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Friday, April 8, 2022

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

Two Israelis Murdered in Tel Aviv Terror Attack

by Jewish News Syndicate

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Police and rescue workers at the scene of a deadly terror attack on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv

Friday, 8 April 2022 | At least one terrorist opened fire on Thursday night in the heart of Tel Aviv on Dizengoff Street in a crowded area with restaurants and bars.

The attack took place around 9:00 p.m. when Magen David Adom’s [Israel’s ambulance service] emergency hotline received calls of a shooting in Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street, a bustling nightlife center lined with restaurants and bars, Israel Hayom reported.

The police asked residents in the area to stay inside while the manhunt was in progress. In a highly unusual move, the Transportation Ministry temporarily halted all public transportation in the city center, in compliance with police orders, Channel 12 News reported.

Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Centers/Ichilov Hospital said 10 people are being treated, and at least four have already been operated on, according to Israeli media.

“We saw 6 patients lying on the sidewalk. We immediately began treatment, including bleeding control and bandaging. 2 were unconscious and underwent resuscitation & 4 others were conscious,” Magen David Adom paramedic Yisrael Weingarten said in a statement on Twitter.

It is the latest in several deadly terrorist attacks perpetrated by Palestinians in recent weeks that have resulted in the deaths of 11 people.

The police later released a photo showing the suspect in the shooting attack. The photo shows a man wearing a dark long-sleeved jacket, dark pants and sneakers.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who held security consultations on the shooting, expressed his condolences to the families.

“This is a very difficult night. My condolences to the families of the murdered, and I’m praying for the complete recovery of the wounded,” Bennett said.

Police told people to avoid the area and stay in their homes as Ynet reported that a search is underway for a possible second gunman.

Posts on Twitter show Palestinians celebrating the attack.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on April 7, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Cry out to God for an end to this violence. Plead for peace and an end to the bloodshed and loss of life. Bring the families who mourn the loss of their loved ones before Him, asking Him for His comfort. Also pray for swift healing for the injured.

Scripture

“And I will make you to this people a fortified bronze wall; and they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you; 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 15:20–21

Gantz Calls for a Peaceful Ramadan during Phone Call with Abbas

by Kate Norman

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Ramadan celebration in Jerusalem

Thursday, 7 April 2022 | Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz called for a peaceful celebration of Ramadan in a phone call with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday.

Gantz wished a “blessed month” for Abbas and the Palestinians in their first phone call since the deadly terror attack outside of Tel Aviv last month that left five people dead.

In a rare move, Abbas condemned the March 29 attack the next day, saying that the killing of civilians “only leads the situation to deteriorate,” in a statement by his office. The president hinted that it was an effort to keep the peace ahead of the upcoming holiday, saying “We all aim to realize stability.”

The month-long holiday of Ramadan began on Saturday night, and every night has ended in rioting in Jerusalem—particularly at the flashpoint Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City.

Ramadan is marked by a month of fasting from sunrise to sunset and also involves reading the Quran and gathering in mosques multiple times per day for prayer. It is a time to practice self-restraint as one of the five pillars, or foundations, of Islam.

However, less than a week into the holiday, Ramadan has already been stained by nightly violence, rioting and brawling in Jerusalem—as it so often is. Crowds gathered at the Damascus Gate often resort to throwing rocks, fireworks and other makeshift items at the Israeli Border Police and security forces stationed in the area. The police has reported dozens of arrests in the nightly riots since the start of Ramadan.

Gantz told Abbas that this holiday “must be a month of peace and quiet and not a period marked by terror,” according to a statement by the Defense Ministry. He then emphasized that Israel “will continue to combat attempts to harm civilians and security forces.”

The month of Ramadan often sees a spike in tensions, violence, terror attacks and riots. Last year in particular scarred the Holy Land, as more than 4,300 rockets were launched at Israel by terrorists in the Gaza Strip. The tension led to a volatile 11-day war, dubbed Operation Guardian of the Walls by the Israel Defense Forces.

Last year also saw rioting in areas with mixed populations of Jews and Arabs, as well as heightened terror attacks.

Israelis fear a sequel to Guardian of the Walls, especially following the bloody spate of terror attacks last month that left 11 people dead.

Between the terror spree and fears of tension during Ramadan riots, Israel is beefing up its security forces in the usual flashpoints: Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the border with Gaza.

Amid heightened vigilance, security forces have already conducted dozens of arrests and thwarted over 15 terror attacks, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced Tuesday.

Nonetheless, to keep the peace, Israel’s Defense Ministry announced that it will loosen restrictions in order to allow Palestinians from Judea and Samaria, the so-called West Bank, to enter Jerusalem to celebrate Ramadan and pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, April 7, 2022)

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the decision to loosen restrictions will have the desired effect and bring calm to this very volatile situation. Cry out to the Lord for peace and beseech Him that Israel will not see a repeat of the violence they experienced during last year’s Ramadan.

Scripture

My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.


- Psalm 121:2–4

Coalition Defection Has Knesset Majority in Jeopardy

by Moran Azulay ~ Ynetnews

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Member of Knesset Idit Silman

Thursday, 7 April 2022 | The coalition of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday lost its narrow majority with the announced resignation of its whip. Idit Silman who will join the opposition.

The coalition [is] now tied with the opposition with 60 Knesset [Parliament] seats each, making legislation impossible without cooperation across the political divide.

Silman announced she was leaving because she was concerned Israel was losing its Jewish character, but some speculate she was secured a position in the Likud Party.

According to sources, Silman was promised the position of health minister in a Likud-led government and a guaranteed place in its Knesset list for the next elections.

Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Silman and welcomed her “back home” to the right.

“I was excited to hear the announcement of Member of Knesset Idit Silman and congratulate her on behalf of millions of Israelis who have been longing for this moment,” Netanyahu said in a video post.

“You have proved that you are guided by concern for Israel’s Jewish identity…you will be welcomed back with open arms,” he said, referring to the right wing, nationalist political side.

The leader of the Religious Zionism party, Bezalel Smotrich, also said he will welcome Silman back into the fold and called her announcement a new dawn for Israel.

Silman came out forcefully against Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz from the left-wing Meretz party earlier this week, after he instructed hospitals to refrain from enforcing Jewish dietary restrictions during the Passover holiday.

Bennett and Foreign Minister and Alternative Prime Minister Yair Lapid were not aware of her decision and heard of her move from the media.

Silman’s dramatic defection increases Netanyahu’s chances of [a] return to power, but on its own is not a definitive end to the Bennett coalition.

For Silman to topple the government, she must join with two other coalition members to form a new faction. Thus far she is joined only by one—another member of Bennett’s own Yamina Party, Amichai Shikli, who had refused to back the coalition since it was established.

Bennett can label both rebels as renegades and thereby prevent them from joining any other party in the Knesset in the next elections.

The prime minister had not commented on Silman’s resignation in the first hours after her announcement.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on April 6, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Baruch Greenberg (ברוך גרינברג)/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for God’s perfect will to be done in Israel’s political situation. Ask Him to protect the nation from internal unrest at a time when they are facing critical issues on so many fronts. Pray that Israeli politicians will put their obligation to the people of Israel first, focusing on providing stability and sound leadership rather than political one-upmanship.

Scripture

Redeem Israel, O God, out of all their troubles.


- Psalm 25:22

Ukrainian Woman with Terminal Cancer Escapes War with Israel’s Help

by Einav Halabi ~ Ynetnews

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Medical volunteers assisting Ukrainian refugees in Przemyśl, Poland

Tuesday, 5 April 2022 | As Elena walked into Israel’s medical clinic in Przemyśl on the Ukraine–Poland border with her 14-year-old daughter Ksenia, it was clear to see the woman was exhausted not only from the tumultuous journey, but also from the terminal cancer she is battling.

The two were greeted by a pediatric pulmonologist and sleep physician Dr. Alex Gileles-Hillel, who is also a member of the Israeli delegation headed by Hadassah Medical Center, which runs, along with the Red Cross, the only active clinic in the refugee camp.

Upon entering, Elena—who suffers from terminal breast cancer—asked for painkillers to ease her condition, after spending days on the road.

Elena is an impoverished single mother who lived in central Ukraine with her daughter before the war with Russia broke out on February 24. A few years before the Russian invasion, when she was 50, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Because she couldn’t afford the medical care she needed, her condition deteriorated and cancer cells metastasized all over her body.

“A few weeks before the war started, I was told that I only had a few weeks to live,” Elena said with tears in her eyes to the Israeli doctors. “I felt like the sky was falling on me, it was a tough situation and I realized that it was necessary to take care of my daughter Ksenia because every day only brings me closer to the end.”

When the Russian bombing began, her house and everything inside it was destroyed. “My whole life disappeared, everything we had—and we didn’t have much—was destroyed, and I didn’t know what to do at that moment,” she said.

With no relatives to lean on, Elena knew she had to escape to ensure the safety of her 14-year-old daughter before cancer takes her life. “I had no idea how I was going to do it, and I didn’t even know where to start, but I had to try, and escaping the war was the first step.”

Elana and Ksenia took a train to the Polish border, and then via a bus they arrived at the refugee camp in Przemyśl. At the camp, the two found the Israeli medical team, and when Dr. Gileles-Hillel heard their story, he knew painkillers and prescriptions wouldn’t be enough.

“I realized that something had to be done to help this brave woman find a new home for her daughter. Time is of the essence. Every moment that passes brings her closer to the end, and I wanted her to know that her daughter is safe before that happens,” Dr. Gileles-Hillel said.

“I took care of Elena and then asked her and her daughter to wait at the clinic because we decided to help her.” Dr. Gileles-Hillel approached the CEO of Hadassah International Jorge Diener, who also accompanied the delegation personally. Diener, who had been in the refugee camp for weeks now, established working relations with the Polish Red Cross and other Polish organizations, including local donors who also decided to assist the refugees.

“I contacted a Polish woman named Agatha Minerska, who aids the refugees, and when she heard about the urgent need to find a home for Elena and Ksenia, she called the former Polish first lady Jolanta Kwaśniewska, who currently runs an aid fund that rescues refugees from Ukraine. She decided that she would take care of their case personally,” Diener said.

“Mrs. Kwaśniewska found a couple in Poland who was willing to welcome Elena and Ksenia to their home. They promised that they would take care of both of them, hoping that Elena would still get a chance to heal, but also made it clear that they were willing to give Ksenia a new family, a new home and a new life,” Diener said with excitement.

When Elena and the doctors said goodbye to each other, the woman said that in the last couple of days she met more kind people than in her whole life. “You saved our future. From here, we can hope for a better future because of you, and I can’t wait to meet the couple who are opening up their home and their hearts for us. It’s not obvious, it’s a chain of good things from the moment I met you in the clinic.”

The delegation members were also excited and said: “We changed the trajectory. It’s better than what she was expecting. We hope for the best.”

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on April 4, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Pakkin Leung/commons.wikimedia.org/

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for Elena and her daughter. Cry out to the Lord for physical and emotional healing for these two who have suffered so much. And thank the Lord for the Israeli medical team that was able to bring hope to their seemingly hopeless situation. Pray that the Lord will strengthen and protect all of Israel’s medical personnel who are working in the area as they show the wounded and hurting God’s heart of mercy and compassion through their selfless actions.

Scripture

The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.


- Psalm 103:8

Israel Agrees to First Ever Free Trade Deal with Arab Nation

by Joshua Spurlock ~ The Mideast Update

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The Abraham Accord signing ceremony in September 2020

Monday, 4 April 2022 | Israel has made history with several Arab nations in the last couple of years thanks to the Abraham Accords. On Friday, the history-making continued with one Arab state in particular, as Israel reached a deal for a bilateral free trade agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The move will reduce customs on “almost all industrial goods” and ultimately result in mutual benefits for over 95% of the goods traded between the two nations, according to press releases from the Israeli Economy and Industry Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). After trade between Israel and the UAE reached almost [US] $900 million in 2021, this deal sets them up for even more.

“This is an important moment in relations between the State of Israel and the UAE,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in comments published by his office. “Today the good relations that have already been forged between the two countries are being strengthened in the form of a free trade agreement that will significantly upgrade economic cooperation for the benefit of the citizens of both countries. There will be more trade, more jobs and good products at lower prices.”

The arrangement was made possible by the Abraham Accords peace deals signed between Israel and the UAE in September 2020. However, the trade agreement isn’t historic for Israel just because of politics. The UAE has the “second largest economy in the Arab world after Saudi Arabia and an import market worth hundreds of billions of dollars,” according to the Economy and Industry press release.

With those dollar amounts in the background, potential areas for trade and economic connection between Israel and the UAE are wide-ranging: energy, health, digitization, water desalination, agriculture, cyber, Fintech and more.

“Since the establishment of the Abraham Accords, the Economy and Industry Ministry has been working to expand economic relations between Israel and the UAE and to fully utilize their economic potential,” said Economy and Industry Minister Maj.-Gen. (ret) Orna Barbivay in the [Prime Minister’s Office] press release. “The conclusion of the negotiations is a significant and historic milestone in bilateral relations.”

With the negotiations wrapping up, the two nations’ legal teams are set to review the agreement ahead of formal signing. In addition to the technical legal work, Barbivay noted the economic efforts for Israel aren’t finished yet either.

“We will continue to assist the Israeli business community to establish commercial ties in the UAE via the free trade agreement, the ministry’s economic attaches and additional assistance tools that the ministry will put at their disposal.”

Among the noteworthy elements of the deal is the speed in which it took place. After signing the peace accord in 2020, negotiations on the free trade agreement began just over one year later in November 2021, with Bennett and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi agreeing to “accelerate contacts” on the matter in December. After five months of talks, and four rounds of negotiations, history was made.

“We have succeeded, within a short time, in concluding wide-ranging and comprehensive negotiations with a country with which we had no economic relations until 18 months ago,” said Economy and Industry Ministry Foreign Trade Administration Director Ohad Cohen in his ministry’s press release.

“The desire by both sides to conclude the negotiations quickly and efficiently, while maintaining the interests of both countries, proves that this is a long-term partnership that will continue to develop and expand into different areas.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Mideast Update on April 3, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Photo Credit: The White House/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for this “significant and historic milestone in bilateral relations.” Pray that the substantial economic and security benefits of this agreement will be felt by both countries and will help to bring stability to the region, and pray that the reality of the God of Israel will be revealed through interaction with the nation and people He calls His own.

Scripture

The LORD will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you.


- Deuteronomy 28:8

Israeli Defense Minister Calls for ‘Plan B’ if Iran Nuclear Deal Not Signed

by JNS

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Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid deliver a policy and security briefing to a group of 80 foreign ambassadors stationed in Israel on April 6, 2022.

Thursday, 7 April 2022 | Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Wednesday that if a new nuclear deal is not signed with Iran, then other measures must be taken.

“If needed, we can move forward with economic pressure, intel, diplomatic pressure, power projection and regional counterterrorism efforts,” said Gantz, according to a defense ministry spokesperson.

Gantz made the remarks during a policy and security briefing for the 80 foreign ambassadors stationed in Israel, together with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

He also presented the diplomats with information on the rapid advance of Iran’s nuclear program.

“Since August 2021, Iran has raced forward. Iran has increased its enriched uranium stockpile to 50 kilograms [110.2 lb.] at [at an enrichment level of] 60%. We are running against [the clock]. The international community must insist on a solid agreement,” he said.

Regarding the recent wave of terrorist attacks in the country, Gantz said that Israel was taking all necessary measures, including preemptive operations, to prevent further attacks.

Gantz concluded his remarks by presenting confidence-building measures undertaken with the Palestinian Authority [PA] since “Operation Guardian of the Walls” last May. He also called on the international community to invest in the PA.

Lapid presented the ambassadors with an overview of last month’s Negev Summit and spoke of the importance of regional cooperation in the fields of security and the economy.

In addition, Lapid provided the ambassadors with information about the humanitarian aid Israel is providing to Ukraine and reiterated Israel’s condemnation of the Russian invasion.

Both Gantz and Lapid emphasized Israel’s condemnation of the invasion and its humanitarian efforts, as well as Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s mediation efforts.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on April 6, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Ariel Hermoni/Israeli Defense Ministry/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Ask the Lord to show Himself strong on Israel’s behalf by bringing the Iranian nuclear threat to an end, either through a satisfactory solid deal with the nations or through Israel’s “Plan B.” Pray that whatever action Israel must take will be successful.

Scripture

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; defend me from those who rise up against me.


- Psalm 59:1

After Deadly Attacks, New Synagogue Guidelines Call for Weapons, Phones on Shabbat

by Hanan Greenwood ~ Israel Hayom via JNS

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A bar mitzvah boy is called up to read the Torah (Gen.–Deut.) at the Sydenham-Highlands North Hebrew Congregation, as Rabbi Yehuda Stern reads from the Torah.

Friday, 1 April 2022 | In the wake of the recent wave of deadly terror attacks in Israel, the World Organization of Orthodox Communities and Synagogues on Wednesday called for congregations to take precautions against possible attacks. Among its recommendations: Worshippers should arrive at services armed, and a cellular phone should be left on in the building during Shabbat [Sabbath] services.

In guidelines issued on Wednesday, the organization called on gabbais—who assist in running synagogues—community leaders and worshippers to remain vigilant, and for those licensed to do so to carry weapons with them, including on Shabbat.

“The synagogue gabbai must ensure a first-aid kit is permanently stationed at the synagogue. Likewise, community heads must locate the professionals trained to provide first aid so that they are on alert and able to handle the provision of care to victims when necessary. They must ensure the synagogue has organized emergency exits and inform worshippers of the exit route and how to escape in an emergency,” the organization said.

“These guidelines are the endeavors we are committed to in accordance with halachah [‘Jewish law’] and together with prayers to our Father in Heaven. We call on synagogues to petition in prayers and supplications to the Holy One, blessed is He, to say enough to our troubles. We call for proliferation in Torah [Gen.–Deut.] study and the reading of psalms for the sake of the souls of the victims and the healing of the wounded. Additionally, there should be prayers for the welfare of IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers and members of the security forces who are on the frontlines for all of Israel’s citizens,” the organization said.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

Source: (This article was originally published by Israel Hayom and republished by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 31, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for the protection and welfare of every Jewish person the world over. Beseech Him to position angels around every synagogue and Jewish community center in existence, and pray that any attempt at violence against them would be brought to a swift and preemptive end.

Scripture

Give us help from trouble, for the help of man is useless. Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies.


- Psalm 108:12–13

Israeli Air Force Receives New Commander

by JNS

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IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi (left) looks on as incoming Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar (right) officially replaces Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, outgoing chief of the Israeli Air Force.

Wednesday, 6 April 2022 | The Israeli Air Force [IAF] received a new commander on Monday when Maj.–Gen. Tomer Bar officially replaced outgoing IAF Maj.–Gen. Amikam Norkin, who has completed 37 years of service in the Israel Defense Forces [IDF].

Norkin completed a five-year term, the IDF said in a statement.

A ceremony to mark the occasion, held at Tel Nof Airbase south of Tel Aviv, included IDF Chief of Staff Lt.–Gen. Aviv Kochavi, as well as commanders from the German, Greek and Cypriot air forces, and those from the US Air Force in Europe.

“The response to the recent series of attacks is a testament to the professionalism, courage and determination with which IDF units work to defeat terrorism. At least 10 attacks have been prevented in the last two weeks, thanks to intelligence and various operations,” Kochavi said during his address.

“We are increasing and refining the scope of all kinds of aerial systems, detection sensors and armaments in an unprecedented manner,” he added. “All of these are expected to succeed on the day the order is given for precise fire with a high strike rate. These are key parts that will accompany ground maneuvers, demonstrating the full partnership of the Israeli Air Force in ground maneuvering missions.”

Kochavi explained that the sequence of strikes by the IAF “had a decisive impact on preventing the entrenchment of Iranian forces in Syria, on preventing the establishment of Hezbollah forces in the southern Golan Heights, on preventing enemy intensification with advanced weapons systems, and on the direct and immediate thwarting of threats to infiltrate Israel.”

He turned to Norkin and noted that “all of these took place under your watch and under your command. The Air Force became stronger, more sophisticated, thwarted many threats and hit our enemy time and time again. If a country wants a vibrant life, then we—the quality of the people who serve in the IDF, both regular and permanent service members—must be the foundation, which must be preserved and nurtured.”

During his address, Norkin said: “In the summer of 2017, I could not have imagined that this would be such a turbulent period—one of change, large-scale operational activity and a global epidemic that created a routine of life we did not know existed. In recent years, the Israeli Air Force’s role in maintaining national security grew. In recent years, the air force has acted in all sectors and arenas, taking part in both defensive and offensive activities from both the ground and air.”

Bar said “with a sense of responsibility, gratitude and great anticipation for the future, I take command of the Israeli Air and Space Force.”

“We are in a period of regional change,” he pointed out, “which brings risk and opportunities that require a high level of conduct that bears responsibility for Israel’s security. The Israeli Air Force will remain competent and available for any scenario and challenge, in arenas both near and far, facing terrorist organizations, militaries and emerging actors.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on April 4, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for the IAF and the courage and determination that is displayed by its members. Pray for wisdom and courage for Maj.–Gen. Tomer Bar as he assumes command of the IAF. Pray that this critical arm of the Israeli military will continue to function with excellence and success. Pray also that the Lord will bless Maj.–Gen. Amikam Norkin as he leaves his position after his 37 years of service, for the significant contributions his leadership has made in advancing the IAF and protecting the citizens of Israel.

Scripture

Blessed be the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle—my lovingkindness and my fortress, my high tower and my deliverer, my shield and the One in whom I take refuge.


- Psalm 144:1–2a

New UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Issues Compared ‘Nakba’ to Holocaust

by Mike Wagenheim ~ JNS

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The newly appointed UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur on Israel Francesca Albanese

Wednesday, 6 April 2022 | The UN Human Rights Council announced the appointment of a new Special Rapporteur on Israel on April 1, a position that is a “mandate to discriminate,” according to the UN Watch NGO. Israel is the only country to which a permanent investigator has been assigned.

“Our position is that everything under the mechanism of Item 7, the special rapporteur, anything that unfairly singles out Israel, there is no point in engaging on those matters,” a spokesperson for the Israeli Mission to the United Nations in Geneva told JNS.

When asked if the mission has any dialogue or other contact with the special rapporteur, the answer from the spokesperson was a simple: “No.”

Canadian Michael Lynk finished his six-year term last week by submitting a report accusing Israel of the crime of apartheid against the Palestinians, as the conclusion of a relentless effort by Lynk to delegitimize Israel.

Now, Francesca Albanese of Italy will step into the post of Special Rapporteur, confirmed for the seat on Friday. Albanese, who has a lengthy, documented history of anti-Israel bias, holds a UN position that is supposed to be neutral and non-biased. Yet she has compared the Palestinian experience during and immediately after the Arab-initiated war against Israel of 1948 to the Holocaust.

“Just as tragic, terrible, unspeakable is the tragedy that befell the Jewish people in the [Holocaust], so for the Palestinians, the Nakba [“catastrophe” of Israel’s establishment] represents the crumbling of the connective tissue of a people,” Albanese said in a speech captured on video, in which she questioned her own objectivity on the matter.

On her application for the special rapporteur position, however, she answered “no” when asked whether she holds “any views or opinions that could prejudice the manner in which the candidate discharges the mandate.”

She added that Israel’s “occupation” of the Palestinian people was not a war between states, but a “colonial project that has turned into apartheid.” She has also accused Israel of committing “crimes against humanity.”

Albanese has worked on the Israeli–Palestinian issue for much of her career. She previously worked at the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), a body ostensibly focused on Palestinian refugees, but one that has been cited by multiple countries for incitement toward Israel and its perpetuation of the conflict.

She co-authored a book, Palestinian Refugees in International Law, and has also spoken of her support of the Palestinian “Right of Return” to Israel, which would be a de facto destruction of the country as a Jewish state or safe haven for Jews.

‘A Relic from the Old Middle East’

Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, said he expected that Albanese would pursue a path similar to Lynk, who entrenched “the discrimination inherent in the mandate through his one-sided UN reports and statements that gave a free pass to systematic violations by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva Meirav Eilon Shahar said on Friday that “Israel does not expect any fair, objective or professional treatment from an activist who promotes outrageous libels.”

A statement from the Israeli mission added that “the Special Rapporteur’s mandate was established with the sole purpose of discriminating against Israel and Israelis. It is just a continuation of the pattern of the HRC’s institutional discrimination. No situation has an ongoing Special Rapporteur accountable to no one, Israel does. No other Item targets one country, Item 7 does. No country has at least four resolutions against it every year, Israel does. While Israel will continue to promote Human Rights and uphold its obligations, both at national and international level, we have long understood the HRC plays a detrimental role when it comes to Israel.”

Dealing with the larger Item 7, Eilon Shahar said that it is “a relic from the old Middle East. It represents what our region used to be, it represents years of Israel standing alone. Well, the Middle East is coming together. Israel is fostering ties based on coexistence with new friends and old foes. Israel stands alone no longer…Some members of this council will continue to vote for Item 7 resolutions blindly, they will continue to ignore the reality of the outside world. They will continue to ignore statements by their own governments; they will continue to ignore the strong bilateral ties that exist between our countries. They themselves will show the absurdity of Item 7; they themselves will show how detached it is from reality.”

Still, Israel’s Abraham Accords partner, the United Arab Emirates, voted in favor of each anti-Israel resolution at the latest HRC session. The Israeli mission spokesperson told JNS that the Emiratis are “supporting and following the broader Arab position. We expressed our disappointment. At the UN, it takes a long time to transcribe what happens on bilateral level into actual votes.”

Only the United States, the United Kingdom and the Marshall Islands voted against all four HRC anti-Israel resolutions, including “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan; Human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan; Human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including east Jerusalem, and the obligation to ensure accountability and justice; Right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.”

These marked the first votes on Israel since the United States rejoined the HCR earlier this year, arguing that it needed a seat at the table to influence the body on human-rights issues.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on April 4, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Twitter/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for an outcry from those nations who claim to be Israel’s friends and allies that would bring an end to “the discrimination inherent in the [UNHRC] mandate through one-sided UN reports and statements that gave a free pass to systematic violations by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.” Pray that Albanese’s anti-Semitic views and anti-Israel biases will be exposed, clearly proving that she lied on her application for special rapporteur and disqualifying her from the position.

Scripture

Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of foreigners, whose mouth speaks lying words, and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.


- Psalm 144:11