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 email@example.com if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.
Picking up the Pieces in Southern Israel
by Adir Yanko and Matan Zuri
Monday, 20 May 2019 | A week after some 700 rockets and mortars struck towns and cities in Israel’s South—in the deadliest attack by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad since the 2014 war between Israel and Gaza—residents of those communities are trying to deal with the impact.
One of the most devastating blows appears to be the anti-tank missile attack that killed 68-year-old Moshe Feder as he drove to work along a road close to the Gaza border.
The residents of the southern city of Kiryat Gat [35 miles (56 km) south of Tel Aviv], sympathetic to the Gaza border residents, were sure that they would be spared from the latest round of escalation. To their dismay, a rocket attack critically injured an 80-year-old resident of the city, Alegria Ben-Naqan.
Her son, Arik, who lives close to his mother, says he and his family were left to deal with the harsh reality of the attack when the media spotlight faded.
“It was a mad house,” he says, recalling the first days at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, where his mother is still being treated.
“Everyone came to visit. Knesset [Parliament] members, Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, the son of Chief Rabbi David Lau. For two or three days, it was total mayhem in the ICU…”
He added: “Aside [from] when the hospital itself was hit by rocket fire, we have been taking shifts at our mother’s bedside. There is nothing to [be] done—life goes on and so does the country. Our lives on the other hand came to a halt the day the rocket hit. We have to treat the injuries and be with our mother through her recovery.”
He says that physicians in the trauma room call his mother’s case “miraculous,” for had the shrapnel struck her body a centimeter in any direction, she would not have survived.
Since the attack, Alegria’s family members make sure that she is not alone even for one moment.
“It’s difficult,” Arik says. “I have been through wars and I have seen things, but when it hits you, that this is my mother, I don’t know if that ever passes.”
Not far from the site of the rocket strike is Menachem Begin Elementary School. Everything seems to have returned to a normal routine, but the pupils and staff are more than aware of the complex situation they had to deal with, both during and after the latest round of violence.
Mori Azoulay, a sixth grader at the school, says that unlike children his age who live near the Gaza border, this situation is new to him.
“There were a lot of air raid sirens and I’m not used to that,” he says. “This was the only time I was in the shelter for so long. I slept there for three nights.”
Mori says he feels safe due to the security measures in place, but appreciates that not everyone is the same.
“There is a shelter and an army protecting me,” he says. “I always felt safe at home, at school and everywhere in the country. Some of my friends kept calm, but everyone takes the situation differently.”
Despite the violence, the young student refuses to give up hope that peace will come one day. “Violence is not the answer,” he says. “Peace will bridge the gap between us all.”
Mori’s school principal, Miriam Kisos, says they were well prepared for the deterioration in the security situation but that they are still dealing with the fallout of the rocket attacks.
“When returning to school, we first had to take into account the resilience of our teachers and then that of our pupils. Some said that [they] didn’t shower for two days, which is something they weren’t used to; some had no shelter in their homes and went into the staircase, and noticed that their parents were afraid as well,” she says.
“Some of the children were referred to the school counselor, who has had her hands full in the past week, after their homeroom teachers noticed their distress.”
“No Sense of Security”
The entrance to Kibbutz Erez was the scene one of the worst incidents in the latest escalation, when an anti-tank missile fired from nearby Gaza killed Moshe Feder, who worked at one of the community’s factories.
The incident showed the kibbutz [collective community] residents how vulnerable they are at every moment, and not only to rocket and mortar fire. A week after the latest round, the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] built a 700-meter-tall [2,300-feet-tall] cement barrier between the main road leading to the kibbutz and the Gaza border fence.
The barrier is meant to absorb any further anti-tank fire, but for the residents it only emphasizes the true danger they face whenever the situation in Gaza escalates.
“We always knew we were vulnerable to rocket fire, but the incident at the entrance to the kibbutz made it a reality,” says a kibbutz resident. “The incident only led us to realize we could be targeted in every way,” she says.
“When I see the barrier being built along the entrance, I’m disheartened. If a missile hits the wall, how will it help? And if a missile hits the train passing on the bridge above? Our sense of security does not exist.”
Dean, another kibbutz resident says: “This was a truly frightening incident. This is our reality here. I believe that this wall can stop the next missile, but it’s difficult to live like this. The children are not comfortable with the situation. We intend on staying in the kibbutz and raising our children here despite everything. We will overcome it all.”
Photo Credit: Edgar Asher, Ashernet
Continue to bring the situation on Israel’s border with Gaza before the Lord. Cry out that His presence will be like a protective shield over the people living in this troubled area. Pray that He will pour out healing, restoration and refreshment for injured bodies and traumatized souls.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
A US–Iran Confrontation Will Inevitably Include Israel
by Alex Fishman
Friday, 17 May 2019 | A rare selfie recently released to the world by the commander of Iran’s elite [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)] Al-Quds Force was a warning to the United States and its allies. The image, taken in Iraq, shows [IRGC Major General] Qasem Soleimani with two of his senior officers and sends a clear message: We, the Al-Quds commanders, are here in Iraq, the soft underbelly of your interests, and from here we will deal with you too.
In Israel, this message was taken very seriously. During recent discussions by the prime minister, the head of the National Security Council, the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] chief of staff, the head of Military Intelligence and senior IDF General Staff officers, a picture emerged of an imminent confrontation between the Iranians and the Americans in the Persian Gulf.
At this point, it is difficult to assess the scale of such a clash, but Israel must prepare for a gradual escalation, in which it, too, will likely to find itself involved in some way.
It is fair to assume that the first military phase will focus on specific Iranian action against oil routes and oil producers in the Persian Gulf. Indeed, the Iranians have in recent days struck Saudi oil fields as well as their tankers at an oil terminal in the United Arab Emirates, either through their special forces or their Houthi allies in Yemen.
In the second stage of the escalation, the Iranians will apparently target the interests of the United States and its allies. And this [is] where Israel enters the picture. The Iranians will leave a direct confrontation with the US to the final stage.
According to Israeli assessments, there are at least four scenarios for a possible Iranian attack in Israel. The most likely scenario is the launch of missiles from Iraq.
The second scenario includes firing missiles and dispatching armed drones from Syria, alongside terrorist activity along the border fence between the two countries.
A third scenario, which is viewed as less likely, involves Hezbollah military activity from Lebanon. This is seen as a lesser threat, as Hezbollah is at present at one of its economic low points, and it is doubtful that its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, would give Israel the opportunity to best him.
The fourth possible scenario, and the least worrying from an Israeli perspective, is the use of terror attacks by Islamic Jihad from the Gaza Strip.
Each of these scenarios, however, could be folded into another on a different front, depending on the depth of the crisis.
Photo Credit: MCS3 Garrett LaBarge/US Navy/flickr
Photo License: Flickr.com
Beseech the Lord to bring harmony and order to the tumultuous situation that threatens to ignite the entire Middle East. Pray specifically that God would grant His wisdom and guidance to PM Netanyahu and the leaders responsible for keeping Israel and her people safe. Remind Him of His promise to watch over Israel, the apple of His eye, now and forever.
For thus says the LORD of hosts: “…for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.”
German Parliament Calls Israel Boycott Movement “Anti-Semitic”
by Joshua Spurlock
Monday, 20 May 2019 | The German Bundestag (Parliament) condemned the anti-Israel “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” (BDS) movement in a non-binding resolution on Friday and called the “pattern of argument and methods” of the BDS movement “anti-Semitic”, according to a report by the New York Times. The article said the resolution—backed by multiple German political parties, including the ruling Christian Democratic Union party—compared the boycott of Israeli goods to Nazi boycotts against Jews.
A press release posted to the German Parliament website further argued that organizations questioning Israel’s right to exist or projects backing the BDS movement should not be financially supported, according to a translation from German by Google Translate.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the German decision “important” in comments posted to Twitter by spokesman Ofir Gendelman. “I congratulate the German Bundestag on the important decision branding the boycott movement (BDS) as an anti-Semitic movement and announcing that it is forbidden to fund it,” said a post to Gendelman’s Twitter feed. A follow-up tweet expressed the hope from Netanyahu that “this decision will bring about concrete steps and I call upon other countries to adopt similar legislation.”
Netanyahu wasn’t the only Israeli official pleased with the German move. The speaker for the Israeli Knesset (Parliament), Yuli Edelstein, thanked his German counterparts for their decision, also on Twitter. Edelstein tweeted his thanks for “the courageous and important decision! BDS is a dangerous, anti-Semitic movement. You are the first, but many others will follow in your footsteps.”
The BDS movement has long sought to damage Israel economically. The primary motivation behind the activities is ostensibly disagreement with Israel on handling the conflict with the Palestinians. However, it takes a one-sided and antagonistic approach toward Israel. The movement has been opposed by the United States and some leaders in Europe, with the Germans now officially believing it to be anti-Semitic.
They aren’t alone. United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt praised the Germans on Twitter for their stance, even as he backed the position that Israel should surrender land to the Palestinians to achieve peace. He tweeted, “Tremors, turbulence & terror in Mid East remind us of urgent need for peace: two-state solution. But the foundations for peace are respect & coexistence. Boycotting Israel—the world’s only Jewish state—is anti-Semitic. I salute Germany for taking stand.”
Furthermore, research by the Israeli Ministry of Public Security and Strategic Affairs found more than 100 links connecting terror groups Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) with over a dozen organizations who promote the BDS movement against Israel.
That project—a report entitled “Terrorists in Suits” and highlighted in an Israeli press release in March—also noted that more than two dozen members of the terrorist organizations—including 20 of whom have spent time in prison—have achieved senior positions within BDS-supporting groups.
Source: (This article was originally published by the Mideast Update on May 19, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)
Photo Credit: Olaf Kosinsky/CC BY-SA 3.0-de/wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia.org
Sing praises to the Lord for Germany’s decision to stand with Israel against the anti-Semitic onslaught of the BDS movement. Praise Him for unmasking the movement’s true intentions to the German lawmakers and ask Him to continue shedding light on their dark objectives so that other countries will follow suit.
For they intended evil against You; they devised a plot which they are not able to perform. Therefore You will make them turn their back; You will make ready Your arrows on Your string toward their faces. Be exalted, O LORD, in Your own strength! We will sing and praise Your power.
PA Minister Rejects US Peace Plan, Brands Palestinian Supporters “Collaborators”
Wednesday, 22 May 2019 | A senior figure in the Palestinian Authority [PA] said Monday that any Palestinian who supports the long-anticipated United States peace plan for the Middle East “would be nothing but a collaborator” for the US and Israel.
Ahmad Majdalani, the Palestinian minister for social affairs and a member of the PLO’s [Palestinian Liberation Organization] executive committee, made the comments after the US announced Sunday that it will host a conference in Bahrain next month to unveil the economic aspects of the deal.
“There will be no Palestinian participation in the Manama workshop,” he vowed.
The Palestinian leadership’s response to US peace efforts has been marked by a policy of total rejectionism, even before details of the plan were leaked. The PA has shown no interest to participate in ongoing discussions led by Jason Greenblatt, the White House chief negotiator, and senior advisor, Jared Kushner.
In July, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, stated that the plan would be “dead on arrival.” PA President Mahmoud Abbas in November described it as “the slap of the century.”
On Monday, senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Reuters that any attempts to promote “an economic normalization of the Israeli occupation of Palestine will be rejected.” He also charged that the Palestinian leadership was not consulted about the summit in Bahrain.
Abbas has yet to comment on whether he would send a delegation to the kingdom, but a spokesperson for the leader said in a statement that the US plan is “futile.”
Israeli media reported Monday that a delegation led by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon will be invited to the summit co-hosted by the US and Bahrain on June 25–26, in a move toward normalized relations between Jerusalem and the Arab world.
On Sunday, Kushner said the Manama workshop would be an “opportunity to present our ideas for creating greater economic vibrancy in the region.”
“The Palestinian people, along with all people in the Middle East, deserve a future with dignity and the opportunity to better their lives,” he said in a statement.
Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project in its publication The Tower on May 21, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: AFP/Youtube/Screenshot
Bring the conference to be held in Bahrain before the Lord. Intercede in advance that God would prepare the hearts of the delegates and countries involved. Pray for His perfect will to be done—in the conference and in the US peace plan for the Middle East.
A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps. He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he.
US Releases Video of Iranian Training Facility in Lebanon, Close to Syrian Border
Tuesday, 21 May 2019 | The US Department of State released a video on Tuesday of what it said is an Iranian military training base in Lebanon, located near the border with Syria, amid concerns that Tehran is preparing for a two-front war with Israel.
Washington believes that the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF)—which the United States designated as a foreign terrorist organization earlier this year—is attempting to establish a permanent military presence in Lebanon, where the Iranian-sponsored terrorist group Hezbollah remains the foremost power.
“We see a small valley that goes down. This has a series of berms that are alternating, on the left and right. This is a training course for armored personnel carriers,” said Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., Senior Fellow for Imagery Analysis at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS).
David Daoud, a research analyst on Hezbollah and Lebanon at United Against Nuclear Iran, explained that the immediate proximity to the Syrian border confirms that the facility serves at least two major objectives.
For one, Daoud said, the location shows “how compromised the eastern Lebanese–Syrian border is to entry of ‘Resistance Axis’ elements and the Lebanese state’s inability to properly police its territory against Iranian penetration.
“Second,” Daoud added, “it further demonstrates unification of the ‘Resistance Axis’ that [Hassan] Nasrallah [Secretary General of Hezbollah] and other Iranian proxy-militia leaders have often mentioned, where in a future war (say, against Israel), Hezbollah would not fight alone, but would be joined by other forces.”
Hezbollah and its patrons in Tehran intervened in the Syrian civil war on behalf of the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The Shiite forces then built a power base in the country independent from state institutions, effectively creating a new front in the Islamic Republic’s conflict with Israel.
Israel insists that the Lebanese army has lost its independence and has become an “integral part” of Hezbollah’s network, meaning that the next war on Israel’s northern border will not be confined to one front, but will see conflict with Iranian proxies in both Lebanon and Syria.
The IRGC’s new chief, Hossein Salami, recently warned that Iran was preparing for a “full confrontation” with its “enemies,” referring to Israel and the United States.
Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project in its publication The Tower on May 17, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: MEMRI TV Videos/Youtube/Screenshot
Proclaim God’s promises of protection over Israel. Ask the God who promised to neither slumber nor sleep to contend with Israel’s enemies and to bring Iran’s evil plans of launching a two-front war against Israel to naught.
Plead my cause, O LORD, with those who strive with me; fight against those who fight against me. Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for my help. Also draw out the spear, and stop those who pursue me. Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.”
Rabbis Discuss Dark Shadow Hanging over European Jewry
by Roi Rubinstein
Tuesday, 21 May 2019 | A dark shadow hung over the biannual convention of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), which took place in Antwerp Belgium over the weekend. Rabbis from across Europe, as well as senior Israeli rabbis, gathered for the 31st time to discuss and debate the burning issues facing European Jewry.
But this year, Flanders, the Flemish-speaking region of Belgium, banned kosher slaughter, joining five European countries where slaughter is already banned. Proposals to ban non-medical circumcision are also being examined in several countries, and European Jews beholden to Jewish law (halacha) are feeling increasingly under attack, all while anti-Semitism is already pulling out the rug from under their feet.
“We must recognize the harsh statement by European society toward us,” the conference’s president Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt told Ynet. “They are telling us that if you Jews want to remain here among us, you must stop being Jewish. They are claiming that our customs, circumcision and kosher slaughter, are unenlightened. But we will fight for our traditions.”
During a discussion about the issue, British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, German parliamentarian Marcos Grobel—who deals with matters concerning freedom of religion—and Katharina Von Schnurbein, the European coordinator on combating anti-Semitism, were present. The latter argued that the controversial laws are not anti-Semitic: “They make Jews’ lives harder, but it is clear to all that freedom of religion is very important to us,” she said.
Rabbi Goldschmidt does not agree with Von Schnurbein, asserting that the issue has little to do with animal slaughter itself and more to do with controlling religion. “Our job is to advance the religion and not defend it in places where they think that Google is God,” he said.
“This conduct is like an ostrich burying its head in the sand. I am not saying that the law is anti-Semitic, but it does severely harm Jews,” the rabbi added. “Throughout history, such legislation always led to something worse and it mainly reflects a lack of tolerance towards minorities in Europe.”
Referring to the rise in attacks against Jews in Europe over the last year, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef said that synagogues should have security guards, non-Jews preferably.
“We are in the midst of an upsurge in anti-Semitism unfortunately,” said Elan Carr, US Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism. “There have been incidents throughout the world, including the United States, which is a country which supports Jews, it is really a global crisis. We must come together to combat this poison.”
Carr said that the attacks at US synagogues “broke his heart” and that President [Donald] Trump is personally committed to the Jews and the State of Israel. “We must work together to decrease the phenomenon of anti-Semitism and secure Jewish institutions and choke the money supply to terror organizations, which included the Iranians who are promoting an anti-Semitic ideology in the Middle East.”
Photo Credit: Conference of European Rabbis/Youtube/Screenshot
Intercede against the menace of anti-Semitism that hovers like a dark cloud over Europe. Ask the Lord to reveal to the Jewish people living in the Diaspora that a place of safety awaits them in Israel.
“But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking,” says the LORD.
Israel Spearheads Efforts to Improve Sports Performance Using Scientific Knowledge
by Edgar Asher
Wednesday, 22 May 2019 | The First Scientific Conference of the Israeli Olympics Sports Research Center—aimed at using scientific knowledge to improve sports performance—was held recently at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, and was attended by leading researchers and scientists, as well as senior coaches from Israel and members of the sports-tech industry, along with guest lecturers from the USA and the UK.
The conference was held at Technion’s Faculty of Mechanical Engineering as part of the Annual Belfer Symposium and [as] a new cooperation venture between Technion and the Olympic Committee of Israel.
Among the scientific and technological challenges in the field of athletic achievement that were discussed was the challenge of breaking the two-hour barrier in marathon races. Running a marathon in less than two hours is not only a physiological challenge, and new developments in the field of footwear and nutrition may soon provide the answer. Experts agree that it is possible to beat the record, and many believe that the Kenyan Olympic runner, Eliud Kipchoge, may achieve the new record in the near future.
Prof. Yannis Pitsiladis, an expert in sports and exercise science at the UK’s Brighton University, and a world expert on the genetic and environmental effects of athletic performance, spoke about the enormous challenge of breaking the two-hour barrier in a marathon run. He stated that this is possible as, “The borders are not fixed, and by investing time and energy, they can be extended.” However, he added that this goal requires cooperation among researchers in various fields, including nutritionists, biomechanics and data scientists. “We need to develop tools with which to inject carbohydrates into the runner’s body effectively, and to provide him or her with intelligent sensing systems that monitor physiological variables and provide feedback on his or her condition in real time.”
“We recently inaugurated the Israeli Center for Olympic Sports Research—a joint cooperation between the Olympic Committee and the Technion, which is a leading body in science and technology,” said Gili Lustig, CEO of the Olympic Committee of Israel. “I have no doubt that together we can improve the training patterns and physiological tracking of our athletes and thus lead them to new heights.”
Yael Arad, Israel’s first athlete to win an Olympic silver medal and board member of the Olympic Committee of Israel and chairman of the Sports Committee, said that, “The cooperation with Technion is at one with the quantum leap in the goals that we have set for ourselves. If we have so far aimed at returning from any Olympics with one or two medals, now we want to achieve more. Not only to be good but to be the best. And for that we must focus on things that we are not good at, and to improve and bring measurable results, and in short—more medals. It is a long-term process whose benefits will be seen only at the 2024 Olympics and perhaps even later. But it will happen if we will be patient, determined and consistent.”
Source: (Excerpt of a press release originally published by Edgar Asher, Ashernet.)
Photo Credit: Nitzan Zoahr/Isranet
Thank the Lord for blessing Israel with ingenuity and resourcefulness in a multitude of areas. Sing praises to His Name for Israel’s eagerness to share their blessing with the world, thus being a light to the nations.
“I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
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