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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.

Iran Threatens to Enrich Nuclear Fuel Higher than Ever If Demands Not Met

by Joshua Spurlock

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Iran nuclear program map (illustrative)

Tuesday, 22 May 2018 | With the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal, the Europeans are striving to keep the accord from collapsing. The Iranians, for now, are playing along—but on this condition: If they don’t receive the economic benefits promised them, they will not only exit the deal and go back to their old nuclear program, they’ll make it more advanced than ever. And they may just do it secretly, away from the eyes of international inspectors.

“If our interests are not materialized, we will withdraw from the nuclear deal and will enrich [nuclear fuel] to 20% degree or any level that we want out of their sight,” Government Spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakh was quoted by the Fars News Agency as saying last week.

Previously, Iran claimed to enrich uranium to 20%—a medical-research-level grade much higher than needed for nuclear energy and well on the path to the 90% enrichment needed for nuclear weapons. So exceeding the 20% threshold would actually make Iran a greater threat than before.

Fars noted that Nobakh’s threat to develop enhanced nuclear fuel out of sight could have been a reference to Iran no longer complying with intensified inspections called for under the nuclear pact, or truly secretive work shielded from the United Nations inspections done outside the nuclear deal. It very well could be the latter, given Iran’s track record of hiding their nuclear program.

The Israelis recently uncovered a treasure trove of documentation outlining Iran’s secret past nuclear weapons program—which Iran said never existed—and which was still being preserved presumably so Iran could retain their nuclear know-how for the future.

While the weaknesses in the nuclear deal—which doesn’t address Iranian missile development and has restrictions that expire in the not-too-distant future, setting the stage for future Iranian nuke development—were enough to convince US President Donald Trump to back out, the Europeans are in a different camp.

European Union President Donald Tusk, in a press release last week, claimed the deal was “good” for Europe and even said they would consider ways to protect European business from being impacted by renewed US sanctions on Iran—effectively evading American sanctions.

“I want leaders to reconfirm that the EU sticks to the deal as long as Iran does,” said Tusk.

Ironically, he too highlighted the Iranian missile program as a concern that they should “seek” to “address.” But according to the Iranian government, that’s a nonstarter. Fars reported that a government statement following the US decision to exit the deal specifically decried efforts to get them to surrender “lawful” and “defensive” missiles.

Recently, Iran launched missiles from Syria at Israel in an unprecedented act of direct aggression between the sides.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, believes that Trump was right in nixing the Iran deal—and he hinted that Europe is wrong on the issue.

“With all due respect to those sitting in European capitals, we here in the capitals of the Middle East—in Jerusalem, in Riyadh and elsewhere—we’ve seen the disastrous consequences of the Iran deal,” said Netanyahu in comments released by his office last week.

“And so when President Trump decides to pull out of this deal, to walk away from it, we know that when he walks away from a bad deal, he’s doing a good thing for our region, for the United States and for the world.”

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this article on 20 May 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Sémhur/Wikimedia

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Bring the Iranian threats and manipulation before the Lord. Ask Him to reveal the true nature of the Iranian deal to the Europeans and that they will be emboldened to follow the example that President Trump has set. Lift up PM Netanyahu for wisdom as he interacts with nations on the dangers Iran poses. Thank God for being Israel’s shield.

Scripture

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.


- Genesis 15:1

“So-Called” UN Human Rights Council Votes to Investigate Israel over Gaza Border Defense

by Joshua Spurlock

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Monday, 21 May 2018 | The United States slammed the “so-called” United Nations Human Rights Council for voting on Friday to investigate Israel on their approach to the Gaza border riots, in which Palestinians mostly aligned with terrorists have been killed by Israel during efforts to breach Israel’s border with Gaza and conduct terrorism.

“At a time when Venezuela lurches toward dictatorship, Iran imprisons thousands of political opponents, and ethnic cleansing has taken place in Burma, the UN’s so-called Human Rights Council has decided to launch an investigation into a democratic country’s legitimate defense of its own border against terrorist attacks,” said US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley in comments released by her office. “It is another shameful day for human rights.”

An anti-Israel vote passed at the Council by a margin of 29 for, 14 abstaining, with just the US and Australia against, according to the Council’s Twitter feed. However, the list of those voting “for” included such notable human rights violators as Cuba, China, and Venezuela, as well as multiple Arab nations. Only Belgium and Spain were among the first-world Western nations who voted in favor. The voting list was highlighted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said his country “completely rejects” the resolution accepted by an “automatic anti-Israel majority.”

“An organization that calls itself the Human Rights Council once again proves that it is hypocritical and biased and that its purpose is to harm Israel and support terror,” said Netanyahu in a statement published on spokesman Ofir Gendelman’s Twitter feed. “But mostly it has proven that it is irrelevant.”

The vote follows the deaths of dozens of Palestinians in riots in recent weeks at the border fence separating Israel from Gaza. However, Hamas admitted that 50 of the most recent 62 slain were its own members, and Israel has repeatedly shown that far from peaceful protests, the Gazans have sought to breach the border fence, launched burning kites at Israeli territory to try and start destructive fires, and used the protests as cover for terrorism—including planting explosives.

Israeli Ambassador to the United Kingdom Mark Regev recently posted to Twitter a summary of an editorial he wrote in the Daily Mail in which he noted that he agrees with Hamas about the protests.

He tweeted that he agrees with Hamas when they “admit the term ‘peaceful protests’ is a ‘deception’”, “say they want to ‘tear down the border’ & murder Israelis” and “claim 50 out of the 62 killed as their own militants.”

Said Netanyahu in his comments, “Israel will continue to defend its citizens and soldiers as it has the right to defend itself.”

Gendelman pointed out in a separate Tweet that Hamas thanked the UN Human Rights Council for its vote: “When a terror org whose goal is to destroy a UN member state THANKS a UN body, you know that this UN body is morally bankrupt.”

Meanwhile, while Hamas has been trying to launch terror attacks against Israel, the Israelis continue to enable transfers of supplies into Hamas-controlled Gaza—and it’s Hamas that’s rejecting the help.

Tweeted the IDF Spokesperson on Friday, “The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] transfers humanitarian aid to Gaza & will continue to do so in the future. On Tuesday, the IDF transferred large quantities of equipment to Gaza. All of it was returned by the Hamas terror organization.”

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this article on 20 May 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/CircaNews

Prayer Focus
Continue to pray for the UN and its bodies. Ask God to move mightily among its member states to open their eyes to see beyond the propaganda and Palestinian victim narrative.Praise Him for Nikki Haley’s boldness as she continues to stand with Israel.

Scripture

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.


- Proverbs 25:2

Iran Rejects Russia’s Call to Remove Troops from Syria

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Iran’s presence in Syria poses several threats.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018 | Iran on Monday rejected a call from Russia to pull Iranian forces out of Syria in the event a permanent peace agreement is reached in the war-stricken country, The Times of Israel reported.

“No one can force Iran to do anything,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Qasemi said, according to the Tasnim news website.

“As long as terrorism exists and the Syrian government wants, Iran will have presence [in Syria],” Qasemi said. “Those who have entered Syria without the consent of the Syrian government should leave.”

After a meeting with Syrian regime President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that foreign powers must pull their troops out of Syria to respect any final political settlement in the country.

“We presume that, in connection with the significant victories and success of the Syrian army in the fight against terrorism… with the onset of the political process in its more active phase, foreign armed forces will be withdrawn from the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic,” Putin said, according to CNN.

Russia’s envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, later added that Putin’s comment was aimed at Iran, Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, the United States and Turkey.

“This statement involves all foreign troops in Syria including the Turkish, American, Iranian and Hezbollah.” The envoy clarified that Russia had no immediate plans for withdrawal.

Israel has time and again demanded Iran’s withdrawal from Syria, accusing the regime in Tehran of building a permanent military infrastructure in the country and using it as a base for its expansionist behavior in the region, including direct attacks against the Jewish state.

The US echoed Israel’s demand this week, when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a speech Monday that “Iran must withdraw all forces under Iranian command throughout the entirety of Syria.” The condition was part of 12 requirements spelled out by Pompeo for a new agreement with Tehran, following the collapse of the JCPOA, that aims to put an end to the Islamic Republic’s “malign” behavior in the Middle East.

In an op-ed for The Hill published last month, TIP CEO and President Joshua S. Block, wrote that the US must “make clear to Moscow” that American forces will not pull out of Syria “before the Iranians are out of the picture. Anything short of that is not up for debate.”

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 22 May 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: : Israel Defense Forces

Prayer Focus
Ask God to intervene in the situation where Iran remains entrenched in Syria with the intent to harm Israel. Thank God that He is Israel’s mighty defender. Pray for Israel’s leadership to heed God’s guidance and instructions in facing the threat. Lift up the people living in northern Israel that the Lord would strengthen their hearts with courage.

Scripture

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; defend me from those who rise up against me. Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloodthirsty men.


- Psalm 59:1-2

Palestinians Bring War Crimes Charges against Israel at International Court 

by Joshua Spurlock

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Palestinian Incitement: Propaganda Poster Glorifying Suicide Bomber

Thursday, 24 May 2018 | The Palestinians officially submitted a request to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday alleging war crimes charges against Israel, even as their own people continue incitement and acts of terror against Israel. Ofir Gendelman, spokesperson for the Israeli prime minister’s office, noted this dichotomy in a series of Twitter posts responding to the ICC submission.

“It is absurd that the Palestinian actions vis-à-vis the Court come at a time when the Palestinians continue to incite acts of terrorism, while exploiting women and children as human shields for violent attacks against the security of Israel’s citizens,” tweeted Gendelman. In a separate post he noted the Palestinians “continue to exploit the Court for political purposes, rather than work towards resuming the peace process with Israel.”

As an example of that ongoing incitement, Gendelman later posted a photo of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas published by Abbas’s office showing him reading a newspaper with a vicious cartoon on the back depicting an Israeli soldier feeding poison to a Palestinian baby.

Commenting on the image, Gendelman tweeted, “Zoom in on the racist cartoon on the back page of the PA’s OFFICIAL paper, reminiscent of Nazi cartoons. The ‘moderate’ leader made sure that anti-Semitism is alive & well in the PA.”

The United States also opposes the Palestinian submission to the Court. Spokesperson Heather Nauert, in comments on Tuesday published by the State Department, said, “We oppose actions against Israel at the International Criminal Court because it doesn’t help the cause for peace.”

The anti-Israel claims made by the Palestinians to the ICC, according to a report in the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency, center around Israeli home development in the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria—which is claimed by the Palestinians as the “West Bank.” The Palestinian Foreign Affairs Ministry was quoted in the article as claiming that the Israeli “settlement” and efforts to sustain it is the “most dangerous threat to Palestinian lives, livelihoods, and national rights.” The libel went on to allege Israel is guilty of “crimes against humanity” and torture.

The Palestinian Authority should probably look to their rival Palestinian Authority government for a real example of war crimes. The Hamas organization that rules Gaza has been encouraging their own people to assault the security fence with Israel and attack the Israeli military, while using the riots as cover to conduct acts of terrorism.

Furthermore, Gendelman posted a video to Twitter on Wednesday showing the leader of Hamas saying in an interview that his group has good relations with the Hezbollah terrorist organization and Iran, while praying for a united front by this axis.

Tweeted Gendelman in response to the video, “Hamas’s leader Yahya Sinwar says openly that Hamas is closely cooperating with Iran and Hezbollah. Iran is the world’s #1 state sponsor of terrorism. It occupies 4 Arab capitals & murdered hundreds of thousands in the region. Hamas serves Iran’s terrorism, not the people of Gaza!”

The good news for Israel is that the ICC will find it difficult to adjudicate the Palestinian claims, since Israel has not submitted itself to the court’s jurisdiction and the PA is not an actual state—one of which must be true in order to submit a claim. Gendelman called the Palestinian action “legally invalid” as a result.

Tweeted Gendelman, “Israel expects the ICC and its prosecutor not to yield to Palestinian pressure, and to stand firm against continued Palestinian efforts to politicize the Court and to derail it from its mandate.”

He continued, “Israel acts in accordance with independent and thorough judicial review mechanisms, befitting a democratic state, and in accordance with international law.”

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this article on 23 May 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/Wikimedia

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Beseech God that the ICC will not be swayed by the Palestinians’ anti-Israel agenda concerning the biblical heartland of the Jewish people. Bring Israel's leadership before the Lord for a legal strategy to face this onslaught. Pray for the safety of all the Jewish people living in Judea and Samaria.

Scripture

I cried out to You, O LORD: I said, You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living. Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low; deliver me from my persecutors, for they are stronger than I. Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Your name; the righteous shall surround me, for You shall deal bountifully with me.


- Psalm 142:5-7

Unexpected Candor from Hamas’s Leaders Exposes the Threat behind Gazan Riots

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Armed Palestinian rioters tried crossing into Israel with the goal to kill Israelis

Monday, 21 May 2018 | On April 7, The New York Times called the Hamas-led weekly riots at Israel’s border fence “a tentative experiment with nonviolent protest.”

A week later, the Times noted the incongruity of Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, a terrorist group known for using “suicide bombs, rockets and attack tunnels” to attack Israel, standing “before portraits of the giants of nonviolent resistance—Mahatma Gandhi, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela.”

But it wasn’t just the appearance of a terrorist standing underneath champions of non-violence. The Times also noted that while the organizers of the so-called “Great March of Return,” as Hamas called the riots, asked that participants engage only in “peaceful disobedience,” rioters were, in fact, throwing “Molotov cocktails and other explosives.” This sent “mixed messages” as to whether these were peaceful protests as Hamas had advertised.

After this week, there are no more mixed messages. And it came not from Israel, but from the leader of Hamas. The surprising candor of some of Hamas’s top leaders dispelled any notion that the riots were peaceful, and that it was simply a tactic to cover for violent attacks against Israel.

Mahmoud al-Zahar, a founder of Hamas, was the bluntest, telling Qatar’s Al Jazeera network on Sunday that Hamas was “deceiving the public” when it called for “peaceful resistance” against Israel. Zahar, who remains a part of the terror group’s leadership said that the term was meant as a “clear terminological deception.”

Perhaps it was just bluster, but it wasn’t just Zahar. On Monday, the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry claimed that 62 people were killed during the riots.

In a televised interview following Monday’s riots, a Hamas official, Salah Bardawil, said that “of the 62 people martyred, 50 were Hamas.” Additionally, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another Gaza-based terrorist group, separately claimed membership of three others who were killed. So of the 62 people killed during Monday’s, 53 were admitted members of terrorist groups. In other words, 85% of those killed by the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] were combatants.

Former Ambassador Alberto Fernandez, a fluent Arabic speaker, observed on his Facebook page that Bardawil appeared to be pushing back against a perception that “others are paying the price for events that Hamas organized.”

Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas inside of Gaza, boasted to Al Jazeera that members of Hamas removed their uniforms to join in the riots. He also spoke proudly of being willing to sacrifice “the bodies of our women and children,” to achieve what Hamas wanted. Those words are a chilling admission that Hamas was using human shields in an effort to achieve its terror objectives.

A Gazan, who managed to cross into Israel before being captured, confirmed to his interrogators that this was Hamas’s intent. He said that he observed Hamas telling women and children to put themselves in danger.  “They tell women to go forward. They say to a woman: ‘Go ahead, you’re a woman and the army doesn’t shoot women.’ They tell small children: ‘Go ahead, the army doesn’t shoot small children.’”

The statements from Zahar, Bardawil, Sinwar, and the unidentified Gazan confirm a cynical strategy employed by Hamas that involved combatants shedding their uniforms to make them harder to detect, and sending women to run interference for the terrorists attempting to breach Israel’s border fence and infiltrate into Israeli territory. And yet under these circumstances, the IDF successfully identified the combatants who presented an immediate threat to Israelis 85% of the time.

Writing in The Times of Israel, Kinley Tur-Paz, one of the soldiers stationed at Gaza explained what was at stake, “the primary mission was to prevent hundreds of thousands of Gazans from infiltrating into our territory. That kind of invasion would be perilous, mortally dangerous, to the nearby communities; would permit terrorists disguised as civilians to enter our kibbutz [communal settlement] and moshav [collective settlement] communities, and would leave us with no choice but to target every single infiltrator.”

Despite the danger, live ammunition is used only when “there is no alternative.” Even that’s not enough, and accountability is demanded by the IDF even after the fact. Tur-Paz wrote, “But I can testify from my first-hand experience, that every bullet and every hit is carefully reported, documented and investigated, in Excel spreadsheets. Literally. I was there and I saw it with my own eyes.”

With an enemy prepared and willing to sacrifice their own, and even their most vulnerable, to score some propaganda points, it’s impossible to ensure that no innocent is hurt. But given the cruelty and cynicism displayed by Hamas—seen from the testimony of its leaders—the IDF did as much as humanly possible to spare the innocent and address only the real threats.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 18 May 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/Twitter/IDFSpokesperson

Prayer Focus
Pray that the truth regarding Hamas’s evil intentions and methods on the Gaza border be thrust into the international spotlight to temper the lies. Ask God to cut through the propaganda and deception and to guard over Israel’s reputation.

Scripture

Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing; speak the word, but it will not stand, for God is with us.


- Isaiah 8:10

Paraguay Becomes Third Nation to Open Embassy in Jerusalem

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Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Paraguay’s President Horacio Cartes at the opening of the Paraguayan embassy in Jerusalem

Tuesday, 22 May 2018 | On Monday, Paraguay became the third country to open its embassy in Jerusalem, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes, along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, opened the embassy in the Malha Technological Park, the same building where Guatemala inaugurated its embassy in Jerusalem last week.

During the ceremony, Netanyahu noted that Paraguay is a “true friend” of Israel. He recalled that Paraguay helped Jews escape Nazi Germany before and during the Holocaust and supported Israel during the partition vote in the UN [United Nations] in 1947. “Paraguay, before but especially under your leadership, took a very bold stance in international affairs and refused to cooperate with the lies directed against Israel,” Netanyahu said.

Meanwhile, in his speech, Cartes indicated that the embassy opening “expresses the sincere friendship and brave solidarity” between the two countries. He also said: “From the depth of my heart, I appreciate this country that courageously defends its right to live in peace and it is building a praiseworthy economically-prosperous state that ensures its future and that of its children.”

During his ceremony speech, Netanyahu indicated that cooperation with Paraguay would be “greater in several areas including agriculture, security and technology.”

In 2016, Cartes became the first Paraguayan president to visit Israel. The president and prime minister met for a second time in 2017 in Buenos Aires on Netanyahu’s first trip to Latin America.

Paraguay’s embassy opening comes exactly one week after the United States opened its embassy in an existing consular building in the neighborhood of Arnona in Jerusalem, an area which has been in the hands of Israel since 1948.

Two days later, Guatemala opened its embassy in Jerusalem as well.

Other countries have expressed desire to move their embassies to Jerusalem including the Czech Republic and Romania. In upcoming weeks, it is expected that Honduras will announce its embassy move to Jerusalem.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 21 May 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/Ashernet

Prayer Focus
Give thanks to the Lord for Paraguay becoming the third nation to move its embassy to the eternal capital of Israel, Jerusalem. Praise God for the country’s bravery in the face of international pressure and ask for many nations to follow suit.

Scripture

I will behave wisely in a perfect way. Oh, when will You come to me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.


- Psalm 101:2-3

Israel Air Force Hosts 20 Countries for International Conference

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Flags of the countries participating in the international conference hosted by the Israeli Air Force

Tuesday, 22 May 2018 | This coming week, the Israeli Air Force [IAF] will be hosting an international conference during which, representatives from more than 20 different countries will come together to discuss international cooperation and regional stability. The representatives are from the United States, Italy, Austria, Brazil, Belgium, India, Holland, Greece, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Croatia, France, Romania, Finland, and other countries.

“The main goals for this event are: one, to basically establish aerial power as a source of stability. We’re going to emphasize our technology and values in the IAF. We see this conference as a platform to build and strengthen our partnerships internationally. And last, probably the most important one, is our goal basically to connect these important partners to the State of Israel, to the IDF [Israel Defense Forces], and to the air force,” said a senior official in the Israeli Air Force.

The conference will last three days and will take place in different locations throughout Israel. Today, the first day, the officials will hear from the Commander of the Israeli Air Force, Major General Amikam Norkin and the Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot.

On Wednesday, they will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Tel Nof Airbase. After the meeting, they’ll see a training event, with some of the newer pilots and have a chance to connect with them and to understand the challenges that the State of Israel faces.

This is not the first conference of its kind. In fact, in honor of its 50th anniversary, the IAF held a conference, but it was not to this scale and didn’t have the same goals. This conference will give the air chiefs an opportunity to get a close look at the regional dynamic.

“When we say regional stability, look at Blue Flag, a big exercise that we had here back in November…The fact that we are working and cooperating together, with all these western air forces brings stability. The air force is so prominent in all the conflicts around us as a source of stability. That’s what we believe in the air force,” explained a senior official in the IAF.

This week will give these officials a chance to strengthen international partnerships and learn more about the State of Israel and how the Israeli Air Force operates.

Source: (Israel Defense Forces originally published this article on 21 May 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for the nations who are willing to come alongside Israel to bring aerial stability in a tumultuous Middle East. Lift up the air force soldiers and pilots as they learn from each other. Pray that God will use the conference to build and strengthen partnerships.

Scripture

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.


- Psalm 121:1-2

Louisiana Becomes 25th State to Prohibit Business Ties with Companies that Boycott Israel

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Louisiana State Capitol

Thursday, 24 May 2018 | Louisiana on Tuesday became the 25th US state to enact legislation or executive orders against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, The Times-Picayune reported.

Gov. John Bel Edwards issued an executive order prohibiting the Louisiana state government from executing contracts with businesses that engage in the boycott of Israel. The order directs the state commissioner of administration to terminate existing state contracts with companies that are either currently boycotting Israel or supporting those who do. The order also stipulates that, moving forward, companies seeking to engage in a state contract will be required to sign an agreement certifying they comply with the new law.

“The United States, and by affiliation Louisiana, have benefited in innumerable ways from our deep friendship with Israel. Any effort to boycott Israel is an affront to this longstanding relationship. I am pleased that Louisiana will join what is now a critical mass of states in supporting our closest ally,” Edwards, a Democrat, said in a written statement.

The executive order specifically mentions BDS, and a hope to counter the movement’s goals of isolating, and ultimately destroying, the Jewish state. “The state of Louisiana unequivocally rejects the BDS campaign and stands firmly with Israel,” the order reads.

Edwards issued the order on the same night he was celebrating the 70th anniversary of Israel at the governor’s mansion. Earlier on Tuesday, the Louisiana House had also honored Israel at the opening of their special session.

Responding to Governor Edward’s decision to sign the order, TIP CEO and President Josh Block, issued the following statement:

“The Israel Project is grateful to the governor for his leadership in fighting back against BDS discrimination. Advocates of BDS discrimination remain committed to their anti-Semitic agenda of isolating and demonizing the world’s only Jewish state. Its founders have openly called for Israel’s destruction and made it clear that they target Israel’s very existence, not its policies. From north to south, in blue and red states—and with strong bipartisan support—lawmakers in 25 states have now declared BDS a form of discrimination and sent a clear signal that their states will not tolerate or condone taxpayer dollars going to subsidize anti-Israel hate.”

“We are heartened that Louisiana has taken a strong stand opposing discrimination against Israel,” Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUS, an international Israel educational organization, said. “Earlier this year, the city of New Orleans rejected an anti-Semitic resolution, and now the state has made clear that taxpayer funds should not support businesses which discriminate.” StandWithUs is a partner with The Israel Project in fighting BDS at the state level.

“The Israel Action Network (IAN) applauds Governor John Bel Edwards for signing an Executive Order to counter the discriminatory Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement on the same day the Louisiana legislature passed bipartisan resolutions commemorating the 70th anniversary of Israel’s Independence and the strong Louisiana-Israel relationship. These efforts make Louisiana the 25th state to take action against BDS, marking a critical moment in which 50% of US states have received the message that boycotting Israel is bad for business. These state actions address the discriminatory nature of BDS and the ability for states to control their own commerce. We thank the Governor and the many community activists who made this possible in Louisiana,” said William Daroff, Senior Vice President of Public Policy at JFNA.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 23 May 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Maha/Wikimedia

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Rejoice for the 25 states in the US that have taken a stand for Israel and against BDS. Give thanks for the wonderful relationship that Louisiana shares with Israel and for their desire to bless God's people. Ask God for more states to follow Louisiana’s example.

Scripture

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.


- Genesis 12:3

Through Mud and Rain, These Soldiers are Saving Lives on the Battlefield

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IDF soldiers during a drill to perform lifesaving medical aid

Friday, 18 May 2018 | The medics of the 282nd Artillery Corps held a medical exercise like none they’ve ever had. They trained in the pouring rain and mud in an exercise that prepares them to save lives in any situation. They returned from the exercise exhausted, but happy to have learned and accomplished so much.

“We’re under fire!” yells one of the officers. In addition to the sounds of gunfire, there’s another shout from the other side. “I need a tourniquet, I have a wounded person here.” No one is in actual danger, but in this special exercise, medics from the 282nd Artillery Corps simulated medical aid under fire in the most realistic way possible.

The purpose of the drill, which took place for the first time in this brigade, was to have the soldiers perform lifesaving medical aid in threatening situations. During the exercise, they trained in settings that simulate operational activity in tense regions and on the battlefield.

“This exercise is of crucial importance,” explains Captain Alon, the brigade’s medical officer.

“Thanks to the exercise, our soldiers can provide imperative medical care during any activity, no matter where or when.”

Cpt. Alon continues: “The goal of our medical teams within this exercise is to be as close to the front-line as possible, which is why they need to know how to act in real-time when the enemy is close. They’ll have to drop to the ground quickly to avoid getting hurt, sneak into the battlefield, and rescue the injured as fast as possible. When soldiers hear the explosions, they feel threatened and react sensibly, which is what we taught them.”

One point made very clear during the exercise was that the best care under fire begins with gaining leverage over the enemy. This means that if during the battles, a soldier is injured, forces must first neutralize any threats before proceeding to aid the wounded. This is a foreign concept to many medics who are trained to administer quick care, which is why it’s so important for them to learn combat skills and experience this perspective in the exercise.

“On my second day as a battalion doctor,” remembers Cpt. Alon, “I had to take care of wounded soldiers in Bethlehem during an operational activity. I remember feeling a big gap between my medical background and lack of training as a combat soldier. Now, as an officer, my goal is to prevent soldiers from having that feeling and to prepare them for this type of scenario.”

This exercise is relatively new in the military system. It has taken place in the 7th and 188th Armored Brigades in slightly different versions to meet the respective brigades’ needs during wartime. “I want every medical team to go through this training,” exclaims Cpt. Alon. “We will continue to invest time and resources in similar content.”

Even wet and muddy, the soldiers were very enthusiastic during the exercise. “They feel like their training has been invested in,” tells the medical officer. “As far as they’re concerned, they received practical and crucial skills for their future.”

Source: (Israel Defense Forces originally published this article on 24 April 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces

Prayer Focus
Lift up the medics in the IDF who have the crucial and difficult task of saving lives—often under fire. Give thanks for exercises that prepare these soldiers for future scenarios. Pray for God’s wisdom, peace and protection.

Scripture

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


- Isaiah 40:31

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