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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.

Israel Threatens War with Iran if Critical Naval Waterway Is Blocked

by Joshua Spurlock

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The Bab-el-Mandeb Strait is a key artery for international oil shipping.

Thursday, 02 August 2018 | With rhetoric between the United States and Iran soaring, the Iranians are threatening to block key shipping lines—and Israel is now on record as threatening to militarily fight back if Iran carries through. “If Iran tries to block the Bab-el-Mandeb, I am convinced that it will find itself facing a determined international coalition to prevent this. This coalition would also include the State of Israel and all its arms,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday in comments released by his office, referring to the waterway known as the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, a key artery for international oil shipping.

The Iranians have focused their threats on the closer and more significant Strait of Hormuz that links the Persian Gulf with the rest of the world. However, CNBC reported that Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have already attacked Saudi oil tankers in the Bab-el-Mandeb, through which 5 million barrels of oil are shipped per day. While that’s less than a third of what goes through Hormuz, the Bab-el-Mandeb strait is also more critical for Israel, as it links the Red Sea coast in Israel’s south to the Indian Ocean and is therefore the naval gateway for Asian trade with the Jewish state. Netanyahu specifically mentioned the Houthi attack in his comments, which were delivered to an Israeli naval officers’ graduation ceremony.

Meanwhile, the US believes that Iran is about to launch significant naval wargames in the Strait of Hormuz. According to a report from Fox News, the US expects the drill to involve 100 gun boats and get underway this week.

While the Americans told Fox News that American forces have not been threatened, they nonetheless are monitoring the exercise. That seems like a wise move, given that Iranian threats against the Strait of Hormuz continued on Tuesday.

The Fars News Agency quoted Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi as implying that pending US sanctions on Iranian oil could be met with Iran’s ability to shut down oil shipping in Hormuz.

“Certainly, the cruel sanctions against Iran will leave [an] impact on the performance of the Strait of Hormuz and we should know that the decisions made in the international environment will not affect just one country as the moves made by others are also effective,” said Khanzadi.

Indeed, international involvement is likely if Iran moves to close down oil shipping. Netanyahu’s warning comes days after US Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned of an “international response” if Iran closed the Strait of Hormuz. The Defense Department website quoted Mattis as saying last week that if Iran blocked the Strait of Hormuz, “Clearly, this would be an attack on international shipping, and it would have, obviously, an international response to reopen the shipping lanes with whatever that took.”

While Israel and Iran have largely engaged in a shadow war in Syria, multiple public confrontations in recent months have occurred between the sides, adding weight to Netanyahu’s threat to fight Iran directly at sea if necessary.

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this article on 01 August 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Skilla1st/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for supernatural protection for Israel, and for the nations, as the world deals with the very real and alarming Iranian threat. Ask the Lord to grant wisdom to world leaders, especially PM Netanyahu, seeking Him for the way forward.

Scripture

No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.


- (Psalm 91:10)

An Israeli Father of Two Killed in Palestinian Terror Attack

by Ilse Strauss

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The Israeli community of Adam where the Palestinian terrorist stabbed three victims (illustrative)

Friday, 27 July 2018 | One Israeli was killed and two wounded when a Palestinian teenager slipped into a community just outside Jerusalem last night to commit a stabbing spree.

The 17-year-old Palestinian terrorist stole through the security fence of Adam, an Israeli community some 5 kilometers [3.1 mi.] from the capital, snuck through the children’s playground and attacked two passersby, brutally stabbing both repeatedly.  Alerted by the commotion, a third person rushed to the scene. He too was attacked, but managed to draw his gun and neutralize the terrorist.

The third victim suffered only light injuries to his limbs. The condition of the initial two victims was, however, more severe and both were rushed to a Jerusalem hospital, where doctors managed to stabilize one of them. Late last night, hospital officials announced that the other, 31-year-old Yotam Ovadia, had succumbed to the multiple stab wounds in his chest and torso.

Ovadia, the officials said, arrived at the hospital in critical condition. The medical team battled for hours to save his life, but was ultimately forced to declare him dead. Ovadia leaves behind his wife and two young boys, aged two years and seven months.

An eyewitness, Adam resident Daniel Nadav, shared the sequence of the attack with Ynetnews. “I saw sharp movements, and at first I thought it was a neighbors’ feud. And then I saw a man running towards me being chased by a terrorist, which made me realize this was a security incident.”

“The terrorist saw me and started to run after me. I escaped, and he realized he doesn’t stand a chance,” he continued. “He stabbed two people and attempted to stab the third one, who neutralized him.”

Magen David Adom [Israel’s Ambulance Service] paramedic Orel Asulin arrived on the scene shortly after the stabbing. He told Israeli media, “Two men aged about 50 and 30 lay on the road in serious condition, suffering stab wounds in their upper bodies. We provided them with life-saving first aid and they were quickly taken to the hospital. During the evacuation, the condition of one of the victims deteriorated and he required resuscitation. Afterward, a fully conscious 50-year-old man approached us, suffering a stab wound in his limbs. We treated him at the scene and he was also taken to a hospital in light condition, along with another anxiety victim.”

Last night’s terror attack marks the first fatal incident since an off-duty security guard was murdered in the Old City on March 18 this year. “Every so often we get a reminder that we are still fighting for our home,” said Avi Roeh, head of the regional council in which the Adam community is located.

President Reuven Rivlin sent his condolences to the bereaved family and prayers for a quick recovery to the wounded. “We won’t let terror rear its ugly head,” he vowed.

As Israel mourns yet another devastating loss of life, Hamas, the terror group ruling the Gaza Strip, rejoices over the death. “Hamas blesses the heroic stabbing operation that was carried out in the Adam settlement. It is… an extension of our people’s ongoing intifada [Palestinian uprising],” the group’s spokesman Abdelatif al-Qanou posted to Facebook.

For his part, Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, the man heading the organization many hail as Israel’s partner for peace, has remained utterly mum on the attack.

Special envoy Jason Greenblatt, one of the US officials charged with brokering peace between Israel and the Palestinians, publically called out Abbas on his deafening silence in the wake of the “barbaric attack.”

“When will President Abbas and Palestinian leaders condemn the violence,” he wrote on his official Twitter page.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 27 July 2018)

Photo Credit: מיכאל יעקובסון/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Ask the Lord to deal mercifully with the victims of this most recent terror attack and with their families, bringing comfort, strength and encouragement. Beseech Him to reveal to the world the deviousness of Mahmoud Abbas, as he pretends to be a man of peace while failing to condemn such horrific violence.

Scripture

With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful; with a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless; with the pure You will show Yourself pure; and with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd.


- Psalm 18:25–26

Syrian Regime Forces Retake Golan Heights Border with Israel

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Syrian soldier on the Golan Heights border with Israel (illustrative)

Wednesday, 01 August 2018 | Syrian regime forces regained control of the whole border area with Israel in the Golan Heights for the first time in seven years on Monday, sealing its military victory in the strategic southern territories, after ISIS-linked militants gave up their last pocket of territory in the area, The Jerusalem Post reported.

According to state media and opposition-linked war monitoring groups, the ISIS-affiliated organization, known as the Khaled bin Al-Waleed Army, was driven out of the last major villages it still held near the Golan Heights, in an area called the Yarmouk Basin.

The military victory in the area means that forces loyal to the Assad regime now fully control the province of Daraa, where the rebellion broke out in 2011. The regime, backed by Russian airstrikes, launched a campaign in mid-June to regain control of the southern and south-western parts of the country bordering Israel and Jordan, in the provinces of Daraa and Quneitra.

Israel has maintained a close focus on the six-week campaign and repeatedly said it will not tolerate a permanent Iranian presence in the country. The Islamic Republic of Iran has sent military personnel and equipment to help Assad in the civil war and has built a significant infrastructure in the war-torn state.

On Monday, Russia’s ambassador to Israel said that his country cannot compel Iranian forces to leave Syria. “They are playing a very, very important role in our common and joint effort to eliminate terrorists in Syria. That is why, for this period of time, we see as non-realistic any demands to expel any foreign troops from the entirety of the Syrian Arab Republic,” he said.

“We can talk with our Iranian partners very frankly and openly, trying to persuade them to do or not to do something,” he said. But asked whether Russia can force Iran out, he answered: “We cannot.”

The ambassador stressed, however, that Russia could equally do nothing to prevent Israel from launching airstrikes against Iranian installments in Syria. “We cannot dictate to Israel how to proceed. It is not up to Russia to give Israel freedom to do anything, or to prohibit Israel to do anything.”

The Israeli government and military have insisted time and again that Israel will take all necessary steps to counter Iran’s aggressive behavior in the region.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 31 July 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Public domain/wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Continue to pray for Israel’s northern border and the encroaching enemies that would use the conflict in Syria as a means to engage Israel. Pray that God’s mighty right hand will keep His nation safe in the midst of such a potentially explosive situation.

Scripture

And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.


- Deuteronomy 31:8

The New Explosive Drone Threat from Gaza

by Alex Fishman

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Hamas is using drones to carry explosives into Israel from the Gaza Strip (illustrative).

Monday, 30 July 2018 | On May 13, 2018, around 9:00 p.m., an explosion was heard in one of the communities on the Gaza border. Residents who came out of their homes found on their front lawn two explosive devices attached to something that appeared to be a small parachute, white and square. One of the devices exploded, but didn’t cause any damage. Security forces that arrived at the town gathered the findings, but couldn’t explain at the time how and where did they come from.

Several days later a similar device was once again discovered on the outskirts of that town, which is located across the border from Gaza City. This time, security forces could point to a connection between the explosive devices and a drone coming from the Strip.

After the third time that month that a drone infiltrated this town, it likely did not make its way back, and went down on the way. The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] didn’t report to the public about this incident, and to this day it only has vague comments to offer on it, despite the fact the findings collected from the front lawn that first time were presented to some of the town’s residents.

The IDF doesn’t know how many explosive-carrying drones were sent over the last year from the Gaza Strip, how many of them made it back in one piece, and whether this is the harbinger of what’s to come in the next round of fighting—waves of explosive drones. But the working assumption in the Southern Command is that Hamas does have the capability to operate dangerous drones.

Two months ago, walls were fortified at barracks housing soldiers who operate the Iron Dome batteries scattered across the south. The only possible explanation for these fortifications in the form of concrete walls, which separate the batteries and the barracks, is the concern that someone is planning to target the launching systems, which are armed with missiles. Such an explosion can cause many casualties among the soldiers who reside nearby.

An accurate hit on an Iron Dome battery is one of Hamas’s clear objectives, as this isn’t merely another prestigious target, but a symbol—much like infiltration into an Israeli community, kidnapping a soldier or sabotaging the obstacle Israel is building on the border. And the simplest way to get to the Iron Dome batteries is by launching a drone that could drop an explosive on them, or blow up itself.

The drones launched toward that community in May were likely the “pilot” for an operational plan. To Hamas, the explosive-carrying drones and the “suicide” drones’ main job is to cause mass casualties or to accurately hit military targets. If Israel causes mass casualties in the Strip, Hamas in response will launch the explosive drones towards Israeli communities on the Gaza border. It could hit a basketball court in the middle of a game, or a beach on a hot summer day. In the Zikim area, for example, several drones from Gaza were found this year. Another possible scenario is for such a drone to fly over an Israeli sniper position and drop a small explosive, like a grenade, in response to sniper fire on Palestinian rioters.

IDF officials claim there’s a difference in principle between explosive kites and balloons—seemingly simple measures that go under the definition of “popular protest and terrorism”—and the use of explosive drones—which is defined as “armed terrorism.” Therefore, the IDF believes, Hamas won’t dare send explosive drones and risk a military conflict.

Those who think so are disconnected from reality. After all, the previous generation of uniform-wearers didn’t believe the smuggling tunnels would turn into attack tunnels, and the generation before that failed to truly understand the threat of Qassam rockets, which were mockingly referred to as “flying iron pipes.”

On December 15, 2016, engineer Mohamed Zouari was shot to death in Tunisia. He was reportedly working on developing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for Hamas—including by converting civilian drones into intelligence and offensive drones. At the time, there was a spike in reports on attempts to smuggle drone parts into the Strip through the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings.

According to data from the Overland Crossings Authority at the Defense Ministry, in 2016, 110 complete drones and 51 drone parts were seized at both crossings. In 2017, 70 complete drones and 301 drone parts were seized. And in 2018 so far, 60 complete drones and 400 drone parts have been seized. Most of the equipment was purchased online from companies like AliExpress.

The question is how many drones weren’t captured and were able to get into the Strip. The search for the drones is complicated due to their relatively small size. Normally they are concealed—in parts or whole—inside the mass amounts of toys going into Gaza, and at times inside the luggage of a person coming into the Strip. In addition, the route to transport goods from Egypt into Gaza—through the Salah al-Din crossing near the Rafah crossing—is not under Israeli monitoring, and it has no information on what comes through it.

The data show that Hamas, unlike the IDF, considers the smuggling of drones a main effort, just like the effort to bring in drone parts to the Strip. The drone parts get to the organization’s workshops, where professionals put them together and adjust them for military activity. Inside those workshops, even bigger drones can be built, which could carry four kilograms [8.8 lbs.] and more.

By the way, Hamas engineer Fadi Albatsh, who was assassinated in April 2018 in Malaysia, was also working on developing unmanned aircraft. One of his fields of expertise was encrypted communications between the operator and the drone.

From the factory in China to Gaza

Hamas started operating drones several years ago, but until recently they were mostly used to collect intelligence. Israelis living on the Gaza border say they saw drones flying over wheat fields and groves, likely in an attempt to spot IDF ambushes by the border fence.

Hamas didn’t invent anything. What’s happening in the Gaza Strip on a small scale is happening on a much larger scale in Iran, Iraq, Syria and inside Hezbollah. Hamas received that knowledge and adjusted it to fit its needs. But what terror organizations like ISIS and Hezbollah have already understood, the IDF is having a hard time getting: a standard drone can easily become a guided missile. Videos from Iraq show ISIS fighters destroying a tank using a drone. They installed 60 or 80 millimeter [2.4–3.1 in.] mortar shells on it, added a fuse, and there you have it: An accurate weapons system that can identify its target and navigate toward it, all for small change.

It’s true, the explosive drones are not the weapon to deliver a decisive blow, but if they’re not classified as one of the main threats, and if the IDF doesn’t prepare for them, it would be hard to estimate the level of damage a massive use of them could cause in the future. Furthermore, Gaza is not Israel’s main problem when it comes to drones. It’s just the Iran-Hezbollah axis’s testing grounds against Israeli weapons systems, such as Iron Dome. The data from these tests is sent to Tehran, where it’s analyzed and goes to Hezbollah as well.

Israel itself is using drones to drop tear gas on protesters on the Gaza border. Hamas might adopt the Syrian model and examine the possibility of dropping chlorine from drones. For Israel, this would be a threat requiring serious solutions on the highest technological levels.

One of the advantages of a drone, apart of its accuracy, is the fact it’s hard to detect. It’s hard to identify it from afar using optical measures, it has no heat signature, its radar signature is the same as that of a stealth aircraft, it flies low and it makes hardly any noise. Its limits are that it can only be used on a short-range—several kilometers only—and it’s hard to operate in stormy weather.

There are several measures being used in the world against drones, with the main one being blocking drones’ satellite-based navigational system. But drone manufacturers and consumers are improving their satellite-based navigational capabilities all the time, and the camera on the drone allows navigating to the target even without the help of satellites.

Advanced defense systems locate the drone using its communications, and then send unmanned aircraft to intercept it. Elta Systems, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries, has already sold the US systems that know how to take over the drone’s communications and disrupt it. There are also Israeli startup companies that are developing UAVs that can intercept drones, as well as measures to block drones’ communications.

Seventy percent of the drones on the international market are manufactured by one Chinese company, DJI. The IDF also buys drones from it. This may be Chinese technology, and there is fear Chinese intelligence agencies will one day know how to take over its frequencies, track and disrupt them—but they’re cheap, can be bought in bulk, and are worth the investment. This Chinese company is constantly improving the durability of the drones’ communications systems, so when a drone identifies that its communications have been compromised, it returns to its point of takeoff immediately.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 29 July 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Drone Phantom Dji Professio/pixabay.com

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord that no terrorist innovation takes Him by surprise. Thank Him for His faithfulness to protect Israel and beseech Him that any plans to use drone technology to cause mass casualties or hit military targets will fail.

Scripture

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 121:3–4

Israel Helps the West with Its Security Needs; When Will the West Allow Israel to Defend Itself?

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Israel rescues members of the White Helmets from southwestern Syria.

Monday, 30 July 2018 | When the United States, Canada and European Union wanted someone to rescue members of the Syrian Civil Defense organization, also known as the White Helmets, from southwestern Syria as the Assad regime and its allies were closing in last week, who did they call? They called Israel. And Israel came through.

Though the White Helmets themselves failed to acknowledge who saved them, the US, Canada, UK and EU all acknowledged Israel’s help.

For example, following the rescue, Jason Greenblatt, the administration’s Special Representative for International Negotiations, wrote, “Following a request from @potus [president of the US] and other allied leaders, last night Israel conducted a daring humanitarian rescue from Syria of hundreds of ‘White Helmets’ personnel and their families and transferred them safely to Jordan.”

While Israel clearly had some advantages in carrying out this “daring” mission—Syria is on its northern border, and the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] has been carrying out clandestine humanitarian missions inside Syria for some time—when it comes to aiding the security goals of the West, Israel has recently been quite helpful. And Israel’s help has been extended in situations that are not as close by and that are also many more times more complex.

At the end of April, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel had stolen a half-ton of files from a secret Iranian archive of its nuclear weapons program. The files showed conclusively that Iran, contrary to its protestations, was indeed pursuing not just nuclear research but nuclear weapons research.

The Israeli seizure of the Iranian nuclear archive was in the news two weeks ago, when The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The New York Times were briefed on the contents of the archives. The Israeli operation exposed one of the weaknesses of the nuclear deal: The failure of the deal to account for the full extent of Iran’s nuclear weapons research.

The Israelis told the Journal that the reason they made details of the archive available to journalists was in order to prompt the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to insist that Iran come clean about all of its nuclear weapons research. Israel said that it didn’t have time to take all the files in the Tehran warehouse that they raided. The West, if it cares about the threat that a nuclear Iran would pose to them and to the world generally, must insist that Iran make their remaining, extensive files available to IAEA inspectors.

At the beginning of the month it was reported that an Iranian-backed terror plot in Paris had been broken up and several people, including an Iranian diplomat, had been arrested. Last week, the Israeli media reported that indeed, the Mossad, Israel’s external security agency, had provided security officials in Germany, France, and Belgium the crucial intelligence those countries needed to thwart the attack and arrest its suspected perpetrators.

The reports in the Israeli media are consistent with a claim that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made in January of this year in a meeting with NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] ambassadors, that Israeli intelligence helped foil dozens of major terror attacks across Europe.

Perhaps it’s no surprise then that last week, Europol, Europe’s police agency, signed a cooperation agreement with Israel, its first with a non-European state, to fight crime and terrorism.

In these three examples, all occurring within the past month or two, Israel has demonstrated its indispensability to the security of the West.

Israel’s military and intelligence capabilities are especially valuable as it is a Western outpost in the Middle East. Those capabilities have been honed by being targeted by terrorism on its borders, as well as by Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror. Being a small country in a hostile region has made improving its military and intelligence capabilities a necessity for survival.

That Israel can use these capabilities to help its western allies fight threats to their citizens makes Israel an essential ally. It was nice to see so many of those allies acknowledge this much after the rescue of the White Helmets.

One can only hope that this appreciation of Israel’s capabilities into greater sympathy towards Israel when it identifies and defends itself against threats that don’t threaten others.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 27 July 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Twitter/ IDF@IDFSpokesperson

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for the recognition Israel is receiving for their recent actions that saved the lives of aid workers in Syria and for the growing number of nations that desires to partner with Israel in the areas of security and intelligence. Pray that through such cooperative relationships, the nations will begin to recognize that it is, in fact, Israel’s God who is her shield and defender.

Scripture

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; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.


- Psalm 91:1–2

Meet the Volunteers who Battle Kite and Balloon Fires

by Matan Tzuri

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Israeli kibbutz near the Israel–Gaza border burns from Hamas terror balloon.

Thursday, 02 August 2018 | Rami Gold, from Kibbutz Be’eri located in the Gaza border region, has no competitors. Riding on his ATV, with an attached water tanker, he arrives first to every fire in the region caused by incendiary kites flown from Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

“Sometimes firefighting crews arrive after I’ve already put out the fire,” he says, laughing. “I tell them, ‘Everything is under control. Go look for another fire.’”

Rami is not alone, however. Together with a team of volunteers that he established in the kibbutz [communal settlement], he and his friends fight the arson terror and rush towards any cloud of smoke in the area that raises their suspicion.

In order to deal with the kite and balloon terror, which the Gaza border communities have been suffering from for months, the residents of Be’eri—the territories of which have recorded the largest number of fires in the region—decided to do something about it. Their solution is to guard and observe the area doing shifts in order to assist firefighting crews to put out the flames.

There are two shifts, one in the morning from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and one in the evening from 4:00 p.m. until the last fire. The means at the team’s disposal are two SUVs, an ATV and four volunteers during each shift.

An average of five fires break out in a day in the Be’eri area. There is also a supervisor that overlooks each shift. Evyatar Kipnis, a resident of the kibbutz manages the shifts through Whatsapp.

Hagai Hecker was appointed as “Operations Man.” He is responsible for calling up the volunteers on duty, and establishing a connection with the IDF [Israel Defense Forces], the firefighting forces, the Nature and Parks Authority and the KKL [Keren Kayemet LeYisrael]. He is on call 24 hours a day and scarcely has a moment of rest.

“We’re really lucky that there are enough volunteers from the kibbutz. All of them are equipped to extinguish fires, and oftentimes there are several blazes simultaneously. It is exhausting but it will not break us,” he said. “There is camaraderie here, like in the military.”

On Tuesday, two young Be’eri residents, Eden Askapa and Jordan Tzemach, started their evening shift and were immediately called on the scene of the fire in the Be’eri crater, which was started by an incendiary balloon.

The two entered their vehicle and called their friend Hen Even as reinforcement. He arrived with his Chevrolet dragging a water trailer behind. “We are saving our homes,” said Askapa on his way to the fire. “If we don’t do it we would have to live in a cloud of smoke or worse, the fire would spread to the kibbutz. But saving nature is no less important. The name of the game is to arrive as fast as possible to the scene of the fire and prevent its spreading. Every moment is critical.”

After putting out the fire in the crater they ascended a KKL observation tower to meet with firefighters. The coffee was already prepared. The observer at the top of the tower called out the launching of incendiary balloon sightings every few minutes and the forces were alert. “The wind is against us,” he said from behind the telescope. “This can cause the fire to spread rapidly.”

Hecker asks the two volunteers to be on alert. Shortly after 6:00 p.m. the observer reports seeing smoke. They jump into their vehicles and head to the scene of the fire that began to spread in a wooded grove about a kilometer [.62 mi.] from the kibbutz. The fire was relatively small and they completed their work within a short time.

“We are dealing with a bizarre reality but we learnt how to be efficient,” concludes Kipnis. “This struggle brought us together and created amazing cooperation between various bodies and connections between great people who just want to protect their homes.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 01 August 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/The Holy Land

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for this wonderful volunteer force of dedicated Israelis who are committed to fighting arson fires and saving crops and people from destruction. Thank Him for the water tankers that are helping the fire fighters reach and extinguish the blazes before they rage out of control.

Scripture

But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. 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 43:1b–3a

Nations Must Stop Tolerating Anti-Israel Bias in Sports Tournaments

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Seven-year-old European Chess Champion Liel Levitan

Tuesday, 31 July 2018 | Israel is subjected to an unprecedented discrimination campaign in the international sports industry, Joshua S. Block, President and CEO of The Israel Project, wrote in an op-ed for The Algemeiner on Friday.

Block was referring to the case of seven-year-old Liel Levitan from Haifa, who recently won the European Chess Championship. “For the ‘crime’ of being Israeli, the little girl is prohibited from playing in the World Chess Championship, because host nation Tunisia will not allow Israelis to compete,” Block said. “If that’s not racism, what is?”

He also cited previous incidents of “horrific acts of discrimination” against Israeli athletes, including the World Chess Championship in Saudi Arabia in December from which Israel’s players were excluded because of their nationality, as well as the refusal of the Lebanese national team to share a bus with their Israeli counterparts during the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Block contrasted these vile acts of discrimination against the inclusive atmosphere at the World Lacrosse Championship, which took place in Netanya earlier this month.

“In a vibrant festival of sport, 46 teams from all over the world competed against each other across ethnic, religious, and cultural divides,” Block overserved. “Sports are a team-building exercise. They’re meant to bring strangers together in a celebration of healthy competition—and that’s exactly what happened in Netanya during the lacrosse event.”

He also praised the decision of the Iroquois Nationals, a group of indigenous people from Canada, to defy pressure from the boycotts movement and compete in the tournament in Israel.

“Israel’s efforts to bring people together under the umbrella of lacrosse stands in stark contrast to the politicization of sports as an instrument in foreign policy—a spill-over effect from other arenas in which actors hostile to Israel seek to delegitimize the Jewish state,” Block explained. However, the Iroquois team has rejected the “ideology of exclusion,” he observed.

Last week, the International Judo Federation revoked the right of Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates to host international tournaments for their past discrimination. “Fortunately—not just for Israel, but anyone who understands the spirit of sport—here’s a growing awareness that using sport as a tool for discrimination is not just morally reprehensible but also undermines the very meaning of sport itself.”

Block added that “there are indications that times are slowly changing,” citing the case of Israeli race drivers Dani Pearl and Itai Moldavski, who were the first ever invited to participate in the five-day Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge earlier this year.

Block concluded by praising Israel’s strong performance in the international sporting world, including the match last Sunday in which the Israeli under-20 basketball team beat Croatia for the FIBA European Championship. “Although Israel may be facing challenges in being accepted internationally in sports, that hasn’t stopped the Jewish state from developing an impressive international profile,” he observed.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 30 July 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/i24NEWS

Prayer Focus
Pray that this insidious form of anti-Semitism will come to an end. Ask the Lord to keep young Israelis involved in all areas of sports from becoming discouraged, as they are frequently confronted with prejudice and injustice. Pray that world sports organizations will recognize this for what it is and will cease to be partners in the delegitimizing of Israel.

Scripture

Learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, please for the widow.


- Isaiah 1:17

Moody’s Raises Outlook for Israel’s Economy

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Monday, 30 July 2018 | A leading international rating agency has raised its rating outlook for the economy of Israel from “stable” to “positive,” despite the volatile security situation in the region. The rating for now remains unchanged, however, with an upgrade in outlook Israel’s rating could be upgraded in the next 12–18 months for the first time since 2008.

Globes reported on Sunday that Moody’s Investors Service upgraded Israel’s status, following a similar assessment from Standard & Poor’s (S&P) last year. Israel’s current rating is A1. If the prognosis results in an upgrade, the rating will rise to Aa-.

Israel’s Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon hailed the news as “further evidence of the strength and stability of the Israeli economy. All the data indicate that the economic policy that we are pursuing, including a free and responsible economy alongside strengthening the middle class and poorer sections of society, is the right way.”

Moody’s named two reasons for the upgrade: Fiscal discipline and strong economic growth.

The agency observed that the Israeli government debt ratio has declined by more than 10 percentage points to 60% of GDP, reflecting both “prudent budgetary framework” and “robust growth performance,” driving tax revenues.

“Israel is one of only a handful of advanced economies (including Norway, Switzerland and Singapore, which are all rated Aaa with a stable outlook) with a lower debt to GDP ratio today than before the global financial crisis,” the agency said. Moody’s added that Israel’s annual budget deficits have remained below 3% of GDP over the past four years.

Another driver for the decision to upgrade the Jewish state, the agency said was “continued healthy growth and current account surpluses in the face of persistent geopolitical tensions (…) Furthermore, continued progress developing the Leviathan gas fields, which provides increased clarity on the potential size and timing of the economic and fiscal benefits, would also support an upward move in the credit rating.”

Moody’s also highlighted the “positive outlook is Israel’s increasingly resilient economy, supported by the dynamism of the high-tech sector, increased energy independence and a strengthening external position, which, if sustained, will continue to support more favorable growth rates than similarly rated peers.”

Israel ranked third place on the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index for 2017-2018 in innovation, behind the United States and Switzerland.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 27 July 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the strength and stability of the Israeli economy. Thank Him for the many indicators that make it clear Israel’s financial picture is indeed a bright one. Pray that Christian supporters of Israel will realize that this is not, in fact, an indication that we should cut back on our prayers and financial assistance, but rather an indication that we should press in even harder as God is using even Israel’s economy to fulfill prophecy!

Scripture

But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You. For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield.


- Psalm 5:11–12

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