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Reaching Out in Love to Widows and Orphans

Friday, September 2, 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.

Iran Steps up Nuclear Development Program amid ongoing Nuclear Talks

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An Iranian nuclear program exhibition (illustrative)

Wednesday, 31 August 2022 | As the United States and Iran appear to be on the verge of resurrecting the nuclear deal, the United Nations’ (UN’s) nuclear watchdog reported that Iran has stepped up its nuclear development program, according to an exclusive Reuters report.

The Islamist regime has activated a cascade of advanced IR-6 centrifuges at its underground Natanz nuclear site, according to a confidential report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to the UN, which Reuters saw yesterday.

The IR-6 centrifuges, a significant upgrade from the IR-1 centrifuges allowed under the 2015 nuclear agreement, enrich uranium to 60% purity—far above the 3.67% allowed under the deal and just a short technical step away from the 90% purity needed to build a nuclear bomb.

The IAEA report stated, “On 28 August 2022, the Agency verified at FEP [the underground Fuel Enrichment Plant at Natanz] that Iran was feeding UF6 [uranium hexafluoride] enriched up to 2% U-235 into the IR-6 cascade…for the production of UF6 enriched up to 5% U-235,” as quoted by Reuters.

The Natanz FEP contains two other IR-6 cascades, which are not yet up and running, the report said.

Iran is advancing its uranium enrichment program amid attempts by Tehran and Washington to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

After former US President Donald Trump exited the deal and imposed heavy sanctions against Iran, a revival of the agreement would once again see the US and other world powers lift sanctions in exchange for Iran reining in its nuclear development program.

Iran and the US have both responded to a “final” draft of an agreement presented by the European Union earlier this month. Tehran currently is studying Washington’s response before giving its answer.

Meanwhile, Israel’s leadership is campaigning against the US accepting the current draft of the agreement, condemning it as a “bad” deal that does too little too late to dampen Iran’s nuclear progress.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid told a group of foreign correspondents in Jerusalem on Sunday that Israel is not party to any potential nuclear agreement and that “it will not limit our [Israel’s] actions.”

Israel’s military and intelligence agency, the Mossad, are both prepared to “act to safeguard Israel’s security,” Lapid added, a sentiment that has been echoed recently by Israel’s defense minister, Mossad chief and other officials.

It would not be the first time Israel has acted against Iran.

Former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen announced yesterday that under his leadership, Israel carried out “countless operations” against Iranian nuclear sites.

“Without going into too many details, I can tell you the Mossad had many successes in the fight against Iran’s nuclear program,” Cohen said at an event in Basil yesterday marking the 125th anniversary of the first World Zionist Congress. “We operated around the world and on Iranian soil itself, in the very heartland of the ayatollahs,” referring to the Islamist regime’s high-ranking Shiite Muslim clerics.

Cohen mentioned the Mossad’s 2018 operation in which the intelligence agency swiped 100,000 secret files from Iran. Then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented it as evidence that the regime lied about its nuclear program being used strictly for peaceful civilian purposes and that Iran was in fact pursuing a nuclear weapon.

The former Mossad chief repeated the charge that Iran is “lying to the whole world” about the purposes of its nuclear program.

Cohen also repeated the vow that Israel will continue working to prevent Iran from producing a nuclear weapon.

“We can never allow a regime that calls for our destruction to get its finger on the nuclear trigger,” Cohen said.

Source: Kate Norman

Source: (Bridges for Peace, August 31, 2022)

Photo Credit: Mehr News Agency/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that world leaders will come to their senses and refuse to enter into any deal that will allow Iran to continue on its track toward nuclear state status. Ask the Lord for His wisdom to guide Israel as the nation continues working to prevent Iran from producing a nuclear weapon.

Scripture

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


- Psalm 32:8

IDF Clashes with Palestinian Gunmen in Judea and Samaria

by JNS

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IDF soldiers during an operation in Judea and Samaria (illustrative)

Tuesday, 30 August 2022 | A firefight broke out on Monday between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen during an Israeli arrest raid in the village of Qabatiyah, near Jenin, according to the Israeli military.

The Palestinian Authority-run [PA] Wafa news agency said 11 Palestinians were injured during the operation, some severely.

The Israeli force entered the village in pursuit of a terror suspect, who opened fire on the soldiers from within a residential building, the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] said in a statement. The force returned fire, and the suspect eventually surrendered.

The suspect, identified by Palestinian media as Alaa Omar Zakarneh, a former Israeli security prisoner, was arrested, and an M-16 rifle was seized, according to the IDF.

The Israeli force also returned fire after being shot at from multiple other locations during the operation, the statement said.

Meanwhile, security forces conducted counterterrorism operations in other locations in Judea and Samaria, including Hebron, Bidu and Jabal Mawalach overnight Sunday.

A total of nine security suspects were arrested. There were no injuries among IDF personnel.

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

Photo Credit: IDF/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for God’s protection to surround these young soldiers as they carry out very dangerous counterterrorism operations. Pray that Alaa Omar Zakarneh is punished to the full extent of the law, and cry out to the Lord for calm to settle on Judea and Samaria.

Scripture

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


- Psalm 59:1b–2

125 Years Ago Today: First Zionist Congress

by Janet Aslin

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First Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, publicly pronouncing the Declaration of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, beneath a portrait of Theodor Herzl, founder of modern Zionism

Monday, 29 August 2022 | On this day in 1897, Theodore Herzl convened the First World Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland. Today the world gathers again in Basel to celebrate the historic three-day event that became a major milestone on the way to the rebirth of the modern State of Israel.

One hundred and twenty-five years ago today, 200 participants gathered at a hall in Basel under the leadership of Theodore Herzl. Together they advanced the Jewish dream of a return to their homeland onto the world stage. At the end of the First World Zionist Congress, the delegates adopted the Basel Program, whose goal was a “publicly recognized, legally secured homeland for the Jewish people.”

Several days after the conclusion of that first Congress, Theodore Herzl wrote these words in his diary: “At Basel I founded the Jewish state. If I said this out loud today, l would be greeted by universal laughter. In five years perhaps, and certainly in fifty years, everyone will perceive it.” He was not far off. Fifty-one years later, on May 14, 1948, the modern State of Israel was reborn.

This year, over 1,300 delegates from Israel and around the world began gathering in Basel on Sunday for another three-day event that will commemorate the anniversary of that first Congress. Among them are Israeli President Isaac Herzog and his wife Michal, who will travel to Basel today. Among other diplomatic meetings, President Herzog will give a keynote address this evening at a gala event celebrating World Zionism’s anniversary.

In a statement published by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, President Herzog said:

“The heart of this visit is a historic milestone: The 125th anniversary of the First Zionist Congress in Basel, which was a formative event for the Jewish People and for humanity at large. Zionism is the ideal combination of Judaism’s deepest roots with groundbreaking innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. As the president of the nation-state of the Jewish people, I am astonished and filled with pride every day anew at the sight of Herzl’s vision coming to life in front of our eyes, and I feel the heavy duty and responsibility for the future of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.”

Sadly, Theodore Herzl did not live to see his dream become a reality. During his short lifetime, Herzl, who died at the age of 44, lobbied tirelessly across Europe to promote his vision. The day before his death in 1904, he asked a friend to “Greet Palestine for me. I gave my heart’s blood for my people.”

On August 29, 2022, we remember Theodore Herzl and the First World Zionist Congress. Yaakov Hagoel, chairman of the World Zionist Organization, said, “Today’s State of Israel is the fulfillment of Herzl’s vision in Basel [that the Jewish home would be a light to the world]. We see today that the State of Israel assists the nations of the world at any given moment, bringing Herzl’s dream and vision to fruition.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, August 29, 2022)

Photo Credit: Rudi Weissenstein/commons.wikipedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Praise God that we are privileged to be alive to watch Theodore Herzl’s dream come to fruition. Rejoice in what God has done since the founding of the modern state in 1948, and pray for His continued blessing on His land as it takes its position as a leader among the nations. Pray that the Lord will keep the Zionist dream alive in the hearts of Jewish people the world over and kindle it in the hearts of Christians as well, drawing them to love and support the land where He has placed His name forever.

Scripture

If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. Then the LORD your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.


- Deuteronomy 30:4–5

Two Israelis Hurt in Shooting Attack near Joseph’s Tomb

by Ilse Strauss

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Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, Samaria

Tuesday, 30 August 2022 | Palestinian gunmen opened fire on a car filled with Jewish worshipers near the entrance of Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, Samaria in the predawn hours of this morning, moderately injuring two.

The attack took place as the two Israeli civilians made their way to the spot where the patriarch Jacob’s son, Joseph, reportedly lays buried.

Joseph’s Tomb serves as a popular spot for Jewish faithful to pray, but because of its location in the Palestinian-governed city of Nablus—a hotbed for violence and incitement—Jewish worshipers are only allowed access during regularly scheduled visits, which take place under heavy military escort and under the cover of darkness. Even then, the flocks of faithful and their military escort often encounter violence en route to the tomb, with Palestinian mobs lobbing stones and Molotov cocktails.

However, this morning’s worshipers did not join one of these military outings. In fact, they failed to inform the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) of their intent to visit and neglected to coordinate their pilgrimage with the army. Instead, they decided to brave the hotbed of violence themselves—and nearly paid the ultimate price.

Following the attack, IDF soldiers had to rush to the Israelis’ aid and extracted them from the danger. Both of the injured individuals were evacuated to nearby hospitals. After their extraction, a Palestinian mob torched the vehicle in which they were traveling.

This morning’s attack comes just two months after Palestinian gunmen opened fire on hundreds of Jewish worshipers led by the proper military escort as soon as they arrived at the tomb. Three Israelis, including a senior IDF officer, were injured in the June attack.

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

Photo Credit: עדירל/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for an army of angels to surround the holy sites throughout the land, guaranteeing access for the faithful who seek only to worship the Lord. Pray that Israelis will comply with the restrictions surrounding their access to these sites, and cry out to Him that the day will soon arrive when peace reigns and such restrictions are no longer necessary.

Scripture

And the LORD sits as King forever. The LORD will give strength to His people; the LORD will bless His people with peace.


- Psalm 29:10b–11

UN’s Mideast Point Man Sounds Alarm about Hezbollah Activity near Israel’s Northern Border

by Mike Wagenheim ~ JNS

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A view of the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. On the screen is Tor Wennesland, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.

Monday, 29 August 2022 | At the monthly UN Security Council meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian file, the UN’s Special Envoy for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland warned about increasing Hezbollah activity on Israel’s northern border.

Wennesland claimed on August 25 that there were at least four border-area firing ranges observed in regular use in southern Lebanon over the last few months. The area is administered by the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), whose mandate is expected to be renewed within days. While Wennesland did not say who is operating the ranges, the terrorist group Hezbollah controls southern Lebanon.

Tensions between Israel and Lebanon over disputed natural-gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea and progress in US-brokered negotiations between the two countries regarding disputed maritime borders have analysts concerned that Hezbollah may take further action to sabotage the negotiations.

In July, the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] said it downed three unarmed Hezbollah drones launched at the Karish gas rig. On Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned Hezbollah that any attack on its gas fields could lead to war. The warning followed the terror group’s threat to “sever” Israel’s hands if it extracts gas from the site.

Wennesland did not expand on his comments regarding the firing ranges or any specific incidents that have restricted UNIFIL’s movement.

Israel has repeatedly sounded the alarm about the growing number of Hezbollah outposts near the so-called “Blue Line”—a UN demarcation line drawn in 2000 upon Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon that is part of a current border dispute between the two countries.

Hezbollah has claimed the outposts are controlled by an environmental NGO. At the same time, Lebanon deems much of the border area private property, further limiting UNIFIL’s freedom to patrol and report on border-area violations of UN resolutions.

Much of the rest of the UN meeting was focused on the financial plight of UNRWA [UN Relief and Works Agency]—the UN agency for Palestinian refugees—and Israel’s designation of six Palestinian NGOs as connected to the terror group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, leading to their closure by Israeli security forces.

The Commissioner-General of UNRWA Philippe Lazzarini testified that his agency will not be able to cover what has become a perennial $100 million shortfall and pleaded with UN member states to restore previous funding levels. UNRWA’s mission, ostensibly to serve Palestinian refugees from the 1948 invasion of the nascent State of Israel by various Arab armies, has drawn criticism for its unique labeling of all descendants of the original refugees as refugees themselves regardless of birthplace or current citizenship status.

UNRWA has also come under fire for mishandling finances, the incitement against Israel and Jews regularly found in the textbooks used in its schools and the hateful rhetoric often voiced by its employees. These issues have led a number of countries and organizations to cut their donations to the agency.

Lazzarini also complained to the Security Council that “shifting geopolitical priorities, regional dynamics and the emergence of new humanitarian crises have deprioritized the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” He voiced concern about “coordinated campaigns to delegitimize UNRWA with a view to erode the rights of Palestine refugees [that] are increasing in frequency and in maliciousness.”

Representatives from the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Albania, Ghana, Ireland, Norway and the United Arab Emirates displayed varying levels of concern regarding Israel’s closure of the six Palestinian NGOs.

Ghana was the lone country to note the restoration of full diplomatic ties between Israel and Turkey. Ghanaian Ambassador Harold Agyeman said he hoped the move would “help to strengthen regional stability and support the renewal of the dialogue required by the parties towards the achievement of the two-state solution.”

The US and UK both condemned recent Palestinian terror attacks in Jerusalem near the Western Wall. British Ambassador James Kariuki said his country was “appalled” by the shooting attack on an Israeli bus on August 14 that injured eight people, including several Americans.

“The UK unequivocally condemns any and all acts of terrorism,” said Kariuki. “Our thoughts are with the victims and families of those affected. We reiterate our unwavering commitment to Israel’s security.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on August 28, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: U.N. Photo/Loey Felipe/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for peace on Israel’s northern border. Cry out to Him for His hand to stay any actions taken by Hezbollah to harm Israelis, infiltrate Israel or sabotage negotiations regarding the natural gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea. Also pray that those countries that have defunded UNRWA will stand firm in the face of pressure. Pray that the nations will fully realize that UNRWA is a corrupt anti-Israel organization that teaches hate and supports terrorism, and should be completely defunded.

Scripture

For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You. You hate all workers of iniquity. You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.


- Psalm 5:4, 5b–6

Syria Charges Israel with Air Strikes on Damascus, Allepo Airport

by Ilse Strauss

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The Aleppo International Airport

Thursday, 1 September 2022 | For the second time in less than a week, Syria accused Israel of launching a series of airstrikes on the war-torn country. The missiles allegedly hit the Aleppo International Airport and an undisclosed site near the capital of Damascus. But as with every other time Israeli war planes take off for Syrian skies, the real target in Jerusalem’s crosshairs last night was, once again, Iran.

The overnight strike was reportedly executed in two consecutive sorties: the first targeting the Aleppo International Airport and the second striking near the capital Damascus.

“At nearly 8 p.m., the Israeli enemy targeted Aleppo International Airport with a missile strike that caused material damage to the airport,” a military source told Syrian state news agency SANA.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) provided more detail. According to the UK-based opposition war monitor, “Four Israeli shells hit a runway of the Aleppo International Airport and warehouses in its vicinity, causing fire and explosions to erupt, likely to be due to the explosion of a batch of Iranian missiles.”

Images published on social media corroborated SOHR’s report, showing several fires raging in the airport area.

About an hour later, SANA reported a second series of strikes, this time targeting the Damascus area. According to the news agency, Syrian air defenses were activated and downed a number of “hostile missiles,” a frequent but empty boast that few military analysts believe. SANA further added that the strike damaged several sites in the area of the capital, without elaborating further.

There were no reports of injuries or casualties in either strike.

For its part, Israel has refrained from commenting, in line with its longstanding policy of remaining mum on its supposed involvement in foreign operations. However, the powers-that-be in Jerusalem have admitted repeatedly to conducting numerous strikes in war-torn Syria to prevent Iran from gaining a military foothold on its doorstep and to thwart any attempts by its archenemy to smuggle game-changing ammunition from Tehran via Damascus to terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon to be used against Israel. In fact, according to the SOHR, this is supposedly Israel’s 23rd strike on Iranian targets in Syria in 2022 alone.

Last night’s strike appear to fit this profile. Aurora Intel, a network that provides news based on open-source intelligence, revealed that a sanctioned Iranian cargo plane landed at the Aleppo airport earlier yesterday, the Times of Israel reports. Iranian cargo airlines have reportedly been used in the past as a vehicle to smuggle relatively large weapons to Syria. These munitions are then stored in large warehouses before making their way by truck to Lebanon.

In an unverified report, the SOHR claimed that the strike on the Aleppo airport “likely” targeted four warehouses housing Iranian missiles.

Last night’s sorties come six nights after Israel reportedly struck several Iranian-linked targets in Syria’s northwestern Hama province in the Masyaf region. The Masyaf region is infamous as a base for Tehran’s forces and other pro-Iran militias, and has been targeted repeatedly in recent years in strikes generally attributed to Israel. The area is also home to the equally infamous Scientific Studies and Research Center, known as CERS, which Western officials believe manufactures chemical arms, including sarin gas.

At the time, SOHR claimed that the strike targeted Iran-backed militia positions, weapons warehouses as well as the CERS facility itself. Dubai-based Al Arabiya also chimed in, venturing that Israel had a Hezbollah ammunition warehouse near the city of Tartus in its crosshairs.

Perhaps the specifics of Israel’s operations against Iran in Syria will never be fully known. But when all the speculations, assumptions, and terms like reportedly, supposedly and apparently are said and done, one thing is sure: this wasn’t Jerusalem’s first foray into Syrian airspace to take on Tehran—and it certainly won’t be its last.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 1, 2022)

Photo Credit: Danij84-commonswiki/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for God’s wisdom and protection for Israel in whatever actions its leaders deem necessary to hinder Iran’s efforts to become even further entrenched in its backyard. Pray that Iran’s forays into Syrian air space will be successful in destroying Iranian weaponry and infrastructure.

Scripture

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the LORD our God. They have bowed down and fallen; but we have risen and stand upright.


- Psalm 20:7–8

Report: Gazan Civilians Helped Terrorists Launch Rockets at Israel

by Ilse Strauss

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Rockets launched during Operation Breaking Dawn

Wednesday, 31 August 2022 | At the beginning of August, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)—the second largest terror organization in the Gaza Strip—launched some 1,100 rockets on Israeli territory in the course of two and a half days as part of Operation Breaking Dawn. However, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the terrorists were not working alone. They launched the barrages of projectiles with the helping hand of Gazan civilians.

On Monday, the IDF revealed the names of two Gazan civilians who allowed the PIJ to launch rockets from their property, the Jerusalem Post reported. These two civilians were singled out for disclosure because the rockets the PIJ launched from their property failed to hit their intended targets, fell short and struck the Gaza Strip instead, killing and injuring innocent Gazans.

The first instance occurred on August 7, when the PIJ launched a projectile from a plot of land owned by the Gaza City municipality, headed by Yahya Saraj. The rocket smashed into a populated area next to a clinic in Jabalia, killing two Palestinians.

“He [Saraj] chose to care more for the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization than the residents of the city that he heads, and took advantage of the civil arena that belongs to the residents of the city in order to carry out terrorism—thus harming his citizens directly,” the Jerusalem Post quoted the IDF as saying.

The second incident relates to a rocket launched from a property belonging to a man named Bakr Hamadan Imran Shamalh. The projectile in question struck a civilian building in Gaza City. The strike was broadcast live on Al-Mayadeen, a Lebanese television station with ties to Hezbollah.

“The family of Hamadan Imran Shamalh took an active part in the operation of terrorism while allowing the shooting from their home and thus harming Gaza’s civilian space as well,” Jerusalem Post quotes the IDF as saying. “The terrorist organizations in Gaza cynically exploit the citizens of the Gaza Strip and launch rockets from the civilian space; this is further proof of this.”

According to IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Ran Kochav, failed PIJ rockets killed more civilians in Gaza than Israeli air strikes did. Of the 1,100 rockets PIJ fired, 200 misfired and fell short inside Gaza, the IDF said. In fact, the IDF reportedly believes that PIJ rockets are responsible for the death of 12 of the 15 children killed over the two and a half days of fighting.

This is in line with Israel’s commitment to cherish and preserve life, a commitment that is carried over and instilled into the men and women who serve in its defense force.

Perhaps by disclosing the identities of two of the Gazan civilians who do not have a similar commitment to cherish and preserve their neighbors’ lives—let alone Israeli civilian lives—Jerusalem hopes that those who charge Israel with war crimes committed against civilians will finally have a glimpse of the true nature of the enemy the Jewish state faces. Perhaps this will be a step in the right direction to erase the veil of lies, hypocrisy and propaganda. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll finally see Israel through the eyes of truth.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, August 31, 2022)

Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that this information will indeed find its way to the nations, giving the world a clear picture of the type of war Israel is being forced to fight: against an organization that has taken an entire population hostage and fires rockets from homes, hospitals, schools and mosques while falsely accusing Israel of crimes against humanity.

Scripture

Do not grant, O LORD, the desires of the wicked; do not further his wicked scheme, lest they be exalted.


- Psalm 140:8

US Rebuffs Palestinian Authority Push for Full UN Membership

by JNS

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the general debate of the United Nations General Assembly (illustrative).

Friday, 26 August 2022 | The Palestinian Authority [PA] is intent on pursuing full membership at the United Nations [UN], even as the White House urges Ramallah to step back.

According to an Axios report, the administration of US President Joe Biden has stressed to the PA that Washington will likely veto any attempt to pursue a vote on full membership at the UN Security Council. The PA announced weeks ago that it would make another push on the issue at next month’s UN General Assembly.

PA Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour says he began consultations with Security Council members in an effort to place a renewed focus on Palestinian statehood. The Axios report claims the Biden administration raised “strong reservations” about Mansour’s plan and said the move won’t go anywhere.

The Palestinians have enjoyed non-member observer state status since 2012, garnered through a vote at the General Assembly, where no country holds veto power. Ramallah has attempted several times since then to secure full membership but has failed to get the Security Council to even hold a vote, which requires the support of nine of the 15 members.

Longstanding US policy maintains that full Palestinian membership in UN agencies is counterproductive and an end-around to political settlement negotiations with Jerusalem.

“The only realistic path to a comprehensive and lasting peace is through direct negotiations between the parties. There are no shortcuts to Palestinian statehood outside direct negotiations with Israel,” a US State Department spokesperson said in response to Mansour’s entreaty.

American law would cut direct funding for the PA should it join the UN as a full member, though no such funding exists. However, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 1990 bars US funding “for the United Nations or any specialized agencies thereof which accords the Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO] the same standing as member states.”

Washington provided [US] $11.6 billion to the UN, equal to around 28% of the organization’s budget, making a US funding cut catastrophic.

Ramallah counters that the legislation refers to the PLO, not the “State of Palestine,” which holds status at the UN. The US, however, doesn’t recognize Palestine as a state.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on August 25, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: UN Photo/Cia Pak/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the US view regarding Palestinian statehood. Pray that the US will remain true to that position and that this new attempt to do an end run around political negotiations with Israel will go nowhere.

Scripture

“And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies. They are not valiant for the truth on the earth. For they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know Me,” says the LORD.


- Jeremiah 9:3

Israel Sanctions Individuals, Organizations Laundering Money for Hamas

by Kate Norman

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Supporters of the Hamas terrorist group

Thursday, 1 September 2022 | Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz yesterday signed an order to levy sanctions against 20 organizations and individuals involved in laundering hundreds of millions of dollars internationally for the Hamas terrorist organization.

Hamas funnels the money through “a network of shell companies that conceal the group’s control over their assets,” the defense ministry said in a statement.

The shell companies reportedly mainly involve real estate and infrastructure projects operating in Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, the statement said.

“In this manner, the investment system has deceived authorities, customers and suppliers (including banks), which were unaware of the terrorist organization’s ownership and control of these companies,” Gantz said in a statement quoted by the Jerusalem Post.

One of the individuals sanctioned was Osama Ali, who has reportedly served as head of Hamas’s investment system since 2017 and sits on the terror group’s executive community.

The sanctioned companies include Al-Rowad for Real Estate Development Company Ltd (Sudan), which, according to the Jerusalem Post, merged with other companies in Sudan that are also connected to Hamas.

Another company is Anda, a real estate and construction company in Saudi Arabia, which the Jerusalem Post reported is the terror group’s biggest investment in that industry.

Other companies swept up in the sanctions net are Sidar in Algeria and Agrogate Holding. Sidar funnels “a significant portion of funds” to the Izz-al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, the Jerusalem Post said.

Gantz’s order will activate property seizures and international restrictions against the individuals and organizations, the Jerusalem Post reported, following a joint operation by the Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security organization), the Defense Ministry’s National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing and the military’s Intelligence Directorate.

“This is a significant operational and international announcement,” Gantz said, as quoted by the Times of Israel. “Our policy is clear: we will continue to support the flow of money that goes to civilians (in Gaza)—and we will continue to thwart any attempt to send money that goes to strengthen the military capabilities of the Hamas terrorist organization.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 1, 2022)

Photo Credit: openDemocracy/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for the success of this joint operation by the Shin Bet, the National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing and the military’s Intelligence Directorate. Pray that Israel’s policy of sanctioning those involved in money laundering will achieve its purpose and stop the flow of funds to Hamas.

Scripture

The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.


- Psalm 34:15–16

Arab Muslim Speaks at Anniversary of First Zionist Congress

by Janet Aslin

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Ahmed Obaid Almansoori

Wednesday, 31 August 2022 | This week, many prominent Jewish leaders, entrepreneurs and philanthropists from around the world gathered in Basel, Switzerland to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the First World Zionist Congress. It is not surprising that Israel’s President Isaac Herzog was a keynote speaker at the gala held Monday evening. In remarks prior to his departure, Herzog called the 1897 Congress “a historical landmark, which was a defining event for the Jewish people and humanity as a whole.”

However, what may surprise you is the name of another man who also addressed the crowd, which had gathered to recognize an early milestone in the rebirth of the modern State of Israel. Ahmed Obaid Almansoori is an Arab Muslim from Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). A former member of the UAE’s parliament, manager of a consultancy that works with NGOs and founder of a research center as well as several museums, Almansoori is a vocal supporter of Judaism and the State of Israel.

As reported by the Jerusalem Post, Almansoori told the crowd gathered at Basel, “It is of utmost importance that the young generations of the Middle East will learn about Judaism, Zionism and Israel. This will strengthen peace. It is important that we live side-by-side with mutual respect for one another.”

Almansoori doesn’t just talk the talk; he puts his beliefs into practice. This year, as head of the UAE delegation, he participated in the 32 kilometer (20 mi.) International March of the Living in Poland. At its conclusion, he joined Eitan Neishlos, a third-generation Holocaust survivor, to co-light a Torch of Remembrance at the extermination camp Auschwitz–Birkenau.

Then there is his Crossroads of Civilization Museum, intended to showcase the rich heritage and multi-cultural history of the Middle East. Originally his private collection, Almansoori has included the Jewish history of the region as well as the Arab history. The museum contains a number of Jewish artifacts, including an ancient map of Jerusalem as well as documented letters written by Theodore Herzl, the man many call the Father of Modern Zionism.

Taking an even bolder step, in 2021 Almansoori added a Holocaust exhibit to his museum. Entitled, “We Remember,” this one-room exhibit tells the first-hand testimonies of Holocaust survivors.

The exhibit also provides accounts of Arabs and Muslims who helped save Jewish lives. For example, Mohamed Helmy was an Egyptian doctor studying in Berlin. He managed to save several Jews and even adopted one of them. He was the first Arab recognized by Yad Vashem (Israel’s World Holocaust Remembrance Center) as “Righteous Among the Nations.”

Almansoori told CNN, “We have so many good stories about Arabs and Muslims helping Jews over time, and that’s the positive side people don’t know about that we want to educate them on.”

From the Basel gathering, the Jerusalem Post reported Almansoori’s response to a question regarding his strong pro-Zionist stance: “There might be some negative media reports, but I’m hoping for the best. Everything that promotes change will have resistance from certain people.”

Almansoori is one of the bright lights in the sometimes disheartening region that is the Middle East.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, August 31, 2022)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/Zulekha Hospital/youtube.com

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for Ahmed Obaid Almansoori and the position he has taken regarding interactions between Arabs and Israelis. Pray that others will join in his efforts to educate the youth of the Middle East regarding Israel and Judaism, helping them to understand the importance of peaceful relations between their nations and the Jewish state.

Scripture

We will not conceal them from their children, but we will tell the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and His power and His wondrous works that He has done.

Psalm 78:4 (NASB)