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A Year of Crisis

Friday, December 11, 2020

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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.

Israel to Begin Administering Vaccine on December 27

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Coronavirus vaccines (illustrative)

Thursday, 10 December 2020 | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel will begin administrating coronavirus vaccinations on December 27 and that Israel was ready to vaccinate 60,000 people a day.

Speaking at a televised address to the nation just hours after the first batch of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine arrived in the country, the prime minister said that Israel has received its vaccines at the same time as Britain, which began inoculation on Tuesday, and other leading nations.

The prime minister said, however, that until vaccines can be administered, people should still wear face masks, [observe] social distancing and maintain hygiene.

He also urged people to avoid mass gatherings during the Jewish festival of Hanukkah [Festival of Lights], which begins on Thursday.

Netanyahu was preceded by Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, who also urged Israelis to keep observing mitigation measures while waiting for the vaccines to be distributed—in particular during Hanukkah.

He said that when people had been vaccinated they would have a “green passport” and be able to live their lives freely again, to help reopen the economy and to encourage others to get vaccinated as well.

“Within a few months we will be able to say that the virus is behind us,” Edelstein said.

Netanyahu and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein were at Ben Gurion Airport on Wednesday morning to receive the shipment of vaccines. The prime minister said he would be the first person in Israel to receive the vaccine.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech last month agreed to provide Israel with eight million doses of the vaccine. Sources said a United Airlines from Brussels organized by the international courier company DHL and carrying over thousands of doses landed at Ben Gurion Airport around 9 a.m.

“It is important to me that the citizens of Israel get vaccinated, and I believe in leading by example, so I want to be an example and I will be the first person to be vaccinated in the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on December 9, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Daniel Schludi/unsplash.com

Prayer Focus
Pray that the coronavirus vaccine it will be effective against the disease, and beseech the Lord that there will be no serious or long-lasting side effects that might have been discovered had there been more testing. Also pray that during this Hanukkah season, all Israel will recognize and give thanks that their healing and protection come from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.


“For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds,” says the LORD.

- Jeremiah 30:17a

Israel Issues Terror Warning Following Iranian Threats

by Joshua Spurlock

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The Israeli National Security Council has issued warnings based on threats of vengeance coming from Tehran (pictured).

Tuesday, 8 December 2020 | Iran may make threats against Israel on a regular basis, but the Jewish state takes them seriously—as they should—and Israel’s National Security Council [NSC] is particularly concerned about the latest boasts of revenge coming from Tehran. The Israeli NSC last week issued a terror warning specifically calling out the danger posed by Iran following accusations by Iranian leaders that Israel is behind the assassination of a well-known Iranian nuclear scientist.

“In light of the threats that have been made recently by Iranian elements and given the past involvement of Iranian elements in terrorist attacks in various countries, there is concern that Iran will try to act in this manner against Israeli targets,” said the NSC press release. The Israeli security council said that “possible arenas” for an Iranian attack included both countries close to Iran—naming Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and the Kurdish area in Iraq as examples—in addition to the rest of the Middle East and Africa.

While the NSC did not call out any specific country as a higher threat than another, the UAE and Bahrain were already in the news for their recent peace deals signed with Israel in the Abraham Accords. Therefore, they may have already been targets by Iran and their terrorist allies.

The Israeli security warning follows multiple high-level threats issued by Iranian officials in the wake of the assassination of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. The scientist Fakhrizadeh has long been in the news. Israel highlighted him as a key member of Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons when discussing the treasure trove of Iranian nuclear records captured several years ago.

Now, Iranian officials have accused Israel of killing Fakhrizadeh, according to a report by the Fars News Agency, noting that Iran’s government spokesman and multiple leaders have warned of retaliation. Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Hossein Salami was quoted by Fars as threatening “harsh revenge and punishment” and even the supposedly moderate President Hasan Rouhani said Iran would respond.

Iranian Government Spokesman Ali Rabiyee was quoted by Fars as saying that those behind the killing would “pay the price but in a place, time and method that we choose” and that “a response should…give a response to their attacks.”

Iran has engaged in shocking acts of state-sponsored terrorism via the Hezbollah terror group in past years, including attacks on Israelis in Europe and South America. Iran has even attacked Israel directly in recent years from their military units stationed in Syria.

Meanwhile, while Iran is the most visible threat to Israelis abroad, the Israeli NSC warning didn’t stop with vengeance from Tehran. Other dangers include the ISIS terror organization and other global jihadist groups, with the NSC highlighting [that] the terrorists have already recently launched attacks in France, Austria and Germany.

“Calls have been made by global jihadist elements for attacks on Israelis and Jews,” said the NSC statement. “It is possible that part of the current wave of Islamist terrorism will reach targets identified with Israel or Jewish communities, synagogues, kosher restaurants and Jewish museums.”

Christian holidays around the Christmas season could also “attract hostile terrorist activity in Europe,” according to the NSC.

In response to these dangers, the NSC advises Israelis traveling overseas to check for travel warnings for specific locations. In general, Israeli travelers should also “show heightened awareness (including in proximity to Israeli missions, synagogues and Jewish community institutions), listen to the security directives of the local authorities, keep distant from crowded areas and refrain from congregating in public areas that are not secured or are in proximity to government institutions.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Mideast Update on December 6, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Photo Credit: Matthias Blume/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for His mantle of safety to envelop the Jewish people, wherever they might be on the globe, especially during this holiday season. Pray that God’s people will walk in the protective company of angels, that any planned terror attacks will be discovered and thwarted, and that all perpetrators will be apprehended and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.


The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.

- Proverbs 18:10

Netanyahu Welcomes Hundreds of New Ethiopian Immigrants

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Ben Gurion Airport

Friday, 4 December 2020 | Editor’s Note: An atmosphere of celebration hung in the air, as 316 members of Ethiopia’s Jewish community stepped from the plane yesterday, finally fulfilling their dream of coming home to the land of promise, Israel. The sound of a shofar (ram’s horn) welcomed the first new Israeli as he stepped through the door of the Ethiopian Airlines jet. A number of the new immigrants waved the blue and white flag of Israel. Several dropped to their knees as soon as they stepped onto the tarmac to kiss the land for which they have longed.

Yesterday’s arrival marked the opening phase of Operation Tzur Israel (Rock of Israel) to bring 2,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel from Ethiopia by January 2021. The first 316 new immigrants arrived via a special airlift from Gondar.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was but one of the Israeli leaders waiting to welcome his new countrymen and women home.

Prime Minister Netanyahu [said] at the ceremony: “I do not remember, for many years, when I have been moved so much at a sight of such refined Zionism that expresses all of its significance. My wife, Sara, and I stood here with tears in our eyes at the welcoming, when we saw the immigrants, our Jewish brothers and sisters from Ethiopia, leave the plane with baskets—like we remember, like I remember from my childhood—they come down and touch the ground, the Land of Israel. The mother kisses the ground and carries an infant named Jerusalem, and another infant is named Esther. Esther and Jerusalem are coming to Jerusalem—this is the essence of the Jewish story. This is the essence of the Zionist story.

“Therefore, we, dear brothers and sisters of ours, immigrants from Ethiopia, we are so moved to welcome you here. Welcome to the Land of Israel. Welcome to the State of Israel.

“You arrived on a direct flight from Gondar—parents and children. I saw your photos in which you hold photos of your loved ones here in Israel, whom you are hoping to see—and now comes this wonderful family reunion. You waited so long to realize the dream, and today it is being realized.”

The 316 immigrants who arrived today are the first to come to Israel out of the approximately 2,000 future immigrants who will come here by the end of January 2021 as part of the government plan that Prime Minister Netanyahu submitted last October.

Source: (Excerpt from a press release originally published by the Prime Minister’s Office on December 3, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Utilisateur:Djampa/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord that the Jews of Ethiopia are finally making their way home. Pray that the entire community will be safely transported to Israel, and ask the Lord for His comfort and strength to empower them as they face the sometimes daunting process of settling into their new lives as Israelis.


“Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old, together; for I will turn their mourning to joy, will comfort them, and make them rejoice rather than sorrow. I will satiate the soul of the priests with abundance, and My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the LORD.”

- Jeremiah 31:13–14

Israelis, Palestinians Injured in Judea and Samaria Clashes

by Kate Norman

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Rioters using an ambulance for cover (illustrative)

Tuesday, 8 December 2020 | Tensions have spiked over the past few days between the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinian protesters in the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria, the so-called West Bank.

Six Israeli Border Police and four Palestinians were injured Monday morning when Israeli Border Police reportedly conducted an arrest operation in the Qalandiya refugee camp south of Ramallah.

The Israeli forces entered the town—which the Times of Israel noted lies within the Jerusalem municipality—to arrest three men suspected of involvement in car theft. They were met with hostile camp residents, who reportedly threw large blocks of concrete, washing machines and other objects from rooftops toward the Israelis below.

The police responded with fire, waiting for back-up, which eventually came, according to the Border Police. The six injured Israeli police were taken to safety, and several of them were hospitalized, the Border Police reported.

A video circulating Twitter shows the reported clash between the Israeli police and the Palestinian protestors, a group of young men, in the alleyways of Qalandiya. One of the young men appears to have been shot in the upper thigh and is carried by the other young men into a car.

Palestinian newspaper WAFA reported that three of the injured men were taken to the hospital in Ramallah to undergo surgery, while the fourth only sustained moderate injuries to the leg.

Hours after the incident, a young Palestinian man approached Israeli security guards at the Qalandiya checkpoint, ignored their repeated warnings to stay back and was shot in the lower body.

A video of the encounter shows the young man approaching the guards, who can be seen shouting warnings with their guns raised. He ignores their warnings, and one guard appears to shoot the young man in the foot. He falls to the ground, but quickly gets back up and continues hobbling toward the guards, who appear to fire again. The young Palestinian goes down but is not completely motionless before the video ends.

The Qalandiya checkpoint is a major crossing for Palestinians from Ramallah to enter Jerusalem and other areas for work.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, December 8, 2020)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Pray for a quick end to the flare-up in violence. Pray for those who were injured, particularly the Border Police whose injuries required hospitalization. Beseech the Lord for calm to settle over the area as Israelis in Judea and Samaria celebrate the Hanukkah miracle.


Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and Your glory above all the earth; that Your beloved may be delivered, save with Your right hand, and hear me.

- Psalm 108:5–6

Report: Israeli Delegation Rushes to Aid COVID-19-stricken Italy

by Ilse Strauss

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Israeli–Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich footed a large part of the bill for the humanitarian outreach.

Tuesday, 8 December 2020 | The tiny nation of Israel is no stranger to rushing to the aid of those in need. Reeling from disasters like rampant disease, hurricanes, floods and earthquakes, nations like Haiti, Nepal, India, Rwanda and the Philippines have all benefited from Israel’s vast medical expertise and huge heart to help.

Now, for the first time, Israel has deployed its disaster medicine center to an advanced European country.

A delegation of 20 doctors and nurses from Sheba Medical Center, Israel’s largest hospital, touched down in Piedmont, northern Italy, last week to help the staff from Ospedale Michele e Pietro Ferrero Hospital cope with a torrent of coronavirus patients, following a serious outbreak in the area.

The 10-day mission comes in answer to a cry for help from the region’s local government sent to Israel’s ambassador to Italy “to provide the district assistance in combatting the spread of coronavirus, due to a dramatic increase in the number of infections and the lack of doctors and medical equipment…” Foreign Ministry Director-general Alon Ushpiz explained.

“Israel and Italy are allies that hold a deep connection and collaborate on many issues,” he continued, “so it’s only natural that Israel will seek to help Italy in a time of need…We’re positive that Italy will cherish Israeli assistance in a time like this.”

According to Elhanan Bar-On, director of the Israel Center for Disaster Medicine and Humanitarian Response at the Sheba Medical Center who heads the delegation, the 20 Israeli medical personnel have been integrated into local teams and work alongside their Italian counterparts in the moment-by-moment battle against the pandemic, including treating patients in the intensive care unit.

The delegation’s assistance in coronavirus-battered Italy, which has been plagued by a vicious second wave with up to 40,000 new infections diagnosed daily, will not deplete Israel’s resources to fight the COVID-19 battle at home. The bill for the humanitarian outreach was funded entirely by philanthropic donations, with Israeli–Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich chipping in to cover the lion’s share.

Besides, says Elhanan of his and his team’s efforts to save the lives of a people not their own at a time when Israel faces her own issues: “It’s easy to give when your resources are unlimited, but when you’re under pressure, that’s true giving.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, December 8, 2020)

Photo Credit: Marina Lystseva/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Praise God for Israel’s remarkable heart to help those in need. Pray that their time in Italy will be very fruitful, helping to save many lives and strengthening the relationship between the two countries. Pray for the individual Israeli team members and their opportunity to show the love and genuine concern that Israelis have for all of God’s creation.


I will sing of mercy and justice; to You, O LORD, I will sing praises. I will behave wisely in a perfect way.

- Psalm 101:1–2a

UK and Israel Sign Military Agreement

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The UK’s chief of defense staff, Gen. Sir Nicholas Carter

Wednesday, 9 December 2020 | What happened: The British Armed forces and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have signed a joint agreement to strengthen their relationship.

  • Last Thursday, the UK’s chief of defense staff, Gen. Sir Nicholas Carter, and the IDF Chief of Staff, Lt Gen Aviv Kochavi, met via video and signed the agreement to formalize and enhance defense collaboration and support the growing Israel–UK partnership.
  • The news was supported by UK Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan, who tweeted: “Delighted to announce that UK and Israeli chiefs of defense staff…signed a new agreement to further deepen our military cooperation.”
  • Most of the agreement is highly classified, but the cooperation will include defense medical training, organizational design and concepts, and defense education.

Context: The UK and Israel military cooperation has been growing over the last decade with the relationship viewed as mutually beneficial.

  • Both militaries share a commitment to improving and integrating their multi-domain capabilities in maritime, land, air, space and cyber and electromagnetic.
  • They share similar interests in the region. While Israel feels the Iranian threat far more acutely due to its relative geographic proximity, both countries wish to prevent Iran achieving a nuclear capability, curb its advanced ballistic missile program and counter Iranian proxies, particularly in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and the shipping lanes of the Gulf.
  • In 2019, the UK deployed naval assets to ensure free shipping in the Gulf.
  • They also share concerns against radical Islamist terrorism, with emphasis in recent years on the Islamic State, a mutual priority.
  • British financial and military support to Jordan is also a common interest, with the stability of the Hashemite Kingdom viewed as a strategic priority by Israel, which it shares its longest border with. The military and intelligence services of both Israel and Jordan cooperate closely against mutual threats of Islamist terrorism and Iranian encroachment.
  • In February 2019, the UK government designated all of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Israel would, however, like to see more pressure on the Lebanese government to stop the deployment of Hezbollah personnel in southern Lebanon and the build-up of its missile arsenal in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 1701.
  • In July 2019, the Telegraph reported that the Metropolitan Police and MI5 uncovered a Hezbollah bomb plot in North London in 2015, just months before the UK signed the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] nuclear agreement. Police discovered three tonnes [3.3 tons] of ammonium nitrate stored inside disposable ice packs when they raided four properties in northwest London, arresting a man on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack. The discovery of the bomb plot was reportedly assisted by information from Israel’s intelligence service, the Mossad.
  • There is also significant cooperation between the two countries in cybersecurity, described by a senior UK official last year as a “first-order partnership.” Israel is widely recognized for its unique innovation ecosystem, with close interaction between government, military, academia and industry—a model which the UK has sought to emulate.
  • Since 2010, the two countries have cooperated on the development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) through the Watchkeeper program, which has been deployed by British forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • The British Army hopes to learn from the Israeli experience as it transitions to a more digital army. According to a report by Seth Frantzman in the National Interest, in October the British were given access to Israeli-based Elbit Systems’ “Rhino mobile headquarters.” It uses advanced digital technology to link together units in the field and commanders with the best information possible to help achieve results on the battlefield. The British Army said the system helps to “reduce the size of the headquarters, makes it less vulnerable and able to make and communicate decisions faster.” Elbit has worked with the UK for years on other applications, such as battle management systems.

Looking ahead: As a result of goodwill and appreciation for each other capabilities, both militaries will continue to problem-solve together, share expertise and look to develop additional common defense platforms.

Post coronavirus, both militaries hope to be able to return to a schedule of regular visits and meetings.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by BICOM on December 7, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for this step forward in the relationship between Israel and the UK. Pray that this collaboration will be of benefit to both nations and that together, they will significantly impact the strategic priorities of both nations, especially in weakening the Iranian threat to the region and the globe.


“I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

- Genesis 12:2–3

Israel and Bahrain Sign Historic Tourism MOU

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The MOU signed yesterday was the first of its kind (illustrative).

Friday, 4 December 2020 | Minister of Tourism Orit Farkash-Hacohen and Minister Zayed Al Zayani [on Wednesday] signed a historic MOU [memorandum of understanding] in the field of tourism, as Israel and Bahrain continue to build upon the Abraham Accords regional peace initiative. At the ceremony in Jerusalem, Al Zayani said he and his delegation were returning to Bahrain “with lots of hope and ambition that we will forge the peace signed by our leadership, so it transmits to every Israeli and every Bahraini citizen.”

Farkash-Hacohen said the visit was “dedicated to bilateral professional meetings between the two ministries, to explore new opportunities and promote tourism initiatives between our countries. Airlines, hotel representatives, travel agents and tour operators from both sides met to discuss practical plans and initiatives in the field of tourism.”

The MOU, the minister stressed, provides the framework to turn ideas into plans into packages. “Together, we can create packages for regional tourism, offering tourists from Brazil, China or Australia or the Philippines to visit both our countries.”

The MOU is the first of its kind between Israel and the Arab states in the Gulf. It includes a number of sections on bilateral cooperation between the governments and the private sector in the field of tourism, and calls to develop various types of travel: for families, wellness, business and others. Additionally, the MOU establishes a joined committee headed by the ministers, which will meet regularly to promote joined ventures among travel agents, airlines, tour operators and all relevant industry representatives.

Farkash-Hacohen stated she would work to open travel for Bahrain tourists as soon as possible and said: “Governments sign treaties, but people create peace. This is why signing a bilateral tourism MOU is so important. We are encouraging travel between our countries. We are encouraging people to meet and interact with each other. We are connecting two cultures. By doing so, we are encouraging true and lasting peace.”

Al Zayani said: “You will find in us a true partner, a genuine investor and a frank friend. We feel there is a real opportunity to develop tourism between our two countries, and beyond. And we invite you and welcome you to use Bahrain as a springboard to the rest of the world, and look forward to using Israel as a springboard for us to the rest of the world.”

“No doubt COVID-19 put a lot of pressure on the hospitality and tourism sector,” Al Zayani added. “It is our responsibility to make sure this sector is back on its feet as soon as possible. I would like to extend an open invitation to you and to all Israelis to come and visit our country.”

Source: (This press release was originally published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on December 3, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: pxhere.com

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the ongoing positive developments resulting from the signing of the Abraham Accords. Pray that the words of the Israeli Minister of Tourism, commenting that it is people who make peace, will in fact become reality. Pray for the Lord’s protection over all who would travel to Israel and those Israelis who will make the trek to Bahrain and beyond. Beseech the Lord that many in the Arab world will see Him as they come to know and understand His people and His faithful relationship with them


Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

- Psalm 46:10