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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.

Gaza Rocket Attacks Resume after UN Fails to Condemn Hamas

by Joshua Spurlock

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Hamas terrorists launch rockets into Israel over the weekend.

Monday, 04 June 2018 | Gaza terrorists again launched rockets at Israel this weekend just one day after the United Nations Security Council failed twice on Friday to condemn Hamas actions in Gaza. An initial resolution on the recent Gaza border riots vetoed by the United States made “no mention of Hamas. None at all,” noted US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley in comments released by her office. Said Haley, “Instead, the resolution places all the blame on Israel… It is resolutions like this one that undermine the UN’s credibility in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The resolution, according to the UN News website, was brought by Kuwait and called for the powerful Security Council to contemplate steps to “guarantee the safety and protection” of Palestinians, including a report on a potential “international protection mechanism” from the UN Secretary-General. The US, meanwhile, brought their own resolution calling upon Hamas and Islamic Jihad to “cease all violent activity and provocative actions, including along the boundary fence.”

Ahead of the votes, Haley told the Council “you either support Hamas or not. This vote will tell the story.” In the end, 10 of the 15 nations on the Council voted for the anti-Israel Kuwaiti resolution, while 11 abstained on the US measure. The next day after the UN votes effectively ignored Hamas terrorism, Gaza rocket fire against Israel resumed. Over the weekend, the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted multiple Gaza rockets while the Israeli Air Force hit over a dozen Hamas terror targets according to the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] Spokesperson’s Twitter feed.

In a series of Twitter posts regarding Israel’s initial response to the latest attacks from Gaza, the IDF Spokesperson said they targeted 10 sites in three military compounds owned by Hamas—including “two Hamas munition manufacturing and storage sites.”

Later, the Israelis aimed for five more terror targets at a site “belonging to the Hamas terror organization’s naval force,” per the IDF Spokesperson in another series of tweets.

“This was an additional IDF strike carried out last night targeting terror sites belonging to the Hamas terror organization, which is responsible for all events that transpire & emanate from the Gaza Strip—most notably the severe attacks it conducts against Israel & its civilians,” continued the IDF Spokesperson.

“This strike was conducted in response to the projectiles which were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel last night, in addition to the acts of terror approved and led by the Hamas terror organization throughout the weekend.”

The renewed Gaza rocket violence against Israel only emphasized some of Haley’s concerns expressed ahead of the votes on Friday. “The terrorist group Hamas bears primary responsibility for the awful living conditions in Gaza,” said Haley, noting the terror group rules Gaza, shifts humanitarian aid to “military infrastructure”, fires rockets at Israel and stoked violence at the border fence.

“A necessary precondition for peace is recognition of reality. One of those realities is that Hamas is a major impediment to peace,” said Haley. “They are in charge of Gaza, and they use their resources not to help the people of Gaza but to wage war against Israel. Another reality is when the United Nations sides with terrorists over Israel, as the Kuwait resolution does, it only makes a peaceful resolution of this conflict harder to reach.”

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published in The Mideast Update on 03 June 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Twitter/IDF@IDFSpokesperson

Prayer Focus
Cry out to God for wisdom and protection as Israel faces vicious onslaughts on two fronts: rocket attacks from terror groups in the Gaza Strip and attempts to vilify Israel from the international body. Thank Him for allies like the US that continue to highlight the truth and stand with Israel.

Scripture

And he said, O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong! So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.


- Daniel 10:19

Massive Fire Caused by Flaming Kite Rips through Southern Israel Forest

by Matan Tzuri, Itamar Eichner and Yoav Zitun

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The Shokeda Forest in southern Israel during the “Red South” festival. A massive fire caused by an incendiary kite flown from Gaza ravaged the forest.

Monday, 04 June 2018 | A massive fire swept through the Shokeda Forest in southern Israel on Sunday evening after an incendiary kite was flown over the Gaza border by Palestinian terrorists.

Two firefighting crews were called to the scene to battle the raging flames as the phenomenon of flaming kites continues to wreak havoc on Israel’s southern residents, with the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] as yet unable to provide a comprehensive counter solution. Another fire also broke out at the Re’im parking lot.

The forest is visited each winter by thousands of tourists who flock from around the country to participate in the “Red South” festival.

Despite the effectiveness of the primitive weapon being increasingly employed by terrorists from the Gaza border, the IDF has registered some success in tackling the threat.

On Sunday evening, soldiers managed to foil an attempt to fly a flaming kite into Israeli territory that glided the border on the southern Strip, causing it to fall near the security fence. No one was hurt in the incident.

Earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed head of the National Security Council Meir Ben Shabbat to draw up a plan to allocate compensation taken from Palestinian Authority (PA) funds for Israeli communities bordering the Hamas-ruled enclave for damages recently caused by the kites.

If the proposal is implemented, the PA will be forced to pay fines for attacks launched by Hamas terrorists and other terror organizations located on Gazan soil.

During Sunday afternoon, flaming kites struck five points spanning the Gaza border region. Firefighters were swiftly able to extinguish the conflagrations, whereas fires in the Or HaNer Kibbutz continued to resist the efforts of the fire crews by the evening.

No injuries were immediately reported in any of the fires but forests were ravaged in the region, charred and blackened by the flames’ onslaught.

The first fire broke out in the morning near Kibbutz Nir Am in the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council. Two hours later, firefighters managed to contain the flames.

Shortly after, a fire erupted near Or HaNer Kibbutz and spread throughout the vicinity, prompting authorities to close main roads and temporarily block traffic traveling into the city of Sderot due to large plumes of smoke. Four firefighter helicopters were also dispatched to extinguish the flames.

Little time elapsed before another incendiary kite took its toll, causing an inferno in the Simchoni Forest, also in the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council. Fire crews were also able to overcome the flames.

Since the kites were first used in April as part of what Gazans describe as the “March of Return” protests, the “aerial terror offensive” against the Israeli border communities has continued with greater vigor, including some 300 incendiary kites flown into Israel’s territory, causing 100 fires and decimating more than 3,000 acres of wheat fields.

Last week, the Be’eri Crater Reserve adjacent to the Gaza border, considered to be among the most picturesque tourist sites in the region, with its green landscape serving as a natural habitat for a variety of species of animals, was incinerated by one of the kites.

In addition, millions of shekels worth of damage has been caused to the farmers of the area.

In light of the recent spate of incendiary “kite terror” attacks from Gaza plaguing their fields, Israeli farmers from the region announced recently that they intend to sue the Hamas leadership for war crimes at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague.

The incendiary kites from Gaza are consuming not only the agricultural produce and wheat fields of the Israeli communities surrounding Gaza, but also the area’s animal population, groves and nature reserves.

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) is concerned about the animal population dwindling in the areas that were set on fire by the incendiary kites flown from Gaza. The area’s birds managed to escape the blaze, whereas some of the reptiles did not.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 03 June 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Twitter/Woow pics

Prayer Focus
Ask God to intervene as the terror groups aim to bring destruction to the land of His promise. Beseech Him to bring restoration and renewal to the areas that have been torched. Continue to pray for the IDF, fire fighters and communities on the Israel-Gaza border facing endless challenges.

Scripture

But as for me, I would seek God, and to God I would commit my cause Who does great things, and unsearchable, marvelous things without number.


- Job 5:8-9

Israel Thwarts Major Terror Attack Targeting Netanyahu, Barkat

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Mayor Nir Barkat is helping to install the sign for the US embassy in Jerusalem.

Wednesday, 06 June 2018 | The Israeli [internal] security service Shin Bet foiled a “number of significant terror attacks,” including a plan to assassinate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat, The Times of Israel reported Tuesday.

Shin Bet arrested Muhammad Jamal Rashdeh who is a 30-year-old Israeli-Arab man and two suspected accomplices. The security agency did not release the names of the accomplices.

Although the arrests took place in April, the case was kept under a court-issued gag order until Tuesday.

“Working on orders from terrorist operatives abroad, Muhammad planned to carry out a number of significant terror attacks against a variety of targets,” the security service said.

Among the targets were Netanyahu and Barkat, the United States consulate in Jerusalem, since converted into the embassy, and members of a delegation of Canadian security officials who were in Jerusalem and were tasked to train Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria].

A Shin Bet spokesperson said Rashdeh was taking orders form the Popular Front of the Liberation of Palestine—General Command, a terror group based in Syria, and is allied with the Assad regime. The terror group has been responsible for several infamous terror attacks in Israel in the 1970s and 1980s.

According to the Shin Bet, Rashdeh and the two accomplices were planning on bringing reinforcements from Jordan, as they continued to plan attacks.

Rashdeh has already served time in an Israeli prison for terror-related offenses.

This is not the first time in recent years that there has been an assassination attempt by terrorists to kill Netanyahu. In 2016, two Arab-Israeli members of Hamas were arrested and indicted for plotting to kill the prime minister.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 05 June 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Twitter/Mayor Nir Barkat

Prayer Focus
Give thanks for the work of the Shin Bet that thwarted the terror plot and saved the lives of PM Netanyahu and Mayor Barkat. Ask God to bless Israel’s security forces with His wisdom and insight as they carry out their responsibility of preventing terror and keeping Israelis safe. Pray for their protection and for the well-being and peace of mind of their families.

Scripture

For the LORD watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.


- Psalm 1:6 NLT

Germany Vows to “Exert Influence” to Oust Iran from Syria

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel following his arrival in Germany.

Tuesday, 05 June 2018 | At a press conference following a 90-minute meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Germany “will exert our influence in such a way that Iran is pushed out of this region,” The Jerusalem Post reported Monday.

Though the two leaders still differ on the merits of the nuclear deal with Iran, Merkel backed up Israel’s insistence that Iran be denied a foothold in Syria. She added that Germany would not only scrutinize Iran’s role in Syria, but will take a “very close look at Iran’s activities in the region and seek to contain it.”

Netanyahu warned that if Iran remained in Syria, it would not only have serious repercussions for Israel, but for Europe too. The Israeli leader noted that Syria is 96% Sunni and that Iran has an estimated 18,000 Shiite militiamen under its command there and looking to expand that total to 80,000 by trying to “convert the Sunni.” Netanyahu added, “This will inflame another religious war, this time a religious war inside Syria, and the consequences would be many, many more refugees, and you know exactly where they will come.”

Regarding the nuclear deal with Iran, or JCPOA, Merkel said, “We stand by it.” When asked how she could support the deal in light of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s recent tweet comparing Israel to a “cancer” that must be “eradicated,” Merkel condemned the language but insisted that the deal was the best way to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Netanyahu also referenced Khamenei’s tweet and asserted that it was “amazing that at the beginning of the 21st century, somebody talks about destroying Israel—that means destroying another six million-plus Jews. It is really quite extraordinary that this goes on, but this is what we face.”

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 04 June 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Haim Zach/GPO/Ashernet

Prayer Focus
Continue to pray for PM Netanyahu as he meets with European leaders regarding Iran’s nuclear ambitions and influence in Syria. Praise God for German Chancellor Merkel's positive response and pray that she will honor her commitment to Israel.

Scripture

A man’s steps are of the LORD; how then can a man understand his own way? It is a snare for a man to devote rashly something as holy, and afterward to reconsider his vows. A wise king sifts out the wicked, and brings the threshing wheel over them.


- Proverbs 20:24-26

Argentina: Threats to Soccer Team for Game in Israel Worse than Those from ISIS

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Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi

Thursday, 07 June 2018 | The friendly soccer match between Argentina’s and Israel’s national soccer teams scheduled in Jerusalem was cancelled, after Argentine players received greater threats than those previously made by ISIS, the Argentine Foreign Minister said during an interview with Radio Mitre, La Agencia Judia de Noticias reported Wednesday (Spanish link).

The foreign minister, Jorge Faurie, lamented the cancellation and said the players were uncomfortable about traveling to Israel due to a series of threats they received on themselves and their families from supporters of the boycott movement.

On Tuesday, protesters outside the Barcelona training facility—where the Argentine national soccer team has been practicing for the FIFA World Cup—held Argentinian soccer jerseys stained with red paint resembling blood.

Israeli Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev said on Wednesday that players had received threats from “terror groups.”

“Since they announced they would play against Israel, different terror groups have been sending messages and letters to players on the Argentina national team and their relatives, including clear threats to hurt them and on the lives of their families,” Regev said. “These included video clips showing dead children.”

The Palestinian Authority and Hamas senior officials welcomed the match cancellation.

The head of the Palestinian Football Association Jibril Rajoub had urged Palestinians to burn photos and jerseys of Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi if the game was played. The Palestinian FA had also threatened Argentina’s bid to host the FIFA World Cup 2030 over the soccer match in Israel.

After the game was officially cancelled, the Israel Football Association said that they would take action against the PA in international forums after the “brutal and physical threats against the Argentine team.” The Association’s vice president Rotem Kamer accused the Palestinian Football Association of “Football [soccer] terror.”

Efforts to get the game back on track included Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling Argentina President Mauricio Macri, although it has been reported that Macri told Netanyahu that the matter was out of his hands.

At a press conference in Barcelona, Claudio Tapia, the president of the Argentine soccer association, said about the cancellation: “It’s nothing against the Israeli community, it’s nothing against the Jewish community,” adding that he hoped “everyone will take this decision as a contribution to peace.” He continued: “The last 72 hours led us to make the decision not to travel,” emphasizing that his main responsibility was to watch out for the health and safety of the players.

Three years ago, Rajoub led an effort to expel Israel from FIFA, the governing body of international soccer. Then FIFA President Sepp Blatter blocked the move. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the Palestinian effort at the time saying, “The thing that could destroy the Football Association is politicizing it. You politicize it once with Israel, then you politicize it for everyone, and it will cause the deterioration of a great institution.”

Last year, FIFA deferred action on a Palestinian-led effort to penalize Israel for having teams on the West Bank [Judea and Samaria].

In FIFA, the Palestinians, and the Future of World Football, which was published in the June 2015 issue of The Tower Magazine, Aiden Pink observed:

“Rajoub’s gambit was another facet of the Palestinian Authority’s escalating efforts to isolate and delegitimize Israel in bodies like the UN Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court—politicizing organizations that could theoretically serve a noble purpose if they weren’t so consumed with anti-Israel animus.”

In addition to his efforts to expel Israel from FIFA, Rajoub has a long record of anti-Israel rhetoric, including naming sporting tournaments in honor of terrorists, regularly comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, and calling a football match between Israeli and Palestinian children “a crime against humanity.”

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 06 June 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Agencia de Noticias ANDES/Wikimedia

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Call out in faith to the Lord for His help and mercy as hate speech is so easily accepted these days and pray for truth to prevail against all the lies and intimidating threats made by the Palestinian Authority concerning Israel and Jerusalem. Lift up every Israeli sport player as they are victimized and for fear and terror brought into Israeli sport.

Scripture

I love the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.


- Psalm 116:1-2

German Intelligence Agency Calls Anti-Israel Boycotts “A New Variation on Anti-Semitism”

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BDS movement in Germany (illustrative)

Wednesday, 06 June 2018 | A German domestic intelligence agency has deemed the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) campaign against Israel as a “new variation of anti-Semitism” in a newly released report. This is believed to be the first instance of a German intelligence service classifying the BDS movement as anti-Semitic and a security threat, Ben Weinthal reported in The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

The State Office for the Protection of the Constitution in the German state of Baden-Württemberg said in its report, published on May 24, that propaganda by the neo-Nazi party Der Dritte Weg (The Third Way) to boycott Israeli products “roughly recalls similar measures against German Jews by the National Socialists, for example, on April 1, 1933 (the slogan: ‘Germans! Defend yourselves! Don’t buy from Jews!’).”

The agency is in charge of monitoring threats to Germany’s democratic, constitutional order and is the rough equivalent of Israel’s domestic intelligence service Shin Bet. The intelligence service observed that the list “deals with the new variation of anti-Semitism: anti-Zionist anti-Semitism.” The BDS-supporting neo-Nazi organization calls Israel a “terror state” and the “Zionist abscess.”

The intelligence agency released graphics from the Third Way’s website, including one that reads “Boycott products from Israel: 729=Made in Israel.” The number 792 is the product code to identify Israeli goods. The agency quoted a January 2017 text from The Third Way’s website stating that “the Israeli economy is very dependent on exports… and therefore, as active help for the Palestinian freedom struggle, one should avoid Israeli products when shopping in local supermarkets and all products manufactured by foreign companies that invest in Israel.”

The state office’s classification of BDS as a movement that is anti-Semitic in nature could have wide-reaching political consequences in Germany for individuals and entities that engage in the boycott against the Jewish state.

According to the Post, several German banks retain BDS-related accounts. The Bank for Social Economy holds four accounts enabling BDS—the highest number in Germany. German Jewish shareholders last week called for an investigation into the bank’s links to the BDS movement. The Central Welfare Board of Jews in Germany is a partial owner of the Bank for Social Economy and has demanded the bank closes BDS-related accounts immediately.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 01 June 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/i24NEWS

Prayer Focus
Beg for God's mercy for the nations and people who stand against the Jewish people. Ask Him to open their eyes to the evil tenets of their beliefs. Intercede for the Jews in the Diaspora and pray that they will look to Israel as a safe haven.

Scripture

Surely he will never be shaken; the righteous will be in everlasting remembrance. He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.


- Psalm 112:6-7

Israel and Saudi Arabia: From Foes to Potential Friends 

by Dr. Michal Yaari

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman

Tuesday, 05 June 2018 | Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has had enough of the Palestinian leadership. “In the past 40 years, the Palestinian leadership has repeatedly missed opportunities and rejected all proposals,” he said during a meeting with several leaders of Jewish organizations in late March. “It’s time the Palestinians accept the proposals… or shut up and stop complaining.”

This isn’t the first time Saudi officials have harshly criticized the Palestinian leadership for consistently missing historic opportunities to solve the conflict, but up until now they have kept it behind closed doors.

The ties between Riyadh and Jerusalem are perceived by some of the Saudi public as a betrayal of the Palestinian interest and serve as a weapon in the hands of the regime’s opponents. The royal family in Riyadh is required, therefore, to prove that it isn’t “selling” out the Palestinian struggle to advance a normalization with Israel.

The Palestinian issue has never been a top priority in Saudi Arabia, but it has served and still serves as a restraining and limiting factor in the Saudi regime’s attitude towards Israel.

Over the years, there have been historical crossroads in which shared interests were formed between Israel and Saudi Arabia, but they failed to develop into a dramatic change in the status of the relations due to the Saudi regime’s fear of profound criticism in the Arab world that would sabotage its public image and religious status as the protector of Islam’s holy sites.

Key player in changing regional balance of power

Recently, however, as the Iranian enemy and the Islamic State (ISIS) grew stronger, Israel turned from an enemy into a potential ally in the Saudis’ eyes. Not only do the two countries share an identical perception as to the need to eradicate radical elements and stabilize the Middle East, but Israel is the only country in the world with the intentions and military ability to act against the joint enemies.

Over the years, Saudi Arabia has largely relied on its strategic alliance with the United States, but the American administration’s willingness to get involved in the Middle East’s bloody conflicts has dropped in recent years, and Saudi Arabia has basically been left without any support for its attempts to efficiently curb the Iranian influence. Under these circumstances, Israel has become a key player in changing the regional balance of power.

In addition to its intelligence and strategic abilities, Saudi Arabia sees Israel as an economic role model. As the Saudi economy undergoes a real revolution from an economy relying on oil to a productive and advanced economy, the Israeli knowledge and technology are becoming more and more attractive.

The potential hidden in Israeli-Saudi normalization is huge. While the relations aren’t symmetrical on the strategic level, in light of Israel’s clear military advantage, this does not lessen their importance. Saudi Arabia’s strategic location and seniority in the Arab world could help Israel improve the fighting against Iran and deepen its security cooperation with other Arab countries. At the same time, Israel is concerned about the advanced arms deals between Saudi Arabia and the US and the possibility of a Saudi nuclear weapon being developed in response to an Iranian nuclear weapon.

Saudi pressure on the Palestinian Authority

On the diplomatic level, Israeli-Saudi cooperation could help moderate and soften explosive events, like Temple Mount riots. In addition, it would pave the way to advance economic, energy and agricultural projects between Israel and Arab states, which hardly exist in the current reality.

The Saudi palace is already pressuring the Palestinian Authority to moderate its demands from Israel. Unlike in the past, Saudi Arabia has withdrawn its demand for a just solution to the Palestinian problem and is now talking about a logical solution. The Saudis, for example, no longer support the Palestinian demand for a right of return; rather, they are pursuing a solution that Israel would find acceptable too.

Furthermore, Riyadh isn’t stipulating that the Israeli-Arab conflict must be solved before Saudi Arabia’s relations with Israel are normalized, but is settling for a breakthrough in the negotiations. As far as Saudi Arabia is concerned, if Israel makes gestures that convey to the Arab world that “there’s something to talk about,” like freezing settlement construction and lifting the siege on Gaza (even partially), it would be possible to reward Israel by increasing the Saudi gestures, in addition to the ones that have been made so far.

On the economic level, if the regime in Riyadh removes the economic barriers and allows the integration of Israeli components and workforce into the Saudi economy, it would have a huge contribution to the Israeli economy, especially if other Arab countries open their gates to Israeli products.

Saudi Arabia and Israel are interested in normalizing their relations. That’s indisputable. But despite the mutual desire, there is still a long and winding road to normalization. In the current reality, Saudi Arabia could perhaps drag the Palestinian leadership to the negotiating table, but it can’t force the Palestinians to sign a document waiving its historical demands from Israel. Israel, for its part, isn’t showing any willingness to comply with the Saudis’ basic demands either. In the current coalition composition, Israeli gestures towards the Palestinians are perceived as a deviation from the government’s ideological stand. Such gestures, therefore, are nowhere on the horizon.

The way things look now, the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships are unable to bridge the differences of opinion between them, despite American and Western pressures, which makes the chances of a Saudi-Israeli normalization unclear. Despite the recent dramatic change in the Saudi discourse concerning Israel, it’s unlikely that the conditions have matured for the Saudi leadership to jump over the Palestinian hurdle on its way to normalization with the Zionist enemy.

Israel should do whatever it can to avoid missing the unique window of opportunity that has been opened in its relations with Saudi Arabia. Opportunities are a deluding and passing thing in the Middle Eastern arena, and the similar interests between Israel and Saudi Arabia could fade away if the current circumstances change.

The Israeli government’s most important mission is to restore its credibility in the Saudi regime’s eyes. Normalization with Saudi Arabia won’t be given for free. It has a price. The question is whether Israel is willing to pay that price. The worst thing an Israeli prime minister could do is give the Saudis the feeling that he is willing to make concessions, and then back out of his statement. Saudi Arabia has experienced many disappointments with the Israeli leadership. It mustn’t happen again.

Dr. Michal Yaari is an expert on Saudi foreign policy at Tel Aviv University and the Open University and a thinktank member at Mitvim—The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies .

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 03 June 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Public domain/Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Praise God for the warming ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Ask Him to strengthen and protect the budding friendship. Pray for more Arab countries to look beyond a tradition of hatred to come to the realization that Israel is a friend and not a foe.

Scripture

At midnight I will rise to give thanks to You, because of Your righteous judgments. I am a companion of all who fear You, and of those who keep Your precepts. The earth, O LORD, is full of Your mercy; teach me Your statutes.


- Psalm 119:62-64

Israel Rushes Aid Team to Volcano-ravaged Guatemala

by Ilse Strauss

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Fuego volcano eruption in Guatemala

Thursday, 07 June 2018 | Homes and cars buried under tons of volcanic ash and magma mud. Fiery gas and molten lava engulfing everything in its path. A village wiped out almost entirely from the map. This is the picture of a devastated Guatemala reeling in the aftermath of the worst volcanic eruption in over a century.

Shortly after noon on Sunday, Guatemala’s Fuego volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in Central America, erupted. It happened so fast that residents of the villages dotting the slopes of the 3,763 meter-high (12,346 ft.) volcano had no time to rush to safety. Seventy-five people died in the ensuing searing cloud of debris. Known as a pyroclastic flow, the molten river ranges in temperature between 200°C (392°F) and 700°C (1292°F) and can reach speeds of up to 700 km/h (435 mph).

As explosions continued to boom from the Fuego volcano on Tuesday and Wednesday, unleashing fresh torrents of molten lava and searing ash, it seems that the danger is far from over. By Thursday morning, the death toll had climbed to 100. More than 200 people remain missing and thousands have been left homeless.

As Guatemalans sift through the volcanic ash with little hope of finding survivors and struggle to come to grips with the tragedy that continues to unfold, Israel was one of the first countries to come to the aid of the disaster-stricken nation.

Hours after Fuego erupted, Israel announced that the Jewish state would dispatch “immediate” emergency aid. “Following the volcanic eruption in Guatemala, the Foreign Ministry has sent $10,000 in immediate emergency aid for the purchase of emergency equipment (medicine, food, and blankets) for those affected. We will undertake an evaluation soon with Guatemalan authorities,” announced Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon on Monday.

On Tuesday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales to offer Israel’s medical and logistical support. According to Israeli media, a team of 10 doctors from the Jewish state is set to fly to the Central American nation today.

Moreover, a team of relief workers from Israel’s relief organization IsraAID reportedly touched down in Guatemala yesterday to assist in the relief efforts and conduct a needs assessment to determine how the organization can assist. “During emergency situations, needs on the ground change very rapidly. We are committed to remaining flexible and responsive to the specific needs of the affected population,” Ethan Schwartz, communications specialist for IsraAID, told Israel21c. “At the moment, our focus is on responding to the immediate disaster situation. As the situation unfolds, IsraAID will assess and decide on next steps.”

In the meantime, a team from Israel’s ZAKA emergency service and 45 Guatemalan first responders who were trained by ZAKA are already on the ground working with search-and-rescue emergency forces in the disaster area, Israel21c reports.

Tiny Israel is often the first country to rush to the aid of nations in the aftermath of natural disasters. Over the past six decades, with little fanfare and minimal press coverage, the country has provided humanitarian aid to more than 140 disaster-stricken nations, a number of which still refuse to maintain diplomatic relations with Israel.

The tiny nation’s commitment to offer a helping hand is indeed a long-standing one. “Within a decade of Israel’s founding, the government and its people demonstrated a deep commitment to engage in humanitarian relief efforts,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website explains.

The people of Israel remain true to that vision. Regardless of where catastrophe hits, the Jewish state is often the first on the frontlines, flying thousands of miles, to bring doctors and nurses, rescue workers, medical supplies, equipment and more to devastated areas. In fact, the tiny country’s huge heart of compassion and care is often most clearly visible in a nation far from home, helping people who are not their own survive the rubble of their shattered lives.

Over and above the Jewish state’s heart to help, the warm ties of friendship between Israel and Guatemala reportedly also prompted Israel’s immediate efforts to aid its ally.

Guatemala made headlines last month when it followed in the footsteps of the US and became the second country to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. The move was seen as one of the consequences of the two countries’ historic friendship, which started 70 years ago when Guatemala lobbied strongly at the UN [United Nations] for the creation of a Jewish state in 1947. Moreover on May 14, 1948, Guatemala was the second country after the US to recognize the establishment of the State of Israel. This is also not the first time that the Central American nation has its ambassador stationed in the hills of Judea. In 1959, eight years before the 1967 Six Day War that reunited Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, Guatemala was the first country to base its embassy in Jerusalem. Yet international pressure took its toll and in 1980, the official representative of Guatemala City to the Jewish state left the City of Gold and relocated to the shores of the Mediterranean in Tel Aviv. The situation was, however, rectified when the Guatemalan embassy opened its doors again in Jerusalem on May 16, 2018, two days after the US.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 07 June 2018)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/Noticieros Televisa

Prayer Focus
Pray for the people of Guatemala in the aftermath of the tragedy. Thank God for Israel’s continued commitment to come to the aid of those in need. Ask God to use the Israeli rescue team in Guatemala mightily to save lives and offer comfort. Pray that He will protect the team and bless them with wisdom and endurance in their efforts.

Scripture

Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before You; certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Surely every man walks about like a shadow; surely they busy themselves in vain; he heaps up riches, and does not know who will gather them. And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You.


- Psalm 39:5-7

Protecting Israel’s Shores

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The Israeli Navy is responsible for protecting Israel’s coast.

Tuesday, 05 June 2018 | “The naval control and command soldiers are the eyes of the country. Why? Most of the Israeli population lives on the coast. No one in Israel thinks that when they go to the beach something bad will happen and that something or someone will come from the sea to harm them. We have to protect our seas and beach so that Israel can sustain the economy,” said Lt. Rotem.

Lieutenant Rotem is the Commander of the Naval Command and Control School, where soldiers learn how to detect potential threats and protect Israel’s shores.

“Naval command and control soldiers are the Israeli Navy’s equivalent to the Ground Forces’ field observers; they are responsible for controlling, locating, and thwarting infiltration and terror activities in Israel. They’re also responsible for every boat entering and leaving Israel,” said Lt. Rotem.

Once the soldiers finish school they are stationed around Israel. “The naval command and control soldiers are spread out along the coasts of Israel, from Rosh Hanikra in the north, all the way to Eilat in the south. We have eight bases and two smaller bases in charge and that concentrate the control corps,” Lt. Rotem explained. The naval command and control soldiers are given areas of different sizes to watch and their being spread out allows them to keep an eye on Israel’s shores.

“The central posts are in charge of protecting mainland Israel, meaning the beaches of Tel Aviv, Netanya, Hadera, and Haifa. The Stella Regional Control center is in Haifa, the Olga Regional Control center is in Hadera, the Ashdod District Control Center is in the Ashdod port, and there’s the Haifa Training Base District Control Center which is responsible for the three northern control centers (Rosh Hanikra, Stella, Olga). Finally, all the posts answer to the Yishai Naval Control Unit in the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] Headquarters,” said Lt. Rotem.

When a naval control and command soldier is patrolling their area, they use cameras and radars which they control both from naval vessels and on shore. Thanks to this technology, they are able to tell how far the vessel is and what kind of vessel it is.

The naval control and command soldiers go through extensive training and learn about the cameras, the radars, the control system and special procedures so they can protect Israel’s waters as best as possible. “The biggest challenge is that the sea is open, there’s no fence or wall defining where the sea ends and so anyone can sail anywhere they like.”

“I just want to say that this is the most important job, it’s considered a combat support job and is one of the most important jobs for girls in the army. It’s very difficult, but at the same time it’s extremely rewarding. Every shift, their work has a significant impact and it’s clear why we do what we do.”

Source: (Israel Defense Forces originally published this article on 27 May 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces

Prayer Focus
Lift up the IDF soldiers serving in the Naval Command and Control unit. Ask God to bless them with mental and physical well-being, concentration, focus, determination and insight as they guard Israel’s shores from illegal infiltration and other threats.

Scripture

But you, be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!


- 2 Chronicles 15:7

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