Compassion

I want to bless the widows and orphans who are in need, fulfilling the Lord’s call to look after the poor and afflicted.

Friday, January 18, 2019

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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.

Israel Admits to Striking Iranian Weapons Depot in Damascus, Warns of More Decisive Action

by Ilse Strauss

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The Israeli Air Force has struck an Iranian weapons storehouse in Syria. (Illustrative)

Monday, 14 January 2019 | In a rare and unprecedented admission, Israel publically claimed responsibility for targeting Iranian weapon depots in Damascus on Friday evening—and warned the Jewish state would take more decisive action if needed in the future to prevent Tehran from gaining a military foothold on Israel’s doorstep in war-torn Syria.

“The Israel Defense Forces has attacked hundreds of Iranian and Hezbollah targets. Just in the past 36 hours, the air force attacked Iranian depots full of Iranian weapons in the Damascus International Airport,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday morning during the weekly cabinet meeting in his Jerusalem office.

The latest strikes, he continued, “underline that we are more determined than ever to act against Iran in Syria, precisely as we have promised.”

Hours later, Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s position, adding that the Jewish state would intensify its efforts and strike even harder to thwart Iranian attempts to establish a military outpost on its northern border.

Speaking during a tour of the Upper Galilee to review the conclusion of Operation Northern Shield, during which the Israel Defense Forces located and destroyed six underground terror tunnels dug by Iran’s terror proxy Hezbollah to cross from Lebanon into Israel, Netanyahu said Friday’s strikes reflect the Jewish state’s “consistent policy and firm determination to prevent Iran’s military buildup in Syria.”

“If necessary, we will intensify these attacks,” he warned.

The Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad accused Israel of launching a number of missiles towards Damascus International Airport on Friday evening. The regime-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) quoted a senior military source as saying Syria’s air defense system was successful in intercepting and downing “most” of the Israeli missiles. The source claimed the strike caused only “material damage to one of the ammunition warehouses.” A Syrian Transport Ministry official also told SANA that airport activities are continuing as normal.

However, reports from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights tell a different story. According to the UK-based watchdog organization, Israeli warplanes struck various targets belonging to Iran and its terror proxy Hezbollah throughout Syria, destroying a number of weapons depots and warehouses, The Mideast Update reports. A number of other local reports also claim the strikes destroyed Iranian cargo planes at the Damascus International Airport.

Israel’s usual policy is to refrain from commenting on any operations conducted outside its borders. Jerusalem has, however, chosen to deviate slightly from this policy as of late, with admissions that it does operate beyond its northern border to enforcing its red lines in Syria, thus preventing Iran from establishing a military stronghold on Israel’s doorstep and using the chaos of civil war to funnel game-changing weapons from Tehran via Damascus into the eager hands of Hezbollah.

In September last year, senior IDF officials told reporters during a media briefing that Israel has struck more than 200 Iranian targets in Syria since 2017. The targets included shipments of advanced weaponry and military bases and infrastructure. According to the IDF officials, the strikes have been successful in that they forced the Iranians to abandon some of the posts.

Outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot echoed Israel’s ongoing operations in Syria—and its success—on December 23, 2018. “Israel is operating and will continue to operate against Iranian entrenchment in Syria. Iran’s efforts to establish a military infrastructure in Syria have been the IDF’s top concern for the past four years. Iran’s vision was to build a force of about 100,000 fighters with integrated land, sea, and intelligence capabilities and to build a line of outposts in the Golan Heights. Israel has worked continuously and has thwarted Iran’s efforts, in an entirely independent Israeli operation against a whole gamut of actors.”

Two days after Eisenkot’s admission, a Hezbollah facility for storing Fajr-5 missiles located on an Iranian base in Syria some 40 kilometers (25 mi.) from the border with Israel was destroyed in an overnight raid. At the time Associated Press claimed an unnamed Israeli security official acknowledged the Jewish state’s was behind the strike. Official sources in Jerusalem, however, remained mum.

While Jerusalem has recently made no bones about the fact that it does operate in Syria, taking credit for an individual strike is, however, an extremely rare move. Official admissions can, after all, spark retaliation from Syria, Iran or Hezbollah. In the aftermath of Friday’s strike—and Netanyahu’s unprecedented admission—one cannot help but wonder what prompted the deviation from the norm.

Perhaps the answer lies in that Friday’s strike and Netanyahu’s subsequent admission coincides with the commencement of the US troop withdrawal from Syria. Following last month’s announcement by President Donald Trump that the US would leave the war-torn country, Netanyahu vowed to escalate its efforts against Iranian-aligned forces in Syria.

“We will continue to act very aggressively against Iran’s efforts to entrench in Syria,” he said at the time. “We do not intend to reduce our efforts. We will intensify them, and I know that we do so with the full support and backing of the United States.”

Perhaps Friday’s strike and Netanyahu’s subsequent admission is meant as a warning to Iran that Israel means business.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 14, 2019)

Photo Credit: Israeli Air Force/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Praise God for equipping the Israeli military with the intelligence, ability and means to defend the land and its people from the encroaching threat of Iran. Beseech God to bless PM Netanyahu and Israeli top military leaders as they are called upon to make difficult decisions to ensure Israel’s safety while surrounded by those who would do her harm.

Scripture

LORD, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, “There is no help for him in God.” But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head. I cried to the LORD with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill.


- Psalm 3:1–4

Netanyahu Announces Conclusion of Operation Northern Shield

by Kate Norman

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IDF Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Eisenkot inspects the last Hezbollah terror tunnel before it is destroyed.

Monday, 14 January 2019 | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the conclusion of Operation Northern Shield on Sunday after the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) announced earlier that they had exposed the sixth and final Hezbollah tunnel from Lebanon into Israel.

“The IDF has exposed a sixth tunnel—the largest of all—that crossed into Israeli territory,” Netanyahu said. “This brings Operation Northern Shield to a successful close. We will continue to monitor all activity by Hezbollah, and by Iran and its proxies. We will do whatever is necessary to ensure the security of Israel.”

The IDF launched the defensive operation on December 4 to find and destroy cross-border tunnels from Lebanon into northern Israel. The Jewish state has asserted from the beginning that the tunnels were the work of Hezbollah, Iran’s terror proxy operating in southern Lebanon, but also blamed Lebanon for either looking the other way or directly participating in the offensive on Israeli sovereignty. The discovery of the sixth tunnel on Sunday, which the IDF said it will neutralize within the next few days, marked the successful conclusion of Northern Shield.

In an interview last week on Hadashot TV, Lt-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot described “what they [Hezbollah] thought was a fantastic plan” to send 1,000 to 1,500 fighters through the cross-border tunnels into Israel in a surprise attack to take control of a piece of Israeli territory and showcase the Jewish state’s frailty. The attack plan, which was outlined on Arab media a few years ago, was named “Conquering the Galilee.”

“They were looking many years ahead, to a war or wide escalation, where they [believed they] would have a surprise, an ace in their deck,” Eisenkot said.

Northern Shield ruined Hezbollah’s surprise attack, the IDF asserted.

“Operation Northern Shield deprived Hezbollah of the unique offensive abilities it had built for years as part of its planned attack on Israeli territory,” the IDF said in its statement announcing the end of the operation. “Denying Hezbollah this ability harmed the terrorist organization’s ability to carry out its plans while also improving the security situation in the northern arena and removing a threat from Israeli citizens.”

The IDF revealed that the sixth tunnel was dug 180 feet (55 m.) deep, ran 2,624 feet (800 m.) through Lebanon and “dozens of yards” into Israel. This was the largest tunnel and the third that crossed into Israeli territory.

“This #Hezbollah attack tunnel was dug from the Lebanese village of Ramyeh into Israel & will be neutralized soon. We have now exposed all attack tunnels dug by Hezbollah from Lebanon into Israel,” the IDF posted on its Twitter page.

IDF Spokesman Ronen Manelis told reporters the tunnel was “highly advanced,” equipped with railway tracks, electricity, lighting and ladders to enter Israeli territory.

“A lot of resources were invested in this tunnel,” Manelis said.

The military asserted that it will continue monitoring Hezbollah activity near the border.

“In addition, troops and the tunnel-finding laboratory will continue serving permanently along the Lebanese border,” the army said in a statement. “The IDF is determined to protect the citizens of Israel and will continue to operate in the area and to monitor possible underground activity.”

The army said the IDF will build a defensive barrier along the Lebanese border when the two remaining tunnels have been destroyed, Ynetnews reported. The first four tunnels were neutralized with explosives and concrete-filling.

Though the threat of the terror tunnels has been eliminated, danger looms on the border as long as Hezbollah maintains its stronghold in southern Lebanon. Israel has asserted that the terror organization has an estimated 130,000 projectiles ready to fire into Israel with the ability to reach anywhere within the Jewish state.

When asked whether northern Israelis can now live in peace, Netanyahu responded, “I think that everyone understands that a very serious threat was averted here.

“Hezbollah’s operational plan was to use the tunnels weapon to infiltrate many fighters, between 1,000–2,000 terrorists, into the Galilee, to seize communities here,” the prime minister continued. “Everyone understands how the war would look if Hezbollah battalions were in the Galilee, and with the Iranian army opposite the Golan Heights. We have prevented this—and we will continue to prevent it.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 14, 2019)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces@IDF/twitter.com

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord that Israel was able to detect Hezbollah’s plans and launch Operation Northern Shield to successfully expose and eliminate the terror tunnels before the terror organization could fulfill their evil intentions. Praise Him for keeping His pledge to guard over the land and people of Israel.

Scripture

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 121:3–4

A Battle of Wits between the Israel Security Agency and Hamas

by Yoni Ben Menachem

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The intelligence “battle of wits” between ISA and Hamas continues with a clear advantage to Israel.

Friday, 11 January 2019 | The Israel Security Agency (ISA), in collaboration with the Israel police counterterrorism unit, arrested terrorist Assem Barghouti on January 8, 2019, in a successful intelligence operation. Barghouti, who perpetrated the terror attack in Givat Assaf [an Israeli community in Judea and Samaria] on December 13, 2018, which killed two IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers and wounded two, had been hiding in the home of an accomplice in the village of Abu Shkheidum in the Ramallah district.

The arrest took Assem Barghouti by surprise, and he did not even manage to use the weapon that he had on him. He was handcuffed and taken away for interrogation at an ISA installation.

This is a critical intelligence achievement because the ISA caught the “spearhead” of the Hamas terror infrastructure in the Ramallah area, which relies heavily on the Barghouti clan. This branch of the family is a veteran force in the Hamas military wing and has carried out terror attacks against Israel in the past.

Brothers Salah and Assem Barghouti perpetrated terror attacks at the Ofra Junction and the Givat Assaf Junction in December 2018. Their arrest and the confiscation of the weapons they had at their disposal significantly reduces the danger of terror in the Ramallah district.

The arrest of Assem Barghouti is significant. Security sources define him as an “intelligence asset.” He is a veteran activist of the Hamas military wing, and his interrogation and that of his associates arrested with him will provide important information on the activities of Hamas sleeper cells in the areas of the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] directed from the “West Bank headquarters” in the Gaza Strip and the office of the military wing in Istanbul, Turkey. These activities are run by Saleh al-Arouri, vice-director of the Hamas political bureau and head of its military wing in the West Bank, through terrorists released from prisons in the 2011 Shalit deal, who know the area very well.

 How Does Israeli Intelligence Work against Hamas?

The exposure of the Hamas terrorist infrastructure in the Ramallah district is an important success for the ISA, which combined investigative and intelligence efforts with various other means.

The intelligence “battle of wits” between the ISA and Hamas continues with a clear advantage to Israel.

Hamas is under pressure from reports in Israel and the Arab media outlets about the arrest of its activists, and therefore on January 8 it rushed to publish an announcement of the “intelligence success” of its security forces in the Gaza Strip to “balance” the picture.

In the announcement, it claimed that it arrested 45 collaborators with Israel following a special operation of IDF forces in the area of Khan Yunis, Gaza, in November 2018.

Hamas interior ministry spokesman in the Gaza Strip Iyad al-Bozm claimed that Hamas security forces are hunting down additional collaborators in Gaza.

“This is a big security battle in which the Palestinian mind has the upper hand,” al Bozm claimed. “Our security forces can combat the security forces of the occupation. It’s hard for the occupation to handle collaborators in Gaza. Therefore, it brought IDF special forces into the Khan Yunis area, causing destructive results.”

Hamas is trying again to gain as much mileage as it can from the incident. Anyone with any knowledge of intelligence methods understands that this is a ridiculous claim, but this is not the place to explain why. It is important to point out that Hamas is under pressure. The organization is essentially admitting in its announcement that dozens of collaborators with Israel have been arrested, and there are still more operating in the field. Is this the “success” of the Hamas security forces that have ruled over the Gaza Strip for 12 years?

Hamas is also very troubled by the actions of the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), which is a unit of the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

The security site of Hamas al-Majid reported on January 7 on COGAT’s methods, claiming that it “implements the Zionist terror policies.”

In an article, it claims that COGAT assists with the closure of the crossings in the West Bank and Gaza to put pressure on the Palestinian population. Its security tactics depend on traditional methods and innovative technology.

According to the author of the article, COGAT is exploiting the needs of Palestinian citizens to travel, receive work permits and authorizations for medical treatment and ISA officers are recruiting Palestinian residents in their offices at the border crossings.

Hamas’s publication of Israel’s intelligence methods is intended to show that its security services are monitoring them and to deter the Palestinian population from collaborating with Israel.

But Hamas is battling against the wind. The harsh economic situation in the Gaza Strip and the dictatorial regime of Hamas [is] specifically pushing many Palestinians to collaborate with Israel. Hamas is interested in calm at the Gaza border, but on the other hand it is trying to open a new front against Israel in the West Bank by activating sleeper cells against Jewish residents and IDF soldiers.

For this reason, the apprehension of the terrorist infrastructure of the Barghouti family in the West Bank is of great importance. It is also reasonable to assume that the investigation will lead to additional security discoveries and the thwarting of planned terror activities in the areas of Judea and Samaria.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on January 10, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Soman/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Bring each member of the Israel Security Agency and Israel’s intelligence forces before the Lord. Ask Him to bless and endow them with supernatural insight, focus, vigilance and wisdom as they work tirelessly to flush out Israel’s enemies. Pray for His protection over their physical and emotional wellbeing amidst highly dangerous and stressful circumstances.

Scripture

“Do not be terrified, or afraid of them. The LORD your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you, according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.”


- Deuteronomy 1:29–31

“Pay-for-Slay” Abbas Condemns Terror as Palestine Assumes Presidency of Largest UN Bloc

by  Ilse Strauss

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A funeral for Jewish victims of Palestinian terror.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019 | In a stunning example of bitter irony, the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Mahmoud Abbas, yesterday made an impassioned plea to the international community to band together “to uproot” the “epidemic” of terrorism.

The PA president issued his clarion call from the podium of the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York City where he took over the chairmanship of the Group of 77 (G77), the largest bloc of UN member states, upon learning that extremists affiliated with the Somali Islamist terror group al Shabaab attacked a luxury hotel and office complex in Nairobi, killing at least 15 people.

Addressing representatives of the 134 G77 member states over whom he will preside for the next year, Abbas appeared blissfully unaware of—or doggedly unwilling to admit—the absurdity of his statement. In fact, the man who set aside US $360 million in the 2018 PA budget to make monthly payments to terrorists guilty of perpetrating attacks on Israelis, who received a public dressing down from US President Donald Trump for inciting terror and who eggs on his people to terror in televised promises that “every martyr will reach paradise, everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah” and “every drop of blood that has been spilt for Jerusalem,” held up the so-called Palestinian State as a bastion in the international fight against terror.

“The State of Palestine has adopted 83 protocols with 83 countries throughout the world to put an end to this scourge and to fight against terrorism, and I call on all states to work with us to combat terrorism,” Abbas said sagely.

Abbas said all the right words and touched on all the right sentiments to enthrall his audience. Yet actions speak louder than words, and in this case, the actions in question are terror attacks perpetrated by Palestinians, the very people Abbas governs. Statistics released by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reveal that 74 innocent people have been killed and 1,167 wounded in Palestinian terrorist attacks since October 2015. Over the past four years, the people under Abbas’s rule have committed 201 stabbings and 145 attempted stabbings, 217 shooting attacks, 71 vehicular (ramming) attacks and 301 roadside/pipe bomb attacks. Moreover, if it hadn’t been for the quick work of Israeli intelligence, 400 more terrorist attacks, including 13 suicide attacks, 8 kidnappings and 1,100 potential lone-wolf attacks would have taken place.

Abbas made no mention of these attacks, nor did he take responsibility for the fact that the infamous “Pay-for-Slay” policy or inflammatory rhetoric by Palestinian leadership forms part of the very “epidemic” he wants to “uproot.”

For their part, the G77 representatives also chose to ignore the Palestinians’ track record of terror and warmly welcomed their new chairperson to the podium with smiles and loud applause. According to the Jerusalem Post, the phrase “State of Palestine” was used frequently throughout the ceremony.

The Palestinians were chosen to take over the rotating presidency of the G77 from Egypt in October last year. As a non-member observer state of the UN since November 2012, the Palestinians would under normal circumstances have been disqualified from holding such a position. Yet a special vote at the UN General Assembly eliminated that stumbling block when the vast majority of countries backed the motion to make a temporary special concession so the Palestinians could take over the helm of G77 for 2019. When put to vote, the Palestinians won the presidency by a landslide, with a staggering 146 nations giving their nod of approval, three (Israel, the United States and Australia) voting against and 15 abstaining.

The Palestinians hailed the presidency as a “huge and historical achievement,” one that will help pave the way to international recognition of the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital. In fact, following Abbas’s address yesterday, PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told CBS that the Palestinians plan to forge ahead with a bid for full UN membership.

While Abbas sold his empty promises to an eager audience, hundreds of protesters took to the streets outside the UN headquarters. Led by Palestinian human rights activist Bassam Eid and the father of Taylor Force, an American tourist murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in Tel Aviv in 2016, the group sought to underscore the absurdity of electing a leader known to support terror to head the UN’s largest bloc of member states.

Former US ambassador the UN Nikki Haley took to Twitter to echo the absurdity. “Embarrassing for the UN membership that they would elect a non member to represent and chair all of the G77 countries. This sort of coddling of the Palestinians is another way to keep them from coming to the negotiating table and is the reason the UN is not taken seriously.”

The Joint Declaration of the Seventy-Seven Countries, or G77, was founded in 1964 as a coalition to leverage negotiating capacity and promote its members’ common economic advancements. Over the past 55 years the bloc has, however, grown to 134 member states, which represents nearly 80% of the world’s population, the Times of Israel reports. The G77 has welcomed the Palestinians as a member since 1976.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 16, 2019)

Photo Credit: Ishpashout/wikimedia.org  

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Implore the Lord to bring the Palestinian Authority’s emotive duplicity and hypocrisy to light. As Abbas embarks on his one-year G77 presidency term, ask God to bestow discernment and wisdom on the representatives of the member countries so they will be able to distinguish falsehoods from truth.

Scripture

Bow down Your heavens, O LORD, and come down…Stretch out Your hand from above; rescue me and deliver me out of great waters, from the hand of foreigners, whose mouth speaks lying words, and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.


- Psalm 144:5a, 7–8

Swords to Plowshares: Israel Makes a Farm Out of a Minefield

by Matan Tzuri

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Israeli farmers near Gaza will be able to cultivate land once it is cleared of landmines under a new amendment. (Illustrative)

Friday, 11 January 2019 | Israeli farmers from communities bordering Gaza will have some 16,000 dunams [4,000 acres] of agricultural land allocated to them once the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] clears an area, dubbed “firezone,” from landmines and unexploded bombs. Swathes of Israeli farmland has been scorched by incendiary airborne devices launched into Israel by the militants in Gaza.

The Hevel Shalom area, under the jurisdiction of the Eshkol Regional Council—which borders Egypt and Gaza—has remained deserted for years due to landmines planted there decades ago. But the new amendment made to the Minefield Clearance Act, which went into effect this week, requires the defense establishment to clear all explosive devices from the area.

Gadi Yarkoni, the head of the Eshkol Regional Council praised the decision to transfer the lands to the local farmers, calling the amendment “important.”

“The decision to award the farmers a permanent ownership of the area…is an integral part of land regulations planned for our regional council…which would facilitate the demographic expansion in the region,” Yarkoni said.

The move comes in the wake of renewed violence along the southern border after several weeks of relative quiet. On Sunday, Gaza militants used a cluster of balloons to fly a Styrofoam airplane carrying an explosive device into southern Israel. The plane landed in a field in Sdot Negev Regional Council, near the Gaza border, and was neutralized by police sappers. The process caused the device to explode, but no damages or injuries were reported.

Two weeks ago, a cluster of approximately 10 balloons with an explosive device attached landed on Moshav Kfar Maimon, also located in the Sdot Negev Regional Council, close to the fence of a kindergarten. The incident also prompted a police response, who arrived at the scene to neutralize the device.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on January 10, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Free-Photos/pixabay.com

Prayer Focus
Bless the Lord for redeeming the land and bringing forth life and productivity from that which Israel’s enemies intended for harm and evil. Ask Him to bless the farmers who will soon work the land with increase, growth and an abundant harvest of their crops.

Scripture

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.


- Genesis 50:20

Israeli Air Force to Participate in First-Ever Joint Drill with RAF Later this Year

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Israel’s 2015 “Blue Flag” joint air force exercise.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019 | Israel’s air force is to take part in its first-ever joint exercise with the Royal Air Force [RAF] in Britain in the most open level of cooperation between the two forces yet, The Jewish Chronicle reported Tuesday.

The IAF [Israeli Air Force] has been invited to take part in the annual Cobra Warrior exercise at Coningsby airbase in Lincolnshire in September. While defense cooperation between Israel and Britain has been intensifying at all levels in recent years, the IAF has never been invited to participate in the exercise.

The RAF’s advanced Qualified Weapons Instructor course traditionally includes crew and aircraft from other allied air forces that train together with their British counterparts in complex combat scenarios. In 2018, the RAF invited German and Italian aircraft to take part in the exercise.

In a sign of intensified military and defense relations, a team of Israeli combat pilots last year held a joint training seminar with the RAF Typhoon aircrew at a base in Lossiemouth in Scotland, but on that occasion did not arrive with their own aircraft. In 2017, the RAF and IAF completed three days of joint exercises to test sea rescue capabilities in stormy conditions. The two air forces have also exchanged experience they gained operating the new F-35 stealth fighters.

Every two years, the Israeli Air Force hosts “Blue Flag,” an international exercise in which air forces from other nations travel to the Jewish State to practice their aeronautic skills. Much like the American-hosted “Red Flag” drills, the exercise aims to forge bonds between multi-national allies. In 2017, the “Blue Flag” exercise included aircraft and crews from the United States, Germany, Greece, India, Poland, Italy and France.

The RAF is expected to participate in the exercise in 2020, which would be the first time they openly train in Israeli airspace.

In October, Britain’s Ministry of Defence agreed to a contract worth up to [US] $52 million to purchase the MORPHEUS battlefield management application from Elbit Systems UK, a subsidiary of the Israeli defense giant.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on January 15, 2019. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Bring this joint exercise between Israel and the UK before the Lord. Thank Him for the opportunity for both air forces to learn from one another, share expertise and forge close and mutually beneficial relationships. Pray in advance for His protection over all participants and that all logistics, plans and arrangements will proceed smoothly.

Scripture

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments.


- Psalm 133:1–2

Israel, Hungary to Retrieve Holocaust Victims’ Remains from Danube

by Kate Norman

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A memorial for Jewish victims shot during the Holocaust.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019 | Sometime between the autumn and winter of 1944–1945, a teenage Jewish girl in Hungary huddled under a window near the Danube as she listened to what she described as “popping sounds.”

“What I saw was worse than anything I had ever seen before, worse than the most frightening accounts I had ever witnessed,” Zsuzsanna Ozsváth described in her Holocaust Memorial testimony. “Two Arrow Cross men were standing on the embankment of the river, aiming at and shooting at a group of men, women and children into the Danube—one after the other, on their coats the Yellow Star.

“I looked at the Danube,” she continued. “It was neither blue nor gray but red. With a throbbing heart, I ran back to the room in the middle of the apartment and sat on the floor, gasping for air.”

The bloody picture Ozsváth painted was all too common in Hungary at that time as the pro-Nazi, violently anti-Semitic Arrow Cross party took over the nation with the help of Germany and began a grisly reign of terror against the Jewish people.

According to the Shoah (Holocaust) Resource Foundation, under the violent reign of the Arrow Cross, “nearly 80,000 Jews were expelled from Hungary in a death march to the Austrian border. Many died on the way. At the same time, thousands of Jews were murdered in Budapest.”

Seventy-four years after these horrific massacres, a team of Israeli search and rescue divers are plunging into the Danube to retrieve remains of the victims murdered along the riverbank and give them a proper Jewish burial.

Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri announced Monday that his counterpart in Budapest, Sandor Pinter, gave permission for ZAKA, a volunteer recovery and rescue organization (often for remains of terror victims), to search the river for what is left of the Jewish victims.

“I’m pleased that the Hungarian Interior Minister has promised assistance, support, and technological equipment for the benefit of this project,” Deri said. “I hope the ZAKA divers will be able to bring these holy martyrs to full Jewish burial.”

There is no specific number or estimate, other than “thousands,” of Jewish people who were murdered along the banks of the Danube as Arrow Cross members indiscriminately lined up men, women and children along the bank of the river, often forcing them to step out of their shoes, and shot them into the icy water. The frigid river carried the bodies away, earning the Danube its nickname, “the Jewish cemetery.”

A Yad Vashem (Israel’s Holocaust Memorial) article further describes the horrifying scene of the mass murders.

“In some cases the Arrow Cross men tied together the hands of two or three Jews—adults or children. Then they would shoot only one of the people who were tied together,” the article said.

“When they did their work properly and positioned their victims at the edge of the water, all three would fall into the Danube, the dead body pulling the still-living victims with it,” the account continued. “All the bodies, tied together by shoelaces or rope or fate, would either sink or float away down the river.

“If the militiamen noticed that Jews were still alive, they used them for target practice. However, most of the Jews—especially the children—died immediately because the water was freezing cold.”

Today, people walking along the Danube might stumble across what looks like vintage shoes lying haphazardly along the river bank. Three signs placed strategically among the shoes explain their purpose: “To the memory of victims shot into the Danube by Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944–1945.”

It is “The Shoes on the Danube Promenade” memorial that honors the thousands of Jewish men, women and children who were murdered on the riverbank. The 60 pairs of iron shoes of all different styles and levels of wear-and-tear look as though their owners jumped into the water for a quick swim before returning to retrieve them.

In a video filmed standing in front of the memorial, Deri announced, “If the martyrs’ bones are found, they will be brought to Israel for burial.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 16, 2019)

Photo Credit: Nikodem Nijaki/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Ask the Lord to guard over this opportunity to bring dignity to the victims of one of the most atrocious episodes in Jewish history. Beseech Him to bring success to those undertaking the endeavor. Pray that this may bring some closure and comfort to the families of victims and survivors.

Scripture

For the LORD has comforted His people, and will have mercy on His afflicted. But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, and my LORD has forgotten me.” “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you.”


- Isaiah 49:13b–15

Visit from Israeli President Cheers Young Heart Patients from Third-world Countries

by Edgar Asher

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President Rivlin visits the Save a Child’s Heart cardiac center.

Thursday, 17 January 2019 | Young patients with heart problems were surprised to have a visit yesterday from President Reuven Rivlin when he arrived at the Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) pediatric cardiac center at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, just south of Tel Aviv.

The children, who come to Israel from all over the world, are being treated at the center for various heart defects. The center is an Israeli humanitarian organization that brings children from third-world countries who have some form of heart disease.

Since its foundation in 1996, SACH has brought more than 4,500 children to Israel from over 50 countries to undergo, if necessary, life-saving heart surgery. About half of the children treated are from the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Iraq and Morocco. About 30% are from African countries and the remainder are from Asia, Eastern Europe and the Americas.

In addition to treating the children, since 1996 over 60 medical missions have come to Wolfson for specialist training sessions.

All SACH doctors volunteer their time, with the only costs used to provide post-surgical care in Israel. Usually a child remains at the center for an average of three months. Children are brought to Holon in groups of four to six, accompanied by a nurse or by a family member if the child is less than three years old.

SACH was the creation of the late Dr. Amram Cohen who, as a doctor in the US Armed Forces in Korea in 1988, joined a program there to help treat poor local children with heart disease. In 1992 Dr. Cohen moved to Israel and in 1996 he arranged to bring three Ethiopian children to Israel for heart surgery. From this modest beginning, the SACH cardiac center grew.

In August 2001 Dr. Cohen was on holiday in Tanzania. He decided he would like to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. During the climb he suffered a heart attack and died. It was said that the attack was brought about by altitude sickness.

Dr. Amram Cohen was only forty-seven years old.

Source: (Ashernet originally published this article on January 15, 2019. Ref: 7240. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Photo by Ashernet

Prayer Focus
Thank God for Israel’s commitment to being a light to the nations and blessing needy children from third-world countries with the life-saving treatment they might otherwise not have received. Pray for health and healing for the young patients. Ask the Lord to establish their perception of Israel as positive so that they will return to their countries as advocates.

Scripture

Now the Lord had said to Abram…“I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”


- Genesis 12:1a–3

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