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Friday, January 06 2023

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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.

Israel’s New Government Takes the Reins

by JNS

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The new Israeli government, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, poses for a group photo at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.

Monday, 2 January 2023 | Members of Israel’s new government on Sunday assumed control over their various ministries following numerous handover ceremonies in Jerusalem.

The ministers were officially sworn in during a Knesset [Parliament] session on Thursday.

Notable examples included former IDF [Israel Defense Forces] Maj. Gen. (res.) Yoav Galant, who took over the Defense Ministry from Benny Gantz, and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who took the reins from Omer Barlev.

“I take upon myself the role of defense minister out of a longstanding commitment to Israel’s security and a deep understanding of the importance of the duties,” Galant said during the ceremony.

“We will fight terror without compromise,” he added, and vowed to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Earlier in the day, Ben-Gvir held his first official meeting with Israel Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai, who briefed the new minister on recent developments.

Newly minted Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich held a meeting with his immediate predecessor Avigdor Liberman, and vowed to work on behalf of every Israeli citizen.

“I’m not sure that all of our steps will be popular, but hopefully they will prove to be correct over time,” said Smotrich.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Yariv Levin held a tête-à-tête [face-to-face] with his predecessor Gideon Sa’ar, although no official handover ceremony took place. Levin has been tasked with implementing the coalition’s judicial reform, which includes a stated goal to legislate an “override clause” that would diminish the Supreme Court’s ability to strike down laws passed by the Knesset.

Levin was also slated to meet with Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, amid reports that the new government is seeking to split her existing role into two separate positions.

Tourism Minister Haim Katz promised to channel resources to promote tourism in previously neglected regions.

“We will invest in areas that may not have received sufficient support to date. For example, our local Tuscany in Judea and Samaria,” Katz said, adding: “We will work to improve infrastructure and increase the supply of accommodation options. Every Israeli family should be able to enjoy the beauty of our country and find a place to stay that suits their personal budget.”

Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu already held his first Cabinet meeting on Thursday, saying he was “excited” by the “great trust” that the people of Israel have given his government.

He reiterated his four main goals: blocking Iran [from achieving a nuclear weapon]; restoring security and governance; addressing the cost of living and housing problem; and expanding the “circle of peace.”

He called his coalition consisting of his Likud Party, the Religious Zionism Party, Otzma Yehudit, Noam, Shas and United Torah Judaism a “united government” with a “unified vision and goal.”

“We have already brought to Israel the ‘Golden Age’—the best years in its history. Now we will take Israel to new heights and we will do so as a responsible and dedicated government that will fulfill its term,” Netanyahu said.

“It is time to roll up our sleeves and get to work,” the leader of the Jewish state added.

Netanyahu on Sunday held his first working meeting with Mossad [Israeli intelligence agency] chief David Barnea.

The prime minister was updated on the full range of the agency’s operational and intelligence matters in general and on the Iranian issue in particular.

Source: (Excerpt from article originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on January 1, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Yonatan SIndel/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray fervently for Prime Minister Netanyahu and the new coalition government. Cry out to the Lord for an abundance of His wisdom as they deal with difficult and complex domestic, international and security issues. Also pray for each one of the prime minister’s four main goals. Also beseech the Lord that each member of the coalition will be committed to a strong and united Israel and a just government that is truly working on behalf of every Israeli citizen.

Scripture

To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.


- Proverbs 21:3

Israel Pledges Commitment to Status Quo on Temple Mount

by JNS

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the weekly Cabinet meeting.

Wednesday, 4 January 2023 | “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is committed to strictly maintaining the status quo, without changes, on the Temple Mount,” according to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday.

The prime minister denied assertions that National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir‘s Tuesday morning visit to the holy site in Jerusalem’s Old City constituted a change in the understandings governing activities there.

“Under the status quo, ministers have gone up to the Temple Mount in recent years, including [then-]Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan; therefore, the claim that a change has been made in the status quo is without foundation,” noted Netanyahu.

“We will not be dictated to by Hamas,” the prime minister added, referring to threats of violence by the Gaza-based terror group, which had vowed to “ignite the region” if the minister visited Judaism’s holiest site.

Ben-Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount was his first since assuming his post last week.

“The Temple Mount is the most important place for the people of Israel,” he said during his visit, adding, “We maintain the freedom of movement for Muslims and Christians, but Jews also go up to the site, and those who make threats must be dealt with with an iron fist.”

Ben-Gvir met on Monday night with Netanyahu, following which reports surfaced that the prospective Temple Mount visit would be delayed, if not nixed.

Netanyahu’s Likud Party denied that the prime minister had intervened or requested that Ben-Gvir postpone his visit.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on January 3, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Haim Zach/GPO/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for the Lord’s will to be done on the Temple Mount. Pray that Israelis who want to visit will be safe as they do so and cry out to Him for peace to reign at this site where the Temple built by King Solomon once stood as a house of prayer for all nations.

Scripture

For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.


- Isaiah 56:7b

Some 70,000 Jewish People from 95 Countries Immigrated to Israel in 2022

by JNS

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New immigrants to Israel dance in Jerusalem.

Friday, 23 December 2022 | Some 70,000 people from 95 different countries immigrated to Israel in 2022 with the assistance of the Jewish Agency for Israel, in cooperation with the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration.

It was the most olim [immigrants to Israel] in 23 years and a dramatic increase from 2021, when about 28,600 immigrants arrived in the country.

Jewish Agency data for the period between January 1 and December 1, 2022, shows that 37,364 olim arrived from Russia; 14,680 from Ukraine; 3,500 from North America, with assistance from Nefesh B’Nefesh; 2,049 from France; 1,993 from Belarus; 1,498 from Ethiopia as part of Operation Tzur Israel; 985 from Argentina; 526 from Great Britain; 426 from South Africa; and 356 from Brazil. Final totals for 2022 will be available after the year concludes.

Approximately 27% (about 19,000) of this year’s olim are young people between the ages of 18 and 35, who will boost Israeli society and the economy, including professionals in fields where there is a labor shortage in Israel such as medicine, engineering and education. Around 24% (16,500) of the olim are ages 0–17; 22% are between 36 and 50 years old; 14% are aged 51-64; and 13% are 65 and over.

“It was a dramatic year that emphasized the value of mutual responsibility among the Jewish people and during which the Jewish Agency helped strengthen the resilience of Jewish communities, empowered weaker populations in Israel, brought tens of thousands of olim, saved lives from all over Ukraine and brought them to a safe harbor in Israel,” said Jewish Agency Chairman Maj. Gen. (res.) Doron Almog.

Aliyah [immigration to Israel] is of existential importance to the State of Israel, both at the practical and moral level. It expresses the nature of Israel as the state of the entire Jewish people and the strategic partnership between Israel and world Jewry. The tens of thousands of olim who came to Israel this year will help build the resilience of Israeli society and will be a major growth engine for the Israeli economy,” he added.

The Jewish Agency’s operation to rescue Ukrainian Jews following Russia’s invasion in February was unprecedented in its scope. The organization opened centers to receive the wave of Jewish refugees and provide them with warm beds, meals, medical care and activities for children.

A total of 290,000 meals were distributed in these centers and thousands of the refugees, including hundreds of seniors and Holocaust survivors, were brought to Israel on rescue flights. Emergency grants were also transferred to strengthen Jewish communities within Ukraine, and 354 tons of personal equipment was collected in Israel and distributed to refugees in Ukraine.

In light of the surge in arrivals, the Jewish Agency is preparing to operate a new model of “open absorption centers” where young olim will live in the same apartment building and receive community support services. The Jewish Agency will also open a first-of-its-kind center for lone soldiers (those without family members living in Israel who can help them) in Tel Aviv as part of the Wings program.

The program, a joint initiative of the Jewish Agency, the Merage Foundation, the Spirit of Israel social action platform and Keren Hayesod, provided a supportive framework for 2,200 lone soldiers this year—from those preparing for military service to those who have been discharged and are establishing their lives as civilians.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on December 22, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Zug Productions for the Jewish Agency.

Prayer Focus
Praise God for the 70,000 people who made aliyah in 2022. Thank Him for bringing them safely back to their ancient homeland and pray that their transition into Israeli society will be smooth and without roadblocks. Pray for those who have left loved ones behind and for those who came fleeing war, persecution or anti-Semitism. Also pray for the thousands more around the world who long to make Israel their home. Pray that Bridges for Peace will have ample resources and volunteers as we continue to help meet the needs of these new Israeli citizens and those who will come in 2023.

Scripture

“I will bring back the captives of My people Israel…I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them,” says the LORD your God.


- Amos 9:14a–15

Netanyahu: Israel will Oppose a Return to the Nuclear Deal with Iran

by Kate Norman

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A map showing the main sites of Iran’s nuclear program

Wednesday, 4 January 2023 | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the nuclear deal with Iran is still a possibility and pledged to openly oppose another attempt to revive the agreement.

Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Netanyahu vowed: “We will work openly, from a position of strength, in the international arena against a return to the nuclear agreement, not only in talks with leaders behind closed doors but strongly and openly in the sphere of global opinion, which is now aware of the true dangers posed by Iran—the Iranian regime that is killing innocent citizens in and beyond Iran.”

This summer the United States and Iran appeared to be very close to reviving the 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, when the two nations swapped demands in order to resuscitate the agreement. However, Washington reportedly deemed Tehran’s demands to be unacceptable, and talks broke down yet again.

Pair that with the months-long popular protests of the people of Iran against the regime. The protests have received a harsh crackdown by the regime, with an estimated hundreds of people being executed by the government and thousands more arrested. The crackdown has received worldwide condemnation and reportedly has been another nail in the coffin of the nuclear deal.

The agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), would see world powers lift sanctions against the regime in Tehran in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear development program.

However, according to Netanyahu’s statement yesterday, a return to the JCPOA is not totally out of the question.

“Unfortunately, in contrast to the prevailing opinion that this dangerous nuclear option has disappeared from the agenda following recent events in Iran, I think that this possibility has not yet finally disappeared from the agenda,” Netanyahu said.

“Therefore, we will do everything to prevent the return to this bad agreement which is leading to a nuclear Iran under international auspices,” the prime minister vowed.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 4, 2023)

Photo Credit: Yagasi, translation of the original work by Sémhur/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for Israeli leadership as they take a firm stand in the international arena against the JCPOA. Ask the Lord for a true awakening in the nations to the truth of Iran’s intentions and for the success of Israel’s efforts to quash this “bad agreement” once and for all.

Scripture

“For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.”


- Deuteronomy 20:4 ESV

Report: Oman Criminalizes Ties with Israel

by Ilse Strauss

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Map of Oman

Thursday, 5 January 2023 | In the two years since the Abraham Accords were inked, warmish ties between Israel and Oman caused rife speculation that the Sultanate might be next to follow in the footsteps of Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to join the circle of peace with the Jewish state. Yet all hopes of a reconciliation were dashed last week when the parliament passed a vote to criminalize any relations, ties or interactions with “the Zionist entity,” the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported.

Although details pertaining to the ruling remain sparse, the law appears to be all-encompassing. It includes “severing any economic, sports or cultural relations and prohibiting dealing in any way or means, whether it was a real meeting, an electronic meeting or something else,” Oman’s WAF news agency, quoted in JTA, reported Yaqoub Al-Harithi, vice president of the Omani parliament, as saying.

In other words, the decree prohibits all contact with any Israeli by all means, whether in person or online. What this boils down to is that an Omani having coffee with an Israeli anywhere in the world or befriending or adding an Israeli on social media now constitutes a crime punishable by law.

The decision comes as a bit of an about-face. In the years leading up the Abraham Accords, Israel’s relationship with Oman was considered less frosty than with its neighbors. Although the Sultanate adhered to a Royal Decree that banned all “interaction with the Zionist entity for private and public figures,” Oman has never faced Israel on the battlefield and Muscat and Jerusalem even established unofficial trade relations in the early 2000s, JTA explains.

Moreover, between 1994 and 2018, the former ruler Sultan Qaboos Bin Said even invited three Israeli prime ministers to his country, with Yitzhak Rabin’s trip in the early 1990s making history of the first Israeli prime minister to visit a Gulf nation.

With all the factors pointing in a pro-Israel direction, why the turnaround? In a word: Iran.

According to JTA, Qaboos’s death in 2020 marked a shift in foreign policy, with newly appointed Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq choosing to favor cozying up to Tehran instead of Jerusalem.

Does this mark the end of Arab nations normalizing ties with Israel? Hopefully not. With Oman out of the running, Indonesia, Mauritania and Saudi Arabia have been mentioned as potential future peace partners. Yet as unfolding events have frequently proven, in the Middle East, anything is possible and tides—and sentiments—can change as swiftly as the shifting desert sands.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 5, 2023)

Photo Credit: BurmeseDays/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that this action on the part of the government of Oman will not be a harbinger of things to come. Ask the Lord for wisdom and guidance as Israel works to expand its number of peace partners in the Arab world. Also cry out to Him that Iran’s influence will decrease as Israel’s increases.

Scripture

“The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face…”


- Deuteronomy 28:7a

Rocket Fire from Gaza Falls Short, Lands in Strip

by Ilse Strauss

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A view of the Gaza security fence from kibbutz Kfar Aza

Wednesday, 4 January 2023 | Last night, three days into the new year, Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip launched the first rocket of 2023 on Israel. The projectile did not hit its target though. Instead, it fell short and struck somewhere in the densely populated coastal enclave.

Rocket sirens did not scream through the Israeli communities dotting the Gaza border area because defense systems calculated that it would not make it into the Jewish state. Residents did, however, report hearing a large explosion as the rocket hit the Strip.

Neither Hamas nor Palestinian Islamic Jihad—or any of the Strip’s smaller terror factions—has claimed responsibility. However, the attack comes as tensions between Israel and the Palestinians are running high. Hours before the launch, newly appointed National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir paid a visit to the flashpoint Temple Mount site, the spot where the First and the Second Temples once stood—and the holiest site in Judaism—and the spot where the Al Aqsa Mosque currently stands—and the third most holy site in Islam.

In the run-up to Ben-Gvir’s planned trip, Hamas warned that a visit by an Israeli lawmaker to the spot Muslims vehemently claim as their own while denying any Jewish connection would unleash anarchy in the region and vowed retaliation. The terror group slammed the visit as a “crime” and “Zionist aggression against Muslim holy sites by a fascist minister.”

However, Ben-Gvir’s visit yesterday morning came and went without incident—until last night’s rocket fire.

Israel generally responds to rocket fire with airstrikes, yet it rarely does so for rockets that do not cross into Israeli territory.

Following the two-day Operation Breaking Dawn in August 2022 that saw hundreds of Israeli airstrikes terror targets in Gaza in answer to thousands of Palestinian rockets raining down on southern Israel, the usually tense border area has been curiously quiet.

Ironically, the last rocket from the coastal enclave fired on Israel came exactly one month ago on December 3.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 4, 2023)

Photo Credit: Lora Pridgen/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord that the rockets fired from Gaza did not reach their intended targets. Pray that this will always to be the case and cry out to the Lord for calm to continue to reign along the border.

Scripture

The Lord will give strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.


- Psalm 29:11 NASB

Report: UN Condemns Israel More than all other Countries Combined

by Ilse Strauss

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Flags of member nations line the approach to this UN building in Geneva.

Tuesday, 3 January 2023 | Over the course of 2022, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) condemned Israel more times than it did all the other countries in the world combined, UN Watch revealed.

According to a calculation by the pro-Israel monitoring group, UNGA passed 28 resolutions rapping a specific nation across the knuckles for behavior deemed harmful or detrimental to its own population or its neighbors. Fifteen of these resolutions criticized Israel, while only 13 condemned various countries in the rest of the world.

Russia was the focus of six of these 13 motions, while Afghanistan, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Syria and the United States received one citation each.

Let’s put matters into perspective. In 2022, Russia invaded a sovereign neighbor, resulting in thousands of civilian deaths and the worst refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. Iran cracked down on innocent civilians protesting inhuman treatment by the regime, imprisoning, torturing and executing its own people for something as simple as a woman refusing to cover her hair. Women in Afghanistan continue to be subjected to a future without education, worth or a voice. And in Syria, the Butcher of Damascus [President Bashar Assad] continues to slaughter his people with impunity. Then there are human rights violations in countries like Algeria, China, Cuba, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Venezuela and Vietnam.

But despite these well-documented atrocities, UNGA felt that Israel was the main perpetrator of evil over the course of the past twelve months and thus focused its full attention on vilifying the only democracy in the Middle East.

2022 was no exception. UN Watch pointed out that the world body has a long history of anti-Israel bias, with its voting record standing as irrefutable proof of its fixation on condemning the Jewish state. Since 2015, UNGA has passed 140 resolutions against Israel, while adopting a scant 68 motions against all other countries in the world combined. Moreover, between 2006 and 2022, the UN Human Rights Council has adopted 99 resolutions against Israel. This stands in stark contrast to the 41 motions against Syria, 13 against Iran, 4 against Russia and 3 against Venezuela.

UN Watch’s tally comes hot on the heels of the latest anti-Israel resolution UNGA passed on Friday. The motion, entitled “Israeli practices and settlement activities affecting the rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories,” approved a call led by the Palestinians for the International Court of Justice to pass an opinion on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

With such a track record, is it any wonder that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls the UN a “circus of the absurd?”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 3, 2023)

Photo Credit: Henry Mühlpfordt/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that those UN members whose goal it is to delegitimize Israel will be exposed as the anti-Semites that they are. Pray that Israel’s “friends” among the nations will stand up and make their voices heard against the outrageous anti-Israel bigotry that reigns in that international body. Also pray that those whose habit it is to abstain will have the courage to stand up for what is right.

Scripture

Let all those who hate Zion be put to shame and turned back.


- Psalm 129:5

IDF Annual Review Shows Spike in Judea and Samaria-based Terror in 2022

by Yoav Zitun ~ Ynet

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YAMAS, a counterterrorism unit of the Israel Border Police, during a training exercise.

Monday, 2 January 2023 | The Israeli military’s annual review shows a record number of terror activities that emanated from the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] in 2022.

According to the report, 285 shooting attacks occurred in the West Bank over the past year, compared to 61 in 2021 and 31 in 2020. Some 31 people lost their lives in Palestinian terror attacks in 2022.

In order to tackle the growing trend of violence in the West Bank, 41 reserve battalions were called up this year, and the number is expected to increase in 2023.

Far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir is set to claim authority over 16 Border Police companies in the West Bank, which were previously under [the] IDF’s [Israel Defense Forces’] responsibility as part of his position as public security minister.

This reform will require the IDF to reinforce its presence in the region, following a year in which it already was employing thousands of reserves from 41 battalions through emergency drafts to maintain order.

Not including the additions that will have to be made after Ben-Gvir’s policies are put in place, the upcoming year is set to see at least 66 reserve battalions being called up to the West Bank. Aside from reinforcing the security in the area, the reserves would allow for the active duty soldiers to train and prepare for conflicts on other fronts.

Throughout 2022, NIS 2.8 million [US $795,986] of terror money was confiscated in the territory of the Palestinian Authority [PA], as opposed to [NIS] 11.3 million [US $3,212,375] in 2021.

Additionally, 2,672 Palestinians were arrested by security forces, in comparison to 2,800 in 2021 and 2,000 and 2020.

Among the 31 Israelis who lost their lives to Palestinian terrorism, 24 of them were civilians, in comparison to four civilian deaths in 2021 and three in 2020.

This year, the IDF worked to fix and secure 16 of the 700 kilometers [435 mi.] of the perimeter fence around the West Bank, at a cost of NIS 40 million [US $11,371,240].

In the coming months, this project is expected to expand to an additional 40 kilometers [25 mi.] and monitors are set to be installed into the fence, which will reduce the number of troops necessary to guard it.

In addition, in 2022 the IDF managed to reduce the number of illegal entrances to Israel from some 80,000 weekly to only several hundred.

On the Gazan front, however, things have been much quieter this year.

The IDF attacked 257 targets in the Hamas-controlled enclave throughout 2022, most of which were during [the] last Gaza war, dubbed Operation Breaking Dawn in August.

According to the IDF data, the number of rockets that were launched from Gaza in the months following Operation Breaking Dawn stands at only three—a record low number in comparison to periods following similar operations in the past.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on December 29, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Natti Shochat, Israeli Border Guard/Israel Police/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for the battalions that will be called up to curb the growing violence in Judea and Samaria in 2023. Thank Him for the success that these groups have had in 2022. Ask the Lord for even greater success in the year to come. Thank Him for His protection over every soldier and pray that there will be no loss of life in 2023.

Scripture

Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle—my lovingkindness and my fortress, my high tower and my deliverer, my shield and the One in whom I take refuge, who subdues my people under me.


- Psalm 144:1–2

US Fighter Jets Stationed at Southern Israeli Airbase

by Kate Norman

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US Air Force Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, left, and IDF Commander of the Aerial Defense Array Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich during exercise Juniper Cobra in 2018

Thursday, 5 January 2023 | The United States Air Force stationed six fighter jets at Israel’s Nevatim Airbase in southern Israel, according to the Israeli Air Force (IAF). From there, the US and Israeli jets reportedly have been conducting joint drills.

The six F-15 fighter jets from the US Air Force’s Central Command arrived at the base near Beersheva on Monday as part of Central Command’s “agile combat employment,” the Times of Israel reported, in which US aircraft are stationed around the world in allied countries, rather than just at main American international bases.

This enables the US Air Force to defend itself better and allows for quicker response time, the Times of Israel reported, citing American defense officials.

The joint drills with the six American F-15 fighter jets along with Israel’s F-35 fighter jets and Gulfstream G550 intelligence-gathering planes will simulate strikes deep into enemy territory, according to the IAF. The Jerusalem Post noted that this is likely a warning to Iran amid Tehran’s escalating nuclear development program.

Talks between Iran and world powers to revive the 2015 nuclear deal are all but dead in the water amid a stalemate in negotiations and the ongoing anti-regime protests in Iran, which have been met with a harsh crackdown on protestors.

Israel has vehemently rejected a return to the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), arguing that it does too little too late to thwart Iran’s race to the nuclear bomb.

And while US President Joe Biden and his administration prefer a diplomatic approach over a military one to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, Israel’s top military brass have hinted over the years that the Jewish state’s military is preparing to take matters into its own hands to foil Iran’s nuclear development program.

Biden and his top officials have also acknowledged that the US is willing to resort to military options if diplomacy fails, although it is unknown exactly what Washington’s red line is, as Iran has openly and progressively violated its restrictions under the JCPOA over the past few years.

The US fighter jets being stationed in southern Israel and conducting joint drills with Israeli planes is likely a signal, however, that Iran is inching closer to that red line.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 5, 2023)

Photo Credit: Chief Petty Officer Michael McNabb/US Navy/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the important military partnership between Israel and the United States. Pray that their joint drills in the region will not only strengthen both militaries but will also serve as a deterrent to those who would consider an attack on either nation.

Scripture

Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of you.


- Deuteronomy 28:10

Israel’s Population Nears 10 Million as 2022 Wraps Up

by Yaron Druckman ~ Ynet

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Israel’s flag

Monday, 2 January 2023 | Israel’s population reached 9,656,000, said a report published Thursday by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) ahead of the new year.

According to the CBS, 7,106,000 residents of the state are Jews (about 73.6% of the population), 2,037,000 are Arabs (about 21.1%), and 513,000 (5.3%) are defined as other—i.e. Christians who are not Arabs, different religions and people without religious classification in the Interior Ministry.

Figures show that during 2022 the population of Israel increased by 2.2%, divided into 62% of newborns and 38% of people who immigrated to the state.

The population growth rate rose compared to 2021 (at the time, the growth rate was 1.8%), mainly due to the high number of immigrants, as opposed to the previous year.

In 2022, some 178,000 babies were born in Israel (74.8% to Jewish mothers, 23.8% to Arabs and 1.4% to others) and 73,000 people made aliyah [immigrated to Israel].

The major countries from which immigrants arrived this year were: Russia (58.1%), Ukraine (21.3%), the United States (4.1%) and France (3.2%). In comparison, in 2021, only about 25,000 people made aliyah.

In 2022, about 51,700 people died. The number of deceased was said to be similar to the number in 2021 and higher than in 2020 (48,800), the year the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published by Ynetnews on December 29, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Daniel Kirchhevel/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Thank God for these statistics that reflect the population growth in Israel. Thank Him that Israel’s presence in the region continues to increase and praise Him that the Jewish birthrate continues to outpace other groups in the country. Pray that the Lord will continue to fulfill His promises to Israel, not only by bringing the Jewish people home, but also by strengthening the nation and making it possible for the tiny Jewish state to welcome thousands of olim every year.

Scripture

I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore.


- Genesis 22:17a ESV