Help us bless the people of Israel.

Friday, September 3, 2021

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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.

After Israel Allows More Goods into Gaza, Nightly Riots Continue

by Kate Norman

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Fire burning near a crossing between Israel and Gaza (illustrative)

Wednesday, 1 September 2021 | Israel allowed trucks full of building materials to enter into the Gaza Strip on Monday and Tuesday, a Gaza official confirmed, and Israeli leadership decided on Wednesday to further ease restrictions on the crossing into the enclave and expand Gaza’s fishing zone. However, that hasn’t stopped the nightly riots at the Gaza border.

Israel opened the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza and allowed 30 trucks carrying cement, 120 carrying gravel and 15 with steel to enter the enclave, according to the director of Gaza’s side of the crossing.

This is a significant easing of restrictions that Israel has placed on Gaza since the 11-day war in May, Operation Guardian of the Walls. During the operation, terrorists in Gaza fired over 4,000 rockets toward Israel. The Israeli military in response launched retaliatory strikes in Gaza, hitting terrorist targets and Islamist militants with surgical precision.

Israel and Hamas, the terrorist group in control of Gaza, reached a tentative cease-fire mediated by Egypt to end the fighting. However, negotiations are still underway to reach a long-term agreement, and tensions have rekindled over the past few weeks.

Israel easing the crossing restrictions and allowing thousands more workers from Gaza to cross into Israel is likely a gesture intended to ease the increasing tensions.

Nonetheless, the nightly riots continued at the Israel–Gaza boundary on Tuesday for the fourth night in a row.

The riots consist of hundreds of Gazans amassing at the border to burn tires, hurl objects toward Israeli soldiers protecting the boundary and launch incendiary balloons, which have sparked fires in southern Israel.

A particularly violent riot on August 21 led to a fatal injury when one of the rioters approached the border wall with a pistol and fired into a hole in the wall, hitting 21-year-old Border Police sniper Barel Hadaria Shmueli in the head point-blank.

Shmueli was taken to a hospital in southern Israel, where doctors fought for nine days to save his life before he succumbed to his injuries on Monday.

Terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip have said the nightly riots will continue until at least Thursday.

Though Israel has offered an olive branch in the form of easing restrictions on Gaza, the Jewish state “will not hesitate to launch another campaign,” said Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi on Monday.

The IDF has launched retaliatory strikes in Gaza twice over the past few weeks in response to the violence, targeting weapons manufacturing sites, a Hamas military compound and terror tunnel entrances.

“Our attacks in Gaza are focused in a way that they target Hamas, depriving it of its capabilities,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday. “I cannot guarantee that Operation Guardian of the Walls will not resume.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 1, 2021)

Photo Credit: IDF/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Pray for the loved ones of Border Police sniper Barel Hadaria Shmueli as they mourn the loss of this young man who gave his life in defense of his country. Cry out to the Lord for an end to the riots and senseless violence on the Gaza border. Pray that any ongoing negotiations for a long-term cease-fire will result in a workable solution.

Scripture

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


- Jeremiah 15:20b–21

Heading Back to Israel, Bennett Says Biden Meeting ‘Achieved All Goals and Beyond’

by Itamar Eichner

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PM Naftali Bennett (left) meeting President Joe Biden (right) at the White House

Monday, 30 August 2021 | Boarding a plane back to Israel, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday said that his meeting with US President Joe Biden at the White House “achieved all the goals we have set out for ourselves and beyond.”

“Biden and I have [struck] up a direct and personal bond built on trust,” the prime minister said. “We have achieved all the goals we have set out for ourselves and beyond.”

Bennett said that both leaders agreed on a joint strategic work plan to impede Iran’s attempts to obtain nuclear arms.

The Israeli leader also cited “significant advancement” vis-à-vis Israel’s security and placing the Jewish state on the US visa waiver list, which he said Biden ordered to settle “as soon as possible.”

During their Friday meeting in Washington, Biden told Bennett he would like to pursue a diplomatic approach with the Iranians first, but if that fails, “then we’ve got other options,” he said. 

Following the meeting, the two gave a short, joint statement to the press. Opening his remarks, Biden said that he and Bennett have become “close friends” since the premier’s arrival in Washington.

“He heads and leads the most diverse government in Israeli history,” Biden said while addressing the prime minister.

In regards to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the US leader told reporters the Islamic Republic will “never” obtain an atomic bomb.

Since Biden took office, the US has been holding talks with Tehran to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or as it is commonly known the Iran nuclear deal, a move that has faced criticism from Israeli officials. Former President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018.

Biden thanked Israel for its “unshakable support” and reiterated that the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security is unbreakable.

Bennett, for his part, expressed his deepest condolences over last week’s attacks in the Afghan capital of Kabul, which left 13 US soldiers and dozens of Afghans dead, and said that Israel was grieving with the US.

Alluding to Afghanistan, the prime minister added that Israel will “never outsource its security” to the US but thanked the Biden administration for providing military support to the Jewish state, primarily the replenishment of Iron Dome [aerial defense] batteries.

Bennett also said that Israel has never had a “better and more reliable” partner than the United States. “You’ve always stood beside us, especially in tough times,” he said.

The two sides played down the Palestinian issue in an apparent attempt to avoid any public friction at this early stage of their relationship. Given the poor prospects for progress in diplomatic talks with the Palestinians, both men appeared to be more interested in shoring up the new Israeli government’s standing in their first in-person talks.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on August 29, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: screenshot/Voz Mansa e Suave Canal 02/youtube.com

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for Prime Minister Bennett’s successful talks with US President Joe Biden. Pray that the US administration will remain true to its promises of unshakable support for Israel and a partnership with Israel in thwarting Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Scripture

Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name.


- Psalm 33:20–21

Bahrain Sends First Ambassador to Israel

by Janet Aslin

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Tel Aviv, where Bahraini Ambassador Khaled Yousif al-Jalahmah will serve

Wednesday, 1 September 2021 | Khaled Yousif al-Jalahma, the first-ever ambassador to Israel from the Kingdom of Bahrain, arrived with his wife at Ben Gurion airport yesterday. The milestone event is the culmination of the Abraham Accords normalization agreement signed between the two countries on September 15, 2020.

Before landing in Tel Aviv, the new ambassador tweeted a multilingual announcement in Hebrew, Arabic and English, “I am honored to announce that I will be arriving in Tel Aviv today to begin my post.”

The new Bahraini ambassador to Israel had been the director of operations at the nation’s foreign ministry when King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa appointed him to his new post. He has previous diplomatic experience at Bahrain’s embassy in the United States.

Israel’s embassy in Manama, Bahrain’s capital city, has been in place since January of this year.

Bahrain is the fourth Arab nation to send an ambassador to Israel and is in the process of opening its embassy in Tel Aviv. The United Arab Emirates, which also normalized diplomatic relations with Israel on September 15, opened its embassy in Tel Aviv in June. The two countries join Egypt, which signed a peace treaty in 1979, and Jordan, who followed suit in 1994, as the only Arab nations with embassies in Israel.

Bahrain is a small island nation in the Persian Gulf which lies between the Qatari peninsula and the northeastern coast of Saudi Arabia. After nearly 100 years as a British protectorate, Bahrain declared its independence in 1971. Since 2002 it has been an Islamic constitutional monarchy, which has become a global banking hub.

The opening of the new diplomatic post is a direct result of former US President Donald Trump’s efforts. As a part of his Mideast foreign policy, his administration worked tirelessly to bring about normalization of diplomatic relations between Israel and surrounding Arab countries.

The Abraham Accords is the term used to refer to separate agreements reached between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. In addition, the countries of Morocco and Sudan are also in the process of normalizing relations with Israel.

Among the remaining Abraham Accords participants, Morocco is furthest along in the normalization process. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid visited the nation last month to open Israel’s liaison office in Rabat.

During that visit, Lapid announced that Morocco’s Foreign Minister, Nasser Bourita, will come to Israel in October or November to open Morocco’s embassy in Israel. Direct commercial flights between the two nations began in July.

Although the news has often been bleak during the global pandemic, this year has seen some positive stories as well. The opening of the UAE and Bahraini embassies in Tel Aviv, along with the imminent opening of the Moroccan embassy, certainly fall into that category.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 1, 2021)

Photo Credit: © Simon Mannweiler/Wikimedia.org/ CC BY-SA 4.0

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the opening of these embassies and for those that will open in the future. Pray for the success of these diplomatic missions in strengthening the ties between Israel and her Arab neighbors. Also pray for the various ambassadors and their families to be safe and welcomed in Israel.

Scripture

Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.


- Psalm 127:1

Trilateral Summit in Egypt over Israeli–Palestinian Peace Signals Regional Shift

by Kate Norman

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Cairo, Egypt, where the trilateral summit is being held between the leaders of Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority

Thursday, 2 September 2021 | Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is currently visiting Egypt to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Jordanian King Abdullah II. The Cairo summit will focus on rekindling international efforts toward a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

Efforts to achieve peace between the two have stalled recently. Former US President Donald Trump’s administration released a peace plan in 2020 known as the “Deal of the Century,” which proposed that Israel apply sovereignty over one-third of Judea and Samaria (the so-called “West Bank”), alongside a demilitarized Palestinian state.

Abbas rejected the deal before it was even released, calling it the “Slap of the Century.” Ties between the PA and Washington chilled, as the Palestinian leadership boycotted Trump’s administration and called for a peace proposal authored by anyone other than the US—particularly the notoriously anti-Israel United Nations.

And this week’s summit appears to be a continuation of that stance, despite the new administration in Washington.

Current President Joe Biden has yet to touch the issue, though his administration has worked to warm ties with the PA by resuming funding that Trump had cut, and by reiterating the American call for a two-state solution.

The new Israeli government has also had little to say about any return to peace negotiations. The government, headed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, is a broad coalition comprised of parties across the political spectrum. It’s a diverse government, but also a fragile one without a strong majority.

Therefore, this government is one that will focus on domestic issues rather than attempting to tackle the decades-old peace process and other potentially polarizing topics.

Prime Minister Bennett’s office dismissed a report that Bennett was originally invited to this week’s summit in Cairo but had been cut out.

“There was no intention to hold a meeting with the PA president and there is no expectation that any such meeting will be held,” said Matan Siti, the prime minister’s spokesman, as quoted by the Jerusalem Post.

Bennett is, however, set to visit President el-Sisi sometime in the near future.

Egypt’s intelligence director visited Israel last month to meet with Bennett on “diplomatic, security and economic” issues, and he also extended an invitation from el-Sisi for Bennett to visit Egypt.

Just days after that meeting, Israel downgraded its travel warning for the Sinai Peninsula, previously known as a hotbed for Islamic state militants and other terrorists.

Neither Israel nor Egypt have announced a specific date for the imminent visit, but it will be the first official visit by an Israeli prime minister to Egypt since 2011. Egypt in 1979 became the first Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel—but it has been a chilly, governmental-level peace.

But as the Middle East sands continue to shift, Israeli–Egyptian ties just might be warming.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 2, 2021)

Photo Credit: ©Vyacheslav Argenberg/www.vascoplanet.com/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the ties between Israel and Egypt remain strong, and beseech the Lord that any discussions or negotiations regarding a two-state solution will be centered in His will and His will alone.

Scripture

These are the things you shall do: speak each man the truth to his neighbor; give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace; let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor.


- Zechariah 8:16–17a

Hamas ‘Should Be Very Worried’ by Israel’s Maneuver towards Abbas

by Yaakov Lappin ~ JNS

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PA President Mahmoud Abbas at a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah

Thursday, 2 September 2021 | Hamas has good reason to be concerned by the recent meeting between Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, a former senior Israeli defense official told JNS.

According to Maj.–Gen. (res.) Eitan Dangot, Israel’s former [head of] Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), and a senior research associate at the Miryam Institute, the meeting between Gantz and Abbas was overdue and sent important signals that Hamas will find troubling.

“The very fact that the meeting took place is the central change,” said Dangot, who also served as military secretary to three defense ministers. For Hamas, the meeting represents a signal of Israel’s intention to continue to separate Gaza from the West Bank [Judea and Samaria], he argued.

Israel is emphasizing, through the meeting, that it will hold highly contrasting policies towards these two territories, according to Dangot. Security tensions will dominate Israel’s approach to Gaza, ruled by a radical terrorist regime, while Israel will seek ways to improve a variety of issues in its management of policy towards the PA.

“It is also a signal to Hamas that Israel might weigh up a future option, under which it could go back to the idea of seeing PA elements return to Gaza, with international backing. Israel could decide that this scenario does stand a chance. That could significantly weaken Hamas,” said Dangot.

The fact that a senior Israeli decision-maker met with Abbas for the first time in 10 years is highly significant, he stated, adding that the meeting should have occurred sooner.

“It is a mistake to make Gaza more important than Judea and Samaria,” said Dangot. “In my view, Judea and Samaria has much more importance for the internal security of Israel than Gaza. Gaza has clear boundaries, and Israel is facing a radical extremist movement that has the ideological goal of shedding the blood of its civilians and soldiers, and harming its existence. While there are criticisms of the PA’s conduct, its residents, more than 2.7 million Palestinians, are living in daily coexistence with over 400,000 Israelis who live in Area C.”

Daily interaction on the roads, at checkpoints and even during shopping at stores means Israel has a clear interest in boosting its influence over the PA, Dangot argued.

Meanwhile, the PA is facing its own especially sensitive period, with an unsettled Palestinian street, made more agitated by the power struggles of would-be successors to Abbas. Public demonstrations against the PA have rocked the Ramallah government, with members of the West Bank public also expressing disgust with corruption and the cost of living, according to Dangot’s assessment.

During their meeting, Gantz and Abbas discussed political, security, civilian and economic issues. Following the event, Israel moved to provide the PA with a 500-million-shekel ([US] $156 million) loan to help stabilize its troubled economic situation.

Dangot said such meetings “were routine when I was military secretary and head of COGAT,” adding that “not holding meetings caused a degree of damage. Personal dialogue can lead to changes.”

Preparing for a Post-Abbas Era

Traditionally, the PA has faced obstacles to its rule in the Hebron area, where there is a concentration of Hamas supporters, Dangot noted. The fact that the PA is facing cracks in the stability of its rule—which began to emerge in earnest after Abbas cancelled Palestinian elections in April—means that the post-Abbas era has effectively begun, he warned.

“As a result, the PA is taking a certain risk in holding a meeting with senior Israeli figure, since many would-be successors of Abbas from Fatah are positioning themselves at this time, and are not interested in affiliating themselves with Israel. Abbas took a certain risk,” Dangot said.

“On [the] other hand, this gives the PA an advantage, since Abbas projected stability to the Palestinian street. He sent the message that security and civilian coordination with Israel will continue in face of threats at home, led mainly by Hamas, which is seeking to incite and fracture his rule. Hence, this meeting delivers a message that a large part of the Palestinian public is looking for—continued economic stability,” the former officer stated.

Dangot stressed the importance of personal dialogue as a mechanism for better dealing with future crises.

“In the present, the goal of this meeting was to improve the PA’s economic capabilities, and as a by-product, to prevent parts of the Palestinian public from joining violent incidents,” said Dangot.

“Since 2008, large parts of the Palestinian public have demonstrated that economy comes before national issues for them. They understand the cost of losing, and were not part of Middle East revolutions. Hence, Israel’s obligation is to exercise its ability to continue to advance the lives of Palestinian civilians, promote economic development, and helping economic initiatives,” said Dangot.

Israel needs to seriously prepare for the post-Abbas era, he said, by getting a better sense of the Palestinian public mood and a better understanding of who potential Abbas successors will be.

Addressing the PA’s Problematic Activities

Dangot said there is “no argument” over the fact that the PA is involved in multiple troubling activities, such as its push to place Israel on trial at the International Criminal Court, ongoing incitement, and the policy of paying stipends to security prisoners and the families of terrorists killed in their attack efforts.

“All criticisms of these things are fully justified,” he said. “But a country has to set its strategy based on an ongoing assessment and of the alternatives that are at its disposal. Due to the high importance of Judea and Samaria for Israeli security, Israel cannot stick its head in the sand and fail to lead on a policy that it set. It has to deal with these problems as part of a general dialogue with the other side.”

Dangot argued that while Abbas is not a fan of Israel and “not the ideal leader,” he is still “the one who is signed onto agreements that commit the PA…There is a clear joint interest for the PA and Israel to prevent a radical movement like Hamas from entrenching itself in Judea and Samaria…”

This has led Dangot to the conclusion that it is possible to continue to keep levels of violence low in the West Bank, while still “not ignoring the other problems” that stem from the PA’s conduct as described above. Israel must demand a decrease in the use of money by the PA for supporting families of terrorists and security prisoners, he said.

During Abbas’s era, he added, “there will be no political agreement. Abbas won’t end his role in the PA with a legacy of giving up on the ‘right of return’ in an agreement with Israel. But he won’t want to collapse his entire concept by losing control and seeing chaos take over in Judea and Samaria either,” he added.

Past experience has shown that Israel, backed by American pressure, has been able to cause Abbas to reign in his diplomatic and legal attacks on Israel, Dangot noted.

Israel must demand that the PA decrease its payments to families of terrorists and security prisoners, and halt its activities at the ICC, he added. “Together with the US, it is possible to stop these processes.”

Ultimately, Israel has to choose between available alternatives, he argued. “This is what pragmatism forces us to choose from.”

More Trouble in Gaza

Dangot is decidedly less optimistic over what the future holds for the Gaza Strip.

Since August 21, Hamas has continued to escalate the border region with Israel through a series of violent disturbances. Border Policeman Barel Hadaria Shmueli, who was killed by a Hamas gunman at the border during a violent disturbance on August 21, was laid to rest on Monday. Several Palestinian rioters were shot during the disturbances, some fatally.

On August 28, Hamas restarted its harassment and attrition activities at night along the border fence, sending activists to hurl explosive devices and launching arson balloons towards Israeli communities. Hamas is demanding that Israel loosen security restrictions around Gaza, and enable rebuilding projects to go ahead, even after an arrangement to facilitate the transfer of [US] $10 million of Qatari cash per month has begun for needy Gazan families.

Israel has announced a series of measures to ease conditions in Gaza, including the entry of building material for the first time since May’s conflict. Egypt reopened Rafah Crossing after closing it for six days. On Wednesday, Israel expanded the Gazan fishing zone to 15 nautical miles, and opened the Kerem Shalom Border Crossing for more equipment and commodities to pass through it. It also increased Gazan entry permits for traders, from 2,000 to 7,000. Yet none of this seems to be enough for Hamas, which continues to threaten further escalation.

“I sense a desire by the Israeli government to prevent an escalation for the coming months,” said Dangot. Should Israel give up on its conditions, stipulated after the May conflict, such as conditioning widespread rebuilding projects on Gaza on Hamas’s release of the remains of two IDF personnel killed in action in 2014 as well as two captive civilians, that will not lead to calm,” Dangot warned.

Should Israel continue to insist on conditioning a breakthrough arrangement on Hamas meeting those conditions, he believes that too will lead to an escalation.

“In either case, both routes lead to one clear thing: an escalation with Hamas,” said Dangot. “This is inevitable. The question is the timing.”

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on September 1, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Flash90/JNS.com

Prayer Focus
Pray for wisdom and clarity for Israeli leadership as they work with Mahmoud Abbas to leverage their common interests to strengthen the Palestinian economy and the security situation in Judea and Samaria, and Israel as well. Pray for upcoming Palestinian elections and for Israeli preparedness to deal effectively with Palestinian leaders in a post-Abbas era.

Scripture

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


- Proverbs 2:6

FBI Report Reinforces Trend that American Jews Are ‘Top Target’ for Hate Crimes

by Faygie Holt ~ JNS

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Temple Beth Shalom in Washington state was vandalized with a swastika and other anti-Semitic graffiti (illustrative)

Thursday, 2 September 2021 | The latest FBI report on hate crimes shows that the number of incidents continues to rise year to year in the US, with 7,759 hate crimes reported in 2020, as compared to 7,517 in 2019, but with fewer crimes categorized as “religiously motivated.”

“Preventing and responding to hate crimes and hate incidents is one of the Justice Department’s highest priorities. The FBI Hate Crime Statistics for 2020 demonstrates the urgent need for a comprehensive response,” said US Attorney General Merrick B. Garland upon the report’s publication on August 30. “Last year saw a 6.1% increase in hate crime reports, and in particular, hate crimes motivated by race, ethnicity and ancestry, and by gender identity.

“These numbers confirm what we have already seen and heard from communities, advocates and law enforcement agencies around the country,” he continued, adding, “And these numbers do not account for the many hate crimes that go unreported.”

Anti-Jewish bias accounted for 676 incidents—57% of the 1,174 religiously motivated hate crimes in 2020—aligning with the annual finding that the Jewish community is disproportionately targeted by religiously motivated crimes, given that Jews account for less than 2% of the US population. The total number of incidents is down from the 953 anti-Jewish hate crimes reported in 2019, but also occurred a time of national lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This report reminds us all that the Jewish community remains a top target for hate crimes,” said Michael Master, national director and CEO of the Secure Community Network, which describes itself as the “official safety and security organization” of the Jewish community in North America. “Despite our relatively small population, these attacks show no signs of slowing down as our community was targeted the most among religiously motivated crimes. We must continue to work to be as prepared and secure as possible so the Jewish community can continue to thrive.”

Among the incidents against Jews last year, 56% targeted individuals directly. Fifty-three percent involved vandalism or property destruction; 33% involved intimidation; and 10% entailed either simple or aggravated assault.

In other notable findings, more than 120 incidents of anti-Jew hatred in New York state were categorized as destruction, damage or vandalism of property, while 37 incidents were “simple assault.” Of 116 incidents in California, nine were classified as “aggravated assault,” eight as “simple assault” and 80 incidents were destruction, damage or vandalism. In New Jersey, 38% of anti-Jew incidents were classified as intimidation, and 8% of all bias incidents targeting Jews in the Garden State occurred at either a park or playground, with another 14% occurring at an elementary or secondary school.

“Every hate crime is heinous and unacceptable, no matter its target, and we must stand resolutely with any targeted group. Yet the fact that American Jews—who make up no more than 2% of the US population—are the targets of nearly 60% of religious bias crimes should set off alarm bells,” said David Harris, CEO of American Jewish Committee. “For decades, we have cautioned that anti-Semitism is a rising threat and that it comes from multiple sources, including the far right, the hard left, and Islamist extremists. Fighting Jew-hatred in America must become a national priority and it must be a bipartisan and cross-communal effort.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on August 31, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Spokane Police Department/JNS

Prayer Focus
Pray for a sincere bipartisan, cross-communal effort in America to fight “Jew hatred” and bring anti-Semitism to an end. Pray that clear guidelines, consistent punishment of perpetrators and education will be incorporated into a strategy to eliminate hate crimes and provide a secure environment for America’s Jewish citizens.

Scripture

LORD, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head.


- Psalm 3:1,3

Israel Approves US $21 Million Assistance Plan for Jerusalem Hills Fire Damage

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The aftermath of a major fire which broke out in the Jerusalem hills on August 16

Tuesday, 31 August 2021 | The Israeli Cabinet on Monday approved a 70 million shekel ([US] $21 million) rehabilitation plan to deal with the damage caused by the wildfires that devastated the Jerusalem hills two weeks ago.

The lion’s share (60 million shekels, or [US] $18 million) will go to ecological rehabilitation, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office. The Environmental Protection Ministry has been tasked with formulating an action plan for the rehabilitation within 60 days.

In addition, 5 million shekels ([US] $1.5 million) will be allocated to the regional council for expenditures incurred in clearing asbestos debris as a result of the fire.

Another 2.6 million shekels ([US] $807,000) will go to immediate emergency expenses, such as lodging for residents who were evacuated from their homes, and 400,000 shekels ([US] $124,000) will be earmarked for social services.

The fires led to the evacuation of the communities of Beit Meir, Shoresh, Shoeva, Kisalon, Givat Yearim, Ramat Raziel, Tzuba and the facility at Eitanim, and caused extensive damage in the area, especially to buildings and infrastructures.

The fires also burned thousands of acres of forest and natural growth, damaged springs and nature and heritage sites, trails and nature reserves, and killed many animals.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on August 30, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for Israel’s decision to commit funds to the rehabilitation of the Jerusalem hills after fires devastated thousands of acres of forest. Pray that the Lord will bless the land, speeding the recovery of the damaged areas, restoring communities and rebuilding the economy of the area.

Scripture

Break forth into singing, you mountains, O forest, and every tree in it! For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and glorified Himself in Israel.


- Isaiah 44:23b

Defying All Odds, Gaza Rocket Fire Survivor Leaves Hospital with a Smile

by Sivan Hilaie

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The aftermath of the rocket strike in which Zalotsky was hurt

Friday, 27 August 2021 | Despite doctors giving her just hours to live, a woman gravely hurt during Israel’s latest war with Gaza terrorist factions was discharged from the hospital this week after making a miraculous recovery.

Yulia Zalotsky, 44, was given almost no chance of survival after a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip exploded near her and sent shrapnel flying in her direction.

On May 11, the second day of the 11-day conflict, Zalotsky—a single mother from Holon—was making her way to work when the Gaza-based terrorist group Hamas launched a volley of rockets into Israeli cities.

One of the projectiles crashed directly onto a bus, just feet away from where Zalotsky was standing. The powerful blast ejected a large chunk of shrapnel, which lodged in her left thigh, causing her to lose massive amounts of blood.

Zalotsky was rushed in critical condition to Holon’s Wolfson Medical Center, and doctors had to amputate her left leg almost in its entirety.

After lying in a two-month coma—hanging between life and death—and 13 complex surgeries, Zalotsky opened her eyes three weeks ago.

On Wednesday, she was finally discharged from the hospital to continue her recovery at home.

“I did not believe I would ever be released from the hospital,” [Zalotsky said].

“It’s clear to me that I still have a long way to go, but I am full of hope. What keeps me going is the chance I have to someday walk on my own again with a prosthesis. I am strong and the will to continue living is what keeps me going.”

Zaltosky’s daughter, Suzana, was thrilled to have her mother finally come home. 

“The doctors did not think she would live at first, they told us these were her last hours,” the 26-year-old said. “I did not believe she would live, and now she is finally smiling and happy.”

“Now she has hope. She will be able to go and do whatever she wants and all thanks to the medical team here. If it were not for them, she would not have survived.”

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on August 26, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Yoav Keren/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for this remarkable story of strength and resilience. Pray for Yulia Zalotsky as she rebuilds her life, and thank the Lord for the skill of the Israeli medical team that saved her. Pray that her tale of hope in adversity will strengthen many others in Israel who have been victims of terror and are dealing with very difficult situations.

Scripture

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.


- Psalm 23:4

Growing Role, and Complexity, of Lasers to Combat Drone Threats

by Yaakov Lappin ~ JNS

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The Drone Dome system mounted on a truck

Monday, 30 August 2021 | In February 2020, a rotor drone took off in the desert of southern Israel, and a high-tech system began tracking it closely. Suddenly, a laser fired from a vehicle locked onto to a small area of the drone, about the size of a quarter. Within seconds, the drone came crashing down to earth.

That demonstration, held by Israeli defense company Rafael, saw laser interceptions of multiple drones in the desert that day, achieving a 100% success rate. It was a demonstration of the Drone Dome system’s laser shoot-down capability.

Drone Dome made the headlines in December 2018, when British security forces, which had purchased the system a year beforehand, rolled it out to Gatwick Airport after disruptive drone intrusions.

Those types of incidents, and the threat posed by drones, is only set to grow in the coming years, according to Meir Ben Shaya, business development senior director at Rafael’s Air and Missile Defense Systems Division.

“This was once a nice toy for children, and it has now become a precise weapon,” Ben Shaya told JNS. Today, terrorists attach a camera and hand grenade to a drone, and use it to attack coalition forces in Iraq and Syria.

“In our area, we see that Hezbollah and Hamas used these tools against us, too,” noted Ben Shaya. “We’re also seeing safety incidents. Drones are intruding [in] airport areas, posing threats to passengers.”

He identified two central trends when it comes to drone threats that are taking shape. The first is the quantity of drones, or “flocks,” which are only growing larger with time. The need to deal with simultaneous numbers of drones in the air is a “very challenging threat,” said Ben Shaya.

The second type of threat is the growing size of the drones.

“If in the past, air-defense systems looked for planes, large unidentified aerial vehicles or missiles, they are now also having to deal with threats that have become small, slow and low,” he explained.

This forms a challenge for radar systems that are programmed to search for objects the size of conventional aircraft.

‘Our System is Combat-proven, Deployed All over the World’

Regarding Drone Dome, Rafael developed features such as an artificial-intelligence component, described by Ben Shaya as “the system’s brain,” which acts as a force multiplier due to its ability to distinguish drones from, say, birds.

Ben Shaya described four layers needed to deal effectively with modern drone threats: detection, identification, neutralization and now, thanks to laser technology, a hard-kill option for clients who need it.

“On the basis of this concept, we built our smart modular system,” he said. “The central objective is to detect and prevent the threat from entering the area you’re defending. That can be borders, or it can be an airport, a strategic site or a fuel site.”

Take Saudi Arabia, for example. A September 2019 drone attack on Saudi oil facilities, which temporarily cut Saudi oil production by 50%, serves as a categorical warning to others over the extent of damage that drones can cause.

The result has been a thirst for Drone Dome around the world. Rafael has also sold the system to Italy, Singapore and several additional clients worldwide.

“Our system is combat-proven and deployed all over the world,” said Ben Shaya.

‘A Situational Awareness of the Targets’

Ben Shaya delved into how the system’s various components work together. Signals intelligence (SIGINT) is used to detect the drone’s location, as well as the ground control station. But some drones also need an additional layer of detection, and that’s where the radar comes in. “We use two types of radar—one for short-range and one for longer ranges,” he said.

Together, the signals intelligence sensor and the radar create “a situational awareness of the targets.” At that stage, the system directs a camera in the direction of the suspect object, and Drone Dome begins to visually identify the type of threat.

At that stage, a third layer—neutralization—comes in. “We do this with a communications jammer, based on electronic warfare,” said Ben Shaya.

The jammer blocks the drone’s communication frequencies and its GPS, meaning it can’t continue. But some drones that are fully autonomous could need a fourth layer to stop them, and that’s where the laser comes in.

Rafael employs a 10-kilowatt laser to shoot down objects and can do so at ranges of up to three kilometers, or almost two miles, away.

“All of the energy focuses on a small section and burns it in little time,” said Ben Shaya. “The safety mechanism means that if the point being targeted—the wing base or the main body—is lost and there is no lock on the target, the laser immediately stops. It’s an invisible laser that can focus a very small beam onto the target.”

Typically, military clients are more interested in lasers than civilian ones are. Still, as the threat of drones continues to proliferate, the demand for such systems looks set to only grow.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on August 27, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Rafael Defense/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for the 100% success rate of the Drone Dome System and the ingenuity and creativity He has given Israel. Pray that it will become another effective weapon in the Israeli arsenal that can be used to protect Israeli citizens and keep the enemies of the Land at bay.

Scripture

It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect. He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. Your gentleness has made me great.


- Psalm 18:32,34,35b