Help us bless the people of Israel.

Friday, April 30, 2021

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Every week, we post seven to ten news stories from Israel with a suggested prayer focus and scripture for each one, guiding readers how to pray for Israel’s most urgent needs. This Prayer Update is also sent to over 18,000 subscribers every Friday by e-mail. Please contact us at intl.office@bridgesforpeace.com if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.

Dozens Killed in Worst Peacetime Tragedy in Israel’s History

by Ilse Strauss

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Ultra-Orthodox worshipers flock to Mount Meron annually to celebrate Lag B’Omer.

Friday, 30 April 2021 | Israel was plunged into mourning as dozens of people—including small children—were killed and hundreds more injured in a mass stampede at a religious gathering early this morning in what is being described as the worst peacetime tragedy in the history of the modern state.

The deadly crush occurred at the foot of Mount Meron in northern Israel, where nearly 100,000 ultra-Orthodox worshipers had gathered for Lag B’Omer festivities. The holiday—which is said to commemorate the end of a deadly plague some 2,000 years ago that killed nearly 25,000 people—annually draws a large crowd, with tens of thousands from across the country streaming to the site of a famous second-century rabbi to spend the evening in prayer, study, dancing, singing and celebrating around massive bonfires dotting the mountainside.

Last night’s crowd was much larger than normal. It was, after all, the first major public gathering allowed since the outbreak of the coronavirus, and after being cooped up for over a year, people were eager to be out and about again. Yet in a catastrophic twist, the celebration marking the end of a plague some two millennia ago and the first foray into normalcy after a modern day plague ended in terrible tragedy.

A mass stampede broke out shortly after midnight. While the exact cause of the crush remains unclear, it seems like people within the streaming crowd slipped while making their way down an incline on a slick metal walkway within a narrowly enclosed corridor, falling on those below them, creating a deadly domino effect. Victims were trampled underfoot and crushed against the enclosures with no means of escape.

Survivors this morning shared tales of horror as they remained pinned next to dead friends, relatives and perfect strangers as they waited for first responders and rescue workers to fight their way through the milling crowds to reach the wounded.

“It felt like an eternity,” a survivor told Ynetnews. “The dead were all around us.”

The complicated rescue efforts continued throughout the early morning hours as ambulances and helicopters were used to evacuate the wounded to nearby hospitals.

Heartbreaking pictures from the scene offer glimpses of last night’s carnage: abandoned personal objects and even bits of baby strollers trampled in the chaos, rescue workers carrying the bodies of those who perished covered in blankets and bags and rows of body bags, a grim reminder of the human toll.

This morning, the death toll stands at 44 people—including small children—crushed to death and more than 150 injured, 23 critically.

A Zaka (voluntary community emergency response teams in Israel) official described the scene as the worst he has ever encountered. “Without getting graphic,” he said, “I’ve been with Zaka for decades. I’ve never seen anything like this…We don’t know exactly what happened, but the result is unthinkable.”

“We just finished treating one of Israel’s worst disasters. A terrible disaster of people who came to celebrate Lag B’Omer and were unfortunately crushed to death,” said United Hatzalah (volunteer-based emergency medical services organization) vice president of operations Dov Maisel.

“This was a very difficult site—sites that we have not seen here in Israel since the worst days of the terrorist wave back during the early 2000s,” he said.

As the people of Israel mourn, we recall God’s clarion call to us in Isaiah 40:1: “‘Comfort, yes, comfort My people!’ says your God.” We invite Christians from around the world to unite with us in prayer as we pray for a quick recovery for the injured, peace for the traumatized and comfort for those who are mourning the loss of a loved one.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, April 30, 2021)

Photo Credit: VINnews/youtube/screenshot

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for those who have been effected by the worst peacetime tragedy in the history of the modern State of Israel and whose lives will never be the same again. Beseech Him to bring swift healing to those who have been injured and strengthen them as they start their journey of recovery. Pray that He will comfort and console those who mourn the loss of a loved one and soothe and ease the burden of those who have suffered trauma.

Scripture

“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” says your God. “Speak comfort to Jerusalem…”


- Isaiah 40:1–2a

Report: US Eyes Major Rollback in Iran Sanctions to Revive Nuclear Deal

by Kate Norman

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The Biden administration is considering a rollback of some of the most stringent Trump-era sanctions, including sanctions on Iran’s central bank (illustrative).

Thursday, 29 April 2021 | In an increasingly desperate attempt to resuscitate the nuclear deal with Iran, the US is reportedly considering lifting some of the sanctions imposed on the regime under former President Donald Trump.

After exiting the nuclear accord in 2018, Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign against the regime. A year later, Tehran announced that it would begin a step-by-step process of violating the restrictions under the deal—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—until the US lifted sanctions or the remaining parties to the deal could offset the financial distress caused by the sanctions.

After taking office, President Joe Biden indicated enthusiasm to revive the accord, which was signed while he was serving as vice president under then-President Barack Obama.

However, Biden and his administration previously said they would only lift sanctions once Iran resumed compliance to the deal’s nuclear restrictions. Iranian leaders, on the other hand, have vowed they will continue violating the restrictions and will not reenter negotiations until the US sanctions lift.

But amid ongoing indirect negotiations in Vienna to bring the US and Iran back into the JCPOA fold, it appears Tehran is winning the game of diplomatic chicken, according to a report by the Associated Press (AP).

The AP report published yesterday said Biden’s administration is considering lifting several of the sanctions imposed under Trump’s leadership in order to coax the regime back into compliance with the JCPOA. The report cited unnamed “current and former US officials and others familiar with the matter.”

Though the officials would not specify which sanctions were under consideration, they “have said they are open to lifting any sanctions that are inconsistent with the nuclear deal or that deny Iran the relief it would be entitled to should it return to compliance with the accord,” the AP reported, which could include “non-nuclear sanctions, such as those tied to terrorism, missile development and human rights.”

The Biden administration is pointing the finger at its predecessor, according to the unnamed officials, who claimed that Trump leveled extreme sanctions against Iran in order to make any future return to the nuclear accords difficult for a new administration.

The point of the 2015 accord, after all, was to focus on lifting nuclear-related sanctions, not non-nuclear.

As such, the US will “have to go through every sanction to look at whether they were legitimately or not legitimately imposed,” one of the unnamed officials told AP.

The officials stressed that the administration is not planning to remove all the non-nuclear sanctions, but will review all of them to determine those “which they believe Trump improperly imposed on terrorism and other grounds,” the AP reported.

Nonetheless, is the point moot as long as any US sanctions remain on the table? Iranian officials involved in the Vienna talks are reportedly sticking to the regime’s guns on refusal to rejoin the deal until Washington lifts all the sanctions.

“Any return to the JCPOA would require sanctions relief,” said US State Department spokesman Ned Price, “but we are considering removing only those sanctions that are inconsistent with the JCPOA.”

“Even if we rejoin the JCPOA—which remains a hypothetical,” Price continued, “we would retain and continue to implement sanctions on Iran for activities not covered by the JCPOA, including Iran’s missile proliferation, support for terrorism, and human rights abuses.”

Israeli and US officials from the Trump administration have vehemently opposed a US return to the JCPOA. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon.

Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has led the American campaign against reviving the accord.

Reposting a tweet by Congressman Jim Banks, who praised Pompeo and Trump’s maximum pressure campaign, which forced Iran to “cut defense spending by 28% in 2019,” Pompeo added his own words: “Maximum pressure yields results. Weakness begets war.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, April 29, 2021)

Photo Credit: Shameer Pk/pixabay.com

Prayer Focus
Intercede for the current US administration and the decisions they are making regarding Iran. Pray that they will recognize the dangers of the JCPOA and cease their capitulation to Iranian demands, taking very seriously former Secretary Pompeo’s warnings.

Scripture

“For I am with you to save you and deliver you,” says the LORD. “I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem you from the grip of the terrible.”


- Jeremiah 15:20b–21

Rocket Fire on Israel Continues after Brief Lull

by Ilse Strauss

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Rockets launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israel (illustrative)

Wednesday, 28 April 2021 | Following a brief one-day lull in the rain of rockets, air raid sirens screamed through southern Israel again in the pre-dawn hours this morning as Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired two mortar shells on sleeping communities—resuming the escalation in the volatile region that started on Friday.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, neither projectiles reached their target but fell short and struck an open field inside the Gaza Strip. The launch did, however, trigger rocket sirens in a Gaza border community, with three people sustaining light injuries while running for the safety of a bomb shelter.

The latest round of hostilities started on Friday with Gazan terrorists firing 36 rockets on southern Israel in several barrages throughout the night and into the early morning hours. The worst assault on Israel in months came in answer to a rallying cry by senior Hamas leaders calling for attacks on Israel following nightly violent clashes between Israel and the Palestinians in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.

The rocket rain continued on Saturday night, with terrorists launching four projectiles on Israel and then a further five late Sunday evening. On Monday, Israel put its foot down and issued Hamas with an ultimatum: either the terror group ruling the Strip stops the rocket barrages or Israel does.

The stipulation came after the security cabinet authorized a significant military response to ongoing rocket fire, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Ganz having the final say as to what such steps would entail.

Hamas seemed to heed the warning and the firing stopped—for a day. However, this morning’s two projectiles appear to indicate that the tense calm along the Israel–Gaza border is only temporary.

Neither Israel nor Hamas is eager to face each other on the battlefield for the fourth time in a full-blown war. Israel’s response to the 41 rockets fired at its civilians in the last five days stands as proof. While the Jewish state struck Hamas terror infrastructure in the Strip early Saturday morning in answer to the 36 projectiles shot from the Strip overnight, there was no military response to the following nights’ rocket fire.

At the same time, Israel will not tolerate ongoing attacks on its people and will step up its response to restore calm to the area. As always, Gantz told the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace and a number of Egyptian intermediaries, calm will be met with calm, while ongoing attacks will incite a significant level of escalation.

As always, the ball is in Hamas’s court.

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

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for a true and lasting calm to settle on southern Israel. Beseech the Lord for His intervention to bring an end to the violence and peace to the beleaguered Israelis of the region.

Scripture

The LORD will give strength to His people; the LORD will bless His people with peace.


- Psalm 29:11

Israel to Start Reopening to Tourism Beginning in May

by JNS

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Israeli Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday announcing Israel’s new campaign for encouraging tourism from abroad.

Thursday, 29 April 2021 | Israel will begin admitting vaccinated tourists into the country at the end of May and has announced the launch of a global campaign to encourage as many people as possible to visit this year, Israeli Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a press conference in Tel Aviv, she said, “Israel today is a world leader in safety and health, and we will make sure every potential tourist knows this when planning their summer or winter vacation.”

Israel will allow in a limited number of vaccinated groups next month before allowing an unlimited number of groups to enter come June, she said, adding that the plan was for skies to fully open to individual vaccinated travelers in July.

“I know there is some criticism, and I can even agree with some of it,” acknowledged Farkash-Hacohen, adding that a gradual reopening was necessary in order to not put Israel’s citizens at risk.

To encourage international visitors, the ministry will be putting up digital billboards in Dubai, New York City’s Times Square and London’s Piccadilly Circus. The first to launch, in Dubai, in both English and Arabic, will be the first-ever Israeli government campaign in the United Arab Emirates, according to the ministry.

“Dubai has great tourism potential for Israel,” said Farkash-Hacohen. “I have no doubt we will see many tourists from all three countries within a short period.”

The ministry will also be promoting a number of large international events, including a special Abraham Cycling Cup tour in partnership with philanthropist Sylvan Adams, which will see Israel and the United Arab Emirates co-host the annual Tour of Dubai bike race; and an international music festival in Timna Park in the Negev Desert, north of the Israeli resort city of Eilat.

The ministry will also reinstate a directive incentivizing foreign airlines to operate flights to the Ramon International Airport outside of Eilat.

Said Farkash-Hacohen: “Ensuring inbound tourism to Eilat is my obligation to the city’s residents, but this is also a clear statement to the entire tourism industry: We are preparing for the resumption of tourism on a large scale as soon as possible.”

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on April 28, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for the success of this initiative by the Ministry of Tourism to revitalize that industry and restore the influx of pilgrims from around the world. Ask the Lord to protect the health of those who travel to the land and Israelis as well, and pray that the nations will acknowledge that Israel is indeed a safe destination and remove travel bans. Pray also that the joint activities with Israel’s new Arab partners will be successful and a blessing to both nations.

Scripture

“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.”


- Isaiah 2:3

Another Day, Another Riot: Ramadan Violence in Jerusalem Continues

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Israeli police clash with Palestinian protestors (illustrative).

Tuesday, 27 April 2021 | Nightly Ramadan riots continued to rage across Jerusalem for the second consecutive week, even after police revoked a restriction that the Palestinians slammed as the catalyst for the violence.

On Sunday evening, Israeli police removed the barricades outside the Damascus Gate strategically placed to prevent thousands of Palestinians from using the stone steps as a make-shift pavilion to while away the evenings of Ramadan—apparently a cherished and long-held tradition during the Islamic holy month.

However, according to security officials, the cherished tradition masquerades as a breeding ground for violence, stone-throwing and attacks on passersby, and in a bid to curb the mass congregation and the violent riots that usually erupt around the Old City, police implemented the restrictions to keep the crowds away, regulate the throng of pedestrian traffic streaming in and out of the Old City, and maintain the peace.

Palestinians reacted by streaming to the barricades en masse every night since the start of Ramadan, leading to nightly clashes with security forces—and then blaming the clashes on the restriction.

With the offensive barricades out of the way, one would be forgiven for assuming that tensions would dissipate and peace return to the streets of Jerusalem. Yet the nightly Ramadan riots have continued unabated, proving that the discontent over the restriction was nothing but a convenient scapegoat to absolve the Palestinians from all liability for the annual month of violence and conveniently cast them in the role of wronged martyr.

On Sunday, thousands of Palestinian youths congregated at the Damascus Gate, chanting: “With blood and fire we will liberate you, Palestine.” The situation descended into violence shortly thereafter as the Palestinian mob hurled rocks and bottles at officers stationed in the area. Police dispersed the crowd and arrested 12 Palestinians for disturbances and attacking officers and passersby.

Last night saw a near repeat of the previous night’s scuffles, with the police arresting six Palestinians for assaulting officers stationed in the area.

Earlier, a 68-year-old man driving past the Old City was lightly injured when a rock was hurled at his car.

The violence that has raged in Jerusalem since April 12, the first day of Ramadan, has spread to several locations throughout Judea and Samaria, where hundreds of Palestinian protestors set objects alight and hurled firebombs, stones and fireworks at Israeli officers, a spokesperson for the Israel Border Police said.

Last week, terrorists in Gaza also jumped into the fray by lobbing rockets at communities in southern Israel in answer to a clarion call by senior Hamas leaders to attack Israel in solidary with their Palestinian brethren rioting in Jerusalem. Since Friday night, 41 rockets have been fired on Israeli communities.

With roughly two weeks of Ramadan remaining, tensions in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria as well as the Gaza border area remain high, and we call upon Christians around the world to unite with us as we pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Ps. 122:6).

Source: Ilse Strauss

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

Photo Credit: Israel Police/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Cry out to the Lord that tensions would abate and not escalate, and ask Him to give supernatural wisdom, protection and alertness to Israel’s security forces as they deal with such volatile situations.

Scripture

In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save…Behold, at that time I will deal with all who afflict you.”


- Zephaniah 3:16–17a, 19a

Netanyahu’s Chances of Forming the Next Government Fade

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Friday, 23 April 2021 | What happened: Prime Minister Netanyahu has less than two weeks left to form a government. His chances appear to be narrowing after he lost the vote in the Knesset [Parliament] on Monday over the formation of the Knesset’s Arrangements Committee.

  • Following the vote, head of the Likud faction and chair of the Arrangements Committee MK Miki Zohar said: “We understand and internalize that we are on the way to the opposition. Netanyahu will lead the opposition. We will go with our heads held high.”
  • Netanyahu’s latest effort to remain at the helm is to advance legislation for direct election of a prime minister. According to Netanyahu, “There is a solution to this situation: direct election of the prime minister—let the public decide who it wants to lead the country. A huge majority is in favor of this and it crosses all party lines in the Knesset. The last election proved that the public wants a right-wing government. Sixty-five seats are held by strongly right-wing. The only reason we can’t form a right-wing government is personal, not ideological.”
  • Netanyahu continued: “So we have two options: A left-wing government with a right-wing ‘fig leaf’—Meretz, Joint List, Labour—which is against the will of the voter and against [Naftali] Bennett’s [head of the right-wing Yamina party] and [Gidon] Saar’s [head of the right-wing New Hope party] promises. The second option is building a stable right-wing government that will survive for four years after a snap direct election for prime minister. There’s no need either to dissolve the Knesset or to have a fifth election. We need a quick referendum for the nation to decide who is going to be prime minister. I’ll accept the result, and I hope others will as well.”
  • Regarding political cooperation with the Raam, the Islamist party, Netanyahu said: “We don’t need Raam. We need direct elections to form a government. That’s how to break through the stalemate. We don’t need other solutions as well.”
  • Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, who hopes to be given the mandate next, responded, saying: “The State of Israel doesn’t need another election campaign…this is not a direct election, it’s a time-wasting exercise at the expense of the public. It is time to form a unity government in Israel. It is possible.”

Context: Despite Netanyahu’s desire to reinstate direct elections, it appears highly unlikely that he has the requisite support in the Knesset or that the legislation can be fast-tracked through in the next two weeks.

  • Twenty-five years ago Israel did experiment with a second ballot—direct election for prime minister—in an effort to improve governability. It was abandoned after three elections. In 1996, Netanyahu narrowly beat Shimon Peres. In 1999, he lost to Ehud Barak and in 2001, following Ariel Sharon’s victory over Barak, the one-vote parliamentary system was restored.
  • The Arrangements Committee is particularly important at this point because in the absence of a new government, it controls the legislative agenda.
  • The vote over its composition was dramatic. The Likud had succeeded in persuading Bennett’s Yamina party to vote for its proposal by promising them favorable terms. However, the Likud were blindsided by Raam who, changed its mind and voted against its proposal, ensuring that the alternative composition put forward by Yesh Atid was approved.
  • From Yamina’s perspective, it proved its loyalty by voting with Likud but can now support a rotation agreement with Lapid if Netanyahu fails to form a government with his time left with the mandate. Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked said, “We want to form a right-wing government. We’re prepared to make every effort to put together a government. We’re trying. But I’ll repeat: We will not allow the country to be dragged into a fifth election. We will do whatever it takes to prevent a fifth election.”

Looking ahead:  Netanyahu has until May 4 deadline to present a government, but he is appearing less likely to succeed.

  • President Reuven Rivlin then has the choice to either give the mandate to someone else (most likely Lapid) or to return the mandate to the Knesset, and allow any other MK [member of Knesset] (again possibly Lapid, Bennett or someone else from Likud) to present the endorsement of 61 MKs.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by BICOM on April 21, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Beseech the Lord for an end to this political turmoil. Cry out to Him for the installation of the party and the prime minister that will lead the country with courage, integrity and strength. Pray again that politicians would put aside their personal ambitions and make decisions that are best for the nation that God calls His dwelling place forever.

Scripture

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.


- Daniel 2:20–21

Israel to Rush to Virus-stricken India’s Aid

by Kate Norman

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Israel is looking to extend a helping hand to India, a nation currently drowning under a severe wave of the virus.

Monday, 26 April 2021 | As Israel finds its COVID numbers improving, with the infection rate and number of new daily cases drastically dropping, the Jewish state is shifting its focus to helping other countries who are still struggling with the pandemic.

Israel—the global leader in vaccination—is looking to extend a helping hand to India, a nation currently drowning under a severe wave of the virus.

India currently finds itself overwhelmed amid a spike in COVID-19 cases, with 352,991 reported new infections and 2,812 deaths on Monday alone, the BBC reported. The staggering number of cases has left the nation’s health care system overrun to the point that hospitals across India have run out of beds and are turning away patients to treat themselves at home. People are even reportedly having to buy medicine and oxygen devices at exorbitant prices off of the black market.

Israel, on the other hand, is approaching the light at the end of the COVID tunnel, as the nation is reporting record low numbers of new daily infections, leading the government to loosen regulations in the Jewish state.

Now, Israel is looking to extend its hand to help India in its hour of desperate need.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced in a statement that it is looking into helping the struggling nation. India also reportedly unofficially requested medical equipment from Israel’s embassy in India for its fight against the corona rampage, the Times of Israel reported.

Israeli coronavirus czar Nachman Ash indicated that the Jewish state will indeed come to India’s aid in the battle to save lives.

“When you see the astronomic infection rates abroad, you realize that the pandemic is yet to end,” Nash said, as quoted by i24News. “Israel, however, is doing really well.”

“Israel is considering sending medical aid to India following the large spike in infections across the country,” the corona czar added.

A hospital in Tel Aviv announced that it requested approval from the Health Ministry and the Foreign Ministry to send much-needed medical supplies and medical workers to help India in its fight against the viral enemy.

Ronni Gamzu, the hospital director and former coronavirus czar for Israel, said, “In my opinion, this is the correct and moral thing to do at this time.”

Israel would not be the only nation to extend help to India. The United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union are also sending much-needed equipment as well.

The Jewish state is often quick to send supplies and manpower to nations around the world who find themselves in need, often from natural disasters. Now, as Israel appears to be nearing the end of its own fight against the pandemic, political and medical leaders are looking to help other countries, including India, win their own battles against the virus that has shaken the world for too long.

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

Photo Credit: ChocolateLr18/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for Israel’s ability and willingness to help other nations in the fight against the pandemic. Pray that their efforts will be successful in ending the war that India is waging against the virus, that lives will be saved and the Lord exalted through Israel’s presence. Pray also that the health of the medical teams sent by Israel and other nations will be protected.

Scripture

But the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.


- Isaiah 60:2b–3

IDF Downs Hezbollah Drone Flown from Lebanon

by JNS

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Smoke rises from the village of Kfar Chouba in Lebanon after a confrontation between Hezbollah terrorists and the Israel Defense Forces in July 2020.

Wednesday, 28 April 2021 | The Israeli Defense Forces [IDF] said on Tuesday that it shot down a Hezbollah drone that had crossed into Israeli airspace.

“Our troops downed a Hezbollah drone that crossed from Lebanon into Israel today. In addition, we located another Hezbollah drone that we downed a few weeks ago,” the IDF posted on Twitter.

The drone was closely surveilled the entire time, it said, and there were no reports of injuries or damage.

“We will continue to operate in order to prevent any attempt to violate Israeli sovereignty,” stated the IDF.

It specified that the drones were most likely gathering intelligence, and were taken down using electric pulses and not gunfire, reported Ynet.

The Israeli military had announced in November that it downed a Hezbollah drone that crossed into Israeli airspace.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on April 27, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Photo by David Cohen/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord that Israel is able to spot and intercept drones as they cross into Israeli airspace. Pray that technology will continue to advance Israel’s ability to protect the nation from such infiltration by her enemies.

Scripture

The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.


- Psalm 34:7

Human Rights Watch Accuses Israel of Apartheid

by JNS

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Michael Biton, Israel’s Minister for Strategic Affairs

Tuesday, 27 April 2021 | The Israeli government and watchdog group NGO Monitor criticized a forthcoming report from Human Rights Watch [HRW] that accuses Israel of apartheid and calls for an international legal campaign against it.

On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch is expected to release a report titled “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution.” NGO Monitor, which received advance copies of the report, said it is “not merely a critique of Israeli policy in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria], but an attack on the very foundations of Israel and a rejection of the legitimacy of a Jewish state, regardless of borders.”

HRW’s report, according to NGO Monitor, “is part of a concerted campaign over the past 18 months to interject the term ‘apartheid’ into discourse about Israel.” NGO Monitor added that the report “is the culmination of decades of obsessive attacks against Israel.”

In it, HRW denies Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state, specifically with regard to the 1950 “Law of Return,” and repeatedly denounces what they term as Israel’s so-called racist demographic policies.

As NGO Monitor describes in its analysis of the report, the law “provides Jews dispersed around the world access to Israeli citizenship. Nothing in the law discriminates against non-Jewish Israeli citizens and is not unique—other countries, such as Ireland, Spain and Germany, have legislation to simplify emigration for diaspora populations.”

HRW does not include the fact that Israel enacted the “Law of Return” post-World War II and Holocaust to provide safe haven for Jews who survived Nazi Germany’s Final Solution, coupled with centuries of persecution in regions around the world.

Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, said “the demonization of Israel through comparisons to the…legacy of the South African apartheid regime has deep roots, going back to the Soviet and Arab campaigns, and the infamous Durban NGO Forum. HRW’s latest contribution consists of the standard mix of shrill propaganda, false allegations and legal fictions. Exploiting the ‘apartheid’ image for propaganda is a cynical appropriation of the suffering of the victims of the actual apartheid regime.”

The analysis also says that HRW’s report “adds to decades of [its] obsessively singling out of Jews and Israel and rejection of the legitimacy of a Jewish nation-state per se, and regardless of policies or borders.”

NGO Monitor noted that for the last 20 years, HRW “has backed various BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions]-campaigns against Israel and companies that do business in Israel,” and that the report dismisses Israeli security concerns and counterterror measures; supports the anti-Israel campaign currently playing out in the International Criminal Court in The Hague; and cuts and pastes anti-Israel claims from like-minded political organizations.

Israel’s Minister for Strategic Affairs Michael Biton said “the distorted reality presented by Human Rights Watch is part of its ongoing political and obsessive campaign against Israel in recent years.”

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

Photo Credit: Photo by Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that many voices will be raised in the international community against this biased and anti-Semitic report. Ask the Lord to open the eyes of the nations to the fact that this is nothing but another blatant attempt to demonize and delegitimize Israel. Beseech Him that the call for an international legal campaign against Israel will fall on deaf ears, and the ludicrous accusation of apartheid will be put to rest once and for all.

Scripture

And bring them down, O Lord our shield. For the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips, let them even be taken in their pride, and for the cursing and lying which they speak.


- Psalm 59:11b–12

Israel and UAE Ink Health-care Agreement

by Ariel Kahana~Israel Hayom via JNS

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Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein signing a cooperation agreement with UAE officials

Friday, 23 April 2021 | Israel and the United Arab Emirates [UAE] have agreed to cooperate in the field of health care, the Health Ministry announced on Wednesday.

The agreement, an initiative of Israel’s ministries of Health and Foreign Affairs, will see Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi join forces on several fronts, including in the fight against pandemics, as well as the cybersecurity and data protection fields. The agreement will also see the enactment of large-scale joint economic and health-related projects.

Israeli officials in attendance at the signing of the accord included Health Ministry International Relations Division director Asher Shalmon, Israeli ambassador to the UAE Eitan Na’eh and Israel’s special envoy to the Arab Gulf states Zvi Heifetz. On the Emirati side, UAE Health Authority chief Yusuf Muhammad Elsarkel attended the event.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said that the accord would “bolster Israel’s health-care system” in the coming years.

Israel and the UAE signed the Abraham Accords, their historic deal normalizing relations, at the White House on September 15, 2020.

Source: (This article was originally published by Israel Hayom via JNS on April 22, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Twitter/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Ask the Lord to continue to grant wisdom to Israel’s leaders as they enter into agreements with their Arab neighbors. Pray that this new area of cooperation will be successful in reaching its goals in fighting pandemics and other economic and health-related projects.

Scripture

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


- Psalm 32:8