Help us bless the people of Israel.

Friday, February 19, 2021

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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.

Jerusalem, Damascus in Negotiations to Release Israeli Held in Syria

by Ilse Strauss

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The prisoner swap deal with Syria would see an Israeli woman released from Syrian detention in return for two Druze prisoners from the Israeli side of the Golan Heights (illustrative).

Thursday, 18 February 2021 | Israel and Syria are engaged in intense negotiations—with Russia serving as mediator—to clinch a prisoner swap deal that will secure the release of a young Israeli woman who wandered into Syrian territory by mistake in exchange for two Druze prisoners from the Israeli side of the Golan Heights.

According to Israel’s Channel 12 news, the Israeli in Syrian custody is a 25-year-old resident of Modi’in Illit. Her identity has not been released.

Syrian state news agency SANA confirmed yesterday that Damascus was indeed engaged in talks with Jerusalem, explaining that the young Israeli woman “was arrested by the Syrian authorities” when she “entered the Syrian territories by mistake.”

Since Israel and Syria have no diplomatic ties and are technically in a state of war, Moscow is acting as intermediary to help the two hostile nations come to an agreement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Army Radio during an interview that he was using his “personal connections” with Russian President Vladimir Putin to ensure that the imprisoned Israeli returns home safely.

“We are working to save lives,” he said. “We are in the middle of sensitive contacts. We are acting discreetly and responsibly to handle the matter, and I believe we will resolve it.”

National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat and hostage negotiator Yaron Blum left for Moscow yesterday to hammer out the terms of the release agreement.

SANA identified the two prisoners to be released in exchange for the Israeli woman as Nihal al-Makt and Diab Kahamuz, both residents of Golan Heights towns in which the majority of residents are loyal to Syria and identify as Syrian.

Kahamuz is serving a 14-year sentence for his part in a terror plot to attack shopping centers in northern Israel on behalf of the Iran-backed Lebanese terror militia Hezbollah, a close ally of Syria. Makt has served multiple prison sentences and currently under house arrest for security offenses.

While SANA referred to the two prisoners as “Syrian nationals” and hailed the prospect of their imminent return to their homeland, both Kahamuz and Makt declined to leave Israel, with Kahamuz even opting to remain in prison rather than departing for Syria. Officials were, however, adamant that the deal would go ahead regardless of their refusals.

News of the prisoner swap deal broke a day after Netanyahu summoned cabinet ministers on Tuesday evening to discuss a “sensitive security issue” amid an unusual flurry of high-level contact between Jerusalem and Moscow.

While the military censor prohibited the publication of details of the Cabinet discussion, it centered on Israel asking Russia for assistance in what was described as a humanitarian issue related to Syria.

This is not the first time that Russia acts as the go-between for Israel and Syria. In April last year, Moscow played a key role in helping Israel find the remains of Sgt. Zachary Baumel, who went missing during the Battle of Sultan Yacoub in the 1982 Lebanon War. Baumel’s remains were subsequently returned to Israel in a prisoner exchange deal.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, February 18, 2021)

Photo Credit: Weston MacKinnon/unsplash.com

Prayer Focus
Pray for this young woman who is obviously in a very serious situation. Pray that she will be treated well while she is in the custody of the Syrian authorities, and ask the Lord to help negotiations move smoothly and quickly to secure her release.

Scripture

Be my strong refuge, to which I may resort continually; You have given the commandment to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man. For You are my hope, O Lord GOD.


- Psalm 71:3–5a

War Games and Words: Israel, Hezbollah Exchange Threats

by Ilse Strauss

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Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah

Wednesday, 17 February 2021 | The Israel Air Force (IAF) yesterday afternoon wrapped up “Rose of the Galilee”—three days of intense and unprecedented war games simulating a large-scale war against Iranian terror proxy Hezbollah.

In what defense correspondents describe as a stark message of deterrence to the Lebanese terror organization perched on Israel’s northern border, the surprise drill, which was announced on Sunday morning and kicked off mere hours later, entailed the lion’s share of the IAF responding to a hypothetical Hezbollah attack—scrambling from peace to war at the drop of a hat—and proved the flying force’s ability to strike some 3,000 terror targets within a 24-hour window.

As Galilee Rose drew to a close, the terror army in Israel’s fictional crosshairs responded with a message of its own. “Israel’s home front needs to know that if there is a war with Hezbollah, it will see things it has not seen since the establishment of Israel,” the terror group’s chief Hassan Nasrallah said via a live video feed from an undisclosed location.

“No one can guarantee that a few days of combat between us and Israel won’t lead to a wider war,” Nasrallah threatened. “We’re following [events] and weighing our decisions.”

The 60 hours of mock war with Hezbollah was sparked by a hypothetical incident in which Hezbollah strikes an IAF air craft, something which the terror army has tried without success in the past. In response to the fictitious hit, the entire IAF went on the offensive, attacking terror targets and infrastructure in Lebanon while securing the skies of Israel.

“In this exercise, we simulated the actions that the entire air force would take, going from peacetime to wartime, in order to deal with these threats, these attacks against our aircraft,” an air force officer identified only as Col. “Yud” told the Jerusalem Post.

According to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the drill involved some 85% of IAF personnel and saw conscripted and reservist forces working side by side to operate dozens of aircraft, including fighter jets, cargo planes, helicopters and drones.

“Intense fighting was simulated, along with offensive operations, scenarios involving defending the country’s airspace, command and control operations, precise planning and wide-scale, powerful strikes,” the military said. “In addition, strikes on thousands of targets and the launching of many weapons were practiced to simulate war on the northern front.”

While the battle against Hezbollah over the last three days was fictitious, the threat from the Iranian terror army in Lebanon and its puppet masters in Tehran is anything but. Iran has been hard at work to strengthen its presence along the so-called Shiite Crescent, spanning Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, in an attempt to gain a military foothold in Israel’s backyard and thus extend its regional hegemony all the way from Tehran to Tel Aviv—and Hezbollah may well be the hammer Iran wields to batter at Israel’s defenses.

The terror group also believes it has a personal ax to grind with the Jewish state. Tensions in the already fraught area have been particularly high following the death of a Hezbollah operative in Syria last year in an alleged Israeli airstrike. Hezbollah vowed revenge, and although the terror group has made a few half-hearted attempts to lash out at the Jewish state, the IDF believes Hezbollah’s vengeance may still be coming.

The IDF’s Intelligence Directorate published a report last week saying that Hezbollah seeks to initiate a “limited offensive” against Israel for the first time since the 2006 Second Lebanon War, initiating incidents that may spark an escalation. At the same time, the report said, Hezbollah will stop short of entering a full-blown war with Israel.

While war isn’t necessarily Hezbollah’s objective, the terror group would do well to remember the volatile nature of the Middle East, where it often takes very little to ignite a raging conflict. And while Israel certainly seeks peace, Jerusalem will stop at little to ensure the safety of its people.

In that context, the past three days of mock war against Hezbollah appears to be a message to the terror group—and its terror overlords in Tehran—to consider their next move carefully.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, February 17, 2021)

Photo Credit: Anton Nossik/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Pray that Israel’s mock war will serve as a strong deterrent to Hezbollah. Beseech the Lord for His protection on the northern border, and pray that any attempts to escalate the conflict will fail.

Scripture

LORD, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head.


- Psalm 3:1, 3

Israel Makes Top 10 in Ranking of World’s Most Innovative Countries

by JNS

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The Tel Aviv night skyline

Monday, 15 February 2021 | Israel was ranked seventh among the world’s 60 most innovative economies, according to the Bloomberg Innovation Index published last week.

The Jewish state went down one spot from its standing in 2020 and two places from 2019, where it came in fifth place.

South Korea was ranked as the world’s most innovative country and took the title from Germany, which fell to fourth place this year. The East Asian nation has taken the top spot on the index for seven of the nine years that it’s been published.

Following South Korea were Singapore and Switzerland, which each moved up one spot, and were ranked second and third, respectively. Sweden was ranked fifth, followed by Denmark and then Israel.

Finland, the Netherlands and Austria followed the Jewish nation, as the United States dropped out of the top 10 this year, falling two spots to 11th place.

The Bloomberg Innovation Index ranks the 60 most innovative economies in the world and “analyzes dozens of criteria using seven equally weighted metrics, including research and development spending, manufacturing capability and concentration of high-tech public companies.”

Source: (This article was originally published by JNS on February 12, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Pixabay/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord that Israel maintains its position as one of the most innovative nations in the world! Pray that God will continue to alert His people to new ideas and innovative processes as they continue to be a blessing to all the earth.

Scripture

“I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”


- Genesis 12:3

Iran, Russia Team Up for Joint Naval Drill

by Kate Norman

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Iranian naval ships (illustrative)

Wednesday, 17 February 2021 | Iran and Russia have launched a joint naval drill in the northern Indian Ocean, media from both nations announced.

The exercise, dubbed “Iran–Russia Maritime Security Belt 2021,” will span about 17,000 kilometers (10,600 mi.) and see Iran’s Navy and elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps navy join forces with Russia’s navy, Iranian state TV reported.

The exercise, according to Russia’s ambassador to Iran, will allow the joint naval forces to rehearse cooperative search and rescue drills.

Ambassador Levan Dzhagaryan announced on Monday that China will also participate in the joint exercise, according to RIA News. Other sources, however, did not mention China’s involvement in the operation.

The same three nations joined together in 2019 for a similar exercise.

The Iranian army’s deputy coordinator boasted that the joint exercise highlights Tehran’s naval power. “When the powerful Russian navy conducts exercises with the navies of the Islamic Republic Army and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, it sends a clear message,” Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said, as quoted by the Tehran Times.

This drill comes amid tension between Iran and the US and Israel, the latter country vehemently contesting the potential return of Washington to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which then President Donald Trump pulled out of in 2018 and reinstituted severe sanctions against the regime.

Since Trump exited the deal, the Islamic regime has been openly stepping further and further away from the restrictions set against its nuclear program. Tehran has announced JCPOA violations several times over the past few months, including increasing its nuclear stockpile above the limit allowed under the nuclear deal and enriching the uranium far above the purity allowed.

In his short time in office, President Joe Biden, who was the vice president when the deal was first instituted in 2015, has mulled rejoining the nuclear deal. However, he has said he will only do so once Tehran resumes compliance to the JCPOA restrictions, while Iran has said it will only do so once the US quashes its current sanctions against the regime.

In fact, Tehran has already announced its next violation: barring third party nuclear inspectors from checking up on its nuclear program if the remaining nations in the deal “fail to meet their obligations” by February 21. Such tactics wielded by the regime have been called extortion by other world leaders.

Now, the belligerent Iranian regime is flexing its muscles in these joint exercises with Russia in the northern Indian Ocean—dangerously close to the Gulf of Oman and Arabian Gulf, passageways for much of the world’s oil supply.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, February 17, 2021)

Photo Credit: Tasnim News Agency/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for His protection against the growing alliance between Russia and Iran and perhaps also China. Pray that their saber rattling will not influence the US’s decision to hold off on rejoining the JCPOA.

Scripture

They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.” For they have consulted together with one consent; they form a confederacy against You.


- Psalm 83:4–5

Human Rights Group Report Responds to Anti-Israeli Bias Perpetuated at UNHRC

by Eliana Rudee~JNS

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A view of the UN Human Rights Council special session on “the deteriorating human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem,” May 2018

Monday, 15 February 2021 | Geneva-based independent human rights group UN Watch published a detailed report in advance of the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council [UNHRC], which is scheduled to open this month on February 22 in Geneva and run until March 23. The study debunks more than 20 different major accusations leveled by numerous different countries, accusing Israel of violating Palestinians’ religious freedom, damaging their health and practicing racism.

In its first ever report that thoroughly fact-checked and responded to the UNHRC’s anti-Israel claims, UN Watch released its 58-page “Agenda Item 7: Country Claims & UN Watch Responses,” examining 23 accusations made by various countries under Agenda Item 7 against Israel in the period covering the six UNHRC sessions held in 2019 and 2020.

According to report researcher and writer Dina Rovner, legal adviser of UN Watch, the paper sets the record straight regarding distorted statements, including: “Israel hinders the Palestinian fight against COVID-19;” “Israel has occupied Palestinian territory for 70 years;” “Israel commits apartheid against the Palestinians;” “Israel damages Palestinian holy sites” and “Israel’s blockade of Gaza is illegal.”

“The truth is very different from what is being put on the record at the United Nations,” she told JNS. “When Israel is accused of hindering the Palestinian fight against COVID-19, it is actually helping and coordinating with the Palestinians. When Israel is accused of violating the rights of Syrians on the Golan, the opposite is the case—the Golan Syrians have more rights and freedoms than their counterparts in Syria, and are flourishing economically. Israel damages Palestinian holy sites? No. History shows that only under Israeli control are the holy sites of Jews, Muslims and Christians fully protected.”

According to Hillel Neuer, UN Watch executive director and editor of the report (with contributions from managing editor of UN Watch Simon Plosker), it is being sent to all UN ambassadors in New York and Geneva “to make clear to all delegates who tell lies that, from now on, their countries will be called out by name before the international community and refuted with the facts.”

UN Watch has also submitted several written statements that will be circulated to delegates as official UN documents of the session, calling out the lie that Israel’s vaccination campaign—one of the best-run in the world—is “racist;” exposing UNRWA teachers’ incitement to terrorism and anti-Semitism; and documenting the Palestinians’ illegal use of child soldiers.

“Israel has become a convenient punching bag and scapegoat for non-democratic states—many of them members of the UNHRC, such as Cuba, Pakistan and Libya—to divert attention away from their own gross and systematic human rights abuses,” Neuer told JNS.

Agenda Item 7 is the only debate concerning a specific country which takes place three times a year pursuant to the Palestinian Authority [PA], Syria, North Korea and dozens of other council members and observers that routinely accuse Israel of numerous crimes and human rights violations, while making no mention of Hamas, Islamic Jihad or the PA.

There is no special agenda item on Iran, Syria, North Korea or any other country in the world, noted Neuer. While all 193 countries of the world are addressed under Agenda Item 4, only Israel gets its own special treatment under Agenda Item 7.

“It’s Important to Educate Them on the Facts”

In recent years, nearly all Western democracies have joined Israel in declining to participate in the Item 7 debate, citing the selectivity of the proceedings.

“It makes sense for democracies not to legitimize discrimination, but the problem is that many spurious claims go on the record at the UN with no fact-checking or accountability,” explained Neuer. “This report provides the first examination of claims made under Item 7, using detailed analysis and citing sources of fact and international law. It’s time to confront the toxic brew of hate and misinformation at the UN.”

“When it comes to voting—both at the UNHRC and at the General Assembly—most countries vote to condemn Israel, including European democracies that support about 70% of the biased resolutions,” he said.

Though many wonder how the change in US administration might affect the discussion of Item 7, Neuer maintained that America, “whether under Republican or Democratic administrations, has always been a fierce opponent of Agenda Item 7 and anti-Israel discrimination at the UN generally.”

However, he added, “they never had anywhere near the majority to remove it.”

“We expect the Biden administration to continue to oppose the demonization of Israel at the UN,” he said. “We applaud Biden’s UN envoy Linda Thomas-Greenfield for saying recently that she looks forward to ‘standing with Israel’ and ‘against the unfair targeting of Israel’ at the United Nations.”

The Biden administration recently announced that it will rejoin the UNHRC as an observer state, with the goal of fully rejoining the council next year.

“If the US rejoins the UNHRC, we trust that it will continue to demand the elimination of Item 7 from the agenda. But it’s far from clear that they will make any progress, given the automatic majority that still applies when it comes to anything targeting Israel.”

For the ambassadors who don’t attack Israel under Item 7, he continued, “many of them are nevertheless influenced by the proceedings, and so it’s important to educate them on the facts.”

At the upcoming debate, UN Watch plans to take the floor and speak on a full range of human rights issues and conduct online side events, including one on anti-Israel bigotry in the halls of the UN, and a high-level panel on the gross abuses committed by Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro regime.

Rovner said: “We hope this report will be one more step in encouraging countries to consider the facts, and to stop voting for skewed texts. These lies go on the record at the UN and are never refuted on the merits because Israel and nearly all Western democracies rightly boycott the Item 7 debate as a matter of principle, as it singles out Israel for discriminatory treatment. The purpose of this report is to fill that gap by providing the first ever examination of claims made under Item 7 and to provide a detailed analysis, citing sources of fact and international law.”

She also voiced her hope that the report will influence diplomats to be more vocal during the session in speaking out against the injustice of Agenda Item 7, and that it will bolster their campaign to persuade countries to stop voting for anti-Israel resolutions, of which there are expected to be five in the upcoming session.

Source: (This article was originally published by JNS on February 12, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Photo by Elma Okic/UN/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the UN Watch report will break through the deception at the UN and finally bring forth the truth about the underlying anti-Semitism at the UNHRC. Ask the Lord to open the eyes of UN delegates as actual facts are presented, ending Agenda Item 7 for good.

Scripture

Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, O God! For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones.


- Psalm 83:1–3

Officials Warn: Israel Unprepared for Iranian Attack on Water Supply

by Tal Shahaf

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The Bney reservoir in Israel (illustrative)

Thursday, 18 February 2021 | Despite officials’ warnings to the government that Iranian hackers will attempt to strike and poison Israel’s water infrastructure, the country’s water facilities are far from prepared for such a scenario, according to a report seen by Ynet.

Concerns of such attacks resurfaced last week after hackers targeted water supplies in Florida. Similar attempts were made against Israel’s water supply last April, during which hackers tried to raise the level of chlorine in the water.

Israeli officials attributed the attack to Iranian sources.

“All lines have been crossed, this is a new war,” the head of the National Cyber Security Authority Yigal Ona said then.

During an emergency meeting at Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz’s office, officials showed that Israel’s water supply is not properly protected from such attacks as their probability only increases.

A report filed after the meeting said that drastic and immediate action is needed to safeguard the water supply.

It was also revealed that although Israel’s top water manager, Mekorot, took the necessary technological precautions, local water authorities have yet to follow suit, although the ministry had ordered [them] to do so last year and allocated the funds needed.

Following the meeting, Steinitz ordered the water authority to immediately raise alertness levels and ensure the measures were implemented with haste.

“The potential damage that a serious cyberattack poses is enormous, to the point of hurting the country’s drinking water supply and hampering the sewage system,” the minister said in a letter to the head of the Water Authority, Giora Shaham. “Such an attack could lead to a serious crisis and a substantial threat to the home front during war or other emergencies.”

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on February 17, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Shayshal2/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that there will be cooperation and compliance on every level, ensuring that the water supply is safe. Cry out to the Lord for His protection on Israel’s water resources and any other systems that may be vulnerable to hackers.

Scripture

The beast of the field will honor Me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My people, My chosen. This people I have formed for Myself; they shall declare My praise.


- Isaiah 43:20–21

Iran Threatens to End Snap IAEA Inspections Next Week

by JNS

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An IAEA inspection (illustrative)

Tuesday, 16 February 2021 | Iran said on Monday that unless the other parties to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) fulfill their obligations under it by next week, it will block International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] inspectors’ access to its nuclear sites.

“If others do not fulfill their obligations by February 21, the government is obliged to suspend the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol,” said Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh, according to a Reuters report.

A law passed by the Iranian Parliament last year requires the revocation of IAEA inspectors’ access on February 21 unless the United States lifts its economic sanctions.

Khatibzadeh emphasized that implementing the law would not mean ending all IAEA inspections, adding, “All these steps are reversible if the other party changes its path and honors its obligations,” referring to the United States.

The Biden administration is looking to return to the JCPOA, which the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from in May 2018. It then reimposed sanctions on Iran and added new ones as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign.

Source: (This article was originally published by JNS on February 15, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Dean Calma / IAEA/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Pray that the US will make the right decision, heeding Israel’s warnings, and refrain from joining the JCPOA. Pray that Iran will be unable to intimidate the international community with its threats.

Scripture

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


- Psalm 108:5–6

UAE Swears in its First Ambassador to Israel

by Itamar Eichner

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A delegation from the UAE arrived in Israel in October for a historic visit which has since led to the UAE swearing in its first ambassador to Israel.

Tuesday, 16 February 2021 | Five months after the two nations signed the historic Abraham Accords to normalize relations, the United Arab Emirates [UAE] on Sunday night swore in its first ambassador to Israel.

Mohammad Mahmoud Al Khajah, who has served as the chief of staff of Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, pledged his allegiance at a ceremony before the ruler of Dubai and UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

At the event attended by members of the Emirati cabinet, Al Maktoum called on the new ambassador to work honestly to strengthen friendship and cooperation with Israel, and to promote a culture of peace, coexistence and tolerance between the two countries, their peoples and the peoples of the region.

Al Khajah’s appointment comes after the Gulf kingdom’s cabinet gave the green light last month for the establishment of the mission in Tel Aviv.

A delegation from the Emirates was expected to arrive in Israel in the coming days to begin preparations for the opening of the embassy.

The UAE’s decision to appoint a high-ranking diplomat as its envoy to Jerusalem is a sign of the great importance the Emiratis attribute to relations with Israel, its leadership and its people.

Al Khajah, 41, is a member of a noble family. He is married and father to four sons.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in political science from Northeastern University in Boston, and a Master’s degree in energy management from the Vienna University of Economics and Business.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on February 15, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Jerusalem/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Pray for the Lord’s blessing on the growing relationship between Israel and the UAE. Pray that the new ambassador and his family will be welcomed by the Israeli government and the people as he fills this historic position.

Scripture

The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.


- Leviticus 19:34

UNRWA Textbooks under Scrutiny by EU Parliament Committee

by JNS

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Palestinian students affiliated with UNRWA in the southern Gaza Strip

Friday, 12 February 2021 | Palestinian textbooks provided by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) came under scrutiny during a recent hearing of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

The attention was prompted by a report issued by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), an Israeli non-governmental organization that found the textbooks “to be rife with problematic content that contradicts stated UN values.”

Christian Democrat Miriam Lexmann posed questions to the committee during a hearing with Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General Fabrizio Hochschild-Drummond.

Based on IMPACT-se’s report, she called for scrutiny of UNRWA, saying that parliament “must ensure that the money of the European taxpayer is not used to produce material filled with hate speech, anti-Semitism and the glorification of jihad [“struggle,” war with unbelievers (in Islam)].”

A broad survey of new UNRWA-labeled materials drafted and produced by its educational staff in Gaza and the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] found that the textbooks encouraged violence, jihad and martyrdom, rejected peace and were filled with intolerance and demonization of Jews and Israelis.

For example, UNRWA materials presented Dalal Mughrabi, who took part in the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre, as a positive role model. Mughrabi, along with other terrorists hijacked a bus and killed 38 civilians—13 of them children—and wounded more than 70 others.

The Palestinian conflict was a central theme in the books across age groups and subject matter, including math problems that ask children “to tally the number of dead ‘martyrs’ in the First Intifada [uprising].”

The books consistently engage in conspiracy theories and libels, and they fail to acknowledge the existence of the State of Israel and Jewish history in the region.

Responding to the report, UNRWA Commissioner–General Phillipe Lazzarini said in a tweet that there is “no place for discrimination+incitement to hatred/violence in @UNRWA schools. Local references to inappropriate pages from textbooks that were mistakenly distributed during #COVID19 lockdown were quickly replaced with content that adheres to UN values.”

A further statement by UNRWA asserted the agency “has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination and for incitement to hatred and violence in its schools and in all of its operations. Any breach reported is dealt with firmly. The agency adheres, in its education program, to the highest standards of neutrality, humanity and tolerance.”

In 2018, former President Donald Trump ended US government donations to UNRWA, hoping to use future funding as leverage to get the Palestinians to accept his Mideast plan. At a press conference on February 2, US State Department spokesman Ned Price indicated that the Biden administration will restore funding to the Palestinians, which presumably, would include funding to UNRWA.

Source: (This article was originally published by JNS on February 8, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Ask the Lord to bring a final end to the anti-Semitic actions and indoctrination in hatred and violence that UNRWA has perpetrated for many years. Pray that the disingenuous statements of UNRWA leadership will be exposed for what they are, eliciting outrage in the nations as this blatant racism and incitement to violence is revealed.

Scripture

For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is destruction; their throat is an open tomb; they flatter with their tongue. Pronounce them guilty, O God! Let them fall by their own counsels.


- Psalm 5:9–10a