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

Report: US-Israel Arrive at “Framework” Agreement to Counter Iranian Threat in Mideast

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Tuesday, 02 January 2018 | The U.S. and Israel agreed to a joint strategic work plan to counter Iranian activity in the Middle East during a secret meeting between senior officials at the White House two weeks ago, The Jerusalem Post reported on Thursday.

The plan reportedly calls for coordinated action to thwart Tehran’s nuclear program, deal with its ballistic missile program, and manage Iran’s presence in Syria and its terror proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The document, characterized by a senior U.S. official as a “framework” to confront Iranian aggression in the Middle East, follows on U.S. President Donald Trump’s speech in October in which he outlined a new American policy approach to the Islamic Republic and announced he would not recertify the nuclear accord.

Senior Israeli officials reportedly confirmed that the U.S. and Israel have arrived at strategic understandings: “The U.S. and Israel see eye to eye the different developments in the region and especially those that are connected to Iran,” the official said, adding that “We reached at understandings regarding the strategy and the policy needed to counter Iran. Our understandings deal with the overall strategy but also with concrete goals, way of action and the means which need to be used to get obtain those goals.”

When asked about the report, the Israeli prime minister’s office would only say that “there was a meeting in Washington.”

The Israeli team was headed by national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and the U.S. team was led by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Other participants included senior defense, intelligence and diplomatic officials from both countries.

According to the report, an agreement was reached on regional goals and several working groups were formed. The first group is responsible for initiating covert and diplomatic steps to prevent Tehran from getting nuclear weapons and to monitor and verify that the Islamic Republic follows the terms of the nuclear accord.

Another team is tasked with countering Iranian entrenchment efforts in Syria and its support for terrorist proxies across the region, while a third group will focus on thwarting Iranian ballistic missile development and manufacturing of precision guided missiles in Syria and Lebanon.

A fourth is to address joint preparation for various scenarios of escalation in the region, concerning Iran, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

Source: (The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower, originally published this article on 29 December, 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Kurt/shutterstock.com

Prayer Focus
Praise God that Israel and the US are working together to combat Iran’s influence and nuclear threats. Ask God’s daily guidance in word and deed for these teams, so they will be able to successfully execute their plans to stabilize the Middle East, which in turn will have a positive effect on Israel’s borders, safety and existence.

Scripture

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.


- Isaiah 41:10

Netanyahu Hails Arab World’s “Changing Opinion” on Israel

by Hassan Shaalan

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Ein Mahil, an Arab village in northern Israel

Wednesday, 03 January 2018 | Last week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the general outlook on Israel was undergoing positive changes in the Arab world, citing opinion polls which indicate a significant growth in the number of people who place importance on forging diplomatic relations with Israel.

“It is already happening between the governments, but the thing that stirs the most hope for me is that, and this may surprise you, it is also taking place among wide sections of public opinion in the Arab world,” Netanyahu said during a speech at a ceremony marking the signing of a development agreement in the Arab local council of Ein Mahil in northern Israel.

“How do I know this? We conduct polls and suddenly you ask the question: ‘How many of you think that it worthwhile to have contacts with the State of Israel?’ Once the number was zero. Today it starts with 20% and goes as high as 50%,” the prime minister proudly declared.

“The public in the Arab world is starting to understand this. Israel has a foothold in the future and it is becoming one of the most developed countries on earth and we want you all to be part of this success story,” he told his listeners.

“When the public in Arab countries begins to understand that the State of Israel is an asset for the future, an asset to them, this is where the change begins.”

Netanyahu went on to say that there is a line that separates progress from extremism and barbarity and it passes through the Golan Heights, likening it to Israel’s border with Syria where the state established a field hospital where Israeli doctors treat citizens wounded in the Syrian civil war.

“They suddenly say, ‘I thought you were the devil and we discovered that you are an angel.’ They suddenly understand that their future and that of the future of children depends on cooperation with Israel that we are not an enemy but a necessary partner in repelling the area’s radical elements,” he said.

The speech was made at the signing ceremony of a development agreement with the Ein Mahal Council for the construction of 600 housing units, as part of Government Resolution 922 for the Arab sector.

Source: (Excerpt of article originally published by Ynetnews on 28 December, 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Beny Shlevich/wikipedia

Photo License: wikipedia

Prayer Focus
Intercede for PM Netanyahu as he continues to build relationships with Arab nations, changing opinions and hearts towards Israel. Pray for encouragement, new hope, wisdom and ask God to direct his heart and steps. Give glory to the Lord for the positive changes currently happening in the Middle East.

Scripture

When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.


- Proverbs 16:7

Three Mortar Shells Fired from Gaza, Israel Retaliates

by Ilse Posselt

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Iron Dome intercepts Gaza rocket (illustrative)

Thursday, 04 January 2018 | The first few days of 2018 have proven fretful ones for those living in the south of Israel. Yesterday afternoon, Palestinian terrorists launched its second attack of the new year from Gaza on the Promised Land.

The latest volley of projectiles fired from the coastal enclave happened on Wednesday afternoon over a period of four hours, in which three mortar shells were launched at Israeli communities near the border. The projectiles fell in open, uninhabited areas and caused no damage or injury.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) retaliated, carrying out overnight airstrikes that struck central terrorist infrastructural targets in Gaza.

In a statement released in the midnight hours, the army highlighted, “The IDF will continue to use all the measures at its disposal, above and below ground, to thwart attacks against Israelis. We are prepared and ready for a variety of scenarios and will act against any attempts to violate Israeli sovereignty.”

Yesterday’s attack marks the latest in a steady bombardment of over 20 projectiles fired from Gaza during the past month. The Jewish state responded to each attack with retaliatory strikes on Hamas terror infrastructure in the Strip, standing firm on its policy that it holds the terror group ruling the coastal enclave responsible for all attacks at Israel emanating from its borders.

Five projectiles from Gaza hit Israeli territory in the past week alone. On Monday night, Palestinian terrorists in the Strip fired a rocket that exploded in an open field in southern Israel, causing no damage or injury. The Jewish state responded by targeting a Hamas military compound in the coastal enclave.

On Friday afternoon, a projectile from Gaza hit a community in the south, damaging a building. The Iron Dome system intercepted a further two rockets. The Jewish state retaliated by carrying out two series of strikes on Hamas infrastructure over the weekend.

The terrorists reportedly fired the barrage in order to interrupt a commemoration ceremony for the 24th birthday of fallen IDF soldier, Oron Shaul, who was killed in combat during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge. For the past three odd years, Hamas has been holding Saul’s body, alongside the body of fellow slain IDF soldier, Hadar Goldin, captive, in contravention of international law.

An investigation of Friday’s attack revealed that it was perpetrated by the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group.

This past week’s slew of fire comes on the heels of a string of near-daily attacks early in December, following US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The sharp increase in attacks marks the largest number of rockets fired on Israel from Gaza since the 2014 war, which has many in Israel concerned over the possibility of a flare-up.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 04 January 2018)

Photo Credit: Ashernet/IDF

Prayer Focus
Cry out for the Israeli citizens living in the south as the rocket fire has increased dramatically after Pres. Trump’s declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Lift up the IDF as they have the difficult task of protecting the nation on land, at sea, in the sky and underground from the hatred of their neighbors. Pray for calm hearts and minds during these tough times.

Scripture

A wicked man hardens his face, but as for the upright, he establishes his way. There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against the LORD.


- Proverbs 21:29-30

Israel Cuts Ties with Biased UN Body

by Ilse Posselt

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UNESCO flag

Monday, 01 January 2018 | The final few days of the year is traditionally a quiet time, with organizations and even government bodies shutting their doors for the holidays and business winding down to the bare minimum. Yet the last stretch of 2017 proved quite busy in Israel, with officials working to prepare the necessary paperwork for the country to cut ties with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

On Friday, Israel’s Ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, delivered the Jewish state’s official letter of resignation to the body’s director-general as instructed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The decision was taken over the organization’s persistent anti-Israel bias and the flagrant lack of any future plans to amend its ways.

The Jewish state’s exit follows in the footsteps of the US, which resigned from UNESCO in October of last year, citing the organization’s “continuing anti-Israel bias” and the “need for fundamental reform.”

According to UNESCO’s bylaws, the departure will take effect on December 31st, one year after the submission of Israel’s official resignation letter. As such, both Israel and the US will exit the organization on the last day of 2018.

Following the US’s withdrawal in October 2017, Netanyahu indicated that Israel planned to do the same. Ynetnews reported that the Jewish state’s delegation to UNESCO backed the withdrawal and that Foreign Ministry Director-General, Yuval Rotem, submitted a formal recommendation to that effect to Netanyahu. The prime minister adopted the proposal shortly before Christmas and instructed Shama-Hacohen to make the necessary preparations to bid the organization farewell before the end of the year.

Applauding the decision, Shama-Hacohen argued that Israel should not remain in the organization as long as it is “morally corrupt.”

“UNESCO, led by the Arab countries… has broken records of hypocrisy, incitement and lies against Israel and the Jewish people, polluting its noble values with politicization and political terrorism bordering on anti-Semitism,” he charged.

“The State of Israel and the Jewish people should to be the first to contribute to the organization and the last to leave it,” Shama-Hacohen continued. “But in UNESCO’s theater of the absurd, countries that have no connection to science, education and culture have bankrupted this important organization both professionally and budgetarily.”

Shama-Hacohen condemned the throng of anti-Semitic resolutions that UNESCO approved in the past as “humiliating attacks,” but highlighted that none of the decisions taken had a binding impact on Jewish “sovereignty in our capital of Jerusalem or on the historical connection of the Jewish people to the city in general and the ancient part in particular.”

Audrey Azoulay, the newly appointed director-general of the Paris-based organization, confirmed receipt of Israel’s resignation letter, a move which she “regrets.”

“A member of UNESCO since 1949, Israel has a rightful place inside the United Nations (UN) agency that is dedicated to education, culture and science,” Azoulay said. “I regret this deeply, as it is my conviction that it is inside UNESCO and not outside it that states can best seek to overcome differences in the organization’s fields of competence.”

UNESCO’s conduct over the past years has, however, failed to mirror Azoulay’s pledge of inclusivity and mutual acceptance. The body tasked with preserving heritage, promoting education in developing countries and maintaining a list of World Heritage sites welcomed the Palestinians as a member state in 2011 and has passed a bevy of anti-Israel resolutions. Amongst others, these motions deny any Jewish and Christian ties to the religious sites in Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, the location of two biblical Temples and the holiest spot in Judaism, and count it as exclusively Muslim.

Last year alone, UNESCO approved a motion that slammed Israel for what it called “occupation” of Jerusalem. The body also voted in a motion that declared the Old City of Hebron, including the Cave of Patriarchs, the final resting place of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their wives, an endangered Palestinian world heritage site.

The Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron

Azoulay mentioned that Israel has nine cultural sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. These include Masada, Acre, the White City of Tel Aviv, the Necropolis of Beit She-arim, the Incense Route along desert cities in the Negev and the sites of human evolution on Mount Carmel. The Jerusalem Post does, however, point out that UNESCO’s director-general failed to address that fact that Hebron, the starting point of Jewish history, is conspicuously absent from the list. Moreover, she also remained mum on the fact that the Old City of Jerusalem and its walls have been on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites in danger since 1982.

Israel’s exit comes hot on the heels of an overwhelming majority of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) passing a non-binding resolution rejecting US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as “null and void” during an emergency session on 21 December 2017. Out of the 193 member states, 128 countries voted in favor of the motion. Nine countries, namely Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Togo and the US opposed the resolution. A further 35 nations abstained, while 21 did not vote at all.

Israel rejected the “preposterous resolution” outright. “Jerusalem is our capital—always was, always will be,” said Netanyahu.

The US was equally enraged by the motion, warning that “this vote will be remembered.” Speaking ahead of the vote, US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, addressed the meeting. The US, she said, “will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation. We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations. And we will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.”

The US, she pointed out, has the right to locate its embassy where it pleases—and it chose Jerusalem. America “will put [its] embassy in Jerusalem. That is what the American people want us to do, and it is the right thing to do. No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that. But this vote will make a difference on how Americans look at the UN and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the UN. And this vote will be remembered.”

Four days later, the US made good on their promise when the government announced that it would slash its contribution to the UN by over $285 million in 2018-2019. “We will no longer let the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of or remain unchecked,” Haley explained the decision in a statement. “This historic reduction in spending—in addition to many other moves toward a more efficient and accountable UN—is a big step in the right direction.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 01 January 2018)

Photo Credit: Mouagip/Wikimedia

Photo License: UNESCO flag/wikimedia

Photo Credit: Hebron/KDeGagne/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Pray that the leadership of Israel and all their representatives at the UN will stand strong in the face of increased adversity which has come after their decision to withdraw from UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). Ask God to guide the nations and leaders who inadvertently support anti-Semitism by abstaining in lieu of voting for truth at the UN council.

Scripture

O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend;


- Psalm 15:1-3 ESV

Guatemala Announces Move of Embassy to Jerusalem; First Since US Recognition of Capital

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Guatemala’s coat of arms

Monday, 01 January 2018 | Guatemala plans to relocate its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales announced on his official Facebook account last week, making it the first country to mirror U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision from December 6.

Morales said he had informed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and instructed Guatemala’s foreign ministry to start the process of moving the embassy, The Jerusalem Post reported.

“We spoke about the great relationships we have had as nations since Guatemala supported the creation of the State of Israel. One of the most relevant topics was the return of the Embassy of Guatemala to Jerusalem,” Morales stated.

He added: “I inform you that I have given instructions to the Chancellor (Foreign Minister) to initiate the process to make it possible. God bless you.”

Netanyahu praised Guatemala’s decision and suggested other countries would soon follow. “From here I would like to say to the President of Guatemala: God bless you, my friend, President Morales. God bless both our countries—Israel and Guatemala. We are waiting for you here in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said at the Knesset [parliament].

“I told you recently that there will be other countries that would recognize Jerusalem and announce the transfer of their embassies to it,” Netanyahu added. “Well here is the second country and I reiterate: It is only the beginning and it is important.”

Yuli Edelstein, the speaker of Israel’s Knesset, also congratulated Morales “on his bold decision.” He wrote on Twitter: “Your decision proves that you and your country are true friends of Israel. [I am] confident the ties between us will only grow stronger to the benefit of both countries”

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked thanked Morales for what she described as “his courageous decision.” She said she was confident that other countries would follow Guatemala’s example.

According to Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, at least 10 other countries are in talks with Israel to move their own missions to Jerusalem, with Guatemala’s neighboring state Honduras likely to be the next country to announce the decision. Other countries also reportedly in talks to move their embassies are South America’s Paraguay and the west African nation of Togo.

Guatemala and Honduras were among a handful of other countries which joined the U.S. and Israel in voting against a United Nations resolution last month to condemn President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to relocate the U.S. embassy.

Source: (The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower, originally published this article on 26 December 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Public Domain

Prayer Focus
Pray God’s blessing over Guatemala’s President Morales, his leadership and nation as they boldly stand with Israel by deciding to move their embassy to Jerusalem. Intercede for the other 10 nations to stand strong in their decisions to mirror the USA and Guatemala. Beseech God for your own government to support Israel, God’s beloved nation.

Scripture

I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.


- Genesis 12:3

Israel in Numbers as 2018 Kicks Off

by Amir Alon

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New immigrants from Brazil in 2016 (illustrative)

Monday, 01 January 2018 | 2017 drew to a close Sunday night and Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics released data regarding the country and its population. As 2018 begins, some 8,793,000 people currently reside in Israel. Of those residents, 6,556,000 are Jewish, making up 75 percent of the populace.

As for the country’s non-Jewish population, 1,837,000 are Arabs, making up 21 percent of the total population. 400,000, meanwhile, are non-Arab Christians and people who are not classified by religion in the census, making up 4 percent of the population.

Israel’s census does not include the population of foreign nationals working in the country, estimated to have been some 170,000 people at the end of 2016, or people who entered the country illegally through non-recognized border crossings.

In 2017, Israel’s population grew by 165,000, with 180,000 babies born—74 percent of them Jewish, 23 percent Arabs and 3 percent non-Arab Christians or not classified by religion—and 44,000 people passing away. In addition, the 8,000 Israelis who resided abroad for more than a year were subtracted from the population.

The country also welcomed 27,000 new olim [new immigrants] this past year, with roughly 10,000 other immigrants also coming into the country—including “olim citizens,” people who were born to an Israeli citizen during their stay abroad and entered Israel intending to settle in the country. That number also includes people who immigrated to the country as part of the law permitting to do so.

The chief countries sending immigrants to Israel in 2017 were Russia (27%), the Ukraine (25%), France (13%) and the United States (10%). Most of the immigrants—20,200 people, or 75 percent of all immigrants—came from Europe. 4,200, or 15 percent of the immigrant population, came from the US and the Ukraine. Lastly, 1,400—or 5 percent—came from Asia and 1,200—4 percent—came from Africa.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 31 December, 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Ashernet/Jewish Agency

Prayer Focus
Offer thanksgiving that Israel coming alive with people who are returning from all over the world and also for the babies. Earnestly seek the Lord for their successful absorption in the land of their inheritance. Ask God to make a way for those who are held back by circumstances that obstruct their return. Pray that many more will take a step of faith by believing in Israel’s future and returning to their homeland.

Scripture

For God will save Zion and build the cities of Judah, that they may dwell there and possess it. Also, the descendants of His servants shall inherit it, and those who love His name shall dwell in it.


- Psalm 69:35-36

Record Number of Tourists Flock to Israel During 2017

by Ilse Posselt

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Jerusalem’s modern light rail traveling past the Old City walls

Wednesday, 03 January 2018 | The happenings in and around the tiny Jewish state arguably command a disproportionate spot in the international spotlight—and the global news headlines. More often than not, the rhetoric and the headlines are anything but positive. In fact, the bulk of the discourse and headlines pertaining to Israel paints a picture of a country embroiled in perpetual conflict and upheaval. The year 2017 was no different, with news of Jerusalem-related controversy, Temple Mount-related clashes and ongoing lone-wolf terror attacks topping the international news agenda.

Yet despite the negative press, visitors from the four corners of the earth continued to flock to the Promised Land. According to the Ministry of Tourism, tourism in the Jewish state experienced an all-time record rise in 2017, with a whopping 3.6 million foreign visitors picking Israel as a holiday destination, the Israeli business daily Globes reports. This number translates to a 25% rise over the 2016 figures.

The largest number of visitors came from the US (700,000) with Russia holding the next spot with 307,000 tourists. European centers also made a significant contribution to the figures with 284,000 French tourists and 202,000 and 185,000 from Germany and the United Kingdom respectively.

Nearly 60% of the tourists were first-time visitors to the Promised Land. A total of 54% were Christian, with 24% classifying their trip as religious or a pilgrimage. Jewish tourists contributed a further 22% to the total number, while the remainder came from other faiths or were not religious. 

Jerusalem was the destination of choice for 78% of the visitors, while Tel Aviv-Jaffa, the Dead Sea as well as Tiberias and the Galilee region also featured high on the list of popular attractions.

Perhaps one of the most important statistics was, however, the satisfaction rating. An overwhelming majority of 91% described their experience in the Promised Land as “very good” or “excellent.”

The record-breaking number is no accident, says Yariv Levin, Minister of Tourism, but the fruits of “a clear policy.” Hard work and innovation by the ministry staff, he explained, “brought Israel an unprecedented peak in incoming tourism.”

For starters, this past year saw 18 new routes to Ben Gurion airport open up from spots around the globe. These include Hainan Airlines from China, Lot from Poland, Ryanair, Wizz Air and Wow, World Israel News reports. Tourism from China rose 46% from 2016 and an astounding 139% increase over 2015, which resulted in the opening of a new route between Tel Aviv and Shanghai.

“The additional half million tourists who came to Israel this year,” Levin pointed out, “are half a million more ambassadors of Israel around the world and our loyal representatives on social media, and this is also a decisive contribution to Israel’s image.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 03 January 2018)

Photo Credit: Noam Chen/Israeli Ministry of Tourism http://info.goisrael.com

Prayer Focus
Give thanks to the Lord for each and every one who is coming to seek truth in Israel or just coming to explore the variety and beauty of the land. Also thank God that every person who sets foot on the holy land will leave with a special experience that will enable them to share the truth. Pray that the shop owners, residents and those who interact with tourists will also be blessed.

Scripture

All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name.


- Psalm 86:9

Israel Rings in 2018 with Heavy Rainfall

by Ahiya Raved and Ilana Curiel

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Rainfall at Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda shuk

Tuesday, 02 January 2018 | Israel saw heavy rainfall Monday morning in the northern and central regions accompanied by thunder storms, with flood warnings in the communities of the coastal plain. The rain will be spreading to the Negev later Monday, with flood warnings in the streams of the Judea Desert, Dead Sea and Negev.In the first night of 2018, the Israel Meteorological Service measured more than 30 millimeters [1.2 in] of rain in the Western Galilee’s Ayalon kibbutz. In Beit Dagan in the Shfela, meanwhile, 15 millimeters [0.6 in] were registered in a single hour.

The Meteo-Tech company said 30 millimeters [1.2 in] of rain were measured in Majdal Shams in the northern Golan Heights, with Haifa and Netanya seeing 28 millimeters [1.1 in] and Acre, Zikhron Ya’akov and Kfar Saba enjoying 20 millimeters [0.8 in] or more of rainfall, while 14 millimeters [0.55 in] were measured in Tel Aviv.

Meteo-Tech meteorologist Tzachi Waxman said the rain will spread to the central and northern Negev and be accompanied by thunder storms.

Haifa, a major northern city, saw nearly 15 millimeters [0.6 in] of rainfall in only two hours, and 40 millimeters [1.6 in] overall in recent days. As a result, both the city and its bay area saw multiple floods, with a car parked in the city’s Student Beach near a drainage ditch being swept away to the sea.

Elsewhere in Haifa, emergency teams were called to extricate drivers who were stranded in enormous puddles, with a mother and daughter rescued from their vehicle, which was submerged in water.

The Haifa municipality said most of the flooding occurred in areas hit by last year’s fire, as they remained exposed without any vegetation to mitigate the storm’s effects.

Snow accumulated on Mount Hermon, with 15 centimeters [5.9 in] of the white stuff piling up on its upper slopes and eight centimeters on the lower slopes. A temperature of two degrees below zero was measured at the site Monday morning, with more snow expected to fall until the afternoon. The site will not, however, be opened to visitors due to fog and ongoing snowfall.

The country’s Water Authority announced the Kinneret’s level rose a single centimeter overnight Monday as a result of direct rainfall. The level now stands at -214.365 meters [-703 ft], or 1.365 meters [4.5 ft] below the lower red line, with 5.565 meters [18.3 ft] of water required to fill the lake.

Members of the Kishon River Drainage Authority said the strong flow observed in the stream’s basin had not been seen in years, and not once in 2017.

More light rain is in the forecast Tuesday in central and northern Israel, while Wednesday will be clear skies with a rise in temperatures. Rain will return Thursday morning to northern Israel and spread out to the center by the afternoon.

Editor’s note: After four years of drought, and the prospects of a fifth dry year, this week’s rainfall is a welcome change. Israel’s water situation remains critical however and will require more than a few days of rainy weather to replenish the Sea of Galilee and underground aquifers.

Source: (Excerpt of article originally published by Ynetnews on 01 January 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Ashernet

Prayer Focus
Give thanks for the rain that has fallen this week! Call upon Him to send more—soft, lasting rain to change the dry, dusty land into green, lush scenery appealing to the eye. Pray for rain to bless the stressed farmers, fill the underground aquifers and raise the drastically low levels of the Kinneret. Give thanks for what is to come, a season of rain.

Scripture

You visit the earth and water it, You greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; You provide their grain, for so You have prepared it. You water its ridges abundantly, You settle its furrows; You make it soft with showers, You bless its growth.


- Psalm 65:9-10

Study: Israeli Arabs Have Highest Life Expectancy in Muslim World

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Thursday, 04 January 2018 | Israeli Arabs have the highest life expectancy among 21 Islamic or Arab countries, even higher than that of wealthy Gulf States, such as Qatar and Bahrain, according to a study released this week. The study also showed that infant mortality among Israeli Arabs was lower than most of the same Islamic and Arab countries surveyed.

The study conducted by the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel noted, “thus, the relative status of Arab Israelis in terms of life expectancy at birth is good when compared with that of all other Arab or Muslim populations, and is equal to that of the general United States population.”

The life expectancy for Arab-Israelis, the report noted, however, “is lower than that of Israel’s Jewish population, and falls below the average for the 23 developed countries of the OECD, excluding the United States and Israel.”

One of the factors that contributes to the disparity between the life expectancy of Israeli Arabs and Jews are the higher infant mortality rate. The report also suggests that “a relatively high incidence of road accidents and chronic, smoking-related lower respiratory disease among Arab Israelis” may contribute to the lower life expectancy of Israeli-Arabs.

Source: (The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower, originally published this article on 28 December 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel

Photo License: Taub

Prayer Focus
Ask God for eyes to be opened and ears to hear that Israeli Arab citizens are truly enjoying a good life. Pray that they will have a positive influence in the peace process and land dispute between the Arabs of Judea and Samaria and the State of Israel. Thank God for His covenant and promises to the house of Israel.

Scripture

Then the Angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said: I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you.


- Judges 2:1

Rare Ancient First Temple Seal Discovered Near Western Wall Plaza

by Edgar Asher

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Site of the excavation

Tuesday, 02 January 2018 | The importance of archaeological finds in the Land of Israel has not been lost on the Palestinians. More important archaeological discoveries reinforce the connection of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel, and in particular to Jerusalem. For their part the Palestinians have made it their policy to destroy as much as they can that might add to the archaeological history of Israel. Copious volumes earth and building material of the former infrastructure of Jerusalem, particularly on and around the Temple Mount, were excavated and dumped by the Palestinians to prevent finding archaeological evidence of the Jewish connection to Jerusalem. Much of this dumped infrastructure, mainly from the Temple Mount area, has now however been painstakingly sifted over the past years and important archaeological items dating back several thousand years reveal the connection of Jews to the City of David.

General view of the Western Wall Plaza with archaeological dig on the left side

Recent archaeological excavations around the Western Wall (Kotel) plaza conducted by archaeologists from the IAA [Israel Antiquities Authority] and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation have yet again added to the Jewish connection to Jerusalem by the discovery of a unique stamped piece of clay, inscribed in ancient Hebrew script from the First Temple period of some 2,700 years ago. The piece of clay was inscribed, ‘[Belonging] To the Governor of the City’, and was recently unearthed at IAA and Western Wall Heritage excavations near to the Western Wall Plaza.

According to the IAA archaeologists, Dr. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah, “The Bible mentions two governors of Jerusalem, and this finding thus reveals that such a position was actually held by someone in the city some 2700 years ago.” The governor of the city of Jerusalem was the most prominent local position to be held in Jerusalem of 2700 years ago. This astonishing find, which is pre-fired, measures 13 x 15 mm [0.51 x 0.59 in] and is between two to three millimeters [0.08 to 0.12 in] thick. The upper part of the sealing depicts two figures facing each other, and the lower part holds an inscription in ancient Hebrew script.

Dr. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah, believes that the seal had been attached to an important transport and served as some sort of logo, or as a tiny souvenir, which was sent on behalf of the governor of the city. Dr. Weksler-Bdolah further suggests that it is likely that one of the buildings in the excavation was the destination of this transport, sent by the city governor. The finding of the seal with this high-rank title, in addition to the large assemblage of actual seals found in the building in the past, supports the assumption that this area, located on the western slopes of the western hill of ancient Jerusalem, some 100m [328 ft] west of the Temple Mount, was inhabited by highly ranked officials during the First Temple period. According to Dr. Weksler-Bdolah, “this is the first time that such a seal has been found in an authorized excavation. It supports the biblical rendering of the existence of a governor of the city in Jerusalem some 2,700 years ago.”

Seal from the First Temple period, recently discovered near the Western Wall Plaza

Professor Tallay Ornan of the Hebrew University, and Professor Benjamin Sass of Tel Aviv University, studied the seal and describe it thus: “above a double line are two standing men, facing each other in a mirror-like manner. Their heads are depicted as large dots, lacking any details. The hands facing outward are dropped down, and the hands facing inward are raised.  Each of the figures is wearing a striped, knee-length garment. In the register beneath the double line is an inscription in ancient Hebrew: לשרער, with no spacing between the words and no definite article. It denotes לשר העיר, that is – ‘belonging to the governor of the city’. Prof. Ornan and Prof. Sass add, that “the title ‘governor of the city’ is known from the Bible and from extra-biblical documents, referring to an official appointed by the king. Governors of Jerusalem are mentioned twice in the Bible: in the ‘Second Book of Kings’, Joshua is the governor of the city in the days of Hezekiah, and in the ‘Second Book of Chronicles’, Maaseiah is the governor of the city in the days of Josiah.

Nir Barkat, Mayor of Jerusalem, commented, “It is very overwhelming to receive greetings from First Temple period Jerusalem. This shows that already some 2,700 years ago, Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, was a strong and central city. Jerusalem is one of the most ancient capitals of the world, continually populated by the Jewish people for more than 3,000 years. Today we have the privilege to encounter another one of the long chain of persons and leaders that built and developed the city. We are grateful to be living in a city with such a magnificent past, and are obligated to ensure its strength for generations to come, as we daily do.”

Source: (Ashernet originally published this article on 01 January, 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Ashernet/IAA

Prayer Focus
Rejoice in the Lord for all the new evidence that has been found in the excavations near the Temple Mount, making it harder for Israel’s enemies to nullify the Jewish tie to Jerusalem. Help those who are in doubt to consider the facts and not be swayed by rhetoric. Lift up the archeologists who dedicate their lives to fight for Israel’s existence by sifting sand and thus proving that history—Israel’s history—is true.

Scripture

You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.


- Revelation 4:11

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