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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.

IDF Launched Large-scale Emergency Preparedness Exercise

by Yoav Zitun

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Home Front Command drill (illustrative)

Monday, 12 March 2018 | The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] launched a large-scale General Staff exercise on Sunday to drill emergency preparedness in all of the military’s commands.

The aim of the exercise was to prepare the different commands for a range of emergency and war scenarios and to increase the readiness and operational dialogue between the various commands.

As part of the exercise, Home Front Command also held a drill, sounding out rocket alert sirens on Tuesday, March 13, at 11:05 a.m. and 7:05 p.m.

The rocket alert sirens also sounded on the radio, appeared on different websites and beepers for people who are hard of hearing, on the TV and on the Home Front Command’s website and mobile app. A second siren would be sounded in the event of a real emergency.

The IDF said the goal of the rocket alert sirens drill was to prepare the general public to enter protected areas both in their workplaces and their homes, and to test the functionality of the rocket alert siren system across the country.

“The exercise is another opportunity to prepare the general public for emergency situations, to test the various systems, the inter-organizational coordination and the improvement of preparedness during an emergency.”

During the past week, drills took place in various locations throughout the country, and citizens might occasionally have heard explosions and seen increased troop movement. Schools and kindergartens across the country also took part in the exercise. The students drilled entering safe spaces and shelters.

When the siren sounded, IDF bases, government ministries and public institutions commenced practicing entering shelters. The IDF asked the public to follow suit and enter shelters or safe spaces when the drill siren sounded, “in accordance with the time they allotted and Home Front Command’s instructions.”

Instructions for finding a safe place to hide following an alert siren can be found on Home Front Command’s app and website. “If entering a safe space during the exercise entails an unreasonable disruption of daily routine, routine can be preferred,” the IDF elucidated.

All essential services, including hospitals, will continue operating normally. In addition, conferences and other mass gatherings will also be held normally.

Just like every year, an emphasis will be placed on coordination and cooperation between the Home Front Command forces and the National Emergency Authority, local authorities, security and rescue forces, the education system and other public and private bodies.

“The drill was planned in advanced as part of the training plan for 2018 and is meant to maintain the fitness and readiness of the troops,” the IDF Spokesman’s Office said.

Editor’s Note: The tiny nation of Israel faces unprecedented threats of violence and destruction emanating from hostile neighbors and coming from within its own borders. Even during days of relative peace, the people of Israel know full well that these threats have the potential to escalate into war and terror—as they have done countless times in the past. Keeping its citizens safe from these threats is one of Israel’s top national priorities. However, the brutal reality of life in the Promised Land also requires dedicated initiatives to care for, support and help heal Israelis in the devastating aftermath of war and terror.

Bridges for Peace shares this concern. Through our Victims of War fund, we seek to answer God’s calling to comfort those who mourn in Zion (Isa. 40:1) by reaching out to the wounded, the survivors and the loved ones of those who perished. Our efforts include supporting programs that seek to heal the emotional and psychological trauma of survivors or loved ones left behind; funds to cover medical apparatus, protracted hospital stays, operations and physical therapy for the wounded; constructing bomb shelters in at risk communities and much more.

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published in Ynetnews on 11 March 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDFSpokesperson

Prayer Focus
Beseech the Lord to keep His people in times of trouble. Pray that the emergency drills will result in good communication between the different commands and that Israelis will use these practice drills to become prepared in case war breaks out.

Scripture

Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from violent men, who have purposed to make my steps stumble.


- Psalm 140:4

Action
You can help us help Israel, the apple of His eye, prepare for the terrible reality of war and terror—and its equally devastating aftermath. By donating to our Victims of War fund, you can be part of the efforts that answer God’s calling to comfort those who mourn in Zion.

Former Syrian General: Hezbollah has Chemical Weapons

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Hezbollah fighters (illustrative)

Tuesday, 13 March 2018 | The general who formerly headed Syria’s chemical weapons program before defecting in 2013 said that Iran’s proxy Hezbollah has a store of chemical weapons and that Iran itself is testing missiles with chemical warheads, The Jerusalem Post reported Thursday.

General Sha’arq Zuhair al-Saqit, who defected from Syria when ordered to deploy chemical weapons against civilians and now heads the Center for the Detection and Monitoring of the Use of Chemical Weapons in Belgium, said that Hezbollah received most of the chemical weapons from Syria, when the regime of Bashar al-Assad was trying to conceal the weapons from international monitors following the gas attack in East Ghouta in August 2013.

The possession of “game-changing” weapons, including chemical weapons, by Hezbollah is one of the “red lines” Israel has declared that it would not allow.

He also said that Iran has been testing short and medium range missiles, with ranges of 5 to 25 kilometers (3 to 15 miles), with chemical warheads in Syria.

Al-Saqit also said that Iran is a major supplier of chemical weapons to Syria.

The general was in Paris where he warned that Syria was still using chemical weapons, [stating] in an interview, “The Syrian army and the militias supporting it carry out daily attacks on the population, which uses chlorine gas. Only yesterday there was such an attack.”

The center he heads collects testimonies from people on the ground in Syria.

Al-Saqit agreed with a recent United Nations report that confirmed that North Korea was sending equipment for developing chemical weapons to Syria.

In an interview last year, al-Saqit said that Assad had not declared his entire stockpile of chemical weapons and had retained several hundred tons of the proscribed weapons.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 08 March 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Public domain/wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Intercede for the IDF forces on Israel’s northern border, praying for the troops and their commanders—including Major General Yoel Strick, head of the Northern Command—who will be responsible to defend Israel against possible chemical attacks. Pray for the residents of northern Israel, asking the Lord to shield and guard them.

Scripture

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.


- 2 Samuel 22:3

Terrorism Thwarted: Israel Intercepts IDF Uniforms Headed to Hamas

by Joshua Spurlock

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IDF uniforms confiscated before being smuggled into the Gaza Strip

Thursday, 15 March 2018 | Israel thwarted plans for a likely Hamas terror attack this week when they intercepted Israeli military uniforms at a crossing into Gaza that were ultimately destined for Hamas. The intent was to smuggle the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] clothing into Gaza so Hamas terrorists could “disguise themselves as Israeli soldiers when perpetrating cross border attacks,” Israeli Prime Minister’s Office Spokesman Ofir Gendelman said via Twitter.

“Innocent lives were saved,” tweeted Gendelman on Tuesday, who reported the incident and called the intercept “a new blow to Hamas’ efforts to attack Israel.” Terrorists have used disguises in the past to gain access for acts of terror. While Gendelman didn’t specify what attack was likely planned, Hamas has sought to engage in kidnappings in the past in an effort to trade Israelis for captured terrorists, such as was done with Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

That wasn’t the only Hamas smuggling effort that was foiled. Gendelman also tweeted on Tuesday about the interception of mercury—which can be used to make bombs—that had been hidden in a medical shipment.

“Hamas only cares about arming its terrorists. It doesn’t care about the real needs of Palestinians,” tweeted Gendelman.

Israel has repeatedly intercepted weapons and “dual-use items”—which can be used for civilian and militaristic purposes—that were intended for terrorists in Gaza. The Israelis and the Egyptians maintain a blockade of Gaza to prevent just such items from reaching Hamas and other bad actors in the coastal enclave.

Iran has long been a supporter of Hamas. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin just last month made this point to Brazil’s Minister of Foreign Relations, Aloysio Nunes. A press release from Rivlin’s office said he told Nunes that Iran “continued to support Hezbollah and Hamas who threatened Israel each day, and that they supported fundamentalism and terrorism all over the world.”

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this article on 14 March 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Ashernet

Prayer Focus
Petition the Lord on behalf of Israel’s security forces stationed at checkpoints throughout the Land. Ask Him to give them special understanding of which shipments are dangerous and should be checked thoroughly. Give thanks that these uniforms were discovered before they could be used in a terror attack.

Scripture

He [God] frustrates the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot carry out their plans.


- Job 5:12

Report: Trump’s Peace Plan to Be Presented “Soon”

by Orly Azoulay

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PM Netanyahu and US President Trump

Tuesday, 13 March 2018 | US President Donald Trump is expected to present his peace plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict soon, The New York Times reported Monday, citing three Trump administration officials.

The White House, according to the Times, is still polishing the plan, seeking to find a formula that will ensure the American initiative is not dead on arrival. The Trump administration hopes that when the peace plan is finally put on the table, the pressure on the Palestinians to enter negotiations with Israel will increase.

According to the report, the delay in presenting the plan, which was written by Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, and adviser on Middle East affairs Jason Greenblatt, stems from two reasons: The expected Palestinians opposition to the plan and the possibility of snap elections in Israel.

Despite these challenges, the White House nevertheless decided to go ahead with the plan, although the exact date for its publication has yet to be determined.

One official quoted by the Times likened the plan to the Israeli navigation software Waze, as its purpose is helping both sides bypass obstacles on their way to the final destination—what Trump refers to as the “ultimate deal.”

Not expected to push for a two-state solution

It is unlikely Trump’s peace plan would present clear guidelines similar to the Saudi plan, which was adopted by the Arab League.

The plan is not expected to offer a two-state solution, but instead offer a blueprint for a two-state solution, should both sides decide on it as the best option. At the same time, the document will include appendices to solutions to controversial issues such as borders, security arrangements, Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem.

The White House is working to write the plan in such a way that would allow both sides to pick and choose, taking out of the plan what they believe will work and ignoring what they believe won’t.

According to the report, no one outside the White House saw the plan, but its three authors met with Netanyahu for hours at the Blair House, the official guesthouse of the US president, during his visit to Washington last week.

Meanwhile, representatives of Arab states, which had previously pledged to help put pressure on the Palestinians in all matters related to negotiations with Israel, informed the White House that they would not be able to do so after Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the American embassy there.

Since the controversial American declaration, the Palestinians have cut off contact with the Trump administration and have turned to another route: putting pressure on other countries—especially in Europe—to replace the United States as mediator in the peace talks with Israel.

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published in Ynetnews on 12 March 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.) 

Photo Credit: PM of Israel@IsraeliPM/twitter.com

Prayer Focus
Pray that the US-initiated peace plan will be presented at the right time and will provide the basis for face-to-face negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Proclaim that the Lord's purpose will be accomplished regarding the final outcome.

Scripture

Then Job answered the LORD and said: “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.”


- Job 42:1–2

Iran Nuke Deal Risks ‘Nuclearization’ of the Middle East, Warns Netanyahu

by Joshua Spurlock

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Radiation warning symbol

Monday, 12 March 2018 | For all the concerns about a nuclear weapons-armed Iran and the faulty Iran nuclear deal, there just might be an even greater concern for the world over the consequences of Iran’s nuclear program: a Middle East filled with nuclear weapons-armed countries. “Many countries in the Middle East are saying that they are also allowed to enrich uranium if Iran is allowed to do so,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday. “Therefore, the way to prevent this danger, the nuclearization of the Middle East, is to either thoroughly correct the [Iran nuclear] agreement or abrogate it.”

Netanyahu, in comments to the Israeli cabinet published by his office, said that the diplomatic talks with a variety of United States officials last week during a visit to America “focused mainly on Iran.” Said the Israeli leader, “I said that the nuclear agreement with Iran contains within it many dangers for the world, including the special danger of the nuclearization of the Middle East.”

A February report from the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya in Israel noted that multiple nations—including Egypt and Saudi Arabia—are working towards building nuclear power programs. Citing a variety of news articles on the nuclear plans, Shaul Shay wrote in the report that the United Arab Emirates [UAE] is planning to officially open the first Arab nuclear power plant this year.

Nuclear power doesn’t need to proceed to nuclear weapons, and Shay noted that the UAE nuclear non-proliferation arrangement with the US is especially solid. As a more troubling illustration of where the nuclear programs in the Middle East could go, however, Shay notes that while Egypt signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), they have not accepted the part of the treaty that allows spot inspections.

US President Donald Trump has insisted that Europe develop a supplementary agreement to the Iran nuclear deal that would better prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring nuclear weapons or the missiles to deliver them. He has given a deadline this spring to develop that plan and efforts are already underway.

However, the Iranians are pushing back strongly against amendments to their arrangement with the world powers. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani last week, in comments quoted by the Fars News Agency, said that “everyone will regret the possible collapse of the landmark nuclear agreement.”

The same Fars article also said that Iran refuses to change the nuclear deal and won’t even discuss their missile and defense programs, according to spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Behrouz Kamalvandi.

Meanwhile, a separate Fars article quoted Iranian senior commander Major General Gholam Ali Rashid as claiming that Israel “will avoid testing” Iran “because it cannot manage confrontation against Iran and cannot bear its costs.” He warned of “unimaginable costs” for attacking Iran.

Netanyahu, in his comments on Sunday, acknowledged Iranian threats to Israel and underscored their resolve in response.

Said the Israeli premier, “I remind you that Iran declares, on an almost daily basis—including recently—its intention to wipe out the State of Israel. It is hardly worth saying that we will not allow this, to put it mildly.”

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this article on 11 March 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)   

Photo Credit: Public domain/wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the nations of the world would take PM Netanyahu’s warnings of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East seriously and not turn a blind eye. Pray that the nation of Israel and her leaders would stand strong and put their trust in God.

Scripture

And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, “The inhabitants of Jerusalem are my strength in the LORD of hosts, their God.”


- Zechariah 12:5

Netanyahu: “Virtually All” Arab States See Israel as “Vital Ally”

by Joshua Spurlock

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Prime Minister Netanyahu in an interview at The Economic Club of Washington by Club President David M. Rubenstein

Thursday, 08 March 2018 | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said he is witnessing something he’s never seen in his entire life. It’s something that he sees as “a new hope on the horizon,” something offering the potential for real Middle East peace, and as he said, “it’s not related to the Palestinians.”

“Because of the growing danger of Iran, more and more, I would say virtually all the Arab countries, no longer see Israel as their enemy, but as their vital ally in countering the threat of militant Islam,” said Netanyahu in a visit to the Economic Club of Washington according to comments published by his office.

Netanyahu noted they have stopped ISIS terror attacks, including those targeting “big airlines” and that counterterrorism includes sharing intelligence with Arabs. And then there’s the threat of Iran, and the uniting of the Israeli and Arab efforts against them. “Out of this curse comes a blessing. The blessing is this extraordinary relationship between us, and I think that ultimately we might be able to shift the ground,” said Netanyahu. “I don’t think it’s really available right now but I don’t discount that it could happen.”

While the goal of a bright future isn’t focused on the Palestinians, Netanyahu believes it can bring about the ultimate change in the Palestinian relationship with Israel. “We used to say that if we make peace with the Palestinians we’ll break out and normalize our relations with the Arab world. I think it actually may work more the other way around. We normalize our relations with the Arab world to help change the perception of the Palestinians.”

That could be the only way peace with the Palestinians is achieved, given where things stand now. The Palestinians haven’t even officially negotiated with Israel in years and their supposedly-moderate leader recently spouted a torrent of anti-Israel conspiracy theories and refuses to let the United States act as mediator any longer.

The hard line taken by the Palestinians has Netanyahu believing the only hope for lasting peace is for Israel to maintain security control even after a Palestinian state is formed. He noted that Israel should maintain military and security responsibility for the entire area west of the Jordan River, including territory claimed by the Palestinians.

The alternative, Netanyahu warned, is another Gaza—where Israel left and the terrorists in Hamas took over—or Lebanon, where Israel left and the terrorists in Hezbollah took over. He said that if Israel leaves most of Judea and Samaria—also known as the West Bank—then either Iran via Hamas or ISIS would step in. He called that a “catastrophe for peace.”

“I think most Israelis would favor a situation where we could separate from the Palestinians. I don’t want the Palestinians as citizens of Israel and I don’t want them as subjects of Israel. So I want a solution when they have all the powers they need to govern themselves, but none of the powers that would threaten us,” said Netanyahu.

“…Does that comfort with full sovereignty? I don’t know. But it’s what we need to live. And in this area, the Middle East, full of failed states, states that collapsed, it’s very important that Israel be the power responsible for security because otherwise everyone collapses. The Palestinians collapse.”

His comments implied that the old, true “two-state solution” model of a fully independent Palestine just isn’t realistic in the violent region of today. And the Palestinians are making it worse, not better. He said the Palestinians are “convinced more and more that they want a state instead of Israel. And that’s not a real peace. People would go for a real peace, not a fake one.”

In the meantime, there’s hope for something approaching peace with the other neighbors in the region, and maybe someday a real peace with the Palestinians will emerge from that too.

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this article on 07 March 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Haim Zach/GPO

Prayer Focus
Bring Prime Minister Netanyahu before the Lord, and pray like King David did for his son Solomon, asking the Lord to give him divine wisdom and understanding. Pray that PM Netanyahu will know how to navigate through these changing alliances with the Arab world.

Scripture

Only may the LORD give you wisdom and understanding, and give you charge concerning Israel, that you may keep the law of the LORD your God.


- 1 Chronicles 22:12

Over 4,500 Service Personnel Take Part in Israeli, US Joint Military Exercise

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Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Eisenkot with US Commander Gen. Scaparrotti during his visit to Israel to oversee the joint IDF-US military exercise, Juniper Cobra 2018

Monday, 12 March 2018 | American and Israeli forces launched operation “Juniper Cobra” on Tuesday, a two-week joint military training exercise bringing together more than 4,500 service personnel from the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] and the United States military’s European Command (USEUCOM).

The Marine Corps Times reported that the US dispatched over 2,500 service members to the training, including Marines and naval personnel. In addition, over 2,000 IDF soldiers are taking part in the exercise, making Juniper Cobra 2018 the largest joint military training between the US and Israel this year.

“Israel and the United States are strong allies, and I’m looking forward to seeing everything our Navy-Marine Corps team will accomplish with them to increase our capabilities and build our relationship,” said Capt. Joseph O’Brien, commanding officer of the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima.

“I know this will be an outstanding experience for both nations and an excellent chance for our teams to work together and demonstrate our commitment to each other.”

Since 2001, Israeli and US military personnel have conducted a total of eight Juniper Cobra joint combat exercises. The last iteration of the joint training event was in 2016.

“The bilateral training opportunity builds upon a strong and enduring military-to-military relationship between the US and Israel—a relationship built on trust developed over decades of cooperation,” said US Marine Corps Col. Farrell J. Sullivan, the 26th MEU commanding officer.

The exercise comes amid heightened tensions in the region with the Syrian civil war continuing to rage across the border. Iran and Hezbollah, allied with the Assad regime, have started their military build-up on Israel’s northern front.

The joint combat training will help the US and Israel to better coordinate their efforts in confronting these complex threats.

The exercise also simulates a scenario in which US troops would be deployed to Israel to assist the IDF in conflict. Marines will be deployed to various locations and at times in the vicinity of civilian populations throughout Israel during the training.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 12 March 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDFSpokesperson

Prayer Focus
Give thanks for the help and cooperation that the United States has given to the nation of Israel, God’s special treasure, since its rebirth as a modern nation. Pray that the US will continue to stand firmly in support of Israel.

Scripture

For the LORD has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His special treasure.


- Psalm 135:4

Israel, Arab Countries Meet at White House to Discuss Way Forward for Gaza

by Ilse Strauss

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Tent camp in the Gaza Strip (illustrative)

Wednesday, 14 March 2018 │ In the normal course of things, Arab states do not break bread with the Jewish state. In fact, many of the Promised Land’s neighbors refuse to acknowledge Israel’s existence and habitually shun its input and participation in regional affairs. Yet in what The Jerusalem Post hailed as “an unprecedented moment for Israeli diplomacy,” national security officials from the Jewish state sat down with their counterparts from 18 other nations—seven of them Middle Eastern, five of which have no diplomatic ties with Israel—to discuss ways of solving the dire humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Hosted by Jared Kushner, the US president’s senior adviser on Middle East peace and Jason Greenblatt, the US’s special representative for international negotiations, the six-hour Gaza brainstorming session took place at the White House yesterday. Officials from Canada, Egypt, Jordan and a number of European countries were in attendance. The Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai represented Jerusalem. The list of attendees also included envoys from Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, all countries that do not recognize Israel’s existence. Moreover, according to The Jerusalem Post, yesterday’s summit marks the first time that Israel’s dialogue with these Arab countries has been recognized publicly.

Conspicuously missing was the Palestinian Authority (PA), which boycotted the conference. The PA has obstinately spurned any actions, suggestions and initiatives spearheaded by America since US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announced that the American embassy in Tel Aviv will be relocated to Jerusalem in May this year.

Kushner and Greenblatt opened the session with a two-hour presentation and then presided over four hours of deliberation between attending nations on short-term projects that could bolster the situation in Gaza, which after over ten years of rule by the terror organization Hamas, teeters on the brink of a humanitarian and economic disaster.

Drawing a link between the conditions in Gaza and ultimate peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Greenblatt said, “An essential part of achieving a comprehensive peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, including those in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and Gaza, will be resolving the situation in Gaza… There are no excuses for inaction. Inaction not only leads to more suffering for the Palestinians in Gaza, but also creates more security challenges for Israelis and Egyptians, and pushes the prospects for a comprehensive peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians further and further away.”

“In order for peace to be within our grasp, we must first improve the conditions on the ground to create hope and opportunity,” he held. Both Greenblatt and Kushner form part of the core US team that has worked on a framework for peace since November 2017. The plan will reportedly be made public in the near future.

Commenting on the absence of the Palestinians, Greenblatt noted, “We regret that the Palestinian Authority is not here with us today. This is not about politics. This is about the health, safety, and happiness of the people of Gaza, and of all Palestinians, Israelis, and Egyptians.”

Greenblatt lamented the conditions under which Gazans are forced to live. Many homes and businesses have no more than four hours of electricity daily, while the lack of clean drinking water results in rampant illness and diseases, particularly among infants. Moreover, he continued, poverty and food insecurity have become a way of life, while the unemployment rate “remains the highest in the world,” The Times of Israel quoted him as saying.

Greenblatt did, however, make it clear that Hamas—the terror organization that uses its people as human shields, pilfers cement and other materials earmarked to build homes, schools and hospitals to construct terror infrastructure, siphons its citizens’ already paltry supply of electricity and uses international aid money meant to alleviate the dire situation in the coastal enclave to arm and train for future conflicts with Israel—shoulders the responsibility for the suffering.

Regardless of who is to blame, he continued, the situation requires intervention to ease the misery. “We asked you here because we believe we can do much better—we must do much better. I am sure we all believe that. But, doing better will require fresh thinking and a commitment to action,” he said.

“We all know that none of this will be easy,” he told participating nations. “And everything we do must be done in a way that ensures we do not put the security of Israelis and Egyptians at risk—and that we do not inadvertently empower Hamas, which bears responsibility for Gaza’s suffering. But the situation today in Gaza is unacceptable, and spiraling downwards.”

In the aftermath of the summit, participants declined to detail any of the specific proposals discussed. Officials did, however, mention that the projects deliberated on entail electricity, water, sewage and health. “There were a lot of concrete ideas. I wouldn’t say there are concrete steps yet,” one official said. “There are many steps to go through. Hopefully some of these steps can be implemented right away, some will take longer, and some we may never be able to implement, given the complexity of the situation there.”

A senior US administration official admitted that the ultimate goal would be to involve the PA in the process. He conceded, however, that the projects could be implemented without the PA’s cooperation.

Late yesterday afternoon, when the conference had come to an end and the officials from Israel, Canada, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and a number of European countries had left the White House grounds, Greenblatt took to Twitter to acknowledge the exceptional situation of having the envoys of the Jewish state and its hostile neighbors seated around one table and deliberating the possible solutions for a regional crisis. “Thank you for putting all tensions aside to work w/us,” he tweeted. “Everyone left politics at the door & focused on practical solutions.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 14 March 2018)

Photo Credit: Marius Arnesen/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that this meeting will be the beginning of the true resolution of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Give thanks that countries who have not formally recognized Israel were able to sit at the same table with her representative and discuss possible solutions.

Scripture

Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy; free them from the hand of the wicked.


- Psalm 82:3–4

British Historian: Israel Provides a Needed “Safe Haven” for Jews

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Declaration of the State of Israel 1948

Tuesday, 13 March 2018 | On Sunday, London-based historian and journalist Jeremy Havardi featured as a guest on The Israel Project’s podcast ‘Tipping Point’ to talk about his new book Refuting the Anti-Israel Narrative: A Case for the Historical, Legal and Moral Legitimacy of the Jewish State, arguing, in part, that there is “a need for a Jewish safe haven in the world.”

In the book, Havardi lays out his justifications for the Jewish state, tackles its problems with the Palestinians, and shares his insight on Israel’s cutting-edge innovations.

Elaborating on the three pillars which cement Israel’s existence, he said that the Jewish state’s legitimacy is first of all grounded in history. “The Jewish people’s attachment to the land of Israel is longer than that of any other people,” Havardi said. “The attachment goes back thousands of years.”

He went on to talk about international agreements that confirmed Israel’s right to exist, the second pillar of his argument. The Palestine Mandate of 1921 established the Jewish right to self-determination as per decision of the League of Nation’s 51 member states, which was subsequently confirmed in the United Nations Charter.

Finally, Havardi made the moral case for Israel’s existence. There is “a need for a Jewish safe haven in the world,” he stated. “Before the State of Israel existed there was the most appalling persecution, discrimination, and violence against Jews in many countries across the world.”

Moving on, Havardi praised President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv. “Every sovereign nation has the right to choose its capital,” he said.

By acknowledging that right, the Trump administration recognized “the historical connection” to the land and the fact that Jerusalem “is and always will be the capital of the Jewish state.” According to Havardi, the decision is also critical because “ever so often, when the United States takes the lead, other countries will follow.”

Asked why the decision was met with great skepticism and hostility, Havardi explained that modern-day anti-Semitism was certainly a factor. But he said the decision was also rejected on a deeper level—anti-Western and, specifically, anti-American sentiments. According to Havardi, some political movements are looking for one nation to “vilify that symbolizes their hatred for the West,” which they regard as “colonialist.”

He also explained that in the Arab world, demonizing the Jewish state for decades allowed dictators to “remove focus from their own legitimacy” and instead assign blame to “the other,”—Israel and the United States.

Havardi further elaborated on the hostility with which Israel is often met in international forums, nurtured by a flawed Orientalist and Arabist outlook of the world. The wish to eradicate an entire country, he said, was a “uniquely malevolent feature.”

Comparing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, Havardi said while the IRA fought for a united Ireland against the British, they never demanded the destruction of the entire British nation. Hamas, on the other hand, has clear genocidal intentions.

Havardi further stated that the responsibility for the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza lies clearly with Hamas. The terrorist organization, which is in complete political and military control of the Strip, “is not interested in their own population.”

Instead, Havardi said, the group spends all the aid money on their “structure of terror.” He also dismissed the new Hamas Charter, portrayed by some as a step away from extremism. Havardi, however, said that Hamas was still “dedicated to the destruction of Israel,” and that he felt “bleak” about the prospect of peace for as long as they are in power.

Finally, Havardi addressed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. South Africa recently decided not to accept the help of Israeli technology to solve their acute water crisis.

According to Havardi, the South African leadership “looks at Israel through the same lense than apartheid governments in the 70s and 80s”—a comparison that he described as “not just intellectually flawed but morally outrageous”. If they were to come to Israel, they would find a different Israel, where Jews and Arabs coexist, Havardi said. “They use the same transport and go to the same universities”.

By singling out Israel for boycotts, the South African government is “depriving their own population” of the most advanced technology, Havardi concluded. He praised Israel’s leadership in the areas of “medicine, technology and counter-terrorism,” and said he felt “inspired by how far ahead the Jewish nation is” and its dedication to share that knowledge with the world.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 12 March 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Public domain/wikipedia.org

Prayer Focus
Give thanks that we are seeing the fulfillment of this prophecy in our times. Pray urgently for the many Jewish people in the Diaspora, that they will return to the Land of their inheritance.

Scripture

For God will save Zion and build the cities of Judah, that they may dwell there and possess it. Also, the descendants of His servants shall inherit it, and those who love His name shall dwell in it.


- Psalm 69:35–36

IDF Veterans Volunteer in Rio de Janeiro Slums

by Itamar Eichner

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Favela in Niteroi (illustrative)

Thursday, 15 March 2018 | Twenty-five Israeli backpackers on their post-army trip, most of them veterans of IDF [Israel Defense Forces] combat units, have decided to volunteer in the favelas (slums) of Rio de Janeiro, tutoring the local children in English and math as well as renovating community institutions as part of the Heroes for Life program.

One of the volunteers, Lior Tabib, 25, is a former Air Force officer who lost his friend Capt. Tal Nachman in 2014 in Gaza. The two had planned to travel through South America together, and Lior decided to join the delegation in his friend’s memory.

“I knew Tal for nine years,” Lior said. “Before he decided to extend his army service, we agreed that we would travel together, because we were supposed to be discharged at the same time. That was four years ago, and we never got around to planning the minute details of our trip.

“I signed up to volunteer because I wanted to do something meaningful on my trip, something different, something for Tal. To me, volunteering is an opportunity to do good with no interest—just as Tal would have. I am sure if he were alive, we would be doing this together.”

Capt. Nachman was killed in a friendly fire incident during operations on the Gaza border four years ago, when a soldier from the Givati reconnaissance battalion accidentally shot him after mistaking another soldier for a terrorist.

At first, Lior and his colleagues worked at the Cantagalo Favela, and recently they moved to another location at a community center in the Pavuna neighborhood, which is located at the periphery of the city and surrounded by favelas.

Every day, Lior and his friends hold classes in different subjects for the local children with the help of members of the Jewish community in the city, who serve as interpreters.

The volunteers are also helping renovate the community center in the neighborhood.

They are also active in the favelas of the city of Niterói, which is across Guanabara Bay from Rio.

Heroes for Life was founded in 2014 by three officers from the Duvdevan unit who, while traveling in the Far East, encountered the many Israelis who were visiting third world countries and realized the potential of using that resource to present Israel in a positive light through volunteer work.

Heroes for Life is chaired by former Air Force commander Maj. Gen. (res.) Eliezer Shkedi. The only condition to joining a Heroes for Life delegation is first volunteering with the organization at a youth village in Israel for three days.

This year’s delegation is called “Team Daniel” after Danieli Zonenfeld, a National Service volunteer who was working with children with cancer at the Schneider Medical Center. She was killed in a traffic accident three years ago.

“We began our activities less than four years ago, and this is already the 13th delegation,” said organization founder Gili Cohen. “In addition to Brazil, there are delegations going to India, Nepal, South Africa, Guatemala, Mexico, Argentina and Ethiopia each year. This is an excellent opportunity for discharged soldiers to combine a value-based activity with their post-army trip, with an emphasis on presenting the true face of Israel to the world.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 11 March 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Zimbres/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Offer praises to the Lord as these young Israelis demonstrate the fulfillment of His promise by blessing the poor in Rio de Janeiro. Pray that their selfless service would open the eyes of the recipients to God’s love for all the families of the earth.

Scripture

I will make you [Abraham] a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing…and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.


- Genesis 12:2, 3b

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