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. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.
Israel Votes to Ease Lockdown Restrictions
by Itamer Eichner
Friday, 16 October 2020 | Israel’s coronavirus cabinet voted to reopen small business that don’t involve interaction with the public, kindergartens, takeaway food services and beaches starting Sunday.
During Thursday’s meeting, which lasted nearly five hours, ministers also approved events, [including] weddings, with up to 10 people in confined space and up to 20 participants in an open area.
The ban on the public to leave home beyond one kilometer was also lifted.
Cities and communities classified as “red,” indicating high coronavirus infection rate, will remain in lockdown until [the] contagion rate in those areas is lowered.
Head of the Association of Restaurants Chef Haim Cohen praised the decision to allow takeaway from restaurants.
Earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed his decision to impose a month-long nationwide lockdown in response to spiraling coronavirus infections, calling it a success that European countries want to learn from.
Speaking to ministers at the start of a coronavirus cabinet meeting to discuss an exit strategy from the closure, Netanyahu cautioned that a third lockdown was possible should Israel not lift restrictions in a measured and gradual manner.
Some ministers expressed concern that Netanyahu intended to extend the lockdown further and not lift restrictions that would allow young children back to kindergartens and schools as well as delay the reopening of some small businesses that do not involve public interaction.
While daily cases have declined, coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu said Thursday that while he was optimistic, Israel must see a steady reduction of both new cases and the rate of contagion for a period of one week before restrictions can be lifted.
“We appear to be reaching our goals and would be able to begin lifting some restrictions next week,” he told Army Radio.
Photo Credit: Micky Rosenfeld/Police foreign press spokesman
Praise the Lord for the lower infection rate in Israel! Lift up this nation’s leaders in prayer, asking the Lord to give them wisdom and courage, as they still have many difficult decisions ahead of them that will affect every person in this nation. Also ask for God’s hand of protection over this land and people, shielding them from further infection and harm from the virus.
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling. For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.
Israel, Lebanon Conclude “Productive” First Border Negotiations in 30 Years
by Ilse Strauss
Thursday, 15 October 2020 | In yet another harbinger of frosty ties in the Middle East thawing, delegations from Israel and Lebanon—two nations technically at war with each other—yesterday sat down for the first border negotiations in 30 years.
Hailed as a “historic” feat with the potential to add a measure of prosperity and stability to the volatile Middle East, the talks were aimed at settling a decades-old maritime border dispute over the precise demarcation of the two countries’ territorial waters in the natural gas-rich Mediterranean Sea.
The disputed waters in question comprise 330 square miles (854 square kilometers) in the Mediterranean that both Jerusalem and Beirut claim as their own. Moreover, both Israel and Lebanon aim to include the territory in efforts to exploit offshore natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean, setting the two countries—and the rest of the region—on a collision course.
Yesterday’s one-and-a-half-hour meeting was the fruit of three years of US diplomats working to calm the waters and kick-start negotiations. Their efforts paid off. The two frosty neighbors finally met in a large tent at the United Nations Interim Force headquarters in Naqoura, some 656 feet (200 meters) north of the Israel–Lebanon border.
It remains unclear whether the negotiations made any progress.
A joint statement issued by the US and the UN hailed the talks as “productive,” with the next round scheduled for October 28.
However, according to the Jerusalem Post, the negotiations lacked neighborly cordiality, with the Lebanese representatives refusing to speak directly to their Israeli counterparts. In fact, a statement issued by the Lebanese delegation chief Bassam Yassin failed to mention Israel by name and described the talks as “indirect” and “technical.”
Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah’s television channel, Al-Manar, expounded on the mechanics, highlighting that the Lebanese translator would address the UN and American delegation, who would then pass the message to the Israelis.
Israel seemed unfazed by the cold shoulder. Ahead of the meeting, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz cautioned that expectations “need to be realistic.”
“We’re not talking about peace talks or negotiations over normalization,” Steinitz explained, “but rather about the attempt to solve a technical-economic problem that for a decade has been preventing us from developing natural resources in the sea for the benefit of the people of the region.”
Expecting Beirut to morph from bitter enemy to joining the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in finally clasping Jerusalem’s outstretched hand of peace is indeed farfetched. However, this is the first time in decades that Israeli and Lebanese officials met together under one roof to pursue a common goal. It’s not ideal. Not even close. But it’s something.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 15, 2020)
Photo Credit: WKing/bridgesforpeace.com
Thank our Father for this significant progress in Israel’s relationship with Lebanon, and pray that the relationship between these two nations will grow warmer and warmer with each meeting, culminating in an official peace and normalization in ties. Pray that these meetings will bear fruit and that Israel and Lebanon will come to an agreement on their shared border.
When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Israel, Hamas Reportedly Reach Six-month Cease-fire Deal
by Kate Norman
Monday, 12 October 2020 | The Jewish state and the terrorist group that controls the Gaza Strip have reportedly reached another cease-fire agreement, mediated by Qatar.
Israel’s Channel 12 news reported on Sunday that the Hamas terror organization agreed to a six-month period of quiet in southern Israel in exchange for oil-rich Qatar transferring US $100 million to the enclave.
Hamas leaders were threatening to escalate clashes on the border, the report said, after living and economic conditions plummeted in the enclave, exacerbated by the virus.
Qatar frequently pours millions of dollars into the enclave in negotiations for calm between Gaza and Israel, and the coffer of money from the last round of Qatari funding was reportedly running low.
The head of the Mossad (Israel’s internal security agency) and the Israel Defense Forces Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) reportedly negotiated the terms of the deal.
One of the main topics on the table is negotiating the release of two Israeli captives, Avraham Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who separately entered the terror enclave, Mengistu in 2014 and al-Sayed in 2015. Neither have been seen or heard from since, except for basic proof of life. Israel has also been attempting for years to negotiate the return of the bodies of two IDF soldiers who were killed in 2014.
The situation had previously been relatively quiet in the border region after an earlier Qatar-mediated cease-fire in August, following an especially volatile round of fighting. Only two attacks have broken the tentative quiet since August: a barrage of rockets fired on September 15—while Israel was signing historic peace agreements in Washington DC with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
One rocket was also fired from the enclave last week, which the IDF said landed in an open field, causing no damage. The military launched a retaliatory strike on Hamas targets in the Strip, reportedly causing no casualties.
Clearly, terrorists in Gaza take cease-fires and peace agreements lightly—leading to the inevitable question: will they honor this particular cease-fire after breaking all the previous agreements?
Nonetheless, Israeli residents—especially those who live just over the border from the volatile enclave—are hoping that the influx of Qatari funds will revitalize living conditions in the Strip and pacify Hamas, at least for the time being.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 12, 2020)
Photo Credit: Thephotostrand/wikimedia.org
Photo License: wikimedia.org
Rejoice with God for His protection over the Land of Israel from her enemies. Praise and thank Him for this most recent cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, praying that it will bring much-needed peace and calm for the Israeli families who live near the border with Gaza. Pray that Hamas will honor their end of the bargain and that the border will experience peace like never before.
“I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none will make you afraid; I will rid the land of evil beasts, and the sword will not go through your land.”
Netanyahu, UAE Crown Prince Plan Meeting as Knesset Seals Peace Deal
by Kate Norman
Wednesday, 14 October 2020 | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke over the weekend with the United Arab Emirates’ Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed to discuss upcoming meetings after the Israeli government finalizes approval of the peace deal.
On Monday, the Knesset (Parliament) unanimously voted in approval of the historic Abraham Accords peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
Describing the Emirati prince as his friend, Netanyahu told the Cabinet on Monday: “I invited him to visit Israel. He invited me to visit Abu Dhabi.”
Even before those reciprocal visits, however, Netanyahu said a UAE delegation will visit Israel, and another Israeli delegation headed by Israel’s national security adviser will visit the Gulf state.
“I assure you that we will welcome the delegation from the UAE with the same warmth and the same great excitement as the Israeli delegation was welcomed in Abu Dhabi,” the prime minister said, referring to the groundbreaking visit of an Israeli delegation to the Arab state in August following the announcement of the landmark peace agreement a few weeks earlier.
The Israeli prime minister and the Emirati prince during the weekend phone call discussed their evolving cooperation in multiple areas, including technology, finance, tourism, investment and especially the fight against COVID-19.
“These agreements express the dramatic change that we have made in Israel’s status in the region,” Netanyahu told the Cabinet. “The Arab states want to make peace with us because they see how we have turned Israel into a major power…
“They understand that we can assist them in very many areas,” he continued. “they see that Israel is neither a burden nor an enemy—but a vital ally all the time, but especially now.”
Now the treaty only awaits ratification by Israel’s Cabinet before it is signed and sealed in the Jewish state. The agreement also awaits approval and ratification from Emirati lawmakers before it is official between the two nations.
An official peace treaty has yet to be inked with Bahrain, who entered the Abraham Accords later. Netanyahu assured the Cabinet that those agreements are being completed, “meaning that we will be making peace with two Arab states at the same time.”
The firstfruits of the peace between Abraham’s descendants arrived in Haifa’s port on Monday when a cargo ship from Dubai made its first journey from the Arab Gulf nation to the Jewish state. The MSC Paris made history as one of the first cargo ships to travel from the UAE to Israel’s northern port, carrying electronics, iron, firefighting equipment and cleaning supplies, according to Reuters.
Praising the newfound peace as a “very major geopolitical turning point,” Netanyahu said more Arab and Muslim countries will soon join hands with Israel.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 14, 2020)
Photo Credit: U.S. Embassy Jerusalem/flickr.com
Photo License: flickr.com
Give God the glory and praise for this blossoming peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, as well as the warm words of friendship between PM Netanyahu and Crown Prince bin Zayed. Pray that the process of finalizing the peace agreements will go smoothly and that both nations will be blessed by this peace and quickly see fruit from the newfound friendship.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will life up his companion.
Israel Approves Plan to Bring Home 2,000 Ethiopian Jewish Immigrants
by Joshua Spurlock
Thursday, 15 October 2020 | With borders around the world closed due to coronavirus, Israel is making a special effort to bring more people into their country by approving a plan on Sunday to help 2,000 Ethiopian Jews immigrate to the Holy Land. The immigrants, from a group of Jews in the African nation who are known as the Falash Mura, are expected to arrive in 2021, according to an Israeli press release.
“This government decision will enable the dreams of families that have been separated for over a decade to come true—to finally be reunited, in Israel,” Isaac Herzog, chairman of The Jewish Agency, said in the press release. “It is our moral duty to answer the prayers and pleas of those waiting in Ethiopia to come to Israel.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said the move fulfills a promise he made six months ago to help the Jews immigrate to Israel, which is known as aliyah in Hebrew. Netanyahu, speaking in a separate press release published by his office, said they would also “act to bring all of the rest” of the Ethiopian Jews to the Jewish state.
The move is done in coordination with the Ethiopian government.
“A few days ago, I spoke with another friend of mine, the prime minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed,” said Netanyahu. “He said that he will give all assistance to the important action that we are now doing. Ethiopia is open to this action and the diplomatic cooperation between us is—of course—facilitating the aliyah of the remaining Ethiopian Jews without hindrance.”
There are thousands of Jews in Ethiopia, believed to be descendants of converts influenced by the Queen of Sheba following her visit to learn the wisdom of Israel’s King Solomon millennia ago.
The Israeli press release detailing reactions of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and The Jewish Agency noted that the two agencies have coordinated to bring more than 92,000 Ethiopian immigrants to Israel over the last forty years.
The press release noted that most of the Jews in Ethiopia have left homes to move to the major Ethiopian cities of Gondar and Addis Ababa to wait for the travel to Israel. The Israeli press release noted that “despite their ongoing limbo and harsh conditions, the communities in these cities maintain a strong Jewish identity and carry out daily Jewish rituals.”
“Helping Ethiopians and Jews worldwide come home to Israel is one of clearest demonstrations of our love and commitment to the State of Israel, which is central to our core mission,” said Mark Wilf, chair of JFNA’s board of trustees, in the press release.
While COVID-19 is not preventing Israel from moving forward with the immigration commitment, it will likely impact the new arrivals. The Israeli press release noted that all immigration to Israel is done in line with the guidelines from the Israeli Ministry of Health. The Jewish Agency arranges for any necessary quarantines as part of that process.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, The Jewish Agency has helped more than 300 emigrate from Ethiopia to Israel.
The press release noted that the cost of the immigration is “high” because of coronavirus restrictions, and that’s just part of the broader cost to bring Jews home to Israel. It’s obviously a price worth paying now and in the future.
“In recent years, we have brought about the aliyah of many thousands of our people in Ethiopia and we will continue to do so,” said Netanyahu. “At the same time, we have invested vast budgets of tens of millions on the absorption and integration of the immigrants, and in advancing and strengthening the community in various fields, and we will also continue to do this.”
Source: (This article was originally published by the Mideast Update on October 13, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)
Photo Credit: bridgesforpeace.com
Thank God for the Israeli government’s willingness and conviction to help their Ethiopian brethren return to their ancient homeland! Remind the Lord of His promises millennia ago to bring back His people scattered across the globe to the Land which He promised them, and ask Him to fulfill those promises for these people who long to come home. Also, lift up the nation of Ethiopia, asking God’s blessing over them in response to their willingness to work with Israel and help these people.
If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. Then the LORD your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.
IDF Destroys Two Syrian Outposts in Rare Covert Operation
by Kate Norman
Thursday, 15 October 2020 | The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) crossed into the demilitarized zone between the Jewish state and Syria and destroyed two regime military posts last week, according to a report by Israel’s Channel 12 news.
The covert operation involved soldiers from two units, Yahalom—a combat engineering unit—and Nahal, sneaking into the demilitarized zone under cover of darkness “in a silent and covert manner to the targets, placing a system of explosives on both outposts and blowing them up simultaneously,” a Yahalom commander said, as quoted by the Jerusalem Post.
A Nahal commander said in the report that their operation took place about 500 meters (1,600 ft) away from a manned Syrian position.
The no-man’s-land between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights was designated in 1974 as a buffer zone to be manned by a specially dedicated United Nations force.
The UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), however, has failed to observe a few things, allowing the Syrian state regime to violate the agreement and establish military outposts in the demilitarized zone—prompting the IDF to take action.
Israeli leaders have repeatedly vowed to prevent Iran from entrenching itself along the Jewish state’s borders, where the Islamic Republic could easily launch attacks against Israel. The Syrian regime has known ties to Iran and Hezbollah, Tehran’s terror puppet in Lebanon.
“We know about the collaboration between the Syrian military and Hezbollah,” Yahalom unit Lt.–Col. Tal Goritzki told Channel 12. “Every Syrian military establishment has the potential to become a dual military establishment. We won’t allow southern Syria to become southern Lebanon.”
The IDF has exposed Hezbollah and its operations in southern Lebanon, specifically in storing weapons near—and sometimes inside—civilian homes and neighborhoods, hiding behind the Lebanese people as human shields.
Over the years, Israeli military and political leaders have acknowledged that the IDF has conducted hundreds of strikes in war-torn Syria since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in 2011 to prevent Iran and its proxies from entrenching in the chaotic region.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 15, 2020)
Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/flickr.com
Photo License: flickr.com
Ask for God’s continued hand of protection over Israel’s military, citizens and borders. Give Him glory and thanks for the successful IDF operation. Pray against the plans of the Syrian regime, Iran and Hezbollah to entrench themselves along Israel’s borders or attack Israel. Lift up the IDF in your prayers, asking God to give them wisdom, discernment, courage and strength as they work hard to keep this country safe.
You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand has held me up. Your gentleness has made me great. You enlarged my path under me, so my feet did not slip. For You have armed me with strength for the battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me.
UAE Commercial Flight Enters Israeli Airspace for the First Time
by Itay Blumenthal
Thursday, 15 October 2020 | For the first time ever, a commercial flight of an Emirati company entered Israeli airspace on Wednesday.
An Etihad Airways flight from Milan, Italy, to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates was the first one from the Gulf state to receive permission to fly over Israel and Jordan, thus significantly shortening the time of travel by an hour and a half.
Israel and Jordan signed a deal last Thursday to open more flight paths over both countries and shorten flight times between Gulf states, the Far East and Asia, and Europe and North America.
Israeli airspace will now be used by a multitude of Arab countries, including Iraq, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, as part of a new aviation agreement between Jerusalem and Amman.
The flight inspector notified the pilot upon the plane’s entry into Israeli airspace.
“Captain, we are excited and happy to have you in Israel,” the flight inspector said. “This is a historic moment we have all been waiting for, and we hope it will inspire the whole region and start a new era, God willing.”
Israel normalized ties with the UAE in August as part of a US-brokered deal, known as the Abraham Accords, signed last month at the White House alongside Bahrain.
Meanwhile, Ben Gurion Airport is expected to open on Thursday at midnight for flights as the government is set to start lifting some of the restrictions of the coronavirus lockdown.
Once open, travelers will be able to travel from Ben Gurion Airport to “green countries” [countries with low coronavirus infection rates] without entering isolation upon their return to Israel. Passengers will be able to purchase plane tickets starting Wednesday and arrive at Ben Gurion Airport starting Thursday.
Photo Credit: tjdarmstadt/wikimedia.org
Photo License: wikimedia.org
God is good! Praise His name and give thanks for the skies opening above Israel. As Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “This means that Israel is no longer a cul-de-sac but is becoming a main hub.” Pray that this will be a rich blessing for Israel, the UAE, Jordan and all other countries involved and that more nations will be drawn into peace with the Jewish state.
“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.”
Social Media Win: Facebook Bans Holocaust Denial Posts
by Kate Norman
Tuesday, 13 October 2020 | Facebook will now ban content that promotes Holocaust denial, the social media giant’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, announced on Monday.
This is a significant shift from Zuckerberg’s previous policy. In a 2018 interview, the Facebook founder—himself a Jew—said his site would not ban Holocaust deniers from the platform.
However, in Monday’s statement, Zuckerberg announced that his thinking “has evolved as I’ve seen data showing an increase in anti-Semitic violence.”
No doubt the strong push by Jewish advocacy groups guided Zuckerberg to this new perspective, including a social media campaign called #NoDenyingIt in which Holocaust survivors called on Facebook to remove the content.
A Facebook official also said the social media giant had been in discussions with the American Jewish Committee, the World Jewish Congress, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and other Jewish advocacy organizations about its policies.
Those groups are now applauding the decision, praising it as action against anti-Semitism and hatred.
“Denying the Holocaust, trivializing it, minimizing it, is a tool used to spread hatred and false conspiracies about Jews and other minorities,” World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder responded, as quoted by the Jerusalem Post.
“Today’s announcement sends a strong message that Facebook will not allow its platform to be misused to promote hate,” Lauder added.
Noting that Facebook has already removed content that promotes or praises violence and hate crimes, Zuckerberg added in his announcement: “But with rising anti-Semitism, we’re expanding our policy to prohibit any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust…”
Now, Facebook users who search the word “Holocaust” will be directed to “authoritative sources to get accurate information,” Zuckerberg added.
“I’ve struggled with the tension between standing for free expression and the harm caused by minimizing or denying the horror of the Holocaust,” the Facebook founder continued in his statement.
“Drawing the right lines between what is and isn’t acceptable speech isn’t straightforward, but with the current state of the world, I believe this is the right balance,” he concluded.
Facebook’s announcement on its new policy “marks another step in our effort to fight hate on our services,” wrote Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of Content Policy, on a blog post about the decision.
“Our decision is supported by the well-documented rise in anti-Semitism globally and the alarming level of ignorance about the Holocaust, especially among young people,” Bickert continued, adding that a recent survey revealed that a quarter of US young adults “believe the Holocaust was a myth, that it had been exaggerated or they weren’t sure.”
This is a victory for the fight to shine a light on the ugly truth of the past to ensure that it never happens again.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 13, 2020)
Photo Credit: Oleg Magni/pexels.com
Thank the Lord for this wonderful answer to prayer! We have asked you to stand with us in prayer more than once that the leadership at Facebook would see the light and change their anti-Semitic, Holocaust-denying policies. Even though it seemed impossible, God has been faithful to orchestrate this shift in Facebook’s policy and overall thinking. Continue to pray against the evil hatred of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, and ask the Lord to bless this effort to reveal the truth to the world about the ugliness of what happened to ensure that it is never again repeated.
These are the things you shall do: speak each man the truth to his neighbor; give judgment in your gates for truth, justice and peace.
Wave of Wildfires in Israel Brought under Control
by Ilse Strauss
Monday, 12 October 2020 | The 10,000 Israelis forced to flee their homes as a sea of flames threatened to engulf communities in northern Israel were allowed to return home after firefighters managed to bring the wave of more than 250 blazes raging across Judea and Samaria, the Golan Heights as well as the Galilee area under control.
Teams of firefighters battled through the night on Friday and late into Saturday afternoon to quench several large blazes that broke out on Friday morning near several communities and major highways. The Israeli police and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Home Front Command were called in on Friday afternoon to help quench the fires and evacuate those in its path.
By the time the blazes were brought under control late on Saturday, some 740 acres of land had gone up in smoke. Dozens of homes had been destroyed and several more damaged. Dozens of people, including 10 firefighters, were treated for smoke inhalation.
Fires also raged across Israel’s northern border in Lebanon and war-torn Syria. According to Lebanon’s state news agency, conflagrations tore through a number of villages on the Lebanon–Israel boundary, detonating several landmines along the front. No injuries were reported.
The Middle East is currently sweltering in the grips of an unseasonal heat wave. While the fires were reportedly triggered by the scorching, dry conditions, Israeli officials believe that arson was likely the cause of at least some of the blazes.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 12, 2020)
Photo Credit: Micky Rosenfeld/Police foreign press spokesman
Thank the Lord for blessing the efforts of Israel’s firefighters in bringing the blazes under control. Ask Him to protect this dry and parched land from further fires and to shower Israel with rain, peace and protection.
He gives rain on the earth, and sends water on the fields. He sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
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