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Hope in Difficult Times

Friday, June 28, 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.

Herzog after Visit to Northern Front: ‘Situation Spiraling Out of Control’

by Itamar Eichner ~ Ynetnews

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Isaac Herzog in an earlier visit to Safed, November 21, 2023.

Thursday, 27 June 2024 | President Isaac Herzog and his wife concluded their two-day visit to northern Israel on Wednesday after which Herzog warned, “The international community cannot act surprised if the situation spirals out of control, as the international community has almost done nothing to contribute to the full security of the residents of Israel, despite repeated violations of treaties and international agreements from Lebanon by Hezbollah.”

During their visit, Herzog and his wife stayed in Safed, where they met with Mayor Yossi Kakon and local business owners who presented them with a situational assessment. Herzog also met with members of the local emergency response team in Kibbutz Hanita’s command center and commended them for their dedicated work.

The visit’s second day began with a morning prayer with Safed residents at the Ari Ashkenazi Synagogue, followed by a visit to the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] Northern Command, where he met with its commander Major General Ori Gordin, received a broad operational briefing from intelligence officers and spoke with soldiers serving in the command.

The president later met with members of the Conflict Zone Forum—which works to raise awareness for Israeli communities located close to fighting zones—in Jish, attended by 17 municipality heads. They discussed the current security and civil needs in their communities, along with their emotions and difficulties.

Herzog concluded his visit in Kibbutz Sde Nehemia, located 5 kilometers [3.1 mi.] from the Israel–Lebanon border, where he visited, among other places, the kibbutz’s [collective community] kindergarten, which operates at full capacity as a symbol of continued routine even amid high tensions on the border.

Following the visit, Herzog said, “I remind all of Israel that the displaced, the evacuees and all those who endure the fires and the flames are Jews, Muslims, Druze and Christians alike. We are aware that all aspects of life here are challenged and we are united in this battle. We came to offer strength to the communities, the home front, the residents, the evacuees and those who remain here.”

“I call on the tax authorities and all the bodies involved in supporting small and medium businesses and industrial enterprises to act much faster. We see small businesses collapsing because no one is giving them attention. If we want people to stay and not evacuate, we need to provide them with a strong home front.”

Herzog recently also visited Metula and highlighted the damage sustained in the community amid the war. “I’m saying this to you and to Metula’s residents with certainty—we’ll return here, to the final limits of the border. We’ll return and exercise our sovereignty through fulfilling lives. We’ll restore the houses, plant, build and bring everyone back to Metula and all the other northern communities.”

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on June 26, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Spokesperson unit of the President of Israel/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for unity in the face of an increasingly dangerous situation—unity among government leaders, IDF commanders and residents of Israel’s northern communities who are on the front lines. Most of all, pray that eyes will be turned in trust to the Lord who is the shield and deliverer of His people.

Scripture

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.


- Psalm 18:2

The IDF on Track to Dismantle Hamas’s Last Brigade in Rafah

by Yaakov Lappin ~ JNS

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IAF jets have been a crucial part in operations against Hamas infrastructure in Rafah (illustrative).

Monday, 24 June 2024 | The Israel Defense Forces [IDF] is pursuing a phased approach in its ongoing offensive against Hamas’s last stronghold in Rafah, Gaza. By dividing Rafah into sub-areas and deploying a single division—the 162nd—rather than two, the IDF and the Israeli Cabinet have taken a slower path, but one that has avoided another crisis with the US.

According to Israeli military assessments, Hamas’s final functioning brigade will be dismantled in Rafah within weeks. Its defeat will mark a major milestone in the war that began on October 7 with Hamas’s mass invasion of southern Israel. Meanwhile, Hamas has lost its ability to smuggle weapons and contraband from Egypt’s Sinai into Gaza via the cross-border tunnels. This will severely harm Hamas’s ability to rebuild its terror army—assuming that Israel does not relinquish its control of the Gaza–Egypt border.

According to an IDF source, of Hamas’s four Rafah battalions, only two are currently functional.

The IDF has eliminated over 500 terrorists in Rafah, and has also discovered extensive tunnel networks under the city, and under the Philadelphi Corridor along the Gaza–Egypt border. Two of the tunnels destroyed by Israeli forces exceeded 1 kilometer [0.6 mi.] in length.

IDF ground and air units are dismantling significant portions of Hamas’s terrorist infrastructure in the area. Much of this work is slow and extremely difficult, as Hamas employs asymmetric warfare tactics and stays out of sight until it strikes.

The Israeli Air Force [IAF] has played a crucial role in these operations. IAF fighter jets and aircraft have been striking numerous targets across Gaza, and providing close air support for the 162nd Division in Rafah. The Israeli Navy has also been striking enemy targets from the sea.

On June 20, the IDF reported that the Nahal infantry brigade, operating under the 162nd Division, had discovered large quantities of hidden weapons and tunnel shafts within and under civilian residences in Rafah.

The IDF has learned an enormous amount about complex, large-scale urban warfare in recent months, and is applying those lessons effectively in Rafah.

All of this has led to considerable, steady progress in the systematic erosion of the Rafah Brigade’s capabilities.

The phased approach allowed for the safe evacuation of over a million civilians; the evacuations have continued at the local level.

This has been crucial in avoiding civilian casualties as much as possible and avoiding a crisis with the US Biden administration. However, this approach also gave Hamas the option of fleeing Rafah under the cover of the evacuations, possibly taking hostages with them.

International media has reported that the IDF has accelerated the pace of the Rafah operation in recent days. Reuters reported on June 21 that the IDF had taken control of the eastern, southern and central parts of the city and was now focusing on the northern and western sections. The intensified activity has led to a new wave of evacuations, with Gazans moving northward, according to the report. Reuters cited UN estimates that there are now fewer than 100,000 civilians left in Rafah, compared with over a million before the IDF ground maneuver.

Despite the slower pace, the IDF’s strategy appears to have proven effective.

Meanwhile, the IDF’s destruction of Rafah’s massive tunnels network is crucial in cutting off supply lines and operational routes, significantly weakening Hamas’s overall capabilities.

Parallel to this effort in Rafah is the ongoing IDF effort to eliminate senior Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists, harming the terrorist groups’ command and control capabilities. On June 22, the IAF attempted to eliminate Hamas’s head of operations, Raed Sa’ad, in a strike in Gaza City. At time of publication, it remained unclear whether the attempt was successful.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on June 24, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that the IDF forces will continue their slow but steady and effective progress in Rafah. Ask the Lord to reveal hidden traps placed by the enemy and to be a shield for the soldiers on the ground.

Scripture

“Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, the shield of your help and the sword of your majesty! Your enemies shall submit to you, and you shall tread down their high places.”


- Deuteronomy 33:29

Life Triumphs over Death as Kibbutz Be’eri Rebuilds

by Ilse Strauss

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Bridges for Peace Israel Operations Director Daniel Kirchevel (left) helps lay the foundation stone for Kibbutz Be’eri alongside a community member.

Wednesday, 26 June 2024 | The scene that greeted Itzik and his family was like something out of an apocalyptic movie. Family homes reduced to piles of charred rubble. Bodies tossed like limp ragdolls on the sidewalk. Bits of furniture strewn across the remains of once immaculate lawns and prize gardens.

When Itzik slammed the door to the bomb shelter shut as the first air raid siren sounded on October 7, Kibbutz Be’eri was paradise. Thirteen hours later when the soldiers rescued him and his family from their hiding place, they emerged to unimaginable destruction. In that moment, Itzik knew he had to be strong—for his family. So he gathered his 14-year-old son in a bear hug and promised, “They came to destroy. But we’ll rebuild. I promise you. We will rebuild.”

On Monday, the survivors of the Be’eri Massacre took the first step to fulfilling that promise when they laid the cornerstone for a new neighborhood of 52 homes in a ceremony that stands as a beacon of light shining from the very spot where Israel suffered one of the severest blows in its history.

The tranquil agricultural community of Kibbutz Be’eri was one of the hardest hit on October 7. Located a mere 2.5 miles [4 km.] from the Gaza Strip, this was where Hamas terrorists committed some of the worst atrocities, often filming themselves rampaging through family homes as they gleefully killed, raped and tortured men, women, children and the elderly. Roughly one in ten inhabitants of Be’eri were massacred and some two dozen were taken hostage, while 150 buildings were destroyed.

Eight months later, the survivors stood on the edge of the clearing where the 52 homes will soon be constructed. Officials addressing the audience juxtaposed a message of hope with anecdotes of loved ones lost. A well-known Israeli artist sang as grown men with weathered faces swiped at errant tears running down rivulets carved by time and the Israeli sun. And as the first thump of concrete fell on the cornerstone, a bitter-sweet cheer filled the sweltering sky.

The 52 new homes in Kibbutz Be’eri mean that life will once again flourish in the very spot where the enemies of Israel tried to sow death. It means that Hamas struck a severe blow, that yes, the war is not yet won and all the hostages are not yet home, but ultimately, light will triumph over darkness. Life will triumph over death.

Even the name of the neighborhood, Shikmim or sycamore in English, is heavy with significance. Shikmim comes from the Hebrew word meaning regrowth, a reference to the sycamore tree’s tenacity to spout new life even when cut down to a seemingly dead stump.

The urban layout for the 50 homes to be constructed in the new neighborhood in Kibbutz Be’eri

“Today is a new dawn for us,” explains Yarden Zemach, 38. Zemach and his four siblings were born and raised in Be’eri, and then returned to the kibbutz as adults to raise their own families there. Yarden’s brother, Shachar, 39, a dedicated peace activist, was murdered on October 7 as he tried to defend the makeshift triage center where first responders were treating the wounded. Shachar, the Hebrew word for dawn, leaves behind his wife and two toddlers.

A team from Bridges for Peace was invited to the ceremony to rejoice with the community of Be’eri. Thanks to Christians from around the world, we were, after all, alongside the community of Be’eri within days of the attack, providing emotional support, appliances, food and school supplies. We could prove in the most practical ways that the people of Israel are not alone, that their Christian brothers and sisters are with them.

“On October 7, we saw the worst of humanity,” Yarden said. “But in the aftermath, we also saw the best of humanity when people like you came to support us, to help us.”

One by one, those who survived the Be’eri Massacre on October 7 stepped up to the cornerstone. Once peaceful farmers, all now sport automatic weapons slung over their shoulders. And one by the one, the trowel passed from hand to hand calloused from tilling the Promised Land to cement the symbolic stone in place.

How little have changed, I mused. Thousands of years ago, the great, great, great grandparents of those now building Kibbutz Be’eri worked in exactly the same way as they rebuilt the destroyed walls of Jerusalem under Nehemiah. “Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built,” (4:18).

Different millennia. Different weapons. But the same enemy, this time attacking under a different alias. And the same target: Israel.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” George Santayana warned. That is why Bridges for Peace is here as Israel rebuilds what the enemy tried yet again to destroy. Jew and Gentile together against the enemy. The God of Israel against the father of deception. Yes, Monday marked a new dawn for Kibbutz Be’eri, the first step in a very long journey to coming home. And we—Christians from around the word—are here to help them every step of the way.

Am Israel Chai. The people of Israel lives because the God of Israel lives.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, June 26, 2024)

Photo Credit: Michio Nagata/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for this tangible evidence that, in the face of death, His people choose life. Ask the Lord to strengthen and encourage all those who are facing the daunting task of rebuilding their communities. Pray that Christians around the world will find ways to stand with them.

Scripture

“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”


- Deuteronomy 30:19–20

Report: Biden Administration No Longer Fast-tracking Arms to Israel

by Joshua Spurlock ~ Middle East Update

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US President Joe Biden

Monday, 24 June 2024 | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday expressed “hope” that the US will “resolve” issues involving weapons shipments to the Jewish state soon, but a new report and claims from a US Senator indicate that those weapons are no longer being fast-tracked on an emergency basis.

After referencing four months of bottlenecks in arms deliveries from the US, Netanyahu told Sunday’s cabinet meeting, “In light of what I have heard over the past 24 hours, I hope and believe that this issue will be resolved in the near future.”

Netanyahu said he “greatly” appreciates the defensive and offensive support from the US but noted that four months ago there was a “dramatic decrease” in US weapons deliveries. This followed a video published by Israel last week of Netanyahu making similar accusations in which he said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave assurances the administration is “working day and night to remove these bottlenecks.”

The Biden administration has since repeatedly denied Netanyahu’s claims that weapons have been generally withheld from Israel. However, the Times of Israel reported on Sunday that the Biden administration has in fact ended emergency procedures that sped up the process of providing Israel with weapons. Per the report, which cited an American official familiar with the situation, this is due to a reduction in the intensity of Israel’s Gaza campaign and concerns Israel could launch a preemptive campaign against Hezbollah, which might expand the regional conflict into a full regional war. That rationale runs counter to the messages sent by the US backing Israel as the Jewish state already faces regular attacks from Hamas, Hezbollah and terrorists in Yemen and Iraq, as well as ongoing threats from Iran.

The article cited a separate unsourced report by Channel 12 in Israel that said weapons shipments from the US have been halved in recent months compared to the beginning stage of the war.

The Times of Israel report implies validity to the claims of US Senator Tom Cotton, who on Thursday published to his office’s website a strong rebuke of the Biden administration’s approach to Israel. Cotton, a member of the Republican party that rivals President Joe Biden’s Democrats, in a letter to President Biden accused the administration of using “bureaucratic sleight of hand” to delay arms deliveries for political reasons.

Referencing a procedural requirement to provide notice to Congress before shipping weapons to a foreign nation, Cotton said that the law includes an emergency exception to waive the Congressional review and expedite the sale of weapons. The senator’s letter says that while the Biden administration had previously invoked the emergency clause for Israel, it “appears that you stopped acknowledging the emergency in Israel after receiving a letter” from a select number of Congressional Democrats in January calling to cease expedited weapons sales to Israel.

As a result of the non-emergency approach, Cotton said the Biden administration “can then claim that the weapons are ‘in process’ while never delivering them.”

National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby, in comments on Thursday published to the White House website, rejected Netanyahu’s claims the US is withholding weapons and said the accusations were “perplexing” and “certainly vexing.”

He later referenced a “pause” only in delivering certain bombs to Israel, but Cotton countered similar administration claims by listing a range of weapons to Israel that had been delayed, including tactical vehicles, mortars, tank rounds, and bombs.

Cotton noted that a ship carrying “at least some of these arms” was reportedly released for delivery on Wednesday, but “that modest step doesn’t cure the damage done by the delay…You’re playing politics with the nation’s honor and our ally’s security.”

Cotton wasn’t the only US senator making this accusation. Senator Bill Hagerty, also a Republican, said the Biden administration is intentionally delaying the notice to Congress of weapons shipments to Israel.

The US senators’ criticism of the Biden administration’s handling of Israeli weapons follows Netanyahu’s public complaints about weapons delays, comments the Israeli leader said on Sunday came after repeated private appeals to the US leadership.

“For long weeks, we turned to our American friends and requested that the shipments be expedited. We did this time and again. We did so at the highest levels, and at all levels, and I want to emphasize—we did so behind closed doors. We received all sorts of explanations, but one thing we did not receive; the basic situation did not change. Certain items arrived sporadically but the munitions at large remained behind,” said Netanyahu.

He said last week’s video was done “out of years of experience and the knowledge that this step was vital to opening the bottleneck.”

While Netanyahu has doubled-down on his accusation the Biden administration had delayed weapons deliveries, Israel and the US remain close allies. That was reiterated on Friday, when four US senators—all Republicans—published support for the proposed Maintaining Our Ironclad Commitment to Israel’s Security Act. The legislation would require the president to give Congress more than two weeks’ notice of actions to “pause, suspend, delay, or abrogate the delivery of defense articles and services to Israel.”

The legislation would also require the administration to provide a “policy justification” for those delays or suspensions and would “express a sense of Congress that all previously negotiated and approved arms sales to Israel should proceed and all pauses should be lifted.”

Senator Tim Scott, one of the bill’s sponsors, was quoted in the press statement as saying, “Israel has every right to defend itself, and we should not be standing in their way. This administration clearly needs to ensure that the will of Congress to support our greatest ally in the Middle East is not being undermined.

“Standing with Israel and ensuring they succeed in their effort to eliminate the terrorist threat posed by Hamas is the only path forward.”

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published by Middle East Update on June 23, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: BrittGoins/The White House/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Proclaim the truth that it is the Lord who will deliver and preserve His people, not the armies of man. Pray that His people will call out to Him when earthly allies seem to waver.

Scripture

Like birds flying about, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem. Defending, He will also deliver it; passing over, He will preserve it.


- Isaiah 31:5

US: Hamas Formally Rejected Hostage Deal

by JNS

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The hostage exchange on November 28, 2023

Wednesday, 26 June 2024 | An official in Washington on Tuesday for the first time confirmed that Hamas’s response to the hostage deal outlined by US President Joe Biden on May 31 amounted to a rejection.

“They came back several weeks ago and rejected the proposal that was on the table,” said US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.

Hamas “gave us a written response that rejected the proposal that had been put forward by Israel, that President Biden had outlined, that the United Nations Security Council [UNSC] and countries all around the world had endorsed,” he told reporters, according to a State Department readout.

Miller added that the administration wouldn’t release the text of the terror group’s response due to the sensitive nature of the talks, but confirmed it had received “a written rejection and counter-proposal.”

While Miller was the first US official to describe Hamas’s June 11 reply as a rejection of the proposed framework, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had previously said it included changes that were “not workable.”

“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 stated at a June 12 press conference in Doha.

Ismail Haniyeh, the Qatar-based head of Hamas’s “political” bureau, on Tuesday stressed the terror organization’s refusal to sign any deal unless Jerusalem commits to ending the war in Gaza and withdrawing all troops, conditions that Israel has repeatedly dismissed.

Any ceasefire proposal that does not guarantee an end to the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] offensive in the enclave is “not an agreement,” said Haniyeh.

“If the criminal enemy thinks targeting my family will change our position or that of the resistance, they are delusional,” Haniyeh added, in reference to a Gaza airstrike in which one of his sisters was killed.

The IDF confirmed on Tuesday that jets had struck two buildings in the northern Strip that were being used by Hamas terrorists, including several who invaded the Jewish state on October 7 and took hostages.

Arab sources reported that a sister of Haniyeh was among those killed in the strikes.

More than 250 people were abducted to Gaza during Hamas’s October 7 invasion of the northwestern Negev. Thousands more were killed and wounded by the terrorist group, with numerous atrocities documented.

One-hundred and twenty hostages remain in the strip, of whom 116 were abducted on October 7 (the other four were captured earlier). The figure includes both living and deceased men, women and children.

At least dozens of the remaining hostages are believed to be alive, a senior Israeli official involved in the negotiations told AFP last week.

The official noted that the Jewish state cannot commit to ending the war as a precondition for a deal because Hamas could “breach their commitment…and drag out the negotiations for 10 years” or more.

During a meeting with Blinken at the State Department on Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant emphasized the need for all parties to put more pressure on Hamas to release the captives.

Prior to his meeting with US officials, including CIA director William Burns, Gallant stated in Hebrew that “it is Israel’s primary commitment to return the hostages, with no exception, to their families and homes.”

Israeli negotiators reportedly traveled to Qatar last week in an attempt to narrow the gaps between the agreed-upon hostage deal and Hamas’s demands. According to the Elaph outlet, which cited an official familiar with the talks, the meeting focused on “controversial issues,” including the number of hostages that would be released during the first phase.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on June 26, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the global organizations and countries which have been pressuring Israel to reach a negotiated settlement with Hamas will grasp that it is a terrorist organization and not willing to compromise to any degree. Pray for God’s truth to be revealed to the world through this situation.

Scripture

Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is with those who uphold my life. He will repay my enemies for their evil. Cut them off in Your truth.


- Psalm 54:4–5

Survivors of Hamas Massacre Sue UNRWA: ‘An UNRWA Teacher Held Me Hostage’

by Itamar Eichner ~ Ynetnews

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An UNRWA school in Rafah

Tuesday, 25 June 2024 | Over 100 Israelis who were victims of the October 7 Hamas massacre intend to file a lawsuit against the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees [UNRWA] in New York’s Federal Court on Monday, alleging it supported murder, crimes against humanity, torture and systematic rape committed by Hamas during the massacre.

The plaintiffs are represented by the law firm MM-LAW, which has represented over 12,000 victims of  terror attacks, chemical weapons, torture and crimes against humanity from more than 25 countries.

The lawsuit alleges that UNRWA led a money laundering operation amounting to billions of dollars, which funded Hamas. This operation diverted aid money intended for Gaza residents to the terrorist organization instead of to those who needed help.

The lawsuit also alleges that UNRWA allowed Hamas to dig tunnels and establish command centers under its facilities and that UNRWA personnel participated in the October 7 massacre. The lawsuit was filed in New York, where the agency’s headquarters is located and where its executives reside.

“The findings in this lawsuit demonstrate that UNRWA was aware of and actively participated in the diversion of funds earmarked to support the people of Gaza into channels that ensured those funds were used for terrorism and in violation of international law,” said Bijan Amini, one of the lead attorneys in the case. “UNRWA’s insistence that over a billion dollars in Gaza aid be distributed in US cash that locals could not spend without going through Hamas moneychangers is one of the most damning pieces of new evidence presented in this case.”

“UNRWA is complicit in the murder of my children and family,” said Gadi and Reuma Kedem, whose children and grandchildren were murdered on October 7. “All that remains is to fight so that those responsible for strengthening Hamas are held accountable. UNRWA strengthened Hamas and transferred funds and financed the Hamas terrorists. UNRWA and its directors are completely complicit in the murder of my children and my family.”

UNRWA insisted on making payments in US dollars, a currency Gazans could not use to purchase anything. This practice was done solely in Gaza, not in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria], Jordan or other UN refugee programs. The monthly [US] $20 million in cash, which was transported to Gaza, was then exchanged by Hamas money changers to shekels for 10–20% of the sum.

This payment scheme took money from Gazan civilians and gave Hamas around [US] $2 to $4 million per month. The program ensured a reliable source of income for Hamas’s leadership every month, necessary for paying smugglers and arms dealers who accepted only dollars.

Ditza Heiman, 84, who was released from Hamas captivity in a hostage deal, said, “The terrorist who held me hostage for 53 days worked as a teacher at an UNRWA school.” According to her, “The fact that Hamas controlled Gaza was not an excuse for UNRWA to employ and fund terrorists, but UNRWA should have ensured additional precautions. UNRWA knew it was hiring terrorists and that its money and facilities were used for violence, but its partnership with Hamas trained and taught a generation of Gazan children to kill Jews.”

Claims Against UNRWA

According to the lawsuit, UNRWA facilitated the construction of Hamas command and control centers, attack tunnels and underground bunkers under its agency headquarters, schools, hospitals and offices. Additionally, the agency permitted the establishment of weapon depots and distribution centers at its headquarters, schools, medical clinics, offices, warehouses and other facilities. Moreover, the agency permitted the installation of rocket launching sites for terrorists inside and near UNRWA schools, hospitals and offices in violation of international humanitarian law.

The lawsuit further alleges that despite public concern and objections from the UN, UNRWA continued to provide substantial assistance to Hamas. The allegations also include: UNRWA staff who were also Hamas members participated in the October 7 massacre; UNRWA staff held and monitored hostages taken on October 7; UNRWA knowingly and intentionally employed Hamas members as management and agency staff; and senior Hamas operatives held influential positions in UNRWA in Gaza.

The lawsuit also explains that UNRWA chose to use textbooks and study programs approved by Hamas, containing content meant to indoctrinate Palestinian children to follow Hamas’s jihadist culture, instead of using approved UN textbooks.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on June 24, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: ISM Palestine/Flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Pray that the lawsuit will be successful in holding UNRWA accountable for its actions and that this tool of Hamas will be rendered useless. Pray that the nations which have been providing funding for this subsidiary will see clearly that UNRWA has allowed tunnels to be built under its facilities, functioned as a money laundering vehicle and participated in the indoctrination of children in its schools.

Scripture

He [God] frustrates the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot carry out their plans. He catches the wise in their own craftiness, and the counsel of the cunning comes quickly upon them. They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope at noontime as in the night.


- Job 5:12–14

Parents Make Aliyah after Lone Soldier Son Dies in Battle

by Itamar Eichner ~ Ynetnews

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Eliahou Benjamin Elmakayes, an IDF reservist, was tragically killed in battle, prompting his parents to make aliyah to Israel (illustrative).

Wednesday, 26 June 2024 | Master Sergeant (res.) Eliahou Benjamin Elmakayes came to Israel alone from France about 10 years ago out of his great love for the State of Israel, where he wished to build his life. On November 8, he was killed in the Gaza Strip. Now his parents are moving to Israel to live as he would have wanted, in Jerusalem.

Benjamin, who served as a reservist in the Engineering Corps, fell in battle in Gaza. He was 29 years old at the time of his death. His parents decided to follow his path and next week they will make aliyah [immigration to Israel] through the Jewish Agency and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. Benjamin is the youngest son of Marlene (Shoshana) and Lucien (Israel). He is also survived by five brothers and sisters. “We were very close, perhaps because he was the youngest of my six children,” his mother said.

In 2010, at the age of 15, Benjamin left his family in France and came to study in high school in Israel. After completing his matriculation exams, he returned to France, but his longing for Israel determined his path. He immigrated to the country in 2014 and volunteered for combat service in the Engineering Corps as a lone soldier.

After completing his service, he worked in a security firm in Jerusalem and he planned to marry his partner, Yoana. When the war broke out, he was called for reserve duty in Gaza. “We were very worried,” his mother said. “At the end of October, we saw him in Israel. We had a celebration and were filled with joy and excitement. We did not know that this happy moment would be our last together.”

A few days after their reunion, on November 8, Benjamin fell in the Gaza Strip. After the shiva [seven-day mourning period], the family returned to France, but in their hearts they had already decided to make aliyah. “His dream was that we live with him in Israel. We will build our lives in Jerusalem, the city that Benjamin loved more than anything,” Marlene said.

The chairman of the Jewish Agency, Major General (Res.) Doron Almog, said: “Benjamin’s legacy and the spirit of his service give us pride and inspiration.”

Minister of Immigration and Absorption of Israel Ofir Sofer expressed happiness over the aliyah of the fallen soldier’s parents. “The parents of Benjamin Elmakayes, who immigrated alone to enlist and defend the homeland and fell in battle, continue their heroic son’s path. A few months ago, I met Marlene and Lucien at an aliyah fair in Paris and was moved to tears when they told me they were about to make aliyah. I am glad this day has come,” he said.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on June 24, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDF/ Matanya/Flickr/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Give thanks for the promise of the Lord that those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouts. Pray for all those who are making the decision to return from the lands of their exile to the Land that the Lord has given them as an inheritance. Pray that the remaining members of Benjamin’s family will decide to join their parents and make aliyah.

Scripture

When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion, we were like those who dream. Restore our fortunes, LORD, as the streams in the South. Those who sow in tears shall harvest with joyful shouting.


- Psalm 126:1, 4–5 NASB

Displaced Israeli Children Face the New School Year

by Tamar Hadad Trabelsi ~ Ynetnews

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Some 16,710 Israeli students have been evacuated from northern communities (illustrative).

Monday, 24 June 2024 | Thousands of students in northern Israel were evacuated from their homes that were within reach of rockets fired from Lebanon. Others who were not evacuated have spent months studying under the threat of rocket attacks and interrupting their studies while running to protected areas during rocket alert sirens. In both cases, the students have lost another school year due to a lack of hours of study, teachers and educational and emotional support.

As the war continues unabated, the Education Ministry is preparing for the upcoming school year in the north with two scenarios due to the uncertainty and security concerns.

According to Education Minister Yoav Kisch, the ministry is planning for double registration of students in their original schools in the northern authorities and registration in back-up schools that have been or will be opened in the authorities to which families have been evacuated.

“We have set August 1 as the deadline for deciding how the school year will open in one of the two scenarios,” Kisch said. “This decision is subject to change based on the situation.” He added that NIS 140 million [US 37,364,082] have been allocated for establishing schools for students from authorities that have not been evacuated but are within Hezbollah’s rocket range.

To grasp the scope of the problem, some 16,710 students have been evacuated from northern communities across the country. About 9,000 of them were relocated to communities within the northern district and the rest to other districts. For example, 684 students are enrolled in eight relocated schools, 3,168 are learning in 60 community centers, 4,044 are placed in existing schools, 1,016 in six temporary schools and 950 children in kindergartens or daycare centers that have been placed in existing institutions or community centers.

In a recent Knesset [parliament] Education Committee discussion, officials in the north noted that, due to parental uncertainty and after many experienced the benefits of education systems in central authorities, there is a concern that more than 30% of students may not return to their original schools.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on June 24, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for the young students and their parents whose lives have been disrupted by evacuation from their homes and all that is familiar. Ask the Lord to give wisdom to those who will be making the decision about how and where to begin the next school year in the face of great uncertainty.

Scripture

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.


- Proverbs 3:5–6

Action
Editor’s Note: Bridges for Peace is dedicated to supporting children in need in schools all over Israel. Due to the recent influx of displaced children, schools urgently need our help! Please consider making a donation to our Feed a Child Program. Your contribution will enable us to reach more children, providing essential school supplies, food, gifts and more.

Jew-hatred in Germany Up by 80% in 2023

by JNS

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From left: Andrea Despot, chair of the EVZ Foundation; Joseph Schuster, president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews; and Felix Klein, Germany’s federal anti-Semitism commissioner, pose with placards stating “We remember,” in reference to International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Wednesday, 26 June 2024 | The 4,782 documented instances of Jew-hatred in Germany in 2023—2,787 of which happened after October 7—represent an 80% increase over 2022, according to a report from the Federal Association of Departments for Research and Information Centers on Anti-Semitism [RIAS].

On average, about 33 anti-Semitic incidents occurred per day in Germany from October 7 until the end of the year, compared to a little more than seven daily from January 1 to October 7, 2023, according to the new data, released on Tuesday by the Bundesverband RIAS, which is funded by the German state.

Two-thirds of the instances that involved “extreme violence, assaults and threats” also took place after October 7, per the study.

“The anti-Semitic massacres and terrorist attacks in Israel motivate people in Germany to engage in anti-Semitic behavior,” said Bianca Loy, research associate at the Bundesverband RIAS and co-author of the study. “Many well-known anti-Semitic stereotypes have been updated and applied to the Hamas massacres and the war in Israel and Gaza.”

Owing to this, she added, “violence against Jews has been justified, trivialized or denied.”

Loy called the situation, in which many have to hide their Jewish identities, “alarming and unacceptable.”

“The unprecedented rise in anti-Semitic incidents must be understood as a wake-up call,” stated Benjamin Steinitz, managing director of the Bundesverband RIAS. “The state has the responsibility to ensure that Jews can safely participate in civic life.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on June 25, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Cry out for the Jewish people around the world who are facing increasingly violent acts of anti-Semitism. Remind the Lord of His many promises to protect and bring His people back to the Land of their inheritance.

Scripture

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


- Psalm 13:3–5

Israel Tops Birth Rate in OECD

by JNS

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Israeli children on their first day of school in Jerusalem

Tuesday, 25 June 2024 | Israel has the highest fertility rate among a group of 38 industrialized nations in which births have dropped by more than half over the past 50 years, according to a new report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD].

The total fertility rate has dropped to 1.5 per woman in 2022 from 3.3 in 1960 on average across the OECD, according to the annual report released last week.

The highest birth rates among OECD countries were in Israel at 2.9, followed by Mexico and France with 1.8 each. The lowest fertility rate was in South Korea, at an estimated 0.7 children per woman.

Italy and Spain also came in on the low end of births with 1.2 children per woman, the survey found.

“While OECD countries are using a range of policy options to support families, the economic cost and long-term financial uncertainty of having children continue to significantly influence people’s decision to become parents,” said Stefano Scarpetta, director of the OECD’s Employment, Labor and Social Affairs Directorate.

The average age of women giving birth in the group rose from 28.6 in 2000 to 30.9 in 2022, the report found. One out of every two young adults in their 20s lived with their parents.

When comparing women born in 1935 and in 1975, the percentage without at least one child doubled in Estonia, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and Spain, according to the data.

The Paris-based international organization which seeks to promote economic growth was founded in 1961.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on June 24, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Give thanks to the Lord and rejoice in this tangible evidence that He is fulfilling His covenant as modern-day descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are once again filling the Land of Israel.

Scripture

And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.


- Genesis 26:4