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Friday, June 19, 2020

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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.

Israeli Leaders Work to Find Consensus on Extension of Sovereignty

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Gush Etzion, one of the major community blocs that may be included in the extension of Israeli sovereignty

Wednesday, 17 June 2020 | What happened: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White ministers Benny Gantz (Defense) and Gabi Ashkenazi (Foreign Affairs), along with US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, met for four hours to discuss extending Israeli law to parts of the West Bank [Judea and Samaria]—also referred to as annexation.

  • There is no agreement between the senior Israeli leadership. Netanyahu is reportedly favoring extending sovereignty over all the Jewish communities and the Jordan Valley, while Gantz and Ashkenazi are opposed, but could agree to applying sovereignty to the major community blocs, the Etzion bloc and Maale Adumim, believing that such a move would not undermine relations with Jordan.
  • Yediot Ahronot quotes “close associates” of the Blue and White leadership who say that “they had not yet formulated their position.” They support the [US President Donald] Trump plan in principle—but on the condition it is implemented with international coordination. “Applying sovereignty needs to be done responsibly. It would be better for it to be done as a part of an overall move, and only in coordination with other countries, particularly with Jordan and the US.”
  • Israeli media speculates that there are also differences of opinion within the US administration. Ambassador Friedman supports extensive annexation, while President Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is hesitant to give US approval to annexation given the reaction from the Arab world. It is also believed by some in Israel that the window of opportunity to apply Israeli law to the West Bank with the approval from the White House will only last until the end of summer—and not too close to the November elections.
  • At the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Global Forum, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated that “the only path to peace in the Middle East is through dialogue and a two-state solution.”

Context: Netanyahu is looking to extend Israeli law to around 30% of the West Bank, including all 132 communities and the Jordan Valley. According to the coalition agreement with Blue and White, he can advance the plan as early as July 1. Despite no formal veto, the consent of the Blue and White ministers is important as the US will only support the plan if it is backed by an Israeli consensus.

  • Over the weekend, the political establishment responded to Friday’s article in Yediot Ahronot by Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE ambassador to the US. Likud Minister Tzachi Hanegbi said: “As Ambassador Al Otaiba described so well in his article, in recent years Israel’s relations with the Persian Gulf states have developed in a significantly positive way. But the Palestinian Authority has shut its eyes so as not to take the hint from courageous Arab leaders. As opposed to the Palestinians, Israel will not miss the historic opportunity to apply sovereignty over tracts of the homeland that have a broad consensus in Israeli society.”
  • Channel 12 News reported that King Abdullah II of Jordan and Gulf states have sent a message to the White House saying that “greenlighting annexation will severely damage the administration’s efforts to enlist the Gulf states to President Trump’s peace plan and will make them take a step back.”

Looking ahead: With no agreement reached yet, the prime minister, defense and foreign affairs ministers will resume their talks later with Ambassador Friedman.

  • In an effort to mitigate concerns over annexation, Mossad [Israeli intelligence agency] Director Yossi Cohen will speak in the next few weeks with leaders of Arab states in the region, including Jordan and Egypt.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published in BICOM on June 15, 2020. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Yair Aronshtam/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Remind the Lord of the many promises He has made to restore Israel to her ancient land. Beseech Him for wisdom for Israel’s leadership as they make plans to extend sovereignty. Pray that their decisions will be based on God’s will and timing and not be influenced by international pressure.


Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”

- Isaiah 30:21a

Israel Sees Nearly 300 Daily Coronavirus Cases for First Time in Months

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A coronavirus testing site in Jerusalem

Thursday, 18 June 2020 | For the first time since the peak of the coronavirus epidemic in Israel, nearly 300 new cases have been recorded in 24 hours, officials confirmed yesterday morning.

Israel over the past few weeks has seen a resurgence of COVID-19 as more and more businesses reopen, with the daily toll topping 200 new cases last week for the first time since April.

The Coronavirus National Information and Knowledge Center reported that 287 have been diagnosed with the virus over the past 24 hours, with the total number of active patients currently standing at 3,845.

The number of people who have died from coronavirus-related complications currently stands at 303.

The center, which is part of the IDF’s [Israel Defense Forces] Security and Intelligence Division, said medical officials conducted 11,971 COVID-19 tests on Tuesday, bringing the contagion rate to 2%.

Since the start of the epidemic in Israel, 19,637 people have tested positive for the pathogen, with 15,459 patients having already recovered from the disease.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published in Ynetnews on June 17, 2020. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Michio Nagata/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Ask the Lord to protect His people from COVID-19. Pray that Israelis will be diligent to follow protocols put in place to keep the disease from spreading, but also pray that the Lord will move sovereignly on Israel’s behalf and bring an end to the disease.


Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade at your hand. The LORD shall preserve you from all evil.

- Psalm 121:4–5, 7a

EU Nixes Grant to Palestinian NGO for Refusing to Sign Anti-terror Pledge

by Ilse Strauss

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Palestinians rioting at the Israel–Gaza border

Thursday, 18 June 2020 | The request should have been a mere formality. All Palestinian nonprofit Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights had to do to bag a multi-million grant from the European Union (EU) was sign a pledge vowing that no terror organizations would benefit from the funded program. Yet the Palestinian NGO refused the request, snubbed its nose at the funding and instead chose—yet again—to propel the Palestinian people further along the path of violence, death and destruction.

Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights had all but clinched €1.7 million (about NIS 6.5 million) from the EU to get a three-year project entitled “Mobilizing for Justice in Jerusalem” off the ground. The program, the NGO said, was aimed at bringing so-called Israeli human rights violations and “international crimes” to the light. However, the true nature of the program was revealed before the euros started rolling in.

The EU introduced a clause to its contracts with NGOs last year to safeguard against grants being used for violence. Article 1.5 requires a guarantee from grant recipients that none of the funds received would fall in the hands of terrorist organizations, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

The NGO would not sign on the dotted line and declared in a press release that the stipulation “criminalizes the Palestinian struggle against oppression and requires the recipient organization to perform ‘screening’ procedures which amount to policing its own people.”

As a result, the EU informed Badil on Friday that it was forced to “consider your application no longer valid” and the European cash coffers promptly slammed shut.

Badil is one of 130 Palestinian groups that reject Article 1.5, Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs said. This is, however, the first time the EU nixed funding based on an NGO’s refusal to sign the clause.  

“I congratulate the EU on taking a firm stance against the disingenuous campaign it faces on this issue,” Strategic Affairs Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen said yesterday.

According to Farkash-Hacohen, Jerusalem has made every effort to dissuade the EU from yielding “to the illegitimate demands of the involved Palestinian organizations, and continues to insist that EU taxpayer funds should not be used to fund NGOs with ties to terror. The EU’s recent refusal is another step in this right direction.”

The refusal comes in the aftermath of Israel taking the EU to task over its support of Palestinian NGOs with terror ties. On May 7, the Foreign Minister summoned the EU’s ambassador to Israel for a talking to after a letter emerged in which a senior EU officer lays his Palestinian recipients’ fears at ease that membership in or affinity to a terror organization does not serve as an automatic disqualifier for funding from the EU, the Times of Israel reports.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, June 18, 2020)

Photo Credit: ינוזיג - MinoZig/wikipedia.org

Photo License: wikipedia.org

Prayer Focus
Praise God for the actions of the EU in this instance, drawing a firm line in the sand with regard to funding that could be used to finance terror organizations. Pray that they will remain firm in their decision and that other nations will recognize the importance of following suit. Also ask the Lord to open the eyes of the Palestinian people to the fact that their own leadership, and not Israel, is the cause of much of their poverty and suffering.


As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect.

- Psalms 18:30, 32

Half a Million Israelis Could Be Unemployed by 2021

by Gad Lior

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The unemployment rate in Israel has skyrocketed over the past few months due to the economic lockdown.

Wednesday, 17 June 2020 | The economic fallout from the coronavirus in Israel could lead to half a million unemployed by the beginning of 2021, government officials said Sunday.

The unemployment rate in the country skyrocketed over the past few months due to the economic lockdown imposed on the country as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, reaching a record-breaking 27.5% in mid-April.

Government economy and welfare officials said prior to the health crisis Israel’s unemployment rate was among the lowest in the world, ranging from 3.4% to 4.2% for the past four years—averaging between 160,000 and 180,000 jobless.

This current estimate, however, puts the unemployment rate around 10% to 11% by January 2021.

Since the onset of the pandemic, about 250,000 Israelis have lost their jobs and almost a million were put on unpaid leave. Although many have returned to work, the number of unemployed is still currently estimated at around 950,000.

Welfare Minister Itzik Shmuli urged the government to promote programs that guarantee subsidies to the unemployed that would not overwhelm the welfare system, and use more aggressive incentives to integrate them back into the workforce.

A senior Finance Ministry official said last week they hoped government-funded incentives for employers will help them reinstate many workers who were put on unpaid leave. However, the official added those who will not return to work in June will likely remain on a leave of absence for months.

Tens of thousands more might lose their jobs in the future, especially those employed in businesses that struggle to bounce back from the crisis, such as dining, aviation and tourism.

In additon, many of those still on unpaid leave might not receive their unemployment payment this month due to the emergency measures applied during lockdown being lifted.

The national labor union center, Histadrut, petitioned several government ministries to amend the current legislation in order to secure unemployment benefits for some 300,000 jobless in the month of June.

The Finance Ministry said they prefer to encourage employers to reinstate their workers in exchange for a government grant rather than pay monthly unemployment sums.

Editor’s Note: Since the beginning of March, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have unexpectedly lost the means to pay rent, put food on the table or send their kids to school. Although Israel is slowly coming out of lockdown, the economic fallout has left many destitute and the needs are mounting. We continue to receive calls for assistance from people who desperately require a helping hand. It is our heart to reach out with that helping hand and we are trusting the Lord to provide the funds to do so. Thank you for your donations that enable us to continue feeding, continue blessing and continue showing Christian love the people of Israel during these turbulent times.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on June 7, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Jenna Solomon/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Beseech the Lord that Israel will experience a rapid and miraculous economic recovery. Pray that even those businesses that are expected to recover slowly will bounce back quickly, putting Israelis back to work and strengthening the economy. Also ask the Lord to strengthen government programs and welfare assistance in the interim. Finally, beseech the Lord that Christians will give with overwhelming generosity as Bridges for Peace works to respond to the requests of the neediest of Israel’s needy.


In You, O LORD, I put my trust; let me never be ashamed; deliver me in Your righteousness. Bow down Your ear to me, deliver me speedily; be my rock of refuge, a fortress of defense to save me.

- Psalm 31:1–2

Top Saudi Cleric Honored for Fighting Anti-Semitism

by Itamar Eichner

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Sheikh Dr. Mohammed al-Issa

Friday, 12 June 2020 | A prominent Saudi cleric was honored on Tuesday for his contribution toward fighting anti-Semitism.

General Secretary of the Muslim World League Sheikh Dr. Mohammed al-Issa became the first recipient of the prize awarded by the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement to Muslim leaders.

Speaking during the ceremony—titled “How Muslims and Jews Can Combat Anti-Semitism Together”—via video call from Saudi Arabia, al-Issa spoke of the need for unity to fight anti-Semitism and hatred around the world.

“Whereas Jews and Muslims lived centuries together, in these last decades we have sadly grown apart,” al-Issa said during the ceremony.

“Now we must rebuild the bridges of dialogue and the bonds of partnership between our communities. Since taking over the Muslim World League, it has been my mission to fight the forces of hatred and violence.”

Al-Issa also voiced his objection to Holocaust denial, a myth perpetuated within extreme sectors of some Muslim societies.

“There are those who still try to falsify history, who claim the Holocaust, the most despicable crime in human history, is fiction,” he said. “We stand against these liars, no matter who they are or where they come from. True Islam deems any attempt to deny or underplay the brutal horrors of the Holocaust as the ultimate insult to the dignity of all those who perished.”

Al-Issa is considered a moderate voice within the Saudi Arabian leadership and the Muslim world. He has voiced many times his objections to extremism and Holocaust denial.

In January, he led a Muslim World League delegation on a historic visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on June 8, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Dom.Ross/wikimedia.org

Source: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Praise God for the work being done by Dr. al-Issa. Pray that he will be successful in bringing a message of peace and in his attempts to bring an end to Holocaust denial in the Arab world. Ask the Lord to bless him in his efforts, and seek the Lord for protection for the doctor and his family.


I will extol You, O LORD, for you have lifted me up, and have not let my foes rejoice over me.

- Psalm 30:1

Rocket Fire from Gaza Shatters Lull in Southern Israel

by Yoav Zitun, Matan Tzuri and Elior Levy

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Rockets fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel (illustrative)

Tuesday, 16 June 2020 | A mortar shell was launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel and landed in an open area, the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] reported yesterday evening.

The missile was the first to be fired at Israeli territory from the coastal enclave in over a month and landed in the Eshkol Regional Council near the border fence.

In a statement, Eshkol Regional Council officials said that the missile alarm didn’t go off because there was no real danger the mortar shell would land in civilian concentrations.

This is the first missile launch since Blue & White Chairman Benny Gantz assumed the position of defense minister.

The IDF attacked in the Hamas-ruled enclave with aircraft and tanks in retaliation.

“IDF aircraft recently attacked infrastructure used for underground activity by the Hamas terrorist organization in the southern Gaza Strip. In addition, IDF tanks attacked the organization’s military positions,” read an IDF Spokesperson’s Unit statement.

Meanwhile, senior Hamas official, Saleh al-Arouri, said yesterday that Israel’s intentions to extend its sovereignty over West Bank [Judea and Samaria] lands could lead to a military conflict.

“If the move goes through, we in Hamas will oppose this plan in every way,” said al-Arouri. “Hamas acts in a number of ways—political and diplomatic work. We hold talks with all countries around the world to explain our position, the risk and the consequences that will affect Palestine and the world at large. We are not ruling out development in light of Israeli aggression that could lead to escalation and military confrontation.”

Also yesterday, the Beirut-based Al Akhbar newspaper reported that Israel has agreed to transfer [US] $50 million of Qatari aid money into the Gaza Strip and continue the social projects started by the Gulf states in exchange for Hamas’s pledge to stop incendiary balloon terror.

The agreement was apparently mediated by Qatari envoy to Gaza, Mohammed al-Emadi, and UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East Nikolai Mladenov.

The two have pledged the aid will be delivered this week, but no exact date has been set.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on June 15, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Pray that Israel’s retaliatory actions will have the desired effect and that violence will not be resumed. Also pray that Hamas’s attempts to demonize Israel in the international arena will not be successful, their propaganda and threats falling on deaf ears.


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

Report: London Police Arrest Man for Knife Attack on Rabbi

by Yulia Karra

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The attack occurred on Stoke Newington High Street in north London.

Monday, 15 June 2020 | London police arrested a man on suspicion of attempted murder after he tried to stab a local rabbi, The Guardian newspaper reported Saturday.

The man, in his 40s, was tackled and pinned to the ground by members of the public who witnessed the attempted attack on Friday shortly before 11 a.m.

According to the paper, the incident occurred on Stoke Newington High Street in north London.

The 50-year-old victim, identified as Rabbi Alter Yaakov Schlesinger, was lightly wounded and has already been discharged from hospital.

The Jewish Chronicle reported that the rabbi is from the Satmar Yeshiva (religious school) in Stamford Hill.

Police asked for witnesses to come forward and said they are “maintaining an open mind” regarding the motive for the attack.

“The victim was stabbed in broad daylight as he went about his business,” said Detective Sergeant James Tipple. “He suffered multiple stab wounds in what was a horrific incident and will undoubtedly stay with him for a long time to come.”

Lazar Friedlander, who along with his brother tackled the perpetrator, said as a Jewish man, witnessing the incident was a painful sight for him.

“We ran outside, I saw a Jewish man covered in blood. I’m Jewish myself, and I can see another Jewish man shouting, ‘Hold him, catch him, he’s got a knife! Stabbing!’”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on June 13, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Danny Robinson/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that Rabbi Schlesinger will experience healing and the comfort and encouragement of the Lord. Pray that he will regain physical, emotional and spiritual strength as people around the world lift him up in prayer. Pray that the perpetrator of this horrendous act will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and beseech the Lord that such anti-Semitic violence will no longer be tolerated in London or anywhere in the world.


Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!

- Psalm 27:14

Warming Ties between Israel, Czech Republic and Bulgaria

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Czech PM Andrej Babis and Bulgarian PM Boyko Borissov congratulated Israeli PM Netanyahu on forming a government.

Friday, 12 June 2020 | On Monday, June 8, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis phoned to congratulate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on forming a government. The two leaders discussed cooperation on the coronavirus, in cyber and in other fields. Czech Prime Minister Babis also invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to visit the Czech Republic. The two agreed to hold the next meeting between their governments in Prague when circumstances permit. Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked Czech Prime Minister Babis for his country’s stand alongside Israel in the diplomatic arena and in international forums.

Earlier Monday, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov also phoned Prime Minister Netanyahu to congratulate him on forming a government. The two discussed challenges in dealing with the coronavirus and agreed to increase bilateral cooperation in a range of fields. Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked Bulgarian Prime Minister Borissov for his friendship and for his country’s stand alongside Israel in international forums. Prime Minister Netanyahu invited Bulgarian Prime Minister Borissov to visit Israel soon and he accepted.

Source: (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs originally published this article on June 8, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Yordan Simeonov (EU2018BG)/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Praise God for Israel’s burgeoning relationships with the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. Ask Him to pour out His blessing on these nations as they stand as allies with Israel in the international arena and as they work to form practical working relationships as well. May Genesis 12:3 be a clear and profound reality for these countries.


I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

- Genesis 12:3