Compassion

I want to help put an end to the cycle of hopelessness and give hope to survive.

Friday, February 15, 2019

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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.

Netanyahu: Israel Constantly Operates against Iranian Entrenchment in Syria

by Ilse Strauss

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PM Netanyahu: “We are working all the time to block Iran.”

Wednesday, 13 February 2019 | The admissions used to be rare and unprecedented. For operations conducted outside Israeli borders, the Jewish state followed a tested policy of “no comment.” Yet times have changed. And as Israel’s sworn archenemy Iran creeps closer to the Promised Land—more determined than ever in its intent to annihilate the Jewish state—so has the time-honored policy of remaining mum. Instead, the powers that be arguably adopted an alternative strategy: act decisively when red lines are crossed, followed by an admission of responsibility to stand as a stark warning that the safety of Israel and her people cannot be trifled with.

The latest incident in the growing trend came yesterday when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed an Israeli military strike in the Syrian Golan Heights on Monday.

“We are working all the time to block Iran,” he said before boarding a plane to Poland for a US–Polish conference to deliberate the Islamic State’s mounting aggression in the Middle East. “We operate every day, including yesterday, against Iran and its efforts to entrench itself in the region.”

On Monday evening, Syrian state media accused Israel of shelling two targets in the Syrian Golan Heights city of Quneitra, located a stone’s throw from the Israel–Syria border. While the Israeli military did not respond to the claims immediately, military reporters were told the targets were members of an Iranian-backed Shiite militia attempting to dig in and establish an operating base on Israel’s doorstep, the Times of Israel reports. The tank shells were, however, also meant to communicate an additional message: Israel will act decisively against any attempts by Tehran to establish a permanent military presence on its border.

This was also the message Netanyahu reiterated yesterday before heading to Warsaw. “We operate very many means and very many elements against the Iranian aggression…Time and again we have blocked their attempts to entrench in Syria, day after day.”

Israel began deviating from its policy of ambiguity regarding operations against Iran in Syria last September, when senior Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officials told reporters during a media briefing that Israel has struck more than 200 Iranian targets in Syria since 2017. The targets included shipments of advanced weaponry and military bases and infrastructure.

Three months later, outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot echoed Israel’s ongoing operations in Syria—and its success. “Israel is operating and will continue to operate against Iranian entrenchment in Syria,” he told the New York Times. “Iran’s vision was to build a force of about 100,000 fighters with integrated land, sea and intelligence capabilities and to build a line of outposts in the Golan Heights. Israel has worked continuously and has thwarted Iran’s efforts…”

Netanyahu has been equally outspoken, admitting in January that Israel “has attacked hundreds of Iranian and Hezbollah targets.” The prime minister also claimed two specific strikes, warning of more decisive action should Tehran persist in its endeavors to use war-torn Syria as a base from which to attack Israel.

Iran, for its part, responded to Israel thwarting its military ambitions by launching rocket attack on the Jewish state—to which Israel responded with targeting additional Iranian military infrastructure in Syria.

The back-and-forth war in the skies and on the ground has been accompanied by a war of words, waged in traditional and social media. Iran has been forthright about its desire to see the Jewish state annihilated—and the leading role it hopes to play in that destruction. Israel has been equally forthright about its resolve to see Tehran fail in this ambition.

Iran used its six years of involvement in the Syrian civil war to set up a military outpost in the Jewish state’s backyard. Israel made it clear that it will not allow its archenemy on its borders to build a Shiite land corridor from Tehran to Beirut—and warned the mullahs of the consequences of crossing Israel’s red lines. Iran crossed the red lines—repeatedly. And Israel responded—as promised.

Israel sought international intervention from the US and Russia to pressure Tehran to pack up its weapons and return to its country—with little effect. Last month, Netanyahu warned Iran to leave Syria “as quickly as possible.” Iran dug in its heels, vowing to keep its military forces and weapons in the war-torn country. A week later, Tehran threatened to raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground. Netanyahu replied to the “tyrants of Tehran: We know what you are doing and where you are doing it. We will continue to take action against Iran with all the tools at our disposal in order to ensure the security and future of Israel.”

As the threats, warnings, shells and rockets continue to fly, many fear that the simmering tensions will spark a protracted military confrontation between Jerusalem and Tehran, turning the Promised Land’s northern border into the battlefield for the first Israel–Shia war.

Perhaps the best summary of the situation comes from an anonymous senior figure in Tehran’s political and academic life during a recent interview with Ynetnews: “I believe that in Israel you know exactly what is going on, exactly who is in Syria. You have maps, you exchange information with foreign sources, and I assume you also have agents there. In any case, neither side is going to give in. I assume that Israel will continue bombing, so we will be more careful and there will be surprises from our side.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, February 13, 2019)

Photo Credit: Ashernet

Prayer Focus
As Iran continues in its efforts to create a stronghold in Israel’s backyard, pray that the Lord will bless Israel’s efforts to prevent it. Pray for wisdom for PM Netanyahu and his team as well as for protection for the IDF as they face this threat on a daily basis.

Scripture

For I will not trust in my bow, nor shall my sword save me. But You have saved us from our enemies, and have put to shame those who hated us.


- Psalm 44:6–7

Hamas Resumes Nighttime Clashes on Gaza Border

by Elior Levy

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Palestinians riot at the Gaza border in June of 2018.

Monday, 11 February 2019 | Hamas escalated its struggle against Israel on Sunday night with the resumption of nighttime clashes on the Gaza border, months after stopping them.

Dozens of Palestinians launched firecrackers and fireworks at [Israel Defense Forces soldiers] east of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip. The Israeli forces used crowd dispersal measures to keep the rioters away from the border fence.

The nighttime rioting stopped after Israel and Hamas reached an arrangement that allowed Qatari funds to enter the Gaza Strip.

However, changes made to the Qatari grant—with the funds transferred through the United Nations rather than directly to Hamas—and the terror group’s violations of the quiet have led to the resumption of violence on the border.

Hamas is planning to resume regular nighttime clashes on the border, starting with once a week and escalating over time.

At the same time, Hamas returned Tuesday’s clashes in the northern part of the Strip to the Zikim area, where a flotilla of boats from Gaza’s port [tried] to enter Israeli waters.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on February 10, 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/Flickr

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
As you lift this situation to the Lord, pray very specifically. Ask the Lord to bring the nighttime attacks to an end and to protect the entire border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, including the coastline. Ask Him to keep boats from Gaza’s port from entering Israeli waters. Pray that God will bless and protect the young soldiers who are guarding that border as well as the small communities nearby that are constantly threatened with rocket attacks and arson terror.

Scripture

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; defend me from those who rise up against me. Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloodthirsty men.


- Psalm 59:1–2

Report: “From the North to the South We are Ready” for War

by Kate Norman

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The Givati Brigade conducting a training exercise in 2015 to prepare for combat in northern Israel.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019 | “Only several dozens of kilometers from here, beyond our northern border, there is a terror organization that is set to harm Israel and its resilience, an organization that strives to use precision-guided weapons against us and aims to invade our territory and launch rockets and missiles at Israeli civilians, all the while blatantly violating international agreements and the rules of warfare,” Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said a few weeks ago.

The IDF chief was referring to Hezbollah, Iran’s Lebanese terror proxy operating too close to northern Israel for comfort.

“The IDF will continue acting against the entrenchment of Iran and its proxy Hezbollah on the northern frontier, and continue thwarting terror attacks in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria], the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula,” Kochavi continued.

Amid the tension, the IDF has been conducting drills in the northern Jordan Valley in simulated warfare with Hezbollah. The mountain terrain in the Jordan Valley closely resembles that of southern Lebanon, the playground of Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah. Hundreds of troops from the IDF’s 401st Armored Brigade took place in the drill for two weeks.

“This drill simulated what will need to be done during a war with Hezbollah,” Maj. Tsur Goldman of the 401st Brigade told the Jerusalem Post.

The drill included urban warfare, which Hezbollah now has experience with after taking part in the Syrian civil war to help Syrian President Bashar al-Assad maintain his grip on the nation.

Israel and Hezbollah have been trading threats and warnings over the last few months, especially after the IDF launched Operation Northern Shield in December to expose and destroy Hezbollah’s attack tunnels crossing into Israel territory. The Israeli military believes Hezbollah planned to infiltrate the northern part of the Jewish state to kill as many Israelis—both civilian and military—as possible.

The Shaked Battalion of the Givati Brigade underwent a rigorous drill last week in the same area, which the senior leader of the brigade called “one of the most challenging tactical exercises ever,” Arutz Sheva reported. The drill involved company commanders of armored vehicles working to neutralize a Hezbollah ambush, which included practicing with live fire, according to Arutz Sheva.

The 450th Battalion from the IDF’s School for Infantry Corps Professions & Squad Commanders completed a similar drill two weeks ago, the Post reported. That particular battalion specializes in training regular troops to become squad commanders and platoon sergeants.

“This is important training for the next war in the North,” Lt.-Col. Liran Bitton of the 450th Battalion told the Post.

“The enemy challenges us on every front, but it’s not only the enemy,” he continued. “It’s also the territory and everything that goes with it—like fatigue, injuries and friends who don’t return from battle. You always have the responsibility on your shoulders, and that doesn’t change regarding the front. It’s a mental challenge.”

Bitton acknowledged that both sides have advanced since the last conflict in 2006, and the enemy has better weapons and more experience than last time. Yet the lieutenant colonel doesn’t seem worried.

“I have high confidence in my men,” he told the Post. “I have fought in many wars with the IDF and I have a lot of trust in them and their professionalism.”

Goldman agreed after the most recent drill that the IDF is prepared for conflict.

“We are ready, whether it is in the north or south,” Goldman told the Post. “After all this training, we are ready…it doesn’t matter what front it is.”

While visiting the Haifa naval base yesterday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “We are constantly working according to our understanding and the need to prevent Iran and its proxies from entrenching on our northern border and in our region in general. We are doing everything necessary.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, February 13, 2019)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/Flickr

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for the Israeli military and their preparedness to defend God’s chosen Land. Thank Him for the strength and courage of the young men and women who are ready to meet the enemy on any front. However, beseech Him that Israel’s readiness will be a deterrent to those who would attack Israel.

Scripture

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


- Psalm 121:1–4

“I Wanted to Murder a Jew,” Suspect in Murder of Israeli Teen Admits

by Jo Sarah Stanford

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IDF troops prepare to destroy the home of Ori Ansbacher’s murderer in Hebron.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019 | Ori Ansbacher’s killer sat in the courtroom smirking. Cameras flashed as the media captured the face of Arafat Irfaiya, the Palestinian man who brutally assaulted and murdered the 19-year-old Israeli girl on Thursday. The terrorist bore signs of a struggle—scratches on his forehead and below his eye.

Unperturbed by the five police guards surrounding him, he appeared to be enjoying the attention. He had achieved what he set out to do.

“I entered Israel with a knife because I wanted to become a martyr and murder a Jew,” the Times of Israel quoted him.

This was the Palestinian terrorist’s first court appearance. The media were sent out of the courtroom and the session was held behind closed doors, the judge deeming the details of the case too sensitive and too graphic for a public forum.

Irfaiya was remanded in custody for another 10 days. According to the Times of Israel, police intend to charge him with “murder in the context of a terrorist act in addition to a charge of rape.”

The brutality of Ori Ansbacher’s murder has outraged the nation.

The teen from Tekoa (south of Bethlehem) was reported missing last Thursday, after she failed to return home from a walk in the Ein Yael nature reserve. A police search discovered her body, horrifically assaulted, later that evening. Evidence at the scene quickly led to the arrest of Irfaiya, a Palestinian man from Hebron. He was apprehended in Ramallah on Saturday night. Security forces labeled the murder a terror attack.

The tragic theme of the story is nothing new. While the severity of this attack has shocked many, Israelis have sadly been forced to face such violence for many years.

What Israel—and a good many international world leaders—decry as terror attacks, the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership calls “resistance against the occupation.” They encourage the Palestinian people to stand up to their “oppressors” using violence—all in the name of freedom. PA President Mahmoud Abbas regularly incites his people to crimes against the Jewish people. Speaking only in Arabic, his hateful comments rarely catch the attention of the English speaking world. While he stirs hatred in the hearts and minds of the Palestinian people, he shows a very different side while facing the Western media.

“We bless every drop of blood that has been spilt for Jerusalem…” he declared on Palestinian national television in 2015. “Every martyr will reach Paradise and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah.”

Not only does Abbas promise spiritual reward, he also provides these “martyrs” and their families with substantial financial boons for their “resistance.” The more horrific the attack, the greater the rewards.

These regular monthly payments are often equal to—or even greater than—an average household income. This makes the rewards of becoming a “martyr” very enticing, especially when the PA’s lies brainwash the Palestinian people to believe that Israel is the cause of all their troubles and an uprising is the only solution.

At a White House meeting in 2017, President Donald Trump called on Abbas to put an end to the incitement to violence.

“There can be no lasting peace unless the Palestinian leaders speak in a unified voice against incitement…violence and hate,” Trump said. “There’s such hatred, but hopefully there won’t be such hatred for very long.”

Abbas’s reply was pious. “Mr. President, I affirm to you that we are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace, and we are endeavoring to bring about security, freedom and peace for our children…along with the Israeli children…”

Just a few weeks later, at a meeting in Bethlehem, Trump confronted Abbas for his duplicity, the Times of Israel reported.

“You lied to me in Washington when you talked about commitment to peace,” Trump reportedly yelled, “but the Israelis showed me you were personally responsible for incitement.”

Although Abbas may say otherwise, it is clear that the Palestinian Authority does not seek peace, but seeks the destruction of Israel—and they are teaching the Palestinian people to do the same. Tragically, the incitement to terror bears regular violent fruit.

Ansbacher’s uncle highlighted this, saying his niece’s murder was part of a “much bigger” issue, reported the Jerusalem Post.

“It is important to understand that we are dealing with the war between the sons of light and the sons of darkness. We are good people. Ori was full of goodness, light and kindness. There are people here who are looking to do evil, and the gap between her joy and her light compared to this criminal murderer symbolizes that.”

“We believe that the good will win, that its light will win—that good must prevail. Everything must be done for them to understand that such wickedness has no place anywhere.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, February 12, 2019)

Photo Credit: ILTV Israeli Daily/Screenshot/YouTube

Prayer Focus
Pray for the family of Ori Ansbacher and her entire community. Ask the Lord to comfort those who are mourning and ease their pain as they deal with the horrific way in which Ori died. Pray for international outrage at such unconscionable evil and for swift justice for her murderer.

Scripture

“Therefore all those who devour you shall be devoured; and all your adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; those who plunder you shall become plunder, and all who prey upon you I will make a prey. For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds,” says the LORD.


- Jeremiah 30:16–17a

Israel Pushes for UN to Declare Hezbollah a Terror Organization

by Itamar Eichner

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Israeli President Rivlin and Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon host UN ambassadors in Israel.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019 | In a bid to persuade the members of the United Nations Security Council to dub Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, senior officers from Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate are expected to brief the members of the international body on the Iran-backed group’s activity in Lebanon. They will voice their concerns over its further strengthening in the country and the establishment of extensive terror infrastructures, and also raise the need to prevent further Iranian entrenchment in Syria.

Although Hezbollah is already considered a terrorist organization by multiple countries, including Israel, the US and members of the Arab League, its members serve in the Lebanese government. Over the past few months, the Israeli mission to the UN, headed by Ambassador Danny Danon, has been waging a campaign to get the UN Security Council to declare the Shiite organization as a terrorist group.

As a result, the Security Council held a meeting in December to discuss the Hezbollah attack tunnels dug from Lebanon into Israel, which were uncovered by the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] during Operation Northern Shield in December. The tunnels, of which Israel uncovered six, are believed to have been dug by Hezbollah fighters in order to carry out attacks on civilians in the Galilee.

The meeting, called by the US at Israel’s request, also dealt with Hezbollah’s alleged violations of UN Resolution 1701. The resolution, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War, calls for the disarmament of the Iranian-backed organization and its activities in southern Lebanon.

Last week, dozens of UN ambassadors visiting Israel toured a site near Metula where the army discovered the cross-border tunnels. Engineering troops gave the diplomats a tour of a tunnel using a robotic camera. The tour was organized by Danon.

“The struggle we are waging against Hezbollah is both military and diplomatic. Its definition as a terrorist organization is imperative to harm the global terror apparatus, which is based in Tehran,” Danon said.

The diplomats met with President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before flying in a seven-helicopter convoy from Jerusalem to the north of the country. During their meeting, Netanyahu stressed Iran’s chokehold on Lebanon via its proxy, Hezbollah.

As the tour ended, several UN ambassadors said they would support Israel’s attempts to convince the Security Council to declare Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Panamanian Ambassador Melitón Arrocha Ruíz said he came to see firsthand the hostile activities against Israel. “We will pass on what we saw and convey how Israel is thriving, open and democratic, and that we all certainly share similar rule of law values,” he said.

South Sudan Ambassador Akuei Bona Malwal noted the importance of coming to see the facts on the ground: “For those of us who work in NY and hear all sorts of things, the best way is to come and see and feel exactly what is happening. We came to Israel to see the challenges and how they are being handled.”

The ambassador also pointed out the absurdity of the tunnels being dug under the nose of UN peacekeepers stationed in south Lebanon.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on February 11, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Haim Tzach/GPO

Prayer Focus
Pray for Ambassador Danny Danon as he continues to fight Israel’s battle at the UN. Continue to pray for the leaders who accompanied Ambassador Danon to Israel recently and beseech the Lord that he will have success in convincing the UN to dub Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

Scripture

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.


- Daniel 2:20–21

Why Palestinians Oppose an Anti-Iran Coalition

by Khaled Abu Toameh ~ Gatestone Institute

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The PA, against any form of normalization with Israel, are calling for a boycott of the Warsaw Mideast conference.

Thursday, 14 February 2019 | The Palestinians have good reason to believe that some influential Arab countries have given up on both them and the Palestinian cause. They fear that several Arab countries might even be headed toward normalizing their relations with Israel.

For several weeks now, the leadership of the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been waging a campaign against a US–Polish conference that is scheduled to take place in Warsaw this week. US and Polish officials said that the conference will include sessions on the situation in Syria, Yemen, missile development, terrorism and illicit finance and cybersecurity. A US official said that the conference will also discuss “Iran’s destructive policies in the region.”

Why are the Palestinians so worried about the conference? Because they care about Iran or Yemen or Syria or missile development? No, the Palestinians are concerned because they have somehow convinced themselves that the main purpose of the conference is to bring the Arab countries closer to Israel. It is not clear on what the Palestinian claim is based, especially as neither the US nor Poland has mentioned the issue of normalization between Israel and the Arab countries as being on the agenda of the conference.

“The PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] considers the conference a form of direct and public normalization (between the Arabs and Israel),” said PLO Executive Committee member Ahmed Majdalani. “This is an attempt to change the priorities in the Middle East so that confronting Iran would become the main issue instead of ending the (Israeli) occupation.” The PLO official called on the Arab countries to boycott the conference.

PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat also expressed concern over the planned conference in Warsaw. He said it was a “serious attempt to overturn the Arab Peace Initiative” that was endorsed by the Arab League in 2002. This 10-sentence initiative calls for normalizing relations between the Arab countries and Israel in exchange for a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines (including east Jerusalem) and a “just settlement” of the Palestinian refugee issue based on UN resolution 194. The resolution states that refugees “wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practical date.”

Although Israel has expressed tentative support for the initiative, it also made clear that it cannot accept the relocation of millions of Palestinians into Israel. Such a move would mean the creation of two Palestinians states: one in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria], Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, and another in Israel, where Jews would become a minority in their country.

Erekat and other Palestinian officials seem worried that the Arabs planning to participate in the conference will abandon the Arab Peace Initiative, including the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to Israel. They are also apparently concerned that their Arab brothers will abandon the Palestinian issue in favor of an anti-Iran coalition. Several Arab countries now consider the Iranian “threat” their main priority and believe that it should take precedence over the Palestinian dispute.

“The Palestinian cause is an Arab and Islamic issue par excellence,” Erekat said, echoing Palestinian fears of Arab indifference toward the Palestinians. “We have not authorized anyone to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinians. The US is planning, through the Warsaw conference, to first achieve normalization between the Arabs and Israel before peace (between Israel and the Palestinians).”

Even if the planned conference is aimed at creating a coalition against Iran, one would expect the Palestinian Authority to be the first to join it. In the past few years, the Palestinian leadership has repeatedly charged Iran with meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians, especially by supporting Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip. It seems the Palestinian leadership would rather see Iran continue to pose a threat to Arab countries than see peace between those countries and Israel.

Recently, a senior Palestinian official accused Iran of being behind the weekly demonstrations that began in March 2018. “Iran is financing these marches,” the official said, referring to the demonstrations being held in the context of the Hamas-sponsored March of Return.

The “March of Return” is the name chosen by Hamas and other Palestinian groups to describe the weekly protests along the Gaza–Israel border. The groups say that their main goal is to force Israel to lift the Gaza Strip blockade, but by calling the demonstrations a “March of Return,” Hamas and its supporters are also saying that they want Palestinian refugees and their descendants to move into Israel as part of what they consider a “right of return.”

Osama Qawassmeh, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction, also lashed out at Iran:

“Iran has not provided anything for the Palestinian people. It is shameful that some think that the economic crisis in Iran is because of its support for the Palestinians. We never heard that Iran helped build a school or hospital or university or any other developmental project.”

Iran’s support for Hamas and Islamic Jihad, he explained, does not mean that it supports the Palestinian people. “This is a huge misconception and mistake,” he said.

In addition, Abbas loyalists have accused Iran of supporting Hamas’s violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007. One official claimed that the Hamas terrorists who staged a coup against the Palestinian Authority back then had received military training in Iran and “some Arab countries.”

Another sign that the Arab countries have turned their backs on the Palestinians was provided by the recent convening of Arab foreign ministers in Jordan to build a consensus among Arab states on regional security issues. The Palestinians were not invited.

“The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank city of Ramallah should ask itself why is everyone disparaging the Palestinian cause,” said Palestinian political analyst Fayez Abu Shamaleh. “Why is the Palestinian cause no longer at the center of the attention of Arabs and Jews? Even the candidates running in the Israeli election have ignored the Palestinian issue.”

The Palestinian fears do not seem unjustified. Several Arab countries appear completely fed up with the Palestinians, particularly the continued bickering between Fatah and Hamas. Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Arab countries have tried in the past decade to help the two rival parties resolve their differences, to no avail. Egyptian intelligence officials have devoted years trying to convince Hamas and Fatah to work together for the benefit of the Palestinians.

Instead of doing so, however, Palestinian leaders are preoccupied with blocking Arab participation in a conference that could see the creation of a coalition against Iran—the same country that Abbas and his loyalists hold responsible for the ongoing divisions among the Palestinians. Might it be possible that the Arab countries are finally rousing themselves from their long slumber and beginning to seek better lives for themselves and their neighbors?

Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at Gatestone Institute.

Source: (Gatestone Institute originally published this article on February 9, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: User:Jyon/wikimedia.org

Source: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for the conference in Poland as leaders come together to confront the Iranian threat to the Middle East and the world. Pray that more Arab nations—and others around the world—will come to recognize that the Palestinian cause is not a just one, but is instead a strategy to destroy the nation of Israel.

Scripture

It is a joy for the just to do justice, but destruction will come to the workers of iniquity.


- Proverbs 21:15

In Israel, Austrian President Visits Coexistence Center, Admits Shared Blame for Holocaust

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Ties between Israel and Austria grow stronger as the countries sign a memorandum of understanding.

Friday, 8 February 2019 | In addition to meeting with Israel’s top leaders during his visit to the Jewish state this week, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen visited a center that promotes Israeli–Arab coexistence and admitted that Austria bore “shared responsibility” for the Holocaust.

The Jerusalem Post reported on Wednesday that Van der Bellen said that the Center for a Shared Society in Givat Haviva is “a message of hope for the entire world.” In 2016 the Austrian government presented the center with one of its Intercultural Achievement Awards.

On Monday, Van der Bellen visited Yad Vashem and on Twitter called the Holocaust memorial “a powerful place of commemoration and reflection.” He added, “It is a warning to future generations, a reminder of the fragility of democracy and of the values we so often falsely take for granted.”

Van der Bellen continued, “#Austria recognises its shared responsibility for the unspeakable atrocity of the #Holocaust, and our special obligation to make sure that #NeverForget becomes #NeverAgain.”

While in Israel Van der Bellen also met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Prior to his visit to Yad Vashem, Van der Bellen was received by Rivlin.

During their meeting, Rivlin welcomed his counterpart, saying, “Our past is the basis for our values, our beliefs, the choices we make. The Jewish people also grew out of its past and today is building its future here in the State of Israel, a Jewish and democratic state, democratic and Jewish. I believe that cooperation between Israel and Austria can benefit both our economies and contribute the world at large.”

Van der Bellen responded, “Austria and Israel share a special history. In the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel, Theodor Herzl is mentioned. He was a great Austrian and the seer of the Jewish state, the spiritual father of the State of Israel.”

With Netanyahu Van der Bellen signed a memorandum of understanding covering cooperation in the fields of science, culture, and education. They also signed a declaration to offer assistance to third-world nations.

The Israeli prime minister thanked Van der Bellen for taking a strong stand against anti-Semitism, and, in particular, “putting out a simple truth—that anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are one.” Netanyahu also praised his visitor for pushing to adopt the working definition of anti-Semitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

In a visit to Israel last year, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that Israel’s security was in his country’s “national interest.”

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project in its publication The Tower on February 7, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: PM of Israel@IsraeliPM/twitter.com

Prayer Focus
Praise God for Austrian President Van der Bellen’s firm stand with Israel and his courageous admission of responsibility for the atrocity of the Holocaust. Pray for the relationship between the two nations to continue flourishing, which will mean another strong ally for Israel and blessing for Austria.

Scripture

Blessed is he who blesses you [Israel], and cursed is he who curses you.


- Numbers 24:9b

Venezuela’s Interim Leader Guaido Seeks to Restore Ties with Israel

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Venezuela’s interim leader, Juan Guaido, wishes to restore relations with Israel.

Thursday, 14 February 2019 | Venezuela’s interim leader, Juan Guaido, said he’s working to restore ties with Israel a decade after the country severed relations with the Jewish State in solidarity with the Palestinians, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

In an exclusive interview with Israel Hayom newspaper, Guaido said: “I am very happy to report that the process of stabilizing relations with Israel is at its height,” adding, “First we’ll restore the relations, then we’ll announce the appointment of an ambassador to Israel, and we very much hope an envoy will come here from Israel.”

Guaido said he was also weighing whether to relocate Venezuela’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “I will declare the resumption of ties and the site of the embassy at the proper time,” he explained.

The announcement earned immediate praise from United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who hailed the Jewish state for “standing with the people of Venezuela and the forces of freedom and democracy.”

Last month, Israel joined the US, Canada and other nations in South America and Europe in recognizing Guaido as Venezuela’s interim leader. In a carefully worded statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared in a video, saying, “Israel joins the United States, Canada, most of the countries of Latin America and countries in Europe in recognizing the new leadership in Venezuela.”

Guaido’s comments mark a sharp shift in Venezuelan foreign policy. Socialist President Nicolas Maduro, under whom the country has sunk into mass poverty, is a vitriolic critic of Israel. Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s former president, broke off ties with the Jewish state over its 2008–2009 war in Gaza and fostered ties with the Palestinians, as well as with Israel’s arch-enemy Iran.

Addressing the Jewish community’s reluctance to publicly endorse him, Guaido noted: “I have no doubt the Jews are afraid. Many in the military are similarly afraid to voice their opinion. This regime has no respect for the most basic right: the right to live.”

“Many Western countries have promised to send humanitarian aid to Venezuela. I’m sure Israel will also help us.”

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project in its publication The Tower on February 13, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Voice of America/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for Venezuela’s interim leader, Juan Guaido, as he works to restore ties with Israel. Pray that he will remain firm in his resolve to build strong relationships between the two countries. Ask the Lord to bless him and the nation of Venezuela as they face hardship and turmoil.

Scripture

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever he wishes.


- Proverbs 21:1

Israel Braces as Winter Storm Hits

by Ahiya Raved

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Bridges for Peace young adult volunteers enjoy a snow day on Mt. Hermon. (Illustrative)

Monday, 11 February 2019 | Snowfalls slowly resumed over the weekend in the Golan Heights as another storm system hit Israel on Sunday, which is expected to last for several days. Rainfall accompanied by thunderstorms will spread throughout the day Sunday from northern parts of the country to southern parts of the Negev Desert. According to Meteo-Tech meteorological company, there is fear of flooding in the Judean Desert, the Dead Sea and the Jordan Valley.

Over the past two days, the continued snowfall on Mount Hermon added another 20 centimeters [7.8 in.] to the upper level of Israel’s only ski resort, which now boasts some 80 centimeters [31.5 in.] of snow. Although snow is expected to continue in the coming days, the site remains open for visitors, with the temperatures at the lower levels of the mountain dropping to 0ºC [32ºF]. The site’s management says the facilities at Mount Hermon will remain open as long as the weather conditions allow it.

The water level in the Sea of Galilee has risen by at least 4 centimeters [1.6 in.] since Friday and now stands at -213.43 centimeters [-84 in.] below the sea level, according to the Water Authority. Since the start of the Israeli winter, the water level has risen by 1.2 meters [3.9 f.] and is now just some 4.655 meters [15.3 f.] away from the line marking full capacity.

On Monday, intermittent rain is expected to once again spread from northern Israel to northern parts of the Negev Desert. By the afternoon the rain will weaken and gradually cease. Temperatures will remain unchanged.

Tuesday will see a mix of sun and clouds. The temperatures will slightly increase and will reach the seasonal average.

On Wednesday, the weather will be much warmer with some intermittent rain in northern parts of the country. Over the weekend, however, the temperatures will once again cool off, with another storm system hitting the country.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on February 10, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Zealous International/Bridges for Peace

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for the blessing of rain, for the snow on Mount Hermon and for the rising levels of the Sea of Galilee. Ask Him to protect Israel from the threat of flooding, but sing praises to His name for the blessing of water!

Scripture

You visit the earth and water it, You greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; You provide their grain, for so You have prepared it. You water its ridges abundantly, You settle its furrows; You make it soft with showers, You bless its growth. You crown the year with Your goodness, and Your paths drip with abundance.


- Psalm 65:9–11

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