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Every week, we post from 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.

Foreign Affairs Ministry Gears up for US Embassy Move

by Itamar Eichner

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Seal of an embassy of the United States of America

Tuesday, 24 April 2018 | The Foreign Affairs Ministry held a multi-person panel Sunday on the requisite preparations for the impending opening of the new American Embassy in Jerusalem, slated to be inaugurated May 14.

While the administration of US President Donald Trump has yet to release any official word on the identities of the dignitaries expected to arrive from Washington to attend the opening ceremony, Israel’s working premise is that an 800-person delegation will be sent to Israel headed by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

President Trump’s eldest daughter Ivanka and her husband and Trump’s special envoy to the Middle East Jared Kushner are also expected to attend.

Others on the invite list are some 20 American lawmakers, along with all former American ambassadors to Israel. The Foreign Affairs Ministry plans to host all of the American officials at a special, festive reception held in its Jerusalem offices.

As for the opening ceremony itself, all of Israel’s most senior officials have been invited to attend, including all ministers and a number of public figures.

Guatemala will be following suit and inaugurating its very own Jerusalem embassy two days following the American one, while the Foreign Affairs Ministry is diligently working to convince yet more countries to do the same—as yet unsuccessfully.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, said Saturday Israel has been holding talks with six countries to open an embassy in the capital.

Three of the aforementioned six countries have been revealed to be Romania, the Czech Republic and Honduras. While in the former two states the move has hit roadblocks due to internal political strife that has little to do with Israel, talks with Honduras have stalled—prompting Tourism Minister Yariv Levin to visit the Central American country in an attempt to reignite them.

The identities of the three remaining countries remained unclear.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 22 April 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Public Domain/Wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Lift up the organizers who are preparing to host numerous dignitaries, praying that the Lord will grant them patience and wisdom in this delicate task. Pray for the protection of Jerusalem and her inhabitants; bring all the security preparations and soldiers, officers, undercover agents and police before the Lord, asking Him to reveal the details of any planned terror attacks.

Scripture

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.


- Psalm 46:1

Iran Warns of Rapid Nuclear Enrichment, “Trouble” if US Nixes Nuclear Deal

by Joshua Spurlock

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Iranian nuclear power plant (illustrative)

Monday, 23 April 2018 | The nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers intended to increase the time it would take Iran to develop nuclear weapons if they ever chose to “break out” and move full speed towards nukes. There are many steps in that process, but a key step is developing the nuclear fuel for the bomb. And getting their nuclear fuel creation back to where they were before the nuclear deal would only take Iran four days.

That’s the threat from the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, who warned on Saturday they could rapidly restore their nuclear fuel enrichment back to their previously known top level of research-grade at 20%—weapons-grade is 90%—if the global powers dropped the nuclear deal. And that’s not all Iran could do.

Salehi, whose comments were published by the Fars News Agency, further said, without providing details, that Iran has other means to respond to the United States if they were to back out of the deal as President Donald Trump has threatened. Salehi said Iran is “prepared to move like an army” and hinted that American allies—perhaps including Israel—could also be targeted by Iran. “We hope that the other side makes a wise decision and avoids moves that would trouble them and others as well,” Salehi said.

A day before Salehi’s comments, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday made it clear that his country was ready for whatever Iran tried to throw at them. “We hear the threats from Iran. The fighters of the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] and the security services are prepared for any development,” said Netanyahu in comments released by his office. “We will fight against whoever tries to harm us. We will not be deterred by the cost and we will exact a price from those who seek our lives. The IDF is up to the task, and the people will endure.”

The back and forth rhetoric comes as Trump’s deadline for the Europeans to develop a supplemental agreement to enhance the Iran nuclear pact is just weeks away. Trump has made it clear he will not continue to dismiss sanctions on Iran alleviated under the deal if the agreement is not changed, which would effectively dismantle the accord.

In response, Salehi isn’t the only Iranian official warning of Iranian nuclear fuel enrichment if the nuclear deal with the world powers collapses. Fars reported that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said it was “probable” that they would resort to enriching nuclear fuel again in that scenario.

While Trump is seeking additional safeguards from the Europeans to prevent Iran from threatening the region, Zarif urged the Europeans to hold the US to the nuclear deal and claimed that the US “never should have feared Iran producing a nuclear bomb.” He reiterated that sentiment on Sunday in an interview with CBS and said he did not think Iran and Israel were moving towards a “regional war.”

But while Zarif can sound “moderate” in his words, Netanyahu said on Sunday that there is a clear disconnect between Iran’s diplomatic speech and their actions.

“There is a tremendous gap between [Zarif’s] words and the actions of the Revolutionary Guards which are moving an army against Israel with the avowed goal of destroying the State of Israel,” said Netanyahu in comments released by his office.

Commenting on Zarif, Netanyahu noted he is “the foreign minister of a country that sends armed UAVs against Israel and missiles at Saudi Arabia.” Netanyahu further warned that the IDF “are prepared for any possibility and any scenario.”

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this article on 22 April 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Tasnim News Agency/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Intercede for PM Netanyahu as he is dealing with politics while fighting for Israel’s existence and safety. Ask for God’s blessing over his life and pray for inspiration, endurance, wisdom, courage and excellent health. Pray that Israel’s leadership will keep their eyes fixed on God and that there will be unity among them as decisions are made regarding Iran.

Scripture

I will bless the LORD who has given me counsel; my heart also instructs me in the night seasons. I have set the LORD always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.


- Psalm 16:7-8

Russia Threatens Israel over Missile Defense System in Syria

by Joshua Spurlock

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Russian missile defense, S-300V (SA-12a Gladiator)

Tuesday, 24 April 2018 | The Russians are seriously considering putting an advanced missile defense system in Syria—which has the Israelis concerned—and Moscow has warned the Jewish state against attacking that system should it be deployed to Israel’s northern neighbor. The Independent, republishing comments from the Russian Kommersant newspaper, cited Russian military sources threatening that Israel and “all sides” would “suffer catastrophic consequences” if they struck at the S-300 system.

Israel has reportedly bombed multiple targets in Syria over the years, including recent reports of a strike that killed Iranians at a Syrian airbase. The Americans, British, and French also recently attacked Syria in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack by the Syrian regime against its own people.

In light of that multinational attack, Russia is now nearing a decision to provide the S-300 advanced defense system to Syria, Kommersant reported in a separate article, and that’s disconcerting to Israel. The Russian newspaper quoted Israeli diplomat Alex Ben-Zvi as saying that any weapons that can “threaten Israel’s security” generically “bother” Israel. Ben-Zvi, Israel’s Director of the Department of Eurasia of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not specifically say if Israel would discuss the Syrians’ obtaining the S-300 in Israeli discussions with Russia.

Meanwhile, Israel publicly announced another strike on Syria on Monday after an apparently stray Syrian mortar shell landed near the Israeli border. The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] Spokesperson posted to Twitter that it appeared to be “errant fire.” A follow-up tweet said that Israel responded by attacking an artillery piece “in the area from which the fire originated.”

Tweeted the IDF Spokesperson, “The IDF holds the Syrian regime accountable & won’t tolerate any attempt to breach Israeli sovereignty or endanger civilians.”

Syria isn’t the only threat facing Israel, and Jerusalem isn’t losing sight of that fact. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took time to specifically restate Israel’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program on Monday.

“Israel will not allow regimes that seek our annihilation to acquire nuclear weapons. This is why we opposed so resolutely the Iran deal, because it gives Iran a clear path to a nuclear arsenal,” said Netanyahu, in comments released by his office.

He went on to note that the deal eventually permits “unlimited enrichment of uranium, the core ingredient required to produce nuclear bombs” and furthermore the international accord “does not deal with the ballistic missiles that can deliver this weapon to many, many countries.”

Said Netanyahu, “This is why this deal has to be either fully fixed or fully nixed.”

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this article on 23 April, 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Vitaly V. Kuzmin/Wikipedia.org

Photo License: Wikipedia

Prayer Focus
Thank God for His faithfulness and promises to the house of Israel! Cry out against the enemies of Israel and nations plotting her destruction. Ask God to stir nations to rise up against the military escalation that the Russian missile defense system will bring to the situation in Syria.

Scripture

Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack with him who hates Him; He will repay him to his face.


- Deuteronomy 7:9-10

Continuing Kite Threat on Gaza Border Puts Israeli Farmers on Edge 

by Matan Tzuri

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The Palestinians are launching kites to lift torches over the Israel/Gaza border into Israel.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018 | Four kites affixed with burning objects were flown from Gaza at a wheat field in the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council Monday. While there were no casualties, the consequent fire caused immense damage, torching an estimated 100 dunam [25 acres] of wheat.

Farmers in the region who noticed the kites quickly reached the wheat field and put out the fire using tractors and water hoses, while fire teams were called to the scene to assist in taming the flames.

On the backdrop of the weekly Friday “March of Return” protests near the Gaza border, dozens of burning kites were flown into Israel from the strip recently. In a previous incident, one such kite set fire to 200 dunam [50 acres] of natural wood in Be’eri Forest.

A farmer residing in one of the Israeli communities surrounding Gaza told Ynet, “We’re dealing with a new phenomenon, one which is destructive, dangerous and quickly gaining momentum.”

“We see kites flying towards us on a nearly daily basis. We monitor them to see that they don’t land in fields just now—during the harvest—when everything’s dry and highly combustible. It may seem like a gimmick to a lot of people, but for us it’s a serious threat,” he stated.

Other Gaza perimeter farmers echoed his opinion, estimating the damage caused by the incendiary kites to reach the thousands of shekels, with torched chickpea and wheat fields in their wake.

“At first we really did think it was a gimmick, some kind of joke—an incendiary kite—but it turns out we were wrong in a big way. This antiquated weapon is giving us serious trouble and causing heavy damages,” a longstanding farmer said.

Preparations are now underway throughout the region’s Israeli communities. “When you see a burning kite flying through the air, everyone is immediately on edge and stops working. Everyone tracks it to make sure it lands in an open field and not on our crops. It’s absurd,” another farmer lamented.

“Sometimes you see several kites coming in quick succession,” he added, noting his own wheat field was burned last week.

In their conversations with army chiefs, heads of Gaza perimeter local authorities raised their concerns at the growing danger. The IDF [Israel Defense Forces], for its part, cautioned that the kites’ success incentivized Palestinians to continue using them.

Incendiary kites aside, the Palestinian protests near the fence over the past month are a relatively minor occurrence, despite the participation of thousands. After more than four weeks of said protests, it seems the wind has somewhat left their sails.

Israeli officials, however, voiced concern that Hamas may interpret the protest wave dying down as a resounding failure, a sentiment that may engender frustration. The terror group’s Gaza leadership, headed by Yahya Sinwar, is disappointed with Gazans’ disinclination to break through the fences.

The IDF and defense establishment thus fear frustration will push the group to a move that may cause a massive conflagration—carry out a terror attack in order to harm Israel on the one hand and reinvigorate the lagging protest on the other.

Readiness within the army remains high, and soldiers are briefed accordingly. “Don’t let the weakening protest deceive you,” soldiers were told. “It can come at a moment’s notice.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 24 April 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/John Fourteen Six/youtube.com

Prayer Focus
Intercede for all Israel’s residents living near the Gaza Strip as they face uncertainty and continuous unrest along the border. Pray for the farmers who are in danger of losing the crops they have labored to bring to the point of harvest. Give thanks and pray for the IDF soldiers serving on the Gaza border as they stand in protection of the nation.

Scripture

Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.


- Psalm 37:1-4

EU Passes Bill to Prevent Funding of Palestinian Anti-Israel Hate Education

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Schoolchildren in a Palestinian school (illustrative)

Thursday, 26 April 2018 | The European Union’s Parliament passed legislation to bar EU aid from being used to fund anti-Israel hate education in Palestinian schools, the Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday.

The Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control introduced legislation in March to ensure that all initiatives supported by EU funds “reflect common values such as freedom, tolerance, and nondiscrimination within education.”

Funds transferred to the Palestinian Authority through the EU’s PEGASE [Palestinian aid organization] mechanism will be subject to this legislation. Since it was created in 2008, PEGASE has been the primary source of EU financial support for the PA. During that time, approximately 3 billion euros (US $3.7 billion) of aid has been used to support the PA’s Reform and Development plan, which covers both social development and education.

Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), a Jerusalem-based organization that seeks to fight extremism through education, assisted the EU’s Parliament in drafting the legislation.

“It is bizarre that for over ten years, The PEGASE fund has transferred around 3 billion euros to PA, a significant amount of which goes to the Palestinian education sector,” IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff said. “In all that time, there have been no real attempts by the European Commission to ensure that Palestinian children receive an education based on European values.”

IMPACT-se reports regularly on the promotion of extremism in the PA school curriculum.

Two years ago IMPACT-se reported that the word “peace” did not appear in any text used in PA schools, and observed that without a message of peace the PA had adopted “a curriculum of war and struggle aimed at preparing young Palestinians to fight continuously for the elimination of Israel.”

Last year, IMPACT-se reported that PA textbooks had become even “more radical,” despite assurances from the PA Ministry of Education that they hadn’t. Sheff observed, “There is clear evidence of a strategy of radicalization of young Palestinians, devised and implemented by the ministry, which includes a commitment to an Arab Palestine encompassing the entirety of Israel.”

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 18 April 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: DFID-UK Department for International Development/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Beseech God on behalf of all the young minds that are being poisoned with hatred and deprived of a normal childhood. Give thanks that the EU finally has accepted proof of the radical indoctrination of the Arab children and has introduced legislation to ensure a valuable education. Count your blessings for all the good in our lives and the education that our own children receive.

Scripture

Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation!


- Psalm 68:19

Disabled Arab IDF Veteran Now Combats BDS

by Hassan Shaalan

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Soldiers of the elite Golani Brigade (illustrative)

Monday, 23 April 2018 | A Christian Arab from Nazareth joined the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] of his own volition and served in the elite Golani Brigade. During his service, he was wounded in the Second Lebanon War and upon his discharge found another way to serve his country: combating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign and improving ties between Israeli-Arabs and the state.

Youssef Haddad, now 32, joined the army at the age of 18, although he knew of no family member or acquaintance who served.

Haddad spoke to Ynet about his decision to enlist, and said, “I felt that I was part of the state and I had to contribute so I decided to enlist in the army, specifically to Golani. At first, they could not guarantee that I would join Golani, but I insisted that I am volunteering for Golani and Golani alone.”

He added, “After a few days, I was contacted by the recruitment office with the promise that if my medical profile was good enough I would be drafted into Golani. Sure enough, my medical profile was 97 (the highest possible in the IDF—ed) and I began my service in Golani.”

After his enlistment, Haddad completed a squad commanders’ course with honors and was assigned to the 51st Battalion of the Golani Brigade. He spoke of the hardships he experienced as a soldier from the Arab sector: “When I went home to Nazareth, I would get teased, cursed at and spit at, and sometimes I was called a ‘traitor.’ Because I am strong and believe in myself, I did not pay any heed and remained proud of myself.”

“I told the doctor I will yet bounce a ball”

Ahead of Haddad’s release in 2006, the Second Lebanon War broke out. During battle, he was wounded in the leg by a Russian-made Kornet rocket launched at his squad. “During the fighting I lost three commanders, seven friends and a soldier under my command. During the battle of Bint Jbail, four days before the cease-fire, a Kornet missile was fired at my force. It hit the wall next to me and as a result of my injuries, my leg was amputated and I was wounded in several other places on my body and face.”

“During the entire rescue operation, I was fully conscious, and I remember how a reservist doctor said on the radio that if they do not rescue me soon, there will be nothing left to rescue by the evening. Eventually a helicopter came and during my evacuation our force was hit by additional rockets. During the process and with all the accompanying pain, I hummed to myself the Bob Marley song ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy,’ (actually by Jamaican recording artist Bobby McFerrin) and I was taken to a Nahariya hospital.”

At the hospital, Haddad called his father, and revealed that immediately after he told him that he had been wounded, he lost consciousness. “I woke up two days later and the first thing I checked was that the entire ‘package’ was complete. I saw that my leg was amputated and reconnected by a large device.”

On the rehabilitation after the injury, Haddad said, “The healing process was very long. I told the doctor, ‘I will yet play ball with this leg, you’ll see,’ but he cooled down the atmosphere a little. After several months of treatment and despite the odds, I returned to fitness and then I returned to the doctor and demonstrated bouncing a ball for him with my foot.

“The mental healing was not yet over though. I still have nightmares at night, and I tense up to every sound of an explosion and even a door slamming. I am dealing with this every day anew.”

We need to integrate into the state

Youssef Haddad is currently advising a market research firm and has recently joined the Reservists on Duty organization, with whom he works against the BDS campaign and against resurgent anti-Semitism on campuses across the US. Simultaneously, he is establishing an association to strengthen ties between the Arab sector and the state.

“The Defense Ministry supported me immensely all the way and did not abandon me. Today I believe that just as I contributed to the state militarily, I can contribute in the PR arena and expose the lies disseminated regarding the State of Israel,” he said.

As for the matter of national or military service in the Arab sector, Haddad said: “I encourage Arabs to enlist and serve as combat soldiers, and I also support national service, because we have to be part of the state and contribute to it.

“That is what will allow us to get ahead in life. The Arab MKs [members of Knesset] also need to focus on local issues like fighting crime, the advancement of women and poverty—and not just Palestinian affairs.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 22 April 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: www.idf.il

Prayer Focus
Pray for Haddad and other Arab–Israelis who endure persecution for their belief in Israel as a state and for being proud citizens. Also pray for his protection as he travels to the USA to speak against anti-Semitism and the BDS movement. Ask God to use him mightily among teens and Arabs, helping them to overcome their fears as he encourages them to stand with Israel, God’s beloved nation.

Scripture

No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is from Me, says the LORD.


- Isaiah 54:17

Ingathering of the Exiles: The Jews who Found the Promised Land

by Yaniv Pohoryles

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Jewish immigrants who made aliyah to Israel (illustrative)

Friday, 20 April 2018 | Valentina saw her neighbors being shelled in Donetsk, Natasha couldn’t find any food or medications in Venezuela’s stores and pharmacies, Emmanuel’s world changed when he saw French policemen ignoring manifestations of anti-Semitism. In honor of Israel’s 70th Independence Day, here are the stories of some of the new immigrants who have arrived in Israel in the past decade.

From the ‘Donetsk hell’ to Israel

For 42-year-old Valentina Matviyenko and her two sons, Oleg and Matti, the recent Passover holiday they spent in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon marked the end of a real journey to freedom.

Two months ago—on February 7, 2018—the small family made aliyah [immigration to Israel] with the help of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), after four years of war near the line of fire in Donetsk, the biggest city in Ukraine’s Donbass region.

“We decided to immigrate to Israel because we’re Jewish and are entitled to do so,” Matviyenko tells Ynet. “The events of the past four years definitely helped us reach this decision. We lived in Donetsk’s Petrovsky District, which is located just several kilometers from the front, and what we experienced was a nightmare. It was hell.”

“People used to steal money, today they steal food”

From a relatively stable country with nearly 20,000 Jews, Venezuela has turned into a place where life is simply unbearable. With only 2,000 Jewish families left and empty shelves in the stores, the future looks much brighter in Israel.

“There has been an unbearable deterioration in Venezuela,” says 27-year-old Natasha Benshimol. “There is no personal safety on the streets, people steal food, and those who have a little money have nothing to do with it because the shelves are empty and there are no basic civilian services. There were times when I needed medications, I had the money to pay for them, but the pharmacies were empty. It’s a very difficult day-to-day life.”

The last Jew who made aliyah from Iraq

Emad Levy, 52, used to do everything in Iraq’s shrinking Jewish community: He was the rabbi, the slaughterer, the communal leader and the man who helped each member with every single Jewish-related issue.

“I think a lot changed in the 1970s. It was a terrifying period. There were Jews who simply disappeared and we didn’t know what had happened to them, and many others chose to leave and come to Israel,” he says.

“In 2010, after receiving death threats, I knew it was time to leave. With one suitcase, leaving everything behind, I flew to Jordan and from there to Israel.”

“I saw cops ignoring protestors giving the Nazi salute”

Emmanuel Vanunu, 25, grew up in a Zionist family in France and aspired to immigrate to Israel. It all changed in high school: “I met a history teacher who really influenced me,” he recalls. “The teacher, a ‘real Frenchman,’ as they say, argued that France had given us free education, personal security and a lot of social benefits, and that we owed the country.

“This argument made sense to me, and I thought I should stay in France for a few years, to sort of ‘pay off my debt,’ but it all changed once anti-Semitic protests began in France. I saw protestors giving the Nazi salute and being ignored by police officers standing right in front of them. I feel France no longer cares about me.”

From a communist country to the Jewish state

Marcel Konomi got to see what a real communist country looks like. Growing up in the Albanian capital of Tirana in the 1980s, he experienced firsthand the nature of a closed country where citizens have very little political and religious rights.

“Things changed in 1990,” he says. “There were significant reforms and we felt things opening up. That was also when I discovered that my maternal side of the family was Jewish. Many relatives, who I first learned were Jewish, took advantage of the freedom to immigrate to Israel.”

“I wanted my children to live in dignity among Jews”

Roman Mishiev, 45, arrived in Israel about half a year ago with his wife and eight children, largely with the help of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ).

He was born and raised in Baku, where the majority of the country’s Jewish community lives. The community, he says, was strong and active, and apart from synagogues there are also schools and extensive Jewish activity.

He decided to immigrate to Israel “first and foremost, because of the financial distress and the need to improve our quality of life,” he says.

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published in Ynetnews on 19 April 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.) 

Photo Credit: Public domain/wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Magnify God for the truth of His word as we see the ingathering of the Jewish people. Intercede for Jews in the Diaspora who suffer persecution and ask God to direct their hearts to a place of safety—their homeland Israel. Also pray for the new olim (immigrants) to have an easy transition into a new culture and lifestyle.

Scripture

And say, save us, O God of our salvation; gather us together, and deliver us from the gentiles, to give thanks to Your holy name, to triumph in Your praise. Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting! And all the people said, “Amen!” and praised the LORD.


- 1 Chronicles 16:35-36

Action
Bridges for Peace actively helps Jewish people return to the Land. Consider joining us by making a donation to our New Immigrant Fund today.

EU Parliament Calls to Release Captive Israelis from Gaza for First Time

by Itamar Eichner

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The bodies of Lt. Hadar Goldin (left) and St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul who were killed by Hamas in 2014, still have not been returned to Israel.

Monday, 23 April 2018 | The European Parliament last week, in an unprecedented move, condemned Hamas and called for the release of the Israeli citizens and for the retrieve of the Israeli soldiers’ bodies held by the organization.

This resolution came as a result of a diplomatic campaign launched by the Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs against the original anti-Israel motion for resolution.

The original motion for resolution included severe condemnation against Israel, as well as a request for investigation at the International Criminal Court of Justice in Hague, determination that the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] didn’t use proportional force, a call to reexamine Israel’s ties in the EU [European Union] and an immediate establishment of an EU investigation committee to review latest events in Gaza.

The resolution was completely altered and many provisions were added which unusually correspond with the Israeli stand regarding Gaza.

According to the resolution adopted last week, Israel is still condemned for shooting Gaza’s citizens and is called to end the siege. However, the use of disproportional force was not determined. In the resolution, the European Parliament, housed in Strasbourg, France, called for an investigation, but added it will be executed by a special team assembled by its chief of staff.

The remaining provisions in the original notion for resolution were left out. However, the resolution calls for the immediate release of Avera Mangistu and Hisham al-Sayed and for the retrieve of the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul.

The resolution also emphasizes that Hamas is a terror organization who transformed Gaza into an enclave focused on terror, withholds basic rights from its citizens, prevents the Strip’s rehabilitation and continues to hinder the chance for reconciliation. It holds Hamas accountable for the assassination attempt of the Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and condemns the organization for acts of terror, rocket fire, infiltration attempts into Israel, tunnel diggings and use of citizens as human shields.

Moreover, the resolution determines that despite the Palestinians’ right to peaceful protests, Gaza’s leaders must avoid incitement and ensure demonstrations wouldn’t be used for spreading terror.

Israel’s ambassador to the EU and NATO Aaron Lashno-Ya’ar expressed his content regarding the resolution. “Not only have we managed to extract outrageous and anti-Israeli elements from the resolution, but Hamas is also being criticized. The most important element for us is the explicit call for an immediate release of the Israeli citizen and the soldiers’ bodies from Gaza.”

“The latter is a matter we continually raise to discussion with European bodies. It’s important that finally, for the first time, the European Parliament released a clear and unequivocal resolution regarding this matter,” he added.

Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Affairs committee of the European Parliament Andres Wistesen said in a message to the press that he welcomes the decision, reiterating the parliament’s stance that “Hamas is a terror organization” and called for the release of the Israeli citizens and return of the bodies held by it.

“Despite the resolution is not without flaws and that leftists continue in their struggle to blur the reality in Gaza, I’m pleased that the parliament’s European Conservatives and Reformists group tirelessly acts to make the voice of reason heard,” added Wistesen.

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published in Ynetnews on 19 April 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.) 

Photo Credit: www.idf.il

Prayer Focus
Give thanks to the Lord for Israel’s ambassador to the EU and NATO, Aaron Lashno-Ya’ar. Rejoice that fruit has resulted from his labors—a call by the EU for captured Israelis in Gaza to be released, among other things. Ask God to give him confidence, encouragement and wisdom as he labors behind the scenes in love for Israel’s sake and also pray for his family to be his strength during difficult times.

Scripture

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, for in YAH, the LORD, is everlasting strength.


- Isaiah 26:3-4

The IDF’s Top 10 Innovations from the Past 70 Years

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Iron Dome air defense system

Wednesday, 25 April 2018 | The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] has acquired groundbreaking technological innovations during its 70 years, so we compiled a short list to share some of our favorites.

1The “Iron Dome” Air Defense System

For many years, rockets have been launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip. As a result, an air defense system called the “Iron Dome” was deployed in southern Israel in 2011. The objective: to protect Israeli civilians from this constant threat by intercepting the rockets.

Accuracy, speed, and capacity—three adjectives that describe the “Iron Dome.” With a range of up to 43.5 mi. [70 km.], it was able to intercept 692 rockets during Operation Protective Edge. In addition, in November 2012, during Operation Defensive Pillar, a record high of 421 interceptions were made in just 8 days.

As soon as a rocket is launched by the enemy, the radar station detects and tracks its course, and then immediately launches a missile to intercept and neutralize the enemy rocket before it causes damage to civilians or property.

2. The “Trophy” System

You may think that a tank is an all-powerful and invincible vehicle, but this is not the case. Anti-tank missiles are able to damage tanks beyond repair, so the “Trophy” system was established to counteract this threat.

The “Trophy” detection system creates a 360-degree protective shield around the tank. When an enemy launches a missile against a tank equipped with a “Trophy,” the system instantly detects and neutralizes the threat by firing a missile of its own to explode the enemy missile.

3. The F-16I “Sufa”

“What’s so special about the F-16?” you ask. “Half of the western world uses it,” you say. Well, this is not a normal F-16. This is the F-16I “Sufa.” The “I” was added by Israel because it has been highly modified to adapt to the specific needs of the Israeli Air Force. To make the incredible work of a pilot as easy and effective as possible, the F-16I has been equipped with a state-of-the-art weapons system, a specially constructed radar system, and a unique helmet system that allows the pilot to launch weapons at an enemy plane using only sight. No wonder we nicknamed it “Sufa,” which means “storm” in Hebrew.

4. The “Merkava IV”

At first glance, the “Merkava IV” is indistinguishable from any other tank, but sometimes looks are deceiving. In its current version, the “Merkava IV” includes an improved fire control system with the ability to defend against helicopter attack, a digital battlefield management system, and an unprecedented suspension and tracking system that enables movement even on the roughest of terrains that would force any other tank to its knees. It’s not surprising that it’s considered one of the best tanks in the world.

5. The drones, the eyes of the IDF

Unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as UAV and drones, which operate on land and sea, have become an indispensable tool to control the enemy’s activities. Their main advantage is that they allow to see without being seen. These robots are controlled remotely by soldiers from a safe place. The “Eitan,” for example, has a wingspan of 85 feet, similar to that of the Boeing 737 aircraft. This drone is capable of carrying out long-range missions and has a 36-hour life in the air without interruption. The “Eitan” can withstand all weather conditions; it’s equipped with an automatic defrosting system, a take-off and landing system, and can be integrated with many sensors.

6. The “Skylark I-LE”

The “Skylark I-LE” is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)—small, light, and almost undetectable. It’s light enough to be transported by one person and can be configured to fly in less than eight minutes. The “Skylark” can handle three hours of unmanned flight with a live video day and night, in any weather condition. Silent as a mouse and with the sight of a hawk, it unfolds and returns to its original form quickly.

7. The “Tzefa Shirion”

This system consists of a 394 ft. [120 m.] long chain propelled by a missile. When it falls to the ground, it explodes mines and allows clearing of roads up to 394 feet in length and 19-26 ft. [5.5-8 m.] wide, consequently eliminating mines and creating open paths to advance through terrain.

8. The “EyeBall” system

Imagine that a terrorist is hiding in a building. The soldiers who will arrest him don’t know where he is or if he’s alone. One of the soldiers takes out a small black ball and throws it inside the building. After a few seconds, the ball stabilizes and transmits a 360-degree image of the room while the soldiers stay outside. Now they can see and hear everything that’s happening inside and have all the information necessary to safely enter the building to arrest the terrorist. Barely larger than a tennis ball and equipped with a state-of-the-art camera with infrared capabilities, the “Eye-Ball” improves the performance of IDF soldiers and continuously re-affirms its status as one of the best fighting forces in the world.

9. The “Namer”

The “Namer” which is also called Leopard, is a heavily armored infantry fighting vehicle that has an advanced system that protects the vehicle and soldiers inside. It includes the famed missile defense “Trophy” system capable of intercepting anti-tank rockets. Within the APC are three important soldiers: the commander, the driver, and the arms operator.

10. Spike

The “Spike” is a rocket launcher that was developed specifically for the needs of the IDF. The newest edition features a 40% reduction of weight from its previous design. It mounts to the shoulder and is the first of its kind with unique characteristics better equipped for ground operations. The “Spike” can be transported quickly and easily and can reach structures accurately from hundreds of feet away.

Source: (Israel Defense Forces originally published this article on 19 April 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces

Prayer Focus
Rejoice in the Lord for the knowledge and wisdom He has granted His people; for innovative minds that design means of protection from the everlasting threats of destruction. Pray for the day when Israel will no longer be threatened by enemies on every side.

Scripture

The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy. Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! For He has strengthened the bars of your gates; He has blessed your children within you.


- Psalm 147:11-13

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