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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.

IDF Goes on Offensive in Next Stage of Wide-scale Exercise against Hezbollah

by Yoav Zitun

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IDF conducts offensive maneuvers in simulation of an all-out war against Hezbollah (illustrative)

Wednesday, 13 September 2017 | The Northern Command began the next stage of its wide-scale training exercise in the Western and Lower Galilee on Monday, conducting offensive maneuvers in simulation of an all-out war against the Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah.

The drill, set to last 11 days, includes the Air Force’s new F-35 fighter jets and tens of thousands of soldiers.

The troops are drilling a scenario in which hundreds of Hezbollah fighters are able to infiltrate several locations in Israel under the cover of Borkan missile fire (heavy mortar bombs that can carry 100-200 km [62-124 mph] warheads).

“We’re not playing in measure-for-measure with Hezbollah, and our response to the violation of our sovereignty and harm to our citizens will be decisive, significant and go beyond the borders, using a great deal of subterfuge,” a senior Northern Command officer told reporters.

The officer said the more Hezbollah increases its power, develops its capabilities and gains operational experience fighting in the Syrian civil war, the more it exposes its weak points.

“Hezbollah has turned from a terror organization to a guerilla organization and now to a semi-army with increasing military elements—meaning an organization with structure and hierarchy,” he said.

“We will know how to attack it from the land, air and sea all at the same time. The ground achievement we would gain would allow the political ranks to secure a deal. We would want to shorten the conflict as much as possible, and to that end we would operate fast and with subterfuge,” the senior officer continued.

“There would be no way Hezbollah could conquer an area of land in Israel, but it would claim it did,” he added. “The defense line will never be broken.”

The exercise, the senior officer noted, focuses on Hezbollah and not the Lebanese army.

During the exercise, the Northern Command’s reservists division was called up. In a military conflict, the reservists would be sent to a sensitive area along the border and could advance as deep as 30 kilometers [18.6 mi] into Lebanon.

A senior officer in the division stressed, “We’re not going to chase up every last rocket, and Nahariya can still expect to get rocket fire even on the last day of the war. Hezbollah’s shortcoming is that it’s an army, even if it doesn’t have planes and tanks.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 12 September 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDFblog.com

Prayer Focus
Continue to lift up all the soldiers serving in the IDF who are training extensively for scenarios where Hezbollah infiltrates into Israel under severe missile attack. Praise God for a strong defense, determination and strategies to shorten conflict. Pray for these soldiers as not many armies in today’s world face real situations as Israel does.

Scripture

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.


- Isaiah 40:28-29

Top IDF Brass Tells US Israel Cannot Handle Iran Alone

by Korin Elbaz Alush

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IDF’s former deputy chief of staff, Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan

Tuesday, 12 September 2017 | The IDF’s [Israel Defense Forces] former deputy chief of staff, Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan told a security conference in Washington DC Friday that Israel will not be able to fight against Iran without US assistance, according to reports on the website DefenseNews.

In order to achieve victory over Iran in any possible future military showdown, American help would be essential, he reportedly said during his speech at the Washington Institute.

“We cannot fight Iran alone,” Golan was reported as saying in the online publication. “They can affect us; we can affect them. It’s all about attrition. But if you want to gain something which is deeper, we cannot do it alone. This is a fact of life. It’s better to admit that.”

Paying lip service to ISIS’s threatening determination to carry out attacks, Golan insisted that a lid could be kept on the terror organization, adding that it was still Iran that posed the greatest danger.

“For decades, we’ve dealt with ISIS-style terrorism. I don’t say it’s not a problem. But we managed to live with that. … They are primitive and with relatively limited capabilities. Yes, they have their determination and they are dangerous,” Golan was quoted as saying.

“But when looking at the Iranian threat, it’s much more dangerous compared to the ISIS threat.”

Iran, he continued, “is a higher form of civilization. They have nice, academic infrastructure, impressive industry, good scientists and many talented young people. They are very similar to us, and because they are similar to us they are much, much more dangerous. And we can’t cope with them alone.”

Golan’s trip to Washington as a visiting fellow for military research comes at the behest of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman as the IDF general outlines for his American counterparts Israel’s national security policy.

According to the DefenseNews, Golan also told his listeners that Israel had to ready itself to lock horns with Iran.

“We cannot allow ourselves not to prepare for direct confrontation with Iran,” he said. “We don’t have expeditionary forces. There is no Marine Corps in Israel … this is beyond our capabilities. So what should we have? That’s a big question. That’s the classified part.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 10 September 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDFblog.com

Prayer Focus
Intercede for the tiny Jewish state facing Iran, determined and dangerous, and the reality that Israel might require assistance to achieve victory over them. Pray for Yair Golan and the IDF leadership to put their trust in God and to be comforted by the God that will never leave nor forsake them. Ask for God’s will to be done regarding military partnerships.

Scripture

Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.


- Psalm 55:22

Hamas Building Lebanon Base, as Israel Foiling Hundreds of Terror Attacks

by Joshua Spurlock

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Palestinian terrorism is an ongoing threat as seen in this banner of gunmen and Dome of the Rock (illustrative)

Monday, 11 September 2017 | Iran is helping Hamas expand its reach—to Lebanon. That’s the intel from the head of the Shin Bet security service Nadav Argaman, who said on Sunday the Gaza-ruling Hamas is building a secondary base in the national home of fellow Iranian proxy Hezbollah. The Times of Israel reported that Argaman also said Hamas “continues to deepen its strategic ties” to the Iranian “Shiite axis”, referring to the Islamic sect espoused by the theocratic Iranian dictatorship and its ally Hezbollah.

Three years after the last war with Israel, Hamas is under strategic stress as they seek to balance keeping their civilians at home in Gaza content with efforts to re-arm for another conflict with Israel—one in which Argaman says Hamas is “ready.” But even as Hamas may be ready for a fight, Israel isn’t just prepared to continue their war with terror. They’ve been preventing attacks all year from terrorists—hundreds of them, in fact.

Israeli Prime Minister’s Office spokesman Ofir Gendelman posted to his Twitter feed on Sunday that Argaman said that “since Jan. 2017, we have foiled over 200 Palestinian terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings, shootings & kidnappings.”

Looking more recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli cabinet that in July and August, the Shin Bet—also known as the Israel Security Agency (ISA)—“thwarted over 70 terrorist cells that were planning attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians.”

Said Netanyahu comments released by his office, “Israelis are not aware of everything the ISA does… I would like to express deep gratitude to the ISA personnel and to all those involved in this important work on behalf of the security of Israel.”

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this article on 10 September 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Joshua Spurlock/themideastupdate.com

Prayer Focus
Thank God for the Shin-Bet and the amazing work that they do to protect the nation of Israel. Ask God to bless all the security forces with wisdom to hinder and prevent the continuous efforts of Hamas to bomb, shoot or kidnap Israelis. Pray for their safety during these operations.

Scripture

Commit your works to the LORD and your plans will be established.


- Proverbs 16:3 NASB

Netanyahu Begins “Historic” Latin American Trip in Argentina

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Prime Minister Netanyahu at the memorial to the eighty-five people killed in terror bombing in 1994

Wednesday, 13 September 2017 | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Argentina Monday on the first leg of a groundbreaking diplomatic tour that will also include Colombia and Mexico.

Netanyahu has called the visit, the first to Latin America by a sitting Israeli prime minister, “historic”. He is traveling with a large business delegation including business leaders from sectors including agriculture, water, communications and energy. Israel and Argentina are due to sign a number of cooperation agreements on trade and security during the visit.

After landing on Monday, the prime minister took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the site of the Israeli embassy that was destroyed in the 1992 bomb attack, in which 29 people were killed. Four Israelis who survived the attack, as well as family members of three who did not, accompanied Netanyahu on his flight.

Netanyahu also visited the AMIA [Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina] Jewish community building, where 89 people were killed in a bombing in 1994, the worst terrorist attack in Argentinian history.

Israeli intelligence agencies believe both attacks were carried out by Hezbollah.

Yesterday Netanyahu met with Argentinean President Mauricio Macri, who has declared that he would cancel cooperation with Iran. Argentina had a close relationship with Iran during the presidency of Macri’s predecessor Cristina Kirchner.

According to reports in Argentina, Macri will present Netanyahu with documents relating to President Juan Peron’s time in power and the cooperation that his government maintained with the Nazis after World War II. Many Nazi leaders fled to Argentina because it had no extradition agreements with Western countries.

Netanyahu also met yesterday with the president of Paraguay, Horacio Cartes, who  traveled to Buenos Aires especially for the meeting.

After leaving Argentina, Netanyahu is set to travel to Colombia and Mexico. Before he left Israel, the prime minister revealed he had had “a very moving conversation” with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and offered him “all the assistance at our disposal” to help with the recovery effort after the recent earthquake.

The prime minister will then travel to New York to address the UN General Assembly on Tuesday 19 September. He will hold bilateral meetings with world leaders, including US President Donald Trump.

Source: (BICOM originally published this article on 12 September 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Ashernet/GPO

Prayer Focus
Ask God to guide the steps of PM Netanyahu as he makes a historic trip to Argentina, Mexico and Colombia to build relationships and sign several cooperation agreements. Pray for protection, rest and wisdom as PM Netanyahu and his envoy will be traveling extensively. Praise God that Argentina chose to stand with Israel and cut ties with Iran.

Scripture

Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths.


- Psalm 25:4

Netanyahu: Israel’s Relations with Arab States “Best Ever”

by Ilse Posselt

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Thursday, 14 September 2017 | Israel’s relations with the Arab world are at an all-time high, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed last week.

Addressing Israeli diplomats during an annual Rosh HaShanah toast at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, the prime minister spoke of an unprecedented “breakthrough” in the Jewish state’s ties with some of its moderate Sunni neighbors in the region, hailing it as “the best ever.”

According to Netanyahu, the sway in these Arab states’ sentiments towards Israel even trumps the thaw in relations that came as a result of the 1993 Oslo Accords as well as regional peace treaties between the Jewish state and Egypt and Jordan in 1979 and 1994 respectively. “What is actually happening with [the Arab states] has never happened in our history, even when we signed agreements,” the prime minister pointed out.

While current cooperation is flourishing “in various ways and different levels,” Netanyahu conceded that the full extent of the relational heyday has not been exposed and that the fruit of such ties may thus not be entirely “visible” yet. However, away from the public eye, he assured, the scope of “[the cooperation] is much more than during any other period in the history of Israel. This is a tremendous change. The entire world is changing.”

Israel’s improved standing, the prime minister continued, does not only extend to its Arab neighbors. The Jewish state, he said, has in recent months enhanced its diplomatic position across the globe, securing stronger ties with among others, the US, Central and Latin American nations, states in Europe and Asia, such as Russia, India, Japan and China as well as a majority of Muslim nations, like Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

According to Netanyahu there is, however, one snag in the otherwise good news: the Palestinians’ stoic refusal to follow the regional trend of embarking on a route of cooperation and coexistence with Israel.

“Unfortunately, the Palestinians still have not changed their terms for a peace agreement, which is totally unacceptable for a large part of the public,” he concluded.

The Jewish state’s track record of relations with its Arab neighbors has historically been a strained one—and for good reason. The modern State of Israel was but days old when the combined forces of five Arab armies attacked the fledgling nation, ready to drive “the Jews into the sea.” Decades of war, conflict, terror attacks and failure to acknowledge the existence of Israel followed.

Then, in 1979, Egypt became the first Arab country to recognize the Jewish state and extend its hand in peace. Fifteen years later, Jordan followed suit. Moreover, in recent years, various Sunni nations in the region have sought the council and support of the nation they once desired to annihilate. The change of heart can be ascribed to Iran’s growing stranglehold in the region, which these moderate countries view as one of the biggest threats currently facing the Middle East.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 14 September 2017)

Photo Credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO

Prayer Focus
Bring Israel’s relationship with all the Arab states boldly before the Lord and ask Him to protect it from negative Palestinian influence. Ask Him for wisdom as PM Netanyahu is at the forefront, building relationships to strengthen Israel’s support. Ask for peace in the hearts of the Arab nations’ leaders who joined hands with the Jewish state.

Scripture

He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.


- Proverbs 13:20

Syrians Pen Letters of Gratitude to Israel

by Yoav Birenberg

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Operation Good Neighbor shows compassion for Syrians in need

Wednesday, 13 September 2017 | Dozens of Syrian civilians have written letters of gratitude to Israel and the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] for establishing field hospitals on its northern border which provided, and continue to provide, medical care to numerous victims wounded in the country’s ongoing violent civil war.

One 27-year-old Syrian woman, identifiable as ‘G.’ made her way to the Israeli side of the border on the Golan Heights seeking medical care for her son who had been wounded in the fighting.

After the IDF treated her son, G. wrote a letter of appreciation to Israel lamenting the “tragic situation in Syria” and expressing her yearning for peace and the prevention of further bloodshed.

“Syria was the most beautiful country of all Arab countries. We thought that Israel was our enemy, but we realized that it’s good to us. I want to thank the hospitals in Israel and the Israeli army for all its help to the … Syrian children,” she wrote.

While Israeli field hospitals have existed for years, an operation was launched in June 2016 by the 210th division of the Northern Command dubbed “Operation Good Neighbor” aimed at providing relief to the civilians lacking any alternative, whose medical services and infrastructure have been almost entirely obliterated by the carnage.

Also bemoaning the conflict in Syria which has wrenched the country asunder, was ‘M.,’ a 30-year-old married man with children.

Beginning his missive by describing the “horrendous situation” in Syria, M. explained how Israel seemed to be the only place in which medical care could be offered to the civilians caught in the crossfire of the fighting.

“After seven years of revolution in which we have lost lives and blood, there was no- where for the wounded Syrians to go and receive treatment,” his letter began. “I am grateful to the State of Israel for the help it provided to all the wounded people of Syria.”

  1. also emphasized that his previous beliefs that Israel was an enemy had been dispelled by his first-hand experience.

“After years of thinking that Israel was the enemy that needs to be gotten rid of, (after thinking) that we need to return the Syrian territories (Golan Heights). I am grateful to you for your treatment and especially to the Israeli army for its humanitarianism.”

For ‘S.’, 26, who had to have his right hand amputated, Israel’s efforts had convinced him that peace had to be made between the two countries.

“We, the nation of Syria, want peace with the State of Israel because it provided us with many services during this troubled period. To all Syrians who say Israel is the enemy, I say that you are liars. Peace to Syria and to Israel,” he wrote. Echoing such sentiments, ‘D.’ described Israel as “our friend.”

Since 2011, around half a million Syrians have been killed in the civil war. Another 2 million have been wounded and some 6 million have been made homeless.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 10 September 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/Israel Defense Forces

Prayer Focus
Give thanks to the Holy One for the Syrians who warmly expressed their gratitude to the soldiers who treated and assisted them with medical care in the field hospitals and now realize that Israel is their friend. Pray that these letters will encourage the soldiers in times when they need it most, as they too encourage the victims of war-torn Syria.

Scripture

If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday.  The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.


- Isaiah 58:10-11

Israel Mourns 9/11 alongside America

by Ilse Posselt

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9/11 Memorial Plaza commemorating the victims of the Twin Towers disaster

Tuesday, 12 September 2017 | Yesterday marked the anniversary of one of the darkest days in America’s history. Sixteen years have passed since the morning of September 11, 2001, when terrorists slammed hijacked commercial planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and an open field in Pennsylvania. Three thousand people died in the deadliest terror attack on US soil. For the first time, the West was forced to confront the terrible phenomenon of radical Islamic terrorism in its own backyard.

As Americans yesterday commemorated the loss of colleagues, friends, loved ones and an era before the threat of extremist terror on domestic soil, the State of Israel bowed its head alongside the US in remembrance and mourning.

On Monday morning, a group of Israelis and Americans gathered for a ceremony at the 9/11 Living Memorial Plaza, a monument constructed by the Jewish National Fund in the rolling hills outside Jerusalem in memory of those who perished in the horrific terror attack.

The guest list included US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, Iowa governor, Kim Reynolds, Israeli opposition leader, Isaac Herzog, families of the Israeli victims, a group of 50 police officers from the US and a delegation of American and Israeli fire-fighters. A number of groups, including representatives from the Anti-defamation League and Heroes to Heroes, a support program for Israeli and US combat veterans, also made their way from America specifically to attend the memorial event.

“On September 11, we all fell victim to the genocidal force of our time—radical Islamic terrorism,” Friedman began his address. “No country has felt a greater loss to radical Islamic terror than Israel.”

Listing a number of terror attacks on Israeli soil since the Hebron massacre in 1929, Friedman added that after years in which Americans grieved the terrible attacks on the Jewish state, on September 11, “Israel mourned for America.”

It stands to reason, he continued, that “the only nation in the world [other than the US] to build a 9/11 memorial containing the name of each and every victim, each and every act in this tragic act, is the State of Israel.”

“Israel and the United States will always stand together and fight for the total defeat of radical Islamic terrorism,” Friedman vowed.

The US ambassador concluded his message with a word of hope—for Americans and Israelis alike. “In the 16 years following the disaster in the US, Israel and its allies have strengthened and flourished, while terrorist organizations such as ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Hamas continue to weaken.” Hopefully, he added, these extremist groups “are on their way to the dustbin of history.”

For his part, Herzog said that “the attacks of 9/11 were not only an attack on the US, they were an attack on the values of democracy, freedom, and equality. Israel is bound together with the US by our shared commitment to these values.”

“We will always stand together with America in the fight against terrorism and extremism,” Herzog pledged. “It is a fight we are all too familiar with. To defeat the terrorists, we must destroy them militarily, but we must also show that our ideals are stronger than theirs.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is on a state visit to Latin America, offered his condolences in a recorded message from Buenos Aires. “We know the pain,” he said. “We felt it. We understand the pain of our American brothers and sisters who are marking today an event of enormous magnitude: the September 11th bombings. We share your pain and we share the commitment to fight this evil, to fight terrorism off the face of the earth.”

9/11 Living Memorial Plaza

Located in the Jerusalem Mountains some 15 minutes’ drive from the Israeli capital, the 9/11 Living Memorial Plaza is a 9-meter (30 ft.) bronze American flag constructed in the form of a flame to commemorate the blazes of the Twin Towers.

The flag rests on a base of steel taken from the wreckage of the World Trade Center and brought specifically from the US to Israel to be incorporated in the memorial. A message inscribed on the base in Hebrew and English explains the material’s origin and significance. “This metal remnant was taken from the remains of the Twin Towers that imploded on the September 11th disaster. It was sent over to Israel by the City of New York to be incorporated in this memorial. This metal piece, like the entire monument, is a manifestation of the special relationship between New York and Jerusalem.”

Apart from the inscription, the names of each of the 2,996 victims who were killed on September 11, 2001 have also been engraved around the monument.

Since its unveiling in 2009, the 9/11 Living Memorial Plaza has emerged as a popular pilgrimage site for relatives of the victims as well as American and international tourists to pay their respects.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 12 September 2017)

Photo Credit: Public domain/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Cry out against terrorism and radical Islam killing innocent people all over the world. Give thanks for all the lessons governments and security forces have learned to prevent many more such attacks. Ask God to comfort those who mourn the loss of their loved ones.

Scripture

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise.


- Psalm 57:7

Report: Israel Rushes Significant Aid Overseas in Week of World Disasters

by Ilse Posselt

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ISRAaid helping on the ground after the hurricane hit in Texas (illustrative)

Monday, 11 September 2017 | World media calls it unprecedented, a rare succession of back-to-back natural disasters shaking the planet. First, Hurricane Harvey, the fiercest tropical storm to ravage America in 13 years, left Houston under water. Days later, Hurricanes Irma, Jose and Katia barreled through the Caribbean, sowing large-scale death and destruction. Then, on Thursday evening, a deadly 8.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the southern coast of Mexico. The most powerful quake to hit the country in over a century reduced towns to rubble in a matter of moments and left nearly 100 people dead. Now, over 7 million people have been evacuated from their homes as Hurricane Irma, one of the worst Atlantic tropical storms on record, has started to unleash tornados, torrential floodwaters and gale-force winds in Florida.

As the string of natural catastrophes unfolds, Israel continues to dispatch relief teams to the disaster-stricken areas. At present, ISRAEL21c reports, delegations from the Jewish state are either already on the ground or on their way to Texas, Florida, Mexico, Haiti and the Caribbean to search for survivors, provide psychological and trauma support or lend a much-needed hand in recovery efforts.

While Bridges for Peace has reported on the extent of Israeli aid in Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the subsequent natural disasters have seen the Jewish state scramble to dispatch additional relief teams.

“We have never seen anything like this,” Mickey Noam-Alon, the co-CEO of IsraAID, a humanitarian aid organization from Israel that responds to emergencies and facilitates international development around the world, told ISRAEL21c. “There are so many massive events going on worldwide.”

Shachar Zahavi, founder of the Jewish state’s non-governmental aid agency, iAID, described the succession of catastrophes as “rare.” “It is really not common to have so many disasters all at once go. We are all rushing to keep up.”

ISRAEL21c provided a glimpse of Israel’s current efforts in the major centers of need.

Florida

As the flood waters in Texas recede and residents in Houston come to grips with life after Harvey, three teams of volunteers who came from Israel to help in the aftermath of the tropical storm are now making their way south to Florida as Hurricane Irma looms. The teams from IsraAID, ZAKA Search and Rescue Organization and the Israel Rescue Coalition (IRC) are joined by additional delegations from IsraAID and IRC that arrived from Israel in Miami last night.

The IRC delegation comprises experts in search and rescue, who are trained for rescues on land and sea, medical and psychological first-aid responders, diving teams as well as natural disaster personnel, ISRAEL21c reports.

“Our teams have already begun assembling data and connecting with local teams on the ground in Florida as well as the Israeli consulate and getting regular updates and assessments from the ground,” explained Dov Maisel, director of international operations for the IRC. “We are trying to get out in front of this as much as possible. With resources and volunteers already heavily engaged in Texas, if Irma strikes hard in Florida, people on the ground there will need as much help as they can get, and we are not hesitating to deploy and assist in any way we can.”

While the teams from IRC will assist in search and rescue efforts, members from IsraAID will help survivors remove debris once the storm dies down, coming alongside communities in the clean-up process as residents sift through the remains of their former lives for belongings that might have survived the destruction.

For its part, the ZAKA Search and Rescue organization will set up two command centers in Miami from where volunteers will offer tangible relief to local communities in the form of generators, sleeping bags, food and water and search, rescue and recovery equipment.

“We intend to offer help in the best and most professional way we can, focusing on evacuation of stranded residents and treating the wounded,” ZAKA International Rescue Unit chief officer, Mati Goldstein, told ISRAEL21c.

Haiti and the Caribbean

The tiny island of Haiti is no stranger to destruction. In January 2010, a deadly earthquake devastated the country, leaving more than 160,000 people dead. Over the past seven years, IsraAID teams have remained on the ground in Haiti, helping the stricken nation rebuild. Following the ruin left by Hurricane Irma, the Israelis are once again able to lend a hand to the people of Haiti. Moreover, the team is also able to dispatch volunteers to the nearby Caribbean islands ravaged by the mammoth tropical storm.

According to ISRAEL21c, ZAKA and iAID are also in the preparation phases of sending aid to those islands that have suffered the most damage in the storm.

Mexico

As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embarks on an official trip to Latin America in the first visit of a sitting Israeli premier in the region, the Jewish state is dispatching aid to disaster-stricken Mexico through a number of channels.

Netanyahu told the Israeli cabinet yesterday that he will offer Israel’s assistance to the ravaged nation when he meets with Mexican President, Enrique Peña Nieto on Wednesday. According to Israel’s Foreign Ministry, the Jewish state’s ambassador to Mexico, Yoni Peled, will deliver a yet undisclosed aid package to the states hardest hit by the deadly quake.

In the meantime, a team from iAID equipped with state-of-the-art gear for searching for survivors buried under rubble landed in Mexico a day after the disaster. Zahavi told ISRAEL21c that the aid group dispatched a 12-member team to southern Mexico to assist in the initial search and rescue efforts and will now decide on a long-term course of action.

A tiny nation with a huge heart

While the succession of back-to-back natural disasters shaking the planet over the past few weeks has been unprecedented, tiny Israel’s reaction to dispatch immediate help to ravaged areas is certainly not. Over the past six decades, with little fanfare and minimal press coverage, the country has provided humanitarian aid to more than 140 disaster-stricken nations, a number of which still refuses to maintain diplomatic relations with Israel.

The tiny nation’s commitment to offer a helping hand is indeed a long-standing one. “Within a decade of Israel’s founding, the government and its people demonstrated a deep commitment to engage in humanitarian relief efforts,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website explains.

The people of Israel remain true to that vision. Regardless of where catastrophe hits, the Jewish state is often the first on the frontlines, flying thousands of miles, to bring doctors and nurses, rescue workers, medical supplies, equipment and more to devastated areas. In fact, the tiny country’s huge heart of compassion and care is often most clearly visible in a nation far from home, helping people who are not their own survive the rubble of their shattered lives.

Many have speculated over Israel’s motivation to help those in need. Some say that the Jewish state is expertly equipped to respond to emergency situations. The argument certainly has merit. Tragic circumstances like war and terror have certainly forced the Israelis to hone their response procedures during times of emergency to a fine art. However, what their enemies meant for harm, the people of the Promised Land have used as a means to bless the nations. Israel is committed to take the expertise forged from these painful events and share it by dispatching its trained men and women to help those who suffer.

Yet external influences are possibly only part of the tiny country’s eager heart for help. Perhaps the driving force is more inherent, something rooted at the very core of Jewish belief. The age-old concept of tikkun olam, which literally translates to “repairing the world,” entails the conviction that all people carry within themselves the divine obligation to heal, to repair and to transform the world for the better and for good. It is a belief so deeply interwoven into the essence of Jewish society that when disaster strikes, Israel responds almost instinctively, with an innate desire to help, to repair and to transform for the better.

Israel helps—and blesses—because that is who Israel is.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 11 September 2017)

Photo Credit: Twitter/ISRAaid

Prayer Focus
Praise God for tiny Israel with its big heart able to send volunteers to help search for survivors, provide trauma support and simply lend a hand. Lift them up for strength, energy and wisdom and ask God for His provision. Ask Him to encourage all who recently endured the wrath of natural disasters in and around the US.

Scripture

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.


- Psalm 46:1

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