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A Light in the Midst of Trauma

Friday, May 12, 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.

Day Three of Operation Shield and Arrow

by Kate Norman

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More than 500 rockets, missiles and mortars have been fired from Gaza on central and southern Israel (illustrative).

Thursday, 11 May 2023 | The back-and-forth strikes continue between the Israeli military and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror group in Gaza on day three of the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF’s) Operation Shield and Arrow.

The operation began in the predawn hours of Tuesday morning, when the IDF eliminated three PIJ commanders in simultaneous strikes in the Gaza Strip. The operation came a week after the terror group launched 104 rockets toward Israel following the death of a PIJ commander who underwent a hunger strike for more than 80 days in Israeli custody.

Since Tuesday, the PIJ has fired more than 500 rockets toward Israel, the Jerusalem Post reported. About 20% of the rockets fall short and have landed in the Strip, injuring and killing Palestinian civilians. Of the rockets that entered Israeli territory, 154 were intercepted by the IDF’s Iron Dome and the David’s Sling defense systems, a 95% successful interception rate.

The IDF has responded to the rocket fire with retaliatory strikes in Gaza, targeting over 158 PIJ terror targets, including missile and rocket launch sites, an observational post and an operational room used to direct the launches of anti-tank missiles and other PIJ targets.

The Israeli military also announced this morning that it struck and killed Ali Ghali, the PIJ’s rocket launching force commander, and two other PIJ operatives in the predawn hours. The IDF noted that Ghali was responsible for the recent rocket attacks against Israel.

There have been no reported Israeli casualties or injuries, although a few stray rockets have damaged homes, vehicles and playgrounds in southern and central Israel, particularly in Sderot, Netivot, Ashkelon and even Beersheba. Some Israelis have been treated for anxiety and minor injuries while fleeing for shelter from the incoming rockets.

Rocket sirens have also sounded in Tel Aviv, with one video on social media showing the Iron Dome intercepting a rocket right next to a civilian flight near Ben Gurion Airport.

Israel and the PIJ are currently mulling over an Egypt-brokered cease-fire, although the rockets continue coming and the IDF continues striking terror targets throughout the Strip.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 11, 2023)

Photo Credit: @USArmy/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Beseech the Lord for His guidance and direction as Israel again engages in battle with her enemies. Pray that the IDF’s actions will be successful in bringing PIJ to its knees, crippling its ability to carry out terror attacks against Israelis. Also pray that peace will come soon. Cry out to the Lord for His protection over all Israel, ensuring that there will be no more deaths or injuries among innocent civilians or those who are fighting for an end to terror.


Arise, O God, plead Your own cause; remember how the foolish man reproaches You daily. Do not forget the voice of Your enemies; the tumult of those who rise up against You increases continually.

- Psalm 74:22–23

Israel’s Uphill Battle for Its Reputation

by Naveh Dromi ~ Ynetnews

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Journalism requires presenting facts and reflecting reality.

Thursday, 11 May 2023 | It seems that not a single Israeli military operation goes without international criticism and pearl-clutching, and Operation Shield and Arrow is no different.

Despite over 100 rockets fired at Israel last week and three sets of siblings murdered in the past month and a half, the headlines often overlook these facts and the fact that the specter of a large-scale war fueled by Iran hangs over Israel like a dark cloud.

While journalism requires presenting facts and reflecting reality, it seems that when it comes to Israel, professionalism and objectivity go right out the window for many media outlets. Instead of hitting the streets to report, they take up their megaphones and PLO [Palestinian Liberation Organization] flags and turn their studios and newspapers into a bona fide pro-Palestinian protest.

Israel has been combatting bias and hypocrisy using the concept of “hasbara” and endless attempts to explain the reality regarding the conflict with the Palestinians. However, it may be time to embrace a new concept: Israeli chutzpah. Yes, chutzpah. A term that even people living outside Israel know well.

Israel’s chutzpah is on display when we mourn every innocent child killed in Gaza whose only sin was to be born to a murderous terrorist father. A father responsible for the death of Tali Hatuel, who was eight months pregnant, along with her four young daughters, Hila, Hadar, Roni and Merav.

How did they meet their end? These innocent victims were shot pointblank by Palestinian terrorists who approached their car. I doubt if any foreign media outlets have had the audacity to show images of Tali Hatuel and her beautiful children [Jahed Ahnam (62), the secretary of the Islamic Jihad’s military council, who orchestrated the murder of Tali and her daughters, was killed in the opening strike of Operation Shield and Arrow].

Israeli chutzpah would be to take pictures of the Hatuel family and other victims of the same Palestinian commanders and market them aggressively. Israeli chutzpah would also be to say that ultimately, we care more about our children, just as the French prioritize French children and the British care more about British children.

However, the difference here is significant. The fathers of the children killed in Gaza intended to kill as many Israeli children as possible. In contrast, Israel takes measures to avoid such incidents and has avoided decisive victory for decades to prevent harm to innocent bystanders.

Before pointing out the obvious, we should acknowledge that the media has lost its way. The media seems to have forgotten its job, and in times of war too, facts are necessary, even if they do not align with your support for the Palestinians.

It would be appropriate to show compassion for innocent Palestinian children who did nothing wrong and set aside your disdain for Israel while respecting your profession, readers and viewers. A little truth won’t hurt you.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on May 11, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: johnhain/pixabay.com

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for an awakening among journalists to the truth of Israel’s untenable situation and the atrocities committed by terrorists against Israelis as well as their own people. Pray for an international outcry against Palestinian disregard for the lives of their own children in their frenzy to destroy the nation of Israel. Also pray for God’s protection over the children—both Jewish and Arab—as this conflict rages.


“For I will contend with him who contends with you, and I will save your children.”

- Isaiah 49:25b

Israel’s Relations with Christian World a ‘Strategic Imperative’

by JNS

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MK Yuli Edelstein addresses Christian supporters of Israel at the Knesset in Jerusalem.

Friday, 5 May 2023 | The relationship between the Jewish state and the Christian world is a strategic imperative unparalleled in two millennia, Israeli lawmakers said Tuesday.

The remarks, made to visiting Christian leaders at the Knesset [parliament], come at a time of burgeoning relations between Israel and the global evangelical community that has yielded increasing diplomatic, political and economic results.

“Our relationship with our greatest Christian supporters is not just a matter of shared spiritual affinity, but it is also a strategic imperative,” said member of Knesset Sharren Haskel, co-chair of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, which hosted the meeting.

“The importance of strengthening cooperation between Christian leaders and the State of Israel cannot be underestimated,” said MK Yuli Edelstein, who also co-chairs the Caucus. “We look around and we see your love for Jerusalem and the State of Israel.”

Established in 2004, the Caucus has 17 members from five parties including the ruling Likud as well as the two largest opposition parties—Yesh Atid and National Unity.

Over the last two decades, it has formed partnerships with 52 caucuses the world over—including 17 in Europe and 12 in Africa—with a network of 1,250 legislators working to promote Israel in their parliaments based on shared Judeo-Christian values.

“It’s Christians, not countries, that stand with Israel,” said Josh Reinstein, director of the Christian Allies Caucus. “You are the generals in the war of public opinion.”

Faith-based diplomacy is the most important tool in Israel’s diplomatic arsenal, he argued, crediting it for the vast majority of Israel’s diplomatic successes.


“With anti-Semitism rising around the world, it is more important than ever that we continue strengthening political support for Israel while developing relationships with Bible-believing Christian leaders around the world,” Reinstein said.

Christian leaders at the packed event held in the parliament’s Jerusalem Hall spoke of strong interfaith relations not seen for two millennia.

“This is something for most of 2,000 years that you did not see—Jews and Christians coming together,” said Rev. Peter Fast, incoming CEO of Bridges for Peace, an international evangelical organization.

“My duty as a man of God is to plant love and peace in the hearts of people,” said Dr. Naim Khoury of the First Baptist Church of Bethlehem.

“People are confused over what to do with all the conflict, hatred, bloodshed and animosity,” said Khoury, who was targeted in the past by Muslim attackers over his support for Israel. “We need to live in peace and harmony together.”

In an era of “social justice” and political correctness and with public opinion polls showing a drop in support for Israel among young Christians, including in the largely supportive evangelical community, the leaders are working to buttress the relationship that has blossomed over the last quarter century.

“Things are working out for this nation because God is blessing you,” said Dr. Jürgen Bühler, executive director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, an evangelical group.

Eliciting cries of “amen” from the crowd for his biblical citation, he called the Knesset Caucus a “hub” for Christians around the world to connect with Israel.

Reinstein said the International Christian Embassy has been working with archipelago nations in the Pacific in an effort to have them open embassies in Jerusalem.

Indeed, Bühler will host President Wiliame Katonivere of Fiji in October to open his country’s embassy in Jerusalem, Reinstein said.

In the next month alone, the Christian Allies Caucus plans major events in the parliaments of Guatemala, the US, Canada and the Czech Republic marking the reunification of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War.

“When you look at the support of people like you from all over the world, I understand that we will prevail,” Edelstein said.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on May 3, 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
Praise God for the incredible progress that has been made in bringing Jews and Christians together based on shared values and beliefs. Pray that this strategic partnership will continue to grow with increasing numbers of Christians hearing God’s call to support His chosen nation at this critical moment in history. Pray for the hearts of the Christian youth as they are confronted with a barrage of anti-Israel propaganda. Also cry out to the Lord that the 52 caucuses around the world will have a profound impact on their governments’ positions regarding Israel.


Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

- Psalm 133:1

Dee Family Murderers Killed in Nablus Operation

by JNS

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Israeli security forces during a raid on the city of Nablus (biblical Shechem)

Friday, 5 May 2023 | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday visited the Israel Security Agency [ISA] (Shin Bet) Special Operations headquarters that oversaw the morning mission that eliminated the Palestinian terrorists who murdered three members of the British Israeli Dee family.

Lucy Dee, 48, and daughters Maia, 20, and Rina, 15, were murdered in an April shooting attack on their car on the Route 57 highway near the Hamra Junction in the Jordan Valley. The two girls died during the April 7 terror attack. Their mother died days later on April 11.

The terrorists, identified as Hamas members Hassan Katnani and Muad Masri, were shot dead in an exchange of fire after Israeli Defense Forces [IDF] surrounded their hideout in Nablus’s Kasbah in the Old City.

“This morning, the IDF, the ISA and the National Counter-Terrorism Unit took action in the Old City of Nablus, in daylight. They settled accounts with the murderers of Lucy, Maia and Rina Dee; may their memories be for a blessing. They confronted these murderers and eliminated them,” said Netanyahu.

“There is a message here that needs to be understood. In recent months, we have eliminated or captured 110 terrorists. Most of them were eliminated. Our message to the murderers, to whoever attacks us or tries to attack us is: We will find you. You can hide, you can try to hide, but it will not help. The long arm of the State of Israel will find you,” declared the prime minister.

During the operation, troops fired a rocket at the building where the terrorists were hiding in order to flush the terrorists out into the open.

Ibrahim Hura, identified by the IDF as a collaborator with the Hamas terrorists, was also killed in the raid, the military said.

Leo Dee, Lucy’s husband and the father of Maia and Rina, recited the Yizkor memorial prayer last week at Israel’s main ceremony marking the state’s 75th Independence Day. The Dees have three other children: Keren, Tali and Yonathan.

“The kids and I were comforted to hear that the Israeli security forces have eliminated the Iranian-funded terrorists responsible for Lucy, Maia and Rina’s murders,” Leo said on Thursday.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on May 4, 2023; Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for Leo Dee and his children Keren, Tali and Yonathan as they continue to mourn the loss of their loved ones, haunted by the horror of their deaths. Pray that they will take comfort in knowing that those responsible for the deaths of their wife, mother, daughters and sisters will never be able to commit such horrendous acts again, inflicting such pain on other innocent families.


He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

- Psalm 147:3

“I Will Raise up a Banner”

by Ilse Strauss

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The Belashkovs explore the twins’ newly furnished room.

Tuesday, 9 May 2023 | Spontaneous applause erupted as five-year-old Kurt steadied himself on his new tricycle and looked up at his mother, Maria. She hovered close by, ready to lend a hand. Born with cerebral palsy and autism, her little boy often needs more help than most. Maria beamed, her gaze roaming lovingly from Kurt to his twin brother, Jan, his tiny face buried in the fuzzy fur of a giant stuffed bear.

Our team of volunteers stood lined up against the living room wall as the scene unfolded before us. Half an hour before, the Belashkovs’ apartment had been starkly bare. Now it overflowed. Boxes filled with pots and pans, crockery, cutlery and kitchen appliances stood piled on the new dining room table next to neat stacks of fresh bedlinen, towels, rugs and curtains. A state-of-the-art refrigerator hummed contentedly in the kitchen while a new washer and dryer awaited its first load of laundry. Two empty bedrooms had been transformed, one into a space beckoning young boys’ hearts to unexplored adventures and the other into a tranquil, safe haven. From bare bones to a home where this precious family can build a life and make memories, I thought.

Our team also carried in some presents for the boys: a bicycle for Jan; a tricycle for Kurt and a giant stuffed animal for each of the twins. Jan whooped with glee as he embraced his new furry friend. Kurt hung back, staying close by his mother’s side—until he saw the tricycle. I swallowed the lump in my throat as I watched Maria help Kurt settle onto the seat, place his feet on the peddles and gently steer him around the room. This precious family had come such a long way. But now, finally, they were home where they belonged, just like God said they would be. And we as Christians from around the world had the honor of playing a small part in that homecoming.

Seven years ago, the Belashkovs had a comfortable life in Moscow. Alexei worked as an IT system administrator and Maria taught history at the local school. Together, the couple dreamed of having children and raising a large family. Then, in 2017, the Belashkovs visited family in Israel—and a new dream was born in their hearts. “We fell in love with this country and we knew this was where we had to be,” said Alexei.

The couple returned to Russia, excited to begin the immigration process. Their excitement multiplied weeks later when the Belashkovs learned that Maria was pregnant. But a few months into the pregnancy, a devastating prognosis turned their excitement into trepidation and put an end to the couple’s future plans.

Maria carried twin boys, the doctors explained. Both little boys faced dire health challenges, but where there was hope for the stronger, bigger sibling, his weaker brother would likely die in utero. The Belashkovs listened as the diagnosis fell like hammer blows—and then set their faces like flint. Both their sons would live, they told everyone who would listen and those who wouldn’t.

And so, it was. The Belashkov twins were born weighing 3.7 pounds (1.7 kg.) and 2 pounds (1 kg.) respectively. Alexei and Maria named their stronger, bigger son Jan—a favorite name the couple had decided on early in their marriage—and the weaker brother Kurt, Turkic for “wolf.” “We knew he would face a battle just to survive. So, our son had to be a fighter, a survivor,” motioned Alexei, proudly stroking his fighter son’s sandy hair.

The birth of the twins marked the beginning of months in intensive care, endless hospital stays, countless medical procedures and physiotherapy. The months turned into years and finally, the hard work paid off. Jan thrived and developed like any other young boy his age. Kurt, on the other hand, was diagnosed with autism and cerebral palsy and would always need an additional helping hand.

Alexei and Maria fell silent for a moment, as if reliving that trying time. Kurt tugged at his father’s arm, clearly agitated. Alexei bent to scoop him up and tucked his little wolf cub close, crooning the words of a melody that made me heartsick for a place I’d never seen. A Ukrainian folk song, Maria said. For some inexplicable reason, Ukrainian folk songs sooth Kurt’s heart when he feels fragile, she explained. And this time was no different. The little boy settled, content in his father’s embrace.

During the months and years filled with doctors, specialists and dreaded prognoses, the dream of raising a family in Israel faded into obscurity. “We spent nearly all our time in hospitals,” remembered Maria. “How could we even consider moving to a different country where we would have to find work, learn a new language, get used to a new culture and navigate the bureaucracy?”

When the twins turned four, the Belashkovs’ lives began to settle into a rhythm. The boys were able to function independently and even started kindergarten. Alexei and Maria took their dream of raising their family in Israel off the shelf. Perhaps this time, they hoped, the doors would open. Days later, Russia invaded Ukraine, unleashing the largest refugee crisis on European soil since World War II. Yet the Belashkovs were determined, and despite red tape, long waits, soaring airfare and gnawing uncertainty, the family of four finally touched down in Israel in March 2023.

The homecoming was a dream come true, smiled Maria. The Israeli system is geared toward welcoming its newest citizens and making the transition as smooth as possible, she explained. The boys feel at home and Jan is already going to kindergarten, telling everyone that Israel is his favorite place in the world. New friends, acquaintances, government officials and perfect strangers have gone out of their way to help the Belashkovs find their feet and look for an apartment.

Despite the helping hands and warm smiles, the family of four faces a challenging future. The past four years have depleted the Belashkovs’ finances and they were not able to bring much with them. Moreover, both Alexei and Maria have to study Hebrew before they can find a job, earn a salary and care for their family. And although the Israeli government provides financial aid to new immigrants, the sharp rise in the number of new immigrants means that the stipend cannot cover all the monthly expenses.

When Yad L’Olim—an Israeli NGO that helps new immigrants settle in and ultimately thrive in their new homeland—introduced us to the Belashkovs, we were immediately drawn to this precious family. Their list of needs gripped our hearts: a kettle; beds for the boys; a big cupboard; pots and pans; crockery—all the things that overflow from normal kitchen cupboards and we often take for granted.

Bridges for Peace was able to tick off every item on this list—and then some more. We could be the hands and feet blessing Israel thanks to the generous donation of a Christian supporter in the US.

Some 2,500 years ago, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah, we told the Belashkovs. He promised to lift up a banner to the nations of the earth to help carry the sons and daughters of Israel safely back to their ancient homeland (49:22). And our team of volunteers bearing the boxes, the bags and the brightly colored parcels to turn this family of four’s apartment into a home, formed part of the prophecy’s fulfilment.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 9, 2023)

Photo Credit: Isaac Gonzales/Bridges For Peace

Prayer Focus
Praise God for the generosity of Bridges for Peace donors that makes extraordinary events like this one possible and thank Him for the miracle that made the Belashkovs dream of making aliyah a reality. Pray for this precious family as they settle into their new home and adjust to life in Israel. Pray especially for Kurt as the family navigates the medical system, making sure that he receives the care and encouragement he needs. Also thank God for BFP donors who continue to give sacrificially out of their love for Israel and the Jewish people. Pray that such generosity will continue making it possible for Christian love to touch the hearts of increasing numbers of Israeli immigrants.


“It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.”

- Isaiah 65:24

Four Dead in Attack on Tunisian Synagogue as Jewish Community Celebrates Lag B’Omer

by Ilse Strauss

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The El Ghriba Synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia

Wednesday, 10 May 2023 | Merriment turned into mayhem when a gunman opened fire on worshipers gathered in the ancient El Ghriba Synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba last night, as hundreds of Jews were congregated there for an annual pilgrimage over the festival of Lag B’Omer.

Two Jewish worshipers—Aviel Haddad, a dual Israeli–Tunisian citizen, and his cousin, Benjamin Haddad, a French citizen—and two security guard were murdered before another security guard stationed at the synagogue shot and killed the gunman. According to the Tunisian Interior Ministry, an additional ten people were injured.

“Among the dead were two Jewish cousins, one with Israeli citizenship and the other with foreign citizenship,” the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The assailant, who was identified as a local naval guard affiliated with the National Guard naval center on Djerba, initially shot and killed a colleague, before stocking up on more ammunition and heading for the nearby synagogue. Security forces stationed outside the synagogue confronted the attacker, which led to a shootout in which the two Jewish cousins, the two security guards and the assailant were killed.

The El Ghriba Synagogue is one of the oldest synagogues in Africa. The current building was erected in the late 19th century, but some argue that its antecedent dates back to the exile after the destruction of either the First or the Second Temple in 586 BC or AD 70 respectively.

Each year, the El Ghriba Synagogue draws thousands of Jewish worshipers from around the world, particularly from Israel and France, for Lag B’Omer, a holiday that allegedly commemorates the end of a deadly plague some 2,000 years ago that killed nearly 25,000 people.

The synagogue has been the site of prior attacks, including a firebombing in 2018, and security is customarily heightened during the celebration out of fears of anti-Semitic attacks.

At the time of the attack last night, the synagogue was packed with up to 1,000 worshipers. Had the assailant managed to slip past the security detail outside, the death toll might have been much higher.

“We had a great miracle yesterday,” Rabbi Aharon Mazoz, one of the leaders of the Jewish community in Djerba told Israel’s Kan radio. “A large massacre was avoided because the shooter did not enter the celebration inside the El Ghriba Synagogue. This is the third attack on the synagogue, and we are in contact with the authorities regarding the safety measures. None of the Jews in Djerba are leaving their houses today, all the businesses are closed.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 10, 2023)

Photo Credit: Citizen59/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for those who lost loved ones in this horrendous attack and ask the Lord for healing for those who were injured. Thank God that the terrorist was stopped before entering the synagogue and plead with the Lord for his protection to surround the Jewish people worldwide, protecting them from the increasingly violent anti-Semitism that is on the rise globally.


Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their hearts…Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from violent men, who have purposed to make my steps stumble.

- Psalm 140:1–2a, 4

Iran Smuggled Arms into Syria under Guise of Quake Aid

by JNS

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Iranian aid arrives in Syria following the devastating earthquakes in February.

Monday, 8 May 2023 | The massive US intelligence leak last month included a classified document showing that Iran and its proxies exploited earthquake relief intended for Syria to smuggle arms into the country.

In addition to obtaining the US intelligence assessment circulated on the Discord messaging platform along with hundreds of other top-secret documents, the Washington Post report on the matter also sourced an Israeli military official.

Iran-backed militias and the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force brought small arms, ammunition and drones into Syria in convoys from Iraq, the newspaper reported.

Reuters also reported last month that Tehran took advantage of the earthquakes that devastated parts of Syria and Turkey in early February, killing tens of thousands, to smuggle weapons and military equipment.

The news agency cited Western, Israeli, Iranian and Syrian sources who said that Iran used as cover the humanitarian relief that poured into Syria after the February 6 quake, the worst natural disaster in the region in a century according to the World Health Organization.

Iran and its proxies moved swiftly to exploit humanitarian aid, according to the document obtained by the Washington Post. A day after the 7.8 and 7.7 magnitude temblors, a militia group “allegedly orchestrated the transfer of rifles, ammunition and 30 UAVs hidden in aid convoys to support future attacks on US forces in Syria.”

On February 13, an officer from the Quds Force directed an Iraqi militia group to “embed weapons within legitimate earthquake aid,” the intelligence assessment stated.

Israel’s Alma Research and Education Center, which specializes in the country’s northern security challenges, also affirmed to JNS recently that Tehran has been attempting to use humanitarian aid shipments to Syria as cover for this smuggling effort.

A series of airstrikes in Syria between March 30 and April 4, attributed by international media to Israel, is a reflection of intensified Iranian weapons smuggling, according to the Alma Center.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on May 8, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Salem Mohammad/Wikimedia Commons/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for His retribution against those who would take advantage of the horrific circumstances of the earthquakes to further their own murderous agendas. Pray that the Lord will strengthen Israel and Israel’s international support as they work to bring Iranian weapons smuggling to an end.


You therefore, O LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel…Do not be merciful to any wicked transgressors.

- Psalm 59:5

Netanyahu Hosts Kenyan President in Jerusalem

by JNS

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kenyan President William Ruto

Wednesday, 10 May 2023 | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Tuesday in Jerusalem with Kenyan President William Ruto, with the two men holding a private tête-à-tête before an expanded meeting in the framework of a working lunch.

Netanyahu praised Ruto’s commitment to advancing relations as well as policies to strengthen regional stability, and noted that Kenya could serve as a gateway for trade and international cooperation with the rest of Africa.

The two leaders agreed to work together to strengthen economic and diplomatic ties in areas including bilateral trade, technology, cyber-defense, advancing the restoration of a direct air route, water and agriculture.

At the start of the meeting, joint Israel–Kenya declarations of intent to enhance tourism and environmental protection were signed.

Ruto invited the prime minister and Sara Netanyahu for a visit.

On Monday, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen met with his Kenyan counterpart Alfred Nganga Mutua in the Israeli capital. The two diplomats signed a memorandum of understanding on water technologies and the fight against climate change. They also agreed to promote direct flights between their countries as well as the continuation of Kenya’s support for Israel at international institutions, particularly in the African Union.

“Kenya is a significant African player and an important factor in the Conference of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency. I emphasized to my friend Foreign Minister Mutua the ways in which we can deepen the relationship between our countries in the fields of security, trade and the economy,” said Cohen.

“Kenya has significant potential in helping to expand the Abraham Accords and harnessing additional partnerships in Africa for the benefit of regional prosperity and stability,” he added.

Netanyahu has made strengthening ties with Africa a central platform of his premierships.

In February, he dedicated the Embassy of the Republic of Chad together with the president of Chad, Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno.

“We believe that our cooperation can help not only advance our relations, but it is also part of Israel’s coming back to Africa and Africa coming back to Israel. We have common goals of security, prosperity and stability,” Netanyahu said at the time.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on May 9, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for this strategic partnership between Israel and Kenya. Pray that the relationship will go from strength to strength, benefiting both countries and creating stability in both regions. Pray that Kenya will help to expand the Abraham Accords and increase Israel’s network of partnerships throughout Africa.


For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

- Proverbs 2:6

David’s Sling Makes First Operational Interception

by JNS

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David’s Sling in action (illustrative)

Thursday, 11 May 2023 | David’s Sling, Israel’s newest anti-missile air defense system, successfully shot down its first rocket operationally during a barrage from the Gaza Strip targeting Israeli civilian centers on Wednesday.

It supplements the missile defense provided by the Iron Dome, Arrow 2 and Arrow 3.

The system was developed by Haifa-based Rafael Advanced Defensive Systems and US defense giant Raytheon Technologies.

It became operational in April 2017 and can intercept missiles fired by countries such as Iran and Syria, including “large-caliber rockets, short-range ballistic missiles and other developing threats,” the Israel Air Force said.

Its projectiles, known as stunners, are two-stage missiles that use multiple sensors. They are launched in a near-vertical orientation from a stationary location that can defend the entire country. They have a range of 250 kilometers (155 mi.).

In April, Finland become the first foreign purchaser of David’s Sling, in a deal worth some US $347 million, with further options worth US $237 million, according to the Finnish Defense Ministry.

“This acquisition will create a new capability for the Finnish Defence Forces to intercept targets at high altitude. At the same time, we are continuing the ambitious and long-term development of Finland’s defense capability in a new security environment,” said Finland’s Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen.

Finland made the announcement one day after joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as its 31st member.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on May 10, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Defense Ministry Spokesperson’s Office/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Thank God for Israel’s anti-missile air defense systems and David’s Sling’s first successful performance. Pray that it will continue to be a crucial element in Israel’s defense strategy, saving lives as long as conflicts rage. Also thank the Lord for Israel’s partnership with Finland. Pray that shared military technology will strengthen the relationship well into the future.


For I will not trust in my bow, nor shall my sword save me. But You have saved us from our enemies, and have put to shame those who hated us.

- Psalm 44:6–7

Israel Optimistic after Sullivan Urges Saudi Ties

by Itamar Eichner ~ Ynetnews

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US National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan

Monday, 8 May 2023 | Israeli officials said they were heartened by statements made by US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan’s last week regarding Washington’s hopes for a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia as part of the administration’s Mideast policy.

Sullivan spoke at the Washington Institute for Near East Policies on Thursday, ahead of a visit to Riyadh, and said the cooperation of US partners in the region was important to achieve the administration’s goals.

“Sullivan’s statement is surprising and significant, and his decision to highlight Saudi Arabia in his speech points to the matter ranking high in the US’s agenda,” Israeli officials said, adding that this was the first time Washington had directly stated its intentions to aid normalization efforts between Israel and the Gulf nation.

“We have the interest and bandwidth to promote normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and in fact, it’s this administration that has produced the first tangible step of these two countries coming close together with the opening of the airspace over Saudi Arabia for civilian flights from Israel,” Sullivan said in response to a question.

“As a sign of my seriousness about how much we are focused on this and how seriously we are taking this, I’m not going to say anything further lest I upset the efforts we are undertaking on this issue,” he added.

During his visit, Sullivan was scheduled to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and has also invited national security advisors of the United Arab Emirates and India for the meeting, with the intention of integrating Saudi Arabia into the I2U2 Forum, which was established to promote cooperation between countries and in which Israel is a member.

Sullivan also revealed that he held an encrypted phone call with his Israeli counterpart, Tzachi Hanegbi, which was also joined by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Sullivan is the US president’s closest aid on security and his words reflect those of the White House,” senior officials in Jerusalem said. “The statement is significant, especially when it is said prior to the National Security Advisor’s trip to Saudi Arabia. Sullivan also highlighted the administration’s commitment to Israel by describing the call with Hanegbi and Netanyahu.”

Israel sees a one-year window of opportunity for Biden to promote normalization. “It can’t be done quickly,” said a senior Israeli official. “The Abraham Accords took many months to complete, and Saudi Arabia has very high expectations from the Americans.”

The Saudis are willing to agree to normalize ties with Israel, but want significant endorsement from the US in return via an agreement that will unequivocally protect them from Iran.

Riyadh also demands significant arms deals and a nuclear agreement between Saudi Arabia and the US that would allow them to purchase civilian nuclear technology and enrich uranium for civilian nuclear power plants. The US Congress will likely not approve such a deal, which the Americans are not happy to offer.

During his speech, Sullivan said that the US would take the necessary steps to ensure Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons.

“We have made clear to Iran that it can never be permitted to obtain a nuclear weapon. As President [Joe] Biden has repeatedly reaffirmed, he will take the actions that are necessary to stand by this statement, including by recognizing Israel’s freedom of action,” he said.

Israeli officials said that Sullivan’s remarks indicate that Israel’s relationship with the US has never been stronger.

They believe his remarks were prompted by the strengthening of Saudi ties with China and Iran. “It seems this agreement has woken up the Americans, who understand that China is making a play in the Middle East,” Israeli officials said.

“From Israel’s perspective, this is a win-win situation. We receive more support for the Abraham Accords and a normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia, which we very much want. Israel will need to ensure that should there be arms deals between Saudi Arabia and the US, the Americans will maintain Israel’s military advantage.”

One of the early tests for the normalization directive between Israel and Saudi Arabia is whether Riyadh will allow direct flights of Israeli Arab pilgrims to the Hajj in June,  flights that the U.S. has long worked to secure.

Israel estimates that Sullivan will raise the matter during his talks in Saudi Arabia. Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said that direct flights for pilgrims were under discussion and that he is optimistic about their eventual approval.

Hanegbi said that Sullivan’s words are very encouraging. “A normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia is an important goal in Israel’s foreign policy and now Sullivan says it’s the same for the US. We hope that his visit to Saudi Arabia will present a breakthrough,” he said.

“Should this agreement go through, it would be a historical one that will change the map of the Middle East, isolate Iran and provide legitimacy for any Arab country with ties to the West to share ties with Israel. The Saudis don’t want anything from Israel; they want favors from the US, like the many other countries who signed the Abraham Accord.”

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on May 4, 2023; Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Office of U.S. National Security Advisor/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for the efforts of US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan as he works toward the goal of normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Pray that all the nations involved will have great wisdom and that agreements will be reached that benefit the region while not jeopardizing Israel’s security needs.


I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go, I will guide you with My eye.

- Psalm 32:8