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Every week, we post from 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.

Hamas Continues Rocket Barrage on Israeli Civilians 

by Ilse Strauss

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Children in southern Israel run to a bomb shelter as Hamas terrorists fire rockets from the Gaza Strip (illustrative).   

Wednesday, 27 June 2018 | Civilians in southern Israel were forced to once again spend the better part of the night in bomb shelters, as Palestinian terrorists unleashed a barrage of more than a dozen rockets from the Gaza Strip. Air raid sirens screamed several times in a number of Israeli communities around the Gaza border in the predawn hours, announcing the second such attack in a week and giving sleeping fathers, mothers and children 15 seconds to rush from bed to bomb shelter.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson announced that Hamas fired 13 rockets at Israel between 1:45 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted three projectiles, two over the town of Sderot. At least one rocket failed to clear the border and struck inside Gaza. No rocket impacts were reported in Israeli communities.

This morning’s barrage comes after Palestinians spent yesterday sending numerous incendiary balloons into the south of Israel, sparking several blazes along the Israel-Gaza border. The IDF launched a retaliation strike shortly after 1:00 a.m. this morning, striking a number of Hamas targets in the Strip, including a car owned by a senior Hamas terrorist actively involved in launching arson attacks on Israel as well as two Hamas observation points. The car was reportedly empty at the time of the strike.

Hamas’s answer to the retaliatory strike came less than 45 minutes later in the form of 13 rockets targeting sleeping civilians. “The Hamas terror organization led a high-trajectory fire attack on the State of Israel. Hamas will pay for the terror and instability,” the IDF Spokesperson Unit warned in a statement this morning.

Over the past six weeks, hundreds of incendiary kites and balloons launched by Palestinians in Gaza have sparked horrific fires in southern Israel. Thousands of acres of wheat, barley, passion fruit and oranges as well as a nature reserve and natural forests have been torched, while wildlife perished in the blazes. The damage is estimated to amount to tens of thousands of shekels.

In a bid to curb the waves of airborne arson attacks, the IDF adopted a policy of striking Hamas positions in response to incendiary kite and balloon attacks from Gaza. Hamas is, however, refusing to cease its new terror tactic and has vowed to respond to the IDF with rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. “Bombings will be answered with bombings,” the terror group vowed this morning.

This morning’s barrage is the second such attack on Israel in one week. Last Wednesday morning between 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., Hamas launched 45 rockets and mortars on Israeli communities around the Gaza Strip. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted seven of these projectiles and three failed to clear the border and fell inside Gaza. A number of rockets did, however, explode inside Israeli communities, one striking the walkway of a kindergarten.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 27 June 2018)

Photo Credit: The Israel Project/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that God will protect the civilians in southern Israel against the continuous rocket and incendiary kite and balloon attacks launched from Gaza. Ask Him to grant wisdom and insight to the IDF soldiers and army chiefs on how to guard Israel against Hamas. Continue to pray for Israel’s leadership as they devise defense strategies.

Scripture

Commit your works to the LORD, and your thoughts will be established.


- Proverbs 16:3

Israel Deploys Tracking System to Fight Incendiary Balloons and Kites

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Hamas-created Molotov cocktail kite

Friday, 22 June 2018 | Israel has deployed a system to track balloons and kites carrying burning material across the border from Gaza, The Times of Israel reported Thursday.

The tracking system, called Sky Spotter, was developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems as a countermeasure to be used against small drones. According to Israel’s Hadashot news program, the system has been deployed in recent days. Sky Spotter is being used to locate and track balloons and plot their likely destination, giving firefighters the opportunity to be in position to extinguish the flames before they have a chance to cause much damage.

Sky Spotter can also direct small drones to collide with the kites and balloons to bring them down.

The IDF reported earlier this week, “Over the last 75 days Hamas has flown approximately 700 arson kites and incendiary balloons towards Israeli civilians. In the process, they have started more than 400 fires and burned 6100 acres of land, jeopardizing Israeli livelihoods and targeting Israel’s food supply. However, it’s more than that. These kites and balloons have cost Israelis millions of dollars and could have cost Israeli lives.”

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 21 June 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/AFP news agency

Prayer Focus
Thank God for the breakthrough technology. Pray that the Sky Spotter will be successful in fulfilling its intended purpose of pinpointing the kites and balloons launched to torch Israel. Intercede for the farmers and communities who have lost harvests and income.

Scripture

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! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!


- Isaiah 5:20-21

Iran Seeking to Buy Gaza’s Support with Money, Food

by Elior Levy

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Iran donates meals to Gaza during Ramadan.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018 | Iran has bolstered its civil activity in the Gaza Strip over the past few weeks to gather public support that can be used at the appropriate moment, likely during a potential conflict with Israel.

Its efforts to harness the public’s loyalty with money and food are made with Hamas’ knowledge and authorization.

Iran has invested $15 million in Gaza’s civil activity since the “March of Return” campaign was launched in March. The activities partially focus on families of Palestinians who were wounded or killed during clashes with the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] on the Gaza border fence during the violent marches.

Iran distributed $500 to each of the families of Palestinians killed in the Hamas-initiated “March of Return” clashes during the Ramadan feast marking the end of the fast, which took place a few days before Iran’s Al-Quds Day rally during which Tehran demonstrated solidarity with Gaza.

Iran uses a variety of sophisticated means to transfer money to the Strip, exploiting merchants delivering goods and exchanging them with cash money. Another method employed by Iran is transferring money to banks outside the Strip, which are then withdrawn from banks inside Gaza. Money exchange companies are also used to sending money to the terror-ruled coastal enclave.

During the month of Ramadan, Iran donated 250,000 meals to Gaza, feeding one eighth of Gaza’s two million residents as part of its efforts to rally the population’s support.

In addition, Iran has shown military support for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group and Hamas’s military wing.

The Shi’ite Islamic republic’s goal is to create another proxy bordering with Israel, as it has done in Lebanon and Syria.

The A-Sabrin movement—a pro-Iran Shi’ite movement that has been operating over the past few years in Gaza—serves Iran as a tool enabling it to tighten its grip on Gaza’s population.

While the Shi’ite movement has a small military wing, the majority of its efforts are restricted to concentration of the civil area.

The movement’s logo resembles that of the Hezbollah’s, also a Shi’ite terror organization.

A-Sabrin is fully backed by Iran and it has no known independent budget sources of its own.

Over the past year the movement’s activity has been reduced. However, during the past few weeks, an increase in its civil activity has been noted which is directly affiliated with the “March of Return” campaign.

Iran’s method is to buy the support of Gaza’s residents by distributing food—including meat and poultry—that most of Gaza’s residents are unable to afford due to its high prices.

A mass fast-breaking feast was held at the end of May which also marked the death of one of the A-Sabrin movement’s prominent activists Nizar Issa who was killed in Jabalia while preparing an explosive device in 2014.

Moreover, the movement has also distributed poultry to families of what are known as shahids (martyrs), with each food package carrying a label saying, “This (package) is given by the A-Sabrin movement as a present to the residents of Gaza.”

Furthermore, during Eid al-Fitr the movement distributed bags of candy each stamped with its logo.

Iran has also held a special event funded by the country’s aid fund—The Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation—which aids the Palestinians and is based in Lebanon.

Children of people who had been killed or injured in the Gaza riots attended the event in which the fund distributed presents and offered them aid.

The Islamic Jihad’s official Khader Habib was also in attendance and thanked Iran for its assistance.

One of the fund’s senior officials said during the event that Iran seeks to work together with the Palestinian people to lift the blockade over Gaza. The official also stressed that the Palestinians must preserve their fierce resistance against the “Zionist enemy.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 25 June 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/PressTV

Prayer Focus
Pray that God will bring to light Iran’s sinister intentions masquerading behind seemingly good deeds. Ask Him to expose and sever the ties of evil between Iran and Hamas and to prevent Tehran from using the terror group to establish a military presence on Israel’s southern border.

Scripture

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.


- 2 Timothy 2:15-16

Israel to Promote Initiative Linking Haifa to Jordanian Rail Network, Saudi Arabia

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Port of Haifa

Thursday, 28 June 2018 | Israel is to promote an initiative to link the port of Haifa to the Jordanian rail network and from there to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, The Times of Israel reported Sunday.

Called “Tracks for Regional Peace,” the initiative aims at creating a regional transportation network that will promote peace and boost trade by allowing goods to be shipped to Europe from Haifa, bypassing war-torn Syria.

The idea of using Haifa as a hub between Europe and the Arab world has been on the table for years. When the initiative was last mooted in April, Israeli Transportation Minister Israel Katz said: “Beyond its contribution to Israel’s economy, the initiative will connect Israel economically and politically to the region and will consolidate the pragmatic camp in the region.”

The minister added the plan has two central components: “Israel as a land bridge between Europe and the Mediterranean and Jordan; and Jordan as a regional transportation hub, which will be connected to a railroad system to Israel and the Mediterranean in the west; to Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Iraq in the east and southeast; and to the Red Sea, through Aqaba and Eilat, in the south.”

The existing transportation infrastructure in Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf would allow for a quick turnaround of the initiative, the minister claimed. After reaching an agreement with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week, Katz is set to advance the plan in consultations with the United States, European Union, and various countries in the Middle East and Asia. Israel expects the US to play an important role in implementing the plan.

At a time regional instability is threatening passageways through the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf and the Bab al-Mandab Strait at the southern end of the Red Sea, the Israeli initiative is said to offer shorter, cheaper, and safer trade routes in the region.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 27 June 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Chris Yunker/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Give thanks to God for the prospective railway that would link Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and ultimately other Arab nations both physically and relationally. Intercede for this project as a whole, asking God to guide the planning, preparations and logistics. Pray that Israel will have the necessary favor among Arab nations involved in the project.

Scripture

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!


- Psalm 133:1

Prestigious Israel Defense Prize Awarded to Tunnel Discovery Project 

by Yoav Zitun

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The IDF has a unique process to detect and destroy Hamas terror tunnels (illustrative).

Wednesday, 27 June 2018 | The Israel Defense Prize was awarded on Tuesday to the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] officers responsible for the breakthrough that allows the army to discover Gaza’s terror tunnels.

The prize, the most prestigious award given by the defense establishment, highlights projects and activities that have contributed to the state’s security and to maintaining its military might and qualitative edge on the battle field—both technologically and operationally.

During the ceremony, which is held every year over the past six decades, three prizes were awarded to groundbreaking security projects.

One of the prizes was awarded to the tunnel discovery project, which was led by the Defense Ministry’s Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure, in cooperation with the IDF’s Ground Forces and Gaza Division, Elbit Systems, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, and the Prime Minister’s Office.

“There is nothing like this apparatus in the world; it led to a turning point in the campaign to thwart the tunnel threat,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Another prize was awarded to a project that provides a first-of-its-kind answer to a central threat the State of Israel faces. The project, according to the Defense Ministry, “encompasses technological innovation and exceptional operational daring and serves as a significant and unique strategic contribution to the state’s security.”

The third prize was awarded to a project that had a major impact on Israel’s security, among other things by helping foil hundreds of terror attacks.

“This project encompasses the development of an innovative concept, which strives to achieve intelligence superiority and fulfills the potential of the digital age, as well as impressive organizational jointness and unique technological achievements in the field of big data,” the Defense Ministry said.

The defense bodies that received the prize are: the Military Intelligence Directorate (Special Operations, Unit 8200, Unit 3060, and the technological unit in the Research Department), the Central Command’s Intelligence Unit, the Matzpen Unit in the Computer Service Directorate, the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Israel Aerospace Industries’ MLM Division.

Speaking at the ceremony, President Reuven Rivlin said that “by awarding this prize, the defense establishment expresses its firm belief in the superiority of the human asset. The systems and teams who were recognized this year are living testimony of the great changes that occurred in the map of security challenges Israel faces.”

Describing these challenges, Rivlin said, “Primarily, we are dealing with the Iranian threat—both near and far—but at the same time new arenas of fighting are being created—the lone wolf terrorism, cyber warfare, the underground battle and the challenge of managing the daily ongoing friction with the civilian Palestinian population.”

“In order to give these new arenas an appropriate response, we refreshed the combat doctrine, redefined our operational objectives, updated the deployment of the forces, and above all—we developed excellent systems,” the president said proudly.

He stressed, however, that “such preparedness, as good as it may be, is not enough. To prevent the next war, we must formulate a strategy that can create a political alternative to conflict. The State of Israel’s strength has always been in its leadership’s recognition of the fact we must always be one step ahead of the enemy. The Israeli leadership must ensure at all times that we are not prone to complacency.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman praised the recipients of the prize, saying they “dramatically changed the security reality in the State of Israel.”

“The tunnel discovery project is based on a unique technology, which is almost science fiction,” Lieberman added. “Thanks to the people sitting here, we took away Hamas’s strategic weapon—in which it invested most of its military budget, hundreds of millions of dollars. The attack tunnels have become burial tunnels.”

The defense minister went on to say that the technological system that aided in thwarting hundreds of terror attacks was “no less incredible. One can confidently say many citizens owe their lives to you.”

The Defense Ministry’s Director-General, Udi Adam, said Israel’s defense establishment is faced with unique challenges, “not just the construction of a new building, but inventing every time anew the building materials that do not yet exist.”

“These developments give the IDF its technological and operational advantage, and make the life of an entire nation safer,” Adam added.

“Thanks to you, the State of Israel is a world power in the field of defense technology,” he praised. “Despite this, you do not seek glory, and you operate all of these years knowing your names and achievements will not receive public exposure.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 26 June 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/Israel Defense Forces

Prayer Focus
Give thanks to God for granting Israel the knowledge and insight to develop the cutting-edge technology to protect herself against current and evolving threats to her safety. Pray that Israel will keep her eyes focused on God, who promised to guard His people.

Scripture

I will bless the LORD who has given me counsel; my heart also instructs me in the night seasons. I have set the LORD always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.


- Psalm 16:7-8

When Does Pro-Palestinian End … and When Does Anti-Israel Begin?

by David Gerstman

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Quds Day protests against Israel in Iran (illustrative)

Monday, 25 June 2018 | In a 2013 news item on Iran’s annual Quds Day march, the Associated Press reported that newly-elected President Hassan Rouhani said at the event that Israel was an “old wound” that needed to be removed.

The AP later provided some context for those remarks, “Rouhani spoke at an annual pro-Palestinian rally marking “Al-Quds Day”—the Arabic word for Jerusalem—and although his remarks appear contrary to his outreach efforts to the West, they should also be seen in the context of internal Iranian politics where softening the establishment’s anti-Israeli stand is not an option.”

Despite the AP’s efforts to downplay the extremism of Rouhani’s comments—that he had no choice but to express his opposition to the Jewish state—it also reported, “In the capital, Tehran, tens of thousands took to the streets, chanting ‘Down with America’ and ‘Death to Israel.’”

In a report about last week’s cancelled soccer match between Israel and Argentina, The Washington Post reported, “The BDS movement aims to pressure Israel into complying with international law vis-a-vis its policies toward the Palestinians by discouraging the purchase of Israeli goods, pressuring international companies not to conduct business in Israel and urging celebrities not to visit or perform in the country.”

Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of the Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment (BDS) campaign, has been clear about the goal of his movement. He has said, “A Jewish state in Palestine in any shape or form cannot but contravene the basic rights of the indigenous Palestinian population and perpetuate a system of racial discrimination that ought to be opposed categorically….Definitely, most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.”

Nor is Barghouti alone among proponents of BDS in calling for an end to the modern State of Israel.

If the Iranian regime were strictly pro-Palestinian, the marchers would be chanting “Two states for two peoples” not “Death to Israel.” If BDS supported peace based on a two-state solution, Barghouti would be talking about “two states, living side-by-side in peace and security,” not about never accepting a Jewish state.

While calling the Iranian regime pro-Palestinian or writing that the BDS campaign is interested in getting Israel to be in compliance with international law, makes them sound innocuous or even praiseworthy, it is also highly misleading. Neither Iran nor the BDS campaign accept the legitimacy of the Jewish state, though they may have mapped out different paths to that end. Both, though, are properly classified as “anti-Israel.”

Using euphemisms to obscure the anti-Israel nature of Iran or the BDS campaign took on an additional significant turn earlier this month, when Armin Rosen and Liel Leibovitz reported that the leading United States-based BDS organization has set up its website to allow tax-free donations to a Palestinian group that includes Hamas and other terrorist organizations. While Rosen and Leibovitz noted that there is no way to show that any donations through US Campaign for Palestinian Rights have gone to the terrorist groups, the campaign “is responsible for ensuring that the money doesn’t go to terrorist organizations.” There is no indication that the US Campaign has established any safeguards to prevent this.

Nor is this the first time that BDS has been connected to terror groups.

Former Treasury Department official and current Senior Vice President of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies Jonathan Schanzer testified before Congress in April 2016 and said that the leadership of “three organizations that were designated or shut down, or held civilly liable for providing material support for the terrorist organization Hamas … appears to have pivoted to leadership positions within the American BDS campaign.”

The examples of Iran and BDS show that when a person or organization claims to be pro-Palestinian, it must be asked if that is really their defining characteristic, or if their professed concern for the Palestinians masks their opposition to Israel.

In his 2009 Quds Day message, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made this equivalence explicit, “Those who are resisting and suffering innocently in the occupied Palestinian lands are the only ones offering hope about the freedom of Palestine and the annihilation of the usurping Zionist regime.”

The documented ties of the BDS campaign to terror groups show that many who are anti-Israel don’t draw any lines when it comes to the means by which they seek their goal of ending Israel’s existence.

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: Tasnim News Agency/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Beseech God to open the eyes of those who fall prey to the Palestinian victim narrative touted by BDS. Pray that He will expose the true anti-Israel intent of this movement. Ask the Lord to protect Israel from the effects of international boycotts and divestments.

Scripture

Yet He is not partial to princes, nor does He regard the rich more than the poor; for they are all the work of His hands.


- Job 34:19

UN to Honor Israeli Medical NGO, which Saves Children with Heart Disease

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Palestinian boy from Gaza can run again after his heart treatment at the SACH clinic.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018 | The Israeli non-profit organization, Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) will be awarded the United Nations [UN] Population Award for saving the lives of Palestinian children with heart disease—the first time an organization from Israel will receive the award.

The Globe and Mail reported Wednesday that the organization dedicated to treating children from developing countries with heart disease will receive the award on Tuesday in New York.

Thousands of children in 57 different countries have so far received care from SACH, about half of which are from Palestinian territories. In areas where Israelis are not allowed, the organization operates through a Christian partner group.

Once a family agrees to receive care from SACH, the patient is brought into Israel to Edith Wolfson Medical Center, south of Tel Aviv, where the organization is based. SACH trains medical personnel, runs cardiology clinics and conducts screenings in Israel and abroad, at no cost to their patients.

“Many people might think that I’m naive, or my colleagues are naive, but we think … operating or treating a child with heart disease is like [planting] a seed of peace,” said SACH lead surgeon Lior Sasson.

“The mother of the baby knows what we did for her son, and when she goes back, the whole family and … many people know it. So I want to think and I want to hope that this might somehow be a factor that will promote peace between us and the Palestinians.”

Dr. Sasson said he was “very honored” his organization was chosen.

SACH was founded in 1995 at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, Israel, with the mission of improving the quality of pediatric cardiac care for children in developing countries, regardless of nationality, religion, color, gender or financial situation.

“I always think about the publicity as [necessary] to help us recruit more donors, more volunteers, more people to support this great cause,” Dr. Sasson said. “Having said that, we are all human, and it feels nice. It’s good to know that this great work is being appreciated.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will present the award to SACH physicians Dr. Sasson, Akiva Tamir and Sion Houri at the UN headquarters in New York in a ceremony on June 26.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 25 June 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Twitter/Save a Child’s Heart@SaveChildsHeart

Prayer Focus
Thank God for the UN recognizing Israel’s selfless humanitarian efforts to save the lives of Palestinian children. Pray for revelation for this world body that usually takes an anti-Israel stance and that this prize will be the first step towards embracing Israel.

Scripture

This poor man cried out, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!


- Psalm 34:6-8

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