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Friday, August 30, 2019

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

Israel Steps up Security Measures as Fear of War Skyrockets

by Ilse Strauss

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IDF soldiers launching a drone (illustrative)

Tuesday, 27 August 2019 | The troubled region of the Middle East is often described as a tinderbox—one tiny spark and everything goes up in flames. This weekend had more than its fair share of sparks, with a Palestinian terror attack in Judea and Samaria, rocket fire from the Gaza Strip in the south and Israeli preemptive strikes on Iranian targets in Syria and reportedly Lebanon.

With these sparks threatening to set Israel and the surrounding area aflame, the Jewish state faces the threat of war on five fronts: Gaza, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Judea and Samaria. And Israel is taking the necessary steps to keep all fronts fortified and ready to defend its people.

This weekend saw the largely covert war between Jerusalem and Tehran take yet another step from the shadows when Israel conducted a preemptive strike in Syria overnight Saturday to thwart an Iranian terror attack on northern Israel—and then publicly owned up the strike, busting the details of the Islamic Republic’s plot to murder and maim Israelis wide open.

Iran’s plan of attack, which entailed launching explosive-laden killer drones into the Israeli Golan Heights, was reportedly payback for Israel stepping up its efforts to prevent the mullahs from setting up a Shiite military hegemony spanning from Iran through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon, and increasing its scope of strikes on Iranian-linked targets from Syria to Iraq over the past month.

Foiling the Iranian attack was allegedly not Israel’s only action over the past few days. On Sunday, two drones crashed into the southern suburbs of Beirut, an area dominated by Iran’s Lebanese terror proxy, Hezbollah, and on Monday there was strike on a base belonging to a Palestinian terrorist group in Lebanon near the Syrian border. While nobody has claimed responsibility for the strikes in Lebanon, regional leaders are pointing an accusatory finger at Israel.

Qassem Soleimani, head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, took to Twitter to lambaste the Jewish state for interfering with its plans to murder Israelis. “These insane operations will surely be the last steps of the Zionist regime,” he tweeted.

Eager not to miss the opportunity to shake its fist at Israel, Iran’s terror proxy Hezbollah quickly jumped into the revenge-spewing fray by threatening to settle the score with Israel. “I tell the Israeli army,” raged the head of the terror entity, Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, “wait for our response.” According to the terror chief, the revenge attack could come from either Lebanon or Syria “at any time on the borders and beyond the borders.”

For his part, Lebanese President Michel Aoun called the alleged Israeli strikes in his country a “declaration of war,” which entitles Lebanon to “resort to our right to defend our sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.”

Israel clearly is taking the threats from Lebanon seriously, focusing its fortification efforts in the Syria and Lebanon border areas, with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Northern Command on high alert over fears that Hezbollah may launch revenge attacks. The attacks, the army believes, will not target civilians but rather soldiers or military infrastructure, Israel’s Channel 12 news reported.

“The home front is in a state of routine, and we are working to preserve that. The IDF has increased its level of preparedness, both in terms of defense and attack,” Brig. Gen. Amit Fisher, the head of the IDF’s Bashan Division in the Northern Command, told the Times of Israel. “Numerous intelligence and operational efforts are being made in order to continue to protect the security of residents.”

The Channel 12 report said that the IDF has deployed all its forces already in the northern area to possible target areas. Moreover, with the security establishment monitoring the situation closely, the decision to dispatch reinforcements may come at any time.

The army also advised residents in northern Israel that it is safe to continue with their normal routines. “Civilian activities are to continue as usual,” the Walla news site quoted the IDF as saying. “All activities can go on, including trips and agricultural work. There are no restrictions on movement. At the same time, we as a military are advancing preparations for every scenario. There will be a lot of movement in the area.”

A senior IDF official had a word of warning for Hezbollah—or any Iranian-linked proxies hatching a plan to harm the Jewish state: “The Israeli response to an attack will be disproportionate.”

According to the Times of Israel, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also passed on the same message of a strong Israeli response from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the Lebanese president over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu issued a plea to the international community to take steps against the rogue actor behind the sparks that threaten to set the Middle East tinder box aflame.

“Iran is working on a broad front to carry out murderous terrorist attacks against the State of Israel,” he said. “Israel will continue to defend its security however that may be necessary. I call on the international community to act immediately so that Iran halts these attacks.”

As the powers-that-be in Israel deliberate the means to face the threat of war and keep the five fronts of Gaza, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Judea and Samaria fortified, we invite our readers to join us as we pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Ps. 122:6).

Source: (Bridges for Peace, August 27, 2019)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/idf.il

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord to draw His hedge of protection around Israel as she faces threats on five different fronts. Pray that He who keeps Israel without slumbering or sleeping will guard her from the evil schemes of enemies in Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Gaza. Also praise God for revealing the Iranian terror plot so that Israel could thwart the attempt to murder and maim. Ask Him to continue blessing the Jewish state’s security services with supernatural insight and vigilance to discover and foil terror attacks before they occur.

Scripture

I will love You, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies.


- Psalm 18:1–3

Israel under Attack: Rocket Fire on South Continues

by Matan Tzuri and Itay Blumenthal

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Hamas operatives in the Gaza Strip

Thursday, 29 August 2019 | Air raid sirens warning of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip sounded Wednesday night at the Netiv Ha’Asara community that borders the northern section of the Hamas-run enclave. The moshav [collective community] was holding a night swim for dozens of local children at the time.

Local residents reported hearing an explosion, and no injuries or damage were reported. The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] said the rocket did not cross into Israeli territory.

The siren, which sounded a little after 9 p.m., sent residents of the community into their protected areas. A short time later, Israeli Air Force planes struck a Hamas post in the northern Gaza Strip, the IDF said.

The siren created a great deal of panic at the event for children at a pool in the community.

“Eighty children were crammed into the protected area,” local resident Yifat Ben Shoshan said. “There was a great panic.”

She said the event was “the last night swim of the season” and was cut short.

“The children of Netiv Ha’Asara will remember this moment for the rest of their lives, that’s for sure,” she said.

The event comes amid heightened tensions in southern Israel.

On Tuesday, several mortar shells were fired at Israel, one of which exploded in an open area adjacent to the Gaza–Israel border.

There were no injuries or damage, and according to the IDF, additional mortar shells landed in the Gaza Strip.

As with multiple other attacks of this kind, the IDF response was measured, with aircraft striking Hamas positions in the northern Gaza Strip.

Two days ago, three rockets were launched at Sderot as thousands of people were enjoying a music festival in the city.

Two of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system as concertgoers fled to reach protected areas.

The IDF attacked Hamas targets in the northern Gaza Strip in response. Among the targets was the office of a battalion commander in the terrorist organization.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on August 28, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Ruptly/YouTube/screenshot

Prayer Focus
Beseech the Lord to bring a permanent solution to the incessant rain of rockets on communities in the south of Israel. Pray that His protection over the people of Israel will not only be physical, but that He will also shield them from emotional and psychological trauma.

Scripture

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the LORD our God. They have bowed down and fallen; but we have risen and stand upright.


- Psalm 20:7–8

Another Israeli Teen Murdered in Palestinian Terror Attack

by Ilse Strauss

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The spring where Rina Schnerb and her family were hiking when they were attacked.

Monday, 26 August 2019 | It was the perfect day for relaxing outdoors. Temperatures were soaring, making the cool waters of the Bubin Spring—an oasis on a well-known hiking spot near Dolev, a community northwest of Jerusalem—all the more appealing. Rabbi Eitan Shnerb, 49, and his two children, 17-year-old Rina and her 19-year-old brother, Dvir, decided to take advantage of the brilliant sunshine with a pre-Sabbath hike and swim at the popular rock pools.

Little did the Shnerb trio know that Palestinian terrorists had planted an explosive device at the popular spring. Little did they know that the Palestinian terrorists were lying in wait out of sight, watching patiently for their prey to walk into their trap. And little did they know that Rina would be the second Israeli teenager murdered in a Palestinian terror attack in just over three weeks.

Rina was buried in her hometown of Lod just before sunset on Friday afternoon to signal the start of Shabbat (Sabbath). Hundreds of people from around the country gathered around her shroud-covered body to mourn the sunny, cheerful girl who would never grow up to fulfill her dreams.

Rina’s father and brother were not among the group of mourners. Eitan and Dvir sustained serious injuries in the blast that killed Rina and were airlifted by military helicopter to a Jerusalem hospital. Despite his wounds, Eitan found a way to speak at his daughter’s funeral.

“It hurts and we pray that this will never happen again,” he addressed the mourners from his hospital bed via cell phone. “We are trying to be strong. We are strengthened by the Bible of the people of Israel in the Land of Israel.”

“Our response to the murderers is that we are here and we are strong and we will prevail.”

Hours later, the rabbi spoke again, this time to tell of the last time he saw his daughter alive, seconds before Palestinian terrorists remotely detonated a bomb that snuffed out her life.

“We started going down toward the spring, [and] as we came close to the spring there was a roadside bomb. I have experienced several bombs in my life and been saved, thank God, but this one got us,” a distraught Eitan told reporters from his hospital bed.

“It was a very big roadside bomb,” he continued. “It was black, everything went black…and I heard Dvir shouting to me, and I immediately called to Rina, shouting ‘Rina, Rina.’ I looked down and saw that she was not alive.”

Eitan gave his daughter one last kiss. “I told her we will make sure to be strong.”

The force of the blast broke the rabbi’s hip and embedded a piece of shrapnel in his stomach, yet he remained strong enough to administer first aid to Dvir, who was bleeding badly from a number of cuts. Eitan remembers using his tzitzit (tassels on the corners of his prayer shawl) to stem the bleeding.

“Rina is the one who saved us all,” he shared. “She died a hero’s death and saved us. She absorbed it all.”

Israel launched a massive manhunt to apprehend Rina’s murderers, confiscating surveillance cameras in nearby villages and conducting door-to-door searches. Three Palestinians were arrested over the weekend. According to the Times of Israel, their connection to the blast remains unclear.

Friday’s blast was the third terror attack targeting Israeli teens in three weeks. Rina was laid to rest 15 days after Israel bid farewell to another teenage victim of Palestinian terror. Eighteen-year-old Dvir Sorek left Migdal Oz for Jerusalem on August 7 to purchase books as gifts for his rabbis, telling friends to expect him back that evening. He never made it. Dvir’s body, riddled with stab wounds, was discovered in the predawn hours of the next morning near the road leading up to the school. He was reportedly still clutching the books he bought for his teachers.

Just over two weeks later, a Palestinian terrorist rammed his car into Nahum Davis, 18, and his 20-year-old sister, Noam, while the siblings waited at a bus stop in Judea. Nahum sustained grave injuries. The teen spent the week after the attack fighting for his life, but has since stabilized.

Rina’s murder was also the first bloody act in a weekend fraught with violence. On Saturday evening, Israel launched a preemptive strike on a number of Iranian Quds Force and Shiite Militia targets in Syria to thwart a large-scale attack of multiple “explosive-laden” killer drones on Israel. Less than 24 hours later, tensions on Israel’s southern border erupted when Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip launched a volley of three rockets on the Jewish state.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, August 26, 2019)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces@IDF/Twitter

Prayer Focus
Entreat the Lord to quench the spate of Palestinian terror attacks in which two Israeli teens have been murdered and two more injured. Bring the family and loved ones of Rina Shnerb before the Lord. Ask Him to comfort and support them as they mourn the death of this precious young woman. Also pray for fast and complete healing for Eitan and Dvir.

Scripture

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.


- Psalm 23:4

New App Offers 24/7 Hebrew Lessons for New Immigrants

by Itamar Eichner 

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New app offers an alternative to traditional Hebrew classes for immigrants.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019 | Two recent immigrants to Israel have developed an app to help new arrivals tackle the challenge of learning Hebrew.

Aprende Hebreo, a smart-learning company that developed the app, was founded by two young immigrants from Latin America who struggled as they tried to learn the language in government-offered courses known in Israel as ulpan.

So, they decided to develop an artificial intelligence-based platform for the study of Hebrew.

Francisco Marinaro and Adam Cohen met at an immigrant absorption center in Ra’anana, a town north of Tel Aviv, and decided to join forces to find a solution that would help new immigrants gain a quick and easy command of the language.

“We developed this solution because we wanted anyone who immigrates to Israel to have a basic knowledge of Hebrew as well as the ability to study anytime and anywhere,” Marinaro said.

“When I started studying the language, I saw how exhausted students were by the outdated method of teaching and how hard it was for them having to work full time and go to language school.

“I realized there had to be a technology-based method that makes lessons available 24 hours a day. I wanted a solution that could be used by immigrants before they actually arrived in Israel so that they could have a head start.

The app the two developed uses interactive video clips with questions that must be answered as well as speech, grammar and vocabulary exercises, all monitored clearly on a panel so as to keep track of the student’s progress.

The company prepared a subscription-based business model which costs just a few dollars a month and includes online support.

The app currently teachers Hebrew to Spanish speakers but will soon support English, French and Russian as well.

The WZO [World Zionist Organization] is extending its support to the project.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on August 8, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: JESHOOTS-com/pixabay.com

Photo License: Pixabay

Prayer Focus
Sing praises to the Lord for this invention aimed at easing the process of learning Hebrew for Jewish people who come home to Israel, according to God’s promise. Pray His blessings over the endeavor that it will help the process of new immigrants settling into the country of their forefathers.

Scripture

And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country.


- Ezekiel 34:13

President Rivlin Visits IDF Troops in Judea and Samaria to Bolster Morale

by Edgar Asher

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President Rivlin with soldiers in the IDF’s Judea and Samaria Division

Thursday, 29 August 2019 | President Rivlin visited the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] Judea and Samaria Division [Wednesday] morning to meet with forces operating in the area since the murder of Rina Shnerb last Friday at Danny’s Spring, near the village of Dolev.

The president told his hosts, “Even with the grinding routine in this difficult sector, we must ensure force readiness is not compromised. You and your commanders are keeping us safe here in a way that is admirable, with a sense of mission and an understanding of the importance of what you do.”

The president continued, “I understand and can even see here today the complexity of the sector and the difficult tasks you perform, and I thank you on behalf of all the citizens of Israel.”

At the site of the attack, the president met the soldiers of the Nachshon Battalion of the Kfir Brigade, which is currently patrolling the sector, and who were the first forces to begin searching for the attackers of the Shnerb family.  The president was escorted on his visit by GOC Central Command Maj.–Gen. Nadav Padan and commander of the Efraim Brigade Col. Yiftach Norkin.

Danny’s Spring (Maayan Danny) is named after Danny Gonen, who was murdered in the same location four years ago.

Earlier this week, the president visited Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital where the father of the family, Rabbi Eitan, and his son, Dvir, both of whom were wounded in the attack, are recovering from their injuries and consoled them on the loss of Rina, and wished them a full and speedy recovery.

Source: (Ashernet originally published this article on August 28, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Source: Ashernet

Prayer Focus
Lift up the soldiers of the IDF before the Lord in prayer, asking Him to guide, protect and bless them as they protect His chosen people and Land. Ask the Lord to bless the Israeli forces with good morale, joy and peace as they go about their duties.

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

Revenge But Not War: Hezbollah’s Plans for a Calculated Strike against Israel

by Ilse Strauss

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Satyar Emami/wikimedia.org

Wednesday, 28 August 2019 | Take a deep breath. Calm down. Plan your next words—and your next steps—carefully. This was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s advice yesterday to the man at the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force and the leader of Tehran’s Lebanon-based terror proxy, Hezbollah.

The Israeli premier’s warning comes in answer to both Qassem Soleimani and Hassan Nasrallah calling for revenge against the Jewish state after an Israeli preemptive strike in Syria overnight Saturday thwarted an Iranian terror attack on northern Israel—and killed at least two of Nasrallah’s terrorists. Israel’s enemies are also accusing the Jewish state of crashing two drones into a Hezbollah stronghold in the southern suburbs of Beirut—reportedly to target precision-guided missile technology—and a strike on a base belonging to a Palestinian terrorist group in Lebanon near the Syrian border.

Soleimani’s furious response to Israel thwarting the Iranian plans to murder and maim Jews was to vow that the Jewish state’s “operation” would be one of its “last steps.”

Nasrallah’s vow of retribution was equally menacing. “From tonight, I tell this Israeli army on the border, be prepared and wait for us.”

Netanyahu was quick to answer the threats of retaliation. “I heard Nasrallah’s speech,” he said yesterday. “I suggest he calm down. “[Nasrallah] knows full well that Israel knows how to defend itself well and pay back its enemies in kind. I want to tell him and Lebanon, which hosts this organization that is trying to destroy us…”

The Israeli premier next turned his attention to Soleimani, the alleged mastermind behind the foiled Iranian terror plot: “Be careful what you say and be more careful what you do.”

Nasrallah has since toned down his fiery rhetoric, clarifying that although he still plans to settle the score with Israel, the retaliation might not come as swift or as strong as initially communicated.

According to a Hezbollah source, “the direction now is for a calculated strike.” The source was, however, quick to add that it “is being arranged in a way which wouldn’t lead to a war.”

Another source added that Hezbollah remains committed to carrying out a response “commensurate with the nature of the aggression.”

For his part, the terror chief told the pro-Hezbollah daily Al-Akhbar that he is in no hurry to act and is content to bide his time. “Let us leave the Israelis on alert,” he said cryptically.

Israel is certainly on alert. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) warned on Monday that the Jewish state’s response to any attack from Hezbollah “will be disproportionate.” Moreover, according to the Times of Israel, Netanyahu asked the US to send a message to his counterpart in Beirut that in the event of a Hezbollah attack, it will hold the entire nation of Lebanon responsible.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Jerusalem views the Shiite terror group as its biggest threat on the northern border. In 2014, the Israel Project described Hezbollah as “the world’s largest, most sophisticated, wealthiest and most militarily capable terror organization,” “created, trained, funded and deployed as a proxy of the Iranian government, with operations spanning Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas.”

During the Syrian Civil War, the terror entity shifted its focus from the annihilation of Israel to helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad cling to power. With the Butcher of Damascus safely back in power, Hezbollah emerged from the fight bruised but battle trained, ready to shift its focus back to taking down Israel.

The last time Israel and Hezbollah faced each other on the battlefield formally was during the 2006 Second Lebanon War. During the course of war, Hezbollah rained thousands of rockets on northern Israel. Considered the world’s most heavily armed non-state actor, the terror entity currently has an arsenal of some 150,000 unguided artillery rockets, as well as ballistic, anti-air, anti-tank and anti-ship missiles.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, August 28, 2019)

Photo Credit: Satyar Emami/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord to bring the threats of Nasrallah and Soleimani to naught. Place the nation of Israel before the Lord and ask for His continued hand of protection over the Land and the people.

Scripture

Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.


- Psalm 121:4

Brazil University Cancels Pro-Israel Lecture after Threats

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Campus of the University of Pernambuco in Brazil

Wednesday, 28 August 2019 | A university in Brazil was forced to cancel a lecture by a pro-Israeli advocacy organization StandWithUs after being bombarded by threats from pro-Palestinian groups.

The University of Pernambuco, a public university in the city of Recife, opted to cancel the lecture titled “Dilemmas in the Peace Process between Israelis and Palestinians,” after pro-Palestinian activists launched an online social media campaign urging the organizers to scrap the event.

The university later released an official statement citing “security concerns” as the reason for the cancellation.

“I have been contacted by the people from Pro-Palestine Muslim Association, who threatened me and the university in an intense manner,” said Karl Schurster, the event’s moderator and a professor at the university.

The event’s main guest speaker—Jewish political scientist Andre Lajst and executive director at StandWithUs Brasil—said he believes the real reason behind the cancellation was an attempt to censor pro-Israeli views.

“I am an academic expert in the Palestinian–Israeli conflict and unfortunately this is not the first time that my lectures have been cancelled due to force majeure,” said Lajst, adding that StandWithUs invited pro-Palestinian activists to discuss the disagreements “in a peaceful, democratic and respectful dialogue.”

“We offered to shorten my speech in order to have a democratic debate with them, but they didn’t accept our offer,” said Lajst.

StandWithUs has publicly appealed to the university to reschedule the lecture as soon as possible.

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

Photo Credit: Dantadd/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for this university to reschedule the lecture soon so its students can hear the truth. Pray also for universities across the world, as college campuses are well-known for being militantly anti-Israel. Ask God to thwart their plans to shut out the truth and open their hearts and minds to hear Israel’s side of the story.

Scripture

“These are the things you shall do: speak each man the truth to his neighbor; give judgement in your gates for truth, justice, and peace; let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; and do not love a false oath.”


- Zechariah 8:16–17a

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