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IDF Chief: Israel’s Next Main Security Challenge is Iran-led Activity in the North
by Yoav Zitun
Friday, 25 October 2019 | Israel’s northern border—in particular, Iranian-led activity—is the main security challenge the country faces, IDF [Israel Defense Forces] Chief of Staff Lt.–Gen. Aviv Kochavi said Thursday.
“Israel’s central strategic challenge lies in the northern arena,” Kochavi told reporters at a press conference to unveil the military’s new multi-year plan.
“At the heart of it are the entrenchment of Iranian and other forces in Syria and the precision missile project. In both situations, this is an Iranian-led effort, using the territory of countries with extremely weak governments,” he said.
“For many years, Hezbollah has held the Lebanese state ‘captive,’ established its own army, and is the one that actually determines the country’s ‘security policy.'”
As well as continuing its preparations for a confrontation in the north, the army is also aware of a potential flare-up in the south, despite the relative calm along the Gaza border in recent months, following Israel’s steps to ease life for the civilian population there.
“Israel is currently dealing with multiple arenas and enemies simultaneously,” Kochavi said Wednesday.
“In the northern and southern arenas, the situation is tense and fragile and may deteriorate into conflict—despite the fact that our enemies are not interested in war. As a result, the IDF has been accelerating its preparation process in recent months.”
Israel sees Islamic Jihad as the organization most likely to drag the south into a new confrontation, taking up the mantle of violent resistance from Hamas.
These preparations for a potential conflict on either border have been stepped up in recent months following a series of incidents with Iran’s Quds Force [a military branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that operates outside of Iranian territory] as well as its Lebanon-based proxy, Hezbollah.
Alongside Iran’s entrenchment in Syria, there have been other developments of great concern to Israel, such as [US President] Donald Trump’s withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria and his muted responses to the downing of a US drone in the Persian Gulf and the attack on a major Saudi oil facility.
These low-key American reactions are thought to have only reinforced Tehran’s sense of confidence and its ability to act proactively against Israel—not just in response to attacks by Iranian targets that have been attributed to the IDF.
Like his predecessor, Gadi Eisenkot, who stated that Israel’s number one enemy is Hezbollah, Kochavi views the entire northern arena as the main threat.
“Israel’s central strategic challenge lies in the northern arena,” said Kochavi.
The chief of staff’s remarks echo comments by President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who have also recently raised the significant security challenges ahead for Israel.
Photo Credit: Cpl. Eden Briand, IDF Spokesperson's Unit/flickr.com
Photo License: Flickr
Pray for the Lord’s divine hand of protection around His chosen Land and people as they are surrounded by enemies from all sides, but most urgently pray for protection in Israel’s north as Iran and its proxies in the region pose the biggest threat on the Jewish state.
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. For look, they lie in wait for my life; the mighty gather against me, not for my transgression nor for my sin, O LORD. They run and prepare themselves through no fault of mine. Awake to help me, and behold!
Tensions between Israel and Jordan Days after Anniversary of Peace
by Kate Norman
Thursday, 31 October 2019 | Just days after marking the 25th anniversary of their peace treaty, tensions are high between Israel and Jordan as the Hashemite Kingdom is considering using a recently-captured Israeli citizen as collateral in order to secure the release of two Jordanians being detained in Israel.
Ynetnews, citing “diplomatic sources,” identified the Israeli prisoner as Oleh Chadash, who recently immigrated to Israel from a former Soviet nation. Chadash was arrested on Tuesday while swimming in the Jordan River and crossing the border. Ynet reported that the diplomatic sources said the incident “is not expected to lead to diplomatic crisis between the two states.”
Meanwhile, the Jewish state is holding two prisoners of its own: Jordanians Hiba Labadi and Abdul Rahman Miri. Jordanian leaders claim the prisoners are being held illegally without charges. One Hashemite lawmaker suggested using Jordan’s new Israeli prisoner as a bargaining chip.
“From a political standpoint, we cannot talk about prisoner exchange with the occupation, but we can use the Israeli as a bargaining chip for two Jordanian prisoners in Israel,” said the head of the Jordanian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Nidal a-Taani.
The Jordanians are being held under administrative detention, and Israeli authorities have not indicted them or publicized their charges other than the fact that they are being held for “security offenses.”
Unconfirmed reports have circulated, however, that 24-year-old Labadi, who was arrested while entering Israel to attend a family wedding in Judea and Samaria, was suspected of providing the terror group Hezbollah with information.
Israel’s deputy foreign minister holds that the Jewish state is within its rights to keep the pair detained.
“If someone commits a security offense, it is our duty as a state to arrest him and to clarify matters,” Deputy Tzipi Hotovely told Army Radio.
Ynetnews noted that Israel often holds Palestinians in administrative detention under suspicion of offenses against Israel. The Jerusalem Post reported that both Jordanians were placed under six-month detention.
Jordan recalled its envoy to Israel following the incident, and the Jerusalem Post reported that Jordanian officials are saying Ambassador Ghassan Majali will not return to the Jewish state until the pair are released.
Meri, who was arrested on August 20, was recently transferred to a hospital in Haifa after her health condition “severely deteriorated.” She has been on a hunger strike for over a month. Meri was also arrested while crossing into Israel on September 20. No other details of his arrest have been made public.
Last weekend, Israel and Jordan quietly let the 25th anniversary of signing the Treaty of Peace in the Arava Valley pass without fanfare or acknowledgement from leaders on either side. The peace has often been acknowledged as a cold one. As King Abdullah II of Jordan said in an interview 10 years ago, “It’s a cold peace, and our relationship is getting colder.”
One of the clauses in the peace treaty allowed for 250 acres (101 hectares) of land under Jordanian sovereignty to be leased by Israel for private agricultural use for 25 years—which are now up. The Hashemite Kingdom stunned Israel last year by announcing that it would not renew the lease, which Israeli media and politicians have attributed to the leaders of Jordan bending to the demands of extremists.
Jordan also acts as a custodian over several holy sites in Jerusalem—most notably the Temple Mount—which has also caused inevitable tension between the states due to the sites’ religious significance.
Though Jordan—unlike Israel’s Arab neighbors to the north—recognizes the existence of the Jewish state, the Kingdom maintains a two-state solution policy of eastern Jerusalem serving as the capital of a potential future Palestinian state. Many Jordanian citizens are also of Palestinian descent.
The chilly political relationship between the Jewish state and the Arabic kingdom has not stopped them from teaming up in matters of security, as they share common adversaries in Iran and Islamic extremists.
Israel’s envoy to Jordan from 1997–2000 told the Times of Israel that security cooperation between the Jewish state and the Hashemite Kingdom is “excellent” and has been “impacted less by political considerations.”
A retired Israel Defense Forces general added that “a close daily connection on security issues” between the two nations has “contributed significantly to regional stability,” allowing them to “quickly deal with and solve security issues.”
The peace treaty with Jordan is important to Israel as it provides peace along the Jewish state’s longest border and is only the second peace treaty Israel holds with an Arab nation after signing one with Egypt in 1979.
Professor Hillel Frisch at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies in Israel showed no concern over this week’s tension and told the Media Line that this spike in friction is not “unique.”
“This relationship is cyclical, like everything else about Jordanian politics where there are cycles of reform and back to a halt,” Frisch said. “It’s the same for the Israeli–Jordanian relationship.”
Nonetheless, with the Jordanian public largely sympathetic to Palestinians and both Jordanians and Palestinians campaigning on social media for the release of the detainees—many directing their criticism toward the Jordanian government for its inability to secure their release, Israel will have to proceed with caution to maintain the “cold peace.”
Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 31, 2019)
Photo Credit: Danny Lyulyev/wikimedia.org
Photo License: wikimedia.org
Begin by praising the Lord for the calm and quiet that the peace treaty has provided on Israel’s border with Jordan over the past 25 years. Ask Him to take control of this diplomatically difficult situation and give the parties involved wisdom on how to proceed without harming the peace and cooperation between the two nations.
LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.
Emissions Free and Pollution Free: Israel Unveils Massive Solar Power Plant
Wednesday, 30 October 2019 | Israel has taken another step in moving from fossil fuels to environmentally friendly renewable energy, approving its biggest plant of unique solar panels to date. The plant, which is for commercial use, operates without generating pollution or any greenhouse gas emissions.
The Electricity Authority (TEA) and Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz have recently approved the commercial activation of the Ashalim photovoltaic power station—located in the Negev Desert, south of the city of Beersheva—for a period of twenty years.
The power station consists of 360 solar power panels with an output of 121 megawatts, double the energy output of Israel’s current, much smaller photovoltaic power station, Mash’abey Sade.
The massive station, which spreads across 1,250 dunams (309 acres), was built by the Solel Boneh construction and civil engineering company and the Belectric company—an international company that specializes in photovoltaic technology worldwide, investing some 600 million shekels (US $170 million) so far.
The power station aims to provide clear solar energy to the electric grid of the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC), supplying power to roughly 60,000 households throughout Israel.
The project started as a thermal energy power plant aimed at providing renewable energy using a technology that converts the sun’s thermal energy into heat, which is then used to create electricity using steam.
This technology is now considered expensive and needlessly complicated when compared to photovoltaic technology, which converts light into electricity using solar cells.
As a result of advancement in the field of photovoltaic technology, and in order to cut costs for the Israeli consumer, the TEA decided to convert the Ashalim power station to photovoltaic-based power plant, saving the population roughly 120 million shekels (US $34 million) a year.
“I’m proud to lead the Ministry of Energy, which—together with the TEA—helped advance the use of solar energy in order to create the highest output of electricity seen in the field in the last decade,” said Steinitz.
The IEC’s all-time record for energy production using renewable resources, mainly solar power, was set last April and currently stands at 1,326 megawatts, accounting for 19.3% of total energy production. The previous record was set back in February when the production capacity reached some 1,295 megawatts, accounting for 16.4% of the total energy production.
Photo Credit: Mussi Katz/flickr.com
Photo License: flickr.com
Praise God for this wonderful advancement in renewable energy at the hands of His chosen people. Bless the name of the God of Israel, who promised that His people would be a blessing to the world and kept His promise!
“By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son—blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore…In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”
Israeli Troops Thwart Two Stabbing Attempts in Three Days
by Kate Norman
Wednesday, 30 October 2019 | After an unusually quiet holiday season, Israeli forces have thwarted two attempted stabbings since Monday. This morning a Palestinian woman wielding a knife tried to stab Border Police and was shot and wounded in Hebron, a hotbed of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. On Monday a Palestinian teenager attempted to stab Border Police officers in the Old City of Jerusalem and was shot and arrested.
No casualties were reported following both attacks, though the two areas of the attempted killings are in heightened security.
Police said the woman who perpetrated this morning’s attack in Hebron had planned the attempt beforehand and made it through several checkpoints to reach the Tomb of the Patriarchs.
The woman, whom police said is in her 30s and lives in a Palestinian town just 8.1 miles (13 km) from Hebron, was questioned by a police officer at the site before pulling a knife out of her bag and charging toward one of the officers who had gathered after she brandished the knife. Police reported that she was shot and taken to Sha’are Tzedek hospital in Jerusalem, where she is in critical condition.
Hebron has become one of the most hotly contested sites of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Though the city houses ancient Jewish historical sites—including the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Leah were laid to rest—Jewish people were banned for hundreds of years under Muslim rule of the land until they regained entry in the Six Day War of 1967.
Shared by Israelis and Arabs, the site has been bloodstained over the years in multiple terror attacks and attempted stabbings. The Jerusalem Post pointed out that the woman’s stabbing attempt this morning was the 15th attempt this year, according to the police.
Rabbi Yishai Fleischer, the international spokesperson for the Jewish community of Hebron, pointed to a conference this week that promoted a two-state solution to the conflict as a catalyst for this morning’s attack.
“A jihadi [war with unbelievers in Islam] female-terrorist tried to stab a soldier at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron less than an hour ago,” he wrote on Twitter. “No doubt she was buttressed by the type of discussions going on at #JSt2019 which portray (Jewish) Israel as an OCCUPIER and (Islamic) Palestine as LIBERATOR.”
The conference this week in Washington DC was hosted by J Street, an organization that describes itself as “pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans fighting for a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.”
Ilhan Omar, a Muslim Congresswoman who faces regular criticism for anti-Israel remarks, attended the conference and posted accolades to her Twitter account for an exhibit that focused on Hebron, “paving a path to the end of the occupation.”
Monday’s attack also resulted in no casualties but injury to the perpetrator. Police reported that a 16-year-old Arab boy tried to stab Border Police near Herod’s Gate in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem. His attack failed, and he was chased by security forces through the alleyways of the Old City. During a gunfire exchange, police shot and hit the attacker in the hand before he fled into a house and was found and arrested. The Israeli police reported that they also arrested two other people suspected of helping the teenager with his attack.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 30, 2019)
Photo Credit: Police spokesperson/Twitter
Praise God for his protection over the Israeli security forces and that no innocent blood was spilt during these murderous attempts. Petition the Lord to shield the people of Israel from further attacks.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me.
Netanyahu, Gantz Government Talks Bear No Fruit
by Moran Azoulay and Yuval Karni
Monday, 28 October 2019 | Blue and White party leader MK [Member of Knesset/Parliament] Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Tel Aviv Sunday to negotiate terms for the establishment of a unity government in a round of talks that did not lead to any new developments besides a promise to meet again for further negotiations.
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader MK Benny Gantz discussed the available political options during the meeting,” said a shared statement by both parties. “It was agreed that both parties’ negotiation teams will continue to be in contact.”
Gantz said after the meeting with Netanyahu that he will do everything in his power to prevent another round of elections.
Blue and White and Likud [the Netanyahu-led Party] negotiation teams also met earlier Sunday in Ramat Gan to try [to] negotiate a solution for the political stalemate between the parties.
Blue and White’s negotiation team described the meeting as being “in good spirits,” adding that Likud’s team asked for further meetings in the next few days, centered around the understanding that since Gantz currently holds the mandate to form a government, he is the destined prime minister.
Blue and White officials cited Likud’s insistence on including the entire right-wing bloc, which features far right and ultra-Orthodox parties, in any possible unity government as one of the main points of disagreement between the two parties.
“Throughout the meeting, Likud kept on insisting that they represent the ‘immunity bloc,’ the 55 MKs supporting Netanyahu’s immunity despite the criminal charges held against him and his possible indictment,” said the officials.
Likud then released a statement shifting the blame on Blue and White for refusing to accept a government outline proposed by President Reuven Rivlin last week.
“Blue and White refused the outline given by President Reuven Rivlin, which is the only path to a broad national unity government,” said the statement.
President Rivlin’s government outline states that Gantz and Netanyahu will receive the premiership on a basis of a rotation government.
Netanyahu will serve as prime minister first and Gantz will step in after two years or alternatively, in case Netanyahu is indicted in one of several corruption cases standing against him.
Photo Credit: Al Jazeera English/YouTube/screenshot
Beseech the Lord for His help as the attempts to form an Israeli government seem to be at a standstill. Ask Him to move the hearts of the people involved so that they will set aside personal ambitions and put the nation of Israel and its needs first and foremost. Thank the Lord for His infinite wisdom and the fact that He is in control!
Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established. A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.
Jewish Agency Formulates Plan to Address Issues Facing Modern Jewry
by Itamar Eichner
Tuesday, 29 October 2019 | The Jewish Agency’s board of trustees met in Jerusalem on Sunday to approve a strategic plan of action for the next decade, addressing the challenges facing the Jewish people in the modern era—and at its center the sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents around the world.
According to the plan, the Jewish Agency will work to ensure the security of Jewish communities around the world, and will fight vigorously against the manifestations of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.
The agency will work with the government of Israel, Jewish communities and other organizations in three key areas.
The Jewish Agency will also encourage immigration to Israel—with free help for immigrants as well as conducting clandestine “emergency aliyah [immigration to Israel]” operations in hostile nations.
In addition, the agency will work to build a two-way bridge between Diaspora Jews [outside of Israel] and Israel, aiming to heal the rifts among the Jewish people and strengthen the connection of members of world Jewry to one another and to the State of Israel.
The agency also intends to represent the diverse voices of Diaspora Jewry with policymakers in Israel and in Israeli society itself and to promote their involvement with the Jewish state.
Photo Credit: Ralph Alswang/Brookings Institution/flickr.com
Photo License: flickr.com
Lift up the efforts of these Jewish leaders to fight the spreading cancer of anti-Semitism at its root causes and ask the Lord to ensure that their undertaking bears fruit. Pray that God will place it on the Church’s heart to stand with its Jewish brothers and sisters against hatred.
“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.”
Fatah on Facebook: “We Will Defend Our Holy Sites with Our Blood”
by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
Thursday, 31 October 2019 | Palestinian Media Watch has documented that Abbas’s Fatah [leading secular Palestinian political party] Movement uses Facebook to promote terror, spread anti-Semitism and deny Israel’s right to exist.
For example in July, Fatah again used its Facebook page to promote violence by broadcasting a video featuring footage of Palestinian Authority [PA] Chairman Mahmoud Abbas talking about the danger of losing Jerusalem merged with texts on the screen calling to “defend our holy sites with our blood.” This text appears while visuals show US President Trump visiting Israel, the Western Wall and meeting with Israeli Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu. The video denies Jews any rights in Jerusalem, showing footage of Jews visiting the Temple Mount and praying at the Western Wall while the text “Jerusalem is ours and you will never have a place in it” shows on the screen. Additional text directed at Israel stresses Fatah’s viewpoint that “the shining rage will uproot the tyranny from our land.”
The following is the transcript and text of the video Fatah posted on Facebook:
Text on screen: “The deal of the century will never pass. We will defend our holy sites with our blood and our souls.”
Video of Mahmoud Abbas: “This is not allowed. This cannot happen. This is a decisive moment, a dangerous moment for us. Our entire future is at stake. If Jerusalem is lost, what will you say afterwards?”
Text on screen: “Jerusalem is ours and you will never have a place in it.”
Video of Abbas: “This is a crucial moment that demands that every Palestinian present themselves immediately, to quickly discuss the fate of the eternal capital [Jerusalem]. In politics: It’s the capital. In religion: It’s the capital. In geography: It’s the capital.”
Text on screen: “The shining rage will uproot the tyranny from our land.”
Video of Abbas: “Here we sit, here we will remain. We will never repeat the mistakes of the past. We will not repeat the mistakes of 1948 or the mistakes of 1967. We are remaining here—occupation, settlements, whatever—We are remaining here!”
“The home is ours and Jerusalem is ours.”
Text on screen: “The home is ours and Jerusalem is ours. And with our hands we will liberate it, Allah willing.”
[Official Fatah Facebook page, July 28, 2019]
Abbas has repeatedly declared that Jerusalem is only “holy to Muslims and Christians,” denying the city’s importance as a holy site for Jews. In 2015, he stated that Palestinians wouldn’t “allow” the Jews’ “filthy feet” to “defile” the holy sites, and implicitly called for violence, “blessing” every “drop of blood,” and promising “every martyr” would be “rewarded by Allah.” This launched what was to become a wave of violence and terror attacks, in which Palestinian terrorists murdered 44 people.
In 2014, Abbas called on Palestinians to prevent Jews “in any way” from “defiling…our holy places,” claiming the Jewish presence on the Temple Mount was harming an Islamic holy place. This call was broadcasted at least 32 times during a wave of Palestinian terror attacks in which 12 Israelis were murdered.
In 2017, official PA TV and radio chose to rebroadcast Abbas’s implicit call for violence at least 46 times during the weeks following the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas: “This is our Sanctuary, our Al-Aqsa and our Church [of the Holy Sepulchre]. They have no right to enter it. They have no right to defile it. We must prevent them. Let us stand before them with chests bared to protect our holy places.”
[Official PA radio station The Voice of Palestine and Official PA TV, Dec. 6, 2017–Jan. 2, 2018]
Photo Credit: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré/flickr.com
Photo License: flickr.com
Plead with the Lord to thwart every attempt of the Palestinian leadership to incite violence and hatred against the Jewish people. Ask Him to open the eyes of the Palestinians to the true enemy: their corrupt leadership, rather than placing the blame on their Jewish neighbors.
Woe to those who devise iniquity, and work out evil on their beds! At morning light they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand. They covet fields and take them by violence, also houses, and seize them. So they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance. Therefore thus says the LORD: “Behold, against this family I am devising disaster, from which you cannot remove your necks; nor shall you walk haughtily, for this is an evil time.”
President Rivlin Meets with Delegation of Australian Politicians
Thursday, 31 October 2019 | On Tuesday President Reuven Rivlin welcomed a delegation of leading Australian political figures, past and present, headed by former prime minister John Howard, to the President’s Residence.
The delegation is in Israel at the initiative of the Israeli Embassy in Canberra, together with the Ministry for Jerusalem Affairs and the Australian Jewish community. Today there will be ceremonies to mark the 102nd anniversary of the victory of the ANZAC [Australian and New Zealand Army Corps] forces, including the Desert Mounted Force and the Australian Light Horse in the capture of Beersheva during the First World War, a date of great historical significance.
“We have been close friends for 70 years now. Our friendship is based on the shared value of democracy, our shared history and on strong bipartisan support,” said President Rivlin at the beginning of his remarks, welcoming the delegation to Israel. He added that he was looking forward to his visit to Australia in early 2020, which has been in planning for a long time and represents an important additional step in the relations between the countries.
The president continued, “Despite the huge geographical distance between Israel and Australia, we share many common challenges in different fields. The cooperation between us could lead to shared solutions. Two years ago, I was honored to participate in the centenary celebrations of the ANZAC forces in the capture of Beersheva. That victory changed the face of the Middle East. And today, the region is facing geo-strategic changes and we are following them closely and with readiness.”
Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs on October 29, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: Australian War Memorial/Lent by Brigadier General Wilson, CMG/wikimedia.org
Photo License: wikimedia.org
Thank the Lord for the friendship between Israel and Australia! Pray that this blossoming relationship will be beneficial to both sides, and pray that more nations will follow Australia’s example.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up…Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
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