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A Light in the Midst of Trauma

Friday, March 11, 2022

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Every week, we post seven to ten news stories from Israel with a suggested prayer focus and scripture for each one, guiding readers how to pray for Israel’s most urgent needs. This Prayer Update is also sent to over 18,000 subscribers every Friday by e-mail. Please contact us at intl.office@bridgesforpeace.com if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.

Ukrainian Lawmaker Hails Bennett’s Mediation but Says Putin’s Demands ‘Absurd’

by Alexandra Lukash ~ Ynetnews

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A residential building damaged by Russian strikes in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv

Thursday, 10 March 2022 | A senior Ukrainian lawmaker on Wednesday welcomed Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s efforts to mediate a solution to hostilities with Russia but added that such a move was “unrealistic” amid President Vladimir Putin’s “absurd” demands.

Oleksandr Merezhko, Chair of the Committee on Foreign Policy and Interparliamentary Cooperation, told Ynet in an English interview that what his country needs the most is weapons to fend off Russian invaders.

Merezhko called Putin the “Hitler of the 21st century” and claimed that his country would not agree to Putin’s cease-fire conditions.

“The situation is difficult because we live in constant fear of a new onslaught of Russian troops,” said Merezhko from his home in central Kyiv, which he says he does not intend on leaving.

“…Russians deliberately target civilians and we are afraid that Putin, before he will attack, he might deliver a strike, air raids and missile strikes against Kyiv…this is our biggest concern right now. But we are ready to defend our country, we will defend each building in Kyiv and I have no doubt that we will win.”

Merezhko further said he was preparing for an escalation of the conflict.

“…We have to be prepared for the worst scenario. Director of [the] CIA William Burns has said recently that [the] next several weeks might be really tough. It might be a bloodbath. That’s why we need [a] no-fly zone to be established over Kyiv and over [the] biggest cities in Ukraine.”

Merezhko also said he thought Putin’s peace overtures were not serious since Russian shelling of Ukrainian cities continued regardless.

“I think it’s a good move, and, of course, we’re in favor of such efforts to be [a] mediator, but we should also keep in mind that, unfortunately, at present moment it’s not realistic. Putin is not serious about holding negotiations and stopping fire, because any negotiations should start with a cease-fire, and Putin doesn’t do it…”

The lawmaker also rejected claims by Israeli officials that the key to the success of the talks was in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s hands, saying Russia’s demands were unacceptable.

“I’ve been taking part in the trilateral group as a negotiator and I know the tactics of [the] Russians, how they negotiate. So the ball is in the court of [the] Russians. They should stop fighting; they should agree to [a] cease-fire. This is the most important thing because [the] Russians have already killed more than 50 children and they continue deliberately targeting civilians. They need to stop doing this. And after that, they should stop putting forward their absurd demands, which look like demands of [the] surrender of Ukraine. This is totally absurd.”

Merezhko also vehemently rejected Russia’s demands that Ukraine recognizes Moscow’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula as well as recognize the independence of two pro-Russian breakaway republics in the country’s east.

“Why should we agree [to this]? He should agree,” he said. “[Putin is] a war criminal, he committed crimes against Ukraine. He invaded Ukraine. He should withdraw his troops and the world should put pressure upon Putin and Russians to withdraw their troops from the territory of Ukraine and to pay reparations for all the crimes and damage which was done to the Ukrainian population…”

Despite his predictions of an imminent escalation, Merezhko stayed optimistic about Ukraine coming out on top at the end of the conflict.

“We’re already winning…Putin hoped that he would take Kyiv within two or three days—he failed. We see that the world is united behind Ukraine. We get very powerful support from our allies, partners and from the whole world…”

“What’s going on right now, more and more looks like a genocide against Ukrainians led by the Hitler of the 21st century.”

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on March 9, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Drop of Light/shutterstock.com

Prayer Focus
Pray that God will protect the people of Ukraine from the ravages of war, and cry out to Him for an end to this conflict. Pray that the Ukrainian military will be prepared for “the worst-case scenario,” but beseech Him that a cease-fire will be reached and adhered to.


The LORD will give strength to His people; the LORD will bless His people with peace.

- Psalm 29:11

Israel Okays Plan to Welcome Non-Jewish Ukrainian Refugees

by Kate Norman

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Ukrainians flee the besieged nation for safety.

Wednesday, 9 March 2022 | As the Russian “military operation” in Ukraine continues, more and more people are forced to flee the besieged nation and seek safety in other lands. Israel is helping to absorb some of the refugees by temporarily taking in 25,000 Ukrainians who are not of Jewish descent, in addition to the thousands of Jewish Ukrainians expected to immigrate to their ancient homeland.

Some 20,000 non-Jewish Ukrainians arrived in Israel before the Russian invasion began nearly two weeks ago, Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said yesterday, and another 5,000 will be allowed to seek refuge in the Jewish state beginning Sunday at midnight.

Of the 20,000 who came beforehand, Shaked said, most overstayed their visas and remain in the country illegally after coming to Israel on tourist and work visas. The Jewish state will not deport any of them, however, dooming them back to their besieged homeland.

Nearly 3,500 non-Jewish Ukrainians have already sought refuge in the Jewish state since the invasion began, Ynetnews reported, meaning under 2,000 slots remain open.

All incoming refugees will be issued three-month permits and only need to sign documents upon arrival agreeing to return to Ukraine once the situation allows them to do so.

“In addition, if, God forbid, the battles don’t end within a reasonable time, we will allow them to work in Israel,” Shaked said, as quoted by Ynetnews.

“The images of war in Ukraine and the sufferings of civilians are shocking, and make it impossible to remain indifferent,” the interior minister continued. “These terrible events have a direct impact on Israel, [which] is preparing to absorb about 100 thousand Jews and those eligible under Israel’s Law of Return and are escaping from the war.”

Over two million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian tanks first rolled in on February 24, according to the United Nations, sparking what has been called Europe’s fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II.

Ukraine is home to an estimated 150,000–200,000 Jewish people, most of whom are eligible to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel) under the Law of Return. The Jewish state has been preparing to absorb thousands of new olim (immigrants) since things started flaring up between Moscow and Kyiv.

Minister of Aliyah and Absorption Pnina Tamano-Shata praised Shaked’s announcement.

“We, as Jews, must open our gates unconditionally—[coming] from a place of understanding that it’s time to save lives, Jewish or not,” Tamano-Shata said, as quoted by Ynetnews.

Israeli Minister of Diaspora Affairs Nachman Shai visited refugee centers run by the Jewish Agency in Warsaw earlier this week.

“I heard heartbreaking stories of people who lost everything within a week,” Shai told the Jerusalem Post, describing his emotional time spent with the “traumatized” refugees. Though he said most of the Ukrainians are likely to seek refuge in European countries, as close to home as possible, he added that “I’m glad Israel can offer them a loving home.”

The Israeli minister said after getting into conversations with the refugees and hearing their stories, he is coming back to Israel “as a different person” with a better understanding of “what our [Israel’s] ancestors went through over centuries of history.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 9, 2022)

Photo Credit: UN Women/Aurel Obreja/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Pray for the thousands of Ukrainians—both Jewish and non-Jewish—who are finding sanctuary in Israel. Pray for those Israeli leaders who are displaying the heart of God by welcoming those in need and making accommodation for them until they are safe. Thank Him for the Jewish heart that says, “We must open our gates unconditionally.”


Therefore your gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day or night.

- Isaiah 60:11a

Turkish President to Herzog: ‘Historic Visit is Turning Point in Israel–Turkey Relations’

by JNS

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Israeli President Isaac Herzog arrives in Turkey

Thursday, 10 March 2022 | Israeli President Isaac Herzog touched down in Turkey on Wednesday, kicking off the first official visit to the country by an Israeli leader since 2008. He went directly to the Presidential Complex in Ankara where he met with Russian President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for several hours.

“I believe that this historic visit will be a turning point in relations between Turkey and Israel. Strengthening relations with the State of Israel has great value for our country,” Erdoğan said.

Herzog said that he and the Turkish president exchanged views about events in Ukraine and in the Eastern Mediterranean.

“I believe that the coming period will bring new opportunities for both regional and bilateral cooperation,” the president added. “I hope that this important visit, taking place after so long, will provide an opening for future joint opportunities.”

Before boarding for Turkey, Herzog said at the airport that “Israel–Turkey relations are important for Israel, important for Turkey and important for the whole region. Certainly, at a time when the international order is being shaken, it is good and proper that stability and partnership be maintained in our region,” he said, adding that he had emphasized this during his visits to Greece and Cyprus in recent weeks.

“We will not agree on everything, and the relationship between Israel and Turkey has certainly known ups and downs and not-so-simple moments in recent years, but we shall try to restart our relations and build them in a measured and cautious manner, and with mutual respect between our states,” he said.

The president’s visit was coordinated with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

Herzog and Erdoğan, who invited the Israeli leader to visit, are expected to discuss various bilateral issues, including Israel–Turkey relations and the potential for expanding collaboration between their states and peoples in various fields, according to Herzog’s office.

The Israeli president’s wife, Michal, is traveling with him.

The couple is scheduled to meet with members of Turkey’s Jewish community in addition to their meetings with Turkish officials.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 9, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Haim Zach/GPO/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for President Herzog’s landmark visit to Turkey. Pray that his measured and cautious relationship building will pay off, with the two nations linked together in mutual respect, expanding collaboration and providing stability for the region.


Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; “For YAH, the LORD, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.”

- Isaiah 12:2

Israel Shoots Down Iranian Drones En Route to Gaza, IDF Says

by Yoav Zitun ~ Ynetnews

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An Israeli Air Force F-35i fighter jet (illustrative)

Monday, 7 March 2022 | Israel shot down two Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that were making their way to the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military confirmed Sunday night.

“In March 2021, the Iranian regime launched two UAVs toward Israeli territory. The UAVs were successfully intercepted by the Israeli Air Force’s F-35i ‘Adir’ aircraft,” a military spokesperson said in a statement, adding that this was the first time an F-35i aircraft shot down a drone in an operational setting.

“The interception of the UAVs was carried out prior to them entering Israeli airspace, in coordination with neighboring countries. The UAVs were detected and tracked throughout their flight by ground control units.”

Defense sources estimate this was an attempt by the Iranians to smuggle weapons into Gaza.

The announcement comes as Tehran [is] inching ever closer toward signing a new nuclear deal with world [powers] in Vienna.

Iran has significantly improved its drone fleet in recent years, although its capabilities still lag far behind Israel’s.

Tehran has developed drones of various sizes and for a variety of missions, from reconnaissance to carrying explosives for offensive operations many hundreds of miles away.

The project is led by the Iranian Air Force, along with Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guards group and its elite Quds Force, who export the technology to their proxies across the Middle East in Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on March 6, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Major Ofer, Israeli Air Force /commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Thank God for Israel’s ongoing ability to detect and shoot down Iranian UAVs before they enter Israeli airspace. Pray that the nation will be able to continue protecting itself from such incursions, and ask that Iran’s drones be destroyed before they cause harm.


“The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.”

- Deuteronomy 28:7

Israel Steps up Ukrainian Aid Efforts with Field Hospital in the Embattled Country

by Kate Norman

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A team of Israeli medical personnel is gearing up to set up a field hospital in Ukraine.

Monday, 7 March 2022 | Israel is scrambling to send a field hospital to relieve besieged Ukrainians amid the continuing Russian invasion.

The Jewish state is dispatching a medical delegation to Ukraine next week from Israel’s ministries of health and foreign affairs to establish the field hospital, the health ministry announced on Saturday.

The hospital will include facilities for adult and child hospitalization, an intensive care unit, first aid clinic and delivery room, the health ministry reported.

The project is being coordinated by Sheba Medical Center, Clalit Healthcare Services and staff from additional hospitals.

The field hospital will be manned strictly by civilians and not soldiers—as Israel has often done in the past for disaster response teams—Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said last week.

Israel has worked hard to maintain a somewhat neutral stance politically in order to maintain its ties with both Moscow and Kyiv. This is in part to protect the significant Jewish populations in both Russia and Ukraine and also so as not to poke the Russian bear, which currently controls the airspace over Syria. Israeli jets often pass through Syrian airspace to conduct strikes on weapons shipments from Iran to its terror proxies in the region.

Nonetheless, Horowitz took a decisive stance in a statement released by the health ministry on Saturday announcing the field hospital, which he said was Israel “acting on our moral duty.”

“The Ministry of Health and the State of Israel stand clearly on the side of the Ukrainian people,” the health minister said. “We shall continue to assist, as much as needed, in saving the lives of civilians whose lives were destroyed in a moment.”

Last week Israel sent 100 tons of humanitarian aid supplies to Ukraine, including medical equipment and medicine, emergency water supply kits and water purification systems, winter tents, sleeping bags, blankets and winter coats, the Times of Israel reported.

The soon-to-be-established field hospital will be manned by about 80 medical staff, Israel21c reported, though additional medical teams can be dispatched as needed, the director-general of Clalit said in the health ministry’s statement.

“This is our personal, professional and national duty towards any human being,” Prof. Yitzhak Kreiss, director of Sheba Medical Center, added in the statement. “We have the means and the capacity and must not stand on the sidelines.”

And based on the footage continuously streaming out of besieged Ukraine, the help is desperately needed. Since Russian troops started rolling across the borders into its Western neighbor, more than 1.5 million refugees have fled Ukraine into neighboring countries, with millions more expected to follow.

Moscow continued its “special military operation” over the weekend, as the Kremlin calls it, constantly shelling residential areas—despite agreements to establish humanitarian corridors to allow residents safe passage out of besieged cities.

Nonetheless, the firing on civilians continued.

“Instead of humanitarian corridors, they can only make bloody ones,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video statement yesterday. “[Yesterday] a family was killed in Irpin [a suburb of Kyiv]. Man, woman and two children. Right on the road. As in a shooting gallery.”

Another round of talks is reportedly set for today between Ukrainian and Russian diplomats, following two previous unsuccessful talks held at the border between Ukraine and Belarus, from which Russia launched its attack on northern Ukraine.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 7, 2022)

Photo Credit: Jernej Furman/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the aid Israel is providing to war-torn Ukraine. Pray that the aid will continue and will be instrumental in saving the lives of many innocent Ukrainian civilians.


Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but counselors of peace have joy.

- Proverbs 12:20

In Second Terror Attack this Week, Terrorist Stabs Two Police Officers

by JNS

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Emergency responders with Magen David Adom treat two Israeli police officers who were stabbed near the Old City of Jerusalem.

Tuesday, 8 March 2022 | A terrorist stabbed two officers from the Israel Police with a knife on Monday evening near the Old City of Jerusalem.

In response, the police returned fire and neutralized the terrorist.

Magen David Adom [Israel’s ambulance service] paramedics and emergency medical technicians were on-site and provided medical treatment to the two male victims, both in their early 20s.

“When we arrived at the [Lions’ Gate], we saw police officers treating two people with stab wounds. We moved them out to the Western Wall [Kotel] courtyard, treated them for their wounds and transferred them to MICUs for evacuation to the hospital,” MDA EMT Baruch Weissman said in a statement.

On Sunday, two Israel Police officers were also wounded in an attack near Jerusalem’s Old City. Those men, who suffered light to moderate wounds, were also evacuated for medical treatment.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 7, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Twitter/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for an end to these constant terror attacks. Pray for the wounded soldiers and beseech the Lord for His protection.



When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

- Proverbs 16:7

IDF Chief Lands in Bahrain to Talk Iran

by Yossi Yehoshua ~ Ynetnews

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IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi

Thursday, 10 March 2022 | IDF [Israel Defense Forces] Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi landed in Bahrain on Wednesday for a series of meetings with top security officials in the Persian Gulf kingdom.

Upon his arrival, Kochavi was greeted by his Bahraini counterpart, Lt.–Gen. Theyab bin Saqer Al Noaimi. Kochavi also met with the commander of Bahrain’s Royal Guard and national security advisor Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, as well as other top brass military personnel.

Israel and Bahrain have been strengthening political and security cooperation against their shared foe Iran, with the former posting a permanent military representative in the Gulf country last month.

Bahrain’s foreign ministry said in a statement [that] the appointed IDF officer will work in cooperation with an international coalition comprised of at least 34 countries. It stated that the coalition’s goals include securing maritime trade in the region and countering piracy and terrorism.

Kochavi’s visit comes after Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited Bahrain last month and signed a security cooperation agreement with the kingdom. Gantz met with the Crown Prince and the Prime Minister of Bahrain Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa and Defense Minister Abdullah bin Hassan Al Nuaimi.

The MOU [memorandum of understanting] came 18 months after the Abraham Accords formalized Israel’s relations with Bahrain and the UAE and will promote intelligence sharing, joint military drills and closer ties between the defense industries in both nations.

In his meetings with the Bahraini leadership, Kochavi is slated to discuss sensitive security issues including the ongoing Iran nuclear talks in Vienna.

Both countries fear that Tehran would use garnished funds unfrozen by a potential nuclear pact with world powers to further shore up its military presence in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Gulf nations fear that the talks may mark a US capitulation to Iran.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday morning that the White House has failed to arrange a phone call between US President Joe Biden and crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who refused to speak with him.

Aside from the Iranian issue, the two Gulf states are also disappointed with the Biden administration’s decision to remove the terrorist designation of the Iranian-backed Houthi revolutionaries, who have been locked in a bloody war with the two in Yemen.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 9, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit / CC BY-SA 3.0/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for the strengthening of the relationship between Israel and Bahrain. Thank God that the Abraham Accords have made such friendships possible, and ask Him to bless both nations as they work together to intensify cooperation, combat piracy and terrorism as well as bring peace to the region.


I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none will make you afraid; I will rid the land of evil beasts, and the sword will not go through your land.

- Leviticus 26:6