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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 Vows to Act Against Iranian Attempts to Transfer Forces to Syria

by Ilse Strauss

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Convoy of Iranian goods is delivered in Syria (illustrative).

Wednesday, 29 August 2018 | Israel vowed yesterday that it will not sit idly by while Iran continues to reinforce a military presence on its doorstep in neighboring Syria. Addressing several Hebrew-language media outlets, a senior Israeli diplomatic source said the Israel Defense Forces will “continue working with complete determination against Iran’s attempts to transfer military forces and weapons systems to Syria.”

The comments come after Iran and Syria on Monday signed an agreement for military cooperation and reconstruction as the seven years of civil war in Syria draw to a close. Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami told the Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen television channel on Monday night that Tehran plans to play an active part in building up the war-torn country’s diminished military forces.

“With this accord, we have paved the way for a reconstruction of the Syrian military industries,” Hatami said. “The most important element of the deal is the rebuilding of the Syrian armed forces and defense industries so that they can regain their full capacity.”

The “defense and technical agreement,” he held, requires Tehran’s continued “presence and participation” in Syria.

In an apparent warning to Israel, Hatami added, “The axis of resistance [an anti-Western and anti-Israeli alliance between Iran, Syria and the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah] is prepared and ready to always respond to any attack against Syria.”

For its part, Israel made it clear that it will act decisively to halt the buildup of Iranian troops and weaponry on its northern border. In fact, the Israeli diplomatic source explained that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu views the goal of Tehran packing its bags and heading home to be as crucial as the cancellation of the Iran nuclear deal. With Russia—the Syrian regime’s other close ally during the war and widely seen as the only role player with the power to curb the Islamic Republic’s ambitions—claiming that it cannot force the Ayatollah’s hand on the matter, an Iran-free Syria seems nearly impossible. Yet the Israeli source pointed out that nixing the Iran nuclear accord also seemed unachievable, until the withdrawal of US President Donald Trump shook the agreement’s foundations.

The source said that Israel’s efforts against Iran will carry on “both on the diplomatic level and on the military level.” Jerusalem will reportedly continue to lobby Moscow and Washington to put “additional pressure on the Iranian regime, pressure that is already bearing fruit—the president of Iran has admitted that many among the people have lost faith in the future of the Islamic Republic and its power under the shadow of the sanctions.” According to The Times of Israel, the US revealed that one of the aims of the crippling sanctions it recently imposed is to persuade Tehran to seize its military interventions both in Syria and the rest of the region.

Iran setting up camp in Syria roughly three years ago has reportedly triggered more than 100 Israeli airstrikes against military targets in the country, says Haaretz. While the Jewish state’s foreign policy usually entails remaining mum on alleged operations on foreign soil, it has admitted to a number of these strikes, including after an Iranian drone entered Israeli airspace in February and after Iranian rockets were fired at Israel from Syria in May.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 29 August 2018)

Photo Credit: Tasnim News Agency/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that Israeli officials will hear and respond to the voice of the Lord as they are faced with the threat of a buildup of Iranian troops and weaponry on the northern border. Pray for success in the diplomatic arena and assistance from the nations, as Iranian aggression threatens stability in the entire region.

Scripture

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.


- Psalm 20:7

Netanyahu: Those Who Threaten Israel with Destruction Put Themselves in Danger of Being Destroyed

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PM Netanyahu at the renaming ceremony for the Shimon Peres Negev Nuclear Research Center

Thursday, 30 August 2018 | Those who seek to destroy Israel put themselves in danger of being destroyed. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered this message—a pointed warning to Iran—yesterday during a ceremony to rename Israel’s nuclear research facility near the desert town of Dimona in honor of the Jewish state’s celebrated statesman, Shimon Peres, who passed away in September 2016.

“Those who threaten to wipe us out, put themselves in a similar danger, and in any event will not achieve their goal,” the prime minister said.

Netanyahu explained that Israel’s survival in one of the world’s most volatile regions depends on its ability to remain steadfast in the face of persistent threats. Peace, he held, can only be reached from a position of strength.

“In the Middle East, and in many parts of the world, there is a simple truth: there is no place for the weak; the weak are collapsing, slaughtered, erased from history. And the strong, for better or for worse, are the ones who survive. The strong are respected, the strong enter into alliances, and ultimately the strong make peace.”

Honoring the man whose name Israel’s nuclear research facility will now carry, Netanyahu said, “Shimon [Peres] aspired toward peace but he knew that true peace can be achieved only if our hands strongly grasp defensive weaponry.”

Peres, who served as Israel’s prime minister from 1984 to 1986 and again from 1995 to 1996, was renowned for his efforts to secure peace between Israel, the Palestinians and the Jewish state’s  Arab neighbors. In 1994, while serving as Israel’s foreign minister, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize alongside then Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and chairperson of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Yasser Arafat, “for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East.”

At the same time, Peres also played a leading role in the development of Israel’s military industry, including setting up the nuclear research facility near Dimona in the 1950s.

Netanyahu added that Israel’s position of strength is key to the “normalization” of ties with “leading countries in the Arab world,” a process which is “happening before our eyes on a scale that would have been impossible to imagine just a few years ago, a process that will hopefully result in peace.”

However, Netanyahu conceded not all of the Jewish state’s neighbors are eager for closer relations. “It is impossible to deny the fact that there remain many enemies in this region and beyond.”

Iran, in particular, remains forthright about its desire to see Israel annihilated—and the leading role it hopes to play in the desired destruction. Tehran funds and supports the Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamist terror group Hamas, both of which are actively dedicated to the Jewish state’s demise. Moreover, the Islamic Republic has used the seven years of civil war in Syria to set up camp and establish a military presence the proverbial stone’s throw from Israel.

Addressing the foe on its northern border, Netanyahu told his audience yesterday, “We are working to prevent Iran’s military buildup in Syria. We will not let go of this goal, just as we did not let go of the effort to bring about the cancellation of the nuclear agreement with Iran, which was perceived as impossible when I first placed it on the international agenda a few years ago.”

Israel has gone to great lengths to lobby the US and Russia to exert its influence to boot Iran out of Syria. While Washington imposed crippling sanctions on Tehran at least in part as motivation to cease its military intervention in Syria and the rest of the region, Moscow holds that it cannot force the Ayatollah’s hand on the matter.

For its part, Iran has no plans of packing its bags and heading home. In fact, on Monday Tehran and Damascus signed a “defense and technical” agreement for military cooperation and reconstruction that allegedly requires the Islamic Republic’s “presence and participation” in the war-torn country.

As Iran continues to strengthen its military presence on the Promised Land’s doorstep, test long-range ballistic missiles in contravention of international sanctions and pursue nuclear ambitions—all the while vowing the Jewish state’s destruction—Israel is well aware that the threats are anything but empty.

That is why Netanyahu’s message yesterday, delivered from such a significant location, was meant specifically for Iran’s ears: “Our enemies know very well what Israel is capable of, they know our policy, and anyone who tries to harm us—we will harm them.”

Source: Ilse Strauss

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 30 August 2018)

Photo Credit: Twitter/PM of Israel@IsraeliPM

Prayer Focus
Pray for strength and courage for Prime Minister Netanyahu as he continues in his commitment to lead the nation of Israel from a position of strength. Pray for normalization of relationships with surrounding Arab nations and supernatural protection from those nations that choose to remain Israel’s enemies.

Scripture

No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.


- Joshua 1:5

Netanyahu: Israeli-Arab Ties Present a Path to Peace with the Palestinians

by Ilse Strauss

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PM Netanyahu meets with Lithuanian PM Saulius Skvernelis

Tuesday, 28 August 2018 | The push for peace between Israel and the Palestinians is as old as the modern State of Israel itself. For well over seven decades the Israelis, Americans, European Union, Arab League and a host of other role players have made every attempt to kick-start a peace process that would see Israel and the Palestinians living side-by-side in harmony. Yet while the Palestinians have balked at every attempt and chose to walk away from the negotiation table while the violence continued to rage, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not lost hope of peace in the Promised Land. The path to the elusive peace, he believes, may well be through normalizing relations with Arab states which, like Israel, are threatened by the growing foothold of the world’s largest state sponsor of terror: Iran.

“Many Arab countries now see Israel not as their enemy but as their indispensable ally in pushing back Iranian aggression,” Netanyahu explained. “This has created normalization which can lead to peace. I believe that if we have peace with the broader Arab world, it will help us get to peace with the Palestinians,” he said.

Viewing the Jewish state as a potential ally marks a significant shift in attitude for Arab states. Apart from seeking her destruction during various wars, the vast majority of Israel’s Arab neighbors still does not recognize her existence and refuses any diplomatic ties. The two exceptions to the rule are Egypt and Jordan, which signed peace treaties with Israel in 1979 and 1994 respectively. The remainder of the nations have traditionally propagated peace with the Palestinians as a prerequisite for normalization of ties. Yet Iran’s growing aggression in the Middle East has now pitted Israel and those who gave her a cold shoulder against the same threat.

Israel and Saudi Arabia emerged as strong and outspoken opponents of the Iran nuclear deal and both nations have pushed publicly for international action against Tehran’s spreading stranglehold in the already volatile region. While Jerusalem and Riyadh have no official relations, various signs indicate that the two countries are drawing closer, The Times of Israel reports. In 2016, a Saudi general visited Jerusalem for discussions with Israeli lawmakers and officials from the two nations have met in public on a number of occasions. In a further sign of warming ties, Riyadh granted Air India access to its airspace for direct flights between Tel Aviv and New Delhi. Earlier this year, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also told The Atlantic in an interview that he recognized Israel’s right to exist and that his vision for the future includes the possibility of diplomatic relations between the Jewish state and his kingdom. Moreover, recent reports speculate that the Saudis are considering the normalization of relations ahead of US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan, which aims to both secure peace between Israel and the Palestinians and prompt Arab nations to recognize the Jewish state.

Netanyahu’s comments came during an interview in Lithuania on Sunday, AFP [Agence France-Presse] reported. He arrived in Vilnius on Thursday for the first-ever official visit to the Baltic nation by an Israeli prime minister. The purpose of the trip, he said, was “balancing the European Union’s not-always friendly approach toward the State of Israel, so that we will receive fairer and truer treatment… I am doing it through contacts with blocs of European Union countries, Eastern European countries, and now with Baltic countries and other countries, of course.”

Netanyahu’s itinerary included bilateral talks with his Lithuanian, Estonian and Latvian counterparts as well as paying tribute to Lithuania’s once vibrant Jewish culture, which came to a tragic end during the Holocaust. The prime minister himself has Lithuanian ties, with one of his grandparents hailing from the Baltic nation.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 28 August 2018)

Photo Credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO

Prayer Focus
Beseech the Lord that growing relationships between Israel and some of the neighboring Arab states will result in a very real change in the region and in Israel as well. Pray that peace with the Palestinians will become a reality as more Arab states establish diplomatic ties with Israel.

Scripture

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.


- Psalm 121:1–4

Israel, US to Form Joint Team to Pressure Iran

by Itamar Eichner

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Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin

Thursday, 30 August 2018 | [Israeli] Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin agreed Tuesday at a meeting in Washington to establish a joint team to work on enforcing economic sanctions on Iran. During their meeting in Washington, the two also discussed the economic cooperation between Israel and the US and joint tax issues.

This is the fourth time the two ministers have met in the past year. The meeting’s main focus was enforcing US sanctions on Iran. The two agreed to enforce the sanctions in the high-tech sector, since the responsibility for implementing the economic sanctions rests with the ministries of finance of both countries.

The joint team will be staffed by professionals from Israel and the United States.

The economic sanctions on Iran led by the US are proving to be effective,” the finance minister said on Wednesday.

According to Kahlon, “the sanctions contribute to the removal of the threat to Israel’s security and to the security of the entire free world, and this is why we should be thankful to the US.”

“My meeting with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is intended to further our strategic economic ties with the US. The joint team that we have formed will be of great importance in tightening sanctions on Iran. This is a great news to the State of Israel,” Kahlon concluded.

In addition to the Iranian issue, the ministers discussed economic cooperation between Israel and the United States and joint taxation issues.

The meeting was also attended by [Israeli] Finance Ministry Director-General Shai Babad and Eran Nitzan, Israel’s economic attaché in Washington.

Following the meeting with the US treasury secretary, Kahlon met with US Middle East emissary, Jason Greenblatt, to discuss promoting joint Israeli–Palestinian economic projects with US backing.

Kahlon also addressed the new development in a tweet Wednesday morning, saying “We are working with true friends in Washington, and together are looking after Israel’s security interests.”

US President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in May and reimposed sanctions to choke Iran’s economy and force it to renegotiate or change direction. The move has been exacerbating a financial crisis in Iran that has sent its currency tumbling.

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

Photo Credit: Twitter/Moshe Kahlon@KahlonMoshe

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord that US sanctions on Tehran are proving effective, weakening Iranian aggression and the threat that it poses to Israel and the nations. Pray that Israel’s economic cooperation with the US will strengthen both nations and serve as an example to other Western countries.

Scripture

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


- Psalm 133:1

Israel’s Water Sources Rapidly Drying Up

by Ahiya Raved and Shahar Hai

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The Hadera desalination plant in Israel helps to alleviate drought problems in the country (illustrative).

Monday, 27 August 2018 | The Water Authority announced Sunday that even if the coming winter brings average precipitation, or even above average, the hydrological drought will continue.

They said that the Kinneret [Sea of Galilee] is drying up at a rapid pace and approaching its black line. They added that an accurate weather forecast for the coming year will be available next month.

The Water Authority said that the deficit in Israel’s natural water reserves, after five consecutive drought years, is substantial. The Authority said that even given one average rainy year and the continued cessation of pumping from the Sea of Galilee to the national water carrier, the sea will remain below the lower red line by the end of next winter.

The Water Authority added that ahead of the end of the summer of 2018, the country’s water resources—streams, springs, the Sea of Galilee and the underground aquifers— are in the worst situation in years, some of them are even on the way to breaking historic records of (lack of) water flow.

To demonstrate, they used the example of the Kinneret, whose water line is currently at 214.20 meters [702.7 ft.] below sea level, and by the beginning of the rainy season is expected to continue to descend by about 1 cm [.39 in] every day and approach the top of the black line, which is situated at 214.86 meters [704.9 ft.] below sea level.

The result can be seen by anyone: the “island” that was exposed in the Sea of Galilee, opposite Kibbutz Ma’agan, is expected to soon connect to the beach.

In addition, the Water Authority said that the severe drought of the past five years has mainly affected the water sources in the north of the country, but the rest of the water sources also have huge shortages. There is a deficit of about 2.5 billion cubic meters [660 billion gallons].

The Water Authority said that unlike neighboring countries, where there are no desalination plants, the situation in Israel is pretty good because of steps that were taken in preparation.

“The Water Authority continues to prepare to respond to the increasing trend of dehydration in the entire region. At the same time, the Water Authority is working to increase efficiency and prevent water waste as a permanent lifestyle,” said a statement issued by the authority.

“In addition, two additional large desalination plants are being planned, as well as other steps, to supplement the water sources for all uses. The Water Authority is also developing tools for forecasting the flow in streams over different periods of time: flood forecasting and intensity to seasonal predictions of the quantities of water expected to be received in a given year as well as over longer time periods in order to enable all elements in the economy to prepare and plan their activities and investments wisely and effectively.

“Climate change requires us all to carefully manage and prevent water waste as a way of life, during rainy years as well, of which we hope and are confident that there will be.”

Uri Dorman, chairman of the Galilee Development Corporation said after the publication of the pessimistic data: “We hope that the forecast for another drought year will not actualize. After five years of drought and water (quota) cuts, we hope that the government will invest in the construction of desalination plants to supply drinking water and agriculture to the Galilee and the Golan Heights. In any event, the government must prepare a contingency plan to compensate the farmers and growers if, heaven forbid, this difficult forecast materializes. We hope there will be no need to apply this program.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 26 August 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord that He would open the windows of heaven and pour out His rain on the dry and thirsty land of Israel. Remind Him of His promises to bring the rain to His chosen Land. Thank Him for the desalination plants that provide drinking water to Israelis despite the drought.

Scripture

But as for me, I would seek God, and to God I would commit my cause—Who does great things, and unsearchable, marvelous things without number. He gives rain on the earth, and sends waters on the fields.


- Job 5:8–10

Israel Uncovers Hamas Terror Network in Hebron

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A presentation held at the Hebron municipality (illustrative)

Wednesday, 29 August 2018 | The Shin Bet [Israeli internal security organization], IDF [Israel Defense Forces], and Israel Police have uncovered a large Hamas terror network in Hebron in recent weeks, the Shin Bet has cleared for publication Tuesday.

The terror cell, which included women, worked to covertly convey intelligence and raise funds from the organization’s headquarters abroad.

According to the Shin Bet, the funds were intended to finance terror attacks, recruit agents, coordinate activities in mosques, provide aid to families of security prisoners and finance propaganda and incitement online.

The first indictments in the case have already been filed to the Judea Military Court, with the main charge being membership and holding a position in an illegal organization.

The network’s activity has expanded in recent years and included the recruitment of dozens of women, some of whom were sent to meet with operatives abroad as well as receive funds and instructions from the deportees of the Gilad Shalit deal, including the terrorist Nasser Adin, who resides in Turkey.

In general, Hamas, an extremist religious terrorist organization, does not use women for its military activities. In this case, it appears women were used mainly for intelligence collection and for money laundering.

The cell was headed by Nizar Shehadeh and Faras Abu Sharah, senior Hamas officials who have previously served prison terms in Israel. According to the Shin Bet, the two utilized the women to transmit encrypted messages in secret.

The network reportedly planned to take control of the Hebron municipality as well as the charitable institutions in the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria], which has long been considered a Hamas stronghold.

The women’s chapter of the network was headed by Dina al-Sa’id, the wife of the terrorist Nashat al-Karmi, who carried out an attack in 2010, murdering four Israelis. Karmi himself was killed during a shootout with security forces.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 28 August 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/Hebron Municipality

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord that this terror cell has been discovered and dismantled. Praise Him for the insight and wisdom He has given Israel’s security and defense organizations. Pray that He will continue to keep them alert and surround them with supernatural protection.

Scripture

“And I will make you to this people a fortified bronze wall; and they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you; for I am with you to save you and deliver you,” says the LORD. “I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem you from the grip of the terrible.”


- Jeremiah 15:20–21

Israel Proposes Plan to Improve Palestinian Authority Economy

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Construction of new buildings in the Palestinian administrated areas shows economic progress (illustrative).

Friday, 24 August 2018 | Israel’s finance minister is eliciting support for a plan to strengthen the West Bank’s [Judea and Samaria’s] economy from the United States and European Union even as the Palestinian Authority [PA] is opposing such efforts, Bloomberg News reported Wednesday.

During the past three years, Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has been promoting a plan to build jointly-operated industrial zones, to make travel easier and to enable the PA to collect its own taxes, in an effort to boost the West Bank’s economy.

“It isn’t always visible, but the economy makes an important contribution to what’s going on,” Kahlon told Bloomberg ahead of his visit to the US later this month to discuss his plan. “I’m a great believer in political process through economy.’’

Kahlon’s plan to improve the Palestinian economy is consistent with the view of the Trump administration, which believes that better economic conditions for Palestinians will make peace more accessible. The finance minister is slated to meet with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Jason Greenblatt, the administration’s Mideast peace envoy, to discuss his plan while in the US.

Though he has been meeting with PA officials, Azmi Abdel Rahman, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority Economy Ministry, rejected Kahlon’s efforts as unilateral. Rahman insisted that any effort to improve the Palestinian economy should come as part of a comprehensive peace agreement.

A member of the US National Security Council told Bloomberg that the administration would disapprove of PA efforts to undermine the economic well-being of its constituents.

In the past, Kahlon has met with European officials, who have all “expressed a willingness to help,” with his plan.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 23 August 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Ralf Lotys/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for the success of Finance Minister Kahlon’s plan to strengthen the Palestinian economy. Pray that the nations will assert their influence to help put this plan in place, for the stabilizing effect that it could have on Israel’s relationship with the Palestinian Authority and for the relief it could bring to the Palestinian people who continue to be victimized by their own leadership.

Scripture

Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor.”


- Zechariah 7:9–10a

Israeli Navy Takes Part in World’s Largest Maritime Exercise

by Yoav Zitun

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Israeli navy takes part in an international maritime warfare exercise (illustrative).

Friday, 24 August 2018 | For the very first time, an IDF [Israel Defense Forces] Navy delegation took part in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC), the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise. During the drill, which took place near Hawaii last month, Israeli officers joined the commanding team. The exercise included 25 participants from 26 countries, 47 warships, 200 fighter planes and five submarines.

Since the early 1970’s, the exercise has been held every couple of years, and simulates a naval maneuver with the participation of an international task force.

Each time, more fleets take part in the maneuver as long as they follow RIMPAC’s entry requirement and observe the previous exercise. After observing the previous one, this was the very first time the Israeli navy took part in the maritime drill as an active participant.

The exercise was led by the US Navy. Its main participants were Australia, Canada and Chile. Among this year’s participants were countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia with whom Israel has no political ties.

Besides Israel, this was the first time for the naval commandos of Vietnam and Sri Lanka.

Because of the enormous distance, close to 10,000 miles away, Israel didn’t send its own ships, but rather joined the commanding team at the heart of the drill—the central command room at the second biggest naval base in the US, the Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam (JBPHH), in Hawaii. The exercise lasted about a month and ended two weeks ago. These days, the Israeli navy is drawing its necessary conclusions.

The exercise simulated a more relevant than ever combat scenario, in which a critical maritime route—similar to the Strait of Hormuz, which Iran threatens to intercept—is blocked.

The RIMPAC exercise also simulated a large American enemy force equipped with sea vessels spread in the sea and along the coast. The commandos, that included tens of thousands of combat soldiers and officers, split into large combat units, whose goal was to destroy a terrorist organization that had taken over two out of the five islands adjacent to Hawaii.

The international coalition forces fought against the terrorist organization according to an intelligence scenario that evolved during battle.

After the initial stage of preparation and making acquaintance with the various delegations, the forces move on to the next stage—basic training and formulating the order of battle.

Part of the mission was to communicate with and synchronize the different task forces, each consisting of about ten ships, including frigates and aircraft carriers from five to seven countries.

In the third and main stage of the exercise, dubbed as “free play,” the task forces attacked the terrorist organization with fighter jets, land forces composed of 18 countries, including the American marines arriving from the Carl Vinson supercarrier.

“At the command post in Hawaii, we dealt with intelligence gathering, the planning of operations and the immediate operations. Alongside us, the participants included officers from the United States, Germany, Chile, Peru, Australia, Brunei, Singapore and Thailand,” Major Ran Steigman, who had a central role in the drill, told Ynet.

Besides Steigman, the head of the navy’s shipyards, Brigadier General Ido Ben Moshe, the naval attachés in Washington, Col. Amir Gutman, and the commander of the Israeli naval commando in charge of the INS Yaffo ship, Major Ran Koval.

“The level of difficulty in such exercises is much higher. Officers from different armies saw the Israeli flag on my uniform, turned to me and expressed great appreciation for the navy and the IDF for our achievements since the Six-Day War,” Major Steigman said.

“The Israeli delegation in the next exercise will be bigger, and American officials told me they want us to send ships as well. It is more likely that we will send land forces, such as search and rescue teams and combat troops. It was an amazing experience that benefited all participants,” the Major added.

The Israeli representatives also saw Israeli missile boats being used by the Chilean navy during the drill, who the army sold about two decades ago to Latin American armies.

“I asked them about the connection between the Mediterranean and the Pacific, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter, since at sea everything eventually flows together,” Steigman said.

It wasn’t the first time Steigman had spoken to foreign officers from armies with which Israel has no political ties: “I met the representatives of Brunei, a small country with a population of 400,000 people, and they also have a commando. During my studies in the United States, I have met Lebanese and Saudi officers, so in these types of situations you feel nothing but great appreciation for others,” Steigman concluded.

At the beginning of the month, the “Reliant Mermaid” exercise was held with the participation of American and Israeli forces. The exercise, a maritime search and rescue and anti-terrorism force protection exercise hosted by the IDF, included several tasks: Defense, search and rescue drill during the day and at night, “swarm” attacks (high-risk, coordinated assault of small enemy vessels), and shooting ranges at sea. Two US warships took part in the exercise alongside the Lahav, Sufa and other Israeli vessels.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 23 August 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israeli Navy and IDF Spokesman/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for opportunities like this for Israel to participate with other countries, building relationships of trust and respect, and strengthening Israel’s position as a leader among the nations of the free world. Pray that Israel will indeed be a light, bringing glory to the Lord in fulfillment of prophecy.

Scripture

Thus says the LORD of hosts: “In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”


- Zechariah 8:23

Abbas’s Responsibility for Gaza Crisis

by Bassam Tawil ~ Gatestone Institute

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Panorama of Gaza City

Tuesday, 28 August 2018 | The Palestinian Authority (PA) is continuing to pursue a policy of double-dealing regarding the Gaza Strip.

On the one hand, President Mahmoud Abbas and the PA leadership continue inciting against Israel by holding it solely responsible for the humanitarian and economic crisis in the Gaza Strip. On the other hand, Abbas and his Ramallah-based government continue to impose strict economic sanctions on the Gaza Strip.

Now, Abbas is bending over backwards to foil a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas and the other Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip. Abbas says he is worried that such a deal would pave the way for the implementation of US [United States] president Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-announced plan for peace in the Middle East.

Although they have never seen the Trump plan, Abbas and the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah claim that it envisages the establishment of a separate Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip. They also argue that the Trump plan seeks to transform the Palestinian-Israeli conflict from a political and national conflict into one that is related only to humanitarian and economic issues. Abbas says he fears that the humanitarian and economic aid that the international community is promising to the Gaza Strip, as part of a cease-fire deal, is aimed at extracting concessions from the Palestinians, especially on issues related to Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees.

Abbas also claims that any cease-fire agreement would solidify the split between the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and Gaza Strip. He argues that the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization], the “sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,” is the only party authorized to sign an agreement with Israel.

Reminder: In March 2018, Abbas and his government decided to impose a series of punitive measures against his own people: the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The measures include, among other things, halting payments to thousands of civil servants and forcing thousands of others into early retirement. He also decided to stop paying Israel for the electricity it supplies to the Gaza Strip and limited the amount of medicine shipments to the coastal enclave.

Abbas has defended his sanctions against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip by arguing that Hamas was refusing to hand control over the coastal Gaza enclave to his government in accordance with previous “reconciliation” agreements signed between his ruling Fatah faction and Hamas.

Subsequently, violent riots by Palestinians along the Gaza-Israel border—organized by Hamas and labelled as the “March of Return”—which began in March, reached their peak when arson kites and balloons were launched into Israel.

In other words, it is Abbas himself who bears full responsibility for the clashes between Palestinians and Israeli troops along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Were it not for his sanctions, the Palestinian factions would not have waged the “March of Return”—the primary goal of which is to protest the deteriorating conditions inside the Gaza Strip, for which they blame Israel rather than their own leaders. The blood of the more than 150 Palestinians killed in the riots is on his hands alone.

The violence of the past few months along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel could have been avoided had Abbas agreed to lift the sanctions he himself imposed on the two million residents of the Gaza Strip. He chose, however, to continue his measures so that the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip would continue directing their anger towards Israel. Abbas has no headquarters or offices in the Gaza Strip where the Palestinians there can protest against him. So, he had nothing to worry about when he decided to punish his own people. He also had nothing to worry about regarding the international community because he knows that, as usual, it will blame only Israel for the crisis in the Gaza Strip.

Today, as Egypt, the United Nations [UN] and other parties scramble to reach a long-term cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, Abbas suddenly seems to be feeling uncomfortable. In the past few days, he and his senior officials in Ramallah have been inciting against the proposed cease-fire deal by claiming that it is part of an Israeli-American conspiracy to separate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank and pave the way for the implementation of Trump’s unseen peace plan. Abbas is especially worried that the international community will be funding economic and humanitarian projects in the Gaza Strip behind his back. He wants the money to be spent through his government. He wants to control every penny the international community earmarks for the welfare of his people.

Let us get to the nitty-gritty: Abbas is seeking to prolong the suffering of his people in the Gaza Strip so that he can keep deflecting the Palestinians’ rage and violence toward Israel. He also seems to be hoping that the sanctions he imposed on the Gaza Strip might prompt the Palestinians living there to revolt against Hamas. While he has succeeded in his first goal—triggering a wave of protests against Israel—Abbas’s desire to see Palestinians rise against his rivals in Hamas has thus far been unsuccessful.

Instead of helping to resolve the crisis in the Gaza Strip, Abbas is continuing to pour oil on the fire by inciting against Israel and the US administration. In recent speeches before the PLO Central Council in Ramallah, Abbas has repeatedly denounced Israel and the US and accused them of conspiring against the Palestinians and of being “partners” in “crimes” against the Palestinians. He has also vowed to continue his boycott of the US administration because of its “bias” in favor of Israel.

It is not clear how a cease-fire in return for improving the living conditions of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is linked to any Israeli-American conspiracy. Since when is economic and humanitarian aid considered a conspiracy against the Palestinians?

Abbas, like most Arab leaders, never cared about improving the living conditions of the Palestinians. They could easily have helped the Palestinians build a strong economy and proper state institutions. Instead, Abbas and these Arab leaders want to keep the Palestinians living in refugee camps and poverty so that they can continue extorting money from the world and putting all the blame on Israel. Arab leaders seem to care about only one thing: enriching their personal bank accounts and securing the future of their own sons and daughters.

How can he talk about Trump’s purported peace plan when neither he nor any Palestinian has ever seen it? How do he and his senior PLO official, Saeb Erekat, know that Trump’s purported plan is aimed at “liquidating” the Palestinian cause and national rights?

Equally disingenuous is that Abbas, who is responsible for the current wave of violence along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, is now demanding that the international community, specifically the UN, provide “international protection” for the Palestinians against Israeli measures. In a letter to the UN secretary-general, Abbas’s foreign ministry accused Israel of committing “crimes” against Palestinian civilians, especially in the Gaza Strip, and renewed the call to provide international protection for the Palestinians.

This is the same Abbas whose sanctions are depriving cancer patients of chemotherapy medicine in the Gaza Strip.

This is the same Abbas whose sanctions have deprived thousands of civil servants of their salaries in the Gaza Strip.

This is the same Abbas whose sanctions have triggered the recent violence along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

Abbas is calling for “international protection” for the Palestinians while he is doing everything he can to wreak havoc on his people in the Gaza Strip. He does not want a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel; he does not want to lift the sanctions he imposed on the Gaza Strip, and he does not want the international community directly to fund economic and humanitarian projects that would improve the living conditions of his people. So what exactly does Abbas want? He wants the people of the Gaza Strip to continue protesting so that he will be able to continue to demonize Israel.

Worse, Abbas does not want his people to raise their voice against his sanctions. Palestinians who have been protesting against his punitive measures in the West Bank have been repeatedly beaten by Abbas’s police forces. Just last week, Abbas’s security officers broke up a peaceful protest in Ramallah against his sanctions.

Abbas is fine with protests as long as they call for bringing down Israel or the US. But Palestinians who dare to criticize his policies often find themselves subjected to various forms of punishment, including detention and beatings.

Abbas’s crackdown on protests against his sanctions are yet another sign of his policy of double standards regarding the Gaza Strip. If anyone needs “international protection,” it is those protesters who are being targeted by Abbas’s security forces in the West Bank. Abbas’s actions and words have shown that the well-being of his people is the very last thing on his mind.

Abbas has one strategy: to incite his people against Israel and the US. He is prepared to fight against Israel and the US to the last Palestinian. It is a battle he is waging at the cost of cancer patients and needy families. For him, a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip is a bad thing because it could bring calm and deprive him of his ability to whip up hatred against Israel and the US.

The question remains: Will the international community allow Abbas to continue playing his dirty game at the expense of his people or will it wake up and realize that Abbas is part of the problem, not part of the solution? The best way of employing pressure on Abbas is by making it clear to him that as long as he continues with his policies, including the incitement against Israel and the US, the international community will not fund his government.

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.

Source: (Gatestone Institute originally published this article on 21 August 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Mujaddara/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority leadership will be called to account for the vicious lies and incitement against Israel that they are responsible for. Pray that the nations will finally recognize that Abbas is not a man of peace, but rather a brutal leader who is literally holding his own people hostage in order to demonize Israel.

Scripture

Also the schemes of the schemer are evil; he devises wicked plans to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaks justice. But a generous man devises generous things, and by generosity he shall stand.


- Isaiah 32:7–8

Following Months of Fire Arson, Israel Launches Restoration Project in Scorched Areas

by Matan Tzuri

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Kibbutz Kerem Shalom

Monday, 27 August 2018 | Some 500 volunteers, including soldiers, teens and members of youth movements from all over the country took part Sunday in an environmental restoration project in Kibbutz Kerem Shalom, following the mass fires caused by kite terrorism that had scorched the area in recent months.

The project is part of the renewal process the kibbutz [communal settlement] had undergone in recent months.

Kerem Shalom—as other communities bordering Gaza—lost many of its lands due to mass fires sparked by incendiary balloons and kites flown from Gaza, as well as by the recurrent rounds of fighting between Hamas and Israel which included the launching of rockets and mortar shells by the terror organization.

Dozens of incendiary kites landed in the kibbutz and its surroundings, with many acres of land being destroyed.

Thirteen new Kerem Shalom families also took part in the restoration project.

The volunteers focused mainly on improving the kibbutz‘s public spaces. In addition, the volunteers planted lawns and trees, and repaired environmental hazards.

Lior Dafner, Kerem Shalom’s community head, said that “the members of the kibbutz are deeply moved by the compliance (to the project) and the help we received. We dreamed of this day and the day has arrived.

“Kerem Shalom as well as this day prove[s] that when you dream and believe—everything is possible,” he added.

As part of The Day of Renewal project, singer Idan Amedi, who heard about the initiative, will perform at a concert to be held in honor of the project. Amedi asked to perform without getting paid as a gesture to those taking part in the initiative.

The concert was initiated voluntarily by Yoaz Hendel and elite combatants, including elite commando unit Sayeret Matkal soldiers who reside in the kibbutz. The soldiers joined the UK [United Kingdom] Jewish National Fund (JNF) whose leaders responded to the kibbutz leadership’s call to allocate the necessary resources for the project.

“While the terrorist organizations are determined to hurt (our) steadfastness, we will prove that the people of Israel love Kerem Shalom’s pioneers and are ready to do everything for them.

“We call on the entire public to join us,” the UK JNF said.

An elite combat unit soldier, identified as A, said, “Every day we defend the country on the front, and on weekends we come here because we feel it in our hearts that we are needed. This is contemporary pioneership.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 26 August 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Michael Jacobson/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the Israeli people who find victory and hope in their resilience. Ask that the Lord will help them to restore what terror has destroyed. Pray for restorative initiatives such as the Day of Renewal project where volunteers, soldiers and singers all come together to rebuild.

Scripture

The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt, o virgin of Israel! You shall again be adorned with your tambourines, and shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice.


- Jeremiah 31:3–4

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