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Friday, January 29, 2021

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

Israel’s Military Head Has Ordered Plans for Possible Strike on Iranian Nuclear Sites

by JNS

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IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi

Wednesday, 27 January 2021 | Israel Defense Forces [IDF] Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said he has ordered the preparation of plans to attack Iran’s nuclear sites in order to prevent the Islamic Republic from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“Iran can decide that it wants to advance to a bomb, either covertly or in a provocative way. In light of this basic analysis, I have ordered the IDF to prepare a number of operational plans, in addition to the existing ones. We are studying these plans, and we will develop them over the next year,” he said in a speech to the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).

“The government will, of course, be the one to decide if they should be used. But these plans need to be on the table, in existence and trained for,” stressed Kochavi.

Earlier this month, Minister of Settlement Affairs Tzachi Hanegbi of the Likud Party said Israel could attack Iran’s nuclear program if the United States decides to go ahead and re-enter the deal. On January 13, Israel launched unusually forceful strikes at Iranian targets in Syria.

Kochavi also urged the new Biden administration not to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal.

“With the changing of the administration in the United States, the Iranians have said they want to return to the previous agreement. I want to state my position—the position that I give to all my colleagues when I meet them around the world. Returning to the 2015 nuclear agreement or even to an agreement that is similar but with a few improvements is a bad thing, and it is not the right thing to do,” he said.

During his confirmation hearings last week, US Secretary of State Tony Blinken said that America would not be joining the Iranian nuclear deal “anytime soon.”

On Monday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben-Shabbat that the US would “closely consult” with Israel on all matters of regional security.

Source: (This article was originally published by JNS on January 26, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Seek the Lord for wisdom for Israel’s leaders, especially Chief of Staff Kochavi, as various plans are considered for dealing with Iran and its nuclear ambitions. Pray that the United States will, in fact, stand strong with Israel on this and all matters of Israeli security.


I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.

- Psalm 32:8

International Holocaust Memorial Day—The World Remembers

by Ilse Strauss

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Today is the annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Wednesday, 27 January 2021 | Today is the annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is a day that transcends borders and religions as the world remembers the terrible genocide during which an estimated six million Jewish men, women and children were murdered.

On January 27, 1945, the Red Army Russian forces reached the Auschwitz–Birkenau extermination camp in Poland and opened the gates to the largest Nazi killing center in Europe. The Russian forces found only 4,500 people inside. Ten days before the Red Army came, the Nazis sent nearly 60,000 starving prisoners on what became known as Death Marches, grueling treks for miles on end in extreme temperatures. Nearly half of those who marched through the gates of Auschwitz at the Nazis’ command did not return, perishing from exposure and exhaustion, their bodies depleted from years of malnutrition and illness.

Some 1.1 million people—90% of them Jewish—died at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators in Auschwitz. The camp has since become a symbol of the Holocaust, representing the depths of evil, cruelty and deprivation.

In 2005, the United Nations designated January 27 as the International Day of the Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust and today, 76 years later, the date continues to echo as a clarion call to remember that which was lost.

Now in its 16th year, a number of countries participate in International Holocaust Memorial Day every January 27 and host events to remember the terrible legacy of the Holocaust, with the day even considered a national event in the United Kingdom. The Jewish state, for its part, honors this occasion, yet has another day—Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) starting at sunset on the 27th day of the biblical month of Nisan—set aside to mourn the six million people who perished simply because they were Jewish.

As the world continues to reel from the onslaught of COVID-19, the large gatherings and memorial events that usually mark this day made way for online proceedings. This year’s memorial day has a two-part focus: remembering the 1,500,000 Jewish children who perished at the hands of Nazi Germany and combatting rising anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, which is at a post-war high, the Times of Israel reports.

Nearly 250,000 children were murdered at Auschwitz–Birkenau, of which at least 216,000 were Jewish. All too often, these young victims were deported to the extermination camp alone and died in the gas chambers immediately upon arrival. A mere 700 children of all nationalities survived the death camp.

“The adult world—after all, so often unjust and cruel—has never demonstrated so much of its heartlessness, its evil,” the Times of Israel quoted Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, director of the Auschwitz–Birkenau State Museum in Poland, as saying. “This [murder of children] cannot be justified by any ideology, reckoning or politics. This year we want to dedicate the anniversary of liberation to the youngest victims of the camp.”

While today is set aside as a solemn remembrance of the horrors of the Holocaust with many across the world vowing “never again,” it is tragic that anti-Semitism—the virulent, consistent and perpetual prejudice against the Jewish people that has plagued the offspring of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for millennia and ultimately served as the catalyst for the persecution, pogroms, expulsion, genocide and the Holocaust—is once again rampant.

Recent years have been marked by a near universal rise in anti-Semitism to levels dangerously close to the days of pre-war Nazi Germany, while Holocaust denial has skyrocketed to a post-war high. Shocking statistics recently released by UNESCO revealed that 47% of Germans polled during 2020 view Germany as “not particularly guilty” for the horrors of the Holocaust, the Times of Israel reports. Moreover, two-thirds of the American youth surveyed were unaware how many people perished in the Holocaust. For its part, in Sweden, one-third of the social media statements referring to Jews are marred by anti-Semitism or threats of violence.

For this reason, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has chosen to dedicate this year’s remembrance day to combatting Holocaust denial and distortion.

The United Nations and UNESCO are also throwing their weight behind the drive against Holocaust denial by launching a social media campaign entitled #ProtectTheFacts aimed at creating awareness regarding the “dangers of Holocaust denial and distortion.

According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, there are currently roughly 179,600 Holocaust survivors living in Israel. Some 17,000 survivors passed away since the last International Holocaust Memorial Day in 2020, 900 of them of COVID-10.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 21, 2020)

Photo Credit: Hannah Taylor/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for the gifts of Christians that make it possible for BFP to reach out in love to many of those survivors remaining in Israel. Pray that more donations will come in, enabling our teams to support even more survivors with food and other necessities as well as encouragement, warm smiles and companionship. Thank Him that the Holocaust is being remembered and its victims honored in nations around the world. Pray that such a focus will help to stem the tide of anti-Semitism and beseech the Lord that Holocaust denial will not be tolerated.


The LORD is righteous; He has cut in pieces the cords of the wicked. Let all those who hate Zion be put to shame and turned back. Let them be as the grass on the housetops, which withers before it grows up.

- Psalm 129:4–6

Bridges for Peace provides regular food parcels filled with all the makings of nutritious meals to nearly 23,000 needy Israelis every month. Many of these are Holocaust survivors, who struggle to make ends meet, keep the heat on during the cold, wet winter months and put wholesome food on the table. Bridges for Peace wants to extend that hand of love, support, physical sustenance and friendship to these precious survivors who have suffered such terrible cruelty. But we can’t do so without your help. Would you please consider giving a generous donation to our Food Program to ensure that we can put nutritious food on our Holocaust survivors' tables?

Israel Opens Embassy in UAE

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Eitan Na’eh, the head of Israel’s mission to the UAE

Monday, 25 January 2021 | The Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi officially opened today with the arrival of the Head of Mission, Mr. Eitan Na’eh. The Israeli embassy in the United Arab Emirates [UAE] will promote the full range of relations between the two countries in all areas, and expand ties with the Emirati government, economic bodies and the private sector, academic institutions, the media and more.

The embassy will work to advance Israel’s interests and to serve its citizens.

Until a permanent location is found, the embassy will operate from temporary offices, which will be inaugurated in the coming days. This is an additional step in the implementation of the peace agreement between Israel and the UAE, signed in Washington on 15 September 2020, and of the series of agreements that have been signed since.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabi Ashkenazi said: “I wish Eitan Na’eh and the embassy staff success in their first steps in Abu Dhabi, which they are taking in the name of the State of Israel. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs continues to lead the implementation of the peace and normalization agreements in the Gulf and to advance Israel’s international status. The opening of the mission will enable the expansion of bilateral ties between Israel and the UAE, and the full and quick implementation of the potential inherent in our relations. I would like to thank the heir to the throne, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, and my colleague and friend, Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, for their leadership and hospitality towards our representatives.”

FM Ashkenazi also welcomed the Emirati government’s decision to open an embassy in Israel: “This is an important decision that will facilitate the promotion of the warm ties between our countries and peoples. We look forward to receiving representatives of the UAE soon.”

The Israeli Liaison Office in Rabat and Consulate General of Israel in Dubai are expected to open in the coming days. This is in addition to the Israeli embassy in Manama, Bahrain, which has already been active for several weeks.

Source: (This press release was originally published by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs on January 24, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Foreign and Commonwealth Office/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord that advances continue to be made in the implementation of the Abraham Accords and other more recent agreements. Pray that these relationships will continue to grow, providing stability in the region and a growing united opposition to the Iranian threat. Pray that He will be glorified as His faithfulness to Israel is revealed.


I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies, according to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses.

- Isaiah 63:7

Israel’s Poverty Rate Rises as Standard of Living Crashes

by Gad Lior

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Children looking for discarded food in the market in Jerusalem (illustrative)

Friday, 22 January 2021 | Israel’s poverty rate has increased while the standard of living has dipped significantly throughout 2020 due to the coronavirus crisis and the consequent three national closures, a report published on Thursday by the National Insurance Institute said.

The report specifies that since the outbreak of the pandemic in Israel in March 2020, the number of citizens living below the poverty line had increased by 7%, accompanied by a significant 4.4% decrease in the nation’s standard of living.

The current drop in living standards in Israel is the most significant the country had endured since the economic crisis of 2008 and is 23% worse.

The report further states that the number of people living under the poverty line dropped slightly to 1,980,309, compared to more than 2 million in 2019. These figures are not necessarily encouraging since the poverty line is defined by the average standard of living, which has dropped considerably in the past year.

Among Israel’s Jewish population below 1,277,477 people are living under the poverty line, 560,882 of which are children.

The report shows that the average monthly income of families in 2020 decreased by 11% to NIS 13,627 [US $4,157.63], compared to NIS 15,274 [US $4,660.13] in 2019.

Eli Cohen, CEO of Pitchon Lev said: “For years we have been arguing that poverty is the scourge [of Israel], a state of affairs that is expanding to new audiences.”

“According to the report, a 23% drop in living standards means that the lower part of the middle class has fallen into poverty. The only thing that curbs this catastrophe is government payments. Government payments will stop in the near future while the decline in living standards will remain,” added Cohen. “Behind every number, figure and statistic in this report is a person, family and a business that collapsed.”

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynet on January 21, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Sylvia Large/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for an end to the virus and the need for lockdowns and restrictions in Israel. Pray that He will move mightily to restore the standard of living, and pray again for Him to touch the hearts of Christians as BFP has the opportunity to show the love of Christians to increasing numbers of Israelis who are struggling to make ends meet.


“You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy in your land.’”

- Deuteronomy 15:10–11

Lone Soldier from Britain Thwarts Palestinian Terror Attack in Judea and Samaria

by Elior Levy and Yoav Zitun

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Following the attempted attack, IDF forces set up checkpoints near the town of Salfit (pictured).

Wednesday, 27 January 2021 | Twenty-two-year-old Corporal Lian Harush, who came to Israel alone from Britain to enlist in the IDF [Israel Defense Forces], was the soldier who fended off a terrorist that attempted to carry out a stabbing attack at a West Bank [Judea and Samaria] junction on Tuesday.

Harush was assaulted by a Palestinian attacker, identified as 17-year-old Atallah Ryan from the West Bank village of Qarawat Bani Hassan, who attempted to carry out an attack against the soldiers stationed at a junction near the city of Ariel.

According to eyewitness accounts, Ryan focused his attack on Harush, who managed to duck his blade before hitting him with the butt of her weapon as a force commander stationed nearby adjusted a safe shooting angle from which he neutralized the threat.

Both Harush and her commander were unharmed in the attack.

Following the attempted attack, IDF forces set up checkpoints near the West Bank town of Salfit—located near the attacker’s home village—in an attempt to capture any accomplices who may have aided him.

Ephraim Brigade Commander Col. Yiftach Norkin arrived at the scene shortly after the incident in order to interrogate the forces stationed at the junction.

Both Corporal Harush and her platoon commander were praised for their performance and resourcefulness during the attempted attack.

Ariel Mayor Eliyahu Shaviro also lauded the soldiers for their “resourcefulness and quick response.”

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on January 26, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Ameen Rammal/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord that Corporal Harush acted quickly and no one was injured by the terrorist. Pray that any accomplices will be found and prosecuted, and beseech the Lord for the effectiveness of the new checkpoints in preventing such pointless and unprovoked acts of violence in future.


“But they shall not prevail against you; for I am with you to save you and deliver you,” says the LORD. “I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem you from the grip of the terrible.”

- Jeremiah 15:20b–21

First Pediatric COVID-19 ICU Opens in Jerusalem

by Yori Yalon~Israel Hayom via JNS

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A nurse cares for a baby at Hadassah Medical Center Ein Kerem’s new pediatric COVID-19 ICU.

Monday, 25 January 2021 | As of Friday, there were four infants and toddlers hospitalized in a new intensive-care unit for children at Hadassah Medical Center Ein Kerem in Jerusalem.

Three of the children, who ranged in age from 13 days to 2 years old, were listed in serious condition.

The medical center reported that two of the infants suffered from “serious, chronic” pre-existing conditions.

“One of the children, age 2, is in serious condition. The second, age 6 weeks, is in serious condition. The third, 13 days old, is in serious condition but stabilized, and the fourth, age 9 months, who doesn’t have any pre-existing conditions, is in serious condition,” the medical center reported on Friday.

The director of Hadassah Pediatric Intensive Care, Dr. Uri Polk, said the special coronavirus unit—the first of its kind in Israel—had been established to care for “children and infants with COVID-19 who need ventilators or intensive care by staff whose expertise is in putting children in a medically induced coma and caring for them in an intensive care setting.”

According to Polk, three of the patients on the new unit were in medically induced comas and on ventilators due to serious lung conditions.

“Their condition is extremely serious,” stressed Polk.

Head nurse on the new unit Sonya Sharabi said “these are babies whose parents, or other relatives, are also sick. The parents can come here if they’d like to be here 24/7, but they’re torn between caring for the other children at home and staying on the unit with the babies. Some of them are constantly running back and forth between the hospital and home.”

“As staff members, we realize their immense difficulty,” she continued. “The babies need to be hugged, touched, and when there’s no parent by their side, it’s very hard to think about what they’re going through. We all try to help with everything, and, of course, there are staff members inside for hours at a time to watch over them closely.”

Source: (This article was originally published by Israel Hayom via JNS on January 24, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Hadassah Medical Center/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for this specialized unit to care for infants and toddlers who are suffering with COVID19. Pray for these four children and their families. Cry out to the Lord for healing for each of them and for their parents who are under extreme stress as they deal with their own illnesses and the needs of other children at home. Cry out to God for His mercy and for a real sense of His presence and love to descend upon each of these households.


Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name. Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, just as we hope in You.

- Psalm 33:20–22

In a First, Arab-initiated Event Commemorates the Holocaust

by Eliana Rudee~JNS

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Individuals from the group Sharaka held an online event to memorialize victims of the Holocaust.

Thursday, 28 January 2021 | In the wake of the Abraham Accords and in honor of International Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27, individuals from the group Sharaka held an event to memorialize victims of the Holocaust and to promote an action plan for Holocaust awareness and combating anti-Semitism.

According to Sharaka (“partnership” in Arabic), this week’s event was the first-ever initiative to commemorate the Holocaust, bringing together Arab leaders in the Middle East.

Participants from the United Arab Emirates [UAE], Bahrain, Morocco and Saudi Arabia—some of whom participated in Sharaka’s tour of Israel in December, which marked many of their first experiences learning about the Holocaust—were joined by viewers from North America, Europe and Israel.

“While Jews and individuals in the Western world study about the Holocaust for years in school, in a lot of Arab countries, there are Holocaust deniers, like in Iran, and friends in Saudi Arabia have told me that they never heard about the Holocaust in school,” Sharaka founder Amit Deri told JNS.

During the online event, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin offered an address, saying it was “very moving” to see young people of all religions from across the region working together. He also noted that the 50 leaders from Sharaka visited Yad Vashem in Jerusalem during their trip.

“We are bringing together Holocaust survivors with young Israeli and Gulf leaders, Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze, to say: ‘Never again,’” he added.

Rivlin called on all countries to “ensure that the promise of never again becomes a shared reality.” That can be done in part by adopting the IHRA [International Holocaust Remembrance Association] definition of anti-Semitism, joining to “defeat the virus of anti-Semitism and radical hate” and showing “zero tolerance for forms of anti-Semitism, racism and extremism.”

“You Are Not Alone Anymore”

Auschwitz survivor Vera Kriegel told her heart-wrenching story of being subjected to pseudo-medical experiments by Dr. Josef Mengele, who infamously used prisoners at the Auschwitz death camp for experiments.

Beginning with the greeting Salaam Alaikum, she told the group, “I was punished and starved, and treated as a monkey. My self-esteem, my pride, my identity—all was taken away from me. I became a total nothing. I became a number, tattooed on my arm: A26946. This was my identity.”

Kriegel and her twin sister, Olga, were just six years old in 1942 when they were violently taken from their beds in Czechoslovakia on the eve of Passover by Nazi soldiers and brought to the concentration camp, where 40 of their family members “vanished through the chimney.”

The founder of Sharaka, Amit Deri, noted that many of the activists learned only “two or three sentences about the Holocaust, as a part of the history of the Second World War in school.”

“The Holocaust is the untold story in the Middle East,” he related.

Amjad Taha, co-founder of Sharaka, told Vera that she had a new home in Bahrain “and in the heart of every peace-lover.” He urged that countries in the Arab world and Gulf must educate about the Nazi persecution of the Jews in school curriculums. “From a young age to graduation, they should be taught about the Holocaust and ways to counter anti-Semitism,” he related.

Majid Al-Sarrah from the UAE encouraged all people to “see the reality of the Holocaust at Yad Vashem and promised, “We will spread the knowledge about the Holocaust. We will raise peace and love, say never again to anti-Semitism, hate and discrimination. We are brothers and sisters. We will stand together, and together, we will build a world free of anti-Semitism and hate.”

Mashael Al-Shemeri from Bahrain said, “I would like to say to all Jews and the people of Israel: You are not alone anymore.”

Najat Al-Saeed from Saudi Arabia added, “We must educate young generations about the full horrors of the Holocaust, including by ensuring that the Holocaust is taught in schools in the Abraham Accords countries and that special envoys are appointed for preserving Holocaust remembrance.”

Kriegel expressed joy in knowing that the Arab leaders wanted to learn everything about the past, saying, “I’m so overjoyed, so happy, so moved, so everything, and I embrace all of you.”

At the event, Sharaka presented its five-point plan for combating anti-Semitism, which includes promoting Holocaust awareness and education, interfaith dialogue, incorporating the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and countering anti-Semitism online, in addition to the BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] movement that seeks to delegitimize Israel.

“This is an opportunity that the Abraham Accords have given us, and I believe there will be more events like this to follow,” said Deri, who announced that this April, Sharaka will lead the first-ever Arab delegation of young leaders to Auschwitz–Birkenau as part of Yom Hashoah, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, which will be observed this year on April 8–9.

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published by JNS on January 27, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for this incredible development, bringing the truth of the Holocaust to Arab nations where many are unaware of the reality of its horror. Pray that Sharaka will be successful with its five-point plan to fight anti-Semitism through education and awareness, bringing people out of ignorance and dispelling the lies they have been told.


A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness will utter lies. The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, but the folly of fools is deceit.

- Proverbs 14:5, 8

Palestinians: Victims of an Arab Country

by Khaled Abu Toameh~Gatestone

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1,797 Palestinians are being held in prisons controlled by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (illustrative).

Friday, 22 January 2021 | As Palestinian leaders condemn Israel almost on a daily basis, they continue to ignore the ongoing suffering of Palestinians living in a number of Arab countries, especially Syria.

Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria in 2011, 4,048 Palestinians have died—but Palestinian leaders hardly seem to notice. Another 333 Palestinians have gone missing, while 1,797 are being held in prisons controlled by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Like most Arab countries, Syria denies citizenship to Palestinians. Children born in Syria to fathers who are Palestinian nationals are considered Palestinians, not Syrian nationals.

Palestinian leaders who meet on a regular basis in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] city of Ramallah seldom discuss the tragedy that has befallen their people in Syria.

Similarly, the leaders of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, who relish giving interviews to the media, seem oblivious to the existence of Palestinians in Syria.

Palestinian leaders see no evil or wrong-doing when their people are being killed, injured, displaced, arrested and tortured in an Arab country. The attention of these leaders is solely focused on Israel, which they denounce day and night not only for what it does, but also for what it does not do.

The PA and Hamas are now condemning Israel for carrying out renovation work at the Western Wall Plaza below the Temple Mount, the most sacred site in the world for the Jewish people, in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas are making the surreal claim that Israel is trying to turn the Western Wall—all that remains of the Jews’ Second Temple, destroyed by Roman legions in 70 CE—into a Jewish site.

Recently, some Palestinian officials tried to divert attention from their failure to quickly provide vaccines against the coronavirus to their people by arguing that it was Israel’s “duty” to purchase the doses and distribute them to the Palestinians. Their argument was made even as the Palestinian leadership said it was seeking to obtain the vaccines from four companies, with the help of the international community. It is important to note that the Palestinians never approached Israel with a formal request to supply them with vaccines.

The primary victims of this obsession with Israel are the Palestinians living in Syria, whose daily appeals for help seem not to find their way to the ears of PA President Mahmoud Abbas or the Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip, Qatar and Turkey.

Palestinian human rights organizations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as “pro-Palestinian” groups around the world, also remain silent about the catastrophic human rights violations of Palestinians in Syria. The voices of these organizations and groups are raised only when they have something bad to say about Israel.

Here are some figures from Syria that Palestinian leaders, human rights organizations and “pro-Palestinian” groups in the US and Europe do not feel comfortable talking about: 40% of the Palestinians in Syria have been displaced since the beginning of the civil war, and 91% of their families live in absolute poverty.

These statistics appear in a January 2020 report published by the Action Group For Palestinians of Syria (AGPS), a London-based human rights watchdog group that monitors the situation of Palestinian refugees in war-torn Syria.

Referring to the deteriorating security and economic conditions of the Palestinians there, the AGPS report, titled “Palestinian Victims of Destruction,” talks about the emergence of “female and child labor, begging, search for food in litter containers and school dropouts.”

At the same time, the report reveals, thousands of Palestinians continue to flee to Lebanon, Turkey, Libya and Egypt. Upon their arrival at these countries, many Palestinians are arrested or fall victim to extortion by smugglers and human traffickers.

During 2020, many Palestinians were killed by the Syrian security services. The AGPS report revealed that since 2011, in various Syrian detention centers, at least 620 Palestinians have been tortured to death.

The report further found that in addition to the killings, the Syrian authorities have also been confiscating the homes and property of many Palestinian refugees. Although fighting between the Syrian army and opposition groups in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp (near Damascus) ended two years ago, only 435 families have been permitted to return to their homes.

According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Yarmouk was home to approximately 160,000 Palestinian refugees before the eruption of the civil war. “In December 2012, fierce clashes erupted in Yarmouk, causing numerous civilian casualties, severe damage to property and the displacement of thousands of Palestinians and Syrians,” UNRWA wrote. “Now the camp is largely destroyed and contains just a few dozen families. These are mostly elderly Palestinian refugees.”

What are Palestinian leaders doing to help the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians still living in Syria? Essentially nothing. They are so busy inciting violence against Israel that they have forgotten about their people.

On January 9, Abbas entered the 17th year of his four-year term [as PA president]. He is again talking about his desire to hold new elections. This charade is played at least once or twice a year so that people will believe that he really wants elections.

It is hard to see how elections would help the Palestinians of Syria (who anyway would not be participating in them). Palestinian elections may make some people in the Biden administration and the European Union happy—although Palestinians might again elect the terrorist group Hamas—but for the Palestinians, nothing will change, definitely not for those who are being targeted almost daily in Syria.

The Palestinians need new leaders who will guide them out from their longstanding morass into a future of promise and peace. In the current circumstances, however, it does not appear that such leaders can be found either in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip.

Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at Gatestone Institute.

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published by Gatestone Institute on January 21, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Hédi Benyounes/unsplahs.com

Prayer Focus
Pray for the Lord’s will to be done for Palestinians who are suffering death, injury, displacement, arrest and torture at the hands of other Arabs in countries like Syria. Beseech the Lord that Palestinian leaders who have a sincere concern for their own people and a desire to achieve peace with Israel will be found and put in place.


Like a roaring lion and a charging bear is a wicked ruler over poor people. A ruler who lacks understanding is a great oppressor.

- Proverbs 28:15–16a