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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.

Pray for Bridges for Peace as Hurricanes Ravage

by Ilse Posselt

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Hurricane Irma category 5 storm flooding

Friday, 08 September 2017 | Editor’s note: Our Bridges for Peace national office in America appears at this point to be directly in the path of mega-hurricane Irma. The storm has already caused death and destruction among Caribbean islands including Puerto Rico where our Spanish Language Resource Center is located. There are dire predictions for ongoing devastation from Irma as the storm barrels forward. Hurricane Jose is following the same path as Hurricane Irma, slated to reach those same islands this weekend. At the same time, the Houston area is still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Harvey. And a major earthquake has just hit Mexico; the extent of that destruction is still unknown. PLEASE PRAY for our national office in Florida, our Bridges for Peace team in all of these embattled areas, as well as for our precious donors who have so faithfully supported our work and are now facing hardship because of the storms. As the following article reveals, the Jewish community in Texas was profoundly affected by Harvey and the same outcome may well await the Jewish community in Florida. PRAY FOR THEM AS WELL, and for all who have been or will be affected by these catastrophic events.

A week ago the people of southeast Texas faced the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, the fiercest tropical storm to hit America in 13 years and the worst to pummel the state since 1961. Dumping more than 52 inches of rain in parts of the state and virtually covering Houston in floodwaters, Harvey left 66 people dead, 30,000 homeless and countless shattered lives in its wake.

Tragically, the trying times are not yet over. Hurricane Irma, the record-breaking storm that tore a path of destruction through the Caribbean yesterday, is said to head for American shores, with hurricane warnings issued for large parts of southern Florida.

As many in Houston embark on the heart-wrenching task of sifting through the rubble of what used to be their homes and communities and southern Florida braces for the possible storm to come, tiny Israel is going out of its way to come to the aid of disaster-stricken Americans.

Apart from dispatching some of the first international relief teams to touch down in Texas, the Jewish state will also donate $1 million in aid to help Houston’s Jewish community rebuild. Moreover, the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC this week threw their weight behind the relief efforts to ensure that tons of aid reaches Harvey’s victims.

Hours after Harvey started on its path of destruction, seven members of IsraAID—a humanitarian aid organization from the Jewish state that responds to emergency crises and facilitates international development around the world—flew over 11,000 km (7,000 mi) from Tel Aviv to Houston to offer crucial aid and support to those whose lives disappeared in the flood waters. Comprising disaster management experts, mental health experts and engineers, the delegation from the Jewish state focuses on lending psychosocial trauma support and helping to remove debris and clean homes as the storm dies down and the flood waters recede.

On Tuesday, the Israeli embassy joined forces with IsraAID and Movers 495, an American-Israeli owned moving company. After purchasing bulk cleaning and other desperately needed supplies, the embassy staff spent the day packing and loading the material into Movers 495 trucks. These trucks made their way to Houston, where the team form IsraAID stood ready to receive and distribute the aid.

Spokesperson for the embassy, Itai Bardov, who personally helped pack the trucks, said “We arranged for a large shipment of aid weighing several tons. The message to the people of Texas is that Israel stands with you.”

Apart from aid and relief on the ground, Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Minister, Naftali Bennett, announced earlier this week that Israel will donate NIS $1 million [US $285,000] in emergency aid to Houston’s 60,000-strong Jewish community. According to Bennett, the funds will be used to repair and rebuild damaged schools, synagogues and a community center.

“The city of Houston was hurt badly last week, and the Jewish community, 70% of which lived in the flooded neighborhoods, was hit hard,” Bennett explained.

“For years, the Jewish communities stood by Israel when it needed their help; now it is our turn to stand by Houston’s Jewish community.”

At Bridges for Peace, we applaud Israel’s dedicated efforts. At the same time, we know that we can also do our part to come alongside flood victims in their time of need. That is why we invite you to join us as we pray for comfort, healing and restoration for those who lost loved ones, livelihoods, possessions or hope in Hurricane Harvey. Join us as we pray for protection, peace and wisdom for those in the path of Hurricane Irma.

Our God vows that “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). He pledges to cover us with His feathers to offer refuge under His wings (Psalm 91:4). Join us as we pray that these promises manifest as a living reality for those affected by Hurricane Harvey and Irma.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 08 September 2017)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/NewTubeClips

Prayer Focus
Cry out for our Bridges for Peace office in the US and the safety of all those who are affected by storms, floods, hurricanes, winds and trauma. Pray for sound minds, hearts to be calm, wisdom, strength and courage and for some to take ownership of the situation to guide those in distress. Pray for food resources, old people, lonely people, homeless people, babies and small children. Ask God to strengthen His children from deeply within to be a light in the crises. Lift up and give thanks for all the good Samaritans that opened their homes to shelter strangers.

Scripture

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;


- Isaiah 43:2-3a

Netanyahu: “Children Should be Taught to Love and Respect, not Hate and Kill”

by Ilse Posselt

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Prime Minister Netanyahu in video clip

Tuesday, 05 September 2017 | This past Friday saw schools in the Jewish state reopen their doors for a new term, as the summer holidays in the Promised Land came to an end. As tens of thousands of Israeli youngsters made their way back to the classroom, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu capitalized on the event to draw attention to the Palestinian Authority’s ongoing practice of inciting terror by erecting monuments to terrorists guilty of murdering Israelis—and the effect of such glorification of violence on young minds.

In a video clip distributed by the Government Press Office and uploaded to the prime minister’s official Facebook page over the weekend, Netanyahu sketched a hypothetical scenario that could easily play out in real life.

The clip features Netanyahu seated behind what appears to be his office desk. The prime minister is flanked on the right by the blue-and-white flag of Israel; on the right, by a picture of the Netanyahu family.

Staring straight into the camera, his hands clasped together, Netanyahu begins painting a picture of indoctrination and abuse that is rife in the Palestinian society. “I want you to close your eyes and imagine. Imagine a seven-year-old girl named Fatima. Fatima is walking with her mother to school.”

“They pass a statue erected in June and young Fatima asks, ‘Mommy, who is that?’” At that, the clip displays a picture of a marble bust, surrounded by a score of Palestinian officials beaming proudly. The video than cuts back to a close-up of Netanyahu as he resumes the tale. “The mother answers, ‘That’s Khaled Nazzal. He planned the murder of 22 Israeli school children and four grownups.’” At the prime minister’s explanation, a picture appears on screen showing the bloody aftermath of the attack orchestrated by Nazzal.

Netanyahu allows the horrific implication to sink in for a moment before he continues. “On their walk back, Fatima and her mother pass another statue also erected by the Palestinian Authority last year.” Again, the clip displays a picture of a marble bust. This time, the beaming Palestinians surrounding the statue have their hands together in applause.

Netanyahu continues his tale. “’What’s his name?’ Fatima asks with a child’s curiosity. The mother answers, ‘That’s Abu Sukkar. He murdered 15 Israelis.’” Grim images showing Abu Sukkar’s bloody handiwork fill the screen.

As the video cuts back to the prime minister, he offers his final installment in the succession of monuments erected to glorify Palestinian terror. “As they approach their house, Fatima peers up at one last statue erected by the Palestinian Authority. ‘Mommy, which one is that?’ The mother answers, ‘That is Dalal Mughrabi. She murdered 37 Israelis on a bus.’” As the prime minister finishes his description, the clip shows the wreckage of the bus on which Mughrabi’s acts of horror played out.

Again, Netanyahu pauses for a moment, this time to conclude his message. “Fatima does not deserve to be brainwashed with this kind of hatred,” he offers simply. “No child does. Children should be taught to love and respect, not hate and kill.”

The prime minister then states the obvious question. “There are so many great champions of peace to dedicate statues to. Why do the Palestinians consistently choose to honor mass murderers?”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 05 September 2017)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/GPO/IsraeliPM/Facebook

Prayer Focus
Beseech God that this video clip will reach the world far and wide and pray that it will impact many hearts to realize the brutal reality of children being indoctrinated with hatred. Thank God and ask for wisdom as PM Netanyahu continues to educate the world on the strategies of the enemy, poisoning the next generation of Israel haters.

Scripture

The hope of the righteous will be gladness, but the expectation of the wicked will perish. The way of the LORD is strength for the upright, but destruction will come to the workers of iniquity.


- Proverbs 10:28-29

Israel Engages in Mock Battle with Hezbollah in Largest Military Exercise in 20 Years

by Ilse Posselt

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IDF soldiers work as a team in exercise drill (illustrative)

Wednesday, 06 September 2017 | As tensions between the Jewish state and its northern neighbors mount over Iran’s growing influence in Syria and Lebanon, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is making every effort to ensure it is ready to protect the people of the Promised Land against escalating regional threats.

Yesterday morning, the IDF embarked on the largest military exercise in nearly 20 years, staging a 10-day mock war with Tehran’s terror proxy, Hezbollah. The massive drill, known as “Light of the Grain” or Or Hadagan in Hebrew, saw tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers from across all forces—ground, air, sea and intelligence—gather near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon for the maneuver.

According to an anonymous army official, the simulated conflict with Hezbollah will include a scenario of instant escalation, where small, staged “attacks” initiated by the Lebanon-based terror group will evolve into all-out war. These staged assaults will see swarms of “enemy” fighters attempting to infiltrate the Promised Land to attack Israeli targets. IDF soldiers decked out in Hezbollah “flags and uniforms, fake weapons, fake explosive belts and more” will play the role of Israel’s enemies. The drill will also see the army train to push back the terror group into “enemy territory,” launch a “counter attack” on Lebanese soil and evacuate Israeli civilians from towns perched on the border to prepare for the possibility of heavy missile fire.

Apart from regular enlisted troops, an “unprecedented” number of reservists have been called up to partake in the drill. According to the army official, “the purpose of the large call-up of reservists is to prepare the reserve force for war in the northern arena and to adapt it to the changes and developing threats of recent years.”

For the first time in IDF history, the army’s cyber units will form part of the exercise to wage electronic warfare and protect crucial networks from malicious attacks. The drill will also see the IDF’s multi-layered missile defense systems, including the Iron Dome and the Arrow, prove their mettle in mock battle.

Hezbollah regularly boasts of its rocket arsenal stocked with more than 100,000 missiles capable of reaching targets well into Israeli territory and scores of trained fighters ready to take on the “Zionist enemy.” As such, The Times of Israel argues, “the Iran-backed terrorist group is the standard by which the army measures its preparedness.”

The powers-that-be in the Jewish state have long since warned that Tehran capitalizes on the chaos of civil war in Syria to transport state-of-the-art weapons to Hezbollah for future use against Israeli targets. Moreover, in recent months, Israeli officials have grown increasingly concerned over an escalation in the Islamic Republic’s presence in southern Lebanon and suspected Iranian plans to establish a missile factory as well as naval, air and land bases on Israel’s doorstep.

Despite the alarm over escalating threats, the army stressed that the drill has been planned well in advance and was thus not scheduled in answer to Iran or Hezbollah’s activity in the area.

The ultimate goal of the exercise, the army official shared, is to prepare soldiers to “preserve the current stability in the northern sector. It is not enough just to be a strong army,” he said. “We need to adapt the response to the challenges facing us.”

The last time Israel and Hezbollah faced each other on the battlefield was eleven years ago during the summer of 2006 when the Jewish state fought a thirty-four day conflict against the Shiite terror group. Today, more than a decade after a United Nations-brokered ceasefire signaled the end of the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah’s military capacity and access to advanced weaponry has skyrocketed. Where the 2006 war saw the Iranian terror proxy fire an average of 150–180 missiles at Israel daily, analysts speculate that the daily rocket count during the next round of conflict may be as high as 1,500–2,000.

Moreover, in the past decade, Hezbollah has gone from a band of radical militants to a highly efficient army, complete with battalions and brigades of 40,000 fighters who have gained first-hand battlefield experience during the Syrian civil war.

Speaking during an event marking the 11th anniversary of the Second Lebanon War in June this year, IDF Chief of Staff, Gadi Eizenkot, made Israel’s position clear when he said that “the northern front and Hezbollah remain the IDF’s highest priority.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 06 September 2017)

Photo Credit: Twitter/IDFSpokesperson/idfblog.com

Prayer Focus
Pray that this mock battle exercise of the IDF will be a great learning experience and clearly reveal opportunities for improvement. Lift up all the soldiers and the new units that will participate in the drill for the first time, to really prepare their hearts and minds for quick reaction in unpredictable circumstances to protect their inheritance, Israel at all costs.

Scripture

Prepare yourself and be ready, you and all your companies that are gathered about you; and be a guard for them.


- Ezekiel 38:7

Israel Showcases Weapons of the Future

by Yoav Zitun

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Yasuron unmanned aircraft

Thursday, 07 September 2017 | The Administration for the Development of Weapons (ADW) at the Ministry of Defense unveiled a number of state-of-the-art military developments Tuesday set to roll out into IDF [Israel Defense Forces] service within the next few years on land, sea and air.

All the new armaments are based on advanced technology expected to revolutionize the way in which the IDF handles future clashes with Hamas or Hezbollah.

Among the new developments showcased were the Carmel armored transport—which will be available in the form of a tank, APC and heavy engineering vehicle—a drone shooting small-arms fire from the air, a smart gun discharging only after locking onto a target and unmanned submarines for intelligence gathering and mapping.

These new armaments are all in the advanced stages of planning, and some—such as the smart rifle—have even been handed over to the IDF, but they have yet to be declared operational. A prototype of others—such as the Carmel tank—will only be available in three years’ time.

Further ADW developments that have yet to be presented to the public are “Fast”, a system dispersing thousands of minute, covert sensors from the air over enemy territory in order to hermetically control it intelligence-wise, and the “Sky Eye”, a drone autonomously scanning an area 10 square kilometers [3.8 square miles] in size and enabling to reconstruct the area it has documented in a manner allowing the army to track down kidnappers’ escape route.

An additional system enables shooting down enemy drones using a variety of offensive options: electronic warfare waves, laser beams or conventional fire. The Ministry of Defense is also developing real-time facial recognition technology, which is able to overcome two well-known obstacles: the targeting of wanted suspects walking among a crowd of people and trying to mask their features using a beard, hat and the like.

Unmanned submarines – UUVs

Despite the fact the lion’s share of the Israeli Air Force’s flight hours are taken up by unmanned aerial vehicles, the development of autonomous devices has yet to break through to the navy. In fact, the selection of unmanned naval instruments is scarce, and relatively limited. The small unmanned undersea vehicle, or UUV, is expected to change that. Other versions of this unmanned submersible already exist in the world, but now an Israeli version is being developed in tandem with Ben Gurion University.

The UUV is a miniscule sub used for scanning and mapping missions that may be launched from either the shore, a manned submarine or a ship. The UUV will then be able to dive in a rapid, almost vertical line, to move in any direction and—according to the Ministry of Defense—will cost a third of its international counterparts.

While work on the UUV is ongoing, a larger version is being developed, termed the “Little Caesar” (“Keysaron“), which is a true submarine for all intents and purposes, except for the fact it’s unmanned. This large version will be used for covert operations such as information gathering.

Carmel – the tank of the future

After nearly 15 years of idle chatter and eventually-futile administrative work in the security establishment in the attempt to find a replacement for the massive and clunky Merkava tank, swapping it for a speedy armored vehicle more suited to the modern battlefield, a three-year plan got underway this year to develop the technological infrastructure for precisely that, an armored vehicle called the “Carmel.”

This next generation armored carrier will be unrecognizable when compared to the Merkava tank and will be able to serve as a platform for both an APC [Armored personnel carrier] or other heavy combat engineering tools, replacing the current wave of Puma armored engineering vehicle.

Similar to the current Merkava Mark IV, the Carmel will contain an active protection system in the style of the Trophy system, enabling it to shoot down anti-tank missiles, but it may not need to operate it at all. Under certain conditions, this APC will be able to turn “invisible” with a low signature “transparent armor” including an electric propulsion system against the enemy’s radar systems, mostly at night. The Carmel will also have an unmanned version.

In either case, its engine will be silent, quick and hybrid, it will be smaller in size than the Merkava, operating it will be simpler and it will require only half the number of crewmen necessary to operate a modern-day tank: two instead of four. The pair of operators will act almost like pilots, possibly with smart helmets creating simulations of the environment, and will not have to physically look out of the vehicle at all.

Their cabin will be surrounded by large touch-operated screens displaying everything the tank “sees” around it and presenting its course, using smart cameras and enemy detection systems.

The Carmel will be logged onto a network along with other tanks in the area, enabling it to automatically and spatially defend its entire convoy against missiles, rather than only itself.

The tank’s mortars and machine guns will be operated using joysticks from the crew’s cabin at unusual 60- and 80-degree angles, should the soldiers decide, for instance, to bombard a specific apartment of a high-rise building above them.

Development on the tank is expected to conclude in about three years. Some of its proprietary technologies, however, will be “exported” to the army as they are completed while development is still ongoing.

The firing drone

The IDF’s testing laboratories is already putting one of the more advanced weapons of the future through the paces, expected to enter operations as early as this year.

This relatively small drone+ carries some small-arms system resembling a handgun or assault rifle and has accurate sniping abilities, surprising the enemy and preventing putting IDF soldiers in harm’s way.

The Israeli startup company in charge of developing this device is slowly but surely overcoming some of its attendant challenges, such as stabilizing the drone before firing, safely yet silently operating it and achieving maximal accuracy for its shots.

The smart rifle – only fires if it’s sure to hit target

ADW calls it the “smart shooter”, but this development may bear any number of nicknames. It represents, without a doubt, a revolutionary new capability for the single infantryman on the battlefield.

A group of former Rafael Advanced Defense Systems employees developed an electro-optic system assembled over the army’s assault rifles—the Tavor and the M16—intended to dramatically improve the chances of accurately hitting the target in all firing modes, emphasizing shooting after exertion and hitting with the very first shot, to prevent the target escaping if the shot misses.

The system actually marks the target itself and the smart trigger “prevents” discharge down to a split-second if the soldier is expected to miss. This ability should lessen the number of injuries to non-combatants. So far, testing of the system has gone well.

The Yasuron unmanned aircraft

Israel Aerospace Industries has developed an unmanned drone for ADW capable of flying up to 150 kmph [93 mph] and carrying up to 180 kilos [397 lbs], enabling it to carry logistical supplies such as ammo, water, fuel and food to our forces, nullifying the need to slowly and dangerously ferry them on the ground.

This drone-copter can reach 8 kilometers [5 mi] or more and carry out mission after mission using its internal combustion engine.

Aeronautics Defense Systems is concurrently developing a drone meant to serve a similar purpose, but using a battery-powered motor and hybrid propulsion, able to carry up to 90 kilos [198 lbs] at a flight speed of 75 kmph [47 mph].

This drone will be able to ferry special payloads for small concentrations of forces, at a low altitude, for tactical operations. After these two unmanned aerial vehicles have been presented and were able to fulfill missions, ADW is currently considering their continued development and usage.

Infantry robots and border defense using unmanned vehicles

Unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) have been utilized in IDF operations for years, but have not seen widespread use—similarly to the navy’s scant usage of unmanned vehicles.

One of the difficulties the army faces when operating UGVs in open terrain such as mountains or rocky outcrops is maintaining accurate fire capabilities. ADW is currently pushing through several UGVs simultaneously, some of which have already been handed over to the army.

These UGVs are utilized in a number of scenarios, such as land maneuvers for engineering or logistical tasks and infantry robots for urban warfare and routine security missions near the borders.

“We handle a variety of armament developments, including training dogs for the Oketz unit, instead of purchasing them abroad,” explained the head of ADW Brig.-Gen. (res.) Dr. Daniel Gold. “We try to find solutions for forces handling a multitude of threats, from order disruptions to preserving land borders and rocket fire, breakthroughs in inter-war warfare (covert IDF actions to prevent Hezbollah and Hamas becoming stronger—ed.) and ending with total defense and offensive operational control of cyberspace.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 05 September 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit

Prayer Focus
Praise God for Israel’s knowledge to develop advance technology to revolutionize and improve the IDF’s capability to fight terror on land, in the air and on sea. Ask God for a smooth rollout, effective training with no loss of life in future battles. Pray for finances to sustain these electronic devices.

Scripture

A wise man is strong, yes, a man of knowledge increases strength; for by wise counsel you will wage your own war, and in a multitude of counselors there is safety.


- Proverbs 24:5-6

Israel’s Water Sources at New Low

by Ahiya Raved

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Kinneret (Sea of Galilee)

Tuesday, 05 September 2017 | These last few years of decreased rainfall have led to record lows of water level measurements in August, the Water Authority reported Monday.

One such negative water level was recorded in the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), with more water currently being pumped and evaporated out of the lake than water flowing into it. The second is a very low level of water flow into the mountain aquifer via the Taninim Springs.

Due to the Kinneret’s low water levels, more areas from the bottom of the lake are surfacing as small islands.

In the past four years, precipitation amounts have fallen far below the multi-annual average. The Water Authority says that this year appears to be one of the worst and most difficult years for the country’s water resources.

The negative peak in the Kinneret indicates that more water is evaporating than entering the lake from the Jordan River and the streams flowing down from the Golan Heights.

The Water Authority noted that each year in August, an average of 20 million cubic meters [5.2 billion gallons] of water enter the lake, around 30 million [7.9 billion gallons] evaporate from it and about five million cubic meters [1.3 billion gallons] of water are pumped out of it by the state. In total, that is an average decrease of 15 cubic meters [4,000 gallons].

This year, due to a decrease in the amount of water entering the lake, along with an increase in evaporation due to high temperatures, the amount of water in the lake decreased by 26 cubic meters [6,900 gallons]. The previous record for the August water level decrease was 25 cubic meters [6,600 gallons] registered in 2014. This year, the water level in the Kinneret decreased during the month of August by 27.5 cubic meters [7264 gallons].

Although in the center of the country the amounts of rainfall were closer to the average, the situation at the country’s north was far below average. Water flowing into the mountain aquifer registered at 0.27 cubic meters [71 gallons] per second. This is the lowest this water flow was ever measured at.

Water Authority spokesman Uri Shor said the previous record low was measured in December 2002 and stood at 0.29 cubic meters [77 gallons] per second.

In the south, the level of the Dead Sea continues to drop at an alarming speed. In August, the sea’s level dropped by 13 cm [5.1 in], similar to last year’s level, and by the end of September it is expected to fall by 12 cm [4.7 in] more.

According to Shor, due to the desalination plants, the dropping water levels at Israel’s natural water sources do not affect the availability of drinking water in Israel. However, “in the absence of rain and continued decline in the natural water sources, nature, agriculture and the environment around us are seriously hurt.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 04 September 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Zachi Evenor/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Sing praises to the God of Israel as the rainy season is quickly approaching and declare His promises of rain in its due season. Cry out to God for rain in the dry Promised Land and in the catchment areas of the Jordan River that flow into the Sea of Galilee. Also pray for the surrounding farmers and Israel’s leaders to keep their eyes, hearts and souls fixed on the Lord.

Scripture

And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the LORD your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil.


- Deuteronomy 11:13-14

Hamas Refuses Red Cross Request to See Israeli Captives

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Head of the ICRC, Peter Maurer

Wednesday, 06 September 2017 | Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar rejected a request on Tuesday from the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC] to meet with Israelis believed to be held captive by the Gaza-based terrorist group.

Peter Maurer, president of the ICRC had requested meetings with Avraham Abera Mengistu, Hisham al-Sayed, and Juma Ibrahim Abu Ghanima, all of whom reportedly crossed from Israel into Gaza on their own accord in recent years, The Times of Israel reported. In addition to the three civilians, Hamas is believed to be holding the remains of soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin who were killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

The Associated Press reported that the issue of the missing Israelis was brought up during the meeting. However, Hamas continues to demand that Israel release the terrorists who have been re-arrested since their release in a 2011 prisoners swap before it provides any information on the three Israelis or the soldiers’ bodies it is holding.

Though Hamas has not allowed the ICRC access to its hostages, a statement released by the terrorist group claimed that Sinwar had told Maurer that “all institutions will be open before the Red Cross to ensure the standards of international humanitarian law are being applied.”

In February Hamas admitted that it had turned down an Israeli offer to rebuild Gaza in exchange for freeing Mengistu, Sayed, and Abu Ghanima and the bodies of Shaul and Goldin.

Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh pointed out last year that Hamas has prioritized building up its terror infrastructure over rebuilding Gazan homes, writing that “the last thing Hamas cares about is the welfare of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”

Hamas spends some $40 million of its $100 million military budget on tunnel construction, according to Israeli and Palestinian sources. An Israeli official estimated in July that Hamas digs some six miles of tunnels every month.

Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, formerly the head of the research division of Israeli military intelligence and later the director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, told reporters last May that the tunnels were a sign that Hamas is preparing for another war against Israel. “They definitely invest a lot in making the necessary preparations so that in the next round, when they decide to start it, they will be able to inflict the heaviest damage on Israel, including through those tunnels,” he said.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 05 September 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: ICRC president Peter Maurer/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Intercede for the families whose children, dead or alive, are kept hostage by Hamas in Gaza and ask God to give them hope and comfort as they live with uncertainty and fear without any closure. Beseech God for a solution to release and an opportunity for the Red Cross to meet with them. Also pray for the soldiers who defend Israel in the face of terror, every day.

Scripture

The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. He guards all his bones; not one of them is broken.


- Psalm 34:18-20

Palestinian Media Attributed Fake Quotes to UN Secretary-General

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UN Secretary General António Guterres

Monday, 04 September 2017 | The Palestinian Authority [PA] forced a meeting with the families of terrorists on UN Secretary General António Guterres, and then lied about the chain of events.

According to a spokesperson for the UN chief, Guterres was not scheduled to meet with relatives of Palestinian terrorists and the quotes released by the PA’s official news agency of Guterres expressing sympathy with them were “fabricated,”  The Times of Israel reported.

At the end of the meeting with Palestinian officials in Ramallah on Tuesday, a surprised UN chief was told that a group of Palestinian mothers of convicted terrorists wanted to meet with him to hand over a petition.

The PA’s official news agency WAFA, however, framed events differently. According to them “UN Secretary-General António Guterres met this evening [Aug. 29, 2017] in Ramallah with several families of Palestinian martyrs (shahids) and prisoners that are sitting in the Israeli occupation’s prisons… Present at the meeting were Latifa Abu Hmeid.”

Hmeid is the mother of five Palestinian terrorists. One of her sons was killed as what the PA calls a “martyr” and the other four are currently serving between them 17 life sentences in Israeli prisons.

The PA not only distorted the truth about Guterres’ intention of meeting with the families, but also outright lied about his reaction. “We understand the suffering of the Palestinian prisoners. We will work together with the authorized and relevant parties in order to put an end to their suffering,” the official PA news outlet quoted Guterres.

The statement was later dismissed by a UN spokesperson as a complete lie. “All of the quotes attributed to the Secretary-General are fabricated,” he confirmed.

In the past, Guterres has taken a tough line on Palestinian terror sponsorship and the glorification of acts of terror. Following reports that the PA had used UN and Norwegian money to build a women’s center named after Dalal Mughrabi—a terrorist who led the murder of 37 civilians including 12 children—Guterres disavowed the UN’s support for the center in a statement that said, “the United Nations disassociated itself from the center once it learned the offensive name chosen for it and will take measures to ensure that such incidents do not take place in the future.” The statement added that “the glorification of terrorism, or the perpetrators of heinous terrorist acts, is unacceptable under any circumstances.”

In a scheduled meeting on Monday, Guterres met with the families of Israeli soldiers and civilians being held hostage by Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 01 September 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: DFID-UK Department for International Development/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Offer petition to the Lord for the persisting challenge where the PA lie without shame and brainwash their people. Continue to pray for the UN Secretary-General Guterres to be bold and fearless drawing a line with terror incitement; also ask for God’s protection over him and his family, directing his heart and confirming his steps.

Scripture

The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.


- Psalm 33:10-12

US Delegation of Police Officials Arrives in Israel for Counterterror Training

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Wednesday, 06 September 2017 | A delegation of 52 American law-enforcement officers from 12 states, has arrived in Israel for the second consecutive year to train in counterterrorism tactics together with their Israeli counterparts.

During their stay, the United States delegation is housed at the Beit Shemesh police academy, where officers will meet with special combat units, train in counterterrorism techniques, and be addressed by Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich, The Jerusalem Post reported Tuesday.

The delegation is set to return to the US after a September 11 memorial service to be held at the 9/11 Living Memorial Plaza in the Arazim Valley.

Michael Safris, chief of the Essex County’s Sheriff’s Office Deputy Division, who is Jewish, said he has visited Israel 40 times and, in return, hosted numerous Israeli police delegation in the US over the past ten years.

“From all my trips, I know the delegation forms an important relationship, and if something happens in the US or something happens here, we stay in touch and honor each country’s fallen officers,” Safris said. “The relationship and comradery developed over the last two years is one of the reasons we keep coming,” he added.

Safri also explained how the struggle for survival sets Israeli police apart from other forces in the world. “In our communities, for a lot of police officers, it’s a job,” he said, adding that “I think that it’s more than a job for a lot of the officers in Israel because they are protecting their homeland.”

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld echoed Safris’ sentiment and highlighted how the hostile environment makes Israel the ideal location to train in the counterterrorism field.

“In terms of counterterrorism tactics that have been used and implemented at numerous scenes across the country, where unfortunately terrorist attacks have taken place, the Israeli police have used those tactics to minimize injuries, as well as find rapid solutions,” Rosenfeld said.

He added that “over the next few days, the Police Unity Tour will learn and see a number of these tactics across the country.”

The US and Israel enjoy a regular exchange of law-enforcement delegations and participants have stressed the benefit of close cooperation with Israeli professionals in the areas of domestic counter-terrorism practices and first response to terrorist attacks.

Israel has been praised in the past by leading anti-terror practitioners for pioneering in the field. Europe should look to Israel as “a welcome guide in navigating the difficult moral, legal and tactical terrain ahead,” Lord David Trimble, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and Robert Quick, a former assistant commissioner at London’s Metropolitan Police, wrote in The Daily Telegraph last year. “One country fits this bill better than most—no democratic nation has endured Islamist terrorism to the extent that Israel has,” the pair added.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 05 September 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/Twitter/Micky Rosenfeld, Israel Police Foreign Press Spokesman

Prayer Focus
Thank God that the US Police force recognizes that Israel is set apart in their ability to counter terror and having the honor to protect their homeland. Praise God for the trust relationship that developed between these police officers and pray that each one of them will be advocates for Israel back home.

Scripture

Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.


- Genesis 28:14

Israeli President Unveils Memorial to Israelis Murdered in Munich Olympics Massacre

by Ilse Posselt

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Photos of the 11 Israeli athletes killed at the Munich Olympics

Thursday, 07 September 2017 | The Olympic Games are known as a glorious affair, a prestigious celebration of the fittest, fastest and strongest humanity has to offer. The 1972 Summer Olympics hosted in Munich, Germany was supposed to be no different. In fact, following the legacy of the Holocaust and the infamous 1936 Games hosted by Adolf Hitler himself, Germany was looking forward to treating the world to a glimpse of how far it had come since the dark days of World War II. Yet instead of the “the Games of peace and joy,” as the Germans dubbed the event during the preparation phase, it turned into the darkest hour in the history of the Olympics.

In the early morning hours of 5 September 1972, eight Palestinian terrorists affiliated with the Black September group breached the wall of the Munich Olympic Village. Disguised as athletes, the tracksuit-clad band of murderers had their hand grenades and assault rifles well concealed in duffle bags to throw off any potential suspicion as to their identity and purpose. Once inside, the terrorists headed straight for their target: the apartment on 31 Connollystrasse, which housed the Olympic team from Israel.

The attack started before dawn, catching the sleeping Israelis by surprise. As the sun rose over the Munich Olympic Village, two team members had been killed and a further nine taken hostage. Black September was quick to state their demands for supposedly brining the situation to a conclusion: over 200 of their jailed compatriots were to go free and a fueled jet had to be ready to fly the terrorists to a spot of safety in the Middle East.

After hours of tense negotiations, it seemed that an agreement had been reached. At 10:00 p.m. on the evening of 5 September 1972, Black September led their Israeli hostages—bound and blindfolded—from the apartment to waiting helicopters that carried the group to Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base, where the German police lay in ambush. It was there the carnage began in earnest.

Following a rescue attempt that failed on nearly every level and a shootout with the authorities, Black September turned on the Israeli hostages, who remained bound and trapped in the helicopters. A few minutes after midnight on 6 September 1972, one of the terrorists tossed a hand grenade into one of the helicopters, murdering all but one of the Israelis inside. Tragically, the only survivor died of smoke inhalation before he could be rescued. Another terrorist unleashed a hail of automatic gunfire on the second helicopter, killing all the remaining Israeli hostages.

Twenty-one hours after Black September breached the wall of the Munich Olympic Village, the ambush came to an end. At 12:30 a.m. on the morning of 6 September 1972, the pop of gunfire died down. Acrid smoke from the exploding helicopter still hung close to the tarmac. The nine Israeli hostages had all been killed. Five terrorists lay dead. An additional three gunmen were captured.

Two-and-a-half hours later, Jim McKay, a reporter for the American Broadcasting Company broke the tragic news to the world, “We just got the final word… Our worst fears have been realized tonight. They have now said that there were eleven hostages. Two were killed in their rooms yesterday morning. Nine were killed at the airport tonight. They are all gone.”

Remembering the murdered

This week marked the 45th anniversary of what the world later called the Munich Olympics Massacre. And 45 years after the brutal murder of 11 Israelis, a memorial was unveiled yesterday at the Olympic village as a tribute to their legacy. According to The Times of Israel, the unveiling of the memorial comes after relatives of the victims campaigned for decades for a permanent marker of their loved ones’ fate.

Commenting on the memorial, Ankie Spitzer, wife of murdered Olympic fencing coach Andrei, shared, “There are no happier people, no more satisfied people, than us. It took 45 years, but like I tell my kids, if you have a dream, pursue it, if you feel that it is just.”

President Reuven Rivlin and members of the victims’ families traveled to Germany earlier this week to attend the ceremony yesterday. Rivlin, who unveiled the memorial alongside his German counterpart, commended the German leader for his “positive attitude towards Israel and the Jewish people,” and thanked him “for this special event after 45 years.”

The Israeli president also used the opportunity to chastise the Palestinian Authority (PA) for its ongoing incitement to terror. “There are still those who see in the murder of sportsmen a heroic deed,” he said. Pointing a finger at PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s political party, Rivlin continued, “Just last year, Fatah marked the massacre of the sportsmen as an ‘act of heroism.’”

“The center we are inaugurating today must be a message to the whole world: There can be no apologizing for terrorism. Terror must be unequivocally condemned everywhere. In Barcelona, in London, in Paris, in Berlin, in Jerusalem, and everywhere else.”

The president added that after waiting 45 years for the memorial, the country and its people are still waiting for yet another acknowledgement of the massacre: a minute’s silence in honor of the murdered Israelis to be held during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.

“Our brothers who were murdered were not just the State of Israel’s sons,” he explained. “They were the Olympic family’s sons. A family which for many years abandoned its commitment to them.”

Despite Israeli and international appeals, the Olympic Committee has remained steadfast that the decision for a moment of silence would “politicize” the Games, which would compromise “collaboration between all parties of the Olympic family.”

About the memorial

Designed by architectural firm Brückner & Brückner, the physical memorial is carved into a grassy mound, which gives the impression of a gaping wound. The center of the memorial features a triangular column inscribed with the victim’s biographies and photos in Hebrew, German and English. An LED screen also repeats a 27-minute loop of the original news reports broadcast during and in the aftermath of the massacre.

The memorial comes at a price tag of $2.8 million, paid for by the State of Bavaria, the German federal government, the City of Munich and the International Olympic Committee.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 07 September 2017)

Photo Credit: Twitter/IDFSpokesperson

Prayer Focus
Declare God’s protection over His people and that they will never again be massacred anywhere in the world. Ask God that each visitor to the Olympic village will reflect on terrorism and realize the importance and their part to fight it.

Scripture

But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You.


- Psalm 5:11

Ancient Collection of Seals Sheds Light on Bureaucracy in First Temple Jerusalem 

by Edgar Asher

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Some of the First Temple seals recently found in Jerusalem

Tuesday, 05 September 2017 | A collection of ancient bullae (seals) from the late First Temple period—950 to 587 BC, just discovered in the City of David excavations shed light on the bureaucracy and officials of ancient Jerusalem. The seals, some of which bear ancient Hebrew inscriptions, as well as additional new findings, will be displayed to the public at the annual City of David archaeology conference taking place this week.

Who was Achiav ben Menachem? A collection of dozens of seals, mentioning the names of officials dated to the days of the Judean kingdom prior to the Babylonian destruction, was unearthed during excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in the City of David National Park in the area of the walls of Jerusalem, funded by ELAD organization.

The seals (bullae– from which the Hebrew word for stamp, ‘bul’, is derived) are small pieces of clay which, in ancient times, served as seals for letters. A letter which arrived with its seal broken was a sign that the letter had been opened before reaching its destination. Although letters did not survive the terrible fire which consumed Jerusalem at its destruction, the seals, which were made of material that is similar to pottery, were actually well preserved thanks to the fire, and attest to the existence of the letters and their senders.

According to Ortal Chalaf and Dr. Joe Uziel, directors of the excavation for the IAA, “In the numerous excavations at the City of David, dozens of seals were unearthed, bearing witness to the developed administration of the city in the First Temple period.  The earliest seals bear mostly a series of pictures; it appears that instead of writing the names of the clerks, symbols were used to show who the signatory was, or what he was sealing. In later stages of that period—from the time of King Hezekiah (around 700 BC) and up to the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC—the seals bear the names of clerks in early Hebrew script. Through these findings, we learn not only about the developed administrative systems in the city, but also about the residents and those who served in the civil service.”

Some of the seals bear biblical names, several of which are still used today, such as Pinchas. One particularly interesting seal mentions a man by the name of ‘Achiav ben Menachem.’ These two names are known in the context of the Kingdom of Israel; Menachem was a king of Israel, while Achiav does not appear in the Bible, but his name resembles that of Achav (Ahab)—the infamous king of Israel from the time of the prophet Elijah. Though the spelling of the name differs somewhat, it appears to be the same name. The version of the name which appears on the seal ‘Achav’ appears as well in the Book of Jeremiah in the Septuagint, as well as in Flavius Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews 15: 7-8).

Ortal Chalaf and Dr. Joe Uziel add that the appearance of the name ‘Achiav’ is interesting for two main reasons. First, because it serves as further testimony to the names which are familiar to us from the kingdom of Israel in the Bible, and which appear in Judah during the period following the destruction of the kingdom of Israel. “These names are part of the evidence that after the exile of the Tribes of Israel, refugees arrived in Jerusalem from the northern kingdom, and found their way into senior positions in Jerusalem’s administration.”

Furthermore is the fact that the two names which appear on the seal ‘Achiav and Menachem’ were names of kings of Israel. Though Achav (Ahab) is portrayed as a negative figure in the Bible, the name continues to be in use—though in a differently spelled version—both in Judea in the latter days of the First Temple, as reflected in Jeremiah and on the seal, and also after the destruction in the Babylonian exile and up until the Second Temple period, as seen in the writings of Flavius Josephus.

The various seals, together with other archaeological findings discovered in the recent excavations, will be exhibited to the public for the first time at the 18th City of David research conference, the annual archaeological conference held by the Megalim Institute, on September 7th at the City of David National Park.

Source: (This press release was originally published by Ashernet on 04 September 2017)

Photo Credit: Ashernet

Prayer Focus
Give thanks to God for multiple ancient seals that survived Jerusalem's destruction shedding light on the truth of history here in the Land. Lift up the staff of the City of David as they labor in love of Jerusalem to preserve the truth for you and me.

Scripture

In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri became king over Israel; and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years.


- 1 Kings 16:29

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