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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.

Hamas Continues to Threaten Israel Despite Cease-fire

by Kate Norman

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Despite the cease-fire, Hamas is still threatening to fire rockets at Tel Aviv.

Monday, 19 November 2018 | “Next time, the barrage of rockets will reach Tel Aviv and its surrounding area,” Yahya Sinwar said. The Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip was speaking at a rally and memorial service for Palestinian fighters who were killed during the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) operation in Gaza last week.

Following a gunfight that erupted between Hamas fighters and undercover IDF soldiers that resulted in the death of an IDF lieutenant colonel and the injury of another IDF soldier, as well as the death of seven Palestinians, Hamas launched more than 460 rockets into Israel. One civilian was killed and several Israelis were injured in the rocket barrage that lasted throughout last Monday and Tuesday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took his security cabinet into a special meeting that lasted seven hours and came out acknowledging a cease-fire with Gaza late Tuesday night.

However, Sinwar has made strong declarations against Israel since then.

A video released by Hamas shows Sinwar waving a gun that he claimed belongs to an IDF solder who participated in the Gaza operation, according to Ynetnews, as he threatened Israel.

Sinwar said he spoke to Muhammad Deif, the leader of Hamas’s military wing.

“Deif asked me to say that Tel Aviv and Gush Dan [the greater Tel Aviv area] are next. The first barrage to hit Tel Aviv will surprise Israel.”

Sinwar also jeered at Israel’s decision earlier this month to allow previously blockaded fuel and US $15 million of Qatari funds into the Strip in order to promote calm and ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

“What did the Israeli leadership think when it allowed in fuel and Qatari funds? … That we would sell out our blood for diesel and dollars? They’ve been disappointed, and their goals have failed.”

This rally was held on Friday, three days after the current cease-fire between Israel and Gaza went into effect. According to Ynetnews, Egyptian mediators of the Israel–Gaza cease-fire were present as Sinwar made these statements.

“Our hands are on the trigger and our eyes are open,” Sinwar said, as quoted by the Times of Israel. “Whoever tests Gaza will find only death and poison. Our missiles are more precise, have greater range and carry more explosives than in the past.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, November 19. 2018)

Photo Credit: IDF Blog/idf.il

Prayer Focus
Cry out on behalf of the nation of Israel, asking that they would have a spirit like that of David when he faced Goliath. Pray that soldiers and citizens alike would have confidence in the living God when faced with belligerent and boastful threats of Hamas.

Scripture

Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”


- 1 Samuel 17:26

Early Elections in Israel are Averted—For Now

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PM Netanyahu (middle) met with the Foreign Affairs and Defense committee amid fears of an early election.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018 | The decision of Education Minister Naftali Bennett to keep his party, Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home), in the government has forestalled talk of early elections—for now—the Times of Israel reported Monday.

Following the resignation of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and the exit of his party, Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is our Home), from the governing coalition, the Likud-led government held onto a narrow 61-seat majority. The departure of Bennett’s party would have brought the governing coalition to 53 seats, which would not have been able to survive motions of no-confidence, necessitating the call for new elections, probably in March.

Lieberman left the government following the declaration of a cease-fire with Hamas, the terrorist group that exercises complete political and military control over the Gaza Strip, after Hamas launched some 460 rockets into Israel over a two-day period last week. The former defense minister said that the cease-fire agreement meant that he could “no longer” do his job.

The Jerusalem Post reported that both Bennett and Lieberman had favored a “more aggressive” approach toward Hamas than the one pursued by Netanyahu.

Bennett had demanded that Netanyahu give him the defense portfolio as the price for staying in the governing coalition, but the prime minister refused, saying that he would serve as defense minister. Netanyahu, however, is slated to give up his role as foreign minister and name a replacement, likely to be from the Likud party, in the coming days.

While Netanyahu has faced internal criticism for agreeing to the cease-fire, other observers have credited him with preventing another war.

In an editorial, the Washington Post praised the Israeli leader for accepting the cease-fire, writing, “Mr. Netanyahu deserves credit for embracing it despite the political cost.”

The editorial blames Hamas for not allowing the Palestinian Authority [PA] to extend its control over Gaza, observing that such an outcome is not possible “largely because Hamas refuses to disarm.”

In all, considering the alternatives, the editorial praised Netanyahu for accepting “the cease-fire and humanitarian respite,” which “are far better than another war.”

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on November 19, 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: PM of Israel@IsraeliPM/twitter.com

Prayer Focus
Intercede for Israel’s leaders, those who have been given authority to govern. Pray especially for Prime Minister Netanyahu as he seeks to bring unity among the government ministers and follow the best course for the nation.

Scripture

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.


- 1 Timothy 2:1–2

The Man behind the Cease-fire Arrangement between Hamas and Israel

by Daniel Salami

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Abbas Kamel, head of Egyptian intelligence, was instrumental in securing the latest Israel-Hamas cease-fire deal. 

Wednesday, 21 November 2018 | The ramifications of the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas are still making waves in the political arena, in light of Yisrael [Beiteinu] leader Avigdor Lieberman’s resignation from his post as the defense minister, prompting his party to quit the coalition, leaving it with a one-vote majority.

The cease-fire between the sides, which has been harshly criticized by the public as well as by the political establishment, was brokered by Egyptian intelligence head Abbas Kamel.

Despite the fact that he has become a prominent figure in cease-fire arrangement negotiations between Israel and Hamas, there is still plenty of mystery surrounding his persona. He makes very few public appearances and rarely gives interviews to the media, with most of his recorded conversations being leaked without his consent.

A senior Israeli official said that in Jerusalem he is considered a Hamas sympathizer, but the cooperation with him still continues due to his ability to achieve concrete results. Kamel is a man of great connections, mainly because of his close relationship with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah [el-Sisi]. He has a great influence on the Cairo administration and despite of his lack of exposure to the media, he maintains in good relations with journalists.

Before joining the Egyptian intelligence, Kamel served in the military as an armor officer and even underwent training in the United States.

Later, he served in a combat intelligence unit.

In 2014, he was appointed as President Sisi’s chief of staff, a position he held until last June, when he was officially sworn as the director-general of the intelligence service.

In Egypt, Kamel is known as Sisi’s confidant. Some call him the president’s “fox” or “shadow”—two nicknames that indicate how he was perceived in Egypt and how special his relationship was with the Egyptian leadership in general and with President Sisi in particular.

Some even go as far as to suggest he was the second most important person in the country. Kamel regularly accompanies the president on his travels around the world, advising him on a variety of issues.

His appointment as head of the intelligence apparatus sparked great interest in the Arab world and was also subjected to criticism. One of the decision’s main critics was Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was recently murdered at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul.

“When Sisi can not find anyone who will head the intelligence organization apart from his office manager, it means there is a serious crisis of confidence within the Egyptian government,” Khashoggi wrote.

Kamel’s name was linked to a number of phone conversations leaked by senior Egyptian officials after the ousting of former President Mohamed Morsi, indicating that Kamel and the Egyptian president had a close relationship even when Sisi served as the defense minister. The conversation’s content indicate he exercised great influence on issues that were not necessarily under his authority.

Last month Kamel was supposed to arrive in Israel to continue negotiations on the cease-fire agreement, but his visit was canceled due to the escalation at the southern border. Nevertheless, his emissaries continued talks with senior Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip.

“This man is a pillar in the Middle East, in light of Egypt’s tremendous regional importance,” explained a former senior Israeli security official who is familiar with Kamel’s work in various issues, including the Palestinian one.

The official went on to describe the intelligence head as a thorough and smart person who impressively climbed the ladder of the Egyptian military and politics.

“Kamel has a tremendous advantage, he currently enjoys the status of a minister. He works directly with the president of Egypt—who fully trusts him—heading a very strong body, and he combines all of his skills in fulfilling this role,” the official explained.

“Israel today has very good working relations with the Egyptian security apparatus,” the security official continued. “Israelis may not be aware of it, but at the national security level we have an excellent relationship, which is an asset for our state. Today anyone who serves in the Egyptian intelligence, has to have a positive attitude when it comes to working with Israel,” he added.

The security official said that the Egyptian intelligence’s main advantage is the quality of people it has in its ranks.

“The general, who deals directly with the Palestinian issue, Ahmed Abd al-Khaliq, is an amazing, modest, smart and skilled officer,” the official stated.

He added that the combination of Kamel and Sisi is what keeps Egypt stable, as evident by the very few terror attacks in the country, despite the presence of the Islamic State group (ISIS), and a population of more than 20 million.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on November 20, 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Jim Mattis/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Give thanks for the good working relations between Israel and Egypt’s security service and the stability of the border between the two countries. Prayerfully acknowledge God’s sovereignty over all the actions of Egypt’s leadership, including Abbas Kamel.

Scripture

As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.


- 2 Samuel 22:31

Promise of Rain

by Janet Aslin

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Rain falling over desert at sunset (illustrative)

Wednesday, 21 November 2018 | When Moses was preparing the Israelites to enter the Promised Land, he told them, “…the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven” (Deut. 11:11). Israel does not enjoy rain year-round but only during the “winter” months of November through mid-March. The remainder of the year is virtually rain-free.

This year has been the seeming exception with Israel’s first rainfall of the season coming in late August! Another fairly substantial storm occurred in October, but since then, rainfall has been sparse. Jerusalem has received a scant 35 mm. (1.38 in.), which is 7% of its annual normal rainfall.

Weather forecasters are promising rain over much of the country beginning Thursday and continuing through Sunday. Rain is even expected at Eilat, Israel’s southernmost community, although just on Saturday.

While Israel’s expertise in desalination has somewhat minimized her dependence on “the rain of heaven” during the winter months, rain (or lack thereof) is often the topic of conversation. November is more than half over, and the land has yet to receive much precipitation. Join us this week as we pray for the Lord to send abundant rain this season.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, November 21, 2018)

Photo Credit: Jessie Eastland/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Ask the gracious and merciful God for the blessing of abundant rain—a gentle soaking rain to restore the parched earth, water the fields and fill the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).

Scripture

He [the Lord] gives rain on the earth, and sends waters on the fields.


- Job 5:10

UN to Condemn Israel 9 Times, Rest of the World 0

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The UN is set to adopt nine resolutions Friday, all against Israel—no other countries

Friday, 16 November 2018 | A United Nations [UN] General Assembly committee is set to adopt nine resolutions against Israel on Friday, and zero on the entire rest of the world.

The texts, obtained by UN Watch, condemn Israel for “repressive measures” against Syrian citizens in the Golan Heights, reinforce the mandate of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and renew the mandate of the UN’s “special committee to investigate Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.”

All 193 UN member states belong to the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) that each year adopts the text with large majorities. Countries’ votes [Friday] are then repeated when the GA plenary formally ratifies the texts in December.

“The UN’s planned assault on Israel with a torrent of one-sided resolutions is surreal,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental watchdog organization.

“Days after the Hamas terrorist group assaulted Israeli civilians with a barrage of 460 rockets—while the UN’s General Assembly and Human Rights Council stayed silent—the world body now adds insult to injury by adopting nine lopsided condemnations, whose only purpose is to demonize the Jewish state.

“While EU [European Union] states are expected to support 15 out of a total of 20 resolutions to be adopted against Israel by December, the same EU states have failed to introduce a single UNGA resolution on the human rights situation in China, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Cuba, Turkey, Pakistan, Vietnam, Algeria, or on 175 other countries,” Neuer said.

“One of [Friday’s] resolutions—drafted and co-sponsored by Syria—falsely condemns Israel for ‘repressive measures’ against Syrian citizens in the Golan Heights. It’s obscene,” Neuer said.

The resolution, drafted originally by Syria, condemns Israel for holding on to the Golan Heights, and demands Israel hand the land and its people to Syria.

“It’s astonishing,” Neuer said. “After the Syrian regime has killed half a million of its own people, how can the UN call for more people to be handed over to Assad’s rule? The timing of [Friday’s] text is morally galling, and logically absurd.

“[Friday’s] resolutions claim to care about Palestinians, yet the UN is oblivious to the dozens of Palestinians who have been slaughtered, maimed and expelled by Assad’s forces, and more than 3,000 victims killed since 2011.

“[Friday’s] farce at the General Assembly underscores a simple fact: the UN’s automatic majority has no interest in truly helping Palestinians, nor in protecting anyone’s human rights; the goal of these ritual, one-sided condemnations is to scapegoat Israel,” Neuer said.

“The UN’s disproportionate assault against the Jewish state undermines the institutional credibility of what is supposed to be an impartial international body. Politicization and selectivity harm its founding mission, eroding the UN Charter’s promise of equal treatment to all nations large and small,” Neuer added.

Source: (The UN Watch originally published this story on November 15, 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/RT

Prayer Focus
Pray that the world will begin to recognize the hypocrisy of the UN, a body intended to treat all nations equally. Give thanks for the clear and truthful voice that Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, has been over the past two years. Pray that her replacement will have an equally strong voice in this international body.

Scripture

Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.


- Psalm 34:13–14

Nearly Half of UK Jews Consider Emigrating, Some to Israel

by Kobi Nachshoni

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Gideon Falter, chairman of the Campaign Against anti-Semitism, said nearly half of UK Jews consider emigrating due to rising anti-Semitism.

Friday, 16 November 2018 | Almost half of UK [United Kingdom] Jews consider emigrating due to rising anti-Semitism and its hold on the Labour Party, said chairman of the Campaign Against anti-Semitism Gideon Falter in an European Jewish Association (EJA) meeting in Brussels.

The annual meeting of the EJA is supported and funded by the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage, and includes representatives from various communities and other European officials.

According to the data, 40% of British Jews are considering leaving the UK, some of them to Israel, due to the rising anti-Semitism they experience, and 90% of them believe that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour [Party] is anti-Semitic and that Jews should refrain from voting for it.

Falter criticized the Israeli government for not doing enough.

“It has an important role in this struggle, but the Jewish community in the UK feels it is on its own.

“Any help that Israel can offer regarding this struggle will be of great help to us, and we’ve seen it being done before,” Falter said. “Jews are afraid, especially after the summer’s events, that revealed Corbyn has himself been extensively involved in anti-Semitic activity for several decades.”

The EJA convened in Brussels ten days after the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh in order to discuss the rise of the populist far-right groups around Europe and how to stop them from gaining more political power.

Part of the discussion revolved around the need to compile a list with several demands and hand them to the different political candidates around the continent. If the demands remain unanswered by certain candidates—they would be blacklisted.

United in Struggle—from Orthodox to Reform

European Jewish leader Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the chairman of the EJA, warned that “the future of European Jewry is on the line,” and stressed the importance of drawing red lines that “will be a wake-up call for politicians.”

Margolin added that “Europe is at a crossroad, and it’s likely that the political sphere will be even more polarized after the elections for the EU Parliament.” Current events brought leaders from different communities—Reform, Orthodox and Christians who support Israel—to unite in the name of the campaign against anti-Semitism.

The list’s draft included a demand for full adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism, as well as appointment of a government official committed to the campaign in each country, a guarantee not to form coalitions with anti-Semitic parties, defining the BDS as an anti-Semitic movement and finally, a promise for complete freedom of worship.

Changing the Labour Party

One of the things that worry EJA the most is the situation in Britain. A British delegation to Brussels arrived in order to discuss possible actions against Labour leader Corbyn, whose past anti-Semitic activity has only recently surfaced.

Matthew James Offord, a UK Parliament member from the Conservative Party, spoke in the Brussels meeting and said that the Labour leader “never tried to face anti-Semitism or speak against it,” and reminded everyone that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

“Many of my friends are Jews who deal with anti-Semitism every day and fear that Corbyn will become the next prime minister,” Offord said. “We need to make sure this doesn’t happen, but we also need to make sure that the Labour changes its face, and acknowledges what it’s doing, so that people can’t say anti-Semitic things and remain in the party.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this story on November 15, 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/ Campaign Against Antisemitism

Prayer Focus
Pray for the Jewish population of European countries where anti-Semitism is increasing and becoming more open. Proclaim the word of the Lord through Isaiah that He will gather His people from the four corners of the earth.

Scripture

It shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left … He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.


- Isaiah 11:11–12

Airbnb Bars Listings of Jewish Homes in Disputed Biblical Heartland

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Airbnb has blacklisted rental listings in Judea and Samaria in an anti-Semitic move.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018 | Airbnb on Monday announced via press release a new policy on listings in “disputed regions.” In a world of options, they chose just one location in which to enforce a new ban on who can list their homes for rent on the space-sharing website: the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria. And while Jews and Arabs live in that area, Airbnb chose only to remove approximately 200 Israeli settlement listings from their site, which allows everyday people to list residences on the website for rentals.

While Airbnb’s statement on their website claimed they hold “deep respect” for the various views on the region Arabs call the West Bank, Israeli leaders saw the move as the exact opposite: anti-Semitism. Michael Oren, former Israeli ambassador to the United States and now a member of the Israeli Knesset (parliament), slammed on Twitter the one-sided nature of the Airbnb decision.

“Airbnb blacklists Jewish apartments in Judea and Samaria—not Palestinian apartments, not apartments in Turkish occupied Cyprus, in Moroccan occupied Sahara, not in Tibet or the Crimea. Airbnb’s policy is the very definition of anti-Semitism. No one should use its services,” Oren tweeted.

The center of the controversy is a slice of territory claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians. Captured by Israel during the defensive Six Day War in 1967, the region is now home to hundreds of thousands of Israelis in large cities and tiny towns alike. It is also home to famous biblical sites such as Hebron, Bethlehem, Jericho, and Shechem.

Israeli minister of tourism Yariv Levin felt similarly to Oren, with a press release from his office calling Airbnb’s move a “discriminatory … disgraceful and miserable decision.” He further accused the company of a “disgraceful surrender,” and it appears the move was at least partly based on pressure from organizations historically critical of Israel.

Airbnb’s press release portrayed the decision-making process as them having “wrestled with this issue,” the aftermath of “considerable time speaking with various experts” and resulting in a multi-prong test for when to ban listings in “disputed regions.” However, pressure from the liberal organization Human Rights Watch—which was set to release a report slamming the listing of homes in the area the next day—was also a key factor. Just ask Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch’s Israel and Palestine director Omar Shakir tweeted, “Breaking: after 2 yrs of engagement & day ahead of release of 65pg @hrw/@KNavot report,@Airbnb says it’ll stop brokering rentals in illegal Israeli settlements that effectively bar entry to Palestinian ID holders.”

Shakir’s tweet conveniently left out the reason for intense security in Israeli settlements, where Palestinians have launched multiple brutal terror attacks against Israeli civilians over the years.

Airbnb published their method of evaluating situations such as this in the future, including consulting “with a range of experts,” assessing “potential safety risks,” evaluating whether “the existence of listings is contributing to existing human suffering” and determining “whether the existence of listings in the occupied territory has a direct connection to the larger dispute in the region.”

For Israel’s tourism minister Levin, his office’s response to Airbnb’s decision is to effectively say that two can play the blacklist game.

“The Tourism Minister has ordered his office to formulate immediate measures to limit the company’s activity throughout the country,” the Israeli press release said. “He also instructed his ministry to implement a special program to encourage tourism and accommodation in vacation apartments throughout Judea and Samaria.”

Source: Joshua Spurlock

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this article on November 19. 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Reisefreiheit_eu/pixabay.com

Prayer Focus
Offer prayers for the residents of Judea and Samaria whose economic livelihood will be affected, asking for creative ways to advertise their homes that will result in an increase of visitors. Pray for the decision makers at Airbnb to reverse this decision that delegitimizes Israel and God’s chosen people.

Scripture

For thus says the LORD of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.”


- Zechariah 2:8

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