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What Will We Do Now?

Friday, January 7, 2022

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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.

Gantz, Abbas Sit Down for Unprecedented Meeting

by Kate Norman

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Defense Minister Benny Gantz

Monday, 3 January 2022 | Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz hosted Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas at his home outside of Tel Aviv last week, the first such meeting in over a decade, which led to new Israeli allowances for the PA government.

The December 28 meeting was the first time Abbas has traveled into Israel proper to meet with an Israeli official in over ten years. Abbas and Gantz previously met in Ramallah, the de facto capital of the PA, in August.

After the meeting, Gantz announced new “confidence-building measures” Israel will provide to bandage the PA’s debt, caused by years of corruption and mismanagement.

The measures include a loan of NIS 100 million (US $32.2 million) paid out from taxes the Jewish state collects on behalf of the PA. Israel will also issue entry permits for 1,100 Palestinian businessmen to work in Israel, as well as dozens of VIP permits for PA officials passing through Israeli checkpoints.

Gantz also reportedly offered to legalize 9,500 undocumented Palestinians and foreigners living in Judea and Samaria as well as the Gaza Strip. The undocumented foreigners are often those who come from different countries to marry Palestinians and live with them in Arab areas, though they are not given legal status.

No reciprocal measures by the PA were announced, drawing criticism of the defense minister for making concessions without getting anything in return.

In fact, the largest unifying factor of the meeting is that it angered Israelis and Palestinians alike.

The president of Jerusalem’s Institute for Strategy and Security told the JNS that “all Israelis, including Gantz, should not forget that Abbas is not a friend, but the enemy. He is a Holocaust denier, pays salaries to terrorists and refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.”

On the other side, Hamas, the terrorist group in control of the Gaza Strip and the main rival to Abbas’s Fatah party in the PA, issued a statement deriding the meeting as a “stab to the Intifada [Arabic for “uprising”]” in Judea and Samaria.

Israel’s biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria, often referred to as the West Bank, saw a spike in terror attacks last month, including attempted car-rammings, stabbings and shootings.

Gantz meeting with Abbas and offering these measures to prop up the PA are likely an Israeli effort to strengthen the PA against Hamas, as the terrorist group infiltrates further and further into Israel’s heartland.

A PA official who attended the meeting defended it as a “challenge and the last chance before the explosion and finding ourselves at a dead end.” Hussein al-Sheikh added to his Twitter post that the meeting with Gantz was a “serious and bold attempt to [reach] a political path based on international legitimacy and an end to the escalation against Palestinians.”

US State Department Spokesman Ned Price tweeted his praise for the meeting.

“The US is very pleased Defense Minister [Gantz] hosted PA President Abbas at his home in Israel. We hope confidence-building measures discussed will accelerate momentum to further advance freedom, security, and prosperity for Palestinians alike in 2022,” Price wrote.

Though Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has reportedly refused to meet with Abbas, the new Israeli government, which was formed in June, appears to be working with the PA to strengthen it against Hamas.

It’s really about choosing the lesser of two evils. While Abbas and the PA decry Israel publicly, there is a lot of cooperation between the two entities behind the scenes. Hamas, on the other hand, has declared war on Israel and even states in its charter that one of the terror organization’s goals is wiping the Jewish state off the map.

Gantz said in August, as quoted by the Times of Israel: “If the Palestinian Authority is stronger, Hamas will be weaker. When the Palestinian Authority has more ability to enforce order, there will be more security, and our hand will be forced less.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 3, 2022)

Photo Credit: ראובן קפוצ'ינסקי/ ראובן קפוצ'ינסקי/עידית וקסלר צח - רמ"ט ארגון - מפלגת חוסן לישראל/Commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that Defense Minister Gantz’s statements as quoted in the Times of Israel will indeed become reality. Cry out to the Lord that his plan to strengthen the PA will result in them policing their own people, thus relieving some of that burden from Israel. Beseech Him for a truly cooperative outcome that will help to maintain peace and weaken Hamas.

Scripture

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and Your glory above all the earth; that Your beloved may be delivered, save with Your right hand, and hear me.


- Psalm 108:5–6

Army Intel Chief: Iran Deal Better than No Agreement

by Ilse Strauss

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The Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran

Wednesday, 5 January 2022 | According to the head of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Military Intelligence, a return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanction relief would be better for Israel than a total breakdown in negotiations between the Islamic Republic and world powers in Vienna—and ultimately Iran’s complete noncompliance with the deal.

Restoring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Maj.–Gen. Aharon Haliva allegedly told the Security Cabinet over the weekend, would entail a return to restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program within the context of the deal, thus offering Jerusalem more assurance regarding the limitations on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, Walla reported. The alternative—no deal at all—presents no such guarantees.

The Military Intelligence head also reportedly said a return to the deal would buy Israel precious time to make the necessary preparations for a number of different scenarios of an uptick in tension between Jerusalem and Tehran, putting Israel in a better position to deal with escalating hostilities.

Israeli powers-that-be have staunchly opposed the negotiations—and more importantly, the prospect of a return to the JCPOA. President Isaac Herzog even warned that Iran used the Vienna talks to buy time as it works steadily towards the bomb.

However, the rhetoric seems to have shifted, with some officials saying Israel may accept a deal—depending on the terms.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told the New York Times in December: “We have no problem with a deal. A good deal is a good thing. Second best would be no deal but tightening the sanctions and making sure Iran cannot go forward. And the third and worst is a bad deal.”

Negotiations in the Austrian capital resumed on Monday after a short break over the New Year. Talks are currently in their eighth round—and according to the US, this would be the last chance for Iran to salvage the JCPOA and settle the nuclear dispute diplomatically.

The Vienna talks have been a stop-start affair with what appears to be more obstacles than solutions. The lack of progress has prompted diplomats from the UK, France and Germany to warn last week that there remained “weeks, not months” to restore the deal. For its part, the US State Department called on Tehran to “add real urgency in Vienna.”

On Monday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry promised that the talks are “entering an in-depth phase.” A day later, the US State Department’s spokesman reported making “modest progress.”

Whether the eighth round of negotiations will go nowhere, prove successful in resuscitating the JCPOA or result in a new agreement—good or bad—is anybody’s guess.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 5, 2022)

Photo Credit: Tasnim News Agency/Commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Implore the Lord for His will and His will alone to be done in this situation. Pray that He will give the negotiators great wisdom and insight in their discussions, and pray that no movement would be made that would further endanger Israel, the region and the world.

Scripture

For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.


- Proverbs 2:6

Israeli Borders to Open to Vaccinated Tourists from Low-risk Countries

by Ilse Strauss

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The COVID-19 testing site at Ben Gurion Airport

Tuesday, 4 January 2022 | Come Sunday, Israel will once again open its borders to fully jabbed and recovered tourists from low-risk countries, winding up the latest five-week bar on noncitizens entering the Jewish state, the Health Ministry announced yesterday.

Israel’s doors remain barred to those who have not been vaccinated or recovered as well as foreign visitors from “red” countries with the highest risk of infection.

The Health Ministry committee responsible for color-coding countries designated the US, the UK, the United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mexico, Switzerland and Turkey to the red list. The committee further recommended transferring current red countries South Africa, Hungary, Nigeria, Spain, Portugal, France and Canada to the orange list, thus paving the way for vaccinated visitors from these nations.

Israel originally sealed its borders in March 2020, when the first wave of the COVID pandemic crashed onto the nation’s shores, and largely kept them shut for the next year and a half, as infection numbers waxed and waned through four waves. On November 1 last year, the doors swung open for the first time, but then slammed shut again at the end of the month in a bid to stop the spread of the Omicron variant.

Now Israel is taking another swing at resuscitating the floundering tourism sector by once again loosening restrictions.

To enter Israel, visitors will be required to complete an entry form before embarking on the trip, take a PCR or antigen test prior to the flight, another test upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport and finally isolation for 24 hours or until receiving a negative test result, whichever comes first.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 4, 2022)

Photo Credit: Talmoryair/Commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord that Israel is again attempting to open its borders to pilgrims from around the world. Pray that this decision will not result in an increase in COVID cases. Cry out to Him for an end to the crippling effects of the virus, a resuscitating of Israel’s tourism industry and a strengthening of the economy.

Scripture

[It is] a land for which the LORD your God cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year.


- Deuteronomy 11:12

Israel Strikes Gaza: Those Who Aim Missiles “Bear Responsibility”

by Joshua Spurlock ~ The Mideast Update

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Israeli fighter planes (illustrative)

Monday, 3 January 2022 | Israel on Saturday night hit multiple Hamas targets in Gaza, dismissing claims from terrorists that earlier rockets were accidentally fired at Israel by the weather.

The Times of Israel reported that Gaza militants pointed to “weather conditions” as causing the rockets to launch on Saturday, not unlike a 2020 Israeli news report that lightning set off Gaza rockets over a year ago. However, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday brushed aside the reason why the latest rockets fired. Instead, he was troubled that they were aimed at Israel in the first place.

“I want to make something clear: All of Hamas’s stories about lightning and thunder, that repeat themselves winter after winter—are no longer relevant. Those who aim missiles towards the State of Israel will bear the responsibility,” Bennett was quoted by his office as saying.

The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] Twitter feed said that two rockets were launched at Israel on Saturday morning, but that “according to protocol, no sirens were sounded and no interception took place as the rockets landed in the sea off the coast of central Israel.”

In response, Bennett said the Israeli Air Force hit “a series of targets in a Hamas rocket manufacturing complex” in Gaza and the IDF also attacked “a number of Hamas positions on the Gaza border.” The IDF Twitter feed added that among the sites hit were “military posts used for terrorist activity.”

The weekend’s Gaza–Israel shooting exchange follows a prior shooting terror attack last Wednesday by Gaza militants that injured an Israeli civilian. The IDF Twitter feed reporting on the shooting also said that the Israeli military responded with IDF tanks hitting “Hamas military posts in northern Gaza.”

Not all is growing tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, however. The night before the Gaza shooting, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. According to an Israeli press release recapping the conversation, Gantz “emphasized the parties’ shared interest in deepening security coordination, maintaining regional stability and preventing terror and violence.”

Israel and the PA have long cooperated on security measures to thwart their shared enemy, Hamas. The Gaza-based terror group is the political archrival to the Fatah group that Abbas leads and heads the PA. In 2007, Hamas violently kicked the PA out of Gaza in a bloody coup. And in multiple times in just last week, Israel’s conflict with Hamas has been front and center, again.

While the Times of Israel, citing a report by Israeli news group Kan, said Israel thinks Islamic Jihad was the group actually behind Saturday’s fired rockets, Israel has long viewed the Gaza-ruling Hamas group as ultimately responsible for [reining] in other terrorists in the coastal enclave.

The IDF Hebrew website underscored Bennett’s point about responsibility. Noted the IDF, in comments translated by Google: “The terrorist organization Hamas is responsible for what is happening in the Gaza Strip and bears the consequences of terrorist acts from the Gaza Strip.”

Regardless of what the weather is doing.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Mideast Update on January 2, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Photo Credit: Major Ofer, Israeli Air Force רס"ן עופר, חיל האוויר הישראלי/Israeli Air Force/Commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for calm along the Gaza border. Ask the Lord to heal and restore this most recent terror victim. Pray also that Israel’s actions will have a powerful effect, crippling Hamas’s rocket manufacturing and hindering their terrorist operations.

Scripture

Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their hearts; they continually gather together for war. They sharpen their tongues like a serpent; the poison of asps is under their lips.


- Psalm 140:1–3

Lapid: Israel will Face Accusations of Apartheid in 2022

by Itamar Eichner ~ Ynetnews

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False accusations against Israel may be stepped up a notch during 2022.

Tuesday, 4 January 2022 | Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Monday he estimated that in the coming year Israel will be accused by the United Nations of conducting a policy of apartheid towards the Palestinians.

In a briefing with reporters in Jerusalem, Lapid said the impact of such accusations would be felt in international sporting and cultural events and will likely result in efforts to remove Israel from international competitions.

The minister also said Palestinians would increase their pressure on the International Criminal Court [ICC] in the Hague to launch an active investigation into Israel’s conduct in the territories. This will have direct repercussions for Israeli officials, including military leaders, Lapid said.

He added the Palestinian efforts will likely also be directed at ICC’s chief investigator Karim Khan, who last May replaced Fatou Bensouda, considered by Israel to hold pro-Palestinian views.

Lapid told reporters the May 2021 fighting between Israel and the Islamist factions in Gaza was being investigated by a UN commission, which has been given a broad mandate and has no less than 19 dedicated staff.

The first draft of the commission’s findings will be published next June, and officials in Jerusalem expect that its conclusions will, among other things, name Israel an apartheid state.

In comparison, he said, the Syrian civil war investigation included only 12 staff members and a much lower budget.

The Palestinians also appealed to the UN commission for the prevention of discrimination on the basis of race in 2018, charging that Israel was conducting a policy of apartheid towards them.

That commission is due to publish its findings in the course of the year—and there too, officials believe, Israel will be described as an apartheid state.

Palestinians had already requested the ICC to formulate their opinion on whether Israel was racist in its West Bank [Judea and Samaria] policies, and although such an opinion would not be legally binding, it would provide legitimacy to such an argument.

Lapid said Israel must be careful not to appear to refuse to negotiate with the Palestinians. “This would be factually wrong because the Palestinians speak of advancing a negotiation process on the one hand but appeal to the ICC in the Hague with claims against Israel, on the other.”

The minister added the PA was also paying stipends to convicted terrorists.

“Our enemies know how to hurt us and will try to kick us out of international sporting events, which could be very effective across political lines,” Lapid said, adding that accusing Israel of apartheid may become a strategic threat.

“The claim that Israel is an apartheid state is a disgusting lie. We are dealing with a bunch of anti-Semites, and I do not view this lightly.”

During his briefing, Lapid also referred to the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna and said he believed they would ultimately end with some sort of deal.

“I hardly know anyone who believes there would not be some agreement. We laid out our view of what we thought should happen if a deal is not reached, including more sanctions. We wanted our view to be on the table,” he said. “It would be surprising if no deal is agreed upon.”

The Americans, he said, were working towards a deal, even a partial one.

“Our goal is to prevent sanctions being lifted,” he said. “Israel has made it clear that if they provide humanitarian aid to Iran, they would enable the regime to divert other funds to their missile program and to terrorism.”

“Our goal is to be in the room in order to minimize the damage or to see an agreement that we could live with. War might be necessary.

The minister said that it was clear that if the Iranians decided to increase its uranium enrichment to 90%, the world would be shaken and return to full sanctions, which is why Israel’s policy was to highlight the sanctions issue more than the enriched uranium.

“We are holding discussions to make access to money more difficult. We are also trying to highlight matters that were missing from the 2015 deal, including Iran’s missile program and its support of terrorism,” Lapid said.

“I don’t know what a future deal will include, but the Chinese and Russians are leaning more to our side than in the past, and we feel we have their attention. Ministry teams are in almost daily contact with the Americans,” he said.

Lapid said that although he did not think there would be a better nuclear agreement with Iran, as far as Israel was concerned, by participating in a conversation with world powers, Israel stands to be in a slightly better position.

Source: (Excerpt of an article was originally published by Ynetnews on January 3, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Alisdare Hickson/Flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Pray that the Lord will move mightily on Israel’s behalf, bringing to an end this constant onslaught of absurd anti-Semitic accusations. Ask Him to open the eyes of the nations to the fact that these allegations have absolutely no basis in fact and deserve only to be ignored. Pray that He will give Israeli leaders wisdom as they are forced to react to such lies.

Scripture

For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is destruction; their throat is an open tomb; they flatter with their tongue. Pronounce them guilty, O God! Let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, for they have rebelled against You.


- Psalm 5:9–10

Jewish Leaders Condemn UN Investigation into Israeli “War Crimes”

by JNS

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The United Nations headquarters in New York City

Monday, 3 January 2022 | Jewish leaders in the United States are outraged at a recent vote by the United Nations General Assembly [UNGA] to fund an open-ended Commission of Inquiry (COI) into alleged war crimes perpetrated by Israel during the May 2021 conflict with Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip.

In a news release on Monday, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations called the move appalling, as the commission does not mention the actions of the Hamas terrorist organization, which intentionally shot over 4,000 rockets at civilians within Israel in May and has never opened an open-ended COI on any other nation in its history.

“We vehemently oppose this one-sided farce of a probe, which again demonstrates the clear anti-Israel bias in the UN body. Israel is the only member state in the history of the UN to be singled out for taking defensive military action to ensure the security of its civilian population,” the release stated. “Indeed, throughout the history of UN actions, no other investigation received authorization to spend unlimited resources without an explicit mandate. The unprecedented UNGA vote presupposes wrongdoing, while unfairly challenging Israel’s right to self-defense in accordance with international law.”

The funding for the COI was approved on December 23 by the UNGA with the support of 125 member nations, while the United States, Israel and six other nations voted against it, and 34—including some traditional allies of Israel—abstained from the vote.

“We are grateful for the support of the Biden Administration, Hungary, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, and Papua New Guinea who joined with Israel to vote against this discriminatory commission,” the Conference’s statement read. “We are also disappointed that the key Western allies of Australia, Austria, Canada, Brazil and Germany chose to abstain, rather than to oppose this immoral and destructive measure.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on December 28, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: blurAZ/Shutterstock/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Ask the Lord to clearly bless those nations that stood with Israel against the discriminatory actions of the UN. Pray that the international community will join the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in raising their voices against this sham investigation and against the ongoing anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias that are entrenched at the UN.

Scripture

Let all those who hate Zion be put to shame and turned back.


- Psalm 129:5

Next on the Normalization List: Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Comoros, Maldives?

by Kate Norman

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Anjouan, islands of Comoros

Wednesday, 5 January 2022 | More than a year after the landmark Abraham Accords, which saw the Jewish state normalize ties with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan, Israel is looking toward the next countries to potentially make peace agreements.

On the list of potential new peace partners, according to different, varying reports, are Comoros, the Maldives, Saudi Arabia, and maybe even Indonesia—the country with the fourth largest population and the highest Muslim population in the world.

The Comoros, an archipelago nation off the coast of east Africa, and the Maldives are most likely the next in line to normalize ties with Israel, the Times of Israel reported, citing unnamed diplomatic sources who said there are ongoing talks. There likely will not be any announcements in the near future, however, according to the report.

While Comoros has never established ties with Israel, the Maldives once had diplomatic connections with the Jewish state early on.

Those ties were dissolved in 1974 by the Maldives, a Muslim-majority nation. Relations between the two countries warmed up in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but with the entrance of a new Islamist-leaning government in 2012 and the Gaza War in 2014, the ties severed again.

Another theory is that Indonesia and Saudi Arabia are next to join the accords, according to an I24News report this week, citing a “high-ranking Israeli Foreign Ministry official” who said Israel and Indonesia are holding under-the-table normalization talks, with the US mediating.

“The goal is to normalize relations with Indonesia and Saudi Arabia,” I24News quoted the official as saying at a Foreign Ministry briefing Monday. “These are the two countries we want to reach an agreement with, but it is a slow process that takes a lot of time and effort. We hope for the best.”

The official also named the other likely countries to join: Comoros, Maldives and even Kuwait and Qatar in the long run.

Indonesia is frequently named as a top potential candidate. When the southeastern Asian nation declared independence from the Dutch in the 1940s, Israel became one of the first countries to recognize it as an independent nation in 1950.

Indonesia did not return the favor, however, and slapped Israel’s outstretched hand of peace away publicly, though the two nations began conducting trade in the late 1960s and up until today.

Which country will be next and how soon? No one really knows.

History was made on September 15, 2020, when Israel signed the historic Abraham Peace accords normalizing ties with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain on the White House lawn.

Brokered by Washington under the Trump administration, the agreements soon expanded to include Morocco and Sudan—though the process of normalizing ties with Sudan has made slow progress amid Sudan’s ongoing political crisis.

The new administration under US President Joe Biden said it looked forward to bringing more nations into peace with the Jewish state, though no new accords or peace agreements have been announced since then.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 5, 2022)

Photo Credit: Haryamouji/Commons.wikimedia

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the list of Israel’s allies will continue to grow, with Saudi Arabia and Indonesia being next in line. Cry out to the Lord for true relationships of peace and friendship to be established that will bring blessing and stability to each nation and to the Middle East.

Scripture

But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You. For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield.


- Psalm 5:11–12

Chopper Crash Survivor Recounts Attempts to Save Crew Members

by Yoav Zitun ~ Ynetnews

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Rambam hospital in Haifa, where the survivor is recovering

Thursday, 6 January 2022 | The Israeli naval officer who was the sole survivor of a fatal helicopter crash on Tuesday told the story of how he tried to save his two crew members after they crashed into the ocean.

“I was able to pull myself out of the helicopter, and only after many attempts to rescue my friends, Erez Sachyani and Chen Fogel, was I rescued by a Coast Guard boat,” Captain Ron Berman recounted from his hospital bed.

As the hours pass, Berman’s heroism becomes clear. Although he himself was moderately injured in the crash, he continued to try rescuing his peers, who eventually did not make it.

Earlier Tuesday, Israeli Air Force [IAF] Commander Maj.–Gen. Amikam Norkin and Commander of the Israeli Navy, Maj.–Gen. David Saar Salama, paid a visit to Capt. Berman, who was hospitalized at Rambam Health Care Campus in the northern port city of Haifa, and expressed their appreciation for his actions and the composure he displayed.

“You did everything you could and everything possible,” Salama told Berman. “You acted responsibly, swiftly, showing companionship…Hang on, I know you’re strong. We’re here for everything you need, waiting for your return.”

“You acted bravely and calmly, I am glad you’re alive. You’re receiving excellent care. Come back to us fast, they’re waiting for you at home and in the squadron,” IAF chief Norkin said.

Meanwhile, preliminary findings released Tuesday evening suggested that a severe malfunction was most likely the cause behind the fatal crash.

The helicopter that crashed—a Eurocopter AS565 Panther, or “Atalef” (Hebrew for bat) as it is known by the Israeli Air Force—was taking part in a training exercise Monday night when it went down.

According to the report, as the crew was making its way back to base, the helicopter’s left engine caught on fire, and power was cut off from the rest of the aircraft.

However, the pilots—Major Chen Fogel and Lt.–Col. Erez Sachyani—managed to make an emergency landing at sea. The surviving crew member, Captain Ron Berman, said that he tried to rescue his peers but failed, owing to the complete darkness at the time and heavy smoke that filled the cockpit.

Contrary to initial estimates on the night of the incident, the crew did manage to activate the helicopter’s buoyancy system, thus allowing the officer to float on the aircraft’s wreckage and save himself.

He went back after Fogel and Sachyani, trying to save the two without success, and then contacted the squadron’s commander using his personal cell phone.

Berman was rescued by the Coast Guard and taken to Haifa’s Rambam Health Care Campus, having sustained moderate injuries. He was admitted to the hospital’s shock room for preliminary treatment before being moved to the Intensive Care Unit. On Tuesday, he was released from the ICU in good condition and was transferred for further treatment in the Division of Orthopedics and Traumatology.

The bodies of Fogel and Sachyani were recovered from the water over an hour after the crash and were pronounced dead after extensive resuscitation efforts.

Israeli Air Force investigators estimated that one or two minutes elapsed from the moment the fire broke out and the aircraft hit the water.

It is not yet clear why the pilots were unable to get themselves out of the helicopter, but it is known that all three crew members were wearing seat belts during the flight.

Major Chen Fogel was laid to rest at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Military Cemetery in Haifa, and Lt.–Col. Erez Sachyani’s funeral was held at 7 p.m. in the Misgav Cemetery.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on January 4, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Unknown/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for Captain Ron Berman physically and emotionally as he recovers from this tragic accident. Pray that he will be recognized for his heroism, and ask the Lord to bless him with peace as he deals with grief at the loss of his friends.

Scripture

The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.


- Psalm 34:18

IDF Tanks Fire at Syrian Position on Golan Heights

by Yoav Zitun, Liad Osmo ~ Ynetnews

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Israeli tank during training in the Golan Heights (illustrative)

Thursday, 6 January 2022 | IDF [Israel Defense Forces] tanks on Wednesday fired at a Syrian position east of the Israel–Syria border that was directed at suspects who were seen nearing the frontier, the military said.

There were no injuries reported in the incident on either side of the border, and the IDF deployed more troops to the area in anticipation of a further infiltration attempt, including ground forces and aircraft.

Earlier the Lebanon-based Al Mayadeen network said a fire was caused from the Israeli tank fire.

The network said the Israeli fire was directed at a Syrian army position near the city of Quneitra and the village of Al Huria on the Syrian Golan Heights.

In a statement, the IDF Spokesperson’s unit said that after an IDF lookout post identified suspects inside Syrian military positions, flares were fired along with tank fire in order to prevent infiltration.

The IDF has opened fire at suspects nearing the border in the past, including in August of 2020, when four suspected terrorists were killed when they attempted to lay explosive devices near the border fence.

According to foreign media reports, the IDF had also attacked targets near Quneitra in the past, as part of the effort to prevent Iranian entrenchment on the Syrian Golan.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on January 5, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Neil Cohen, Israel Defense Forces/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that Israel will be successful in its attempts to prevent infiltration of its northern border as well as in actions taken to thwart Iranian entrenchment on the Syrian Golan. Cry out to the Lord for His protection over the IDF as her enemies continue their harassment in the Land and all her borders.

Scripture

Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve you from all evil.


- Psalm 121:4–7a