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The Long Road Home

Friday, February 2, 2024

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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.

Gazans Curse Hamas as the Cause of their Suffering

by Yoav Zitun, Einav Halabi ~ Ynetnews

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Gazan refugees have been recorded criticizing the leaders of Hamas in front of IDF fighters (illustrative).

Thursday, 1 February 2024 | Soldiers manning the humanitarian corridor opened to allow civilians to leave Khan Younis to safe zones in Gaza were surprised when some Gazans approached them and told them in Hebrew that UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees], the United Nations [UN] body established to care for Palestinian refugees, was bad. “&*#)@ UNRWA,” one man said.

More than 100,000 Gazans passed through the humanitarian corridor leading out of Khan Younis this week. About 300 of them were identified as terrorists trying to escape, and were taken for questioning. Others were seen in video clips filmed by the troops greeting the soldiers.

“May God bless you,” an old man said before cursing UNRWA. In another video, posted by the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] Arabic Spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Avichay Adraee, some of those evacuating from the city are recorded cursing Hamas and mocking the terror group as they asked where they were. “The Gazans hate Hamas, which is the only source and the only cause of all the suffering and destruction in Gaza,” Adraee said.

In another video published on Wednesday, a desperate Gazan refugee on the way from Khan Younis to Rafah was recorded criticizing the leaders of Hamas in front of IDF fighters. “Don’t leave here,” he said in Hebrew.

In additional videos from Khan Yunis released by the IDF in recent weeks, crowds of Gazans were seen in the humanitarian corridor west of Khan Yunis chanting, “The people want to overthrow Hamas.”

“In recent days we see more and more public criticism voiced by the residents of Gaza against the terrorist organization Hamas,” The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories [COGAT], Major General Ghasan Alyan, said. “The residents of the Gaza Strip rightly prefer their well-being and the safety of their children over the continued military build-up by Hamas and the act of terror that harm them and their future.”

The Gazans who evacuate through the humanitarian corridor carry a lot of equipment with them, knowing that, most likely, they would not be able to return to their homes soon. They moved on foot as well as on carts pulled by donkeys and in vehicles towards the humanitarian area in Al-Mawasi—which is about 600 meters [1,969 ft.] from the checkpoint. At this stage of the IDF’s operation, several thousand residents remained in the refugee camp in Khan Younis.

Source: (This article originally was published by Ynetnews on January 31, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: CentredecriseMAEDI/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Thank God that more and more Gazans are vocalizing their feelings about Hamas and its culpability for the current situation. Pray that their voices will be heard by the international community, revealing the treatment of the people of Gaza under Hamas’s leadership and garnering support for Israel’s efforts to dismantle the terrorist organization and its supporters.

Scripture

Like a roaring lion or a charging bear is a wicked ruler over a poor people.


- Proverbs 28:15 ESV

ICJ Verdict ‘Proves Many Haven’t Learned Anything from Holocaust’

by Joshua Spurlock ~ Middle East Update

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Inside the International Court of Justice, the Hague, during South Africa’s genocide case against Israel

Monday, 29 January 2024 | On the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the International Court of Justice at the Hague [ICJ] heard accusations from South Africa alleging Israel was committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. The disturbing double irony, both in the timing and the claims against Israel’s war of self-defense after Hamas attempted to commit an act of genocide against Israelis, were not lost on Israel. They were appalled by it.

“There is no greater absurdity than what occurred yesterday, on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday night. “There were those who came to the Hague to—falsely and outrageously—accuse us of genocide. On whose behalf did they come? On behalf of Hamas, the ‘new Nazis’, who came to perpetrate genocide against us.

“…I must tell you, the very willingness in the Hague to discuss this ridiculous claim, the very fact that it was not rejected outright, proves that many in the world have not learned anything from the Holocaust. But we have learned from it.”

Israel’s war in Gaza follows the horrific attacks by Hamas against Israel on October 7, in which 1,200 Israelis—most of them civilians—were murdered, and hundreds taken captive. It marked the most brutal stage of Hamas’ ongoing effort to destroy the State of Israel, following years of off and on conflict and terror attacks.

Netanyahu, whose comments were translated from Hebrew, backed up his claim of calling Hamas the “new Nazis”: The Gaza Strip terror group studies the original ones.

“I hold here Hitler’s book ‘Mein Kampf’ in Arabic. Our fighters found this book in civilians’ homes in the Gaza Strip. They found extensive anti-Semitic and Nazi literature there. This is what they educate their children on,” said Netanyahu.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog also was deeply troubled by the ICJ’s review of Israel. “The very fact that the hearing at the court in the Hague was held on the eve of International Holocaust Memorial Day, to judge whether the democratic, moral, and responsible State of Israel, which rose from the ashes of the Holocaust with the overwhelming support of the family of nations and its institutions was guilty of committing genocide, is a blood libel that undermines the very values on which this court was established,” said Herzog on Sunday in comments published by his office.

While the Hague took into consideration the South African case against Israel, it chose not to accept all of South Africa’s positions in their request for provisionary measures as the overall case is being reviewed—which included an immediate ceasefire. Instead, the ICJ called upon Israel to “take all measures within its power to prevent” acts of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza enable the provision of humanitarian aid to Gazans, among other orders, which were published to the ICJ’s website. The order concludes with a demand for Israel to report back on these matters in a month.

Herzog, in his comments, underscored that Israel does not view innocents in Gaza as military targets, and contrasted that with Hamas’ actions against their own people.

“To be clear: The State of Israel sees great importance in the humanitarian aspect of the campaign. Israel is committed to this, and operates, as it has always operated and will operate, in accordance with international law,” said Herzog. “…Hamas is also responsible for the suffering of their own people. Often quite directly—when they threaten their lives, forcefully taking humanitarian aid facilitate by Israel, and using them as a human shield.”

The Israeli President reminded the world that regarding Israel, Hamas “didn’t just declare their desire to wipe from face of the earth, but actually set out on a brutal massacre to destroy—and is still working hard to do so.” He said that Israel’s “full right to self-defense” is a “right anchored in the most essential foundations of international law, and in general, everyone with sense can see that Israel is acting in accordance with international law.”

As for Israel’s right to self-defense, that was a key lesson that the Jewish people learned from the Holocaust. “The main lesson of the Holocaust is that only we will defend ourselves by ourselves. Nobody will do this for us,” said Netanyahu. “…The state of the Jews arose from the ashes of the Holocaust in order to promise a defensive shield for the Jewish people. Israel, like every sovereign country, has the basic right to defend itself. Nobody will take this right from us and nobody will stop us from implementing it.”

The main message repeated about the Holocaust is “Never Again.” Netanyahu has the same goal for October 7. “If we do not eliminate the Hamas terrorists, these ‘new Nazis’, the next massacre is only a matter of time,” he said. “Therefore, we are determined to finish the task, to eliminate Hamas. And if it takes time, we will not relent in the mission.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Middle East Update on January 28, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: ICJ/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Thank God that the ICJ—ridiculous as the proceeding was—at least did not demand an immediate cease-fire, indirectly acknowledging Israel’s right to self-defense. Pray that this and any future response from the ICJ will have no effect on Israel’s ability to reach its goals or the ability of the nations to support Israel’s actions.

Scripture

Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey.


- Isaiah 10:1¬–2 ESV

Experience October 7 through the Eyes of the Survivors

by Gilad Jalon, Gal Ganot ~ Ynetnews

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The remains of Kibbutz Be’eri, a few days after the massacre carried out by Hamas on October 7, 2023

Friday, 26 January 2024 | A special camera captures Ofir Engel from every possible angle as he walks around Kibbutz Be’eri. Two and a half weeks after being released from Hamas captivity, Engel returned to the kibbutz [collective community] to relive what happened to him on October 7—from the first sound of the alarms, through terrorists invading his home, until the moment he was abducted to Gaza.

“It was hard for me to return to the place from which I was kidnapped, really hard to relive that situation,” he said. “But I always remembered the important goal that led me to do it.”

Engel’s photos are part of an innovative project by the ISRAEL-is to present five testimonies from October 7 through virtual reality [VR]. “I agreed to film my story because I understand the importance of distributing and explaining the disaster that happened to us,” Engel said.

“I want anyone who wears this headset and experiences this day from my perspective to feel the shock we felt on that Saturday. They should be able to understand what I went through in those moments, see the place where all of this happened, and connect to the event,” he added.

“Most importantly, I hope it will shake those who use them, that the users will better understand, both emotionally and visually, what happened to me and many others on that terrible day.”

Five testimonies were recorded as part of the project, including Engel’s, who returned from Hamas captivity after more than 50 days. The others are police officer Ramo Salman Al Huzail, who saved many lives in the Nova Music Festival massacre, Millet Ben Haim and Mazal Tazazo, both survivors of the party, and the testimony of ISRAEL-is CEO and the project’s initiator Nimrod Palmach, who fought as a reservist in the surrounding kibbutzim.

“We have to tell the story and give it everything, no matter how traumatic it is to be here,” Ben Haim testified as she walked through the site of the massacre at the party. On that Saturday, Ben Haim and her friends were in grave danger as terrorists chased them with shoulder-fired missile launchers. “It’s sheer terror. All your soul wants is to disappear. All I wanted was to drop to the floor and let things take their course.”

They hid in a bush and prayed for help. They kept trying to get help from the police, friends and family non-stop, but no one managed to assist them as the gunshots drew closer. In the end, they managed to contact Rami Dadon, who went to rescue them with the help of Leon Bar, who is no longer with us.

This is not the first time that Ben Haim has shared her story. She has been interviewed by media outlets all over the world and even spoke at the German Reichstag. However, returning to the scene took her back to those moments and revealed memories she didn’t know she had.

The commemoration project allows users to truly be with her and her friends in the conversation. “It’s not imagining me; it’s seeing me—being there and, most importantly, immersing oneself in the experience.”

Tazazo, who couldn’t hide from the terrorists, witnessed two of her friends being murdered in front of her eyes and received a blow to the head from the butt of a gun. She played dead, and that’s what saved her life. The terrorists tied her legs and left her in the field. When the entire area started to catch fire, she escaped to the car of another hero who saved her.

“The goal is really to illustrate what was there and to show it to the world through our eyes. How we truly experienced this, how we survived it—and maybe this is how people will truly believe.”

Not Only Testimonies but Also a Conversation

The project is Nimrod Plamach’s brainchild, conceived while he was fighting in the fields of Kibbutz Be’eri. Between one clash to the other, he was already thinking about the next battle—the battle for global perception and the narrative.

“When a student sits in their comfortable classroom in California, they don’t feel what we felt here so intensely. We’re doing some kind of ‘shock therapy’ for the students, getting right up close with the person exactly in the bush where he hid in the small valley where he lay or entering the exact room from which he released hostages.”

Plamach enlisted an international volunteer team that previously worked on documenting testimonies of Holocaust survivors as part of the Spielberg Foundation and set out on this journey. According to the ISRAEL-is association, the project will begin operating on US campuses as early as next March.

Each testimony consists of two parts—first, the user experiences a reenactment of the testimony. The second part is interactive. Each of the five participants answered dozens of questions that the project creators believed the target audience in America might ask them. This allows viewers to ask questions to the survivors and fighters and create a deeper interaction with the Israelis.

For example, in his answers, Engel also addressed sensitive topics such as the trauma he experienced as a captive, his daily routine in captivity, the moment he reunited with his family and the guilt he felt being released while others remained behind in Gaza.

“I think we are in a very, very strange era. Out of this huge historic amount of information, there is a lot of indifference, especially when you add antisemitism to the mix. I also think that something of such magnitude causes us to even deny as a form of defense mechanism,” summarized Ben Haim. “When you’re in it, it’s much harder to ignore. Maybe the biggest thing I can say is that I feel the project better conveys how speechless we were.”

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on January 25, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Micha Brikman/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for the success of this project, that it will be seen around the world and have the impact its creators hope for. Pray for the survivors and others who were willing to relive the horror of their experiences in order to bring the truth to the world. Ask the Lord to touch them with His love and deliver them of their trauma and grief.

Scripture

He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.


- Psalm 107:20 ESV

IDF in ‘Intensive Training’ at Lebanon Border

by Joshua Marks ~ JNS

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Israeli soldiers participate in a drill near the Lebanese border.

Monday, 29 January 2024 | The Israel Defense Forces [IDF] is preparing in northern Israel for a possible confrontation with the Hezbollah terrorist group.

Last week, soldiers from the IDF’s 226th Reserve Paratroopers Brigade, aka the Northern Brigade, and combat engineering forces performed training exercises focused on combat “in densely populated urban areas, winter weather conditions, and in the northern terrain,” the IDF said on Saturday.

The fighters trained from the platoon level up to the battalion level, combining tanks, infantry, combat engineers and artillery.

“Despite the winter weather, the rain, the mud and the fog, and after 113 days of defending the northern border, this week we carried out a series of difficult and complex exercises to strengthen the Brigade’s readiness,” said 226th Brigade Deputy Commander Lt. Col. (res.) Yehuda (the IDF did not provide his full name).

“The spirit of the commanders and soldiers is strong, professionalism is at a very high level and the troops are ready for anything. After this week, I can wholeheartedly say—we are ready,” he added.

So far, the National Land Training Center has conducted more than 100 days of training, including over 40 battalion exercises and over 100 company exercises.

Hezbollah launched a low-intensity conflict against the Jewish state in the aftermath of Hamas’s October 7 massacre, firing rockets, drones and anti-tank missiles at northern Israeli cities on a near-daily basis and forcing the evacuation of some 80,000 civilians from their homes.

The Iranian terror proxy has killed six Israeli civilians and nine IDF soldiers since the start of the war. A total of 171 Hezbollah members have been killed since hostilities escalated, including four on Friday in Israeli strikes on Southern Lebanon in response to earlier rocket fire.

The IDF said on Sunday that fighter jets recently attacked two Hezbollah “military” sites around the villages of Zibqin and Khula in Southern Lebanon. In addition, the army fired artillery on Sunday morning “to remove a threat against several areas in Southern Lebanon.”

Air-raid sirens sounded in Kiryat Shmona, a frequent target of Hezbollah fire, on Sunday afternoon. Three rockets hit open areas nearby as residents took shelter. The Magen David Adom emergency medical service said that it received no calls regarding casualties or damage.

Israel told the US late last month that the time frame to distance Hezbollah from the border via a diplomatic agreement was the end of January, according to the Washington Post.

Citing a Western diplomat and three Lebanese officials, the report noted however that the Israeli government had not set a “hard deadline.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on January 28, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDF/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for the readiness of the IDF regardless of the front to which they are deployed. But pray especially for those who are defending Israel’s northern border. Cry out to the Lord for a successful end, whether military or diplomatic, to the threat from Hezbollah forces.

Scripture

For the LORD has driven out before you great and strong nations. And as for you, no man has been able to stand before you to this day. One man of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the LORD your God who fights for you, just as he promised you.


- Joshua 23:9–10 ESV

Kidnapping, Murder and Handing Out Arms: What UNRWA Officials Did on October 7

by Ynetnews

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A sign identifying an office of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees

Monday, 29 January 2024 | An UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees] staff member is accused of abducting a woman, another with assisting in abducting the body of a soldier and of handing out ammunition, a third participated in the massacre in Kibbutz Be’eri where 97 people were murdered, the New York Times revealed late on Sunday after reviewing some of the intelligence given by Israel to the US regarding the complicity of 12 Palestinian UNRWA workers in the atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7.

Accusations against others are based among other things on phone conversations intercepted inside Gaza, where they discussed their involvement in the massacre.

Three others, who in addition to their positions in UNRWA, were members of the military wing of Hamas, received instructions in text messages to report to specific locations where terrorists were to meet, and one was instructed to bring with him anti-tank missiles stored in his home.

The document in the possession of American intelligence agencies also states that of the dozen identified, 10 were active Hamas operatives and one was a member of the Islamic Jihad. Seven of the UNRWA workers were employed as math and Arabic teachers in the agency’s schools, two others also worked in the schools but not in teaching positions and the three remaining, were a clerk, a social worker and the manager of the school’s storage, whom the New York Times tracked down using social media.

The document details the scope of the actions of some UNRWA staff. One, who was a guidance counselor in a Khan Younis school, is suspected along with his son, of abducting a woman from Israel. The social worker identified, assisted in the abduction of the body of an Israel Defense Forces soldier, handed out ammunition to the terrorists and coordinated traffic inside Israel during the massacre.

Two Western officials were able to verify the intelligence. Although the US has not yet confirmed the Israeli claims, American officials said they were credible enough to announce that funding to UNRWA was suspended.

UNRWA oversees 59 Palestinian refugee camps in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Jerusalem the West Bank and Gaza. Most of the organization’s funds are directed to running its schools. Its annual budget stands at over a billion dollars, 90% of which comes from countries that have now suspended their contributions. Japan and Austria, on Monday also announced it is suspending its funding to UNRWA.

The US is the largest funder of the UN organization, by some US 344 million dollars in 2022, followed by Germany providing US 202 million dollars and the EU providing US 114 million dollars. The EU said in the past that it would reduce funding due to the incitement against Israel in the UNRWA text books.

Australia, the UK, Canada and Finland combined, supported UNRWA with funds totaling US 66 million dollars.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on January 29, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: RomanDeckert/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Beseech the Lord for the dismantling of UNRWA—a UN organization that has long been known for its deeply ingrained Jew hatred, its cooperation with terrorist organizations and its commitment to indoctrinating Palestinian children to hate Israel and embrace martyrdom. Pray that every individual UNWRA employee will be held to account for their participation in Israel’s long battle with Hamas and in the horrific massacre on October 7.

Scripture

Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all.


- Isaiah 41:11–12 ESV

IDF Targets Three Terrorists Hiding in Jenin Hospital

by Elisha Ben Kimon and Einav Halabi ~ Ynetnews

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Hamas and PIJ terrorists were found posing as civilians in Jenin Hospital.

Tuesday, 30 January 2024 | At least three terrorists were killed after escaping into a Jenin hospital ahead of a planned terror strike inside Israel mimicking the October 7 Hamas massacre, the military said. Anti-terrorist special forces said two of the terrorists were member of Hamas and the third a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad [PIJ].

A security official said the forces surrounded the hospital and detained a wanted terrorist who was inside an ambulance at the entrance to the Ibn Sina Specialized Hospital. “They thought we would not reach then there,” he said. “This is the same method we know of terror groups. They shoot from behind civilians and hide inside hospitals.”

“Mohammed Jalamneh, 27, who had been in the Jenin Camp for a long period, had contacts with Hamas headquarters abroad and was even wounded when he tried to promote a car bombing attack,” the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] said in a statement.

“In addition, Jalamneh transferred weapons and ammunition to terrorists in order to promote shooting attacks, and planned a raid attack inspired by the October 7 massacre. Along with Jalamneh, two additional terrorists who hid inside the hospital were neutralized: Mohammed Ghazawi, a terrorist operative of the Jenin Battalions who was involved in numerous attacks including firing at IDF soldiers in the area; and Basel Ghazawi, Mohammed’s brother, a PIJ terrorist organization operative involved in terror activities in the area,” the military said.

“Jalamneh planned to carry out a terror attack in the immediate future and used the hospital as a hiding place and therefore was neutralized. Israeli security forces will continue to act against any threat that would endanger the security of Israeli civilians.”

Witnesses said the soldiers came in disguised as doctors, nurses and Palestinian women and went up to the third floor where they killed the terrorists using handguns with silencers. Later heavy gunfire was heard near the hospital.

The Ibn Sina Specialized Hospital is a large and relatively new facility built outside the refugee camp, near the entrance to Jenin. The IDF has observed that the medical facility is being used by the terrorists as a shelter from Israeli forces.

The operation was described as surgical, targeting the three terrorists only.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on January 30, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: أمين/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord that the IDF was able to find these terrorists and, without injuring civilians, interrupt their plans before they were able to carry out another October 7 incursion. Cry out to the Lord that Israeli forces will have ongoing success in stopping terror before it happens.

Scripture

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.


- Isaiah 30:21 ESV

US ‘Committed’ to Deal Releasing $6 Billion, Iran Claims

by JNS

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken holds a joint press availability with Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in Doha, Qatar.

Tuesday, 30 January 2024 | The Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed on Friday that it has Qatari assurances of Washington’s “commitment” to allowing it to use US $6 billion in frozen funds, which the Biden administration released to Qatari banks.

Readouts from Tehran and Doha of a phone call between Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani—who serves as both Qatar’s foreign minister and prime minister—emphasized different things. But they agreed in principle that the deal is being implemented.

Iran’s readout said that the leaders discussed how Tehran “can use its assets in Qatar,” referring to the US $6 billion released to Qatar in September in exchange for five American prisoners.

“Al Thani said his country and the US are committed to the current deal and in line with an agreement between the central banks of Iran and Qatar, the agreement is being implemented,” per the Iranian readout.

Qatar is “continuing to implement the recent agreement between Iran and the United States brokered by Qatar,” per Doha’s readout.

The US State Department did not respond to a query from JNS. The issue did not come up during a press conference that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held on Monday with Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization]. The State Department also did not provide a readout of Blinken’s meeting with Al Thani on Monday.

The Biden administration has repeatedly insisted that none of the US $6 billion in Iranian money has been spent. After the administration said it held Iran to be complicit in Hamas’s October 7 terror attacks, a US Treasury Department official reportedly told House Democrats in a closed-door meeting in October that the money “isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.”

The Biden administration has also said many times that if Tehran did spend the money, it could only use it for humanitarian purposes.

In December, JNS was the first to report that a senior US official said publicly for the first time that Iran had accessed US $10 billion, held in Omani banks under similar conditions to the Qatari accounts, as part of two “transactions.” The official did not provide details about the transactions in the public hearing.

John Kirby, coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council of the White House, was asked about the two transactions at the White House press conference on January 4. “I don’t have the details on that,” he said. “You’re going to have to let me get back to you on that.”

Critics of the US $6 billion deal have argued that money earmarked for humanitarian purposes nonetheless frees Iran to spend more on its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and to support regional terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi even said in an interview in September that Iran will spend the money “wherever we need it.”

Kirby said the “fungibility argument” is false, during an interview with Fox News in October.

“It’s not like the Iranians were sitting around and saying, ‘Hmm. Well, we have US $6 billion that we can free up to go fund terrorists and not feed our—we don’t have to worry about feeding our people,’” he said. “They were never worried about feeding their people. They were never worried about actual humanitarian assistance to their own population and again, they don’t have any access to it.”

Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House spokeswoman, was asked on Monday during the White House press conference whether US President Joe Biden was considering sanctioning Iranian oil revenues in response to an attack on Sunday, in which Iran-backed proxy forces killed three American soldiers in Jordan.

“I just don’t have anything to share on that particular thing,” Jean-Pierre said. “As the president said himself yesterday, after he acknowledged the three souls that were taken from us, our service members, who bravely protect our national security, and obviously, us as a country, he said that we shall respond.”

“I’m just going to not get ahead of that,” she added.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on January 29, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Chuck Kennedy/US State Department/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the US $6 billion remain frozen and that not a penny falls into the hands of the Iranian government. Pray that the Biden administration will remain true to its word, making sure Iran doesn’t receive additional money with which to fund terror in the Middle East and around the world. Also cry out to the Lord that President Biden will react strongly and appropriately to the Iranian murder of three American citizens.

Scripture

For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.


- Proverbs 2:6

Canadian Academic Workers Union Aims to Vilify Israel in Classes Regardless of Subject Taught

by Daniel Edelson ~ Ynetnews

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Sign of York University Toronto, Canada.

Wednesday, 31 January 2024 | The largest official workers’ union at York University in Toronto has distributed a training manual for teaching assistants and instructors that encourages them to criticize and condemn Israel in any context, even if it is unrelated to the subject being taught. The document covers various subjects such as medicine, art, feminism, society, politics, culture, geography, engineering and architecture, all in reference to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Notably, the organization’s logo, representing the largest workers’ union in Canada, includes the Palestinian flag.

The 15-page document, distributed by CUPE 3903, the union representing staff members, which is one of the largest in Canada, suggests focusing lessons on teaching about the liberation of Palestine. Regardless of the course being taught, the document refers to Israel as a “murderous colonial project” and advocates for its condemnation.

According to the document, the presence of Jewish groups on campus is viewed as evidence that York University is complicit in what is described as “murderous colonialism.” The union argues that the research connections between York University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem further implicate the institution in this alleged complicity. The document specifically highlights the existence of “Zionist cultural institutions,” including Hillel, a global Jewish student organization.

Furthermore, the document provides instructors with a prepared speech to explain to students why their class is being canceled in order to focus on learning about the liberation of Palestine. The speech states that the lesson will center on discussing and showing solidarity with the Palestinian liberation movement, with the aim of challenging what is seen as Canada and York’s involvement in murder and the occupation of Palestinian lands and lives. The union assures instructors that if students resist engaging in “political work” and “community organizing” in support of Palestine, they will take measures to protect the instructors from potential sanctions.

The workers’ union has a long history of accusing Israel, even before the Hamas terror attack on October 7. The union supports the BDS [a Palestinian-led movement promoting boycotts, divestments, and economic sanctions against Israel] and accuses it in its various publications of apartheid and murder, and denied the right of the Zionist entity to exist.

In response to Ynet’s inquiry, York University stated: “We oppose the document” and have addressed the union on the matter. “York’s commitment to support and uphold academic freedom, and freedom of expression within the limits of the law, stands.

While there will be some courses and seminars where dialogue on world events could be relevant; this should occur in a respectful manner that allows for the expression of diverse perspectives in an inclusive learning environment,” the York statement said.

“In this regard, the university has advised the community that we do not find the recent email communication from CUPE 3903, which provided Teaching Assistants across the university with ‘A Toolkit on Teaching Palestine’ calling for diversion of their teaching from the planned curriculum, to be in accordance with the rightful expectations of the university as an employer, the needs of the students and the legitimate claims of the community. The university has reached out to the union to discuss this matter,” according to the statement.

US Colleges Are Shifting Gears

Currently, campuses across the US are developing their own regulations pertaining to freedom of expression and limitations on protests, following increased scrutiny of widespread anti-Semitism since October 7, the Congressional hearing about anti-Semitism on campus, and the resignations of the presidents of Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Cornell University, which recently faced the arrest of a student who made threats against Jews on campus through various online posts, has recently issued a new temporary policy on “expressive activity.” This policy mandates prior approval for events with over 50 attendees and imposes restrictions on the use of amplification in specific areas of the campus, limited to one hour per day.

Similarly, Harvard University’s interim president, Alan Garber, who assumed the position after Claudine Gay’s resignation, recently issued a statement outlining “guidelines on protest and dissent.” These guidelines include a prohibition on protests that disrupt university activities in areas such as classrooms, dormitories and dining halls. The guildlines prohibit the disruption, defacement, destruction or removal of lawfully placed signage or banners, in response to instances of stolen banners and their defacement.

Sally Kornbluth, the president of MIT announced the formation of a new committee to address the delicate balance between freedom of expression and the need to protect against harassment, violence, intimidation and discrimination.

However, these initiatives have faced controversy and public backlash in some instances. At Barnard College in New York, administrators removed a pro-Palestinian statement published by the Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies, deeming it as “forbidden political speech.” In response, the Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies launched its own website, where pro-Palestinian statements are published without interference.

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published by Ynetnews on January 31, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Adam Moss/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for institutions of higher learning, once bastions of free speech and safety for the respectful exchange of ideas. Pray for a shift in the current climate, with administrators and students alike recognizing what anti-Semitism really is and standing against it. Pray that the contemptible training manual at York University will be banned, not as an affront to free speech but as an acknowledgment of the document as true and dangerous hate speech.

Scripture

Death and life are in the power of the tongue.


- Proverbs 18:21a ESV

Secret Document Details Hamas Psychological Warfare

by Joshua Marks ~ JNS

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The leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar

Wednesday, 31 January 2024 | Israeli forces in Gaza recently found a secret document written by a senior Hamas official detailing the terrorist group’s psychological warfare strategy against the Israeli public, Channel 12 reported on Monday.

Furthermore, the document was discovered at a site visited by Hamas’s senior leader in the Strip, Yahya Sinwar, according to the report. However, it was unclear whether the mastermind of the October 7 massacre had penned the paper.

The document orders that photos and videos of the Israeli hostages continue to be published “due to the psychological pressure they create.” There are currently 136 captives still in the hands of Hamas.

The report also singles out Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant as a target for psychological pressure, apparently due to the terror group’s belief that he is the most susceptible to this tactic.

Additionally, the directive emphasizes the importance of maintaining the narrative that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bears responsibility for the failures of the October 7 terrorist attack and pushing the idea that the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] ground operations will not create the conditions necessary for the return of the rest of the hostages.

Moreover, the document highlights the social divide in Israel as an issue to focus on, as well as increasing pressure around the issue of the hostages and “putting sticks” in the wheels of Israel’s war.

Sinwar is believed to be hiding in the Hamas stronghold of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, where he has reportedly surrounded himself with a large number of living hostages. Mohammed Deif, the head of Hamas’s “military wing,” is also believed to be holed up there.

The IDF is in the midst of a major offensive in Khan Yunis that kicked off on January 21, killing around 3,000 Hamas terrorists so far, representing a third of Hamas’s fighting forces in the city. In the last few days, 340 Hamas terrorists were arrested.

Furthermore, combat teams from the 98th Division are fighting in the vast tunnel network underneath Khan Yunis, and destroying the tunnels. Raids on Hamas positions and infrastructure have revealed, among other findings, a major rocket-making factory and the offices of senior Hamas officials, including Sinwar.

On October 14, IDF International Spokesperson Lt. Col. Richard Hecht told journalists that Sinwar and his entire command team “are in our sights.”

“Yahya Sinwar is the face of evil. He is the mastermind behind this, like [Osama] bin Laden was [with the September 11, 2001 attacks]. He built his career on murdering Palestinians when he understood they were collaborators [with Israel]. That’s how he became known as the butcher of Khan Yunis,” said Hecht.

Sinwar’s death is only a matter of time, a senior Biden administration official said in December, pledging that “justice will be served.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on January 29, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Attia Muhammed/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Plead with the Lord for the release of those who are still being held in Gaza, the mechanism that Hamas is using to hold an entire nation hostage, as all Israel is subjected to psychological warfare, living in constant fear and anxiety for those children of Israel who remain in captivity. Pray for God’s protection over each hostage and for their soon release. Also beseech the Lord that Hamas’s plans to defeat Israel through emotionally manipulative means will backfire.

Scripture

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”


- Isaiah 41:10 NASB

Israeli Farmers Using Robot Harvester to Move Forward after October 7

by Kate Norman

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Much of Kibbutz Alumim was destroyed on October 7 by Hamas terrorists.

Tuesday, 30 January 2024 | An Israeli start-up company has developed a robot greenhouse harvester in order to solve the shortage of agricultural workers in the Jewish state.

Israeli start-up MetoMotion developed the Greenhouse Robotic Worker [GRoW], after its founding in 2017 with funding from the Israeli Innovation Authority and Trendlines, a company that invests in agrotech and medtech.

The first target market is greenhouse tomatoes, according to MetoMotion.

GRoW is an autonomous robot that uses a 3D vision system to help growers identify the ripeness of crops, harvest them and keep a collection of data to analyze the crops.

The driverless vehicle navigates autonomously between rows of crops with sensors that detect obstacles. Once the vehicle has reached the end of a row, its trailer full of tomatoes is removed and sent to the warehouse, and the vehicle is directed to another row with a smartphone.

GRoW is equipped with dual robotic arms, allowing it to harvest on both sides of the row at the same time. Its 3D vision capabilities allow growers to identify and select the level of ripeness of the produce that they want to harvest.

The robotic arms then cut the tomatoes, drop them onto a conveyor belt on the machine and deposit them into boxes.

The 3D vision provides critical analytics information onto a greenhouse dashboard, allowing the grower to analyze crop information and even predict future crop yields.

The system can reduce labor hours by 80%, according to the MetoMotion website, and save growers up to 50% in harvesting costs by replacing agricultural workers with robots.

It can also increase efficiency, producing up to a 15% improvement in crop yield and reduce the spread of infectious crop diseases by 50%.

GRoW won the GreenTech Amsterdam Robot Challenge in 2022.

The director of agriculture at Kibbutz Alumim, a community in southern Israel near the boundary with Gaza, was looking for a solution to the labor shortage in kibbutz [collective community] greenhouses.

The director, Michael Amar, discovered MetoMotion, based in Yokne’an Illit, northern Israel. Amar reached out and agreed with MetoMotion to establish experimental greenhouses at Kibbutz Alumim.

They prepared greenhouses, Amar told Israel21c, ordered the seedlings and were preparing to install the first robot when Hamas invaded Israel on October 7, 2023.

Thousands of Hamas terrorists invaded that morning, attacking kibbutzim and Jewish communities in Southern Israel, including Kibbutz Alumim.

Amar and his agricultural team defended the kibbutz from Hamas terrorists who entered the farms and prevented them from entering the residential area, Israel21c reported. Some 20 workers from Thailand were killed in the fighting.

Amar’s son, 22-year-old Nitai, a captain in the Israeli military, was killed in battle that day at the Southern Regional Division base.

The MetoMotion team visited Amar and his family to sit shiva [mourning for seven days] with them for Nitai at a hotel in Netanya, where Alumim families were evacuated after the brutal invasion.

MetoMotion CEO Adi Nir told Israel21c that while sitting shiva, Amar started talking with him about rebuilding the project and moving forward.

Two weeks later, Nir and his team went back to the hotel in Netanya after receiving an invitation from Amar to continue the work.

“We were sitting with people who had experienced unbelievable horror on October 7, and all they could talk about was rebuilding and continuing what they started,” Nir told Israel21c.

Unfortunately, the fate of the research and development greenhouses at Alumim is unknown, as the site is a closed military zone and much of the kibbutz was burned down.

Amar and his team joined with the agricultural staff at nearby Kibbutz Be’eri—the most hard-hit kibbutz on October 7—to team up and move forward by establishing MetoMotion greenhouses at Be’eri.

MetoMotion CEO Nir told Israel21c: “For us, this partnership is much deeper than the usual business deal. It’s like a mission for us to help these guys. This is our small way to help and we hope it will come true. The story did not end yet.”

Though the exact path forward is not yet set in stone, Amar told Israel21c: “This is Zionism, rebuilding ourselves. We need to pick up our agriculture again and restart the project.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 30, 2024)

Photo Credit: Avi1111/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the resilience of the Jewish people and for Michael Amar’s commitment to “Zionism, the rebuilding of ourselves.” Pray for the success of this project and for the countless other aspects of reconstruction and rejuvenation that Israel will soon be facing.

Scripture

He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.


- Isaiah 40:29–31