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Hope in Difficult Times

Friday, May 31, 2024

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Every week, we post seven to ten news stories from Israel with a suggested prayer focus and scripture for each one, guiding readers how to pray for Israel’s most urgent needs. This Prayer Update is also sent to over 18,000 subscribers every Friday by e-mail. Sign up HERE if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.

Algeria Introduces Security Council Resolution to Stop Rafah Operation 

by Mike Waggenheim ~ JNS

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A wide view of the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

Thursday, 30 May 2024 | Following an emergency session of the UN Security Council on Tuesday afternoon, Algeria began circulating a concise draft resolution calling for an immediate end to Israel’s military operation in the southern Gazan city of Rafah, tying it to a recent ruling by the International Court of Justice [ICJ].

Algeria, which serves as the Arab and Muslim world’s de facto Security Council member, called for Tuesday’s closed consultations of the council following a Sunday night Israeli airstrike that killed two senior Hamas commanders. It is thought by Israeli officials that shrapnel from the strike may have hit a gas tank or stored Hamas weapons, leading to an explosive fire that Hamas says killed 35 civilians.

An Israeli investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Much of the international community has long demanded Israel stay out of Rafah, where some one million Gazans evacuated from elsewhere in the enclave had sought refuge, bringing the population there to an estimated 1.3 million. More than a million people have since left the city.

Israel has insisted that Rafah, which is thought to be the final remaining Hamas stronghold, needs to be invaded to root out and destroy the terrorist group’s four remaining intact battalions as well as much of its leadership, and to rescue Israeli hostages believed to be held there.

The draft resolution unveiled shortly after Tuesday’s meeting, says that the council “decides that Israel, the occupying power, shall immediately halt its military offensive, and any other action in Rafah.”

In its preambular section, the resolution references the recent ICJ ruling, thought by many, including some ICJ judges, to be unclear and ambiguous, but which Palestinian supporters say demands an immediate halt to Israel’s Rafah operation. A different interpretation is that the operation must only be halted if it violates the Genocide Convention.

Additionally, the Algerian resolution “demands an immediate ceasefire respected by all parties, and also demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, and further demands that the parties comply with their obligations under international law in relation to all persons they detain.”

It demands the full implementation of all previous Security Council resolutions passed on the Israel–Hamas conflict, including one calling for a ceasefire and the other two regarding humanitarian aid delivery.

A Short Decisive Text

JNS sources indicate the Arab group drafted a much longer resolution but that Algeria, seeking a quick vote devoid of drawn-out negotiations on the text, decided to move forward with something simpler.

Amar Bendjama, Algeria’s ambassador to the United Nations [UN], told reporters after Tuesday’s session that the resolution will be “a short text, a decisive text, to stop the killing in Rafah.”

He did not indicate when he planned to bring it up for a vote.

Fu Cong, China’s new UN envoy, said: “We hope that it could be done as quickly as possible because life is in the balance,” expressing preference for a vote this week.

Nicolas de Rivière, France’s ambassador to the UN, addressed the media before the meeting, saying “it’s high time for this council to take action. This is a matter of life and death. This is a matter of emergency.”

The resolution is almost sure to be vetoed by the United States [US], though no official has commented on the draft.

On March 25, Washington abstained on a resolution calling for a ceasefire, allowing it to pass the Security Council. The US then claimed the resolution was non-binding, as it wasn’t a “decision” of the Security Council since the word “decides” wasn’t used in the text.

A JNS source indicates that Algeria specifically used the word “decides” in the text about halting the Rafah operation so that Washington cannot make the same claim this time.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on May 29, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Loey Felipe/UN photo/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Intercede for the nation of Israel, which is scrutinized and criticized like no other country on earth. Ask that global leaders would be overcome by a fear of the Lord and thus begin to gain wisdom and understanding. Pray for Israel’s leaders to remain united and strong in the face of the intense pressure from the world.

Scripture

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.


- Proverbs 9:10

IAEA: Iran Expanding Stockpile of Near-Weapons Grade Uranium

by JNS

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Centrifuges at the Iran nuclear energy exhibition in the Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense Museum in Tehran

Wednesday, 29 May 2024 | Iran’s stockpile of 60%-enriched uranium has increased by 20.6 kilograms [45.5 lbs.] since February, AFP reported on Monday, citing a new confidential report by the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA].

The document, which was also seen by the Associated Press, revealed that Tehran has accumulated 142.1 kilograms [313.2 lbs.] of uranium enriched up to 60%. This level of enrichment is just a technical step from 90% enrichment, considered weapons grade.

According to the IAEA definition, it is technically possible to create an atomic bomb with roughly 42 kilograms [92.5 lbs.] of uranium enriched to 60% if the material is enriched to 90%.

Iran has continued to ramp up enrichment, while maintaining that its nuclear program is strictly peaceful.

However, Western powers claim there is no credible civilian explanation for Tehran’s nuclear activities. In 2022, the IAEA issued a report saying it could not “provide assurances that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.”

According to the IAEA, Iran’s total stockpile of enriched uranium now stands at 6,201.3 kilograms [13,671.5 lbs.]—a 675.8 kilogram [1,489.8 lbs.] increase in three months.

Following meetings with officials in Iran earlier this month, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi told reporters that Tehran’s cooperation with the organization has been “completely unsatisfactory” in recent months and urged the country to adopt “concrete” measures to address concerns.

There have also been recent Iranian threats of a push towards the bomb. On May 9, an adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said Tehran will weaponize its nuclear program if Israel “threatens its existence.”

Two weeks ago, a lawmaker close to the regime suggested that the country might already possess an atomic bomb, saying, “In my opinion, we have achieved nuclear weapons, but we do not announce it.”

Washington is frustrating European efforts to introduce a resolution against the Iranian regime at the IAEA, Reuters reported on Friday.

A senior European diplomat claimed that the US is having “difficulty” moving ahead with the resolution ahead of the 35-nation Board of Governors’ quarterly meeting scheduled to take place in Vienna on June 3.

The diplomat added that “in our conversations we continue to do everything to convince them.”

The Wall Street Journal cited diplomatic sources as saying on Monday that the Biden administration has pressed a number of other countries to abstain in a censure vote, saying that is what Washington will do.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on May 28, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Maps/Shutterstock/jns.org

Prayer Focus
As the archenemy of Israel continues to expand its stockpile of uranium, give thanks to the Lord for His promise to deliver those who call upon His name in the day of trouble.

Scripture

Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.


- Psalm 50:15

Jerry Seinfeld Calls Visit to Israel after October 7 ‘The Most Powerful Experience of My Life’

by I24news via Ynetnews

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Seinfeld met with members of Kibbutz Be’eri in December 2023.

Wednesday, 29 May 2024 | During an interview on “Honestly with Bari Weiss” from the Free Press, Seinfeld reflected on the deeply moving experience and addressed recent anti-Israel protests in the United States that have targeted him.

Earlier this month, Seinfeld’s stand-up performance in Virginia was interrupted by a protester accusing him of being a “genocide supporter.”

Additionally, he faced protesters during his Duke University commencement speech in May, where some students shouted “Free Palestine” and others walked out as he was introduced. Protests also followed him in February when he left the “State of the World Jewry Address” with Bari Weiss, with agitators cursing at him and calling him “Nazi scum.”

Despite these confrontations, Seinfeld expressed empathy for young people’s political engagement, though he believes their “aim” needs correction. “It’s so silly,” he said. “It’s like, you know, they want to, they want to express this sincere, intense rage. But again, a little off target.”

The conversation shifted to Seinfeld’s recent trip to Israel, which he described as “the most powerful experience” of his life. When pressed by Weiss, Seinfeld, holding back tears, confirmed the profound impact of his visit. “Sure, yeah,” he responded quietly, struggling to articulate his emotions. “You know, you just… you know.”

Seinfeld’s support for Israel has sparked backlash amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza following the deadly October 7 attack.

Two days after the incident, he posted “I Stand With Israel” on Instagram, sharing his deep connection to the country since working on a kibbutz [collective community] at 16. “My heart is breaking from these attacks and atrocities. But we are also a very strong people in our hearts and minds,” he wrote.

During his visit to Israel, Seinfeld and his family met with the families of hostages and those who had returned from Hamas captivity.

The meeting at the families’ headquarters was an emotional encounter, with Seinfeld expressing his commitment to raising global awareness about the hostages’ plight. According to attendees, Seinfeld and his family were profoundly moved by the hostages’ stories and the experiences shared by their families.

Source: (This article was originally aired on I24news and then republished by Ynetnews on May 28, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Zafrir Keren - צפריר קרן/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Give thanks for the public figures, like Jerry Seinfeld, who stalwartly stand with Israel despite the backlash they experience. Pray that they will be strengthened to continue their stand and that the Lord’s name would be honored as the One who truly defends His people and His land.

Scripture

For I will defend this city, to save it for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.


- 2 Kings 19:34

Prayer Focus
As the leadership of China attempts to plot against God’s people, pray that there would be confusion in the midst of this planned gathering with the leaders of Arab nations. Ask that any strategy or plan for Israel’s destruction would fail because the Lord God is sovereign.

Scripture

The wicked plots against the just, and gnashes at him with his teeth. The Lord laughs at him, for He sees that his day is coming.


- Psalm 37:12–13

IDF Source: Rafah Fire May Have Been Caused by Hamas Munitions

by Yaakov Lappin ~ JNS

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Map showing area of strike in relation to designated civilian shelters

Wednesday, 29 May 2024 | The Israeli military is investigating the possibility that the deadly fire that broke out in Rafah on Sunday night following an Israeli airstrike may have been caused by the secondary detonation of Hamas munitions, a military official said on Tuesday.

Two of the smallest type of munition that can be loaded onto fighter jets, each carrying 17 kilograms [37.5 lbs.] of explosives, were used in the strike, the official said. This type of munition has been used hundreds of times by the Israeli Air Force [IAF] over the course of the war, he added.

“We are looking into the possibility that weapons stored in the compound next to our target may have ignited the fire,” the official said.

“It should be noted Hamas has been operating from this area since October 7,” he added, noting that a Hamas rocket launcher was located 47 meters [154 ft.] away from the compound targeted on Sunday night.

The attack, which targeted a structure in Tal as-Sultan in northwest Rafah, was based on intelligence indicating the presence there of Yassin Rabia, the commander of leadership in Judea and Samaria, and Khaled Nagar, a senior official in Hamas’s Judea and Samaria headquarters.

The military official emphasized on Tuesday that the strike occurred 1.5 kilometers [0.93 mi.] away from the humanitarian evacuation zone established by the Israel Defense Forces [IDF].

Rabia managed the whole of Hamas’s terror activity in Judea and Samaria, transferring funds and planning attacks, as well as conducting attacks himself in 2001 and 2002 that killed IDF soldiers.

Nagar directed shootings and other attacks which led to the deaths of several Israeli civilians and soldiers, according to the military. Both were released in the 2011 Shalit prisoner exchange deal and were planning further attacks, the official added.

The IDF was also assessing footage of Sunday’s strike ostensibly captured by Gaza residents and posted to social media that “appears to show secondary explosions,” the official said.

The military also has intelligence reinforcing the suspicion that Hamas weapons were stored nearby and caught fire after the strike, he added.

The source stressed that the possibility that secondary explosions caused the fire remains a working assumption at this point and the investigation into the matter is ongoing.

The investigation is being conducted by the IDF General Staff fact-finding mechanism, which according to the military is an independent professional body.

However, he said that the weapon used in the strike was not capable of causing a fire of this kind, adding that the IDF has much experience in deploying this type of munition.

“Our war is against Hamas. It’s not against the people of Gaza,” said the official.

“This is a very tragic incident that occurred. We have to understand why it occurred. And we have to understand how we prevent this kind of incident from [occurring again],” he said.

On Tuesday afternoon, IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told reporters that “our munition alone could not have ignited a fire this size…We used the smallest munition that our jets can use.”

“The fire that broke out was unexpected and unintended. This was a devastating incident that we did not expect. We’re investigating what caused this fire,” Hagari said, stressing that the strike targeted a “closed” terrorist structure almost a mile from the Al-Mawasi Humanitarian zone.

The military spokesman continued, “There may have been weapons in the area. Our signals intelligence intercepted phone calls reinforcing this possibility that weapons stored in a nearby compound caught fire.”

He assured that the “investigation will be swift, comprehensive and transparent. Our war is against Hamas, not the people of Gaza. This is why we convey deep sorrow over this loss of life.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on May 28, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Intercede for the nation of Israel who is being falsely accused by many countries of the world before the incident has been truthfully investigated. These are Your people and this is Your Land: vengeance belongs to You alone.

Scripture

O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongs—O God, to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth! Rise up, O Judge of the earth; render punishment to the proud.


- Psalm 94:1–2

Deaths of 3 More Soldiers: 2 Killed in West Bank Car-Ramming Attack, 1 Fell in Battle in Northern Gaza Strip

by Elisha Ben Kimon ~ Ynetnews

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Israel’s national military cemetery on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem (illustrative)

Thursday, 30 May 2024 | The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] spokesman announced on Thursday morning the deaths of three IDF soldiers.

Staff Sgt. Eliya Hilel, 20, from Tel Zion, and Staff Sgt. Diego Shvisha Harsaj, 20, from Tel Aviv, both infantrymen in the Kfir Brigade’s Nahshon Battalion, were killed in the car ramming attack in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] on Wednesday night. Staff Sgt. Yedidya Azugi, 21, from Revava, of the Paratrooper Brigade’s 101st Battalion, was killed in battle in the northern Gaza Strip.

In the battle in which Azugi fell, a soldier from the 101st Battalion was seriously injured. In addition, two soldiers from the 601st Battalion, 401st Brigade, the ‘Iron Foot Formation’ of the Combat Engineering Corps, were seriously injured in battle in the southern Gaza Strip. The soldiers were evacuated to a hospital in Israel, and their families were informed.

Since October 7, 642 IDF soldiers have been killed, including 291 in [the] Gaza ground operation.

Wednesday night’s attack took place on road 5077, at a checkpoint set up at one of the entrances to Nablus [Shechem], near the settlement of Itamar in in the northern West Bank. At the beginning of the incident, Magen David Adom [Israel’s ambulance service] reported that the two soldiers who were injured were unconscious, and they were taken to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva.

The terrorist reportedly turned himself into the custody of Palestinian Authority [PA] security forces. He arrived from Nablus, committed the car-ramming attack and fled back into the city. A large number of IDF forces were deployed to the area and set up roadblocks as troops launched a manhunt to locate him.

Hilel, who was killed in the attack, was a resident of Tel Zion in Binyamin. He served as a military officer in the Kfir Brigade, and is survived by his parents and three brothers and sisters.

Hilel was slightly wounded by shrapnel during the fighting in Gaza about three months ago, and returned to operational activity.

The head of the Binyamin Regional Council and the chairman of the Yesha Council, Israel Gantz, eulogized him: “How happy his mother Hana was with her Eliya—and proudly told us about him. Tonight we received the hard news about his fall at the hands of a cursed terrorist in Samaria. Eliya from the best of our youth in Binyamin. Thanks to him and thanks to his friends, Israel lives and Israel will win.”

Azugi, who fell in the northern Gaza Strip, lived in the West Bank settlement of Revava. He served as a platoon sergeant in the 101st Battalion, and is survived by his parents and five brothers and sisters. Rabbi Uriel Ganzel, the rabbi of Revava, paid tribute to him: “Yedidya, a hero. A man of principles. A beloved child. Always with a big smile on his face. And a huge amount of faith. You were devoted to your family and friends without limit. And so you fell bravely for the common good. My heart hurts, and my eyes are full of tears. Your holy memory will accompany us on the road to redemption,” he said.

The chairman of the Revava council, Shai Aharoni said that Azugi “was a humble and quiet boy, always smiling, surrounded by friends, I met him when I was the youth coordinator of the community, and he was a hardworking boy who wanted to help everyone. We will miss him, his involvement, his giving, his Zionist spirit. All of Revava is in heavy mourning. A heavy blow to the community.” The head of the Samaria Council, Yossi Dagan said he was “a charming man with a broad smile and a big heart. A leader in the community and a leader among his friends. We will honor his memory and follow his path—the path of heroes.”

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on May 30, 2024. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Jenna Solomon/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Bring the grieving families before the Lord, proclaiming His promise to comfort them. Pray also for the families of the soldiers who must continue to fight, asking that the Lord will be very near to them in time of war.

Scripture

As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.


- Isaiah 66:13

Ireland Joins Spain and Norway in Recognizing Palestinian State

by JNS

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets in Jerusalem with his Belgian and Spanish counterparts, Alexander De Croo (left) and Pedro Sánchez. (illustrative).

Wednesday, 29 May 2024 | Ireland joined Spain and Norway on Tuesday in officially recognizing a “sovereign and independent” Palestinian state, agreeing to “establish full diplomatic relations between Dublin and Ramallah.”

According to the Irish government, “an Ambassador of Ireland to the State of Palestine will be appointed along with a full Embassy of Ireland in Ramallah.”

Dublin also reiterated its call “for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the release of Israeli hostages and unhindered access for humanitarian aid.”

Ireland’s announcement came on the heels of Spain’s formal recognition of a “State of Palestine” within the 1967 lines, with eastern Jerusalem as its capital and including the Gaza Strip.

“With this decision, Spain joins the more than 140 countries that already recognize Palestine,” said Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez at an event marking the announcement. “This is a historic decision that has a single goal: to contribute to achieving peace between Israelis and [Palestinians].”

For the Palestinian state to be viable, he continued, Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip must be connected via a corridor; eastern Jerusalem must be its capital; and it must be unified under the “legitimate government” of the Palestinian Authority [PA].

Oslo also announced its formal recognition of Palestine on Tuesday.

“For more than 30 years, Norway has been one of the strongest advocates for a Palestinian state,” said Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide ahead of the move.

“Today, when Norway officially recognizes Palestine as a state, is a milestone in the relationship between Norway and Palestine,” he said.

Oslo’s top diplomat then turned to Jerusalem, saying, “It is regrettable that the Israeli government shows no signs of engaging constructively.”

Speaking in Brussels on Sunday, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa told Eide, “Recognition means a lot to us. It is the most important thing that anybody can do for the Palestinian people. It is a great deal for us.”

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Denmark on Tuesday rejected a bill to recognize “Palestine,” after Danish Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said the prerequisites for an independent state were lacking.

The bill was first proposed in late February by the country’s Red-Green Alliance, the Social Liberals, the Alternative and Socialist People’s Party.

“We cannot recognize an independent Palestinian state for the sole reason that the preconditions are not really there,” Rasmussen had noted when the legislation was first debated in parliament in April.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on May 28, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/jns.org

Prayer Focus
As the European nations begin to sanction Israel and act in ways that will isolate her, pray that the leaders of these nations will receive a revelation that they are really plotting against the Lord Himself. Pray that Israel’s leaders will look to the Lord for wisdom to know how or even if they should respond.

Scripture

Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD…


- Psalm 2:1–2a

Prayer Focus
Intercede for the residents of northern Israeli communities as they face sometimes-daily rocket fire from Hezbollah in Lebanon. Pray for the 80,000 parents and children who have been evacuated from their homes and have been living in temporary housing for many months. Proclaim the truth of God’s word: His Spirit remains among them so they can look to Him and not fear.

Scripture

According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!


- Haggai 2:5

Prayer Focus
Ask the Lord to reveal to those who perpetrate hate crimes against the Jewish people that they are actually contending with Him—Creator of the earth and Almighty God. Pray that the fear of the Lord would overcome the enemies of the Jewish people—His special treasure.

Scripture

For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.


- Deuteronomy 7:6

Prayer Focus
Pray that the true cause of any food insecurity or hunger in Gaza—the interception of humanitarian aid by Hamas terrorists—would be exposed by the very media outlets that are determined to portray Israel in a bad light.

Scripture

Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is with those who uphold my life. He will repay my enemies for their evil. Cut them off in Your truth.


- Psalm 54:4–5