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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.

Israeli Security Cabinet Convenes to Discuss Escalation in Gaza

by Itamar Eichner and Itay Blumenthal

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A rocket fired from Gaza hit a house in Beersheva, where an Israeli mother and her three children were sleeping moments before.

Thursday, 18 October 2018 | The Security Cabinet convened Wednesday in Prime Minister’s Benjamin Netanyahu’s office to discuss possible security developments following the rocket fire launched from Gaza, hitting a house in the city of Beersheva and the sea off the coast of a city in central Israel.

Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot attended the Cabinet meeting after cutting his work visit to the US short.

Before the meeting began, GOC [General Officer Commanding] Southern Command Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi said that “Hamas presumes to control Gaza, telling the Strip’s residents it is trying to improve their situation.

“In practice, the rampant violence on the Gaza border in the shape of incendiary balloons, explosive devices and rockets, as we witnessed Wednesday early morning, is only worsening the situation of Gaza’s residents, prompting us to attack Hamas’s weapon manufacturing sites, headquarters and underground terror infrastructure,” he elaborated.

“All the targets we attacked were destroyed, and will be very difficult to reconstruct,” Halevi stated, in reference to the 20 Hamas targets the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] struck in retaliation for the rockets launched from Gaza.

“The IDF is prepared for all future scenarios and has the know-how to respond with greater power,” he concluded.

The rocket alert siren went off at 3.39 a.m. in Beersheva and surrounding communities in the Negev region, following which a rocket hit a house, breaking through two floors of concrete.

Seven people were treated for shock after the attack, including a 39-year-old mother and her three children aged 9, 10, and 12, who were in the house when it was hit. In addition, three people were taken to the Soroka Medical Center in the city suffering from light bruising sustained when falling as they were running for shelter.

At around 8.30 a.m. the code red rocket alert was once again sounded in southern Israel, this time in two communities in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. There have been no reports of injuries or damage. An IAF [Israeli Air Force] aircraft attacked the terror cell that tried to launch rockets at Israel.

School was cancelled in Beersheva, Sderot and the Gaza border communities following the rocket fire, though Ben-Gurion University announced classes will be held as normal.

Several hours later, Hamas and the [Palestinian] Islamic Jihad [PIJ] released a joint statement in which they said they “oppose rocket fire that hurts the efforts to lift the siege.”

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit released footage showing the IAF’s attack of one of the terror tunnels in the Strip.

IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis said that only two organizations manufacture the medium-range rockets fired at Israel—Hamas and PIJ—adding the responsibility lies on Hamas, no matter which of the two terror organization fired the rockets.

According to a preliminary investigation by the Home Front Command, the rocket weighed about 20 kilograms [44 pounds] and penetrated through three concrete layers.

“The safety room saved the lives of those staying at home,” the Home Front Command added.

Earlier, credible sources told Ynet Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman is expected to demand at the meeting that the IDF lands a series of strong blows on the Gaza Strip at a magnitude not seen since the 2014 Operation Protective Edge.

Lieberman will likely propose to avoid a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, but he will urge his fellow Cabinet members to press ahead with the campaign even if the Palestinians respond with rocket and missile fire at Israel, including at the Greater Tel Aviv area.

The defense minister believes the early morning rocket fire launched from Gaza only bolsters his assessment that Hamas has already thrown out the rule book on Friday, and that the terror group wishes to prove Israel surrenders to military pressure from it.

On Friday morning, Israel allowed four tankers of Qatari-funded fuel into the Gaza Strip and carried out additional relief steps at border crossings and in the Gaza fishing zone.

Despite that, Hamas terrorists blew a hole in the border fence and mounted an attack on IDF soldiers, with three of the seven [terrorists] killed in Friday’s clashes on the border identified as fighters from Hamas’s military wing.

Lieberman will likely not receive support from all IDF generals, as some believe there is still a need and a reason to give the Egyptian mediation efforts a chance and reach an arrangement on both the security and humanitarian situation in the Strip.

However, following the early morning rocket attack and subsequent IAF strikes, there is division among the top IDF generals as well, with some supporting the defense minister’s position to deliver a series of blows on the Gaza Strip now, even at the cost of escalation in violence that would last at least a few days.

In light of the current security situation in the south, the Ministry of Interior—in coordination with the Finance Ministry—immediately transferred seven million shekels to the Gaza [border] communities’ residents for emergency supplies and the continuation of routine services provided to them.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said that “The intolerable security conditions under which the Gaza border communities live, obligate (the government) to provide them with as much aid as possible.

“A special budget was transferred to the local southern authorities to assist the residents to resume their routine and prepare themselves for emergency,” he explained.

Netanyahu visited on Wednesday the Gaza Division, where he held a situation assessment with the heads of the IDF and the defense establishment.

“I said at the outset of the government meeting this week that if these attacks (from Gaza) don’t stop, we’ll make them stop,” he said.

“Israel will act with great force,” he vowed.

Meanwhile, an Israeli official confirmed Wednesday that Egyptian intelligence head Abbas Kamel would not arrive in Israel, the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority on Thursday as scheduled.

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published by Ynetnews on October 17, 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces @IDFSpokesperson/Twitter

Prayer Focus
Pray that the Lord will bless Israel’s Security Cabinet and other leaders with tremendous wisdom as they deal with escalating violence in and from Gaza. Ask the Lord for an end to the terror that is traumatizing innocent Israeli civilians.

Scripture

I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, and when you run, you will not stumble.


- Proverbs 4:11–12

Netanyahu: “We Continue to Act against Establishment of Iranian Military in Syria”

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PM Netanyahu says he is still on good terms with Russian president Putin.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018 | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that Israel continues to act against the establishment of Iranian military in Syria, and emphasized that he stays in constant contact with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

“Even today Israel is acting against Iran in Syria, and we will continue to try and push it back,” Netanyahu exclaimed.

Netanyahu also emphasized his close relationship with Putin, in light of recent tensions caused by the downing of the Russian spy plane in Syria, which sparked an international crisis and prompted the Russians to supply the Syrian army with S-300 anti-aircraft systems.

“I maintain frequent and direct contact with President Putin… Our friendly relations and mutual appreciation is very important to me. It allows us to deal with complex and difficult challenges in our region. These relations are also important for the security of Israel,” Netanyahu stressed.

“However,” went on the prime minister, “the most important of all is the alliance we’ve established with our greatest friend—the United States.”

“Not only is the Trump administration committed to support us when it comes to security, the American president has also elevated the US support for Israel at the UN [United Nations] to a whole new level. We are in the eye of the storm, with the turbulent Middle East around us, but I will not let this storm shake us,” the prime minister said as he thanked all national security bodies.

The prime minister also addressed the Palestinian issue and the volatile situation along the southern border.

“As a person who has fought in wars and lost friends and comrades who fell in battle, I know how bad and painful a war is. I am doing everything to prevent unnecessary wars, but if we are required to act against our enemies, we won’t hesitate,” he stressed

“I would like to emphasize that the obstacle to peace is not in our midst, it is among the Palestinians,” he added.

Netanyahu also accused Palestinian [Authority] president Mahmoud Abbas of indirectly supporting terrorism by providing payments to perpetrators and not condemning terror attacks on Israeli citizens.

“So far, I have not heard Abbas’s condemnation of the cruel and shocking murder of Kim Levengrond Yehezkel and Ziv Hagbi,” he bemoaned, adding “the Palestinian Authority continues to finance these vile murderers. Abbas, who demands a Palestinian nation-state free of Jews… rewards those who murder Jews.”

As for Israel’s achievements over the past decade, which Netanyahu labeled “prosperous”, the prime minister said that “our foreign relations are unprecedented, hundreds of heads of state, ministers and senior members of parliament come to Israel every year.”

“They admire our military and intelligence capabilities, they admire our economic and technological strength, we systematically nurture these strengths and they give us tremendous political power.”

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published in Ynetnews on October 15, 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.) 

Photo Credit: Supreme Deliciousness/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for Israel’s strategic alliances that are helping to bring a degree of stability to the region. Pray that those relationships will remain strong and function only within the will of the Lord.

Scripture

He frustrates the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot carry out their plans. He catches the wise in their own craftiness, and the counsel of the cunning comes quickly upon them. But He saves the needy from the sword, from the mouth of the mighty, and from their hand. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts her mouth.


- Job 5:12–13, 15–16

Australia Mulls Embassy Move to Jerusalem

by Kate Norman

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The Australian PM Scott Morrison discusses the proposed move of the Australian embassy to Jerusalem.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018 | Australia may become the third nation to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move its embassy from Tel Aviv—following US president Donald Trump’s move in May and Guatemala’s soon after. Australian prime minister Scott Morrison will make announcements today regarding his decision.

The idea for the recognition and the move was suggested by Australian businessman Dave Sharma, who served as Australia’s ambassador to Israel from 2013–2017. The day after the US opened its Jerusalem embassy in May, Morrison took to Twitter, saying Australia should consider recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital without prejudice to its final boundaries or potential status as the capital of a future Palestinian state, even if the country doesn’t move its embassy.

“Where else do we disagree with a country about where its capital is?” he wrote.

Prime Minister Morrison has faced opposition from within the Parliament, saying he is overturning decades of Australian bipartisan policy on Israel and a two-state solution. He responded, “It was because of our commitment to a two-state solution that we believe that we need to be open to more innovative ways to progress that agenda and that should involve consideration not only of the recognition of the capital of Israel being Jerusalem, but also of a Palestinian state in East Jerusalem, and for an embassy to potentially be located in West Jerusalem.”

He later added: “We believe in a two-state solution, and we’re prepared to listen to innovative ideas, like those from the former ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, who would know more about this issue than any single person sitting on those benches. And I would welcome his contribution in this chamber as someone who understands the sensitivities and the complexities of achieving a two-state solution. So we know what Dave Sharma stands for. We know what I stand for.”

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed he had spoken to Morrison about the decision and said in a tweet yesterday, “I spoke today with Australian PM [Scott Morrison]. He informed me that he is considering officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel & moving the Australian embassy to Jerusalem. I’m very thankful to him for this. We will continue to strengthen ties between [Israel and Australia]!”

The world’s eyes are on Australia as it deliberates over the next few hours, deciding whether it will join the US and Guatemala in acknowledging Israel’s capital and opening new embassy doors in Jerusalem, ultimately strengthening the relationship between the nations.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 16, 2018)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/Youtube/TRT World Now

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for Australia’s interest in relocating their embassy to Israel’s capital city of Jerusalem. Pray that this initiative will move ahead, sending a message to other nations of the world that Jerusalem and Jerusalem alone is the eternal and undivided capital of the state of Israel.

Scripture

For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns. The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD will name. You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.


- Isaiah 62:1–3

More Incendiary Balloons Reach the Heartland of Israel

by Inbar Tvizer, Itai Blumenthal, Yishai Porat, Matan Tzuri and Roi Rubinstein

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The discovery of terror balloons in Jerusalem and major inland cities has greatly increased over the past week.

Monday, 15 October 2018 | While in the Gaza border communities the kite and balloon terrorism has continued for more than half a year, their range seems to be spreading to the center of the country as well. Recently the flammable objects were found in Rishon LeZion, Bat Yam, Givat Brenner, Modi’in and in the Jerusalem area.

One of the balloons was discovered in the yard of the home of Almog Peretz from Givat Ze’ev. “We got up in the morning and saw a balloon attached to a wire attached to a cigarette and a blue object—apparently explosives,” Peretz said. “We called the police and a sapper came and ordered us out of the house. The balloon could have ignited and burnt the whole yard.”

In the Shfela region, such occurrences have been going on for almost two weeks. Several incendiary balloons were found in the Modi’in region, and in the city of Modi’in itself. The same happened in Nof Ayalon, at Kibbutz Hafetz Haim, and the last incident occurred on Saturday at a parking lot in Givat Brenner.

All the balloons were found in open areas away from private homes, and none of them caused a flare-up.

“Before Shabbat I saw eight balloons that were attached to some sort of object. It looked suspicious; they were moving fast but were not burning,” said Revital Hadad who saw incendiary balloons hovering above her house in Beit Shemesh (45 km. [29 mi.] from the Gaza strip).

“We immediately called the police. It was very scary and my daughters were very anxious and started asking questions. We’ve already heard that there were balloons in the area, but now I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I hope it does not turn into a phenomenon,” she said with concern.

Meanwhile, a firefighting official tried to put matters into perspective: “Fortunately for us, so far, 99% of the time the balloons reach these areas when they are no longer burning and their fuel is depleted.” However, he added: “We take every such instance seriously—we go secure the site and we check that there is no chance of a fire.”

According to him, while in the Gaza vicinity, emergency service crews are very familiar with the matter, in the center of the country there is no particular protocol for handling the matter and every balloon is treated as just another fire incident. “I assume that now, after the last few weeks, the balloon issue has a higher awareness among fire fighters in the center of the country.”

On Friday, an incendiary balloon was neutralized in Rishon Letzion before it could cause casualties or damage. A police sapper was called to Shprinzak Street in the city, where the balloon with an Arabic inscription was located on a safety railing. That was the fifth balloon that landed in the Shfela region last week.

Following the incident, Rishon LeZion mayor Dov Tzur convened the city’s security forces to assess the situation and instructions were issued to the municipal hotline to handle every incident quickly. In addition, the municipality requests that residents report any suspicious object to the police or the municipal hotline and refrain from touching it.

Last Thursday around midday, a suspicious balloon landed on Bar-Ilan Street in Bat Yam, causing a street closure and police sappers rushed to the scene. The balloon, which was identical to other balloons recently launched from the strip (white with a red logo of one of the Palestinian organizations), was attached to a piece of cloth with combustible material that was apparently extinguished during its flight.

One of the police sappers at the scene said that in his opinion, the balloon could not have come from the Gaza Strip—but he could not rule it out. “The distance from Gaza to here is more than 50 km. [32 mi.] and it seems to me bizarre,” he said. “I’m not a balloon expert, but we treat every suspicious object seriously so that passersby will not be hurt. I’ve heard of a number of balloons that landed in the center and the Shfela and it raises a lot of questions that I have no answers to.”

Security officials also say that it is quite possible that not all of the balloons that landed in the center of the country last week actually came from the Gaza Strip, but may have been launched from cities in the center of the country in imitation of events in Gaza, perhaps in solidarity with the Palestinians.

The menace of incendiary balloons has increased significantly in recent days. In some cases the balloons have caused damage more than 20 km. [12 mi.] from the Gaza Strip.

In recent days, the phenomenon has gained momentum and has become more sophisticated: balloons are being connected to small, sophisticated and deadly explosive devices. In the Gaza vicinity where many explosive devices have been found in schools, private homes and on major roads, residents are already in despair.

On an average day, ten fires were ignited in the region and last weekend saw 15 fires. On Saturday, for example, a balloon landed in the yard of a house in Kibbutz Zikim, and last week another was found in a school in the Eshkol Regional Council.

Due to the proliferation of incendiary balloons landing outside of the Gaza vicinity, the issue was examined by the police, who are now working with the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] and the Shin Bet [Israeli internal security organization] to try to understand where the balloons are coming from and locate those responsible. So far, no suspects have been identified.

The role of the sapper is to isolate the immediate area around the balloon and send a robot to neutralize it for fear of an explosion. “In the past three months, we have treated hundreds of cases in the south, sometimes dozens of balloons a day, and it is important for us to call on citizens to stay away and call the police if they encounter a suspicious balloon,” said a police sapper from the southern district.

“This is a war of attrition,” said one Gaza region resident. “We breathe smoke almost all day because of the fires, and the children never stop asking questions. If before we used to talk to them about the importance of immediately entering the bomb shelter when they hear a Code Red alarm, now we are talking to them about incendiary balloons. My biggest fear is that something will happen to a little child who just sees a balloon and decides to play with it. It’s so cruel.”

Last Tuesday, KKL reported that about 12,000 dunams [3,000 acres/1200 hectares] of forest and natural woodland have been burnt across the Gaza border communities over the past six months.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on October 14, 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/Ruptly

Prayer Focus
Pray the Lord will bring the reign of arson terror to an end. Ask Him to guide and direct the police, IDF and Shin Bet as they seek to discover the whereabouts of these enemies of Israel and bring them to justice.

Scripture

He will guard the feet of His saints, but the wicked shall be silent in darkness. “For by strength no man shall prevail. The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken in pieces; from heaven He will thunder against them.”


- 1 Samuel 2:9–10a

Trump’s Envoy Says US Peace Plan will Unite Gaza and Judea and Samaria

by Attila Somfalvi

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During a parliamentary session, PM Netanyahu called Palestinian Authority president Abbas an obstacle to peace.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018 | The White House’s peace plan entails intentions to unify the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and the Gaza Strip, Jason Greenblatt, US president Donald Trump’s special envoy to the Middle East, told Ynet on Tuesday.

Palestinian media outlets claim that a key element of the yet-unreleased US peace plan is separating the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip from the Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

“Let’s be clear about something: Gaza and the West Bank have been separated for 10 years, not only physically, but politically—between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. It’s absurd to deny that reality,” said Greenblatt, who has been working on the plan for the past 19 months alongside senior administration officials, including Jared Kushner, a senior adviser and son-in-law of President Trump.

“In contrast, our peace plan intends to bring them together. Make no mistake; we are in this to help all Palestinians, in both the West Bank and Gaza. The type of disinformation being spread by some parties who have not even seen the plan yet wish to be spoilers does nothing to benefit ordinary Palestinian lives,” he added.

“Once our plan is released, all parties should read it and judge it by its merits. The PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] should be a positive force to change people’s lives for the better, and not try to sway people before they have even seen our plan,” Greenblatt went on to say.

Though uncertainty prevails in the Middle East, senior White House officials have recently said that the unveiling of the American peace plan is approaching.

US officials have noted in recent weeks that “the peace plan will not require Israeli security concessions, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will have to demonstrate leadership and make difficult decisions.”

According to the same sources, President Trump expects both Netanyahu and Palestinian [Authority] president Mahmoud Abbas to positively respond to the American plan and start the negotiation process.

“Israelis on both sides of the political map, the extreme right and the extreme left, will find the plan to be quite logical,” a senior US official added.

At the onset of Knesset’s [Parliament’s] winter session Monday, the prime minister emphasized that the obstacle to peace are the Palestinians, not Israel. Netanyahu also accused Abbas of indirectly supporting terrorism by providing payments to perpetrators and refraining from condemning terrorists.

“So far, I have not heard Abbas’s condemnation of the cruel and shocking murder of Kim Levengrond Yehezkel and Ziv Hagbi,” he said, adding that “the Palestinian Authority continues to finance these vile murderers. Abbas, who demands a Palestinian nation-state free of Jews… rewards those who murder Jews.”

The prime minister continued to slam the Palestinian [Authority] president and addressed the latter’s behavior at a Government Press Office event. “Look at what President Abbas is doing. I mean, he’s rewarding terrorists. Pay for slay. The more they kill, the more they get paid. In his law books there is a law that says that if you sell land to Jews—you’ll be executed. Some peace and some coexistence,” Netanyahu asserted.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on Oct 16, 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/Youtube/IsaeliPM

Prayer Focus
Pray that Israeli leaders will proceed with extreme caution as they determine the viability of the American-proposed peace plan, or any other peace plan that may be proposed in the future.

Scripture

LORD, You will establish peace for us, for You have also done all our works in us. O LORD our God, masters besides You have had dominion over us but by You only we make mention of Your name.


- Isaiah 26:12–13

UN Procures Israeli Security Services to Protect Troops in Africa

by Itamar Eichner

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The UN has awarded an Israeli company a security contract in Africa. (Illustrative)

Thursday, 18 October 2018 | In a move deemed by Israel as a vote of confidence, the United Nations [UN] recently signed purchase agreements worth tens of millions of shekels with Israeli companies specializing in security and water services.

In light of the deteriorating security situation that has severely affected UN aid workers operating in dozens of locations in Africa—just last year 61 UN peacekeepers have been killed in the continent, the highest figure listed in the past in 25 years—the organization decided to launch an emergency tender in order to purchase defense systems for UN bases.

The organization has approached a number of companies from around the world that specialize in defense sensors that can detect precision-guided weapons, such as missiles and mortars. Three out of the five companies contacted by the UN were Israeli.

Ultimately, the Israeli company MER was chosen. The UN recently signed a [US] $8 million deal [29 million shekels] for the next three years, with the option of another five years.

Furthermore, the Israeli water treatment technology company Odis won a UN tender worth [US] $42 million [153 million shekels].

In addition to these purchase agreements, other deals were signed between UN institutions and Israeli companies over the past year.

In 2017, Israeli companies sold $52 million [190 million shekels] worth of products and services to the organization. As a result of the aforementioned transactions, this amount is expected to rise.

The companies were introduced to UN officials by the Israeli delegation to the UN, headed by Ambassador Danny Danon, who held various events in order to promote Israeli acquisition deals.

Since these events were successful, UN officials directly approached the representatives of Israeli companies and invited them to participate in various UN bids.

“Diplomacy offers many opportunities for the advancement of Israel and Israeli industry. I am proud of the Israeli companies joining forces with the United Nations to become an integral part of the organization’s activities worldwide,” Danon said.

“This is yet another achievement for Israel at the United Nations, which will bring tens of millions of shekels to the country, thereby opening up the local industry even further. This is also an opportunity for exposing Israeli businesses to potential acquisition deals with the organization,” he concluded.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on October 17, 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: © MONUSCO/Sylvain Liechti/Wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the incredible spirit of innovation that He has bestowed on Israel. Thank Him for this ironic situation in which the UN, one of Israel’s strongest and most vocal antagonists, is now a willing recipient of Israel’s light.

Scripture

Indeed, He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.”


- Isaiah 49:6–7

How Iran Plans to Take Gaza

by Khaled Abu Toameh ~ Gatestone Institute

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The Palestinian Islamic Jihad flaunt their military power during a march in Gaza.

Friday, 12 October 2018 | If anyone was hoping that removing Hamas from power in the Gaza Strip would improve the situation there and boost the chances of peace between Palestinians and Israel, they are in for a big disappointment. Hamas, which violently seized control over the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007, is not the only terrorist group in the coastal enclave, home to some two million Palestinians.

In addition to Hamas, there are several other Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip.

The second-largest group after Hamas is Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), which has thousands of supporters and militiamen. If and when Hamas is ever removed from power, PIJ has the strongest chance of stepping in to fill the vacuum.

You remove Hamas from power, you will most likely end up having to deal with PIJ—not a more moderate group. While Hamas could only be considered “good,” in some alternate reality, its replacement would not be any better. Islamist fundamentalism is enshrined in the hearts and minds of tens of thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

The two Islamist groups—Hamas and PIJ—are like two peas in a pod. The two do not recognize Israel’s right to exist and continue to call for an armed struggle to “liberate all Palestine,” from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.

Like Hamas, the Iranian-funded PIJ also has an armed wing, called Saraya Al-Quds (Jerusalem Brigades). Founded in 1981 by PIJ leaders Fathi Shaqaqi and Abed Al-Aziz Awda in the Gaza Strip, the Jerusalem Brigades is responsible for hundreds of terrorist attacks against Israel, including suicide bombings. In recent years, the group has also been launching rockets and mortars at Israel.

Although it considers itself an independent group, PIJ often operates in coordination with Hamas. The two groups even have a joint “operations command” to coordinate their attacks on Israel. Sometimes, they carry out joint attacks.

The Jerusalem Brigades likes to take to the streets in shows of force aimed at the other Palestinian terrorist groups in particular and the Palestinian public in the Gaza Strip in general. Generally, Hamas does not tolerate competition from other armed groups in the Gaza Strip, but when it comes to PIJ and its military wing, it is a different story altogether. When PIJ displays its power and weapons on the streets of Gaza, Hamas shuts up about it.

Hamas evidently knows that PIJ, a large and influential group, is dangerous to mess with. Hamas also seems aware that meddling with PIJ means getting into trouble with PIJ’s paymasters in Iran. Like PIJ, Hamas is also dependent on Iran’s political, financial and military backing. Iran considers PIJ its main ally and puppet in the Gaza Strip. Through PIJ, Iran inserts its tentacles into the internal affairs of the Palestinians, much to the dismay of President Mahmoud Abbas and his Western-backed Palestinian Authority [PA].

Relations between Iran and Hamas have not been stable in recent years, largely due to Hamas’s refusal to support the Iranian-backed regime of Syrian dictator Bashar [al-]Assad. Lately, however, reports have surfaced in some Arab media outlets that Iran and Hamas have agreed to lay aside their differences.

In the past few years, a number of Hamas delegations have visited Tehran as part of the group’s effort to patch up its relationship with Iran. The last visit took place in October 2007 when a Hamas delegation comprising Ezzat Al-Risheq, Sami Abu Zuhri, Khaled Qaddoumi, Mohammed Nasr and Zaher Jabarin visited Tehran to brief Iranian leaders on the latest developments surrounding efforts to end the crisis between Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah faction.

Despite the apparent rapprochement, Iran has strong reservations about trusting Hamas. Its skepticism appears based on Iran’s fear that Hamas is ready to reach a reconciliation agreement with Fatah and a truce accord with Israel. Such an alliance, in the eyes of Iran, would constitute a betrayal on the part of Hamas. Any agreement with Fatah would mean that Hamas is prepared to join forces with Abbas and, even worse, engage in future peace talks with Israel. Any truce agreement with Israel would mean that Hamas is prepared to lay down its weapons and abandon the armed struggle against the “Zionist enemy.” This “surrender” would be anathema to the mullahs in Tehran, who have a declared goal of eliminating Israel.

As far as Iran is concerned, the PIJ is its real ally in the Palestinian arena. And as far as Iran is concerned, PIJ will always be seen as a natural replacement for Hamas in the Gaza Strip if Hamas ever does forge a deal with Fatah or Israel.

The PIJ, meanwhile, is doing its utmost to prove its trustworthiness to its masters in Tehran. Last week, PIJ’s military wing again dispatched its heavily-armed fighters to the streets of the Gaza Strip in a show of force directed towards Hamas, Iran and the rest of the world.

Abu Hamzeh, a spokesman for the Jerusalem Brigades, proudly declared during the paramilitary march that his group “will never compromise or bargain on one inch of the land of Palestine—all Palestine.” He added: “Our weapons are the symbol of our pride and power of our people. We will resist all conspiracies and foil all schemes aimed at liquidating our cause.”

So, what does all this mean for Gaza?

First, that the situation there is unlikely to witness any positive changes. Even if Hamas were to be removed from power, the Palestinians would continue to suffer under other radical groups such as the PIJ.

Second, even if Hamas were to wake up tomorrow morning and have an about-face, striking a genuine truce with Israel, there will always be other terrorist groups that are prepared to breach the agreement any time they wish.

Third, the Gaza Strip will continue to be swarmed by several heavily-armed groups that will continue to launch terror attacks on Israel and impose a reign of terror and intimidation on the Palestinian population.

Fourth, that neither Abbas nor any other third party would ever be able to set foot in the Gaza Strip, impose law and order and confiscate the weapons of the terrorist groups.

These are crucial factors that need to be taken into account by any international party that seeks a solution to the catastrophe called Gaza. Alternatively, one might to wish to continue to inhabit some alternate reality in which all be would be well if Israel would only ease restrictions on the Gaza Strip.

Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.

Source: (The Gatestone Institute originally published this article on October 9, 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/Youtube/Ruptly

Prayer Focus
Seek the Lord for His protection over Israel in this extremely complicated and seemingly impossible situation. Pray that Israel would have victory over any and all terror groups, including the nation of Iran, that murder and maim Israelis and attempt to destroy the nation.

Scripture

He shall deliver you in six troubles, yes, in seven no evil shall touch you. In famine He shall redeem you from death, and in war from the power of the sword. You shall be hidden from the scourge of the tongue, and you shall not be afraid of destruction when it comes.


- Job 5:19–21

Netanyahu: Israel Has No Better Friends than Christians

by Ilse Strauss

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PM Netanyahu thanks Christians around the world for their friendship and support

Monday, 15 October 2018 | Israel has no better friends than Christians. This was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s message to representatives from the international Christian media at the gala opening of the second annual International Christian Media Summit in Jerusalem last night.

Hosted by the Government Press Office, this year’s summit sees a group of 140 editors, broadcasters, journalists and photographers representing 70 Christian outlets from 40 countries around the globe gather in the Israeli capital for an intensive study session and dialogue on covering news emanating from Israel and the Middle East. Over the course of the four-day conference, the select group will hear from Israeli and international experts discussing the Jewish state’s Biblical and modern history, its security challenges and its warming diplomatic relations a number of countries in the region and beyond.

The prime minister’s keynote address kicked off the summit with a special word of thanks to the Jewish state’s international Christian allies. “We have no better friends in the world than our Christian friends and I take this opportunity to thank you for your steadfast support. You are standing up for Israel and you are standing up for the truth and we stand up for you,” Netanyahu said.

The prime minister continued to highlight the vast difference between the treatment of Christians in Israel—a country that offers one of the only safe havens for Christians in the Middle East—and other nations in the troubled region, where Muslim extremists persecute religious minorities mercilessly.

Israel is a robust democracy. It supports and protects the rights of all: the rights of Jews, Christians, Muslims—of all,” Netanyahu pointed out. “And we are the only ones who do so in a very broad radius. I think there’s something unusual for Christians because Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the Christian community thrives and grows.”

“We protect the religious rights of all,” he continued. “We don’t just protect Christian religious sites—we protect Christian people. Christians should enjoy all the freedom to worship as they please in the Middle East and anywhere else and the only place in the Middle East where they can do so is Israel.”

To illustrate his point, Netanyahu compared Israel’s treatment of Christians and Christian sites to that of the Palestinians. “You know the town of Bethlehem? Yes. You have a connection to it. We all do. And among other things, we have a connection to King David, the history of Ruth as you know, but also the story of Jesus. Now, Bethlehem had when we handed it over to the Palestinian Authority a Christian population of roughly 80%. Now it’s about 20%. And that change happened because in the Palestinian Authority areas, as well as throughout the Middle East, Christians are being constricted, they’re being pressured, also they’re being persecuted.”

Addressing the simmering tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, Netanyahu blamed Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas for blocking the prospects of peaceful coexistence by actively encouraging terror. “Look at what President Abbas is doing. I mean, he’s rewarding terrorists. Pay for slay. The more they kill—the more they get paid. He has on his law books a rule, a law that says that if you sell land to Jews—you’ll be executed. Some peace and some coexistence.”

The prime minister also addressed regional instability, hailing Israel as a stabilizing force in a highly volatile area. “Without Israel, radical Islam would overrun the Middle East easily. Israel not only protect itself but also protects the neighborhood.”

In contrast, Netanyahu held up Iran as a prime example of a country that seeks regional and international upheaval. “Iran wants to base itself right next to Israel in order to destroy Israel. They say so openly. We will not let them do so. We back up these words with actions, including now in these days, as we speak. Nothing has changed. We’ll continue to do what we need to do to protect ourselves and defend ourselves against those who would destroy us.”

Netanyahu then turned his attention to Israel’s warming ties with various Islamic countries, including Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Muslim population and a number of Muslim-majority countries in Africa. The growing threat of terrorism on the African continent has prompted many African nations to seek Israel’s help in fighting the phenomenon, the prime minister explained. The increased cooperation, he continued, “paves the way for additional countries to recognize the State of Israel, and I think you will be hearing about them very soon.”

The prime minister also stressed the importance of Israel’s relations with its Christian allies and welcomed a suggestion by one of the journalists to appoint a special Israeli government emissary to the Christian world. “I think it’s a great idea. I think I’m going to do it,” he said.

Netanyahu concluded by issuing a challenge to his audience of 140 Christian editors, broadcasters, journalists and photographers. “You are ambassadors of truth. You’re not merely the greatest ambassadors that Israel has around the world—you’re champions of truth. And if there’s one thing that I can ask you to do is to tell the truth. Tell the truth about our history, tell the truth about our present, tell the truth about who wants peace and who doesn’t want peace.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 15, 2018)

Photo Credit: PM of Israel@IsraeliPM/twitter

Prayer Focus
Praise God for growing support for Israel among Christians around the world and for the blessing that it is to Israelis. Pray that more and more Christians will recognize our biblical responsibility to stand with the Jewish people and actively support the nation of Israel.

Scripture

Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold I will lift My hand in an oath to the nations, and set up My standard for the peoples; they shall bring your sons in their arms and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.”


- Isaiah 49:22

Action
As Bible-believing Christians, we support support Israel because we know that Israel is important to God. The Bridges for Peace team members from around the world have been called to Israel, and God has given us a measure of His own, deep love for the Jewish people. We reach out a hand of love to the needy in Israel every day, providing food to 22,000 people each month. Many of them are new immigrants, their children and grandchildren, who have come from the four corners of the earth because their spirits heard the call of the Lord, as recorded by the biblical prophets. We also minister to many Holocaust survivors, who receive regular food gifts and visits from our Christian volunteers. We are repairing homes as seen in Isaiah 58:12, helping the Jewish people to come home from their dispersion and settle in the Land as prophesied in Isaiah 49:22 and comforting His people as instructed in Isaiah 40:1–2. Our lives are a constant expression of the character of true Christianity, a character of love not persecution. Moreover, we represent you—Christians who love God and want to minister to the Jewish people. Thank you for partnering with us. We are honored that you trust Bridges for Peace to be your hands to bless the people of Israel. Your generous donation to our Greatest Israel Need enables us to bring blessing, provision, care and support in the areas where they need it most.

Israel Crowns 93-Year-Old Great Grandmother as Miss Holocaust Survivor in Annual Pageant

by Kate Norman

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93-year-old great-grandmother, Tova Ringer, is crowned Miss Holocaust Survivor for 2018. 

Thursday, 18 October 2018 | A 93-year-old great-grandmother was crowned winner of the annual Miss Holocaust Survivor contest in Haifa on Sunday. Polish-born Tova Ringer and 11 other ladies celebrated their survival and the lives they led after overcoming the horrors of the Second World War.

“I’m very happy,” Ringer, a resident of Haifa, told Reuters. “It’s something special. I wouldn’t believe that at my age I would be a beauty.”

Ringer celebrated the victory with a big smile. With her beaming face, you would never know what Ringer has been through: she lost her parents, four sisters and grandmother in the Auschwitz death camp. She said she didn’t have any friends left after the war and was alone before she came to Israel.

After surviving the heartache and loss, Ringer’s life today is filled with joy and meaning. “I have children—angels—grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” she said with a smile.

Ringer beat 11 other beaming contestants in black evening wear and sashes to win the title, including runners up Rita Kasimow, 85, Madeleine Schwartz, 74, and Tamara Weitzman, 81, according to the Times of Israel.

The Miss Holocaust pageant is aimed at giving these women, who have overcome the horrors of the Holocaust to build new lives for themselves in Israel, a chance to shine and feel special. At one point, the contestants walked down the runway to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.”

The pageant is hosted by Helping Hand—Yad Ezer L’Haver in Hebrew—an organization in Israel that assists needy Holocaust survivors. It has been held annually in Haifa since 2012.

According to the Times of Israel, hundreds of Holocaust survivors joined the thousands of attendees who came to cheer on the participants. The crowd also including Knesset (Parliament) members and government officials.

A spectator from Germany told Reuters, “It is very important for my generation to know the history of the Holocaust, of the Shoah, and it is important for me to support these people.”

There are fewer than 200,000 remaining Holocaust survivors in Israel, according to a report by Haaretz last year. Miss Holocaust Survivor gave a few of them the chance to rejoice in the lives they’ve lived and the hurdles they’ve overcome.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 18, 2018)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/Ruptly

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for these women and their wonderful example of resilience and courage after having suffered so much. Praise the Lord they have chosen lives of happiness and purpose, and ask our heavenly Father to pour out His love and blessing on the remaining survivors of the Shoah in Israel and around the world.

Scripture

Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and praise
is beautiful. The LORD builds up Jerusalem; He gathers together the outcasts of
Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.


- Psalm 147:1–3

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