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A Year of Crisis

Friday, December 10, 2021

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

Headed for US, Gantz to Stress Benefits Iran Derives from Nuclear Twilight Zone

by Yaakov Lappin ~ JNS

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IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi (left) and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz (right)

Wednesday, 8 December 2021 | Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz is expected to underline the stalling tactics utilized by Iran in nuclear negotiations in Vienna during his official visit to the United States, which begins on Thursday, and point out that the Islamic Republic is enjoying reduced sanctions enforcement and nuclear-program advancement at the same time.

Iran’s decision to continue [building] advanced uranium centrifuges, which accelerate the enrichment process, and to begin enriching uranium to the 20% level at its Fordow facility, as well as to 60% at Natanz, have set off warning bells in Israel.

The fact that Iran is taking advantage of slow negotiations, dragging them out as it makes nuclear progress, will be the No. 1 agenda that Gantz will focus on in the United States.

Currently, no solution appears in sight as Iran reaches the most advanced stage in its nuclear program to date. Even the Biden administration’s attempt to return to the 2015 nuclear deal—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA]—has so far stalled, and there is no sign of international community pressure on Iran to cease its nuclear activities as the talks wear on.

This status quo represents the worst of all scenarios in that there is no pressure on Iran. The only diplomatic game in town is to get it to return to the former deal, whose sunset clauses will expire in the coming years. And while sanctions on Iran have not been lifted, their level of enforcement is clearly waning.

China has signed oil-procurement deals with Iran that it was not willing to do in 2020 for fear of US sanctions, a clear sign that Beijing is feeling more empowered.

In this twilight zone, Iran enjoys the benefits.

Second on the list will be the schedule for implementing the Iron Dome interceptor replenishment program, which recently won the support and financial commitment of the US House of Representatives to the tune of [US] $1 billion.

On Securing Weapons Systems, Expanding Abraham Accords

Israel also has several defense acquisitions that it wishes to speed up in light of regional developments, such as earlier-than-planned delivery of Boeing KC-46 refueling aircraft, additional fighter jets—either the fourth squadron of Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth jets or a squadron of Boeing F-15Ex jets.

Other systems, like air-to-ground munitions, could also be on the agenda.

It appears as if some of these weapons systems, which Israel had hoped to fast-track, are, in fact, only slowly being processed, so Gantz will be keen to work with Washington to see how to move the schedule forward.

In October 2020, Gantz appeared to have reached an understanding about bringing deliveries forward by securing US loans to pay for systems that have already been authorized for sale to Israel.

During that visit, Gantz and the then-US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper signed an important declaration ensuring America’s strategic commitment to safeguarding Israel’s Quality Military Edge in the years ahead.

Israel has also green-lighted the acquisition of 12 Lockheed Martin-made advanced Ch-53K transport helicopters, beginning a helicopter modernization program that has been years overdue.

The third topic on Gantz’s agenda will be the Abraham Accords and normalization with a growing number of pragmatic Arab Sunni states.

This trend forms a key pillar in the regional push to counteract Iran’s hegemonic drive; related discussions will likely include ways to expand the accords.

On Thursday, Gantz will meet with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon, as well as with Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the US State Department.

On Friday, he is scheduled to deliver remarks at the Israeli–America Council’s National Summit in Miami, to be held from December 9–11.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on December 7, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Ask the Lord to give Defense Minister Gantz just the words he needs to awaken the Americans to the dangers of maintaining the status quo with Iran. Pray that the US will join with Israel in convincing other nations of the critical need for international community pressure on Iran. Also pray that this visit will strengthen the relationship between the US and Israel and help to silence all anti-Israel voices in the Biden administration.

Scripture

The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of justice.


- Psalm 37:30

Israel Announces Completion of Security Barrier with Gaza Strip

by JNS

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An image of the newly completed underground and overground Gaza barrier

Wednesday, 8 December 2021 | After three-and-a-half years of construction, the Israeli Ministry of Defense announced on Tuesday the completion of a 65-kilometer (40-mi.) underground and overground border barrier with the Gaza Strip.

The barrier “includes an underground component with sensors, an above-ground fence, a naval barrier, radar systems and command-and-control rooms to prevent infiltrations from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Needless to say, it also features advanced cameras for security purposes.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said: “The barrier, which is an innovative and technologically advanced project, deprives Hamas of one of the capabilities it tried to develop and places an ‘iron wall,’ sensors and concrete between the terror organization and the residents of Israel’s south. This barrier will provide Israeli citizens a sense of security and will enable this beautiful region to continue developing and flourishing.”

He described routine life in southern Israel as “our victory,” calling such routine “the greatest threat to terrorist organizations.”

“We will continue to maintain our readiness to thwart any attempt to harm Israeli citizens with an emphasis on rocket attacks from Gaza. We will also prevent the transfer of Iranian know-how and technology to Gaza, and will continue thwarting any attempt by Hamas to operate its affiliates in Judea and Samaria or anywhere in Israel,” he said. “Their attempts have failed time and again.”

It took more than 1,200 workers to build it, in addition to six concrete-producing plants that were established along the border with Gaza.

Some 220,000 trucks-worth of concrete went into the building work, as well as 140,000 tons of iron and steel.

The Defense Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces planned and built the barrier together.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on December 7, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israeli Minister of Defense/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord that this project has finally been completed. Pray that the border barrier will be 100% effective in protecting Israel from any form of terrorist activity from Gaza. Thank God for blessing His people with the innovative ideas and advanced technological know-how that made this wonder of modern security possible.

Scripture

“The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.


- Deuteronomy 28:7

Herzog Receives Credentials of New US Ambassador to Israel

by JNS

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Israeli President Isaac Herzog (right) receives the credentials of new US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.

Tuesday, 7 December 2021 | Israeli President Isaac Herzog received the credentials of newly appointed US Ambassador Thomas Nides on Sunday at an official ceremony at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.

“The people of Israel welcome you with open arms and an open heart,” Herzog said to Nides. “For us, this is a celebration of a shared vision and common values: liberty and equality, freedom, human rights and friendship with our closest ally.”

Alluding indirectly to his late father, Chaim—both a former Israeli president and ambassador to the United Nations—Herzog said: “My family has been engaged and involved with more than 14 successive American presidents. Growing up in the United States, I was strongly influenced by the spirit of the Constitution, by its social diversity and by the great tradition of your democracy.”

Referring outright to another family member, the Israeli president went on: “I must add how touched we were by [US] President [Joe] Biden’s warm remarks at the Hanukkah [Feast of Dedication] candle-lighting ceremony on Thursday at the White House, as he graciously welcomed Israel’s new ambassador to the United States, my dear brother, Mike Herzog.”

Herzog also expressed his gratitude for President Joe Biden’s “tireless support and uncompromising commitment” to the “ironclad relations” between the two countries.

The Israeli president then raised the issue of the “common threat posed by Iran,” which he called the “greatest challenge” faced by the two countries.

“We are closely following the international community’s recent negotiations with [the Islamic Republic, and] will welcome a comprehensive, diplomatic solution [that] permanently solves the Iranian nuclear threat.”

However, he stated, “in the case of a failure to achieve such a solution, Israel is keeping all options on the table, and…if the international community does not take a vigorous stance on this issue, Israel will do so; Israel will protect itself.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on December 6, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
As the US and Israel exchange ambassadors, pray for both men whose missions are critically important. Ask the Lord for His wisdom as they both play crucial roles in maintaining the relationship between the two nations.

Scripture

When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.


- Proverbs 16:7

Hamas Threatens Renewed Violence against Israel

by Elior Levy ~ Ynet

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Violent riots in the Gaza Strip (illustrative)

Tuesday, 7 December 2021 | A senior Hamas source said on Monday that the Palestinian terror outfit was weighing escalating violence against Israel after weeks of relative calm while launching an unusual attack against Egypt for its mediation between the parties.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera, the source claimed that Cairo did not keep its promise to rehabilitate the Gaza Strip after the May war with Israel and ease the blockade on the Palestinian enclave, and continues to put hurdles for Gazans who wish to leave the territory through the Rafah border crossing [with Egypt].

“The Egyptian behavior violates its promises to oblige Israel to fulfill all its obligations in exchange for the opposition being bound to calm down,” the source said. “We express great dissatisfaction with the conduct of the Egyptian mediators and their withdrawal from their promises to the Gaza Strip. We will not allow the current situation to continue, and we will prove the credibility of our words.

“We are examining the possibilities for escalation with Israel against the background of the continuation of the blockade and the delay in the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli attacks on al-Aqsa Mosque and on [Palestinian] prisoners will lead to a renewed explosion of the situation.”

Shortly after, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) issued its own threat, warning of delays in lifting the siege on the Strip, in what appears to be a planned media campaign.

“The resistance will not allow the blockade on the Palestinians to continue,” said Ahmed al-Mudalal, a senior PIJ official in the Gaza Strip, calling to open all border crossings.

Al-Mudalal called on the Egyptian mediators to apply pressure on Israel to follow through with the terms of the cease-fire agreed upon in May.

The Lebanese al-Mayadin network quoted sources as saying that Hamas and other Gaza Strip factions had issued an ultimatum to meet their demands by the end of 2021.

According to the sources, Gaza militants are set to begin to gradually put pressure on Israel starting next week. They stated that also Egypt did not respond to a Hamas situational assessment the group’s leadership recently submitted to it.

The sources reiterated the claim that Egypt failed to follow through on its promises about the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip and easing the blockade on the enclave.

The threats come after long weeks of calm in the Gaza Strip, which stem from the progress in Egyptian-mediated negotiations between Israel and Gaza factions and the import of goods into the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom border crossing.

In addition, Israel has significantly increased the number of work permits it issues to Palestinian traders, which are used in effect for Palestinians to work in Israeli agriculture and construction, to ten thousand permits—a record number since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2007.

The threats come ahead of [Israeli] Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s visit to Egypt this week for discussions with several top Egyptian officials regarding the Palestinians and the Gaza Strip, [which] are expected to focus particularly on the issue of prisoners and missing persons.

The Egyptian parties did not confirm whether Lapid will meet with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi during his visit.

Egypt has historically played an important role in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and helped mediate an agreement on the release of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was held captive by Hamas in Gaza for five years until his release in 2011.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on December 6, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDF/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Pray that Israel will not be pressured into concessions and that Palestinian threats will simply not come to fruition.

Scripture

When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.


- Isaiah 59:19b

Israeli Woman Stabbed by Arab Teen Girl in Jerusalem

by Efrat Forscher ~ Israel Hayom via JNS

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Police officers at the scene of a stabbing attack in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood

Thursday, 9 December 2021 | An Israeli woman suffered minor wounds on Wednesday after being stabbed by a 14-year-old Arab girl in Jerusalem’s Shimon HaTzadik/Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

The victim, age 26, was attacked while walking her children to school. She was evacuated to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Mount Scopus Medical Center in serious condition. After treatment, her condition stabilized, and her wounds were classified as being minor.

Magen David Adom [Israel’s ambulance service] paramedics that treated her on the scene said the woman was fully conscious and ambulatory when they arrived.

“We rushed her to the hospital in serious but stable condition. She was able to communicate with us on the way. The children weren’t hurt and stayed with police at the scene,” the paramedics said.

The suspect fled the scene and was arrested at a nearby school within an hour of the attack, following police sweeps of the area. The suspect’s mother was also taken in for questioning, according to Kan news.

The attack was the third in the past five days. On Monday, a security guard was moderately wounded after being struck by a car at a checkpoint near Tulkarm in Judea and Samaria, and on Saturday an Israeli man was seriously wounded in a knife attack near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Source: (This article was originally published by Israel Hayom and republished by the Jewish News Syndicate on December 8, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for rapid and complete physical and emotional healing for this young mother, and ask the Lord to protect her children from trauma after seeing their mother stabbed. Pray for the 14-year-old perpetrator as she is held accountable for her actions, and cry out to the Lord than any others who were complicit in this attack will be penalized to the full extent of the law.

Scripture

He who says to the wicked, “You are righteous,” him the people will curse; nations will abhor him. But those who rebuke the wicked will have delight, and a good blessing will come upon them.


- Proverbs 24:24–25

UN Adopts Three Resolutions Condemning Israel, Ignores Jewish Ties to Temple Mount

by JNS

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A wide view of the 30th plenary meeting of the General Assembly

Monday, 6 December 2021 | The United Nations General Assembly [UNGA] passed three resolutions this week that targeted Israel, which brings the total to 14 resolutions being adopted in the next month that single out the Jewish state.

“The UN’s assault on Israel with a torrent of one-sided resolutions is surreal,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer after the three resolutions were adopted on Wednesday. “It’s absurd that in the year 2021, out of some 20 UN General Assembly resolutions that criticize countries, 70% are focused on one single country: Israel. What drives these lopsided condemnations is a powerful political agenda to demonize the Jewish state.”

One of the resolutions from Wednesday refers to the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, only by its Muslim name, “Haram al-Sharif.” Another resolution solely puts the blame on Israel for the lack of peace in the Middle East and makes no mention of terrorist attacks and human-rights violations by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The resolutions were adopted two days after the United Nations held its annual “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” on November 29.

Neuer said France, Germany, Sweden and other European Union states are expected to support almost all of the 14 resolutions against Israel.

He added that “the same European nations have failed to introduce a single UNGA resolution on the human-rights situation in China, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Turkey, Pakistan, Vietnam, Algeria or on 170 other countries. Where’s the supposed EU concern for international law and human rights?”

UN Watch recently launched a detailed database that documents the UN’s bias against Israel. It revealed that since 2015, the General Assembly has passed 115 resolutions condemning Israel and only 45 against other countries.

The Conference of Presidents condemned the UN resolution omitting the Temple Mount designation.

“We are deeply disturbed by the deliberate and offensive omission of the ‘Temple Mount’ designation in the ‘Jerusalem Resolution,’ passed by the United Nations General Assembly, which effectively denies both Jewish and Christian connection to one of the most sacred sites for all three faith communities,” said Dianne Lob, chair; William Daroff, CEO; and Malcolm Hoenlein, vice chair of the Conference of Presidents.

They emphasized that “the vote sets a dangerous moral precedent that is both historically inaccurate and detracts from critical efforts to promote inclusivity and peace in the region. We welcome the Biden administration and the governments of Australia, Canada, Hungary, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Palau for rejecting this shameful and false resolution, and call upon other nations to oppose resolutions that unfairly single out and condemn Israel while needlessly [exacerbating] political tensions.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on December 3, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for this preposterous UN anti-Israel bias to be brought to an end. Pray that pro-Israel voices will be heard, and ask the Lord that Israel’s new friends that are part of the Arab bloc will begin to speak out against this injustice.

Scripture

Let them curse, but You bless; when they arise, let them be ashamed, but let Your servant rejoice. Let my accusers be clothed with shame, and let them cover themselves with their own disgrace as with a mantle.


- Psalm 109:28–29

New German Chancellor Vows to Fight Anti-Semitism at Event Honoring Holocaust Survivors

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Incoming German Chancellor Olaf Scholz talked about Germany’s commitment to combatting anti-Semitism at the annual International Holocaust Survivors Night.

Friday, 3 December 2021 | Incoming German Chancellor Olaf Scholz talked about Germany’s commitment to combating anti-Semitism at the annual International Holocaust Survivors Night (IHSN) hosted by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which took place virtually.

“Anti-Semitism, the belittling of Jewish citizens, hatred towards Israel—we will not tolerate any of it in Germany. Be assured: Our commitment will not waiver,” Scholz said during the online event on Tuesday. “Today, Jewish life is once again enriching our society. Israel and Germany are close partners. We must not put these precious gifts at risk. That is why I promise you: We will continue to do everything we can to protect Jewish citizens in the future and to counter all anti-Semitism. We will fight darkness with light.”

The celebration, which took place on the third night of Hanukkah [Feast of Dedication], honored Holocaust survivors for their sacrifice and contributions to the world; a number of them spoke as part of the proceedings.

Also in attendance was Israeli President Isaac Herzog; leaders of international Holocaust institutions; and Holocaust envoys from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany. Emmy-nominated entertainers Jason Alexander, Tovah Feldshuh and Mayim Bialik also shared remarks, and musical performances were given by Barry Manilow, the Maccabeats, and the duo Steven Skybell and Jennifer Babiak.

The first IHSN was held in 2017 and has grown each year to include participants from more than 15 countries. The event ends with a livestreamed [hanukkiah, nine-branched candelabra]-lighting ceremony at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Abe Foxman, a Holocaust survivor and former director of the Anti-Defamation League, said: “It’s imperative for Holocaust survivors to bear witness and to tell their story. And certainly, what better time than on Hanukkah, when we not only remember our past history, but we celebrate rebirth and the future.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on December 2, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the attitude expressed by the new chancellor of Germany. Pray that he will be wise and remain steadfast in his commitment to fight anti-Semitism, setting his nation on a path of true support for Israel, even at the UN.

Scripture

The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, but the folly of fools is deceit.


- Proverbs 14:8

Bennett to Host Trilateral Israel–Cyprus–Greece Summit

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Map of EuroAsia Interconnector

Tuesday, 7 December 2021 | Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is scheduled to host a trilateral Israel–Cyprus–Greece summit meeting on December 7 in Jerusalem with the participation of Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

“The leaders will discuss various opportunities and challenges in the Middle East, including advancing cooperation in energy, strengthening tourism and jointly dealing with climate change,” according to an Israeli government statement.

Israel, Greece and Cyprus have been growing closer over the years. In April, Israel and Greece signed a defense cooperation agreement worth approximately 5.4 billion shekels ([US] $1.6 billion).

In March, the three countries signed a deal regarding a project to link their power grids via the construction of the world’s longest and deepest undersea power cable.

Called the “Euro–Asia Interconnector,” the project will help contribute to Israel’s energy security and reduce energy prices, according to Israel’s then-Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz.

In July 2020, Israel approved a deal with Cyprus, Greece and Italy for the EastMed pipeline to transport natural gas to Europe. A land and sea survey is reportedly underway to determine the route of the 1,900-kilometer (1,200-mile) pipeline.

The countries are expected to reach a decision by 2022 on constructing the 6 billion euro ([US] $6.86 billion) pipeline by 2025.

Also on the agenda of Tuesday’s meeting is how Israel, Greece and Cyprus can cooperate in battling the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, especially with the spread of the new Omicron variant.

In addition to the trilateral meeting, Bennett will hold separate discussions with the leaders of Greece and Cyprus.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on December 6, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Sara Yard/commons.wikimedia.org/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that this summit will further strengthen the relationships between these three nations. Pray for the success of the projects they have agreed to, all of which will bring great benefit to all involved, particularly in the area of security.

Scripture

Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.


- Ecclesiastes 4:12