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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.

Jerusalem Braces for Escalating Tensions during Friday Prayers

by Ilse Posselt

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New security measures at entrance to the Temple Mount

Friday, 21 July 2017 | Israel has deployed thousands of additional police officers on high alert around Jerusalem’s Old City this morning to prevent the unrest and protests that have been plaguing the area over the past week from igniting into widespread violence.

These efforts come after Palestinian political and religious leaders called on Palestinians across the country to flock to the gates of the Temple Mount to turn this afternoon’s traditional Islamic prayers into a mass protest. Tens of thousands of Palestinian worshippers are expected to arrive en masse, which will exacerbate an already volatile situation and increase the chances of violent clashes once prayers have been concluded.

The Waqf, the Jordanian-based Islamic trust responsible for daily management of the Temple Mount, also announced on Wednesday that all mosques in Jerusalem would close their doors on Friday, which will force Jerusalem-based worshippers to stream to the holy site for prayers. According to Ynetnews, this is a deliberate move aimed at adding fuel to the fire.

Moreover, Hamas, the terror organization ruling the Gaza Strip, distributed a video clip on social media yesterday, calling on Palestinians to rise up against Israel at friction points in Judea and Samaria and on the Gaza border. Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, also encouraged Palestinian worshippers attending today’s prayers to partake in violent protests.

All these elements make for a potentially explosive situation in the Israeli capital, one which security forces are making every effort to contain.

Apart from the additional 3,000 Israeli police officers who will stand guard over Jerusalem’s Old City today, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that it had placed five battalions on standby in Judea and Samaria. Should the situation deteriorate, the IDF said in a statement, the battalions would be deployed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a high-level security cabinet meeting last night to prepare for the possibility of an escalation. Following hours of deliberation between Netanyahu, ministers and security officials, the prime minister’s office released a statement late last night.

“The cabinet has authorized the Israel Police to make any decision in order to ensure free access to the holy sites, while upholding security and public order,” the release said.

The unrest started one week ago, when three Arab Israeli terrorists armed with automatic weapons and knifes, exited the Temple Mount. They left the spot where two

Temples once stood and that Muslims now claim as the Noble Sanctuary, determined to sow death, destruction and large-scale turmoil. Less than an hour later, two Israeli police officers had been murdered and the three terrorists had been killed, two on the Temple Mount platform.

While the terrorists were neutralized, their acts set in motion a ripple effect of violence and upheaval. Seven days after what media has dubbed the Temple Mount terror attack, Palestinian protestors clash with Israeli security forces on a daily basis, as tension in Jerusalem continue to simmer.

The Palestinians’ discontent stems from a decision made by Israel to install metal detectors at the entrance to the Temple Mount to guard against weapons being smuggled onto the holy site. While the steps were taken to ensure both Palestinian and Israeli worshippers’ safety and prevent further attacks, the measure caused an outcry among Palestinians and Arab nations.

They denounce the step as an infringement on Palestinians’ freedom to worship as well as a violation of the status quo, which entails that Israel controls access to the Temple Mount, while the Waqf oversees daily management.

Over the past week, thousands of Palestinian worshippers have refused to enter the Temple Mount through the metal detectors, opting instead to pray—and protest—at the gates of the walled compound.

As thousands of Muslims are making their way to the Old City and Israeli police are preparing to stand guard over the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Christians and Jews everywhere are praying for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6).

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 21 July 2017)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/ILTV Israel Daily/YouTube

Prayer Focus
Cry out for peace in Jerusalem as the past week’s protests in the Old City have the potential to escalate and become an explosive situation in the region. Beseech God to protect all the Israeli security forces on duty who have been given the difficult task of ensuring free entry to the holy site while upholding security and public order. Pray also for peace along the Gazan border and at friction points in Judea and Samaria. Ask God to guide Israelis, volunteers and tourists, praying that they will be vigilant and aware of their surroundings.

Scripture

Look upon Zion, the city of our appointed feasts; Your eyes will see Jerusalem, a quiet home, a tabernacle that will not be taken down; not one of its stakes will ever be removed, nor will any of its cords be broken…the Lord is our King; He will save us.


- Isaiah 33:20, 22

Palestinian Protesters Clash with Police over Al-Aqsa Metal Detectors 

by Hassan Shaalan and Elisha Ben Kimon

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Installation of metal detectors at the entrance of the Al-Aqsa Mosque

Tuesday, 18 July 2017 | Dozens of Muslim worshippers clashed with police Monday night near the Lions’ Gate in Jerusalem over the installation of metal detectors at the entrance of the Al-Aqsa Mosque following Friday’s deadly terror attack that claimed the lives of two Israeli police officers.

Police were forced to disperse protestors using stun grenades, injuring two Palestinians who received medical treatment at the scene.

Worshippers yelled “allahu akbar” at police and threw stones and other objects at officers. One protestor said, “We will not respect the metal detectors. We will continue to resist until the death and we will die here as martyrs.”

Throughout the day, hundreds of Muslim worshippers from the Galilee, the Negev and other Arab cities and villages refused to enter the mosque because of the metal detectors.

Additionally, dozens of Muslim protestors blocked streets in the Old City, prompting police to employ dispersal methods once again.

Acknowledging the heightened tensions that have ensued from the installation of the metal detectors, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted that they were nevertheless necessary to prevent further terror attacks. “I understand there is friction around the matter of the metal detectors. But we also understand that we can find ourselves in another terror attack like this and these means are necessary, including the security cameras that we intend to place around the area,” he said.

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published in Ynetnews on 17 July 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.) 

Photo Credit: Screenshot/TheRealNews/YouTube

Prayer Focus
Pray for peace in Jerusalem! Lift up the Israeli police who have the tough job of keeping the Old City calm while Muslims protest against the extra security measures at the Temple Mount. Pray that they will be vigilant and strengthened as they wear protective gear in the extreme heat. Ask God to protect them.

Scripture

Like birds flying about, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem. Defending, He will also deliver it; passing over, He will preserve it.


- Isaiah 31:5

IDF Exposes Network of Hezbollah Border Posts

by Yoav Zitun

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Hezbollah uses fictitious environmental organization as a front for terror activity

Thursday, 20 July 2017 | The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] released a video Tuesday detailing Hezbollah operations in southern Lebanon in violation of UN [United Nations] Security Council Resolution 1701, which states that the Shiite terrorist organization must remain north of the Litani River.

The video was released ahead of a UN Security Council discussion on violations of the resolution, which is scheduled to be held [today].

Hezbollah has established an intricate network of military infrastructure, which includes rocket launching sites aimed at Israel.

The video, published by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, portrays how Hezbollah collects intelligence in southern Lebanon, beginning with two organization operatives who were observed gathering intelligence on Israel.

The video also details a fictitious organization—”Green without Borders”—established by Hezbollah and used as a cover for their illicit military activity in southern Lebanon. The organization ostensibly gathers ecological and agricultural information to be used to promote environmental protection in Lebanon.

The video even shows images of Hezbollah operatives, including Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, participating in activities on behalf of the phony organization, with the true intention of causing harm to Israel.

Last month, Israel had provided the UN Security Council with intelligence that Hezbollah had established a network of observation posts along the border under the guise of an innocent organization.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, sent a letter to Security Council members detailing an incident in April when a group of civilians blocked a UNIFIL [United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon] patrol force access to an observation post flying a “Green without Borders” flag.

Brig. Gen. Rafi Milo, who was appointed commander of the Galilee Division on Tuesday, said, “Our preparedness for escalation is constantly sharp. We continue to monitor developments in the field and constantly improve our defensive response and our offensive capabilities. When necessary, we will use them with full force.

“We have not lost sight of the fact that Hezbollah systematically violates UN Resolution 1701 and, in total contradiction, maintains a military presence even if it is hidden in dozens of Shiite villages south of the Litani River. The Lebanese army turns a blind eye to Hezbollah activity, camouflages the terrorist organization’s tours in southern Lebanon, and even allows it to use its infrastructure against the State of Israel. The peace and stability in the region are important to all of us.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 18 July 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/Israel Defense Forces/YouTube

Prayer Focus
Thank God for guiding the IDF to discover Hezbollah’s secret activity in Lebanon and produce solid proof of the violation of UN regulations. Ask God to protect the IDF soldiers and help them to guard the borders in His own miraculous way as the UN constantly overlooks the very real threat of Israel’s enemies to harm her.

Scripture

Arise, O LORD, confront him, cast him down; deliver my life from the wicked with Your sword,


- Psalm 17:13

Iran Leases Air, Land and Sea Bases in Syria  

by Alex Fishman

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Port of Tartus (illustrative)

Monday, 17 July 2017 | Iran has leased a military airfield from the Syrian government in the center of the country in order to station fighter aircraft. Iran is also negotiating with the Syrians to establish a land base for Shiite militiamen and a port in the city of Tartus.

The land base would be an Iranian autonomous base capable of supporting 5,000 Iranian militiamen believed to be mercenaries from Afghanistan and Pakistan under the command of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

These steps represent a move by Iran to establish a long-term presence in Syria and pose a threat to Israel.

They also represent an annexation plan by Iran to take control of a series of territory in the Middle East with the goal being to create territorial and maritime contiguity from Iran to Lebanon, Sudan, the Gulf, Saudi Arabia, and on to Iraq and Jordan before reaching the Israeli border.

Intelligence sources in the West note that the Iranian measures are reminiscent of a similar move by the Russians in 2015, in which the Khmeimim airport in Syria was leased, setting up an air force and declaring the region autonomously Russian.

In an interview published Thursday with leading Russian newspaper Kommersant, Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman warned against Iranian entrenchment in Syria.

“The establishment of an air and sea base and the attempt to permanently station 5,000 Shiite fighters on Syrian soil are not acceptable to us, and will have heavy consequences. Iran is attempting to make all of Syria—not just the southwest—into a frontline base against Israel. We will not accept it. We insist that there be no trace of Iranian presence on Syrian soil, and we insist on this arrangement in every settlement,” said Lieberman, whose comments were quoted in all major Russian news agencies.

Lieberman officially confirmed in the interview that Iran is pumping $800 million annually into Hezbollah. He also said that Hezbollah was trying to establish a front base in Syria that would threaten Israel.

The defense minister also revealed that American and Russian representatives will soon meet with Israeli representatives in Vienna and will update them on the cease-fire agreements in Syria that were signed between the sides.

“If the details of the agreement provide[d] satisfy us, we will more than welcome the initiative to calm the situation,” said Lieberman.

When asked about the Moscow’s recognition of the Assad regime as legitimate, Lieberman said that Israel would not intervene or interfere in Syria’s internal affairs, except in cases where Israeli sovereignty is violated from within Syria.

“We react when Syrian army shells fall in our territory, but we do not respond apparently strong enough. The Russians would have reacted much more strongly in the same situation…we react forcefully even when we recognize the establishment of a base designed to open another front against us,” warned Lieberman.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 14 July 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Adamkou/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Beseech God on behalf of the Israeli government, praying for wisdom, strategy and guidance on how to deal with the increasing threats from Iran and Hezbollah. Pray for the IDF and defense minister Lieberman as he faces the planning on how to prepare for the Iranian airfield, land base and port leased in Syria.

Scripture

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.


- Proverbs 3:5-6

ISIS in the Sinai Eyeing Israel 

by Roi Kais

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Nitzana border crossing between Israel and Egypt

Tuesday, 18 July 2017 | In contrast to the battles taking place deep inside northern Sinai, the Israeli-Egyptian border seems pastoral these days. However, both Egypt and Israel know that an ISIS attack is only a matter of time and strategic consideration.

“The moment ISIS carries out a significant attack against us, they will be under intense Israeli and Egyptian pressure,” an IDF [Israel Defense Forces] source said. “They not [sic] be able to withstand it at a time when they are facing defeats elsewhere in the region, such as Iraq and Syria.”

However, that has not stopped the organization from attacking the Egyptians.

On Friday, ISIS carried out a large attack against Egyptian military forces near the village of Al Barth, south of Rafah. It is about 20 km [12 mi] from the Nitzana Border Crossing and five Israeli communities. The attack killed 23 Egyptian soldiers and included two car bombs and an assault on a military checkpoint.

Infiltration from the Egyptian border

The Southern Command’s 80th “Edom” Division is in charge of border security for the IDF. The unit was established in 2007 with the intention of dealing with the problem of infiltrators from the Egyptian border.

Whereas illegal African migrants were once the top concern in the area, that honor has since gone to ISIS and Al Qaeda. As such, the unit’s function has changed dramatically and it is now in charge of a smaller section, which includes the five Israeli communities.

On the Egyptian side, the same function is being carried out by Egyptian border guards, who have suffered quite a few casualties in recent years in the fighting against ISIS. Their positions are being fortified and are located roughly half a kilometer apart.

A senior IDF source told Ynet that an ISIS attack on Egyptian forces near the border is only a matter of time and the army is working to thwart it.

“The main challenge here is the lack of depth. We see the Egyptians, us and the fence, which cannot stop terrorists. The attack they did on Friday, for example, is a terrorist attack that wouldn’t shame a special unit. Car bombs and frontal assaults were utilized.”

The close proximity of Israeli communities and vital assets in the area is a concern, especially the Nitzana crossing itself, which is meant to be a symbol of Egyptian and Israeli cooperation. Everyday roughly 80-90 trucks carrying goods travel between the two nations.

One of the worst terror attacks in recent memory occurred in 2012 when the forerunner to ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula (ISIS-SP) attacked an Egyptian army post on the Egyptian side of the crossing.

“One of our horror scenarios is an attempt to smuggle a truckload of explosives into the Nitzana crossing and then penetrate into Israeli territory,” said the IDF official.

20 Egyptian battalions against hundreds of ISIS fighters

Since the ousting of former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in 2012, Abed al-Fattah el-Sisi has been waging an all out war against terrorism in the Sinai. Israel has been allowing Egypt to deviate from parameters surrounding the peace agreement and allowed the government to increase their military presence in the region in an effort to combat the surge of terrorism.

What were once three to four battalions are now twenty. Additionally, the Egyptians have brought in combat aircraft, armored vehicles and artillery. They have even acquired Chinese UAVs.

“It is not easy to fight a Bedouin when you are not a Bedouin. The population has been neglected for years by the regime; they do not even have identity cards. Each tribe is an entity in its own right, and the province of Sinai is a kind of new Bedouin tribe. What happens there is similar to what is happening in Judea and Samaria, and the challenge of the Egyptian army is to prevent the population from joining ISIS,” said the IDF source.

Recently there has been an interesting turnaround in the balance of power in the northern part of the Sinai.

The dominant tribe of Tarabin, who makes its living from smuggling and drug cultivation, entered a cycle of bloodshed with ISIS in Sinai after the organization’s religious police seized their goods for religious reasons.

The confrontation has since led to fighting, which has yet to resolve itself.

The Egyptian army sees this as an opportunity to join hands with the tribe, which has hundreds of its own fighters, against ISIS. However, the source of the tribe’s income from criminal business puts a question mark on cooperation with the regime over an extended period of time.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 17 July 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: כ.אלון/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Bring the IDF before God, praying for all those on the front lines—commanders and soldiers alike— who guard Israel’s borders and check the goods entering Israel. Ask God to protect the relationship between Israel and Egypt as they are allies in the fight against ISIS forces in the Sinai region.

Scripture

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.


- Joshua 1:9

French President, “Anti-Zionism is a Reinvention of Anti-Semitism”

by Ilse Posselt

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laying a wreath at the memorial of the Vel d’Hiv roundup of French Jews in 1942

Tuesday, 18 July 2017 | According to French president, Emmanuel Macron, anti-Zionism is the modern-day equivalent of anti-Semitism. The backdrop for this statement, which commentators hailed as “unprecedented” for a French leader in its support for Israel, was a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of an infamous Holocaust roundup in Paris that saw 13,152 Jews sent to Nazi death camps.

The ceremony was held near the Velodrome d’Hiver, the indoor cycle track that French police used in July 1942 to hold thousands of European Jews before deportation to the notorious extermination camp, Auschwitz. The incident later became known as the Vel d’Hiv Roundup. Of the 13,152 Jews who were held at the Vel d’Hiv, fewer than 100 survived to tell the tale.

Addressing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who attended the ceremony on Macron’s invitation, the French president said, “We will never surrender to the messages of hate; we will not surrender to anti-Zionism because it is a reinvention of anti-Semitism.”

Macron continued to confirm the role that France played in the Nazi’s efforts to eradicate any Jewish presence from Europe. “It is indeed France that organized the roundup and the deportation. Not a single German took part,” he admitted. “Time does its work. Archives open [and] the truth comes out. It is stark, irrevocable. It imposes itself on us all.”

Macron’s declaration is a clear slight on a comment made by Marine Le Pen, National Front leader, earlier this year during the French presidential elections. Le Pen claimed that France did not shoulder the blame for the roundup, but rather “those who were in power at the time.”

Netanyahu, whom Macron referred to at one point as “dear Bibi,” was the first ever Israeli head of state to be invited to attend a Vel d’Hiv Roundup ceremony.

“I have come here today from Jerusalem, the eternal united capital of the Jewish people and the Jewish state,” Netanyahu said. “I have come here to bow my head in memory of our slain brothers and sisters, slaughtered solely because they were Jews. Out of the ash of destruction, we established the Jewish state. And it is the strength of Israel that is the one certain guarantee that the Jewish people will never undergo a Holocaust again. Never again. We will never let it happen again.”

The Prime Minister continued to condemn the threat of radical Islam. “Two days ago in Nice, you said that this was a war of civilizations,” Netanyahu told Macron. “I fully agree. Militant Islam wants to destroy our common civilization. The militant Shiites led by Iran, the militant Sunnis led by ISIS—both seek to vanquish us. They seek to destroy Europe.”

Netanyahu’s comments relate to an address made by Macron on the one-year anniversary of a terror attack during Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, when an Islamist truck driver ploughed his vehicle into the celebrating crowd. More than 80 people were killed.

Referring to Friday’s deadly terror attack at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Netanyahu assured Macron, “Your struggle is our struggle. The zealots of militant Islam, who seek to destroy you, seek to destroy us as well. We must stand against them together; we must remain strong against them together; and we must defeat them together. For the sacred honor of those who perished here, for the sake of generations to come, let us ensure victory—the victory of liberté, egalité, fraternité.”

Apart from Netanyahu and Macron, various leaders of the French Jewish community, a number of Holocaust survivors, French Righteous among the Nations and French World War II veterans also attended the commemoration event.

Following the ceremony, Netanyahu and Macron met for face-to-face talks at the Élysée Palace to discuss, among others, Syria, Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During a joint press conference after the meeting, Macron reiterated France’s support for a two-state solution that would see Israelis and Palestinians co-existing in peace “side-by-side behind secure and recognized borders,” with “the capital in Jerusalem for these two entities.”

Calling for renewed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Macron said, “Everything must be done to advance negotiations, especially considering the regional threats, and we must open new negotiations for this issue.”

For his part, Netanyahu mostly steered clear of the subject of any prospective peace talks and chose to focus instead on Israel’s efforts in coming to the aid of developing African countries. He did, however, stress that “the root of the conflict is the persistent Palestinian refusal to accept a Jewish state, a Jewish state with any boundaries.”

The Israeli prime minister’s time in France came to an end yesterday afternoon, when he flew to Hungary for a three-day state visit. This trip marks the first time an Israeli head of state visits Hungary since Communist rule in this country came to an end in 1989.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 18 July 2017)

Photo Credit: Photo by Ashernet/Haim Zach/GPO

Prayer Focus
Ask God for other nations to stand with Israel just as France is doing; for those who recognize that anti-Zionism is, in fact, anti-Semitism. Ask God to go before PM Netanyahu and establish his steps with wisdom as he travels to educate, gain support, offer technology and request unity against militant Islam, building bridges that will stop efforts to isolate Israel economically.

Scripture

I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.

 


- Isaiah 62:6-7

UN Agency Continues Accusing Israel of Apartheid

by Itamar Eichner

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Official UN post on “Israeli Apartheid”

Wednesday, 19 July 2017 | Even after UN Secretary-General António Guterres ordered the UN [United Nations] Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) to remove a report from its website accusing Israel of imposing an “apartheid regime” on the Palestinians, the agency continues promoting similar content on social media.

ESCWA, which comprises 18 Arab states in western Asia, released a report in March concluding that “Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.”

The report raised ire in Israel and in the United States. The accusation—often directed against Israel by its critics—has never before been made by a United Nations body.

UN Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf resigned after what she described as pressure from the secretary general to withdraw the report.

At the time, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the report was published without prior consultation with the UN secretariat and that it therefore does not reflect Guterres’s position.

But even after the report had been removed, the NGO UN Watch has found at least 20 posts, tweets or releases by ESCWA accusing Israel of apartheid.

In a letter to Guterres, UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer urged the UN chief to intervene on the matter.

“In March, you rightly took action to remove ESCWA’s unauthorized publication of a false report that obscenely demonized Israel as an ‘apartheid’ state…We are therefore alarmed to discover that, despite your clear and unequivocal stand, numerous ESCWA webpages, Facebook posts and tweets continue to display this same ‘Israel apartheid’ slur.”

The UN Watch noted that even after Khalaf’s resignation, her quotes presenting Israel as an apartheid state remain on ESCWA’s websites. The agency’s Facebook page likewise still presents numerous posts from 2014 to 2017 claiming Israel is an apartheid state like South Africa.

“Former secretary-general Kofi Annan rightly described the General Assembly’s 1975 ‘Zionism is Racism’ resolution as the low point of the UN’s experience with anti-Semitism. ESCWA’s ‘Israel apartheid’ slurs are but the latest reincarnation of the same libel—and we urge Mr. Guterres to order them removed immediately,” Neuer added.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 18 July 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: UN Watch/Facebook

Prayer Focus
Continue to intercede for the UN and their affiliate bodies who incite racism against Israel. Implore the Lord for ways to combat fake news that reports lies. Pray for UN Secretary General Guterres to rise to the occasion and truly stand with Israel and remove the false information on the UNESCWA Facebook page.

Scripture

A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who speaks lies will not escape.


- Proverbs 19:5

Remembering the SS Exodus: “The Ship that Launched a Nation”

by Ilse Posselt

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Commemorative statue at Haifa Port
for the SS Exodus

Wednesday, 19 July 2017 | Seven decades ago, some 4,500 Jews boarded a decrepit old steamer docked in the southern French port of Sete for a voyage that would ultimately help pave the way towards the rebirth of a nation. The majority of those aboard had lived through one of the most evil episodes in human history. Having survived the Nazi concentration camps, they had no past to cling to, no home to return to and no official travel documents. Yet all the passengers on the rickety ship held fast to the promise of a homecoming to the land of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—the land of Israel.

This week commemorates the 70th anniversary of the voyage that attempted to carry more than 4,500 Jewish Holocaust survivors, including 1,672 children and teenagers, from France to the shores of Israel in the aftermath of World War II. The official name of the steamer was the SS Exodus, chosen in honor of the famed biblical exodus from Egypt. Yet Israeli history remembers it as “the ship that launched a nation.”

Following the war, millions of European Jews who had survived the clutches of the Nazis were forced to live in “displaced persons” camps without access to proper medical care and other basic services. Guards and barbed wire ensured that there was no escape for those inside. The British, then responsible for the management of Mandate Palestine, had long since restricted Jewish access to the Promised Land to a trickle and steadfastly turned back any large-scale attempts at Jewish immigration.

With little hope of a future in Europe, Jewish organizations started organizing underground networks to move thousands of those incarcerated in the displaced persons camps to ports in the Mediterranean. From there, the Holocaust survivors would board ships headed for the Promised Land in the hope of breaking through the British blockade.

The SS Exodus set sail from the French harbor in Sete in the early morning of 11 July 1947. For all official purposes, the ship was headed for Istanbul. Yet in reality, the destination was then British-controlled Mandate Palestine.

As the SS Exodus neared the shores of Israel, British destroyers surrounded the ship, announcing that all 4,500 Jews on board would be deported back to displaced persons camps in France. When the steamer drew near to the port of Haifa on 18 July 1947, British soldiers boarded the ship. A struggle ensued, in which a Jewish crew member and two passengers were killed.

Speaking during a commemoration ceremony in Sete on Sunday, SS Exodus passenger, Yossi Bayor, told the audience of the takeover. “The ship’s commander asked them to stop the fight. He said, ‘My mission is to bring Jews to Israel alive, not dead,’” The Times of Israel reported. Bayor was 15 years old at the time of the voyage.

In an attempt to make an example of the SS Exodus, the British towed the steamer to Haifa, from where its passengers were promptly sent back to Europe. The rundown boat first docked in Port-de-Bouc, France, where the British authorities ordered those on board to disembark. The weary refugees refused to budge and declared a hunger strike that lasted 24 days. Moreover, the French authorities were unwilling to remove the passengers by force. The SS Exodus sat for three weeks in the searing summer heat before the British transported the refugees to displaced persons camps in Germany.

“The conditions were terrible,” Bayor said. “We had no sleeping berths, everyone was on the floor.”

While the SS Exodus failed to break the British blockade, the fate of its passengers garnered international sympathy for the plight of Holocaust survivors in Europe and unified the Jewish community in Mandate Palestine. Moreover, historians hold that the story of the decrepit steamer and its 4,500 Jewish passengers desperate for home served to rally global support for the establishment of a Jewish state.

The story has a happy ending. The modern State of Israel was born a few months after the fated voyage, and after 2,000 years in exile, the Jewish people finally returned to their ancient homeland. Israeli media reports that the majority of those who took a stand aboard the SS Exodus in July 1947 were among those who made Israel their home.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 19 July 2017)

Photo Credit: emarais@bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Thank God for the righteous among the nations who went to extreme lengths to rescue and support Jews, helping them to go to Israel after the Holocaust. Thank God that today their children are building Israel and are shining their light back to the nations.

Scripture

I will accept you as a sweet aroma when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered; and I will be hallowed in you before the Gentiles.


- Ezekiel 20:41

Israelis and Palestinians Join Hands in Judea and Samaria to Fight Car Accidents

by Elisha Ben Kimon

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Car accident (illustrative)

Monday, 17 July 2017 | Israelis and Palestinians decided to fight together against vehicular road accidents, in the West Bank’s Judea and Samaria. Samaria Regional Council Head Yossi Dagan, together with influential Palestinian political figures, have agreed to set a civil organization to combat the high accident rates. The organization has already come out with a campaign whose slogan is “Jews and Arabs want to return home safely.”

Vehicular accident-related deaths in Judea and Samaria have become a cause of great concern for the area’s residents. Their concern was mirrored two weeks ago by a string of deadly crashes, resulting in ten deaths within ten days.

Dagan convened several Palestinian officials in his office to discuss the matter. The Palestinians’ names were not made public due to the sensitivity of the interaction.

According to the plan, the organization will include Israeli and Palestinian volunteers, who will begin an education campaign along accident-prone axis in the region, with talks and lectures on the matter.

The organization will additionally try to fight the use of cars that do not meet the necessary safety standards. Such cars are normally taken off the road after not meeting official regulations, before ending up in the hands of Palestinian mechanics who resell them, as complete units or as parts, for thousands of shekels.

From its initial investigation, the organization has found that the main reason for vehicular accidents is the human factor. “The number one cause of death in Judea and Samaria is car accidents,” said Dagan. “Whoever gets on these roads is taking a chance.” He added that “The infrastructure isn’t good enough. We expect the government to make this a top priority.”

One of the Palestinian officials who met with Dagan said, “This isn’t a political matter. There are Jews and Arabs who die on the road. We call Road 60 ‘the road of caskets.'”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 13 July 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Prayer Focus
Glorify God that Jews and Arabs are coming together with a plan to limit car accidents in Judea and Samaria. Thank God for the Palestinian political figures who looked beyond politics and joined the campaign, taking hands with Jews to save lives. Pray that this story will reach world headlines!

Scripture

As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.


- Proverbs 27:17

Operation Good Neighbor: Israel Provides Tons of Medical Supplies, Food, Clothes to Syria

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An IDF soldier helping a Syrian family

Thursday, 20 July 2017 | The Israeli army on Wednesday revealed for the first time the extent of its humanitarian aid to Syria, including lifesaving medication such as insulin, dozens of tons of clothes, and hundreds of thousands of liters of fuel and food, as part of “Operation Good Neighbor.”

The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] spokesperson reported that the primary goal of the operation is to reach as many needy Syrians as possible without violating Israel’s carefully crafted policy of non-intervention in the Syrian civil war. Since “Operation Good Neighbor” was launched in August 2016, more than 110 aid operations of various kinds have been conducted.

According to IDF figures and a parallel report in Haaretz, the assistance provided by the IDF includes 360 tons of food; 450,000 liters of gasoline, for heating, operating water wells, and ovens in bakeries; 50 tons of clothes; hundreds of packages of diapers; seven generators; six mules; and large quantities of pharmaceuticals such as painkillers and anesthetics. The IDF has also given insulin for the treatment of about one hundred diabetics across the border.

“Based on my 20-year medical career, I can truly say that the medical care we have provided to our neighbors here in the north of Israel is one of the most significant efforts to treat those in need that I have ever witnessed,” Col. Dr. Noam Fink, the chief medical officer of the Northern Command, told the IDF spokesperson.

“I deeply hope that our contribution will have a direct impact on the lives of our Syrian neighbors,” he added.

The IDF works with local contacts and operates in dozens of Syrian villages, with a focus on the approximately 200,000 residents of the Hauran region in southwestern Syria. One recipient of aid wrote from an Israeli hospital that “The people of Syria want peace with Israel. To any Syrians that think that Israel is our enemy—you are wrong.”

With the help of the IDF, a medical clinic on the Golan Heights will open in two weeks. The clinic will be run by a team of American doctors and provide urgent medical care to Syrian civilians. The army will be responsible for protecting the clinic and its staff.

Data released by the IDF revealed that in total, Israel has treated over 4,000 Syrians in its hospitals, including hundreds of children. Moreover, the IDF has invested 26 million shekels [US $7.3 million] for medical aid and transferred hundreds of tons of equipment.

According to the IDF spokesperson:

“The IDF provides aid to Syrians on the other side of the border for two primary reasons. Firstly, we have a moral imperative. We can’t stand by watching a severe humanitarian crisis without helping the innocent people stuck in the middle of the conflict. We also believe that the aid will ultimately create a less hostile environment across the border—and that will lead to improved Israeli security.”

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 19 July 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/Israel Defense Forces/YouTube

Prayer Focus
God bless the IDF for their extensive service to the nation of Israel and for their moral decision to reach out and help the innocent people of wartorn Syria Pray that the Syrians who love Israel and have received care in Israeli hospitals will be a positive force for Israel in the day when it is needed.

Scripture

Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy; free them from the hand of the wicked.


- Psalm 82:3-4

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