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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.

In UN Speech, Netanyahu Reveals “Another Secret” Iranian Nuclear Site

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Another undeclared nuclear site found in Iran

Friday, 28 September 2018 | In a forty-minute speech addressing the United Nations [UN] General Assembly, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed the presence of another undeclared Iranian nuclear site, and blasted Palestinian Authority [PA] president Mahmoud Abbas for hypocrisy, The Times of Israel reported Thursday.

At the beginning of his speech, Netanyahu revealed that Iran had a second nuclear facility hidden in Iran, near the archive from which Israeli commandoes recovered a half ton of nuclear documentation in January. The new facility, according to Netanyahu, is used for “storing massive amounts of equipment and material from Iran’s secret weapons program.”

He predicted that in the coming days, any nation with satellites will be able to detect Iranian officials moving material out of the warehouse. Netanyahu charged that Iran has already moved 15 kilograms (33 pounds) of radioactive material out of the warehouse and placed it around Tehran, putting the city’s residents at risk.

The reason Iran still had those facilities even after the 2015 nuclear deal “is because it is not finished with them.”

Netanyahu called on International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head, Yukiya Amano, whom he characterized as “a good man,” to “go and inspect this atomic warehouse immediately,” before Iran has a chance to clean the site of all nuclear evidence. The IAEA, Netanyahu said, had not followed up on the documents that Israel recovered from Iran and demanded access to nuclear sites for inspections.

The Israeli prime minister also accused European leaders of appeasement regarding Iran. “The same week Iran was caught red-handed for trying to murder European citizens,” Netanyahu recalled, “European leaders were laying out the red carpet for [Iranian president Hassan] Rouhani, pledging to give them more money.” He urged European leaders to join with the United States, Israel and the Arab world in supporting stronger sanctions against Iran.

Netanyahu said that Israel would not tolerate Iran’s establishment of permanent military bases in Syria and warned Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, that “Israel knows where you are doing it, and Israel will not let you get away with it.”

As a result of the Iranian threat, Netanyahu noted, Israel has experienced “intimacy and friendship that I have not seen in my lifetime” with its Arab neighbors. “Israel,” he said, “deeply values these new friendships, and I hope the day will soon arrive when Israel will extend a formal peace, beyond Egypt and Jordan, to other Arab nations, including the Palestinians.”

However, he reserved sharp words for Abbas, who had spoken earlier in the day. While Abbas had claimed that the PA “resisted” Israel by “only peaceful means. We never use violence,” Netanyahu charged that the PA was, in fact, promoting terror. He also chided the UN, who applauded Abbas, saying that, instead, they “should condemn such a despicable policy.”

In the end, Netanyahu praised the United States, especially President Donald Trump and UN ambassador Nikki Haley “for the support they provide to Israel at the United Nations.”

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by The Israel Project in its publication The Tower on September 27, 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.

Photo Credit: Bruce Rolff/shutterstock.com

Prayer Focus
Pray that the international community will recognize the threat Iran poses to the entire world and stand with Israel against Iranian nuclear ambitions.

Scripture

In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save.”


- Zephaniah 3:16–17a

Mob of 20,000 Palestinians Storm Israel–Gaza Border

by Kate Norman

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20,000 rioters, including children, storm the Israel–Gaza border. 

Tuesday, 2 October 2018 | A mob of 20,000 Palestinians, including teenagers and children, rushed the Israel–Gaza border over the weekend, attempting to breach the fence and swarm into Israel. The mob was armed with grenades, homemade bombs and other weapons. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) responded with tear gas, riot dispersal methods, two air strikes and live fire. The army released footage of the violent attempts to breach and sabotage the border fence, calling it the worst incident in two months.

Over the course of the weekend, the protesters hurled more than 100 grenades and homemade bombs over the border, which the IDF was able to safely detonate. The clashes took place just a few miles away from Israeli communities on the Israel–Gaza border.

The IDF spokesperson took to Twitter to paint a grim picture of the weekend’s events. “IMAGINE: A mob of 20K people, throwing bombs & grenades, attempting to reach your home. The people of southern Israel don’t have to imagine; this is happening right now on Israel’s border fence with Gaza. Our troops are there to do what is necessary to protect Israeli civilians.”

Out of the 20,000 violent rioters, seven people were killed, including two teenagers. According to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, an additional 210 people were wounded.

The United Nations condemned Israel for the casualties and called for a restraint. For its part, Israel indicated that it acted “in accordance with the rules of engagement” to protect its people from the armed mob.

The IDF also posted pictures of violent rioters, including several children, to Twitter, charging: “Now imagine that you care more about terrorizing someone else’s children than protecting your own children. That’s exactly the Hamas leaders in Gaza—today and every day.”

The rioters also sparked about 16 fires near Israeli towns bordering Gaza using incendiary balloons, according to a spokesman from the Israeli Fire and Rescue Services.

Though the Israel–Gaza border has been relatively quiet over the past few weeks during attempted Egyptian-brokered truce talks between Israel and Hamas, the terror organization has walked away from the negotiation table and once again ramped up the rioting and demonstrations.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 2, 2018)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces@IDFSpokesperson/Twitter

Prayer Focus
Pray for a cessation of violence on the Gaza border. Ask the Lord to protect all who are endangered by Hamas’s acts of terror, including Palestinian children who are being victimized by their own leaders.

Scripture

Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their hearts; they continually gather together for war.


- Psalm 140:1–2

Israel is Prepared to Deal with Russian S-300 System in Syria

by Yossi Yehoshua

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Tuesday, 2 October 2018 | At first, it seemed that the Russian threat to supply [Syrian president Bashar al-]Assad with the S-300 system was yet another in a long line of warnings we have heard before. However, this time it looks much more serious, seeing as Russian foreign minister [Sergey Viktorovich] Lavrov claimed on Wednesday that the transfer of anti-aircraft missile systems to Syria already started.

For years, Israel, through diplomatic efforts, have been trying to prevent Syria from acquiring the advanced air-defense system. Today, the even more advanced S-400 is already in limited use by the Russian military, which has not been able to affect the Israel Air Force’s [IAF] activity so far. The efforts to prevent the deal from being completely finalized will continue in the near future, but in order for them to succeed, Jerusalem needs Washington—which until [US National Security Advisor] John Bolton’s statement of support a week ago—had not made an effort to be involved in the current crisis.

Although the punitive measures—including the blocking of satellite navigation systems, radars and inter-aircraft communications—are expected to make the IAF’s operations in Syria very difficult, the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] have been preparing for the arrival of the anti-aircraft system for the past 20 years. According to foreign reports, IAF planes conduct training sessions in friendly states several times a year, attempting to acquire skill in dealing with such missiles.

In addition, the Syrians still do not know how to operate the system. As we have seen in recent years, especially during the downing of the Russian plane, the skill level of the Syrian army is amateurish at best, and they are liable to endanger not only Russian and American aircrafts but civilian ones as well.

In any event, the process of training the Syrian personnel in order to properly use the new system is expected to last for several months, which actually presents a problem for the IAF, seeing as the Russians might be the ones operating it until the Syrians are ready to step in.

Israeli policy in Syria is not expected to change in the meantime, and not only regarding strikes targeting shipments of weapons but also when it comes anti-aircraft systems as well—which will be destroyed if they endanger IAF’s planes. However, if the systems, as assumed earlier, will be operated by Russian soldiers, the dilemma whether to strike or not would become more complicated. There is probably a solution to this dilemma as well, but it’s clear that this situation is problematic even though the IDF assesses that the probability of the Russian soldiers shooting anti-aircraft missiles at IAF aircrafts is quite low.

It’s also important to remember that the Russians know the IAF preparedness level is high, and the last thing they want is to be embarrassed by an incident that might affect negatively their arms industry.

It is also unclear what will be the fate of the Iran–Syria–Hezbollah weapons smuggling route. The Iranians may prefer to halt the arms shipments until the system is in place and operating.

The announcement of the Russian Defense Ministry—which is still unable to admit that the Syrians were actually at fault for their plane’s downing—included a series of falsehoods that can easily be refuted with the documented evidence.

For example, the claim that the Russians were given only one minute warning by the IAF, when in reality it was 12 minutes, and according to the Russians themselves, the plane was hit 25 minutes after the Israeli warning was received—enough time for the plane to make its way back. The argument between the two sides about the timing raises another question: When is the warning supposed to be given?

The bottom line is that the statement by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit indicates that Israeli policy regarding the smuggling of Iranian weapons through Syria will not change. Who among all the players involved in this crisis will stand behind their statements? We will wait and see.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on October 1, 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Prayer Focus
Pray for great wisdom for Israel’s political and military leaders as they are placed in this very dangerous and volatile situation. Ask the Lord to guide Israel’s steps as it navigates these very complex circumstances.

Scripture

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.


- Psalm 32:8

Terror Balloons Reach the Heartland of Israel

by Jo Sarah Stanford

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A Gazan rioter prepares to send an incendiary kite over the border into Israel.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018 | Kites and balloons are children’s toys, objects of innocence and joy across the world. But in Israel, they have become objects of fear, destruction and terror. Over the past eight months, terrorists in the Gaza Strip have turned these toys into weapons of terror by attaching Molotov cocktails and explosive devises and flying them over the border into Israel. Until recently, terror arson has been contained to communities close to the Gaza border. Yet over the past week, incendiary balloons have found their way into the heartland of Israel, as far as the central Israeli city of Modi’in, some 30 kilometers (18.7 mi) from Jerusalem.

Arson terror has ravaged the land and caused millions of shekels of damage. Yet thanks to the vigilance of security forces and round-the-clock efforts of fire fighters, there have been no injuries from these devices. However, now that arson balloons have been found in the more populated areas of central Israel, authorities have issued fresh warnings. Israel fears that if the attacks continue, it is only a matter of time before someone is injured or killed.

Just this week, a balloon was found over 60 kilometers (37 mi) away from the Gaza border in Modi’in, a city halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Another was found in a neighborhood in western Jerusalem. Police said it was “unlikely” that these balloons have traveled all the way from Gaza, leaving open the possibility of attacks now coming from within Israel’s own borders.

The arson attacks began early this year, as the “March of Return” riots on the Israel–Gaza border raged. Ever since March, kites and balloons with flaming tails have been released from Gaza and carried by winds off the Mediterranean Sea to farmland, nature reserves and civilian neighborhoods in southern Israel. Since then, the arson attacks have been a daily assault on Israeli communities. Bombs attached to balloons have landed in kindergartens and playgrounds. Gazan terrorists take special care to choose balloons sporting hearts and smiley faces to entice children closer to the danger.

Authorities have warned people to steer clear of and report any suspicious devices. In an interview with the BBC, Yael Raz-Lachyani, an Israeli who lives in a kibbutz (collective community) just 700 meters (0.4 mi) from the Gaza border, said they now tell their children not to go near balloons or kites, “a conversation we never should have with the kids.”

Since the attacks began, hundreds of fires have burned up 7,000 acres of crops and nature reserves. Damage is estimated at more than US $2 million. While recent peace-talks between Israel and Hamas were underway, there seemed to be a lull in the attacks. However, the moment Hamas walked away from the negotiation table, the arson attacks resumed with an even greater ferocity.

Along with rockets and riots, terror arson is another trial Israel has to endure. But despite the constant onslaught, the people remain resilient. “We are not willing to give up… that’s not the way to [beat] terror, to let them win,” says Raz-lachyani. Even as the attacks continue, she is hopeful for peace. “I cannot see at the moment how it’s going to happen, but I know it’s possible.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 3, 2018)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/Youtube/AFP News Agency

Prayer Focus
Beseech the Lord for protection for the people and the land of Israel as arson terror continues to threaten the nation. Ask Him for an innovation that would allow the IDF to intercept incendiary devices before they strike, and pray that Israelis will remain strong in the face of ongoing terror.

Scripture

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; defend me from those who rise up against me. Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloodthirsty men.


- Psalm 59:1–2

US Marks New Military Aid Package for Israel with Iranian Foe in Mind

by Joshua Spurlock

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US Spokesperson Heather Nauert: “The United States unconditionally affirms Israel’s right to self-defense.”

Wednesday, 3 October 2018 | The United States’ ten-year, [US] $38 billion military financing package for Israel officially started [Monday], and the Americans weren’t coy about one of their main concerns for Israel: threats from Iran. “Israel is a valuable and capable ally to the United States that today faces dangerously escalating regional threats, first and foremost from the Iranian regime’s sponsorship of terrorist groups seeking to attack not only Israel but also American interests,” said a statement from US spokesperson Heather Nauert in a State Department press release.

The Israelis also had Iran in mind when thanking the US for the sizable Memorandum of Understating (MOU) agreement, which was signed in 2016. “Israel and the world face complex security challenges, especially Iranian aggression,” said Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in comments released by his office on Tuesday. “The unreserved US support for Israel’s right to defend itself is among the pillars of the strong bond between the two countries.”

Today, Israel is surrounded by threats. Iran is building out its military capabilities in neighboring Syria and has already attacked Israel directly. The Hezbollah terror group has stockpiled thousands of missiles for a future war with Israel, while Hamas in Gaza has been in an off-and-on conflict with Israel for more than a decade. The Americans recognized that the Jewish state faces more than just Iran, which, along with Syria, has sought nuclear weapons in the past.

“Israel is also threatened by the reckless proliferation of destabilizing weapons systems into the region that increase the possibility of an escalated conflict in an already dangerous and volatile theater,” said the statement from Nauert.

“The United States unconditionally affirms Israel’s right to self-defense, and this MOU is a concrete demonstration of our commitment to Israel’s capacity to defend itself with a qualitative military edge over all potential regional adversaries.”

The deal provides Israel with $3.3 billion in annual foreign military financing and $500 million per year for missile defense cooperative programs.

Israel and the US have long been jointly developing advanced missile defense programs, and American aid has helped Israel launch the Iron Dome system.

Nauert noted that while the agreement “reflects the enduring and unshakable commitment” of the Trump administration to Israel’s security, it was negotiated during the Obama administration, “reflecting the bi-partisan nature of this commitment.”

The Israelis were grateful for the funding aid, but Netanyahu acknowledged first something more important: US support for Israel. Said the Israeli leader, “I thank the American administration and Congress for their commitment to Israel and also for the American financial assistance in the coming decade.”

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this article on October 2, 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: United States Department of State/Wikimedia

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for the strong support the United States continues to give Israel. Pray that Israel’s position of military strength will cause her enemies to retreat in fear rather than perpetrate foolish acts of aggression. Pray that all involved will recognize God’s hand in delivering Israel from her enemies.

Scripture

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep


- Psalm 121:1–4

Netanyahu Declines UNESCO Invite to Anti-Semitism Conference, Citing Anti-Israel Bias

by Alexander J. Apfel

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Netanyahu: UNESCO has “egregious” anti-Israel bias

Friday, 28 September 2018 | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined an invitation from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to participate in a conference on anti-Semitism at the United Nations [UN] on 26 September 2018.

“While I commend all efforts to combat anti-Semitism, I have decided not to participate in this week’s UNESCO conference on anti-Semitism due to the organization’s persistent and egregious bias against Israel,” Netanyahu said in a press statement.

“Since 2009, UNESCO has passed 71 resolutions condemning Israel and only 2 resolutions condemning all other countries combined. This is simply outrageous,” he continued.

“The mark of anti-Semitism was once singling out the Jewish people for slander and condemnation. The mark of antisemitism today is singling out the Jewish state for slander and condemnation,” the prime minister stated. According to Netanyahu, UNESCO could only redeem itself and “remove this mark of shame” by doing more than host a conference on anti-Semitism. “It must stop practicing anti-Semitism.”

Netanyahu also called on the organization to stop passing resolutions denying the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel, “between the Jewish people and our eternal capital Jerusalem.”

“No matter what UNESCO says, the Western Wall is not occupied Palestinian territory and the Cave of the Patriarchs—the burial site of Abraham and Sara, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob, and Leah—is not a Palestinian Heritage Site,” Netanyahu said

The Heritage Committee of UNESCO adopted in July 2017 a Palestinian request to declare Hebron’s Old City—and with it the Cave of the Patriarchs—as a Palestinian World Heritage Site, raising ire in Israel.

In 2016, UNESCO’s executive board formally adopted a controversial resolution, which Israel said denies the deep historic Jewish connection to holy sites in Jerusalem.

Israel withdrew from UNESCO in 2017 together with the US. Israel said that it had grown tired of “anti-Israel bias.”

“Israel and the United States made a clear moral statement that UNESCO’s anti-Semitism will no longer be tolerated,” Netanyahu’s statement said.

“If and when UNESCO ends its bias against Israel, stops denying history and starts standing up for the truth, Israel will be honored to rejoin.

“Until then, Israel will fight anti-Semitism at UNESCO and everywhere else,” he concluded.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on September 27, 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: GPO/Photo by Ashernet

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s courage and resolve in standing against anti-Semitism in the United Nations. Pray that he will be successful in bringing an end to UNESCO’s outrageous anti-Israel bias.

Scripture

They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones. They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.” For they have consulted together with one consent; they form a confederacy against You.


- Psalm 83:3–5

The Warming Ties between Israel and Indonesia, Home to World’s Largest Muslim Population

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Netanyahu and Indonesian vice president Jusuf Kalla met secretly during UN General Assembly in New York

Wednesday, 3 October 2018 | Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a secret meeting with Indonesian vice president Jusuf Kalla on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, The Jerusalem Post reported Sunday.

According to a report from Israeli Army Radio, Netanyahu met last week with several Muslim leaders, including Egyptian president Abdel [Fattah] el-Sisi, among others. The meeting between Netanyahu and Kalla was reportedly kept secret at the request of Jakarta. The Israeli prime minister’s office did not comment on the news.

Relations between Jerusalem and Jakarta warmed in the 1990s under the leadership of former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. Since then, however, contacts between the two countries have been largely secret, in the light of the pro-Palestinian public opinion in Indonesia.

In June, the leader of the world’s largest Muslim organization, Yahya Staquf, said he wants to see closer ties between Israel and Indonesia in a surprise meeting with Netanyahu in Jerusalem. The Muslim cleric from Indonesia, who is the secretary-general of the 60 million-member Nahdlatul Ulama, was visiting Israel at the invitation of the American Jewish Committee.

In an exclusive interview with The Israel Project, Staquf said he reached out to the Israeli prime minister “because I want peace” between Israel and the Palestinians. “If you want peace, then you have to talk to everyone.”

Staquf explained one reason why people in Muslim countries have a negative perception of Israel is because they “haven’t thought about it deeply.” Instead, Staquf urged people to “think towards peace.”

Earlier in June, Tel Aviv and Jakarta announced the lifting of restrictions on tourism between the two countries.

Despite a lack of diplomatic ties, some 36,000 Indonesian tourists visited Israel in 2017, a 60% increase compared to the previous year. That number was larger than the total arrivals of tourists from any Scandinavian country in 2017 and was about the same number of visitors from Belgium.

In addition to tourism, Israel in 2016 exported [US] $121 million worth of goods to Indonesia, and imported goods amounting to $43 million from it.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project in its publication The Tower on October 2, 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Government of of Indonesia/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for warming relations between Israel and Indonesia, as well as other Arab and Muslim countries. Ask the Lord to strengthen and encourage Israel to be a light to these nations, revealing the power and faithfulness of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Scripture

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His.
And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.
He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.


- Daniel 2:20–22

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