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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.

Jerusalem on High Alert Ahead of Holidays

by  Yishai Porat

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Security guards in the Old City of Jerusalem (illustrative)

Friday, 23 March 2018 | The two terror attacks in the past seven days in Mevo Dotan and Jerusalem’s Old City, which claimed the lives of three Israelis in total, naturally put defense forces across the country on high alert ahead of the coming Passover holiday, but doubly so in the capital.

In Jerusalem, this heightened level of alert is manifested in the increased deployment of border police and police forces in the Old City, where many Israelis as well as tourists will spend some of the upcoming Passover holiday.

“The defense establishment realizes that the cluster of events we are facing may be highly combustible. We’re on the precipice of Passover, two memorial days and Independence Day, but before we even get there we’re facing Land Day at the end of this month,” said a senior police source.

“These events are further compounded by the government’s push to open the US Embassy on May 14. Then there’s Nakba Day and the month of Ramadan and the call on Gaza civilians to march on the border. We know the Gaza Strip influences activity in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and east Jerusalem,” the source added.

Last weekend, Lieutenant Ziv Daus and Sergeant Netanel Kahalani were murdered in a car-ramming attack in the West Bank’s Mevo Dotan. Earlier this week, Adiel Kolman was murdered in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem.

Commander of the Israel Police’s David Sub-District, Maj.-Gen. Haim Shmueli, said after the two attacks, “We held quite a few situation assessments at the Jerusalem District in anticipation of the holidays, and we are ruling nothing out. Unfortunately, there is a multitude of alerts and we are increasing deployment accordingly.”

A stabbing attack on Jerusalem’s light rail, which claimed the life of Jewish student Hannah Bladon last year, served as testament to the combustible potential of Passover and its intermediate days.

Months before her arrival in Israel, Bladon uploaded a photo of Al-Aqsa Mosque to her Facebook profile with the caption, “Security here is very tight, so there’s nothing to worry about at the moment.”

The senior police official stressed that the defense establishment was dealing with lone-wolf terrorism, which is exceedingly difficult to prevent. “The terrorist who carried out the Old City attack this week had no organizational affiliation,” he said. “The terrorist who ran over the soldier and officer in Samaria also made a split second decision.”

“These two events at this point in time can cause more lone-wolves to go out and carry out attacks. There’s also the fear of copycats that characterized similar such occurrences in the past,” the police official said, adding that the high level of alert was expressed mostly in situation assessments and briefings.

“Other districts will be called in to provide security for Jerusalem during the holiday. The same instructions we receive then go out to forces in the field. It’s being made clear to them how problematic this time period can be,” he concluded.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 22 March 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/VICE News

Prayer Focus
Declare God’s protection over every resident and visitor in Jerusalem during the festive season. Thank Him for His angels that protect the nation and His promise to draw a hedge around the Land. Pray for the safety of the security forces that guard over the people of Israel.

Scripture

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.


- Psalm 91:3-4

Three Armed Terrorists Caught Near Army Base after Infiltrating Israel from Gaza

by Matazn Tzuri and Yoav Zitun

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Weapons found in possession of terrorists who infiltrated Israel from Gaza Strip

Wednesday, 28 March 2018 | An IDF [Israel Defense Forces] force on Tuesday morning arrested three Palestinians armed with knives and grenades after they had infiltrated Israel from the Gaza Strip. The terrorists were caught in the Tze’elim area, about 20 kilometers [12.4 mi] from the Gaza border.

A police sapper was dispatched to the area to neutralize the grenades with the help of a police robot.

The incident is being investigated. There were no reports of injuries. The IDF instructed Gaza vicinity residents to return to their routine schedule.

According to details provided Tuesday afternoon by IDF Spokesperson Brigadier-General Manelis, a tracking force from the Southern Command detected footprints and a breach in the fence at 9:10 a.m. and launched a manhunt procedure which included the army, the police and civilians. At 10:35 a.m., a military force arrested the terrorists about 200 meters [656 ft] from the Tze’elim base.

The IDF spokesman said a slight indication had been detected on the border fence on Monday night near the Nir Yitzhak area, where the three terrorists had crossed into Israel. It remains unclear whether the indication has to do with the captured terrorists. It is also unclear when the terrorists crossed the border and whether it happened hours before the breach was detected.

The terrorists, who are all members of the same family from Rafah, were captured in possession of three grenades, a knife and two cutters. “We don’t know what their target was because they are still being interrogated,” the IDF spokesman said. “They didn’t pull out the weapons at any point.

Addressing the mass protest scheduled to take place on Friday near the border fence, Manelis said: “We won’t allow a mass crossing of the fence. My advice is: Don’t try us. We are taking the challenges in the Strip seriously, we are prepared for them and we are doing everything so that Israel’s citizens will be able to sit around the Passover Seder [ritual meal] table calmly.”

A police spokesperson said the report on the terrorists’ arrest was received in the midst of the search. “The three suspects were handed over to the Israel Police and a police sapper is working to neutralize and dispose of the weapons. The Israel Police are continuing their extensive activity and the public is requested to report any suspicious incident to the 100 emergency telephone number.”

Earlier, IDF forces conducted an extensive search in the border fence area in the southern Gaza Strip after detecting footprints near the fence during a routine activity. Security personnel at the nearby communities were placed on a heightened state of alert.

Itay Blumenthal and Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report.

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published in Ynetnews on 27 March 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.) 

Photo Credit: Israel Police

Prayer Focus
Offer thanksgiving to God that the infiltrators were arrested and a possible terror attack thwarted. Ask Him to guide the Israeli soldiers and security forces daily to counter and combat terrorism. Pray for wisdom and strategies to outsmart the enemy.

Scripture

The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor; let them be caught in the plots which they have devised.


- Psalm 10:2

Hamas Launches Large-scale Military Exercise in Gaza

by Elior Levy

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Armed Hamas terrorists in Gaza Strip (illustrative)

Monday, 26 March 2018 | Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, launched a large-scale military exercise in the Gaza Strip on Sunday morning.

The exercise, which is set to end Monday morning, incorporates several replicas of the Israeli-made Merkava tanks to simulate IDF [Israel Defense Forces] forces.

Eye-witnesses in Gaza said Hamas launched at least one rocket into the sea as part of the exercise.

Tensions have been on the rise on the Gaza border ahead of a Hamas-organized Great March of Return, which will see Palestinians in the Strip marching en masse toward the border with Israel starting this Friday, Land Day, with protests expected to continue until May 15, Nakba Day.

Ahead of the march, the Palestinians claim the IDF scattered flyers into the Gaza Strip warning them to keep at least a 300 meter [984 ft.] distance from the border fence.

The IDF denied that it was behind the flyers.

Also on Sunday morning, tractors began flattening the ground near the border fence on the Gazan side to prepare the area for a city of tents the Palestinians plan to erect there to house the protesters who arrive for the march. The tractors also created mounds of dirt to protect participants from Israeli fire.

The IDF’s Gaza Division is also making preparations for the march, including reinforcing the obstacles on the border with pyramids of barbed-wire. The army also plans to use advanced measures against rioters.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, slammed Hamas ahead of the planned demonstration, warning the terror organization of exploiting it for their own ends. “Hamas is and will continue exploiting the demonstrations in front of the fence to incorporate Hamas members, who will blend in with the protesters in civilian clothing. A transparent and obvious move.”

On Saturday, four Palestinians entered Israel from the Gaza Strip near Kibbutz Kissufim and attempted to torch heavy engineering equipment used for the construction of the underground anti-tunnel barrier. There were no casualties and only minor damage was caused to the heavy equipment. The four fled back into the Strip when they saw an IDF force approaching.

Israel Air Force fighter jets attacked a target at a Hamas training camp in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip overnight Saturday in response to the incident.

The IDF “warned of any incidents in which civilians are called to hold ‘protests’ used as cover to damage security infrastructure and attempts to hurt Israeli citizens or IDF soldiers.”

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published in Ynetnews on 25 March 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.) 

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/Ruptly

Prayer Focus
Lift up the escalating tensions on the Gaza border, as the Palestinians prepare for a period of major disruptions and violence. Pray for the IDF soldiers in their various units, especially those stationed on the Gaza border, who will be responsible for maintaining peace and keeping Israeli citizens safe.

Scripture

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.


- Deuteronomy 31:6

French Authorities Arrest Two in Brutal Murder of Holocaust Survivor, Called an Anti-Semitic Crime

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Photo and condolences left on the apartment door of Mireille Knoll

Wednesday, 28 March 2018 | The brutal murder of an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor has been called an anti-Semitic hate crime by French authorities, who have arrested two suspects in the killing, The New York Times reported Monday.

Two suspects, both described as young men in their 20s, including one who had known Mireille Knoll “for a long time,” were charged with stabbing her to death. Knoll’s body was found Friday, partially burned, after the killers set her apartment on fire. The prosecutor’s office termed the motive behind the crime as “membership, real or supposed, of the victim of a particular religion,” pointing to anti-Semitism.

In the summer of 1942, Parisian Jews had been rounded up by French police working with the Nazis into a cycling stadium, Vélodrome d’Hiver. Nearly all the Jews who were brought to the stadium were later killed in Auschwitz. Knoll’s mother was able to escape with her as she had a Brazilian passport.

The murder of Knoll comes a year after the killing of Sarah Halimi, who was beaten and thrown out of a window by a neighbor, who shouted “Allahu Akbar.” French authorities came under criticism for failing to term Halimi’s murder an anti-Semitic act immediately.

In a Facebook post, Knoll’s granddaughter attributed the killing to a Muslim neighbor of her grandmother.

While the prosecutor’s office offered no details of the suspects, Francis Kalifat, the head of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France, said the main suspect was of North African origin.

“This makes one feel something absolutely terrible,” Kalifat said, describing the crime. “She escaped the anti-Semitism of the Nazis, but in the end her destiny followed her because she was killed because of anti-Semitism.”

France’s Interior Minister Gérard Collomb condemned the crime, saying that “to attack a Jew is to attack France, and the values that are the very basis of the nation.”

Other recent anti-Semitic murders include the killing of four in the Hypercacher supermarket in Paris in January 2015, and the 2012 murder of a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 27 March 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/Célébrités Toute l'actualité

Prayer Focus
Lift up the Jewish people living in the Diaspora and cry out to God against the hatred and rising anti-Semitism. Ask God to comfort the Knoll family. Intercede for Jewish people who are considering making Israel their home to find the peace and courage to make the decision and take action.

Scripture

The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.


- Psalm 9:9

US Passes Bill to Stop Palestinian Aid over Terrorist Salaries into Law

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United States Capitol

Monday, 26 March 2018 | The Taylor Force Act, which would cut funding to the Palestinian Authority [PA] as long as it pays rewards to terrorists, passed with bipartisan support as part of the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill that will keep the United States government operating until the end of the fiscal year, The Times of Israel reported Friday.

The bill is named after Taylor Force, an American veteran, who was stabbed to death in a terror attack two year ago. In the immediate aftermath of Force’s killing, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas defied then-Vice President Joe Biden and refused to condemn the attack. Fatah, the main Palestinian political party, which is headed by Abbas, praised Force’s killer as “heroic” on its official Facebook page. The killer, Bashar Masalha, was also referred to as a “martyr” on official PA television, qualifying his family to receive benefits from the PA.

The Taylor Force Act would end US funding of the PA until it stops paying terrorists and their families stipends, often referred to as the “pay to slay” program. These monthly stipends, which amount to about half of what the PA receives in foreign budgetary assistance, increase according to the seriousness of the crime. Exceptions to the law would be made for payments made for water, childhood vaccination programs, and Palestinian hospitals in what is called “East Jerusalem.”

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon also praised the law ahead of its passage on Twitter, writing, “The passage of the Taylor Force Act is an important step towards finally ending the despicable practice of pay to slay & ensuring accountability in the Palestinian Authority. All countries must demand that the PA invest in a future for Palestinians, not pay terrorists’ salaries.”

“The bipartisan measure passed today will send a very clear warning to the Palestinian Authority: the double-game is over and terrorism will not be tolerated, not in any form. Those who enable, inspire, or incite, will also pay a price,” The Israel Project President Josh Block said. The Israel Project publishes The Tower.

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 23 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
Praise God that the US now has the legal means to stand against Palestinians using aid money to reward terrorists. Ask Him to use the Taylor Force Act as a tool to save Israeli lives. Pray that other nations will follow the US example to halt funding until the PA ceases their incitement to terror.

Scripture

He bows down, he lies down as a lion; and as a lion, who shall rouse him? Blessed is he who blesses you, and cursed is he who curses you.


- Numbers 24:9

In “Circus of the Absurd,” UN Human Rights Council Adopts Five Anti-Israel Resolutions

by Ilse Strauss

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UNHRC Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland

Monday, 26 March 2018 | In what Israel slammed as “a mockery of the noble purposes it pretends to represent,” the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Friday wrapped up its first and longest session of this year with a particularly anti-Israel grand finale: adopting a whopping five resolutions condemning the Jewish state and calling on the nations of the world to immediately halt all arms sales to Israel.

The 47-member body managed to take a break from their customary Israel bashing only long enough to admonish five other nations. The UNHRC felt that notorious human rights violators—South Sudan, Myanmar, Iran and North Korea—deserved a singular resolution each, while Syria, with its bloody track record of an estimated 500,000 people killed during the seven-year civil war, received two.

The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, was quick to point out the bias, highlighting that the UN’s human rights arm typically set aside only two sessions in March to debate international rights violations and abuses. One session focuses exclusively on the tiny strip of land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea; the other on evils perpetrated by the rest of the world.

“When the Human Rights Council treats Israel worse than North Korea, Iran, and Syria, it is the Council itself that is foolish and unworthy of its name,” Haley argued. “When that happens, as it did today, the Council fails to fulfill its duty to uphold human rights around the world.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu echoed Haley’s outrage. “More decisions disconnected from reality by the circus of the absurd called the Human Rights Council,” he shared via his official Twitter page. “The time has come to change the name to ‘the Council for Decisions against the Only Democracy in the Middle East.’”

Israel Foreign Minister Emmanuel Nachson also took to Twitter to denounce the council as “a shame, a mockery of the noble purposes it pretends to represent. It is an exclusively anti-Israel platform, manipulated by bloodthirsty dictatorships hiding their own massive human rights violations by attacking Israel.”

The five resolutions included a demand that Israel leave the Golan Heights and hand over the territory to Syria, withdraw to pre-1967 borders and cease all construction in Judea and Samaria. Another accused Israel of human rights violations against the Palestinians, while the fifth—adopted through a vote of 27 for, four against and 15 abstaining—called for an international arms embargo against Israel.

Over the past year Haley has warned repeatedly that the US is ready to turn its back on the UNHRC for forsaking its mandate of promoting and protecting human rights worldwide and instead focusing the lion’s share of its attention on condemning Israel. Just nine months ago, she said in no uncertain terms that the US would pull out of the UN human rights body if it does not end its Israel bias.

It seems like the warning fell on deaf ears. “The United States continues to evaluate our membership in the Human Rights Council,” Haley reiterated on Friday. “Our patience is not unlimited. Today’s actions make clear that the organization lacks the credibility needed to be a true advocate for human rights.”

Australia voted against all five resolutions, and the UK backed the US, joining Haley’s chorus of outrage. The three countries demanded the abolishment of the standing Agenda Item 7, which requires that every UNHRC session include a discussion on Israel’s supposed human rights abuses under its own agenda item. Instead, they require that the Jewish state receive similar treatment as every other nation in the world and thereby fall under Agenda Item 4, which is dedicated to discuss human rights abuses in all UN member states.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 26 March 2018)

Photo Credit: Ludovic Courtès/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for the UN and its bodies that continuously choose to discriminate against Israel. Thank God for raising up the steadfast support of the US and for Australia and the UK’s backing. Ask Him to strengthen their resolve to stand with Israel in the face of international pressure.

Scripture

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. Redeem Israel, O God, out of all their troubles!


- Psalm 25:19-20, 22

Foreign Ministers of France and Germany Discuss Iran Nuclear Deal with Israeli Leaders

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PM Benjamin Netanyahu with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and French Foreign Minister Yves-Jean Le Drian

Wednesday, 28 March 2018 | The Foreign Ministers of France and Germany held talks with Israeli leaders Monday to discuss United States President Donald Trump’s threat to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran.

Both German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his French counterpart Yves-Jean Le Drian have made clear that, although efforts are being made to constrain Iran’s ballistic missile program, they are not seeking to change the agreement itself.

Last week Le Drian told reporters: “We are totally determined to make sure that the Vienna deal is respected. But at the same time, we can’t exclude the Iranian responsibility in the missile proliferation and the very questionable role of Iran in the whole Middle East region.”

However, Le Drian is reported to have told Netanyahu that he was disappointed with the inflexibility of the Iranian position after a recent visit to Tehran. Before the meeting, the prime minister said both countries needed to stand together against “terror- sponsoring regimes wherever they are,” in reference to Iran.

Israel’s Channel 10 news reported that Netanyahu told the visiting diplomats that the US will withdraw from the deal unless significant progress was made to deal with Iran’s ballistic missile program, site inspections and the “sunset clause,” whereby Iran is free to build a nuclear weapon after the nuclear deal expires. President Trump has given the European signatories a deadline of May 12 to fix what he terms the “terrible flaws” of the deal.

Maas explained that Germany thinks having a deal is better than the alternative, Netanyahu replied: “The Munich agreement from 1938 was also a deal.”

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 27 March 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Benjamin Netanyahu/Twitter/Kobi Gideon/GPO

Prayer Focus
Give thanks for PM Netanyahu who continues to labor against Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Praise Him for opening the eyes of countries like France and Germany to the danger that Tehran poses. Beseech Him to reveal Iran’s intentions and bring their plans to the light.

Scripture

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.


- Psalm 119:105

Netanyahu Hospitalized with High Fever, Discharged Two Hours Later

by Rotem Elizera

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Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem, Jerusalem

Wednesday, 28 March 2018 | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was hospitalized in Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem Tuesday evening due to suffering from a high fever and a severe cough.

After undergoing medical examinations, doctors decided that he would be discharged the same night.

His personal physician, Dr. Berkowitz, said that he believes the prime minister’s symptoms from an illness he was suffering two weeks ago may have worsened due to not completing the period of rest required for recovery.

Doctors said he was suffering from an inflammation in his respiratory system and that he was not in life-threatening danger.

Dr. Berkowitz decided that the prime minister should undergo a number of medical examinations at the hospital, and he was therefore admitted.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman quickly wished the prime minister a speedy recovery on his Twitter page.

“To our dear prime minister, I wish you a speedy recovery. It is important to me and the entire nation of Israel that you are healthy as you sit with your dear family for the Passover feast, that you eat a lot of charoset [jam-like mixture representing the mortar of bricks made in Egypt] and even a few bitter herbs. Be healthy!” he wrote on his Twitter account.

Labor Party Chair Avi Gabbay also sent Netanyahu his best regards, wishing him fast recovery so he can sit with his family on Seder [Passover ritual meal] dinner.

After being given fluids and having his medical test results affirm he is in no danger, doctors approved his release. He returned to his home shortly after.

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman said he was “happy to hear” Netanyahu’s medical tests came back normal and that he felt better.

“I hope that with the help of God in the coming hours he will recover and return to full functioning soon,” he said, wishing the premier a “speedy and complete recovery.”

Two weeks ago, the Israeli premier complained that he was not feeling well after undergoing a series of medical examinations. Dr. Berkowitz diagnosed him with an inflammation in his throat and a fever and instructed him to rest in his home and prescribed him medication.

Editor’s note: At Bridges for Peace we join our voices with those who lift Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu up in prayer. We pray for a speedy recovery, healing, health and for renewed strength and vigor to lead the Promised Land and her people. Refua shlema (get well soon) prime minister!  

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published in Ynetnews on 28 March 2018. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Public domain/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Ask God to bless PM Netanyahu with rest, healing and rejuvenation. Thank the Lord for strengthening him to lead and guide the people of Israel. Pray for him and his family for a peaceful time together as they celebrate Passover.

Scripture

The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.


- Numbers 6:24-26

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