Compassion

Yes, I will help bring the Jewish people home.

Friday, June 7, 2019

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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.

The Bridges for Peace office will be closed Friday, June 7. Normal business will resume Monday, June 10.

Report: Gaza Terror Groups Have Some 10,000 Rockets Stockpiled

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Terrorists in Gaza have a stockpile of 10,000 rockets. (Illustrative)

Wednesday, 5 June 2019 | Militant factions in the Gaza Strip have restocked their supply of rockets to the same quantities they had before unloading in the last round of cross-border fighting with Israel, the Wall Street Journal reported this week, based on interviews with Israeli officials.

In last month’s deadly flare-up, Palestinian militants fired more than 700 rockets into Israel, killing four Israeli civilians, the first Israeli fatalities from rocket fire since the 50-day war in 2014, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge.

The rockets stockpile—believed to be around 10,000—was replenished through a combination of smuggling supplies into the Strip and local production by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, according to the report, which added that the firepower is meant to help pressure Israel to lift the siege on Gaza.

“Hamas and Islamic Jihad continue to cause misery and suffering to the Palestinians in Gaza,” wrote US Middle East Envoy Jason Greenblatt on Tuesday in response to Hamas’s claims that “the region…will not enjoy calm as long as the enemy (Israel) is on Palestinian land and Gaza is besieged.”

“Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip have the capability to launch a thousand rockets a day for a whole month,” Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Nahala said late last week in an interview [with] Hezbollah’s Al-Manar network.

He claimed that forces in Gaza were improving their capabilities every day, revealing that they had rockets with half a ton of warheads.

“In the last round of conflict, Palestinian factions limited themselves to medium-range fire,” he said of the 700 rockets launched at Israel in two days.

“In the next confrontation with Israel, rockets will be fired not only at Tel Aviv, but at all Israeli cities, whatever the consequences,” Nahala said.

According to the paper, the majority of the Gaza rockets are thought to have a short or medium range, but there are “hundreds” that could hit densely populated areas of Israel further away from the border with the Strip. Furthermore, the article says, the majority of the rockets are made with “crude material” brought into Gaza via tunnels from Sinai.

The report also says that Hamas leaders have confirmed the rocket stockpile and quotes the Hamas deputy leader in Gaza, Khalil al-Hayya, as saying that, “The region…will not enjoy calm as long as the enemy is on Palestinian land and Gaza is besieged.”

The Israeli and Egyptian blockades on Gaza, the destruction of smuggling tunnels from Sinai and sanctions by the Fatah-dominated [leading secular Palestinian party] Palestinian Authority [PA] have put Hamas under enormous financial pressure, the report says, adding that the situation is exacerbated by rare internal protests from Gazans themselves.

“They’re trying to survive. That’s why every now and then they see some sort of new provocation against Israel to try to put more pressure on (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu and his government to alleviate the closures,” Mkhaimar Abusada, political science professor at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, told the Journal.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on June 4, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Ask God to protect Israel and its people from Hamas and its evil intentions. Pray that the Lord will frustrate their schemes against the Jewish state and pray that he will block the transfer of any more weapons into Gaza.

Scripture

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; the God of my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my Savior, You save me from violence. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies.


- 2 Samuel 22:3–4

Hezbollah Defiant as US Warns Lebanon of Missile Clash with Israel

by Daniel Salami

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Hezbollah leader Nasrallah admits to stockpiling missiles for use against Israel.

Monday, 3 June 2019 | The US has warned the Lebanese government that it must resolve the issue of Hezbollah’s precision-guided missile workshops before Israel decides to take action, the Saudi-owned Al Hayat newspaper said Sunday.

According to the London-based paper, the Americans apparently presented Lebanese officials (among which were Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri) with evidence of the facilities, including images and maps showing their exact locations.

The American warning is believed to be the reason behind a defiant speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Friday, in which he admitted that his Iran-backed organization possesses and continues to develop precision-guided missiles.

According to the report, the US delegation—headed by US Acting Assistant Secretary David Satterfield—asked the Lebanese officials to examine ways in which they can deal with the issue. Satterfield apparently emphasized that Washington can no longer ignore the evidence at its disposal and “can’t restrain Israel from taking action against the missile sites.”

One Lebanese source told the paper that Nasrallah was informed about the meeting by senior officials in the country, who emphasized to the terror group the location of the precision-guided missiles—which had been transferred to the terror group from Syria—are now known to the Israelis as well.

In his Friday’s speech, marking Al-Quds Day [a day of protest against the State of Israel], Nasrallah claimed the US was exploiting the talks it currently mediates between Israel and Lebanon on the issue of maritime border that has dogged Mediterranean oil and gas exploration for years, as an opportunity to have discussions on the issue of precision-guided missiles.

However, the terror group’s leader claimed they only have warehouses with precision-guided missiles and not workshops where such weapons are being produced.

“Various officials contacted us and asked us to evacuate and destroy our manufacturing facilities…but when I say we don’t have them, I mean it. If we did, I would’ve shown you to them right now.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on June 2, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Youtube/News Update/Screenshot

Prayer Focus
Pray that Lebanon and the rest of the world will wake up to what Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah, are doing in the region and take action to stand up against the aggression against Israel. Ask the Lord to empower the nations to stand with the Jewish state against its enemies.

Scripture

Behold, the wicked brings forth iniquity; Yes, he conceives trouble and brings forth falsehood. He made a pit and dug it out, and has fallen into the ditch which he made. His trouble shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come upon his own crown.


- Psalm 7:14–16

Israeli President “Proud” that Israel is the One Place in Middle East Where the Christian Community Is Growing

by Joshua Spurlock

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President Rivlin meets with Christian leaders in the Franciscan Church in the Old City.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019 | Israel is home to three major world religions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin is not only glad to see Israel’s commitment to freedom of religion, but also the status of the Christian community in the Jewish state. “These are difficult and painful times for Christians in the Middle East. I am proud that Israel is the only country in our region where the Christian community is not shrinking, but in fact is growing,” said Rivlin on Monday in comments published by Israel.

Rivlin was speaking to leaders of the Christian community in honor of Ascension Day—the day the Catholic Church marks the ascension of Jesus into heaven as recounted in the biblical book of Acts.

“The State of Israel, as guardian of this city, is deeply committed to the religious rights of worship and activity of all communities of faith in Jerusalem and Israel,” said Rivlin. “Christians, Muslims and Jews will always be free to worship here. Israeli sovereignty will never compromise religious freedom.”

The Israeli approach to that freedom contrasts severely with that of their archenemy, Iran. Just last month, a United States official strongly critiqued Iran’s human rights abuses around religious freedom. US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback was quoted by the State Department website as saying that “in Iran, blasphemy, apostasy from Islam and proselytizing of Muslims are crimes punishable by death.”

Brownback noted the persecution facing Christians, including over accusations of preaching what Iranians were calling “Zionist Christianity.” The term “Zionist” is a term Iranian officials use to describe the official entity of the State of Israel.

Brownback said of Christians in general in Iran, that heading into Christmas last year, Iranian security services “conducted raids on house churches throughout the country, detaining congregants for hours or days and interrogating them about their Christian faith.”

In contrast, on Monday, Rivlin was joined by Custos of the Holy Land, Father Francesco Patton, who thanked the Israeli president for the visit.

In the Israeli press release, Patton noted the dark side of religion in world events as well—citing the attacks on Jews in the US, Muslims in New Zealand and Christians in Sri Lanka.

“Unfortunately, even recently, we have seen violence exploding in an inhuman and brutal way against faithful who were praying,” Patton was quoted as saying.

“…As religious leaders, we refuse, condemn and deplore all kinds of exploitation of religion, and especially the religious justification of acts of violence. When Pope John Paul II came to Jerusalem in March 2000, he reminded us that the role of religious leaders is, above all, that of ‘promoting peace and reciprocal understanding.’”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Mideast Update on June 4, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Photo Credit: GPO

Prayer Focus
Praise God for the sanctuary and freedom that Christians find in Israel, while the rest of the region is so hostile toward the followers of God. Ask the Lord to bless the nation of Israel that it may continue to be a thriving soil for the people of the Bible.

Scripture

Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me under the shadow of Your wings, from the wicked who oppress me, from my deadly enemies who surround me.


- Psalm 17:8–9

Iran, Shiite Proxies Mark Al-Quds Day with Burning of US, Israeli Flags

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Participants in the march in Tehran burn an American and an Israeli flag in front of a banner that reads: “We are provided to destroy Israel.”

Tuesday, 4 June 2019 | Tens of thousands of Iranians marked the annual Al-Quds Day in the Islamic Republic on Friday, carrying banners with slogans such as “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Palestine” and featuring chants of “Death to Israel” and “Death to America.” Israeli and American flags were also burned.

The rally in Tehran was attended by several high-ranking Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who are frequently depicted in the West as moderates. Both men echoed the position of the Palestinian Authority [PA] and mocked the soon-to-be released US peace plan as a failure.

The annual riots, also being held in Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere, were orchestrated in 1979 by the late Ayatollah [honorary title bestowed on high-ranking Shiite Muslim clerics in Iran] Ruhollah Khomeni, who declared that the last Friday of Ramadan should be a day of pan-Islamic demonstrations against the Jewish state.

In Iraq, thousands of Iranian-aligned Shiite militia forces took to the streets of Baghdad to mark the occasion, stamping over and burning American and Israeli flags. Members of the notorious Hashd al-Shaabi militia, also known as Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), held up Iranian flags and posters of various Iranian religious figures.

Iran currently exerts significant political and economic powers in Iraq. Iranian efforts in the country have centered on training and supplying a variety of Shiite militias under the wider umbrella of the PMF, a diverse 60,000 to 140,000-strong group formed in 2014 to compensate for the repeated failures of the Iraqi Army.

However, pro-Iranian protesters were this year barred from carrying Hezbollah flags that had been a common sight on past marches in London, after the government outlawed the Iranian-sponsored terrorist group in March.

In Berlin, the German government’s anti-Semitism commissioner, Felix Klein, as well as the Israeli Ambassador in Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff, and his US counterpart, Richard Grenell, all attended pro-Israel counter-demonstrations.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by The Israel Project in its publication The Tower on June 3, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: News Update/YouTube/screenshot

Prayer Focus
Cry out against this unbridled hatred that Iran and those who hate Israel sow. Pray that their evil intentions will never be realized. Also ask the Lord to bring truth and clarity to the people suffering under the animosity of these regimes.

Scripture

He who sows iniquity will reap sorrow, and the rod of his anger will fail.


- Proverbs 22:8

Terrorist Strikes in Jerusalem’s Old City, Wounding Two

by Ilse Strauss

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A Palestinian terrorist struck near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, wounding two.

Friday, 31 May 2019 | Two people were wounded, one seriously, when a Palestinian terrorist went on a stabbing spree in Jerusalem’s Old City this morning.

The terrorist—a 19-year-old Palestinian from Judea and Samaria—struck shortly after sunrise. “Around 6:20 a.m., the assailant entered through the Damascus Gate. He stabbed a man inside and began running from the scene. Along the way, he saw [a 16-year-old boy] and stabbed him as well,” police said.

The first victim, a man in his 50s, suffered stab wounds to his neck and head and is in critical condition. The terrorist then continued his bloody rampage, stabbing a 16-year-old teenager in the back. The teenager fled his assailant, running to the Hurva Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter.

Israel Police spokesman Superintendent Micky Rosenfeld told the Jerusalem Post: “The terrorist also attempted to stab a police officer. The terrorist was then shot by police forces.”

Paramedics treated both victims at the scene. The first victim was evacuated to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center. According to the hospital, he is unconscious, hooked up to a ventilator and remains in critical condition. The second victim was taken to Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital and is reportedly “fully conscious and alert, and remained in moderate-to-serious condition.”

This morning’s attack comes on the last Friday of Ramadan (one of the Five Pillars of Islam when stringent disciplines are observed). The month of Ramadan is usually a time characterized by simmering tensions in Jerusalem, particularly on Fridays, when Arabs flock to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the heart of the Old City for afternoon prayers.

Following the attack, security services have deployed additional forces around the Old City.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 31, 2019)

Photo Credit: KaiPilger/pixabay

Prayer Focus
Sing praises to the Lord for protecting the lives of the victims. Bring their recovery process before God and ask Him to pour out healing for their emotional and physical wounds. Pray for vigilance and protection for the brave men and women of the security services who stand guard in flashpoint areas around the country.

Scripture

But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You.


- Psalm 5:11

Israel Celebrates Jerusalem Day: The Day that “Changed the Fate of Israel”

by Jo Sarah Stanford

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Tens of thousands march the streets of the City of David in celebration of Jerusalem Day. (Illustrative.)

Monday, 3 June 2019 | The Israeli calendar is punctuated with days set aside to remember. Some are somber, commemorating the tragedies, sacrifice and loss scattered throughout the history of the Jewish people. Others are joyous, recalling the triumphs, miracles and bravery on which the Jewish state is built. Jerusalem Day, or Yom Yerushalayim, certainly falls into the latter category.

Yesterday marked the anniversary of the reunification of the City of Gold, the eternal capital of Israel. Just over half a century has passed since the searing summer day during the Six Day War of 1967 when a brigade of Israeli paratroopers broke through the Lion’s Gate in the Old City, reclaimed the Kotel (Western Wall) and liberated Jerusalem. Yesterday marked 52 years since the ancestors of Abraham and David returned to their eternal capital, 52 years since the City of Gold was reunited and 52 years since the Jewish people have been able to say, “This year in Jerusalem!”

For the past few weeks, the City of Gold has been decked in blue and white finery for the special celebrations. Posters and banners advertised the joyous events to come. Flags adorned with the Star of David and the Lion of Judah—Jerusalem’s municipal emblem—streamed proudly from lamp poles, bridges and high-rises.

Since sunrise yesterday morning, Israelis from all over the country flocked to Jerusalem to take part in the Yom Yerushalayim festivities. Just after midday, the main roads in Israel’s capital closed in preparation for the traditional Jerusalem Day parade known as the Flag March. Tens of thousands of people—all decked out in white and blue—started from the city center and headed toward the Damascus Gate and into the Old City. From there the route wound through the Muslim Quarter, before reaching the Western Wall for an official Jerusalem Day ceremony.

It is a jubilant pilgrimage that paints the city in the vivid colors of the flag of Israel. Streets resounded with the jubilant sounds of young voices singing “Am Yisrael Chai” (the nation of Israel lives). On street corners and in public squares, friends and perfect strangers joined hands to dance the rikud degalim, or flag dance.

Security at the event was high, with 3,000 police deployed on the day, reported the Times of Israel. Security forces anticipated outbreaks of violence, but the march itself passed without incident.

Earlier in the day, however, there were violent clashes on the Temple Mount—the holiest place in Judaism—as Muslims rioted in protest of Jews being allowed on the site. Israeli police allowed Jews to enter the site in celebration of Jerusalem Day, and some 1,200 ascended the Mount under heavy police guard. Muslims protesting Jewish access to the site during the final days of Ramadan (one of the Five Pillars of Islam when stringent disciplines are observed) barricaded themselves in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, throwing stones and chairs. Police quickly gained control of the situation and seven rioters were arrested, reported the Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on Jerusalem Day at the weekly parliamentary Cabinet meetings. “We are marking 52 years since Jerusalem was unified in the Six Day War. The war changed the fate of Israel. It removed us from a chokehold and danger of destruction, turned us into a strong regional power.

“It brought one more thing: The unification of the capital of Israel. We returned, I remember personally, to Jerusalem, the cradle of our people, our culture and our faith, between the walls, and this moved the entire nation, all of its parts.”

Ilse Strauss contributed to this report.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, June 3, 2019)

Photo Credit: Utilisateur:Djampa/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Make a joyful noise to the Lord for fulfilling His precious prophecies and reuniting Jerusalem under the descendents of King David. Bring the city that God chose for His presence to dwell forever before the Lord, reminding Him of His promises of peace, prosperity and protection.

Scripture

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, prosperity within your palaces.”


- Psalm 122:6–7

Homes Evacuated, Roads Closed as Large Fires Rage near Jerusalem

by Ilse Strauss

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Firefighters battle a blaze west of Jerusalem. (Illustrative)

Wednesday, 5 June 2019 | Less than two weeks after more than a thousand wildfires raged through Israel, burning up 50 homes and devastating an entire village, Israeli fire fighters were once again called upon the battle the flames.

Two major forest fires broke out in wooded areas on the outskirts of Jerusalem yesterday afternoon. Israel’s Fire and Rescue Services dispatched 16 firefighting crews, six firefighting planes and a helicopter in an attempt to control the conflagrations. Police also closed a major highway leading into the city and evacuated dozens of homes. According to the authorities, more than 35 families in two farming communities just outside Jerusalem had to flee their homes ahead of the sea of flames.

As the sun set over the City of Gold last night, the Fire and Rescue Services’ efforts bore fruit and the two blazes were brought under control.

Israel has been on the highest alert to the possible outbreak of runaway forest fires after a spate of 1,023 blazes burned up 7,940 dunams (1,962 acres) of woodlands, orchards and fields late last month. Over the course of 41 hours, more than a thousand firefighters battled around the clock to quench the flames.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, June 5, 2019)

Photo Credit: איתן טלEtan Tal/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Continue to intercede for the 50 families who suffered the devastating loss of their homes. Ask Him to sustain and support them as they rebuild what was lost. Pray that He will continue to stir the hearts of Christians across the world to minister their love to their Jewish brothers and sisters in need.

Scripture

He raises the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the ash heap.


- Psalm 113:7

Action
The devastating blazes last month left 50 families destitute as the fires ravaged their homes, leaving nothing but ashes. These Israelis now live in the heartbreaking reality of rebuilding what was destroyed. They are not facing this task alone. Bridges for Peace is coming alongside them, offering the physical means and the helping hand they need so desperately. We need your help as we stand with this community in the midst of rising from the ashes. Your generous donation to our Crisis Assistance Fund will help us meet our pledge goal of US $150,000 to show these hurting people the love of Christians across the world.

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