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Reaching Out in Love to Widows and Orphans

Friday, September 9, 2022

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Every week, we post seven to ten news stories from Israel with a suggested prayer focus and scripture for each one, guiding readers how to pray for Israel’s most urgent needs. This Prayer Update is also sent to over 18,000 subscribers every Friday by e-mail. Please contact us at intl.office@bridgesforpeace.com if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.

US to Israel: Iran Deal off the Table

by Kate Norman

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President Biden met with Prime Minister Yair Lapid in Jerusalem in July 2022.

Thursday, 8 September 2022 | The nuclear deal with Iran is “off the table,” with no plans to be signed for the foreseeable future, Hebrew news outlet Zman Israel reported yesterday. The report came amid the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog announcing that it can’t guarantee that Iran’s nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid was informed recently by US President Joe Biden and other US officials of the nuclear agreement being shelved, Zman Israel reported.

A revival of the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) seemed all but imminent over the past few weeks.

After former US President Donald Trump exited the deal in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions against the regime, Iran a year later began openly and progressively violating the restrictions imposed under the deal.

Current US President Joe Biden and his administration were eager to revive the JCPOA, though on-again-off-again European Union-mediated talks in Vienna since April 2021 yielded little progress.

The EU turned the tide when it presented a “final” draft agreement last month, urging Washington and Tehran to “take it or leave it.” The US and Iran traded responses, with Iran reportedly adding more demands, which the US refused to concede.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell hinted at trouble on Monday when he said he was “less confident” that a new deal would be signed.

Iran’s response, Borrell said, issued more demands that “are not going to help” the negotiation.

The talks, he added, are “diverging” and “the whole process is in danger.”

Israel’s leaders, particularly Prime Minister Lapid, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Mossad (Israeli intelligence agency) chief David Barnea, have been campaigning against reviving the nuclear deal.

The new deal, they warned, would pour billions of dollars into Iran’s coffers to strengthen its terror proxies across the region. It would also do too little too late, they said, to thwart Tehran’s race to the nuclear bomb.

After multiple meetings, phone calls and trips to the US to meet with top defense and diplomatic officials, the nuclear agreement being shelved is viewed as the fruit of the Israeli leadership’s efforts.

“It is still too early to know if we have indeed succeeded in stopping the nuclear agreement, but Israel is prepared for every threat and every scenario,” Lapid said while visiting the Nevatim Air Base in southern Israel on Tuesday.

“If Iran continues to test us, it will discover Israel’s long arm and capabilities,” Lapid added. “We will continue to act on all fronts against terrorism and against those who seek to harm us.”

“As President Biden and I agreed,” Lapid warned, “Israel has full freedom to act as we see fit to prevent the possibility of Iran becoming a nuclear threat.”

The Jerusalem Post issued a separate report citing a European source that the nuclear deal is being shelved, at least until after the US midterm elections in November.

The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), issued a report yesterday, which was seen by the AFP, saying that it was “not in a position to provide assurance that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.”

This contradicts Tehran’s continued insisting that its nuclear program is entirely for civilian and not military uses.

The IAEA report added that Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium now stands at 19 times the limit allowed under the JCPOA. An unnamed senior diplomat told Reuters that Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to 60% purity is enough to enrich to 90%—the purity needed to build a nuclear bomb—within three to four weeks.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 8, 2022)

Photo Credit: Office of the President of the United States/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Thank God for this turn of events, seemingly ensuring a decision that takes into consideration the concerns expressed by Israeli leaders. Pray that the final decision regarding the JCPOA will indeed bring an end to international financial support for the funding Iran currently provides to terrorist organizations in the region and around the world. Also pray for Israel’s leaders going forward as they take whatever actions are necessary to deal with the Iranian threat.

Scripture

For I will not trust in my bow, nor shall my sword save me. But You have saved us from our enemies, and have put to shame those who hated us.


- Psalm 44:6–7

Seven Israelis Injured in Terror Attack on Bus

by Ilse Strauss

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The weapons reportedly used in the terror attack

Monday, 5 September 2022 | Seven Israelis were hurt, one severely, when Palestinian terrorists opened fire on a passenger bus traveling on a major highway in the Jordan Valley yesterday. The bus was carrying soldiers from Tel Aviv to a regional base.

According to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the attack was committed by three terrorists—all members of the same family—driving a pickup truck with Israeli license plates. They drove behind the bus for several minutes before overtaking it and then opened fire on the bus’s left side and windshield, hitting, among others, the driver. The terrorists also lobbed Molotov cocktails at the bus in an attempt to set it alight.

Noticing that the driver was injured, an IDF unit commander traveling in the bus managed to take control and bring the bus to a halt. He and other IDF soldiers on the bus then returned fire from the bus window, causing the terrorists to flee.

The pickup truck subsequently drove for approximately another 2 kilometers (1.2 mi.) before it caught fire—possibly from the flammable liquid in the Molotov cocktails—causing the terrorists to abscond the burning vehicle.

The IDF captured the two gunmen shortly after. A third—reportedly the driver and the father of one of the gunmen—remains at large. A manhunt for his capture is ongoing.

The IDF subsequently released images of automatic weapons that it said were used in the attack.

Both gunmen—identified by Palestinian media as relatives Muhammed and Walid Turkman from Jenin in northern Samaria—reportedly suffered serious injuries when their vehicle caught fire and were transferred to the burn unit at a leading Tel Aviv hospital.

The seven injured Israelis include six soldiers and the civilian bus driver. One soldier is in severe condition with wounds to his neck. The driver is in moderate condition with gunshot wounds to his face.

Yesterday’s attack comes amid rising violence in Judea and Samaria, as Israeli security forces have stepped up Operation Break the Wave, a series of preemptive arrest raids in the wake of a deadly terror wave in which 19 people were murdered earlier this year.

This was the sixth terror attack in this week alone. The other incidents include Palestinian gunmen firing at a number of military posts across Judea and Samaria, a stabbing attack near Hebron on Friday and multiple stone-throwing attacks on civilian cars across the area.

The past month has also seen an uptick in shooting attacks on Israeli vehicles and IDF troops in Judea and Samaria. Yesterday’s shooting was the 11th attack in the past month, the Jerusalem Post reports.

While busses traveling through Judea and Samaria are usually bulletproof because of the frequency of attacks, this is not the case in the Jordan Valley, where attacks are rare.

A senior IDF officer told reporters yesterday that the military has not experienced such an attack in “a long time.”

“From Operation Guardian of the Walls [in May 2020] until now, there has been a relatively high level of violence, but such an event where there is a shooting attack from a passing vehicle is a rare event that we haven’t seen in a long time, especially in the Jordan Valley,” the Jerusalem Post quoted him as saying. .

“We are in a very complex period that has not yet ended. Every month we arrest terrorists who could carry out attacks like these. This is a fact. We manage to thwart some attacks, but sometimes some slip through.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 5, 2022)

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

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord that the IDF commander was able to bring the bus under control. Pray for God’s healing touch on all of those who were injured and for their families as the nation deals with yet another tragic, senseless attack. Cry out to the Lord for the success of Operation Break the Wave and for the capture and prosecution of perpetrators in both Gaza and Judea and Samaria.

Scripture

Have mercy on me, O LORD! Consider my trouble from those who hate me, You who lift me up from the gates of death, that I may tell of all Your praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion.


- Psalm 9:13–14a

Israel, US Complete Simulated Missile Defense Exercise

by JNS

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The US Army, together with the Israeli Missile Defense Organization, held a live-fire test of an Iron Dome battery.

Tuesday, 6 September 2022 | The United States and Israel recently completed a simulated joint missile defense exercise, the Israeli Defense Ministry announced on Monday.

The ministry’s Israel Missile Defense Organization, in collaboration with the US Missile Defense Agency, the Israeli Air Defense Command and the US Air and Missile Defense Task Force, conducted the drill at Elbit Systems’ battle lab in Israel in late July, according to the statement.

The exercise examined ways to protect the State of Israel from ballistic missiles.

According to the Defense Ministry, the drill follows a long history of strong cooperation between the two countries’ military forces on joint air defense. The exercise was intended to improve soldiers’ knowledge of tactics, techniques and procedures while also making it easier for the forces to collaborate in the future.

The Israeli military used the Arrow, David’s Sling and Iron Dome air defense systems during the exercise, while the American participants used their Patriot, Aegis and THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) systems.

The exercise was held at the Israeli Test-Bed war lab, built by Elbit subsidiary Elisra. The lab is capable of simulating Israeli and American air defense systems in a single shared environment, and of recording and displaying real-time data to assist in subsequent debriefings.

“This exercise represents another step in our extensive cooperation with the American air and missile defense forces,” said Moshe Patel, head of the Israel Missile Defense Organization. “The combination of the different systems significantly improves our forces’ readiness to face evolving threats on several fronts simultaneously.”

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said, “The relationship between Israel and the US continues to grow stronger in the face of the region’s increasing threats and challenges, in order to maintain our security and regional stability. I applaud the successful test and the continued progress in Israel’s air defense capabilities.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on September 5, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDF/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Praise God for the strong friendship between Israel and the United States and the cooperative relationship between the IDF and the US military. Pray that their joint readiness will serve as a strong deterrent to those who would threaten Israel, bolstering Israel’s security and regional stability.

Scripture

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.


- Proverbs 18:10

Israel Allegedly Strikes Aleppo Airport for the Second Time in a Week

by Kate Norman

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The alleged Israeli strike reportedly targeted the airport in Aleppo.

Wednesday, 7 September 2022 | Syria accused Israel of a missile strike last night that targeted the international airport in Aleppo, damaging the runway, putting the airport out of service and diverting traffic to the Damascus airport.

Israeli jets approached the northwestern city at 8:16 p.m. local time from the direction of the Mediterranean, west of Latakia, where Russia controls an airbase, Syrian state-affiliated SANA reported.

The strike targeted warehouses of Iran-backed militias in addition to the Aleppo airport, UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported. The strikes set the warehouses on fire, destroying them.

This was the second alleged Israeli strike on the Aleppo airport in two weeks, as SANA added that Israel previously targeted the airport with another missile strike on August 31, also causing material damage.

The August 31 operation, SOHR reported, also saw the shelling of a warehouse storing ammunition for local Iran-backed militias.

After that strike, Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad warned that Israel was “playing with fire,” Arabic media reported.

Israel’s ongoing strikes “threaten to explode the security and military situation in the region,” Mekdad added, as quoted by the Times of Israel.

“Syria will not remain silent in the face of these aggressions,” the foreign minister threatened, “and sooner or later the Israelis will pay the price.”

Last night’s strike was Israel’s 24th strike in Syria in 2022, SOHR noted.

Israel as usual did not comment on its involvement in last night’s missile strikes. The top brass in Jerusalem, however, has acknowledged over the years that the Jewish state has conducted hundreds of strikes in Syria to prevent Iran and its proxies from entrenching and strengthening their presence in the region.

Iran is believed to regularly transport advanced weapons to its proxies in the region through Syria, usually via the Damascus airport.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 7, 2022)

Photo Credit: JRC, European Commission/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for Israel’s success in preventing Iran and its proxies from becoming further entrenched in the region. Ask the Lord for His protection for the members of the Israeli military who are involved in these preemptive measures, and pray that Syrian Foreign Minister Mekdad’s threats will never be realized.

Scripture

Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, O God! For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.”


- Psalm 83:1–2, 4

The Abu Akleh Probe and the War over the IDF’s Legitimacy

by Ron Ben-Yishai ~ Ynetnews

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Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

Wednesday, 7 September 2022 | Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh joined a long and tragic list of thousands of non-combatants killed each year in areas of military conflict across the globe. I don’t mean those civilians who are deliberately targeted by both sides of the conflict, but those who are caught up in fire exchanges and harmed accidentally.

Not only uninvolved civilians have been harmed on many occasions in recent years, but dozens of journalists have actually been killed, including over the past year during the war in Ukraine.

In my opinion, Abu Akleh was killed because she was at the wrong place at the wrong time. She was at the scene where Palestinians were exchanging fire with IDF [Israel Defense Forces] troops because she wanted to report what truly happened there—as a journalist who covers military conflicts—and her being harmed had nothing to do with her nationality.

This incident became international news for two reasons. Firstly, because Palestinians were quick to accuse IDF soldiers of deliberately killing her. This claim immediately caught headlines around the world, especially among the progressive news outlets, some of which hide their covert anti-Semitism by opposing “the Israeli occupation” and the very existence of the State of Israel.

Secondly, Abu Akleh is an American citizen. US President Joe Biden is very sensitive to criticism of progressive members of his Democratic party toward his support of Israel. Thus, any slightest transgression made by Israel has to be scrutinized by the president in order for him to maintain the support of the increasingly anti-Israel progressive Democrats.

Therefore, the IDF did well by conducting a thorough investigation of the incident in cooperation with American ballistics experts, which examined the bullet which allegedly killed the Al Jazeera journalist that the Palestinians gave them after many requests and considerable delay. However, the bullet was severely damaged, preventing the experts from making a unanimous conclusion.

During the incident itself, there were armed Palestinians at a distance of 100 to 200 meters (328 to 656 ft.) from Abu Akleh. They were hiding behind a tree, which is clearly visible in the footage provided by her cameraman. From such a distance, it is difficult to notice the word “Press” on the vest worn by Abu Akleh.

So, it is quite clear that the soldier who may have shot her could not distinguish whether it was a journalist or an armed Palestinian man dressed in civilian clothing and hiding behind a tree.

The investigation into Abu Akleh’s death is part of two important campaigns the IDF has been conducting since the establishment of Israel and the 1948 War of Independence: for international legitimacy and the moral and law-abiding image of our military.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi made the right call to order a unilateral IDF investigation into the incident after the Palestinians refused to participate in a joint probe. Even though the results were not good, the main conclusion was that Abu Akleh, most likely, was accidentally hit by a stray bullet fired by an IDF soldier. The decision to investigate was correct because unlike any other army in the world, the IDF constantly needs to prove its legitimacy to defend its citizens and the sovereignty of the State of Israel.

There is no other military that takes such careful legal and operational measures to avoid harming uninvolved civilians, precisely because of the need to prove it has the legitimacy to operate. But not only because of that. The military’s senior officials have another reason and it is the need to maintain the motivation of IDF soldiers, which stems from the belief in the righteousness of the army’s actions.

The anti-Israel crowd often mocks our military’s motto: “The most ethical army in the world.”

I’m not familiar with even one serious study that examined the adherence to international laws and principles of ethics of armies around the world. But there is no army in the world that follows international law and code of ethics as closely as the IDF, because if our soldiers were to behave differently, sooner or later, the only troops we would have left would be those whose service we do not want.

It is also why the IDF published the findings of its probe into Abu Akleh’s death, admitting she was hit by an IDF bullet, albeit a stray one. And whoever refuses to accept this version, should remember the recent incident in which IDF soldiers shot and wounded severely our own troops during an arrest of a wanted Palestinian.

Anyone who knows anything about violent confrontations that involve firearms knows that friendly fire and errors in identification are an integral part of the battlefield.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on September 6, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Al Jazeera Media Network/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for Israel’s willingness to investigate this incident, as they have others, and admit that this journalist’s death was probably the result of a stray bullet fired by an Israeli soldier. Thank God that the IDF really is “the most ethical army in the world,” and pray that the international community will be as honest by recognizing the reality of battlefield deaths due to friendly fire and errors in identification.

Scripture

Whoever says to the wicked, “You are in the right,” will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations, but those who rebuke the wicked will have delight, and a good blessing will come upon them.


- Proverbs 24:24–25 (ESV)

‘There We Will Strike Them’: The Munich Massacre and Its Aftermath

by Colonel Richard Kemp ~ Gatestone Institute

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The Munich Massacre Memorial in Tel Aviv

Tuesday, 6 September 2022 | Fifty years ago this week, September 5 and 6, 1972, the world watched in horror as Jews were again brutally murdered on German soil, at the Olympics in Munich. Eight Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) terrorists, using the cover name “Black September,” tortured and murdered 11 Israeli athletes, emasculating one of them as he lay dying in front of his teammates. They stormed the athletes’ accommodation, killed two immediately and held the remainder hostage, demanding the release of 234 terrorist prisoners held by Israel. Prime Minister Golda Meir—who had been a signatory to Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948—refused to bargain with them, branding it blackmail. She later said: “We have learnt the bitter lesson. One may save a life immediately only to endanger more lives. Terrorism has to be wiped out.”

Meanwhile, Berlin offered safe passage and unlimited cash to the terrorists, which they turned down. In the chaos of a disastrously botched German attempt to ambush the killers at the Fürstenfeldbruck airbase near Munich on September 6, the terrorists butchered the remaining nine athletes with hand grenades and bullets in the helicopters that brought them there, as well as a German policeman. All but three of the terrorists were killed in the firefight. The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] special forces unit Sayeret Matkal (General Staff Reconnaissance Unit) had been poised to mount a rescue operation, but the German government refused to allow them into the country and hubristically rejected advice from the chiefs of Mossad [Israeli intelligence agency] and Shin Bet [Israeli internal security organization], who had flown in.

They were forced to stand and watch as their fellow Israelis were slaughtered.

The terrorists were armed with weapons smuggled into Germany via diplomats from Libya, where they had been trained for their murderous mission. Libyan President Muammar Gadaffi had funded the attack at the behest of PLO leader Yasser Arafat, who subsequently denied any involvement and two years later was feted in a standing ovation at the United Nations General Assembly. Mahmoud Abbas, now president of the Palestinian Authority [PA], was a key player in preparing the operation. As he flaunts himself on the world stage 50 years later, Abbas still refuses to express any remorse for the murders he helped bring about.

Even as the attack unfolded, Avery Brundage, chairman of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), insisted that the games must go on. While two Israelis lay dead and nine were held at gunpoint, the first athletics event of the day began on schedule, with German precision, at 8.15 a.m. Brundage only agreed to a suspension 12 hours after the assault began, and following a brief pause, the sports proceeded as though nothing had happened. “Incredibly, they’re going on with it,” the Los Angeles Times wrote at the time, “it’s almost like having a dance at Dachau” (which was just a few miles away).

Addressing a memorial service the day after the murders, Brundage, who had successfully fought against a US boycott of the Nazi Berlin Olympics in 1936 over persecution of Jews, outrageously belittled the murder of the 11 Israelis. A request by the German chancellor to half-mast national flags at the games was rescinded after Arab countries refused to comply.

The chief of Mossad at the time, Zvi Zamir, who witnessed the massacre, wrote:

“We watched the Israeli athletes, with their hands tied, flanked by the terrorists, and all in step they marched toward the helicopters. It was an appalling sight, especially to a Jew on German soil.”

Violent action against the PLO followed swiftly. Two days after the massacre, on September 8, Israeli warplanes bombed ten PLO bases in Syria and Lebanon, killing up to 200 terrorists and bringing down three Syrian jets that tried to intercept the strike force. This was followed by a ground operation, with IDF armor entering Lebanon and killing an estimated 45 PLO terrorists.

A resolution at the UN Security Council on September 10 calling on Israel to halt its military operations in Syria and Lebanon—while pointedly making no mention of the Munich massacre—was vetoed by the US against strong protests from the Soviet Union and China. The Soviet ambassador remarked that putting the Israeli raids on the same footing as the events in Munich “would be condoning the aggressive policy of the Israeli maniacs.” Of course, the Soviet Union itself had blood on its hands at Munich, having created the PLO and set it on the path to terrorism in Europe, funding and supporting attacks.

US ambassador to the UN, George H.W. Bush, said the resolution ignored realities and “looked to effect not cause.” He went on to say its “silence on the disaster in Munich” invited more terrorism. Addressing the wider issue of Palestinian violence, he added: “We seek and support a world in which athletes need not fear assassins and passengers on planes need not fear hijacking.”

Bush’s words in New York were well received in Israel, but words were not enough for a traumatized nation that had just witnessed 11 coffins leaving Lod airport in a fleet of IDF command cars, and whose distress had been heightened by the decision to continue with the games, as though the massacre of Jews in Europe could again be simply brushed aside. It fell to [Prime Minister] Golda Meir to convert Bush’s words into action: it was her people who were in the crosshairs.

For that, the military raids in Syria and Lebanon were not sufficient. Dealing with the threat from countries in the Middle East was one thing; confronting terror in Europe something quite different. Before Munich, Israeli intelligence had repeatedly given European governments information about terrorist cells and attack plans in their countries. But as Meir told the Knesset [Parliament] foreign affairs committee: “We inform them of it once, twice, three times or five times, and nothing happens”. [Quoted in Rise and Kill First, Ronen Bergman, 2018]

European reluctance to act on intelligence and antagonize Palestinian terrorists and their Arab sponsors had permitted a wave of deadly attacks. In the previous three years, 16 people had been killed and wounded in seven terrorist assaults against Israeli and Jewish targets in West Germany alone.

Faced with inaction in Europe, the Mossad had previously proposed direct attacks against terrorists on the continent. Meir, committed to respecting the sovereignty of friendly countries, refused and authorized action only in Middle Eastern nations that were hostile to Israel. That all changed with Munich. Six days after the massacre she told the Knesset:

“At any place where a plot is being laid, where they are preparing people to murder Jews, Israelis—Jews anywhere—it is there we are committed to striking them.” [Rise and Kill First, Ronen Bergman, 2018]

With those words, Meir launched one of the most successful counter terrorist operations the world has ever seen.

Despite this tough stance, before putting her decision to the cabinet, Meir had understandably agonized, both on moral and political grounds. She later said:

“There’s no difference between one’s killing and making decisions that will send others to kill. It’s exactly the same thing, or even worse.”

She was also concerned about the young Israelis she would be sending into the gravest physical and psychological danger. She knew that if a man can hunt, he can also be hunted. As she put it: “They sit right in the jaws of the enemy.”

The Mossad had been preparing for such an operation since 1969 and immediately dispatched targeted killing teams, codenamed “Bayonet,” into Europe. The first of several strikes came less than two months after Munich, on October 16 in Rome, when the PLO representative in Italy, Wael Zwaiter, a cousin of Yasser Arafat, was gunned down. Further killings followed in France, Cyprus, Greece and elsewhere. Executions were suspended after July 1973, when an innocent man, mistaken for a PLO terrorist, was killed in Lillehammer, Norway. They resumed in 1978 under Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

Beyond Europe, on April 9, 1973, Operation Spring of Youth, a joint IDF–Mossad raid in Beirut led by Ehud Barak (who later became prime minister), killed three senior PLO leaders and around 50 other terrorists. The next day, Walter Nowak, German ambassador in Beirut, condemned the assault. Scandalously, just six months after Munich, he had been meeting with one of the Black September leaders killed in the IDF raid, Abu Youssef—himself an organizer of the massacre—to offer the prospect of creating “a new basis of trust” between the PLO and the German government. This incident characterizes the two approaches: as Germany was appeasing the terrorists, Israel was eliminating them.

The targeted killings ordered by Golda Meir were intended to stop terrorist attacks against Israelis being conducted in and from Europe and not, as is often supposed, in revenge for Munich. Most of those killed were not directly connected to the Olympics massacre. Mossad Chief [at the time] Zvi Zamir makes clear: “We were not engaged in vengeance.” He goes on to explain: “What we did was to concretely prevent in the future. We acted against those who thought that they would continue to perpetrate acts of terror.”

This was about pre-emption and disruption of terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens in countries where the national authorities had shown themselves unwilling to act. It was also about deterrence; making terrorists understand that the price of their actions would be high—preferably too high. That accounted for the dramatic way some of the attacks were conducted, including the use of explosives rather than more clinical means or incidents that could be passed off as accidents. The Mossad wanted the terrorists to have no doubt why their comrades were being killed and who was doing it. For political reasons, this had to be balanced against plausible deniability, a consistent principle of many Israeli counterterrorist operations before and since. That went badly wrong at Lillehammer, where six Mossad operatives were arrested and put on trial.

The imperative for Israel’s targeted killings was again confirmed less than two months after the Olympics, when a Lufthansa flight from Beirut to Frankfurt was hijacked by Palestinians demanding the release of the three terrorists who had survived in Munich. The German government immediately paid a [US] $9 million ransom and released the men, who were flown via Zagreb to Libya, where they received a hero’s welcome.

The last thing Berlin had wanted was to put these murderers on trial, with German intelligence warning of further acts of terrorism to force their release. This turn of events therefore was highly convenient and some experts, including the chief of Mossad at the time, have accused the German government of paying the PLO to stage the hijacking to give cover for release of the terrorists. That version was also confirmed in an interview with the self-confessed leader of the Munich massacre, Abu Daoud.

After they were freed, the head of the German foreign ministry wrote a memo to the chancellor’s office saying: “We should be pleased that the whole thing has calmed down sufficiently.” That reflected a prevalent attitude across Europe then and later. In 1977, French authorities arrested Abu Daoud, the terrorist leader. They asked whether Germany wanted him extradited, but the Germans declined. The French government, worried about the potential for attacks on their own soil as a result of holding him, allowed Daoud to fly to Algeria a few days later in the face of strong protests from Israel and the US—and praise from the Soviet Union. Until his death, he boasted about the massacre he had organized.

As well as fear of terrorism, the appeasement of Arab terrorists by European governments was motivated by worries that too close an alignment with Israel on security would harm their relations with Arab countries, jeopardizing oil supply and export contracts.

American and European leaders were often critical of Israel’s targeted killing policy, sometimes affecting intelligence sharing as well as diplomatic and trade relations, and with some accusing Israel of terrorist tactics. As Golda Meir pointed out:

“The person who threatens with a gun and the person who defends himself in order to ensure that the gun is not fired at him are not the same.”

After Islamic terrorists started turning their guns on Western citizens, these “principled” objections necessarily dissolved, with America and its allies frequently forced to resort to a policy modeled on Israel’s. The US and Britain used intelligence agencies, special forces, drones and airstrikes to carry out targeted killings of terrorists including in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Two days after the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, French armed forces, supported by Britain, launched a wave of airstrikes against Islamic State bases in Syria, echoing Israel’s attacks in Lebanon and Syria in the days after Munich.

Unsurprisingly, in this changed situation, whenever the Mossad provided European countries with intelligence about terrorist plans on their soil they did not have to be told “twice, three times or five times.” With their own citizens now in the crosshairs, they quickly took the action they failed to take in the 1970s when Israelis were the main target.

Too often Western nations, despite earlier rejection, condemnation and sometimes hostility, have eventually been obliged to follow the lead Israel was first forced to take to protect its people. American and European responses to jihadist [“struggle,” war with unbelievers (in Islam)] attacks on their own territory, especially after 9/11, is an example of that.

We are at present living through another example: the Iranian nuclear threat. Israeli leaders have repeatedly warned that Tehran’s nuclear program not only represents grave danger to their own country but to the entire region and to the world. As in its response to Munich, Israel is conducting a covert campaign to stop it, including by targeted assassinations. Meanwhile the US and European countries are appeasing the mullahs in Tehran, just as they did with Palestinian terrorists in the 1970s, and are on the verge of striking a deal that will pave the path to an Iranian nuclear capability. This time, ignoring Israeli warnings will have even more dire and far-reaching consequences.

Israel’s vigorous campaign after Munich was a success. It persuaded the Arab world that the Mossad could strike wherever and whenever it liked, instilling fear into the terrorists and forcing them to run and hide in places where they had previously operated with impunity, and some moderate Arab governments even pressured the PLO to halt their attacks. The offensive did not end all Arab terrorism in Europe against Israelis, and as with counterterrorist activities everywhere, there were some seriously adverse consequences. But the Mossad’s actions on the continent and Operation Spring of Youth in Beirut convinced PLO leader Yasser Arafat to order an end to Black September attacks on targets outside Israel by the end of 1973. As Meir said:

“We don’t thrive on military acts. We do them because we have to, and thank God we are efficient.”

Munich is sometimes thought of as Israel’s 9/11. Fifty years on, the trauma of the 1972 massacre remains etched deep into the minds of every Israeli and of many beyond who had watched it unfold with heartbreaking anguish. No doubt, the 11 Israelis who perished at Munich were uppermost in the minds of those brave men and women who played their individual parts in the campaign that aimed to prevent a repetition of the horrors the athletes had faced. In Golda Meir’s words at the time:

“Perhaps the day will come when the stories of heroism and resourcefulness, sacrifice and devotion, of these warriors will be told in Israel, and generations will recount them to those who follow them with admiration and pride, as yet another chapter in the heritage of heroism of our nation”.

In memory of:

David Berger

Anton Fliegerbauer

Ze’ev Friedman

Yosef Gutfreund

Eliezer Halfin

Yosef Romano

Amitzur Shapira

Kehat Shorr

Mark Slavin

Andre Spitzer

Yakov Springer

Moshe Weinberg

Colonel Richard Kemp is a former British Army Commander. He was also head of the international terrorism team in the UK Cabinet Office and is now a writer and speaker on international and military affairs. He is a Jack Roth Charitable Foundation Fellow at Gatestone Institute. 

Source: (This article was originally published by the Gatestone Institute on September 4, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Photo Credit: Avi1111 dr. avishai teicher/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for the nation of Israel as they remember this horrific incident and grieve for the victims and their families. Pray that as the nations increasingly recognize the reality that Israel has faced for decades, and the statement, "We don't thrive on military acts; we do them because we have to, and thank God we are efficient," becomes a global mantra, that international leaders will think twice when making decisions that lend support to the enemies of the free world.

Scripture

He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.


- Proverbs 13:20

IDF Gets a New Chief of Staff

by JNS

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IDF Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi will be the next IDF chief of staff.

Monday, 5 September 2022 | Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced on Sunday that he has selected Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi to be the next Israel Defense Forces [IDF] chief of staff.

Halevi, currently the deputy chief of staff, has served in many positions in the IDF, including as head of the military’s Southern Command and chief of the Military Intelligence Directorate. He also commanded the General Staff Reconnaissance Unit (Sayeret Matkal) during the Second Intifada [uprising].

He was named after an uncle who died in the Six-Day War.

Gantz’s office will forward his decision this week to the Advisory Appointments Committee for Senior Roles in the Service of the State, which is headed by former Supreme Court Judge Menachem Mazuz, the defense minister’s office said.

Gantz also notified Prime Minister Yair Lapid and the current chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, of his decision.

Halevi is the most suitable officer for the role due to his wealth of operational experience in an array of areas, and his command abilities demonstrated in the field and in headquarters, said Gantz in a statement.

The defense minister had notified the other finalist contending for the position, Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, Halevi’s predecessor as deputy chief of staff, of his decision, telling Zamir that he is an excellent future candidate for the position of chief of staff as well as other senior roles in the defense establishment.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on Sunday in response to the announcement that Halevi was a “worthy and natural choice,” an “outstanding and talented officer with considerable experience.”

The premier continued: “This was a choice between two good and worthy candidates. I wish Maj.-Gen. Eyal Zamir success in the future. I have no doubt that he will continue to contribute his experience and talents to the security of the State of Israel.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on September 4, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi as he steps into his new role of chief of staff of the IDF. Ask the Lord to give him wisdom, clarity and courage as he uses his wealth of operational experience to strengthen the IDF and protect the citizens of Israel from the many threats they face.

Scripture

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


- Psalm 32:8

Waiting for Rain

by Janet Aslin

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Rainy skies over Jerusalem

Thursday, 8 September 2022 | It has been a long, hot, dry summer. Of course, that’s not unusual in Israel where the rainy season typically lasts from October until early May. Still, by September there is a longing for that first gentle soaking rain to blanket the Land.

There have been a few signs of the coming rain—puffy clouds with gray centers that looked like they might deliver a few raindrops or the weather forecast that called for slight drizzle in Jerusalem on September 6. Sadly, neither of these proved accurate. Although in the past rain has fallen in late August/early September, it is still a bit early for the rainy season to begin.

When can we expect rain? If you were to ask that question of an Israeli, you would probably receive this answer: “On Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles or Booths).” Some Israelis are certain that rain will fall on the first day of the feast, while others believe the official beginning of the rainy season is Shemini Atzeret (eighth day of solemn assembly or Sukkot), when a prayer for rain is added to the Jewish people’s liturgy. “My Jewish Learning” offers this explanation for the timing of the addition: “The prayer is delayed until Shemini Atzeret because it should not be invoked when fine weather is needed to enable us to dwell in the sukkah (Talmud, Sukkah28b).

So, if the weather patterns follows tradition, we have a few more weeks to go. This year, Sukkot begins the evening of October 9 and Shemini Atzeret on the evening of October 16.

Not everyone agrees with this assessment however. This June, Israel Hayom published an article that posed the question, “Will rain in the summer soon be the norm?” This year there were still sprinkles in June, and according to researchers, “An analysis of rainy days in the country going back as far as 1860 indicates that Israel’s rainy season has gradually shifted to both start and end later on in the year.”

As if in agreement, the Upper Galilee region experienced a short but fairly heavy rain shower on August 21. The Jerusalem Post quoted one resident as saying they felt like they were in Thailand for the brief ten-minute downpour. However, Jerusalem remained hot and humid.

Like a child waiting for my birthday or some other special occasion, rain seems a long way off. I long to experience that first rainfall of the season when people run outside to enjoy the refreshing drops of moisture from heaven. I think about what God said to His people so long ago, “the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven” (Deut. 11:11).

I am certain that other people in other lands also long for rain after a hot and dry summer, but there is something significant and special about waiting for the rain of heaven to fall on the eternal city of Jerusalem.

In closing, herewith the words of the Shemini Atzeret prayer for rain:

“You are Adonai, our God

Who causes the wind to blow and the rain to fall.

For blessing and not for curse. Amen.

For life and not for death. Amen.

For plenty and not for lack. Amen.”

May the rain we are waiting for come at Your appointed time.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 8, 2022)

Photo Credit: Hannah Taylor/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Holy One of Israel for the blessing of rain to fall on the Land where He has chosen to place His name forever. Pray that the gentle, soaking rains Israel is so in need of will begin early, and ask the Lord for a rainy season filled with gentle rains, a season without violent storms and dangerous flooding. Also thank the Lord that the people of Israel will recognize rain as a blessing from Him, praising Him when the rains come and rejoicing in His kindness and mercy.

Scripture

“Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given the early rain for your vindication; he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before.”


- Joel 2:23 (ESV)