Compassion

Help Bridges for Peace pursue our mission of doing good in the Land of Israel.

Friday, Janurary 25, 2019

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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.

Israel Could Face Three-front War in 2019

by Itamar Eichner

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Hezbollah is just one of the enemies Israel may have to face in war this year.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019 | Israel could face military conflicts on three different fronts—Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip—at the same time in 2019, according to an annual assessment of security challenges done by the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), a national security think-tank.

“The main three fronts are: Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip and they are very volatile. Despite the continued mutual deterrence between the sides, there is a potential for a military escalation, which could eventually lead to an all-out three-front war…Israel ought to be prepared for this scenario,” said the assessment, which was submitted to President Reuven Rivlin last week.

The First Northern War

One scenario for a three-front war involves the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] facing all military forces along Israel’s northern border: Iran, Hezbollah and the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The possible “northern border war” is the gravest threat Israel faces in the coming year, according to the INSS.

Israel has repeatedly taken vigorous military action against the Iranian arms depots in Syria. The Islamic Republic, however, has declared it doesn’t intend to leave the war-battered country in the foreseeable future. Furthermore, Israel’s freedom of operations in Syria has diminished since Russia began to arm the Syrian regime after Assad’s forces all but reclaimed all the territory occupied by the Islamic State and various rebel groups.

Due to Assad’s successes in Syria, Iran has decided to divert its attention to Iraq and Lebanon. Although Iranian support for its proxy Hezbollah has never ceased, recently more effort has been directed into assisting the terror group in converting its arsenal of unguided projectiles into precision-guided missiles, improving Hezbollah’s air defense capability and supplying the Shiite organization with long-range anti-ship missiles. Israel’s ability to thwart Iranian military projects in Lebanon is much more limited than in Syria, where a volatile political and security situation allowed the Israeli military to operate in a consequence-free environment.

The INSS researchers believe that to continue foiling Iran’s efforts to establish long-term military presence in Syria, as well as the Islamic Republic’s attempts to further enrich Hezbollah’s weapons arsenal, Israel would have to formulate a new course of action. The methods used by the IDF until now, which involve mostly aerial attacks on arms depots, no longer justify the risk of a possible military flare-up.

“Iran’s military projects in Lebanon and Iraq, as well as Russia’s restrictions on Israeli activity in Syria, will necessitate either an update to Israel’s modus operandi or formulating a new approach that would allow Israel to eliminate the threat effectively while avoiding an all-out military confrontation,” said the assessment.

Conflict in the South

The potential for yet another Israel–Hamas flare-up is also extremely high in 2019. Although there are many factors that contribute to this assumption, the three main reasons are: the deteriorating socio-economic situation in the Strip; sanctions imposed on Hamas in Gaza by Palestinian [Authority] President Mahmoud Abbas; and the erosion of Israel’s deterrence, which was achieved in the 2014 Operation Protective Edge.

Unless Israel is planning a preemptive strike on Hezbollah’s factories [producing] precision-guided missiles, which would ensure a military confrontation, the IDF should divert all its efforts to rebuilding the deterrence against Hamas by inflicting significant blows on the terror group’s military wing. Although Gaza poses an immediate threat, it is less grave in scale than the northern front.

Deteriorating Situation in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria]

The Trump administration is due to release its “deal of the century” peace plan to end the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. The chances of the plan’s success, however, are slim. The Palestinian Authority has already rejected the proposal and the best case scenario is that Israel would win the “blame game,” putting the onus of the failure of the latest American peace effort on the Palestinians.

But Israel would still have to bear the consequences of such a failure, which would undoubtedly lead to further instability and unrest in the West Bank. In the long term, there is the danger of a binational state forming in the absence of a two-state solution, which would threaten Israel’s identity as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

The Iran Nuclear Program

There are two low-probability extreme scenarios concerning the Iranian nuclear program that could come to pass in the coming year. The first is Iran acquiring an atomic bomb in the North Korean model in an effort to negotiate from a position of power. The second scenario is the toppling of the ayatollah’s regime, which by all indications is stable and capable of suppressing any public unrest.

US–Israel Relations

US support for Israel is stable, but Israel must prepare itself for unexpected decisions President Donald Trump might make. For instance, his announcement to withdraw the American forces from Syria does not significantly harm Israel’s security in the short term, but it strengthens its enemies and makes it easier for them to establish their long-term military presence in Syria.

INSS Recommendations

According to the INSS, Israel should reach clear understandings with the United States regarding the Iranian nuclear program, which will include intelligence cooperation, defining a clear red line in case Iran violates the nuclear agreement and certainly in case Tehran tries to acquire a nuclear bomb, and preparing a joint political and military plan to stop Iran in case that red line is crossed.

In light of Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal signed between the Islamic Republic and world powers, and the possibility Iran might resume its nuclear activities, Israel should make the necessary preparations for a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. Israel should also make it clear to the Trump administration that if the nuclear deal is ever renegotiated, the US must ensure the compromises it would entail will not hurt Israel’s interests.

In the meantime, Israel can continue basing its campaign to prevent Iran from establishing military presence in Syria on intelligence superiority and varied and precise strike capabilities. While it’s preferable the campaign against Iran’s military entrenchment remains confined to Syrian territory, Israel must be prepared for the possibility it could expand to Lebanon or even directly to Iran.

The rehabilitation of the Syrian army has already begun, which might lead the Assad regime to becoming more assertive against IAF [Israeli Air Force] activity in the area. The IDF must make every effort to avoid a clash with the Russian forces stationed in Syria to prevent another international crisis, similar to the one that occurred following the downing of a Russian intelligence plane by Syrian aerial defense forces who were trying to stop an IAF attack.

Israel must continue systematically preventing the transfer of quality weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon, as long as the strategic conditions allow it. In addition, Israel must prepare to take action against Hezbollah’s accurate weapons facilities in Lebanon. Since such an attack would most certainly lead to a prolonged military confrontation with the Shiite terror group, Israel must also prepare the home front for a large-scale war in the north.

No Political Arrangement with Hamas

The Israeli–Palestinian conflict has been and continues to be a fundamental obstacle to Israel normalizing ties with its neighbors in the region. The Trump administration’s problematic relations with the Palestinians will make it difficult for any peace initiative to succeed. Nevertheless, the US and the pragmatic Sunni Arab world expect Israel to make the first move to convey its good intentions.

The Hamas government in Gaza is not a suitable partner for a diplomatic move and so Israel must prepare for another war in the Strip. Any political arrangement with Hamas—a terrorist organization that doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist—weakens the moderate Palestinian camp and bolsters those who claim that Israel only understands force. However, it appears Hamas’s military options are limited, seeing as Israel has developed capabilities against its rockets arsenal and its border-crossing terror tunnels.

Relations with China and Russia

It’s important to maintain close ties, especially mutually beneficial economic ties, with Beijing and Moscow, but it shouldn’t be done at the expense of Israel’s only truly reliable ally: the United States. It is particularly important to strengthen risk management with regards to Chinese investment in essential infrastructures in Israel, while having open dialogue with the US, which is very sensitive to China acquiring the latest technology.

With Russia, Israel must reestablish the incident-prevention and coordination mechanisms in Syria and urge the Russians to reduce their support for Iran.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published in Ynetnews on January 21, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Raja News/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray very specifically for God’s protection on the three fronts on which Israel faces potential military escalation. Cry out to God that He would move to prevent a northern border war and ask Him to bring an end to Iran’s arms shipments to Hezbollah. Also pray that America’s “deal of the century” does not create further instability in an already explosive situation.

Scripture

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; the God of my strength, in whom I trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my Savior, you save me from violence. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies.


- 2 Samuel 22:1–4

Details Emerge of Israel’s Retaliation Strike on Iranian Targets in Syria

by Daniel Salami, Itay Blumenthal and Ahiya Raved

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Iran is “hiding” its military installations within the Damascus International Airport in Syria.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019 | At least 21 people were killed in Israeli strikes on Syria in the early hours of Monday morning, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday. The UK-based monitor said the death toll included 15 foreign nationals, of which at least 12 were members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Syrian state-run news outlets said that at least four Syrian soldiers were killed in the bombardment.

In an official statement, the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] Spokesperson’s Unit confirmed the strikes, and said the targets included munition storage sites, an area of Damascus International Airport, an Iranian intelligence site and an Iranian military training camp.

“During the strikes, dozens of Syrian surface-to-air missiles were launched, despite clear warnings to avoid such fire. In response, several of the Syrian Armed Forces’ aerial defense batteries were targeted,” the IDF said in a statement.

“Some of the sites we attacked were inside Syrian bases, from which Iran operates. We have also struck an Iranian facility in the Damascus International Airport, while working in coordination with Russia according to standard protocol. We are prepared for any scenario and have bolstered our offensive as well as defensive systems,” the army said.

Syria’s military and Russia—Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s strongest ally—both said that at least four Syrian soldiers were killed and six wounded during the Israeli Air Force attack on the aerial defense systems, however, apparently many Iranians were also killed in the raid.

The Russian Interfax news agency quoted Moscow’s defense control center as saying that Syrian military air defenses destroyed more than 30 cruise missiles and guided bombs during the Israeli air strikes.

Israel launched the massive attack a day after Iranian fighters fired a surface-to-surface rocket at the northern Golan Heights.

The IDF said its aerial bombardment targeted “Iranian Quds [elite fighting force] military sites in Syria,” and was a direct response to the rocket, which was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

Meanwhile, Israel reopened the Mount Hermon ski site on the Golan Heights on Tuesday, after it was closed due to security tensions in the area. Visitors to the site on Sunday were witnesses to the rocket attack from Syria, whose interception by the Iron Dome could be clearly seen in the skies above.

On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “no country should remain quiet while it is under attack.”

Speaking at a press conference with Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said that “we will continue carrying out all of the required operations to defend our people.”

In the wake of recent events, the United Nations called on Syria and Israel to show maximum restraint to avoid escalation.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said that “Syria had paid a heavy price after it allowed Iran to operate from within its territory. Innocent Israeli citizens could have been hurt by the Iranian force firing just several dozens of kilometers from the border, after we were guaranteed Iranian troops will not operate from there.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on January 22, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Aziz1005/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for God’s protection on those innocent civilians who may be caught in the cross fire as Israel is forced to defend itself against missiles fired from Syria. Ask the Lord to give Israel victory over every enemy that would attack the sovereign state.

Scripture

Arise, O God, plead Your own cause; remember how the foolish man reproaches You daily. Do not forget the voice of Your enemies, the tumult of those who rise up against You increases continually.


- Psalm 74:22–23

Israel Carries out Successful Arrow 3 Test

by Yoav Zitun

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The IDF carried out a successful test of the highly advanced Arrow 3 missile interceptor.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019 | Israel’s Defense Ministry and the US Missile Defense Agency successfully carried out a test of the Arrow 3 missile defense system in central Israel early Tuesday morning.

The launch from the Palmachim Air Base, which tested upgrades done to the Arrow 3 system, was done at around 6.44 a.m., with many residents in the area reporting hearing an explosion and seeing the trail of a missile launch in the sky.

The Defense Ministry said that “the Israel Missile Defense Organization in the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure (known by its Hebrew acronym Maf’at), along with the American Missile Defense Agency (MDA), carried out at 6.44 a.m. today a successful test of the Arrow 3 weapons system, which is meant to intercept ballistic missiles outside the atmosphere. The test was done from a testing ground in central Israel, led by the Israel Aerospace Industries and with the participation of the Israel Air Force [IAF].”

“After the launch of the target, the Arrow system’s radars discovered it and sent the information to the Battle Management Center, which analyzed it and formulated a full plan to intercept it. When the planning stage was complete, an Arrow 3 interceptor was launched at the target and completed its mission successfully,” the ministry said.

The Defense Ministry added that “the success of the test is an important milestone in the State of Israel’s operational capability to defend itself against future and existing existential threats in the region.”

The Arrow 3 is an Israeli developed, long-range, surface-to-surface missile system that is funded by several Israeli security organizations, namely the Israel Aerospace Industries, the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the Defense Ministry and the IAF. It is considered one of the best anti-missile defense systems in the world, due to its long-range capabilities and high precision level.

The current version of the Arrow 3 is intended to take on long-range ballistic missiles, which are capable of carrying nuclear payloads, such as those currently in development in Iran.

Since being commissioned in early 2017, the Ministry of Defense, together with Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) and in partnership with the United States, have been working on modernizing the weapons system with the latest updates in response to any future threats emanating from the Islamic Republic.

The integration of the Arrow 3 system into the IAF completes the four-tier defense coverage of Israel: the Arrow 3 defends against exoatmospheric, long-range threats; Arrow 2 covers missiles flying within the atmosphere; David’s Sling deals with medium-level threats, such as heavy rockets and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV); and finally, the Iron Dome system defends against lower range rockets, with ranges of up to 90 km [56 mi.].

The Iron Dome system is also being subject to a battery of tests meant to improve its ability to deal with heavy barrages of dozens or hundreds of rockets fired simultaneously from various directions and at multiple altitudes.

In addition to these weapons systems, the older Patriot batteries are still proving useful to the IAF, especially against the threat of enemy aircraft infiltrating Israeli airspace, such as the UAVs from Syria that have strayed over the Golan Heights.

A naval version of the Iron Dome was recently declared operational. It is meant to protect the gas drilling rigs at sea from enemy missile boats.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on January 22, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/Benjamin Netanyahu@Netanyahu/twitter.com

Prayer Focus
Thank God for these sophisticated systems that Israel has developed to defend itself against both long and short-range threats—from land, air or sea. Pray that the Lord would remind every Israeli that He is their Shield and Defender—and that their protection is ultimately found in Him alone.

Scripture

“For I am with you to save you and deliver you,” says the LORD. “I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked and I will redeem you from the grip of the terrible.”


- Jeremiah 15:20b–21

Flare-up in the South: Israel Retaliates to Gunfire from Gaza

by Kate Norman

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The helmet of an Israeli soldier who was shot at by a terrorist during a Gaza riot.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019 | Following two instances of rioters firing at IDF (Israel Defense Forces) soldiers during violent protests along the Gaza border on Tuesday, the Israeli military reported that IDF fighter jets struck multiple terror sites in a Hamas military camp in the northern Gaza Strip Tuesday night.

Every Shabbat (Sabbath), Jewish people attending synagogue say a special prayer for the IDF:

“He who blessed our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—may He bless the fighters of the Israel Defense Forces, who stand guard over our land….May the Holy One…preserve and rescue our fighting men from every trouble and distress…and may He send blessing and success in their every endeavor.”

God answered this prayer for one soldier especially on Tuesday when his helmet was struck by a sniper during one of the border riots. The officer was struck by the bullet while rioters were throwing rocks at IDF troops along Gaza’s southern border.

During the riot, two Palestinians breached the border fence and briefly entered Israeli territory before retreating back into Gaza, the Times of Israel reported.

The IDF posted a picture of the soldier’s helmet to show the significant damage done to the exterior, though the bullet did not penetrate the helmet. He was taken to a hospital and a cut on his head was bandaged before the soldier was sent home a few hours later.

“Pictured: an IDF officer’s helmet after a terrorist in #Gaza shot at him during a riot on Israel’s border fence,” the IDF tweeted with the picture. “Also pictured: Proof that Hamas sends ARMED terrorists to attack Israelis, while surrounded by civilians and under the guise of ‘protests.’”

An IDF tank responded to the riot by firing on a Hamas observation post, which Palestinian media reported killed one Hamas member and injured two others who were walking away from the post.

Hamas claimed the man who was killed, Mahmoud Abed al-Nabahin, as one of its members—a “fighter” and a “martyr” according to the terror group’s website.

The first border clash of the day occurred a few hours earlier when rioters fired at Israeli troops along the security fence. An IDF tank also fired in response at a Hamas observation post, destroying it.

Israel had approved a third US $15 million payment from Qatar to Gaza to pay its civil servants, but the Jewish state decided to halt that payment following yesterday’s violence. An anonymous Israeli official told the Times of Israel that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the call to halt the money transfer “following the recent incidents in the Gaza Strip, and with consultation with security officials.”

The Times also spoke to an unnamed Hamas official who said, “Netanyahu’s decision to prevent their entry [of the funds] is a crime that will push Gaza toward an explosion.”

Netanyahu’s decision to halt the payment more than likely will prevent a few explosions for Israeli residents bordering Gaza as the first Qatar payment that Israel allowed into Gaza shortly precluded the November rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel.

The Israeli military has stated several times that it is prepared to respond to terror from the Gaza Strip “and remains determined to protect Israeli citizens.”

A few hours after the attacks, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) posted on its Twitter: “The Hamas terror organization is solely responsible for all acts of aggression originating from the Gaza Strip and emanating from it.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 23, 2019)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces@IDF/twitter.com

Prayer Focus
As tensions rise throughout Israel, pray for quiet on the Gaza border. Thank the Lord for protecting the lives of IDF soldiers and ask Him to bring Hamas’s attacks to an end, both physical attacks on Israeli citizens and propaganda attacks on the state itself.

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. Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from violent men.


- Psalm 140:1–4a

Palestinians’ Continuous Anti-Semitic Stereotyping of Jews

by Bassam Tawil ~ Gatestone Institute

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The Temple Mount was the scene of an anti-Semitic standoff this week. (Illustrative)

Monday, 21 January 2019 | Palestinians are continuing to use the Temple Mount, in Arabic known as the Haram al-Sharif, in Jerusalem, as a platform for incitement against Israel in general and Jews in particular.

This incitement, which began after Jewish tourists were permitted to resume their visits to the holy site in 2014, has since taken various forms. The Jewish visits to the holy site had been suspended for several years during the Second Intifada uprising, which erupted in September 2000.

Since 2014, the Palestinian Authority [PA] leadership, including President Mahmoud Abbas, have been waging an unprecedented wave of incitement against Israel and Jews to protest visits to the Temple Mount.

In 2015, Abbas announced that the Palestinians “won’t allow Jews with their filthy feet to defile our Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

He went on to praise Palestinians who were ready to sacrifice their lives in order to stop Jews from visiting the holy site: “We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Allah and Jerusalem. Every martyr (shahid) will reach Paradise, and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah.”

Abbas, his senior officials and media outlets have since been lying to their people and the rest of the world by claiming that “extremist Jewish settlers were forcibly and violently invading the Al-Aqsa Mosque.” Of course, no Jewish extremist or settler has “invaded” any mosque on the Temple Mount, certainly not the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Most of the visitors happen to be religious Jews. The Palestinians, however, regularly label all religious Jews “extremists” or “settlers.” It seems to be their way of stereotyping Jews as aggressors, colonialists and extremists.

The Jewish visits to the Temple Mount are conducted in coordination with the Israel Police and consist of a brief tour of the Temple Mount compound. The Jewish visitors do not enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque or the nearby Dome of the Rock. Yet this prohibition has not stopped Abbas and the Palestinian leadership, careful not to let facts get in their way, from continuing to peddle the lie that Jews are “storming” the two mosques.

What is dangerous about the Palestinian lies and incitement is that many Palestinians appear to believe them. The Jewish visitors are often greeted by angry Palestinian worshippers who hurl abuses at their police escorts and them.

Early this week, the Palestinians provided yet another example of how they are using a holy site to spread lies and blood libels against Israel and Jews. The Palestinians also showed that their real goal is apparently to instigate a violent confrontation with Jews at the Temple Mount. That way, the Palestinians would be able to run and tell the world that Israel is trying to wage a religious war on Muslims.

The latest Palestinian provocation occurred when an Israeli policeman on a routine security check tried to enter the Dome of the Rock—a daily practice on the part of the Israeli Police and mainly aimed at ensuring the safety of Palestinian worshippers. There was, however, one small “problem” with this specific policeman: he happened to be a religious Jew who was wearing a skullcap [kippah].

In keeping with their stereotyping of Jews, the Palestinians claimed that this policeman was an extremist Jewish settler, so they tried to prevent him from carrying out his task. Chanting, “Allahu Akbar!” (“Allah is Great!”), guards belonging to the Waqf Department [Muslim religious trust], the Islamic religious body that manages the mosques at the Temple Mount, immediately closed the gates of the Dome of the Rock. The guards and dozens of Muslim worshippers barricaded themselves inside the mosque and began calling on other Palestinians to converge on the holy site to “protect” it from the Jews.

Hours later, thanks to negotiations between senior police officers and heads of the Palestinian religious authorities, an ensuing standoff between the protesters and the police ended peacefully. The Palestinian Authority, nevertheless, chose to take advantage of the incident to continue its campaign of incitement against Israel and Jews. A number of senior Palestinian officials, including [PA] Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and his Minister for Religious Affairs, Yusef Edais, issued separate statements in which they condemned Israel for its “ongoing assaults and violations against the Al-Aqsa Mosque and other Islamic and Christian holy sites” in Jerusalem.

These statements are total falsehoods that appear in the context of the Palestinian leaders’ daily incitement against Israel and Jews. The policeman was not part of any Jewish group touring the holy site. He had no intention of praying or “assaulting” any Islamic religious site. He was on a routine security patrol to ensure the safety of all visitors to the Temple Mount—Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.

The Palestinian uproar over the scene of a religious Jewish policeman can, in short, best be described as a display of anti-Semitism. Otherwise, how do the Palestinians explain their non-objection to a non-religious Jewish policeman patrolling the holy site? Why is it alright for a policeman without a skullcap to enter the Dome of the Rock, but not alright for one wearing a skullcap to visit the site?

The Palestinians who protested against the policeman wearing the skullcap were following the words of their president, Abbas, when he stated that the Palestinians “won’t allow Jews with their filthy feet to defile the Al-Aqsa Mosque.” In this instance, though, the Palestinians were disturbed not by the policeman’s “filthy feet,” but by the fact that he was a religious Jew. Perhaps Abbas should modify his statement from 2015 so that it would include, in addition to “Jews with their filthy feet,” also: “Religious Jews wearing a skullcap.”

Abbas and the Palestinian leadership are clearly trying to drag Israel into a religious conflict with all Muslims, not only Palestinians. The Temple Mount has become their favorite platform for disseminating blood libels and fabrications against Israel and Jews. If anyone is defiling the sanctity of the holy site, it is Abbas and his representatives in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria]. Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction played a major role in the protests that erupted over the latest incident at the Dome of the Rock (involving the policeman with the skullcap). The police later detained Awad Salaymeh, a senior Fatah official in east Jerusalem, for his role in the incident involving the policeman. He and other Fatah activists were at the scene as part of their leadership’s ongoing effort to instigate tensions between Jews and Muslims at the Temple Mount.

Other forms of Palestinian incitement against Israel and Jews at the Temple Mount include weekly sermons delivered by leading Islamic figures. Almost every Friday, another senior Islamic cleric uses the podium to deliver inflammatory sermons against Israel and Jews. One of these clerics is Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, the former Palestinian mufti of Jerusalem, who last week told his followers that Jerusalem will never be a Jewish city. Sabri and other senior clerics have also used the podium to warn Palestinians against selling their properties to Jews.

This Palestinian incitement and cynical exploitation of a holy site to spread lies and blood libels and stereotype Jews is barely noticed by the mainstream media in the West. Were Israel to stop a Palestinian from entering a holy site because of his clothing, the foreign reporters based in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv would have rushed to the scene to interview the man and tell the world that Israel is violating freedom of worship. This is yet another example of how the media gives the Palestinians a pass and allows them to continue their vicious incitement against Israel. The next time a Palestinian grabs a knife and goes out to stab a Jew, foreign journalists might consider the last time they failed to report on the Palestinian leaders, especially their incitement.

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Gatestone Institute on January 19, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israel Police/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Ask the Lord to shine the light of truth on every word that proceeds from the mouths of Abbas and other Palestinian leaders, allowing the world, especially the Palestinians themselves, to realize the evil intent of those leaders who would lie to their own people.

Scripture

“And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies. They are not valiant for the truth on the earth, for they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know me,” says the LORD.


- Jeremiah 9:3

Israel, Egypt, Others Announce Formation of Eastern Mediterranean Gas Export Hub

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Israel has announced a joint project of the east-Mediterranean gas pipeline.

Monday, 21 January 2019 | Israel, Egypt and five other governments have announced the formation of a regional organization devoted to the development of natural gas resources in Cairo, Reuters reported on Monday.

A statement from Egypt’s petroleum minister stated the governments would “create a regional gas market that serves the interests of its members by ensuring supply and demand, optimizing resource development, rationalizing the cost of infrastructure, offering competitive prices and improving trade relations.”

Italy, Cyprus, Greece, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority are also involved in the new organization.

The goal of the multinational effort, according to Reuters, is to “transform the Eastern Mediterranean into a major energy hub.”

The Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum will use existing infrastructure and build new facilities to handle current and future gas discoveries. The overall goal, according to the statement, would be “the establishment of a sustainable partnership between the actors at all stages of the gas industry.”

Israel’s Minister of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources Dr. Yuval Steinitz made the first visit of an Israeli minister to Egypt since 2011 for the announcement of the forum.

“I thank the Egyptian Minister of Petroleum for the invitation to visit Cairo,” Steinitz said, referring to Tarek El-Molla. “This is further proof that developing our offshore gas fields not only has economic and environmental results but also has major diplomatic and geopolitical significance. We are talking about the most significant ever economic cooperation between Egypt and Israel since the peace agreement was signed.”

In February of last year, Egypt signed a [US] $15 billion deal to buy natural gas from an Israeli company. Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi said that his country “scored a goal” in making the deal.

Subsequently, the Israeli energy company, Delek, and several partners bought a stake in an Israeli-Egyptian gas pipeline for [US] $518 million.

Separately, Israel’s natural gas discoveries have led to improving ties between the Jewish state and Greece and Cyprus.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on January 17, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/i24News

Prayer Focus
Praise God for this new cooperative initiative involving Egypt, Israel and other states in the area. Pray that Israel will proceed with God’s wisdom and the organization will be successful, bringing economic stability to the region and improving ties between Israel and the other countries involved.

Scripture

“And it shall come to pass that just as you were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you and you shall be a blessing. Do not fear, let your hands be strong.”


- Zechariah 8:13

Israel Jumps to 5th Place in Bloomberg’s Innovation Index

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Israel went from the 10th to the 5th spot in a ranking of the world’s 60 most pioneering countries.

Thursday, 24 January 2019 | Israel surged to 5th place in the Bloomberg Innovation Index of 2019, climbing five spots from last year’s index where Israel ranked 10th, Globes reported Tuesday.

The Bloomberg Innovation Index ranks the world’s 60 most pioneering economies, according to the most recent data. The ranking is compiled by analyzing seven equally weighted categories, including the amount spent on research and development, manufacturing capabilities and the concentration of high-tech public companies.

In 5th place in the overall survey, Israel overtook Singapore, the United States and Japan, which made the top ten at sixth, eighth and ninth place, respectively. South Korea retained the global crown in the innovation index for the sixth year in a row, followed by Germany, Finland and Switzerland.

Israel’s surge in the index was the result of strong performance in various sectors, including research and development intensity (first place), research personnel concentration (second place), patent activity (fourth place) and high-tech density (fifth place). Israel’s biggest jump was in patent activity, from 19th place last year.

The US rose three spots in the 2019 ranking, after it fell out of the top 10 economies for the first time in 2018. China, the world’s second largest economy, was rated only in 16th place.

Meanwhile, in the World Economic Forum’s [WEF] Global Competitiveness Report for 2018–2019—which ranks countries’ competitiveness based on 12 categories, including innovation, technological readiness, business sophistication and higher education—Israel retained top marks for a number of categories, including innovation, spending on R&D [research and development] and positive attitude toward entrepreneurial risk.

“Israel spends the most of any country in the index on R&D (4.3% of GDP), and is where entrepreneurial failure is most accepted and innovative companies grow the fastest…A well-developed financial sector (22nd), with the second-best availability of venture capital in the world, also supports a flourishing and innovative private sector,” the WEF report read.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project in its publication The Tower on January 23, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: rliessum/pixabay.com

Photo License: pixabay.com

Prayer Focus
Thank God for the recognition Israel is receiving for the incredible blessings God is bestowing on the nation. Pray that the countries of the world will begin to see God’s faithfulness as He leads tiny Israel to her place among the nations.

Scripture

And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath.


- Deuteronomy 28:13a

Malaysia Doubles Down, Banning Israeli Athletes from Competing at Paralympic Event

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Malaysia is now outright refusing to allow Israel to compete in the World Para Swimming Championships. (Illustrative)

Tuesday, 22 January 2019 | Having failed to issue visas for Israeli athletes to compete in the World Para Swimming Championships this summer, the Malaysian government has doubled down and issued a ban on having Israelis participate in any event hosted by the country, Reuters reported Wednesday.

The Asian nation’s Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said that the cabinet decided that Israelis will be barred from all events hosted by Malaysia.

“Even if we have already committed to hosting an event, they will not be allowed (into the country),” Abdullah said at a press conference.

“Secondly, Malaysia will not host any event that has representation from or participation of Israel.”

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) issued a statement saying that it was “bitterly disappointed” with the Malaysian government’s stance to bar Israel from the Para Swimming Championships, or any other sporting event hosted by that country. The statement declared that world championships should be “open to all eligible nations and athletes.” It added that the committee would explore “all options” to “ensure the full participation of all eligible athletes.”

MP Michael Danby of Australia’s Labor Party criticized the IPC for not taking away hosting rights from Malaysia.

“The IPC has no right awarding premium sporting events to Malaysia and other countries that discriminate against Israeli athletes,” Danby said. “Taking out your anti-Jewish bigotry on Paralympic athletes is pathetic.”

“Blatant anti-Semitism and discrimination in sport, as in every field of life is despicable, and Malaysia has no right to be hosting such a premium event,” Danby added. He called on Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to offer an alternate venue, one in which “swimmers of all faiths and nationalities will be welcome to attend, without discrimination, including both Malaysians and Israelis.”

Last year, the International Judo Federation suspended the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam event to take a “firm and constructive stance in the fight against discrimination in sport.” The United Arab Emirates that had hosted the competition in 2017 had refused to allow Israeli judoka to wear their nation’s uniform or to play the Israeli national anthem, when an Israeli athlete won.

Following the rebuke, the UAE relented. Israeli athletes were allowed to participate under their own flag in 2018 and, for the first time, Hatikva was played in Abu Dhabi, when Israeli judoka Sagi Maki won the gold medal in his weight class.

Last month, FIDE, the international governing body of chess, canceled a chess tournament in Saudi Arabia, after that nation barred seven Israelis from competing in a December 2017 tournament.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on January 17, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: 王伟00715/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that the Lord will intervene to bring an end to this blatant and ugly anti-Semitism and mistreatment of Israel’s athletes in the international arena. Thank Him for the support of MP Danby of Australia and for the actions and statements of the FIDE and the IPC. Pray for courageous leadership that will completely ban those nations that display this kind of discrimination.

Scripture

“But you Israel are my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the descendants of Abraham My friend. You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest regions, and said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away: 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.’ Behold all those who were incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced; they shall be as nothing and those who strive with you shall perish.”


- Isaiah 41:8–11

Israel and Chad Announce the Resumption of Diplomatic Relations

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PM Netanyahu meets with Chadian President Déby to formalize relations with the Muslim majority country.

Monday, 21 January 2019 | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chad President Idriss Déby on Sunday at the Presidential Palace in Ndjamena, the capital of Chad, announced the resumption of diplomatic relations between Chad and Israel. The two sides signed an official memorandum on the resumption of relations between the two countries.

The announcement was made in the framework of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s historic visit to Chad.

The two sides view the resumption of relations as the key to future cooperation for the benefit of both countries.

Following are Prime Minister Netanyahu’s remarks at the joint statements:

“The first and most important thing is to thank you for your warm welcome to me and my delegation. I’m honored to be the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit your beautiful country.

This is a historic visit that follows another historic visit: your visit two months ago to Israel. Now I’m visiting Chad for the first time. I’m here to formally re-establish our diplomatic relations. Chad is a very important country and a very important country for Israel.

The future of Africa depends on the future of the Sahel [mid-north African region]. What happens here could affect the entire world. We understand, you understand. We have to make sure that critical allies understand this. And so we have a partnership in trying to forge a prosperous and secure future for our countries and in a larger sense for Africa and beyond.

This is what we discussed today in great detail. There is a lot that we can do together and we discussed how to deepen our cooperation in every field beginning with security, but also agriculture, food, water, energy, health and many more. And I believe that this cooperation will build a better, safer and more prosperous future for both our peoples.

President Déby, you have a vision of how to raise the possibilities for your people, for your country and for your region and I’m your partner in that. It’s significant for us that Chad is a country with a Muslim majority that seeks the friendship of Israel. There are many such countries, but in Africa this is particularly significant. And we seek the friendship of other countries in Africa and I’m glad to see that [in] this process that others are following in your footsteps.

My visit to Africa comes after a horrendous terror attack in Kenya and there have been terrorist attacks of Boko Haram in this region as well. I agree with you, Mr. President that we have to band together to fight this evil and we are ready to do so in full cooperation with you as we cooperate with other countries that want to stamp out terrorism.

I believe that the battle is far from being lost, that we can defeat these forces if we join hands.

And we believe in the future of Chad and the future of Africa. This is my fourth visit to Africa in two years. I think it says something, and indeed, we are committed to making every effort to help alongside with the United States with the program Power Africa to help light up African countries. And thanks to a recent government resolution, more Israeli companies will soon join development efforts in Africa. In March, we’re going to have a special delegation of Israeli companies come to Chad to see the various possibilities that the President and the government of Chad are opening up for Israeli companies and I think the opportunities are vast.

So I believe in your future, I believe in our future, I believe in the future of our friendship. But let me add something else that I discovered today: President Déby likes to read history. I like to read history. We were talking about that you cannot have a vision of the future if you don’t understand the past. We were talking about WWII. President Déby told me about the deep impression that his visit [to] Yad Vashem [The World Holocaust Remembrance Center] and previous contacts with the Holocaust made on him. But I learned today about the fate of African fighters, soldiers, in WWII, prisoners of war who were murdered by the Nazis, specifically because they were black. This is a story that has to be told. You suffered because you were black; we suffered because we were Jews. We refuse to accept this fate and we raised ourselves from defeat to create a new future for ourselves and for each other. This is a triumph of the human spirit and this is what we seek to accomplish in these historic visits.

We are making history, and indeed, thank you for this visit and thank you for enabling us to do historic things for our peoples.”

Source: (This press release was originally published by Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs on January 20, 2019, at this link.)

Photo Credit: Benjamin Netanyahu@Netanyahu/twitter.com

Prayer Focus
Thank God for Israel’s increasing presence in Africa and specifically for this renewed relationship with Chad. Pray that the Lord will protect and guide this historic partnership between Israel and a Muslim-majority nation. Pray that it will bring blessing to both nations as they work together, allowing God to be seen in His faithfulness to Israel.

Scripture

The LORD lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted! It is God who avenges me and subdues the peoples under me; He delivers me from my enemies. Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the Gentiles and sing praises to Your name.


- Psalm 18:46–48a, 49

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