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Let's Bring Them Home

Friday, October 7, 2022

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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 intl.office@bridgesforpeace.com if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.

White House ‘Alarmed’ by Iran Crackdown but Still Committed to Nuke Deal

by JNS

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US President Biden’s administration is “alarmed” by the Iranian regime’s crackdown, but continues to hold out hope for a nuke deal with Tehran.

Thursday, 6 October 2022 | The Biden administration is “alarmed” by the Iranian regime’s ongoing deadly crackdown on demonstrators across the country but is still committed to forging a nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday.

“So, we’re alarmed and appalled by reports of security authorities responding to university students’ peaceful protests with violence and mass arrests,” she said, adding that these “crackdowns are precisely the sort of behavior that drives Iran’s talented young people to leave a country by the thousands to seek the dignity and opportunity elsewhere.”

Jean-Pierre’s comments came after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the United States and Israel of orchestrating the anti-regime protests taking place throughout Iran in recent weeks.

Khamenei strongly backed his security forces, which have killed more than 130 demonstrators, and claimed that the unrest, sparked by the death on September 16 of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, was not being caused by “ordinary Iranians.”

Amini died in custody after being arrested by Iranian morality police in Tehran for failing to wear her hijab [head covering worn by Muslim women] correctly.

Despite the Biden administration’s “concern” with Iran, Jean-Pierre made clear that the White House was still committed to reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, saying: “It is the best way for us to address the nuclear problem that…we see. As long as we believe pursuing [the] talks is in the US national security interest, we will do so.”

At the same time, she qualified, the US will continue to use “other tools” to address “problems” with Iran’s actions.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on October 4, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the Biden administration will make wise decisions regarding the situation in Iran as the Iranian government maintains an anti-American and anti-Israel position, kills its own citizens for voicing opposition to their policies, provides a constant supply of weapons and funding to terror organizations and is dishonest in negotiations regarding the JCPOA—all the while continuing its steady march toward nuclear state status.


For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is destruction; their throat is an open tomb; they flatter with their tongue. Pronounce them guilty, O God! Let them fall by their own counsels.

- Psalm 5:9–10a

Israel Busts ISIS Cell in Nazareth Plotting Wide-spread Attacks

by JNS

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A fighter carries the Islamic State flag (illustrative).

Monday, 3 October 2022 | The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and the Israel Police announced on Sunday the arrest of six alleged members of an Islamic State [ISIS] terror cell in the Arab Israeli city of Nazareth in the country’s north.

The suspects were arrested in September after security forces concluded that they were plotting to launch terror attacks inside Israel. One of the suspects is known to security forces due to past ISIS involvement, the Shin Bet said in a statement.

The investigation found that the suspects consumed online ISIS content, and that “at a certain stage, took the decision to implement a terror attack in ISIS’s name.”

They allegedly conducted secret meetings, and began plotting attacks, with a main intended target being a Muslim high school in their home city, which the suspected believed “acted in line with the infidels,” according to the investigation.

“The suspects intended to attack an educational institute containing teenagers…and teaching staff,” said the statement. They also plotted attacks on a crowded bus station in northern Israel, a police station in Nazareth and forests in which Jewish Israelis walk.

The Shin Bet statement hailed the arrest of the cell as “significant,” adding that the incident shed light on the influence of ISIS in Israel. The terror organization “continues without ceasing to spread its ideology among citizens of the State of Israel and its residents, and works to recruit them through, among other means, online propaganda, including on social media networks, to promote terror attacks in Israel,” the statement said.

The six suspects were charged on Sunday with a string of severe security offenses.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on October 2, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Praise God that this ISIS cell was discovered and dismantled before they were able to carry out their plans to murder innocent men, women and children, both Muslim and Jewish. Pray that Israel will continue to find ways to prevent such attacks and the carnage they produce. Also pray for an end to the ISIS presence in Israel.


Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me.

- Psalm 57:1–3a ESV

Aliyah Jumps by 128% in Jewish Year 5782, Setting Two-decade Record

by Janet Aslin

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New immigrants arrive in Israel

Friday, 30 September 2022 | The final figures are in. Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) has reported 63,000 new immigrants to Israel over the past twelve months. This figure sets a record for annual immigration over the past twenty years, more than doubling the number of arrivals in 2019, its closest “competitor.”

The war in Ukraine along with rising anti-Semitism around the globe are major factors in bringing these olim (new immigrants) home to Israel. An astounding 72% of the new immigrants came from the countries of Russia and Ukraine. The United States (6%), France (4%), Latin America (4%), Ethiopia (2%) and various countries (12%) comprised the remaining immigrants.

More than half of these new Israeli citizens will enter the workforce and become contributors to the nation once they have completed the absorption process and become proficient in Hebrew. An article by the Jewish Press cited data from the Ministry of Immigration showing that 63% of them are of working age. The article went on to say that over the past ten years, 14,000 doctors and health care workers along with 11,500 teachers and 25,000 engineers have arrived in Israel.

Aliyah (immigration to Israel) has had its ebbs and flows over the years. Even with a record-breaking year, more than half of the 15.2 million Jews live outside the State of Israel. A recent report showed 47% of the total Jewish population worldwide call Israel home. Aliyah is not finished.

The situation remains dire for the Jews in Russia. The Jerusalem Post reported that 40,000 have already received their immigration visas, with another 15,000 in varying stages of the aliyah process. The challenge is how to get these future citizens from Russia to Israel since there are a limited number of flights between the two countries. Nevertheless, Israel is committed to finding a way to bring them home.

On October 2, Minister of Finance Avigdor Liberman and Minister of Aliyah and Integration Pnina Tamano-Shata will bring a plan before the Cabinet that addresses the details for the return and absorption of these Russian Jews. In the words of Tamano-Shata, “The State of Israel serves as a safe haven for every Jew in the world including the Jews of Russia.”

Since its re-birth in 1948, Israel has embraced Jews from around the world. When David Ben-Gurion read the proclamation of statehood, these words rang out, “The State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles…” Circumstances have not changed from that date—5 Iyar 5708 until today, 5 Tishrei 5783.

The State of Israel remains committed to be a “safe haven” for the Jewish population of the world.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 30, 2022)

Photo Credit: Michio Nagata/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for these 63,000 new immigrants. Pray for them and the challenges each one faces as they adjust to their new lives in Israel. Pray that the Jewish people worldwide will continue to heed God’s call to return to their ancient homeland, and cry out to the Lord for the Jews of Russia who long to make aliyah. Pray that Israel will find a way to bring them home.


He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

- Isaiah 11:12

Lapid: Proposed Maritime Border Deal with Lebanon ‘Will Restrain’ Hezbollah

by Joshua Spurlock ~ The Mideast Update

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The Israel–Lebanon border

Monday, 3 October 2022 | Given that Hezbollah sees Israel as their archenemy, it’s not often that Israel and the terror group sound hopeful about the same thing. Yet over the weekend, both made positive comments about a potential maritime border deal between Lebanon and the Jewish state that will affirm the rights of both sides to natural gas fields. And if the deal goes really well, Israel believes it will ultimately reduce the threat posed by Hezbollah.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, commenting on the latest draft proposal from the United States mediator in a cabinet meeting on Sunday, noted that the arrangement would enable Lebanon to also tap into disputed natural gas reserves in the Mediterranean Sea. As part of the arrangement, Lapid said not only would Israel receive “the share we deserve” of the natural gas, but the economic benefit for the Lebanese nation could also make them more peaceable towards Israel.

“Such a field will weaken Lebanon’s dependence on Iran, restrain Hezbollah and promote regional stability,” said Lapid, apparently believing an economically stronger Lebanon can better combat Iran’s financial investment in Hezbollah that enables the terror group to wield powerful influence.

Lapid, in comments to the Israeli cabinet published by Israel, also believes the deal broadly meets his country’s goals. “For over a decade, Israel has been trying to reach this deal. The security of the north will be strengthened. The Karish [gas] field will operate and produce natural gas. Money will flow into the state’s coffers and our energy independence will be secured. This deal strengthens Israel’s security and Israel’s economy.”

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, in a speech published by the Al-Manar news station in Arabic and translated by Google, said that the Lebanese government had received the proposal while he expressed hope that “things will be good.” Said the terror leader, “If the result is good, this will open new and good horizons.”

Nasrallah deferred to the Lebanese government to make a final decision on the deal, and the initial response on that front is promising. Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri told the London-based Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat that “in principle” the proposal “meets Lebanese demands,” specifically noting that it only sets a maritime border and does not settle the disputed land border between the two countries.

Asharq Al-Awsat said the Lebanese leadership still needed to review the proposal and that there would be what Deputy Parliament Speaker Elias Bou Saab called “extraneous” amendments to the offer.

For Israel, Lapid said the deal is undergoing legal review and they are also “discussing the final details, so it is not yet possible to praise a done deal”. Nonetheless, he sounded pleased with the result so far. Said Lapid, “As we have demanded from the start, the proposal safeguards Israel’s full security diplomatic interests, as well as our economic interests.”

Source: (This article was originally published by The Mideast Update on October 2, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Photo Credit: campsmum/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Thank God that progress is being made toward the maritime border deal with Lebanon. Pray that agreements that benefit both countries will be reached and the final details ironed out. Pray also that this deal will be as effective as hoped, opening “new and good horizons,” contributing to the stability of the region and loosening Iran’s stranglehold on the country.


“For I am with you to save you and deliver you,” says the LORD. “I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem you from the grip of the terrible.”

- Jeremiah 15:20b–21

Netanyahu Released from Hospital after Overnight Stay

by Moran Azulay, Gilad Cohen ~ Ynetnews

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Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu

Thursday, 6 October 2022 | Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu was released from hospital on Thursday after being kept overnight for observation, the Shaare Zedek Medical Center said in a statement.

The 72-year old Netanyahu was hospitalized after feeling ill during Yom Kippur [Day of Atonement] services in a Jerusalem synagogue.

“After undergoing medical tests, he was found in good health and returned to his full schedule,” his office said. The Likud leader “is already on his morning walk,” the office said.

Netanyahu thanked hospital chief Prof. Ofer Marin, the medical team and Dr. Amir Orlev, the hospital’s chief of cardiology.

During his fast on the Day of Atonement, Netanyahu collapsed. He underwent medical tests, including a CT scan, and was kept for observation in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

The hospital said on Wednesday that the opposition leader who was feeling unwell arrived independently to the hospital.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid posted his wishes for Netanyahu’s good health on his Twitter feed.

Netanyahu is in the midst of a contentious election campaign, the fifth in three years, hoping to regain power after he was ousted as prime minister in 2021.

Just three weeks ahead of the November 1 ballot, polls show he may again fall short of the 61-seat Knesset [Parliament] support he will need to form a coalition government.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on October 6, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Matty STERN / U.S. Embassy Jerusalem/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will continue in good health and full strength as he faces the challenges of yet another election. Pray for God’s will to be done as Israelis go to the polls once again. Cry out to the Lord for godly leadership and a strong coalition that will safeguard the nation.


“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.”

- Daniel 2:20–21

Shooting Attacks in Judea and Samaria up by 50%

by Kate Norman

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A map of Israel with Judea and Samaria in light green

Tuesday, 4 October 2022 | Israeli security forces are engaged in a security battle for the Jewish state’s heartland, as Israel’s internal security organization reported recently that shooting attacks in the region were up nearly 50% last month.

In Judea and Samaria, the so-called West Bank, 34 shooting attacks were reported in September, according to the Shin Bet, Israel’s security organization. That is a 47% increase from 23 shootings in August, as well as a 126% increase from July’s 15 shootings.

The 34 shooting attacks in September were only a fraction of the total 212 attacks that month, according to the Shin Bet data, as reported by the Jerusalem Post. That is a 23% increase from the 172 attacks in August, up from the 113 attacks in July and 147 in June.

Of the 212 September attacks, 139 were Molotov cocktails, while 53 were pipe bomb attacks and four were stabbings. Those are all up from the previous month, with 135 Molotov cocktails, 39 pipe bombs and one stabbing attack reported in August.

Amid the spike in attacks, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is carrying out Operation Break the Wave, which the Israeli military launched this summer to curb a wave of terror attacks from March to May that saw 19 people across Israel killed.

The IDF in response has been carrying out arrest operations in Judea and Samaria as part of the operation. Some 1,500 Palestinians suspected of terrorist activity have been arrested in the sweep, according to the Jerusalem Post.

The battle in the biblical heartland rages on, as Jewish people in Israel and around the world are preparing to enter into a commemoration of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which is known as the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, this evening at sunset.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 4, 2022)

Photo Credit: VwM.Mwv/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for an end to the violence that is rampant in Judea and Samaria. Pray for a strategy that will actually be successful in reining in terror, getting perpetrators off the streets and crippling the organizations that continue to incite people to acts of terrorism. As the fall holiday season continues, beseech the Lord for calm to settle over the entire nation.


Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me. Oh, guard my soul and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.

- Psalm 25:19–20 ESV

Israel and EU Resume Diplomatic-strategic Dialogue after Decade-long Hiatus

by JNS

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EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell

Tuesday, 4 October 2022 | Israel and the European Union [EU] on Monday held their first diplomatic-strategic dialogue meeting in more than 10 years.

“This is the forum that will allow us to advance economic ties between Israel and the EU and strengthen our fight to lower the cost of living in both Israel and Europe. This Council has not convened in over a decade—for the wrong reasons,” said Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

The Prime Minister’s Office released a statement saying the meeting will also advance several projects, including supporting Israeli companies and their collaboration in ventures with European funding; signing a data roaming agreement that will dramatically reduce communications costs; securing arrangements that will allow for the export of organic agricultural products to Europe; and adopting standards that will lower product prices.

The meeting was attended by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell and foreign ministers from other countries. Among those present were the Cypriot defense minister and the Irish minister for European affairs.

Borrell said, “We will also deal with one issue of particular importance for us, which is the Middle East Peace Process. Prime Minister, we are very encouraged by the clear support for the two-state solution that you stated in your speech to the United Nations General Assembly.”

He added, “We are—however—also concerned about the continued tensions and violence on the ground and the continuation of unilateral measures, such as settlement expansion, and the security issues.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on October 3, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Ministry of the Presidency. Government of Spain/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that the results of this diplomatic-strategic dialogue meeting will be positive for Israel, strengthening Israel’s relationship with the EU and benefiting all involved. Pray for the expansion of economic ties and the advancement of bilateral cooperation between the two entities. Beseech the Lord that the EU will not use this forum to pressure Israel on matters such as “settlement expansion,” security issues and a two-state solution but will recognize that such concerns are outweighed by the benefits of cooperation between democracies.


For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

- Proverbs 2:6

Israel, South Korea Free Trade Agreement Passes Final Hurdle

by David Isaac ~ JNS

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The Seongsan Bridge over the Han River in Seoul

Friday, 30 September 2022 | South Korea ratified its free trade agreement [FTA] with Israel on Tuesday. It is the first FTA that Israel has signed with an Asian country. The agreement goes into force on December 1.

Israel exports about [US] $1.5 billion annually to South Korea and imports [US] $2 billion in goods.

“South Korea is the 11th-largest economy globally. Not too many people are aware that it’s a global manufacturer. It’s definitely a very innovative country producing many technologies,” said Ohad Cohen, director of the Foreign Trade Administration in Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Industry, the lead agency in negotiating the accord.

“We believe that the benefits for the Israeli economy from this FTA will be composed of two elements,” Cohen told JNS. “First, Israel will be able to export to South Korea duty-free. Second, South Korean imports will be exempt from customs duties.”

Seoul has signed 18 free trade pacts with other countries, including the United States. “The US and the EU, which are major competitors for our advanced industries, already have FTAs with South Korea. Now we will be able to compete on an equal footing,” he said.

“As for the other benefit, a significant part of South Korea’s [US] $2 billion in exports [to Israel] is vehicles. There’s a 7% duty on vehicles. The new agreement means South Korean cars will be exempt from this customs duty. We hope that the Israeli consumer will be able to benefit from this reduction,” he said.

For Cohen, one of the most exciting aspects of the agreement will be the surprising and unpredicted benefits that come from collaboration in high-tech. “It will be interesting to see how we work together,” he said. “We have signaled to the private sector that we think it’s a good idea that they cooperate with each other.”

Dan Catarivas, director general of foreign trade and international relations at the Manufacturers Association of Israel, told JNS that the chief importance of the agreement for his group is that it will help its members better compete.

“For the last couple of years, we were slowly losing market share to European products enjoying the benefits of the EU’s free-trade agreement. We were facing a handicap vis-à-vis the Europeans,” he said.

“On the import side, the big story is the cars,” Catarivas agreed. “Korean brands like Hyundai and Kia are very popular in Israel. The customs duties on those cars will be eliminated.” However, he said he wasn’t sure the reduction would be reflected in car prices. “It’s a commercial issue as to what extent the price will come down. We hope that it will,” he said.

Catarivas said the FTA with South Korea might have an unintended benefit—putting pressure on Japan to strike its own FTA with Israel. “Japanese cars will be at a disadvantage in relation to the Korean cars,” he said. “For quite a long time already we have been calling for our government to open FTA negotiations with Japan, and I know that the private sector in Japan is also keen on that.”

While Israel is actively working to expand its economic ties in the region, Japan will likely have to wait as Israel is negotiating FTAs with China and Vietnam. Those will be next.

Alon Levkowitz, a specialist on the Korean peninsula at Bar-Ilan University, said that the FTA was in fact agreed on in 2019. While Israel ratified it relatively quickly, it took quite a bit longer for South Korea.

“We have to understand that from the Korean point of view, they would have preferred to sign an FTA with one of the other Middle Eastern states,” he told JNS. Israel’s US $3 billion in trade pales in comparison to the US $100 billion in trade South Korea enjoys with Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states.

Seoul is sensitive to the danger that upgrading relations with Israel might hurt trade with other Middle Eastern states. “South Korea’s president never visited Israel. It’s because Korea is concerned that it might influence trade,” Levkowitz said.

There is also the Korean public’s attitude towards Israel, which skews negative, fueled by media coverage. “We’re not on the main news in Korea generally but when we are, we don’t look nice, to put it bluntly. It’s us bombarding Gaza,” he said. “I’ve spoken to students in Korea and it’s difficult to convince them of the justification. Part of the problem is that they don’t know the details and they think in black and white. We are Goliath and the Palestinians are David.”

Levkowitz said that the Abraham Accords, signed between Israel and several Arab states in 2020, could impact the Korean government’s thinking. “South Korea saw the Gulf states signing an agreement and even the UAE [United Arab Emirates] signing an FTA with Israel,” he said, adding that if trilateral trade develops between Israel, the UAE and South Korea whereby the UAE and South Korea can invest in the Palestinian Authority [PA], “it would reduce South Korea’s concerns…It will allow Korea to be perceived as an impartial player investing both in Israel and in the PA.”

That, in turn, could free South Korea to boost relations with Israel, Levkowitz argued. “As it is, that the new government of President Yoon [Suk-yeol] ratified the FTA is important. It’s a positive sign of an improvement in relations.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on September 29, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the ratification of the free trade agreement with Korea and all that it means for economic and diplomatic relations between the two countries. But pray also that this relationship will open the door for educational exchange, helping the Korean people to understand the truth about the situations Israel is facing, giving them a more honest and positive view of the nation and its people.


Vindicate me, O LORD my God, according to Your righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me. Let them shout for joy and be glad, who favor my righteous cause.

- Psalm 35:24, 27a