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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.
IDF Gears Up for Large-scale Drill Simulating All-out War
by Ilse Strauss
Thursday, 21 January 2021 | For the first time in its 73-year history, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is gearing up for a massive, month-long drill simulating a full-scale war involving all branches of the military.
The exercise—meant to sharpen the IDF’s “readiness and ability” to face a multi-front assault on a battlefield extending from the Gaza Strip in the south to the northern border with Syria and Lebanon—marks the military’s first foray into a drill of this size and scope.
“During the month, all aspects of combat will be simulated—from multidimensional defense to limiting the threat of projectiles and denying victories for the enemy, while conducting a series of multi-faceted barrages to strike enemy weaponry, headquarters, training camps, infrastructure and command-and-control centers,” the IDF said in a statement.
According to the military, the drill will involve both conscripted and reserve units from every regional command, branch and directorate, simulating scenarios “in the air, at sea and on land.” Representatives from the cabinet, Defense Ministry, National Emergency Management, Foreign Ministry and other security services have been appointed to observe and evaluate.
The IDF said the main goal of the exercise was to ensure that Israel’s fighting force remains prepared to defend the country and its people from all threats at all times, and to test new plans and strategies implemented by IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi.
However, Israel’s defense commentators also interpreted the announcement of the drill as an important message to Iran and its terror proxies perched on Israel’s borders—Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, and perhaps more importantly, Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Although the exact date and nature of the exercise are still to be determined pending coronavirus restrictions, the war games are slated to take place in the upcoming summer.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 13, 2021)
Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/flickr.com
Photo License: Flickr
Pray for this massive military exercise, the likes of which Israel has not seen in its history. Ask the Lord for His direction, protection and involvement in every area of the drill, and pray that lessons will be learned that will sharpen skills and reveal any areas that are in need of improvement. Above all, beseech the Lord that these war games will serve as a strong warning to Israel’s enemies.
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the LORD our God. They have bowed down and fallen; but we have risen and stand upright.
Europe Concerned about Iran’s Plans to Produce Uranium Metal Fuel
Monday, 18 January 2021 | France, Germany and the United Kingdom on Saturday expressed their concern regarding the “grave military implications” of Iran’s plan to produce uranium metal, saying in a joint statement that the metal “has no credible civilian use.”
The statement noted that Tehran had committed not to engage in the production of uranium metal or conduct research on uranium metallurgy for 15 years under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement and called on Iran to return to compliance.
The JCPOA stipulates that Iran may not produce or acquire uranium metal, a sensitive material that can be used in the core of a nuclear bomb, for 15 years.
“We strongly urge Iran to halt this activity, and return to compliance with its JCPOA commitments without further delay if it is serious about preserving the deal,” said the statement.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) informed IAEA member states on Wednesday that Iran planned to produce uranium metal from natural uranium and then produce uranium metal-enriched up to 20% to fuel its Tehran Research Reactor, according to Reuters.
The move is the latest in a series of violations by Iran of its commitments under the agreement that Israeli defense officials believe are intended to strengthen its bargaining position with the incoming Biden administration ahead of nuclear talks.
Iran announced on January 4 that it had resumed enriching uranium to 20% at its underground nuclear facility at Fordow. However, it has so far only gone as far as 4.5%, above the 3.67% limit imposed by the JCPOA, but still far short of weapons grade.
Iran has been accelerating its breaches of the deal over the past two months.
Also on Saturday, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps conducted a series of surface-to-surface ballistic-missile drills against “hypothetical hostile enemy ships” in the Iranian Ocean, according to the Associated Press.
The drill began on Friday with Iran’s aerospace division launching missiles as well as drones against simulated targets in the country’s central desert region.
In another drill on Thursday, Iran fired cruise missiles in the Gulf of Oman. Based on helicopter footage released by Iran, the drill was conducted under the apparent surveillance of the USS Georgia, a nuclear submarine which the US Navy sent to the Persian Gulf at the end of December.
Photo Credit: Tasnim News Agency/wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
Pray that these European nations will continue to take a strong stand with Israel against Iran’s blatant and ongoing violations of the JCPOA. Also, pray that the United States will maintain economic pressure on Tehran, and ask the Lord for His wisdom as world leaders determine strategies to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Let his arrows be as if cut in pieces. Let them be like a snail which melts away as it goes, like a stillborn child of a woman, that they may not see the sun.
Israel Approves Construction of 780 Homes in Judea and Samaria
Tuesday, 19 January 2021 | The Israeli government on Sunday approved plans to build 780 new homes in Judea and Samaria, drawing criticism from the European Union [EU], according to Reuters.
One hundred of the units will be built in Tal Menashe, a settlement [Israeli community] in northern Samaria that was home to Esther Horgen, a 52-year-old mother of six killed on December 21 by a Palestinian terrorist while she was jogging in the forest near her house. More than 200 units will be built in Nofei Nehemia/Rehelim as well as approximately 400 units in Beit El, Evyatar, Shavei Shomron, Oranit, the Barkan Industrial Zone, Karnei Shomron and Givat Ze’ev.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the order for the construction on January 11.
In a statement, the EU said Israel’s decision to advance the plans “is contrary to international law and further undermines the prospects of a viable two-state solution.”
Israel and the US dispute the illegality of construction in Judea and Samaria. The US State Department declared on November 18, 2019, that such construction was not necessarily a violation of international law.
Photo Credit: Dvirraz/commons.wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
Pray that Israel will move ahead wisely but courageously as it makes provision for its citizens as does any sovereign nation. Also, ask the Lord that those expert voices being raised to declare that Israel’s actions are not in fact a violation of international law will be heard, bringing truth to a situation where misinformation is rampant.
Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men! You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.
Israel Extends Lockdown to Month End amid Rising COVID-19 Infections
Wednesday, 20 January 2021 | The Israeli Cabinet voted on Tuesday to extend the country’s current coronavirus lockdown for an additional 10 days, until January 31, and impose tighter restrictions on travelers entering the country, the Prime Minister’s Office and Health Ministry announced in a joint statement.
The extension is scheduled to begin Thursday night, when the current lockdown was slated to end. Israel’s current and third national COVID-19 lockdown began on December 27, but restrictions were tightened on January 8 as morbidity continued to rise, with the Health Ministry confirming the presence in the country of both the UK and South African variants of the virus.
According to the new travel restrictions, which are scheduled to begin on January 23, anyone entering Israel will have had to present airline personnel in the country of origin with confirmation of a negative coronavirus PCR test taken within 72 hours ahead of take-off—or Health Ministry documentation of the traveler’s having recovered from COVID-19 or having been vaccinated.
As of Wednesday morning, 1,142 new coronavirus cases had been identified in the country, according to the Health Ministry, and a total of 2,261,843 Israelis had received the first dose rose of the vaccine, representing 25.45% of the population. A total of 540,406 had received the second dose, or 6.08% of the population, according to the Health Ministry.
According to the results of a serological study conducted by Tel Aviv’s Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer published on Monday, more than 98% of the people who received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed antibodies that neutralize the virus.
The study tested subjects for antibodies a week after they received their second dose. Out of the 102 tests analyzed, researchers saw the level of antibodies jump by factors ranging from six to 20—even higher than the level of antibodies measured in recovered COVID-19 patients who had been seriously ill.
Israel kicked off its vaccination campaign last month with members of the over-60 population receiving the first dose. The age group was lowered to those above the age of 55 and then 50 in the weeks that followed. On Tuesday, the Health Ministry lowered the age to 40.
Photo Credit: Daniel Kirchhevel/bridgesforpeace.com
Beseech the Lord for a move of His Spirit to destroy the virus throughout the nation. Also pray that Israelis will be compliant and responsive to the instructions of their leaders as they put measures in place to stop the spread. Pray that Israel’s vaccination program will be successful and cry out to the Lord that the lockdown will end soon. Also pray that Bridges for Peace staff members who are visiting in their home countries will be able to reenter Israel soon and new volunteers will also be allowed into the country.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Israel, Slovakia to Sign US $180 Million Defense Export Agreement
Friday, 15 January 2021 | The Slovak government has approved the purchase of 17 radar systems produced by Israel Aerospace Industries [IAI], Israel’s Defense Ministry announced on Thursday.
The deal, worth some €150 million (US $182 million), will include technology transfer from Israel to Slovakia, as well as industrial cooperation between the two countries, and is being led by the ministry’s International Defense Cooperation Directorate. The radar components will be manufactured in collaboration with defense industries in Slovakia under the professional guidance of IAI and the ministry.
The flagship Multi-Mission Radar (MMR) manufactured by IAI subsidiary ELTA systems is combat-proven with extensive operational experience in Israel and around the world. The radar detects and classifies airborne threats, calculates the threat level and provides essential data that enables systems to neutralize multiple threats simultaneously.
The systems will be interoperable with NATO defense mechanisms, with similar systems having been incorporated into the command-and-control systems of additional countries in the NATO alliance in recent years.
According to ELTA CEO Yoav Turgeman, approximately 130 MMRs have been delivered to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, and are already operational in the United States, Canada and Israel.
“I congratulate the employees of the Israeli Ministry of Defense and IAI on another significant achievement, which reflects the excellent capabilities of Israel’s defense industry, as well as Israel’s strengthening relations and cooperation with NATO countries,” said Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
Such technology and procurement agreements “are part of the security concept of the State of Israel and particularly important for Israeli resilience at this time, due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.
Photo Credit: Israeli Ministry of Defense/jns.org
Praise the Lord for this export agreement between Israel and Slovakia. Thank Him for the innovation and creativity that make Israel’s technology valuable to the entire world. Pray that the relationship between these two nations will continue to grow, and ask the Lord to bless Slovakia as it becomes a true supporter of Israel.
“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.”
Educational Ethnic Cleansing
by Richard Kemp~Gatestone
Thursday, 21 January 2021 | “The goal is achieved! No more Jews at German universities,” the leading Nazi student newspaper, Die Bewegung, triumphantly proclaimed in 1938.
Of course, nothing like it could ever happen again. Except something like it is happening again—now, and in Britain. According to a report published this week by David Collier, a British researcher, some UK universities are now virtually Judenfrei: free of Jews.
This is a chilling indictment not just of British academia but of a liberal democratic society that has tolerated, often through ignorance or complacency, a wave of discrimination against Jews that has swept through the universities over recent decades. From these halls of learning, anti-Semitism has spread out, driving and empowering what is now a solid movement that threatens Jews in various parts of society and has led to many of them leaving. This is not just in Britain. Collier characterizes academia as “the epicentre of global anti-Semitism.”
This Jew-hate is cloaked in anti-Zionism, a doctrine that claims the Jewish state, alone among the nations, has no right to exist. It seeks to whip up anti-Israel hatred by focusing on three core lies: accusations of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and settler-colonialism.
As Jewish students and professors were hounded out and eventually banned from universities and high schools by German state edict, today in Britain anti-Zionist academics and the students they influence have created an environment that alienates many Jews by using the pretext of their support for the Jewish state. Of course, not every Jewish student supports Israel and very few are uncritical, as with their own country.
Nevertheless, Collier says: “Jewish people today on campus can be tolerated, protected or abused. At no point are they treated as equals. The best they can hope for is protection and tolerance in a hostile environment. On the campus the prevailing wisdom is that their beliefs in Jewish identity are fundamentally wrong.”
Specifically, Jews are grotesquely branded as members of a race that has no place in the land of Israel, but is a “white” colonialist occupier and oppressor of the indigenous peoples.
Collier asks: “Why would an openly Jewish student want to go to a university where they will be vilified by other students and victimized by lecturers?” The reality in Britain today is that many Jewish students choose their university not by the course content or the quality of teaching, but by the extent of anti-Semitism they will find there. Baroness Ruth Deech, formerly Britain’s Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education, and an accomplished academic and former principal of an Oxford college, previously commented that “amongst Jewish students, there is gradually a feeling that there are certain universities that you should avoid.”
You can meet many Jewish students in Britain and in several other Western countries who attest to this, who will tell you of some universities that are relatively safe for them and others that need to be sidestepped.
I speak frequently at universities on a range of subjects. Only when speaking at the invitation of Jewish or pro-Israel groups have I experienced any hostility as opposed to open debate. In virtually every case, some form of physical protest as well as social media abuse is guaranteed—not to disagree but to silence. This has taken place in the UK, the US, South Africa and Australia, where one talk was so severely disrupted that it led to an in-depth investigation by the university authorities with rare disciplinary action taken against the perpetrators, which included academic staff.
Collier’s research shows that: “If they [Jewish students] are abused, it is far less serious than an offense against someone from the Muslim…communities. If an academic is responsible for the abuse, it is the academic who will be protected and the complaining Jewish student who will be victimized—even if the student can prove abuse.”
In a classic pattern of radicalization, there exist in some universities networks of academics who widely contaminate their students with their bias and hatred. Most effectively in terms of perpetuating the spread of anti-Semitism, some will indoctrinate their students through supervision of PhD studies that can lead to hard-core activism and further lateral and vertical transmission, often from university to university and from country to country.
Their influence is not confined to the universities. Some write libel-filled books, publish twisted columns in national newspapers and are called on to spread their bias in the broadcast media. NGOs, government organizations and international corporations consult and partner with these individuals. They often play leading roles in movements such as the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign and activist groups like the so-called Palestine Solidarity Campaign, inciting anti-Jewish hatred far and wide, sometimes damaging property and intimidating Jews on the streets.
Britain cannot be compared to Germany in the 1930s, but similarities exist in some of the objectives and methods of the Nazi bully-boys at German universities in that era. Before Jews were finally excluded, members of the National Socialist Students’ League often disrupted lectures, provoked altercations and intimidated Jewish students. All of this can be seen in British university campuses today.
Responding to a violent protest by students at King’s College London protesting a visiting Israeli speaker, Lord Eric Pickles, UK Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust issues, said in Parliament: “If we need to know who the new fascists are, we need only look at those who perpetrated that attack.” As Robert Festenstein of the UK’s Jewish Human Rights Watch, who has been working for years to combat anti-Semitism in British universities, told this author: “Jews are being educationally ethnically cleansed from certain universities in the UK.”
The objective of today’s academic bullies is not so much to drive the Jews out but to shut them up and shut them down—to suppress any dissent from their own radical anti-Zionist agenda aimed at delegitimizing the Jewish state. They often succeed, forcing Jews to go elsewhere, to keep quiet about facts regarding Israel and even to cause them to hide their Jewish identity. Quite understandably, many young Jews just want to get on with their studies and their lives, not to engage in potentially damaging political confrontations and to risk vilification or worse, which could also have an adverse effect on their examination results and employment prospects.
Why should any Jew, as any member of any race or religion, be victimized because of who they are? Why should any proud Jew that wants to express his or her support for the Jewish state be afraid to do so? Israel is one of Britain’s most important allies, supplying us with life-saving intelligence and technology, and is an increasingly strong trade partner. Above all, contrary to the twisted precepts of the Jew-haters, Israel is not guilty of the false claims they make to undermine it. At any rate, in a civilized society, it must be possible to openly put across the opposing argument without fear.
In 2016, the British government adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism, which provides a tool to enable public bodies to act against such discrimination as is rife in our universities. The government has been working to persuade universities to adopt the IHRA definition, including by warning that funding streams may be removed. Often bitterly contested by academic staff desperate to remain unchallenged in their bully pulpits, as of last autumn only 29 of 133 higher education institutions had complied, although a few others have apparently done so since. More pressure needs to be piled onto the rejectionists, as well as rigorous monitoring, to ensure adherence on the campuses, if need be enshrining the definition in law.
Colonel Richard Kemp is a former British Army Commander. He was also head of the international terrorism team in the U.K. Cabinet Office and is now a writer and speaker on international and military affairs.
Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published by Gatestone Institute on January 20, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: Philafrenzy/wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
Ask the Lord to bring a swift end to this vile expression of hatred for the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Pray that professors involved in this type of indoctrination will either change their minds and their tactics or find another line of work. Ask the Lord for His blessing on those educators who teach the truth and for His protection and encouragement to surround Jewish students as they battle anti-Semitism on their campuses.
They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones. They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.” For they have consulted together with one consent; they form a confederacy against You.
Critical Facts about the Upcoming Palestinian Authority Elections
by Adv. Maurice Hirsch
Monday, 18 January 2021 | On January 15, Palestinian Authority [PA] Chairman Mahmoud Abbas published a presidential decree setting the dates for Palestinian elections. According to the decree, elections for the Palestinian Parliament (The Palestinian Legislative Council) will take place on May 22. These elections will be followed by elections for the PA “President”/Chairman on July 31, 2021.
According to the PA Elections Law, elections for the position of “President” must be held every four years. The incumbent can remain in the position for a maximum of two terms. Elections for the Palestinian Parliament are also meant to be held every four years.
Despite the law, elections for the PA President/Chairman were last held in January 2005. On January 12, 2005, the PA Central Elections Committee confirmed that Mahmoud Abbas had been elected. Since no new elections were ever held, on January 12, 2021, Abbas started the seventeenth year of his four-year term as president of the PA.
The situation regarding elections for the Palestinian Parliament is not much different. The last general elections for the Palestinian Parliament were held in January 2006. In those elections, Hamas—an internationally designated terror organization—won the popular vote in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and a majority of the seats in the parliament. Following the electoral success, Hamas’s leader, Ismail Haniyeh, formed the new PA government.
The Hamas win posed a significant challenge to Abbas, the PA’s international donors and supporters, and Israel. Abbas had been elected PA President/Chairman just a year prior. His Fatah [leading secular Palestinian political party] party had controlled the PA since its creation in 1994. Abbas and Fatah were unwilling to relinquish the control they had enjoyed for over a decade.
The international donors, predominantly the United States and the European Union, were suddenly faced with the problem that any aid they gave to the PA would be controlled by Hamas, which is designated as a terror organization by both the US and the EU.
From Israel’s point of view, Hamas’s election was also very problematic, to say the least. Emboldened by the electoral win, from the beginning of 2006, Hamas substantially increased its terror attacks on Israel. These attacks reached their peak on June 25, 2006, when Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel from Gaza, killed two Israeli soldiers, and kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.
In response to the rise in terror attacks and immediately following the attack and kidnapping of Shalit, Israel arrested most of the Hamas members of government. Abbas seized the opportunity, deposed the remainder of the government and replaced it with a so-called “technocrat” government, which was dominated by Fatah. Hamas, angry with the actions of Abbas, seized control of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007.
Since then, de facto, the lawfully elected Palestinian parliament stopped functioning. Hamas has continued its control of the Gaza Strip ever since, while Abbas and Fatah control the PA areas in Judea and Samaria.
In December 2018, Abbas dissolved the parliament promising new elections within six months. He never delivered.
On the backdrop of this abysmal “democratic tradition”, the Palestinian leadership has now decided to hold elections for both PA president and for the PA parliament. In anticipation of the elections, the December 2020 survey by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research provides important insight to understanding what is to be expected in the elections.
The first major finding is that in a presidential race between Fatah’s Abbas and Hamas’s Haniyeh, most Palestinians would vote for terror head Haniyeh. This result is not necessarily a reflection of the widespread Palestinian support for terror, but more likely a reflection of the demand of most Palestinians that Abbas resign. It is also probably the result of the belief of the majority of the Palestinian public that Abbas is the wrong candidate and that Fatah has better options.
The poll reflected the widespread Palestinian perception of corruption in the Fatah-dominated PA institutions, as compared to a less negative perception regarding the institutions controlled by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Interestingly, the Palestinian dissatisfaction appears to be personally linked to Abbas in his capacity as president.
While 72.6% of those polled expressed support for holding the elections, 60.5% are skeptical whether the elections will actually take place. Most of those polled expressed skepticism as to whether Fatah or Hamas would accept the other one winning.
The excuse often cited by the Fatah leadership for not holding elections in the last 15 years is the Israeli objection to elections being held in Jerusalem. In truth, the Israeli objection was not a principled objection to holding elections, but rather the specific objection to Israeli and internationally designated terror organizations, such as Hamas, participating in the elections, including having the ability to campaign in Jerusalem.
While Fatah had no qualms about deposing the Hamas 2006 government, when it came to elections that might have undermined its dominance, Fatah suddenly became the guardian of Palestinian democracy. In the Gaza Strip, Hamas, on the other hand, saw no difficulty imposing its electoral success on Fatah, including—when deemed necessary—throwing Fatah members off the tops of buildings.
In the meantime, despite their differences, both Fatah and Hamas seem to be publicly engaged and committed to holding the elections. Whether those elections will ever take place, and whether the results of the elections will indeed effect any change, remains to be seen.
The interim period, however, raises a number of fundamental questions. What will happen if Hamas, as was the case in 2006, wins the elections for the Palestinian Parliament, and is then charged with forming the new Palestinian government? Will the US and the EU continue to grant legitimacy to a PA government led by a designated terror organization?
On a similar note, if Hamas does win either the presidential elections or the parliamentary elections or both, and Fatah, as most Palestinians expect, refuses to relinquish control, will the Biden administration and the EU continue to support the de facto Fatah dictatorship in the West Bank?
The option of “crossing that bridge when we get to it” is clearly not a sound basis for making major foreign policy decisions. When deciding whether to actively support Hamas participation in the elections, and potentially applying pressure on Israel to agree or facilitate the participation, or whether to just acquiesce to Hamas participation, leaving it to Palestinians to find a solution to that problem, the potential of Hamas winning the presidential elections or the parliamentary elections or both, should be considered a probable outcome.
If reason and basic morality were to prevail, the Biden administration and the EU would make it clear that they do not accept, in any shape or form, the participation of US and EU designated terror organizations in the Palestinian elections, and that they are unwilling to facilitate such a decision. Moreover, they would do well to clarify that any member of Hamas holding any position in the PA would automatically result in the immediate cessation of any aid to the PA.
Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published by Palestinian Media Watch on January 17, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: Arnaud Jaegers/unsplash.com
Pray that neither the United States nor the EU will support the participation of designated terror organizations in a sham Palestinian election. Pray that this will instead be a real election with legitimate candidates and a winner who is committed to peace with Israel and the well-being of his constituents.
When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan.
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