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Hope in Difficult Times

Friday, June 14, 2024

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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. Sign up HERE if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.

Blinken: Hamas Response to Hostage Proposal is Unworkable

by Charles Bybelezer ~ JNS

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken talks to reporters in Tel Aviv, June 11, 2024.

Thursday, 13 June 2024 | Hamas’s official response to Israel’s hostages-for-ceasefire proposal included modifications that are not workable, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday.

“Hamas has proposed numerous changes to the proposal that was on the table. … Some of the changes are workable, some are not,” Blinken said in a press conference alongside Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in Doha.

“A deal was on the table that was virtually identical to the proposal that Hamas made on May 6—a deal that the entire world is behind, a deal Israel has accepted. Hamas could have answered with a single word: ‘Yes,’” the secretary said.

“Instead, Hamas waited nearly two weeks and then proposed more changes, a number of which go beyond positions that had previously taken and accepted,” added the top American diplomat, who was in Israel for a two-day visit earlier this week.

“As a result, the war Hamas started on October 7 with its barbaric attack on Israel and on Israeli civilians will go on. More people will suffer, more Palestinians will suffer, more Israelis will suffer.”

Blinken nevertheless said that “in the days ahead, we are going to continue to push on an urgent basis with our partners, with Qatar with Egypt, to try to close this deal. Because we know it’s in the interests of Israelis, Palestinians, the region, indeed the entire world.”

On Tuesday night, Hamas submitted to Egyptian and Qatari intermediaries its formal response, including “amendments” to the proposal that Israel said were tantamount to a rejection.

An anonymous Israeli official was widely cited panning the terrorist group, which had “changed all of the main and most meaningful parameters” of the deal.

Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing two Egyptian security officials, that Hamas is seeking written guarantees from the Biden administration for a permanent ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israel Defense Forces [IDF] troops from the Gaza Strip as a condition for signing off on the proposal.

The report also said Hamas wants explicit guarantees over the transition from the first phase of the plan, which includes a six-week truce and the release of some hostages, to the second phase, which includes an end to the war and Israeli pullback.

Hamas also proposed a new timeline for the phases. 

On May 31, President Joe Biden laid out the terms of the proposal in an address from the State Dining Room at the White House.

“The first phase would last for six weeks,” he said. “Here’s what it would include: a full and complete cease-fire. The withdrawal of Israeli forces from all populated areas of Gaza. Release of a number of hostages, including women, the elderly, the wounded, in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.”

That phase, which would also include the return of the remains of dead hostages and the daily delivery of 600 trucks of aid to Gazans, would lead to an indefinite period of negotiations between Israel and Hamas to end the war, Biden said.

“During the six weeks of phase one, Israel and Hamas would negotiate the necessary arrangements to get to phase two, which is a permanent end to hostilities,” the president added. “The proposal says if the negotiations take longer than six weeks from phase one, the ceasefire will still continue as long as negotiations continue.”

The US, Egypt and Qatar “would work to ensure negotiations keep going until all the agreements are reached and phase two is able to begin,” Biden added.

In the second phase, “Israeli forces will withdraw from Gaza” and “release additional Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of all remaining living hostages,” the president said. Quoting the text of the proposal, he said that at that point, the ceasefire would become “the cessation of hostilities permanently.”

The third phase would include the reconstruction of Gaza and the return of any remaining dead hostages. During this stage, the international community would ensure that Hamas does not rearm.

Last week, leaders of 16 countries, including many whose citizens were taken hostage by Hamas on October 7, issued a statement backing the proposal. Noting that Jerusalem was “ready to move forward” with the terms, they called on the Gaza-based terrorist group to “close this agreement.”

“There is no time to lose,” read the statement signed by the leaders of Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Thailand and the UK. The US also signed the statement.

On Monday, the United Nations Security Council adopted a US-drafted resolution backing the three-phase plan to end the war. Noting that Israel had accepted it, the resolution calls for Hamas to do the same, and for both sides to “implement its terms without delay and without condition.”

In an interview with Time magazine published earlier this month, Biden described the Israeli ceasefire offer as “very generous.”

“The last offer Israel made was very generous in terms of who [Palestinian prisoners] they’d be willing to release, what they’d give in return, et cetera. Bibi [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] is under enormous pressure on the hostages … and so he’s prepared to do about anything to get the hostages back,” said Biden.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on June 12, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Chuck Kennedy/US State Department/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Ask the Lord to give wisdom to Israel so that they do not agree to something that will not be honored and upheld by an entity whose ultimate goal is to remove the Jewish presence from “the river to the sea.” Pray that the world leaders, who are trying to pressure Israel, will see the duplicity of Hamas, a terrorist organization that cannot be trusted.

Scripture

For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is destruction; their throat is an open tomb; they flatter with their tongue. Pronounce them guilty, O God! Let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, for they have rebelled against You


- Psalm 5:9–10

Gantz Announces Departure from Wartime Unity Government

by Troy Osher Fritzhand, Akiva van Koninsgveld ~ JNS

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National Unity Party leader Benny Gantz holds a press conference in Ramat Gan

Monday, 10 June 2024 | War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz on Sunday night announced his National Unity Party’s departure from the government set up in the aftermath of Hamas’s October 7 massacre and the ensuing Gaza war.

Speaking at a press conference in Ramat Gan, Gantz said, “It was an easy decision to enter the government, but the decision to leave was very difficult.”

 “Unfortunately, Netanyahu is stopping us from reaching a true victory,” continued Gantz. “Therefore, we are now leaving, today, the unity government. With a heavy heart, but wholeheartedly.”

Gantz also demanded that Netanyahu do “everything he can” to advance US President Joe Biden’s outline for a hostages-for-ceasefire deal with Hamas. National Unity will back “any responsible roadmap” from the opposition, vowed Gantz.

Gantz called on the remaining members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition to “listen to their conscience,” singling out Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who has frequently clashed with the premier in recent months.

“This war has led me to appreciate you even more,” Gantz said of Gallant.

“To ensure true victory, we must go to elections after which a government will be formed which will be trusted by its citizens,” said the National Unity Party leader.

During the press conference, Netanyahu issued a statement urging Gantz to reconsider his decision, saying that “this is not the time to abandon the campaign [against Hamas]—this is the time to join forces.”

“We will continue until victory and the achievement of all the war goals, primarily the release of all our hostages and the elimination of Hamas,” continued the premier.

“My door will remain open to any Zionist party willing to shoulder the burden and help attain victory over our enemies and ensure the safety of our citizens,” he concluded.

Gantz’s decision to leave the government was reportedly made on Thursday at a party meeting in Tel Aviv.

Observers had anticipated that due to the continuing indirect talks with Hamas over a hostages-for-prisoners deal, Gantz might back out of pledge last month to bolt the government by June 8 if no plan for the “day after” Hamas in Gaza was formulated.

The former army chief of staff had initially been scheduled to speak to the press on Saturday night, supposedly to announce his resignation from the government.

Despite the National Unity party’s eight lawmakers joining the opposition, it will not topple the government. Netanyahu still has a 64-member majority in the 120-MK legislature.

“This is the time for unity and not for division. We must remain united within ourselves in the face of the great tasks before us. I call on Benny Gantz—do not leave the emergency government. Don’t give up on unity,” Netanyahu said on Saturday night, hours after the daring Israel Defense Forces [IDF]/Border Police/Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency] rescue of four hostages from the Gaza Strip.

Gantz responded: “We have a reason to be happy. We have what and whom we can be proud of. You can imagine the shock of the freed people who suddenly changed their world again, and this time for the better. My friends and I, along with the entire people of Israel, rejoice with the families of the returnees and at the same time strengthen the families who are still awaiting the return of their loved ones.”

At the same time, he continued, “it should be remembered that all the challenges that Israel faces, regarding the return of the other 120 hostages, and regarding the other security challenges in general in the theaters of war, vis-à-vis the region, vis-à-vis the world as well as domestically—remain as they were. Therefore, I say to the prime minister and to the general leadership—it is incumbent upon us to take a serious look at how we can and should proceed from here.”

Source: (Excerpt of article originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on June 9, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Intercede for Israel’s government as her leaders have different views on how to achieve a victory over Hamas. Pray that this most recent change in the government will not embolden Israel’s enemies. Pray that Israel’s leaders will instead look to the Lord cry out Him for the solution, just as King Hezekiah did when he was faced with an impossible situation.

Scripture

And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD…Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God… Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD, You alone.


- Isaiah 37: 14, 17, 20

Shavuot Miracle: Over 500 Women Named Ruth and Naomi Make Aliyah to Israel in Past Decade

by Itamar Eichner ~ Ynetnews

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A young Jewish family making aliyah arriving in the Land of Israel.

Tuesday, 11 June 2024 | In celebration of the Jewish festival of Shavuot (Feast of Weeks), the aliyah [immigration to Israel] and Integration Ministry announced Monday that, over the past decade, 602 women named Ruth or Naomi have immigrated to Israel, drawing a connection to the biblical story of Ruth the Moabite and her mother-in-law Naomi from the Book of Ruth, where Ruth moved to Israel, and Naomi returned as a resident.

The data shows that 266 women and girls named Ruth and 336 named Naomi made aliyah in the last ten years. The peak year for women named Ruth was 2021. The top countries from which these women immigrated include France (57), the UK and the US (27 each) and Brazil (19).

Among those named Ruth, seven infants under the age of one immigrated with their families in the past decade, while the oldest Ruth made aliyah in April 2023 at age 97. The largest age group among Ruths is 20-29, with 50 women. Additionally, 14 Ruths work in medical and paramedical professions, one is a musician, 26 are in education and seven are in technology and computing.

The peak year for Naomis making aliyah was 2015. Notably, 28 Naomis who immigrated were born in Israel, completing a full circle like the biblical Naomi. The top countries of origin for Naomis include France (92), the US (50), Russia (35) and Brazil (13).

Over the past decade, 12 infants under the age of one named Naomi made aliyah with their families, while the oldest Naomi immigrated in February this year at age 86. Thirteen Naomis work in medical and paramedical professions, 42 are students, and eight are economists. Since October 7, 21 women named Ruth and Naomi have made aliyah.

The biblical story of Ruth and Naomi, central to the celebration of Shavuot, begins with Naomi, a Jewish woman who moves to Moab with her family due to famine in Israel. After the death of her husband and sons, Naomi decides to return to Israel. Ruth, her Moabite daughter-in-law, pledges her loyalty to Naomi and accompanies her, famously saying, “Where you go, I will go; and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”

Ruth’s dedication and conversion to Judaism symbolize loyalty, faith and the embracing of Jewish faith and people. Upon returning to Israel, Ruth marries Boaz, a relative of Naomi, and they have a son named Obed. Obed becomes the grandfather of King David, establishing Ruth as the great-grandmother of one of the most significant figures in Jewish history.

This story is read during Shavuot, which commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, highlighting themes of acceptance, conversion and the continuity of Jewish tradition. Ruth’s story underscores the importance of kindness, loyalty and the inclusivity of the Jewish community, linking directly to the lineage of King David, a key figure in Jewish history and prophecy.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Ynetnews on June 9, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: photographer unknown/bridgesforpeace.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for each woman who carries the name “Ruth” or “Naomi,” whether they came from the Diaspora (Jewish population outside of Israel) or were born in the Land. Thank Him for the rich heritage of the first Ruth, a Moabite woman, which has come down through the generations and for beauty of her devotion to Naomi. Pray that we, too, will love God’s people with that same intensity.

Scripture

But Ruth said: “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.”


- Ruth 1:16–17

IDF Hostage Rescue Renamed ‘Operation Arnon’ in Honor of Fallen Commander

by JNS

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Chief Inspector Arnon Zamora, shown here in an IDF photo, died from wounds sustained during the rescue of four hostages from the Gaza Strip

Monday, 10 June 2024 | Israel will rename Saturday’s hostage rescue operation after Chief Inspector Arnon Zamora, a member of the Israel Border Police’s “Yamam” National Counter-Terrorism Unit who was mortally wounded during the mission.

Zamora, 36, from Sde David, a moshav [agricultural community] in southern Israel, leaves behind a wife, Michal, and two children. His wife eulogized him in a Facebook post.

 “Everything is now filled with the image of the hero Arnon Zamora. Long before he was a warrior and hero, he was a sweet and wonderful man. An amazing spouse, a perfect dad. A loving and beloved man. This is how we will remember him, and I would be happy if you do too,” she wrote.

Zamora’s funeral will take place on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. in the police section of Mount Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem.

His death brings the total death toll among Israeli forces since the start of the Gaza ground operation on October 27 to 294, and to 646 on all fronts since the start of the war on October 7.

During “Operation Arnon” (originally codenamed “Seeds of Summer”), Israeli forces rescued four hostages from two separate locations in Nuseirat Camp in the central Gaza Strip—Noa Argamani, 26; Almog Meir Jan, 21; Andrey Kozlov, 27; and Shlomi Ziv, 40.

The four were all abducted by Hamas terrorists from the Supernova music festival near Kibbutz Re’im during the October 7 massacre.

They are in good condition and recovering at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan.

Over one hundred captives remain in Gaza who were taken during the Hamas-led onslaught of the northwestern Negev on October 7. That Saturday morning, Zamora commanded the Yamam team that helped fight off dozens of terrorists from Kibbutz Yad Mordechai.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog praised Zamora’s actions on October 7, tweeting that he “was one of the first fighters” on the scene in southern Israel, “who fought bravely” against the terrorists.

“On behalf of the entire nation—I mourn his fall, share in his family’s grief and send my condolences to his wife and children. I pray for the speedy return of the abductees and all the security forces to their homes quickly and safely,” Herzog wrote.

‘The IDF Bows Its Head’

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also praised Zamora, tweeting,

“I salute Chief Inspector Arnon Zamora, Commander in the elite Yamam Unit, who fell while leading a daring operation to rescue 4 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. He lived and fell a hero.”

Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir tweeted, “Arnon was a brave warrior who impressed everyone who met him with his love of Israel and his devotion.”

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum, which represents the hostages’ families, also mourned his death.

“The Families Forum bows its head in deep sorrow over the death of Commander Arnon Zamora, of blessed memory, who died of wounds sustained during the heroic rescue operation of Noa Argamani, Shlomi Ziv, Andrey Kozlov and Almog Meir Jan,” the organization tweeted.

“The dedication and courage of our security forces are the values upon which the State of Israel was built; in their death, they have commanded us to live,” it continued.

The Israel Defense Forces [IDF] called Zamora a “hero of Israel, a lover of the land and a protector.”

“The IDF bows its head following the fall of the late Commander Arnon Zamora, a team commander in the National Counter-Terrorism Unit (NCTU) of the Israel Police,” the military said in a statement. “The IDF salutes his memory.”

The Israel Police released a statement reading: “The Israel Police salute our nation’s hero and will continue standing by the bereaved family through this challenging time. May his memory be blessed.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on June 9, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson/jns.org

Prayer Focus
While we rejoice with the families of the four hostages who were released, we remember those who remain captive in Gaza. Beseech the Lord on their behalf, asking Him to be very near those who have been held in unimaginable conditions for eight months. Pray for their loved ones who are suffering along with them.

Scripture

As one whom his mother comforts, so I [the LORD] will comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem


- Isaiah 66:13

Israel Takes Out Most Senior Hezbollah Commander Since October 7, Reports Claim

by Lior Ben Ari, Yoav Zitun, Eitan Glickman ~ Ynet

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Taleb Sami Abdallah, senior Hezbollah commander led fighters like this man shown during a training exercise in southern Lebanon (illustrative)

Thursday, 13 June 2024 | Hezbollah reported overnight Wednesday the death of Taleb Sami Abdallah, the commander of its Al Nasr unit known by his call sign Abu Taleb, in an Israeli-linked strike on a house in southern Lebanon. Abu Taleb is reportedly the most senior Hezbollah commander eliminated by Israel since the outbreak of war.

Arab media reported an Israeli attack in the southern Lebanese village of Jouaiyya near Tyre. According to reports, four Hezbollah commanders were killed in the attack, including Abu Taleb.

“The attack in southern Lebanon was aimed at the Hezbollah leaders’ security meeting. This is the harshest blow since the beginning of the war,” reported Saudi channel Al Hadath.

Reuters quoted a Lebanese official who said Abu Taleb was the most senior Hezbollah operative killed in eight months of conflict. Lebanese security sources emphasized that Abu Taleb outranked Wissam al-Tawil, a high-ranking commander of Hezbollah’s elite Radwan Force, who was killed by Israel in January.

According to past reports, the Al Nasr unit commanded by Abu Taleb operates in southern Lebanon, from the Israeli border up to the Litani River. Sources who spoke to Reuters said he commanded the central sector in the border area. While Hezbollah did not confirm the various reports, they did announce his death on Tuesday.

Sky News Arabia reported that three missiles hit a house in Jouaiyya, killing four senior Hezbollah commanders. Arab media identified the other commanders as Ali Salim Sufan, Hussein Qassem Hmeid (call sign Sajid) and Mohammed Hussein Sabra.

The strike on Hezbollah leaders came after another intense day of fighting on the northern front on Shavuot [Feast of Weeks] Eve. Hezbollah fired 15 rockets at the Galilee region, with no casualties reported. The Israel Defense Forces [IDF] intercepted some of the rockets, while others fell in unpopulated areas. The rocket barrage also disrupted Shavuot celebrations in Kibbutz Neot Mordechai.

Hezbollah claimed the rocket fire at the Galilee was in response to previous IDF attacks in southern Lebanon. The army said that fighter jets targeted Hezbollah positions, including a military structure, a launch site and other terrorist infrastructure. Lebanon reported three wounded in an airstrike on a car in the southern village of Kafra.

Additionally, the IDF eliminated a Hezbollah operative in Naqoura on Tuesday. The Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar claimed the man, identified as Saleh Ahmed Mahdi, was an employee of the local water corporation and was killed in a drone strike while riding a motorcycle, “supplying water to the town.”

This assassination followed another Hezbollah rocket barrage on northern Israel’s Golan Heights region, causing several fires. The barrage came after an Israeli Air Force attack 150 kilometers [93 mi.] deep into Lebanese territory, the furthest Israel has struck in Lebanon since the war began.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Ynetnews on June 12, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Tasmin News Agency/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for Maj. Gen. Ori Gordin, head of the IDF’s northern command and all those serving under him, asking the Lord to strengthen and equip them. Pray that they will have accurate intelligence as to the enemy’s plans and for confusion among the leaders of Hezbollah. Pray that Israelis who have been forced from communities along the northern border will soon be able to return to their homes.

Scripture

It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places. He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.


- Psalm 18:32–34

EU’s Foreign Minister, Countries around World, Condemn Rescue Operation

by Itamar Eichner ~ Ynetnews

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Norwegian and EU flag

Monday, 10 June 2024 | The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the European Union, Josep Borrell, on Saturday night condemned Israel for the attacks on Nuseirat in central Gaza, which took place while the four hostages were rescued from Hamas captivity.

Borrell welcomed the release of Noa Argamani, Almog Meir Jan, Shlomi Ziv and Andrey Kozlov, and called for the release of all the hostages who remain in captivity. At the same time, he attacked Israel for “another massacre of civilians” and said the reports from Gaza “are appalling. We condemn this in the strongest terms. The bloodbath must end immediately.”

According to Hamas, more than 200 Palestinians were killed in attacks in Nuseirat. The Israel Defense Forces [IDF] spokesman said in an interview with the Saudi Al-Haddath channel that more than 100 were killed—including terrorists and people whom Hamas used as human shields.

The attacks also led to a sharp diplomatic confrontation between Israel and Norway.

Norway’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Andreas Motzfeldt Kravik, strongly condemned Israel for what he defined as “another massacre of civilians in Gaza.”

“Norway condemns attacks on civilians in the strongest terms,” he also wrote in a post on the X platform. “We call for the release of all remaining hostages—now. We call for a cease-fire—now. The suffering must end.”

Israel’s ambassador to Norway, Avi Nir-Feldklein, did not hold back and attacked Kravik for his statement, while reminding the Norwegians of their double standards.

“Norway didn’t support last week the World Health Organization assembly amendment calling to release the Israeli hostages. Hostages shouldn’t be kept in dense populated areas; Families shouldn’t be locking up hostages in their homes on behalf of terror organizations; Civilians shouldn’t be kidnapped,” Nir-Feldklein wrote in response.

Israel has not only the right to rescue its kidnapped citizens, but the obligation to do so. Those that kidnapped civilians, paid families to keep them as hostages in their homes in a middle of populated residential area are responsible for each and every casualty,” emphasized the Israeli ambassador to Norway, placing the blame for the Gazan deaths squarely on Hamas.

Egypt also condemned Israel following the attacks in Nuseirat, saying that “this is a violation of international humanitarian law and human rights.” The Foreign Ministry in Cairo said that Israel has “legal and moral responsibility” for the attacks. Egypt, which is serving as mediator between Israel and Hamas during the war, said that it “calls on the international authorities to intervene to stop the Israeli war in the Gaza Strip.”

Later, the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a similarly harsh statement, in which it reported the death toll in Nuseirat as 150. Jordan condemned “the Israeli attack that resulted in the death of 150 Palestinians and the injury of hundreds,” and said that “this is an incident that reflects systematic harm to Palestinian citizens, in violation of international law and war crimes. Jordan calls on the international community and especially the Security Council to take immediate and urgent action to stop Israel’s war crimes in Gaza.”

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on June 9, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Mission of Norway to the EU/Flickr/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
As the voices of world leaders rise in condemnation of Israel, pray that hearts in this country would look to the Lord to be a shield and defense. Proclaim these powerful words: “But God” as an encouragement to the nation and people through whom God has chosen to reveal Himself to the world.

Scripture

LORD, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, “There is no help for him in God.” Selah But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head.


- Psalm 3:1–3

UNRWA School Strike: Israel Sets the Record Straight

by Yael Ciechanover ~ Ynetnews

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Hamas and PIJ’s infiltration of the humanitarian UN-funded organization URNWA directly violates international law (illustrative).

Friday, 7 June 2024 | The Israel Defense Forces [IDF] disclosed the identities of nine terrorists eliminated early Thursday at a UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees] school in the built-up Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza. This revelation follows international criticism after Palestinian claims suggested 45 civilians were killed in the incident.

Chief military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said that the IDF is continuing efforts to identify additional terrorists killed in the attack. He condemned global media outlets for echoing Hamas’ claims of civilian casualties “before checking the facts.”

“[O]ur Air Force used precise munitions to target the three specific classrooms that the terrorists were hiding inside,” Hagari said in English. “These are only a few of the terrorists we eliminated. There are more. Some of them took part in the brutal massacre of October 7. We are working to verify the information before we will share it.”

“We stopped a ticking time bomb,” he said. “We delayed our strike twice because we identified civilians in the area. We had aerial surveillance that had been monitoring the Hamas compound for a few days. We conducted the strike once our intelligence and surveillance indicated that there were no women or children inside the Hamas compound, inside those classrooms.”

Hagari added the attack targeted “Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists, some from the Nukhba force. Terrorists with blood on their hands… Some of them took part in the brutal massacre of October 7.”

The terrorists eliminated in the attack include Ali Hasan Bana, Ahmed Salah Mansur, Muhammad Mutasab, Mosab Hafez Darwish, Salem Afesh and Muhammad Barham, all members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad [PIJ].

“This is the fifth time we have had to target Hamas and PIJ terrorists operating from inside UNRWA facilities… in the last month alone,” Hagari continued. “Hamas wages war from schools and hospitals. Hamas hopes that international law and public sympathy will provide a shield for their military activities, which is why they systematically operate from schools, UN facilities, hospitals and mosques.”

World media covering operation in Gaza based on Palestinian reports

Hagari criticized media outlets for falling for “Hamas’s tactics,” noting that leading news channels prominently featured Palestinian claims of civilian casualties. CNN and other media outlets reported that, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, controlled by Hamas, 45 Palestinians were killed in the strike.

“While Hamas abuses international law, the IDF will continue operating according to international law,” Hagari asserted.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on June 6, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Eliran t/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that the media would not be so quick to believe the inflated and inaccurate claims put out by Hamas. Pray that the men and women who represent Israel to the press would be strengthened and encouraged to stand firm in the face of constant media bias and accusations against Israel.

Scripture

Blessed is that man who makes the LORD his trust, and does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.


- Psalm 40:4

IAA Finds Historical Messages on Hospital Walls

by IAA

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The assemblage of drawn coats of arms

Thursday, 13 June 2024 | In an original research model executed by the Israel Antiquities Authority [IAA],  British royal and nobility coats-of-arms were mapped and identified on early 20th century hospital walls. For the very first time, greetings were found from famed British historical figures, including King George the Fifth, and a member of the family who founded the iconic Irish beer—Edward Cecil Guinness.

While intensively studying the coats-of-arms, left by the elite British families who contributed to the building’s expansion, IAA’s Shai Halevy and Michael Chernin successfully deciphered historical moments in one of modern Jerusalem’s first hospital buildings. The expansive structure established for this hospital directly overlooks the Hinom Valley, and sits across from Mount Zion, near the Old City walls. Over the years the hospital building became the “Jerusalem House of Quality,” an art and culture exhibition center.

The British ophthalmologic hospital was founded in 1882 by the Order of Saint John (who viewed themselves as continuing the ancient Crusader Hospitaller order). The only one of its kind in that era, the hospital played a pivotal role in healing the eye diseases common in the Holy Land and Jerusalem, and served anyone who needed help. Patients came here from throughout the Middle East. The British Mandate period saw the hospital expand significantly, adding a wing on the other side of Hebron Road.

The expansion was enabled thanks to generous contributions of British royalty and businesspeople, many of whom were Order of Saint John members. As a sign of thanks for supporting this construction, tens of individual coats of arms adorned the walls.

The tumultuous events of World War I and the 1948 War of Independence left their marks on different parts of the complex. As the decades progressed, different building elements became repurposed: the eastern wing became the Mount Zion Hotel, while the western wing became the “Jerusalem House of Quality”. As time passed, the public forgot about the very existence of and the identities behind these coats of arms, and many were damaged or destroyed.

Just recently, a pair of IAA researchers, photographer Shai Halevy and archaeologist Michael Chernin, succeeded in deciphering the remaining coats of arms. They were joined by the illustrator and artist Anastasia Prokofieva. The team identified 18 out of the 23 visible insignias, which belonged to British nobility.  The coats of arms include King George V (ruled 1910–1936); Major General Aldred Lumley, 10th Earl of Scarbrough (1857–1945); the famous Irish brewery magnate Edward Cecil Guinness (1847–1927); the architect who specialized in high-rise buildings, Henry Busis (1881–1965); and shipbuilder Henry Grayson (1865–1951). Among the other shields is that of Jewish aristocrat Sir Edward Stern (1854–1933), uncle of philanthropist Vera Salomons, the founder of the L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem.

Dr. Amit Re’em, IAA Jerusalem regional archaeologist, comments: “These walls continue to talk to us and reveal Jerusalem’s history. During the ongoing major Mount Zion Hotel renovation project, a dedication inscription suddenly appeared attributed to John Mason Cook, a great contributor to the hospital. He and his father were the founders of the first modern travel/touring company in the world, in existence until today—the famed Thomas Cook & Son.

Exploring the other abandoned rooms of the former hospital revealed another dedication, of a woman named Genevieve Watson, a well-known Jerusalem personality and generous benefactor, who dedicated the remainder of her life and her wealth to the service of the hospital.” The IAA archaeologists also discovered a stone with a mysterious inscription cast in the Hinom Valley below the hotel. It turns out this was the hospital’s cornerstone. “For us, archaeology does not stop in ancient times; these are relatively modern finds. But in addition to our other responsibilities, we are investigating that which will become archaeology in the future,” says Dr. Re’em.

According to IAA Director Eli Escusido, “Every stone in Jerusalem tells a story. Our researchers turn over every stone—literally and figuratively—to uncover Jerusalem’s fascinating history, in all its expressions and cultures.”

Source: (Excerpt from an IAA press release dated June 10, 2024)

Photo Credit: Illustration: Anastasia Prokofyeva/ Shai Halevy/IAA

Prayer Focus
Give thanks for the sovereignty of the Lord, who has called the city of Jerusalem “My city,” and has chosen to allow foreigners to participate in its welfare. Rejoice as we consider His hand at work through the actions of Cyrus, king of Persia thousands of years ago and more recently through the British monarchy.

Scripture

“I have raised him [Cyrus, King of Persia] up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways; he shall build My city and let My exiles go free, not for price nor reward,” says the LORD of hosts.


- Isaiah 45:13