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Friday, January 31, 2020

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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.

A Thousand Nos: Palestinians React to “Deal of the Century”

by Ilse Strauss

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Palestinians burning a photo of Trump in response to the release of his peace plan

Wednesday, 29 January 2020 | No, no and no. President Donald Trump had hardly stepped from the podium after unveiling the long-awaited “Deal of the Century” peace plan in Washington yesterday, when a fuming Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the proposal to foster peaceful coexistence between Israel and the Palestinians out of hand and in the strongest terms.

“We say a thousand times: No, no and not to the ‘Deal of the Century,’” Abbas raged during an emergency meeting with senior Palestinian leaders at the presidential headquarters in Ramallah about an hour and a half after President Trump’s big reveal.

His audience included, among others, representatives from the PA’s archenemies: Hamas, the terror group ruling the Gaza Strip, and Islamic Jihad, the second largest terror group in the coastal enclave. The rival Palestinian factions decided to lay their hatred for each other aside for the night to focus on a more pressing matter: President Trump’s refusal to kowtow his plans for Mideast peace to the Palestinians’ demands.

“We just heard President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu talking about the slap of the century,” Abbas raged. “If God wills, we will strike them back with slaps.”

Abbas’s reaction hardly came as a surprise. The PA president has been livid at the Trump administration since the US president moved the American embassy to Jerusalem, and Abbas has vowed on more than one occasion before the plan’s publication that he would snub it. Last night he made good on that promise.

“We heard two years ago that he [President Trump] recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” Abbas said. “They kept asking us to wait until the plan is announced. Now, we see that we were right when we rejected it from the beginning. Jerusalem is not for sale. Our rights are not for sale. The plot of the century won’t pass, and it will end up in the dustbin of history.”

According to the Jerusalem Post, the senior Palestinian leaders at last night’s emergency meeting agreed to join forces to foil the plan, claiming that it aims to “liquidate the Palestinian cause.”

Not to be left out, Hamas and Islamic Jihad were also quick to weigh in with their disdain for the peace plan.

“We announce our rejection of the ‘Deal of the Century,’” Hamas deputy chief in Gaza Khalil al-Hayya told Al-Aqsa TV. “We are certain that our Palestinian people will not let these conspiracies pass. So, all options are open. The occupation and the US administration will bear the responsibility for what they did.”

Tensions have been high yesterday in the run-up to the big reveal. Several Palestinian factions—including Abbas’s Fatah political party—had called for a “Day of Rage” and Palestinian protestors in Gaza and Judea and Samaria took to the streets to riot, chant their discontent with the plan, the US and Israel and burn effigies and posters of President Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The demonstrations were, however, rather tame and failed to draw the angry mob of seething Palestinians their leaders had hoped for.

As the Palestinian leaders rage, many around the world wonder at their vehement opposition to the 180-page plan that proposes the formation of a Palestinian state, something the Palestinians have been advocating for passionately. The answer is both simple and tragic. The proposed state would comprise approximately 70% of Judea and Samaria, selected neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, the majority of the Gaza Strip and some parts of southern Israel—dimensions that the Palestinians’ all-or-nothing approach cannot accept. In fact, the Palestinians have flatly refused offers with much better land prospects in the past.

The promise of the Palestinian state also hinges on a number of preconditions. The Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip have to disarm, and incitement to terrorism and paying terrorists must cease. Israel will also retain sovereignty over all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital and apply sovereignty to Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley. Moreover, the so-called Palestinian “refugees” will have no right to “return” to Israel, a particularly sore point for the Palestinians.

Should the Palestinians give their nod of approval to the “Deal of the Century” and agree to the terms and stipulations, they will have a state of their own within the next four years—with an added boon of more than $50 billion to set the newborn nation off on a prosperous start.

“If they show up…and agree to the different terms and conditions,” the Palestinians could have their own state tomorrow, explained Jared Kushner, architect of the plans and President Trump’s special Mideast advisor and son-in-law in a CNN interview.

However, every no from Abbas served as another nail in a future Palestinian state’s coffin. And with every no, the prospect of a prosperous future for the Palestinians became less likely.

Kushner ascribed the tragic fate of the Palestinians to their lamentable leadership. “You have five million Palestinians who are really trapped because of bad leadership. What we’ve done is we’ve created an opportunity for their leadership to either seize or not.”

He admitted that the chances of the Palestinian leaders stepping up and seizing the opportunity were slim. “They have a perfect track record of missing opportunities. If they screw this up, I think that they will have a very hard time looking at the international community in the face saying they’re a victim, saying they have rights.”

Abbas isn’t prepared to take what he termed the “slap of the century” quietly. The Arab League announced that it would convene for an emergency meeting on Saturday at the behest of the PA president. Abbas has reportedly asked to address the session and is hoping to unite the Arab nations in snubbing the plan. However, with Egypt, Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia—4 of the Arab League’s 22 members—having already issued statements singing the praises of President Trump’s peace plan, Abbas may be barking up the wrong tree.

There is much to be said for the “Deal of the Century,” its terms, detailed maps, pros and cons for Israel, benefits for the Palestinians, security challenges and so forth. However, perhaps one of the most pertinent points at present is that—once again—Israel is eager for peace and willing to make the necessary if painful concessions for peace. Yet once again, Israel finds itself without a partner for peace.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 29, 2020)

Photo Credit: AFP News Agency/YouTube/screenshot

Prayer Focus
As the Palestinian leadership blusters and refuses a deal that could mean statehood and prosperity for their people, pray that the nations will finally recognize the PA’s true objective: a Middle East without an Israel. Ask that such a realization would result in international pressure on the PA and others to end the violence and terror and come to the table.

Scripture

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; the God of my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my Savior, You save me from violence.


- 2 Samuel 22:2–3

International Holocaust Memorial Day—The World Remembers

by Ilse Strauss

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Memorial candles lit for International Holocaust Remembrance Day (illustrative)

Monday, 27 January 2020 | Lila was 8 years old when the German warplanes attacked. “We hid in potato fields and the German planes shot at everything that moved,” the 89-year-old Holocaust survivor shares the chilling details. Two years after surviving the German carnage, Lila fled her native Poland. Today she lives in Israel.

To commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) released a video clip featuring Lila and her grandson, Lt. A., a pilot in the Israeli Air Force. The footage shows Lt. A. flying low over his grandmother’s apartment building while Lila stands on the roof peering at the silhouette that once rained down death on Jewish people hiding in a potato field, a machine her grandson now pilots to protects the Jewish homeland. Her arms are lifted skyward, tears streaming down her cheeks. “Today I saw my grandson in an Israeli airplane,” she weeps. “I feel pride because of him. I’m really emotional.”

Lila’s tragic tale had a happy ending. Millions of other tales did not. Today is the annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day that transcends borders and religions as the world remembers the terrible genocide in 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, 75 years later, the date continues to echo as a clarion call to remember that which was lost.

This year, the State of Israel, Yad Vashem and the World Holocaust Forum joined forces to host dozens of world leaders at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem last week Thursday for the Fifth World Holocaust Forum. Entitled “Remembering the Holocaust, Fighting Antisemitism,” the forum served as a reflection on the largest manifestation of hatred against the Jewish people in history to ensure that the horrors of the past are never repeated. With top dignitaries from 49 countries—including US Vice President Mike Pence, Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron, Prince Charles from Britain and German President Frank Walter-Steinmeier in attendance—it was the largest-ever gathering focused on fighting anti-Semitism.

The list of speakers included representatives from the US, Russia, France, the UK and Germany, the victors of World War II and Germany—the perpetrator of the Holocaust. Speaking on behalf of the people of Israel was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Auschwitz and Jerusalem: An abyss—and a peak. Auschwitz—extermination. Jerusalem—revival. Auschwitz—enslavement. Jerusalem—freedom. Auschwitz—death. Jerusalem—life,” Netanyahu said. “Seventy-five years ago, our people—the Jewish people—emerged from the largest killing field in the history of humanity. The survivors do not forget anything: the helplessness, the endless suffering, the flames and the smoke, the bereavement and the loss. But they also remember, with deep gratitude, the day of liberation, the entry of the Red Army into Auschwitz, the immense sacrifice of the allies, soldiers and peoples alike.”

The prime minister continued. “It must be said: for the 6 million of our people, including 1.5 million children, the gates of hell were broken into too late. Too late. And therefore, at the foundation of the revival of the State of Israel is one main imperative: there will never be a second Holocaust. As the prime minister of Israel, this is my supreme obligation.”

According to Israel’s Holocaust Survivors’ Rights Authority at the Ministry of Finance, there are currently roughly 192,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel, with 14,800 survivors passing away in 2019.

The report from the Central Bureau of Statistics reveals that only 102,000 survivors—nearly half the current number—will still be alive in 2025. The number is expected to fall to a quarter or a paltry 53,000 by 2030.

Action

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?

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 27, 2020)

Photo Credit: Ted Eytan/flickr.com

Source: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for this amazing show of support for the Jewish people and commitment to fight anti-Semitism. Pray that each leader will remain determined to put in place measures that will bring such bigotry to an end in their countries.

Scripture

Let them not rejoice over me who are wrongfully my enemies; nor let them wink with the eye who hate me without a cause. This you have seen, O LORD; do not keep silence.


- Psalm 35:19, 22a

Meet the Man Who Will Fill Soleimani’s Boots

by Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira, Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall

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A fighter in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

Friday, 24 January 2020 | Gen. Mohammad Hejazi has been appointed as deputy commander of the Quds Force. Hejazi served as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC] Quds Force’s Lebanese corps commander and was involved in the Hezbollah missile precision project. He was also responsible for the violent repression of the 2009 protests in Iran.

In an official ceremony marking the beginning of Esmail Qaani’s term as commander of the IRGC Quds Force on January 20, 2020, the commander of the Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Hossein Salami, appointed Sayyed Mohammad Hosseinzadeh Hejazi to the post of IRGC Quds Force deputy commander.

A Rich Past Serving the Revolutionary Guard

Hejazi (63), a native of Isfahan, joined the IRGC from its beginning in 1979 and fought on various fronts during the Iraq–Iran War. He served in senior posts in the Revolutionary Guard: as Basij commander—the volunteer arm of the Revolutionary Guard (1997–2008); chairman of the Joint Staff of IRGC; in 2008, he was appointed as deputy IRGC commander. It was probably in this capacity that he also served as commander of the Sarallah base of IRGC in greater Tehran, where he was responsible for the implementation of the security program in Tehran, including putting down popular protests. Serving in that position, Hejazi was involved in suppressing the Green Movement after the elections in 2009.

In October 2007, the US government designated IRGC and the IRGC Quds Force officials, including Mohammad Hejazi, as targets for its ongoing effort to counter Iran’s bid for nuclear capabilities and support for terrorism by providing material support to the Taliban and other terrorist organizations. Hejazi was sanctioned by the European Union [EU] (on April 20, 2007) for links to Iran’s military and missile programs, including entities connected to the IRGC. On March 25, 2012, he was sanctioned by the EU for human rights violations against Iranians. He was described as “deputy chief of the supreme leader’s office and head of security and part of the supreme leader’s inner circle, responsible for planning the suppression of protests which has been implemented since 2009.”

From 2009–2014, Hejazi served as deputy chief of General Staff for Armed Forces Logistics and Industrial Research (Project AMAD). In his post, he expressed great pride in the Iranian weapons industry, including in Iran’s air defense system (“Iran developed a more advanced system than the [Russian] S-300”).

Hejazi received a doctorate from the Supreme National Defense University in strategic administration and a Master’s in public administration from the University of Tehran. He is also a senior lecturer at the Imam Hossein University of the Revolutionary Guard in Tehran.

Until 2014, Hejazi often expressed his opinions on various regional and international issues, including attacks on Israel, boasting that Iran’s armed forces had the ability to destroy Haifa and Tel Aviv. Hejazi even estimated that Israel was heading for collapse after its failed campaigns against the Palestinians, Hezbollah, Gaza and Lebanon.

The Move to Lebanon and the Precision Missile Project

Since 2014, Hejazi’s media presence underwent a sharp decline, probably due to his move to Lebanon, where he served as the Quds Force’s Lebanese corps commander. He brought all the experience he had gained during his previous duties with him to Lebanon and began to work vigorously to build up Hezbollah’s military strength, with an emphasis on missile and rockets in general, and the precision missile project in particular. According to the Tasnim News Agency, [which is] affiliated with the IRGC, Hejazi was responsible for the Guard’s Lebanon portfolio (and not just for the Quds Force).

After repeated Israeli attacks damaged Lebanon-bound convoys of missiles and other project-related equipment, parts of the precision missile project were transferred to Syria, but they eventually returned to the production line in Beirut, where Hejazi attempted to promote his flagship precision missile project.

After Prime Minister Netanyahu revealed to the United Nations (on September 27, 2018) the workshops where advancements in the precision missile and rocket project were being made, near the airport and Shiite neighborhoods in Beirut, Hejazi’s project was transferred to the Baalbek area in Lebanon. Hejazi continued to advance the precision missile project until he was appointed to be the deputy commander of the Quds Force.

Extensive Experience in the Lebanese Arena

The decision to appoint Hejazi as Qaani’s deputy appears to stem from his extensive organizational experience gained during his years in the army and the Revolutionary Guard, and especially during his time in Lebanon where he worked closely with Hezbollah’s military arm to advance the precision missiles project. Qaani lacks the depth of knowledge of the small details of the Iranian operation in Lebanon, as well as the close ties with Hezbollah operatives such as Fu’ad Shukr, who was involved in the precision missile project. Shukr is wanted by the United States for his involvement in the 1983 attack on the Marines headquarters in Beirut, in which 241 US soldiers and military personnel were killed.

The appointment also indicates the great importance that Iran sees in continuing operations in Syria and Lebanon to build up Hezbollah’s military power, especially with regard to its precision missiles and rockets. Hezbollah will continue to be strengthened and will remain as the operational and organizational model—in accordance to Qassem Soleimani’s legacy—for the members of the “Axis of Resistance”—the Houthis in Yemen, the Palestinian organizations in Gaza, Judea and Samaria (Hamas and Islamic Jihad), Shiite militias in Iraq and the Persian Gulf, and specifically in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. It should be emphasized that Hezbollah instructors operate in most of these areas to guide local militias and officials in the operation of missiles and rockets, as well as providing military training of various types.

On the home front, Hejazi had years of experience as commander of the Basij and commander of the Sarallah Base of the IRGC in Tehran. The leader and the Revolutionary Guard are signaling that the [Quds] Force or parts of it may also be involved in internal affairs, such as suppressing the current protests and restoring law and order to Iran, even if it involves a high cost of human life.

Involved in Suppressing Protests in Iran

In this context, according to the BBC in Persian, Mohammad Hejazi, while commander of the Basij forces, played a major part in boosting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s candidacy in 2003–2004 for his first presidential term. A month after Ahmadinejad’s victory (after the eight-year presidency of the reformist Mohammad Khatami, which most Revolutionary Guard commanders, including Hossein Salami and Qassem Soleimani strongly opposed), Mohammad Hejazi said in a speech, “This narrowed the gap between the people and the government, and this is [a] welcome change and gives us hope that we can counteract enemy plots.”

Hejazi played a key role in the suppression and killing of protesters who protested for eight months the fabrication of Ahmadinejad’s electoral victory for his second term in 2009. Hejazi even issued, according to the same BBC report, a “top secret” order to Iranian hospitals, instructing them to act harshly towards the wounded demonstrators who had been admitted to the hospitals. Mohammad Hejazi’s name has been on the EU and UN sanctions list for about ten years because of his role in the killings of demonstrators and his part in the repression of the 2009 Green Revolution protests.

Source: (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs originally published this article on January 23, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Hossein Zohrevand/Tasnim News Agency/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that Hejazi will completely fail in his new position. Pray that none of his stated goals will be reached, that Iran’s support for terror will cease and that the Lord will bring an end to the “Axis of Resistance” once and for all.

Scripture

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


- Psalm 17:13

Abundant Rainfall Fills the Sea of Galilee

by Edgar Asher

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The upper Jordan River in full flow on its way south to the Sea of Galilee

Tuesday, 28 January 2020 | This year’s plentiful rainfall and snow on Mount Hermon in northern Israel will in all probability enable the important fresh water lake of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) to fill completely before the end of the rainy season.

In 1964 the Degania Dam on the south of the Kinneret was opened for the first time to allow surplus water to flow into the Jordan River. The idea was to revive the natural ecology of the river that had been affected by sewage and brackish water being allowed to go into the river. Since that time the dam has infrequently been opened, as the Kinneret has not been full enough to allow this run off. At this time, it looks like this year’s plentiful rainfall will see the lake being full and enable the opening of the

Degania Dam to reinvigorate the Jordan River—and onwards to the Dead Sea.

Israel’s largest fresh water lake, when full, stands at 208.8 meters [685 feet] below sea level. Despite being below sea level, the Kinneret is a fresh water lake. This week the lake’s level stood at 210.53 [690.7 feet] meters below sea level, thus there is optimism that at the end of this year’s rainy season and when the snow melts on the Golan Heights, the lake will be full and the Degania Dam will be able to be opened for some time.

Despite the rain and the cold in the north of Israel, many visitors are going to the Upper

Galilee to see the fast flowing rivers, and some hardy visitors are even plunging into the local rivers that make up the network that eventually finds the water gushing into the

Kinneret into what the Israel water authority hopes will be a record flow.

Source: (Ashernet, January 25, 2020)

Photo Credit: Edgar Asher/Ashernet

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the incredible gift of rain after several years of drought, topping up the Sea of Galilee, filling the Jordan River and reviving the many beautiful waterfalls that dot the northern part of the country. Pray that the nation will rejoice in the blessing and thank their God for His faithfulness!

Scripture

I will open rivers in desolate heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.


- Isaiah 41:18

IDF Bolsters Troops in Jordan Valley ahead of Trump Peace Plan

by Ron Ben-Yishai

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The IDF sent additional troops to the Jordan Valley ahead of the release of Trump’s peace plan. (illustrative)

Wednesday, 29 January 2020 | The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] sent additional troops to the Jordan Valley in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] ahead of yesterday’s unveiling by US President Donald Trump of his long-awaited Mideast peace plan.

Both the military and security services began bracing for an outbreak of violence in the West Bank and along the border with Gaza, although there was no specific intelligence information of any planned events.

However, in light of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s call Monday for Palestinians to demonstrate and even clash with Israeli troops, security officials were inspecting potential conflict areas and preparing for any eventuality should violence erupt.

Palestinian sources confirmed to Ynet late Monday that Abbas instructed his security forces to allow protesters to clash with Israeli troops yesterday, the declared “Day of Rage,” in response to the White House roll out of the peace plan.

“If we have elections, what do we tell our people about the Jordan Valley being annexed?” Abbas said.

The sources said that although the announcement of the peace plan is the excuse, the Palestinian leadership is more concerned with the possible Israeli annexation of land now that Jerusalem appears to have the backing of the United States to do so.

“The plan will come and go like other American plans,” the sources said. “We know it and the countries around us know it too.”

Annexation of the Jordan Valley and other parts of the West Bank seem like a realistic possibility under the Trump administration now and would change the nature of relations between the Palestinian Authority [PA] and Israel the sources warn.

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) told Ynet on Tuesday that she fears the announcement of the plan will exert a price from both Israelis and Palestinians.

Ashrawi said the administration never bothered to consult the Palestinian leadership before deciding to release their plan.

Regarding yesterday’s “Day of Rage,” Ashrawi said people are free to express their opinions.

“If they are angry—they will express their anger. The PA remains in support of non-violent resistance,” she said.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on January 28, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Pray for God’s supernatural shield throughout the land of Israel, especially along the Gaza border and the so-called West Bank. Pray for the soldiers of the IDF and other security organizations. Ask God to keep them alert, constantly aware of their surroundings and surrounded by His protection. Beseech Him that any planned terrorist events or activities will simply not come to fruition.

Scripture

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; defend me from those who rise up against me. Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloodthirsty men.


- Psalm 59:1–2

Gazan Terror Groups Fire Mortars at Israel

by Matan Tzuri

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Helium balloons bearing flammable materials launched from Gaza towards Israel (illustrative)

Thursday, 30 January 2020 | Mortar fire landed in an open area in Eshkol Regional Council after rocket sirens blared near the Gaza Strip border, the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] Spokesperson’s Unit said on Wednesday.

There were no reports of casualties or damage to property in the incident.

The IDF also reported it had detected two more rocket launches from the Palestinian-ruled enclave that hadn’t crossed the border and landed within the Gaza Strip.

In response, the IDF attacked Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.

The military announced just shortly before the rocket fire that it was bolstering security presence in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and on the Gaza border.

“Following situation assessments, it has been decided to reinforce divisions stationed in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with additional combat troops,” a military official said.

Earlier Wednesday, an object wrapped in gift wrap tied to several balloons, suspected to be an explosive device, landed in Sdot HaNegev Regional Council near the Gaza Strip.

Military bomb disposal units and police forces arrived at the scene.

There were no reports of casualties or damage to property in the incident.

The two events came just a day after US President Donald Trump unveiled a long-awaited peace plan for the Middle East on Tuesday, dubbed “Deal of the Century,” prompting angry reactions and rejections from the Palestinian leadership.

In reaction to the American peace proposal, thousands of Palestinians rallied in the Gaza Strip Tuesday night, burning photos of Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Palestinian factions also vowed to reignite popular protests throughout the West Bank and Gaza on Friday, dubbed a “Day of Rage.”

Also on Tuesday, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett and IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi toured the West Bank to assess security developments within the disputed territory.

At the end of the tour, Bennett said the IDF is prepared in case of instigators on the Palestinian side following through on their threats.

“The IDF and the troops are prepared for any possible scenario,” said the defense minister. “We are facing a crucial time which will determine the borders of Israel and its sovereignty. Threats on the Palestinian side will not deter us.”

Bennett instructed the troops to prepare for an immediate escalation following the presentation of the peace plan as well as a spike in violence throughout the area in the absence of cooperation from the Palestinian Authority.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on January 29, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: מינוזיג - MinoZig/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Thank God that Israel’s forces are prepared for whatever actions the Palestinians may take, but beseech Him again that those efforts to stir up war and harm Israel will simply not come to be. Pray against the evil concept of the “Days of Rage,” which wreaked havoc in Jerusalem in the past. Ask God to stop it in its tracks and give Israel “Days of Praise” instead!

Scripture

I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge.


- Psalm 91:2–4a

Expansion of Jurisdiction Brings Change for Judea and Samaria Communities

by Elisha Ben Kimon

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Overlooking the community of Elon Moreh in Judea and Samaria

Thursday, 30 January 2020 | US President Donald Trump’s peace plan will be presented to the Israeli government in the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, though a vote on the expansion of Israeli jurisdiction over West Bank [Judea and Samaria] settlements is not expected until a later date.

Settlements have so far been under the civil administration of the IDF and have not been officially defined as part of the State of Israel.

If the government does decide to extend its jurisdiction to include the settlements, a move that will likely have far-reaching security implications, what changes could the hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers expect?

Currently and until the government decides to apply Israeli jurisdiction, all real estate transactions in the West Bank are registered in the Jordanian Land Registration that had been installed prior to the 1967 Six-Day War.

Homeowners were often rejected for mortgage loans by Israeli banks who saw a risk in financing homes that may someday be lost if a territorial compromise would require the area to be evacuated.

The banks also saw a danger in financial backing to homes that were situated on private Palestinian land that could be subject to legal mitigation and ultimately returned to its original owners.

Once these settlements come under Israeli sovereignty, land registrations would be conducted in the same manner that all other property is registered in Israel, and loans and mortgages could no longer be denied on these grounds.

Under the current military administration, any license—be it a building permit, a license to open a new business or the purchase of a home—must be done in coordination with army administrators in the area.

Israeli sovereignty would require the same licensing laws and regulations to apply for West Bank settlers as well.

While the civil and military administration is sovereign in the West Bank, any laws legislated by Knesset [Parliament] must be adjusted to the regulations enforced in the West Bank and must be signed off by senior IDF officials in the area before coming into effect.

A government decision to apply Israeli law to the settlements will negate the need for the civil administration altogether. All residents of the West Bank will then have the same civil and legal standing in the eyes of the government like any other Israeli citizen.

Government ministries will be required to open branches in the West Bank to accommodate the 500,000 or so Jewish residents of the area.

There will no longer be any need to obtain approval from senior political officials before undertaking new construction or infrastructure projects.

The current distribution of courts throughout the country will have to be changed to include the new territories that will be added to the sovereign State of Israel.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit struck a note of caution Tuesday, saying his job is to assist the government in carrying out its policies but that a transitional government must show restraint on its side.

The main legal problem facing such a drastic move stems from the fact that interim governments, such as the one currently installed in Israel, don’t normally have the right to make impactful decisions that will affect future administrations.

According to Mandelblit, requests made by the current administration are approved 99% of the time.

“If the request is not approved for some reason, the exception becomes the rule. We need to remember that in the end, we’re a nation governed by laws.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on January 29, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Sarah Yoder/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Take this very complicated situation before the throne of God and cry out to Him that His will be done swiftly. Ask Him for the wisdom that He promises and for quick action on the part of the government that could benefit thousands of Israelis. Pray for a very smooth transition for any changes that are implemented.

Scripture

Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.


- Psalm 55:22

Arabian Gulf Citizens and Changing Views

by Najat AlSaied

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The Arab Gulf countries

Thursday, 30 January 2020 | Since General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC], was killed by an American airstrike, it has become even clearer that the Middle East is divided. We find some here were supportive of the strike that rescued the world from a most dangerous terrorist; others were completely outraged. Is the Middle East, then, on the verge of new alliances and further fragmentation?

The reactions of the Arab Gulf countries, including their citizens—especially Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain—are the same as Israel’s. Other Arab countries and the Palestinian territories—mainly Hamas, which is a client of Iran—have responded quite differently.

Arab Gulf societies often differ from other Arab and Muslim societies on their views about Israel. Lately, however, the most hostile rhetoric has disappeared, especially among the younger generations. It has, in fact, been largely replaced by a more moderate tone and a desire better to understand Israeli society.

Many writers and political analysts from the Arab Gulf have written about the different political doctrines and perceived enemies among Arab Gulf countries and other Muslim countries, mainly from the Levant. A recent article by Kuwait’s former minister of information, Saad Al-Ajmi, explains these differences. Arabs, he states, particularly the Palestinians, have been attributing all the problems in the region to Israel.

As the Iranian regime has formally declared their occupation of four Arab capitals—Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa—many of its members see only the supposed Israeli “occupation” and do not think about all the Arab and Muslim blood spilled by Iran and its proxies. To many Arabs and Muslims, only the Palestinian people seem to have been important. Sadly, this concern has often appeared to be less about the Palestinians’ well-being, over which they do not seem unduly distressed—having preferred to let them languish as second class citizens in Jordan, Lebanon or Kuwait. Rather, expressions of concern often appear to have been a way of deflecting attention from the problems of governance at home.

In the eyes of some Arabs, Al-Ajmi writes, especially the Palestinians, Arab Gulf leaders are regarded as traitors and US agents because they are affiliated with an ally of Israel: America. In the view of these Arabs, Al-Ajmi continues, the US has invented an imaginary enemy in Iran in order to steal the riches of the Arab Gulf. To many Arabs, he posits, Iran is just a peaceful Muslim neighbor that supports the “resistance” and works towards “liberating Palestine,” and the Arab Gulf countries are nothing but stupid and cowardly traitors.

The traditional media in the Arab Gulf countries are often controlled by a Palestinian–Lebanese–Egyptian triangle. Al Arabiyya, Al Jazeera and many other outlets in the region espouse Nasserist, Islamist, or pan-Arab nationalist ideologies that claim to see Israel as the primary threat. Frequently, the executive managers and news editors who run the Arab Gulf media use the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem to skew the news and portray the Palestinian issue as the main preoccupation in the region; they then set about embarrassing anyone who might not see the situation the same way as they do.

The result is that many people in the Gulf, especially the younger generations, complain that their media does not speak for them and is controlled by the Levant. Saudis who have read that “the traditional media in the Arab Gulf countries are often controlled by the Palestinian–Lebanese–Egyptian triangle” have remarked, often in person, that the traditional media, whether broadcast news or the press, must probably be controlled and run by Saudi professionals because the Arabs’ views do not represent their views.

Disappointingly, the Western mainstream media is no different from the Arab Gulf media in weakening the position of pro-peace advocates in the Arab Gulf countries. Members of the mainstream media seem, in fact, to have a greater interest in perpetuating conflict, perhaps as more newsworthy, telegenic or captivating to advertisers. Members of the mainstream media also seem, wrongly, to regard anti-Semitic advocates of political Islam as representative of “moderate” Islam. Worse, they actually appear to be against anyone who is promoting peace.

The American mainstream media not only supports anti-Semitic political Islamists, but, ironically, sometimes even gives them a platform as columnists with which to spread their views. The late Jamal Khashoggi, for instance, with whom the media seemed infatuated, was actually a strong advocate of the Muslim Brotherhood, who are openly dedicated to “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within.”

The worldwide lack of support for those who advocate peace or the reform of Islam has brought about exactly what the extremists want: a fear of speaking up. Many of us Muslims do not want to be viewed as traitors, labeled “enemies of the nation”—not to mention the region—and have our lives put under threat. One need only look at how even Westerners who have spoken out have been treated.

Just imagine, then, how public support for Israel by Muslims might also cause embarrassment, to say the least, for some countries, such as the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Saudi Arabia—a country viewed as the defender of all Muslims. For Egypt’s former president, Anwar Sadat, speaking out led [to] his murder. Egypt’s current president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, delivered a historic address at a Coptic church on January 15, 2015, for which he was mentioned as a possible candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize:

“Yes, a humanistic and civilizing message should once more emanate from Egypt. That is why we must not call ourselves anything other than ‘Egyptians.’ This is what we must be—Egyptians, just Egyptians, Egyptians indeed! I just want to tell you that—Allah willing—we shall build our nation together, accommodate, make room for each other, and we shall like each other, love each other, love each other in earnest so that people may see.”

Soon after, one never heard any of that from him again.

Currently, many Arab Gulf citizens seem to see as their main enemy the Iranian regime, while other Arabs and Muslims still seem to see their main enemy as Israel and consider any opposing view as treasonous.

Regrettably, the positive views of Gulf Arabs towards Israel have been marginalized by a lack of support from the media, both in Arab countries and in the West. There is therefore an urgent need for greater emphasis on “digital diplomacy” from the public, as well as for more social gatherings and “normalization”—especially in Western countries—to strengthen the relationship between the Israeli people and the citizens of the Arab Gulf.

Najat AlSaied is a Saudi-American independent academic researcher in political communication and societal development based on productivity rather than religion or race.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Gatestone Institute on January 29, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: SpLoT/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Thank God that there has been a change in attitude toward Israel by many Arab Gulf states, and a few others as well. Pray that God will move by His spirit across the Arab world, opening eyes to see the truth and hearts to turn from hatred to love and acceptance.

Scripture

Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; but he who trusts in the LORD, mercy shall surround him.


- Psalm 32:10

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