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Let's Bring Them Home

Friday, August 20, 2021

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

Gantz Says Israel Reserves ‘Right to React Forcefully’ against Threats

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Israeli PM Naftali Bennett and Defense Minister Benny Gantz join IDF Chief of Staff Lt.–Gen. Aviv Kochavi and head of the IDF Southern Command Maj. Gen. Eliezer Toledano for a tour of military readiness

Thursday, 29 August 2021 | Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz said during a tour of the Israel Defense Force’s [IDF’s] Gaza Division on Tuesday, held jointly with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, that the Jewish state will respond to threats at a time and place of its choosing.

Gantz made the comments one day after a Palestinian terror faction, believed to be Palestinian Islamic Jihad, fired a rocket at southern Israel.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.–Gen. Aviv Kochavi and head of the IDF Southern Command Maj.–Gen. Eliezer Toledano joined the other leaders, stopping by an Iron Dome battery and speaking with battalion commanders there.

“Following ‘Operation Guardian of the Walls,’ we announced that the status quo will be no longer,” said Gantz. “We reserve the right to react forcefully [against any threat] in the time and place that we determine.”

“Our only interests regarding the Gaza Strip are quiet, security and the return of our boys home. We are not the enemies of the Gazan people. The real enemy is Hamas, which is taking Gaza residents hostage. We will facilitate humanitarian relief initiatives funded by Qatar and other actors, provided that the money will reach the right places. Israel is determined to defend itself and will know how to do it.”

Bennett said the purpose of the visit was to examine IDF and Southern Command preparedness, noting that “they are indeed suitably ready.”

“From our perspective,” he added, “the address in Gaza is Hamas. Not rebellious groups and not anyone else, but Hamas.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on August 17, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for a resolution to the ongoing conflict with Hamas and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip. Beseech the Lord to bless His people with the quiet and security they so long for, and ask Him to free the residents of Gaza from bondage to Hamas.


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

IAEA: Iran Moving ahead with Production of Uranium Metal

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Uranium-enrichment centrifuges at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility

Wednesday, 18 August 2021 | Iran’s efforts to produce enriched uranium metal have progressed, according to an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report released on Monday.

According to the report, which was issued to member states, Iran has produced 200 grams of uranium metal-enriched up to 20%, Reuters reported.

In response, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price called on Tehran to “cease its nuclear escalations and return to negotiations.”

“Iran has no credible need to produce uranium metal, which has direct relevance to nuclear weapons development,” said Price.

The production of uranium metal is a key step in the path to the development of nuclear weapons.

For its part, Iran insists that its work on uranium metal is part of an effort to develop a new type of reactor fuel, according to Reuters.

A confidential IAEA report first revealed Iran was working on uranium metal back in February. That was confirmed by another report, released in July.

The foreign ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom issued a joint statement on July 6 expressing “grave concern” over the second report, calling it “a serious violation” of Iran’s commitments under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA] nuclear deal.

“We strongly urge Iran to halt all activities in violation of the JCPOA without delay and to return to the negotiations in Vienna with a view to bringing them to a swift conclusion. We have repeatedly stressed that time is on no one’s side. With its latest steps, Iran is threatening a successful outcome to the Vienna talks despite the progress achieved in six rounds of negotiations to date,” they said in a joint statement.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on August 17, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Tehran Times/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the international community will realize the futility of their seemingly endless attempts to draw Iran back to the JCPOA while Iran continues in serious violation, drawing ever closer to the development of nuclear weapons. Pray that the nations, together with Israel, will present a strong and united front against Iran’s nuclear ambitions.


Be my strong refuge, to which I may resort continually; You have given the commandment to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked…

- Psalm 71:3–4a

First Israeli Born in Dubai on Anniversary of Abraham Accords

by Itamar Eichner

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Exactly one year after the Abraham Accords signing, an Israeli was born in Dubai (illustrative)

Monday, 16 August 2021 | A first Israeli baby was born in Dubai on Saturday, exactly one year after the signing of the Abraham Accords formalizing the relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Head of Mission [at the] Israeli consulate in Dubai Ilan Sztulman and his wife Jackie welcomed their daughter Maya after a caesarian section delivered by an American Muslim doctor at Dubai’s Mediclinic hospital. She is the Sztulmans’ fifth child.

“Maya is the first Israeli citizen to be born on Dubai soil,” the proud father said. “We are especially delighted by the symbolic timing of her birth,” he said.

“There are many new Israeli–owned businesses here and now we have an Israeli baby, born to a diplomat,” Sztulman said. “When we issue her passport here in Dubai, we will be doubly excited because it will be the first Israeli passport issued here,” he said.

Sztulman said he has received many messages of congratulation from local officials since the child’s birth. The chief of police—a personal friend, came to the hospital personally and local media was scheduled to report on the historic event.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid sent his congratulations over Twitter.

“Maya is the first Israeli baby born in Dubai! Congratulations to Ilan Sztulman, head of mission and his wife Jackie. The entire ministry is raising our glasses in a toast,” Lapid said.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on August 15, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Fé Ngô/unsplash.com

Photo License: unsplash.com

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord and pray for the Sztulman family. May this historic event be one more step in the building of strong, sincere and mutually beneficial relationships between Israel and the UAE.


The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

- Psalm 23:1–3

Israel Strikes Hezbollah Targets in Syria Near Border with Israel

by Kate Norman

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IDF soldiers guarding the Israeli–Syrian border (illustrative)

Wednesday, 18 August 2021 | The Israeli military on Tuesday night struck military outposts in the Syrian Golan Heights belonging to Iranian-proxy terrorist group Hezbollah, according to Syrian media.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) fired three missiles, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported, causing a fire but no reported casualties.

The target was a military post belonging to “regime forces and Iran militias,” according to SOHR. The post was located outside of Hadr, a small Druze village next to the Syrian side of the border with Israel.

Other Syrian opposition sources reported that another site was hit: the office of Brig.–Gen. Hussein Hamoush, commander of the regime’s 90th brigade.

The IDF dropped leaflets in Syria in May accusing Syrian state’s army of collaborating with Hezbollah—singling out Hamoush as the source and naming him “among those who have sold their consciences and their homeland at the cheapest of prices,” the Jerusalem Post reported.

Hezbollah is a spreading contagion: backed by Iran, based in Lebanon, which has expanded its influence to war-torn Syria as well.

Southern Lebanon is now infested with Hezbollah and Iran-affiliated forces, according to a report last year by ALMA Research and Education Center. Those forces are clustered throughout 58 posts in the region, the report said, 28 dedicated to Hezbollah’s Southern Command and another 30 to the “Golan File.”

Both are pet projects dedicated to spreading Hezbollah’s influence throughout the region and spying on Israel and its military to prepare for attacks on the Jewish state.

Israel kept with its longstanding policy of not commenting on its involvement in strikes. However, Israeli leaders have acknowledged over the years that the IDF has conducted hundreds of strikes in Syria since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in 2011 to prevent Iranian entrenchment in the war-torn country.

The Israeli strikes often target advanced weapons shipments from Iran to its terror proxies in the region, as well as military outposts where Iranian-backed troops are stationed.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, August 18, 2021)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that Israel will be successful in ending Iranian entrenchment in Syria and its weapons shipments to proxies in the region. Pray that the 58 posts where Iranian and Hezbollah fighters are clustered will be systematically destroyed.


“But I know your dwelling place, your going out and your coming in, and your rage against Me. Because your rage against Me and your tumult have come up to My ears, therefore I will put My hook in your nose and My bridle in your lips, and I will turn you back by the way which you came.

- 2 Kings 19:27–28

Israel Downgrades Sinai Travel Warning after Bennett Meeting

by Kate Norman

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Resort in the Sinai Peninsula

Thursday, 19 August 2021 | Israel announced that it has downgraded its travel warning to the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt just hours after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s meeting yesterday with the visiting Egyptian intelligence chief.

The announcement came Wednesday evening, after Bennett hosted the chief of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate, Abbas Kamel, in Jerusalem.

For years Israel has maintained a Level 1 travel warning against the entire Sinai Peninsula, as the northern part of the peninsula is a stronghold for Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists. The area’s shared border with the southern Gaza Strip has also sparked concern that Gazan terrorists could cross the border and kidnap or kill Israeli tourists in Sinai.

However, the southern Sinai Peninsula has been a popular vacation spot for Israeli tourists for years. Therefore, Israel’s National Security Council (NSC) has singled that area out and has scaled back the Level 1 warning to a calmer Level 3 warning for the southern peninsula.

A Level 1 warning alerts to a “very high concrete threat,” while Level 3 downgrades to a “basic concrete threat”—still not recommended for travel, but much less foreboding than Level 1.

Bennett and Kamel in their Jerusalem meeting discussed “diplomatic, security and economic aspects of Israel–Egypt relations, as well as the Egyptian mediation in the security situation vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip,” according to a statement by Israel’s Foreign Ministry. Kamel also met with Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

Egypt mediated the tentative cease-fire that ended the volatile 11-day conflict in which terrorists in Gaza fired more than 4,000 rockets toward Israel, prompting retaliatory Israeli strikes on terrorist targets in the Strip.

Negotiations for a long-term cease-fire are still ongoing, with Egypt continuing to mediate as Israel and Hamas both make demands for an agreement that seeks to bring more calm to Israel’s south and better humanitarian conditions to Gaza without benefitting Hamas.

Kamel also invited Bennett to visit Egypt, relaying the invitation on behalf of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the Foreign Ministry announced. This will be the first visit by an Israeli prime minister to Egypt since then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit in 2011.

The high-profile visits continue next week, when Prime Minister Bennett will fly to Washington DC to meet with US President Joe Biden on August 26. The visit will “strengthen the enduring partnership between the United States and Israel, reflect the deep ties between our governments and our people, and underscore the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel’s security,” according to a White House statement.

Iran will be the hot topic for discussion in Washington, in light of Tehran’s growing influence amid the US pullout from Afghanistan, as well as Iran’s growing violations of the nuclear accords and the ongoing negotiations to return to the accords.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, August 19, 2021)

Photo Credit: jay8085/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Pray for the safety of those who choose to travel to the Sinai in the coming months as well as the southern border with Gaza. Pray that Israel will proceed with great wisdom in continuing cease-fire negotiations with Hamas, and ask the Lord for His blessing on PM Bennett as he travels to Washington to meet with the Biden administration. Pray that the discussions will strengthen the relationship between Israel and the US.


Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men! You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.

- Psalm 31:19–20

Will Polish Anti-restitution Law Permanently Harm Ties with Israel, Jewish Community?

by Dmitriy Shapiro ~ JNS

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Polish President Andrzej Duda

Wednesday, 18 August 2021 | Despite international pressure to veto the bill, Polish President Andrzej Duda signed a bill passed by the Polish legislature on August 14 that would prevent individuals with property seized by either the Nazis during World War II or the post-war Communist government from having it returned.

The bill effectively ends the chances that Poland’s Holocaust survivors and their descendants will be able to receive restitution by filing claims to reinstate their confiscated property, including those who are currently in court seeking restitution.

The action, the president wrote in a statement after signing the bill, would end decades of uncertainty for Polish people over whether the property individuals occupied have to be returned to its pre-Communist or even pre-war owners.

“In my opinion, this is the end of the state of uncertainty, when the bona fide flats and real estate could be taken away by an ordinary administrative decision, when their owner from over 70 years ago was found,” wrote Duda. “Practice has shown that these owners were often fictitious, and that criminal groups became rich at the cost of tens of thousands of people thrown onto the pavement. Anyone born at the wrong time and place could be the victim, and re-privatization to restore justice became almost synonymous with injustice and human harm.”

While the law does not mention Jews, the Holocaust or World War II, it ensures that an administrative decision rendered more than 30 years ago could no longer be challenged.

For months, the bill was condemned by the international community, which saw it as another attempt by Poland to wipe out its responsibility to restore the property confiscated from its Jewish community during the years of World War II and the Holocaust. Before the war, that community was the largest in the world with some three million Jews living in the country, mainly in the centers of Warsaw and Krakow.

Duda’s signing of the law, especially coming on the Jewish Sabbath, was seen as an affront by Jewish organizations and leaders worldwide.

“We deeply regret the adoption of these amendments. Further, we urge the Polish government to consult with representatives of affected parties and to develop a clear, efficient and effective legal procedure to resolve confiscated property claims and provide some measure of justice for victims,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Monday. “In the absence of such a procedure, this legislation will harm all Polish citizens whose property was unjustly taken, including that of Polish Jews who were victims of the Holocaust.”

‘Justice for What Happened in the Past’

The World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO)—the world’s leading advocate for property restitution in central and eastern Europe, which has been fighting the law since it was first introduced—said it was a sad day for justice and rule of law.

“With this law, Poland is attempting to say to the world if you delay justice long enough, you can shut the door to history without taking responsibility and benefit in the present from the Communist actions of the past. They are wrong,” WJRO chair of operations Gideon Taylor said in a statement. “This issue will not go away. Holocaust survivors, their descendants and other Polish citizens [who] have been struggling for decades to reclaim their rightful property nationalized by the Polish Communists will not give up. Without justice for what happened in the past, there will not be legal certainty for those who trade in this stolen property in the future.”

In his statement, Duda took offense that the law had anything to do with the Holocaust and that Communist nationalization of property applied to all citizens regardless of religion.

‘Israel and the Jewish People Will Not Remain Silent’

The new Israeli government took an even stronger line in condemning the new law.

“Israel views with utmost gravity approval of the law that prevents Jews from receiving compensation for property that was stolen from them during the Holocaust and regrets the fact that Poland has chosen to continue harming those who have lost everything,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement. “This is a shameful decision and disgraceful contempt for the memory of the Holocaust. This is a grave step that Israel cannot remain indifferent to.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called the law unethical and anti-Semitic, and recalled the charge d’affaires of the Israeli embassy in Warsaw to return to Israel immediately for indefinite consultations. He also said that the new Israeli ambassador to Poland has been instructed to stay in Israel and recommended that the Polish ambassador to Israel remain in Poland, where he was on a vacation.

Lapid said in a statement the day the law was signed: “It will not end here. We are holding discussions with the Americans to coordinate our future response.

“Tonight, Poland has become an anti-democratic and illiberal country that does not honor the greatest tragedy in human history,” he continued. “We must never remain silent. Israel and the Jewish people will certainly not remain silent.”

‘Strong Supporters of the Jewish State’

Eugene Kontorovich, professor of law and director of the Center for Middle East and International Law at George Mason University, said that whatever problems Poland has had with anti-Semitism in the past, he did not see this law as inherently anti-Semitic and that the Israeli leaders are picking a needless fight.

“Poland has had over the past century, very many transitions of liens. There were Nazis, Soviets, post-Soviet. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with them wanting to have a settlement of property rights so that property rights are not constantly in question,” he explained. “And you know, the cut-off period of 30 years makes it seem that it’s really primarily about Communist nationalization and transition from communism. Given that the Holocaust in Poland now was close to 80 years ago, it’s weird to think that this is primarily or significantly about Jews or about the Holocaust, when pretty much anything or all the claims that could have been made about Holocaust-era issues would have been made by now.”

Poland, he said, on numerous occasions have stood up and threatened to veto anti-Semitic actions in the European Union, becoming a vital Israeli ally—at great cost to itself—and that the outrage over the bill may be sacrificing this support.

“On numerous occasions, they have vetoed European initiatives against Israel in a way that has…generated anger from Brussels [the seat of the European Commission], and they’ve been willing to take the heat,” said Kontorovich. “I think the Polish government have proven themselves to be strong supporters of the Jewish state.”

Meanwhile, WJRO vows that it will continue fighting for the restitution of Polish property.

“Many Holocaust survivors and their families have been waiting for justice for too long,” said Taylor in a statement. “Those who deal in what is in reality stolen Jewish property should understand that we will not stop seeking justice for Holocaust survivors and others.”

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on August 17, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Grabowski Foto/shutterstock/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that Israel and the US will coordinate a strong and effective response to this travesty of justice. Cry out to the Lord on behalf of Holocaust survivors who have been waiting decades for their property to be returned. Pray that this horrific historical wrong will be righted and that survivors will at long last find true justice.


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. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade at your right hand. The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.

- Psalm 121:1–2, 5, 8

Firefighters Bring Jerusalem-area Blaze under Control

by Janet Aslin

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Fire outside of Jerusalem on August 16

Wednesday, 18 August 2021 | Israel’s Fire and Rescue chief, Dedi Simchi, announced last night that the massive fire on the western outskirts of Jerusalem was finally contained. It took 52 hours for 1,500 firefighters with support from 20 aircraft dropping flame retardant to bring the blaze under control.

Firefighting teams from across the country took part in the grueling three-day battle, which charred over 6,000 acres of pine forest in Israel’s mountainous heartland. These firefighters were joined by personnel from the Home Front Command, Israel Nature and Parks Authority, the Jewish National Fund and the Israeli Air Force.

In addition, the Palestinian Authority sent four trucks with 20 firefighters to join in the effort. Defense Minister Benny Gantz wrote on Twitter: “I thank Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas for the initiative to send firefighter forces to aid Israel today. Solidarity and saving lives are a mutual interest for us all.”

On Tuesday evening, a specially modified Hercules transport plane named Shimshon (Samson), with the ability to carry six times the amount of flame retardant as regular firefighting aircraft, was used very effectively for the first time in Israel’s firefighting history.

Thankfully, the international help requested by Israel’s foreign ministry on Monday as a precautionary measure was not necessary.

In the end, residents of ten communities underwent evacuation at one point or another during the three-day ordeal. Air quality in two of them remains very poor, and residents have been advised to stay indoors as much as possible.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg during her visit to the area on Tuesday: “The devastation is unimaginable. There is extensive damage to the environment. Entire ecosystems have been completely destroyed. The nature of the Jerusalem mountains [means it] will have a hard time rehabilitating itself.”

Although no lives were lost in the devastating fire, many Israelis have felt its effects. Well-known harp maker, Micha Harari, lost the workshop that contained his life’s work over the past 40 years. The Metsudah Winery in Givat Ye’arim was completely destroyed on Sunday, just as they were preparing for this year’s harvest. Established in 2011, the winery produced approximately 40,000 bottles of wine each year.

Experts estimate that it will take decades for the blackened forest to recover its former condition. And the area’s residents will need to rely on their inherent resilience and optimism as they work to rebuild businesses and homes.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, August 18, 2021)

Photo Credit: Beth Mevorach/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Thank God that this massive fire was brought under control and with no loss of life. Pray for His blessing on those who risked their lives to fight the deadly blaze, and cry out to Him for cooler temperatures and unseasonable rainfall. Pray that the Lord will rehabilitate the land quickly, and ask for His comfort for those who lost homes, businesses and a life’s-worth of possessions.


When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…

- Isaiah 43:2–3a

IsraAID Offers Assistance to Haiti after Earthquake, Flood Waters from Tropical Storm

by Faygie Holt ~ JNS

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Children in Les Cayes, Haiti, after the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck on Aug. 14, 2021

Thursday, 19 August 2021 | Aid efforts to get to the remote site of Saturday’s deadly earthquake in Haiti are ongoing but are being hampered by a tropical storm that brought heavy rains to the region.

Among agencies providing assistance is the Israel nongovernmental IsraAID, which also provided help to the island nation following a 2010 earthquake and 2016 hurricane.

IsraAID spokesperson Ethan Schwartz told JNS that two international team members, including the group’s emergency coordinator for Haiti, were expected to land in Haiti on Tuesday and “will connect with our in-country team of Haitian former IsraAID staff members and partners, who are currently being mobilized to support this emergency response.”

“Our initial priorities will be distributing urgently needed relief items and personal protective equipment, safe water provision, and providing psychosocial and mental-health support to affected communities in the midst of this disaster,” he continued.

As many as 2,000 people have been confirmed dead in the wake of the August 14 quake, which registered a magnitude 7.2 on the Richter scale, with some 7,000 more injured and homeless. Additionally, authorities are saying that nearly 85,000 houses have been damaged or destroyed, along with public infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and bridges.

Adding to the misery was the arrival on Monday of Tropical Storm Grace, which dumped at least five inches [12.7 cm.] of rain on the island.

“Last night, I saw strong winds and heavy rainfall strike the same areas already affected by the earthquake,” UNICEF’s [United Nations Children’s Fund] representative in Haiti Bruno Maes said in a press release on Tuesday. “Countless Haitian families who have lost everything due to the earthquake are now living literally with their feet in the water due to the flooding.”

He added that “right now, about half a million Haitian children have limited or no access to shelter, safe water, health care and nutrition.”

Schwartz noted that the storm “compounds the existing emergency situation for communities affected by the earthquake, and, of course, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With that in mind, our team is preparing to respond to these multiple concurrent emergencies when they arrive in the affected area.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on August 17, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: UNICEF, ©Harry Rouzier/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for Israel’s response to yet another disaster in Haiti. Pray for the Israeli teams that will bring badly needed supplies, support and encouragement to those who are without shelter, and cry out to Him for the children who are also without safe water, health care and nutrition. Pray that Israel will again bring the light of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob into this very dark situation.


I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.

- Isaiah 49:6b

Lapid’s Visit to Morocco Brings Step Forward in Relations

by Kate Norman

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Rabat, Morocco’s capital city

Friday, 13 August 2021 | Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid wrapped up his two-day visit to Morocco yesterday by inaugurating the Israeli liaison office in the capital of Rabat—and announcing that the two nations would further upgrade ties by opening reciprocal embassies within two months.

Lapid made the announcement while visiting the Jewish community in Casablanca, adding that Morocco’s Foreign Minister, Nasser Bourita, will visit Israel in October or November—depending on COVID travel restrictions—traveling aboard the first direct flight from Morocco to Israel in order to open a Moroccan embassy.

The announcement came after Lapid attended a ceremony, hosted by Moroccan Deputy Foreign Minister Mohcine Jazouli, to open the Israeli office in Rabat.

Lapid’s trip was the first high-level Israeli visit to the north African nation since the two countries established diplomatic ties following the Abraham Accords last year.

Israel and Morocco previously commenced ties, albeit low-key, in 1993 after the Oslo Accords—but the agreement came to a crashing halt after the Second Intifada (Arabic for “uprising”) in 2000, with Morocco shutting down their liaison offices and slamming the door on Moroccan–Israeli ties.

Then-Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom visited Morocco in 2003, attempting and failing to reopen the door. Cooperation and relations between the two states remained under the table until the landmark US-brokered Abraham Accords in 2020.

Still, Morocco was reportedly hesitant to resume full diplomatic ties with Israel until it received reassurance that the new administration in Washington DC would not backtrack on former US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the western Sahara—part of the deal struck in order to draw Morocco into the Abraham Accords fold.

After receiving the reassurance from President Joe Biden’s administration, it appears that Jerusalem and Rabat are pressing forward.

Lapid lauded the warming friendship between Israel and Morocco—a nation from which many Jewish Israelis have roots. After meeting with his counterpart, Boureti, on Wednesday, Lapid said Morocco “is the landscape” of many Jewish Israelis’ childhoods. “The music, the flavors, the colors, the melody of prayer. They will not visit as tourists; they will return for a family visit.”

He thanked King Muhammad VI for “his vision and courage” in restoring the friendship with Israel, and added that he had spoken to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett before departing Israel. Bennett told Lapid, “I envy you going to Morocco before me, but tell them I’m on my way.”

Before returning to Israel with his delegation, Lapid delivered a letter to the king with an invitation from Israeli President Isaac Herzog to visit the Jewish state.

“We are committed to deepening the strength of our relations and I hope that they will further expand and flourish over time,” Herzog wrote.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, August 13, 2021)

Photo Credit: YoTuT/Flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for reciprocal embassies between Israel and Morocco! Thank Him for the growing ties between the two nations and the opportunity for Israelis of Moroccan heritage to visit the land of their childhood. Pray for the safety of the various leaders as they make diplomatic visits and for the safe and smooth openings of the embassies.


The LORD will bless His people with peace.

- Psalm 29:11b