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Friday, February 18, 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.

Eye on Israel: What Are the Implications of Russia–Ukraine Tensions for the Jewish State?

by Kate Norman

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Russian President Vladimir Putin

Tuesday, 15 February 2022 | As Russia amasses troops, tanks and ships around the borders of Ukraine, threatening an impending invasion, what are the implications for Israel?

The Jewish state maintains ties with both Russia and Ukraine, and both nations have significant Jewish populations. But Russia’s looming threat has sparked an international game of chess that has Israel caught between a rock and a hard place, forced to tread lightly.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid have both issued clarion calls for Israelis in Ukraine to return home before the window of opportunity slams shut, likely within the next few days. Both also said that the Jewish state’s priority is its citizens, as well as its fellow Jews.

Jewish Populations

Lapid said he is likely being more cautious than other foreign ministers because he has a unique problem: both Russia and Ukraine have large Jewish communities, “and part of our responsibility is to keep them safe, and that requires caution.”

Israel’s minister of aliyah and integration said she ordered her ministry to prepare for a sudden influx of new immigrants from Ukraine, potentially as many as “thousands or tens of thousands.”

Israel also reportedly is planning a secret rescue operation for Jewish Ukrainians, the Jerusalem Post reported this week, citing “senior government officials.” Whether they want to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel) or are just seeking safety, “the Jewish state was established in order to be a safe haven for Jews,” the Jerusalem Post quoted an unnamed senior Israeli official as saying.

While the Israeli government’s top priorities, at least what officials are vocalizing, is Israeli citizens and Jews who could be caught in the crossfire, there are several other factors at play.

Israel and Russia

Many analysts are chalking Russia’s threat of a Ukrainian invasion as a power play, a way for President Vladimir Putin to assert himself on the world stage and initiate a return to Russia’s former Soviet Union glory. In fact, Russia has already been spreading itself far beyond its region, even reaching into the Middle East—particularly in Syria.

Putin has close ties to the regime in Syria headed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Russia has been supplying Syria with missile defense systems and other defense technology for years, proving a challenge for Israeli jets to conduct air strikes on Syrian soil that target weapons shipments and other military targets tracing back to Iran and its terror proxies in the region. Russia also controls much of Syria’s airspace, and it’s assumed that there has been an arrangement between Moscow and Jerusalem to allow Israeli jets through the airspace to conduct necessary strikes.

But the tone has changed recently. The Kremlin has particularly been beefing up its presence in Syria over the past few months, staging joint patrols with Syrian jets along the border with Israel. The Jewish state’s war-between-wars strikes against Iranian and proxy targets in Syria are crucial to curbing Iranian aggression. Therefore, if Israel were to take a solid stance against Russia in the simmering tension with Ukraine, the Israeli military would have to take into consideration the possibility of Moscow shutting down Israeli access to Syrian airspace. That could allow Iran to run amok in the region, shipping advanced weapons unhindered to terrorist groups like Hezbollah.

Israel and Ukraine

Israel’s ties with Ukraine run deep, as Ukraine holds a significant population of Jews (an estimated 150,000–200,000, according to the Israeli foreign ministry.) Israel also boasts a significant population of Ukrainian Jews who have made aliyah over the years. After Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, around 19,000 Jews made aliyah, according to the Jewish Agency and Ministry of Absorption. Thousands more have moved to Israel over the years—just under 3,000 came in 2020, according to the Jewish Agency. As of 2017, Israel’s population consisted of about 500,000 Ukrainian Jews, the Atlantic Council reported.

The Jewish state is scrambling to organize flights from Ukraine this week to bring all Israeli citizens home, while multiple organizations are working to help Ukrainian Jews make aliyah to reach safety in Israel. However, Israeli leaders have been careful to refrain from issuing hardline statements against Russia or to provide military or political support to Ukraine for fear of poking the Russian bear.

Israel and the US

Washington and Jerusalem maintain close ties, with the United States serving as one of Israel’s strongest allies and patrons since the rebirth of the Jewish state. However, the international community is expecting a weak showing from Washington, particularly after the disastrous US exit from Afghanistan last year, as well as the Biden administration’s policy of appeasement when it comes to Iran—but more on that later.

As Putin beats his chest in this global power play, few expect US President Joe Biden to respond with an equal display of strength, rather opting for a diplomatic (weak) response. The upside of this is the potential new alliances that Israel could form with more Arab neighboring states to draw up a strong front against Iranian aggression, which brings us to the final factor.

Iran

The looming Red cloud on Ukraine’s border seems to have pushed Iran on the back-burner for now. The West is scrambling to respond to Moscow’s show of aggression amid the crumbling talks in Vienna to revive the Iran nuclear deal. This is a best-case scenario for Tehran. While the focus has shifted to eastern Europe, Tehran has more leeway to make stronger demands in the talks while also potentially ramping up its nuclear development behind the scenes.

With all the moving pieces, it’s impossible to say what will happen. Intelligence sources, particularly American intel, say Russian invasion of Ukraine is a sure thing. But how far Putin will push into Ukraine and how long the invasion will last are up in the air. It will cause ripple effects across the globe, including into the Jewish state.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, February 15, 2022)

Photo Credit: Mikhail Klimentyev / Presidential Press and Information Office / TASS/Commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord that none of this takes Him by surprise. Pray that Israel will follow His leading along their very precarious path “between a rock and a hard place.” Cry out to Him for a diplomatic resolution to this very complex situation, but also for the safety of His people that remain in Ukraine and for the success of any plan that Israel has to rescue Jewish Ukrainians.

Scripture

Therefore say, “Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’”


- Ezekiel 11:17

What’s Happening in Sheikh Jarrah?

by Ilse Strauss

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The neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah

Tuesday, 15 February 2022 | In May 2021, nearly 4,500 rockets rained down on Israeli communities from the Gaza Strip. As Israelis ran for cover from the rocket rain, another menace plagued the nation: violent riots erupting simultaneously in a large number of ethnically mixed Jewish–Arab communities across the country. The same spark ultimately kindled the worst domestic violence since the rebirth of Israel and the 11-day rocket barrage: roiling tensions over the eviction of Palestinian squatters from homes in the eastern Jerusalem suburb of Sheikh Jarrah.

The flood of rockets from Gaza ultimately slowed to a trickle and then ceased, and the roiling riots reduced to a simmer and then died down. Yet the issues in Sheikh Jarrah were never fully resolved. Moreover, now it seems that tensions are once again nearing boiling point, threatening to erupt yet again into widespread violence. But what exactly is happening in Sheikh Jarrah? And why does it have the potential to haul the area back into a frenzy of fighting?

Depending on the news outlet you follow, the issue in this flashpoint mixed neighborhood of Jews and Arabs boils down to one of two things: Either it is an illegal land grab by powerful Jewish settlers bent on ethnically cleansing the area of Arabs while authorities turn a blind eye; or it is the eviction of illegal Arab squatters in line with court rulings as Jews attempt to reclaim the land that has rightfully been theirs as the authorities desperately try to keep the peace. And so, depending on the news outlet you follow, Israel is either the poster child of all that is despicable or merely trying to toe the line and get things done.

When all is said and done, the facts really speak for themselves. The newly reborn State of Israel was but a day old in 1948, when the army of Jordan joined forces with four other Arab countries to annihilate the Jewish people. Against all odds, Israel’s ragtag army triumphed. Yet when the cease-fire lines were drawn, Jordan, a country located solely on the east bank of the Jordan River, had managed to illegally seize and annex a patch of the Promised Land, including the eastern part of Jerusalem, where the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood is located.

The Jordanians ethnically cleansed the lands they unlawfully conquered, including in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Jewish residents were driven from their land and homes and replaced with Arab occupants. Fast forward 19 years to the Six Day War. In 1967, Israel managed to push back the invaders and drive the Jordanians back to the eastern side of the Jordan River.

Unlike Jordan, Israel never ethnically cleansed the land and property it managed to reclaim from the invaders. Things might have remained unchanged, but in 1982, the posterity of the Jewish owners driven from their land and homes in Sheikh Jarrah by the invading Jordanians began bringing their case to the courts to reclaim what the Jordanians illegally confiscated. The Arabs refuted their claims, arguing that they purchased the property from Jordan. However, Jordan never legally owned Sheikh Jarrah, which means it was never Jordan’s to sell—and ultimately never the Arab squatters’ to occupy. The majority of court cases have been ongoing for the past 40 years, and a number of cases are currently pending with no definitive end in sight, pitting Jewish owners against Arab squatters.

Sheikh Jarrah was propelled into the international spotlight some 20 years ago when a series of lawsuits resulted in the Israeli courts ordering the eviction of a number of Arab families. International scrutiny has since waxed and waned—until May 2021, when eight families faced eviction, the land earmarked for the construction of a school for Arab children with special needs.

The ensuing battle of wills as the Arab families refused to leave exploded into violence that flowed from the streets of Sheikh Jarrah to the Old City of Jerusalem and ultimately to the remainder of Israel. Ironically, the Israeli Supreme Court ultimately delayed its eviction decision, honoring a request by the Arab squatters for intervention by the attorney general. However, the attorney general refused to weigh in, ultimately sending the case back to arbitration.

Three weeks ago—and nine months after the May flare-up—Sheikh Jarrah saw the first eviction in five years. Tensions have been high ever since. Clashes intensified over the weekend with the firebombing of a Jewish home. Hamas, the Palestinian terror organization and de facto ruler of the Gaza Strip, weighed in on Sunday, vowing that Israeli action in Sheikh Jarrah will result in the entire nation going “up in flames.”

As Hamas keeps its finger on the trigger and shouts of rage and enmity once again echo through Sheikh Jarrah, we invite Christians from around the world to stand with us in prayer for the peace of Jerusalem (Ps. 122:6).

Source: (Bridges for Peace, February 15, 2022)

Photo Credit: David Shankbone/Commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
As Hamas keeps its finger on the trigger and shouts of rage and enmity echo through Sheikh Jarrah, we invite Christians from around the world to stand with us in prayer for the peace of Jerusalem

Scripture

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, prosperity within your palaces.”


- Psalm 122:6–7

Bennett Heads Home after Historic Visit to Bahrain

by Ilse Strauss

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Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett Prime

Wednesday, 16 February 2022 | Prime Minister Naftali Bennett touched down in Israel late last night after concluding a landmark one-day trip to Bahrain.

The first ever visit by an Israeli prime minister to the tiny Gulf Kingdom comes nearly 18 months after the two former foes turned friends by inking the historic US-brokered “Abraham Accords,” a series of diplomatic deals between Israel and four Arab countries signed in August 2020.

At the tail end of the whirlwind visit, Bennett hailed the trip as successful, productive and fruitful. He cited increased cooperation, a number of agreements, partnerships and joint ventures, a blossoming relationship between Jerusalem and Manama and a solidified resolve to stand against mutual nemesis and regional bully, Iran.

The Bahraini powers-that-be echoed Bennett’s sentiments, with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa lauding yesterday as a “historic day,” and Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa describing it as “cousins getting together.”

Bennett’s stop in Manama featured a packed agenda, including a meeting with the Bahraini monarchs, a get-together with some of the Gulf nation’s prominent ministers, a question-and-answer session with Bahraini youth and an appointment with Bahrain’s 50-member-strong Jewish community.

The Gulf nation treated the Israeli premier to “a warm and generous welcome,” Bennett said. An honor guard playing the Israeli national anthem greeted the prime minister upon his arrival at the royal palace in Manama ahead of his meeting with the Bahraini monarchs. “As someone who’s fought in many wars throughout the years, to be in the capital of an Arab country and to hear Hatikva”—the Israeli national anthem—“it’s touching,” Bennett told journalists before taking off for Israel “For a typical Israeli who came of age in the 80s, this is big stuff.”

But the newly bourgeoning ties should also be a harbinger of increased prosperity for both Jerusalem and Manama, Bennett assured the Bahraini monarchs during their meeting. “I come from Israel with a spirit of goodwill, cooperation, of standing together in the face of common challenges, and I think our goal in this visit is to turn this peace from a peace between governments to a peace between people, and convert it from something ceremonial to something meaningful.”

The crown prince concurred, saying: “We will hopefully do great things together.”

Judging by the feedback from yesterday’s visit, “great things” are certainly in store for the Jewish state and the Gulf nation. Bennett touted increased cooperation on bilateral trade and tourism, economics and business, fostering relationships in high-tech, trade, agriculture and technology as well as an upgrade in relations. He highlighted biweekly flights between Israel and Bahrain starting soon, and Israel financing joint business projects in the fields of climate-related technology, manufacturing and e-commerce. Bahrain mentioned two Israeli businesses on the verge of inking two major investments in the Gulf nation’s logistics and health care sectors. The list goes on. The two nations even released a joint statement detailing the key points discussed, saying that they agreed on a 10-year plan for strengthening ties in a number of fields titled “The Joint Warm Peace Strategy.”

But the bolstered relationship is also vital for another reason: countering growing Iranian aggression in the region. “What we’re all trying to do is form a new regional architecture of moderate countries,” Bennett told reporters. “This architecture will provide stability, economic prosperity and be able to stand strong against the enemies who are fomenting chaos and terror. So it’s sort of a ring of stability.”

Although the premier didn’t mention Iran specifically, the reference was clear. Bahrain is perched in Iran’s backyard and shares Israel’s concern about the mullahs’ nuclear ambition and thrust for regional hegemony.

The meeting between the Israeli and Bahraini leaders was closed to the media. However, according to a senior diplomatic official, their discussion centered on “regional issues,” particularly Iran.

“The leaders of the region are very impressed by the Israeli position regarding Iran and Syria, and by the fact that deterrence means both the ability and willingness to use force,” the Times of Israel quoted the official as saying.

With Israeli leaders jetting off for diplomatic visits to Arab countries nearly every week and the Jewish and Arab states working together in a multitude of fields, it is easy to forget that these type of relationships and this level of cooperation was unheard of two years ago.

But this too stands as evidence of the rapidly realigning priorities, concerns and ultimately allegiances in the Middle East—and the critical role Iran plays. Gone are the days when Arab nations would demand a resolution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict as a prerequisite to normalization with Israel. And gone are the days when Arab nations considered Israel the main issue facing the region. Now, a mutual concern over a mutual enemy takes precedence.

Perhaps Bennett summed up the situation best when addressing Bahraini students yesterday: “The fault lines [in the Middle East] used to be between Arabs and Israelis. But now, the fault lines are between agents of terror and chaos—and people of hope.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, February 16, 2022)

Photo Credit: U.S. Embassy Jerusalem/Commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the remarkable changes in the Middle East, bringing the Jewish state and moderate Arab states together, working in partnership in countless areas that will bring strength and stability to the region. Pray that as “people of hope,” they will continue to strive for peace and cooperation as they present a united front to Iran and others who would be agents of terror and chaos.

Scripture

My soul, wait in silence for God alone, for my hope is from Him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation, my refuge; I will not be shaken.


- Psalm 62:5–6 NASB

Israel Sends Delegation to Vienna as Iran Nuclear Talks Enter Final Stretch

by JNS

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Negotiations in Vienna between Iran and the P5+1 along with the European Union

Wednesday, 16 February 2022 | Israel has sent a delegation to Vienna to meet with American and other officials from countries engaged in discussions on rejoining a nuclear deal with Iran.

Joshua Zarka, head of the strategic department of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is to lead the delegation. He will receive updates and make clear the Israeli position about a possible return to the 2015 nuclear deal, reported Axios.

On Monday, Zarka met with Rafael Grossi, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency. On Tuesday, he met with Rob Malley, the lead negotiator on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and with negotiators from Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom and Germany.

Nuclear talks resumed last week after a 10-day break. Both sides have made limited progress since the talks got started again in November after a five-month hiatus following the election of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, a hardliner, in June.

Israel has expressed concern that the United States and other world powers will make concessions to Iran that will result in a new agreement with terms worse than the original.

During his visit to Bahrain, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that “concluding an agreement with Iran constitutes a strategic mistake because this agreement will enable it to maintain its nuclear capabilities and to obtain hundreds of billions of dollars that will strengthen its terrorist machine that harms many countries in the region and in the world.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on February 15, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: EU Delegation in Vienna/Twitter/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that these negotiators will take Israel’s concerns seriously and refuse to enter into any agreement that would allow Iran to continue on the path to nuclear capability. Pray that the world powers will not make concessions that would lead to an agreement “with terms worse than the original.”

Scripture

“Woe to the rebellious children,” declares the LORD, “Who execute a plan, but not Mine, and make an alliance, but not of My Spirit.”


- Isaiah 30:1a NASB

Anti-Semitic Attacks Ravage New York for Second Week Running

by Ilse Strauss

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 Hasidic family in Brooklyn, New York

Monday, 14 February 2022 | A series of anti-Semitic attacks against visibly Jewish targets once again ravaged New York over the weekend, making it the second consecutive weekend marred by these hate crimes.

The first incident this weekend occurred late on Friday evening on a Brooklyn sidewalk when an unknown assailant punched a Jewish man in the face, knocking off his kippah (yarmulke). The attacker then got in a waiting gray minivan, after which the van sped off. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the driver filmed the entire attack from inside the van, and both perpetrators were laughing the entire time.

The same two perpetrators apparently tried to carry out another attempted assaults in the same area on Friday night.

Then, two days later on Sunday, a black SUV swerved in front of a Jewish school bus with Hebrew writing on the side, cutting the bus off and forcing it to a stop. The driver of the car then got out, ran to the bus and smashed in the windshield. According to Shomrim, a Jewish neighborhood watch group, there were children on the bus at the time of the attack.

In a third incident, vandals spray-painted an obscenity cursing Jews on a dentist’s office in Queens. According to the Times of Israel, the New York Police Department is treating the defacement as a hate crime.

Friday night’s assault comes exactly a week after two Jewish men were attacked—also in Brooklyn on a Friday evening, while Sunday’s assault on the school bus occurred precisely a week after another school bus bearing Hebrew writing was vandalized with anti-Semitic slurs, including a Nazi swastika.

The spate of attacks prompted New York Mayor Eric Adams to vow a crackdown on anti-Semitism in the city. “Make no mistake, an attack on our Jewish community is an attack on every New Yorker. We will catch the perpetrators of this assault.”

Action is certainly needed. The two weeks filled with anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York follow a particularly bleak January that saw a shocking 300% rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York compared to last year. In January 2021, four anti-Semitic incidents occurred in New York, while last month saw a disturbing 15, which translates to one hate crime nearly every two days.

Sadly, New York isn’t the only location plagued by the ancient scourge. According to the UK-based anti-Semitism watchdog Community Security Trust (CST), hate crimes against Jews in Britain soared to a record high in 2021. CST revealed in a report last week that British Jews and authorities reported 2,255 anti-Semitic incidents in the UK last year, the highest number in recent history anywhere in Europe and the highest number in a single calendar year since the CST started recording anti-Jewish hate occurrences nearly 40 years ago.

With the flames of the ancient hatred burning brightly across the globe and threatening to consume the day-to-day lives of Jews in countries once considered a safe haven, it is truly a blessing to know that the nation of Israel was reborn as a true haven where Jews can live, worship and thrive without the shadow of anti-Semitic persecution, assault or harassment.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, February 14, 2022)

Photo Credit: Adam Jones/Commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for an end to this tempest of anti-Semitism that is sweeping the globe. Entreat Him to stir the hearts of Christians around the world to take a firm stand against this outrage, and pray that governments will follow the example of New York Mayor Eric Adams, using whatever means necessary to prosecute perpetrators and create a safe environment for God’s people.

Scripture

“Behold, all those who were incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced; they shall be as nothing, and those who strive with you shall perish. You shall seek them and not find them—those who contended with you. Those who war against you shall be as nothing, as a nonexistent thing.”


- Isaiah 41:11–12

Water Levels in Kinneret Rising Slowly

by Janet Aslin

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Sea of Galilee

Friday, 11 February 2022 | Yesterday the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) rose by another 1.5 centimeters (0.6 in.), bringing its weekly gain to 18 centimeters (7 in). A gradual increase in the lake’s water level began in late January with the arrival of a winter storm named Elpis, and it now stands just 1.28 meters (4.2 ft.) short of the point at which the lake is at maximum capacity. This is wonderful news!

This year, Israel’s rainy season was late in coming. Normally the rains begin after Sukkot (Feast of Booths) ends, but this year we experienced an unusually hot and dry November, followed by an intense storm in late December. Happily, rain arrived in mid-January and has continued up until now, with several sunny days interspersed among the clouds.

Now, the water level of the Kinneret is 210.08 meters (689.2 ft.) below sea level. The upper red line, or 208.8 meters (685.04 ft.) below sea level, is the point at which the lake is full and the Degania Dam will be opened to prevent flooding. Due to the rainfall the country has been receiving over the past two weeks, the water level has gradually been rising, and it may reach the full level this year.

Even though much of the nation’s drinking water now comes from desalination plants, rain is still considered a blessing from God and a necessity for life in the arid Middle East. Therefore, a high point for Israel was the Elpis winter storm that arrived January 26 and deposited snow in the nation’s capital for the first time this winter. Schools were closed and public transportation was suspended, allowing Jerusalemites to enjoy the wintry weather.

Mount Hermon, the site of Israel’s only ski resort, received a significant amount of snowfall during the four-day storm, depositing 1.8 meters (5.9 ft.) on the lower slopes as well as an accumulation in excess of 2 meters (6.56 ft.) at higher levels. This is wonderful for winter activities, but it also means that when spring arrives and the snow melts, the runoff will end up in the Kinneret, increasing water levels even more. Who knows, this may be the year that the Degania Dam is opened!

A few fun facts about the Kinneret before we go. It is the lowest freshwater lake on earth at 208.8 meters (685.04 ft.) below sea level and Israel’s largest lake with an area of 64 square miles. Itself a commercial fishing area known for St. Peter’s fish (tilapia), the lake is surrounded by a rich agricultural area where cotton, alfalfa, bananas and grapes are grown.

Israelis consider the Kinneret one of their country’s greatest treasures and are happily watching the water level rise with each drop of rain or flake of snow.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, February 11, 2022)

Photo Credit: Daniel Kirchhevel/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the blessing of rain! Thank Him for the water level in the Kinneret after years of drought, and pray that all Israel will raise their voices in thanks to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who is blessing His people with life-giving water from heaven.

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…That all men may know His work.


- Job 37:5–6, 7b

Two Earthquakes Shake Israel within Hours

by Kate Norman

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The epicenter of the earthquake

Wednesday, 16 February 2022 | Northern Israel was hit with two minor earthquakes within hours of each other. The first, measuring 3.6 on the Richter scale, struck northern Israel last night, while the second, a 3.1, hit early this morning, the Jerusalem Post reported, citing the Geological Survey of Israel (GSI).

Though northern Israeli residents were shaken up, the quakes were not severe enough to trigger any alarms and reportedly caused no damage or injuries.

The Geological Survey of Israel pinpointed the epicenter of both earthquakes to northeast of Beit She’an, which lies south of the Galilee near the border with Jordan.

These are the latest in a string of earthquakes in the region over the past few weeks.

Last month, a quake struck Cyprus, measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale, causing shaking in Israel as well as Turkey and Lebanon.

Two weeks after that, two more minor quakes measuring 3.8 and 3.6 hit northern Israel, again causing no reported damage or casualties. Earlier this month, Israel felt the ripple effects of another earthquake near Cyprus.

In light of the shaky trend, Israel’s Home Front Command launched a countrywide earthquake drill last week, the Times of Israel reported.

The Jewish state is precariously positioned along the Syrian–African fault line, which usually causes a major earthquake about every 80 years, the Times of Israel reported. The last major earthquake, however, happened more than a century ago, meaning Israel is overdue for a big one.

Should that happen, geological experts predict severe damage, estimating some 7,000 deaths, a million homes at risk of collapse and hundreds of thousands more damaged, the Times of Israel reported.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, February 16, 2022)

Photo Credit: HonorTheKing/Commons.wikimedia.org/freesvg.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Photo License: Freesvg

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord that there have been no damages or deaths reported as a result of this recent earthquake activity. Pray that the Home Front Command will be successful in helping people to prepare for such an eventuality, but cry out to Him, the Lord who chose the land of Israel as His own, for His protection from the catastrophic event predicted by geological experts.

Scripture

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”


- Isaiah 55:8–9

Sudan Leader Hails Relations with Former Foe Israel

by JNS

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Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan

Tuesday, 15 February 2022 | Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the head of the ruling Sovereign Council in Sudan, praised ties with Israel and said that intelligence cooperation has led to the arrest of suspected terrorists.

The information has aided Sudan to dismantle and arrest militant groups that “could have undermined the security of Sudan and the region,” said Burhan, reported the AP.

In an interview with Sudan’s state-run TV on February 12, Burhan explained that it was legitimate for its security and intelligence agencies to exchange visits with Israel. Burhan did, however, qualify relations with Israel, saying they are not political.

A Sudanese delegation reportedly visited Israel last week.

The two countries normalized relations in 2020 as part of the Abraham Accords, though efforts have been stymied due to a Sudan in flux.

Sudan’s military is the driving force behind stronger ties with Israel. It took control of the North African country on October 25, dissolving a government being run by civilian political parties that had ruled since the military removed Omar al-Bashir from power in 2019.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on February 14, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for God’s direction and wisdom as Israel fortifies ties with the government of Sudan. Thank Him for Israeli intelligence that led to the dismantling of a militant group that threatened the security of the region, and pray that the relationship between the two nations will continue to strengthen.

Scripture

Then you will understand righteousness and justice, equity and every good path. When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, discretion will preserve you; understanding will keep you.


- Proverbs 2:9–11

Israel Strike Said to Target Syrian Military Base Used by Iranian Militias

by JNS

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Syrian media reported on December 16, 2021, that Israeli launched a missile attack at southern Syria.

Thursday, 17 February 2022 | Israel launched a missile strike on targets in the Damascus area on Wednesday night, Syrian state media reported.

The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) said early on Thursday morning that Israel launched the strike from the Golan Heights at around 11:35 p.m. on Wednesday. Syria’s air defense system was not activated, and there were no immediate reports of casualties.

However, the agency said that Israel “hit several targets around the town of Zakiyah, south of Damascus,” causing property damage.

Israel’s Channel 12 news quoted a local journalist who said that the strikes had targeted a Syrian military camp used by Iranian militias.

This is the second attack attributed to Israel against Syria this month.

On February 9, SANA reported that the Israeli Air Force had attacked four targets near the capital, including an advanced weapons complex.

Syria responded to that attack by launching antiaircraft missiles at Israeli planes, one which exploded over Israeli territory but caused no damage.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on February 17, 2022. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Twitter/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the actions Israel deems necessary to protect its northern border and dismantle Iran’s infrastructure in Syria will be successful. Ask the Lord to continue to protect the citizens of the north and the IDF from death or damage caused by Syrian/Iranian responses.

Scripture

The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my Savior, You save me from violence.


- 2 Samuel 22:3

Australia Joins Host of Countries Designating Hamas as Terror Organization

by Ilse Strauss

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Hamas rally in Bethlehem

Thursday, 17 February 2022 | Australia today announced it would designate the entire Hamas movement as a terrorist organization, joining the ranks of Israel, the United States, Britain, Canada, Japan, Egypt and the European Union, who have already assigned the radical Sunni Islamist group to the red list.

Hamas’s military wing, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has been on Canberra’s terror list since 2003, but the updated delegation now outlaws the entire organization.

In practical terms, the blacklisting prohibits Australians from financing or providing Hamas with support, with some transgressions punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

Announcing the decision, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said, “The views of Hamas and the violent extremist groups listed today are deeply disturbing, and there is no place in Australia for their hateful ideologies.

“It is vital that our laws target not only terrorist acts and terrorists, but also the organizations that plan, finance and carry out these acts,” she continued.

The announcement comes three months after Canberra also outlawed Hezbollah, the Lebanese terror organization perched on Israel’s northern border and Iran’s most powerful terror proxy in the Middle East.

Israel welcomed today’s news, with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett hailing it as “another important step in the global fight against terrorism.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz also weighed in on Twitter, thanking “our Australian partners for designating the entirety of Hamas as a terrorist organization—including its political wing which plans, finances, and conducts terror activities. Hamas targets civilians, threatens the State of Israel, and holds Gaza residents hostage.”

Hamas, the de facto ruler of the nearly 2 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, has a three-decade track mrecord of war, horror, bloodshed and oppression—towards Israel and its own people alike. The fanatic regime is an archenemy of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and is a close ally and financial beneficiary of Iran. It wages continuous war on Israel through missile attacks and suicide bombings, uses its women and children as human shields, and utilizes international aid money to build terror tunnels and manufacture the means of Israel’s demise.

The Hamas charter, published in 1988, highlights the destruction of Israel as one of the organization’s main purposes. The manifesto is clear that Hamas opposes Israel’s existence in any form, seeks to replace the Jewish state with a Palestinian one and calls for jihad (holy war) to “raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.” While a supposedly more moderate charter was issued in 2017, the group still refuses to recognize Israel’s existence.

Israel and Hamas have faced each other on the battlefield three times. The months between the official conflicts are marked by rocket attacks, flare-ups, infiltration and kidnapping attempts, violent riots and tense calm.

While Israel suffers the onslaught of its fanatic neighbor, the civilians in Gaza arguably pay the heaviest price for their rulers’ obsession. Apart from subjecting its people to repeated wars, abysmal living conditions and offering no hope for the future, Hamas makes no bones about using its civilians as human shields, sending women and children onto the frontlines and firing rockets from hospitals and schools. The situation has led those in the know to conclude that Gaza is indeed under siege—not from Israel, but from Hamas.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, February 17, 2022)

Photo Credit: Soman/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for this action taken by the Australian government and its clear statement that Hamas and other violent extremist groups are not welcome in and will not receive support from Australia. Pray that other governments will follow Australia’s example, thus helping to cripple Hamas and end its reign of bloodshed and oppression.

Scripture

He shall never permit the righteous to be moved. But You, O God, shall bring them down to the pit of destruction; bloodthirsty and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in You.


- Psalm 55:22b–23