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Friday, March 3, 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.

Iran Seeking Advanced Air Defense Systems from Russia

by Kate Norman

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92N6A radar for Russian S-400 missile system

Friday, 3 March 2023 | Iran is seeking to acquire advanced S-400 air defense systems from Russia, which the top brass in Jerusalem believes will tighten the window to strike the Islamic regime’s nuclear program, Bloomberg reported, citing “people familiar with the matter.”

Russia has not yet publicly confirmed whether it will provide the systems to Tehran, Bloomberg said, but once Iran receives the S-400s, it would only need two years to put the system into operation.

Iran has supplied some 2,400 kamikaze drones to Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, Kyiv claimed in November. In return, it is only natural for Tehran to expect that Moscow would return the favor.

The Kremlin has offered to provide Tehran with “unprecedented defense cooperation, including on missiles, electronics and air defense” as well as fighter jets, US National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby said last week, as quoted by Bloomberg.

Russia’s S-400 is a mobile surface-to-air defense system that can strike aerial targets as far away as 250 kilometers (155 mi.), which would establish a “red zone for high-altitude aircraft,” Jeremy Binnie, Middle East defense expert at UK-based defense intelligence firm Janes, told Bloomberg.

High-altitude aircraft could include Israeli fighter jets targeting Iran’s nuclear sites.

“The more air defenses they have, the more difficult it is to hit them,” Yossi Kuperwasser, a former senior Israeli military intelligence official, told Bloomberg. “We are analyzing when is the most convenient time to take action.”

But as the West watches the clock tick while Iran continues spinning its centrifuges, enriching uranium to higher and higher levels of purity, the more difficult it will be to rein in Tehran’s nuclear belligerence, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned.

“The longer you wait, the harder that becomes,” Netanyahu asserted at a conference in Tel Aviv last month. “We’ve waited very long. I can tell you that I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”

Netanyahu has repeated this threat and warning often over the past few years, as the prime minister insists that Iran’s race to a nuclear bomb is a real threat, despite the Biden administration’s unsuccessful attempts to draw Tehran back into a nuclear deal.

The 2015 nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), fell apart after then-US President Donald Trump exited the accord in 2018 and reimposed sanctions against the regime. But just a year later, Iran began openly and progressively violating its restrictions under the all-but-dead agreement.

Adding more fuel to the fire is the recent report by the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that its inspectors discovered uranium enriched to 83.7% at Iran’s Fordow nuclear site. This puts Tehran just a small technical step away from the 90% purity necessary to build a nuclear weapon.

US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl warned on Tuesday that Iran could produce enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb “in about 12 days,” arguing that the breakdown of the nuclear agreement allowed Iran the freedom to shorten its nuclear breakout time from a year to less than two weeks.

“And so I think there is still the view that if you could resolve this issue diplomatically and put constraints back on their nuclear program, it is better than the other options,” Kahl told a hearing of the US House of Representatives. “But right now, the JCPOA is on ice.”

Regardless of the status of the nuclear agreement, Iran’s nuclear development program is ramping up—and it is only a matter of time before Tehran crosses a red line that will force Jerusalem, and perhaps Washington, to put aside diplomacy and fire up the fighter jets.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 3, 2023)

Photo Credit: vitaly kuzmin/Wikipedia.org

Photo License: wikipedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that the nations will heed Iran’s latest step toward achieving a nuclear weapon and join with Israel in refusing to allow a nuclear Iran to become a reality. Cry out to the Lord for wisdom, determination and unity as the world faces a potential threat to global peace and security. Also pray that Israel’s voice will be heard.


Give us help from trouble, for the help of man is useless. Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies.

- Psalm 108:12–13

IDF Floods Samaria with Reinforcements in Attempt to De-escalate Security Situation

by Yaakov Lappin ~ JNS

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Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant visits the scene of a shooting attack in Huwara, which claimed the lives of two Israelis.

Tuesday, 28 February 2023 | The Israel Defense Forces [IDF] deployed additional forces in Samaria on Monday in an attempt to de-escalate the deteriorating security situation in the area.

“Following an IDF situation assessment, it was decided to reinforce the Judea and Samaria Division with two additional battalions,” the military said in a statement. “Furthermore, as part of the expanding security activity in the city of Nablus, it was decided to increase the security checks on routes leading in and out of the city. IDF, Israel Police and Israel Border Police forces are currently operating in the Shomron [Samaria] Regional Brigade.”

The move comes a day after a Palestinian gunman murdered two Israeli civilians, brothers in their 20s, as they sat in traffic in Huwara.

The Israeli defense establishment has also raised the level of alert around Jerusalem and near the Gaza Strip. On Sunday night, rioters in Gaza burned tires and launched a disturbance near the border with Israel.

In an attempt to regain control of the situation, the IDF deployed two additional battalions in Samaria, as well as Border Police units. The forces have spread out around flashpoints, raising their visibility and seeking to prevent further violence, according to the IDF.

“We are sending more forces to try and calm things down,” IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht told JNS on Monday. “We want as many forces on the ground as possible,” he added.

In the whole of Judea and Samaria, the IDF currently has some 28 battalions deployed.

One of the two Israelis murdered on Sunday was IDF Staff Sgt. Hallel Menachem Yaniv, 22, who served in the Israeli Navy as a sailor as part of a program for yeshivah [religious school] students. His brother, Yagel Yaakov Yaniv, 20, was also murdered in the attack.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday held a situation assessment together with leading defense officials.

Gallant instructed security forces to focus operational and intelligence efforts on apprehending the perpetrators of the terrorist attack in Huwara, while taking all measures necessary to prevent any additional attacks.

He also approved the reinforcement of troops in Judea and Samaria, according to a statement from his office.

“The defense minister instructed all security elements to act to calm the ground and to preserve law and order in the sector,” said the statement, adding that the IDF has been instructed to provide any necessary assistance to the Israel Police in securing Jerusalem.

On Monday, Gallant visited the scene of the attack.

“We are currently standing at the location where the terror attack took place in Huwara. It was a cruel attack. It is heartbreaking to think of the immense pain of the family that lost both its sons—Hallel and Yagel. It is a terrible thing,” said Gallant.

“I was here with commanders in the IDF. We expect difficult days ahead of us. It may be here in Judea and Samaria, in the Jerusalem area, or in the Gaza region. I gave clear instructions to…ensure readiness to face all threats, reinforce troops and activities on the ground, and most importantly, reach and apprehend the terrorists. We will not tolerate terrorism against Israelis and we will operate in every way necessary,” he added.

Last week, 11 Palestinians were killed, most members of the Lions’ Den terrorist group, in intense gun battles that erupted when Israeli forces came under fire during an arrest operation in Nablus.

Wednesday’s counterterror operation in Nablus was launched to apprehend three individuals believed to be planning imminent terror attacks, and who were also suspected of involvement in the October 11 murder of IDF St.-Sgt. Ido Baruch, who was shot from a moving vehicle while securing a civilian march near Shavei Shomron in Samaria.

Israeli forces securing the operation came under fire from Palestinian rooftops, motorbikes and vehicles, the IDF said, adding that it was looking into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Palestinian civilians in the operation.

Source: (Excerpt of article originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on February 27, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Erik Marmor/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Implore the Lord to grant success to this IDF attempt to de-escalate the deteriorating security situation in Samaria. Pray that every soldier will be protected and that law and order will be restored. Pray specifically for each of Defense Minister Gallant’s instructions: to ensure readiness to face all threats; to reinforce troops and activities on the ground; and most importantly, to reach and apprehend the terrorists. At the same time, implore the Lord that the anticipated “difficult days ahead” will not materialize.


Consider my enemies, for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred. Keep my soul, and deliver me; let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You.

- Psalm 25:19–20

Overcoming Leukemia to Achieve Her Dream of Joining the IDF

by IDF Editorial Staff

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A female soldier in the IDF during Field Training Week, part of the Infantry Instructors course (illustrative)

Monday, 27 February 2023 | Second Lieutenant [2nd LT] Neta is a Protocol Officer in the IDF’s International Cooperation Unit, but her journey to the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] was not easy.

When 2nd LT Neta was just ten years old, she started to experience severe back pain. “I was a gymnast and I thought that I was suffering from growing pains. When I was officially diagnosed with leukemia, my whole life turned upside down. I became the cancer girl who was always in the hospital. I felt as though I was losing my identity. My body was swelling up because of the steroids and I lost my hair. I would cover every mirror I saw because I couldn’t recognize myself anymore. Whenever I walked into the hospital, I would hide behind the curtain because I was not the girl who everyone else saw me as.”––2nd LT Neta

After a full year of treatments, she received the good news that she recovered from leukemia. “When I turned twelve, I had my bat mitzvah [religious coming of age for girls] and celebrated my recovery from cancer!”

She continued on with school but when it came to her goal of enlisting into the IDF, it was still uncertain if she could fulfill her dream. She never gave up on drafting until she was wearing her uniform. “It required a lot of bureaucratic work since leukemia is a disease with many problems. They needed to make sure that I was capable of volunteering in the IDF.” 2nd LT Neta’s request to volunteer was approved and she was positioned in the 91st Division. “It was an intense and demanding job but I enjoyed every minute of my service in that position.”

Thanks to her strong will, not only did she enlist into the IDF, she fulfilled her second dream of becoming an IDF officer. “I saw firsthand how my officers were helping to change the world. They were making operational decisions and having influence over diplomatic issues with other militaries. It was inspiring to see someone as young as 19 or 20 having so much influence on how Israel is perceived and I wanted to be a part of that.”

When 2nd LT Neta found out that she received the most outstanding soldier award in her officer’s course, she was choked up. “I decided to surprise my parents and have them find out at my ceremony. I only told my sister beforehand so she could take pictures of the moment. At the ceremony, when I was named the most outstanding soldier, I ran toward my commander.”

2nd LT Neta’s story acts as a reminder that anything is possible with hard work and determination.

Source: (This article was originally published on the Israel Defense Forces website on February 23, 2023. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces /flickr.com

Photo License: flickr

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for this moving story and for His graciousness in bringing healing to 2nd Lt. Neta. Pray for her and others to recognize the hand of God in her life and for continued success in her military career. Pray that her story will inspire other young people to overcome obstacles and reach their God-given potential.


But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

- Isaiah 40:31

American Israeli Killed in Terror Attack near Jericho

by Kate Norman

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Israel’s Route 90, where the deadly shooting occurred, has many lonely and isolated sections (illustrative).

Tuesday, 28 February 2023 | An American Israeli was murdered in a terror attack near Jericho on Monday afternoon.

The victim was identified as 27-year-old Elan Ganales, originally from West Hartford, Connecticut, who served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), according to the Times of Israel, and recently graduated from Columbia University.

Multiple terrorists in a vehicle opened fire on Israeli cars in three separate shootings on Route 90 through the Jordan Valley, the IDF reported. Ganales was shot and critically wounded near the Beit Ha’arava Junction, which lies south of Jericho. He was treated by emergency responders for multiple gunshot wounds and was transported to Hadassah Medical Center, where he was declared dead despite doctors’ best efforts to resuscitate him.

The Israelis in the second vehicle that came under fire were unharmed and continued driving to report the shooting to the authorities, the Times of Israel reported. There were also no injuries reported from the third Israeli car at which the terrorists fired.

The IDF said that it is working with the police to find the terrorists. They found the vehicle the terrorists were driving burnt near the Monastery of Saint George in Wadi Qelt near Jericho, the Jerusalem Post reported. The terrorists most likely switched to another vehicle to continue their escape, according to the Jerusalem Post.

This terror attack comes just a day after two brothers, 19-year-old Yagel Yaniv and 21-year-old Hallel Yaniv, were murdered in a terror shooting on Route 60 near Huwara, which lies in central Samaria south of Nablus. The brothers were caught in a traffic jam when a Palestinian gunman opened fire on their vehicle.

“We condemn the horrific killing of two Israeli brothers near Nablus [Sunday] and the killing today of an Israeli near Jericho,” US State Department Spokesman Ned Price told reporters during a daily press briefing, as quoted by the Times of Israel. Price confirmed that Ganales was a dual citizen.

These killings are the latest in a string of terror attacks to rock the Jewish state since the beginning of 2023, which is off to a bloody start so far, with 13 casualties of terror. Seven Israelis were murdered and more wounded at the end of January when a terrorist opened fire on a Jerusalem neighborhood.

Including the two terror attacks this week, three more Israelis were murdered when a terrorist rammed his car into a bus stop, killing a 20-year-old man, and two brothers, ages six and eight.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, February 28, 2023)

Photo Credit: Hagai Agmon-Snir حچاي اچمون-سنير חגי אגמון-שניר / commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for the families of Elan Ganales and the Yaniv brothers as they mourn the loss of their loved ones. Also pray for healing from the trauma experienced by those whose cars were fired upon. Cry out to God for an end to this string of terror attacks and pray that the terrorists involved will be apprehended and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.


The wicked will not go unpunished; but the posterity of the righteous will be delivered.

- Proverbs 11:21b

‘I Was Jewish, and that Was It’

by Etgar Lefkovits ~ JNS

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Rabbi Moshe Haliwa’s cut tefillin boxes

Friday, 24 February 2023 | A rabbi on his way to board a connecting flight at Jordan’s main airport had the straps of his tefillin (phylacteries) cut by security guards who called them a security threat, he said Thursday.

It was the latest in a series of harassment incidents at Jordanian border crossings, Israeli officials said.

UK-born Rabbi Moshe Haliwa, who lives in Israel, was returning on Monday night to Dubai, where he has been working as the head of a Sephardic community for the last year, when the incident took place.

Haliwa said he was stopped at the security checkpoint at Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport after an airport security guard noticed the two pairs of tefillin he had packed in his carry-on.

“Apparently, they did not know what tefillin was, so I showed it to him and explained that religious Jews wear it every day during prayer,” he told JNS from Dubai.

By then, two or three more guards had arrived.

“I showed them how I wear it and explained that it is 100% leather, there is nothing metallic in it, and that it has been through hundreds of airports,” he said.

The original guard called his superior who said it could not be taken as hand luggage and could only be checked in a suitcase. But Haliwa had only a carry-on bag for the short flight from Israel to Dubai.

“I told them it was just a religious item, that we pray to the same God, and that it posed no threat,” Haliwa said. “I begged, I pleaded, I cried.”

The Jordanian security personnel indicated that they do not allow any threads or straps in hand luggage due to concern over strangulation.

Tefillin are a set of small black leather boxes with leather straps containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah [Gen.–Exod.] that observant Jews wear during weekday morning prayers.

At this point, Haliwa, who didn’t want to get in trouble, suggested they cut the straps off and let him take the boxes.

Unmoved, the guard would not let him do that and threatened to call the police if he did not move on.

Haliwa passed through the security checkpoint leaving his tefillin behind.

He then recounted the events to a sympathetic female security guard, who took him to the head of airport security.

The head of security, who listened politely to what happened, was also unfamiliar with tefillin, so the rabbi showed him pictures on Google.

The security chief walked Haliwa back to the security checkpoint and told him that although he couldn’t take the straps through, he would take the tefillin boxes and board his flight, Haliwa said.

The rabbi was grateful but said he was shaken up emotionally by the “harrowing experience.”

“It gave me flashbacks of the scenes of the Nazis cutting off the side curls of teenagers,” he said.

Haliwa said that he felt that the incident was anti-Semitic because he was singled out as an Orthodox Jew.

“Never has tefillin been used to strangle someone,” he said.  “I was Jewish and that was it.”

After returning to Dubai, he spoke with the Israeli consul general, who told him she was familiar with other incidents of harassment by Jordanian border guards at land crossings with Israel, but that this was the first she heard of tefillin in hand luggage being an issue at the airport.

Haliwa said it was heart-warming to receive messages of support from both Jews and non-Jews after he went public with his story.

He hopes fellow religious Jewish passengers will learn from his experience that they cannot bring tefillin in carry-ons while transiting through Jordan.

Next time, he will take a direct flight and he will not fly through Jordan again, said Haliwa.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on February 23, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Courtesy/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for Rabbi Moshe Haliwa and the trauma he is experiencing after this heartbreaking encounter. Thank God for the sympathetic security guard that was able to help the rabbi at least rescue his tefillin boxes. Pray that the Lord will protect Jewish travelers from anti-Semitic incidents such as this one.


And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”

- Deuteronomy 31:8

Hezbollah-backed Terrorists Form ‘Dozens of Cells’ on Syrian Border

by Yaakov Lappin ~ JNS

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Operatives in the Golan File terrorist infrastructure, built by Hezbollah, have been exposed.

Tuesday, 28 February 2023 | Hezbollah has established dozens of terrorist cells in southern Syria, just over the Israeli border, composed of local recruits, a Galilee-based defense research group says.

They could soon begin to use drones in operations against Israel, added the Alma Research and Education Center.

The assessment followed the Israel Defense Forces’ [IDF’s] February 20 announcement that on January 27, soldiers apprehended two suspects who crossed the Alpha Line from Syria into Israel. The Alpha Line is near the Israeli–Syrian border barrier on the Golan Heights.

One of the suspects, a Syrian named Ei’th Abdollah, “is involved in terrorist activity and intelligence gathering operations in the area of the border in order to promote future terrorist activities,” and is a member of the “Golan File”—the Hezbollah-backed network of terror cells in the area—the IDF said.

“Ei’th was under IDF surveillance in the area of the border and was apprehended during operational activity east of the border fence in an enclave located under Israeli sovereignty, along with another suspect. During the questioning, Ei’th provided information regarding additional terrorist operatives that promote terrorist activities in the area of the border,” the army added.

Maj. (res.) Tal Beeri, head of research at the Alma Center, described the Golan File as a “military terrorist infrastructure that was built by Hezbollah, with Iranian–Syrian cooperation, in order to create a new front of terrorism against Israel from the Syrian border.

“It is made up of dozens of cells, with each cell made up of local squads of Syrians. These are Sunni and Druze operatives located all along the Israeli border with Syria on the Golan Heights, from the village of Hader in the [Syrian-held portion of the] northern Golan to the triangle of borders of Israel, Jordan and Syria,” Beeri assessed.

The terrorist cells operate in areas where their members live apparently ordinary civilian lives but are in fact part of a Hezbollah stratagem to create a new front against Israel.

“There are some cells that operate independently, and others that act as part of a cluster under the instructions of a more senior handler. The handler himself is sometimes a local. In either case, presiding over this ‘food chain’ is a Lebanese Hezbollah operative who instructs the squads, activating them,” said Beeri.

Bombs, Rockets, Snipers and Raids

The Golan File network’s objective is to generate terrorism against Israel, and this is preceded by the gathering of intelligence. The intention is to plant bombs, fire rockets, conduct sniper fire, launch anti-tank fire and plot cross-border raids, he added.

Golan File cells have been active for some time, according to Beeri. “This is a pretty veteran infrastructure, which Hezbollah began consolidating nine years ago on the Golan Heights. In effect, it developed into dozens of cells that are active today,” he stated.

The network sometimes acts with local Syrian military support. “It uses Syrian military lookouts, positions, equipment, and we hear media reports of [alleged Israeli] airstrikes on Syrian positions along the border, followed by leaflets warning Syrian commanders about cooperation with Hezbollah. Usually this is about the Syrian military allowing the cells to arrive at Syrian positions,” said Beeri.

“They could also be planning infiltrations into Israel to conduct attacks, like kidnappings of Israeli soldiers and using them to try and free security prisoners,” he warned.

“Israel in my view has to continue the policy of hunting these operatives, who form a clear and present danger,” Beeri stated.

The area where the IDF arrested the suspected terror operative in late January is a known trouble spot.

In the same area, there have been “a number of attempts made to plant bombs against the IDF—including by Unit 840 of the Iranian Quds Force,” said Beeri.

Golan File operatives can also, on occasion, be “loaned out” to Iran to conduct activity against Israel, he stated.

In most cases, the local terror operatives are motivated by money, not ideology, said Beeri.

“They don’t identify with Hezbollah’s goals but they show up because Hezbollah pays well and they have to survive,” he said. “They get relatively good money. They mostly have a military background—some are members of militias that cooperated with the Syrian military, some are former Syrian military personnel, and some were rebels who fought against the Assad regime. Despite the contradiction, the former rebels work with Hezbollah and understand they have to survive, change their affiliation and go with those who pay.”

Such operatives are proficient in operating anti-tank missiles, mortars, sniper rifles and bombs.

“They fit in well with the local population because they are locals. In the end, they’re proxies that are very comfortable for Hezbollah to use and they sometimes double up as Iranian proxies too,” said Beeri.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on February 27, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: The IDF Spokesperson's Unit/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that Israel will be successful in eliminating these terrors cells on its border with Syria and destroying the infrastructure that supports them. Pray that the Golan File’s plans will not come to fruition, and beseech the Lord to protect the border from infiltration by any operatives with plans to kidnap soldiers or harm Israelis in any way.


That you may go in and possess the good land of which the LORD swore to your fathers, to cast out all your enemies from before you, as the LORD has spoken.

- Deuteronomy 6:18b–19

The New Honeymoon between Israel and Turkey

by Yoni Ben Menachem ~ JCPA

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Israel’s First Lady Michal Herzog (R) and Turkey’s First Lady Emine Erdoğan (L) participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Presidential Library of Turkey in Ankara.

Thursday, 2 March 2023 | The Israeli government made the correct political and moral decision to help Turkey following the earthquake disaster that struck it.

Israel can be proud of the military and civilian delegations it sent to Turkey. This is how a sovereign, moral, and democratic country should behave, and the world watched and scrutinized Israel.

Turkey greatly appreciates Israeli aid in times of need, according to senior political officials in Jerusalem. President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan told Foreign Minister Eli Cohen at their meeting on February 14, 2023 in Ankara that Turkey will never forget the aid it received from Israel and the fact that it saved 19 Turks from under the rubble.

Erdoğan praised the professional work of the Israeli team and expressed deep appreciation for Israel. This is certainly another important political development in the process of Turkey’s rapprochement with Israel, which began about a year ago after a decade of deep crisis in relations between the two countries.

Erdoğan praises Israel for two main reasons: he appreciates Israel’s quick and effective humanitarian aid to Turkey during a crisis; and out of a desire to draw closer to the Biden administration. The Turkish president believes that the road to the White House in Washington passes through Jerusalem, and he needs an open door in Washington.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu also praised Israel and said Turkey’s relations with Israel will be upgraded to a higher level.

At the meeting of the Israeli foreign minister with the Turkish president, Cohen sought Turkey’s aid in securing the release of the two Israelis imprisoned and two bodies held by Hamas. Erdoğan has excellent relations with the leadership of Hamas. Saleh al-Arouri, a Hamas commander, resides in Istanbul. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and former leader Khaled Mashaal are also frequent visitors to Turkey.

Erdoğan expressed concern about Israeli actions on the Temple Mount and emphasized the need to maintain the status quo at the holy site, especially during the month of Ramadan [one of the Five Pillars of Islam when stringent disciplines are observed]. The Israeli foreign minister clarified that Israel has no intention of changing the status quo there and that it is committed to maintaining the freedom of worship in all holy places.

The re-normalization of relations between Israel and Turkey is progressing well at the moment, but there is still a cloud covering the relations between the two countries, especially because of the continued activity of the Hamas military branch from Istanbul.

The Palestinian terrorists who were released in the prisoner exchange deal in 2011 work out of Istanbul and direct the terrorist activities in Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel. Israel’s demand to close these offices has been met by Turkey’s refusal and claims that the Hamas activity is purely political.

Israel has provided Turkey with intelligence evidence of Hamas’s terrorist activity in Istanbul, but the Turks insist on keeping the offices open. They have asked Hamas to lower its profile and avoid launching attacks that are directed from Turkish territory. Ankara also fears the reaction of the Biden administration.

Palestinian Concern

Israeli aid to Turkey after the earthquake will strengthen the strategic relationship between the two countries, and this is of great concern to the Palestinian Authority [PA] and the Hamas movement. They see Israel receiving praise from Erdoğan while the Netanyahu government takes decisions on the expansion of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

PA officials expressed surprise over Erdoğan praising Israel, even though there were dozens of countries that provided humanitarian aid to Turkey.

The PA fears that Israel will take advantage of the aid to Turkey to improve its image in the world and present itself as a country that provides humanitarian aid to any country caught in a disaster.

A senior official in the PA estimates that the Israeli move was calculated to push aside the Palestinian problem that the Palestinians are trying to bring back to the top of the international agenda. He claimed that Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu decided to help Turkey in order to advance the normalization process with other Arab and Muslim countries and to show that Israel has a lot to contribute to them if they sign normalization agreements.

Despite the renewed rapprochement between Israel and Turkey, Israel needs to be cautious in everything related to Turkey. Erdoğan is known as someone who is mercurial and changes his views on Israel, especially concerning the Palestinians. The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is approaching, and it is estimated that a major security escalation is expected in eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. This will be one of the most important tests for Turkey in everything related to its relations with Israel.

Yoni Ben Menachem, a veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israel Radio and Television, is a senior Middle East analyst for the Jerusalem Center. He served as Director General and Chief Editor of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on February 20, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Spokesperson Unit of the President of Israel/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for this warming of relations between Israel and Turkey. Pray that Israel will proceed with caution, however, in light of Erdogan’s tendency to switch views in areas concerning the Palestinians.


“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His… He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.

- Daniel 2:20b, 21b

India, Israel, UAE, US ‘I2U2’ Group Convenes to Strategize over International Food Security

by Mike Wagenheim ~ JNS

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Representatives from the US, Israel, India and the UAE attend a meeting of the I2U2 group which focuses on international food security.

Tuesday, 28 February 2023 | India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates [UAE] and the United States [US]—the group known as the I2U2—convened in Abu Dhabi on February 22 to discuss food security. Following the meeting, a top US official told reporters that the group collectively and with other nations aims to make a dent in the current international food crisis.

Jose W. Fernandez, US undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment, made the trip to the UAE with Cary Fowler, US special envoy for global food security. Fernandez led the meeting with UAE Minister of State Ahmed Al Sayegh; Dammu Ravi, secretary of economic relations at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs; and Ronen Levy, director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The I2U2 group, which is nearly a year-and-a-half old, helps those in the region better integrate economies and pursue a positive agenda in the Middle East and Asia, the undersecretary stated on the call with reporters.

“It serves as a model for promoting trusted regional partnerships that can create collaborative commercial opportunities and good-paying jobs,” said Fernandez.

Fernandez added that the I2U2 facilitates increasing joint investments and initiatives across six sectors: water, energy, transportation, space, health and food security.

“I2U2 reinforces the Biden–Harris administration’s goal to build on the Abraham Accords and other normalization agreements to advance regional integration here in the Middle East,” he said.

The four nations established I2U2 in October 2021 as an intergovernmental economic cooperation forum. The group formed during US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s call with Israeli, Emirati and Indian counterparts.

US President Joe Biden, then-Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mohamed Bin Zayed—then the de facto UAE ruler and now its president—attended a virtual I2U2 meeting last July.

In that meeting, the leaders agreed to an Israeli-backed food corridor between the UAE and India to combat wheat shortages due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Israel and the UAE backed [US] $300 million in funding for clean-energy projects in India.

Fernandez told reporters the next day, February 23, that the food-corridor and clean-energy funding are “part of an effort by the four countries to find ways to mitigate the hunger that we’re seeing around the world, and we’re seeing exacerbated by the invasion.”

“We are committed to supporting efforts to identify new markets and build food systems because we think that’s the only way to reduce the immense demand for humanitarian assistance and to deal with food security,” he said.

The I2U2 is working to increase its capacity to “provide sufficient, affordable and nutritious food by, among other things, promoting agriculture, and also seeing how we can adapt and prepare for the anticipated effects of climate change,” continued Fernandez. He told reporters that the group’s projects will draw in other nations as well.

‘A Day of Celebration for Israel’

As China’s influence grows in Western Asia, Fernandez insisted that the I2U2 would not confront other nations, but instead would collaborate and partner with the public and private sectors to tackle problems. Technologies, particularly green ones, are an area of emphasis for all four countries.

Following the call with reporters, Fernandez traveled to Oman for the first session of the US–Oman Strategic Dialogue. That day, Oman announced its intent to open its airspace to all airlines, including Israeli ones. That marked a major diplomatic achievement that also significantly shortens the distance and time it takes Israeli flights headed east.

Washington had previously secured Saudi flyover permission, but it needed Oman to come on board to have much practical effect.

In response to a question from JNS, Fernandez said he was unaware of any connection between the onset of the Strategic Dialogue and Oman’s airspace announcement. The dialogue focused on trade and investment, clean energy, and strengthening cultural and educational ties, he said.

Israeli officials credited the US State Department and White House with helping make the airspace arrangement a reality. Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen thanked Biden, White House staff, the State Department and the US embassy in Jerusalem “for promoting the move and accompanying it all the way to its success.”

“This is definitely a day of celebration for Israel,” he said.

Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said Oman’s announcement “promotes President Biden’s vision of a more integrated, stable and prosperous Middle East region, which is vital for the security and prosperity of the American people and our regional partners.”

“For the first time in history, passengers flying to and from Israel will now be able to travel on direct routes between Israel, Asia and points in between,” she said. “The United States was pleased to support these efforts through months of quiet diplomatic engagement.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on February 27, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: US State Department/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for the I2U2 group and their united effort to support initiatives that have the potential to better the standard of living for countless people in the region. Pray that their plans to deal with food security will be successful, particularly the Israeli-backed food corridor that will combat wheat shortages.


And if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday.

- Isaiah 58:10 (NASB 1995)

Oman Opens Airspace to Israeli Flights

by Kate Norman

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Oman lies on a direct path from Israel to many Asian countries.

Friday, 24 February 2023 | Oman announced on Thursday that its airspace is now open to all carriers, including Israeli flights.

“As part of the Sultanate of Oman’s continuous efforts to fulfill its obligations under the Chicago Convention of 1944, the Civil Aviation Authority affirms that the Sultanate’s airspace is open for all carriers that meet the requirements of the Authority for [overflying],” the sultanate’s Civil Aviation Authority tweeted.

Following Saudi Arabia’s skies opening to the Jewish state in July, this will allow an open corridor from Jerusalem to Asia.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen thanked the Sultan of Oman, Haitham bin Tarik, in a statement released by the foreign ministry.

“This is a historic decision that will shorten the flying time to Asia, lower costs for Israeli citizens and help Israel’s airlines to be more competitive,” Cohen said.

The foreign minister added that it is a “significant decision for the Israeli economy and for the Israeli traveler.”

Cohen also thanked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s National Security Council, the Foreign Ministry Director-General Ronan Levy and the United States for its support.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the announcement in a video message, stating that it will turn Israel into “the central transfer point between Asia and Europe,” as quoted by the Times of Israel.

Oman’s skies opening up to Israeli flights has been in the works since Netanyahu visited the sultanate in 2018. Even though the Israeli prime minister reportedly got the green light from then-Sultan Qaboos to open Oman’s skies, the sultan’s predecessor backtracked.

After months-long talks between Israel and Oman—which does not recognize the Jewish state—and a little help from the United States, Israeli flights can shave off a few hours, and potentially a little money from the flight fees, to access the far East more quickly and easily.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, February 24, 2023)

Photo Credit: User:NuclearVacuum/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord that the skies over Arab nations are opening to Israeli airlines. Pray that this may be a step toward Oman recognizing Israel and that Israel may indeed become the central transfer point between Asia and Europe.


Yes, many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.

- Zechariah 8:22