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Firm through the Trials

Friday, August 25, 2023

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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.

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for the nation of Israel as it faces “a terror wave, the likes of which we have not seen in a long time,” according to Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox. Pray for the loved ones of the 34 people who have been murdered by terrorists so far this year and for the dozens of others who have been wounded. Pray that the measures presented by National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir will be effective in bringing this escalation to an end and cry out to the Lord for “the IDF and security forces [who] are operating daily in every area, to foil terror.”


Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.

- Psalm 138:7 (ESV)

At UN Security Council Meeting, DC, Moscow and Paris Take Aim at Israel

by Mike Wagenheim ~ JNS

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The UN Security Council during an open debate (illustrative)

Wednesday, 23 August 2023 | America’s ambassador to the United Nations emphasized at Monday’s UN Security Council meeting last week, the Biden administration designated a Hezbollah-linked group—one that purports to be an environmental organization—a terror group. Linda Thomas-Greenfield also stamped the “terror” label on two Israelis who have been charged, but not yet tried, in a deadly incident earlier this month.

“We strongly condemn the terror attacks by settlers in Burqa on August 4 that killed a 19-year-old Palestinian,” said the ambassador, noting also that there have been recent deadly Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis.

Speaking at the Security Council’s monthly meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian file, Thomas-Greenfield referred to an incident in which a group of Israelis said it aided a shepherd who was attacked by a group of Arabs. A Palestinian was shot under unclear circumstances with the main suspect saying that he fired the deadly bullet in self-defense after being struck in the head with a rock.

In an unusual stance, the US State Department decided not only that the accused were guilty until proven innocent prior to their trial, but it also labeled the incident a terror attack shortly after it occurred.

“We note Israel has made several arrests and expect accountability and justice to be pursued with equal rigor in all cases of violent extremism,” said Thomas-Greenfield, “whether the perpetrators are Palestinian militants or extremist Israeli settlers.”

The ambassador added that Washington “also remains deeply concerned by Hezbollah’s provocative actions” along the Israeli-Lebanon border, “which represent an increasing threat to Lebanon’s peace and security, as well as Israel’s.”

The US Treasury Department last week designated the Hezbollah-aligned Green Without Borders—a supposed environmental protection organization—and its leader as terror supporters. An Israeli diplomatic source told JNS that the designation called attention to Hezbollah’s menacing activities, as the Security Council considered renewing the mandate held by UN Interim Force in Lebanon, or UNIFIL.

Russia: ‘Incessant, Unilateral and Illegitimate Steps’

At the August 21 meeting, Thomas-Greenfield noted last week’s appointment of Naif bin Bandar Al-Sudairi, Saudi ambassador to Jordan, as non-resident ambassador to the Palestinians and consul general in Jerusalem.

“We stand ready to be supportive of any and all efforts that will bring us closer to a two-state solution,” she said of the appointment. That appeared to refer to discussions between Washington and Riyadh aiming in part to normalize Israeli-Saudi relations. The Saudis are expected to seek concessions from Israel on behalf of the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, France took aim at Israel during Monday’s session, with Isis Jaraud Darnault, France’s political coordinator to the United Nations, calling on Israel to “abandon the construction of new housing units in the settlements.”

“France will never recognize the illegal annexation of territories, nor the legalization of outposts,” Darnault said.

She also complained that the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] recently demolished the European Union-funded, illegally built Ein Samiya school northeast of Ramallah, calling the razing “unacceptable.” The European Union has threatened to sue.

Having taken an increasingly antagonistic stance towards Israel at the United Nations since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Russia continued the pattern on Monday.

Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s UN chargé d’affaires, laid blame solely at the feet of Israel for the “protracted, years-long stagnation of the peace process.”

Polyanskiy referred to “the incessant, unilateral and illegitimate steps by Israel that create irreversible facts on the ground and basically reduce to a zero any prospects for recovering direct talks among Palestinians and Israelis on a universally recognized international legal basis, which has at its core a two-state formula, which we unfailingly support.”

He blasted “violent militarized raids” by Israeli counterterrorism forces in Palestinian Authority-controlled territory. The raids have led to dozens of deaths, overwhelmingly of Palestinian terrorists, which various terror groups and militias have publicly claimed as their adherents.

Few Security Council ambassadors made any note of ongoing clashes between Palestinian militants, including those of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah group, in Lebanon’s Ain al-Hilweh camp. The fighting has led to 13 deaths, dozens of injuries and millions of dollars’ worth of damage. Services were suspended in the camp late last week due to ongoing danger in the street.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which operates the Palestinian-controlled camp of more than 50,000 people, said on August 18 that armed fighters are still present in its facilities, including schools.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on August 22, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: UN Women/Ryan Brown/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Pray that the nations of the world will recognize the utter hypocrisy in the statements made by the US, France and Russia. Pray that those who claim to be Israel’s friends at the UN will raise their voices in protest against such anti-Semitic rhetoric and demand that the UN cease singling Israel out for such things at its monthly meeting on the “Israeli-Palestinian file.”


For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste.

- Isaiah 60:12 (ESV)

Plan to Increase Population of Judea and Samaria Presented to Prime Minister

by Elisha Ben-Kimon ~ Ynet

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The hills of Samaria near the Jewish community of Givat Yitzhar

Thursday, 24 August 2023 | An ambitious plan to reach a population of one million Jewish settlers on the West Bank [Judea and Samaria], was presented to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday and includes the establishment of new cities, industrial parks, a hospital and an airport. The plan was devised by Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan that now serves 170,000 Jewish residents.

A group of engineers, architects and other professionals have been working on the plan for the past year after its founding principles were discussed with hundreds of settlement leaders.

The plan includes the expansion of existing settlements that will become cities as well as the establishment of new cities. Train lines will connect the West Bank to central and northern Israel and an airport would be built. The authors of the plan said a new hospital would be built, to serve the growing population of settlers as well as new industrial zones to provide employment.

Among settlements set for expansion is Itamar outside the Palestinian city of Nablus, Avnei Hefetz near Tulkarm, Tzufim and Sal’it near Qalqilyah. They also intend to resettle settlements evacuated in the 2005 disengagement plan in the northern West Bank, including Homesh, where settlers already established a Yeshiva approved by the current government.

A planned city to be built in the northern part of the West Bank which would be named Ta’anakh, would be able to absorb 30,000 residents. The city of Shamir is to be established in the same general area, but further away from the boundary with Israel, where 100,000 residents can be absorbed.

The authors say their plan would help solve Israel’s housing shortages. “Looking ahead overcrowding in the center of the country must be resolved. Our plan is based on the assumption that Samaria is the key to such a resolution, with millions of acres of state land currently uninhabited, at a distance of 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) from Tel Aviv.

The plan is being proposed to the prime minister amid tensions with the US over construction in West Bank settlements, and the transfer of authority over parts of the region, from Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to Bezalel Smotrich, who is a minister in the Defense Ministry and the Finance Minister and a settlement advocate.

Washington was critical of the Knesset’s vote to reverse the 2005 disengagement law, clearing the way for resettling of Homesh while the government works to legalize dozens of outposts including the disputed Eviatar, which Palestinians claim was built on privately owned land.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on August 23, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Quail/ שליו/Wikipedia.org

Photo License: Wikipedia

Prayer Focus
As immigrants continue to pour into their ancient homeland from around the world, and the housing shortage in the center of the country becomes increasingly problematic, pray that plans such as this one will be implemented. Pray also, however, that Israel will proceed with wisdom as any plan for construction in Samaria increases tensions with the United States and other world powers. Beseech the Lord that Israel’s leaders will hear His voice and proceed according to His will.


And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

- Isaiah 30:21 (ESV)

Israeli Forces Arrest Two Palestinians in Hebron Terror Killing

by JNS

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Israeli security forces at the entrance to Hebron following deadly shooting attack on Route 60

Wednesday, 23 August 2023 | Israeli forces on Tuesday arrested two Palestinians suspected of involvement in the terrorist murder of an Israeli woman the previous day.

The suspects, named as Mohammed and Sarker Shantir, were captured in Hebron along with the M-16 rifle believed to have been used in the attack.

Batsheva Nigri, 42, a kindergarten teacher from Beit Hagai, was killed when terrorists opened fire on her vehicle on Route 60, close to the Beit Hagai Junction. Another individual, identified as Aryeh Gottlieb, was seriously wounded in the attack.

Gottlieb is being treated at Beersheva’s Soroka Medical Center, where his condition has been stabilized.

Nigri’s 12-year-old daughter, one of three children, who was in the back seat of the car at the time of the attack was not injured.

The vehicle was hit by at least 22 rounds, with another three bullets impacting nearby, according to a preliminary military probe.

A funeral was held for Nigri on Monday evening at the Gush Etzion Regional Cemetery in Kfar Etzion attended by hundreds of mourners.

Nigri’s sister, Eliya, said in her eulogy that she was “the most special sister I could have,” adding that she was “all light and a pure heart” and “an inspiration.”

Family and friends attend the funeral of Batsheva Nigri at the Gush Etzion Regional Cemetery in Kfar Etzion, Aug. 21, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

“All your life, you overcame every difficulty and proved how much strength you have.

“Everywhere you went, you lit up the place. You were contagious with your energy and joy for life,” she continued, promising to “stay strong and take care of mom, Eli [Nigri’s spouse] and your sweet children.”

“This is an unimaginable loss. You were always facing forward, with a smile and with endless hope,” Nigri’s mother-in-law said.

“The terrorists who brutally murdered Batsheva Nigri will spend the rest of their days in prison. We will take all measures to strengthen our security. We will pursue and find our enemies,” said Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Tuesday.

The brothers arrested in Hebron on Monday night were Hamas operatives looking to relieve Israeli pressure on the terror groups in the Jenin area, sources in Hebron told the JNS.

The Shantir brothers were among 32 Palestinians arrested overnight in Israeli counterterror operations in Judea and Samaria.

Palestinian sources in Hebron told JNS that Hamas terrorists in Hebron are “waking up” under a Hamas decision to carry out more attacks in Judea with the goal of relieving Israeli military pressure on Palestinian terror groups in Jenin and northern Samaria.

The sources added that Sarker Shantir is a former security prisoner, and that Akram Shantir, the father of the two, has also been detained for questioning.

TPS sources in Hebron also dismissed a claim of responsibility by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which is aligned with the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah party.

“This is not the first time that the organization takes responsibility for operations it did not carry out,” TPS was told. “This is within the framework of the competition between the Palestinian organizations for the heart of the street.”

In a statement published on Monday afternoon, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed “militia” of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Hamas praised the killing, describing it as “part of the religious war over holy places and against Zionist projects” in Judea and Samaria.

On Monday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu charged the Islamic Republic of Iran with orchestrating the most recent surge in Palestinian terrorism.

“We are in the midst of a terror onslaught that is being encouraged, directed and financed by Iran and its proxies,” said Netanyahu following a situational assessment near Hebron.

The comments were echoed by IDF [Israel Defense Forces] Central Command chief Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox, who declared Monday that Israel is “in the middle of an escalation, a terror wave, the likes of which we have not seen in a long time.”

On Saturday, a Palestinian terrorist shot and killed two Israelis in Huwara, located just outside Nablus in Samaria.

The victims, Shay Silas Nigrekar, 60, and his 28-year-old son Aviad Nir, were residents of Ashdod.

Israeli Border Police officers conducted an arrest raid in Beita, near Nablus (Shechem), on Monday and apprehended a suspect in that deadly terrorist attack.

Earlier this month, a Palestinian terrorist killed Israeli Chen Amir, 42, in the heart of Tel Aviv.

So far in 2023, Palestinian terrorists have killed 35 people (34 Israelis and an Italian tourist) in Israel and committed almost 200 shooting attacks in Judea and Samaria.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on August 22, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Chaim Goldberg/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the men guilty of the murder of Batsheva Nigri will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and cry out to the Lord that Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s warnings will be a deterrent to other potential terrorists. Pray also that Hamas’s plan to distract Israeli defense forces from their necessary actions in Samaria will fail.


Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.

- Deuteronomy 31:6 (ESV)

Iran Unveils New Armed Drone, Claims it Can Reach Israel

by Kate Norman

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The “Mohajer-10” is similar in design to the US-made MQ-9 Reaper pictured here.

Thursday, 24 August 2023 | Iran recently unveiled a new armed drone capable of carrying a 300-kilogram (661-lb.) bomb up to 2,000 kilometers (1,242 mi.)—putting Israel within range.

Tehran unveiled the “Mohajer-10” drone Tuesday morning in a ceremony commemorating Iran’s Defense Industry Day. The regime also posted videos on social media of the drone taking off and flying. One of the videos included text in Hebrew and Farsi that warned, “Prepare your shelters”—a clear warning for the Jewish state.

The Mohajer-10 can fly non-stop for up to 24 hours, carry different kinds of ammunition and bombs, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported, and is also equipped with electronic warfare and intelligence-gathering systems.

The drone is similar to the United States’ armed MQ-9 Reaper—the same type of drone that was reportedly used by the US strike in 2020 that killed Qassem Soleimani, chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC’s) elite Quds Force, which operates outside of Iran.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi attended the unveiling ceremony on Tuesday and used the platform to announce that two unveiled long-range ballistic missiles were ready for use by the IRGC.

The two missiles were named Haj Qassem, after the assassinated Quds Force chief, and the Khorramshahr, a city, Al Jazeera reported, that was recaptured in 1982, staving off an invasion of Iran by Iraq.

At the Defense Industry Day ceremony, after announcing the new drone and the ballistic missiles, Raisi boasted: “Yesterday, they viewed us as a consumer and a country in need,” as quoted by Al Jazeera. “Today, they see us as a producer who can have much to say in the defense and military industries.”

The president also warned that Iran will “cut off any hand” seeking to invade the Islamic Republic.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top Israeli brass have vowed to prevent Iran from establishing itself and its terror proxies on Israel’s doorstep and to prevent the regime from achieving a nuclear weapon.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, August 24, 2023)

Photo Credit: Boevaya mashina/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that the nations will be awakened to the hazards of Iran as a “producer who can have much to say in the defense industries.” Ask the Lord to open their eyes to the dangers Israel faces from an enemy who is sworn to their destruction. Cry out to Him for an end to any agreements that will funnel money into Iran’s military industry and particularly its nuclear weapons program. Also beseech the Lord that the Mohajer-10 will never be used.


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. The LORD shall preserve you from all evil…

- Psalm 121:4-7a

Prayer Focus
Pray for the success of this ambitious plan to “benefit a strong and united Jerusalem.” Pray that the plan will indeed attend to the needs of all citizens of eastern Jerusalem, proving that Israeli sovereignty is a necessary element of, not an impediment to, peace.


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

- Psalm 29:11

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the K9 unit that discovered aerial drones being smuggled into Gaza. Pray that additional methods will be developed to stop the flow of illegal military equipment into the hands of Israel’s enemies. Pray also that Israeli ingenuity will provide new and more effective ways to counter the increasing drone threat.


The Lord will cause your enemies who come against you to be defeated before you. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.

- Deuteronomy 28:7 (ESV)

Shin Bet Called in Amid Deadly Crime Wave in Arab Towns

by Joshua Marks ~ JNS

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Police at the scene where four men were shot dead in the Arab town of Abu Snan.

Thursday, 24 August 2023 | The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) will join the investigation into Tuesday’s quadruple murder in the Western Galilee town of Abu Snan, Walla reported.

Ghazi Sa’ab, a 53-year-old Israeli Arab running for head of the local council in the October 31 municipal elections, was among the shooting victims. The other fatalities were identified as his relatives Zohar al-Din Sa’ab, 45, and Amir Sa’ab, 28, along with Salman Halavi, 66, from the Druze village of Yarka.

A total of 156 Arab Israelis have been killed since the start of the year, mostly in shootings, up from 69 during the same period last year, according to the Abraham Initiatives nonprofit organization.

“Today, every citizen of the Arab community in Israel lives in terrible fear, heavy grief and profound anxiety. Each of those murdered is a complete world to their family and loved ones,” President Isaac Herzog said after the quadruple homicide. “This is an emergency that requires decisive measures by the state to eradicate crime and violence and prevent the further loss of life.”

The Shin Bet will also be involved in the probe into the killing on Monday of Abdel Rahman Kashua, the municipal director of the Israeli Arab city of Tira, located southeast of Netanya.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday vowed to “eliminate crime in the Arab sector” amid ongoing violence in the minority population.

“The murder of the director general of the city of Tira crossed a red line. We cannot tolerate these murders, the criminal organizations, the protection rackets and the taking over of the municipality,” the premier said.

“We will use all means, including the ISA [Israel Security Agency] and the police, all means, in order to defeat this criminal phenomenon. We have eliminated organized crime in the Jewish sector in Israel and we will eliminate organized crime in the Arab sector in Israel.

“Every citizen of Israel must feel secure and not under the shadow of the threat of internal terrorism,” Netanyahu said.

Source: (Excerpt from article originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on August 23, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Shir Torem/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that Shin Bet will be successful in helping to eliminate crime in the Arab sector. Thank the Lord for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statement, “Every citizen of Israel must feel secure and not under the shadow of the threat of internal terrorism,” and pray that Israel will eliminate organized crime in the Arab sector and end the violence and loss of life.


God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

- Psalm 46:1 (ESV)

Guatemala’s President-elect Speaks Fluent Hebrew

by Itamar Eichner ~Ynet

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Guatemalan president-elect Bernardo Arévalo

Wednesday, 23 August 2023 | Guatemala’s president-elect has a unique history with Jews and Israel. The newly elected president, Bernardo Arévalo, 64, is fluent in Hebrew, and this isn’t just because he earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and lived in the country for several years.

Arévalo, who called Israel home for over a decade, also served as Guatemala’s consul in Israel during his tenure as a Guatemalan diplomat. But that’s not all, Arévalo’s connection to the Holy Land isn’t the only Israeli point of interest in his background. His father, Juan José Arévalo, was the president of Guatemala who in 1947 strongly supported the United Nations’ decision to agree to the establishment of the State of Israel.

Subsequently, Arévalo Sr. served as Guatemala’s ambassador to Israel. Interestingly, he was appointed as ambassador by a Guatemalan president who did not particularly favor him but believed that, by sending him to Israel, Guatemala would receive assistance in return.

In the late 1970s, during the country’s civil war, Israel indeed sold military aircraft and Galil rifles to Guatemala, strengthening the bond between the two nations.

Thanks to his father’s diplomatic mission, the son arrived in Israel, studied here as a student, and completed his undergraduate degree in sociology. Later, he pursued a career in diplomacy and was appointed Guatemala’s consul in Israel.

Still, five years ago, when Guatemala decided to follow the United States and relocate its embassy to Jerusalem, Arévalo strongly opposed the decision, asserting that it violated international law.

Jerusalem expects that the strong friendship between the two countries will continue, although occasional changes in policy are possible. It appears that Arévalo may take a more nuanced stance in his support for Israel rather than an automatic one. A senior Israeli official noted that Guatemala has been an extremely pro-Israel country, primarily due to its evangelical population.

Arévalo also sees himself as a friend of Israel and is particularly interested in Israeli technologies related to agriculture and water management. In an interview with local media during his campaign, he said that he lived in Israel for 10 years and holds a deep affection for the country because it played a significant role in his life.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on August 22, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Javier Arango/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the election of Bernardo Arévalo as president of Guatemala. Pray that his history with Israel will strengthen the strong friendship that exists between the two countries and pray that Guatemala’s support for Israel in the international arena will continue. Pray for God’s blessing on Guatemala as President Arévalo leads his nation, and its strong Evangelical Christian population, as a good friend and strong supporter of God’s chosen land.


For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch.

- Isaiah 62:1 (ESV)