See ‘Eye to Eye’ that Iran ‘Will Never Acquire Nuclear Weapon’

by Joshua Spurlock

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

Monday, 28 March 2022 | The United States and Israel do not agree on how to approach a renewed Iran nuclear deal, but the message US Secretary of State Antony Blinken brought with him on a visit to Israel on Sunday is that the two allies are in full agreement on what matters most. “When it comes to the most important element, we see eye to eye,” said Blinken in comments published by the US State Department. “We are both committed, both determined that Iran will never acquire a nuclear weapon.”

Blinken’s statement—delivered in a joint press conference with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid—comes as the major world powers inch closer in talks in Vienna to a new agreement with Iran that Israel believes is critically flawed. And also on Sunday, Blinken’s Israeli counterpart made that divergent view clear in his comments.

“We have disagreements about a nuclear agreement and its consequences, but open and honest dialogue is part of the strength of our friendship. Israel and the United States will continue to work together to prevent a nuclear Iran,” said Lapid, according to the State Department recap. “At the same time, Israel will do anything we believe is needed to stop the Iranian nuclear program. Anything. From our point of view, the Iranian threat is not theoretical; the Iranians want to destroy Israel. They will not succeed. We will not let them.”

One area of debate is whether or not the US should remove Iran’s powerful quasi military Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from the US list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. While the US has not publicly committed to making that concession in order to revive the nuclear deal with Iran, it is a demand from Iran, and Israel is adamantly opposed to it.

According to an Israeli recap of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s meeting with Blinken, the Israeli leader “reiterated the Israeli position on the Vienna talks and the nuclear agreement and emphasized Israel’s opposition to removing the IRGC from the list of terrorist organizations (the FTO).” Earlier on Sunday, in the Israeli cabinet meeting, Bennett was more forceful, calling the idea that the IRGC be removed from the FTO “very disturbing and not just to us. We are still hoping and working toward preventing this from happening,” according to a recap of the comments from his office.

While Bennett was muted in voicing that opposition to the idea in the public press conference with Blinken—saying Israel is “concerned about the intention to delist the IRGC”—he reiterated his request that the Americans consider the region when approaching the issue.

“[The IRGC’s] proxy, the Houthis, just this weekend carried out a horrific attack on Saudi Arabia. I hope the United States will hear the concerned voices from the region, Israel’s and others’, on this very important issue,” Bennett told Blinken, according to a US State Department recap of the joint comments.

Blinken, for his part, gave the US line in his comments with Lapid that the IRGC is also covered by other terrorist-related designations—indicating the US is downplaying the proposal as just a downgrade in terrorist designation, not a removal. Nonetheless, he also reiterated to Bennett that there is “no daylight” between the US and Israel on their commitment that Iran must never obtain nuclear weapons, regardless of what comes of the talks to restart the Iran nuclear deal.

“Deal or no deal, we will continue to work together and with other partners to counter Iran’s destabilizing behavior in the region, as indeed we’ve seen most recently in the Houthi attacks against civilian infrastructure in the United Arab Emirates and in Saudi Arabia—acts of terrorism enabled by Iran,” said Blinken.

The nuclear talks with Iran also come against the backdrop of the Russian conflict in Ukraine. While on the one hand lifting sanctions on Iranian oil would appear to be a key interest of the US and Europe to alleviate surging oil prices due to the war in Ukraine, Blinken used the Russian nuclear threat as another reason why Iran cannot be permitted to acquire the bomb.

“Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is another reminder of why this is so important: An Iran with a nuclear weapon or the capacity to produce one on short notice would become even more aggressive, and would believe it could act with a false sense of impunity,” warned Blinken. He stated it is the US belief that resuming “full implementation” of the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA], is “the best way to put Iran’s nuclear program back in the box that it was in.”

The US withdrew from the JCPOA back in 2018 under previous President Donald Trump due to concerns the accord was inadequate to address the Iranian threat and as Iran used the economic benefits of the deal to bolster its malignant activities in the region. After the US withdrew from the accord, the Iranians retaliated by walking back restrictions on their nuclear program and have now made disturbing progress towards the nuclear fuel needed for a nuclear bomb.

The current administration of US President Joe Biden believes restarting the flawed JCPOA would rein in the threat, but Israel has continued its public opposition to elements of the deal, warning against making a deal at too high a price.

Despite the disagreement, Blinken made it clear that “one way or another, we will continue to coordinate closely with our Israeli partners on the way forward.”

Said the US top diplomat, “This cooperation is essential because, beyond its nuclear efforts, Iran continues to engage in a whole series of destabilizing activities across the region and beyond—indeed, those activities have also multiplied since our withdrawal from the JCPOA—via proxies and by Iran itself…The United States will continue to stand up to Iran when it threatens us or when it threatens our allies and partners, and we’ll continue to work with Israel to counter its aggression—its aggressive behavior throughout the region.”

In his comments with Blinken, Lapid was aligned in another way with the American: The Iran threat is a joint concern.

“Regarding the Iranian issue, Iran is not an Israeli problem,” said Lapid. “The world cannot afford a nuclear Iran. The world cannot afford for the Iranians’ Revolutionary Guard Corps to continue spreading terror around the globe.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Mideast Update on March 27, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Photo Credit: State Department Photo/Ron Przysucha/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Thank God that the US government stands in solidarity with Israel against Iran’s attempts to acquire nuclear weapons. Pray that the IRGC will remain on the FTO list with no “downgrade” in designation and for a satisfactory end to the JCPOA negotiations, which will ensure that Iran’s nuclear weapons program comes to an end once and for all. Pray that the vital relationship between the US and Israel will remain strong.

Scripture

Be exalted above the heavens, God, and may Your glory be above all the earth. So that Your beloved may be rescued, save with Your right hand, and answer me!


- Psalm 108:5–6 NASB

Israel Pursuing Regional Defense Alliance with Arab Armies against Iran

by Yoav Zitun ~ Ynetnews

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Israeli Air Force planes (illustrative)

Thursday, 31 March 2022 | With the specter of the Iranian threat looming over the Middle East, the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] and armies of neighboring Arab countries are working to weave an aerial defense alliance in a bid to tackle the aggression of Tehran and its proxies across the region.

This week’s Negev Summit in southern Israel saw the top diplomats of Israel, the United States, Egypt, Morocco, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates convene in order to discuss burning regional issues, chief among them, Iran.

Throughout recent months, the countries have been brainstorming a regional defense alliance, which is set out to include collaborative drills and preparation for collective missions targeting various common threats—either directly from Iran, or Iranian proxies from Yemen, Syria and Iraq.

The alliance, sponsored by the Israeli Air Force (IAF), will serve as an inflection point in the relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

For the first time, the Israeli military is open to the idea of providing neighboring armies that hold peaceful ties with Jerusalem with advanced US-made aircraft in lieu of the outmoded Russian ones they currently employ.

Most of the inner workings and goals of the plan are kept confidential to protect allied countries.

While the long-term goal is stopping nuclear Iran, there is also an immediate terrorist threat sponsored by its powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the Houthis in Yemen and other pro-Iranian regional actors.

The defense alliance would allow the IAF to intercept attacks beyond its borders, like the recent strikes on Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which are locked in a years-long war against the Houthis.

On the other hand, the IAF concludes a year of extensive freedom of action on the northern frontier in the form of dozens of large-scale operations against Iranian entrenchment in Syria and Hezbollah’s precision-guided missile project, which would have effectively allowed the Lebanese terror outfit to turn simple rockets into smart munitions.

On the southern frontier, meanwhile, the IAF is expected to begin testing a new laser-based defense system around the Gaza Strip within a year after completing its procurement in the coming weeks.

The system will initially supplement the highly reliable missile-based Iron Dome defense system, but may ultimately supplant it if proven successful as it offers potentially unlimited output for minimal cost.

Meanwhile, the IAF is also planning to launch its first reconnaissance satellite into space next year and lay the groundwork for its first ground missile unit.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on March 30, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: The Israel Defense Forces/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Pray that Israel will have great wisdom as it works with its Arab allies to weave an aerial defense coalition in a bid to tackle the aggression of Tehran and its proxies across the region. Pray for the many advantages such an alliance would provide for Israel’s defensive capabilities, and thank the Lord for His blessings of creativity and innovation that have allowed Israel to develop superior defensive systems and weaponry. Pray also, however, that every Israeli will put their trust in the Lord of hosts.

Scripture

Oh grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man! With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes.


- Psalm 108:12–13 ESV

A Thousand Israeli Soldiers to Bolster Police Ranks amid Terror Spate

by Yoav Zitun ~ Ynetnews

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IDF soldiers to join be deployed to boost security amid terror wave

Thursday, 31 March 2022 | Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Wednesday signed off on an order to deploy 1,000 IDF [Israel Defense Forces] troops to bolster police ranks as Israel grapples with a series of Islamist terrorist attacks that has already claimed the lives of 11 Israelis in one week.

In a situation assessment held with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.–Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Shin Bet [Israeli internal security organization] Director Ronen Bar, and other security officials, Gantz also ordered intensifying crackdowns on illegal arms dealers, as well as undocumented Palestinians.

Defense officials have also reportedly agreed to devise a work plan to reinforce strategic points on the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] barrier and implement an expedited recruitment process for thousands of Border Police reservists who will be stationed in the territory.

All in all, an extra 12 battalions will be deployed to run routine security operations around the West Bank and two others around the Gaza Strip in a bid to nip at the bud any terrorist activity brewing under the surface.

The military said that it will “provide the Israeli police extensive assistance, including the training of 15 companies from various special forces units that will be deployed in part in the West Bank region and in major cities according to police discretion.”

In addition, combat-support troops will also be allowed to leave base with their personal weapons.

“The IDF is prepared for a variety of scenarios, and it will do whatever is needed to be done to guard the lives of the residents of Israel,” Kochavi said. “IDF forces are deployed with the utmost vigilance in the various sectors in order to strengthen the sense of safety and security of the residents of Israel.”

Meanwhile, Jerusalem District Police announced that it will station an additional 3,000 officers in various potential flashpoints around the capital as the month of Ramadan is set to begin over the weekend and attract close to 400,000 Muslim pilgrims to the Temple Mount according to estimates.

Police noted that it would also allow Jews to visit the sacred site but to a limited extent.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on March 30, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israel Police/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for peace throughout all Israel during Ramadan. Pray that all of Israel’s various strategies will work together to effectively serve as a strong deterrent to those who would contemplate any act of terror or violence against Israel and will be effective in enforcing calm.

Scripture

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.


- Psalm 23:4–5a

Israeli Diplomats Work Feverishly to Tend to Those Affected by Ukraine Crisis

by Mike Wagenheim ~ JNS

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Over a ton of food being delivered to Ukrainian refugees on the Moldova–Ukraine border

Tuesday, 29 March 2022 | In an area of the world where being a Jew once meant peril, it now can save your life.

“My grandmother was a pediatric doctor, and then she took a second specialty of cardiology, and she was working in practice as department head in a hospital. But she did not get the title of the position because that was too much for a Jew to be granted,” said Ambassador Simona Halperin, head of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mission at the Ukrainian–Polish border.

“And I was reminded of that this week when I saw thousands of people standing at the borders, trying to escape the tragedy in Ukraine. And they stand there day and night, and there is one word that can help them. And that is if they say I am a Jew because there is someone then that takes their call,” she said.

“I am the granddaughter of a Polish Jew who lost all of his family in Warsaw, and for me to actually land in Warsaw with three planes of cargo—of humanitarian assistance—taken to the Ukrainians, that was very moving. You come into Ukraine and see these people in lines. It is just heartbreaking,” said Halperin.

She and Ambassador Eynat Shlein, head of MASHAV–Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, spoke last week during a briefing on Israeli humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. The briefing was organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and highlighted Israel’s role in assisting Ukrainians—both Jewish and non-Jewish—during the last month of the crisis.

Schlein describes Israel’s operation there, including the sending to Ukraine of three planes of cargo loaded with humanitarian assistance. The cargo included 15,000 blankets, thousands of cots, tents and sleeping bags, along with 10 massive water purifiers for 200,000 people and a water-storage system in case of a disruption in the water supply. Also included were 17 tons of medicine and medical equipment and six generators, each weighing 5.5 tons.

Schlein said the Israeli embassies around Ukraine and in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia Romania and Moldova were provided with significant supplementary budgets in order to buy and distribute equipment for refugees.

[MASHAV] has also provided online assistance and webinars, with more than 1,000 Ukrainians in the mental health field participating in workshops to guide them through the process of dealing with war-induced trauma. There has also been special training for midwives, as many of the refugees are pregnant, said Schlein, who added this is the biggest humanitarian effort by MASHAV and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in her three decades of diplomatic service.

“We also initiated the establishment of a field hospital, which started functioning inside Ukraine. It’s about 10 miles [16 km.] east of the Ukraine–Poland border, and together with our colleagues in the Ministry of Health, Sheba Hospital, Clalit hospitals and the Joint (the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee), we have established this hospital. We’re getting close to 300 people already in the last couple of days, including surgery, maternity ward and so on. There are 60 doctors and paramedics and nurses over there, and the team of our embassy in Kyiv, which is based now on the border between Ukraine and Poland, are the contact people for this operation,” said Schlein, adding that lines have started forming at the hospital at 6 a.m.

“We spent MASHAV’s annual budget in the first two weeks of March. In the next couple of weeks, we’re going to send six more planes with medicine and medical equipment, and probably also some food, including for Moldova, which absorbed probably a quarter of its population in refugees, and Moldova’s means are limited. We’re trying to be creative Innovative and quick on our feet,” she said.

‘Going Back to the Stories of Our Grandparents’

While the United States announced its plan on Friday to accept up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, Israel had already accepted some 16,800 individuals, with the number climbing. While there have been allegations that Israel has opened its doors only or almost exclusively to Jews, Halperin said that claim is way off-base. In fact, the numbers tell a much different story.

As [of] March 22, he reported, “We’ve had over 15,243 Ukrainians arrive in Israel (the numbers climbed to 16,858 by March 23). And out of that, less than 4,400 have citizenship eligibility or access under Israel’s Law of Return, provided to Jews and descendants as described in the law. That means over 10,000 have no grounds for aliyah [legal immigration to Israel]. They are not Jews. They are not family members of Jews who were eligible. And yet, they were welcomed,” said Halperin.

She said that counter to some reports, fewer than 300 Ukrainians who applied for refugee status have been refused entry, around 2% of applicants. That includes people who have a history of illegal stays in [Israel], such as entering as tourists but staying past their visas’ allowance and working illegally. Halperin also said some were refused entry due to suspicions that they were being trafficked and were vulnerable to abuse once entering Israel.

But the story is about much more than numbers, according to Schlein and Halperin.

“It’s going back to the stories of our grandparents. And as a diplomat, this is not something that I’ve done before,” said Schlein, recounting an encounter she recently experienced.

“I met this woman who came with her mother and two of her children. She’s from central Ukraine in a major city of Jewish life, and she is Jewish. And she said that she escorted her mother to the border with two of the children so the mother will take the two children to Israel. However, she herself was going to go back to Zhytomyr, where her husband is in a bomb shelter with two more kids. Think of the dilemma. Who do you send with your mother to go to Israel, and who do you leave with the father?” said Schlein.

While Israeli diplomats continue to find solutions to impossible problems, that question is one that even they may not be able to answer.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 28, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Twitter/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Thank God for the tons of humanitarian aid Israel has been able to send to war-torn Ukraine and for the field hospital that is now in operation. Pray that such assistance will continue and will touch the lives of thousands of those who are physically and emotionally traumatized by violence and loss. Pray also for the thousands of Ukrainian Jews who are desperately attempting to make aliyah and for the nation of Israel as it must meet the needs of these of immigrants who arrive with literally nothing while at the same time dealing with an onslaught of terror across the country.

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