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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.

Islamic Jihad Leader: We Will Attack Israel from the North and South

by Yoni Ben Menachem

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Ziyad Nakhalah, leader of the PIJ has promised multiple attacks on Israel.

Friday, 4 January 2019 | During a visit to Tehran on December 29, 2018, Ziyad [al-]Nakhalah, leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), met with the top echelons of Iran’s leadership, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iran’s head of the Supreme Security Council, Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani, told Nakhalah, “Iran has always been supportive to the resistant and oppressed Palestinian people since the very start of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s establishment, which was inspired by our religious and humane beliefs and will continue until the complete victory of the resistance process.”

Nakhalah gave an interview to the Iranian TV channel Al-Alam, in which he revealed the “Axis of Resistance” plan, led by Iran, to attack Israel from the north and the south. PIJ serves as Iran’s proxy in Gaza. Nakhalah’s statements were issued several days after his public meeting in Beirut with the leader of Hezbollah, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.

“In the next confrontation with the occupation,” Nakhalah declared, “the axis of resistance will operate from the north (Lebanon) to the south (Gaza). There will be open channels of collaboration, without any limitation or red lines. Each Israeli attack will be answered with a reaction from the entire axis of resistance. All forces will participate in it, as they will form a single axis. Iran supports the Palestinian resistance and the Hezbollah organization. The resistance is in its best situation. There have been qualitative developments in the capabilities of the Palestinian resistance. Next year, we will see big changes in favor of the resistance.

“The entire ‘axis of resistance’ will work together in every confrontation that will arise. The resistance forces and their axis have a plan to struggle against the occupation. There is strategic coordination between the factions of the resistance in the Gaza Strip [Hamas and Islamic Jihad], and we will strengthen the joint operations room of the resistance factions,” Nakhalah emphasized.

He added: “We will emerge from beneath the ground and from above the ground. The occupation needs to expect us everywhere. I’m sure we will defeat the Zionist project, and this entity will disappear. We will continue with the resistance, and we will not withdraw from it. There will be victims, come what may.”

In the interview, Nakhalah dealt with several other issues:

  1. He claimed that during Israel’s most recent clashes with various factions in the Gaza Strip, Israel asked, for the first time, for a cease-fire through an Egyptian mediator. “If the clashes had continued, we would have hit cities (in Israel),” Nakhalah asserted.
  2. A call to the Palestinian Authority [PA] to sit down with the resistance factions. If this does not happen, the Palestinian Authority “will become obsolete.”
  3. The plan of Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian people is to fight against the occupation in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] through popular and military means, including one-person terror attacks.
  4. Efforts are currently being concentrated on torpedoing Trump’s “Deal of the Century,” which is a new conspiracy to impose terror on the region. It is composed of old United States theories in a new disguise.
  5. The Arab countries failed in their response to the existence of Israel. Their normalization with Israel has recently become revealed.
  6. The declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was an erroneous move by the US government, and the resistance has made some real achievements in the struggle against this declaration.
  7. The resistance in Lebanon and Palestine is gaining strength, while the Arab line has collapsed. All of the peace plans have failed.
  8. Nothing remains from the Oslo Accords, apart from security cooperation and a few sources of finance for the Palestinian Authority.

During the last week of December 2018, a delegation from Hamas also visited Iran, led by Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior member of the organization’s political bureau.

During the second half of January 2019, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is expected to pay a visit to Iran.

Iran is publicly strengthening its ties with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, while it acts to reinforce its military grip on Syria in order to open a new Golan Heights front against Israel with fighters from Hezbollah and pro-Shi’ite militias.

Source: (The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs originally published this article on January 1, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Commons/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that the Lord will quickly bring Iran’s reign of terror to an end. Ask Him to supernaturally protect Israel’s borders and cause every strategy of the enemy to fail.

Scripture

Arise, O LORD, confront him, cast him down; deliver my life from the wicked with your sword.


- Psalm 17:13

How International Institutions Are Failing to Protect Israel

by David Gerstman

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The UN has failed to condemn Hamas for its terror attacks on Israel, like a rocket that hit a factory in Sderot in 2014.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019 | International institutions devoted to promoting peace and cooperation are admirable in theory, but in practice, during 2018, two of them—the United Nations [UN] and the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA]—failed to live up to their founding principles and protect Israel.

The UN, according to its charter, was founded “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” The IAEA, similarly, was created to ensure that nuclear energy “is not used in such a way as to further any military purpose.”

But in 2018, these two organizations ignored these noble aims when it came to Israel.

The UN’s bias against Israel is well-documented and quantified. UN Watch recently reported that during 2018, the UN General Assembly condemned Israel 21 times, but issued just 6 condemnations for the rest of the world combined. And of the six other countries to be condemned—Iran, Syria, Russia, Myanmar, North Korea and the United States—not one was condemned more than once.

But the anti-Israel bias at the UN has manifest itself in other ways.

In December, the United States put a resolution condemning Hamas before the General Assembly. The vote came just weeks after Hamas, over the course of a single day, fired nearly 500 rockets into Israel.

The US-sponsored resolution, in clear language, condemned Hamas for “repeatedly firing rockets into Israel” targeting civilians, and more generally, for diverting resources to attack Israel, “when such resources could be used to address the critical needs of the civilian population” under its rule.

While the resolution, the first one ever considered that condemned Hamas by name, was supported by an 87 to 58 majority, a last-minute procedural vote required a two-thirds majority, so the measure failed.

Former United States Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who spearheaded the effort to pass the resolution, said that a failure to pass the resolution would define the UN.

“Because there is nothing more anti-Semitic than saying terrorism is not terrorism when it’s used against the Jewish people and the Jewish state,” Haley said. “There is nothing more anti-Semitic than saying we cannot condemn terrorism against Israel, while we would not hesitate for one minute to condemn the same acts if they were taken against any other country.”

Not only did the UN fail to condemn the terrorist group threatening Israel’s south, it also failed to take action against the terrorist group threatening Israel’s north.

In December, Israel announced the beginning of Operation Northern Shield, an operation to detect and destroy cross-border terror tunnels built by the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah. UNIFIL [United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon], the UN force charged with keeping the peace between Israel and its northern neighbor Lebanon, confirmed the existence of one of the tunnels a few days after the operation started.

Two weeks after the operation started, UNIFIL confirmed Israel’s assessment that the tunnels violated UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah. Resolution 1701 banned the presence of any armed groups in southern Lebanon except for the Lebanese army.

A Security Council meeting convened to address the threat posed to Israel by Hezbollah’s terror tunnels ended inconclusively. The council failed to condemn the terror group, even though a UN military force found Hezbollah in violation of one of its own resolutions.

“The United States has taken Hezbollah’s threats to the security of Israel and the Israeli people at face value,” Rodney Hunter, a political coordinator from the US Mission to the UN, told the Security Council meeting, “and it is high time that this Council and the international community do so as well.”

But the Security Council did not act to defend Israel.

The IAEA may not have a long record of anti-Israel actions, but during 2018 it too failed to abide by its founding principles and take actions to defend Israel.

In April, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel had located an archive of material documenting Iran’s nuclear weapons program and spirited out some 100,000 files. At the time, a Washington Post editorial asserted that what Netanyahu revealed “doesn’t add greatly to what was already known about Iran’s pursuit of nukes.”

Israel shared many of the documents with nuclear weapons experts, including David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, and former IAEA Deputy Director-General Heinonen. The work of Albright and Heinonen and their associates showed that nuclear archives revealed that Iran’s nuclear weapons work was more advanced than previously known.

An October paper analyzing many of the files in the nuclear archive written by Albright, Heinonen, Frank Pabian—a former IAEA inspector, and Sarah Burkhard, concluded that documentation found in the archive “raises profound questions about whether Iran is complying with the fundamental goal of the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], namely that ‘under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.’”

A November paper written by Albright, Heinonen and Andrea Stricker confirmed that Iran’s nuclear weapons program had advanced further than previously thought.

Specifically, they wrote, “Iran preserved an extensive amount of this nuclear weapons-related equipment, material, software, and other information in an archive and warehouse, the former the contents of which were partially seized by Israel, and the latter which Israel later identified.”

The paper also faulted the IAEA for failing to do its job.

“It is not only the Secretariat, but the IAEA Board of Governors, which has not lived up to its task,” Albright, Heinonen and Stricker wrote in their conclusion. “They have created a double nonproliferation standard which, unless remedied, will decrease the chance of ensuring Iran does not build nuclear weapons and will serve as a playbook for future proliferators.”

Given that Iran’s leaders frequently call for the destruction of Israel, the IAEA’s failure to take actions to ensure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons is an appalling failure of its mission to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The UN and IAEA were created with the best of intentions. However, their failures to protect Israel from the “scourge” of a terrorist war or to keep Iran from developing nuclear technology for “any military purpose” beg the question: why should Israel trust either?

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on January 4, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Natan Flayer/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that Israel will continue to stand strong against every enemy, regardless of the failure of the nations to stand with her. Beseech Him to fulfill His promise to establish Israel in her land in peace and safety.

Scripture

“Therefore do not fear, O My servant Jacob,” says the LORD, “nor be dismayed, O Israel; for behold, I will save you from afar, and your seed from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return, have rest and be quiet, and no one shall make him afraid.”


- Jeremiah 30:10

Netanyahu Tells US National Security Advisor “Important” All Nations Recognize Israel Owns Golan

by Joshua Spurlock

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PM Netanyahu meets with US Ambassador Bolton. 

Monday, 7 January 2019 | Israel is facing down threats from Iran and their allies to the north, which offers an opportunity to emphasize something that has been true for decades: The Israeli-controlled Golan Heights region is key to Israeli security. On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made just that point in comments with United States National Security Advisor John Bolton. He also made the logical next step by stating that the international community should accept Israel’s control of the strategic mountain region, which was taken in the 1967 defensive war from Syria.

“The Golan Heights is tremendously important for our security. I think that when you’re there you will be able to understand perfectly why we will never leave the Golan Heights and why it’s important that all countries recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” said Netanyahu to Bolton in comments released by his office.

The Israeli prime minister said he has already discussed this matter with US President Donald Trump, who last year recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in a separate move.

Earlier on Sunday, Netanyahu said in separate comments released by his office that he intended to discuss with Bolton “efforts to block the Iranian aggression.” Recently Trump has announced plans to withdraw American troops from Syria, where Iran has been working to build new military bases and capabilities. Meanwhile, tunnels leading from Lebanon into Israel built by Iranian terrorism proxy Hezbollah have recently been discovered and destroyed by Israel.

“Our position is clear. We will continue to act against the Iranian military entrenchment in Syria, including at present, and we will act against any element that undermines, or attempts to undermine, the security of Israel,” said Netanyahu on Sunday.

The Israeli leader said that this conversation with Bolton would also continue the discussion [regarding] Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which took place last week. A press release from Israel at the time noted that Netanyahu told Putin last Friday “that Israel is determined to continue its efforts to prevent Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria.”

On Sunday, Netanyahu told Bolton that they appreciate Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, support for Israel at the United Nations and approach towards Iran.

“The President walked away from the dangerous Iran deal and reimposed sanctions. That’s number one. That’s important to America, to Israel, to the world. Everybody who wants to stop Iranian aggression respects that deeply,” said Netanyahu.

“…And you have backed Israel’s right to defend itself, which we exercise constantly. It’s important to know that we have the backing of our great friend and ally, the United States of America.”

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this article on January 6, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Benjamin Netanyahu@Netanyahu/twitter.com

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for the ongoing support of the United States, proving to be a true friend of the State of Israel. Ask the Lord to open the eyes of the nations to the fact that the Golan Heights, like the rest of the nation, are the eternal possession of the Jewish people.

Scripture

Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.


- Genesis 17:8

Israel’s 2018 Immigration Figures Reveal 5% Rise in Aliyah

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Over 29,600 people immigrated to Israel in 2018.

Friday, 4 January 2019 | Jewish immigration to Israel rose by some 5% in 2018 compared to the previous year, with the largest number of immigrants arriving from countries of the former Soviet Union.

The figures released by the Jewish Agency, which is the primary organization that encourages “aliyah” (Jewish immigration to Israel), show that over 29,600 people immigrated to Israel this year, compared to 28,220 olim (Jewish immigrants) who came to the country in 2017.

Immigration from Russia spiked by some 45% from 2017, with over 10,500 Jewish immigrants relocating to Israel, with another 6,500 olim arriving from Ukraine, although in this case the agency registered a 9% drop from last year.

The number of immigrants making their way from the United States and Canada remained steady, with 3,550 people arriving in Israel in 2018. The number shows no significant change compared to the previous year.

Meanwhile, there has been a 25% drop from last year in the number of Jewish immigrants coming from France, with only 2,660 making aliyah in 2018. The number of people arriving from the United Kingdom and Brazil also registered a 4% decline, with 660 and 330 olim making their way to Israel in 2018, respectively.

There has been an increase in the number of people coming from Argentina (17%) and South Africa (2%), although in both cases the figures still remained relatively low, with only 330 and 320 new olim relocating to the Jewish state.

Jewish Agency Executive Chairman Isaac Herzog said he welcomes the overall increase in Jewish immigration to Israel.

“Every Jew who comes to Israel and establishes a home here completes another piece of the wonderful mosaic of the Jewish people in their historic homeland. After 70 years of the state’s independence and the tremendous number of olim who have already made it to Israel, the potential for even greater aliyah remains significant, and The Jewish Agency will continue to work to achieve that goal,” Herzog said.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on December 30, 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Avi Hayun - Keren Hayesod

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord that He is bringing His people home from the nations of their dispersion! Pray that He will continue to draw them from all over the globe and hold them in safety as they make their journeys. May the nations stand in awe as He fulfills His ancient promises.

Scripture

“And the nations shall know that I am the LORD,” says the Lord GOD, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the nations gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land.”


- Ezekiel 36:23b–24

Action
What a privilege to live in a time where we can see God's promises of bringing the Jewish people home from the four corners of the earth coming to pass. Prophecy is being fulfilled in front of our eyes!

Yet we believe God calls us to be more than spectators marveling at His awesome plans unfolding. At Bridges for Peace we are partnering with God to help those who come home settle into life in Israel. Many immigrants arrive in Israel with meager belongings, little savings and without the means to support themselves. They are in desperate need of a helping hand as they settle into a foreign country and culture, learn a new language and find employment—all while paying the bills and putting food on the table. Bridges for Peace offers that helping hand. We deliver regular food parcels, help with transportation and offer encouragement and support.

As the number of Jews returning to Israel continues to rise, many more will be in need of our assistance. With your support, we will be able to lend them the helping hand they so desperately require. Will you please consider partnering with God as He brings His people home by donating to our New Immigrant Fund?

Egypt Confirms Cooperation with Israel to Fight ISIS in Sinai

by Kate Norman

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Egyptian president: “We have a wide range of cooperation with the Israelis.”

Friday, 4 January 2019 | In an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi confirmed the Arab nation is cooperating with the Jewish state to combat the Islamic State terrorist organization in the Sinai Peninsula.

“That is correct…We have a wide range of cooperation with the Israelis,” the Egyptian president answered when asked if this is the closest military cooperation between the two nations.

In 1979, Egypt and Israel entered a formal peace treaty, signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin at the White House, witnessed by US President Jimmy Carter.

Until then, the two nations had fought four wars since the Jewish state was established in 1948. The treaty, known as the Camp David Accords, called for Israel to withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula, a territory it had captured in the defensive Six-Day War in 1967. In return, Egypt would maintain the area as a demilitarized zone, working under strict limitations.

However, Israel has allowed more Egyptian forces and heavy weaponry into the Sinai Peninsula in recent years than permitted under the 1979 treaty to combat the ISIS affiliate in the region. The two militaries currently work closely together to maintain stability in the area between the nations, mainly Sinai and the Gaza Strip.

Since President el-Sisi took power in 2013, ties between Egypt and Israel have warmed, though many leaders in Egypt still strongly oppose normalization of relations between the two countries.

In a November meeting with the incoming ambassador of Egypt, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said of the nations working together to combat Islamic extremism in the region, “Together we can face the challenges of terrorism and ISIS in Sinai and Gaza better. Under the leadership of your president, Egypt plays a key role in the Arab world as a voice of reason and moderation. We appreciate your efforts towards stability in the region, and particularly with the Palestinians in Gaza.”

Rivlin was referring to Egypt’s efforts to facilitate a cease-fire between Israel and Gaza, especially during the relentless November rocket attacks from the Palestinians into Israeli territory.

The Israeli president said to Ambassador Khaled Azmi, “We face similar challenges and our military intelligence operation is of strategic importance.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 4, 2019)

Photo Credit: CBS This Morning/Screenshot/YouTube

Prayer Focus
Thank God for Egypt’s willingness to stand with Israel against ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula. Pray for strength, courage and protection for those forces as they are engaged in such a difficult but crucial battle. Ask the Lord to the give them success in eradicating this evil from the region.

Scripture

Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their hearts; they continually gather together for war.


- Psalm 140:1–2

Report: Three Iraqi Delegations Visited Israel, Met with Government Officials

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Iraqi politician Mithal al-Alusi says a relationship with Israel is in Iraq’s best interests.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019 | In a sign of the warming ties between Israel and Arab countries, three Iraqi delegations visited the Jewish state in recent months, while the leader of Iraq’s Ummah Party Mithal al-Alusi recently said that establishing ties with Israel was in his country’s “interest.”

The Times of Israel reported on Sunday that the Jewish state recently hosted three delegations of senior Iraqis and that the delegates, who were not officially identified for security purposes, met with Israeli government officials.

The delegations comprised of 15 political and religious figures, from both the Sunni and Shiite communities also held meetings with Israeli academics and visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

Reports suggest that the men were not from Iraqi Kurdistan but rather from “Iraq proper—that is, Baghdad,” indicating the groundwork is being laid for normalized relations between Israel and Iraq.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali al-Hakim came under fire from political opponents this week, after expressing support for the two-state solution to the Israel–Palestinian conflict. Iraq is still officially at war with Israel and its passports are not valid for travel to the Jewish state.

Israel meanwhile has shown interest in fostering cultural and political ties with Iraq, which was once home to one of the largest Jewish communities outside of Israel. In addition, the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq has long seen Israel as a potential ally, especially after Jerusalem came out in support of Kurdish independence in September 2017.

In related news, the leader of Iraq’s Ummah Party Mithal al-Alusi earlier this month, in an interview with a Kuwaiti newspaper, called on Iraq to establish ties with the Jewish state and expressed hope to see an Iraqi embassy in Israel at some point in the future.

Al-Alusi, who visited Israel on numerous occasions, referred to diplomatic relations with Israel as “our (Iraqi) interest.” The lawmaker noted that he does not want Baghdad’s interests to be solely tied to “Abu Mazen,” the name by which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is commonly referred to in the Arab World.

The Jerusalem Post reported that al-Alusi also blasted Iraq’s intimate ties to Iran and described Tehran’s expansionist agenda as a threat to Iraq’s national interest and regional stability. The Iraqi official warned that Iran has been amassing power because “it is the most insane actor, which gambles with the lives of its sons, its people and its history in order to (realize) the Iranian leaders’ false vision.”

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on January 7, 2019. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/FRBI

Prayer Focus
Ask the Lord to grant Israel’s leaders true wisdom as they move forward in building relationships and normalizing relations with various Arab countries. Thank Him for the changing attitude of the Iraqi leadership as they recognize Israel as a strong ally in the stance against Iran.

Scripture

I will lift my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.


- Psalm 121:1–2

Malaysia Denying Visas to Israeli Paralympic Swimmers for World Championship

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Mayalsia is denying entry for the Israeli Paralympic swim team ahead of the World Championships. (Illustrative)

Wednesday, 9 January 2019 | Malaysia has so far refused to grant visas to an Israeli swimming team, which would allow them to compete in world championships this summer, Jewish News reported Tuesday.

Israeli sports authorities have been attempting to obtain the visas for two months but have gotten no response from the Malaysian government.

More than 600 swimmers from 70 nations are expected to compete in the World Para Swimming Championships scheduled for July. However, the Israel Paralympics Committee fears that the failure of the Malaysian government to provide visas so far signals that the Islamic nation will bar the team from the Jewish state.

Malaysia came under fire in 2015 for excluding Israeli windsurfers from the Youth Sailing World Championships.

“Everyone says it will work out, but we have still not received an invitation or visas. We are continuing to apply pressure,” said Nisim Sasportas, who chairs the Israeli Olympic Committee.

According to Swimming World magazine, competing in the World Championships is one of the factors that qualifies swimmers to compete in the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.

Malaysia’s 93-year-old Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohammad has a long history of making anti-Semitic remarks. In August of last year, he said, “Anti-Semitic is a term that is invented to prevent people from criticizing the Jews for doing wrong things.”

Malaysia criticized Australia in November for considering a move of its embassy to Jerusalem, and a month later for recognizing West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

It is not uncommon for Muslim countries to bar Israelis from participating in international competitions. But sports governing bodies have started to take action against this manner of discrimination.

Last year, the International Judo Federation suspended the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam event to take a “firm and constructive stance in the fight against discrimination in sport.” The United Arab Emirates that had hosted the competition in 2017 had refused to allow Israeli judoka to wear their nation’s uniform or to play the Israeli national anthem when an Israeli athlete won.

Following the rebuke, the UAE relented. Israeli athletes were allowed to participate under their own flag in 2018 and, for the first time, Hatikva was played in Abu Dhabi, when Israeli judoka Sagi Maki won the gold medal in his weight class.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on January 8, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Janeb13/pixabay.com

Prayer Focus
Pray for Israel’s athletes as they continue to encounter discrimination in Arab countries. Pray that sports governing bodies will continue to take action against such blatant anti-Semitism and ask the Lord to encourage each one as they are ambassadors for the Jewish state under such difficult circumstances.

Scripture

Pronounce them guilty, O God! Let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, for they have rebelled against You. But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You.


- Psalm 5:10–11

2018 Sets Record for Tourism to Israel as More than 4 Million Visit

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Israel saw a record 25% increase in tourists last year.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019 | It took Israel 69 years to reach 3 million tourists visiting in one year. It took just one year to reach 4 million tourists in a year. 2018 set a record for the number of tourists to visit Israel in one year, with more than 4.1 million arriving in the Holy Land. “This is the second consecutive record-breaking year in incoming tourism to Israel and this year we have crossed the threshold of 4 million tourists in a year,” Tourism Ministry Director-General Amir Halevi said in a Sunday press release from the Tourism Ministry. “…What was considered a fantasy a few years ago is today a reality: Israel is a preferred tourist destination among tourism destinations around the world.”

In 2017, around 3.6 million tourists visited Israel, which was itself a record at the time according to a prior press release from the Tourism Ministry. Sunday’s press release noted that it took 30 years—from 1948 to 1978—for Israel to finally have 1 million tourists in one year. Forty years later and the United States alone sent almost a million tourists to Israel, with 897,100 Americans visiting in 2018. France and Russia were next on the list with more than 300,000 visitors each.

The numbers are not just a source of pride; they are also a financial boon to Israel. Tourism revenue was around [US] $5.8 billion in 2018 (or roughly NIS 22 billion). Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin noted in Sunday’s press release that tourism “makes a huge contribution to both Israel’s economy and its image.”

Said Levin, “We have broken incoming tourism records and this achievement is the direct result of intensive work that we are doing at the Tourism Ministry. This achievement is a result of a revolutionary change in marketing strategy; infrastructure development; opening direct routes from new destinations and creating collaborations with some of the largest travel agents in the world.”

2018 even saw a difference in the way Israel’s capital city of Jerusalem is viewed as a tourism destination. The Israeli Tourism Ministry press release noted that international market research firm EuroMonitor [rated] Jerusalem as the fastest-growing tourism city in the world in 2018.

The numbers aren’t just the result of Israel being discovered by new tourists. Forty percent of the tourists to Israel in 2018 were returning visitors, which the Israeli press release called “proof that Israel is a desirable destination in the world.”

Not surprisingly for the Holy Land, 61% of all tourists in 2018 were Christian, while 22% were Jewish.

Tourism Ministry Director-General Halevi said that they are already “optimistic about 2019,” as a new international airport in the south of Israel is set to open. Israeli publication Globes has reported that the Ramon Airport near Eilat is expected to be inaugurated later this month. It will initially be used for domestic flights, and [will] eventually include international ones as well.

Said Halevi in the press release about the record-setting 2018 for tourism, “This is the result of hard and strenuous work in recent years, as part of a revolution in the way that Israel is marketed around the world as a tourist destination.”

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this article on January 6, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: User:EdoM/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikipedia

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for another report on the exciting numbers of pilgrims visiting Israel. Ask the Lord to continue to draw people to the tiny country where He has placed His name forever. Pray for spiritual awakening and strengthening for each one as they encounter His land and His people.

Scripture

And he said: “LORD God of Israel, there is no God in heaven above or on earth below like You, who keep Your covenant and mercy with your servants who walk before you with all their hearts.


- 1 Kings 8:23

Survivors of Deadly Terror Attack Declare: “We are a Walking Miracle”

by Kate Norman

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Shira and Amichai Ish-Ran, survivors of a terrorist shooting, leave hospital after a month.

Thursday, 10 January 2019 | A month after the terror attack that led to the premature birth and death of her baby, an Israeli woman left the hospital with the help of a walker, declaring, “I arrived at the hospital lying down, and I am leaving it on foot.”

Shira Ish-Ran left the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem on Wednesday alongside her husband, Amichai, who was walking on crutches after being shot three times in the leg during a terrorist shooting in Judea and Samaria.

“We are a walking miracle,” Shira said as a crowd of reporters in the room photographed the couples’ determined exit.

On December 9, seven Israelis were shot at a bus stop outside Ofra, including Shira, who was seven months pregnant at the time with a baby boy.

Shira was rushed to the hospital where surgeons delivered the baby in an emergency C-Section. Doctors at the neonatal intensive care unit fought for days to save the newborn, but his condition deteriorated until he died three days later.

A few days after the attack, Shira vowed from her hospital bed, “I will prove to them, I will show them. I will bring many more babies into this world. Am Yisrael chai [the nation of Israel lives].”

The night he died, the baby boy was named Amiad Yisrael (Amiad means “my nation is eternal”) at his funeral and was buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. His parents, still recovering from their wounds in the hospital, could not attend the funeral with their grieving family.

“During the three days our baby lived, he united us—secular, religious, ultra-Orthodox, right and left wing, who came to support us,” said Amichai Ish-Ran from the hospital a few days after the attack. “I’m proud to be part of this nation.”

The attack occurred on December 9, when a Palestinian car stopped in front of the bus stop and a terrorist opened fire on the people waiting outside. Security footage of the attack shows IDF (Israel Defense Forces) soldiers responding with fire before the car flees the scene.

While hundreds of people mourned Amiad Yisrael at the funeral in Jerusalem on the evening of December 12, Israeli security forces tracked down one of the perpetrators of the attack, Saleh Barghouti, north of Ramallah in Judea and Samaria. Barghouti was shot and killed as he attempted to harm the forces while evading arrest.

Security forces on Tuesday arrested Barghouti’s brother Assam, whom they confirmed was involved in the Ofra shooting as well as another attack three days later in which two IDF soldiers were killed and one was critically wounded.

The Barghouti brothers belong to the infamous Barghouti clan, which has significant Hamas and terrorist ties. Their uncle, Jassar Barghouti, is a senior Hamas member and the man the Palestinian Authority (PA) credits as the mastermind behind the multiple terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria in December.

Speaking from the hospital after the attack, Amichai Ish-Ran said, “Our enemies can shoot us, stab us, run over us and hurl stones at us. They can murder us and our children, but they cannot break us. We won’t let them.”

Hamodia reported that Shira is moving to Hadassah Mount Scopus for rehabilitation.

As she left the Shaare Zedek Medical Center Wednesday, Shira thanked everyone for praying for them.

“We felt the prayers during our recovery,” she said. “We still have a road ahead of us, so keep praying.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 10, 2019)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/Jewish Life

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for the incredible strength and courage of Shira and Amichai. Ask Him for His deep peace and comfort to settle upon them as they mourn the death of their baby, and for miraculous healing of their injuries. May they be an example of faithfulness to all who see them.

Scripture

LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear, to do justice to the fatherless and to the oppressed, that the man of the earth may oppress no more.


- Psalm 10:17–18

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