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Friday, April 19, 2019

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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 if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.

Counterterror Expert Visits Gaza Border; Blames Iran for Regional Security Situation

by Itamar Eichner

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US Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Nathan Sales, discusses regional security on a visit to Israel.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019 | US Coordinator for Counterterrorism Nathan Sales, [who is] visiting Israel, said the key to security in the region lies in Tehran.

Following [US] President Donald Trump’s designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as an international terror organization, they have become “radioactive,” Sales said. He added, “Anyone doing business with them will be suspected of funding terror,” thereby dealing the organization a massive blow.

“We know what the Iranians are capable of,” Sales said, expressing the hope that countries considering conducting business with the Islamic Republic will decide against it.

On a visit to Israel’s south, Sales was briefed on the current threats Israel is facing from the Gaza Strip. “I was amazed at the resources Hamas is investing in terror activity against Israel,” Sales said, noting these are at the expense of investments in health, education and housing, all needed to improve civilian lives.

Israeli officials also briefed the US envoy on the presence of ISIS in the Sinai, which is a source of concern for the US as well as Israel. “ISIS in the Sinai is a threat to Egypt, the region and beyond,” Sales said, and warned of a danger to Israel if violence spills over.

Regarding the “Deal of the Century” expected to be presented by President Trump to both Israel and the Palestinians, Sales said the US is taking protective measures in case of active opposition by the Palestinian Authority.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on April 16, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: United States Department of State/

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that the remarks made by US Coordinator for Counterterrorism Nathan Sales will be taken seriously by the international community, prompting them to stand with the US and Israel against Iran, who Sales said holds the key to security in the region.


Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, O God! For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones.

- Psalm 83:1–3

Rivlin Formally Nominates Netanyahu as Prime Minister

by Jo Sarah Stanford

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President Rivlin chose Netanyahu to serve another term as prime minister, giving him 42 days to form a majority in the 120-seat parliament.

Thursday, 18 April 2019 | Benjamin Netanyahu cleared one of the final hurdles to become Israel’s prime minister for a record fifth term, after President Reuven Rivlin formally nominated him for the job on Wednesday. Netanyahu will now have up to 42 days to officially form a coalition that will lead the next government.

Even before the votes were counted after last Tuesday’s national election, current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was confident that he would keep the job. As the votes were tallied and his party, Likud, performed the best they had ever done under Netanyahu, it looked increasingly like he was right. However, even after the final tally put Netanyahu one seat ahead of his main rival, he still had to wait for proper procedure until the win was made official.

One of Rivlin’s main roles as president of Israel is to select a candidate for prime minister from among the member of the Knesset (Parliament). This person is usually the leader of the party who won the most seats or the person most able to form a coalition with a majority of 61 out of the 120 seats.

The final vote gave the Likud party 36 seats and main rival Blue and White party—led by former IDF (Israel Defense Forces) Chief of Staff Benny Gantz—35.

On Monday and Tuesday, Rivlin met with party leaders to hear their recommendations for who should become prime minister. After hearing their recommendations, Rivlin met with Netanyahu on Wednesday and officially nominated him as prime minister.

Netanyahu said that he was “moved” by the president’s decision “as though it’s the first time, and in a certain way, even more than the first time,” reported Ynetnews. He vowed to “do everything to earn the trust that the citizens of Israel have bestowed on me.”

This will be Netanyahu’s fourth consecutive term as prime minister and fifth total term after also serving from 1996–1999. In July he will overtake David Ben-Gurion as the longest serving prime minister. His win also scored him a position on the Time Magazine list of “100 Most Influential People” in 2019.

Netanyahu will now have 28 days to form a majority coalition, with a possible 14-day extension. If he fails to make a coalition within this time frame, Rivlin will allow Gantz the chance of forming a government instead. However, with the support already promised to Netanyahu, this is extremely improbable.

Netanyahu is likely to form a coalition totaling 65 seats. Thirty-six of these seats come from his own party, Likud. The rest are derived from smaller parties. Ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah bring eight seats each, Union of Right-Wing Parties brings five, as does Yisrael Beytenu—led by former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman—and finally, centrist party Kulanu brings four seats.

These parties have already pledged their support to Netanyahu. All that remains is for him to negotiate who will fill the cabinet positions. This is a complicated task, as Netanyahu must balance the demands of the religious ultra-Orthodox against that of the secular Yisrael Beytanu party—all of which hold vastly opposing view on certain issues. The Blue and White party also expects to be given some positions in cabinet to reflect the 35 seats they won.

Netanyahu has been in discussions for the past week, but official negotiations start tomorrow.

Rivlin has called for the rival parties to now start working together. “The time of us and them is over, and now it is just we,” the Jerusalem Post quoted the president. Rivlin called on Netanyahu to form a “large and stable government that will reflect the will of the nation as much as possible.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, April 18, 2019)

Photo Credit: Edgar Asher, Ashernet

Prayer Focus
Pray for unity as PM Netanyahu works to build a coalition and chooses those who will hold other important government positions. Ask the Lord to give him great wisdom for this task as well as strength and courage for the tasks that lie ahead.


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

- Psalm 32:8

Syria Claims Israel Struck “Military Position;” Israel Vows to “Continue to Act”

by Joshua Spurlock

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The IDF recently honored Col. V, who “operates in secret” to thwart “terrorism in the northern front.”

Monday, 15 April 2019 | The official Syrian news agency on Saturday reported that Israeli forces attacked a “military position” in the western area of the country, leading to the destruction of buildings and wounding multiple “fighters.” One day later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not officially claim credit for the attack, but he did allude to it by referencing action to the north of Israel in comments at an event for families of fallen IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers.

“We do not rush to battle. Who like us knows that the cost of war is terrible? But let no one misunderstand us—when the security of Israel is at stake, we act with all our strength. Whoever puts us in danger puts himself in far greater danger,” said Netanyahu in comments released by his office.

“We will continue to act on all fronts, including in the North, because we are not prepared to allow anybody to entrench in strength and endanger the State of Israel. Strength is the guarantee of our existence, and it is the essential and fundamental condition in achieving peace with our neighbors.”

The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) claimed that Syrian air defenses managed to take down some of the Israeli missiles in the attack, although the incident still resulted in damage and casualties.

For years, reports have said Israel has been acting militarily in neighboring Syria, whether the intent was to prevent advanced weapons from reaching Syrian terrorist allies or the entrenching of Iranian military forces in Syria. In some cases, Israel has been unusually transparent about their activity, but that doesn’t mean every situation is public knowledge.

The IDF Twitter page highlighted such covert action by posting on Friday that an anonymous colonel “just got an award for thwarting terrorism in the northern front. The public knows very little about this classified unit. We can say this: The people of Israel are safer because of them.” The post said the colonel “operates in secret.”

Netanyahu, in his comments on Sunday, highlighted Israel’s determination to defend itself against its enemies.

“Only if we stand as a fortified wall against those who seek our ill and are willing to act at personal risk in time of need, can we—with G-d’s help—ensure the eternity of Israel,” said the Israeli leader.

“We are determined to defend our land—even in the face of our greatest and bitterest of foes, who inscribe our destruction on their banners. We are not deterred by struggle, knowing that we fight against those who seek our lives. Our spirit is strong, our strength is steadfast.”

Source: (This article was originally published by The Mideast Update on April 14, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces@IDF/Twitter

Prayer Focus
Thank God that Israel is recognized by friend and foe as a nation of strength and power, able to defend itself when necessary. Beseech the Lord that Israel’s leaders and soldiers alike will remain ever mindful that the Mighty One of Israel is the true source of their strength and the giver of every victory.


For I will not trust in my bow, nor shall my sword save me. But You have saved us from our enemies, and have put to shame those who hated us. In God we boast all day long, and praise Your name forever.

- Psalm 44:6–8

In Another Israeli Breakthrough in Medicine, Researchers Print Live Heart

by Rotem Elizera

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Scientists at Tel Aviv University successfully printed the first human heart using live tissue.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019 | For the first time ever, a live heart was printed and presented as part of a study at the Tel Aviv University, and in the Advanced Science journal.

The study opens a window into the future [of] medicine which, they predict, will be free of organ transplantation and rejection, and include specifically printed organs using tissue taken by the patient himself.

Scientists involved say this technology will be available within ten years.

This groundbreaking technology was developed by Dr. Nadav Nur and Dr. Assaf Shapira working at the life science lab of Prof. Dvir at Tel Aviv University in cooperation with the faculty of engineering and the Segol [biotechnology] center.

Prof. Dvir told reporters that since the invention of the 3D printer, scientists have been trying to print human organs using live tissue.

This study has solved many of the challenges that have come up.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on April 15, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: i24NEWS English/YouTube/Screenshot

Prayer Focus
Thank God for another miraculous Israeli innovation, one that has the potential to change the face of medicine and bring an end to countless debilitating and life- threatening diseases for all mankind. Praise the Lord for His blessings poured out on the nations in fulfillment of His ancient promises.


Oh, how great is Your goodness, which you have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men!

- Psalm 31:19

Newly Sworn In Palestinian Authority Government Looks to International Campaign to Negate Trump Peace Plan

by Kate Norman

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PA President Abbas looks to Russian President Putin to help the Palestinian cause ahead of the US peace plan. (Illustrative)

Wednesday, 17 April 2019 | Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and his fresh-faced government, put together by his new prime minister and longtime friend, Mohammad Shtayyeh, are looking to the international community—particularly Russia—to preemptively counteract US President Trump’s still undisclosed Middle East peace plan.

The release of Trump’s proposal has been delayed multiple times. Palestinians are working to get ahead of the latest delay, with the leaders of the PA’s new government pushing for a meeting between PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be held in Russia, PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told Russian news site Sputnik. Abbas, who has been boycotting the US government since Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, has already rejected the undisclosed peace plan.

The Israeli prime minister’s office didn’t say whether Netanyahu would attend the meeting with Abbas in Moscow, the Times of Israel reported.

Maliki told Sputnik that “Abbas is ready to meet Netanyahu without preconditions, if Moscow hosts this meeting,” according to the Times.

Those supposedly unrequired preconditions, however, come with a few conditions. The main one being, Maliki said in his Sputnik interview, that the Palestinians will reject a peace plan that “does not acknowledge the State of Palestine’s independence”—in other words, an independent sovereign state.

Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, also told Israeli journalists that even though Trump’s peace plan hasn’t been published yet, “What we have seen from this plan is not acceptable at all. The issue of Jerusalem, the issue of the refugees, the issue of the settlements is not on the table…Unless these issues are on the table, nothing will be accepted and we will never accept the Americans alone anymore.”

Shtayyeh, who studied economics in Great Britain and is expected to take on the PA’s severe financial dilemma, berated the United States for its “financial war” on the Palestinians and declared Trump’s peace plan will be “born dead,” the Times of Israel reported.

“There are no partners in Palestine for Trump,” the prime minister asserted in front of a group of international reporters. “There are no Arab partners for Trump, and there are no European partners for Trump.”

The new PA government was not selected by democratic elections but was pieced together by Shtayyeh, a Fatah (leading PA political party) member. The newly sworn in members do not include Hamas, the terrorist organization that rules the Gaza Strip and Fatah’s main rival for control of the Palestinian people. Maliki, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is allied with Hamas, is one of the few exceptions. This will further polarize the two factions, who have been at odds since Hamas violently overthrew PA control in Gaza in 2007.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, April 17, 2019)

Photo Credit:

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that Palestinian leadership will not be successful in focusing international attention on a lack of “partners for Trump,” rather that the nations will see the real problem: a lack of “partners for peace.”


I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.

- Psalm 120:7

Israel Calls International Criminal Court Dismissal of Trial of US Forces “Very Important”

by Joshua Spurlock

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US soldiers during a reconnaissance mission in Afghanistan. (Illustrative)

Monday, 15 April 2019 | The Israeli military won a victory on Friday, not on the battlefield but in the courtroom. The International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague rejected the request of the prosecutor to bring war crimes charges against US forces involved in the Afghanistan conflict. The decision, according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is far-reaching and sets a precedent for dealing with soldiers from Israel—who like the US has a robust judicial system and is not party to the ICC treaty.

However, while Israel and the US responded to the decision as though it is broad in scope, the ICC decision itself did not appear to exclude the US or other parties from war crimes cases in the future and dismissed this prosecution mostly due to circumstantial reasons, according to the ICC website.

Nonetheless, Netanyahu called the ICC decision “very important” in comments released by his office on Sunday. “This blocked a move that would have upended the original goal of establishing the international court,” said Netanyahu, who said the court emerged after crimes such as genocide intending “to deal with countries and regions that have no true legal system.” Israel and the US, he noted, are not in that category.

“They harass the US and Israel, democracies, which by the way are not members of the international court,” he said. “But, without doubt, we have one of the best legal systems in the world, which is not a given because there are very few of these. To come and put on trial US or Israeli soldiers, or the State of Israel or the US, is absurd. It is the opposite of the original goal of the international court.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in an interview with Jake Tapper of CNN on Friday that was republished by the US State Department, noted the ICC has “no jurisdiction over our people. It’s been trying to exert it.”

Pompeo, like Netanyahu, made it clear that the US has their own judicial methods for addressing war crimes that may be committed by their citizens. “This would have been a very political effort to try and take on the people who were acting on behalf of the United States in ways that were completely consistent with our laws and try and hold them accountable in ways that were completely inappropriate,” said Pompeo of the ICC case. “I am very pleased that the ICC made this decision today. It’s the right one.

“Know that if Americans are found to have done things that are unlawful or against the laws of war, the US system will always hold them accountable, but the ICC is not the right place to do it. We didn’t sign up for that, and they had no authority over these people. I’m glad that they recognized that.”

Netanyahu viewed the decision as having significant ramifications. “This corrects an injustice and will have far-reaching implications for the functioning of the international system regarding the State of Israel. I commend the US, President [Donald] Trump and the Trump administration for their strong stand alongside the citizens of Israel and the soldiers of the IDF [Israel Defense Forces].

“As on previous occasions, it has been proven that Israel has no better friend than the US and we very much appreciate the support in this field as well.”

However, the ICC did not indicate the final decision was made due to the inability to try the case. Afghanistan is a party to the ICC, although the official ICC decision posted to the ICC website did note that any alleged crimes committed by Americans outside the territory of Afghanistan would not be admissible. Alleged crimes inside Afghanistan, however, would be.

Ultimately, the ICC elected not to move forward with the case due circumstances such as the significant passage of time since a number of the incidents had occurred—dating back to the mid-2000s—and the lack of cooperation from relevant parties thus far in the preliminary investigation.

The press release said that the Pre-Trial II Chamber at the ICC, which rendered a decision on the case, believed “all the relevant requirements are met as regards both jurisdiction and admissibility.” However, the press release went on to say that circumstances in Afghanistan “are such as to make the prospects for a successful investigation and prosecution extremely limited.”

“Accordingly, it is unlikely that pursuing an investigation would result in meeting the objectives listed by the victims favoring the investigation. Thus, the Chamber concluded that an investigation into the situation in Afghanistan at this stage would not serve the interests of justice.”

Source: (This article was originally published by The Mideast Update on April 14, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Photo Credit: Spc. Joshua Grenier/US Army/flickr

Photo License:

Prayer Focus
Pray that PM Netanyahu’s expectation that this decision will have far-reaching implications for how the international system functions regarding the State of Israel will indeed become reality.


Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell forevermore. For the LORD loves justice, and does not forsake His saints; they are preserved forever, but the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off.

- Psalm 37:27–28

After Devastating Notre Dame Blaze, Jewish Community Offers Solidarity with France

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Flames engulf the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris; the cause of fire is still unknown.

Thursday, 18 April 2019 | In the aftermath of a devastating fire that left the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris engulfed in flames, Jewish leaders from around the world have expressed solidarity with the people of France.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin led tributes to the historic monument and said the cathedral “is one of the most beautiful symbols of Paris and of France, and also one of its most important cultural symbols.

“In January,” Rivlin recalled, “I looked over the skyline of the city and the spires of the cathedral made it even more beautiful. Our hearts are with the people of France and the legends of Notre Dame Paris, real and fictional, and we pray it will stand in eternity.”

A colossal fire swept through the famed Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday and left a nation mourning the devastation of its cultural and historic “epicenter.” Around 500 firefighters battled the blaze for nearly five hours. No one was killed, officials said, but a firefighter was seriously injured.

“The worst has been avoided even though the battle is not completely won,” French President Emmanuel Macron said, as he vowed to rebuild the historic landmark.

“We were about to send greetings for a tranquil Easter to our French Catholic members and for Passover to the Jewish community,” said the Director for International Relations of the Wiesenthal Center, Shimon Samuels, in a letter to Macron on Tuesday. “Throughout history, and especially under Nazi occupation and Vichy, synagogues were burned, and cemeteries desecrated. We thus acutely feel the pain of our Christian friends at this time.”

Solidarity was expressed also by the President of CRIF, the umbrella body for French Jewish organizations. “Terrible photos of the cathedral in flames. Our solidarity and thoughts go to France’s Catholic community. Immense sadness as we face this tragedy which this nation is mourning,” Francis Kalifat tweeted.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known, but suspicion focused on the ongoing renovation work.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project in its publication The Tower on April 17, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: CBS This Morning/YouTube/Screenshot

Prayer Focus
Pray for the nation and people of France as they deal with this devastating cultural and religious loss. Ask the Lord to use the reaction of Israel and the Jewish community of France to help build a solid relationship between the two countries and strengthen the French resolve to fight anti-Semitism.


LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear, to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may oppress no more.

- Psalm 10:17–18

Israel and UAE Fly Together in Joint Aerial Exercise in Greece

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Israel and the UAE join together in Greece’s largest annual military exercise.

Friday, 12 April 2019 | Pilots from Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are flying alongside one another as part of Iniochos 2019, Greece’s largest annual military exercise. The drill started on April 1 at the Andravida Base in the Peloponnese and will end on April 12.

The United States, Italy, Cyprus and almost the entire Hellenic Air Force (HAF) fleet are taking part in the drill, which consists of complex air operations and also includes naval and ground forces.

“The objective of the exercise is to provide realistic operational training in conditions that resemble a complex, multi-threat combat environment to maximize the operational capabilities of the Air Force,” read a statement released by the HAF.

As part of the exercise, Israeli pilots took part in a formation of seven aircrafts, consisting of F-35s, F-4, M-2000 and Tornado jets flying over central Athens last week.

“Given the high level of the HAF personnel and our capability to conduct exercises involving a variety of weapon systems within one of the largest exercise areas in Europe, the Iniochos exercise tends to become one of the most competitive exercises in Europe and the Mediterranean region, and provides participants with a high level of training and a unique experience of participation,” HAF observed.

The annual drill is not the first time Israeli and UAE pilots have flown in the same military exercise. In August 2016, the two countries participated in the Red Flag exercise hosted by the US Air Force in Nevada, along with representatives from Pakistan.

While Israel and the UAE have no formal diplomatic ties, the increased threat posed by Iranian expansion in the region has led some Gulf monarchies to engage with the Jewish state.

In October 2018, Benjamin Netanyahu became the first Israeli prime minister to visit Oman in more than 20 years. That same month, Israel’s Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev paid an historic visit to the UAE to watch the Israeli delegation compete at the Abu Dhabi Judo Grand Slam.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project in its publication The Tower on April 11, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Steven Byles from Singapore/

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Thank God for the growing number of Gulf nations willing to engage with Israel in the face of the Iranian threat. Pray for wisdom, protection and guidance for Israel’s military leaders and all military personnel involved in this drill and other cooperative military training exercises. Beseech the Lord that Israel would continue to be a light in each of these situations.


I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles.

- Isaiah 42:6

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