Help us bless the people of Israel.

Friday, June 11, 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.

A Legacy of Unwavering Support

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Editor’s note: The following press release is our response to a letter written last week by a well-known Christian evangelical leader to Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett. The letter contained allegations that Christian support for Israel would be withdrawn because of the newly formed coalition and its leaders. Bridges for Peace wants the people of Israel and Jews throughout the world to know our love and support does not depend on who sits in government but rather on God’s Word.

Based in Israel for over fifty-seven years, Bridges for Peace has experienced the transition of many political leaders that have been elected to head the government of Israel. There is no doubt that each elected official brings a different politi cal ideology, some which are more congruent with the biblical destiny for the nation, and others which are not. Despite this, however, Bridges for Peace will never withdraw support for Israel and its people based on who sits in the seat of the prime minister of Israel. While there are voices that seek to perpetuate the false narrative that Christian support for Israel and the Jewish people is conditional—this is not the heart of Bridges for Peace.

“Our organization is called to stand with Israel at all times—in times of peace, in times of crisis and in times of uncertainty. Our global network of National Offices and supporters unashamedly chooses at all times to stand with Israel and to be a blessing to the Jewish people,” said Bridges for Peace International President and CEO Rev. Rebecca J. Brimmer. “As anti-Semitism increases and Israel is demonized on the global stage, Bridges for Peace would like to reassure our Jewish friends in Israel and around the world that the support of Bridges for Peace and the support of our global network of Christian representatives will not waiver.”

“Our legacy stands as a testament that Bridges for Peace is here to show steadfast love and support to the nation of God and the people of God, regardless of changes in the political leadership of the nation,” Brimmer added. “We are not swayed by political sentiment, but rather we are driven by a call of God, an eternal biblical imperative to bless the nation of Israel, to comfort the people of God, and to stand with Israel and Jerusalem.”

Since 1964 the mission of Bridges for Peace has been centered on blessing the nation of Israel and the Jewish people. Whether it is through the various humanitarian projects that offer practical assistance to Israelis or through our educational endeavors in the nations to fight anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment, the heart and vision instilled by our founder, Dr. G. Douglas Young, remains alive and active today. As Israel faces many internal and external threats, it is exactly at such a time as this that Bridges for Peace strongly affirms our pledge to unwaveringly continue our support for the nation of Israel and the Jewish people.

Bridges for Peace will continue in the vision of our founder to be a blessing; to earnestly pray for the peace, safety and well-being of this nation; and to build meaningful, unconditional relationships between Christians and Jews in Israel and around the world.

Official Press Statement 

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for His faithfulness to Bridges for Peace and our commitment to love Israel unconditionally—because of the clear instructions in His word. Pray that the message of Christians’ unconditional friendship and support will be heard far and wide, encouraging the Jewish community and strengthening the ties between Jews and Christians.

Scripture

Blessed are those who keep justice, and he who does righteousness at all times! Remember me, O LORD, with the favor You have toward Your people. Oh, visit me with Your salvation, that I may see the benefit of Your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation, that I may glory with Your inheritance.


- Psalm 106:3–5

New Government to Be Sworn in on Sunday

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The Knesset is set to vote on Sunday for the new government and swear in Naftali Bennett as the next prime minister.

Friday, 11 June 2021 | What happened: Knesset [Parliament] Speaker Yariv Levin confirmed yesterday that MKs [members of Knesset] will convene on Sunday, June 13, to vote on the new government and swear in Naftali Bennett as the next prime minister of Israel.

  • Yamina MK Nir Orbach announced yesterday that he has decided to vote in favor of the new government.
  • Orbach’s confirmation assures the incoming government a slender 61–59 seat majority.

Context: This will be the first government in 12 years that is not led by Benjamin Netanyahu, who is expected to become leader of the opposition.

  • By law a new government needs to present their guidelines and coalition agreements 24 hours before the vote, but due to the Sabbath, they will do this on Friday. In the meantime, more details have emerged about the coalition agreements:
    • The new government will be based on a parity agreement between Bennett and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, with both having veto power.
    • Gideon Saar and Benny Gantz will serve as deputy prime minister, and the security cabinet will be comprised of 12 members, six from each side.
    • United Arab List leader MK Mansour Abbas will be appointed a deputy minister and will be given a budget of NIS 0.5 billion [US $154.2 million] to use at his own discretion to invest in Arab communities.
    • The new government intends to immediately introduce legislation that would limit the tenure of a prime minister to either two terms or eight years (the longer between the two).
    • The new government intends to draft and approve a state budget quickly upon its establishment.
    • It also intends to draft and to pass into legislation basic law and a military draft law.
    • It is also expected to establish a state commission of inquiry to investigate the Mt. Meron disaster, where 45 people were crushed to death during Lag B’omer [Counting of the Omer] celebrations at the end of April.

Looking ahead: The 36th government of Israel will be sworn in on Sunday at 4 p.m. local time.

  • Ahead of the swearing-in, the Knesset will elect a new Speaker to replace Levin, with Mickey Levy from Yesh Atid expected to take over.
  • The ceremony will begin with an address by the new prime minister, followed by incoming Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid. It is customary for the new leader of the opposition to then speak.
  • The ceremony will be completed with the commemorative photo of the faction leaders alongside President [Reuven] Rivlin.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by BICOM on June 9, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Maryland GovPics/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Pray for Israel’s leaders as a new government is about to be sworn in. Cry out to the Lord for true unity and a spirit of cooperation that will strengthen the country domestically and internationally. Pray that any changes that are made to the country’s basic laws are only those that will achieve what is positive for the nation, and ask the Lord for His strength, courage and wisdom to guide those in power.

Scripture

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

Forest Fires near Jerusalem Could Have Been Arson Attacks

by Kate Norman

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Aerial Firefighting Unit drill after the Mount Carmel fire in 2011 (illustrative)

Thursday, 10 June 2021 | Several wildfires on the outskirts of Jerusalem yesterday may have been arson, authorities say.

The Wednesday afternoon fires burned throughout the Jerusalem hills, reportedly sparking on Mount Haruach and spreading to an area close to the communities of Abu Gosh, Neve Ilan and Ma’ale Hahashmina.

Based on the large number of fires which began at the same time, authorities suspect the cause could be arson, the Jerusalem Post reported, citing sources within Israel’s Fire and Rescue Services.

Young men were seen fleeing the area of one of the fires, Channel 12 reported, citing police testimonies.

“We still haven’t come to a conclusion about the cause of the fire,” Jerusalem Fire and Rescue Services District Commander Nissim Twito told Channel 13 news yesterday, adding that they are still investigating but that the cause could be “nationalistic,” based on the history of the area.

The fires initially sparked close to the boundary between Jerusalem and the region of Judea and Samaria, the so-called “West Bank,” an area that has experienced violence in the past.

Fire and Rescue Commissioner Dedi Simchi told Channel 12 that he doesn’t know if the fires were caused by arson, but “there is no doubt that this incident is a little complicated and strange.” The commissioner earlier said that the fires were manmade, but he wasn’t sure whether it was on purpose or by accident, the Times of Israel reported.

The fires scorched an estimated 2,650 dunams (655 acres), though no casualties or property damage were reported.

Emergency teams worked throughout the afternoon and night, battling the heat and high winds to put out the fire. Israel dispatched 70 teams of firefighters, 10 planes and two helicopters to combat the blazes, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Residents at a nearby kibbutz (collective community) were ordered by police to evacuate yesterday but were later allowed to return once the emergency responders had safely contained the flames.

Transportation was also interrupted yesterday, as some roads in the area were closed for a while—particularly part of Route 1 between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv—and the train between the two cities was shut down for a few hours as well.

Flames also sparked near Ariel in the Samaria region, again causing no reports of casualties or damage. The firefighting teams there included volunteer and reservist firefighters from the Samaria station as well as firefighting teams from the Palestinian Authority.

The fire in the Jerusalem hills burned through parts of the national park in Mount Haruach, which is joined with a Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael–Jewish National Fund (KKL–JNF) forest.

It is one of the oldest forests in Israel, JNS pointed out, planted nearly a century ago.

“Hundreds of acres of forest have been burned away, perhaps even more,” a KKL–JNF forester told JNS. “The trees we’ve lost were 100-year-old pines and lots of natural woodlands that have developed throughout the years.”

Authorities are reportedly reviewing security footage and other evidence to determine whether there were sinister intentions behind the blazes.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, June 10, 2021)

Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson Unit/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Thank God that there were no lives lost or property damaged by these fires. Pray that the cause of the fires will be quickly determined, and if it was indeed arson, that those responsible will be found and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Scripture

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; defend me from those who rise up against me. Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloodthirsty men.


- Psalm 59:1–2

After a Year Away, Birthright Tours Return to Israel at a Critical Time

by Deborah Fineblum~JNS

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Birthright Israel tour in front of the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem

Thursday, 10 June 2021 | After more than a year of pandemic silence, the Birthrighters have returned with all the gusto of young adults who’d waited out the year of coronavirus restrictions with visions of Israel dancing in their heads.

Take Conor Mullaney, who applied for a Birthright Israel trip [a free heritage trip to Israel for Jewish young adults from around the world] months ago with little hope of going then.

“I’d been looking forward to being in Israel for a very long time,” says Mullaney, a third-year finance student at the University of Maryland’s Global Campus, who arrived on May 24 with the very first Birthright Israel group to set foot on Israeli soil since the pandemic shut the program down more than a year ago.

“Even though I’ve read a lot on Israeli politics and history, never having been here until now, I didn’t fully understand how it all fits together,” he says. “Being here has changed my life and the way I see the world.” It also included holding the bar mitzvah [religious coming-of-age for boys] he’d never had at the Western Wall with his new friends cheering him on.

Or take his fellow Birthright traveler Sami Marshak, an aspiring attorney who after the Birthright experience is starting a summer internship with a Tel Aviv international law firm.

And then there’s Jack Berkey, who was busy exploring the country with pals from his school, the University of Michigan. It worked out perfectly to have this opportunity to see Israel for the first time between college graduation and beginning his new job, Berkey reports. “I’ve always wanted to come but with COVID, it wasn‘t happening last year. So when I heard I could come on Birthright this spring, I thought, ‘This is my chance; I’m not going to miss out on it.’ ”

These three young adults were indeed fortunate to secure a spot; some 6,000 applicants are now qualified and looking forward to going, reports Birthright’s vice president of Global Marketing Noa Bauer. Most of these are expected to be able to enjoy Birthright this summer, with another 20,000 waiting in the wings for winter, spring and beyond.

When they go, they’ll join the whopping 750,000 young adults ages 18 to 32 from 68 countries who in the last 21 years have experienced the unforgettable sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Israel through a free Birthright trip.

In fact, the newly released Pew Research Center study of American Jews found that while just under half of Jewish adults (45%) have been to Israel, among those ages 25 to 34, more than a quarter report having traveled on a Birthright trip.

Bauer’s stats say more than a third of the young Jewish adults have been on a Birthright trip, “which makes it a potent force for influencing how an entire generation feels about both Israel and their Jewish identity. And now, after more than a year of isolation, they’re so happy to be free to come and explore at a time when Israel is back to life and more exciting than ever.”

Indeed, professor and American social psychologist Len Saxe, who directs the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University and has been following how college students have dealt with pandemic isolation this past year, says the time is ripe for them to go. “For this generation coming off the loneliness and emotional challenges of COVID, the hunger to engage with peers makes this a propitious moment to go to Israel and an important moment in our history for young Jews to establish personal relationships with their peers, including the young Israelis they get to know on the trip.”

That’s because only face-to-face contact works for establishing bonds, he maintains. “Online works only if you’ve already formed the relationship in person, and grow and deepen it on the phone and online.”

For Scott and Amy Jaffee of Brookville, NY, involvement in Birthright began five years ago when their oldest son returned from his trip. “We saw how energized and inspired he was when he got back, including the rapport he had with his Israeli peers and the beginning of understanding what a young Israeli’s life is like.”

And, adds Amy, who now serves as co-chair of Birthright Israel Foundation’s Long Island Leadership Cabinet, “we began thinking about all the Jewish kids who need to go to Israel but can’t afford it, and we wanted to pay it forward.”

“An Important Time to Strengthen Jewish Identity”

The rise in anti-Semitic acts and presence in the last few months, including but not limited to anti-Israel pressures from college campuses to social media to online hate, has not escaped the notice of Birthright-goers. “We’ve had our fair share of pro-Palestinian rhetoric on campus,” says Marshak, noting one professor who said that Israel is an apartheid state and that the Jews have no historical right to the land. “The media also influences what people think, including all of us who came here questioning our beliefs and not knowing how to feel about Israel.”

Her own view: “Despite Israel’s problems, here I see Jews of different politics and religious views all feeling the same way about the rise in anti-Semitism, the importance of Israel and the fear that history could repeat itself.”

Berkey, too, had heard the anti-Israel voices being raised at his school. “I’ve heard a lot about Israel, and it wasn’t necessarily positive,” he says. “But I refused to believe any of it until I could come with an open mind and see it for myself.”

The Jaffees recall meeting one young woman who’d bad-mouthed Israel on the flight over—an attitude that lasted until she got off the plane. ‘She said as soon as she arrived, she began questioning her own assumptions, and wound up falling in love with Israel and the idea of being Jewish,” says Scott Jaffee. “This kind of transformation was something we wanted to be a part of.”

Rabbi Shlomo Gestetner, who directs the Mayanot Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, one of Birthright’s providers, says “the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe and now in the United States makes this such an important time to strengthen Jewish identity. And the only lasting way to do that is to come to the land filled with Jewish history, where you can hear our ancient language spoken on the street and walk on the same 2,000-year-old stones our ancestors walked on.”

“The Sense of Unity that I Never Expected”

Many a Birthrighter reports those few days in Israel truly strengthen their connection to the Jewish people and to Israel, says Barry Shrage, former president of Boston’s federation, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, who now teaches at the Brandeis Hornstein Program in Jewish Professional Leadership.

In a time of “woke anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda, fighting it with information and advocacy can go only so deep, and facts can and will be distorted by our enemies,” [said] Shrage. “The only thing that really works is getting to know their brothers and sisters in Israel, and truly understanding the heart of the Israelis. You can’t educate someone to love and identify with the Jewish people and Israel. Falling in love has to be experiential, and Birthright is the best way we have of giving them that experience.”

Berkey put it this way: While zipping up his backpack as the plane touched down at Ben-Gurion International Airport: “I’ve always identified Jewishly, but this is my chance to find out what that really means.”

Marshak discovered one thing it really means when her group arrived at Israel’s national cemetery on Jerusalem’s Mount. Herzl. “I wasn’t really expecting much,” she says. “But we saw a bunch of soldiers mourning over one grave, and everyone in my group just stopped and mourned with them, staying for the prayer. It really felt like one of us had died.

“I know I’ll always remember that moment—the sense of unity that I never expected and never felt before,” she adds. “You never know how things will affect or change you. But I guess after this, I’m feeling more open to new experiences shaping me and my understanding of things.”

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on June 8, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Sami Marshak/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord that Birthright has resumed after a year of lockdown. Pray that many Jewish young people will take advantage of the program in 2021, strengthening their Jewish identity and firmly connecting to their ancient homeland. Pray also that each of them will see the faithfulness of the God of Israel and be drawn to Him with cords of kindness.

Scripture

I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them.


- Hosea 11:4

What Can the World Expect from Naftali Bennett?

by Jonathan S. Tobin~JNS

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Yamina leader and Prime Minister Elect Naftali Bennett

Friday, 4 June 2021 | This isn’t the way he planned on becoming prime minister of Israel. When Naftali Bennett left the world of high-tech to enter Israeli politics, the idea that he might achieve the top spot by pushing aside [Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu would have been inconceivable to him. And even later on, as he led a party to the right of Likud, he regarded it as an ally of the premier, not an opponent. Any notion of him succeeding Netanyahu was a scenario that smart political observers believed was something that could only occur after Netanyahu had retired and also involved Bennett rejoining the Likud.

But whether or not this is how he might have dreamed of achieving such a feat, Bennett is set to become prime minister sometime in the next couple of weeks by forging an unlikely alliance with seven other political parties, including those on the center, left and even an Arab political faction with whom he has little in common. The main purpose of this bizarre coalition is to supplant Netanyahu, the man whom Bennett looked up to and loyally served.

Netanyahu is not giving up, and his followers are seeking to persuade Bennett’s colleagues into abandoning him. If they succeed and find even one defector, the political chaos will continue.

If Bennett is sworn in as Netanyahu’s successor, the odds will still be against his government surviving for long. But that’s a question for another day. For now, the issue is what sort of a prime minister will Bennett be?

Netanyahu has dominated Israeli politics and the American discussion about Israel for so long that it’s hard for many people to wrap their brains around the concept of life after him. Indeed, that is the essence of the argument against change since so many people have bought into the idea that the prime minister is irreplaceable.

But change must come sooner or later, and if it must be now—and a majority of Israel’s voters cast their ballots for parties opposed to his continued tenure—the Jewish state could do a lot worse than Bennett.

He would be the first Israeli prime minister who is religiously observant and the culmination of a process by which the kippah [skullcap]-wearing religious Zionist movement has moved from the margins of Israeli society in Israel’s first decades—when it was dominated by the avowedly secular and Socialist Labor Party—to the mainstream. And though he wouldn’t be the first prime minister with American ties—Golda Meir grew up in Milwaukee, and Netanyahu spent much of his youth in suburban Philadelphia—Bennett, though a sabra [native-born Israeli], is the son of American immigrants to Israel.

In one sense, Bennett’s path to politics is a typical one since, like Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, he was a member of the Israel Defense Forces’ most elite commando unit, the Sayeret Maktal. But rather than staying in the army or going straight into politics, Bennett spent a decade in the world of high-tech. He co-founded an anti-fraud software company and served as its CEO before it was sold for a reported price of [US] $145 million. Later, he was also involved in the success of another start-up that sold for more than [US] $100 million. That makes him not only a very rich man but someone who understands economics.

Bennett entered Israeli politics as an admirer of Netanyahu and served as his chief of staff for two years when he led the opposition to Ehud Olmert.

From there, he led the Yesha Council, which represents the interests of the settlement movement, and eventually formed his own right-wing party with Ayalet Shaked. His Jewish Home Party (since renamed Yamina) entered the Knesset in 2013, and Bennett has held a number of ministerial portfolios since then, in which he has generally been considered to have done a good job.

The knock on Bennett in that time and during the last two years of political stalemate is not that he lacks talent or knowledge. Indeed, he is one of his country’s best and brightest. But he is considered a political lightweight. Netanyahu has relied on the votes of Bennett’s party to form his governments, but he has been particularly focused on diminishing his former aide’s prospects. At least up until now, he always got the upper hand. Unlike other, more marginal figures on the right, the prime minister perceived Bennett to be a plausible successor to him and marked him for oblivion. Perhaps that is why Netanyahu seems to be confident that, even now, he can somehow outfox him.

But if Netanyahu fails to prevent his eviction from the official residence on Jerusalem’s Balfour Street, this may be the moment when, finally, Bennett will have the chance to show that his security credentials, financial expertise and personality are exactly what Israel needs at the moment.

The notion that he will be weak on security issues is rooted in the presence of his unlikely left-wing [allies] in the new coalition. Still, Netanyahu has also been flexible and sometimes compromised on his core beliefs when he thought it was politically expedient to do so. It was, after all, Netanyahu who withdrew Israeli forces from Hebron in the 1990s, as well as the man who endorsed a two-state solution and accepted a settlement freeze in a futile attempt to ingratiate himself with former President Barack Obama. With Netanyahu lurking in opposition, Bennett is more likely to stick to his principles both on the conflict with the Palestinians and the threat from Iran.

In such a polarized political era, both in Israel and the United States, it’s hard to imagine an attempt to reach across ideological divides being anything other than a disaster. But Bennett represents the chance for a new generation of leadership in Israel to prove that the sky won’t fall without Netanyahu being there to hold it up. Though some may not be willing to admit it, no one—not even a Netanyahu—is indispensable.

Bennett’s prospective government’s internal contradictions may be too great to permit him to succeed. But if he takes office, at the very least, he deserves the good wishes as well as the help of those who love Israel. We should all be willing to retain the ability to be happily surprised if he does far better in maintaining his predecessor’s achievements than his detractors think.

Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of JNS—Jewish News Syndicate.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on June 3, 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
Pray for Naftali Bennett as he steps into the leadership of the nation. Ask the Lord to uphold Bennett with His righteous right hand as he deals with a particularly complex coalition and faces difficult challenges at this time in Israel’s history. Pray that he will hear and obey the voice of the Lord and have the courage and wisdom to bring the coalition together as he “sticks to his principles.”

Scripture

I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.


- Isaiah 41:10b

Hamas Military Wing Members in Cairo for Israel Prisoner Swap Talks

by Elior Levy

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Senior members of the Hamas military wing arrived in Cairo to discuss possible prisoner swap with Israel

Thursday, 10 June 2021 | A delegation of senior members of the Hamas military wing arrived in Cairo on Wednesday as part of negotiations on a possible prisoner swap between Israel and the terror group that rules Gaza.

The delegation included Marwan Issa, the deputy leader of the military wing, said the UK-based Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper.

The negotiations are centered on the return of the remains of two IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war and two Israeli civilians believed to be held by Hamas in Gaza.

Representatives of the political wing of Hamas arrived in Cairo several days ago for talks with the rival Fatah [leading secular Palestinian political party] faction and to discuss the possible prisoner swap through the Egyptian mediation.

An Israeli security delegation was also in Cairo, with the Israelis and Palestinians in separate rooms and Egyptian mediators moving between them.

The same method of indirect negotiations was used in talks that led to the return of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011 after five years in Hamas custody, in exchange for the release of more than 1,000 Palestinians jailed in Israel.

Israel is maintaining its position that the release of the Israelis is a prerequisite to any cease-fire agreement in the wake of the 11-day military conflict with Gaza in May.

More than 250 Palestinians [most of them terrorists] and 13 Israelis were killed in the bitter 11-day conflict, which saw thousands of rockets fired at Israeli communities and hundreds of IDF strikes on terror targets in the Strip.

A senior Israeli official said last week that the chances of a prisoner swap were improving and that Israel was expecting a proposal to be delivered by Egypt.

“The Egyptians understand that without a resolution of the question of MIAs and the Israeli civilians held by Hamas, there will be no widespread reconstruction of the Gaza Strip after the damage caused by Israeli strikes during the May fighting,” the official said.

The official said the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi was determined to reach a deal and that Jerusalem believed Cairo would put pressure on Hamas to make concessions in order to advance reconstruction of the Strip with the support of the international community.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on June 9, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Yulia Sanchez/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Pray that Hamas will recognize the need to make concessions if a cease-fire agreement is to be struck. Pray that Israel’s demands will be met, and beseech the Lord that the exchange will not see the release of those who will immediately become involved in terrorist activities again. Also, pray for the immediate release of the civilians who are being held captive by Hamas, and ask the Lord to restore them physically and emotionally as they return home after such traumatizing circumstances.

Scripture

Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their hearts; they continually gather together for war.


- Psalm 140:1–2

IDF Apprehends Two Suspects who Breached Lebanese–Israeli Border

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One of the two suspects that the IDF apprehended after breaching the Lebanese–Israeli border fence

Tuesday, 8 June 2021 | The Israel Defense Forces [IDF] apprehended two suspects in northern Israel on Monday after they breached the Lebanese–Israeli border fence on Sunday night.

The IDF said in a statement that after an extensive pursuit undertaken by the military and the Israel Police, which included blocking off areas and roads, soldiers found the suspects in a “vegetated area near the fence” and that they were “transferred to the security forces for further questioning.”

The suspects are believed to be illegal migrant workers.

Local residents reported the firing of flares in the border area during the overnight searches.

Last week, IDF observation troops intercepted an attempt to smuggle narcotics and firearms into Israel from Lebanon, near the small Israeli community of Mattat. The suspects were caught with 15 firearms, 36 kilograms [79 lb] of drugs and dozens of cartridges, all worth around 2 million shekels (about [US] $615,000), according to the military.

“The IDF is assessing whether the smuggling attempt was carried out with the assistance of the Hezbollah terror organization,” the military said in a statement following the incident.

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

Photo Credit: IDF/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord that these smugglers were caught. Pray that the security forces on the northern border will be supernaturally alert and aware, intercepting any that would attempt to cross illegally. Ask the Lord to grant Israel greater innovation in securing the border, and beseech the Lord that the smuggling of drugs and illegal arms will come to a complete stop.

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

Blinken: “Hundreds” of Sanctions to Remain, even if Iran Returns to Nuclear-deal Compliance

by JNS

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

Thursday, 10 June 2021 | US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday that “hundreds of sanctions will [likely] remain in place,” even if Iran returns to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“If they are not inconsistent with the JCPOA, they will remain unless and until Iran’s behavior changes,” he said, adding that he doesn’t know “at this stage” whether Tehran is prepared to do what’s necessary to return to the 2015 nuclear deal, but even if it did, the US would “resolutely maintain sanctions…to deal with the multiplicity of Iran’s malign actions in a whole series of areas.”

His remarks followed a warning he issued on Monday that Iran’s nuclear program was “galloping forward.” He said that if Iran’s nuclear-fuel enrichment continues, the breakout time to obtaining a bomb could be reduced to a “matter of weeks.”

In a meeting on Monday, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s [IAEA’s] board of governors said that Tehran hasn’t been forthcoming, ignoring the agency’s questions and failing to provide requested information. As a result, the IAEA said, it couldn’t provide assurances of the “peaceful nature” of Iran’s nuclear program.

In a statement on Tuesday to the board of governors, US Chargé d’Affaires Louis L. Bono highlighted Iran’s violations of the JCPOA.

“In particular, Iran continues installing and operating numbers and types of centrifuges beyond the JCPOA’s limits, producing quantities and enrichment levels of uranium also beyond the JCPOA’s limits, and producing uranium metal. Since this board last met, Iran has also exceeded JCPOA constraints by enriching uranium to 60% U-235.”

The fifth round of talks on reviving the JCPOA came to a close in Vienna on June 3, with a sixth round due to start on June 10.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on June 9, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the nations of the world will continue to put pressure on Iran, stopping its nuclear program from “galloping forward.” Pray that the US will stand strong in its resolve to maintain sanctions, and pray that other nations will join them as well.

Scripture

O my God, make haste to help me! Let them be confounded and consumed who are adversaries of my life; let them be covered with reproach and dishonor who seek my hurt.


- Psalm 71:12b–13

Palestinian Authority Pays $42,000 to Family of Terrorist who Killed 2 Israelis

by Kate Norman

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas

Tuesday, 8 June 2021 | The Palestinian Authority (PA) on Sunday paid the family of a terrorist over US $42,000 to help purchase a house.

The payment was presented by order of PA President Mahmoud Abbas to the family of a terrorist who murdered two Israelis in 2015. The money will cover the remaining cost needed for the family to buy a new house after their old one was demolished as part of an Israeli policy to deter would-be terrorists.

On October 3, 2015, 19-year-old Muhannad Halabi stabbed and killed 22-year-old Aharon Bennett and also injured Bennett’s wife and two-year-old son as they were on their way to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Hearing the screaming, Nehemia Lavi, 41, ran to help and was also stabbed and killed by Halabi.

The young terrorist’s attack was finally halted when Israeli police shot and killed him.

In keeping with a longstanding policy of deterrence, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) demolished Halabi’s home.

Halabi was lauded by the PA as a hero, with Palestinian leaders praising the young terrorist as a “martyr,” even going so far as to name a street and a soccer tournament after him, watchdog group Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported.

And when the house of the “hero” was demolished by the IDF, the family received donations of 130,000 Jordanian dinars (US $183,359) to purchase a new home, PMW reported, citing Halabi’s sister. The problem came, however, when the family only received 100,000 of the intended 130,000 dinars. The other 30,000 reportedly went to the families of other terrorists as part of the PA’s “Pay-for-Slay” program.

Abbas stepped in with the remaining money “so as to protect the dignity of the family,” according to a PA official’s Facebook post, when the sellers of the home decided to sue the Halabi family for the remaining funds.

To hand over the payment of US $42,000 (30,000 Jordanian dinars), Abbas sent an envoy, Ramallah Governor Laila Ghannam, to complete the president’s order: “Resolve the matter once and for all,” according Ghannam’s Facebook page, as translated by PMW.

Most US funding to the PA was cut off under President Donald Trump’s administration, who criticized the Palestinian leadership for putting American money toward paying off terrorist and their families.

President Joe Biden, however, is resuming funding to the cash-strapped PA in an attempt to revitalize ties.

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

Photo Credit: Kremlin.ru/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for an end to this horrific practice of rewarding the families of terrorists. Ask Him to give wisdom to the Biden administration as they resume funding to the PA. Pray that programs will be put in place to ensure that such money is used for true humanitarian purposes and not to fund the “Pay-for-Slay” program.

Scripture

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


- Psalm 32:8

Israel Elected to Serve on UN Economic and Social Council

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Ambassador Gilad Erdan

Wednesday, 9 June 2021 | For the first time, Israel has been elected to serve on one of the main organs of the United Nations, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), following intensive efforts by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israel’s permanent mission to the UN in New York, including by the head of [the] mission, Ambassador Gilad Erdan.

In elections that were held [on June 7], Israel received 153 votes and will serve from 2022 to 2023 in this important and prestigious body, which is comprised of 54 members elected according to geographical allotment.

Israel wishes to thank all its friends who supported its candidacy.

The election of Israel to the council marks a significant milestone in the ongoing battle against the discrimination of Israel in the UN.

The election results also represent recognition of Israel’s abilities and status in all areas of sustainable development, which are dealt with by the council in the economic, social, humanitarian and environmental fields.

Israel’s membership in the council will allow it to continue to play an important and meaningful role in the global arena, with an emphasis on advancing numerous social and economic matters at the council level—for example, in innovation, fighting climate change, gender equality and advancing the rights of people with disabilities, in addition to the biennial resolutions Israel initiates in the UN’s General Assembly.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Ministry of Public Affairs on June 7, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Dr. Avishai Teicher/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Praise God that Israel has been elected to serve on the ECOSOC. Thank Him for the recognition this represents, and pray that it is truly an indication of progress in Israel’s fight against discrimination in the UN. Pray that Israel will be successful in its endeavors as part of the council.

Scripture

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper.


- Psalm 121:1–5a