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Friday, December 23, 2022

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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.

We will be taking a break from our daily news stories over the holidays. Our regular news updates from Israel will resume on Monday, January 2, 2023.

Bibi’s Back: Netanyahu Announces Formation of Israel’s 37th Government

by Ilse Strauss

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Benjamin Netanyahu, back for a third term as prime minister.

Thursday, 22 December 2022 | “I’ve done it.”

Incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took to Twitter shortly before midnight last night with the announcement that after five elections in three years and a political deadlock rendering the country effectively leaderless since 2019, he was back in the driver’s seat as the head of a 64-seat right-wing majority coalition in Israel’s 120-seat Knesset (parliament).

Moments before the tweet, Netanyahu officially informed President Isaac Herzog in a video call that he had managed to hammer out an agreement with his coalition partners that will see the collection of right-wing and religious parties join hands to form Israel’s 37th government.

“I wanted to inform you that, thanks to the immense public support we won in the elections, I have managed to set up a government which will take care of all the citizens of Israel. And I of course intend to establish it as quickly as possible,” the prime minister-designate told the president.

The agreement between the coalition partners came nearly 40 days after Netanyahu received the mandate to form the government from Herzog and 20 minutes before the strike of midnight would signal the expiration of that mandate. The coalition makeup comprises Netanyahu’s Likud party joined by the Religious Zionist Party, Shas, United Torah Judaism, Otzma Yehudit and Noam.

Israeli law dictates that Netanyahu must now officially inform the Knesset speaker of the country’s new government and its new leader, after which the speaker will announce the development at Monday’s legislative session. A session will then be scheduled within a week where the new government will present its guidelines, makeup and distribution of roles. The final step in the process is a vote over the government’s formation. If it passes, Israel will officially have a 37th government—headed by Netanyahu.

This isn’t Netanyahu’s first time around the block. In fact, this will be the sixth time he will hold office after serving as prime minister from June 1996–July 1999 and again from March 2009–June 2021. The more than 15 years as the Jewish state’s premier have made him Israel’s longest-serving leader and earned him the nickname King Bibi.

Israelis—as well as international leaders, world bodies, the global media and the ordinary man and woman on social media—had mixed reactions to the announcement. This is Israel’s most right-wing and most religious government in the 74 years since its rebirth, which raises heckles, eyebrows and questions among the left, the secular and particularly the Palestinians.

The new government brings with it the idea of formally incorporating the Jewish communities situated in Judea and Samaria—or the so-called West Bank—under Israeli governance and administration. The Palestinians and those who rally for their cause firmly oppose this notion, denouncing it as land theft from what they hope will become the future Palestinian state.

Then there are the secular Israelis, who are concerned that a religious government will promote the rights of the religious portion of Israel’s population over their own.

There’s also the left, who are worried that a right-wing government signals a 180 degree turn from the previous, more left-leaning leadership.

All in all, Israel’s 37th government has its task cut out for it. Tensions among the Palestinians are roiling within and the threat of a nuclear Iran looms without. To top it all off, the most right-wing, religious government of the most scrutinized nation on earth is sure to be in the international spotlight 24/7.

As Netanyahu and his coalition partners gear up to take their places in the next government that will rule over the land and the people God has chosen, we invite you to join us in prayer. Pray that the Lord will give them wisdom, insight and courage, but above all, a heart and an ear that is open to His guidance.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, December 22, 2022)

Photo Credit: Matty Stern/US Embassy Jerusalem/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for incoming Prime Minister Netanyahu and his coalition as they deal with a myriad of extremely difficult issues. Pray that their focus will be on establishing a government that honors God and truly deals justly with the complexity of Israel’s citizens.

Scripture

Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain…


- Exodus 18:21a NASB

Israel Shining Hanukkah Light into the Darkness of Ukraine

by Kate Norman

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Light shining in darkness (illustrative)

Wednesday, 21 December 2022 | As Jewish people around the world are celebrating Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, the people of Israel are helping to shine light into the darkness of besieged Ukraine.

Israel’s embassy in Kyiv announced this week that the Jewish state donated 17 generators to the war-torn Ukraine to restore power in the port city of Kherson, which has been especially hard hit since the Russian invasion began in February.

Russia and the rest of the world were surprised after the invasion began earlier this year to see what a strong fight the Ukrainians put up in resisting Moscow’s onslaught. But Russia doubled down in its efforts to quash the Ukrainian resistance by targeting the nation’s infrastructure, reportedly killing electricity for thousands of people amid the cold of winter.

The Israeli generators, however, “will illuminate the darkness in Ukraine,” Israel’s embassy to Ukraine said in a statement. Mashav, a branch of Israel’s foreign ministry that is responsible for the Jewish state’s humanitarian aid efforts, donated the generators, the Times of Israel reported.

The generators will specifically provide the besieged city of Kherson with electricity for its water infrastructure as well as its hospitals, the Israeli embassy said.

“There is a special significance to the donation of the generators during the Hanukkah days,” Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky said, as quoted by the Times of Israel. “We are helping to bring light back to the homes of the Ukrainians and helping the Ukrainian people in this difficult and dark hour.”

The JRNU, Chabad of Ukraine’s rescue center, also worked to bring the light of Hanukkah into the darkness of war-torn Ukraine by sending special generators to synagogues in order to provide a warm refuge for the local Jewish community and to keep the hanukkiot (nine-branched candelabras) lit, Israel National News reported.

“They won’t break us,” declared Odessa’s chief rabbi, Avraham Wolf, as quoted by Israel National News. “Despite the war, despite the darkness and the cold, even though the memorial has been covered in the sand since the start of the war, today we put up a menorah which symbolizes the victory of the light over the darkness.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy sent a special video Hanukkah greeting to the Jewish people of Ukraine and around the world. The president connected the underdog fight of his country against Russia to the miraculous Hanukkah victory of the small band of Jewish followers against the Greek Hellenists occupiers in 168 BC.

“The few defeated the many,” Zelenskyy said, “light defeated darkness. Thus it will also be this time.”

A group of Ukrainian Jews lit a giant hanukkiah in Kyiv’s Maidan Independence Square on Sunday, shining the miraculous Hanukkah light into the darkness, bringing a symbol of hope where hope is much needed.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, December 21, 2022)

Photo Credit: Amos777eligius/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord that Israel continues to be a light, this time by bringing light to the people of Kherson who have experienced tremendous suffering since the Russian invasion began. Pray that Israel’s gift of 17 generators will indeed alleviate some of that suffering and cause the hearts of many Ukrainians to be turned to the God of Israel.

Scripture

And He said to me, “You are My servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”


- Isaiah 49:3

After Four Months, Pregnant Mother Shot in Terror Attack Leaves Hospital with Baby

by JNS

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Liba Ahuva Schreiber leaves hospital with her child.

Tuesday, 20 December 2022 | Four months after she was shot in the stomach in a terrorist attack near King David’s Tomb in Jerusalem, a pregnant Jewish woman from New York has been released from hospital with her baby.

Liba Ahuva Schreiber, 37, was visiting Israel with her family when terrorists opened fire on them and other civilians waiting at a bus stop in August. Eight people were wounded.

Schreiber was rushed to Shaarei Tzedek Medical Center in critical condition, suffering from multi-systemic injuries. She was 26 weeks pregnant and forced to deliver early.

According to Arutz 7, her husband, Chaim Schreiber, said upon the release of his wife and newborn son from the hospital: “Blessed is He who performed a miracle for us in this place. We arrived here after Tisha B’Av [9th of Av the date when both Temples were destroyed] and we are leaving on the eve of the Hanukkah [Festival of Lights] holiday and are happy to celebrate Hanukkah at home with family.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on December 19, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Shaarei Tzedek Medical Center/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Praise God for the amazing Hanukkah miracle He performed for the Schreiber family. Pray that Liba Schreiber and her baby will continue to gain strength, and ask the Lord that many will hear this story and be encouraged to trust in Him.

Scripture

Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples.


- Psalm 96:3

The Apartheid Libel to Destroy Israel

by Khaled Abu Toameh ~ Gatestone

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Anti-Israel protests in Holland (illustrative)

Friday, 16 December 2022 | Many of Israel’s adversaries, including the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), have long attempted to stamp Israel with the false label of “apartheid”. Recently, however, with the UNHRC’s persistent allegations that Israel is an apartheid state, that label is being pushed even further in an apparent effort to make it stick. The complicity of recent reports from NGOs such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch appear to be trying to ensure that their libel will be complete.

These allegations are part of an ongoing massive campaign of incitement waged by the Palestinians and anti-Semites around the world to invalidate the State of Israel and vilify Jews.

The campaign emboldens the radicals among the Palestinians, including the Iranian-backed Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), whose declared goal is to eliminate Israel and replace it with an Islamist state.

Terrorist groups such as Hamas and PIJ are undoubtedly happy to see non-Arabs and non-Muslims—and even ostensible human rights organizations—join their effort to falsely depict Israel as an apartheid state. Hamas and PIJ are hoping that such a libel—with the UN and its agencies as a strategic ally—will help them win worldwide support for their jihad (holy war) to destroy Israel.

The UN’s obsession with, and its semi-daily condemnations of, Israel are music to the ears of all the terrorists and jihadis in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and Gaza Strip.

Former UNHRC chief Navi Pillay—despite extensive evidence of massive anti-Israel bias—was recently appointed to chair the UNHRC’s first and only open-ended Commission of Inquiry. Unsurprisingly, it is focused on Israel, as are more than a third of the UNHRC’s special sessions criticizing specific countries.

Pillay’s past statements and comments on the nature of the investigation itself belie a foregone conclusion and contradict any notions of impartiality:

“We’re focusing on the root cause…part of it lies in apartheid. We will be coming to that. That’s the beauty of this open-ended mandate, it gives us the scope.”

The intention behind this united campaign to brand Israel as an apartheid state is best summarized by PBS News Hour in an article about Amnesty International’s report:

“Their findings are part of a growing international movement to redefine the Israeli–Palestinian conflict as a struggle for equal rights rather than a territorial dispute.”

Apartheid is a visceral word, evoking images of former South African oppression and segregation, of signs designating beaches for “members of the White race group,” train platforms for “Non-Whites” and so forth.

International media coverage of the UNHRC’s claims has been smearing the libelous conflation of the words Israel and apartheid everywhere.

Social media has also gained a tremendous influence over public policy, and a hashtag of #Apartheid in a world of tweets can gain immeasurable traction. It also makes for an excellent T-shirt slogan, which, along with other “End Israeli Apartheid” merchandise, Amnesty International evidently expects will be a best seller.

A New York Times article about Human Rights Watch’s [HRW] apartheid accusations proffers:

“…apartheid, with its connotations of forced segregation, police shootings and racist ideology, has a special sting, which is why most rights groups have avoided using it until now, and why HRW in its report takes pains to separate its list of grievances from the horrors of South Africa.”

Basically, this is saying that although the two countries cannot be equated, the comparison is being forced and twisted into place for the sake of furthering an alternate agenda which has little to do with the facts on the ground.

A comparison of the two countries will plainly demonstrate this.

The defining features of South African apartheid were government laws deliberately designed to separate and discriminate against its black residents. Israel’s founding charter pledges to safeguard the equal rights of all residents:

“…It will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

Among many of South Africa’s apartheid laws, the Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act effectively stripped all blacks of their South African citizenship and of the right to vote.

Israeli Arabs, however, have full citizenship, including the right to vote and to public demonstration. They are represented in all levels of government, including positions as members of Knesset (parliament), in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and as Supreme Court justices. Israeli Arabs hold positions as high-ranking officers in the Israel Defense Forces [IDF], including that of major-general in the Central Command.

Israeli Arabs are deans, department heads, scientists, and professors at prestigious universities and hospitals. They are news anchors, journalists, actors, athletes, and are represented in every aspect of Israeli society.

A good deal of the accusatory rhetoric and false allegations about “systematic discrimination” derive from a misunderstanding of the cultural, religious and language factors that have shaped the Israeli social structure.

The false allegations also come from incorrectly confusing the nearly two million Israeli Arabs—who make up about 21% of Israel’s population and are full citizens of Israel—with thousands of Arabs whose families left Israel when five Arab counties attacked Israel in 1948. After the Arab armies lost the war they had started, they were surprised to find that they were not welcomed back. They have since settled in other countries—such as Lebanon, Jordan, and the West—as “Palestinians,” but are not citizens of Israel and therefore, of course, not subject to Israeli laws. The declared goal of their leaders has been to take over all the land and replace the Jews. If all the Arabs in the area are called “Palestinians,” however, it makes it easier to claim grievances, merited or not.

The West Bank (of the Jordan River), previously belonged to Jordan; Gaza previously belonged to Egypt. Both are now disputed territories where the Arabs totally run their own affairs, and have officially committed to direct, bilateral negotiations with Israel about “final status” issues, including where the borders should be. Lately, the Palestinians have refused to negotiate, apparently in the hope that the international community will hand them a better deal. They have been offered their own Palestinian state three times, and each time have said no, without so much as a counteroffer.

According to a Pew Research Center report:

“When it comes to friendships as well as family relationships, Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze often stay within their own religious communities…. Even within Israeli Jewry, different subgroups… tend to be isolated from each other…”

As Navi Pillay herself conceded (in reference to the US, certainly not Israel), “There isn’t a country in the world which has a perfect human rights record…” Israel is certainly no exception.

While South Africa’s Bantu Education Act mandated compulsory separation of black and white schools, however, the Israeli Ministry of Education has attempted to bridge the mostly self-imposed community divides by establishing Hand in Hand Schools throughout Israel.

Although all public schools are open to Arabs, Jews, and all ethnicities and religions, these are public schools in which all classes are bilingual Arabic–Hebrew and feature a multicultural curriculum. Each class is co-taught by an Israeli Arab and an Israeli Jewish teacher, and social events are coordinated with students’ families to facilitate cross-cultural friendship and understanding.

Apartheid is an Afrikaans word meaning “apartness”. Unlike apartheid-era South Africa, Israel is actively trying to unite its citizens through funding and equalizing programs while maintaining the security of all of its citizenry.

At the beginning of the year, Israel’s Department for the Economic Development of Minority Sectors at the Ministry of Social Equality invested US $70 million in the “Impact for Arab Society” program, designed to promote economic development via entrepreneurship and high-tech in the Arab sector.

This follows on the heels of Israel’s approval of a $10 billion dollar initiative last year to assist the Israeli Arab sector with economic and social development, which Israeli Arab Knesset member Mansour Abbas affirmed, “…will go a long way to close the gaps between Jewish and Arab sectors.”

Many “pro-Palestinian” activists prefer to engage in battles of semantics against Israel rather than constructive measures to actually help Palestinians in any concrete way. Palestinian NGO Al Shabaka (Palestinian Policy Network) best summarizes the strategy:

“Under international law, apartheid is a crime against humanity and states can be held accountable for their actions. However, international law has its limitations. One specific concern involves what is missing from the international legal definition of apartheid…. To address this concern, we propose an alternative definition of apartheid…”

The “limitations” referred to above are actually the limitations of the facts. What is missing is that Israel does not fit the legal definition of apartheid; therefore, some are forcibly attempting to recreate the legal definition with an “alternative definition” to fit Israel, to ram a square peg into a round hole. The “alternative definition” is, sadly, just a political maneuver to gather unwarranted international cover for still another attempt to replace Israel.

If you are looking for real apartheid against Arabs, try Lebanon or Jordan.

Source: (This article was originally published by Gatestone Institute on December 12, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Karen Eliot/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that more and more voices will be raised against this preposterous allegation, and cry out to the Lord for a move of His spirit that will open the minds and hearts of the nations to the truth.

Scripture

Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.


- Proverbs 12:22

Report: EU Working with PA to Take over Area C

by Charles Bybelezer ~ JNS

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The EU flag flies over illegal construction in Area C of Judea and Samaria.

Thursday, 22 December 2022 | A confidential document composed by the European Union’s [EU] mission in eastern Jerusalem and obtained by JNS shows that Brussels is actively working with and on behalf of the Palestinian Authority [PA] to take over Area C of Judea and Samaria, with the overall objective of integrating the region with Areas A and B.

“The EU is committed to contribute to building a Palestinian state within 1967 borders and mobilize to this purpose its political and financial tools,” the document begins.

“The viability of the two-state solution is being steadily eroded by the progressive fragmentation and ‘creeping annexation’ of Area C…This calls for an enhanced, articulated and robust nexus approach mobilizing European political and financial means,” it continues.

“The EU’s Area C program aims to foster the resilience of people, services and institutions, to reinforce Palestinian presence in Area C and to protect the rights of Palestinians living in Area C. The program contributes to serving Area C communities and Palestinian presence therein, so as to preserve Area C as part of a future Palestinian state,” the paper adds.

The document furthermore contends that “territorial integration is a sine qua non [essential] condition for a future Palestinian state: ‘connecting people, connecting land‘ shared principle to all interventions in Area C with the overall objective to integrate Area C with Areas A and B. The EU’s interventions in Area C are strengthened by a joint European approach and the active involvement of different actors, starting with the Palestinian Authority.”

EU Ambassador to Israel Dimiter Tzantchev told JNS: “We don’t comment on internal documents. The EU’s position in support of a two-state solution is well-known and very clear. The same is true for our concerns regarding the settlements in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and our policy vis-à-vis Area C. Our positions are not secret and are always articulated in our contacts with the Israeli authorities, including last week during the political dialogue that took place at the [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] in Jerusalem.

“Much progress in EU-Israel relations was achieved over the last year-and-half,” Tzantchev continued, “including the signing of important cooperation agreements, high-level visits and the resumption of the Association Council after a 10-year hiatus. We are looking forward to building on the positive development in the weeks and months to come.

“We share with Israel the values of an open, democratic and rule-of-law-based society. We respect the outcome of the democratic process in Israel and we are ready to work with the next government, which we will judge by its program and by its deeds and not based on prejudices,” added the ambassador.

A statement by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs shared with JNS said: “It is our understanding that this is an internal EU document which presents a series of positions that are not acceptable to Israel, including everything in regard to Area C. Israel sent this clear message to EU representatives on all levels who are stationed here.

“Since the document was written, most likely in June 2022, Israel and the EU held an ‘Association Council’ meeting [a high-level meeting between Israel, the EU, and neighboring countries, dealing with important issues including the EU/Israel relationship] in October of this year (for the first time in 10 years), along with further political dialogue last week, in which Israel/EU relations were discussed as part of the agenda.”

The four pillars of support

According to the confidential document, the EU’s programmatic approach in Area C stands on four main pillars:

“1. Planning and mapping of land rights; aims to strengthen the capacity of the local communities in Area C in planning their own resources and securing their land through local planning and mapping land right interventions that will provide a framework for investment and development.

“2. Provision of social and public infrastructure projects; aims to improve access to basic services such as water, electricity, road infrastructure, education or health through investment in essential social and public infrastructure. Projects are identified in coordination with Palestinian Authority and based on the development needs identified by Palestinian communities in Area C. So far, this pillar includes contributions from Member States (MS), i.e Denmark, France and Germany (in addition to the United Kingdom).

“3. Private sector development and investment in Area C, notably in agriculture, green energy and resilience; this pillar aims to support private sector development and investment in Area C in order to contribute to sustainable and inclusive economic development of Palestinian communities.

“4 . Local governance; it aims to enhance Palestinian local authorities’ contribution to governance and development processes in Area C, as a precondition for a more equitable, open and accountable society. It has been jointly implemented with Belgium and links to ongoing support to the Association of Palestinian Local Authorities and Local Governance Units in Area C. The EU and its Member State[s] have also supported civil society organizations in legal aid to Palestinian communities in Area C, to promote human rights, freedom of expression and peace-building activities.”

Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of the NGO Monitor think tank, told JNS that “since 1980, EU policymakers have sought to create a Palestinian state, and for the past two decades, they have used a network of NGO subcontractors to promote this objective.

“As this document confirms, Europe’s use of labels like support for ‘civil society’ and ‘human rights’ were designed to hide the millions of euros given every year to selected allied NGOs, particularly in Area C, to create facts on the ground. Now that the pretense is out in the open, the potential for a major confrontation between Israel and Europe, including over support for NGOs, is very high,” said Steinberg.

According to a recent report by the Israeli NGO Regavim, Arab expansion into land in Judea and Samaria is far outpacing Israeli growth in the area. “In the past year, the rate of illegal Palestinian construction has increased by 80%,” the researchers wrote last month.

So far in 2022, Palestinians built 5,535 illegal structures in Area C, which was placed under full Israeli control by the Oslo Accords. In contrast, illegal Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria amounted to 406 structures in 2022, Regavim said.

Over the past 20 years, illegal construction by Israelis totaled a mere 4,382 structures, fewer than what Palestinians built in the past year alone.

Naomi Linder Kahn, director of Regavim’s International Division, told JNS that “Israel is quantifiably losing the construction battle to the Palestinians in Area C.”

Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, director of international law at the Kohelet Policy Forum in Jerusalem, told JNS the leaked EU document shows that Brussels is taking steps in anticipation of policies by Israel’s incoming government to preserve lands in Area C.

“There is a rapid annexation of areas surrounding Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria by the PA and EU. This is ‘land for peace’ without the fake promise of peace,” he said, adding: “These revelations show that no one should be surprised when the EU condemns the new government for trying to save land in Yehuda and Shomron [Judea and Samaria]—they are the ones responsible for stealing it.

“The proposed policies of the [prospective Benjamin Netanyah-led] coalition in Area C are not about changing the status quo—they are the bare minimum to preserve it,” said Kontorovich.

Josh Hasten contributed reporting for this article.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on December 21, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Courtesy/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that Israel will take further steps to stop the building of illegal structures in Area C. Cry out to the Lord that Israel’s incoming government will develop strategies to deal with the “land for peace without the promise of peace” situation that has developed. Pray that the leaders will be able to secure Israel’s interests in Area C and thwart the PA’s plan to eliminate Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria.

Scripture

Blessed is that man who makes the LORD his trust, and does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.


- Psalm 40:4

Palestinians Call for Day of Rage after Arch-terrorist Dies of Cancer in Israel

by JNS

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Members of Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades participate in a rally of support for PA President Mahmoud Abbas, in Halhoul, near Hebron.

Wednesday, 21 December | Palestinians across Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip marked the death from cancer on Tuesday of arch-terrorist Nasser Abu Hamid with “Day of Rage” protests and a general strike.

Abu Hamid co-founded the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, which is aligned with Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction, during the Second Intifada. In December 2002, he confessed in Jerusalem District Court to killing seven Israelis and received seven life sentences and 50 additional years’ imprisonment.

Abu Hamid died at Assaf Harofe Medical Center in Rishon Lezion after a lengthy battle with lung cancer. Since September, Palestinians had called for his release on medical grounds.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh accused Israel of “deliberate medical negligence,” while Hamas called for “a real escalation in the occupation prisons” in response to Abu Hamid’s death.

Fatah called for a general strike across cities in Judea and Samaria “in response to the crimes committed against Palestinian prisoners.”

Fatah “also called for a day of rage at contact points with the Israeli army,” official PA news outlet Wafa reported.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on December 20, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Wissam Hashlamoun/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the truth that Israel is in no way guilty of medical negligence in the death of Abu Hamid will be told, and cry out to the Lord that the called-for days of rage will simply not materialize. Pray that there will be no conflicts with the IDF at checkpoints and that the strikes that are harmful to the Palestinian people who need to make a living will be called off.

Scripture

The LORD is righteous in all His ways, gracious in all His works. The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.


- Psalm 145:17–18

A Great Miracle Happened Here: Sniper Saved from Shot to the Head

by Meir Turgeman ~ Ynet

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Sergeant O’s sniper rifle absorbed the bullet meant for him. Pictured above is a M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System (illustrative).

Wednesday, 21 December 2022 | A Border Police officer says he miraculously escaped death when a bullet aimed at his head was blocked by his own gun.

“This week, when Israel will light candles and celebrate the Hanukkah [Festival of Lights] miracle, I will celebrate my own personal miracle. A bullet aimed for my head, was intercepted by my personal weapon and saved my life,” he said.

The incident occurred last week when his force was deployed to the Jenin refugee camp on the West Bank [Judea and Samaria], during a raid to apprehend terror suspects.

“I’m aware of the danger and the risks in our operational activities,” he said “but this incident demonstrated to me how close I was to death, and how I was saved by a greater force, my own personal Hanukkah miracle.”

“Our job was to identify sources of fire aimed at our troops who were operating in the camp,” he said.

“I heard a loud noise and immediately after it glass shattering and I immediately realized that someone was shooting at us,” the unit’s commander said. “At the same time, Sergeant O was knocked backward, and I was sure that’s it, I lost one of my men.”

“I assumed we were shot at or someone threw an explosive charge at us,” the sniper said. “I started to check myself and found a small shard of glass in the cheek area. My commander asked if I was alright, and I immediately said “yes,” and we laid down on the ground to take cover,” he said.

The commander said he tried to find where the bullet had hit but gave up quickly in order to avoid exposing his force and there had been no injuries.

Several days later the sniper realized his gun was not operating properly and was amazed to discover it had a bullet lodged in it.

“If my head would have been tilted just a bit more to any side, the bullet would have killed me,” he said.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on December 19, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Defense Visual Information Distribution Service

Photo License: NARA

Prayer Focus
Thank God for yet another Hanukkah miracle. Praise Him for this incredible demonstration of His power and His mercy during this Hanukkah season. Thank Him for the testimony of this border patrol officer and pray that many will hear and will trust in the Lord. Pray that every IDF soldier will experience that same protection as they put their lives on the line for the nation they love.

Scripture

He has put a new song in my mouth—praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the LORD.


- Psalm 40:3

The UN’s Resolution Calling on Israel to Give up Nuclear Weapons: “Much Ado about Nothing”

by Amb. Alan Baker ~ JCPA

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UN General Assembly Hall in the UN Headquarters, New York

Monday, 19 December 2022 | As part of the annual three-month “Israel-bashing” festival at the UN General Assembly, an automatic majority of 146 states adopted, on 7 December 2022, one of its annual resolutions calling upon Israel to renounce possession of nuclear weapons and to place its nuclear facilities under international supervision. Only six states voted against the resolution—Canada, the US, Palau, Micronesia, Liberia and Israel.

Apart from elements within Israeli media seeking to sensationalize and dramatize such resolutions, as well as some politicians and officials unfamiliar with the machinations of the UN, no one gets excited or bothered by such resolutions.

Even within the UN itself, “Israel-bashing” resolutions based on an automatic, politically driven majority has for decades become a routine and unavoidable annoyance and irritant for all except the Arab and African states that sponsor them. Such resolutions certainly do not and are not intended to advance the cause of Middle East peace. Nor do they achieve anything other than stain the reputation of the organization.

They are endured by most states that, out of political correctness and fear of Muslim backlash, simply go along with them and even support them, knowing that they are meaningless.

Substantively and legally speaking, such resolutions, like all General Assembly resolutions, have no binding legal authority and represent nothing more than the collective, partisan political viewpoint of the automatic majority of states that regularly vote against Israel, no matter what the subject.

Nuclear Proliferation in the Middle East and Israel

This particular resolution seems to have attracted both the Israeli and, curiously, even the Iranian media.

The resolution was sponsored by the Palestinians together with 20 Arab and African countries, including Israel’s allies in the Middle East such as Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates [UAE].

Entitled “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East,” the resolution stresses the fact that “Israel remains the only state in the Middle East that has not yet become a party to the Treaty [on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons].” The resolution goes on to express concern with regard to the threats posed by the proliferation of nuclear weapons to the security and stability of the Middle East region.

The resolution “reaffirms the importance of Israel’s accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and placement of all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] safeguards, in realizing the goal of universal adherence to the Treaty in the Middle East.”

Despite attempts to present this resolution as a novel and newsworthy item and as a cause for concern, in fact it merely copies the eight previous identical resolutions that have been adopted every year since 2015 when the item was first placed on the agenda of the General Assembly.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968

The NPT was drafted in 1968 as the main, universal engine within the international community aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.

The treaty instituted and maintains a safeguards system under the responsibility of the IAEA whose task is to verify compliance through inspections. The treaty promotes cooperation in the field of peaceful nuclear technology and equal access to this technology for all states parties, while safeguards prevent the diversion of fissile material for weapons use.

All states of the Middle East region, including some of the most extreme and fanatical states such as Iran and Syria, are parties to the NPT and as such are obliged legally to accept comprehensive IAEA safeguards and place themselves under supervision.

Israel’s Position

However, clearly, the extent to which such states openly violate their NPT obligations, and persistently threaten Israel, is indicative of the inherent weakness and lack of reliability of the supervision system.

Hence, Israel’s hesitation with regard to acceding to the NPT stems from its insistence on the prior establishment and maintenance of stable regional security conditions as part of a framework involving regional security and arms control dialogue.

Israel has consistently claimed that such a stable regional security framework could only be attainable in the context of a multilateral peace process. Without such a regional framework, Israel is not prepared to commit itself to the obligations of the NPT while other regional powers maintain a state of war with Israel and constantly threaten Israel’s very existence, even while being parties to the NPT.

Israel’s detailed and principled position was presented to the Director General of the IAEA in an official communication from Israel’s permanent representative to the IAEA, dated 7 September 2004:

Israel’s position is that safeguards, as well all other regional security issues, cannot be addressed in isolation from regional peace and stability.

Despite Israel’s principled position and its policy of “nuclear ambiguity,” Israel nevertheless adheres fully to the most stringent nuclear safety and security guidelines at its nuclear facilities.

However, the unending preoccupation of the international community with Israel’s refusal to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (1968) has become a constant catalyst for politicization and baseless allegations and suppositions with regard to Israel’s supposed nuclear capabilities. Hence the present resolution during the ongoing 77th session of the UN General Assembly.

Clearly, no non-binding, politically generated resolution of the General Assembly, even if adopted year after year for eight consecutive years by a large majority of states, can oblige Israel to act against its national security interests.

The annual agenda item on Israeli nuclear capabilities was politically driven and contradicted the spirit of the Agency. The repeated explicit threats made by Iran and its proxies to attack Israel’s nuclear facilities must not be ignored.

The path to safety and security could not be paved with continuous resolutions and active denouncements of Israel. Israel calls upon the Arab group to honor the will of member states, cease its obstructive behavior and refrain from the item’s inclusion at future sessions of the General Conference.

Source: (Excerpt from article originally published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on December 13, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Basil D Soufi/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr

Prayer Focus
How sad it is that bashing Israel at the UN has become accepted as a matter of course. Cry out to the Lord that the nation He loves will be delivered from the continuous resolutions and active denouncements that are business as usual at the UN. Also pray that Israel will be firm in its stance for the security of the Land and the people of God.

Scripture

And they shall know that I am the LORD their God with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Lord GOD. And you are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Lord GOD.


- Ezekiel 34:30–31 ESV

A Dry and Thirsty Land

by Janet Aslin

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Colorful umbrellas provide shade for pedestrians on a street near Jerusalem’s city center.

Tuesday, 20 December 2022 | It has been an abnormally dry December in Jerusalem this year. Just one millimeter of rain has fallen in the capital while the monthly average is over 100 millimeters. A quick survey of the Israel Meteorological website showed most locations around the Land have received less than half their normal precipitation to date.

Rainfall in this region happens primarily between the months of December and February though it can begin in October and extend into late April. The amount of rain in any given year varies as reported on a government website, “At times rainfall is below the multi-year average during a period of successive years, and at times above the average.”

Water levels in the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) are definitely a topic of conversation during the dry years with speculations about the two “red lines” and the dreaded “black line,” which signals the beginning of severe ecological damage to the lake when it is reached. Since rainfall is heaviest in the northern part of the country, the Kinneret has been a good indicator of the nation’s water supply. We are happiest when the waves are lapping up at the closest point to shore.

It is a fact that in the past, there have been years of drought in Israel. Human beings can live for more than three weeks without food but only three or four days without water. Survival in an arid, desert environment requires a stable supply of water. With the Mediterranean to its west and the Red Sea to its south, in 2000 Israel decided to tap the unlimited supply of seawater and build desalination plants.

Desalination plants have been constructed at Ashkelon (2005), Palmachim (2007), Hadera (2009), Sorek (2013) and Ashkelon (2015) and another two will be added. According to the government’s desalination website, upon completion of the final plant in the western Galilee area, these “seven plants are expected to provide 85%–90% of the annual municipal and industrial water consumption.”

Israel has managed to achieve a degree of independence when it comes to water. Does that mean we no longer pray for rain in this “dry and thirsty” month of December? Of course not! Rain is part of the rhythm that God established in this Land with the early and the latter rains (Deut. 11:14). We may have clean water from our taps and be able to take long, guilt-free showers but there is something so special about the rain God sends from heaven upon His people and His land (Deut. 11:11).

There is hope for the month of December. The long-range forecast shows a possibility of rain in Jerusalem tomorrow. Just tomorrow and then back to the zero precipitation until Saturday when we may also expect the rain from heaven.

A friend told me she had heard that meteorologists are predicting very heavy rainfall after the first of the year. Join with us at Bridges for Peace as we pray that these predictions will bring gentle, soaking rains and not torrential downpours that cause flooding. And let’s remember to give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His mercies are new every morning.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, December 20, 2022)

Photo Credit: Jenna Solomon/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Pray for the blessing of God’s gentle, soaking rains on the nation where He has placed His name forever. Thank Him for His mercy and pray that there will be no drought, that the levels in the Kinneret will rise and that the Land will have the water it needs to prosper in the name of the Lord.

Scripture

God thunders marvelously with His voice; He does great things which we cannot comprehend. For He says to the snow, “Fall on the earth”; likewise to the gentle rain and the heavy rain of His strength.


- Job 37:5–6

IDF Expanding its Recruitment Program for Handicapped Youth

by Ynet

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IDF soldiers enjoying a snack during a training exercise (illustrative).

Thursday, 22 December 2022 | Fifteen graduates of a school for special needs children in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod had a very exciting day last week, when they were recruited to serve in the Israeli military.

They reported to the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] recruitment center in Rehovot along with their parents and the educational staff from their school, and will serve in the unit especially created for recruits like them.

Each new recruit was assigned a uniform, dog tag and a beret.

A volunteer, Sahar Ben-Hamo, gave an encouraging speech to the new recruits. “Some friends believe in you and say you can accomplish anything your set your minds to, while others say you cannot. They just like to underestimate your industriousness, but you showed them you are up to the task. You’re the winners because you’re stronger than they are.”

Their recruitment to the military was possible thanks to a unique IDF program that aims to integrate special needs youth in the army.

The “Gdolim Bemadim” (“Big in Uniform”) program has already helped recruit close to a thousand handicapped youth, while hundreds are still on the program’s waiting list. The “Yad LaYeled HaMeyuchad” (“Lend a Hand to a Special Child”) association, which funds the program, is looking for other means to finance this initiative.

The Gdolim Bemadim graduates get to experience industrial work with the rest of the soldiers, helping them shed misconceptions about handicapped youth and integrate into the society.

Dozens of companies have lent a hand already, and not just financially. The Adama Agan company, which specializes in manufacturing chemical-based materials for agricultural use, has been helping out in accompanying the recruits all throughout their service.

Hadran Olami, Adama Agan’s manufacturing director, said the recruits will “make us a stronger society.”

Lend a Hand to a Special Child Executive Director Rabbi Menachem Mendel Belinitzky addressed the recruits: “There’s nothing better than to see the spark in the eyes of those recruits and their parents. It’s spontaneous and it takes everyone’s breath away.”

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on December 20, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/flickr. com

Photo License: flickr

Prayer Focus
Thank God for the nation of Israel and the example it sets for the rest of the world. Thank Him for this amazing IDF program that recognizes the value of every human life and the contributions that even those considered the least among us can make. Pray that the program will expand to include even more special needs recruits, showing the world that in yet another way, Israel’s military is the most moral force in the world.

Scripture

But the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.


- Isaiah 60:2b