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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.

How Hamas’s Dangerous Game Might Spark a War

by Ron Ben Yishai

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Incited by Hamas, Palestinians launch incendiary balloons across the Gaza border into Israel.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018 | The Hamas leadership wants attention; not so much from the Israeli leadership, but from Egypt, the United Nations [UN] envoy to the Middle East, and especially Palestinian [Authority] [PA] president Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel is only the means—the lever that is intended to facilitate a ceasefire arrangement under the conditions that Hamas seeks.

Like in a game of billiards: Hamas slams the Israeli ball so it hits the other balls—Egypt, the UN and Abbas—and brings them to the position Hamas desires.

In fact, the frustrations of Hamas began at the end of March with the March of Return and the incendiary balloons and kites in an effort to find a way out of the rut it finds itself in.

Hamas’s official demand is the lifting of the Israeli blockade, but in practice what Hamas wants is for Israel to pressure Abbas to pay the salaries of Gaza civil servants and to fund the electricity for the residents of the Gaza Strip.

Abbas refuses to do so as long as Hamas does not consign its armed men under his command, and therefore the terrorist organization continues to send young people to their deaths at the border fence and launch incendiary balloons into Israeli territory.

These provocations are carefully calculated so as not to cause an escalation during which the Israel Defense Force [IDF] will enter the Gaza Strip again, a scenario Hamas does not want, just as Israel does not want it. And so the parties conduct a kind of bizarre dance in which both are actually on the same side.

The weak, deterred Hamas knows that the Israeli government, justifiably, is not interested in a war in the Gaza Strip—because it does not want casualties, especially since it is interested in focusing on its main enemy, the Iranian and Hezbollah attempts to establish themselves in Syria.

Hamas knows this and they even set up a committee that organizes these provocations, including at night.

The game works like this: Hamas launches terror balloons at Israeli towns in the Gaza border region knowing that the residents of these communities are not indifferent to these implicit threats, and Hamas hopes that these routine violations will compel the residents of the Gaza border communities to pressure their government and the Shin Bet to pressure the UN envoy and the Egyptians so that they pressure Mahmoud Abbas.

It would have been ridiculous had this bizarre game not included the actual risk of an unplanned escalation; which is quite foreseeable if, for example, one of the Israeli children in the Gaza border region finds a grenade attached to a helium balloon, removes the pin and is killed or wounded.

Under such a scenario, the IDF would launch a ground operation in Gaza immediately, and both sides do not desire such an outcome.

The trouble now is that Abbas is not willing to yield even a millimeter from his positions. Israel has already agreed to the outline proposed by UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov and the Egyptians, but the PA chairman does not budge.

Abbas’s intransigence can perhaps be understood, but we must know that the Gaza Strip is liable to explode without warning as long as this situation continues.

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published in Ynetnews on September 22, 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/Youtube/Ruplty

Prayer Focus
Pray that Israel will cease to be used as a pawn in Palestinian politics and Hamas’s deadly games. Ask the Lord to reveal the true aims of Israel’s enemies. Pray that the Palestinian people will come to recognize that the nation of Israel was established by God and is here to stay!

Scripture

Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.”’


- Ezekiel 11:17

Netanyahu: Israel Committed to Protect Interests in Syria

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Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu has said that Russia will supply Syria with advanced anti-aircraft systems.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018 | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed on Tuesday that “we will do whatever is necessary to protect Israel’s security,” following the downing of a Russian aircraft in Latakia, Syria, last week, The Times of Israel reported. The prime minister also urged Russia not to transfer the sophisticated S-300 missile defense system to Syria.

Speaking to reporters before boarding a flight to New York to address the United Nations [UN] General Assembly, Netanyahu vowed that Israel would continue to fight Iran’s efforts to establish a permanent military presence in Syria.

The prime minister confirmed that he spoke twice with Russian president Vladimir Putin in the wake of the incident and expressed his sincere condolences over the Russian servicemen, who died in the tragic event. He also said Israeli and Russian officials are slated to meet to address the growing rift between the two countries.

The Il-20 electronic intelligence plane was hit 35km [22.7mi] off Syria’s Mediterranean coast as it returned to its nearby base on September 15. Russian officials have blamed Israel for the downing of the plane. The Israeli military, however, said that Syria’s indiscriminate air defense fire was the cause of the accident.

In the three years since Jerusalem and Moscow agreed to establish a so-called “de-confliction mechanism” to avoid clashes over Syrian skies, the Jewish state has been “very successful” in curtailing Iran’s influence in Syria, Netanyahu said. The prime minister added: “That doesn’t mean there weren’t exceptions, but by and large it has been a great success.”

The security cabinet released a statement on Tuesday morning with a similar message.

“The security cabinet has instructed the Israel Defense Force [IDF] to continue to take action against attempts by Iran to establish a military presence in Syria while continuing the security coordination with Russia,” the statement read, echoing comments made by Israeli defense officials over the past week.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had announced on Monday that Moscow will soon upgrade Syria’s air defense following the downing of the Russian aircraft. However, officials in both Israel and the United States warned Russia against providing the Syrian military with the advanced surface-to-air missiles, saying the transfer would further destabilize the region.

“The prime minister said providing advanced weapons systems to irresponsible actors will magnify dangers in the region, and that Israel will continue to defend itself and its interests,” Netanyahu’s office said. Concurrently, US national security adviser John Bolton stated Russia’s decision was a “major mistake” that would cause a “significant escalation” of tensions. Bolton urged Moscow to reconsider.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on September 25, 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Ministry of Defence/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for the tenuous relationship that exists between Russia and Israel and for their continued cooperation in Syria. Ask the Lord to surround Israel with His protection as long as this volatile situation continues.

Scripture

In You, O LORD, I put my trust; let me never be ashamed; deliver me in Your righteousness. For You are my rock and my fortress; therefore, for Your name’s sake, lead me and guide me.


- Psalm 31:1,3

Netanyahu Responds to Hezbollah: Attack Us, Receive Unimaginable “Crushing Blow”

by Joshua Spurlock

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Netanyahu Responds to Hezbollah: Attack Us, Receive Unimaginable “Crushing Blow”

Tuesday, 25 September 2018 | After the leader of the Hezbollah terrorist group, Hassan Nasrallah, warned they had precision missiles that could be used against Israel, the Jewish State’s leader responded that Israel’s response would be beyond imagination. “I suggest that he think not twice but 20 times because if he confronts us he will receive a crushing blow that he cannot even imagine,” said Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in comments released by his office.

Nasrallah, speaking in honor of the Muslim holiday of Ashura, said in a speech by video that they have missiles so accurate that if they are used in a future war with Israel, they would “change the entire equation,” per a report by The Jerusalem Post. Israel has repeatedly bombed Syria to destroy advanced weapons destined for Hezbollah. Nasrallah, however, said that despite those efforts it was too late—the anti-Israel “resistance” already possesses precision weapons.

Netanyahu, in his response, called Nasrallah’s words “arrogant” and noted they struck a different tune from what Nasrallah himself has said in the past.

“This comes from the same man who said after 2006 that if he had known what Israel’s response would be to the abduction of three of our soldiers, he would have thought twice about doing it,” said Netanyahu, referring to the Second Lebanon War that began with Hezbollah kidnapping Israeli troops.

Israel’s efforts to stop Hezbollah from acquiring advanced weapons reportedly was recently intertwined with the shooting down of a Russian plane in Syria by Syrian fire. The Israeli military, in a series of tweets to the IDF Spokesperson Twitter feed, summarized their After Action Review on the incident, in which they noted that Israeli planes were not to blame.

Instead, they highlighted in the tweets that the incident is a good reason to keep advanced weapons out of the hands of “irresponsible entities” which “significantly endangers the area and can severely harm forces operating in the region.”

Tweeted the IDF Spokesperson, “The IDF will continue to operate in accordance with the directives of the Israeli Government against Iran’s incessant attempts to establish itself in Syria and to arm the terrorist organization Hezbollah with lethal and accurate weapons.”

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published in The Mideast Update on September 23, 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/Twitter/PM of Israel@IsraeliPM

Prayer Focus
Pray that the Lord will strengthen and give wisdom to the IDF as they are continually forced into military action to defend the nation. Pray that they will stand strong in the face of vain threats and real dangers

Scripture

You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you.


- Psalm 91:5–7

Fires Ravage Southern Israel amidst Hamas Ceasefire Efforts

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Wednesday, 26 September 2018 | Eight fires broke out Saturday in the Gaza border communities as a result of incendiary kites and balloons being launched from the strip into Israel.

Firefighting crews, along with teams from the Nature and Parks Authority and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael [the official fundraising organization for Israel], gained control of the flames, which were later extinguished.

One of the fires started in the Nahal Bohu Park at the entrance to the southern city of Netivot.

The Israel Defense Forces [IDF] said Saturday that the Israel Air Force (IAF) hit an incendiary balloon cell in the Gaza strip in response.

On Thursday, an IAF aircraft attacked a terror cell in the northern Gaza that was launching incendiary kites and balloons into Israeli territory.

The strike was carried out in light of violent demonstrations along the southern border, which continued throughout Yom Kippur [Day of Atonement].

Earlier on Thursday, six fires broke out as a result of incendiary balloons and one fire was started by an incendiary kite.

On Friday, the clashes along the security fence had resumed, with thousands of Gazans massing at several points near the Israeli border.

The ongoing Hamas-led border violence comes in light of the arrival of senior Egyptian intelligence officials’ delegation in the Gaza Strip on Saturday for a brief visit as part of Egypt’s effort to renew talks on a long-term ceasefire arrangement with Israel.

Palestinian sources described the visit as “significant and crucial.”

The sources added that “Egypt’s main interest is to reach an intra-Palestinian reconciliation in accordance with President Mahmoud Abbas’s demand to remain the only Palestinian representative with whom any understanding can be reached regarding Gaza.”

However, according to the sources, Hamas wishes to reach an agreement with Israel for the sole purpose of taking credit for a possible lifting of Gaza blockade, while Egypt fears further escalation of hostilities if the agreement is not reached.

“Egypt views the dead end (in ceasefire talks with Israel) as pushing Gaza towards a dangerous military escalation on the border fence.

“Nevertheless, Egypt is not willing to promote calm only to please Hamas since it has bigger international and intra-Arab interests,” the sources explained.

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published by Ynetnews on September 22, 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Prayer Focus
Ask the Lord to intervene and bring an end to the use of incendiary devices and rioting on the Israel–Gaza border. Pray that Israel’s best interests will be served as Arab nations, each with their own agenda, are involved in a Palestinian power struggle. Pray that by the hand of God, Israel’s enemies will be neutralized.

Scripture

He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house; he who tells lies shall not continue in my presence. Early I will destroy all the wicked of the land, that I may cut off all the evildoers from the city of the LORD.


- Psalm 101:7–8

In Meeting with Netanyahu, Trump Endorses Israel’s Right to Self-defense, Two-state Solution

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Israeli–US ties have “never been stronger”, as President Trump supports Israel’s right to self-defense.

Thursday, 27 September 2018 | In a meeting with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meetings, United States president Donald Trump endorsed both Israel’s right to self-defense and a two-state solution for Israeli–Palestinian peace, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Though Trump had previously expressed skepticism towards a two-state solution, on Wednesday he said to Netanyahu that “I think that’s what works best.” The US president also expressed his hope that a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians could be completed during his first term and that his team would unveil its long-awaited peace plan in two to four months.

“I want a plan that’s solid, understood by both sides, really semi-agreed by both sides before we present,” Trump said. He repeatedly called on the Palestinians, who are boycotting the administration’s efforts, to return to the negotiating table.

Washington responded to the Palestinian boycott by slashing aid to the Palestinian Authority [PA] and to the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees, UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East]. “We were paying them $500 million a year. Now we pay nothing a year. For years we were abused by the Palestinian leadership,” Trump said. “That’s stopped. [The money] will come back. They will be coming back to the table, and they want to.”

Trump said that his administration was “with Israel one hundred percent,” and defended Israel’s actions taken in self-defense, saying, “They have no choice but to be aggressive—it’s a very difficult part of the world.”

Netanyahu offered praise to Trump for moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and thanked the president for backing up his “strong words” regarding Iran with “strong actions.”

Specifically, the prime minister praised the president for re-imposing sanctions on Iran, which “has cut the cash machine of Iran and its campaign of carnage and conquest of the Middle East.” For this, he said, “we who live in the Middle East, Israelis and Arabs, who are subject to this Iranian danger, want to thank you especially.”

Netanyahu also said, “I think the US–Israel alliance has never been stronger,” and praised Trump for his efforts to strengthen it.

Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni, who had earlier criticized PA president Mahmoud Abbas for refusing to negotiate with Israel, praised Trump for embracing the two-state solution.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by The Israel Project in its publication The Tower on September 26, 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: PM of Israel@IsraeliPM/Twitter

Prayer Focus
Thank God for the obvious commitment of the Trump administration to protect Israel’s interests in any plan or negotiation with the Palestinian leadership. Pray that God’s plans and purposes will prevail as the US works on a plan for peace.

Scripture

But You, O LORD, shall endure forever, and the remembrance of Your name to all generations. You will arise and have mercy on Zion; for the time to favor her, yes, the set time, has come.


- Psalm 102:12–13

Netanyahu: Yom Kippur War Shows Importance of Preemptive Strike

by Inbar Tvizer

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Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu at the memorial ceremony for the Yom Kippur War.

Friday, 21 September 2018 | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a memorial ceremony for fallen soldiers of the 1973 Yom Kippur War on Thursday that Israel had a responsibility to undertake all efforts to avoid war, but warned that it would act “with full force” if it is forced upon it by “those who seek to kill us, first and foremost by Iran.”

Iran, the prime minister noted, openly calls for Israel’s destruction. “It is our obligation to defend ourselves against this danger and we will continue to do so,” he said while delivering his remarks at the memorial ceremony held on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu also spoke about a telegram from the Yom Kippur War that was posted on the Israel State Archives website on Monday, which was sent by the former head of the Mossad, Zvi Zamir, warning that war was imminent and suggesting a plan to prevent it.

“You all saw this week the urgent telegram written by Zvi Zamir hours before the war. This made clear in black and white, the clear and immediate danger. Even the greatest skeptics should have acted accordingly,” Netanyahu asserted.

“The required decision to launch a preventative strike was the harder decision for the whole government because it could never have proven what would have happened if it had not acted. Israel should have delivered a preemptive strike,” Netanyahu continued.

The lessons learned from the Yom Kippur War, he said, have been engraved on Israel, which, he said, will always uncompromisingly safeguard its own security interests and “scour the horizon in order to diagnose the dangers that lie ahead.”

“Within the Middle East in our days, saturated with dangers, there are rays of light—our relations with the moderate Arab world. So many countries understand the great value in strengthening relations with Israel and the gradual rapprochement with yield fruit of normalization and peace. This goal guides me and we will continue to guarantee that the quality of our lives will never be broken,” Netanyahu added.

President Reuven Rivlin also spoke at the event, saying that the Yom Kippur War was one of the toughest Israel had ever fought.

“Our enemies found a failed military and political elite. Despite the serious blow that we suffered, it was precisely because of it that the victory for Israel was so great,” he said.

“The person who won the war was the simple soldier, mandatory conscripts who with their bodies defended this great land,” he added, before describing “the failure of the leadership in the Yom Kippur War” and saying that Israel could not forget the lessons of the war.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on September 20, 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: PM of Israel@IsraeliPM/Twitter

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord that Israel is faithful to remember her past, ensuring that the same mistakes won’t be made in the future. Pray that all Israel will recognize that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is their shield and defender, then and now.

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

Iran Accuses US, Israel of Parade Attack Claimed by Islamic Terror Group, Vows “Devastating” Revenge

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IRGC’s deputy head Hossein Salami accuses Israel for attacking a military parade in Iran.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018 | A senior figure in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) warned US and Israeli leaders to expect a “devastating” response from Tehran, accusing them of involvement in Saturday’s attack on a military parade in the city of Ahvaz, The Times of Israel reported.

Four gunmen disguised as soldiers attacked an annual Iranian military parade marking the start of the Islamic Republic’s 1980–88 war with Iraq in the country’s oil-rich southwest, killing at least 25 people and wounding 60 in the bloodiest assault to strike the country in recent years.

The dead and injured were a mix of members of the powerful IRGC as well as civilian onlookers, semi-official news agencies reported. During the parade, the crowd chanted, “Death to Israel and America.”

“You have seen our revenge before…You will see that our response will be crushing and devastating, and you will regret what you have done,” the IRGC’s deputy head Hossein Salami said in a speech before the funerals on state television Sunday.

Threatening what Salami called the “triangle” of Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States, the IRGC leader said: “You are responsible for these actions; you will face the repercussions…We warn all of those behind the story, we will take revenge.”

Amaq [News] Agency, the official news outlet of the terrorist group Islamic State, claimed the attack and posted a video of three men in a vehicle who it said were on their way to carry out the assault. “We are Muslims, they are heretics,” one of the men can be heard saying in the video. “We will kill them with a guerilla attack, inshallah.”

However, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused US-backed Gulf states of being behind the attack, saying in a statement that “this crime is a continuation of the plots of the regional states that are puppets of the United States.”

The attack, one of the worst ever against the IRGC, struck a blow at Iran’s security establishment at a time when the US, Israel and Gulf allies are working to isolate Tehran on the international stage.

US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley dismissed Salami’s comments. “He’s got the Iranian people protesting, every ounce of money that goes into Iran goes into his military, he has oppressed his people for a long time and he needs to look at his own base to figure out where that’s coming from,” she told CNN’s State of the Union.

Haley added: “He can blame us all he wants. The thing he’s got to do is look at the mirror.”

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on September 24, 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/Youtube/AP Archive

Prayer Focus
Pray that the lies and deceit of the Iranian regime are exposed. Pray that their outrageous posturing against Israel and the US will fall on deaf ears in the international community, the Arab world and the Iranian people as well.

Scripture

You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.


- Psalm 5:6

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