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A Light in the Midst of Trauma

Friday, March 24, 2023

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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.

Israel on Iran Nuclear Crisis: ‘Will Not Allow Second Holocaust’

by Joshua Spurlock ~ The Mideast Update

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Iran’s nuclear fuel levels are approaching the threshold for nuclear weapons.

Monday, 20 March 2023 | Israel wants to cooperate with the global powers on the Iran nuclear crisis but will do whatever is necessary to prevent Iran from launching a “second Holocaust.”

That was the stark message delivered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Berlin last week, even as Iran’s nuclear fuel levels approach the threshold for nuclear weapons. Iran would also need the capability to deliver nuclear weapons—such as via a warhead or bomb—technology it is not believed to possess yet. Still, that nuclear threshold looms.

“The Jewish people will not allow a second Holocaust,” said Netanyahu in a press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz last Thursday. “The Jewish state will do everything necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Period.”

“Of course, we’d like to do that with the concert and support and cooperation of the civilized powers of the world, the United States, the E3 [United Kingdom, France and Germany],” Netanyahu continued. “We have to act against it now. We have to communicate to Iran that it should not cross that [nuclear] threshold or there will be heavy consequences. But again, Israel will do what Israel needs to do to defend itself against those who want to annihilate the Jewish state.”

Netanyahu doubled-down on that warning on Sunday, with him telling the Israeli cabinet meeting that “as opposed to the past, today when we face the extremist regime in Tehran, which seeks to obliterate us from the face of the earth, we do everything necessary to defend ourselves.”

The ongoing strong words from Netanyahu come as Iran continues to make progress toward nuclear weapons capability. The major world powers want a resumption of the nuclear deal in which Iran would self restrict its own nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, but so far talks on a renewed deal have failed. Meanwhile, the Islamic Republic’s ability to enrich uranium for nuclear fuel has crossed well past civilian use and is approaching the 90% purity level needed for nuclear weapons.

“I think we need to take a strong stance today against Iran and its quest to cross into a nuclear threshold and become a threshold state, basically a state that can produce nuclear weapons with the expressed desire to annihilate Israel,” said Netanyahu. “They say ‘Death to Israel; Death to the United States,’ and is a danger to everyone in between. Everyone in between is Germany, the [European Union].”

Netanyahu delivered his comments on Thursday, the same day he visited the location where the final group of Berlin Jews were sent to the death camp. “When you have such a fanatic ideology that seeks to destroy the Jewish people completely, erase them from the face of the earth…We had no defense at the time,” he said. “Today there is a fanatical regime that seeks to erase the one and only Jewish state, with over six million Jews in it, from the face of the earth. We have a defense and Israel will do what we have to do to defend ourselves.”

Despite the dire words, Netanyahu had hopeful comments as well, pointing to discussions around Israel providing the Arrow 3 missile defense system to Germany.

“This is a point of historical importance,” said Netanyahu on Thursday. “Seventy-eight years ago we were nothing, we were wind-tossed leaves sent to the ovens of destruction. Now, less than 80 years later, the representative of a sovereign Jewish state is talking to the leader of a new Germany, a different Germany, about having Israeli, the Jewish state’s defensive systems protect the skies of Germany.

“Germany is helping Israel; Israel is helping Germany.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Mideast Update on March 19, 2023.)

Photo Credit: futureatlas.com/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
As Iran continues its march toward nuclear capability, pray that the nations of the world will join with Israel in taking an unwavering stance against further Iranian nuclear development. Cry out to the Lord that this global threat will be eradicated.

Scripture

Hide me under the shadow of Your wings, from the wicked who oppress me, from my deadly enemies who surround me. They have set their eyes, crouching down to the earth, as a lion is eager to tear his prey, and like a young lion lurking in secret places. Arise, O LORD, confront him, cast him down; deliver my life from the wicked with Your sword.


- Psalm 17:8b–9, 11b–13

‘Israeli Security Forces Have Dozens of Concrete Terror Alerts’

by Yaakov Lappin ~ JNS

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Palestinian rioters attack Israeli security forces in Bethlehem.

Tuesday, 21 March 2023 | The Israeli security establishment has received dozens of concrete alerts about plots to carry out terrorist attacks, both in Judea and Samaria, commonly known as the West Bank, and within the Green Line [the cease-fire line established in 1949 separating Israel from the Jordanian-held West Bank], a former defense official tells JNS.

Col. (res.) David Hacham, a senior research associate at the MirYam Institute and a former advisor on Arab affairs to seven Israeli defense ministers, added that the March 13 roadside bombing attack by a terrorist who infiltrated Israel from Lebanon reflects an effort “to connect the arenas of conflict”—Lebanon and Judea and Samaria—likely by a coalition of Lebanese and Palestinian terrorist organizations.

“It seems the attack was initiated by elements of Hezbollah and Hamas, and perhaps by others. There is a desire here to integrate arenas of conflict against Israel. And I also link the attack to the domestic situation, the crisis gripping Israel [regarding the government’s judicial reform program]. Terrorist organizations view the crisis as an opportunity to take advantage of and attack,” said Hacham. “They see that Israel is busy now and they perceive it as weakened.”

Addressing Sunday’s regional summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, which was designed to secure a de-escalation of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, Hacham said the talks were “divorced from the reality on the ground.”

Officials from Israel, the Palestinian Authority [PA], Egypt, Jordan and the US met in the Sinai resort.

Hacham said that despite the positive images, a large gap remains between the discussions and “the situation on the ground.”

During the summit, Israel reportedly agreed to freeze construction in Judea and Samaria for four months and to stop recognizing unauthorized outposts for six months.

The PA reportedly committed to implementing its “legal right” to carry out security responsibilities in Area A [administrative area set up by Oslo Accords where the PA administers both civil and security matters] of Judea and Samaria, where the great majority of the Palestinian population is located.

The sides also reportedly created a forum to further discuss Palestinian demands to receive tax funds that Israel has withheld after deducting the equivalent of the monthly stipends paid to terrorists.

“The PA is struggling to impose its authority on the ground. The agreements reached will not be worth the paper they were written on,” Hacham assessed.

Ramadan Flashpoint?

Looking ahead, Hacham warned that with Ramadan [one of the Five Pillars of Islam when stringent disciplines are observed] set to start on Wednesday or Thursday night, what is already an escalation in Palestinian violence could get significantly worse.

He connected the period with religious emotions as well as deliberate incitement, especially from Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip, through the media and social networks.

“When combined, these elements are an almost certain prescription for a security deterioration and escalation,” Hacham warned.

“It is important to emphasize that according to extreme scenarios, the escalation trend could spread to the Gaza Strip and the Arab sector in Israel. These problematic scenarios must be taken seriously by the senior security and political echelon, and require Israel to prepare for them,” he said.

The Ramadan month is characterized by fasting from sunrise to sunset, creating feelings of ongoing pressure for some who observe it, and this could motivate potential attackers to more easily take part in violence against Israeli targets, according to Hacham. “In this state, any incident can push potential attackers into striking,” he said.

“In practice, we are beyond the stage of escalation in the conflict with the Palestinians. Every event has a major significance; it can lead to yet more escalations.”

The Israeli Defense Ministry’s unit for Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) meanwhile announced on Monday steps to facilitate Ramadan festivities.

COGAT said the measures reflect “the recommendations of the security services and are intended to provide freedom of worship for the Palestinian public.”

The measures include approving the entry of Palestinian worshippers onto the Temple Mount for Friday prayers during the month of Ramadan, but with restrictions for security purposes.

“Females of all ages and boys up to the age of 12 may enter with no need for an existing permit. Men 55 years of age and older may enter without a permit, and men 45 years of age and older, but less than 55, may enter provided they have a valid permit. All permits are contingent on receipt of security approval,” said COGAT.

“Also for Ramadan, visits to family in Israel have been approved for Palestinian residents of Judea and Samaria, as well as visits to relatives in Judea and Samaria by residents of foreign countries. We emphasize that issuance of all permits is subject to security approval,” it added.

Ultimately, said Hacham, of the three options available regarding the future of Judea and Samaria: strengthening the PA to enable it to continue to rule there, a Hamas takeover and a return of the area to Israeli direct control, the first is the one that is aligned with Israel’s core security interests.

Israel should manage future events with this strategic reality in mind, he said.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 21, 2023. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the current unrest in Israel will not provide a platform for terrorist organizations to take advantage of what they view as a “weakened” Israel. Pray that Ramadan will come and go without an escalation in violence, and cry out to the Lord for a solution to this complex situation that is aligned with Israel’s core security interests.

Scripture

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.


- Psalm 20:7

Israel Ranked Fourth Happiest Country in the World

by Kate Norman

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The Jewish state was ranked the fourth happiest country in the world.

Tuesday, 21 March 2023 | The Jewish state was ranked the fourth happiest country in the world, according to the newly released 2023 World Happiness Report.

Despite waves of terror attacks, threats of war and political turmoil, Israel jumped up four slots on the list in 2023, compared to its ranking of ninth happiest country last year. The Jewish state trails Finland, Denmark and Iceland, who took the three top spots on the list.

The World Happiness Report was published on Monday, in time for World Happiness Day. The report draws from data measured by the Gallup World Poll in the 109 participating nations, factoring in social and economic data such as GDP, government corruption, individual freedom, life expectancy, overall health and other factors.

The Gallup World Poll also surveys individuals, asking them to evaluate their lives based on the Cantril ladder: with a 0 being the worst life possible and 10 being the best. The rankings are based on a national average over a three-year period.

The World Happiness Report also measures nations’ inequality of happiness between different demographics. Even though Israel has a very diverse society comprised of Jews, Arabs, Christians, Druze and immigrants from around the world, the Jewish state was analyzed to have a small happiness gap between different people groups.

The report also includes a separate ranking for the “State of Palestine,” ranking the Palestinian people at 99th on the happiest nations index, just ahead of Morocco, Iran and Turkey.

Afghanistan scraped the bottom of the happiness list, followed closely by Lebanon, as Israel’s neighbor to the north has been embroiled in years-long economic turmoil. Russia jumped up to 70th on the list, compared to 80th the year before, and Ukraine rose to the 92nd slot compared to 98th the previous year.

The report has been published yearly for over ten years, just ahead of the 10 years since the world’s first UN-prescribed World Happiness Day on March 20.

Life in Israel is not perfect. Over 20% of the population lives below the poverty line. Nearly everyone knows someone who was murdered in a terror attack. Traffic in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is chaotic, with car horns constantly blaring. And yet—the World Happiness Report reflects the blessing upon the state and nation of Israel, the Land and people blessed by God.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 21, 2023)

Photo Credit: Michio Nagata/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord that Israel continues to climb the ladder of happy nations, reaching its highest level yet on the World Happiness Report. Thank Him that the people of Israel are able to look beyond terrorism and struggles on the domestic and international fronts, being grateful for a return to their ancient homeland and the blessings that sustain it. Pray that the nations will begin to recognize the faithfulness of God in the reality of the nation of Israel.

Scripture

Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men!


- Psalm 31:19

Broad Support for Intifada, Collapse of PA among Palestinians

by Shimon Sherman ~ JNS

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IDF troops confront rioters during the First Intifada (1987–1993).

Thursday, 23 March 2023 | The majority of Arabs in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip support terrorist attacks against Israelis, a recent poll shows.

“Palestinian public attitudes are becoming more militant: support for armed struggle rises, support for the two-state solution drops…trust in the PA [Palestinian Authority] declines, demand for the resignation of president [Mahmoud] Abbas rises,” Khalil Shikaki, director of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR), tweeted last week.

Boaz Ganor, executive director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) in Herzliya, told JNS that “these poll results are to be expected they are the end goal of a long-term campaign by Hamas and other terror groups to inflame the Palestinians. It seems they have succeeded.”

According to the survey, which surveyed 1,200 Arab adults in 120 randomly selected locations in Judea, Samaria and Gaza between March 8 and 11, other factors contributing to the result of the poll include mass teacher strikes in schools run by the PA and the imposition of a PA tax on telecommunication, ostensibly to support eastern Jerusalem. The survey has a margin of error of +/-3%.

According to PCPSR, acceptance of terrorist attacks against Israelis is widespread throughout Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Fifty-eight percent of the respondents support “a return to armed confrontations and intifada,” up three percentage points from three months earlier. Furthermore, 61% said they expect a third intifada to erupt in the near future.

When asked about the recent terrorist shooting in Huwara, outside Nablus, which claimed the lives of two Israeli brothers, 71% of respondents said they support this and similar attacks.

According to experts, this trend is expected to continue getting worse.

“The efforts to radicalize the Palestinians have a concrete due date of Ramadan [one of the Five Pillars of Islam when stringent disciplines are observed],” said Ganor. “They [Hamas] have continuously been attempting to make the situation more volatile in a way that they hope will erupt during the holy month.”

The poll also found that Palestinians are increasingly turning to new terrorist groups as legitimate challengers to the PA.

Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed support “forming armed groups such as the Lions’ Den, which do not take orders from the PA and are not part of the PA security services.” Furthermore, 83% oppose these groups surrendering their members or arms to the PA, and “the vast majority (87%) says the PA does not have the right to arrest members of these armed groups in order to prevent them from carrying out attacks against Israel.”

According to the US State Department, the PA has broadly “lost control in Jenin and Nablus.” Both cities are strongholds of new terrorist groups such as the Lions’ Den and the Jenin Brigades.

Fifty-six of those polled “do not expect the PA to deploy its security forces in the Jenin refugee camp or the old city (the casbah) of Nablus and other areas in which armed groups have recently been formed in order to enforce the law.”

The survey also found that 59% of Palestinians believe that if the PA did attempt to disarm the newly formed groups, they would militarily resist the PA security forces.

Ineffective, Totalitarian, Weak and Corrupt

According to PCPSR, increased support for terrorist groups is correlated with decreasing support for the Palestinian Authority. The vast majority of Palestinians view the PA as ineffective, totalitarian, weak and corrupt. “Public evaluation of internal conditions points to a greater deterioration in the standing of the PA and a significant loss of trust in it,” the center said in a press release.

Ganor agrees regarding the relationship between support for terrorism and declining support for the PA in Judea and Samaria.

“The volatile atmosphere and the radicalization of the Palestinians are being created by the terror networks not just to weaken Israel but also to weaken the PA generally and Abu Mazen [Abbas] specifically,” he explained. “In their view, an event like a third intifada would have the additional benefit of diluting the last shreds of power that the PA is still clinging to.”

According to the poll, for the first time ever “a majority of 52% says the Palestinian people’s interest lies in the collapse or dissolution of the PA.”

Eighty-two percent of correspondents said the PA is corrupt. Asked to identify the main problem confronting Palestinian society today, the largest percentage (26%) said that “corruption is the main problem confronting Palestinian society.”

Eight-one percent said that the PA government has failed at improving economic conditions for Arabs in Judea and Samaria. Furthermore, 54% feel that they cannot openly criticize the PA without fear of reprisal.

A majority of 63% view the Palestinian Authority as a burden, an increase of four points from three months ago. Lastly, 67% expect the major Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt to abandon the PA if it begins to break down.

The collapsing support for the Palestinian Authority was also seen in the poll’s findings regarding perspectives on Abbas. He assumed the presidency in 2005, and excluding parliamentary elections in 2006 whose results were not recognized by the PA because Hamas won them, he has not faced a “national” vote in more than 18 years.

According to PCPSR, 68% of Palestinians support holding elections in the near future. The majority, however, believe they will not be held.

Abbas’s approval rating stands at 17%, with more than 77% of respondents dissatisfied with his leadership. Moreover, 76% of Arabs in Judea and Samaria, and 78% of those in the Gaza Strip, want him to resign from his post.

If an election were held today between Abbas and Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh, Haniyeh would win by a 16-point margin, according to the poll.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 23, 2023. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Wiki4All/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for a swift and supernatural solution to this very complicated and dangerous situation. Beseech the Lord for a Palestinian leader who will bring stability, balance and truth, a leader who is sincere in his desire for peace and the welfare of the Palestinian people.

Scripture

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.


- Proverbs 21:1

China’s Growing Influence on the Global Stage a ‘Mixed Bag’ for Israel

by Bradley Martin ~ JNS

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President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping

Wednesday, 22 March 2023 | Hours after China brokered a surprise deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia, a reporter asked US President Joe Biden what he thought about the two countries, which come out of rival Islamic branches that have competed for centuries over guardianship of the faith, re-establishing diplomatic relations.

“The better the relations between Israel and their Arab neighbors, the better for everybody,” he said.

Critics ridiculed the president’s non sequitur, but Biden’s statement raises the question of what impact the deal—and importantly, China’s involvement as a fixer—might have on Jerusalem’s relations with its Arab neighbors following the Abraham Accords.

“China is not working for or against Israel’s interest,” Howard Shatz, a senior economist at Rand Corporation told JNS. “This is a good agreement in China’s interest and a mixed bag for Israel.”

Less tension between Iran and its neighbors may mean neighboring Arab states, like Saudi Arabia, have less incentive to work with Israel. But the United Arab Emirates [UAE] maintains ties with Iran even after signing the Abraham Accords, and significant disagreements between Saudi Arabia and Iran are unlikely to resolve anytime soon, said Shatz.

“Time will tell,” he stated.

China is in a singular position to broker an agreement like the one between Iran and Saudi Arabia, due to its close ties with both parties, Middle East experts say.

“All signs indicate that China is strategically, not sporadically, deepening its engagement in Persian Gulf economies,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told JNS.

“Few countries can manage the rivalry between Tehran and Riyadh today, and Beijing’s ability to walk that tightrope is driven largely by the fact that it is Saudi Arabia’s and Iran’s most important trade partner, thanks to Beijing’s reliance on hydrocarbons from the region to power its economy,” he explained.

Shatz agreed, saying, “The most important part of this development is that China brokered the agreement. The United States could not have served as a broker because it does not have relations with Iran, whereas China does. Both Saudi Arabia and Iran look at China as an integral part of their future.”

Shatz and Taleblu believe the deal signals a decrease in tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. They also noted that it remains to be seen whether China’s ascendancy on the world stage as a peace broker is good for the Jewish state.

‘Improve His Standing at Home’

Meir Javedanfar, a lecturer at Reichman University in Herzliya who teaches diplomatic and security studies of Iran, said China made a calculated move to further its own interests and is likely to use the deal as leverage in its dealings with Moscow and Washington.

China’s President Xi Jinping secured a third term, which is unprecedented since Mao Zedong, Javedanfar told JNS.

“With this deal, Xi Jinping hopes that it will improve his standing at home and portray him as a global player,” said Javedanfar.

He noted that the Chinese president is now visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin, and wants to project Chinese power and influence not only in the Middle East and Russia—since Russia depends on Chinese buyers for its oil and gas exports—but also in its dealings with America.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 21, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Gil Corzo/Shutterstock/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the newly brokered diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia will not result in a decrease in the number of Arab nations willing to establish relations with the Jewish state. Pray that China will be unsuccessful in its attempts to further its own interests, using this deal as leverage in its dealings with Moscow and Washington. Beseech the Lord for a long-term outcome that is indeed “good for the Jewish state.”

Scripture

Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name. Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, just as we hope in You.


- Psalm 33:20–22

Nasrallah: Israeli Retaliation for Highway Bombing Could Lead to War

by JNS

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Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah

Thursday, 23 March 2023 | Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah warned on Wednesday that any retaliation by Israel for last week’s highway bombing by an infiltrator from Lebanon could lead to a regional war, but he stopped short of claiming responsibility for the attack.

“Any military or security Zionist attack on Lebanon will be met with a fast response from the resistance,” said Nasrallah, according to Lebanese media. “A war on Lebanon might lead to war in the entire region and the demise of Israel.”

Nasrallah said that Hezbollah’s silence to date on the bombing was “part of the battle with the enemy,” while describing the suspect shot dead by Israel as a “martyr mujahid [Islamic jihad fighter].

“It is not our responsibility to answer what confuses the enemy, and sometimes our answer is in not commenting on the incident,” the Lebanese terrorist said.

The Israel Defense Forces [IDF] confirmed on Tuesday that the terrorist who placed the roadside bomb along the Route 65 highway in northern Israel on March 13 infiltrated the country from Lebanon using a ladder to climb over the border fence.

The military has not named who it believes dispatched the terrorist, but it is suspected that Hezbollah was involved.

The bomb, which was placed behind a barrier near the Megiddo Junction some 18 miles [29 km.] southeast of Haifa and 37 miles [59.5 km.] from the Lebanese border, detonated around 6 a.m., seriously wounding Shareef ad-Din, 21, a resident of the Israeli Arab town of Salem.

After the blast, the IDF, Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and Israel Police launched an intensive search for the terrorist, including the establishment of roadblocks in northern Israel. The terrorist, who was equipped with a suicide vest and a rifle, was killed by security forces after being stopped at a checkpoint near the village of Ya’ara.

On Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that progress was being made in the investigation into the bombing, and vowed to exact a price from those responsible.

“The determined actions of the security agencies, which led to the elimination of the terrorist and the prevention of another attack, deserve all the praise. Whoever is responsible for the attack will pay for it. We will find the right place, the correct way, and hit back,” he said.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 22, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/Al-Manar/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that Israel will not be bullied by Nasrallah and his saber rattling, and cry out to the Lord that his threats of regional war will never materialize. Pray also that those terrorists involved in the Megiddo Junction bombing will be brought to justice.

Scripture

Have mercy on me, O LORD! Consider my trouble from those who hate me, You who lift me up from the gates of death, that I may tell of all Your praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion. I will rejoice in Your salvation.


- Psalm 9:13–14

Israel and Poland Mending Ties Following Political Crisis

by Kate Norman

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Israeli students participate in educational activities such as the March of the Living from Auschwitz to Birkenau.

Thursday, 23 March 2023 | Israel and Poland signed an agreement this week that will mend the political crisis between the two nations, as Warsaw agreed to send its ambassador back to the Jewish state after a nearly two-year hiatus and the two agreed to resume Israeli youth trips to Poland.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen traveled to Poland this week to meet with his Polish counterpart, Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, to sign an agreement that will resume the visits of Israeli students to Poland after more than a year’s halt, according to a statement by Israel’s foreign ministry.

This is a continuation of agreements made when Ronen Levy, the director-general of the foreign ministry, visited Poland last Thursday in cooperation with Israel’s education ministry and the Israel Security Agency, according to the foreign ministry.

The youth delegation trips came to a halt after Israel’s foreign ministry accused the Polish government of manipulating the information taught to the Israeli teens during their visit to learn about Holocaust history.

The fact that the Israeli students were accompanied by armed guards also caused a rift, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Cohen said in a statement before departing for Poland that he will meet with his counterpart “and we will officially resume the visits of Israeli youth delegations to Poland and to places where they will be able to learn firsthand about the events that took place there more than 80 years ago. We will work to restore relations between Israel and Poland to full and positive tracks.”

Relations between Jerusalem and Warsaw began to significantly deteriorate in July 2021, when Poland passed a law effectively blocking Jewish descendants from recovering property that was stolen from them during World War II.

Poland has refused to back down on this law, but the two countries nonetheless agreed last year to work on mending their ties. This announcement of the Polish ambassador’s return to Israel as well as the resumption of Israeli youth trips to Poland are the fruit of those efforts.

“We are opening a new page in relations with Poland,” Foreign Minister Cohen said, as quoted by i24NEWS. “The return of the Polish ambassador to Israel, together with the return of the youth delegations to Poland, are important steps to strengthen relations between the countries.”

“Poland is a very significant factor in Europe today and together, we will continue to advance issues of political importance,” Cohen added, “such as the most effective ways to deal with the Iranian threat, whose terrorist metastases are already evident in Europe.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement congratulated Poland on its decision to return its ambassador to Israel for the first time since July 2021.

“This decision marks a positive step forward in our diplomatic relations, and I am sure that it will lead to even closer cooperation between our two countries,” Netanyahu said, as quoted by i24news. “I look forward to the continuation of the dialogue and the strengthening of our relations.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 23, 2023)

Photo Credit: Gordon Roemhild/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Thank God for the thawing of relations between Jerusalem and Warsaw and for the resumption of the youth delegation trips to Holocaust sites in Poland. Pray that the two nations will reach consensus on issues of political importance and beseech the Lord that the information being imparted at Poland’s Holocaust sites will be truthful and not manipulated to reflect an anti-Semitic agenda.

Scripture

You shall destroy those who speak falsehood.


- Psalm 5:6a

Tel Aviv Shooting Victim Succumbs to Injuries 11 Days after Terror Attack

by Adam Kutub ~ Ynet

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“A rare bright light was extinguished. He showed love and generosity towards everyone.”

Tuesday, 21 March 2023 | A week and a half after being shot by a Palestinian gunman in Tel Aviv, Or Eshkar, 32, succumbed to his wounds at the city’s Sourasky Medical Center on Monday.

Eshkar was critically wounded when he was shot by Mutaz Salah al-Khawaja, 23, on Tel Aviv’s busy Dizengoff Street as he was making his way to a wedding with his two friends Rotem Mansano, 34, and Michael Osdon, 36. The two also suffered moderate to severe injuries in the attack but are on the path to recovery.

The attacker, who hails from the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] town of Ni’ilin, was killed by Israeli security forces after a swift pursuit.

Eshkar’s family said that his organs will be donated.

Or’s mother, Natalie, eulogized her son: “A rare bright light was extinguished. He showed love and generosity towards everyone,” she said.

“Our thanks to the dedicated hospital staff that has worked days and nights, doing all they can to keep him alive. Thanks to the dozens of amazing friends who hold us and wept with us, and to the people of Israel who supported and prayed, each according to their belief.”

Sourasky Medical Center Director Prof. Ronni Gamzu said that “Or arrived to us after a prolonged field resuscitation. Against all odds, the emergency room managed to stabilize him.

“Unfortunately, his wounds hit critical areas and after fighting heroically for over a week, in which we saw a true ironman fighting for his life, he succumbed to his wounds.

“I’d like to thank Or’s family for being noble and agreeing to donate his organs. Under tragic circumstances, we were introduced to an amazing family of honor and value and we hope we were able to stand by their side during this difficult time.”

The hospital said that Eshkar’s organs would be transplanted immediately.

Last October, Eshkar took part in the Ironman World Championship. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” he wrote on social media. “I’ve been a part of this sport for four and a half years, and it keeps proving that anything is possible.”

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on March 20, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Public Domain/pxhere.com

Photo License: pxhere

Prayer Focus
Pray for the friends and family of Or Eshkar who lost his life at the hands of a terrorist in Tel Aviv. Ask the Lord for comfort and peace as they deal with grief, and thank Him for the families’ generosity in donating his organs at a time when they are dealing with such pain.

Scripture

The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart.


- Psalm 34:18a

National Security Council Warns Israelis Could be Targets of Terror Abroad

by Itamar Eichner ~ Ynet

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The island of Cyprus is a popular destination for Israeli tourists.

Wednesday, 22 March 2023 | The National Security Council [NSC] on Monday warned that Israelis traveling abroad may be targets of terror during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan [one of the Five Pillars of Islam when stringent disciplines are observed].

“Extraordinary security incidents in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria], Jerusalem and around the country could increase the motivation of terror organizations, to target Israelis abroad,” the council said in a travel warning issued ahead of the Muslim holiday and Passover.

In its latest evaluation, the council said Iran is still the biggest instigator of world terror. “Tehran continues its attempts to harm Israelis either directly or through proxies that it employs in a number of countries, in violation of their sovereignty,” the council said in its statement as it referred to efforts made by Iran against Jews in Turkey, the Georgian Republic and Cyprus in the past two years.

“We believe Iran will continue to use terrorism as a means to achieve its aims and will attempt to harm Israeli and Jewish targets around the world. The most likely countries where such attempts could be made are the Georgian Republic, Turkey, Bahrain, Azerbaijan and the UAE [United Arab Emirates], because of their proximity to Iran and Greece and Cyprus as well,” the council warned.

“Over the past years, Iranian terror actors attempted to contact Israelis both in Israel and abroad via social media, emails and more, and the NSC has clear guidance available to block such attempts.

“Radical Islamist jihadist groups are also a threat. ISIS has recently shown an interest in targeting Israelis and calls on members to attempt to do so wherever they can. ISIS is located mostly in Africa but also in the Middle East and Asia,” the council said.

The council urges Israelis traveling to the Sinai desert to remain in organized tourist sites where the Egyptian security forces are on watch and to avoid traveling into areas in the interior or a stay in secluded locations.

“We call on the Israeli public to continue to travel but use caution and act responsibly,” the council said.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on March 20, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Johanna Loock/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for the safety of His people no matter where they are on the globe. Pray that any plans to harm the Jewish people will be uncovered and thwarted before anyone is hurt, and beseech the Lord for the capture and punishment of all who are involved in such evil endeavors.

Scripture

Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their hearts.


- Psalm 140:1–2a

Herzog Wishes Regional Leaders a ‘Peaceful’ Ramadan

by JNS

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Israeli President Isaac Herzog with his Emirati counterpart Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi

Wednesday, 22 March 2023 | Israeli President Isaac Herzog spoke over the past few days with a series of regional leaders to convey the Jewish state’s well-wishes for the upcoming month of Ramadan [one of the Five Pillars of Islam when stringent disciplines are observed].

Herzog spoke with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain; King Abdullah II of Jordan; United Arab Emirates [UAE] President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed; Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan; and Palestinian Authority [PA] chief Mahmoud Abbas.

During the calls, Herzog expressed his “hopes for peace and stability in the region and wished them and their peoples a Ramadan that will bring them peace, happiness, and health,” according to a statement from the president’s office.

Herzog also spoke with the presidents of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Albania, Senegal and Kosovo.

The Israeli leader sent letters to other heads of state, including the king of Morocco and the president of Egypt.

“The blessed month of Ramadan celebrates values that are very close to my heart. These values—of love for one’s neighbor, charity and support for the weak, and tolerant discourse—are core values that I promote all year round,” wrote Herzog.

“As you embark upon this month, I pray that we can take shared steps down the path of peace together in the coming year too,” he added.

Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday that Ramadan would begin this year on March 23.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 22, 2023. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for a peaceful Ramadan throughout the Islamic world. Pray that Muslim leaders will be committed to ending incitement and emphasizing instead the core values of love for one’s neighbor, charity and support for the weak. Pray also for the tolerant discourse mentioned by President Herzog in his Ramadan greeting.

Scripture

Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.


- Psalm 34:12–14