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45 Rockets, Mortars Fired on Israel from Gaza
by Yoav Zitun, Matan Tzuri and Liad Osmo
Seven rockets and mortars shells were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system, and at least three landed within the Strip.
There were no reports of injuries, but damage was sustained. One mortar shell exploded on a pathway near a nursery in the Eshkol Regional Council.
Numerous sirens were sounded in the Gaza vicinity throughout the night.
All schools and kindergartens were expected to open as planned Wednesday in the Gaza-vicinity communities.
One rocket landed inside a community in the Eshkol Regional Council. A police sapper handled the rocket and the public was asked to stay away from the area until the police completed their work.
The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] defined the barrage as “a serious rocket offensive against Israel’s home front,” saying that “Hamas is leading the Gaza Strip and its residents to deterioration and escalation.”
The escalation occurred on the backdrop of the “kite terrorism” and the incendiary and explosive balloons dispatched from the Strip, which have sparked huge fires in the Gaza vicinity. In response, the IDF attacked three targets in the southern Strip shortly after midnight Tuesday, and Hamas retaliated—and claimed responsibility.
According to an IDF statement, the Air Force struck a total of 25 Hamas targets across the Gaza Strip in three waves. Eleven targets were attacked in the last wave “in four military compounds of the Hamas terror organization, including an underground training facility.”
The IDF statement added, “The Hamas terror organization led a serious rocket offensive against the Israeli home front tonight and is leading the Gaza Strip and its residents to deterioration and escalation. Hamas is responsible for everything going on in the Gaza Strip and will bear the consequences of the acts of terror against Israel’s citizens. The IDF is prepared and determined to fulfill its mission to defend Israel’s citizens and will increase its activity if necessary following an assessment of the situation.”
IDF Spokesman in Arabic Avichay Adraee published a Facebook post Wednesday morning, warning that Hamas was leading the Gaza Strip to escalation.
“These were Hamas’ achievements in the previous conflict: Destruction, destruction and destruction. The threats made by the organization’s leaders won’t conceal the bottom line: Hamas is causing the Gaza Strip to deteriorate to escalation against the Strip residents’ best interest. Hamas doesn’t care about Gaza’s residents.”
The first Code Red siren sounded in the Eshkol Regional Council at 1:14 a.m., following the detection of a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip. Twelve minutes later, sirens sounded in several communities in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council and in the Ashkelon industrial zone.
Additional sirens sounded at 2:35 a.m. in the same areas, followed by more sirens at 2:42 a.m. in the Eshkol Regional Council.
Further sirens sounded in the Eshkol Regional Council at 2:50 a.m., 3:13 a.m. and 3:18 a.m.
After the IDF said it had attacked eight Hamas targets, sirens sounded in several communities in the Sdot Negev and Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council at 4:05 a.m. Additional sirens sounded in several communities in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council at 4:46 a.m. Later, sirens sounded in several communities in the Eshkol Regional Council at 5:17 a.m., and then again at 5:29 a.m. and at 5:51 a.m.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum on Tuesday night praised the “courageous resistance that responded to the Israeli bombardment of its posts in Gaza. It’s its legitimate right.”
He added that “the message of a bombardment met with a bombardment is proof that the rules of the conflict are being determined by the resistance and that it won’t allow the enemy to isolate our people or impose new equations.”
On Monday, IAF [Israeli Air Force] jets attacked nine Hamas targets in the northern Gaza Strip early Monday, in what were the most significant strikes in the fight against the incendiary kites and balloons terrorism.
The strikes hit two military bases in Jabalia, Al-Shati and a weapons production facility in Gaza City.
During the strike, three rockets were fired at the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council, with one apparently falling inside the Strip. They were accompanied by Code Red rocket-alarms at 4:40 a.m. and again at 5:13 a.m., with the latter one heard in the city of Ashkelon’s industrial area as well.
No casualties were reported from the rockets or air strikes.
The IDF Spokesman’s Office said the strikes were in response to the incendiary and explosive balloons and kites being launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip.
“These are terror attacks that endanger the residents of southern Israel,” the IDF said in a statement.
“In recent days, the IDF warned and carried out several attacks near the cells responsible for the arsons and destruction of lands in Israel as well as infrastructure used by these cells,” the army added.
“The IDF has intelligence information and the operational ability to further increase these strikes, and they will grow in strength as required. The IDF is determined to continue acting with increasing force against these terror activities for as long as it takes and with a variety of tools, until they stop,” it went on to say.
“The Hamas terror organization is responsible for everything that happens in and from the Gaza Strip, and it will suffer the consequences,” the statement concluded.
Photo Credit: Twitter/IDFSpokesman
Intercede for the Israeli communities in southern Israel and the IDF soldiers stationed on the Israel-Gaza border. Ask for God’s protection over both the civilians and the soldiers. Pray that He will bring emotional and psychological healing for trauma.
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Israel Foils Hamas Plot to Bomb Jerusalem, Tel Aviv
by Yoav Zitun
Monday, 18 June 2018 | The Shin Bet [Israeli internal security organization], IDF [Israel Defense Forces] and Israel Police recently exposed a Hamas terror cell operating in the Nablus area which was planning to carry out attacks in the center of Israel’s main cities, including in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
During the investigation that has taken place in recent months, security forces found explosive devices, one of which was considered to be of a significantly high quality, weighing 10 kg. [22 lbs.] and which could be detonated remotely.
In addition, 15 kg. [33 lbs.] of explosive materials were also discovered in the terror cell’s possession, along with other materials required for producing explosives.
A firearm and bomb-manufacturing instructions were also found by the Israeli security forces, who disposed of the materials in a controlled explosion.
The terror cell had been operating since October last year until its members were arrested at the end of April two months ago.
Consisting of more than 20 terrorists, the majority of the terrorists in the cell were affiliated with Hamas, while some had a long history of taking part in terror activities, including the assembling of explosive materials and bombs.
The Shin Bet investigation revealed that the terrorists had conspired to carry out bombings in central cities throughout Israel, including in Tel Aviv and a suicide bombing in the capital. They also planned to bomb the Itamar settlement and commit shooting attacks in the Samaria region of the West Bank [Judea and Samaria].
In addition to the central terror cell, security forces uncovered and foiled as part of their investigation another Hamas cell which was plotting to carry out attacks.
Two of the Hamas activists from Nablus who headed the main cell were responsible for producing the bombs and attempted to conscript more terrorists into their ranks. They were identified as Mutassem Salem, 35, and Fares Zawidi, 33.
An indictment will be submitted against Zawidi in the near future, but Salem has already been charged.
According to his indictment, the idea to carry out the attacks was conceived when Zawidi spoke to a member of the Al-Nusra Front in Syria using the Telegram messenger service.
The member is believed to have offered Salem US $100,000 to produce a bomb and detonate it next to Israelis or IDF facilities. He is also charged with planning to shoot Israelis, and stands accused of obstructing justice and bringing “enemy funds” into the West Bank.
The exposure of this affair demonstrates, once again, the will and the effort that Hamas invests in terror infrastructure in Judea and Samaria in order to promote serious terror attacks in Israel,” a senior Shin Bet official said.
“The exposure of the infrastructure teaches us about the continued desire by Hamas to carry out terror attacks against Israeli targets, while undermining the relative calm that has been taking effect in recent days,” he went on, adding that the security forces will continue to act to prevent all terror-related acts being carried out against Israel
“We will continue, together with our partners in the IDF and the Israel Police, to act with determination to preemptively thwart terror infrastructure and the murderous intentions of Hamas and to bring members of the infrastructure to account.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also issued a statement, saying that the incident illustrated Israel’s need to maintain security control throughout the West Bank.
“The Shin Bet, the IDF and the Israel Police thwarted a Hamas terror cell which tried to carry out explosive attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv from Nablus from inside Judea and Samaria,” the statement said.
“Hamas is trying to harm us both from Gaza and from Judea and Samaria. That is the reason that we will continue to maintain security control over the entire area west of the Jordan.”
Photo Credit: Twitter/IDFSpokesperson
Give thanks to God for uncovering the terror plot and thus preventing tragedy and loss of life. Continue to lift up Israel’s security forces, police, IDF, the Shin Bet and their families for His guidance, wisdom, protection and well-being.
But the LORD is with me as a mighty, awesome One. Therefore my persecutors will stumble, and will not prevail. They will be greatly ashamed, for they will not prosper. Their everlasting confusion will never be forgotten.
US Withdraws from UN Human Rights Council over Pathological Anti-Israel Bias
by Julie Lenarz
Thursday, 21 June 2018 | The US will withdraw from the UN [United Nations] Human Rights Council [UNHRC], Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley announced Tuesday.
“‘The US is officially withdrawing from the UNHRC. This step is not a retreat from human rights commitments,’ Haley said, charging that the UN forum is a ‘hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights’ and ‘is not worthy of its name.’ Pompeo described the Council as ‘an exercise in shameless hypocrisy’ and said it had become ‘an obstacle to progress and an impediment to change’ by providing cover for repressive regimes.”
The council, Haley added, has a “chronic bias against Israel.”
Why did the US withdraw?
The decision to withdraw from the Council comes after more than a year of threatening to exit the forum, calling for reform, and accusing the body of a pathological anti-Israel bias.
The White House, according to US officials, concluded that its efforts to reform the Council had failed, and that exiting the body was the only step it could take to demonstrate its seriousness.
“Haley said, ‘Regrettably, it is now clear that our call for reform was not heeded.’ She added that if the Council reforms, the US ‘would be happy to rejoin.’”
Haley specifically called out China, Russia, Cuba, and Egypt for blocking reform efforts, charging they had prevented change to protect their own repressive actions.
Haley also attacked the Council for including serial human rights violators among its ranks and not speaking out against those member states. The ambassador specifically cited countries like Venezuela and Congo, both of which are currently members of the Council.
“‘When a so-called Human Rights Council cannot bring itself to address the massive abuses in Venezuela and Iran and it welcomes the Democratic Republic of Congo as a new member, the Council ceases to be worthy of its name,’ Haley said.”
What’s the mandate of the Council?
The UN Human Rights Council was established in 2006 after its predecessor, the Human Rights Commission, was disbanded by then-Secretary General Kofi Annan over concerns of a “credibility deficit.” Comprised of a rotating membership of 47-member states, the Council is the highest body in the UN human rights system.
“UNGA Resolution 60/251 (2006) states, in Article 2, that the Council is responsible for ‘protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner.’ Article 3 states that the Council should address ‘situations of violations of human rights.’ Article 4 states that the work of the Council shall be guided by the principles of ‘universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity.’”
When the Council was created, the administration of President George W. Bush boycotted it over its membership of countries with abysmal human rights records. The US only joined the body in 2009 under President Barack Obama, whose administration argued that US membership could influence the Council’s behavior.
Who sits on the Council?
Contrary to its declared purpose, the organization has systematically turned a blind eye to the world’s worst criminal regimes and their crimes against humanity. Paradoxically, many serial violators of human rights are themselves Council members.
Currently, members of the Council include Qatar, Congo, Venezuela, China, Cuba, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Burundi.
What’s Agenda Item 7?
Agenda Item 7 is the clause which mandates a discussion on Israel at every session. It operates under the title: “Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories,” with the sub-title of “Human rights violations and implications of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and other occupied Arab territories; Right to self-determination of the Palestinian people.”
“Israel is ‘singled out in a way that no other country is singled out,’ by the stand-alone focus that is engraved in the Council’s permanent agenda, Haley said, leading to discriminatory treatment of the Jewish state at every Council meeting.”
What’s the Council’s record?
From its inception in 2006 until May 2018, the Council held 28 special sessions. Of the 22 sessions that singled-out specific countries, more than 30% have targeted Israel.
“For example, 8 sessions were held on Israel, while only 5 addressed the mass murder in Syria; 2 on the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar; and only a meeting each was held on serious human rights violations in countries like Congo, Libya, South Sudan and Burundi.”
From its inception in June 2006 until June 2016, the Council adopted 135 resolutions criticizing countries; 68 out of those 135 resolutions have been against Israel, more than 50%.
“For example, 20 of 26 UNGA condemnatory country-specific resolutions (or 77%) in 2016 exclusively targeted Israel. There were only 3 on Syria, and one each on Iran, North Korea, and Crimea.”
What are other countries saying?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the US withdrawal from the Council: “Israel thanks President Trump, Secretary of State Pompeo, and Ambassador Haley for their decision against the hypocrisy and lies of the UN Human Rights Council. For years, the Council has proved itself to be a biased, hostile and anti-Israeli body that is betraying its mission to protect human rights.”
Britain on Monday called on the Council to end its discriminatory treatment of Israel. “We share the view that the dedicated Agenda Item 7 focused solely on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories is disproportionate and damaging to the cause of peace,” Johnson said. The minister threatened that “unless things change we shall vote next year against all resolutions introduced under Item 7.”
Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop responded to the decision, saying Australia shared “many of the concerns held by the US”, particularly about the Council’s “anti-Israel bias”, but that Australia was “disappointed” by the US’s decision to leave. Last month, Australia and the US were the only two countries on the Council to vote against an independent investigation into the deaths that occurred during the Hamas-orchestrated Gaza border riots.
Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 20 June 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: Twitter/Secretary Pompeo@SecPompeo
Intercede for the UN and its various bodies that the truth regarding the anti-Israel bias will be revealed. Continue to pray for Nikki Haley and Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon that God will strengthen them and equip them with the strategy to stand for Israel in the face of gross discrimination.
Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause, for would you deceive with your lips? Do not say, I will do to him just as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work.
Netanyahu Meets with Jordan’s King Abdullah in Amman
by Itamar Eichner
Tuesday, 19 June 2018 | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman on Monday, in what was their first encounter since a diplomatic spat erupted following a deadly incident last year involving an Israeli security guard and two Jordanians at the Israeli embassy in the Hashemite Kingdom.
According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, the two leaders “discussed regional developments, advancing the peace process and bilateral relations.”
The statement also said that Netanyahu “reiterated Israel’s commitment to maintaining the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem.”
In March, Jordan accepted Israel’s choice of a new ambassador for the kingdom, another sign of improving ties after a months-long crisis.
Government spokesman Mohammed Momani said at the time that the envoy, Amir Weissbrod, “can start his mission any time now.”
Last month, Weissbrod landed in Amman where he officially took up his post as the Israeli ambassador, nearly nine months after his predecessor Einat Schlein, along with her entire diplomatic staff, was forced to leave Jordan due to the shooting incident that ruptured the two countries’ relations.
The incident began last summer when a security guard at the Israeli embassy in Jordan shot and killed two Jordanians, alleging one attacked him with a screw driver. The Israeli guard and Schlein were given a hero’s welcome by Netanyahu, infuriating Jordan.
Jordanian authorities say they suspected the shooting was unprovoked but could not investigate the guard due to his diplomatic immunity.
A senior official confirmed after the incident that Schlein would not be returning to Amman. “The Jordanians don’t want her back, and this has been a big obstacle in patching things up.”
Israel has shown no sign of meeting Jordan’s demand that it launch criminal proceedings against the guard, who was identified, much to Israel’s chagrin after the shooting, by the Jordanian daily Al-Rad as Ziv Moyal, 28. His diplomatic identity card was also published, delivering a blow to Israel which had censored the publication of his details.
Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/IsraeliPM
Give thanks for the restoration of the relationship between Israel and Jordan. Ask God to hold this lasting peace between the two neighbors up as an example for other Arab countries to emulate. Pray for newly appointed ambassador Amir Weissbrod and his diplomatic team as they settle in and rebuild Israel’s reputation and relationships in Jordan.
You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased. I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
Israel, Putin Agree to “Counter Terrorism” after Hezbollah Refuses Russian Call to Exit Syria
by Joshua Spurlock
Monday, 18 June 2018 | Russia vaguely but ominously stated their willingness to join Israel in opposing “international terrorism” last week, one day after news broke that Hezbollah had rebuffed a Russian call for the terrorist group to leave Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “expressed readiness to boost the coordination of their actions with regard to Syria, including in countering international terrorism” during a call together on Friday, according to a statement posted to the Russian Presidency’s website.
While Hezbollah was not mentioned by name, the “terrorism” reference was an unusual inclusion in the brief press release, as it did not appear in numerous Russian press summaries of Putin-Netanyahu calls throughout 2018. It also comes as the Hezbollah and Russia relationship is getting rocky, despite both being allies of the Syrian regime in that nation’s civil war.
Israel Hayom reported that Hezbollah was still in Syria as of last Thursday—according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights group—despite a Russian request for the Lebanese terrorists to leave Syria per a Russia-Israel agreement. The report specifically noted the Russians and Hezbollah had not battled each other yet—which would be a dramatic development—and raises questions about how far Russia is willing to go to keep its Syrian plan. Israel has already made it clear how far they will go.
Netanyahu has repeatedly highlighted the danger posed by Iranian forces—which include proxies like Hezbollah—remaining in Syria. On Sunday, he reiterated his willingness to take “action” against Hezbollah to prevent them from setting up a new base inside Israel’s northern neighbor.
Informing his cabinet what he told Putin in their call, Netanyahu was quoted by an Israeli statement as saying on Sunday, “We will take action—and are already taking action—against efforts to establish a militarily presence by Iran and its proxies in Syria both close to the border and deep inside Syria. We will act against these efforts anywhere in Syria.”
The Israel-Iran-Hezbollah conflict has reached new heights in 2018, as Israel and Iran have openly engaged each other across the Syrian border. This follows years of reports of Israeli action in Syria to prevent advanced weapons from being transferred to Hezbollah.
Israel’s summary of the latest Putin-Netanyahu call did not mention terrorism, but Netanyahu’s comments marking Russia’s National Day last week did. Commenting on the two countries’ “great friendship,” Netanyahu was quoted by his office as saying last Thursday, “We think that it’s born of a common history, but also of common interest. We are united in our desire to fight terrorism. We are united in giving a better people, a better future for our peoples. We cooperate in so many ways.”
Whether that cooperation will include battling Hezbollah in Syria is now a looming question in the ever-complicated Syrian civil war saga.
Photo Credit: kremlin.ru/wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
Thank God for Russia’s commitment to stand with Israel in the fight against international and regional terrorism. Continue to intercede for the danger that Israel faces with both Iran and Hezbollah entrenched on its northern border in Syria.
But, O LORD of hosts, You who test the righteous, and see the mind and heart, let me see Your vengeance on them; for I have pleaded my cause before You.
Leader of World’s Largest Muslim Organization Meets Netanyahu, Wants Closer Ties with Israel
Monday, 18 June 2018 | The leader of the world’s largest Muslim organization, Yahya Staquf, said he wants to see closer ties between Israel and Indonesia in a surprise meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, The Times of Israel reported.
The Muslim cleric from Indonesia, who is the secretary-general of the 60 million-member Nahdlatul Ulama, is visiting Israel at the invitation of the American Jewish Committee.
Staquf, a strong advocate of interfaith dialogue, met with several religious leaders this week. His meeting with Netanyahu, however, was not officially on the agenda. After talks with the cleric, Netanyahu spoke of Israel’s warming ties with Muslim countries, and expressed his hopes “that we have some movement with Indonesia.”
In Indonesia, social media has been filled with negative comments about the visit. Israel and Indonesia do not have diplomatic relations, and the visit has prompted protests in the country.
In an exclusive interview with The Israel Project, Staquf responded to the criticism, saying he needed to reach out “because I want peace” between Israel and the Palestinians. “If you want peace, then you have to talk to everyone,” he said.
Staquf urged different communities of faith and no faith to embrace the concept of “rahma,” meaning compassion and caring about others.
He explained one reason why people in Muslim countries have a negative perception of Israel is because they “haven’t thought about it deeply.” Instead, Staquf urged people to “think towards peace.”
The cleric said while he knows that “Israel did bad things in the past” and “Palestinian people did bad things in the past,” what is needed now is a dialogue about “what we want for our future, together.” When asked if he’s hopeful for the future, Staquf replied: “This is why I came here. I want the hope of peace to be alive.”
In a final message, he once again pleaded for people to embrace “rahma.”
Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 15 June 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: Haim Zach/GPO
Thank God for the warming ties of friendship between Israel and Indonesia. Ask Him to use this growing relationship as an avenue for Muslims across the world to change their view of Israel from enemy to ally.
Both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.
100,000 Iranians Join Israel Telegram Group; Netanyahu Hopes to Visit Tehran
Wednesday, 20 June 2018 | That didn’t take long: 100,000 Iranians have already joined the Telegram messenger group linked to the Israeli water website, which aims to save lives in Iran by giving away information on water conservation. Furthermore, the website was only announced nine days ago by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—and that’s not the only response Israel has been receiving from Iranians.
“I salute all of the brave Iranians who wrote to publicly thank Israel in recent days,” Netanyahu was quoted by spokesman Ofir Gendelman’s Twitter feed in a series of posts on Tuesday. “The reason we opened a Farsi website and Telegram group to teach water conservation is simple: it can help save countless Iranian lives.”
The Israeli leader, in a series of Twitter posts by Gendelman, cited the large number of Telegram followers and noted that “millions of people” have seen the video he made promoting the water offer to Iran. He even hopes that someday he can talk to the Iranian people in person—in the Iranian capital.
“To every Iranian mother, father, student and activist, I promise you one thing: Israel will never lose faith in the promise of peace and friendship between us,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying.
He continued in a follow-up post, “One day, you will be liberated from the shackles of tyranny. On that day, I will visit Tehran to meet the courageous and talented people of Iran.”
Netanyahu’s YouTube video on the water program pointed out that almost 96% of Iran “suffers from some levels of drought,” highlighting that Israel handles their own “water challenges” with massive wastewater recycling and drip irrigation that more efficiently waters plants.
Netanyahu said in the video that he wanted to share that drip irrigation information and that on the Farsi website they would launch, there would be “detailed plans on how Iranians can recycle their wastewater. We will show how Iranian farmers can save their crops and feed their families.”
On Tuesday, Netanyahu was quoted by Gendelman’s tweets as saying that the water program “shows the enduring friendship between the Iranian and Israeli peoples. The Iranian regime tries to sow hatred between us. But the Iranian people are too smart for that.”
Photo Credit: Borisshin/wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
Praise the Lord for the Iranian people’s courage and gratitude towards Israel for making the much-needed water technology available to them. Glorify God for opening a way for Israel to reach out and connect with the Iranian people. Pray for a lasting change in their hearts and minds to except Israel’s extended hand of friendship.
The wicked man does deceptive work, but he who sows righteousness will have a sure reward. As righteousness leads to life, so he who pursues evil pursues it to his own death. Those who are of a perverse heart are an abomination to the LORD, but the blameless in their ways are His delight.
Creating Opportunities for Motivated Soldiers from Minority Groups
Wednesday, 20 June 2018 | You’ve never met a group of soldiers like the ones from the “Nahshon” Platoon at the Michve Alon training base. The platoon consists of 24 Arabic-speaking Christians who volunteered to join the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] for one collective cause: acceptance to significant positions in order to contribute to the State of Israel.
Right under our noses, quietly and humbly, an incredible thing is happening at the Michve Alon training base. After years of low drafting percentages among the Arabic-speaking Christian community in Israel, specifically, no more than one or two in each national draft, things have now changed. In this current drafting class, 24 soldiers of the Arabic-speaking Christian community have volunteered to draft into the IDF.
The motivated soldiers began their military service with a three-week preparatory program. They were then taken into the Michve Alon training base to overcome their biggest challenge: Hebrew.
The “Nahshon” Platoon was especially established for the Arab-speaking Christian population in Israel. It’s a place of education with a familial and prideful atmosphere. As the platoon’s training has ended, we spoke to the people who have molded it into what it is today.
“The preparations for the culminating ceremony make me very emotional”, says Lt. Sapir, commander of the “Eyal” Company, where the soldiers were first taken in. “They’re amazing soldiers and their Hebrew has improved unbelievably.”
“I’m sure they will go far in their service”, Lt. Sapir is convinced. “Our goal was to improve their Hebrew level with the understanding that they’re aiming for significant positions that require a proficient level of Hebrew.”
The course mostly consists of Hebrew lessons that gradually increase in difficulty, along with lessons about heritage and connection to the country, and additional subjects related to the soldiers’ unique identities.
“The fact that Arabic-speaking Christians have a course and a platoon of their own strengthens the idea that the IDF is a place that does and always will care for them,” explains “Nahshon” Platoon Commander, Lt. Shlomit, who accompanied the soldiers throughout their training.
Lt. Gardi commanded the course and believes that the point of it was to create a house for the platoon which will echo in the communities the soldiers are from. “The platoon is going to open a door for the whole Arabic-speaking Christian community,” she says. “We didn’t just call the platoon “Nahshon” out of nowhere. Nahshon was the first person to cross the Red Sea when the Jews escaped slavery in Egypt, and was then followed by the rest.” In a similar way, the soldiers from the Nahshon Platoon are paving the path for more Arab-speaking Christians and minorities to draft.
Pvt. Asad’s pride in successfully completing the course is eminent in every word he says: “I used to not speak Hebrew at all. I knew almost nothing, but the course has made me comfortable with the language and I’ve tremendously improved.”
“The platoon is like a family, like brothers, far more than friends,” he says emotionally. “Everyone helps one another. We’re a team, something larger together.”
Asad grew up in an Arabic-speaking Christian family in northern Israel. His volition to volunteer in the IDF comes from a surprising place:
“My father is a truck driver. I wanted to be like him, to make him proud of me but it was important for me to contribute to my country as I am a part of it.” As he had hoped, Pvt. Asad will soon begin his service as a cargo truck driver. “The course has provided me with the integration that I wanted and I am very pleased.”
Pvt. Tazmuz’s favorite word in Hebrew is self-confidence. “It’s what has improved the most in me,” he shares. “I have a good feeling about the job I’m going to be doing, but it’s not enough for me. I want to be an officer. That’s the largest contribution I can give.”
“Since its establishment, the IDF has been the people’s army, serving as a way to bring together all the different communities in Israel to meet,” concludes the Michve Alon Base commander, Lt. Col. Dorit Maoz. “We all have a common house within the IDF, with mutual values, responsibility, and caring for each other.”
Photo Credit: www.idf.il
Bring these Arab Christians before God and praise Him for their courage, endurance, valor and faithfulness to the nation of Israel. Ask God to encourage them as they continue their training. Pray that He will raise them up as beacons in their communities and to bless their families. Give thanks for the IDF’s commitment to invest in and empower soldiers from all communities in Israel.
Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
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