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Firm through the Trials

Friday, September 1, 2023

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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.

IDF Troops Hit with Explosive Device near Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus

by Elisha Ben Kimon, Einav Halabi ~ Ynet

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Jewish pilgrims visit Joseph’s Tomb under the watchful eye of IDF soldiers.

Thursday, 31 August 2023 | Terror around the clock: An explosive device was detonated late Wednesday night against an IDF [Israel Defense Force] force in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] city of Nablus, as it entered the city to provide security for Jewish pilgrims on their way to Joseph’s Tomb. The army is investigating the incident. An IDF officer and three soldiers were moderately and lightly injured in the attack.

The force entered Nablus ahead of the worshipers, in order to secure the area and create a secure corridor for the entrance of the worshipers. At the moment it is not clear if the charge was thrown toward the soldiers, or was activated remotely. The area of the explosion is not the central route where the buses and the worshipers were supposed to pass, but a place far away from it.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s military wing—the Al-Quds Brigades, and Hamas’ Al-Qassem Brigades claimed to have detonated several explosive devices and even opened fire. The Palestinians reported one person was wounded by gunfire.

The IDF takes a serious view of the activation of the explosive device in the Nablus region. The forces at the scene have been reinforced and additional forces from the Samaria Regional Brigade have been sent to the scene, to lead the security of the worshipers

About 1,500 people in 30 buses were expected to enter Joseph’s Tomb Wednesday night, despite the attack.

The Samaria Regional Council said that “We have not received any notification about the cancellation of entry to Joseph’s Tomb. We are strengthening the security forces that are guarding our country.”

The IDF did not immediately comment on the incident.

Earlier Wednesday evening, a 19-year-old man was moderately injured in a stabbing attack near a light rail station in Jerusalem. A Border Guard soldier who was on the train killed the terrorist, a 14-year-old boy from the Beit Hanina neighborhood in the north of the city.

Earlier on Wednesday there was a car ramming attack in Mount Hebron in the West Bank. A vehicle driven by a Palestinian terrorist sped toward two soldiers of the 603rd Battalion of the 7th Brigade of the Combat Engineering Corps, who were at a military post near the settlement of Beit Hagai near Hebron during a vehicle inspection mission. One of the soldiers fired 10 bullets at the driver of the vehicle, and hit him.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on August 31, 2023. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Daniel Ventura/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that both the civilian residents of Judea and Samaria as well as the young soldiers who are on the frontlines of the battle against terror will have a genuine fear of the Lord and trust that He will deliver them. Pray that there will be confusion in the midst of the enemy’s planning sessions and that all their strategies will fail.


The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

- Psalm 34:7–8

Lapid to Meet US Officials in DC as Netanyahu Visit Still up in the Air

by JNS

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu updates opposition leader Yair Lapid on “Operation Shield and Arrow,” May 10, 2023.

Wednesday, 30 August 2023 | Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid Party will travel to the United States next week for high-level meetings in Washington, his office said on Tuesday.

Lapid is to meet with senior officials at the White House and the State Department as well as members of Congress.

During the meetings, US officials intend to bring up the normalization process with Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has requested American help for a Saudi civilian nuclear program in exchange for ties with Israel, a demand that Lapid has publicly opposed.

“I am very much in favor of a normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia,” he said during a TV interview earlier this month, before adding, “But not at the expense of uranium enrichment that would endanger Israel’s security.”

Lapid’s planned visit comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been snubbed, so far denied a traditional White House visit. On July 17, more than six months after Netanyahu returned to the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem, US President Joe Biden invited Netanyahu for a meeting “somewhere in the United States” at some time “later this year.”

It is still unclear whether the long-expected meeting will take place at the White House.

Netanyahu is expected to fly to New York for the UN General Assembly general debate next month, during which he may meet with Biden in the city, although neither side has confirmed details.

“The details are going to be worked out by the different teams,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told journalists last month. “But they have committed to meeting and seeing each other.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on August 29, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Courtesy/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that, in His mercy, God would grant members of the Biden administration a spirit of repentance and that a fear of the Lord would come over them. Ask that their decision to snub the duly-elected prime minister of Israel would be revealed as foolish and the decision reversed.


Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.

- Psalm 33:8–10

Three Ukrainian Brothers Make Aliyah, Join IDF

by Itamar Eichner ~ Ynet

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A soldier in the haredi Netzah Yehuda battalion (illustrative)

Monday, 28 August 2023 | The three Goldstein brothers immigrated to Israel from Ukraine, joined the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] and share a deep love for Israel, contributing to the country through their service in the ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda Battalion in the Kfir Brigade. In 2014, when tensions escalated around the Crimean Peninsula, the eldest sibling, Yehoshafat, made the decision to emigrate from Ukraine to Israel.

Yehoshafat recounts that at the age of 16, he arrived at a Chabad center in Kherson, where he delved deeply into Judaism. Subsequently, he continued his studies at the Karlin Yeshiva in Ukraine, all the while influencing his family to draw closer to Judaism. At the age of 22, he enlisted in the IDF within the framework of a unit that integrates haredim [plural form of ultra-Orthox] into the IDF in the technology and logistics corps and later served as a military escort driver in the Netzah Yehuda Battalion.

Yehoshafat’s brother, David Aharon, also enlisted in the ultra-Orthodox battalion. David arrived in Israel in 2016, following in his brother’s footsteps through the “Masa Israel Journey” organization. He served for two years as a combat support soldier and was cited for outstanding performance. After two years of service, he embarked on a study program in software engineering.

Yosef, the youngest at 20, immigrated to Israel with his family in 2018. He enlisted in November 2022 and currently serves as an operational driver in the battalion. Last Saturday, the three brothers gathered at Yehoshafat’s, who is currently on reserve duty, capturing the moment when three haredi brothers wearing IDF uniforms together.

“As a child in Ukraine, I endured anti-Semitic bullying at school, to the point where I would sometimes stay home and only attend exams. They called me a ‘Zhīd’,” Yehoshafat recounts. “I always felt like a stranger in the country where I was born. My biggest dream was to come to Israel, and thankfully, our entire family had the privilege of making aliyah [immigrating] to Israel and enlisting in the IDF with pride as Torah-observant Jews. Here, we know that this is our true home, where we can walk freely and defend ourselves.”

Regarding his service in Netzah Yehuda, he says, “The army builds the individual, and for those who claim that the army turns haredi guys into secular ones, I say: If you come strong, there’s no reason to change in the army. I’ve seen many haredi guys around me who enlisted and even became more religious. It all depends on how you approach it. In the future, I expect to see a much more extensive integration of haredim in the army.”

Yossi Levy, CEO of the Netzah Yehuda Association, says, “The haredi Netzah Yehuda Battalion has been operating for about 25 years, and within this framework, over 10,000 haredi individuals have enlisted in the IDF while preserving their haredi way of life, integrating into the security forces, and making a significant contribution to the country’s security. The Goldstein brothers are proof that this integration works excellently, as they chose to enlist and serve in the same battalion.”

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on August 27, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: אורח פורח /Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for these brothers who are committed to “walk freely and defend ourselves” in Israel, their true home. Thank Him for His faithfulness to fulfill His word and bring His people home from all corners of the globe.


Behold, I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger, in My fury, and in great wrath; I will bring them back to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely. They shall be My people, and I will be their God…

- Jeremiah 32:37–38

Anti-Semitic Incident Report: August 19-25

by David Swindle - JNS

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Swastika graffiti on a building in the Palestinian city of Nablus

Monday, 28 August 2023 | JNS publishes a weekly listing of anti-Semitic incidents recorded and found by Jewish, pro-Jewish and pro-Israel organizations; national and international news; and social media. By the Anti-Defamation League’s count, an average of seven instances of varying measure occur daily in the United States. (Dates refer to when the news was reported, not when the events took place.) Also included are news items detailing efforts to combat anti-Semitism and research anti-Jewish bigotry.

August 19: Two unknown persons, a man and a woman riding a Citi Bike, struck two Jews on their heads, a man and a woman each wearing traditional religious clothing a half-block apart, in Brooklyn’s Chassidic Williamsburg neighborhood. Neither required medical attention, and police have released three images of the suspects. In Blooming Grove, NY, a yard sign proclaiming “No Jew Get Out” has inspired outrage from state officials. Also in Brooklyn, Maritza Ming, the district attorney aide accused of anti-Semitic remarks (August 3), has reportedly not appeared in the office since news of the claims against her broke. On his GZERO World podcast, political scientist Ian Bremmer interviewed Noa Tishby about the global rise in anti-Semitism.

August 20: In France near Paris, authorities apprehended a man accused of anti-Semitic vandalism on a kosher restaurant. A leading Australian Jewish group and a police union have come together to warn that proposed federal government bans on the swastika (August 16) will fail since neo-Nazis can find loopholes to circumvent the too-narrow laws.

August 21: Last weekend in Marietta, Ga., residents found anti-Semitic fliers in distributed their neighborhood. In Newport News, Va., five homes featuring yard signs supporting the state senate candidate Danny Diggs received swastikas painted on the street in front of them. Diggs is not Jewish. In Germany’s capital of Berlin, a drunken man hit a Jew in the neck and said an anti-Semitic insult.

August 22: New research shows that anti-Semitic incidents in Berlin for the first half of 2023 remain high, at the same rates as the last two years, accounting for a third of the country’s total. In Round Lake Beach, Ill., David M. Dolan, 18, and Anthony P. Shields, 19, face multiple hate-crime charges for allegedly spray-painting swastikas and racial slurs on buildings. In Belmullet, Ireland, vandals painted a swastika on a doctor’s office. Legislators in Finland are considering banning public displays of Nazi symbols. In Long Island, NY, police investigate swastikas discovered near a Holocaust memorial.

August 23: In Manhattan, NY, someone scrawled anti-Semitic graffiti near Hebrew Union College. In San Diego, Calif. police released photos of a man who allegedly assaulted a rabbi. The award for tips leading to his arrest rose to $3,500 with StandWithUs increasing the original $1,000 with an added $2,500. The Archdiocese of Toronto has organized a webinar to educate on the Holocaust and how to counter hate.

August 24: In Canada, law enforcement suspects that recent distributions of anti-Semitic literature across the country have come from the neo-Nazi hate group Goyim Defense League. The province of Newfoundland and Labrador announced a $250,000 multi-year fund to fight anti-Semitism; at the same time, the Muslim Association of Canada plans to host the Qatar-based, Egyptian Sheikh Nashaat Ahmed, who has made anti-Semitic statements. Police have chosen to investigate the destruction of graves in a Jewish cemetery in Rochester, England, as a hate crime. At the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, the school’s Jewish Center was vandalized with red and black “end apartheid” spray paint. New research revealed that Bostjan Zupancic, a former judge on the European Court of Human Rights, made anti-Semitic posts on social media, including calling Jews “the central enemies of Western civilization.”

August 25: In Italy, a government official faces outrage as researchers uncovered that he recorded an antisemitic song while in a far-right rock band in the 1990s. Law enforcement apprehended a man who allegedly knocked over and damaged graves in a Jewish Cemetery in Rochester, England (August 24.) The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism successfully persuaded bookseller Waterstones to remove a “deluxe hardbound edition” of Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

Source: (Excerpt from article originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on August 25, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: NaturalSoundsYEAH!/Wikipedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for zero-tolerance of all forms of anti-Semitism, from swastikas and other symbols to violent acts against the Jewish people. Pray that there will be more initiatives like the educational webinar organized by the Archdiocese of Toronto.


Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, O God! For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You have lifted up their head.

- Psalm 83:1–2

Jewish Shepherds Attacked in Binyamin Region

by JNS

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One of the wounded shepherds at Hadassah Medical Center-Mount Scopus in Jerusalem

Wednesday, 30 August 2023 | Four Jewish shepherds were wounded when dozens of masked Arabs attacked them as they were herding their flock in the Binyamin region of Samaria on Tuesday.

Video said to be from the scene of the terrorist attack shows the Arabs wielding clubs and throwing stones at the shepherds at a farm northeast of Jerusalem, between the Israeli communities of Ma’ale Mikhmas and Rimonim.

Other residents from the farm who came to help were also reportedly attacked. The Arabs also broke several cellphones of victims who were trying to record the incident.

Magen David Adom [Israel’s ambulance service] emergency responders treated the men, who were evacuated with minor wounds to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

A half-hour after the attack, Israeli security forces arrived at the scene and arrested three of the attackers.

“I was herding the flock of sheep near the farm and suddenly four masked Arabs ran toward me with clubs. I immediately called the other shepherds on the farm who called the army and hurried to the scene. Within a few seconds, dozens more Arab rioters came running to the scene and just started beating me with stones and clubs from all directions,” one of the victims said from his hospital bed, as quoted by Israel National News.

“There is not one place on my body that was not hit. Another person who was with me was hit in the groin by a stone, and the rioters also broke his finger. The other group that came to help were also injured one after another. My cellphone also caught a few blows and stopped working. They outnumbered us six to one and arrived with a look of murder in their eyes,” the shepherd continued.

Separately, Israeli security forces arrested 24 suspects during overnight counterterrorism activities in Judea and Samaria on Monday.

The weapons confiscated included a stun grenade, a Carlo-type submachine gun, an M-16 rifle and ammunition.

No casualties to Israeli forces were reported. Military vehicles were slightly damaged during rioting in the Arab village of Beit Rima, northwest of Ramallah.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on August 29, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Yoav Dudkevitch/TPS/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Remind the Lord of His promise to keep the people whom He has returned to their ancestral homeland. Pray that Jewish shepherds caring for their flocks in the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria will not again fall prey to such hostile actions of neighboring Arabs.


Hear the word of the LORD, O nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, “He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock.”

- Jeremiah 31:10

UN Secretary-General Expected to Visit Israel, Palestinian Authority

by Mike Wagenheim ~ JNS

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UN Secretary-General António Guterres in Saint Petersburg, Russia

Thursday, 31 August 2023 | A planned trip by UN Secretary-General António Guterres to Israel and the Palestinian Authority [PA] is unlikely to yield significant developments but may help relieve tensions in a strained relationship.

The United Nations has not announced any official excursion, though “the secretary-general intends to visit Israel and the PA quite soon,” an Israeli diplomatic source told JNS.

Guterres originally aimed to go in August but decided to bump the trip until after the UN General Assembly meeting in September, a UN source with knowledge of the matter told JNS. The source expects the meeting to take place at the end of the month or in early October.

The PA and its allies “are happy and delighted that we are in the stage of preparing for this visit with the secretary-general to take place as soon as possible,” Riyad Mansour, the PA envoy to the United Nations, told reporters in an August 22 briefing.

The prior day, Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russian UN chargé d’affaires, spoke in a meeting of the UN Security Council of a “pending visit” by Guterres to the “Palestinian-Israeli conflict zone.”

Danny Danon, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, told JNS that he doesn’t expect any major developments. Danon, who is a Knesset member and part of the Likud ruling party, joined Guterres on a 2017 visit to Israel and accompanied UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on a trip in 2016.

The United Nations invests heavily in the area with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

“The secretary-general visits many countries during the year, and he felt it’s important for him to come,” Danon said. “We welcome his visits.”

‘No Significant Role Since 1967’

Danny Ayalon, the former Israeli deputy foreign minister, told JNS that Guterres could present some grounds for cooperation despite Jerusalem’s general mistrust of the United Nations, coupled with recent tensions between Israel and the secretary-general.

“If there’s any importance placed on his visit, it would be on a humanitarian basis,” Ayalon said.

The diplomat cited potential efforts to broker a deal with Hamas, the terror organization that controls the Gaza Strip, and holds two Israeli citizens and the bodies of two deceased Israel Defense Forces [IDF] soldiers as hostages. Leah Goldin, the mother of the slain IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, recently met with Guterres to enlist his help.

“Other than that, the UN is not very much involved in the geopolitics of the Middle East, and they have had no significant role since 1967 when they pulled out their peacekeeping force in the Sinai,” Ayalon said.

Israel could highlight its breakthrough food and water development, as well as its security technology, which aligns with the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.

“He can have a full agenda here, but I don’t think that he can do much except calling for calm. Maybe one of the things that Israel will ask of him is to have a more robust response from UNIFIL against all the provocations of Hezbollah,” Ayalon said. “He might visit his peacekeeping forces, whether it’s UNDOF in the end in the Golan Heights or UNIFIL.” (UNDOF is the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force.)

Danon thinks it could be productive for Israel to focus Guterres on Hezbollah’s provocations on Israel’s northern border. The Israeli government and IDF often take visiting diplomats to the area to show how closely terror groups operate near Israeli civilians.

“The understanding of the proximity of the conflict is something which is very hard for us to convey because Hezbollah has been there for many years,” Danon said. “People actually can get used to the fact of their presence on the border.”

But the information that Israel has is very worrisome about Hezbollah’s potential to do harm. “That’s something we will make sure that the secretary-general will be aware of—not only the capabilities but also the intentions of Hezbollah,” he said.

Relations between Jerusalem and the secretariat are chilly at the moment following Guterres’ harsh comments on the Israeli counterterrorism operation in Jenin in July.

Neither Ayalon nor Danon expects any carryover of that sort of rhetoric during Guterres’s visit.

“Secretaries-general have always been kind of harsh on Israel when it comes to self-defense—always accusing us of using excessive force or disproportionate force—but I think this can be overcome,” Ayalon said. “It’s not something he will repeat, certainly not here.”

‘It’s Very Hard to Gain Trust’

Danon rejected the comparisons secretaries-general or other UN officials sometimes make between Israelis and terrorists. “There is no place for equivocation, and we have to make it very clear that we are fighting terrorists,” he said.

In Ramallah, Guterres should expect that the PA will “continue to play the blame game, and instead of seeking ways to promote the cause of the Palestinian people, they will continue to blame Israel and to gain points at the UN,” Danon predicted.

“That’s part of the game that they’ve been playing for the last 75 years,” he said. “They’re very good at it.”

Guterres might also look to present a stronger showing by UN leadership in the region.

Nickolay Mladenov, the former UN special envoy for the Middle East peace process, was widely viewed as a respected, proactive problem-solver by an array of regional representatives. His successor, Tor Wennesland, isn’t generally seen as carrying the same weight, a number of diplomatic sources told JNS.

Danon, who worked with Mladenov for five years, said the two often cooperated.

“There was an open line, and he was very active,” Danon told JNS. “With the current representative, I think sometimes the statements he made were not acceptable in Israel. Many times when you see that somebody is attacking you and not trying to mediate, it’s very hard to gain trust and to actually be effective.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on August 30, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Truba7113/Shutterstock/jns.org

Prayer Focus
As Secretary-General Guterres plans to visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the near future, pray that he will bear in mind the original purpose of the United Nations and its founding principles of peace and security; human rights; rule of law and development. Pray that the Palestinians’ “blame game” will be revealed as the trap that it is and Guterres would see that clearly.


The nations have sunk down in the pit which they made; in the net which they hid, their own foot is caught.

- Psalm 9:15

Jordan Downs Drone from Syria

by Kate Norman

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Regional map showing Israel with neighboring countries of Jordan and Syria

Wednesday, 30 August 2023 | Jordan’s military announced that it downed an unmanned drone on Monday coming from Syria, the third time this has happened this month.

Though the Jordanian army said it brought the drone down, the military did not say what the drone was carrying, although officials in Amman have recently lamented a growing problem of drugs and weapons being smuggled by drone across the border with Syria—sent with love from Iran.

The explosives- and narcotics-laden drones, Jordan said, highlight the growing threat of Iran in the area—which lies so close to Israel’s back door.

Iran exploited the Syrian Civil War to establish a smuggling highway, mainly to send advanced weapons to its terror puppets in the region, particularly the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist group.

Officials in Jerusalem have over the years acknowledged that the Israeli military has conducted hundreds of strikes in Syria, targeting terror sites and weapons shipments in order to prevent Iran from entrenching itself and strengthening its proxies in the region.

And Iran has used Syria as a launching pad against Jordan, a US ally, as well, officials in Amman charged, adding that the smuggling drones are Tehran’s way of upping the ante and strengthening its presence in the region.

“This is Iranian targeting of Jordan helped by the presence of their militias near our border,” Samih Al Maitah, a former Jordanian minister familiar with the border, told Reuters. “It poses a security threat that goes beyond drugs.”

Syria produces and orchestrates the smuggling of the amphetamine tablets called Captagon, Arab and Western governments claim, which Ynetnews described as a stimulant referred to as the “poor man’s cocaine.” This drug is popular among young, affluent Arabs, Ynetnews added.

Captagon is produced and sourced by the Syrian government, headed by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, Arab states and the West assert, with the efforts orchestrated by Iran-backed militias and the Syrian military.

Tehran has denied these claims as Western plots to malign Iran.

The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, visited Jordan last week to inspect the border situation and, the Hashemite kingdom hopes, increase US support in Jordan’s war against the increasing drug smuggling.

Israel’s border has not been immune to the drug chaos, with Israeli officials sporadically thwarting drug smuggling attempts, most frequently along its border with Jordan.

Earlier this summer, Israeli security personnel arrested three United Nations employees who were serving along the Syrian border smuggling liquid cocaine into the Jewish state via the Jordan River border crossing.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, August 30, 2023)

Photo Credit: Globe-trotter/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
As Iran acts behind the scenes to undermine her stability, pray that Jordan will be able to withstand and repel these drone attacks. Pray that all the nations that surround Israel would come to understand that they are powerless to stand before the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.


Put them in fear, O LORD, that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah

- Psalm 9:20

Finance Minister Releases Previously Frozen Funds for Arab Israeli Towns

by Kate Norman

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Among an array of famous global currency symbols, the Israeli shekel appears on the top row, second from the right.

Tuesday, 29 August 2023 | Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich agreed yesterday to release funds for Arab communities that he had previously frozen, fearing that the money would end up in the hands of criminal organizations.

Smotrich is allowing the transfer of NIS 200 million (US $53 million) from the Finance Ministry to the Interior Ministry following a five-hour meeting on Sunday with Shin Bet (Israeli internal security organization) Chief Ronen Bar, Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, Interior Minister Moshe Arbel and several Arab community heads.

The Interior Ministry will be able to distribute the funds to Arab municipalities in a few weeks, though the government must spend the next two weeks agreeing on mechanisms to safeguard the proper flow of money.

“I am happy to inform you that the Israeli government has accepted my request to establish for the first time a system of operation, control and supervision of the budgets transferred to the Arab authorities in order to prevent the leakage of the budgets to the criminal organizations,” Smotrich said in a statement on his Twitter account, translated by Google.

“Until we verify that the mechanism works in the field,” the finance minister added, “we will not transfer a single shekel to the authorities. We are committed to eradicating crime and protectionism, period.”

The previously frozen funds sparked protests by Arab community heads and could have delayed the opening of the school year without proper funding, the Jerusalem Post reported.

An unspecified amount of the funding will go toward tackling organized crime in Israel’s Arab communities, the Times of Israel reported, as crimes in these communities have skyrocketed this past year.

This year 157 Israeli Arabs have been murdered in a crime wave, the Times of Israel reported, citing the Abraham Initiatives watchdog group, which noted that the number of deaths is twice as high compared to the same period last year.

One potential plan for monitoring the flow of funds into Arab communities would be to establish a “traffic light” system ranking Arab municipalities according to their likelihood of funneling funds to criminal organizations.

Green communities would be ranked as no risk and would receive funds with no conditions, the Times of Israel reported, while yellow communities would receive funding but with supervision, and communities marked as red would have their funding frozen until it is guaranteed that they could receive money and spend it as intended.

The plan, which has not been approved yet, was proposed by Smotrich and Social Equality Minister Amichai Chikli, the Times of Israel reported, with backing by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. According to the proposal, communities would be ranked by the Interior Ministry, the Shin Bet and the police.

The Finance Ministry will also funnel some “tens of millions of shekels” to the Israel Police to fund technology to increase law enforcement and security in Arab communities, Smotrich’s office said, as reported by the Jerusalem Post.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, August 29, 2023)

Photo Credit: Satheeshsankaran/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Ask the Lord to give wisdom to those who are putting safeguards in place to ensure that the funds will not fall into the hands of criminal organizations. Intercede for the Arab citizens of Israel, praying that they will learn the ways of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and so be truly established in the Land.


And it shall be, if they [non-Jews living in the Land] will learn carefully the ways of My people, to swear by My name, ‘As the LORD lives,’ as they taught My people to swear by Baal, then they shall be established in the midst of My people.

- Jeremiah 12:16

Israelis Arrive Home after Emergency Stop in Saudi Arabia

by JNS

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Israelis who were on the plane that landed in Saudi Arabia are seen after their arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport.

Wednesday, 30 August 2023 | The 128 Israelis whose flight from the Seychelles was forced to make an emergency landing in Saudi Arabia on Monday night arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport on Tuesday afternoon.

They spent Monday night at an airport hotel in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah in Mecca Province.

The travelers departed Jeddah International Airport on a replacement Air Seychelles plane on Tuesday morning that was flown in from Dubai. The passengers were reportedly not allowed to leave their hotel rooms during the stay.

“I very much appreciate the warm attitude of the Saudi authorities toward the Israeli passengers whose plane was in distress and had to make an emergency landing,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a video message on Tuesday that was subtitled in Arabic.

“I’m glad everyone is coming home. Thank you for the good neighborliness,” he added.

New details were emerging about the passenger list, including that senior security officials on vacation were onboard Air Seychelles flight HM022, as well as close relatives of Otzma Yehudit lawmaker Almog Cohen.

The flight was forced to land due to an electrical problem, although the pilots did not declare an emergency touchdown. The passengers were then forced to wait on the plane for three hours.

“As soon as it was decided that we would stay here, we were received very well, we were treated amazingly. Everyone smiled and went out of their way to help, accompanied us to the hotel and arranged rooms for everyone,” Sharon Licht-Patern, one of the passengers, told Kan News.

In July 2022, Saudi Arabia announced the opening of its airspace to “all carriers,” paving the way for Israeli commercial airlines to overfly the kingdom and thereby drastically reduce flight times from the Jewish state to major destinations in Asia.

King Abdulaziz International Airport, also known as Jeddah International Airport, is a designated landing site for flights to Israel that encounter difficulties while overflying Saudi Arabia.

Jerusalem is working on an agreement to allow direct flights for its Muslim citizens to travel to Mecca for the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

Last week, the Biden administration told the Israeli government that it would have to make considerable concessions to the Palestinians if a US-brokered normalization deal with Saudi Arabia is to materialize.

In an interview earlier this month with Bloomberg Television, Netanyahu expressed confidence that his government could achieve some form of normalization with Riyadh in the coming months.

“If there is a political will, there will be a political way to achieve normalization and formal peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia. … I’d bet on it,” the premier said.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on August 29, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Give thanks that the Israeli passengers were treated well during their unexpected stay in a country with whom Israel does not have direct diplomatic relations. Pray that Israel’s leaders will have wisdom in any discussions regarding normalization of relations with Saudi Arabia.


Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil.

- Proverbs 3:5–7

Papua New Guinea to Open Jerusalem Embassy

by Pesach Benson ~ JNS

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A view of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Tuesday, 29 August 2023 | The Oceana nation of Papua New Guinea [PNG] will soon inaugurate an embassy in Jerusalem, officials in Port Moresby confirmed on Monday.

A spokesperson for PNG Prime Minister and Foreign Minister James Marape said that he will pay an official visit to Israel to mark the embassy’s opening, which is scheduled for September 5.

In February, then-PNG Foreign Minister Justin Tkatchenko first notified his Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen that the southwest Pacific nation was interested in opening an embassy in Jerusalem.

The news follows Sierra Leone’s announcement on Friday that it will also open an embassy in Jerusalem.

Paraguay is due to open an embassy in Jerusalem by the end of 2023.

The United States, Guatemala, Honduras and Kosovo are currently the only countries with embassies in Jerusalem. Most of the countries that Israel has diplomatic relations with maintain their embassies in the Tel Aviv area, though several also operate lower-level consulates, trade offices and other missions in the Israeli capital.

Despite the lack of formal recognition, visiting leaders and diplomats routinely meet Israeli leaders in Jerusalem at the prime minister’s office, the president’s residence and the Knesset.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on August 28, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: M Schlauch via Wikimedia Commons/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Give thanks for the nations of Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone and Paraguay as they have committed to open embassies in Jerusalem. Pray for influential nations whose embassies are currently in Tel Aviv to follow the lead of these tiny countries and acknowledge Jerusalem as the undivided, eternal capital of Israel.


And whereas you are being sent by the king [Artaxerxes of Babylon] and his seven counselors to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, with regard to the Law of your God which is in your hand; and whereas you are to carry the silver and gold which the king and his counselors have freely offered to the God of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem

- Ezra 7:14–15 (emphasis added)