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Jerusalem Day: Jerusalem Has Been and Always Will Be the Capital of Israel
by Ilse Posselt
Wednesday, 24 May 2017 | The Israeli calendar is punctuated with days set aside to remember. Some are somber, commemorating the tragedies, sacrifices and losses scattered throughout the history of the Jewish people. Others are joyous, recalling the triumphs, miracles and bravery on which the Jewish state is built. Jerusalem Day or Yom Yerushalayim certainly falls into the latter category.
Today marks the anniversary of the reunification of the City of Gold, the eternal capital of the Israel and the spot that has featured as the central theme of Jewish culture, history, religion, fervent longing, answered prayer and promise fulfilled for over three millennia. The day holds a special place in the heart of every Jew and is celebrated every year with exuberant joy. Yet this year’s festivities hold an added significance…
This year, today, Israel and those who stand with her celebrate half a century since the searing summer’s day during the Six Day War when a brigade of Israeli paratroopers broke through the Lion’s Gate in the Old City, reclaimed the Kotel (Western Wall) and liberated Jerusalem. Today marks 50 years since the ancestors of Abraham and David returned to their eternal capital, 50 years since the City of Gold was reunited and 50 years since the Jewish people have been able to say, “This year in Jerusalem!”
“Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you who love her,” Isaiah 66:10 instructs. And this year, on this day, Jerusalem and those who love her rejoice in the City of Gold’s special jubilee celebrations.
According to the Gregorian calendar, Israel liberated and reunified Jerusalem on 7 June. Yet the people of the Promised Land commemorate their historical, significant and biblical feast dates according to the biblical calendar and mark the reunion between the City of Gold and its rightful owners on the 28th day of the month of Iyyar. Using the Gregorian calendar, this year’s official anniversary started last night at sundown and will continue until dusk tonight.
The Jerusalem jubilee festivities already kicked off earlier this week. On Saturday night the Old City walls were lit up in blue and white, as iconic images from the Six Day War as well as Israel’s flag were projected onto the ancient stones. For the past few days, busses, trams and other means of public transport have been decked out in special blue-and-white finery, ferrying their passengers around a city where banners and flags stream from lamp poles, bridges and high-rises, reminding passersby of the joyous event to come.
Yesterday afternoon, as US President Donald Trump departed from the City of Gold after a whirlwind one-day visit to the Promised Land, Israelis from all over the country flocked to Jerusalem to take part in the Yom Yerushalayim festivities. Celebrations started in earnest at sundown, with city streets echoing with the jubilant sounds of young voices singing “Am Yisrael Chai” (the nation of Israel lives). On street corners and in public squares, friends and perfect strangers joined hands to dance the rikud degalim, or flag dance.
The festivities lasted long into the night – and resumed again this morning. At midday, the main roads in the city will close in preparation for the traditional Jerusalem Day parade. It is a tradition that is almost as old as Yom Yerushalayim itself. Every year for the past nearly 50 years, tens of thousands of people—all decked out in white and blue—start from the city center and head towards the Damascus Gate and into the Old City. From there the route winds through the Muslim Quarter, before reaching the Western Wall for an official Jerusalem Day ceremony. It is a jubilant pilgrimage that paints the city streets in the vivid colors of the flag of Israel.
Speaking on Sunday night as the ancient walls of the Old City lit up in blue and white, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “I want to tell the world in a loud and clear voice: Jerusalem has always been and always will be the capital of Israel. Fifty years ago we returned to the heart of our capital and our country, and 50 years ago we did not conquer—we liberated.” The prime minister is correct.
On 14 May 1948, the State of Israel was reborn. Yet the Jewish state was but a day old when five Arab militaries attacked. Against all odds, the fledgling nation’s army won the War of Independence, cementing Israel’s re-emergence onto the world stage. But when the ceasefire lines were drawn, the Jewish state had lost half of Jerusalem.
For the next 19 years, the City of Gold was divided. The eastern half, with the Temple Mount, Western Wall and other sites holy to Judaism, fell under Jordanian occupation, while the Jews were sovereign over the western part.
Nearly two decades later, Israel was forced into another war it did not want. Once again, the Jewish state’s odds of victory were dismal. And once again, the miraculous happened. The tiny war-weary nation managed to vanquish the combined forces of Syria, Egypt and Jordan. And this time, when the smoke of battle cleared, the whole of Jerusalem was in Jewish hands for the first time in nearly 2,000 years. The City of Gold, with its echo of Jewish patriarchs, prophets and kings, and its memory and promise of a place chosen specifically by the Almighty for His presence to rest, was once again in the hands of her rightful owners.
Last night, President Reuvin Rivlin spoke at the official opening of the Jerusalem Day jubilee celebrations at the Western Wall. “We will always insist on Jerusalem,” the President told the sea of people who had flocked to Judaism’s most holy site to rejoice. “There never has been, there will never be any other reality. Here, in these stones, beats the heart of the Jewish People.”
“Jerusalem is the heart of the State of Israel, and the Kotel (Wall) is the heart of Jerusalem,” Rivlin said. “We gave our all for Jerusalem because we knew that on Jerusalem we must insist.”
Source: (Bridges for Peace, 24 May 2017)
Praise God for Jerusalem’s 50 years of reunification! Give thanks for safety in the streets as the nation celebrated Jerusalem’s Jubilee. Ask for God’s continued blessing over all the security forces who protect the Jewish nation every day, especially remembering those soldiers, and their families, who partook in the battle to liberate the Kotel and Jerusalem.
Your watchmen shall lift up their voices, with their voices they shall sing together; for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord brings back Zion. Break forth into joy, sing together, you waste places of Jerusalem! For the Lord has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem.
Report: Trump to Present Peace Initiative within a Month
by Elior Levy
Thursday, 25 May 2017 | US President Donald Trump reportedly told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during their meeting Tuesday that he plans to announce a new peace initiative in the coming weeks, according to the pan-Arabic newspaper Al Hayat.
The newspaper quotes a senior source as saying that Trump and his team are still studying the new initiative, and he is expected to announce it within a month.
Trump speaking in Bethlehem after meeting with Abbas
According to the source, the peace initiative will set a time limit for talks, during which the sides will negotiate each of the core issues separately.
“Trump wants a separate agreement on each issue and, in that way, they’ll eventually reach the big deal, which is a final-status peace agreement between the sides,” the source told Al Hayat.
Meanwhile, Abbas’s senior economic advisor Mohammad Mustafa said the Palestinian asked Trump for significant economic changes beyond the economic relief measures Israel has proposed. Among other things, the Palestinians have asked for economic freedom in the Israeli-controlled Area C of the West Bank [Judea–Samaria] and changes to the 1994 Paris Protocol, which is an agreement on economic relations between Israel and the PLO.
Photo Credit: Ashernet
Stand on the promises of the Lord for His people and the Land He has given them as an inheritance. Pray that Israel’s leaders will be strengthened to face whatever may come in the next months and will put their trust in the Lord.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations.
IDF Works to Forestall Rise in Violence during Summer Months
by Yoav Zitun
Monday, 22 May 2017 | The IDF’s Judea and Samaria Division has marked the coming month of June as a period in which a new wave of terrorism and unrest in the West Bank [Judea–Samaria] could surface once again with reinvigorated energy.
The renewed fear stems from a combination of the Islamic holiday of Ramadan, which may begin at the end of the month (a final deadline has yet to be set), and the prisoners’ hunger strike.
Speaking in an interview, a senior IDF officer in the Judea and Samaria Division told Ynet that while the prisoners’ hunger strike has not yet “taken hold” and caused masses of Palestinians to take to the streets in protest, the trend may not continue indefinitely.
Additionally, recent events in Huwara and Silwad [two Palestinian villages in Judea–Samaria] —involving the deaths of Palestinians—risk making the coming summer months particularly troublesome.
In an effort to counter possible escalations, hundreds of soldiers are expected to reinforce regional brigades, with an emphasis being placed on known friction points, sensitive sites and Palestinian cities.
The reinforcements are expected to come from combat battalions currently involved in training exercises similar to those who reinforced regular IDF units during the last wave of terror.
The expected reinforcements do not stem from a concrete warning of attacks, but rather from an assessment of the situation and a history that portends turbulence and increased sensitivity during the Ramadan period. “We have to sharpen our senses, especially intelligence, during the coming period,” said the officer.
Actions taken against popular terrorism by the Judea and Samaria Division, along with the Shin Bet [Israeli internal security organization] and with the use of advanced technology to identify individual terrorists, have led to a significant reduction in terror attacks. However, the two incidents in which civilians shot Palestinians throwing stones are likely to cause the IDF and police headaches in a region where violence is commonplace.
The political echelon is talking about a package of concessions for the Palestinians ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit this week, whose results in Israel and the West Bank may very well influence the trends on the ground.
The army is constantly working to “deploy a raincloud to cool hot Palestinian areas,” as an officer in the Judea and Samaria Division puts it.
(Translated and edited by Fred Goldberg)
Photo Credit: Isranet
Intercede for the young men and women of the IDF who are stationed in sensitive areas of Judea–Samaria, asking the Lord to strengthen them, to give them wisdom and discernment to handle the situations that arise on a daily basis. Ask that they will be protected from lone-wolf attacks.
Fear not, for I am with you…I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you…Behold, all those who were incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced; they shall be as nothing, and those who strive with you shall perish.
Trump to Abbas: “Peace Can Never Take Root in an Environment Where Violence is Tolerated”
Wednesday, 24 May 2017 | In a joint appearance with Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem on Tuesday, President Donald Trump rebuked the PA’s widely-criticized policy of paying salaries to terrorists and their families.
“Peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded and even rewarded,” Trump said as he stood next to Abbas. “We must be resolute in condemning such acts in a single unified voice.”
Trump has often voiced his opposition to the PA’s practice of financially incentivizing terrorism. When Abbas visited Washington earlier this month, Trump told the Palestinian president that there would be “no lasting peace” with Israel “unless the Palestinian leaders speak in a unified voice against incitement to violence.”
A day later, Nabil Shaath, a top adviser to Abbas, told Israel Radio that it would be “insane” for the PA to stop paying prisoners who had been convicted of terrorism or their families.
When Trump hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in February, the president said that “Palestinians have to get rid of some of that hate that they’re taught from a very young age.” He also called on Palestinian leadership to “acknowledge” Israel.
Trump made the same point during his 2016 speech at AIPAC:
“You cannot achieve peace if terrorists are treated as martyrs. Glorifying terrorists is a tremendous barrier to peace. It is a horrible way to think. It’s a barrier that can’t be broken. That will end and it’ll end soon, believe me. In Palestinian textbooks and mosques, you’ve got a culture of hatred that has been fomenting there for years and if we want to achieve peace, they’ve got to go out and they’ve got to start [sic] this educational process. They have to end education of hatred. They have to end it and now.”
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board argued in November that payments to Palestinian terrorists “are an official incentive program for murder that in any other context would be recognized as state sponsorship of terror.”
Eli Lake wrote in Bloomberg View in July that offering salaries to Palestinians who kill Israelis “encourages” terror attacks “as a legitimate act of resistance.”
An investigation in the Mail on Sunday in March 2016 found that Amjad Awad, a Palestinian man who in 2011 helped massacre five members of the Fogel family in their West Bank home, has already received some $23,000 from the PA as compensation. (In 2012, PA television called Awad and his cousin, who also participated in the killings, “heroes.”)
Another terrorist on the PA’s payroll is veteran Hamas bomb-maker Abdallah Barghouti. Barghouti is serving 67 life sentences in an Israeli jail over his role in numerous bombings, including at the Hebrew University cafeteria in 2002, the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem in 2001, and a Rishon Lezion nightclub bombing in 2002, which killed 66 people. He is believed to have received over $150,000 for his efforts thus far.
The “cash-strapped PA relies on foreign aid for nearly half its budget,” the Mail on Sunday observed. “Yet it gives [$102] million a year to prisoners locked up in Israeli jails, former prisoners and their families.”
Since the amount of money awarded to Palestinian terrorists correlates to the amount of time they’re serving in prison, “the more gruesome the terrorism, the more money will be paid,” The Jerusalem Post reported in 2015.
Source: (The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower, originally published this article on 23 May 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: Public Domain/ Wikimedia
Photo License: Wikimedia
Pray for President Trump who boldly stood next to Abbas, stating that peace can never take root where violence is tolerated, funded and rewarded. Continue to pray for him, asking for discernment and wisdom as he stands with Israel in the fight against terror. Ask God to enlighten his heart and reveal hidden truths of empty promises.
Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
Israel Approves Measures to Improve Palestinian Economy, Ease Travel
Tuesday, 23 May 2017 | The Trump administration praised a series of measures approved by Israel to help improve the Palestinian economy and relax travel restrictions for the Palestinians, in a statement released Monday.
According to the statement, the measures approved by the Israeli cabinet on Sunday are consistent with President Donald Trump’s “particular interest” in improving the Palestinian economy. The administration praised Israel for increasing the hours of operation of the Allenby Bridge into Jordan, allowing families greater opportunity to visit each other over the summer months and make the Hajj to Saudi Arabia easier. Israel also promised to streamline the process of allowing the travelers across the bridge using electronic applications and widening the road to accommodate two-way traffic. These improvements are scheduled to be implemented by summer of 2018.
The measures, including the development of two new industrial zones and increasing the number of housing permits in Area C, were passed by Israel’s cabinet in a 7-2 vote Sunday, Bloomberg News reported.
“The Trump administration is focused on materially enhancing the quality of life and the economy for the Palestinians,” Michael Oren, a member of Knesset and Deputy Minister for Diplomacy in the Prime Minister’s Office, explained in an interview. “They don’t see economic peace as a substitute for real peace, but they see it as setting an agenda that would make conditions conducive toward peace.”
Source: (The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower, originally published this article on 22 May, 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: Public Domain/ Wikimedia
Photo License: Wikimedia
Once again, Israel has taken the first step toward peace. Pray that these measures, offered in good faith, especially the easing of travel restrictions, will not bring harm to Israel. Pray that the Palestinians, when offered the chance to make their own concessions, will do so.
He who walks with integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will become known.
Rocket Launched at Israel from Sinai
by Yoav Zitun, Matan Tzuri
Wednesday, 24 May 2017 | A rocket was launched from the Sinai Peninsula at Israel early Tuesday. There were no reports of injuries or damage.
The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] is searching for the rocket to see if it fell inside Israel. It is examining the possibility the rocket exploded in midair.
The Code Red rocket alert siren was not sounded when the rocket was launched as it was projected to land in an open, uninhabited area.
On the eve of Passover, ISIS terrorists in Sinai launched a rocket that landed in a greenhouse in the Eshkol Regional Council. No one was physically hurt was damage was caused to the greenhouse. A 50-year-old man was treated for shock.
Several weeks earlier, a rocket landed in an open area in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. No one was hurt in that incident either. The IDF retaliated by attacking Hamas targets in the northern Gaza Strip.
Photo Credit: IDFblog.com
Bring the borders of Israel before the Lord, praying for protection as every so often a rocket enters Israeli airspace. Ask God to impart wisdom and guidance to the soldiers serving at the borders. Pray for accurate and specific intelligence of the enemy’s plans and that the Lord will direct the senior IDF officers who must deal with the threat of rocket attacks from neighboring countries.
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.
Israeli, American Air Forces Conclude Joint Exercise
by Yoav Zitun
Tuesday, 23 May 2017 | Dozens of Israeli and American fighter jets concluded the joint annual Juniper Falcon exercise this weekend, during which they simulated different operational scenarios.
The main objective for the fighter jets training over southern Israel was to destroy mobile enemy targets (such as anti-aircraft missiles).
The Israeli and American pilots also practiced evading advanced aerial defense measures and enemy fighter jets that were trying to disrupt the mission.
Some 30 fighter jets participated in each sortie. They did not use live fire, but rather drilled different scenarios against one another, with some of the jets on the offensive and others on the defensive.
The exercise included F-15 planes, the biggest among the IDF’s fighter jets, from the Israel Air Force’s 69th Squadron, which flew alongside American F-15 planes.
The exercise lasted two weeks. It constitutes part of a series of joint training exercises between the two nations’ air forces in recent years.
The IAF’s next major training exercise will be Blue Flag later this year and include other regional air forces.
“The training exercise was complex, with a deepening cooperation, and led by the IAF’s Red Squadron,” said a senior IAF officer. “This training exercise is important as we face the situation around us, the dynamic nature of the different fighting fronts in the area, and operations by world powers—all of these create uncertainty. In this exercise, we incorporated the most advanced threats we see in the region.”
Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit
Give thanks to the Lord for the successful joint air force exercise between Israel and the Americans in southern Israel. Pray for the members of the IAF as they are called to undertake missions over hostile territory; that they will always be prepared to protect Israel from her enemies.
Prepare yourself and be ready, you and all your companies that are gathered about you; and be a guard for them.
Iran Congratulates New Hamas Leader, Urges Him to Liberate Palestine
Thursday, 25 May 2017 | A powerful Iranian general congratulated Ismail Haniyeh on his recent appointment as the new leader of Hamas, and encouraged him to “raise the issue of Palestine” as part of the Muslims’ “global fight against Arrogance,” the Mehr News Agency reported Wednesday.
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps(IRGC)-Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani praised Haniyeh and called on the new Hamas leader to fight what Mehr referred to as “the evil plots of Zionist and global Arrogance,” which are attempting to undermine the Islamic world and “seeking seizure of the Holy Qods,” a reference to Jerusalem.
“Great tasks belong to great men; as promised we rely on your foresight to reach a future during which the domestic crises are solved with prudence,” Soleimani said. “We await strengthening of unity with Hamas, the ally of Resistance axis, to raise the issue of Palestine again; to this aim we count on your efforts to replace the Palestine on top of Muslims global fight [against Arrogance].” The references to “Arrogance” mean the United States.
Soleimani encouraged Haniyeh to continue fighting until the liberation of Al Aqsa and the entire Palestinian territory. He also called for Jerusalem to be converted into a site for all Muslims and Christians.
Soleimani’s encouragement to Haniyeh comes at a time that Hamas appears to be overcoming internal resistance to closely align itself with Iran.
A top Hamas official in Gaza, Mahmoud al-Zahar, called on the Gaza-based terror group to improve its ties with Tehran, in October of last year.
When Haniyeh stepped down as leader of Hamas in Gaza last year, he was replaced first by Imad al-Alami, and then permanently by Yehya Sinwar. Both al-Alami and Sinwar are allied with Iran.
Soleimani’s words of support suggest that Iran will be aiding Hamas to build its terror infrastructure to threaten Israel.
Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, formerly the head of the research division of Israeli military intelligence and later the director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, told reporters in May of last year that Hamas is investing “a lot in making the necessary preparations so that in the next round, when they decide to start it, they will be able to inflict the heaviest damage on Israel.”
Despite the release of a political document earlier this month that some interpreted as a sign of moderation, Zahar said that Hamas remains committed to Israel destruction.
Source: (The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower, originally published this article on 24 May 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: Peter Mulligan/ Wikimedia
Photo License: Wikimedia
As Hamas strengthens its relationship with Iran, pray for Israel’s military leaders, specifically IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkott and head of the IDF’s Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, that they will have a clear strategy and know how to respond. Pray that there would be confusion in the camp of the enemy that would render them ineffective.
Do not keep silent, O God!…For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people…They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.”
Israeli Ministers Troubled by $110 Billion US-Saudi Arms Deal
Monday, 22 May 2017 | National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources [Minister] Yuval Steinitz expressed concern on Sunday morning regarding the massive arms deal signed between the United States and Saudi Arabia during US President Donald Trump’s visit to Riyadh.
The military sales deal amounts to about $110 billion effective immediately, plus another $350 billion over the next 10 years.
After signing the deal, Trump spoke of “hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs.”
“Hundreds of millions of dollars in arms deals is something we need to get an explanation for,” Steinitz said ahead of Sunday morning’s government meeting. “Saudi Arabia is a hostile country and we need to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge is maintained.”
“This is not a country that we have diplomatic relations with,” he added, noting that it “is still a hostile country and nobody knows what the future holds.”
“I hope we’ll receive clear answers to that soon. This is definitely something that should trouble us,” Steinitz went on to say.
Minister Ayoob Kara also raised the issue during the Likud ministers meeting on Sunday, asking Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu whether he wasn’t concerned of the fact Saudi was becoming “a world power with military superiority over us.” Netanyahu told him he will discuss the matter during the cabinet meeting.
The package includes American arms and maintenance, specifically 115 M1A2 tanks, four warships, THAAD missile defense system, maritime security, radar and communications, and cyber security technology.
The deal also includes a pledge to assemble 150 Lockheed Martin Blackhawk S-70 helicopters in Saudi Arabia to the tune of $6 billion.
American media reported that Saudi also purchased MIM-104F (PAC-3) Patriot batteries, while Bloomberg reported on a deal Saudi signed with Boeing that could reach $3.5 billion to buy an additional 48 CH-47 Chinook helicopters and other equipment.
The White House said in a statement that the package of defense equipment and services is aimed to boost security in the Arab Gulf region in the face of Iranian aggression.
It is also meant to bolster the kingdom’s ability to contribute to counterterrorism operations across the region, “reducing the burden on the US military to conduct those operations.”
It was described by Vice Admiral Joe Rixey, chief of the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, as “the largest single arms deal in American history.”
In addition to the arms deal, national oil firm Saudi Aramco said it signed $50 billion of agreements with US firms. Energy minister Khalid al-Falih said deals involving all companies totaled over $200 billion, many of them designed to produce things in Saudi Arabia that had previously been imported.
A deal between Saudi Basic Industries Corporation and the American Exxon Mobil, a company until recently headed by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, was signed to build a $20 billion chemical complex.
But Trump doesn’t plan to stop with Saudi Arabia. During his visit to Riyadh, he also met with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, on Sunday morning.
Trump said ahead of the meeting that he and the Emir will discuss the purchase of “lots of beautiful military equipment.”
He added that “no one makes” military equipment like the United States and said a deal would create jobs for the US and security for Qatar.
The American president also met with the King of Bahrain, saying the two countries “have a wonderful relationship” but “there has been a little strain.”
He vowed to improve things further, but did not specify what tension he needed to resolve. The two countries have had a long-term military alliance though the US was critical of Bahrain’s response to uprisings during the Arab Spring.
Kobi Nachshoni contributed to this report.
Photo Credit: public domain
Photo License: wikipedia
Pray that the weapons Saudi Arabia will be receiving from the United States will never be used against the nation of Israel. Pray that relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel will continue to improve as they face their common enemy, Iran.
“No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the LORD.
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