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Friday, August 19, 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.

EU, US Studying Iran’s Response to Nuclear Deal Proposal

by Kate Norman

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EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell

Wednesday, 17 August 2022 | The European Union reportedly received Iran’s response to its “final” proposal to revive the nuclear deal and is reviewing the proposal and consulting with Washington, an EU spokesperson told reporters in Brussels yesterday.

“For the moment, we are studying it and we are consulting with the other JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear deal) participants and the US on the way forward,” the spokesperson said, as quoted by Reuters.

Neither the EU nor Iran said what Iran’s proposal entailed, but the Jerusalem Post, citing an unnamed diplomatic source, said Tehran replied to the EU’s “take it or leave it” proposal with a “yes, but” response.

A spokesperson for Tehran’s nuclear negotiating team wrote on Twitter that “Iran wants to make sure that if the current or future US president withdraws from a deal the US will ‘have to pay a price.’”

“This is the best way to protect a potential deal,” spokesperson Seyed Mohammad Marandi continued. “If the US doesn’t have to pay a price for violating or leaving a future deal, history will repeat itself.”

Former US President Donald Trump exited the JCPOA in 2018, and reimposed heavy sanctions against Tehran in a “maximum pressure” campaign.

A year later, the Islamic regime began openly and progressively violating its restrictions imposed under the nuclear accord, mainly by enriching uranium to a higher purity than allowed—a technical step toward developing a nuclear weapon—and stockpiling enriched uranium in greater quantities than allowed.

When current President Joe Biden entered the picture, his administration pushed to revive the JCPOA.

Multiple rounds of EU-mediated talks in Vienna to revive the nuclear deal yielded little progress. EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell, in an attempt to jumpstart the negotiation limbo, issued what he called the “final” draft of the nuclear accords on August 8.

The US announced Monday that it gave Borrell a response to his proposal, and the US State Department said it was also reviewing Iran’s proposal.

Iran’s state-affiliated IRNA news agency reported on Iran’s reply yesterday, hinting that the regime did not accept the EU’s “final” offer.

“The differences are on three issues, in which the United States has expressed its verbal flexibility in two cases, but it should be included in the text,” IRNA reported.

The first two issues are likely the well-known sticking points for both Tehran and Washington. The first is that the US remove Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, and the second is that UN nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) close its investigation into traces of uranium found at undeclared nuclear development sites in Iran.

Iran’s mouthpieces said the US verbally agreed to drop those two sticking points. Washington’s special envoy to Iran, Rob Malley, however, said in an interview on Friday that the US will stop pushing the IAEA investigation “when Iran provides the technically credible answers that the IAEA has requested of them…but not before,” the Jerusalem Post reported.

The third issue, IRNA added, “is relating to guaranteeing the continuation of [the nuclear deal], which depends of the realism of the United States.”

In the past year, the US and Israel have both issued thinly veiled warnings of military action if the nuclear talks continue to stall and Iran continues its nuclear development.

Iran’s foreign minister, however, issued his own warning to reporters on Monday, asserting that Tehran is “looking for a good, stable and strong agreement, but if the other party talks about plan B, we also have plan B.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, August 17, 2022)

Photo Credit: European University Institute in Italy/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that the neither the EU nor the US will be drawn into an agreement that allows Iran to continue moving toward its goal of becoming a nuclear-weapons state. Cry out to the Lord that the negotiating team will stand firmly against the three issues noted by the IRNA (Iranian news agency) and pray that the nations will heed Israel’s many warnings that a “bad” agreement will have dire consequences for Israel and the world.

Scripture

Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.


- Psalm 121:4–6

How Gaza’s Hamas Wants to Fight Israel through Judea and Samaria

by Avi Yisasharov ~ Ynetnews

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Palestinian protestor waving the Palestinian flag (illustrative).

Friday, 12 August 2022 | On Tuesday morning, shortly after three Palestinians were killed in a counterterrorism operation in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] city of Nablus [Shechem], a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Hazem Qassem, said, “it is clear that we are in a new phase of the conflict with the occupation, the main goal of which is taking the fight to the West Bank.”

This statement is not particularly surprising. It is no secret that Hamas has been attempting for quite some time to incite the Palestinians in the West Bank to carry out terror attacks against Israeli targets.

What is more surprising is the fact that a little over a day after the ceasefire between Israel and the Islamic Jihad in Gaza was brokered by Egypt, Qassem refrained from using the word “Gaza” in his long statement about vowing to continue the fight of “the resistance”.

The general approach Hamas has adopted recently is very similar to the segregation policy Israel imposed on Gaza over a decade ago—only in reverse. In other words, Hamas wants to maintain peace in the Palestinian enclave, while in the West Bank the goal is to generate as much tension and violence as possible, which they believe will weaken the Palestinian Authority [PA]—as part of its preparations for “the day after” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

For the time being, Israel isn’t even at the top of Hamas’ priorities. Its main goal is to weaken the PA and Abbas’ Fatah faction as much as possible, while boosting its own popularity in every city, village, or refugee camp in the West Bank.

During the latest flare-up between the Islamic Jihad and Israel, Hamas seemingly took on the role of the observer enjoying the spectacle. Palestinian sources in Gaza, however, told Ynet that “there was a lot of pressure coming from Hamas for the Islamic Jihad to agree to the ceasefire. Otherwise, why would they have stopped?”

According to the same sources, the trigger for that was Islamic Jihad’s errant rocket launches, which killed over a dozen Palestinians in the three-day campaign.

In the first such incident on Saturday night, an Islamic Jihad rocket hit a group of civilians in the Jabalia refugee camp, killing six, including four children. The next day, in the same area, another misfired rocket killed five children and teenagers. In the third incident—which was probably the “straw that broke Hamas’ back”—a rocket hit a Hamas policeman and his three children, killing them in the area of the Bureij refugee camp in the center of the Strip.

From that moment, Hamas’ leadership, including that residing abroad, made it clear to Gaza’s second largest terror group it must agree to the truce.

Can Hamas become a partner in keeping the Gaza border quiet? Some officials in Israel believe so. However, those officials must understand that Hamas didn’t change its ultimate goal—destruction of Israel. It only changed its set of priorities and destroying Israel is no longer at the top—for now.

Hamas feels that at the moment there is an extraordinary opportunity for them to reach economic understandings with Israel without having to make any political concessions—which the PA has failed to do in the West Bank.

Gaza rulers “smell blood” in the West Bank, where the weakened PA is embroiled in corruption and internal battles over who will be Abbas’ successor. The PA is also losing its sovereignty in areas of Nablus and Jenin, which have turned into terror hotbeds.

Hamas sees all of this as an opportunity to amplify the anarchy (fauda in Arabic), which they hope will result in the downfall of Abbas and his regime.

According to security establishment’s data, in 2021 there were 104 significant terror attacks in the West Bank. While in 2022, some 97 attacks have already been recorded. In 2015, the number of significant terror attacks stood at 216 in the West Bank, but only 12 were shootings. In the first half of this year, on the other hand, 41 shooting attacks have already been recorded.

These numbers show that militants from various terror organizations in the West Bank that disappeared throughout the years are now back, and they are more dangerous than before. Those are the same armed Palestinians who rained chaos in the West Bank and inside Israel between 2001-2007, and carried out hundreds of deadly terror attacks.

Now, it seems, the fauda is back.

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published in Ynetnews on August 11, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Raya Sharbain/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that Israeli leaders will be constantly mindful that Hamas’s endgame has not changed and their long-term goal of the destruction of Israel remains intact. Ask the Lord in His mercy to prevent Hamas’s attempts to “amplify the anarchy” from being successful and beseech Him for a moderate replacement for Abbas who will be a genuine partner in the quest for peace.

Scripture

Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavors; give them according to the work of their hands; render to them what they deserve.


- Psalm 28:4

Israel and Turkey to Restore Full Diplomatic Ties

by JNS

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Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey on March 9, 2022.

Thursday, 18 August 2022 | Israel and Turkey will restore full diplomatic relations in a process that will include the return of ambassadors and consuls general, according to a statement on Wednesday from Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s office.

“Upgrading relations will contribute to deepening ties between the two peoples, expanding economic, trade and cultural ties, and strengthening regional stability,” said Lapid. “The resumption of relations with Türkiye [Turkey] is … very important economic news for the citizens of Israel. We will continue to strengthen Israel’s standing in the world,” he added.

Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz and Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal concluded the arrangement during a phone call on Tuesday night, according to the statement.

It comes after Israeli President Isaac Herzog in March met with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara, and following reciprocal visits by the foreign ministers of both countries.

“I commend the renewal of full diplomatic relations with Turkey—an important development that we’ve been leading for the past year, which will encourage greater economic relations, mutual tourism and friendship between the Israeli and Turkish peoples,” Herzog said in a statement following Wednesday’s announcement.

For their part, Turkish officials were quoted by Israeli media as saying that the renewal of full ties with Jerusalem was an important development, but that it did not mean Ankara was abandoning the Palestinian people.

Turkey is Israel’s fourth-most important economic partner and in 2021 was Israel’s fifth-largest export destination. Since May 1, 1997, the two countries have enjoyed a free-trade agreement and held four joint economic summits. The last summit took place in Jerusalem in the summer of 2009, and the fifth is expected to be held this coming autumn.

In June, Israel and Turkey signed a civil aviation agreement as part of a deal to broaden bilateral ties. And earlier this summer, intelligence cooperation between Jerusalem and Ankara resulted in the thwarting of several Iranian plots to attack Israeli targets on Turkish soil.

However, the rapprochement has been slow-in-the-making since relations took a nosedive in the wake of the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident. At the time, nine Turkish nationals were killed in clashes that broke out after Israeli commandos were attacked when boarding a ship sent by an Islamist organization deemed close to Erdoğan that was attempting to break the maritime blockade on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Source: (This article was originally published by JNS on August 17, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Isaac Herzog/Twitter/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for this major step forward in relations between Turkey and Israel. Pray that their relationship will continue to strengthen to the benefit of both nations and the region. Cry out to the Lord that any attempt by Islamist organizations to undermine the relationship, such as the incident in 2010, will be thwarted.

Scripture

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and Your glory above all the earth; that Your beloved may be delivered.


- Psalm 108:5–6a

Defense Minister: Islamic Jihad Receives Millions of Dollars a Year from Iran

by JNS

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Supporters of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad participate in a rally in the Gaza Strip to celebrate the deadly terror attack in Tel Aviv.

Friday, 12 August 2022 | Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday accused Iran of providing tens of millions of dollars a year to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad [PIJ] terrorist organization.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Cypriot Defense Minister Charalambos Petrides, who is in Israel for an official visit, Gantz said that Iran also helps smuggle material into Gaza that is then used to make weapons. This is done via Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, he said.

During their earlier meeting, Gantz noted that he and Petrides had discussed the recent round of fighting between Israel and PIJ, which ended in a ceasefire on Sunday night.

During the brief conflict, “Over 1,000 rockets were launched by Islamic Jihad from within population centers, toward Israeli kindergartens, schools, communities,” said Gantz. “Their disregard for human life was tragic, as multiple failed rocket launches led to the deaths of innocent Palestinian children in Gaza,” he added.

According to figures released by the IDF [Israel Defense Forces], of the approximately 1,100 rockets launched at Israel during the fighting, some 200 fell inside the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, Gantz hailed Israel’s “great bond” with Cyprus, which he said was based on shared values and interests, as well as a common vision for a peaceful region. He said that this has translated into defense cooperation as well as joint projects in the field of energy, in particular.

“We also value the trilateral framework [including] Greece,” Gantz said, calling the alliance “an asset to the force build-up of the individual countries, as well as to wider regional security.”

Gantz emphasized that Israel would continue to work with its partners to confront Iranian aggression, “which harms security and stability everywhere from the Israel-Gaza border, to the Mediterranean Sea, to the Gulf and beyond.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on August 11, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Attia Muhammed/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Praise God for Israel’s strong partnership with Cyprus. Pray that Defense Minister Gantz’s words will be heard by global leaders causing them to recognize that Iran is a supporter of terrorism whose goal is not just the destruction of Israel, but the creation of chaos in the region and ultimately dominion. Beseech the Lord that He will strengthen Israel’s ties with Cyprus and other countries in the area as they are united in their commitment to a peaceful, terror-free region. Pray that the nations will recognize God’s faithfulness to Israel.

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

New Details Emerge in Jerusalem Shooting that Wounded Eight

by JNS

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Eight were wounded in the shooting attack on a bus near Jerusalem’s Old City, Aug. 14, 2022.

Tuesday, 16 August 2022 | The terrorist who wounded eight people near Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday morning was a convicted criminal who had been released five years into an eight-year sentence due to good behavior, according to Israeli media reports.

Amir Sidawi chose the bus station on Ma’ale HaShalom to commit the attack because no security cameras were installed there, Channel 12 reported. After opening fire at a bus and passersby there, he fled to a cemetery in nearby Silwan, where he left his cellphone. He requested help from a family in the neighborhood but was refused, according to the report. He then hid in a crate aboard a truck on its way to Bayit VeGan, a neighborhood in southwest Jerusalem, where he turned himself in, according to Channel 12.

According to Ynet, he then took a taxi to a nearby police station. He left the weapon used in the attack on the floor of the taxi, according to the report.

He told police his motivation for the attack was “despair of life.”

During his interrogation it emerged that Sidawi had been sentenced to eight years in jail for various violent offenses, including killing a man in an inter-clan conflict.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on August 15, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israeli Spokesperson's Office/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for swift physical and emotional healing of these eight victims and for their families as they deal with the trauma of this attack. Pray that Amir Sidawi will be held accountable to the full extent of the law and will never again be in a position to carry out such an atrocity. Pray that his punishment will be a deterrent to others and pray for calm to prevail in Jerusalem and throughout the land.

Scripture

For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: you shall weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you.


- Isaiah 30:19

Palestinian Authority to Seek Full UN Membership

by JNS

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Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 26, 2019.

Thursday, 18 August 2022 | The Palestinian Authority [PA] is again seeking full membership in the United Nations, although the effort is liable to fail just as Ramallah’s previous attempt did in 2011 when the Obama administration essentially kiboshed the initiative in the Security Council.

PA envoy to the United Nations Riyad Mansour confirmed the prospective move, albeit at an undefined date, in an interview with the Times of Israel published on Wednesday in which he argued that the initiative would “save the two-state solution” and even perhaps “help Israel by waking up its leaders to hold negotiations.”

The Israeli government in early 2020 accepted as a basis for talks a comprehensive peace roadmap presented by the United States under then-President Donald Trump, whereas the PA rejected the proposal out of hand.

Mansour acknowledged in the interview that the PA’s gambit will almost certainly be unsuccessful without support from Washington, which has laws on the books aimed at preventing such an eventuality.

Specifically, the Times cited the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 1990 that bars US funding “for the United Nations or any specialized agencies thereof which accords the Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO] the same standing as member states.”

The PA is dominated by the PLO—Mahmoud Abbas chairs both bodies—with the latter continuing to be designated as a terrorist group by the United States.

In the event, Abbas in 2012 submitted a resolution to obtain non-member observer status at the United Nations, which was overwhelmingly passed by the General Assembly and effectively placed Ramallah on the same level as the Holy See [universal government of the Roman Catholic Church].

While mainly symbolic—only the UN Security Council can legally recognize new states—the PA has since become a party to dozens of international treaties and conventions, including the Rome Statute, the founding charter of the International Criminal Court.

Mansour claimed that “there will be close to 180 countries, if not more, that will be happy to accept admitting us as a full member state,” adding that the matter had already been discussed with some members of the Security Council, who he said responded “excitedly.”

Source: (This article was originally published by JNS on August 17, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: UN Photo/Cia Pak/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord that the PA’s attempt to achieve full UN member status will fail as it has in the past. Pray that Riyad Mansour’s ridiculous accusation that Israel is not willing to negotiate will fall on deaf ears and those “180 countries” mentioned by Mansour will come to their senses.

Scripture

The righteousness of the blameless will direct his way aright, but the wicked will fall by his own wickedness.


- Proverbs 11:5

Syria Reports Israeli Missile Strike near Port City of Tartus

by Liad Osmo ~ Ynetnews

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The Syrian port of Tartus

Monday, 15 August 2022 | Israel fired several missiles on Sunday toward areas near the port city of Tartus in Syria, state media reported.

The Syrian army reported that around 9:00 p.m. local time Israel attacked several targets on the outskirts of Damascus. And at the same time, another attack was carried out from the sea, south to Tartus.

The military said air defense systems were activated to intercept the missiles. It was also reported that three soldiers were killed and three others were wounded, and the attack caused material damage.

According to Arab media reports, missiles were fired from Israeli aircraft operating in the Lebanese airspace.

At first, explosions were heard in the Tartus province where arms shipments from Iran arrive, and shortly after Syrian television confirmed that the air defense systems were activated against “hostile targets”.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, identified with the Assad regime’s opposition, claimed that the Israeli attack was aimed at several military sites of the Syrian regime in which militias subordinate to Iran were located.

One of the targets was a Syrian Air Force base. Rescue and emergency vehicles rushed to the area of the attack in order to evacuate casualties, but no detailed information was provided regarding the number of casualties.

A month and a half ago, the Syrian Defense Ministry reported an Israeli attack some 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) south of the port city. The ministry reported that two civilians were injured as a result of the missile strike which also caused material damage.

Tartus is the second largest port city in Syria after Letkia and is about 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the border with Lebanon. The port is also the base of the Russian Navy and it is Moscow’s only naval base in the Mediterranean region.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on August 14, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Bohndorf Film-Team/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that Israel’s leaders will have great wisdom as they proceed with their attempts to cripple Iran’s ability to maintain its position in Syria and provide ongoing support to Hezbollah. Pray that Israel’s actions will not have a negative effect on their tenuous but important relationship with Russia.

Scripture

He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.


- Psalm 20:6b–7

UN Official Ousted after Voicing Criticism of Palestinian Islamic Jihad

by Damian Pachter ~ Israel Hayom via JNS

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Sarah Muscroft, then head of the Regional Office for East Africa at United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, during an interview in Amman, Jordan in 2015.

Monday, 15 August 2022 | A United Nations official has been forced to step down as head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Palestinian Authority after criticizing the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s [PIJ] rocket attacks on Israel during “Operation Breaking Dawn.”

On Aug. 8, Sarah Muscroft tweeted that she was “relieved” to see a cease-fire that would end hostilities “impacting both Palestinians and Israeli civilians” and condemned “indiscriminate rocket fire of [Palestinian] Islamic Jihad” that “provoked Israeli retaliation.”

Muscroft’s tweet said that civilians’ safety was “paramount” and that the cease-fire must be upheld.

The tweet drew fire from pro-Palestinian activists who accused her of blaming the hostilities, which were launched by Israel to preempt a major PIJ terrorist attack in response to one of its operatives being arrested, on the Palestinians.

Muscroft responded to the criticism by deleting her tweet, which she said had been “ill-informed,” and then went on to delete her entire Twitter account. Muscroft also apologized for her “poor judgment.”

On Saturday, an OCHA spokesperson said that Muscroft had been assigned to an unspecified new role.

A diplomatic official who spoke to Israel Hayom said that the uproar of Muscroft’s condemnation of terrorist rocket attacks on Israeli civilians “was a case that illustrated the UN’s hypocrisy about Israel.”

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom. 

Source: (This article was originally published by Israel Hayom via Jewish News Syndicate on August 14, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/jns.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that the UN will be widely exposed as the hypocritical, anti-Semitic and pro-Palestinian organization that it is. Cry out to the Lord that Israel’s allies among UN member nations will speak out against this and other absurd actions taken by UN officials and demand an end to this blatant discrimination in an international body whose stated purpose is to “maintain international peace and security and develop friendly relations among nations.”

Scripture

Let all those who hate Zion be put to shame and turned back. Let them be as the grass on the housetops, which withers before it grows up.


- Psalm 129:5–6