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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.

Hamas Unleashes Barrage of 200 Rockets on Israeli Civilians

by Ilse Strauss

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Saturday’s attacks by the numbers

Monday, 16 July 2018 | A non-stop rain of rockets, air raid sirens screaming incessantly, a family home, children’s playground and synagogue hit and nearly 24 hours spent in bomb shelters. This is what Saturday was like for Israelis living near the Gaza border.

The traumatic Shabbat started in the pre-dawn hours. Hamas, the terror organization ruling the Gaza Strip, fired the first of a barrage of rockets and missiles on Israel, jarring thousands from their sleep and giving them 15 seconds to rush from bed to bomb shelter. By 6:34 a.m., the rocket count stood at 34. The Israel Defense Forces retaliated by striking military targets in four Hamas military compounds throughout the Strip, a high-rise building used as a Hamas training facility and a tunnel dug under the building used for underground war training. Hamas’s answer came in the form of 160 more rockets. Air raid sirens rang out relentlessly throughout the course of the day and families were forced to spend Shabbat in the safety of shelters.

By Saturday night, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist groups announced that they have agreed to a ceasefire with Israel—thanks to mediation from Egypt and other international bodies. Despite the supposed ceasefire, the terror groups shot another four missiles over the border into Israel.

By 1:33 a.m. on Sunday morning the sirens stopped wailing and a semblance of calm returned to the Israel-Gaza border. The tally for the traumatic Shabbat was staggering: 200 rockets fired, 173 red alert sirens, 30 Iron Dome missile defense system interceptions, a home, synagogue and children’s playground hit, four Israelis injured and thousands traumatized. Moreover, Israel conducted its largest daytime operation against Hamas since Operation Protective Edge in 2014 with fighter jets hitting 40 terror targets throughout the Gaza Strip.

The weekend’s clashes have many wondering: Are Israel and Gaza teetering on the brink of another war?

Speaking after a situational assessment on Saturday, IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis said, “There are three vectors here that we see in severity and cannot allow them to continue: fire terrorism, terrorism along the fence and rocket fire. We intend to stop it.” Manelis concedes that “it’s too early to talk about a broad military operation,” but adds that “we have understood in recent weeks that this day will come, and once relevant conditions have been created, we will act.”

Manelis refers to the three particularly violent months on the Gaza border, marked by infiltration attempts, waves of rocket attacks and droves of incendiary kites and balloons sent over the border by Hamas. The kites and balloons have sparked horrific fires in southern Israel and thousands of acres of wheat, barley, passion fruit and oranges as well as a nature reserve and natural forests have been torched, while wildlife perished in the blazes. The damage is estimated to amount to tens of thousands of shekels.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the weekend’s conflict during yesterday’s cabinet meeting. “Our policy is clear,” he said. “Whoever hurts us, we will hit them with great strength. This is what we did yesterday. The IDF dealt Hamas the harshest blow since Operation Protective Edge. I hope that they got the message; if not, they will get it later.”

Netanyahu also clarified Israel’s stance regarding the mediated ceasefire that seemed to have prevented a full-scale war. “I heard it being said that Israel has agreed to a ceasefire that would allow the continuation of terrorism by incendiary kites and balloons. This is incorrect. We are not prepared to accept any attacks against us and we will respond appropriately.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman concurred, warning Hamas that it would “pay a heavy price” for continued attacks. “We have been through a stormy weekend. With regards to the rest of the week, it is important to emphasize that we have no intention of tolerating this—not rockets, not kites, not drones —nothing.”

Despite the ceasefire, the IDF announced yesterday that it will deploy additional Iron Dome missile defense batteries across southern Israel and to the Tel Aviv region. Reservists from the relevant air defense units have also been called up to man the additional batteries.

Yesterday came and went without any rocket attacks. The incendiary balloons did, however, not stop. And as warned, Israel responded to Hamas arson attempts by targeted terror squads engaged in launching burning balloons.

In the meantime, the residents of southern Israel are making every attempt to live a normal life. “That’s the norm in the south. We are attacked and then we go back to our normal life,” an 18-year-old resident of Sderot told The Jerusalem Post. Another confided, “We live here in a state of war—all the time—with waves that go up and down.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 16 July 2018)

Photo Credit: Twitter/IDF@IDFSpokesperson

Prayer Focus
Lift up the soldiers who operate the Iron Dome missile defense system before the Lord. Ask that He will grant them calmness and focus even under tremendous pressure to execute their responsibilities with accuracy and precision. Intercede for Israel’s leadership, as they make difficult decisions on ways to deal with increasing rocket attacks.

Scripture

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.


- Isaiah 26:3

Israel Demands to Remove Iran to Within 50 Miles from Syria Border

by Yossi Yehoshua

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Hezbollah fighters in Syria

Monday, 16 July 2018 | A day after the meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Yedioth Ahronoth has learned that Israel’s defense establishment has demanded the Russians to remove Iranian and Hezbollah forces in Syria even further away to within 80 kilometers [50 mi.] from the Golan border as an interim measure until the Israeli demand for a total withdrawal of the Shiite forces from Syria is met. The Russians have so far rejected this demand.

The practical implication of the Israeli demand is to eliminate any Iranian military targets within this range, in addition to the existing policy of preventing the establishment of an Iranian military presence in Syria and stopping advanced weapons from entering the country.

Over the past week, another shipment of Iranian weapons that reached the T4 airbase was apparently attacked, and it is safe to assume that there were many other strikes that were not reported.

On Thursday, the Assad army completed its conquering of the Daraa district, and it now continues its offensive against ISIS forces in the southern Syrian Golan Heights.

It was from this area that the Syrian drone infiltrated Israeli territory on Wednesday. Intelligence officials believe the Syrian UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] was not on a collection mission against Israel, but rather operating against the rebels, and mistakenly entered Jordanian airspace and then continuing to the Kinneret [Sea of Galilee].

Before shooting down the drone, the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] checked whether it was a Syrian or a Russian aircraft, so as to not embarrass Netanyahu before his meeting with Putin. That is why the drone was able to stay in the air over Israel for 15 minutes before being intercepted.

In the near future, Assad will complete his takeover of the entire Syrian Golan Heights, and Israel has already set very clear rules, including no-infiltration into the buffer zone, no heavy weapons in the border area, the prevention of spillover fire into Israel and the prevention of refugees from entering Israel.

On the other hand, Israel also sees in the arrival of Assad’s forces to the Golan an opportunity to reach agreements and achieve stability, mainly because from now on, it will be clear who on the other side is responsible for every violation.

At the same time, it turns out that Iranian aid to Hezbollah has been reduced again over the past year, dropping from $850 million a year ago to $600–700 million this year. For Hezbollah, which is in the midst of an economic crisis, this is a very worrying development, especially given the fact that 4–5 years ago, Iranian aid was at about $1 billion a year.

But despite the economic pressure the Shiite organization is under, Israeli assessments are that Hezbollah will continue to focus its efforts on improving the precision of its long-range missiles, which it sees as a supreme goal.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 13 July 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces

Prayer Focus
Proclaim God’s promises to act as the Protector of Israel. Beseech Him to command his hosts of heavenly armies to surround and protect the borders of Israel. Ask the Lord to reveal to the relevant world leaders the grave security threat that an Iranian presence in Syria poses to Israel.

Scripture

For I will not trust in my bow, nor shall my sword save me. But You have saved us from our enemies, and have put to shame those who hated us.


- Psalm 44:6-7

Hamas Instructs Members to Stop Balloon Terrorism

by Elior Levy and Matan Tzuri

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Hamas flies incendiary balloons toward Israel.

Thursday, 19 July 2018 | Hamas has instructed its fighters over the past 24 hours not to fly any more incendiary balloons toward Israel, after it has been directing, organizing and controlling the incendiary balloon operations in recent weeks, causing hundreds of fires in the Gaza border area.

The Gaza terror group has also been making efforts to stop others not of its ranks from flying the incendiary balloons.

But members of Gaza’s incendiary balloons and kites unit said they will continue sending the incendiary devices towards Israel despite Hamas’s instructions.

“We receive orders from no one and our peaceful resistance will continue until our demands are met and the siege over Gaza is lifted. The worse the siege becomes, the bigger the amount of fires, and they will reach greater distances,” they said in a statement.

On Tuesday, an incendiary balloon landed outside a kindergarten in the Sdot Negev Regional Council. The children who were playing outside were not hurt.

Hamas’s tactical decision comes in the wake of heavy pressure Egypt has been exerting on the terror group in recent days, as well as messages passed on to Gaza by other sources, that continuing the balloon terrorism could result in Israel launching a military campaign in the Gaza Strip.

Egypt has decided to give Hamas a few days to put a stop to, or at least significantly reduce, the incendiary balloons in the wake of Hamas’s insistence that it cannot stop the incendiary balloons all at once.

“Hamas can’t stop the balloons because it will undermine its position with the residents of the Gaza Strip and its own supporters. It would be seen as capitulation, and therefore it must be done gradually,” a source in the Gaza Strip told Ynet.

At the same time, another unforeseeable problem emerged for the terror group: Hamas’s leadership abroad informed its Gaza leadership that it would no longer be able to continue financing the “March of Return” campaign, which is estimated to have already cost tens of millions of shekels. In addition to the expensive organization of the protests, the funding includes money Hamas gives to the families of those killed and the thousands wounded in the clashes on the border.

Following the closure of the Kerem Shalom [Israel-Gaza-Egypt border] crossing to fuel and gas, there has been a spike in prices in the Strip amid fears of an energy crisis. Sources in the Strip estimate that by Thursday, the gas supply in the Gaza Strip will be completely depleted.

However, the Israeli announcement that the Kerem Shalom crossing will remain closed until Sunday is intended to signal to Gaza that Israel is still willing and prefers giving a chance to calming the tensions than launching a new round of violence.

Limiting the crossing’s closure as well as the extension Egypt has given Hamas to stop the balloon terrorism attest to the close coordination between Israel and Egypt in the efforts to calm the situation.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 18 July 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/Twitter/ IDF@IDFSpokesperson

Prayer Focus
Call upon God to bring a swift end to the three months of arson terror on the Gaza-Israel border. Thank Him for the pressure that Egypt is putting on Hamas and pray that the terror organization and its followers have the sense to cease the destruction. Petition the Lord to replenish and restore the burned areas that it will once again grow into a blessing for the land.

Scripture

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

Legal Scholars Assail Irish Anti-Israel Legislation as Discriminatory

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Seanad Éireann Senate of Ireland

Friday, 13 July 2018 | Legislation that passed the Irish Senate, known also as Seanad Éireann, which would criminalize commercial dealings with Israeli businesses in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] would constitute “unprecedented state-sanctioned discrimination,” according to a legal expert, The Jewish Chronicle [JC] reported Thursday.

Brooke Goldstein, the executive director of the Lawfare Project, which fights discrimination around the world, said that her organization “will do everything in our power to prevent this unprecedented state-sanctioned discrimination from becoming law in Ireland.”

The legislation was described by the JC as seeking “to outlaw any goods or services produced by an Israeli person based beyond the armistice lines agreed at the end of the Six Day War in 1967.”

The bill was introduced by Independent Senator Frances Black, who said that Palestinian farmers suffered due to settlements. It passed the Senate by a vote of 25-20 with 14 abstentions.

The penalties in the proposed law include fines up to 250,000 euros (US $292, 000) and five years in jail.

While the Irish government opposes the law, it is a minority government and may not be able to prevent its eventual passage.

A statement released by the Lawfare Project pointed out that the law, if passed, could create a number of legal problems.

American companies that would comply with the Irish law, would find themselves in violation of United States anti-boycott legislation that penalizes businesses and individuals for singling out Israel for boycotts.

The law also, according the Lawfare Project, “would violate foreign trade competences that belong exclusively to the European Union.”

The Lawfare Project’s Spanish counsel, Ignacio Palacios, said, “The Irish bill would enact an official, highly aggressive anti-Israel boycott policy within a national government that targets individuals not based on their conduct, but on their national origin and place of residence. That specific scenario had not materialized before.”

Eugene Kontorovich, a professor of international law at Northwestern University, pointed out on Twitter that the standard the Irish legislation adopts for “occupied territory,” applies only to the West Bank and not to any other disputes such as Western Sahara or Northern Cyprus.

The arbitrary nature of the law, Kontorovich observed, shows that criticism of Israel for “settlements” is “not about [international] law at all.” It is instead an “epithet.”

He also noted that the law would put US companies that have a presence in Ireland in a bind, “who will face penalties under US boycott laws for complying.”

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 12 July 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Tommy Kavanagh/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Cry out against this prospective anti-Israel and ultimately anti-Semitic legislation that seeks to harm the livelihood of farmers and businesspeople in Judea and Samaria. Beseech the Lord to grant favor, wisdom and boldness to those working against the bill being passed into law.

Scripture

Plead my cause, O LORD, with those who strive with me; fight against those who fight against me.


- Psalm 35:1

Why Do Palestinian Leaders Oppose Helping Their People?

by Bassam Tawil ~ Gatestone Institute

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Hamas stopped Israel’s humanitarian aid coming through the Kerem Shalom border crossing from reaching needy Gazans.

Monday, 16 July 2018 | For years, Palestinian leaders have been complaining that the Gaza Strip was “on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe.” Time and again, they have warned that unless the world helps the Palestinians living there, the Gaza Strip will “erupt like a volcano.”

Israel and the US are now offering to help improve the living conditions of the Palestinians living under Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip. But guess who is fiercely opposed to any attempt to resolve the “humanitarian and economic crisis” in the coastal enclave, home to some two million Palestinians? Answer: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his ruling Fatah faction.

In the past few weeks, both Israel and the US administration have come up with different ideas to help the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip.

US envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, who recently visited the Middle East, are said to have presented initiatives that included providing necessities such as electricity, desalinating drinking water, employment opportunities and reviving the industrial zone in the Gaza Strip.

Israel, for its part, has asked Cyprus to consider the possibility of establishing a seaport on the island for shipping goods to the Gaza Strip. According to reports, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has reached an understanding with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to pursue the port plan. Lieberman’s office said that Israel is working internationally in a number of ways to try to “change the reality” in the Gaza Strip.

One would think that the Palestinian leaders would be extremely happy about these initiatives to alleviate the suffering of their people in the Gaza Strip. The plans to improve the living conditions of the residents of the Gaza Strip should be music to the ears of the Palestinian Authority leadership, right? Wrong.

What, exactly, is behind this mystifying desire on the part of the Palestinian leaders to deny their people a shot at a decent life? Why does the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, which claims that it cares about the well-being of all Palestinians, vehemently oppose any plan to create job opportunities and other forms of aid for its people?

Let us take it step by step.

First, Abbas and his West Bank [Judea and Samaria]-based government seek to prolong the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip so that they can continue damning Israel for the crisis. They want the international community to continue to believe that Israel is responsible for the ongoing, intense suffering of the Palestinians. Difficult as it appears for the global community to grasp, however, Israel’s maritime blockade on the Gaza Strip is aimed solely at preventing the smuggling of weapons into the coastal enclave. The border between the Gaza Strip and Israel remains open for delivering food and humanitarian and medical aid into Gaza.

Second, the Palestinian Authority and its leaders are opposed to any humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip because they fear that this would embolden Hamas by encouraging it to maintain its tight grip on the Gaza Strip and absolving it of its responsibilities towards the residents living there. Once others start providing the residents of the Gaza Strip with aid, Hamas would be able to continue investing millions of dollars in building tunnels to attack Israel and smuggling more weapons into the Gaza Strip. Hamas would no longer have to worry about paying salaries to Palestinians or purchasing medicine and food.

The Palestinian Authority is hoping that conditions in the Gaza Strip will get so bad that the Palestinians there will rise up against Hamas. It is worth noting that the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah itself has imposed severe sanctions on the Gaza Strip in the past year.

These punitive measures include halting payments to thousands of civil servants and suspending social welfare assistance to hundreds of families. The sanctions have triggered a wave of protests throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip in recent weeks, prompting Abbas’s security forces to use force to disperse the protesters.

Third, the Palestinian Authority leadership is assuring us that the Israeli and US plans to help the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip are part of a wider “conspiracy” to force the Palestinians to accept US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-unveiled plan for peace in the Middle East.

Abbas and his senior officials are using this issue to whip up anti-American and anti-Israel sentiments among the Palestinian population. They are telling the Palestinians that the economic and humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip is primarily designed to extract “political concessions” from the Palestinians. Their argument: The Palestinians would be required to give up their “national rights,” including the “right of return” for refugees and their descendants to their former homes in Israel proper, in exchange for improving their living conditions.

Palestinian Authority leaders are inciting their people by telling them that the US and Israel are seeking to “blackmail” the Palestinians. Consider, for example, what Abbas’s prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, said on July 5: “We won’t accept any plan to turn our national rights into humanitarian or financial rights. We have fixed political, historical and legal rights that are non-negotiable.”

Another senior Abbas loyalist, Mahmoud Al-Aloul, was quoted on July 2 as saying: “We don’t want your flour and wheat; we don’t want your humanitarian aid.”

Note another recent statement, made by Al-Aloul, who serves as Abbas’s deputy in Fatah and is touted as the next Palestinian Authority president: “We are prepared to starve, but we can’t, in return for resolving our humanitarian issues, give up Jerusalem and our basic rights.”

The message should be obvious—after all, it is being broadcast loud and clear: Palestinian leaders would prefer to see their people starve than make any form of concessions for peace with Israel.

Yet Al-Aloul and Abbas are not the ones who are facing starvation. Life in Ramallah and the rest of the West Bank is pretty good for Abbas and his senior entourage. Unlike the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian Authority leaders enjoy freedom of movement and live in luxury apartments and villas. There is nothing more comfortable than sitting in your fashionable house in Ramallah or Nablus and talking about starvation and humanitarian aid.

When Al-Aloul and other senior Palestinian leaders talk about the harsh conditions in the Gaza Strip, they conveniently forget to mention that it is, in part, their own sanctions that have aggravated the crisis there. But the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, who are desperate for jobs and a better life, do not really care about Trump’s upcoming peace plan.

They also do not really care about a settlement or a checkpoint in the West Bank. Abbas and his officials seem dead-set to pursue their jihad [Islamic war with unbelievers] against Israel and the US at the expense of the last surviving Palestinian. They go on selling their people old slogans about “national rights and principles and Jerusalem” while watching them die in the streets.

The final lesson to be drawn from the statements of the Palestinian Authority leaders against plans to improve the living conditions of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not about economic or humanitarian issues.

By insisting on all Palestinian ” national rights,” including the “right of return,” and by refusing to recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, the Palestinians are in fact signaling that their true goal is to see Israel removed from the Middle East. How do we know that they want to destroy Israel? Abbas says he sees Israel as a “colonialist project that has nothing to do with Judaism.”

This statement means that he does not see Israel as a legitimate state. Abbas and his officials do not care about the suffering of their people in the Gaza Strip because they are hoping to use the crisis there to pursue their campaign to delegitimize Israel. Hamas, for its part, is clearly stating that it will not give up its dream of “liberating Palestine, from the river to the sea,” even if that means the starvation and death of its people. Both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas could have ensured a better life for their people a long time ago, but this is not what is on their mind. They care less about their people and more about finding ways to undermine and delegitimize and demonize Israel and Jews.

Abbas and his loyalists are saying in easy-to-understand language: “You can give us as much money as you want, we will not change our stance towards Israel and we will not give up any of our demands.” In this regard, at least, they are telling the truth.

This conflict is not about money or economic aid. It is about the existence of Israel, whose presence the Palestinians refuse to tolerate in the Middle East.

This is the essence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: The Palestinians’ number one priority—the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinians in general—is destroying Israel. They would rather die than give up their dream of destroying Israel.

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

Source: (Gatestone Institute originally published this article on 12 July 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/Israel's Foreign Affairs Ministry

Prayer Focus
Bring this evil mindset that vilifies Israel and sentences the Palestinian people to a life of misery before the Lord. Ask Him to shine His light of truth on the hypocrisy and deceit. Praise God for Israel’s steadfast commitment to improve living conditions in Gaza, despite the Palestinian leaders’ lack of concern for the people entrusted to their care.

Scripture

“LORD, who is like You, delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, yes, the poor and the needy from him who plunders him?”


- Psalm 35:10

A Look at How the World Really Views Israel 

by Shoshana Bryen ~ Gatestone Institute

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The Iroquois Nation lacrosse team arrives in Israel for the Lacrosse World Championship.

Thursday, 19 July 2018 | Israel and the Iroquois Nation came together this week, in Israel, at the Lacrosse World Championship. The Iroquois Nation team was subjected to enormous pressure to boycott, but they steadfastly refused to be swayed. The Iroquois, who invented lacrosse in about AD 1100, know a thing or two about indigenous peoples reclaiming their land. And they know a thing or two about Israel. Bravo to them.

There are those who insist that Israel is “isolated,” that it lacks friends and allies. Israel’s place in the larger world, however—except, perhaps, in the halls of the UN [United Nations]—is expanding, not only with the Iroquois Nation, but with the nations of the world that want to know what Israel knows and have what Israel has, whether they have formal diplomatic relations with Jerusalem or not.

Israel’s expansive sharing of water, solar and agricultural technology is legendary, as is Israel’s emergency rapid response team. But military cooperation underpins freedom of navigation in the air and on the seas—the source of international prosperity through trade—and secures people in their borders. Security makes everything else possible, and Israel is in the center of the universe of security cooperation.

Late last year, Israel hosted the largest aerial training exercise in its history—Blue Flag in the Negev Desert. There were 70 aircraft from around the world, hundreds of pilots, and air-support team members. Participants included the United States, France, Italy, Greece, Poland, Germany and India. It was the first time French, German and Indian contingents trained in Israel.

A Standing NATO Maritime Group (SNMG) is a force made up of vessels from various allied countries. In December, Britain’s HMS Ocean, the flagship of the SNMG2, docked in Haifa to take part in several joint exercises with the Israeli navy and air force. “We are here today as a friend of Israel and a visible demonstration of NATO’s continued commitment to Israel,” said Commodore James Morley. “Whilst we are here, we will engage with the Israel navy leaders in order to create and build opportunities for us to work together. Israel is one of our closest partners and we are moving steadily closer together.”

In March 2018, Israel joined in the exercise “Iniohos” in Greece. “Iniohos” is an annual exercise replicating a multi-threat environment for the air forces involved, in this case, the US, the United Arab Emirates [UAE], Greece, Italy, the United Kingdom and Cyprus.

The UAE? It wasn’t a first. In the 2016 Red Flag exercise in the United States, Israel’s partners were the UAE and Pakistan. Even Pakistan.

For the 2018 Red Flag exercise in April, Israel declined to bring its F-15 fighter jets, citing regional tension, but sent pilots and other personnel.

Juniper Cobra, the largest joint USIsraeli air-defense exercise—and the largest joint exercise with the US military’s European Command—took place in Israel in March, with 2,000 IDF [Israel Defense Forces] air-defense troops, 1,400 Marines and 1,100 American sailors. The USS Iwo Jima and USS Mount Whitney were there, as well as the Patriot missile-defense system, Aegis ballistic missile-defense system, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, TPY-2 radar, communication systems, 25 aircraft and more.

In late May, commissioned by NATO forces, the British HMS Duncan and Spanish frigate Victoria docked in Israel’s Haifa Port ahead of joint exercises with the IDF.

In June, Israeli paratroopers took part in their first combined European ground exercise not held in Israel when they trained with Swift Response in Germany, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. Thousands of soldiers from countries including Great Britain, the US, Spain, Italy, Poland and Portugal participated in airborne exercises; personnel and equipment drops; air-assault operations; force buildups; and civilian evacuation operations. “The objective of the exercise is to improve the ability for mutual cooperation between the participating armies,” noted an IDF statement.

Saber Strike, also in June, was led by the US Army’s European Command with 18,000 fighters from 19 countries, including Poland, Germany, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. An annual drill beginning this year in Latvia, Saber Strike focused on “training and drilling NATO’s enhanced forward presence, focusing on promoting interoperability and improving joint operational capability in a variety of land missions,” according to an army source.

From late June to early August, Israel is a participant in RIMPAC—the Rim of the Pacific. RIMPAC includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, South Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga and the United Kingdom—minus China, which was not invited, and Taiwan, which should have been.

This month, as the helicopter carrier Dixmude docked in Haifa, French Ambassador to Israel Helene Le Gal noted that 11 French ships have docked in Israel this year—more than those of any other country’s navy. “I am proud that the Dixmude is in Haifa. It demonstrates the quality of the cooperation between our countries and that there exists a strong amount of trust,” she said. “We have practiced joint drills in the past and we will continue to do so in the future.”

The Iroquois Nation, as another indigenous people, is a friend of the heart. In the larger picture, however, Israel is an integral part of the world’s security system across the continents, from Europe to Asia to North America. In the Pacific Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, it has partnered with countries alphabetized from Australia to Vietnam in exercises on land, at sea or in the air. Not a single country pulled out of a single exercise because of the presence of the Israel Defense Forces.

Not one.

Shoshana Bryen is Senior Director of the Jewish Policy Center.

Source: (Gatestone Institute originally published this article on 18 July 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/FIL Lacrosse

Prayer Focus
Exalt God that Israel’s feats and accomplishments are giving the world a taste of His faithfulness and glory. Offer thanksgiving for the positive ties Israel forged over the past year thanks to security cooperation. Lift up the relationships between Israel and the various nations and ask God to establish, strengthen and flourish them.

Scripture

The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.


- Isaiah 60:3

IDF Transfers Hundreds of Aid Packages Collected by Israelis to Syrian Refugees

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Under Operation Good Neighbor, the IDF deliver packages to Syrian refugees in the Syrian Golan Heights.

Friday, 13 July 2018 | The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] announced that it had transferred hundreds of aid packages collected by Israeli residents of the Golan Heights to Syrian refugees who have been forced from their homes in southern Syria in recent weeks, The Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday.

In recent weeks, hundreds of aid packages were donated by the Golan Regional Council. The aid packages included food, and medical supplies, as well as gift packages containing toys, crayons, and personal notes from children.

Under Operation Good Neighbor, the IDF delivered the packages in two military operations to refugee camps in the northern and southern Syrian Golan Heights.

“For six years, a cruel war that has claimed the lives of more than 500,000 people has been taking place in Syria, and the world remains quiet in the face of this horror. We, the residents of the Golan, look right over the fence and see the people fleeing from the killing fields together with their children, and clinging to the fence with Israel,” said Eli Malka, the head of the Golan Regional Council, who coordinated the effort to collect the packages.

“We feel the moral obligation, in accordance with our values, to send humanitarian aid and as much as is possible to build a relationship of humanity with those who have always been our neighbors on the other side of the fence. The residents of the Golan have come together wholeheartedly to raise and collect supplies, and make personal gift bags for the Syrian children, to give them a moment of happiness in a great chaos,” he added.

Lt. Col. E, who commands Operation Good Neighbor, said that the opportunity to aid the Syrians is “unique and exciting.”

He explained that the operation changes perceptions about Israel, saying, “The Bashan Division is responsible for preserving the security of the residents of the State of Israel, and of the Golan Heights in particular, and through the Good Neighbor command it carries out the mission of defending them in partnership with the citizens (of the area). All of this was done for our neighbors on the other side of the fence, who have been educated to hate Israel and everything related to it, and in recent years have understood that the only country which has aided them was the same one they feared.”

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 11 July 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/Twitter/IDF@IDFSpokesperson

Prayer Focus
Praise God for ordinary Israeli citizens who continue to act in compassion for their neighbors in war-torn Syria. Pray that the initiative will bear a harvest of mutual understanding, love and respect between Israel and the people who once viewed her as their enemy.

Scripture

You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.


- Leviticus 19:18

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