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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.
Terrorist from Lebanon Responsible for Northern Israel Highway Bombing
by Yaakov Lappin ~ JNS
Thursday, 16 March 2023 | A roadside bomb that severely wounded a motorist in northern Israel earlier this week was planted by a terrorist who infiltrated the country from Lebanon, security forces revealed on Wednesday.
The perpetrator was killed by Israeli forces while attempting to return to Lebanon, according to authorities.
The Israel Defense Forces [IDF] has not yet named who it believes dispatched the terrorist, but it is not ruling out Hezbollah.
On Monday, Shareef ad-Din, 21, from the Israeli Arab town of Salem, was wounded when the explosive device detonated around 6 a.m. The bomb was planted behind a barrier by the side of the road near the Megiddo Junction, some 18 miles [29 km.] southeast of Haifa.
The Megiddo Junction is located 37 miles [59 km.] from the Lebanese border, though traveling by roads would extend the journey by a further 12.5 miles [20 km.].
An urgent investigation into the incident was opened, led by the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet).
The initial inquiry found that the explosive device was of a design unusual to the area and not seen commonly in Judea and Samaria, said the IDF.
After the blast, the IDF, Shin Bet and Israel Police began a joint manhunt in an effort to catch the terrorist, including the establishment of roadblocks in northern Israel.
A vehicle was stopped at a checkpoint near the village of Ya’ara, containing a suspect who was equipped with a suicide bomb vest and a rifle. Israeli security forces shot and killed him.
One possibility being examined is that the terrorist was driven to Megiddo from the border area. A man suspected of acting as his driver is under arrest.
Security sources believe the suspect likely planned to carry out an additional attack before possibly seeking to return to Lebanon.
Northern Israel is under normal routine, said the IDF.
Ongoing situational assessments are being held by the political echelon and the defense establishment.
“The assumption is that this man crossed the border from Lebanon, conducted the attack and tried to get back [to Lebanon],” said the IDF. It is not clear whether the suicide bomb was intended for use as a bomb or as an actual suicide vest.
Tal Beeri, head of research at the Alma Research and Education Center, which specializes in Israel’s defense challenges in the northern arenas, said, “We assess that there are two main possibilities for identifying the responsible element: Hezbollah and Hamas.
“Palestinian Islamic Jihad is a player in Lebanon but with fewer operational [and] military capabilities. We believe an attack like this cannot happen without, at the minimum, Hezbollah’s knowledge.
“It seems likely to us that Hezbollah is responsible for this even if Hamas was also involved. We assume that in either case, the Palestine Division of the Iranian Quds Force was updated and that the attack was coordinated with it,” Beeri said.
Whoever was behind the attack, it concluded that it could exploit the political crisis in Israel to time an attack of this kind while managing risks in regards to an Israeli response, which it assesses will be minor, said Beeri.
In January, it became public knowledge that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist organization has built more than 20 observation and guard posts along the Israel–Lebanon border over the past year, in an escalatory move.
According to UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War between the IDF and Hezbollah, the terrorist group is forbidden to operate near the frontier.
Hezbollah launched the border post project in parallel to Israel’s construction of a fortified perimeter fence along the 87-mile [140-km.] shared border.
It became public knowledge in June that Hezbollah had built 15 outposts on the border, with each such site containing an outlook position or tower, two to three housing units and storage facilities.
“The problem is that as soon as Hezbollah builds a post like this, the Lebanese army and UNIFIL [the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon] no longer arrive [in the area],” reports quoted a senior source from the IDF Northern Command as saying.
In recent years, concerns have also grown regarding the activities of Hamas in southern Lebanon.
Hamas cells have fired rockets into Israel in past years, including during May 2021’s Operation Guardian of the Walls between Israel and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.
In April 2022, a senior Hamas source warned that should another war erupt between it and Israel, “a front will also be opened from southern Lebanon, and there will be an ‘intifada [uprising] of 1948 Arabs’ [Arab Israeli citizens],” according to a report on Sunday by the London-based Rai Al-Youm newspaper.
The report, translated into Hebrew by Kan News, cited the Hamas source as warning that the situation in Gaza and “the rest of Israel” could ignite at any minute, despite understandings reached between Israel and Hamas via Egyptian mediation that have produced a year of quiet since Operation Guardian of the Walls.
The Israeli Defense Ministry revealed on Tuesday that several high-level situational assessments had been held over the past 36 hours regarding unspecified “security incidents.”
According to a statement from Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s office, Gallant instructed those present at the meetings, including IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen Herzi Halevi and Shin Bet Director Ronen Bar, to “continue efforts to ensure the daily routine of Israeli citizens.”
On Wednesday, Gallant briefed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the security developments, ahead of the latter’s departure for a diplomatic visit to Germany.
Netanyahu’s office announced shortly thereafter that the premier would be returning from Berlin on Thursday evening and not on Friday morning as originally scheduled.
Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 15, 2023. See original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: Twitter/jns.org
Bring this extremely concerning development before the Lord, asking Him to erect a hedge of protection on Israel’s borders. Pray that He will thrust into the light any and all plots by Israel’s enemies to infiltrate and perpetrate attacks. Also pray that He will bring to nothing any schemes devised to capitalize on the period of internal strife by striking while Israel’s leadership is focused on domestic matters.
I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
Saudi Arabia and Iran Normalize Ties: The Implication for Israel
by Ilse Strauss
Monday, 13 March 2023 | The Middle East is a region where the unexpected is often the norm. In a prime example of such a surprise shift in the status quo, on Friday long time regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran reached an agreement to reestablish relations.
The Chinese-brokered treaty signals one of the most fundamental shifts in Middle Eastern politics in recent years. It brings to a close seven years of hostilities between the Sunni kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Shiite powerhouse that have threatened regional stability and fueled the fires of war and strife in neighboring nations like Yemen and Syria. As part of the deal, Riyadh and Tehran will reopen respective embassies and missions and implement security and economic cooperation agreements inked more than 20 years ago.
The Middle East is also a region where major events are like boulders tossed into a small pond, with the ripple effect touching everybody, including Israel. And the renewed friendship between the Saudis and Iran is no different. So what is the implication of the Riyadh–Tehran pact for Jerusalem?
There can be no doubt that the deal comes as a disappointment to Israel. Jerusalem and Riyadh do not have diplomatic relations, but the Jewish state has been holding out hope that the Kingdom would follow in the footsteps of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco to establish ties with their Jewish neighbor.
While rumors regarding the possibility of Israeli–Saudi peace deal waxed and waned, Riyadh has remained firm that recognition of Israel hinges on a two-state solution with the Palestinians. Friday’s deal does, however, lay those rumors to rest once and for all.
Israel’s desire for a Saudi peace partner is fueled by a host of benefits, including trade, economy, tech and so forth. However, the driving force behind Jerusalem’s courtship of Riyadh is strengthening a regional alliance against what used to be a mutual enemy: Iran. Yet Saudi Arabia’s act of turning its back on Israel in favor of its former foe—and Israel’s arch foe—can arguably be interpreted as a message to the Jewish state.
According to Saudi analyst Aziz Alghashian, the idea of an Israeli–Saudi peace deal to fortify a regional front against Iran has always been “superficial,” the Agence France-Presse reported.
“This idea of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’—Saudi has seldom operated in that way, especially not strategically,” the AFP quoted Alghashian as saying. Friday’s deal, he says, clearly shows that “Saudi Arabia has prioritized a rapprochement with Iran over an overt rapprochement with Israel.”
While the chances of a formal agreement in the near future remain slim, the freeze between Jerusalem and Riyadh is not absolute. In fact, the Jewish state and Arab kingdom have enjoyed covert cooperation for the past few years, with a step up in the last months. Recently, a number of Israeli journalists were granted approval to visit Saudi Arabia. At the same time, Riyadh opened its airspace to “all carriers,” including Israel’s. And in October, the Arab Israeli head of an Israeli bank visited a Saudi investor forum and hailed the opportunities in the kingdom as “amazing.” Then, late last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Saudis were willing to normalize ties with Israel in exchange for the US providing security pledges and help to build its civilian nuclear program, both demands to which the US would arguably not agree.
Ironically, a day after the Wall Street Journal’s claim, Saudi Arabia did sign a normalization agreement, but not with Israel.
So what does this boil down to? The deal between the Saudis and Iran leaves Israel isolated as it seeks to rally regional support against its arch foe and perhaps more importantly, as it threatens military action against the mullahs’ race to the nuclear bomb.
“It’s a blow to Israel’s notion and efforts in recent years to try to form an anti-Iran bloc in the region,” Yoel Guzansky, an expert on the Persian Gulf at the Institute for National Security Studies, an Israeli think tank, told AP News. “If you see the Middle East as a zero-sum game, which Israel and Iran do, a diplomatic win for Iran is very bad news for Israel.”
The bottom line? As the unexpected continues to bring surprise shifts in the status quo in the Middle East, only one thing remains certain. Therefore, we join with Christians around the world as we pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Ps. 122:6).
Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 13, 2023)
Photo Credit: Noah/commons.wikimedia.org
Photo License: wikimedia
Bring the newly inked pact between Saudi Arabia and Israel’s arch foe Iran before the One who sees the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:10). Pray that He will not allow Tehran to influence Israel’s neighbors—many of whom have only now begun to see the truth about grasping Israel’s outstretched hand of peace—to continue in their path of antagonism toward the Jewish state. Also pray that the Lord will move on the hearts of nations who currently shun Israel to establish relations with the Jewish state and thus inherit His promise of blessing.
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.
Report: Aliyah from Former Soviet Union Countries Up 434% in 2023
by Kate Norman
Wednesday, 15 March 2023 | In the first two months of 2023, Israel saw a 434% increase of immigration from former Soviet Union countries compared to the same time frame last year, the Jerusalem Post reported, citing a report from the Jewish Agency.
The spike in new olim (immigrants) from former Soviet countries is being attributed to the Russian–Ukrainian war. The Jewish Agency reported that 11,516 olim have made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) in January and February of 2023, comprising 92% of all the immigrants who arrived in Israel during that time period.
Of the 11,516 olim, the Jerusalem Post reported, 10,203 came from Russia—seven times more than in the same timeframe last year. The number coming from Ukraine was much smaller, with only 583, though still a 32% increase compared to the same time last year.
Some 388 olim arrived from Belarus, according to the report, an increase of 229%, and another 342 from other former Soviet states, a spike of 235% compared to last year.
Meanwhile, the number of immigrants from Western countries has dropped, the Jerusalem Post reported, citing the same information from the Jewish Agency. The Jewish state saw only 260 new olim from Western nations in the first two months of 2023, which is a 37% drop from the 414 in the same time period last year.
Specifically, the report noted a drop in aliyah from the United Kingdom by 48%, a 19% drop from Australia and New Zealand, a 37% decline from South Africa, and a sharp decrease of 60% from France, which the Jerusalem Post noted has the largest Jewish community in Europe.
The numbers coming from Latin America also decreased by 36%, the Jerusalem Post reported, with a 45% decrease from Argentina and a 33% decrease from Brazil.
The report did not account for the drop in aliyah from the West.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 15, 2023)
Photo Credit: YossiZamir/Keren HaYesod
Bless the Lord for showing Himself faithful and true to bring to pass His promises of a homecoming for the Jewish people, particularly those in Russia. Cry out to Him for every man, woman and child currently considering the move to Israel. Pray that He will bring peace to their hearts and pave the way for them to come. At the same time, pray for organizations like Bridges for Peace as we trust God for the resources as we partner with Him to fulfil His plan.
“‘Therefore behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘that it shall no more be said, “The LORD lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,” but, “The LORD lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands where He had driven them.” For I will bring them back into their land which I gave to their fathers.’”
Iran to Purchase Su-35 Fighter Jets from Russia
Monday, 13 March 2023 | Iran has agreed to purchase advanced Su-35 fighter jets from Russia, Iranian state media said on Saturday.
“The Sukhoi-35 fighter planes are technically acceptable to Iran and Iran has finalized a contract for their purchase,” the IRIB news outlet quoted Iran’s mission to the United Nations as saying.
Details of the reported deal were not disclosed.
Iran’s air force reportedly has only a few dozen fighter jets, including aging US models acquired before the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
US National Security Advisor Jack Sullivan confirmed in July that Iran was providing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), including armed drones, to Russia for use in its war on Ukraine.
Russia reportedly obtained multiple types of attack and intelligence drones from Tehran, including the “Shahed 136” suicide drone, which can carry an explosive warhead of 40 kilograms [88 lb.], and which maneuvers to targets using satellite navigation.
The United States, United Kingdom and France in October raised the issue at a meeting of the UN Security Council, with the Western nations expressing “grave concerns about Russia’s acquisition of these UAVs from Iran in violation of UN Security Council resolution 2231,” which formally endorsed the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.
US State Department Spokesman Ned Price said at the time that there was “abundant evidence” that the UAVs are being used against Ukrainian civilians and critical civilian infrastructure.
“We will not hesitate to use our sanctions and other appropriate tools on all involved in these transfers. We will also continue to surge unprecedented security assistance to Ukraine, including air defense capabilities, so that Ukraine can defend itself from these weapons,” said Price.
On November 15, the United States imposed penalties on firms and individuals involved in the development or transfer of Iranian drones used by Russia in strikes on civilian facilities in Ukraine.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday in Israel, primarily to discuss the Iranian nuclear threat.
“We have a common agenda to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and preventing Iran’s aggression, maintaining the security and prosperity of this region and seeking to expand the circle of peace,” Netanyahu said at the start of the meeting.
“You’re right, we do have a lot to talk about today, and you’ve heard us say over and over again that we are absolutely committed to the security of Israel,” Austin told the prime minister in response.
The visit comes after Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi met in Washington on Monday with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, amid growing concern in Jerusalem over Iran’s nuclear progress.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also hosted a meeting of the US–Israel Strategic Consultative Group, which included Hanegbi and Dermer, as well as “a senior Israeli interagency delegation,” according to a joint statement.
Both sides “pledged to enhance coordination on measures to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and to further deter Iran’s hostile regional activities.” Israeli and US officials reviewed joint US military and Israel Defense Forces [IDF] exercises.
The high-level meetings come after the International Atomic Energy Agency last month found uranium enriched to 83.7% in the Islamic Republic.
Netanyahu has warned that in the absence of a credible military threat or actual military action, Iran will become a nuclear power.
“The longer you wait, the harder that becomes [to prevent]. We’ve waited very long. I can tell you that I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. That is not merely an Israeli interest; it’s an American interest; it’s in the interest of the entire world,” he said.
Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 12, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: Fasttailwind/Shutterstock/jns.org
Beseech the Lord to destroy Iran’s smokescreen of peace and harmony, showcasing its true objectives of regional hegemony and wiping Israel off the map. Pray that the nations of the world will see through the façade and refuse to provide Iran with the means to reach its objective. Continue to entreat the Lord to guard Israel against Iran’s malevolent intentions of annihilation and destruction.
The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.
Cohen Blasts EU Foreign-policy Chief for Comparing Palestinian Terror with IDF Ops
Wednesday, 15 March 2023 | Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen sharply criticized EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell for equating Palestinian terror attacks with operations undertaken by the Israel Defense Forces [IDF].
“There is no place for comparisons and creating a balance between Israeli terror victims and Palestinian terrorists supported by the Palestinian Authority [PA],” Cohen told Borrell, according to a statement released by the Foreign Ministry.
Borrell, who serves as High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, wrote in an article last week on the commentary site Project Syndicate that “violence on the part of Israeli settlers in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] is increasingly threatening Palestinian lives and livelihoods—almost always with impunity.
“Moreover, Israeli military operations frequently cause civilian Palestinian deaths, often without effective accountability; illegal settlements are expanding on occupied land; and the delicate status quo concerning Holy Sites is eroding,” he wrote.
Cohen also told Borrell that the European Union [EU] should refrain from interfering in internal political issues.
He added that the EU’s positions on Israel continue to be biased and demanded that the EU take into account Israel’s complex security reality.
Similarly, in a press conference on Monday with Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, Cohen asked his counterpart to work to prevent European involvement in Israel’s domestic matters and in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.
The EU spokesperson’s office declined to comment on the matter.
Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 15, 2023. See original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90/jns.org
Pray for every soldier in the IDF who serves with integrity and a concern for human life. Ask the Lord to not only protect them physically, but also to shield them from false accusations like Borrell’s that seek to blaspheme and malign. Pray against discouragement and that they will know that there are Christians around the world who see the truth and stand with Israel.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
Israel Launches Four-day Exercise to Enhance Earthquake Response Preparedness
Monday, 13 March 2023 | Israel launched a four-day international exercise on Sunday simulating the reception of foreign aid in the event of a major earthquake.
The drill will simulate all necessary emergency procedures, including the initial decision to request international assistance, integrating foreign rescue teams, receiving the aid and distributing it.
The exercise is being led by the Israeli Defense Ministry’s National Emergency Management Authority, in cooperation with local emergency and rescue services. Some 120 people from 18 countries are participating, including teams from Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Macedonia, Malta, Montenegro, Romania, Spain and Sweden, as well as from the European Union and the United Nations.
The teams will also simulate scenarios related to search and rescue operations, evacuation drills and damage assessment processes.
“The National Emergency Management Authority designated 2023 as the year to focus on improving national earthquake preparedness, with the devastating earthquake in Turkey further emphasizing the challenges that we face,” said IDF Brig. Gen. (res.) Yoram Laredo, director of the National Emergency Management Authority.
“The highly esteemed cooperation with our partners abroad is a crucial element in achieving this and enhances the State of Israel’s capacity to receive extensive humanitarian aid in emergency situations,” he added.
Turkey was struck by a pair of massive earthquakes of February 6 that, together with hundreds of aftershocks, left more than 40,000 people dead in what the World Health Organization has called the region’s worst natural disaster in a century.
In response to the deadly February 6 quakes, the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] launched “Operation Olive Branches” to Turkey, which rescued 19 people from the rubble. The Israeli military’s 400-plus-strong delegation was supported by emergency medical specialists from the defense and health ministries, fire and rescue services, Magen David Adom, United Hatzalah and Zaka, among others.
Israel has scrambled to improve its earthquake preparedness in the wake of the Turkey disaster, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directing National Security Council head Tzachi Hanegbi to “update and reiterate the steps we need to take.”
The Knesset [parliament] Internal Affairs and Environment Committee called for an emergency meeting, and State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman urged the government not to delay, saying the wave of deadly earthquakes in the region should be viewed as a warning.
Experts have stressed that Israel’s current state of earthquake readiness is concerning. A 2018 report by the previous comptroller estimated that a major earthquake could result in 7,000 casualties and leave 170,000 people homeless. A report from last year found that 600,000 buildings in the country do not meet the standard for earthquake resistance.
Israel is located along the Great Rift Valley, an active geological fault line presenting several significant hazards for the area, including frequent minor earthquakes and the potential for more serious seismic events.
Israel [has] had a long history of earthquakes, with a major one occurring approximately every 100 years. The last major earthquake to hit the country was in 1927. That quake, which had a magnitude of 6.2, claimed 284 lives and injured 940.
Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 12, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: Israel Ministry of Defense Spokesperson’s Office/jns.org
Thank the Lord for Israel’s commitment to prepare for the possibility of an earthquake. Implore Him to equip everyone involved with the ability, insight and skill to save lives and minimize destruction in the event of a natural disaster. At the same time, pray that participants will never need to use the skills they acquire during the training.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling…God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved.
Woman Whose Two Sons Were Murdered in Jerusalem Terror Attack Gives Birth
Thursday, 16 March 2023 | Devorah Paley, whose two young sons were killed in a terrorist attack last month in Jerusalem’s Ramot neighborhood, gave birth to a boy overnight Tuesday at Hadassah Medical Center Mount Scopus.
Avraham Paley, who was seriously wounded in the attack, was by his wife’s side while she was in labor.
Yaakov Yisrael Paley, five, and Asher Menachem Paley, seven, were killed on February 10 when Hussein Karaka, 31, an Arab Israeli resident of the Issawiya neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem, smashed his car into a bus stop.
Avraham Paley, 42, was recently released from Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center after spending two weeks in a coma. He learned of the death of his sons when he regained consciousness. Upon leaving the hospital on Monday, he immediately visited his sons’ graves in the city’s Har HaMenuchot cemetery, arriving via ambulance and using a wheelchair.
“Sweethearts, I didn’t have time to say goodbye to you. I want to say thank you. What joy you had in learning, what sweetness, what joy of life,” he said at the cemetery.
Twenty-year-old Alter Shlomo Lederman, a recently married yeshiva [religious school] student, was also killed in the attack. In addition to Avraham Paley, three other Israelis were wounded in the attack. Karaka was shot dead at the scene by a police officer.
Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 15, 2023. See original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90/jns.org
Bless the Lord for the joy of new life amid the horrendous heartbreak and loss the Paley family has suffered. Cry out to the Lord for His continued comfort and presence over the Paleys and all those who mourn the death of loved ones in terror attacks. At the same time, entreat the Lord to bring to an end the horrific violence and bloodshed, ushering in His peace over the people of Israel.
“My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.”
Israeli Doctors Treating the Sick in the Amazon Jungle
by Doron Cooperstein ~ Ynetnews
Friday, 10 March 2023 | Earlier this winter, on a ship anchored on the banks of the Amazon river in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, some 50 navy soldiers were seen forming two straight lines, saluting the Israeli Ambassador to Brazil Daniel Zonshine and a team of Israeli doctors.
To get there, the Israeli medical professionals had to take two connecting flights. Heading the expedition is Dr. Ronit Almog, senior gynecologist and head of the Meviim Haim Laolam (Bring Life to the World) humanitarian project.
With two huge suitcases and several handbags each, most of them brought along some advanced medical equipment required for the ambitious project.
The local military band played a somewhat offbeat version of the Israeli national anthem, Hatikva, followed by the Brazilian one. It was an emotional moment for many, since those doctors were about to embark on a sail through the Amazon River, providing medical assistance, the likes of which the local population have never experienced.
Brazil is breathtaking. But large swaths of its population live in poverty. Looking from above, you can see beautiful seaside cliffs, white sandy beaches and carnivals full of color and joy.
But when you’re at ground level, you can see something else: crime-stricken favelas, isolated villages and gut-wrenching destitution.
That’s where these doctors were going. The kind of locations where advanced Western medicine is next to impossible to come by.
First stop was the Rio de Padres favela in Rio de Janeiro. A place devoid of basic sanitation infrastructure, with extremely narrow street corridors, stone steps and very basic looking homes. There, the staff found an adequate spot to build a makeshift clinic with a portable pharmacy, where they can unpack all their equipment and get to work.
Upon hearing about it, locals started to slowly gather around.
“We came here to work with local volunteer doctors,” says Dr. Almog. “We’re here to help the destitute who live in extremely crowded conditions with no sense of security. People are afraid to walk the street and the option of advanced medical care is non-existent. When they heard that doctors from Israel were coming over, they flocked here.”
Among the focal points of the expedition was gynecology. Breast cancer, for example, is the most common type of cancer among Brazilian women, and the mortality rate does not stop climbing.
From eye tests to clinical breast exams and cervical cancer screenings, each woman came with her own set of medical concerns—and the doctors were doing all they could to provide assistance.
From Rio’s favelas, the doctors moved onward to the most isolated Brazilian villages. This voyage, however, cannot be done via land. About one million people are scattered along the Amazon riverbanks, with several kilometers often separating them.
Brazilian authorities came up with an unusual solution to reach these places, converting defunct navy ships into sailing hospitals, cruising along the river, providing aid to all those who converge to get onboard.
On the ship’s ground floor, in a narrow corridor, there were rooms where the doctors performed the medical exams. Two dentist rooms, a room for mammography exams, a room with a CT machine, and several others.
“Anyone who needs a more advanced examination, like an ultrasound, has to come aboard the boat to get it,” says Dr. Almog.
“People are already waiting to get onboard, but there’s hardly any room to congregate, so we begin by examining them in the village where they live and then move them to the ship on a case-by-case basis.”
While conditions in makeshift clinics are anything but ideal, the staff was doing its best. Some improvisation required turning a dentist’s chair into one for gynecology examinations, for example.
Since locals get to see a doctor only about twice a year, they rushed to take advantage of this rare opportunity. Among them was a 79-year-old man whose severe medical problem has gone untreated for over a year.
He has a serious cardiac insufficiency, more commonly known as heart failure. So, basic activities, like walking, leave him exhausted. He has leg edema and the only medication he’s taken up until now has been insufficient.
After a week sailing along the Amazon, the staff moved on to the neighboring Guatemala, full of volcanoes, rainforests and ancient Mayan sites for another week of medical volunteer work.
Ambassador Zonshine said the impact of such missions on the image of Israel is very important. “The local media here covered the work of the doctors all throughout the mission, and a large public was exposed to the beautiful face of our country.”
Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on March 3, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: whl.travel/flickr.com
Photo License: flickr
As yet another beautiful example of Israel’s selfless commitment to make the world a better, safer, healthier and happier place materializes, pray that the display of the true heart of this tiny nation with change minds internationally to see Israel as a light to the nations. Pray that the Brazilian patients who benefit from the Israeli medical delegation’s sacrifice will emerge as pro-Israel advocates who speak out unashamedly on domestic and international platforms.
The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
All logos and trademarks in this site are property of their respective owner. All other materials are property of Bridges for Peace. Copyright © 2023.
Website Site Design by J-Town Internet Services Ltd. - Based in Jerusalem and Serving the World.