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A Year of Crisis

Thursday, December 23, 2021

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

Please note that the Bridges for Peace offices will be closed for the festive season. We will resume all normal activities, including news articles, on Monday, January 3, 2022.

Father of One Murdered in Palestinian Terror Attack

by JNS

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Israeli security forces inspect the scene of a shooting attack near Homesh in Judea and Samaria.

Friday, 17 December 2021 | One or more Palestinian gunmen shot at a passing car filled with Jewish seminary students on Thursday night in Judea and Samaria, killing one and wounding two others, said Israeli officials.

Yehuda Dimentman, 25, a student at the Homesh yeshivah [religious school], was shot and killed, reported Arutz Sheva. He leaves behind a wife and year-old baby.

Another student was moderately wounded and another lightly wounded, said officials.

According to the report, the three students were brought to the gate of Shavei Shomron, where they received medical treatment by United Hatzalah [Israeli volunteer-based emergency medical service], Magen David Adom [Israel’s ambulance service] and Israel Defense Forces medics.

Security forces believe that two terrorists carried out the shooting, and they are currently pursuing them.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett condemned the terror attack, sending his condolences to the victim’s family.

“The security forces will get their hands on the terrorists very soon, and we’ll ensure that justice is served,” he vowed.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that security forces will “increase our vigilance and readiness to thwart terror in Judea and Samaria, and will continue to take any measures necessary in facing terror groups in the area.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on December 16, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Hillel Maeir/Flash90/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for the family of Yehuda Dimentman as they mourn the loss of their loved one, and for swift and complete healing for the other two victims. Praise the Lord that the perpetrators were arrested quickly and pray that justice will indeed be served. Pray also for Defense Minister Gantz and Israel’s security forces as they “increase [their] vigilance and readiness to thwart terror in Judea and Samaria, and will continue to take any measures necessary in facing terror groups in the area.”

Scripture

Trouble and anguish have overtaken me, yet Your commandments are my delights. The righteousness of Your testimonies is everlasting; give me understanding, and I shall live.


- Psalm 119:143–144

Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad Agree to Step Up Attacks against Israel

by JNS

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Yahya Sinwar, leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, during a rally in Beit Lahiya

Tuesday, 21 December 2021 | The Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist groups agreed on a plan to increase cooperation and ramp up terrorist attacks, particularly in Judea and Samaria, during “a lengthy leadership meeting” on Saturday, according to the Palestine Information Center.

“The two movements agreed on a number of steps that would strengthen the resistance and raise the level of coordination between [their] military wings,” the Hamas-affiliated Arabic news site reported.

The two Iran-backed, Gaza-based terror groups also warned Israel that its actions in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the “occupied interior” would be met with a “strong reaction by the resistance and the Palestinian masses.”

“They reportedly agreed on the need to strengthen and develop the resistance in all forms,” Israeli journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, who first reported on the story, told JNS.

Palestinian political analysts told Toameh that the agreement is also a way to undermine the Palestinian Authority.

The agreement’s announcement came shortly after Israel announced the capture of the terrorists who killed Yehuda Dimentman on December 16. PIJ claimed responsibility for that attack.

Senior Hamas and PIJ leaders also met in Beirut on Friday, Hamas’s English-language website reported.

“Reaffirming the necessity to bolster resistance, particularly in the occupied West Bank [Judea and Samaria], both delegations affirmed their commitment to resistance as the only option to confront the Israeli occupation, liberate Palestine, and restore Palestinian rights and holy sites,” the report stated.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on December 20, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Atia Mohammed/Flash90/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that Israel will meet these new threats with courage and determination, and ask the Lord to bless the nation with wisdom to deal effectively with any and all terrorist activities. Cry out to Him that this alliance between Hamas and PIJ will prove unworkable and that the two groups will actually turn on one another.

Scripture

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and Your glory above all the earth; that Your beloved may be delivered, save with Your right hand, and hear me.


- Psalm 108:5–6

Gazan Boy becomes 6,000th Patient Treated by Israeli Save a Child’s Heart

by Kate Norman

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Doctors performing heart surgery on a patient (illustrative)

Monday, 20 December 2021 | An 11-year-old boy from Gaza this month became the 6,000th child treated by Save a Child’s Heart, an Israeli humanitarian organization that provides children with lifesaving cardiac care.

Mazen was born in the Gaza Strip with severe heart defects. When he was just two months old, he underwent cardiac surgery in Jerusalem, but a hole in his heart remained. His condition worsened as he grew, and he struggled to breathe.

Gaza does not have cardiac facilities to perform the surgery that Mazen needed, so after much coordination between doctors in Gaza and Israel, Mazen was brought to Israel again on December 1 to undergo a cardiac catheterization to repair the hole.

Israeli doctors at the Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) center at the Sylvan Adams Children’s Hospital in Holon used a special closure device to close the hole in Mazen’s heart without the need for an open heart surgery.

The SACH hospital is the only place in the region that is performing surgeries such as Mazen’s, the organization’s website said.

SACH, the Jewish state’s largest international humanitarian nonprofit, was founded in 1995 by American-born Dr. Ami Cohen, who had immigrated to Israel three years earlier. He performed his first surgeries on two children from Ethiopia who were flown into Israel and afterward recovered from their surgery in his home.

The next year, SACH operated on the first Palestinian child in Israel.

Now, 50% of the children undergoing the life-saving cardiac surgeries by SACH are Palestinian children from Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria. The center south of Tel Aviv also hosts cardiology clinics for Palestinian kids every week.

Save a Child’s Heart operates on children from around the world who do not have access to the vital cardiac care that they need. The Israeli organization also trains medical professionals around the world “to raise the level of international pediatric cardiac care,” SACH’s website said.

Israeli doctors volunteer their time to perform the desperately needed surgeries, and so far have operated on 6,000 children from 63 countries. SACH received the UN Population Award in 2018 for the organization’s work in improving pediatric cardiac care in Africa. This was the first time the UN award went to an Israeli nonprofit.

When asked by a Palestinian mother why he does what he does, SACH founder Dr. Cohen responded, as quoted by the website, that “it’s like throwing a stone in a pond, the ripples come out. We’re treating your child, but we’re also treating you and your husband, the child’s sisters and brother’s…we’re treating the whole family.”

Mazen was accompanied by his father, Khalil, who, in a video published by SACH, thanked the organization, the doctors and the hospital for helping his son. “Peace,” he said in English. “Thank you.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, December 20, 2021)

Photo Credit: Olga Guryanova/Unsplash

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for this organization and the incredible work that they do. Pray that their efforts will result in countless Palestinians coming to realize that Israelis are not in fact the enemy, but are kind and generous people who desire peace. Pray that the procedure performed on Mazen’s heart will have the desired effect, restoring him to perfect health and giving him a childhood.

Scripture

Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men! You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.


- Psalm 31:19–20

Bennett: Iranian Aggression will be Met with Full Weight of Israel’s Force

by Dmitriy Shapiro ~ JNS

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Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addresses the Zionist Organization of America during its virtual gala.

Tuesday, 21 December 2021 | Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett urged the United States and Europeans to challenge Iran over its violation of nuclear nonproliferation.

Speaking at the 2021 virtual gala of the Zionist Organization of America on Sunday, Bennett said that Iran only understands force and that the United States and its allies should take the matter to the UN Security Council and urge them to act.

“The government I’m leading with its wide range of diverse voices is working hard to strengthen and improve our standing in the world. As I utter these words, Iran continues relentlessly to plot against the State of Israel and the Jewish people,” said Bennett.

“The ayatollahs [honorary title bestowed on high-ranking Shiite Muslim clerics in Iran] sitting in Tehran foolishly think that they can sit in their cozy seats in their fancy homes and wreak havoc across the region with zero accountability,” he said. “I’m here to say to them that under my leadership, Iranian aggression will be met with the full weight of Israel’s force.”

Bennett also said that America and its allies should double down on economic sanctions against Iran.

“They’re much more vulnerable than they seem and displays of force greatly impact them,” he said.

Meanwhile, the prime minister stated that he won’t hesitate to act against Iran alone.

“As in any other dictatorial, oppressive regime, many of Iran’s victims are their own people,” said Bennett. “While the people of Iran suffer from poverty, the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] are sending unimaginable amounts of money to fund their proxy terror groups in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and, of course, in Gaza, and Judea and Samaria. I witnessed as all these places rapidly became failed states, a fact directly attributable to Iran.”

The Gaza Strip, he said, was a perfect example of that because when Israel uprooted its own citizens in 2005, the Palestinians could have worked towards economic success. Instead, they continued to choose to use money to purchase weapons and fund terror activities—namely, launching thousands of rockets from Hamas and Islamic Jihad to target Israeli civilians.

“I will never put my people in danger for the sake of experimenting with initiatives that are bound to fail,” said Bennett. “When the so-called moderate leaders of the PA [Palestinian Authority] still pay to slay, when they attempt to go after our soldiers at the ICC [International Criminal Court]—our soldiers—this is simply a non-starter.”

‘People Everywhere Believe in Bright Future of the Jewish State’

The second half of Bennett’s speech was focused on Israel’s success, despite the world’s struggle with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Bennett said that Israel successfully defeated the Delta variant of the coronavirus without lockdowns, closing any businesses or schools. This allowed Israel’s economy to grow at what the prime minister called a “staggering pace.”

“This is happening because people everywhere believe in the bright future of the Jewish state,” he said.

Nevertheless, at a press conference on Monday, Bennett hinted at future COVID-19 restrictions and the dangers of the new Omicron variant, saying that he believes many Israelis will “unfortunately be infected” with the new strain.

Bennett was the gala’s final speaker, being honored with the Myron Zimmerman Award for Distinguished Statesmanship.

He was introduced by businessman and philanthropist Henry Schwartz, a former ZOA board member and treasurer.

“The position of the prime minister is truly an elevated one. It brings with it the responsibility of the state, our people and nation in the fullest range of arenas—both in our homeland and the Diaspora [Jewish population outside Israel],” said Schwartz. “Mr. Prime Minister, you have showed leadership and courage throughout your career. In the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] as a decorated officer, leading valiant military operations, as an entrepreneur who embodies the best of our startup nation, and as a political figure who has strived for unity.”

The gala was the second time Bennett has addressed the ZOA, having spoken at the 2016 ZOA gala when he served as minister of education and Diaspora affairs in the government of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on December 20, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that America and its allies will heed PM Bennett’s words and double down on economic sanctions against Iran, forcing Iran to comply with the international community’s demands that they cease the production of weapons grade nuclear material and give up on their desire to become a nuclear power.

Scripture

Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their hearts; they continually gather together for war.


- Psalm 140:1–2

“Israeli Apartheid” Top Human Rights Issue of 2021—HRW

by Ilse Strauss

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Tuesday, 21 December 2021 | Forget about crimes against humanity in China, the crushing impact of the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan on women’s rights, brutal sexual violence in India and chilling extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. A comprehensive report unpacking Israel’s so-called crime of apartheid and persecution against millions of hapless Palestinians takes the top spot on the Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) most-read stories of 2021 list.

Published in April, the report, “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution,” is a 175-page tirade charging Jerusalem with persecution, discrimination and numerous other evils against Palestinians in what HRW describes as “Israeli-occupied Palestinian Territory, made up of the West Bank [Judea and Samaria], including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, as well as the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.”

According to the report, “laws, policies, and statements by leading Israeli officials make plain that the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power, and land has long guided government policy. In pursuit of this goal, authorities have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated Palestinians by virtue of their identity to varying degrees of intensity. These deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”

The report also accuses Israel of “inhumane acts,” such as constructing barriers, restricting travel, using excessive force and suspending civil rights.

NRW announced its top 10 newsmakers for 2012 in an article over the weekend. Kenneth Roth, executive director of HRW, trailed the article with a tweet listing the top five. “Israel’s apartheid,” Roth’s tweet showed, beat back “Philippine Pres. Duterte’s ‘drug war’ executions,” “China’s mass detention of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang,” “Taliban attack on women’s rights” and “massacres in Ethiopia’s Tigray region” for the unsavory honor of most read-about human rights violator.

While the nine remaining reports on the most-read list deal with current events and emergent issues, the one on Israel was drafted as a larger overview of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict as a whole, the Jerusalem Post points out.

The 500,000-plus-word report concludes with a series of recommendations for Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), United States government bodies, the International Criminal Court, governments and businesses operating in Israel.

Recommendations to third parties include legal persecution, establishing commissions of inquiry, imposing unilateral measures against Israel, issuing public statements against Israel, implementing sanctions and so forth. There’s also a list of no less than 15 recommendations for Israel to follow. Absent, however, from the recommendations—notably to the PA and the PLO—are calls to cease rocket fire on civilians, terror attacks and incitement to terror.

“There’s no justification for not considering or ignoring or overlooking the terrorist connections,” the Jerusalem Post quoted Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg, president and founder of NGO Monitor, as saying. “These are not trivial. People—Israelis—have been killed.”

The scathing report should not really come as a surprise. According to the Jerusalem Post, HRW has a reputation of bias, lax fact-checking and accepting donations from foreign governments. The NGO has also been accused of prejudice against Israel.

The fact that the report on Israel’s alleged conduct ranked higher than that of such dire issues plaguing the world today is also not startling. The Jewish state finds itself in the international spotlight more often than not, raking in a disproportionate share of media coverage, universal scrutiny and worldwide censure, with its actions, decisions and even existence habitually deliberated, judged and criticized.

No, Israel’s top spot as most read-about alleged human rights violator should shock no one. However, it doesn’t detract from the absurdity of the accusations. In Israel, Arabs act as judge of the country’s highest court, head a leading hospital as chief surgeon, command a brigade in the Israeli army, serve as Israeli ambassadors to various countries and govern as members of parliament. The list of facts, figures and statistics disproving the accusation of Israeli apartheid as false is a long one—longer perhaps than the HRW’s report. And still…

Perhaps, when it comes to bias against Israel, the facts are unimportant.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, December 21, 2021)

Photo Credit: Steve Rhodes/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Pray that this 175-page report will be exposed for the hate filled, anti-Semitic diatribe that it is. Cry out to the Lord for the nations to recognize how ludicrous this so-called comprehensive report actually is. Ask the Lord to clearly reveal the reality of the situation in Israel and for truth to prevail at the HRW and in the nations.

Scripture

A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness will utter lies.


- Proverbs 14:5

Anti-Semitic Fliers Blaming Jews for COVID-19 Distributed in US

by JNS

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An example of anti-Semitic fliers blaming Jews for COVID-19

Wednesday, 22 December 2021 | People in at least eight states found anti-Semitic fliers claiming Jews are responsible for COVID-19 on the yards over the weekend, according to the Secure Community Network (SCN).

The leaflets were part of a “coordinated flier drop,” by the anti-Semitic Goyim Defense League, according to SCN, and were found in Alabama, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Texas and Vermont. The leaflet, one of which was titled “Every Single Aspect of the Covid Agenda Is Jewish,” included a QR code that linked to an anti-Semitic website run by the Goyim Defense League.

“This is another reminder that the Jewish community is a target in the United States,” said Michael Masters, CEO of SCN. “There continue to be groups willing to do anything they can to attack Jewish people, including blaming them for a pandemic that has affected so many lives across the globe. We must continue to fight anti-Semitism and ensure the Jewish community can flourish.”

This is not the first time the Goyim Defense League has left fliers on people’s yard, but it may be the first time they have left them in so many locales at once. Just before Hanukkah [Feast of Dedication], the group left fliers at homes in Beverly Hills, Ca., and earlier this fall the group hung a banner from an overpass in Austin, Texas, saying “Vax the Jews.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on December 21, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Secure Community Network/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Beseech the Lord for an end to the Goyim Defense League. Pray that these flyers would have no impact whatsoever, and remind Him that He has identified Himself as Israel’s vindicator. Ask Him to bring an end to the actions of this group that pose a very real threat to His chosen people.

Scripture

He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.


- Psalm 62:6–7

Israel Helps Rwandan Schools Go Online

by JNS

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The Israeli ambassador to Rwanda, Ron Adam

Friday, 17 December 2021 | Israel’s embassy in Rwanda has donated nearly [US] $100,000 to purchase computers and other equipment for schools, Rwandan daily the New Times reported this week.

Under the UN Children’s Fund Giga project, educational institutions are being hooked up to the Internet, noted the report, adding that the International Telecommunication Union is also a partner in the program to connect every school on earth to the Internet by 2030.

Rwanda has been chosen by the UN Broadband Commission in 2020 to lead implementation in Africa.

Ron Adam, Israeli Ambassador to Rwanda, said his country was pleased to support the program, saying “education is the foundation of everything, and this goes hand in hand with the quality. In this era, you can’t talk about quality while excluding technology.”

“We believe that this support from Israel will be another stepping stone for Rwanda to realize its ambition of universal connectivity in schools and becoming a knowledge-based economy,” he added.

Of the 63 Rwandan schools taking part in Giga, only 29% have the needed computers and other equipment, the report said, citing UNICEF.

UNICEF country representative to Rwanda Julianna Lindsey said: “This generous support…will enable the purchase of laptops for teachers in schools that are being connected to the Internet across the country. The funding also [helps] bridge the digital divide in schools, which is a barrier to quality learning.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on December 16, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Courtesy/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Thank God for Israel’s generous support of this educational initiative in Rwanda. Pray that it will enhance the reputation of God’s chosen nation and serve to strengthen Israel’s relationships in the region. Also pray that every young Rwandan who benefits from this program will understand that the Jewish state is investing in their future and the future of their country.

Scripture

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.


- Proverbs 3:5–6