Every week, we post seven to ten news stories from Israel with a suggested prayer focus and scripture for each one, guiding readers how to pray for Israel’s most urgent needs. This Prayer Update is also sent to over 18,000 subscribers every Friday by e-mail. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.
Iran Ups Nuclear Enrichment to 20%
Tuesday, 5 January 2021 | The Iranian government said on Monday that it has resumed enriching uranium to 20% at its underground nuclear facility at Fordow in a further violation of its commitments under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal.
“A few minutes ago, the process of producing 20 percent enriched uranium…started in [the] Fordow enrichment complex,” Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabeie told Iranian state media, wrote Reuters.
“The process of gas injection to centrifuges has started a few hours ago and the first product of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas will be available in a few hours,” said Rabeie, adding that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had been informed of the move.
In response to the announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Iran’s decision to continue violating its commitments, to raise the enrichment level and advance the industrial ability to enrich uranium underground, cannot be explained in any way except as the continued realization of its intention to develop a military nuclear program.”
Israel will not allow Iran to produce nuclear weapons, stated Netanyahu.
Atomic Energy Organization of Iran director Ali Akbar Salehi announced on Saturday that Iran intended to enrich up to 20% “as soon as possible.”
Photo Credit: Tehran Times/JNS
Cry out to the Lord on behalf of the nation of Israel who Iran has claimed will be the first target of their increasingly sophisticated weaponry. Pray that the Lord will intervene and bring Tehran’s nuclear weapons program to a swift and permanent end, and pray that PM Netanyahu’s warnings will be heeded.
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.
Israeli Woman Seriously Injured in Palestinian Terror Attack
by Ilse Strauss
Monday, 4 January 2021 | An Israeli woman was seriously injured in a Palestinian terror attack yesterday afternoon when a stone hurled at the car she was traveling in struck her in the head.
Rivka Teitel, 40, and her two children were on their way to take a coronavirus test when the terrorists struck. Passing through the hills of Samaria near the Palestinian village of Deir Nidham, several Palestinians lobbed stones at the Teitels’ car. One of the rocks found its mark, shattering the windshield and smashing into Teitel’s head, incapacitating her. According to Israel’s Channel 12 news, one of her children managed to take control of the car and brought it to a stop. Both children escaped the attack unharmed.
Magen David Adom first responders extracted Teitel from the car and administered life-saving treatment before evacuating her to the hospital in critical condition. They described her as “drifting in and out of consciousness, with a severe head wound.”
Pictures taken of the interior of the Teitels’ car in the aftermath of the attack speak of its grisly nature—at the extent of Teitel’s injuries—with pools of blood staining the driver’s and passenger’s seat.
Teitel underwent surgery last night to treat “a significant head injury,” Dr. Yoram Klein of the Critical Care Surgery and Trauma unit at the Sheba Medical Center said, and remains in serious but stable condition.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched an operation to search for the perpetrators, and have arrested 20 suspects in Deir Nidham so far, an IDF statement said.
“IDF troops will continue operations in the area of Deir Nidham until the completion of the search and investigation, and checkpoints have been set up in the area,” the statement continued.
Yesterday’s attack comes amid an uptick in tensions in Judea and Samaria. Renewed violence has plagued the contested area following the murder of Esther Horgan, a mother of six, in a Palestinian terror attack two weeks ago.
According to the IDF, 2020 saw 1,500 Palestinian stone throwing attacks on Israel vehicles. Palestinians as well as their proponents and sympathizers routinely dismiss stone throwing as a symbolic, non-violent and non-lethal method of popular protest, painting a pastoral picture of pockets of mischievous youth tossing harmless pebbles at undetermined targets. However, the more than a dozen Israelis murdered in these types of attacks and the hundreds more, including Teitel, who have been injured, tell an entirely different story.
Perhaps the horrendous fate of Teitel and her two children might compel world bodies and international governments to speak out against the evils of stone throwing. However, if history serves as a preface for the future, we should not hold out much hope.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 4, 2021)
Photo Credit: יעקב/wikimedia.org
Photo License: wikimedia.org
Pray for Rivka Teitel’s swift and complete recovery as well as for her children who experienced the terror of the attack and the horror of seeing their mother so seriously injured. Also pray that the Lord will bring healing, comfort and restoration to the many other Israelis who have been the victims of rock throwing terror attacks and to their families as well. Beseech the Lord that the perpetrators will be found and held accountable, and that somehow this constant onslaught against innocent Israelis will be brought to an end.
The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them. The LORD preserves all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy.
Greece and Israel Set to Sign Largest-ever Defense Procurement Deal
Wednesday, 6 January 2021 | Greece has approved Israel’s bid for a 20-year, [US] $1.68 billion defense contract for the establishment of a flight school for the Hellenic Air Force, Israel’s Defense Ministry announced on Monday. The defense procurement agreement, the signing of which now depends on negotiations with the Greek Defense Ministry, will be the largest ever between the two countries.
The agreement is a “long-term partnership” that “reflects the excellent and developing relations we have with Greece,” said Israel Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who added that it would create hundreds of jobs in both countries and “promote stability” in the Mediterranean.
Modeled after the Israel Air Force flight academy, the Greek school, which is to be established and operated by Israel’s Elbit Systems, will be equipped with 10 M-346 training aircraft produced by the Italian company Leonardo. The aircraft will be Israeli variants, known as “Lavi,” which, according to Elbit, are equipped with “unique avionics and embedded training solutions.”
These aircraft are also employed in the Israeli flight school and are considered very successful, according to the Defense Ministry statement.
Within the framework of the agreement, Elbit Systems will also provide kits to upgrade and operate the Hellenic Air Force’s Beechcraft T-6 Texan II training aircraft, as well as training, simulators and logistical support. In the future, the parties will also consider areas of cooperation between the Israeli and Greek flight academies.
Israel Defense Forces Brig. Gen. (Res.) Yair Kulas, the head of the Israeli Defense Ministry’s International Defense Cooperation Directorate, said, “The Greek government’s approval of this agreement is a historic step in further deepening the excellent defense relations between our two countries. This is not just a defense export agreement, but rather a partnership for at least 20 years. I would like to thank the Greek Ministry of National Defense for its trust and for assigning this important task to the Israel Ministry of Defense and our excellent defense industry.”
Photo Credit: Elbit Systems/jns.org
Praise the Lord for the growing relationship between Israel and Greece. Pray that this partnership will strengthen the two nations’ commitments to cooperation and partnership in the coming years and will be a benefit to the entire region.
In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.
At Ceremony in Khartoum, Sudan Officially Signs on to Abraham Accords
Thursday, 7 January 2021 | Sudan officially joined the Abraham Accords on Wednesday, paving the way for Khartoum’s normalization of ties with Israel.
It became the third of four countries to agree to normalize ties with the Jewish state, following the United Arab Emirates [UAE] and Bahrain, and preceding Morocco, which has yet to sign the accords.
The UAE and Bahrain signed the Abraham Accords with Israel at the White House on September 15. The two Gulf states were the first to normalize relations with the Jewish state. Jordan and Egypt made peace with Israel in 1994 and 1979, respectively.
Sudan signed the agreement in a ceremony on Wednesday in its capital Khartoum. US Secretary of State Steven Mnuchin, who represented the United States at the event, will be in Israel on Wednesday for meetings, he tweeted.
Sudan, which overthrew dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019, announced its agreement in October to join the normalization accord as long as it was removed from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism. A stipulation on the US side meant that Sudan agreed to pay [US] $335 million in compensation to American victims of terrorism.
Last month, legislation protecting victims of terrorism and restoring Sudan’s immunity from terror-related lawsuits was included in the must-pass omnibus government spending bill, which also included coronavirus relief, that US President Donald Trump signed into law.
Sudan, an Arab–Muslim-majority country that borders Egypt to the south, has long been viewed as a hostile nation towards the Jewish state. Its rejection of Israel was made famous with the 1967 Khartoum Resolution, issued at the conclusion of the Arab League summit in the wake of the Six-Day War and declaring the “Three Nos”: no peace, no recognition, no negotiations.
However, the current government, focused on reforming the economy and expanding international investment, has sought friendlier ties with Israel as a step in improving relations with the US. Sudan’s western neighbor, Chad, established ties with Israel in 2019, and South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan in 2011, also has diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.
Photo Credit: Ec09495/wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
Thank the Lord for Israel’s relationship with Sudan. Pray that it will be of benefit to both nations, and beseech the Lord that Israel will shine the light of the reality, love and faithfulness of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in Sudan and throughout the Arab world.
“And you shall be a blessing. 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.”
UN Passes “Anti-Israel,” “Anti-Semitic” Annual Budget
by Ilse Strauss
Tuesday, 5 January 2021 | The US and Israel presented a united front at the United Nations last week, voting against the adoption of the world body’s US $3.2 billion operating budget for 2021 over a budget item the US condemned as “anti-Israel” and “anti-Semitic.”
The US and Israel’s lone stand against the status quo proved unsuccessful, with the remaining 167 UN General Assembly member states giving the budget the thumbs up.
“Today this body is poised to adopt a budget that reflects such an accommodation that extends a shameful legacy of hate, anti-Semitism, and anti-Israel bias,” UN Ambassador Kelly Craft warned.
Craft made it clear that the US—the UN’s main funder, contributing up to 20% of its annual budget—“rejects this effort and called for this vote to make clear that we stand by our principles, stand up for what is right, and never accept consensus for consensus’ sake.”
Both the US and Israel’s objection to the budget centers on the funds earmarked to celebrate the 20th anniversary of a highly controversial 2001 UN conference held in Durban, South Africa. While the conference was supposed to focus on racism, Muslim-majority nations’ fixation with the Jewish state soon turned into an Israel-bashing forum and a platform to condemn Jerusalem. Both the US and Israel ultimately walked out of the meeting to protest a draft resolution that singled out Jerusalem for criticism, equated Zionism to racism and even bemoaned the Palestinians’ fate as being “under foreign occupation.”
While the UN seeks to set aside the funds in its budget to commemorate what it clearly considers a landmark feat, its main funder disagrees.
“Twenty years on, there remains nothing about the Durban Declaration to celebrate or to endorse,” Craft said. “It is poisoned by anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias…It exists to divide and discriminate and runs contrary to the laudable goal of combating racism and racial discrimination.”
Craft continued to point out the ironic contrast that while the world body prepared to revel in “two decades of dishonesty and division”—with absolutely no tangible harvest of reconciliation or peace to show—the Trump administration’s Abraham Accords have made historic strides in reconciling former foes Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, “bridging age-old divides between people.”
Israel, the US’s sole ally in the stand against the UN, similarly dismissed the Durban conference follow-up efforts, with the Jewish state’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, claiming it will present yet another forum aimed at “demonizing the Jewish state—it will be used once again to slander us and to launch false accusations of racism against Jewish self-determination.”
Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 5, 2021)
Photo Credit: Israel flag: drorhlahat/pixabay; US flag: DWilliam/pixabay
In recent years, many nations of the world have pledged and even passed legislation to combat anti-Semitism in every possible way. Pray that there will be an outcry from those nations as the dollars they have committed to the UN are being spent to promote blatant anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Also pray that Israel’s growing relationships within the Arab bloc will bear fruit at the UN with Israel’s new Arab friends being willing to take a stand against such virulent anti-Israelism.
Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, O God! For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones. They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.”
IDF Sees Record Number of Israeli Arab Conscripts
by Yoav Zitun
Monday, 4 January 2021 | More than 1,000 Israeli Arabs have volunteered to serve in the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] as conscripts or reservists in the past year, and most after the coronavirus crisis began in March 2020, the military’s Manpower Directorate said Sunday.
The number of conscripts from the Arab sector is more than twice that of previous years, and includes Muslims from areas such as Taibe, Qalansuwa and East Jerusalem, Bedouin from the Galilee and Christian Arabs from the north.
Alongside the overall increase in the number of new Israeli Arab troops, the number of those enlisting for combat roles has also increased.
Some 450 new soldiers enlisted as scouts and fighters in the Bedouin patrol unit, while dozens more have joined prominent infantry brigades such as Kfir and Nahal, and others still are serving in the Border Police.
The increase in conscripts can be attributed to a Manpower Directorate online initiative through which some 4,000 possible volunteers expressed their interest in joining the IDF last year alone.
To the army’s amazement, some of those who expressed an interest came from so-called enemy states in the region. The applications from these countries had to be declined, however, due to security considerations.
“About 700 would-be volunteers called from Arab countries such as Lebanon and Syria, perhaps as part of the change the region is going through. We could not believe the demand,” the Manpower Directorate said.
“As a result, we opened a recruitment bureau in the Galilee, where volunteers can study to improve their Hebrew. This branch will be able to recruit a total of up to 2,500 people a year,” the directorate said.
The IDF is also preparing to open classrooms for technology studies in several Druze villages and Arab high schools in order to help them integrate as technicians in the military and allow them to acquire a profession for their civilian futures.
The IDF intends to utilize some of its new Arab and ultra-Orthodox conscripts as Home Front Command forces in their respective localities or villages during emergencies, due to the understanding that they best know the local population and its needs.
Photo Credit: Staff Sergeant Alexi Rosenfeld/IDF Spokesperson's Unit/flickr.com
Photo License: flickr.com
Pray that the Lord will give Israel great wisdom in dealing with military volunteers from the Arab population. Pray that the involvement and training Israel provides will only serve to show each conscript the truth of Israel’s existence and desire for peace, and secure each of them as a true friend of the Jewish state.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.
The COVID Vaccine Blood Libel against Israel
by Jonathan S. Tobin~JNS
Wednesday, 6 January 2021 | The headline in The Guardian showed why so many people think Israel is the sum of all evil and deserving of international opprobrium. Nothing screams “apartheid state” like the accusation that “Palestinians excluded from Israeli COVID vaccine rollout as jabs go to settlers.”
Indeed, this follows a traditional pattern of coverage of the Jewish state in the mainstream media in which its achievements—in this case, a rapid and efficient program of mass coronavirus vaccinations that has outstripped the efforts of the rest of the developed world—are highlighted only to be employed as proof of its perfidy. Why cheer a record-setting vaccine distribution if the only beneficiaries are Jews while millions of poor, suffering Palestinians go without?
But there was one problem with the claim. It’s a lie even if the same story has been spread in a number of outlets, including the taxpayer-funded PBS, whose respected “News Hour” program claimed last month that, “Palestinians left waiting as Israel is set to deploy COVID-19 vaccine.”
The truth is that Israel hasn’t excluded Palestinians from its program. Arab citizens of Israel are being vaccinated just like Jewish citizens. Those Arabs who live within the boundaries of Israel, including Palestinians who live in united Jerusalem but who have chosen not to become Israeli citizens, are also getting the vaccine. But contrary to those who harp on Israel’s supposedly tyrannical role as “occupier” of the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and Gaza, the Jewish state doesn’t administer the daily lives of Palestinians who live there. The health care system in the villages, towns and cities of the West Bank where Arabs live is run by the Palestinian Authority [PA], not Israel. Those who live in Gaza are ruled by the Hamas terrorist organization, which operates the coastal enclave as an independent Palestinian state in all but name.
You had to scroll down to the 13th paragraph of the Guardian article to get a hint of that fact when it noted that the PA has not asked for help from Israel. Indeed, it cut off coordination on issues relating to health care and security since early last year to express its pique at the Trump administration’s peace proposal, which it rejected just as it has all such efforts for decades.
But before learning that the PA was pursuing its own vaccine solutions with international pharmaceutical companies, Guardian readers had to read heartrending pleas from Palestinians about being ignored by Israel, such as this from a sports coach in Nablus who complained, “Who cares about us? I don’t think anybody is stuck on that question.”
The correct answer to his question was that his own government, led by [PA President] Mahmoud Abbas—who this month began the 17th year of the four-year term to which he was elected as president of the PA in 2005—certainly doesn’t care. The PA is a chronically corrupt institution that has squandered the billions it has received in foreign aid, much of which has wound up in the private foreign bank accounts of the leaders of Abbas’s Fatah party.
Both the Guardian and PBS described the PA as “cash-strapped” and forced to depend on help from groups tied to the World Health Organization to get vaccines for its people. But in addition to its corruption problem, the PA spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year on salaries and pensions for terrorists who have committed violent crimes, including the murder of Israelis, Americans and those of other nationalities. So dedicated is it to the continuation of its “pay for slay” program that Abbas preferred to give up aid from the United States rather than end the practice after Congress passed the Taylor Force Act, which prohibits further US funds from being given to the PA as long as it subsidizes terrorism.
Far from wanting Israel to take over their local government and health care, Palestinians say they want full independence, which would mean excluding Israeli security forces from the West Bank as well as control of their borders. Since the price of that has always been recognition of the legitimacy of a Jewish state next door—and thereby effectively ending the century-long conflict—the PA has never been willing to do that. But that doesn’t stop it from ruling Arab areas of the West Bank, including running education, health care and having the power to suppress and imprison those who oppose or criticize Fatah, thereby proving that the autonomy it won in the 1993 Oslo Accords is no sham.
Gaza is a “no go” zone for Israelis and an armed camp that acts as a terrorist base from which rockets are still occasionally fired over the border, even during periods when a ceasefire between the two sides is observed.
As for the settlements [Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria], the people who live in them are not governed by the PA, and obviously, are the responsibility of Israel. Indeed, the Palestinians have made it clear that if they get the power, they will force hundreds of thousands of Jews in the West Bank and Jerusalem out of their homes.
Since vaccinations of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are not Israel’s responsibility, and both the PA and Hamas have rejected Israeli offers of coordination and help on the issue, why then have supposedly reputable news organizations spread this lie?
The answer is that the claim fits into the ongoing narrative about Israel and the Palestinians that much of the mainstream media has adopted for the last half-century. In doing so, those who spew such falsehoods not only serve to help demonize Israel, but also to deprive the Palestinians of any agency for their fate or the conduct of their leaders.
It’s important to understand that this is not just another example of inaccurate Mideast reporting by journalists who don’t know any better. By claiming that Israel is deliberately depriving Palestinians of a lifesaving vaccine, outlets who give credence to this charge are pumping new life into old anti-Semitic canards that amount to blood libels against Jews.
Much like past allegations that Jews harvest the organs of Palestinians, poison their children or have engaged in mass slaughters in the course of attempting to suppress rocket fire and other accounts of terrorism, the vaccine is just the latest entry in a long list of untruths about Israel intended to make it seem uniquely evil. Such fabrications are a necessary corollary of arguments that call for the elimination of the only Jewish state on the planet and the only nation being targeted for such treatment.
Part of this campaign necessarily involves not just ascribing evil motives to Israelis, but in reinforcing general ignorance about the facts of the conflict. It also shows that the line between legitimate criticism of Israeli policies—and anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic smears—is one that some in the news media who ought to know better simply don’t recognize. Shifting the discussion about what is already a complex conflict from one about territory and national rights to one in which Jews are cast in the role of murderer of non-Jews that stands at the heart of classic anti-Semitic tropes remains deeply troubling. Journalists who do this are not only making peace even harder to achieve; they are also ensuring that the debate about the Middle East is transformed into one in which real crimes against Jews can be rationalized and even justified.
Those responsible for this particular libel—and all those who have shared it on social media—not only ought to apologize, but recognize that what they have done is not advocacy for Palestinians or human rights. It is a hate crime for which they ought to be held accountable.
Photo Credit: U.S. Secretary of Defense/wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
Cry out to the Lord that this vicious misrepresentation of the truth will be exposed as the anti-Semitic lie that it is. Pray that the international community will come to grasp the reality of the situation and cease spreading vitriolic hate speech thinly veiled as “news.” Also pray for those Palestinians who are being deprived of proper care by their own leadership.
Do not let me be ashamed, O LORD, for I have called upon You; let the wicked be ashamed…Let the lying lips be put to silence, which speak insolent things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.
Where Has Israel’s Winter Gone?
by Danny Rup
Tuesday, 5 January 2021 | For almost two weeks, Israel has been in the midst of a severe dry spell with no rain, clouds or strong winds from the east.
According to forecasts, the country will not see any more precipitation at least until the middle of January.
While Israel is experiencing a sort of spring, Europeans are shivering in the rain and snow. This is how our part of the world of the works: when it rains and snows in Europe, it is rather dry in Israel. As winter continues, the phenomenon flips and Israelis see rainy weather for a prolonged period.
Over the past decade, winter in Israel has seemed to start and end later and later.
Once in a while, the country experiences “flash showers” in autumn and even in November, after which the weather stabilizes for a while until the cold and rain returns.
This year, winter has been very unusual, with a dry October, record-breaking showers in November and another “flash shower” in December that caused floods along the country’s coastal region. This year’s dry spell is also exceptional.
Sunday and Monday saw heavy fog all along the coast and northern Negev Desert that was more reminiscent of spring or autumn.
It is believed that the current dry spell will be record-breaking in its longevity, and global warming—which is known to cause various weather anomalies—is the most likely cause.
When it comes to Israel, rain showers become harsher and more extreme and so do dry spells.
Nevertheless, the rain and cold are forecast to make their return towards the end of the month as Israel moves into the second half of winter.
Photo Credit: Becca Treharne/bridgesforpeace.com
Thank the Lord for the rain that Israel has received this season and pray that the second half of the Israeli winter will bring all the moisture the country needs. Pray that as the Lord blesses the Land with rain, He will protect it from harsh storms, winds and flooding.
The LORD will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand.
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