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Clashes, Shooting Mark Tense Holiday Weekend
by Ilse Strauss
Wednesday, 28 September 2022 | Clashes. Confrontation. The echo of rams’ horns. And warm wishes for a sweet new year. This summed up the situation over the past festive yet tense long weekend in the Promised Land.
Israel is currently in the midst of a season known as the High Holy Days, a three-week period that starts with Rosh HaShanah (Jewish New Year), runs through Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and concludes with Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). It is a time unlike any other, as an atmosphere of expectation and awe settles over the Jewish state. Yet it can also be a tense time, with Israel’s enemies attempting to turn the solemn, joyous time into one of bloodshed and violence.
Sadly, this year has so far been no different. Rosh HaShanah started at sunset on Sunday, marking the beginning of the High Holy Days, and as Jews spent the time in repentance prayers or gathered with family, unrest roiled in parts of Judea and Samaria.
Last night, security forces clashed with Palestinian protesters in eastern Jerusalem for the third consecutive night. According to the Israeli police, the latest confrontation amid the days of unrest in the capital saw protesters setting dumpsters on fire and hurling boulders and shooting fireworks at security forces, who responded with non-lethal crowd dispersion methods.
Also last night, Palestinian terrorists opened fire from a passing vehicle on Israeli troops conducting “routine activity” in northern Samaria. According to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the soldiers returned fire, causing the terrorists to flee. No troops were hurt in the incident.
Then, this morning, three Palestinian terrorists were killed in an Israeli military raid in Jenin, a Palestinian city in northern Samaria that has been a hotbed of terrorist activity over the past few months.
The clashes, confrontations and attacks were not unexpected though. They come as Israel continues to step up counterterrorism efforts in Judea and Samaria. The IDF launched Operation Break the Wave in late March to curb a deadly terror wave that saw 19 people murdered in six separate attacks across Israel in a matter of weeks. The operation entails security forces undertaking near nightly military forages into the Palestinian towns and villages to apprehend would-be terrorists before they can strike. These anti-terror raids routinely escalate into violent clashes, with protestors hurling rocks and fireworks as well as heavily armed Palestinian gunmen engaging the IDF forces in fierce firefights.
In the five months since Operation Break the Wave was launched, more than 2,050 counterterrorism operations have been carried out, during which over 1,500 wanted individuals were apprehended and hundreds of weapons confiscated. More importantly, the operation brought an end to the deadly wave of terror, with countless terror attacks averted.
Yet there is also a price to pay. Simmering tensions in Judea and Samaria have reached near boiling point. There has been a sharp rise in shooting attacks against IDF targets as well as civilian vehicles in the region, with 130 attacks this year so far, compared to just 98 last year and 19 in 2020, the Times of Israel reports. Attempted stabbings and stone-throwing incidents have also increased.
The rest of the country is simmering too—especially over the holidays. In fact, two weeks ago, Israel went on record terror alert ahead of the High Holy Days after defense officials presented Prime Minister Yair Lapid with some 70 concrete warnings about imminent attacks during the holiday season.
“This is a symbolic period during which terrorist organizations are naturally looking to carry out showcase attacks,” an anonymous senior police official told Ynetnews.
Israel prepared to answer these threats with a record deployment of about 20,000 police officers stationed around the country, with a focus on Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.
Their efforts have born fruit. While clashes and confrontations rage, the first of the High Holy Days came and went without any terror attacks.
As we look ahead to the two remaining feasts of Yom Kippur and Sukkot over the next two weeks, we invite Christians around the world to join us in prayer for the peace of Jerusalem (Ps. 122:6).
Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 28, 2022)
Photo Credit: Israel Police/commons.wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
Cry out to the Lord for an end to the turmoil and a safe and tranquil finish to this holiday season. Pray for the security forces all over the nation, but especially in Jerusalem, as terrorists attempt to further convince the Palestinian people that violence is the only effective answer to their problems.
In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save.”
Nuclear Talks Remain Stalled as Demonstrations Rock Iran
by Joshua Spurlock ~ The Mideast Update
Wednesday, 28 September 2022 | The death toll in the ongoing protests in Iran continues to rise, with the Iran Human Rights [IHR] organization on Monday saying more than 75 people had been killed so far, including women and children. Furthermore, the organization confirmed, based on video evidence, that police have fired live ammunition at protestors, a crime Amnesty International had reported the prior week.
The protests, in response to the death of Mahsa Amini, who died after being taken into custody by Iran’s “morality police”, have been raging since the middle of the month and come at a tense time for Tehran amid international negotiations on their nuclear program.
A renewed nuclear deal—which would provide Iran with significant sanctions relief in exchange for self-imposed restrictions on their nuclear program—seemed imminent last month. However, Iran’s tough counterproposal undercut the talks.
United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said Iran’s latest offer took the negotiations “backwards”, while Israel sounded encouraged that a deal that Prime Minister Yair Lapid has called “dangerous” had been prevented so far.
Then came the death of Amini, whom the IHR organization, the US and others have all said was caused by the Iranian security forces. The IHR organization reported on their website that witnesses said Amini was beaten by police after she was arrested by the Guidance Patrol officers.
Blinken, in a statement published by the State Department, condemned the “brutal death” of Amini, while noting she died in the morality police custody for “purportedly wearing a hijab too loosely”—referencing the traditional Muslim headscarf worn by women.
In addition to cracking down on civilians protesting Amini’s death, Iranian authorities have disrupted internet access as well—a common tactic when trying to stifle public outcry. The US emplaced sanctions on Iran’s morality police and others, while also providing a sanctions waiver for companies to provide certain software and hardware in Iran to provide internet access.
While the US is trying to publicly separate their condemnation of human rights abuses in Iran from the nuclear talks, the timing isn’t ideal for progress towards the renewal of the deal—known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Last week, a US Senior State Department Official told reporters in a background briefing published by the State Department that the JCPOA was “never intended to and did not address other points of concern about Iran’s policies,” including human rights abuses.
Highlighting the latest sanctions against the morality police, the Senior State Department Official said, “We are going to continue to use all of the tools that are available to us to address those other points of concerns that we have about Iran, whether we’re negotiating to return to the JCPOA, in the JCPOA, or not.”
In view of the Americans’ continued interest in resurrecting the nuclear deal with Iran and despite Israel’s relief that the insufficient proposal was not accepted, Jerusalem has not ended its diplomacy against a bad Iran deal.
During last week’s call with British Prime Minister Liz Truss, Lapid specifically mentioned the Iran talks, according to a summary of the call published by Israel. Per the Israelis, Lapid “emphasized to Prime Minister Truss the necessity of avoiding further compromises with Iran, and further emphasized that Israel’s expectation is the advancement of a longer and stronger deal that will provide a response to the full range of threats stemming from Iran.”
Meanwhile, the danger posed by the Iranian regime continues to be felt by not only Israel, but Iran’s own people as well. IHR Director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam was quoted in the IHR report as saying: “The risk of torture and ill-treatment of protesters is serious and the use of live ammunition against protesters is an international crime…The world must defend the Iranian people’s demands for their fundamental rights.”
Source: (This article was originally published by The Mideast Update on September 27, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)
Photo Credit: Voice of America/commons.wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
Pray for an international outcry against the Iranian slaughter of protestors and pray for the Lord’s protection over people who are attempting to make their voices heard, calling out their own government for human rights abuses and murder, among other things. Also pray that the nations will continue to recognize the wisdom in PM Lapid’s words as he speaks out against a deal that will enable Iran to quickly progress to their goal as a nuclear power.
As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect.
On Rosh HaShanah, Global Jewish Population Reaches 15.3 Million
by Itamar Eichner ~ Ynetnews
Wednesday, 28 September 2022 | On this Jewish New Year [Rosh HaShanah], world Jewry numbered around 15.3 million people, the Jewish Agency said in a report published on Sunday, a slight uptick from last year’s 15.2 million.
According to the report, around 7,080,000 Jews live in Israel (compared to about 6,950,000 in the previous year), while another 8.25 million are living in the Diaspora [the Jewish population outside Israel], about six million of which live in the United States alone.
Israeli Jews make up 46.2% of the world’s entire Jewish population, a 1% increase compared to the previous year.
Data show that there are currently around 500,000 people living in Israel who are entitled to Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return despite not being registered as Jewish in the Population Registry.
This number also includes anyone defining themselves as Jewish and doesn’t have any other religious affiliation, but excludes those who define themselves as “part Jewish.”
The Law of Return gives Jews and their relatives the right to come and live in Israel, granting them automatic citizenship.
According to the Jewish Agency, there are 25.5 million people worldwide eligible to get Israeli citizenship under the law, 18 million of which live outside the Jewish state.
After Israel and the US, the countries with the largest concentration of Jews are France (442,000), Canada (394,000), Britain (292,000), Argentina (173,000), Russia (145,000), Germany (118,000) and Australia (118,000).
According to the Jewish Agency, Israel has seen its most prolific year in terms of positive immigration in two decades.
From September 1, 2021, to September 1, 2022, 26,000 Jews made aliyah [immigrated to Israel] from Russia and 14,000 from Ukraine, most of whom arrived in the Jewish state in Jewish Agency rescue missions following the outbreak of the war between the two Eastern European neighbors.
Meanwhile, about 3,800 Jews made aliyah from the United States and Canada, over 2,500 from France, more than 1,600 from Belarus, about 1,450 immigrants from Ethiopia were reunited with their relatives in Israel, 1,100 Jews arrived from Argentina, 600 from the United Kingdom, over 500 from South Africa and more than 400 from Brazil.
The Jewish Agency’s data also indicates that over a quarter of this year’s immigrants (27%) were aged between 18–35 and a total of 15,000 young people have decided to build their future in Israel. About 5,500 of them joined special programs provided by the Jewish Agency, which help them integrate into Israeli society and find proper employment.
President Isaac Herzog congratulated the Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora on the occasion of the New Year and said: “Dear sisters and brothers from all over the world, Jewish communities big and small, shanah tovah [happy New Year] to all of you!
“As we welcome the Jewish New Year 5783, I would like to wish you all a sweet and happy New Year. Our ancient Jewish tradition wisely connects the change of seasons with our changes of heart. Indeed, this twilight time between years invites us to embrace change as a people and as individuals.
“It invites us to reflect on our lives, our choices and our beliefs. It invites us to question how we can do things better in the coming year for ourselves, for our families and for our communities.
“It demands we deepen our attention, and even more so, our intention to replace bitterness with sweetness.
“Jewish tradition teaches us that on Rosh HaShanah we are inscribed in the Book of Life. But we are not only inscribed as individuals, we rise and fall together, as a people.
“Let us therefore commit to being inscribed in the Book of Life together. Let us help each other to be inscribed in the Book of Life together. Let us debate with compassion, disagree without fear and work towards each other, rather than away from each other. Let us recall the beauty in our unity. Only thus may we fulfill the words of the Psalmist, King David.
“May there be peace within our walls and security within our citadels for the sake of my brothers (and I add, sisters) and friends. I say: Peace be with you!
“From your home away from home here in the State of Israel to your homes around the world, I wish you all, shanah tovah u’metukah [happy and sweet New Year]!”
Photo Credit: Haim Zach/Government Press Office/commons.wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
Thank God that the Jewish people continue to hear His voice and respond as He calls them home to the Land of their forefathers. Pray for an easy transition for all of these new immigrants, and ask the Lord to help them quickly put down roots, learn the language, find jobs and become true Israelis. Life in Israel can sometimes be hard, so pray that none of them will find themselves making the decision to return to their country of origin or move on to some other Diaspora location.
“I will plant them on their land, and they shall never again be uprooted out of the land that I have given them,” says the LORD your God.
Firefighters Battle Several Major Brush Fires Raging across Israel
by Lior El-Hai, Haim Goldich, Hassan Shaalan, Israel Moskowitz ~ Ynetnews
Thursday, 29 September 2022 | Firefighters were called up to battle several major brush fires raging in different locations across Israel on Wednesday.
So far, around 25 firefighting teams and eight aircraft arrived on scene and worked to extinguish a blaze that broke out at Nir’s Cliff in northern Israel.
Hikers were evacuated from the area and fire services were working to protect the nearby Kibbutz [collective community] Manara as strong winds hindered extensive firefighting efforts. There was no immediate danger to nearby homes.
“Over the past several hours, we have been working in two very extensive sectors in the Upper Galilee where one fire is threatening Kibbutz Manara and another threatens Kiryat Shmona,” a Fire and Rescue Services official said, noting that extensive fires were typical for this time of year.
Another wildfire broke out in a field in Wadi Ara near the central city of Umm al-Fahm. The fire brigade and volunteers were working on four different scenes to get the fires under control.
Meanwhile, close to 30 firefighting teams were called to fight a conflagration that raged between Latrun and Sha’ar HaGai in the Jerusalem area.
On Tuesday, five firefighting teams and four aircraft extinguished a wildfire near the Sea of Galilee after a three-hour battle. Due to the heavy smoke and fear of the fire spreading, about 70 hikers who were staying near the coast were evacuated.
Photo Credit: יחידה אווירית משטרת ישראל/commons.wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
Pray for the strength and safety of all those who are engaged in fighting these fires. Cry out to the Lord for the blessing of rain that will aid the firefighters in extinguishing existing fires, water the parched countryside and prevent further fires from developing.
He gives rain on the earth, and sends waters on the fields.
‘Hamas Must Choose between Violence and Rebuilding Gaza’
Thursday, 29 September 2022 | Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas in Gaza, will not be permitted to continue to pursue a double policy of both rebuilding the Strip and orchestrating terrorism in Judea and Samaria, Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) Director Ronen Bar says.
The domestic intelligence chief spoke in an internal agency discussion, Channel 12 reported on Saturday.
His comment appears to be a warning to scale back Hamas’s extensive efforts to establish terror cells in Judea and Samaria and supply them with funds and instructions on attacks.
On September 19, the Shin Bet announced that it exposed a terror cell active in Nablus and Hebron, which planned attacks against civilians and security personnel under the command of a Hamas operative in the Gaza Strip.
Seven suspects, all Hamas members, were arrested and Israeli forces seized weapons in the counter-terrorism operation.
Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on September 28, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: Atia Mohammed/Flash90/jns.org
Praise the Lord that the Shin Bet was able to prevent attacks against military and civilian targets in Judea and Samaria. Pray that Hamas leadership will make the decision to focus their attention on building a safe and prosperous Gaza rather than their futile efforts to destroy Israel.
For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He guards the paths of justice, and preserves the way of His saints.
Survey: Over Half of US Students Exposed to BDS, Support Boycotting Israel
by Itamar Eichner ~ Ynetnews
Thursday, 29 September 2022 | More than half of US students exposed to Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement’s calls to boycott Israel support the group, a Foreign Ministry survey conducted on campuses, which was released on Wednesday, showed.
The Foreign Ministry conducted its survey among American students after BDS was found to have reached more than half of the student body on US campuses.
Support for a boycott of Israel was heard from students who have an interest in politics, and relatively high support was found among private school students and people aged 30 or older.
The findings alarmed Israeli officials and indicate that the BDS movement has considerable influence on campuses.
The survey also showed that 48% of the students in the US support Israel and believe it is an asset.
The survey, which was commissioned by the Foreign Ministry and conducted earlier this month, was part of an effort to increase support for Israel in the US among different age groups.
Fifty percent of students reported they viewed Israel positively, compared to 36% who said they did not have a positive view of the country. The data indicated there is more support among American Republicans polled than among those who identify as Democrats or people who claim to have little interest in politics.
Older Americans are found to be more likely to see Israel in a positive light and men more so than women, according to the survey.
Among university students in general, support for Israel is lower than in the general, over 18 population.
The Foreign Ministry officials said the data is not all bad because students tend to be more extreme in their political views.
They said the students were more critical of Israel based on moral arguments and liberal views, rather than on the country’s economic and technical successes.
The older people polled named Israel’s technological superiority and the fact that it was the only democracy in the Middle East as reasons for their support.
The conductors of the survey assumed that paradoxically, students believe that by boycotting Israel, it would be more likely to change policies on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.
Those who said they supported Israel also hoped for a different position towards Palestinians.
The ministry said their findings showed that more and more pro-Israeli Jewish students said they were afraid to speak out on campuses. They experienced discrimination by those who oppose Israel and take over public spaces, sometimes using coercion, the ministry said.
There is a lot of fake news, especially in times of conflict in Israel, and that’s what feeds the BDS and provides a reason to support the boycott and the movement, the officials said.
Photo Credit: Alex Chis/commons.wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
Pray for college campuses in the US and around the world as students are being indoctrinated with anti-Israel propaganda masquerading as fact. Cry out to Him for opportunities for students and other young people where support for Israel is the lowest to hear the truth and actually embrace it. Pray that the stranglehold that the BDS movement has on college campuses will be broken and replaced with educators who know and will teach the truth. Also cry out to the Lord that Jewish students will be protected from persecution and violence.
Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.
In Call, Herzog and PA’s Abbas Express Hope to Enhance Cooperation
by Itamar Eichner ~ Ynetnews
Wednesday, 28 September 2022 | President Isaac Herzog and Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas spoke on the phone on Tuesday on the occasion of the Jewish New Year and expressed their hope that civil and security cooperation between Jerusalem and Ramallah “will be enhanced.”
According to a statement from Herzog’s office, Abbas wished the Israeli leader and the people of Israel a happy new year.
In their call, President Herzog “underscored the need to maintain and promote neighborly relations between their nations and the importance of joint activities to ensure calm and to stop violence and extremist forces.”
The statement added that “both leaders expressed their hope that in the coming year, civil and security cooperation will be enhanced and quiet and security will be restored.”
Abbas’s cordial call with Herzog comes just days after the Palestinian leader excoriated Israel at the United Nations General Assembly for its treatment of the Palestinians, adding that he does not consider the Jewish state a partner for peace.
Abbas accused Israel of ignoring the decisions of the international community and went as far as to label it an “apartheid regime.”
He noted, however, that Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s call at the same forum the day before for a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict was a “positive development” but one that should be tested by an immediate return to the negotiating table.
This is Abbas’s second call with an Israeli leader this week after he also spoke to Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday and discussed the security cooperation between Jerusalem and the Palestinian security apparatus.
This comes against the background of simmering tensions across the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] that have led to dozens of attacks on Israeli citizens and soldiers in recent months. Gantz asked Abbas to make efforts to rein in the escalation.
The two last spoke two months ago when the Israeli defense chief visited Abbas in his office in Ramallah.
Photo Credit: www.kremlin.ru/commons.wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
Pray that Mahmoud Abbas will heed Defense Minister Gantz’s request to rein in the escalation of violent attacks on Israelis in Judea and Samaria. Pray that Abbas will stop promoting hatred and violence, and become a true partner for peace, or that he will be removed and replaced with a progressive Palestinian leader who will.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! That your beloved ones may be delivered,
Israel Braces for Influx of Jews Fleeing Russia
by Gilad Yalon, Daniel Salami and Moran Azulai ~ Ynetnews
Friday, 23 September 2022 | The government will on Thursday discuss steps that must be taken to prepare for a possible influx of Jews from Russia after President Vladimir Putin announced a draft to bolster troops fighting in Ukraine.
Putin ordered the call up of some 300,000 reserve troops on Wednesday, causing mass protests in major Russian cities and calls to end the war.
Protests against the act across the country by civilians resulted in the arrest of over 1,000 Russians on Wednesday, with the number expected to rise.
Flights out of Russia have soared in cost and are still reportedly sold out as many decided to flee the country and avoid the draft.
Israeli Immigration and Integration Minister, Pnina Tamano-Shata told Ynet that demand to travel to move to Israel from Russia is rising. “We see more requests to immigrate from Russia. I follow the community, and the ministry is doing its best to make sure all those wishing to can arrive safely, despite challenges,” she said.
“My ministry is preparing for a largescale immigration wave,” the minister said, adding that the number of flights from Russia is set to increase. “We’ve had talks with El Al and other airlines in order to find solutions to allow the Jewish community in Russia to immigrate.”
Russian Jews arrived in great numbers when the war broke out earlier this year, along with many of Ukraine’s Jewish community who were fleeing the fighting.
Vocal opponents of Putin’s regime sought shelter in Israel, including Russian Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, who had spoken out against the war in June.
The demand for a ticket out of Russia is well demonstrated in sharply rising prices. A price for a flight ticket from Moscow to Tel Aviv has reached NIS 23,000 [US $6,607]. Prices have passed the US $5,000 mark for a one-way ticket to anywhere outside of Russia, and nearly all tickets have been sold out.
Tickets from Moscow to Belgrade were sold out on Wednesday. These flights are operated by Air Serbia, which is the only carrier other than Turkish Airlines that still operates flights to and from Russia, despite the ongoing European sanctions imposed in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine in February.
Sergey, a Russian citizen told the Reuters news agency that “the war is terrible, it’s okay to fear death,” when he landed in Belgrade.
An official in the tourist industry commented on the increasing demand for flights leaving from Russia. “People buy tickets without caring about the destination.” Ticket prices to Istanbul and Dubai have also risen considerably, with a ticket to Dubai reaching over US $5,000 dollars, five time the average monthly salary in Russia.
Tickets from Russia to Istanbul and Armenia, countries that allow Russian residents to enter without a visa, were sold out on Wednesday. The average price of a ticket to Turkey rose from US $360 to US $1,150.
Russian citizens are also trying to leave via land. Traffic jams were recorded in the border crossings with Finland and Georgia. The question “how to leave Russia” was posted frequently on social media, and a Russian news site published a headline: “Where to escape to from Russia.”
Meanwhile, protests against Putin took place in dozens of Russian cities, after the president ordered the draft of hundreds of thousands of reserve soldiers to reinforce the fighting in Ukraine after suffering military losses.
According to an organization following the arrests of protestors in Russia, over 1,300 people were arrested in 38 cities, among them Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
Photo Credit: Акутагава/commons.wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
Pray that solutions will be found and a way made for all who would leave Russia and flee to the safety of the Jewish homeland. Ask the Lord for open borders and affordable airline tickets for all those who choose to make aliyah, and pray for the Israeli government agencies that must be prepared for this influx of immigrants. Also pray for Bridges for Peace as we make every attempt to welcome these new Israelis to their land and support them as they make it their home.
And the LORD your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. And he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers.
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