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Friday, July 9, 2021

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Every week, we post seven to ten news stories from Israel with a suggested prayer focus and scripture for each one, guiding readers how to pray for Israel’s most urgent needs. This Prayer Update is also sent to over 18,000 subscribers every Friday by e-mail. Please contact us at intl.office@bridgesforpeace.com if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.

Israel Swears in 11th President, Isaac Herzog

by Kate Norman

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The inauguration of Israel’s 11th president, Isaac Herzog

Thursday, 8 July 2021 | Israel’s 11th president, Isaac Herzog, was sworn into office on Wednesday, replacing outgoing president Reuven Rivlin, ending his seven-year term.

After swearing in at the Knesset (Parliament) building in Jerusalem, Herzog vowed to be a “president for all” and unite the people of Israel after the unprecedented political crisis that saw four divisive elections in a two-and-a-half-year period.

The new president vowed to heal the rifts, saying in his opening address that he would “embark on a journey between the lines of the rifts and breaks of Israeli society” and “aim to be a unifier amid the differences.”

Herzog follows in the footsteps of his father, Chaim Herzog, Israel’s sixth president, and was sworn in on the same Torah (Gen.–Deut.) on which his father was sworn in—a 107-year-old copy that belonged to Isaac Herzog’s grandmother.

Succeeding Rivlin, who is known for his compassion and love for all Israelis despite race or religion, Herzog thanked his successor. “You knew how to make your love of this country infectious for its sons and daughters,” Herzog said to Rivlin. “You represented Israel with great respect in the family of nations, including during the last month of your tenure. You painfully identified with the breaking points in Israeli society.”

In his farewell address, Rivlin implored the people of Israel to overcome their political divides and unify for the sake of the nation.

“The Jewish state is not something to be taken for granted,” Rivlin said. “A democratic state is not something to be taken for granted. And there will be no Israel if it is not democratic and Jewish, Jewish and democratic, in the same breath.”

The outgoing president added that the State of Israel is a “miracle” that must be “jealously guarded.”

“I was nine years old when the State of Israel was established,” Rivlin concluded. “I saw the Israeli flag, blue and white, flying on the flagpole then. For me, the State of Israel will never be something I take for granted.

“Long live the eleventh president of the State of Israel. Long live the State of Israel,” Rivlin finished, drawing a standing ovation from the audience.

After the ceremony at the Knesset, Herzog and Rivlin went to the official President’s Residence in Jerusalem for a hand-over ceremony. Herzog will not move into the residence until after Tisha B’Av (Fast of the Ninth of Av), a day of mourning on the Jewish calendar in which the Jewish people mourn the destruction of both Temples as well as other catastrophic events that took place on this date in the Hebrew calendar. This year, the holiday begins at sundown on July 17 and ends at sundown on July 18.

As is tradition, Rivlin left his successor a letter on the desk in the President’s Residence in which he reiterated the privilege that Herzog has in his position to meet Israeli citizens across the board.

“I am already telling you, you will want to hug them, all of them,” Rivlin wrote. “You will want to cry with them, and to laugh with them. To be excited with them.”

Herzog is stepping into his new role after serving as chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, a Zionist organization that is the world’s largest Jewish nonprofit agency. He also studied in New York at Cornell and New York University and served in an elite intelligence corps unit during his service in the Israel Defense Forces.

He comes from a long line of influential people in Israeli society, including his grandfather, who served as Israel’s first Chief Rabbi.

Now it is Isaac Herzog’s turn to carry on the family legacy of faithful service to the Jewish state.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, July 8, 2021)

Photo Credit: Nissim Peretz

Prayer Focus
Pray for President Herzog as he embarks on this new journey “between the lines of the rifts and breaks of Israeli society.” Ask the Lord to bless His people with a true spirit of unity as the new president aims to be a “unifier between the differences.”


Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the LORD commanded the blessing—life forevermore.

- Psalm 133:1, 3

E3 to Iran: Enrichment of Uranium Metal Endangers Vienna Talks

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Vienna negotiations over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the existing Iran nuclear deal, May 2021

Thursday, 8 July 2021 | The foreign ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom issued a joint statement on Tuesday expressing “grave concern” over an IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] report confirming that Iran has begun enriching uranium metal.

In its report released earlier on Tuesday, the IAEA stated: “Today, Iran informed the agency that UO2 (uranium oxide) enriched up to 20% U-235 would be shipped to the R&D laboratory at the fuel fabrication plant in Esfahan, where it would be converted to UF4 (uranium tetrafluoride) and then to uranium metal enriched to 20% U-235, before using it to manufacture the fuel,” according to Reuters.

The European diplomats said that the development constituted “a serious violation” of Iran’s commitments under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal.

“Iran has no credible civilian need for uranium metal R&D and production, which are a key step in the development of a nuclear weapon,” said the statement.

This violation of the JCPOA, another in a long series of violations, is “all the more concerning,” [added] the foreign ministers, as no date has been set for the next round of the nuclear talks in Vienna with regard to a return to the 2015 deal.

Moreover, they added, Iran has “significantly” limited IAEA access to its nuclear sites via withdrawal from the monitoring arrangements contained in the JCPOA and ceasing application of the Additional Protocol.

“We strongly urge Iran to halt all activities in violation of the JCPOA without delay and to return to the negotiations in Vienna with a view to bringing them to a swift conclusion. We have repeatedly stressed that time is on no one’s side. With its latest steps, Iran is threatening a successful outcome to the Vienna talks despite the progress achieved in six rounds of negotiations to date,” they said.

US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that while Washington was not setting a deadline for the talks, “as time proceeds Iran’s nuclear advances will have a bearing on our view of returning to the JCPOA,” Reuters reported.

The United States found it “worrying” that Iran was continuing to violate the JCPOA, “especially with experiments that have value for nuclear weapons research,” he said. “It’s another unfortunate step backwards for Iran.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on July 7, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Enrique Mora/European External Action Service/Twitter/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for the international community to face the truth concerning Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Pray that these nations will join with Israel in taking a firm stand against any further Iranian advances toward nuclear weapons, and ask the Lord to grant them wisdom in bringing this global threat to an end.


I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God; incline Your ear to me, and hear my speech. Show Your marvelous lovingkindness by Your right hand, O You who save those who trust in You from those who rise up against them.

- Psalm 17:6–7

Israel’s Quick Response to Cyprus Aids in Progress Against Massive Wildfire

by Joshua Spurlock ~ Mideast Update

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The IDF’s aerial firefighting unit (illustrative)

Monday, 5 July 2021 | With a historically massive and lethal wildfire threatening Cyprus, Israel responded quickly to a request for aid from the ally on Sunday by sending a pair of firefighting planes, equipment and flame-retardant material to help. And within one day of getting the call, Israel’s assistance was not only in action, but already highlighted by the Cyprus government in an announcement that substantial progress had been made in controlling the fire.

Deputy Government Spokeswoman Niovi Parisinou, according to a report published by the Cyprus Press and Information Office and translated by Google, said in remarks to reporters on Sunday that following the “effective” work by Greek and Israeli aircraft and “the reduction of outbreaks,” inspections had been done on impacted communities and those “are now considered safe.” She highlighted that the work to put out the fires could not end until all were extinguished, but said that persons could return home where it was safe to do so.

Not only was the firefighting work quick to make progress against the flames, but the entire Israeli response was quick, according to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. The Israeli leader on Sunday said that Cyprus “appealed to us for assistance in extinguishing giant wildfires” during the Sabbath on Saturday, but by that night, various offices in Israel’s government had already cooperated to approve the aid.

“Cyprus is a great friend of Israel, and we stand at its side,” said Bennett in the comments published by his office. “The assistance was quickly organized out in cooperation between the foreign minister, the public security minister and the prime minister’s office. This is how things are done in this government—everything happens quickly, in rapid coordination, the transition from decision to execution.”

By Sunday, the IDF Twitter feed had reported that “a joint aid delegation of [the Israeli Air Force (IAF)] and Israel’s Fire Brigade just departed to assist in extinguishing fires that broke out in Cyprus. IAF firefighting aircraft will bring flame retardants and technical equipment to help our ally in their time of need.”

The quick response by Israel was warranted, given the danger in Cyprus.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, in a Twitter post on Sunday translated by Google, called the blaze “a tragedy. The largest fire since 1974. Losses of life, property, land and forest were destroyed.”

In a prior post on Saturday, Anastasiades tweeted out thanks to Israel and Greece “for already responding” with firefighting aircraft.

The Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in response to an Israeli post that the firefighting team had arrived, thanked Israel in their own Twitter post on Sunday “for your #solidarity and readiness to offer tangible and critical assistance in this hour of need. #StrongerTogether.”

The Israeli aid was announced on Saturday night in a joint statement by the prime minister, the foreign minister and the public security minister. The statement highlighted “Israel’s close ties with Cyprus, with emphasis on mutual assistance in times of emergency.”

It likely helped that cooperation between the two nations had already been contemplated, with the statement noting Israel was able to develop an aid plan “based on the existing cooperation agreement between the two countries’ fire and rescue services.”

The statement also noted that Foreign Minister Yair Lapid spoke with his counterpart, Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides, and said that Israel “would do everything it could to assist Cyprus in gaining control of the events.”

Thanks to a quick response by Israel, progress has been made to do just that.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Mideast Update on July 4, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson Unit/Israel Defense Forces/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for Israel’s quick and effective response to Cyprus’s request for aid, and pray for those affected by the fire. Thank the Lord for this opportunity for Israel to share God’s blessings with those in need and truly act as a light to the nations.


And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

- Genesis 12:3b

Defense Minister Vows Israel Will Act against Iran if Necessary

by Kate Norman

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Then-IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz visiting IDF bases in 2014

Monday, 5 July 2021 | Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz vowed Sunday that Israel will do whatever it takes to block Iran’s nuclear ambitions, after Israel blamed Iran for an attack on a cargo ship in the Indian Ocean that was previously owned by an Israeli company.

“We are in a conflict with Iran,” Gantz told Channel 13 yesterday. “We have to defend ourselves. We are determined to prevent Iran from going nuclear and we are determined to prevent Iran’s active, negative behavior in our region. They know we know how to act.”

A cargo ship traveling from Saudi Arabia to the United Arab Emirates was attacked in the Indian Ocean on Saturday. No casualties or severe damage were reported, but Israel blamed the attack on Iran, as the ship was recently sold by an Israeli-owned company to a London-based company. The Islamic regime likely had bad intel and attacked the ship in retaliation for an attack on one of its nuclear sites last month, experts speculate.

The Karaj site, located just outside of Tehran, weathered a drone attack last month. The regime in Tehran claimed that it thwarted the attack and undertook no damage, but photos from an independent Israeli intelligence organization that takes and analyzes satellite images suggest otherwise.

The Intel Lab on Sunday published satellite images of the Karaj plant before and after the June 23 attack, apparently debunking Iran’s boast that the drone attack caused no damage. The firm included images from the site before June 23 and a photo taken afterwards that shows one of the buildings missing a roof. The roof was likely removed as part of clean-up efforts, Intel Lab said, and a view inside the building through the temporary hole shows a blackened interior, likely from a fire.

Iran never explicitly blamed Israel for the attack, but Israeli experts believe the attack on the ship in the Indian Ocean this weekend was meant to serve as Tehran’s response.

The Karaj site is the location of a company that produces centrifuges, namely to replace the centrifuges that were damaged at the Natanz nuclear site, which has sustained multiple attacks over the years—also attributed to Israel.

The back-and-forth covert strikes have heightened tensions between Israel and Iran, especially amid ongoing talks between Iran and the US to return to the 2015 nuclear deal.

Former US President Donald Trump exited the deal in 2018 and reimposed heavy sanctions against the regime in order to cripple its nuclear development. The new administration under President Joe Biden is keen to return to the deal. However, the talks are yielding slow progress.

Israel has voiced its objections to Washington, and the two have agreed to keep each other apprised of any developments regarding Iran and the nuclear talks.

Nonetheless, Israel’s leaders have vowed to prevent Tehran from achieving a nuclear weapon, even acting alone if necessary.

“Israel will continue to act with everything at its disposal in order to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and to prevent its efforts to rearm, to entrench itself or to harm Israel—from the air, from land, from the cyber domain or from the sea,” Gantz said at a military ceremony Sunday night. “We will do so at the time and place that is right for us, and we will preserve our military superiority for the stability of the region and the security of the region.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, July 5, 2021)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Pray for strength and wisdom as Israel reiterates its commitment to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear nation. Cry out to Him for courage, determination and the appropriate strategies necessary to successfully rid the world of this threat.


Consider and hear me, O LORD my God; enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed against him”; lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved. But I have trusted in Your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.

- Psalm 13:3–5

Gaza Swap on Agenda as Bennett and Putin Talk for First Time

by Itamar Eichner

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Russian President Vladimir Putin

Tuesday, 6 July 2021 | Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time since taking office last month, with the issue of Israeli prisoners held in Gaza taking the spotlight.

According to [the] prime minister’s office, the two discussed a number of security and political issues but the talk primarily focused on two dead Israeli soldiers and two Israeli civilians held by Hamas in Gaza.

Bennett also thanked the Russian president for the role his country plays in maintaining regional stability.

In addition, Bennett said that he appreciates the historical connection between the two peoples, and that he attaches great importance to the Russian aliyah [immigration to Israel], which he said represents a “bridge between the two countries.”

The two leaders agreed to meet in person soon.

One of the main issues on the agenda between Israel and Russia in recent years has been Israeli fear of Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria, where Russia has military forces aiding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and the IDF’s [Israel Defense Forces’] activity in the region to prevent it.

Moscow apparently fears that Israeli activity in Syria will harm its interests in the region and wants coordination between the two countries.

Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed on several occasions that thanks to his close relationship with Putin, Russian opposition to IDF activity in Syria has been minimized.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on July 5, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Kremlin.ru/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for Prime Minister Bennett as he works to establish relations between Russia and the new Israeli administration. Pray that the Russian president will be helpful in negotiating the release of the civilians and bodies of the two dead soldiers being held in Gaza. Also pray that the delicate balance between the two nations’ activities in Syria will remain intact, as Israel’s relationship with Russia is a critical factor in regional stability.


I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.

- Psalm 32:8

‘Israeli Fields Will Take Decades to Recover from Gaza Firebombing’

by Alexandra Lukash, Attila Somfalvi

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Field in southern Israel, near the border with Gaza

Tuesday, 6 July 2021 | An agriculture expert on Sunday warned that it will take decades for Israeli fields to recover from massive fires caused by incendiary balloons sent from Gaza over the years.

Since a May 21 cease-fire ended 11 days of Israel–Hamas fighting, Palestinians in Gaza have renewed the years-long practice of sporadically launching balloons laden with incendiary material across the border, causing fires that have burned many fields and forests in Israel.

Moshe Baruchi, an expert from Keren Kayemet LeYisrael (JNF–KKL), told Ynet that around 10 acres [4 hectares] of forest went up in flames since Thursday alone in fires caused by incendiary balloons.

“A fairly large area was burned here, including a nature reserve. There were some six or seven fires over the weekend,” Baruchi said. “There are forests that will not recover on their own, and it will take us up to 30 years to rehabilitate them.”

The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] struck Hamas targets in Gaza late on Saturday in retaliation for incendiary balloons that were flown across the border and sparked at least one fire.

“Fighter jets attacked Hamas weapons manufacturing facility and a rocket launching site,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement on Sunday. “The military will respond aggressively to any further attempts to initiate terror attacks across the border,” the statement read.

Since the new government came into power [last] month, the IDF has responded to every incendiary device launched from the Gaza Strip in Israel.

Meanwhile, Israel announced last week that it would allow the transport of fuel into Gaza to operate its power station due to recent relative calm on the southern border. The government also approved an expansion to the fishing zone for Gaza fishermen to use, and the provision of raw materials for essential industries.

Israel has also continued negotiations with Egyptian mediators to secure the release of the remains of two dead IDF soldiers and two civilians, believed held by the Hamas terror group.

In addition, the UN agreed to assume responsibility for the distribution of monetary aid from Qatar to Gaza, to be given to families in need, according to a report on Sunday in the Palestinian Al Quds newspaper.

The report, which was not confirmed by Israel, the [Palestinian Authority] or Hamas, said that Jerusalem agreed to the UN role but insisted that the aid from Qatar will not be delivered in cash.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on July 4, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Flavio/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for a strategy that will bring the ongoing use of incendiary balloons to an end, and beseech Him for supernatural restoration of the land that has been damaged. Pray that all Israelis being held by Hamas will be released and that no monetary aid will fall into the hands of terrorists but will only be used to help those families that are truly in need.


Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name. Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, just as we hope in You.

- Psalm 33:20–22

Israel Sends 700,000 Vaccine Shots to South Korea in Swap Deal

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A medical worker prepares a COVID-19 vaccine injection in Jerusalem on January 6, 2021

Wednesday, 7 July 2021 | Israel and South Korea signed a COVID-19 vaccine supply agreement on Tuesday, allowing for more effective use of present and future inventories for both countries.

Under the deal, Israel will transfer about 700,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to South Korea by the end of July. South Korea has suffered a slow vaccine rollout due to global shortages and delivery delays.

In exchange, South Korea will deliver an identical quantity of vaccines to Israel from a future order in September and October.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett praised the agreement as a “win-win deal.”

“South Korea will receive vaccines from our existing stocks and we will receive vaccines from their future shipment. Thus, we are plugging the holes, and we will ensure that the State of Israel has a proper stock of vaccines,” he said in a statement.

Israel faced the prospect of having to throw out hundreds of thousands of coronavirus vaccines if it couldn’t find a country willing to buy them before they expired.

On June 18, the Palestinian Authority [PA] canceled a similar deal to the one between Israel and South Korea, claiming that the expiration date on the initial shipment was earlier than had been agreed upon.

Under the terms of the deal, Israel was to have supplied the PA with up to 1.4 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in exchange for a resupply of the same number of doses from the PA later in the year, reported Reuters.

The agreement with South Korea will take effect “upon the completion of all processes,” including testing of the vaccines after their arrival, according to the official Israeli statement about the deal.

The agreement was led by the Health Ministry in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry, the National Security Council and the Prime Minister’s Office, with the knowledge of Pfizer, according to the statement.

Bennett spoke with Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla several times recently in order to facilitate the deal and in regard to the formation of future vaccines policy.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on July 6, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for this win-win deal between Israel and South Korea. Pray that it will proceed without any complications, blessing the Korean people with badly needed vaccinations while ensuring that Israel’s supply of vaccines will remain stable.


I will mention the loving-kindnesses of the LORD and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies, according to the multitude of His loving-kindnesses.

- Isaiah 63:7