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Every week, we post from seven to ten news stories from Israel with a suggested prayer focus and scripture for each one, guiding readers how to pray for Israel’s most urgent needs. This Prayer Update is also sent to over 18,000 subscribers every Friday by e-mail. Please contact us at intl.office@bridgesforpeace.com if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.

UN Approves “Blacklist” Database That Could Be Used to Implement Boycott of Israel

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UN Security Council in session

Friday, 06 January 2017 | One day after last month’s vote in the United Nations Security Council to condemn Israeli activities in areas it conquered in 1967, the world body’s General Assembly approved funding to create a database of companies that do business in those areas which some fear could be used to create a “blacklist,” Fox News reported Tuesday.

The General Assembly allocated $138,700 to create a database of businesses with commercial activities in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank [Judea and Samaria]. “The types of data they are talking about acquiring would be to form the basis for future sanctions against companies that did business on the West Bank,” former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton told Fox News. “That’s the only purpose of it that I can see.” Former Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, predicted last month that the success of the resolution (which the Obama administration chose not to veto) would boost boycott efforts.

The initial request for funding the database was submitted in April. The application stated that it would be used to “investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory”—including eastern Jerusalem—and would “produce a database of all business enterprises” in those areas.

“There is a structural, institutional bias against Israel and approving money to blacklist the Israeli companies is helping the [Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions] movement—basically another opportunity for the UN to single out Israel,” former Israeli ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, told Fox News. “There is nothing constructive here—this will not lead to anything but more violence in the region.” He added that further boycotts of Israel would inevitably hurt the approximately 30,000 Palestinians who are employed by Israeli companies located in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank.

A United Nations effort to boycott Israel could provoke Congressional backlash. Sen. Ben Cardin (D – Md.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, promised on Wednesday that “going forward, Congress will take action against efforts at the UN or beyond that use Resolution 2334 to target Israel.” Cardin and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced a resolution in the Senate condemning the UN’s vote; a similar resolution passed the House of Representatives on Thursday.

Source:  (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 05 January 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Public domain/wikipedia

Photo License: Wikipedia

Prayer Focus
Bring the God-fearing nations before the Lord, praying that they will stand firm against pressure to boycott Israel and Israeli products. Pray that the future UN Secretary General will bring positive change in the UN’s relations with Israel and that the original purpose of this database will be changed instead to have positive effects on how the world sees and treats Israel and her economy.

Scripture

For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.


- Psalm 33:9-12

Countdown to the Paris Peace Summit

by Ilse Posselt

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Wednesday, 04 January 2017 | On January 15, 2017 representatives from nations across the globe will flock to the French capital for a conference on peace in the Middle East. Yet instead of seeking a way to bring an end to the bloody civil war that has reduced parts of Syria to a smoldering rubble or finding a solution to the looming threat of the Islamic State cutting a swath of death and destruction in Iraq, the agenda of the peace parley will have but one item: resuscitating the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and hammering out the parameters for renewed talks.

Seventy countries have been requested to attend and have their say at the high-level get-together. Yet the two parties whose fate the meeting is aimed at deciding, namely Israel and the Palestinians, have only been invited to meet separately at the conference’s conclusion.

Over the course of 2016, France had doggedly tried to kick-start the flailing peace process, hosting an “opening summit” on June 3, 2016. While the United Nations (UN), European Union (EU), United States and a number of Arab countries attended the meeting, neither Israel nor the Palestinians were invited. Following the June get-together, the French vowed to persist in their reconciliation efforts and host a follow-up conference before ushering in 2017.

Yet in early December Paris announced that the peace conference had been postponed and would now take place on 15 January—two days before the United Nations Security Council is rumored to vote on a number of anti-Israel resolutions and five days before President Barack Obama hands over the reins for America’s Commander in Chief to President-elect Donald Trump.

Israel has been opposed to the Paris plan since its inception and has stated repeatedly that it would not be involved in such a conference. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told French Prime Minister Manuel Valls as early as May that “peace just does not get achieved through international conferences, UN-style. It does not get to fruition through international diktats or committees from countries around the world who are sitting and seeking to decide our fate and our security when they have no direct stake in it.”

Instead of an international forum where neither Israel nor the Palestinians would have any initial input, Netanyahu suggested an alternative initiative: a one-on-one meeting for “direct negotiations without preconditions, between the Israeli Prime Minister [and] the Palestinian President in Paris.”

“I will sit alone directly with President Abbas in the Élysée Palace or anywhere else that you choose,” Netanyahu offered at the time. “Every difficult issue will be on the table: mutual recognition, incitement, borders, refugees and yes, settlements—everything.”

Al-Monitor reports that although the French peace push will take place in less than two weeks concerned Israeli leaders, it was initially not seen as a cause of great alarm. That changed on December 23, 2016 when America did not exercise its veto power at the UNSC and allowed Resolution 2334 to pass, thus failing to protect Israel. The resolution condemns all Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, including those in East Jerusalem and the Old City, as a gross violation of international law and a major stumbling block to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Then, days later, US Secretary of State John Kerry delivered an address in which he proposed six principles for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and decried Israel’s “pernicious policy of settlement construction that is making peace impossible.”

In hindsight, Al-Monitor says Israel cannot help but wonder whether the various dates and actions have been coordinated. Specifically, the Jewish state is concerned that the Obama administration might use the Paris conference as a platform to determine and secure its own ideas for borders between Israel and the Palestinians at the UNSC.

 Haaretz reported last week that Israel is apprehensive that Kerry might present America’s plan for a two-state solution—including borders—at the conference. Should the proposal be adopted, it could serve as the framework for yet another anti-Israel resolution to be tabled at the UNSC meeting scheduled for January 17.

In the aftermath of last month’s UNSC resolution, a number of prominent Jewish groups in America have spoken out strongly against the prospective Middle East peace conference, calling it “ill-conceived, poorly timed and damaging.”

“Now is a time for serious reflection on how peace can best be achieved,” the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations wrote in a statement. “Not for another sham forum in which the usual one-sided outcomes against Israel are the likeliest result.”

“Israel has long sought direct talks; it is time for the Palestinian leaders to stop evading their responsibility and seeking to use international fora to avoid the only true path to a lasting peace,” the statement continued. Israeli leaders also made no secret of their beliefs regarding the upcoming get-together. “It is not a peace conference, but a tribunal against Israel that is intended to harm Israel,” said Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman. “We know the direction and the goal of the conference.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 04 January 2017)

Photo Credit: public domain

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
As the nations of the world plan to gather in France to formulate plans against God’s people, pray that there would be confusion among these leaders. Oh Lord, confound and bring to nothing the plots against Your people, descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Scripture

How lovely are your tents, O Jacob! Your dwellings, O Israel! Blessed is he who blesses you, and cursed is he who curses you.

 


- Numbers 24:5, 9b

Report: Netanyahu Concerned that UN Might Have More Anti-Israel Activity Up Its Sleeve

by Ilse Posselt

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PM Netanyahu

Tuesday, 03 January 2017 | It is no secret that the powers-that-be in Israel are looking forward to 20 January 2017. The date marks the departure of outgoing American President Barack Obama with whom Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has had a somewhat strained relationship, to make way for President-elect Donald Trump who is generally regarded as a great friend of Israel.

Yet much can happen in the 17 days that Obama is still in office and, according to The Times of Israel, Netanyahu has expressed fears that two particular events planned for the next few days might not bode well for the Jewish state. Moreover, judging by the happenings of the past week or so, the prime minister might have grounds for concern.

The first event is a United Nations Security Council meeting scheduled for January 17, 2017, three days before Obama bids the White House farewell. The Times of Israel reported that Netanyahu warned Israeli lawmakers on Sunday that the international body might have some additional anti-Israel action planned. Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, he said that the Jewish state is “in the midst of an event that has still not ended.”

Netanyahu’s concerns come after the UNSC adopted Resolution 2334, a document which condemns all Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, including those in east Jerusalem and the Old City, as a gross violation of international law and a major stumbling block to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Moreover, in a shocking deviation from its standing policy over the past decade, the Obama administration did not exercise its veto power at the UNSC, thus failing to protect Israel and allowing the resolution to pass.

Despite White House Deputy National Security Adviser, Ben Rhodes, giving his assurance that America would use its veto power regarding any further anti-Israel action the UN might have up its sleeve, Netanyahu appears to be unconvinced.

The second event that might prove to Israel’s disadvantage is the French-driven peace conference which is scheduled to take place in Paris on January 15, 2017, two days before the UNSC meeting, The Times of Israel reports. Following last month’s “shameful” resolution and the subsequent speech by US Secretary of State John Kerry in which he proposed six principles for peace talks and decried Israel’s “pernicious policy of settlement construction that is making peace impossible,” the Jewish state is concerned that the French peace push might be used as a platform to “further measures against it.”

The French initiative will see high-level representatives from some two dozen nations flocking to Paris to discuss ways of kick-starting the flailing peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. The Jewish state has, however, refused to attend claiming that a solution imposed from the outside never works and that a lasting peace arrangement will only come about as a result of bilateral negotiations without preconditions.

The Palestinians, on the other hand, fully support the French plan. In fact, last week Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas claimed that last month’s UNSC resolution “Paves the way for the international peace conference” in Paris. According to The Times of Israel, the Palestinians have pinned their hopes on the French forum establishing a framework for future talks with Israel and believe that the thrust of the conference will build on the momentum created by the resolution and Kerry’s speech.

The Times of Israel reports that Netanyahu did not specify which additional anti-Israel action he believes the UNSC might take. However, Israel’s Channel 10 news said last week that the prime minister is concerned that the Middle East Quartet—America, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union—might coordinate positions at the Paris summit and then return to the UNSC two days later as a united force to “cement these new parameters on Mideast peacemaking” three days before Obama leaves office.

Whether Netanyahu’s concerns will prove valid or not, only time will tell. In the meantime, the clock is ticking…

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 03 January 2016)

Photo Credit: PMO Webcast

Prayer Focus
Bring PM Netanyahu before the Lord praying for wisdom, courage, strength and boldness. Ask the Lord to direct his steps and give him peace in his heart so that he can hear God’s instructions for the way forward.

Scripture

Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths.


- Psalm 25:4

The Week in Review: Israel, the UN and the US

by Ilse Posselt

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Monday, 02 January 2017 | The final few days of 2016 proved tremendously turbulent for the State of Israel. The turmoil started on Friday, December 23, 2016 as Jews and Christians around the world prepared to celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas respectively.

Shortly before shutting their doors for the festive season, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted Resolution 2334, a document which condemns all Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, including those in east Jerusalem and the Old City, as “a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the vision of two States living side-by-side in peace and security.” According to the resolution, a Jewish presence in these parts has “no legal validity” and it thus demands that all Israel’s construction activities cease immediately.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office was quick to respond to the resolution, saying, “Israel rejects this shameful anti-Israel resolution at the UN (United Nations) and will not abide by its terms. At a time when the Security Council does nothing to stop the slaughter of half a million people in Syria, it disgracefully gangs up on the one true democracy in the Middle East, Israel, and calls the Western Wall “occupied territory.”

Israeli minister, Yuval Steinitz, added that the US had “abandoned Israel, its only ally in the Middle East” and noted that America’s behavior was hardly that of a friend.

Whereas the UN’s actions are certainly “shameful,” they hardly come as a surprise. Over the past few months, the international body has, after all, passed a number of anti-Israel resolutions, accusing the Jewish state of all kinds of evil and denying Jewish and Christian historical ties with the City of Gold, thus ultimately proclaiming Jerusalem a Muslim city and the Temple Mount an exclusively Islamic site.For its part, the United State’s reaction regarding the resolution and its subsequent behavior over the past week did, however, shock and surprise. In what The Times of Israel calls “a stunning departure from its policy over the last eight years,” the Obama administration failed to exercise its veto power at the UNSC, thus allowing the resolution to pass. Fourteen member states voted in its favor, none objected and one nation abstained—the US.

Moreover, America’s betrayal reportedly goes much further than abstaining from the vote. According to Israel, the US also played a role in helping to craft and push the resolution forward. Although the Obama administration has vehemently denied the accusations, an Egyptian newspaper last week published a transcript of a meeting between senior American officials and representatives from the Palestinian Authority (PA), in which the anti-Israel resolution was discussed and planned, The Israel Project reports.

Al-Youm Al-Sabea published the transcript of a meeting held in early December 2016 between American Secretary of State John Kerry and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat where Kerry allegedly assured Erekat that the US would work on the resolution with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu summed up the situation as follows, “The Obama administration not only failed to protect Israel against this gang-up at the UN, it colluded with it behind the scenes. Israel looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and with all our friends in Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, to negate the harmful effects of this absurd resolution.”

American Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power claimed that the decision to abstain from the vote springs from a long-standing position that “the settlements have no legal validity.” The statement does, however, ring hollow, seeing that every American administration over the past 35 years has protected Israel from such a vote at the UNSC by using its veto power.

In the week since the vote, a number of international media outlets have highlighted the prospective harm that such a resolution does to the Jewish state. According to The Washington Post opinion writer, Charles Krauthammer, few people have grasped the extent of the damage, saying that the resolution “gives immense legal ammunition to every boycotter, anti-Semite and zealous European prosecutor to penalize and punish Israelis.”

Hillel Neuer, head of the watchdog organization UN Watch, warned that the adverse effects of the resolution will likely still be evident for years to come and that it will make the prospect of peace less likely.

According to award-winning Arab-Israeli journalist, Khaled Abu Toameh, the resolution sent the following message to the Palestinians: “Forget about negotiating. Just pressure the international community to force Israel to surrender up all that you demand.”

Moreover, Toameh writes that a close associate of PA President Mahmoud Abbas alluded that the resolution presents a green light to move ahead not only on boycotting Israel, but also “to use violence against it, to ‘bolster the popular resistance’ against Israel—code for throwing stones and firebombs and carrying out stabbing and car-ramming attacks against Israelis.”

Toameh also claims that the vote served to embolden Palestinians to “pursue their narrative that Jews have no historical, religious or emotional attachment to Jerusalem or any other part of Israel.”

A mere four days after the UNSC vote, America dropped its second bombshell. In a comprehensive address on Wednesday, Kerry defended the decision to veto the UNSC resolution and continued to lay out six principles as part of a framework for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In his address, Kerry made no bones about his belief that the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria stood as the main stumbling block to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The construction of Jewish communities, he alleged, was being “strategically placed in locations that make two states impossible.”

Kerry did criticize Palestinian incitement and terrorism, but highlighted that the main cause for the lack of peace was Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. Kerry also claimed that expanding and growing these Jewish communities “has nothing to do with Israel’s security. If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic, it cannot be both, and it will never really be at peace.”

Netanyahu responded to Kerry’s address in a televised speech. The prime minister called Kerry’s remarks “a big disappointment” and condemned the “false moral equivalence” between a Jewish presence in the eternal, Jewish capital, Jerusalem, and Palestinian terror attacks.

While the end of 2016 brought some stormy days for the Jewish state, 2017 promises a silver lining to the dark clouds. Outgoing US President Barack Obama bids the White House farewell later this month to make way for President-elect Donald Trump who is considered a strong Israel supporter. In fact, hours before Kerry gave his inflammatory speech, Trump took to social media, saying that America “cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect.”

“Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!” Trump tweeted.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 02 January 2017)

Photo Credit: Ashernet/Amos Ben Gershom/GPO

Prayer Focus
Declare the Lord’s promise over the land of Israel and cry out for strong support for Israel from the new White House administration. Pray protection over the Jewish communities that have been established in Judea and Samaria.

Scripture

See, I have set the land before you; go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—to give to them and their descendants after them.

 


- Deuteronomy 1:8

Report: Hezbollah Remains Most Serious Conventional Threat to Israel  

by Itamar Eichner

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Tuesday, 03 January 2017 | Hezbollah remains the most serious conventional threat Israel is facing, more than Hamas or Iran, a report released Monday by the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) determined.

According to the report, submitted to President Rivlin by INSS head Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, Hezbollah has rockets that can reach any range, precision-guided missiles, attack and suicide drones, the best Russian-made air defense systems and ground units that are training to conquer Israeli towns and cities.

The INSS recommended to improve Israeli intelligence gathering in an effort to continue reducing the transfer of advanced arms to the terror organization and consequently reduce the chances of an escalation.

However, the potential for the eruption of a conflict with Hamas is higher than with Hezbollah or Iran.

Hamas, the INSS determined, may have been deterred after the 2014 Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, but it is continuing to build up its strength.

Furthermore, even if both sides are not interested in escalation, a conflict can break out over violent incidents or due to the deep social and economic frustration in the strip that will manifest itself in violence against Israel.

Regarding Iran, the INSS noted that while the nuclear agreement signed with world powers does give Israel a window of opportunity in the short term, Tehran is strengthening its conventional capabilities.

In the medium and long term, Iran will become much more dangerous and enjoy international legitimization for a broad and unrestrained nuclear program.

The INSS report details three significant challenges Israel will face on the long term: an enemy state having nuclear capabilities; the creation of a “one-state for two people” reality in Israel and the erosion of Israel’s international status.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Yadlin noted that a window of opportunity has opened that would allow Israel to handle these challenges: The incoming pro-Israel Trump administration in the US; Israel’s shared interests with the pragmatic Arab nations and adopting a bottom-up approach to dealing with the Palestinians, in cooperation with world and regional powers.

The INSS stressed that the direct conventional threat to Israel remained significantly low, but that paramilitary militias funded by Iran are growing stronger.

The institute determined that the United States remains committed to Israel’s security and said that negotiations over the military aid package showed the extent of this commitment, despite the tensions between the two leaders.

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published in Ynetnews on 02 January 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: yeowatzup/wikipedia

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord that Israel belongs to Him and He will protect and keep His eye on the land and her people, His treasured possession. Pray for Israel to keep their eyes and hearts focused on God.

Scripture

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

 


- Psalm 121:1-4

Fatah Celebrates 52nd Anniversary of First Terror Attack

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On its official Facebook page, Fatah presented its terror leaders as “martyrs” and swore to “continue our revolution until victory.”

Thursday, 05 January 2017 | Fatah, the political party led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, celebrated the 52nd anniversary of its first attack against Israel last week in a series of Facebook posts glorifying Palestinian terrorists.

The party’s official Facebook page commemorated the January 1, 1965 attack by “parading some of the movement’s role models, among them several ‘Martyrs,’ all of whom were either murderers or heads of murderous terror organizations,” Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported.

The page shared a banner that describes “a real Palestinian” as someone who is “self-sacrificing fighter.”

“Fatah embraces its people and praises the Martyrs,” the banner reads. “A people whose leaders are Martyrs will undoubtedly triumph with Allah’s help.”

The banner also features the images of Abu Ali Mustafa, the former secretary general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder of Hamas; Fathi Shaqaqi, the co-founder of Palestinian Islamic Jihad; Yasser Arafat, the founder of Fatah; Omar al-Qassem, a member of Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine; President Abbas and Dalal Mughrabi, a member of Fatah who led the 1978 Coastal Road massacre.

The massacre which left 38 Israeli civilians dead—including 13 children—and 71 more injured turned Mughrabi into a national hero among Palestinians with multiple schools, buildings and streets in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] bearing her name. Fatah glorified her as a “Bride of Palestine” in a separate post on December 27th. Her portrait was featured prominently during a Fatah youth parade marking the party’s anniversary in Bethlehem.

Fatah also posted a picture of Palestinian children marching in military fatigues that was taken during an anniversary parade at the Nahr al-Bared camp in northern Lebanon.

PMW reported that other terrorists honored by Fatah during its anniversary celebrations included:

“Arch-terrorist, Abu Jihad, who orchestrated attacks in which at least 125 Israelis were murdered; Marwan Barghouti, who is serving 5 life sentences for planning attacks that killed 5; Karim Younes, who kidnapped and killed an Israeli soldier; Raed Al-Karmi, who was responsible for attacks that killed 9 Israelis; Abu Ali Iyad, who was responsible for several terror attacks in 1966; Kamal Adwan, who was responsible for Fatah’s terrorist operations in Israel in the 1960’s and 1970’s and was a senior member of Black September.”

Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison for his role orchestrating murders during the Second Intifada in the early 2000s, received the most votes for the Fatah Central Committee during elections this past December. Polls consistently show that he is one of the most popular Palestinian political figures.

In 1988, columnist, Charles Krauthammer, observed the significance of the Fatah’s first terror attack on January 1, 1965:

“One of the tensest days of this round of violence occurred on Jan. 1 which Palestinians celebrate as the anniversary of the first attack on Israel by Fatah, Arafat’s leading faction of the PLO. It was 23 years ago that Fatah sent men to blow up the water works of Bet Shean. The anniversary was widely reported, but no one stopped to consider that 23 years ago was 1965.

“In 1965 there were no occupied territories. In 1965 Jordan ruled the West Bank, Egypt ruled Gaza and not a Jew disturbed Islam’s third holiest site [The Temple Mount], Jordan having rendered the Old City of Jerusalem judenrein (free of Jews). None of the current pretexts for Palestinian violence even existed when Fatah began its war against Israel. The issue then as now was not Israel’s occupation but Israel’s existence.”

The Six-Day War, during which Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip, wouldn’t take place until June 1967, two and a half years after Fatah’s first attack.

Fatah routinely glorifies terrorists and violence on its social media pages. While celebrating the passage of an anti-Israel resolution at the United Nations Security Council last month, Fatah’s Facebook page posted a graphic of a knife stabbing through the Arabic translation of the word “settlements,” and what appears as a pool of blood underneath.

The party celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015 with a graphic showing a Fatah flag billowing over a pile of skulls marked with Jewish stars.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 03 January 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Palestinian Media Watch/Fatah Facebook

Prayer Focus
Cry out against terrorism and its affect on communities and future generations. Pray for protection of our own children against terror recruitment. Ask God to shed light in the hearts of those who believe that martyrdom glorifies God.

Scripture

Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, Because of Your truth. … 9 O Israel, trust in the Lord; He is their help and their shield.


- Psalm 115:1, 9

A Painful Week in Israel

by Janet Aslin

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IDF soldiers train for service in Judea-Samaria

Friday, 06 January 2017 | The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was founded when the State of Israel was established in 1948. This tiny country is surrounded by often hostile neighbors who seek her annihilation. In most of our countries, college or university comes after graduation. Here, 18-year-old high school graduates head off to serve in the IDF. Nearly everyone has the shared experience of their army service.

That being said, this has been a painful week for Israelis. On Wednesday, IDF Sgt. Elon Azaria went on trial, accused of unlawfully killing terrorist Abed al Fatah al-Sharif. The case received global attention as the shooting that took place last March in Hebron was filmed by a bystander and distributed over social media. While most in the world looked on in judgment, it has been a time of self-examination here in Israel.

The facts: al-Sharif and another Palestinian Arab armed with knives stabbed an IDF soldier at his post in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron. Other soldiers responded, neutralizing one terrorist and wounding al-Sharif. What happened next depends on who you are listening to. Was al-Sharif still a threat to the soldiers or not? The Israeli court decided he was not and ruled that Azaria had acted improperly.

The battles Israel faces today are not clear-cut. IDF soldiers, especially in Judea and Samaria, are potential targets for terrorists by car rammings, knife stabbings or just plain rock throwing. Their assailants are mostly men but they can also be women. Split-second judgments are the norm for these young men and women who stand guard over the border crossings and hot spots in the Land. They must be on constant alert.

And the standards these young soldiers are held to are very high. Once the immediate danger posed by the terrorist has been dealt with, the wounded are cared for—terrorists included. At the time of the shooting, IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Almoz said, “As far as the orders given to soldiers are concerned, the moment terrorists are neutralized, soldiers are supposed to immediately give medical assistance to the wounded, including the terrorists. This is the IDF, these are the values of the IDF, and this is not up for interpretation. We are unambiguous about this.”

Israel depends upon the young men and women who are serving in the IDF. In fact, Israel’s very life rests in its ability to defend itself. As it seeks to do so, the nation is often vilified in global media with half-truths and outright lies. The Azaria case is a sad one. But it demonstrates the razor-edge line that IDF soldiers are forced to walk. In split-seconds, life or death decisions must be made, often by young men and women barely out of high school. Was Sgt. Azaria guilty of manslaughter? The court decided that he was. It has been a painful week for Israelis.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 06 January 2017)

Photo Credit: IDF blog

Prayer Focus
Pray for the brave young men and women who defend Israel on a daily basis. Ask God to bless them with unfailing courage, to protect them in the same way they protect us and for His guidance in every situation they face.

Scripture

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

 


- Isaiah 41:10

IDF to Invest Billions in Cyber Operations

by Yoav Zitun

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Cyber soldiers monitoring computer systems (illustrative)

Monday, 02 January 2017 | IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot authorized over the weekend the continuation of military’s strengthening of its cyber operations with the army investing billions of shekels in the coming years, according to a senior military officer.

According to the recommendations that Eisenkot approved, the Computer Service Directorate (CSD) will continue to engage in cyber defense in the coming years, and the Military Intelligence Directorate will continue to collect data and wage cyber warfare. However, it was decided to add various IDF [Israel Defense Forces] cyber units to the CSD and to strengthen those already existing in the Manpower Directorate.

A senior IDF officer said on Sunday that, “for the first time in the multi-year Gideon project,” which began last year, “the IDF will invest billions of shekels in cyber matters. We are currently writing the operating concept of the cyber affairs, establishing an entity of the General Staff to give the cyber perspective for all operational activity and the significance of cyber matters for the regional commands and for the air, land and sea forces. We are conducting war games and simulations and are learning from foreign countries on the subject. Our cooperation with other armies has principally raised two issues: terrorism and cyber affairs.”

According to that officer, it was decided to take measured steps on the latter in the IDF, but not yet to establish a joint cyber command that would unify all the different operations in the matters of cyber intelligence, warfare and defense which had been considered in the past.

The officer added, “We are learning the cyber concepts that are sometimes different from military concepts. We are happy with the Cyber Defense Brigade that we’ve set up in the Computer Service Directorate. We’ll maintain the superiority that we have in the cyber collection field which produces dividends for the State of Israel and assists us.”

It was also decided to unify between the CSD units that are responsible for developing operational software and those that are supposed to provide cyber defense.

“We want to develop better operational thinking than in the past for the IDF’s offensive capabilities,” the officer explained. “We are learning from the mistakes of other countries in cyber affairs and it was therefore decided not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There is a real threat to our cyber defense; we’re likely to be harmed so we’re investing in defense first.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 01 January 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDF blog

Prayer Focus
Ask the Lord’s protection over the development of cyber security and operations in the IDF. Pray for successful programs that will strengthen and maintain safety and security in the holy land.

Scripture

Blessed be the Lord my Rock, Who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.


- Psalm 144:1

Israel Sees the Rainiest December Since 1992

by Yaron Druckman

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Double rainbow over the Dead Sea

Tuesday, 03 January 2017 | Last month was the rainiest December Israel has seen since 1992 shown by the data released by the Israel Meteorological Service on Sunday.

The increased rainfall in December offset the fairly dry November, leading to above-average rainfall levels in northern and central Israel.

December 2016 saw one significant rain spell at the beginning of the month. Then, starting the 12th and until the 31st, there was a long rain spell with short breaks.

Mitzpe Harashim, north of Karmiel, saw the most rainfall, with no less than 437mm [17.2 in] of rain during the month. In second place comes Kibbutz Ramat HaShofet in the Menashe Heights that experienced 430mm [17 in] of rain. In third place was Kibbutz Merom Golan in the Golan Heights which had 364mm [14 in] of rain. Other notable places are the settlement of Kedumim in the Samaria region where 324mm [12.7 in] of rain fell, Safed where 313mm [12.3 in] of rain fell and Kibbutz Nahshonim, south of Rosh HaAin which saw 301mm [11.8 in] of rain.

Among the large cities, Haifa was in the lead with 322mm [12.6 in] of rain, followed by HaKfar HaYarok near Tel Aviv where 247mm [9.7 in] were measured. Jerusalem saw 170mm [6.7 in] of rain, while Be’er Sheva only had 33mm [1.3 in]. The southernmost city of Eilat had the least amount of rain, 2mm [.08 in].

Since the beginning of the rainy season, Jerusalem saw 177mm [6.9 in] of rain, Tel Aviv had 253mm [10 in] and Haifa had 344mm [13.5].

Northern Israel and the coastal plains saw rainfall that was about 10-40% above average for this time period. The central Israel mountains saw rainfall closer to the average while the southern coastal plains had rainfall 20-30% below average. The northern Negev had 30% below average of rainfall while the central Negev and south of it rainfall was close to the average.

December was also colder than average all across the country and was the coldest since 1994. During the day, temperatures were lower by 2.5-3 degrees Celsius from the average in the northern mountains and valleys and 2-2.5 degrees below average in the coastal plain, the Negev and central Israel mountains. During the night, it was 1.5-2.5 degrees Celsius below average in the coastal plain and the northern valleys.

Moderate rise in Kinneret level

The Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), a major freshwater source in Israel, saw a moderate rise in its water level during December.

“The rainfall in December was indeed good, but the flow of water to the Kinneret wasn’t particularly impressive due to the shortage of the last three years,” said Dr. Doron Merkel, the head of the Kinneret Department at the Israel Water Authority.

“Some of the rain went to wetting the ground rather than contributing to water flow, and we had a moderate rise of the level, 24 cm [9.4 in] in 2016,” Dr. Merkel said. “It’s an important increase, but it’s too slow.”

How long before the Kinneret reaches an acceptable level?

“We’re still at a very low level, 60cm [23.6 in] below the Lower Red Line. We’re missing more than four meters [13 feet] to reach the Upper Red Line. So for the Kinneret, December did not bring salvation with it. The question is how the winter continues. If the positive trend continues and we see more rainfall and big storms in the north rather than in the center and in the south, then we’ll see a nice rise in the water level. But if the winter changes and we don’t see significant rainstorms, we’ll have a big problem.”

Dr. Merkel noted that the problem does not merely lie in the low water level, but also in the Kinneret’s water quality.

“It’s important to understand that the Kinneret must remain a strategic water source for the State of Israel,” he said. “We can’t allow ourselves, despite the fact we have desalinization, to lose the Kinneret as a water source so it’s important to us at the Water Authority to protect the Kinneret and that is what we’re doing. We bring more water from the north and take actions to lower the salinity of the water or at least limit the rise in salinity and stabilize the Kinneret’s ecological system.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 02 January 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Isranet

Prayer Focus
Offer thanksgiving for the rain God sent over the land of Israel and offer petition for more rain that will increase the level of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) with the much needed four meters (13 feet) of water.

Scripture

But as for me, I would seek God, and to God I would commit my cause—Who does great things, and unsearchable, marvelous things without number. He gives rain on the earth, and sends waters on the fields.

 


- Job 5:8-10

Hikers Find Important Engravings in a Water Cistern

by Edgar Asher

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Seven-branch menorah found
in water cistern

Wednesday, 04 January 2017 | A rare and intriguing discovery was revealed this weekend by hikers exploring a water cistern in the Judean Shephelah (west, south-west of Jerusalem). On the walls of the cistern were hewn a Menorah and a Cross.

Hiker Iddo Meroz standing next to key engraved into wall of cave (water cistern) in the Judean Shephelah

Last weekend touring enthusiasts, Mickey Barkal, Sefi Givoni and Ido Meroz who are members of the Israel Caving Club went out to visit hidden caves in the Judean Shephelah. According to hiker Ido Meroz, “We heard there are interesting caves in the region. We began to peer into them, and that’s how we came to this cave which is extremely impressive with rock-carved niches and engravings on the wall. Just before we were about to return we suddenly noticed an engraving that at first glance seemed to be a menorah. When we realized this is an ancient depiction of a menorah, we became very excited. Its appearance was quite distinct. We left the cave and reported the discovery to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).”

Engraved cross found next to
7-branch menorah

The menorah engraved on the wall of the cave has a base with three feet, and it evidently portrays the menorah that stood in the Temple during the Second Temple period. A cross was engraved near the menorah. Another engraving was found on the side of the cave which seems to resemble a type of key that is characteristic of antiquity, as well as other engravings that were noted, some of which have not yet been identified. Alongside the cistern is a columbarium with dozens of niches that were used to raise doves in antiquity. During the Second Temple period doves were used as part of the sacrificial rites in the Temple.

According to Sa’ar Ganor, IAA Ashkelon District Archaeologist, “There are buildings and hiding refuges from the time of the Bar Kokhba uprising (second century AD) at the site and buildings that date to the Byzantine period. It is rare to find a wall engraving of a menorah, and this exciting discovery which was symbolically revealed during the Hanukkah holiday substantiates the scientific research regarding the Jewish nature of the settlement during the Second Temple period.”  Ganor added, “The menorah was probably etched in the cistern after the water installation was hewn in the bedrock—maybe by inhabitants of the Jewish settlement that was situated there during the Second Temple period and the time of Bar Kokhba—and the cross was etched later on during the Byzantine period, most likely in the fourth century AD.”

The menorah is a distinctly Jewish symbol of the Second Temple period. To date, only two engravings of menorahs are known in the region of the Judean Shephelah: one on an oil press at Beit Loya where the same style menorah is depicted and the other in a burial complex in the vicinity of Bet Guvrin. Other menorahs are portrayed on clay lamps from Beit Natif.

In light of this interesting discovery which adds another important tier to the archaeological information and knowledge about the region, the IAA will continue to study the site whose exact location was not given in order to protect it.

The hikers who discovered the engravings will receive a good citizenship certificate and will be invited to participate in the coming archaeological surveys that the IAA will conduct in the Judean Shephelah.

Source: (Ashernet originally published this article on 02 January 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Ashernet/IAA

Prayer Focus
Rejoice as the stones cry out with evidence of the history of the Jewish people in the land of Israel. Thank the Lord for this exciting discovery and pray that more adventurers will bless Israel with magnificent finds like these.

Scripture

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.

 


- Isaiah 40:8

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