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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.

Report: Abbas Agrees to Gaza Ceasefire Understandings

by Elior Levy

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Egyptian president el-Sisi, who has reportedly convinced PA president Abbas to accept ceasefire understandings between Israel and Hamas.

Thursday, 8 November 2018 | Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has reportedly managed to convince Palestinian Authority [PA] president Mahmoud Abbas to agree to accept the ceasefire understandings reached between Hamas and Israel, the London-based Al Hayat reported on Thursday.

For months, the Palestinian leader has opposed the negotiations over the ceasefire arrangement because he was left out of the talks, which were held directly with Hamas. Abbas feared such an agreement would perpetuate the Hamas rule in the Strip, pushing the Palestinian Authority out of Gaza for good.

Last weekend, Abbas and Sisi met in Sharm El Sheikh, where the Egyptian president gave his Palestinian counterpart a detailed review of the Egyptian efforts to reach the cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, as well as the attempts to revive the Palestinian reconciliation.

Abbas reportedly agreed to the understandings in order to give Gazans some “breathing space,” according to Palestinian sources speaking to Al Hayat.

The sources said the understandings reached include two stages: the first will take two to three weeks, and the second will take six months.

They said Israel has agreed to transfer a [US] $90 million Qatari grant into the Gaza Strip to pay the salaries of Hamas government employees for six months but conditioned it on the US being responsible for the money transfer. The transfer of the money is expected to either take place Thursday or next week.

In addition, the paper reported Israel had agreed, as part of the first stage of the ceasefire understandings, to increase the export from the Gaza Strip for the first time in years.

Over the weekend, the Hamas-affiliated Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar published an initial draft of the ceasefire deal between Hamas and Israel, including ten provisions, with every provision constituting a condition for the next one.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on November 8, 2018. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: User:RogDel/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Give thanks that the ceasefire agreement is now one step closer to completion. Pray that the agreement will lead to a time of quiet and peace for Israelis who live near the Gaza border. Acknowledge that nothing happens on earth that is outside of the Lord’s control.

Scripture

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water;
He turns it wherever He wishes.


- Proverbs 21:1

Shin Bet Director: West Bank Quiet Deceptive, Hamas Trying to Launch Attacks

by Dror Liba

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Shin Bet director says the Israeli security system thwarted 480 terror attacks over the past year.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018 | Shin Bet [Israeli internal security organization] director Nadav Argaman warned Tuesday morning that the relative quiet in the West Bank [Judea and Sameria] is “deceptive,” as “Hamas is trying very hard to carry out terror attacks in and from Judea and Samaria.”

During his briefing to members of the Knesset’s [Parliament] Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Argaman went on to explain, “Over the past year, we were able to thwart 480 terror attacks, including 219 Hamas cells and 590 lone attackers. This is a very large number that is indicative of the terrorism bubbling under the surface.”

“In addition, we were able in the last year to thwart cyberattacks—both terrorism and espionage—against the State of Israel,” he added.

“In general, these successes … are the result of very strenuous activity by the entire Israeli security system—Shin Bet, IDF [Israel Defense Forces], Israel Police—which allows this reality and allows Israeli citizens to live their daily lives,” the Shin Bet director noted.

In Gaza, he said, “We’re between a possible campaign, or ahead of a campaign on the one hand, while on the other hand there’s an attempt to stabilize the humanitarian situation in the Strip.”

Argaman’s briefing follows several rounds of fighting in Gaza over the past few months. During the last flare-up, the IDF attacked over 80 terror targets in the strip in retaliation for over 30 rockets fired from Gaza at Israeli towns on the border and the city of Sderot.

After the de-escalation of the situation, Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar published an initial draft of the ceasefire deal between Hamas and Israel. The draft is yet to be finalized, since both sides are still holding negotiations.

During the latest security cabinet meeting on Sunday, the ministers decided to allow mediation efforts by Egypt and UN [United Nations] envoy to the Middle East Nikolay Mladenov run their course.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on November 6, 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Mark Probst/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the lives saved through the prevention of so many planned terror attacks. Pray for Israel’s intelligence services, asking that they would continue to obtain information in a timely manner and know how to respond effectively.

Scripture

He delivers me from my enemies. You also lift me up above those who rise against me; you have delivered me from the violent man.


- Psalm 18:48

Major US Sanctions on Iran—Including on Oil Trade—Return for ‘Maximum Pressure’

by Joshua Spurlock

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The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discusses sanctions on Iran. (Illustrative)

Monday, 5 November 2018 | The United States on Monday is resuming sanctions on key Iranian industries—including the oil and financial sectors—and their impact was already being felt before the sanctions’ effective date as global businesses anticipated the sanctions “snapback.” US secretary of state Mike Pompeo last Friday said that ahead of the sanctions’ return on November 5, they expect to have already reduced Iranian crude oil exports by more than 1 million barrels.

“This massive reduction since May of last year is three to five times more than what many analysts were projecting when President [Donald] Trump announced our withdrawal from the [nuclear] deal back in May,” said Pompeo in comments released by the state department. “We exceeded our expectations for one simple reason: Maximum pressure means maximum pressure.”

The Israelis were already applauding the American sanction plans last week as well. “For years, I’ve been calling for sanctions to be fully reimposed against Iran’s murderous terrorist regime, which threatens the entire world,” said Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday evening in a press release. “The effect of the initial sanctions is already being felt—the rial [Iranian currency] has plummeted, Iran’s economy is depressed and the results are evident. Thank you, President Trump, for this historic move.”

Pompeo made it clear that the intent of the sanctions is to convince the Iranian regime to change their malevolent actions, not to harm the Iranian people. “It is aimed at depriving the regime of the revenues that it uses to spread death and destruction around the world,” said Pompeo regarding the sanctions. “Our ultimate aim is to compel Iran to permanently abandon its well-documented outlaw activities and behave as a normal country.”

According to Pompeo and US treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin, at least some elements of the sanctions are even stronger than they were before the nuclear deal with Iran suspended the restrictions. Pompeo said an oil loophole allowed under the Barack Obama Administration that allowed “millions of dollars to continue to flow” to the Iranian regime has been closed.

And while the US is providing eight jurisdictions temporary exemptions to continue to import Iranian oil, Pompeo said that contrasted with the 20 such exemptions provided at times under the Obama Administration. “Not only did we decide to grant many fewer exemptions, but we demanded much more serious concessions from these jurisdictions before agreeing to allow them to temporarily continue to import Iranian crude oil,” Pompeo said. “These concessions are critical to ensure that we increase our maximum pressure campaign and accelerate towards zero (Iranian oil exports).”

Mnuchin, in the same press conference with Pompeo that was published by the state department, said not only will hundreds of entities be placed back on the US Treasury blacklist that had been exempted under the nuclear deal, hundreds of new ones will be added.

“This is substantially more than we ever have previously done,” Mnuchin said.

While the Israelis are supportive of the US sanctions on Iran, the Europeans are trying to work around the American actions. A joint statement from representatives of the European Union, Germany, France, and the UK [United Kingdom] released on Friday by the German foreign ministry said they were working on finding ways to maintain financial relationships with Iran and continue Iranian oil and gas imports to Europe.

“This will enable continued sanctions lifting to reach Iran and allow for European exporters and importers to pursue legitimate trade,” the statement said.

While Mnuchin did not expect any transactions done through the main European workaround to be significant, he noted, “If there are transactions that go through there that have the intent of evading our sanctions, we will aggressively pursue our remedies.”

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally posted by The Mideast Update on November 4, 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: United States Department of State/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that the sanctions will accomplish their intended effect—to dissuade Iran from pursuing its nuclear arms ambitions. Ask the Lord to protect Israel from any act of retaliation Iran might be considering.

Scripture

The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.


- Numbers 6:26

PM Netanyahu Attends Forum in Bulgaria, Seeks to Strengthen EU Ties

by Kate Norman

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PM Netanyahu with the leaders of Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia, and Romania.

Monday, 5 November 2018 | In an effort to strengthen ties with Eastern European nations, most of whom are members of the European Union, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the Craiova Forum in Varna, Bulgaria over the weekend.

The Israeli prime minister met with several European leaders, including the president of Serbia and the prime ministers of Bulgaria, Greece and Romania.

Before heading to Bulgaria, Netanyahu was quoted in Haaretz saying the trip’s purpose was to “strengthen our ties with any country, but this is also a bloc of countries with which I want to promote my policies, to change the European Union’s [EU] hypocritical and hostile approach.”

He continued, “This is a process that will take time. It’s an important thing for Israel, whose status in the world is rising.”

The EU has a history of taking anti-Israel stances, opposing countries who are seeking to move their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and criticizing the United States for pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal.

In a speech given at the forum, Netanyahu said there are three things important to the common future of the nations represented: technology, energy and security.

“We can do a lot more together, and we in Israel are eager to do so,” the prime minister said, as quoted by the Israel ministry of foreign affairs.

Netanyahu expounded on Israel’s prowess in innovation and technology startups, saying Israel has 8,000 startups and counting, covering multiple fields, including cybersecurity, health, water management, agriculture and more.

“These things we want to share, are eager to share with our friends here in various ways,” the prime minister said. “And I think the future belongs to those who innovate.”

Netanyahu went on to talk about energy, specifically the East Med pipeline. He said it will be the longest underwater gas pipeline in the world, stretching from Israel’s gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean through Cyprus, Crete, Greece and Italy, possibly up to the Balkans. The prime minister said it is currently in the feasibility phase but would like to move quickly on it because it will be beneficial to Israel in exporting gas and “to you [the Balkan nations] in diversifying your gas resources.”

The prime minister discussed security next, noting that Iran is “posing a great danger to the world.” He pointed out that Israel has helped uncover two terrorist attacks in Paris and Copenhagen, “organized by the Iranian secret service.”

Netanyahu mentioned that US president Trump’s sanctions already imposed against Iran caused a “marked decreased in the amount of money that goes to these various aggressive and terrorist activities of Iran.”

“It’s already showing its signs, and I believe that Iranian aggression will be further constricted by these sanctions, and I hope that all the countries here will join this effort,” Netanyahu continued.

He made it a point to thank the present leaders for their part in the fight against anti-Semitism in their countries.

“The Jewish people went through the greatest torment of mankind during the Holocaust, and in each of your countries there were brave men and women who stood up and saved Jews, very often in detriment of their own lives,” Netanyahu said at the forum.

“And this was done repeatedly, something we never forget,” he continued. “And I attach that to two things. One, your common position against anti-Semitism today, which still rears its ugly head, and each one of your governments takes a very strong position against it, and we appreciate it very much.”

Netanyahu closed his statement with: “So all I can say is: Next year in Jerusalem. We’ll be happy to receive you individually, as a group, however you wish. And thank you, thank you, [Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borissov], for this wonderful invitation. I appreciate it deeply. Thank you.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, November 5, 2018)

Photo Credit: Benjamin Netanyahu @netanyahu/twitter

Prayer Focus
Give thanks for the productive talks between Prime Minister Netanyahu and these leaders. Pray that the communication will continue to result in understanding so Israel will gain true friends in Europe.

Scripture

Good understanding gains favor…


- Proverbs 13:15a

Anti-Semitism Growing more Violent and Evident in US

by Teri S. Riddering

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Anti-Semitism in the US is becoming more vocal and violent.

Friday, 2 November 2018 | The deadly rampage perpetrated by an alleged white supremacist who killed 11 Jews at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue on October 27 is being described as the worst anti-Semitic attack in US history. Even though Jews make up only about 2 percent of the US population, the Anti-Defamation League identified 1,986 anti-Semitic incidents in the US in 2017, up from 1,267 in 2016, and also reported a major increase in anti-Semitic online harassment. The FBI also identified that more than half of proven hatred and bigotry acts in the US are against Jews.

According to an article by the Associated Press in Ynetnews, “Of the thousands of anti-Semitic incidents in the US in recent decades, only a handful were deadly. In June 2009, a gunman who had anti-Semitic writings in his car killed a security guard while trying to enter the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. In April 2014, Frazier Glenn Miller Jr. fatally shot a 69-year-old man and his 14-year-old grandson at a Jewish community center in suburban Kansas City, then killed a woman at the nearby Village Shalom retirement center.”

In spite of there being diverse interpretations among Jews as to the true Jewishness of the conservative synagogue in Pittsburgh, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote in a tweet: “Jews were killed in a synagogue. They were killed because they are Jews. The location was chosen because it is a synagogue. We must never forget that. We are one.”

In a United with Israel article, the National Council of Young Israel published a public appreciation for US president Donald Trump’s heartfelt response to the attack, even amidst unfair accusations against him, saying that “there must be no tolerance for anti-Semitism in America.”

In his powerful statement, Trump said: “This evil, anti-Semitic attack is an assault on all of us. It is an assault on humanity. It must be confronted and condemned everywhere it rears its ugly head. We must stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters to defeat anti-Semitism and vanquish the forces of hate. Those seeking their destruction, we will seek their destruction.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, November 1, 2018)

Photo Credit: Anthony Crider/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Intercede for the Jewish people around the world, praying that the perpetrators of anti-Semitic hate crimes will come to understand they are acting against the Lord Himself. Ask for a genuine fear of the Lord to overwhelm them.

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

Israel Needs Abundant Rain after Five-Year Drought

by Kate Norman

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Thursday, 8 November 2018 | Israel has been blessed with early rain this year. Normally, the rainy season here lasts about six months—from October to April, according to Israel’s Water Authority. The winter rains came early, starting near the end of August.

Though the Water Authority predicted above average rainfall for this winter, the agency said that will not be enough to replenish the dangerously low natural water supply.

Israel almost consistently operates in a water deficit, having endured five years of drought. According to the Water Authority, the Dead Sea—whose water “is used for drinking and agriculture for the growing population throughout the region”—is declining at a rate of about 1.1 meters (43 inches) each year.

The Times of Israel wrote, “The Sea of Galilee [Kinneret] is Israel’s largest natural water source, and was already 214.2 meters (703 feet) below sea level by August.” When the water level reaches 213 meters (699 feet), it will have reached what is known as the black line, and the state will no longer allow it to be used as a water resource.

The Water Authority issued a statement in September: “The aggregate shortage over the past five years of drought is enormous. The natural water sources lack some 2.5 billion cubic meters (660 billion gallons) of water. We need an unusually powerful winter to make up these shortages.”

One of Israel’s leaders believes in the nation’s ability to creatively solve this problem. The Times of Israel quoted Israel’s energy minister, Yuval Steinitz: “This area is not new for us. We simply resume our historic tradition to focus and find developing water solutions.”

Psalm 68:9 says, “You, O God, sent a plentiful rain, whereby You confirmed Your inheritance, when it was weary.” The people are thankful for the early rains and hopeful that they will continue abundantly throughout the season to replenish the water supply.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, November 8, 2018)

Photo Credit: Roxaninem/pixabay.com

Prayer Focus
Give thanks for the rains that have fallen this past week. Pray for abundant rain to fall during Israel’s rainy season, to fill the Kinneret and water the Land.

Scripture

“For the land which you go to possess is not like the land of Egypt from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and watered it by foot, as a vegetable garden; but the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven.”


- Deuteronomy 11:10–11

An Outbreak of Measles

by Janet Aslin

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Child with day-four measles rash

Thursday, 8 November 2018 | Last week an 18-month-old toddler died in Jerusalem, the first measles-related death in Israel since 2003. Currently the nation is experiencing an outbreak of this highly contagious, viral disease. This is the worst outbreak the country has faced in decades. So far there have been 1,401 cases reported. In comparison, there were only 33 cases of measles reported in 2017.

The Times of Israel wrote, “According to Professor Shai Ashkenazi, director of the Israeli Pediatric Society, measles ‘was on the cusp of extinction, but because of a decline in vaccination has made a big comeback. In Europe, too, in the first half of 2018 there were more than 41,000 incidents of infection with at least 37 deaths.’” 

Highest at risk are those who have not been inoculated, which include many of the ultra-Orthodox community members. Israel’s Ministry of Health has responded by sending mobile vaccination clinics to neighborhoods with low immunization rates and extending hours of operation for health clinics. Sixty percent of the cases are from Jerusalem with Tzfat (Safed) reporting approximately 15% of the total. The ministry is monitoring the situation closely and said it may look into the possibility of preventing unvaccinated children from attending school as a protective measure.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, November 8, 2018)

Photo Credit: Barbara Rice/wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the actions being taken by the medical community will bring this outbreak under control quickly. Ask the Lord to comfort the parents of the child who died.

Scripture

The LORD will strengthen him on his bed of illness; You will sustain him on his sickbed.


- Psalm 41:3

Israel Sets Tourism Record for Most Visitors in October 2018

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Ben Gurion airport has seen a record number of tourists this October.

Thursday, 8 November 2018 | A report released by the tourism ministry on Monday revealed that Israel’s tourism industry continues to break records with more tourists visiting the Jewish state in October 2018 than ever before, totaling about 486,000 registered entries to the country.

Globes reported that this represents a 19% increase over April 2018 numbers, which held the previous record for tourist entrances, and a 14% increase from October of last year. Three hundred thousand of the tourists visiting Israel in October came from European countries, 43,300 from Russia, 41,200 from France, 38,000 from Germany and 26,200 from the UK.

“The month of October breaks a historic record with an astonishingly unprecedented figure of almost half a million tourists who arrived in Israel in one month,” said Israeli minister of tourism Yariv Levin.

“Incoming tourism contributes significantly to both Israel’s economy and, no less importantly, to its image,” Levin added. “I am convinced that we will continue to see the sharp rise in the number of tourists arriving in Israel, and we will end the year with another record.”

According to the report, 3.4 million tourists visited Israel in the period of January to October 2018. They spent an average of eight days in the country. Israel had a record-breaking 3.836 million tourists last year and 3.069 million tourists in 2016.

Data revealed that a direct correlation can be drawn between countries from which tourism increased and where the tourism ministry invested most in marketing efforts over the past two years. Hungary produced the most significant increase at about 65%, followed by Italy at about 50%. Poland, Romania, and Holland each saw a 40% increase. The number of tourists from Germany rose 20% and the United States increased at about 13%.

Another factor in the tourism boom is that more airlines, including many low-cost operators, offer direct flights to Israel. At a conference in May, Levin commented on the grants his ministry had provided to foreign airlines that introduced new routes to Israel. “We invested NIS 100 million [US 27 million] in grants for airlines. This investment has proved to be extremely worthwhile,” he concluded.

Ben Gurion Airport also opened a new wing earlier this year, allowing it to handle 1,800 more passengers per hour. This expanded capacity has put Israel’s international airport on track to rank as one of the world’s busiest airports next year.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on November 6, 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Manuel Schneider/Wikimedia.org

Source: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Give thanks for the abundance of visitors to the beautiful Land of Israel this year.

Scripture

How lovely are your tents, O Jacob! Your dwellings, O Israel! Like valleys that stretch out, like gardens by the riverside, like aloes planted by the LORD, like cedars beside the waters.


- Numbers 24:5–6

Worldwide Dance for Kindness to Hit the Streets of Jerusalem

by Jo Sarah Stanford

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The Dance for Kindness flash mob will take place in Jerusalem this Sunday.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018 | Jerusalem will be filled with song and dance this Sunday with the annual Dance for Kindness event. Dance for Kindness—now in its seventh year—is a flash mob event that takes place in cities from all different nations across the world.

Founded by nonprofit Life Vest Inside, Dance for Kindness began in 2012. The first dance had over 3,500 participants from 15 countries in 30 different locations. It has since grown to over 20,000 participants at last year’s event from 50 different countries in 120 locations. People of all ages learn the same dance to the same song and perform together in a public place. The aim is to promote unity and bring joy to people’s day, encouraging them to be a little kinder to others. Israel has participated before, and this year’s events will be taking place in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Orly Wahba, CEO and founder of Life Vest Inside, recently moved from the US to Israel and believes the flash mob in Jerusalem holds a special significance. It is her personal goal to use Dance for Kindness to present Israel in a way the world usually does not see.

“The Middle East is known to the world as a place of conflict, hatred, fear, mistrust, animosity and war. Through Dance for Kindness we can show that even in a place of high tension, kindness prevails,” she told Israel21c.

Anyone can participate, and registration fees go towards Life Vest Inside and local charities, which are chosen by the group leader of each specific flash mob. Participants learn the dance beforehand then meet up a few hours before the event to practice with the other dancers. This year the Jerusalem event will be taking place at the popular First Station plaza. There will be a community art project at 7 p.m. while the actual dance will take place at 8 p.m.

Each year there is also a competition for upcoming musicians to have their song chosen for next year’s dance. This year’s winner was “Unity” by The Solomon Brothers, who will perform on stage at First Station afterwards. Also performing is Israeli pop star Ishay Ribo.

The Dance for Kindness launches World Kindness Week—including International World Kindness Day on November 13.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, November 7, 2018)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/LifeVestInside

Prayer Focus
Pray that this event will touch the hearts and lives of those who participate as well as those who are watching.

Scripture

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!


- Psalm 133:1

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