Compassion

Help Bridges for Peace pursue our mission of doing good in the Land of Israel.

Friday, August 2, 2019

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

Israeli Soldiers Hurt in Terror Attack from Gaza

by Yoav Zitun, Elior Levy, MatanTzuri

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A Hamas militant breached the Israel–Gaza security fence firing at and wounding Israeli soldiers (illustrative).

Thursday, 1 August 2019 | An Israeli officer was moderately wounded and two other soldiers had been lightly hurt after a Gaza militant breached the security fence in the southern Gaza Strip and opened fire at IDF [Israel Defense Forces] troops in a pre-dawn attack on Thursday. The military shelled a Hamas outpost adjacent to the border in response.

Israeli military said the perpetrator—Hani Abu Salah—who was killed during a shoot-out with the soldiers, belonged to a Hamas unit responsible for restraining border violence along the security fence, including unauthorized launching of rockets and trespassing into Israeli territory.

IDF Spokesperson Brigadier General Ronen Manelis said the Gaza militant was armed with an AK-47 rifle and several hand grenades. “At this point we understand the terrorist acted independently. The body of the terrorist is currently in our territory,” said Manelis.

According to sources in Gaza, the militant’s brother—Fadi Abu Salah—was a disabled Palestinian man killed by Israeli sniper fire during mass protests in the Strip in May 2018. The incident sparked international criticism of the tactics used by the IDF to restrain the violent protesters during the weekly marches.

In the meantime, the IDF officer has undergone an operation at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva, where all three of the wounded had been hospitalized following the incident.

The attack occurred in the area where IDF is currently constructing an underground barrier along the border in order to prevent the terror group from building cross-border attack tunnels.

The militant was identified approaching Israeli territory around 2:00 a.m. by the soldiers remotely monitoring the area along the security fence. “It’s unclear whether they realized the suspect was armed,” said the military spokesperson.

The Golani force that arrived on the scene shortly after, found themselves under attack by the Palestinian who hurled a hand grenade and fired shots toward the troops. A platoon commander was moderately wounded in the shootout, while two other soldiers had been lightly hurt by shrapnel.

The Hamas operative then hid a few dozen meters away from the security fence, separating Kibbutz Kissufim and the city of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza. He was located by the security forces an hour later and fatally shot.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on August 1, 2019. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Public domain/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for swift healing for the injured IDF soldiers and for comfort for them and their families. Pray for renewed courage to face the enemy again and for God’s protection over all of those who are putting their lives on the line to protect the citizens of Israel.

Scripture

I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God in Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge.


- Psalm 91:2–4a

Netanyahu Warns EU about Iran, Says “We Defend Europe”

by Joshua Spurlock

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Israeli President Reuven Rivlin meets with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović (illustrative).

Tuesday, 30 July 2019 | The threat of Iran’s missile program extends past the Middle East and into Europe, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was clear about the range of Iran’s malevolence in comments with the visiting leader of the next European Union [EU] presidency on Monday. “Israel is in the forefront of the battle against radical Islam. If Israel wasn’t here in the Middle East, then I think the Middle East would fall to radical Islam,” said Netanyahu to Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović in comments published by Israel.

“The fact that we are here, the fact that we protect ourselves, is obviously very important for us, but in defending ourselves, we’re defending the entire Middle East. And by defending the Middle East, we defend Europe.”

Netanyahu expressed his condolences about a recent attack in Afghanistan in which a Croatian soldier was killed, but also noted what exemplified the “dark” forces of radical Islam, including Iran. The Israeli leader highlighted Croatia’s next role heading the EU as “an opportunity to send this message to all the nations of Europe,” namely that “the twin challenges that I think makes Israel particularly significant for Europe is one, to seize a bright future, to fashion a bright future; and second, to resist a dark past.”

Continued the Israeli leader, “What happened in Kabul and what we’re all facing, and you’re facing too, is the attempt by radical Islam to bring back humanity to a very dark period. Some of them would like to take us to the beginning of the Middle Ages, and this is exemplified obviously by Daesh [ISIS], but in my opinion also, first and foremost, by Iran. That is a much more powerful and malevolent force.”

In addition to Netanyahu, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also discussed Iran with President Grabar-Kitarović with Croatia’s accepting the EU presidency in the background.

“I urge the European Union to ensure that Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons, and I urge the European Union does not transfer weapons and missiles to terror organizations and undermine regional stability,” said Rivlin in a separate Israeli press release. “Iran is a danger to the entire world, not just for Israel. We all face the same threats and must work together to confront them.”

For her part, President Grabar-Kitarović pledged to use the presidency of the EU to benefit Israel. “Next year, we will hold the EU presidency for the first time and we will work to bring balance to relations with Israel and to allow Israel’s voice to be heard in its institutions,” said the Croatian leader.

Rivlin thanked Croatia for their support of Israel in the EU and beyond, and Iran isn’t the only issue on Israel’s collective mind. Rivlin also pointed to reform at the United Nations [UN] as another need. Said the Israeli president, “Croatia is a strong and supportive ally of Israel in the EU, the UN and in additional multilateral forums. The discrimination against Israel in the UN has been going on for decades, but we must never accept it as normal. This discrimination must end.”

Netanyahu, in his comments with the Croatian leader, also mentioned anti-Semitism as another common fight with the European nation. “When I talk about resisting a dark past, I’m talking also about, of course about the scourge of anti-Semitism that is raising its head. I know you have family history, your own family history in this regard, and I know that you will lead the effort, both in Croatia and in the EU, against the rebirth of anti-Semitism.

“I think the opportunities for enhancing the friendship between us and giving a better life for our peoples are real and I’m sure that we’ll make them closer and more real by this visit.”

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this article on July 29, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Mark Neiman/GPO/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s clarity in expressing the importance of a strong Israel for the safety of the Middle East and Europe as well. Thank God for the potential to strengthen Israel’s position at the UN with the support of Croatian leadership, and pray that He will pour out His blessing on the nation of Croatia.

Scripture

You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath.


- Deuteronomy 28:12b–13a

Arrow 3: Can Israelis Now Sleep Peacefully?

by Ron Ben-Yishai

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman watch a live transmission of the test firing of the Arrow 3 missile in Alaska.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019 | The successful testing of the Arrow 3 missile defense system in the Alaskan skies last week is worth a moment or two of Israel’s attention.

The Arrow 3 is Israel’s safety net in the event that Iran comes to possess nuclear weapons. It has the ability, now proven beyond any doubt, to destroy a ballistic missile armed with a nuclear warhead before Israel is endangered in any way.

And it works not just against Iranian missiles; any missiles fired at Israel from other locations around the world could be brought down if, as feared, Iran’s atomic aspirations lead to worldwide nuclear proliferation.

The successful test in Alaska was a product of cooperation with the American AN-TPY2 radar (also known as X-band radar), which can identify targets from a great distance and even in outer space.

This does not mean that Israel’s Oren radar system is incapable of doing the same thing, but compatibility with an American system permanently stationed in the Negev Desert is a vital safety net should anything go wrong with the Israeli system.

Now Israel must make sure it has the launcher and missile stockpiles needed to counter an attack that may include large barrages of missiles carrying nuclear or hydrogen warheads fired from Iran at Israel.

In order to better understand the significance of Arrow 3 for the national security of the State of Israel and its citizens, one must appreciate that every military nuclear program is based on three basic components:

  1. Fissionable material—plutonium or highly enriched uranium, which forms the nuclear explosive
  2. Explosive device—the blast mechanism that initiates the nuclear fission process inside the bomb’s plutonium or uranium core
  3. The method of delivering the nuclear weapon, which makes it possible to send the bomb over the target and detonate

In terms of delivery, there are three main options to get a nuclear bomb to its target:

Aircraft, as the Americans did in Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II; cruise missile, which is basically a small unmanned aircraft carrying a nuclear device; and ballistic missile.

With a ballistic missile, the projectile rises, exits the atmosphere, flies in an arched orbit, returns to the atmosphere when the warhead has separated, and then the warhead explodes. This usually involves a single warhead weighing 800 kilograms [1,764 lbs.] per ton, or several warheads weighing some 250 kilograms [551 lbs.] each. These small nuclear warheads separate from the missile close to the target, before or shortly after it reenters the atmosphere.

The Iranians, to the best knowledge of Western and Israeli intelligence organizations, do not yet have proven capability to build an efficient nuclear explosive device—nor do they seem to have the ability to minimize a prototype of a nuclear explosive device to fit a missile warhead, let alone for a missile with divergent warheads—but they do want to produce divergent warheads for their Shihab-3 missile or other missiles with a range of more than 1,300 kilometers [808 mi.], which can reach from central or eastern Iran to Israel.

This is the driving force behind Israel’s insistence on its Arrow 3 having the capability to stop a ballistic missile armed with a nuclear warhead from entering the atmosphere and detonating where it can cause damage to Israel.

Even a plane could be intercepted by enemy aircraft or anti-aircraft missiles, therefore any country that does acquire a nuclear weapon would likely launch it toward its target using a ballistic missile, a cruise missile, or even in the future a hypersonic missile.

The United States, France, Britain and China are already developing new types of missiles, which travel at five times the speed of sound towards their target. The existing missile interception systems are not capable of stopping them.

With this being the case, one may wonder why Israel views the Arrow 3 as so crucial to its national security. It is because the system is capable of intercepting ballistic missiles once they have left the atmosphere—namely, in space—even before the warhead or warheads split off.

Destroying the warhead while it is still in space ensures that not only will the missile miss its target on earth, but what remains of it and its warheads will not reenter the atmosphere and hit the target area—namely, Israel.

Furthermore, successfully intercepting a nuclear warhead that has reentered the atmosphere in or near Israeli airspace could cause severe radioactive contamination even if it does not hit precisely the target area.

Finally, stopping a nuclear warhead before it reenters the atmosphere affords Israel the opportunity to destroy it in another way should the initial interception fail.

It is unclear whether the Arrow 3 system can provide a response to hypersonic weapons that will appear over the next five to ten years in the hands of the superpowers. The Iranians will take a little longer, but one has to be ready and think about it now.

Israel cannot afford to be asleep at the switch, assuming that it has a relatively solid response to any high-trajectory threat, especially a nuclear one.

The next thing the defense establishment and defense industries are working on is laser defense, which is supposed to enable the destruction of multiple targets within minutes.

It is only when the State of Israel has operational laser systems can its citizens truly sleep peacefully.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on July 29, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/Ashernet

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the ongoing development of technology and devices that will help Israel protect itself from enemy attacks. Beseech the Lord for His protection over His nation, insuring that there will never be a need to use the Arrow 3 defense system against incoming missiles.

Scripture

For I will not trust in my bow, nor shall my sword save me. But You have saved us from our enemies, and have put to shame those who hated us.


- Psalm 44:6–7

Standing with Israel: US House Passes Anti-BDS Resolution

by Kate Norman

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US Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.

Monday, 29 July 2019 | In an overwhelming majority vote to stand with Israel, the United States House of Representatives passed a resolution last week condemning the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.

A vote of 398–17 passed House Resolution 246, which opposes the BDS movement, “targeting Israel, including efforts to target United States companies that are engaged in commercial activities that are legal under United States law, and all efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel.”

Though the resolution does not call for concrete action against the BDS movement— which is largely criticized as an anti-Semitic movement disguised under the term “anti-Zionism”—it stands symbolic of American bipartisan support for the State of Israel.

Resolution 246 was originally introduced by Illinois Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider, who gained 349 co-sponsors—175 Republicans and 174 Democrats—Jewish News Syndicate (JNS) reported.

The Democratic Majority for Israel CEO applauded the final tally in favor of the resolution and the unity it showed between the right and left in their stance on the Jewish state.

“That’s a stunning show of bipartisan opposition to BDS and support for Israel,” Mark Mellman told JNS. “Even among the handful of resolution opponents, a number felt compelled to state their personal opposition to BDS. We congratulate Congressman Schneider, Chairman [Eliot] Engel and House Democratic leaders for guiding this resolution to passage.”

Notably among the Democrats who voted against the resolution were Reps. Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, three well-known proponents of the BDS movement. Omar and Tlaib are the first Muslim women to serve in Congress.

Tlaib condemned the bill on her Twitter account as “unconstitutional,” asserting that Americans’ First Amendment right to free speech “allows boycott of inhumane policies.”

The resolution does not ignore that right, however, as one of its clauses reads that it “affirms the Constitutional right of United States citizens to free speech, including the right to protest or criticize the policies of the United States or foreign governments.”

On behalf of Pro-Israel America, co-founder Jeff Mendelsohn issued a statement applauding the “overwhelming, bipartisan passage” of the resolution.

“While a small number in Congress voiced support for BDS and its anti-Israel goals,” Mendelsohn said, according to JNS, “passage of this resolution with broad support on both sides of the aisle reaffirms that the US–Israel relationship has strong, bipartisan support from members of Congress and the American people.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, July 29, 2019)

Photo Credit: Amanda Walker/flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for the strong relationship that exists between Israel and the United States and for the message of unity that this resolution sends. Pray that the Lord will keep those few anti-Israel voices that exist in the US Congress from influencing their own constituency or other congressional leaders.

Scripture

For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is destruction; their throat is an open tomb; they flatter with their tongue. Pronounce them guilty, O God! Let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, for they have rebelled against You.


- Psalm 5:9–10 

Extended Range: Israel Reportedly Strikes Iranian Targets in Iraq 

by Joshua Spurlock

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The Israeli Adir F-35 jet reportedly struck an Iranian rocket depot in Iraq (illustrative).

Wednesday, 31 July 2019 | In a demonstration of Israel’s military reach, the Jewish state reportedly recently struck Iranian targets just 80 kilometers [50 mi.] from the Iranian border in the neighboring country of Iraq. Asharq Al-Awsat published details on the strikes, citing western diplomatic sources who said Israeli aircraft hit a base on Sunday housing Iranian advisors and a missile shipment. Furthermore, that’s not the first time Israel has allegedly bombed Iranian targets in Iraq. The report said that on July 19, an Israeli F-35 jet struck an Iranian rocket depot.

Just 10 days before that reported attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu specifically listed the F-35 as a weapon capable of reaching Iran. “Here behind me is the Adir, the F-35. Recently, Iran has been threatening the destruction of Israel. It would do well to remember that these planes can reach anywhere in the Middle East, including Iran and certainly Syria,” said Netanyahu in comments released by his office on July 9.

If true, the attacks in Iraq represent an escalation in Israel’s covert war against Iran, following years of bombing Iranian targets and allies in Syria. Israel has repeatedly said Iran should not be allowed to build a base of operations in Syria, which borders Israel. However, the strikes on Iraq go a country further out and come as tensions between Iran and the West have skyrocketed.

Those tensions include attacks by Iran on international oil shipping and even capturing a British ship. On Monday, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the US is working to address that crisis, saying they are “working with the British to find the solution to both (a) right that injustice, and second, prevent it from happening again. So to establish deterrence. That’s the mission set.”

Pompeo, speaking with David Rubenstein, President of the Economic Club of Washington, DC in comments published by the State Department, further said they would defend the Straits of Hormuz waterway to protect international oil shipping in the Middle East.

“We’re going to keep them open. We’re going to build out a maritime security plan. Countries from all across the world who have a vested interest in keeping those waterways open will participate,” said Pompeo.

“It will take more time than we wish it would take, but I’m very confident that the world understands its importance, that America is prepared to be a significant part of that, but we need countries from all across the world to assist us in protecting commercial transit. We’ll be successful.”

The top US diplomat made it clear that the pressure has risen on Iran, noting that US sanctions are working, with over 95% of Iranian crude oil shipped globally taken “off the market.”

Said Pompeo, “We are trying to reduce their resources to conduct terror campaigns all around the world, build out their missile systems and their nuclear program, and we’ve been incredibly effective at that.”

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this article on July 30, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Major Ofer, Israeli Air Force/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
As tensions with the West escalate, pray that Israel’s actions coupled with international sanctions will bring Iran’s reign of terror to an end. Pray that a solution will be found that will end Iran’s ability to support terror around the world, to provide weapons and technology to Israel’s enemies and to amass a nuclear arsenal.

Scripture

Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the LORD will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught.


- Proverbs 3:25–26

White House Aide Denies Peace Summit Planned for Camp David

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A Middle East peace summit at Camp David with Arab leaders is yet to be determined (illustrative).

Thursday, 1 August 2019 | A senior White House official denied Wednesday that President Donald Trump is planning a summit of Arab leaders at Camp David to unveil his self-styled “deal of the century” for Middle East peace.

The plan to hold the summit was first revealed in Ynet‘s sister publication Yedioth Ahronoth on Wednesday morning.

According to the American official, “no summit has currently been planned.”

He said that the US team on the Middle East, which is headed by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and is at present in the region, “will report back to the president, the vice president, the secretary of state and the National Security Council upon returning to discuss the many potential next steps to expand upon the success of the Bahrain workshop.”

The official was referring to the June conference in Bahrain, which focused on advancing the peace process via economic benefits for the Palestinians but whose leaders were not invited to attend.

Kushner was meeting Wednesday with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman and later in the day with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. He and his entourage will then hold talks in Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

A Washington official who has been following the preparations for Kushner’s trip said that the current intention is that Netanyahu will not attend the Camp David conference, as his participation would make it difficult for Arab invitees to accept.

The summit was reportedly planned together with Netanyahu and his ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer.

Trump is expected to present the deal without going into binding detail. For example, he will agree to a Palestinian entity, but not necessarily a state; he is likely to say yes to a Palestinian presence in east Jerusalem but not necessarily as the capital of a Palestinian state, and so on.

The American denial came hours after the Palestinian foreign ministry condemned the planned US summit.

The summit, according to the Palestinian Authority, is aimed at strengthening Netanyahu ahead of the September elections, establishing normalized Israeli-Arab relations and pushing aside the Arab League-endorsed Saudi peace initiative of 2002.

Furthermore, the Palestinian foreign ministry said, holding the conference is a sign that the US does not view the Palestinian leadership as a partner for peace—and that Washington wants to reach an agreement without the Palestinians, thereby also eliminating the concept of a two-state solution.

The Palestinians have warned the US against coming to the aid of Netanyahu, whom they say is trying to implement Israeli law in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and beyond.

Abbas is expected to reject the plan outright, while Netanyahu is likely to praise the move, but says he has many reservations, without elaborating. The Arab rulers will lend the process legitimacy by attending the Camp David conference.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on July 31, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: U.S. Navy Photographer [Public domain]/wikimedia.org

Source: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that the hand of the Lord will guide any and all plans, discussions or summits regarding peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Pray that He will sovereignly move to insure that His will is accomplished in any such effort.

Scripture

There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the LORD’s counsel—that will stand.


- Proverbs 19:21

Corrupt UNRWA

by Kate Norman

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The UNRWA logo

Wednesday, 31 July 2019 | The United Nations [UN] agency dedicated specifically to the Palestinian people is in hot water after an internal investigation completed last year was leaked to the media this week, accusing senior officials of corruption.

Officials from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) have been accused of engaging in “sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority…for personal gain, to suppress legitimate dissent, and to otherwise achieve their personal objectives, jeopardizing the credibility and interests of the agency,” according to the findings of the investigation.

The report was conducted internally by the UN’s ethics department. The results were sent to UN Secretary-General António Guterres’s office last December, but after apparent inaction by his office, an unidentified source leaked the report to Al Jazeera.

The agency’s director-general, Pierre Krähenbühl, is accused of mismanagement including creating a senior adviser position and fast-tracking the appointment for Maria Mohammedi—a woman with whom his relationship “went beyond the professional,” according to the report. Krähenbühl also allegedly abused his position to get travel approval for Mohammedi to accompany him while flying several business class trips around the world.

Their business jaunts took place in the height of UNRWA’s financial crisis, which began after the United States, which financed nearly one-third of the agency’s budget, cut its funding last year after Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas refused to stop paying stipends to terrorists and their families in the Palestinian’s “Pay-to-Slay” program.

Krähenbühl’s Swiss citizenship wasn’t enough to sway his own countrymen either when the Swiss Foreign Ministry announced that it was also pulling its funding from the agency and was also “in contact with other donors” to “increase pressure on UNRWA,” according to Swiss broadcaster SRF.

According to the UN report, the conduct of the agency is risking the reputation of the entire international body. Depending on who you ask, however, UNRWA’s reputation was already shoddy at best.

Millions of Palestinians live in what are called refugee camps, but the camps have developed so much over the past several decades that they resemble suburbs and cities more than the traditional mental images that the term “refugee camp” conjures. UNRWA was established shortly after the State of Israel in order to provide jobs and relief for Palestinians who were then defined as refugees.

Seventy-one years later, those Palestinians—and their grandchildren—are still defined as refugees, a status that no other people group has held for this long. While agencies like UNRWA argue their prolonged refugee status provides Palestinians with benefits, critics argue that it prevents their full integration into surrounding nations and thus perpetuates the conflict.

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis, despite the fact that Switzerland had long funded UNRWA, criticized the agency, calling it “part of the problem” after visiting Jordan in 2018, the Algemeiner reported. “It provides ammunition to continue the conflict. For as long as Palestinians live in refugee camps, they want to return to their homeland.”

In light of the leaked investigation, Al Jazeera reported that the UN launched an internal probe into the allegations. Krähenbühl, Mohammedi and the other accused officials are all denying any wrongdoing, and Krähenbühl has noted that he is cooperating with the investigations.

The agency’s defense for the allegations rested on the politics of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. An UNRWA statement issued to AFP said the agency “is probably among the most scrutinized UN agencies in view of the nature of the conflict and complex and politicized environment it is working in.”

Krähenbühl declared in the statement that “if the current investigation—once it is completed—were to present findings that require corrective measures or other management actions, we will not hesitate to take them.”

Corrective measures already appear to be in the works, as two of the officials named in the report have resigned their positions, citing personal reasons or circumstances connected to the investigation.

US Special Envoy to the Mideast Jason Greenblatt took to Twitter to express his concern over the allegations, urging a “full and transparent investigation by the UN.”

“UNRWA’s model is broken/unsustainable and based on an endless expanding number of beneficiaries,” he wrote. “Palestinians residing in refugee camps deserve much better.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, July 31, 2019)

Photo Credit: UNRWA/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that there will be a complete and intensive investigation of UNRWA that will reveal the corruption that has used millions, if not billions, of international dollars to further the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, rather than being an instrument for peace.

Scripture

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


- Proverbs 11:5

Israel and Greece: Cementing Relations

by Edgar Asher

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Israeli President Reuven Rivlin with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias at the presidential residence in Jerusalem

Wednesday, 31 July 2019 | President Reuven Rivlin held a working meeting this past week with the recently appointed Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. President Rivlin congratulated the foreign minister on his appointment and thanked him for visiting Jerusalem, pointing out that this visit is further confirmation of the importance both countries place on the relations between the two countries.

President Rivlin also remarked on the comprehensive cooperation between Israel and Greece in the areas of security, trade, energy, innovation and disaster management, as seen in the recent fires in Israel, where Greece assisted and stood alongside Israel.

The men discussed regional threats, including the Iranian regime’s attempts to destabilize the area. The two also shared their concern regarding growing anti-Semitism around the world.

President Rivlin told his guest, “I hope that your president can join us in Jerusalem in January 2020 for a conference to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and to work together to confront this modern evil. Holocaust denial and the rewriting of history are dangers to us all.”

The foreign minister thanked the president for welcoming him and stressed how important this meeting was to him on his short visit to Israel, only ten days after taking office. The foreign minister emphasized his concern over rising expressions of anti-Semitism in Greece and added that the Greek government appreciates the president’s unequivocal statements against anti-Semitic attacks in his country.

The foreign minister said that the Greek government intends to continue promoting relations between the two countries and that Greece has many areas of interaction with the State of Israel, which it intends to continue to deepen.

Source: (This press release was originally published by Ashernet on July 28, 2019.)

Photo Credit: Mark Neiman/GPO/Ashernet

Prayer Focus
Pray for the strengthening and protection of the Lord to surround and sustain the budding relationship between Israel and Greece. Pray that the Greek government will remain committed to its promises to promote relations between the two countries and deepen all areas of interaction between the two nations.

Scripture

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!


- Psalm 133:1  

Israeli Embassy in Finland Suffers Relentless Anti-Semitic Attacks

by Itamar Eichner

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Neo-nazis have freedom of speech in Finland.

Friday, 26 July 2019 | The Israeli embassy in Finland over the past year and a half has been subjected to countless anti-Semitic acts of vandalism with the latest in the series of disturbing incidents occurring over the past weekend.

The embassy, located in the capital city of Helsinki, has been targeted by far-right extremists and neo-Nazis on at least 15 occasions since 2018, yet stopping the harassment doesn’t seem to be a priority for the local authorities.

The latest attack saw the glass in the embassy’s front door completely shattered with swastikas and Hitler images plastered all over the building’s entrance.

Last February an illegal demonstration took place at the embassy’s doorstep, organized by the Nordic Resistance Movement, a far-right transnational neo-Nazi group founded in Sweden (where it’s classified as a political party).

Israeli Ambassador to Finland Dov Segev-Steinberg has raised the issue with the local authorities on multiple occasions. But, while senior officials in the country express concern over the situation, tough measures against the perpetrators are yet to be implemented.

“Over the weekend there was a physical attack on the Israeli embassy in Helsinki,” The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. “It’s another link in the chain of anti-Semitic attacks targeting the embassy.

“The Israeli Embassy in Helsinki expressed its disgust over the events to the Finnish authorities and demanded they act in full force to locate the culprits, bring them to justice and prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.”

Anti-Semitism in the Nordic country has become more prominent in recent years. On Finland’s Independence Day last year (celebrated on December 6), right-wing extremists waved multiple Nazi flags in the center of the capital.

Kai Aslak Mykkänen, the country’s former interior minister, defended the act saying the country has the freedom of expression.

In addition, Finnish MP Hussein al-Taee of the Social Democratic Party has in the past compared Israel to the Islamic State and called Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg a “Jew” who’s “doing what a Jew does best. [Messes] up everybody to gain everything.” The lawmaker later apologized for his remarks.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews originally on July 25, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Ruptly/YouTube/screenshot

Prayer Focus
Pray for God’s protection over the Israeli embassy and staff in Finland. Beseech the Lord that the perpetrators of these heinous anti-Semitic acts be brought to justice. Pray also that the Finnish government will commit to truly fighting anti-Semitism, beginning within its own ranks.

Scripture

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; defend me from those who rise up against me. Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloodthirsty men.


- Psalm 59:1–2

Auschwitz Prisoner No. 174005 Who Never Stopped Smiling, Gone at 91 

by Chen Kutz-Bar

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Auschwitz concentration camp

Friday, 26 July 2019 | Naftali Arian survived the Auschwitz concentration camp and on Wednesday the man who lost everyone but remained an optimist passed away at the age of 91.

I met Naftali when I was writing an article for last Holocaust Memorial Day, about survivors still living among us.

As the daughter of prisoner number B7021 at Birkenau, this was a tumultuous journey for me coupled with a feeling of a missed opportunity, since there are so few of these survivors left.

Naftali was an optimist and full of a love of life with a constant smile on his face.

He told me about a trip he once took with a group of IDF [Israel Defense Forces] officers to the death camps in Poland. “Naftali,” they asked, “how come you are always smiling considering everything you went through in the Holocaust?” He told them about the time he had not tidied his bench well enough and the commandant of the barrack beat him with a whip. “When he finished, I got up and smiled,” Naftali told the group, but a few days later when he was to be punished again, the same German said, “Get out of here, you smile when I beat you.”

“I was not beaten after that.” Naftali smiled.

He was 11 years old when the war broke out, a [fifth-grade] student in his hometown of Krakow in Poland.

The family went to the village of Skala not far from town, then to the Plaszow German labor camp in the area and in 1944 arrived at Auschwitz where he was given his number prisoner 174005. “They called me 005 for short,” he said.

He was in four camps for three years.

Once he was asked if he fasts on Yom Kippur [Day of Atonement] to which he replied that he had already done all the fasting he needed to.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on July 25, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Thomas_Jung/flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Pray that the memory of Naftali Arian, and the millions of others like him who endured untold suffering at the hands of the Nazis, never fades from our collective consciousness. Pray that their stories continue to be told by others throughout the generations until the horror of anti-Semitism disappears once and for all.

Scripture

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? 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 121:1–4

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