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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.

We will be taking a break from our regular news postings during the week of December 26–30, 2016. The next prayer update will be sent on Friday, January 6, 2017.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah from Jerusalem

by Ilse Posselt

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Friday, 23 December 2016 | It happens once in the proverbial blue moon. This year, for the first time in nearly forty years, the first night of the Jewish festival, Hanukkah, falls on 24 December, Christmas Eve.

Although both holidays are celebrated around about the same time, the actual dates rarely coincide. The variance in timing is due to the use of two different calendars. Each year, the Jewish people continue to celebrate the feasts according to the biblical calendar which is based on a lunar cycle. The eight-day festival of Hanukkah starts on the 25th of the ninth month called Kislev. The date for Christmas, on the other hand, is determined according to the solar-based Gregorian calendar. Since these two calendars do not line up, the two feasts seldom start together.

Yet this year is different. As many Christians wish one another a blessed Christmas, the city streets in Israel are resounding with festive greetings of chag Hanukkah sameach (happy Hanukkah!).

The story behind Hanukkah, also called the Festival of Lights or Feast of Dedication, reads like the ultimate epic tale. All the ingredients are there: taking a stand for what is right instead of settling for what is comfortable, bravery in the face of overwhelming odds, the victory of light over darkness and the God of the Universe showing up for those who waited on Him.

It happened some twenty-one centuries ago. A successor of Alexander the Great, Antiochus IV, ruled over the people of Israel with an iron fist. His reign was characterized by severe oppression and frequent massacres. Prohibiting the practice of the Jewish religion, Antiochus IV desecrated the Temple by the sacrifice of pigs on the altar and placed a Greek priest in charge of the God of Israel’s dwelling place.

A faithful group of Jews, known as the Maccabees, revolted and led the struggle against the Greek rulers. Against all odds, the tiny band of Jews managed to defeat one of the world’s mightiest armies and drove the oppressors from the Land.

Immediately after their miraculous victory, the faithful band of Jews sought to purify and rededicate the Temple. There was, however, a problem: only one vessel of consecrated anointing oil could be found to light the Temple menorah. Yet according to tradition, God intervened to perform the miraculous and one vessel lasted for eight days, the exact time it took to prepare more anointing oil.

As such, Hanukkah is an eight-day celebration centered on the miracle of light and oil. On each night of the eight days, family and friends gather to light the candles of the hanukkiah (the special Hanukkah candelabrum with nine candleholders).

For eight nights, the fragile glow spilling from thousands of candles across Israel reminds those who witness it of the tremendous significance of something as familiar as light. This year, the first candle on the hanukkiah will be lit as the sun sets on Saturday, 24 December. And on the evening of Saturday, 31 December, all the candles on the candelabrum will be burning brightly.

As the Jewish people are readying their hanukkiot (plural), many Christians from around the world are looking forward to celebrating the birth of Yeshua (Jesus) on Sunday.

Even though the exact date of His birth is not really known, the Christmas season is a time to rejoice and celebrate in the fact of His advent.

As we spend this time in the company of family and friends, we remember that Yeshua was born at a particularly dark time in Jewish history—a time of Roman oppression—to bring light and hope. That hope continues to be the guiding beacon in the hearts of Christians today.

For Christians living in Jerusalem, the Christmas story takes on a new sense of realism. Bethlehem, the place where Yeshua was born, is located only a few minutes away.

Every Christmas Eve, thousands of Christians from around the world make a pilgrimage to Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity where Yeshua’s birth has been memorialized for centuries.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a Christmas message to Israel’s “Christian friends around the world.”

“Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,” the address started. “I am so proud of our relations with our Christian brothers and sisters. It moves us deeply to have this bond with you because we all know that this land of Israel is the land of our common heritage. It changed the story of humanity; it changed civilization. What a magnificent heritage it is.”

“We also know that it is under attack these days, that the forces of intolerance, of barbarism that attack all religions attack Christians with particular vehemence,” Netanyahu continued. “We stand with you and I am proud of the fact that in Israel, this is the one place in the Middle East that the Christian community not only survives but thrives and it is no accident. It is because of our commitment to religious freedom; it is because of our embrace of our heritage; it is because of our embrace of our common future.”

The Bridges for Peace family would like to wish you and your loved ones a Christmas season filled with celebration, joy and the light of God’s presence. To our Jewish friends, as Prime Minister Netanyahu said, we recognize and cherish the bond between us. We wish each of you a joyous and happy Hanukkah as you light the candles during this season of celebration.

We will be taking a break from our daily news stories over the holidays. Our regular news updates from Israel will resume on Monday, 2 January 2017.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 23 December 2016)

Photo Credit: MGonzales/bridgesforpeace

Prayer Focus
Praise God for the special times we live in. Give thanks for our family and friends and the days we get to celebrate with them. Remember the less fortunate, the lonely, the elderly, orphans and those who have lost everything and are living in the streets. Pray that we will always find God in everything we do and not just remember Him on special occasions.

Scripture

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!


- Philippians 4:4

IDF Uncovers “Largest Weapons Factory Ever Discovered’ under Hebron Home

by Yoav Zitun

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Materials confiscated from Hebron “weapons factory”

Tuesday, 20 December 2016 | IDF [Israel Defense Forces] from the Judea and Samaria Brigade seized 15 lathes and other production materials used for making illegal, homemade weapons during a raid in Hebron overnight Sunday.

The materials and secret factory were discovered in a large underground space built beneath a house in southern Hebron.

An officer in the Judea and Samaria Brigade said the raid is part of an ongoing campaign against illegal weapons production and increased terrorist activity in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria].

Security forces estimate that most of the shooting attacks that occurred within and beyond the Green Line were conducted with weapons produced in the West Bank.

Hundreds of soldiers from various units such as the 890th Paratrooper Brigade, the 77th armored brigade, combat engineers and Border Police took part in the raid.

The IDF is calling the discovery “the biggest weapons factory ever discovered in the West Bank.”

Forces discovered more than 100 Carl Gustav m/45 barrels, Russian 7.62 sniper rifles and for the first time, M16 rifle parts with assembly instructions.

During the raid, IDF forces also discovered a large cache of ammunition hidden in one of the walls of the house.

Security forces left Hebron with all the confiscated weapons and the two owners of the factory, a father and son, who were turned over the Shin Bet for questioning.

During an initial field interrogation, the father claimed to be producing farming equipment until soldiers discovered the large underground plant on the floor below where the man lived with his wife and younger children.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 19 December 2016. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit

Prayer Focus
Give glory to God for this huge discovery that will save many, many innocent Israeli lives. Thank the Lord for His daily protection and guidance of the IDF, Shin Bet, border police, paratroopers, combat engineers and armored brigades. Pray that more of the enemy’s plans shall be revealed and neutralized before lives are lost.

Scripture

Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, Who only does wondrous things!


- Psalm 72:18

Israel Eyes New Ground-to-Ground Missiles to Up Striking Power

by Ilse Posselt

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Trajectory of surface-to-surface missile

Wednesday, 21 December 2016 | Israel’s Minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman has instructed the Israel Defense Force (IDF) to acquire hundreds of new surface-to-surface missiles to increase the Jewish state’s striking power, an anonymous security official said on Tuesday. With a firing range of up to 250km (155 miles), the state-of-the-art weapons come equipped with warheads weighing in at between 450kg (992 pounds) and 500kg (1102 pounds). The missiles will reportedly be deployed in the northern region of Israel and will be used instead of the air force in certain missions.

“The change stems from changes in the nature of operations in the north and from the need to increase capabilities to respond in ways in which we have not responded before,” the official told the Hebrew news site, nrg.

“We have no choice,” Liberman explained. “I think reality requires us to diversify and missiles of this type give us many options.

“The weapons’ superior accuracy and potency, he added, would “mark a significant change in our approach and outlook.”

Earlier this month, the Syrian regime accused the Jewish state of launching strikes on an airbase near Damascus using, amongst others, surface-to-surface missiles. In an uncharacteristic confirmation, Israel acknowledged the attacks, with Liberman, saying the strikes were launched to prevent the Lebanese terror group, Hezbollah, from obtaining, “advanced weapons, military equipment and weapons of mass destruction.”

Liberman added that Israel had no intention or desire to become involved in the Syrian civil war, but reiterated that Jerusalem will under no circumstances allow the situation on its border with Lebanon to develop into an opportunity for the Lebanese terror organization to arm itself with advanced weapons to be used against Israeli civilians.

“We act primarily to protect the safety of our citizens and defend our sovereignty, and we are trying to prevent the smuggling of sophisticated weapons, military equipment and weapons of mass destruction from Syria to Hezbollah,” he explained at the time.

The surface-to-surface missiles will reportedly cost NIS 3 million (US $784,000) apiece. However, according to the security official, there is a general consensus in Israel’s defense community that the IDF need to arm itself in such a way that every conceivable target on Israel’s northern border can be addressed.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 21 December 2016)

Photo Credit: Fastfisson/wikipedia

Photo License: Wikipedia

Prayer Focus
Offer thanksgiving for God’s wisdom and ask Him to guide all the security forces of Israel as they prepare and increase their capabilities to respond to possible warfare. Pray for the finances necessary to secure vital weaponry as the enemy is not hiding his intent to destroy Israel.

Scripture

The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the Lord.


- Proverbs 21:31

IDF Prepares for Unconventional Threats on Northern Border

by Itay Blumenthal

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Thursday, 22 December 2016 | Yahalom, the IDF’s [Israel Defense Forces] Special Operations Engineering Unit, has completely changed its focus over the past year in light of the lessons learned from the 2014 Operation Protective Edge and the assessment in the defense establishment that terror groups are trying to get their hands on unconventional weapons that have been left in the field by the Syrian army fighting near the border with Israel.

The new Sayfan Company which was established in August is trained to deal with the threat of nuclear, biologic and chemical (NBC) weapons on the battlefield.

Another new company will be established next year while the unit itself is scheduled to move from its base near Petah Tikva to Camp Julis in southern Israel.

Last week, the unit held its first training exercise under its new guise in the Jordan Valley. The soldiers marched for 70 kilometers [44 miles] carrying 30kg [66 lbs] of equipment and practiced going from routine to emergency operations in cooperation with reserve troops.

The drill included all of the unit’s forces, including the Samur Company in charge of handling underground tunnels, Sayeret Yael in charge of clearing routes for the troops, the Sayfan Company in charge of handling NBC threats and the Bomb Disposal Company.

The Yahalom Unit has doubled in size over the past two years. The training of its combat soldiers has been changed so that troops first receive a nine-month commando training and only then undergo a five-month course to specialize in one of the unit’s fields.

During Operation Protective Edge, engineering forces assisted the maneuvering troops. To expand upon this, new control and supervision systems have been introduced into the unit to significantly improve its soldiers’ ability to navigate in the field and coordinate with other forces operating around them.

The unit also has a research center where ammunition seized from terror groups is being studied in an effort to learn the enemy’s work methods, alongside work being conducted to identify ammunition that includes unconventional materials. The researchers at the center are officers who accumulated a significant amount of operational experience with the unit.

The unit’s troops have been operating in the Gaza Strip, in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria], and in northern Israel. Yahalom soldiers have participated in over a thousand missions this year alone, some in cooperation with other security forces. They uncovered tunnels and destroyed them, neutralized explosives and demolished terrorists’ homes and arms workshops.

“We’re constantly active, conducting security operations on the borders and handling explosives and unconventional threats that are being developed by the enemy,” unit commander Col. Yaron Biton said.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 21 December 2016. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Office

Prayer Focus
Lift up the young men and women who defend and fight for Israel on a daily basis. Pray for them as they endure grueling training and often experience inhospitable environments. Pray also for the “lone soldiers” who have come great distances to defend the State of Israel because they believe in this nation.

Scripture

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.


- Numbers 6:24-26

Ban Ki-moon Admits UN “Disproportionate” Focus on Israel

by Ilse Posselt

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Ban Ki-Moon, 8th Secretary-General of the UN

Monday, 19 December 2016 | It is official. Following years of Israel voicing its objection and indignation, outgoing United Nations (UN) Secretary General admitted that the Jewish state is the subject of strong and “disproportionate” bias in the international body.

Ki-moon’s admission came on Friday during his departing speech to the UN Security Council, weeks before he is due to step down after heading up the international organization for ten years.

“Decades of political maneuverings have created a disproportionate volume of resolutions, reports and conferences criticizing Israel,” Ki-moon conceded. “In many cases, rather than helping the Palestinian cause, this reality has hampered the ability of the UN to fulfill its role effectively,” he added.

“We must never accept bias against Israel within UN bodies,” Ki-moon warned.

According to United With Israel, a number of UN bodies, in particular the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), are believed to harbor anti-Israel and anti-Semitic agendas. Almost half of the UNHRC’s resolutions center on condemning Israel while gross violation of human rights, war and atrocities committed around the world are ignored. Israeli leaders and officials have denounced the UNHRC for its “obsessive hostility” and “one-sided mandate” towards the Jewish state.

Moreover, over the past year alone, bodies within the UN have passed a number of resolutions denying Jewish and Christian historical ties with the City of Gold, thus ultimately proclaiming Jerusalem a Muslim city and the Temple Mount an exclusively Islamic site.

Danny Danon, Israeli ambassador to the UN, lauded Ki-moon’s admission. “The Secretary General admitted the clear truth,” Danon stated. “The UN’s hypocrisy towards Israel has broken records over the past decade. During this time, the UN passed 223 resolutions condemning Israel while only eight resolutions condemning the Syrian regime as it has massacred its citizens over the past six years. This is absurd,” he professed.

“With a new secretary-general set to take office next month, we look forward to the possibility of a new era of fairness at the UN,” Danon concluded.

For his last speech at the UN Security Council, the outgoing Secretary General opted to address council members on the state of affairs in the Middle East, focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian situation. “While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the cause of the wars in the Middle East, its resolution can create momentum for peace throughout the region,” he claimed.

“Progress in this area, however, will be difficult unless the Palestinian authorities take brave and concrete steps to address incitement and violence,” he added.

Although Ki-moon admitted to his organization’s obsessive preoccupation with Israel, he also used the opportunity to criticize the Jewish state for the construction and expansion of communities in Judea and Samaria. The land, he claimed, would form part of a prospective Palestinian state.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 19 December 2016)

Photo Credit: Chatham House

Photo License: Wikipedia

Prayer Focus
Intercede for the United Nations and for their future new secretary general. Pray that the new leader will be pro-Israel and will stand firm against political maneuvers that result in biased, anti-Israel resolutions. Thank God that Ban Ki-moon finally admitted the unfair treatment of Israel and revealed the truth.

Scripture

As for me, I will call upon God, and the Lord shall save me. Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.


- Psalm 55:16-17

Action
Take every opportunity to speak up on behalf of Israel, whether it is in a casual conversation with friends or the chance to respond to a negative article in your local paper. You can make a difference!

Jerusalem-based Company Wins Labeling Fight with BDS

by Itamar Eichner

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Friday, 23 December 2016 | The struggle between Jerusalem-based Hatov ice cream and the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanction) movement in Britain has come to a close, with Hatov continuing to sell products labeled “Israeli product made in Jerusalem.”

Hatov produces its ice cream at the Atarot industrial zone in northeast Jerusalem. The packaging of their ice cream carries the label “Israeli product made in Jerusalem.”

In 2015, the European Union released labeling guidelines stipulating that Israeli products made in east Jerusalem and the West Bank [Judea–Samaria] be labeled as “Product of the West Bank (Israeli settlement),” as opposed to simply “Made in Israel.”

As such, BDS activists in Britain approached supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, which sells Hatov ice cream, and asked them to label the item as “Product of the West Bank (Israeli settlement),” as opposed to “Israeli product made in Jerusalem.”

As a result, Hatov retained the services of UK-Israeli law firm Asserson. In response to BDS claims that “Atarot is on occupied Palestinian land and therefore the ice cream cannot be labeled as made in Israel,” Asserson replied, “It is unlikely that the customer reading the label will change their mind if they see the product is made in east Jerusalem. Most of the buyers are religious Jews who will continue to buy it.”

Local authorities agreed with the argument and will allow the ice cream to continue to be labeled as “Israeli product made in Jerusalem.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 19 December 2016. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Hatov Distributing/Facebook

Prayer Focus
Give thanks to the Lord for a major breakthrough against BDS movements in the UK. Ask the Lord to bless Sainsbury chain supermarket as they are selling Israeli products. Pray for God’s wisdom and guidance to Asserson law firm in any future BDS cases.

Scripture

This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!


- Psalm 34:6-8

Israel Willing to Treat Wounded Syrian Civilians

by Ilse Posselt

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PM Netanyahu visited IDF field hospital in Golan Heights where wounded Syrians were treated (2014)

Thursday, 22 December 2016 | International media decried it as “nothing short of a massacre,” “systematic slaughter” and “a complete meltdown of humanity.” Over the past two weeks, the noose of death and destruction tightened around Syrian civilians trapped in Aleppo while forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad waged one of the most brutal campaigns of the six-year civil war to seize Aleppo from the opposition.

As the battle continued to rage, non-combatants trapped in the rubble of what was once a city took to social media to share chilling accounts of the fate that awaits them. “We are given only two choices: Death and displacement,” tweeted an English teacher. “Death will be a wish for those captured and deemed [to be] opposition, [whether] military or civil,” said another.

As civilians face arbitrary executions of non-combatants and the methodical slaughter of everyone even suspected to have ties with opposition forces, the current death toll is estimated to top tens of thousands. Tens of thousands more have been injured, many severely. However, with medical care in the devastated city close to non-existent, the prospect of receiving the required life-saving treatment dwindles daily.

As the situation continues to deteriorate, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Tuesday that Israel would be willing to lend a helping hand by bringing wounded civilians from Aleppo to receive treatment in Israeli hospitals.

Speaking at the Government Press Office’s (GPO) annual New Year’s reception for the foreign press and diplomats in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said, “We see the tragedy of the terrible suffering of the civilians and I have asked the Foreign Ministry to seek ways to expand our medical assistance to the civilian casualties of the Syrian tragedy, specifically in Aleppo where we are prepared to take in wounded women and children and also men if they are not combatants.”

“We would like to do that,” the Prime Minister continued. “Bring them to Israel, take care of them in our hospitals as we have done with thousands of Syrian civilians. We are looking into ways of doing this; it is being explored as we speak.”

Netanyahu was quick to add that Israel would not allow the civil war or fighting from the Syrian side of the border to spill over into the Jewish state. “But,” he added, “we can help mitigate some of the suffering; that is the best that Israel can do.”

Despite the absence of diplomatic ties between Jerusalem and Damascus and the fact that the two countries have been in a formal state of war since 1948, Israel has treated some 2,000 wounded Syrian civilians in the Jewish state’s hospitals since the start of the civil war six years ago. According to The Israel Project, each Syrian patient’s treatment costs Israeli taxpayers approximately $15,000.

Netanyahu told members of the international media and diplomats gathered at Tuesday’s reception that his future prospects for Syria were bleak. “Do I see a resolution of the Syrian situation? No,” he professed. “It is certainly not going to be one happy Syria, that is for sure. Will it be a united Syria? I doubt it. You have enclaves there and I do not think they are about to disappear.”

The prime minister also took the opportunity to address the terror attack on a Christmas market in the German capital in which 12 people were murdered. He urged countries around the world to come together and take a united stand against terror. The most important requirement for fighting terrorism, he explained, is courage.

Quoting from the Bible, Netanyahu said, “My message is actually from Joshua. ‘Be strong and of good courage’ (Joshua 1:9).”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 22 December 2016)

Photo Credit: Ashernet/Kobi Gideon/GPO

Prayer Focus
Bring the people of Syria before the Lord as they are facing extreme war torn conditions. Thank the Lord for Israel’s motivation to assist more wounded civilians with critical medical care. Pray for strong spirits, courage and energy for Israel’s medical staff who deal with the reality of this brutality.

Scripture

How blessed is he who considers the helpless; the Lord will deliver him in a day of trouble.  


- Psalm 41:1 NASB

Action
You may not live next to a war zone but ask yourself if there are any situations where God is calling you to make a difference. If you see someone in need, be the one to reach out in love.

Paris Middle East Peace Conference Delayed to January  

by Joshua Spurlock

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Eiffel tower at sunrise

Monday, 19 December 2016 | France still apparently intends to hold an international conference on the Israel-Palestinian peace process; it’s just going to be a month later—and possibly without either the Israelis or the Palestinians. French Ambassador to the United Nations [UN] François Delattre confirmed late last week what the Palestinians had earlier already leaked—the conference is now set for January, following a report in Le Figaro that the French were previously looking at the week of Christmas for the conference they had been insisting would take place in 2016. Delattre said last Friday in comments posted to the French mission to the U.N. website, that “France will hold an international conference in January, bringing together all the partner states that are committed to peace.”

The Ma’an News Agency reported earlier that week that Palestinian Ambassador to France, Salman al-Herfi, had already said he’d been told by the French, the conference had been postponed to the first month of next year. Furthermore, he said if the Israelis elect not to attend the event—which Israel has long said is an inappropriate international intrusion into issues that should be settled by the two sides—then neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians will be invited.

That would actually be the second time France has scheduled a dramatic peace event without inviting the two parties to the conflict. A kick-off event to their latest process held in June did not invite them either.

Instead of a global process, Israel has proposed a one-on-one with the Palestinians, an invitation which the Palestinians have not openly accepted. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with French President Francois Hollande earlier in December to tell him “that if there is no international conference in Paris, he would come to meet with [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] for direct talks without preconditions,” according to a statement from Netanyahu’s office at the time.

The statement reiterated that Israel will not attend an international conference, “which will not contribute to achieving peace.”

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this article on 17 December 2016. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Tristan Nitot/wikipedia

Photo License: wikipedia

Prayer Focus
Petition the Lord, asking for His will to be done in all global attempts to force international peace initiatives regarding Israel and the Middle East. Ask the Lord to encourage PM Netanyahu and related parties, blessing them with boldness, wisdom and strength as they lead the nation of Israel forward.

Scripture

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you. Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it.


- Deuteronomy 31:6-7

Israel Recycles 90% of Its Wastewater, Four Times More Than Other Countries

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Jordan River

Wednesday, 21 December 2016 | Almost 90% of Israeli wastewater is purified and used in irrigation, making it an undisputed world leader in this field, Haaretz reported on Sunday, citing a new report by the country’s Water Authority. Spain, the second-place country, recycles 20% of its wastewater compared to Israel’s 87%.

Israel is also a pioneer in desalination, operating Sorek—the world’s largest seawater desalination plant—some 10 miles [16 kilometers] south of Tel Aviv. While desalinization can be energy intensive and an expensive enterprise, the advanced technologies employed at Sorek allow it to produce a thousand liters of drinking water—about what one person in Israel uses in a single week—for 58 U.S. [2 shekels] cents.

Israel aims to produce 200 billion gallons of potable water annually through five major desalination plants by 2020 and has shared its expertise in the field to help address water shortages globally, from Egypt to California.

In How Israel Is Solving the Global Water Crisis which was published in the October 2015 issue of The Tower Magazine, editor David Hazony offered a brief history of how Israel came to lead the world in recycling wastewater.

“But Israelis have led the way in another revolution in water technology: The recycling of waste. Now, you probably don’t want to hear about what goes out through our toilets that can be reused to grow carrots, but listen carefully anyway. When gritty New Yorkers take a shower, the runoff ends up in the East River. In Washington, D.C., a rainstorm hits the streets and washes away all the dirt and garbage and spilled beer and political bile into the sewers and from there it all ends up in the ocean. American wastewater is treated minimally to prevent environmental damage. In some countries it’s not treated at all, polluting rivers and oceans.

“In Israel, however, fully 85% of that highly purified sewage gets reused for agriculture. Another 10% is used to increase river flow and fight forest fires. Only five% is released into the sea. The country with the second-highest use of recycled water is Spain. They recycle about 25%.

“Like the others, this Israeli innovation long predates the dotcom era, going all the way back to the 1950s. Understandably, farmers were a bit squeamish at first about using sewage for food production, and a huge amount of work had to go into figuring out how to keep both the food and the sources of fresh water—some of them in aquifers beneath the farms—free of toxins. The big breakthrough came in the 1970s when seven municipalities in the Tel Aviv area experimented with pumping wastewater into sandy dunes about eight miles south of the city. The sand, it was hoped, would act as a natural filter, directing the water over time into a nearby aquifer. It worked. The treated water (known as “effluent water”) was pumped further south where it is now used in agriculture. The natural process takes about six months to a year, but what comes out the other end is nearly fresh, usable for anything but drinking.

“By the 1990s, Israel had built a vast series of treatment facilities and a reservoir infrastructure capable of treating, storing and delivering reclaimed water from the sewage of nearly every municipality in the country. “Reclaimed water transformed Israel’s water profile,” Siegel writes. “And no less than with the role of drip irrigation and specially bred, drought-resistant seeds, the comprehensively treated sewage water changed the agricultural landscape, permitting Israel to feed itself and to be an agricultural exporter of significance—whether in years of rain or scarcity.”

“Today, nearly half the water used for agriculture in Israel comes from highly treated waste.”

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 15 December 2016. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Theo Polstra/bridgesforpeace

Prayer Focus
Pray for all humanity to realize the importance of saving water and looking after the environment. Thank God for His wisdom which is revealed in Israel’s innovative ways of recycling water and ask for these methods to spread worldwide, allowing Israel’s light to shine forth, blessing other nations.

Scripture

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”


- Genesis 1:26

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