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A Light in the Midst of Trauma

Thursday, May 18, 2023

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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 our offices will be closed tomorrow, May 19, for Jerusalem Day. We will resume normal operations, including news, on Monday, May 22.

Tensions Rise Ahead of Jerusalem Day

by Ilse Strauss

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Young people carrying the flag of Israel join in the flag march on Jerusalem Day.

Tuesday, 16 May 2023 | As the fragile cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) brings the third day of calm, Palestinian factions have vowed that the annual Jerusalem Day flag march planned for Thursday afternoon would reignite tensions, plunging the region into an escalated cycle of violence.

According to the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, known for its Hamas sources, Palestinian terror groups told the Egyptian mediators who brokered Saturday night’s cease-fire they would launch a new campaign against the Jewish state to “prevent the change of reality” and oppose any so-called “Israeli aggression” against the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Hamas spokesperson Abd al-Latif al-Qanou also threatened in a statement last week that the terror group ruling the Gaza Strip would not allow Israel’s alleged plans to “Judaize the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the city of Jerusalem” on Jerusalem Day.

But how exactly does a flag march equate to a “change of reality,” “Israeli aggression” or Judaizing the spot where the First and the Second Temple stood and the eternal capital of the Jewish people?

The flag march is a highlight of the annual Jerusalem Day festivities, which commemorates the anniversary of liberating eastern Jerusalem from Jordanian occupation and reuniting the Israeli capital during the 1967 Six Day War. The march itself is a jubilant affair. Thousands of exuberant youths decked out in blue and white and carrying Israeli flags make their way from downtown Jerusalem and then on through the Old City—one of the areas liberated from the Jordanians—before culminating at the Western Wall, the only remaining structure of the Second Temple.

Palestinians, however, see the march as a provocation and routinely accuse Israel of using the event to “Judaize” the city, an alleged crime that Hamas and PIJ just as routinely vow to prevent.

The threats of violence are nothing new. In fact, they come like clockwork in the run-up to every Jerusalem Day.

In 2021, after weeks of clashes and terror attacks in Jerusalem and particularly on the Temple Mount, the Israeli government opted to err on the side of caution. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to alter the route at the last minute so that marchers would bypass the Old City’s Muslim Quarter.

Despite the concession, Hamas fired two rockets from the Gaza Strip on southern Israel during the march. The attack sparked an 11-day military operation dubbed Operation Guardian of the Walls in which Hamas and PIJ fired 4,400 rockets on Israel, killing 13 people.

Netanyahu made no similar concessions for the next year’s march, and the 2022 event concluded with nothing but a few small skirmishes.

Now, Netanyahu has insisted that despite the Palestinian threats, the flag day parade will follow its traditional route, entering through the Damascus Gate and winding through the Muslim Quarter before it concludes at the Western Wall.

“The flag march will continue as planned, as usual, on its route,” he said.

Israel isn’t ignoring the threats though. More than 2,000 additional police officers will be deployed on the ground to preserve order and maintain peace.

As the fragile peace holds and Israelis look forward to celebrating Jerusalem Day, we invite Christians around the world to stand with us as we pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Ps. 122:6).

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 16, 2023)

Photo Credit: Michio Nagata/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Sing praises to the Lord for His faithfulness to the city He has consecrated for His name and His presence to rest perpetually. Cry out to Him for protection as Israel marks the reunification of the eternal capital of the Jewish people, praying that the Palestinian terrorists’ plans to disrupt the flag march and accompanying celebrations will be brought to nothing.


“Yet I have chosen Jerusalem, that My name may be there…”

- 2 Chronicles 6:6a

Israel–Islamic Jihad Ceasefire Reached after 1,400 Rockets Fired, 700 Terror Targets Hit

by Joshua Spurlock ~ The Mideast Update

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Israel’s Iron Dome intercepting a missile (illustrative)

Monday, 15 May 2023 | The latest escalation between Gaza terrorists and Israel concluded with a ceasefire overnight Saturday, but not before two people in Israel were killed amid 1,468 rockets fired at Israel. And even with the ceasefire in place, Israeli leadership still recognizes the threat of the next conflict.

After thanking Egypt in a press release for its “intensive efforts” in securing the ceasefire, Israeli National Security Council Director Tzachi Hanegbi “made it clear that Israel’s acceptance of the Egyptian initiative means that ‘quiet will be met with quiet’, and that if Israel is attacked or threatened, it will continue to do everything that it needs to in order to defend itself.”

It took just hours for Israel to prove that commitment. After another rocket was launched on Sunday at an open area in Israel, the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] responded with tank fire at two Hamas military positions, according to posts to the IDF Hebrew Twitter page, as translated by Google. Al Jazeera’s Arabic website, also translated by Google, reported that a Palestinian terrorist source claimed the rocket fire was due to a technical problem and restated their commitment to the ceasefire.

The latest round of conflict, named Operation Shield and Arrow by Israel, lasted five days and resulted in more than 1,100 rockets landing inside Israel, according to an IDF Twitter post. This was in addition to the hundreds of rockets fired from Palestinian terrorists that landed short inside the Gaza Strip. Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system logged 437 interceptions for a 95.6% success rate.

Despite Israel’s defense systems, the rocket fire killed an elderly woman and a Gazan working in Israel, according to a report in the Times of Israel and the Twitter page of IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Richard Hecht. In his post on Saturday, Hecht noted that the brother of the deceased Gazan was in hospital with Israeli doctors “fighting for his life.”

“These were two brothers with families working in Israel for their family. This shows the cynical ways of these Islamists,” tweeted Hecht.

The IDF, meanwhile, struck 700 terrorist targets and killed multiple high level Islamic Jihad operatives, with the IDF Twitter feed stating it included the commander of Islamic Jihad’s Rocket Launching Force, Ali Ghali.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Hebrew comments in Sunday’s Cabinet meeting published to his office’s website and translated into English by Google, said the operation achieved its objectives of “initiative and surprise.”

“With complete surprise and continuous initiative, we thwarted the entire top of the Islamic Jihad in Gaza. We destroyed 17 Jihad headquarters, eliminated dozens of terrorists, hit rocket and missile depots, thwarted anti-tank squads and more,” said Netanyahu.

“For months, since the establishment of the government, I have been saying again and again: whoever hurts us, whoever tries, and whoever will try to hurt us—blood on his head. Today the enemies of Israel, in Gaza and far beyond Gaza, know that even if they try to hide, we can and are willing to reach them at any time.”

Israel and terror groups in Gaza have battled numerous conflicts over the years, with thousands of rockets launched at Israel while Israel seeks to proactively defend the country from ongoing and future attacks. On Sunday, Netanyahu said the recognition of Israel’s ability and willingness to strike its enemies was “significantly strengthened in the Shield and Arrow operation. We changed the equation.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Mideast Update on May 14, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Emanuel Yellin, עמנואל ילין/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Thank God for restoring peace for the citizens of Israel. At the same time, beseech Him to bring a permanent solution to the Palestinian groups in Gaza sparking a seemingly endless cycle of violence followed by a negotiated cease-fire—only to repeat the same pattern months later. Also ask for God’s physical and emotional protection over the Israelis who live near the Gaza border and bear the brunt of these attacks.


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

Cohen Makes First Visit to Sweden by Israeli Foreign Minister in 20 Years

by JNS

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Foreign Minister Eli Cohen

Tuesday, 16 May 2023 | Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen kicked off a diplomatic mission to Sweden on Sunday night, marking the first time in more than 20 years that an Israeli foreign minister has visited the country.

Cohen’s itinerary includes a meeting with his Swedish counterpart, Tobias Billström, which is to deal with a range of topics, primarily focusing on the continued improvement of diplomatic relations and collaborative efforts to address regional security concerns.

Sweden currently holds the presidency of the European Union, making it a vital player in shaping Europe’s stance on various security matters.

However, while Cohen’s visit is part of a concerted effort to bolster bilateral ties, a key figure in Sweden’s Jewish community hopes that the Israeli foreign minister will also raise the topic of Swedish anti-Semitism.

According to Saskia Pantell, who founded the Sweden–Israel Alliance and also serves as president of the Zionist Federation of Sweden, it is crucial that Cohen also raise Swedish anti-Semitism in his discussions.

This is because, she explained, anti-Semitism in Sweden is “being mixed up between Israel and the Jews.”

Pantell, who is in Israel, cited as an example an incident that occurred in 2020 after the United States relocated its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“Jewish students were celebrating Hanukkah [Festival of Light] at a synagogue in Gothenburg when 20 masked men attacked the synagogue with Molotov cocktails,” she recalled. “This was a criticism of [then-US President Donald] Trump moving the embassy. They targeted Jews, but the police considered it arson. If it was a criticism of a state, you don’t criticize the local Jewish community.”

Nor was this an isolated event, said Pantell.

“Swedish police dismiss the majority of anti-Semitic hate crimes as just criticism of Israel,” she said.

“Last year, Sweden was celebrating the anniversary of the IHRA [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance] definition of anti-Semitism. They were talking the talk, but not walking the walk on anti-Semitism,” she continued.

Pantell was also critical of what she called Sweden’s “undefined” aid to the Palestinians.

“Aid goes to organizations, but you hope for the best, that it lands where it’s supposed to land. This needs to be addressed,” she said.

“Sweden doesn’t realize that when you give aid money, it doesn’t necessarily go where it’s supposed to go. I believe Sweden wants good, but it can be naive,” she added. “Giving a lot of aid money without tracking it or asking for a receipt may very well end up in the pockets of terrorists, and ultimately be used even for rockets targeting Israel.”

Cohen acknowledged the issue of Swedish aid in comments ahead of his meeting with Billström, saying, “We will discuss ways to prevent aid funds from reaching terrorists and their families.”

He also praised Sweden’s early adoption of the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism and expressed his determination to collaborate closely with Sweden in the ongoing fight against all forms of hatred.

In addition to the meeting with Billström, Cohen is expected to engage with other government officials, business figures and members of the local Jewish community. Between 16,000–18,000 Jews live in Sweden.

Noting what she called “strong startup scenes and a strong sense of democracy” in both countries, Pantell said, “Sweden and Israel have a lot in common and would be strong allies if they realize their common ground.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on May 15, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Bless the Lord for the warming ties between Israel and Sweden. Pray that Foreign Minister Cohen’s visit will bear good fruit, resulting in continually improved diplomatic relations and goodwill for Israel on the part of this vital European ally. Ask the Lord to bless Sweden as the nation blesses Israel, standing as an example of God’s faithfulness to His promise to those who deal favorably with the Jewish people.


“Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be those who bless you!”

- Genesis 27:29b

Unpacking the Civilian Casualty Controversy

by Ilse Strauss

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Israeli children hide out in bomb shelters as rockets rain down (illustrative).

Monday, 15 May 2023 | I spent the nine months before the birth of my daughter in a perpetual state of preparation. I subscribed to every course, read every book and consulted every expert. Yet there’s one thing for which no amount of courses, books or powwows with professionals can prepare you. Motherhood sharpens the sting of universal suffering. Tragedies and disasters are no longer out there beyond the borders of your safe existence. Instead, every picture of a child buried under rubble or a mother sobbing over the broken body of her baby carry the heartbreak closer to home. It pierces your heart with the terrifying possibility of a loss you can’t even fathom.

Take war, for example. Or to be more specific, the civilian casualties of war. And to be more specific still, children caught in the crossfire.

Operation Shield and Arrow—the five-day flare-up between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the second-largest terror group in the Gaza Strip—was no different.

In the early morning hours of Tuesday, May 9, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) launched a series of three coordinated strikes in 20 seconds, targeting three top terror leaders in the PIJ hierarchy. Khalil Bahitini, the commander of the al-Quds Brigades—the armed wing of the PIJ—in the northern Gaza Strip, Tareq Ezzaldin, the Gazan coordinator of terror activity in Judea and Samaria and Jihad Ghannam, the PIJ military council’s secretary all perished in the strikes.

Perhaps the pre-dawn strikes would have made for a singular headline before being archived had Bahitini, Ezzaldin and Ghannam perished on their own. Yet 10 civilians, including three children, died with them.

I read the news before sunrise over my morning coffee, listening to the rise and fall of my toddler’s breathing in the next room. The smiling faces of Khalil Salah Al-Bahitini, 4 and brother and sister Ali Tariq Ibrahim Izzuddin, 8, and Mayar Tariq Ibrahim Izzuddin, 10, pierced my heart with the now-familiar possibility of a loss I can’t even fathom—as I knew they would for hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people the world over.

As Christians, our support for Israel shouldn’t come with conditions. We do not stand with the Jewish state because it is better, smarter or superior. We love Israel because we love the God of Israel. That being said, as I looked at the sweet, smiling faces of the three children who perished alongside their fathers hours earlier, I feared how this would sway the hearts and minds of a society obsessed with social justice. More importantly, I feared how situations just like this sway the hearts and minds of young Christians who grow into adulthood on a steady diet of tragic pro-Palestinian victim narratives dished up with no context.

Every event unfolds within a specific context. And unless you are privy to that context, your interpretation of said event remains slated. Perhaps therein lies the rub. Social media doesn’t allow for the backstory. Instead, an international audience interprets truth based on a snapshot, on a few seconds captioned and framed just so. Tragically, four-year-old Khalil Salah Al-Bahitini and brother and sister Ali Tariq Ibrahim Izzuddin and Mayar Tariq Ibrahim Izzuddin serve as examples.

Are you familiar with the name Tali Hatuel? Neither was I. But most Israelis know her name. They also remember the names of her four little girls, Hila, 11, Hadar, 9, Roni, 7 and Merav, 2—and their smiling faces. They remember that Tali was eight months pregnant when two Palestinian terrorists armed with automatic rifles opened fire at the car in which she and her four daughters were traveling, causing it to spin off the road. The two gunmen then calmly approached the vehicle and emptied their weapons, firing from close range at Tali and her four daughters, killing all of them. Perhaps they also remember that the PIJ later took responsibility for the attack, with Jahed Ahnam identified as the mastermind behind the bloodbath. The same Jahed Ahnam whom Israel killed in a targeted assassination on Tuesday morning.

Is this a case of an eye for an eye then? The PIJ killed Israeli children so Israel kills PIJ children? Hardly. On the morning that Tali and her four daughters were murdered, the terrorists set out with a singular goal: killing as many Israeli men, women and children as they could. Their goal has not changed. Just because the casualty figure in Israel is fairly low doesn’t mean that Ahnam and his cronies stopped trying. On the contrary. It simply means that Israel got better at defending its people, investing millions of dollars in fences, smart technology, air-defense systems and stopping the terrorists before they can claim their next victim.

And perhaps that’s where the biggest distinction lies. Whereas Palestinian terrorists strike in order to murder and maim as many innocents as possible, Israel strikes to stop the Palestinian terrorists from achieving that goal.

And while my heart as a mother aches over the loss of innocent young lives, I cannot help but wonder how I would feel if Israel didn’t strike, if Ahnam and his ilk were left to continue pursuing their goal. At some point, Israel’s defenses might prove fallible, as all human inventions sometimes do. What if Ahnam’s victim was my toddler…or yours?

This context does not make the death of four-year-old Khalil Salah Al-Bahtini and brother and sister Ali Tariq Ibrahim Izzuddin and Mayar Tariq Ibrahim Izzuddin any less tragic. It does, however, mean that Israel is not at fault. It means their parents chose to put these innocents in harm’s way when they chose to target other innocents. It also means that their parents knowingly took the coward’s way out, choosing to hide behind their children as human shields because they banked on Israel’s policy of calling off airstrikes at the last moment if civilians might be caught in the crosshairs.

After five days of fighting, the fragile cease-fire seems to be holding, bringing an end to this bout of violence. But make no mistake. Nobody believes that this will be the last round.

Still, despite the thousands of rockets and missiles raining down on civilian populations, Israel’s fiercest battlefield is not the Gazan border. The Jewish state faces its cruelest and perhaps most dangerous enemy in the court of public condemnation where social justice warriors wage war with evidence taken out of context and presented without a backstory.

Thankfully, Israel is not alone. Thousands of Christians around the world are willing to speak up and out on behalf of the Jewish state to provide that context and fill in the backstory. May we not grow weary. The battle for Israel’s narrative will only grow stronger.

Photo Credit: (Bridges for Peace, May 15, 2023)

Photo Credit: The Israel Project/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord to bring a swift end to this deplorable ethos that sees parents sacrifice their children on the altar of hatred and fanaticism. Also beseech Him to thrust the truth into the light, exposing the guilty and showcasing Israel’s efforts to protect life.


For the leaders of this people cause them to err, and those who are led by them are destroyed.

- Isaiah 9:16

Abbas: Kick Israel out of the UN

by Kate Norman

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas

Tuesday, 16 May 2023 | The United Nations gave Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas a microphone yesterday, and though he was only allotted half an hour, he held the floor for double that time—and used it to berate Israel.

At the UN’s first occasion commemorating “Nakba Day,” an event which laments the rebirth of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, Abbas called for the UN to oust Israel from membership in the international body.

The PA president not only slated the State of Israel, he also denied the right of the Jewish people to the land and to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. He compared Israeli policies to a Nazi leader and lambasted the United States and the United Kingdom for their part in the rebirth of Israel.

Abbas noted that Israel agreed in 1947 to a UN resolution that set up a two-state solution, establishing the State of Israel and a separate Palestinian state within Judea and Samaria. Israel did indeed agree to those terms, but the Arabs did not, which Abbas failed to mention.

In fact, 75 years ago, the day after the reestablishment of the State of Israel, armies from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria invaded the fledgling state in an attempt to wipe it off the map before it took root. Those states also encouraged the Palestinian people to flee the land, assuring them they could return once the Jewish people were wiped out. Some 750,000 Arabs heeded the call and left. That is what “Nakba Day” commemorates, as “nakba” is the Arabic word for catastrophe—the rebirth of the Jewish state.

Nonetheless, ignoring the history, Abbas demanded that “Israel respects these [UN] resolutions, or suspend Israel’s membership from the UN.”

Abbas also lambasted the US and the UK, charging that they “specifically bear political and ethical responsibility” for the Nakba “because they took part in rendering our people a victim when they decided to establish and plant another entity in our historic homeland for their own colonial goals.” He added that “these countries wanted to get rid of their Jews and benefit from their presence in Palestine.”

The US and the UK had announced last week that they would not participate in yesterday’s event. Several other countries reportedly followed suit, including Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Czechia, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Italy, Peru, South Sudan, Uruguay and others, totaling 45 member-states.

Abbas fanned the flames by comparing Israel to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels in his speech yesterday.

“Israeli and Zionist claims continue by saying that Israel made the desert bloom. As if Palestine was a desert and they made the desert bloom,” the president said. “These are lies. They continue to lie, like Goebbels, and they continue to lie until people believe their lies.”

Anti-Israel incitement almost always involves the Temple Mount, the site where the first and second biblical temples once stood and the holiest site in Judaism. However, it is also where the Al-Aqsa Mosque stands today, the third holiest site in Islam, making it a flashpoint in the Israel–Palestinian conflict.

Abbas touched on it by arguing that the Jewish people have no connection to the Temple Mount, that they have “been digging for 30 years to find any evidence or proof” of their ties to the site but that “they haven’t found anything.”

“Al-Sharif [the Arabic name for the Temple Mount] belongs exclusively to the Muslims,” Abbas declared.

The president called on the international body to make the “Nakba” event a yearly occurrence, considering May 15 “an international day to commemorate the Palestinian plight which is a plight for humanity as a whole.”

But Nakba Day is not just a day to lament the Palestinian plight; it is a day to incite violence and hatred against Israel and the Jewish people.

As Abbas used his platform yesterday to castigate Israel in front of the UN, thousands of people at a Nakba parade, which marched from the BBC headquarters in London to the prime minister’s residence, called for an intifada (uprising) against Israel, calling it “the only solution,” the JNS reported, citing video footage from the march.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 16, 2023)

Photo Credit: Kremlin.ru/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord against this blatant mockery of His promises and actions. Instead of the UN instituting the “Nakba” event as a yearly occurrence, pray that Israel’s rebirth will rather be celebrated and proclaimed for what it is: a beacon of His faithfulness to fulfill His word.


A wicked man, walks with a perverse mouth; he winks with his eyes, he shuffles his feet, he points with his fingers; perversity is in his heart, he devises evil continually, he sows discord.

- Proverbs 6:12b–14

Diaspora Minister: 48% Rise in Violent Anti-Semitic Incidents since 2022

by Itamar Eichner ~ Ynetnews

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Anti-Semitic graffiti in Lithuania

Tuesday, 16 May 2023 | The Diaspora Affairs Ministry revealed on Monday that anti-Semitic incidents worldwide rose by 22% in 2023. This is in comparison to the previous year, which saw a 48% increase in such events being violent.

The ministry also said that 68% of the anti-Semitic discourse on social media is what it classified as “new anti-Semitism,” a demonization and delegitimization of Israel.

Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli, who was asked to appear before the Knesset [Parliament] Committee for Immigration Absorption and Diaspora Affairs to review the ministry’s budget spending, said his office responds to every anti-Semitic incident in the world.

“Only extreme pressure brings results and the new anti-Semitism is the delegitimizing of Israel,” Chikli said. “We work with the Foreign Ministry to bring nations around the world to adopt the wider definition of anti-Semitism outlined by IHRA [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance], conduct studies and launch campaigns to negate the work of anti-Israel groups,” he said.

“During Operation Shield and Arrow, we opened a command and control center to provide the international press with information. We briefed 50 representatives of European media outlets and set up an office to document and produce materials on the events in Sderot and another to provide Arab language information,” he said.

Avi Cohen-Scali, the ministry’s director general, told the committee that his office alloted US $250,000 to physical protection for Jews in Ukraine and NIS 12 million [US $3.3] to bolstering Jewish communities in that country.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on May 16, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Beny Shlevich/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Beseech the Lord to protect His people against the ancient evil of anti-Semitism, now thinly disguised as an anti-Israel stance. At the same time, bless the Lord for the existence of Israel, the world’s only Jewish state where Jewish people are free to practice their culture and faith without persecution.


“I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them,” says the LORD your God.

- Amos 9:15

Iran Steps up Pressure on Proxies to Unite against Israel

by Baruch Yadid ~ JNS

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Palestinian Islamic Jihad members

Wednesday, 17 May 2023 | Heavy Iranian pressure on Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad [PIJ] to establish a “joint operational mechanism” to coordinate activities against Israel is reportedly causing internal divisions among the Iranian proxies.

The alliance of Iranian-backed terror groups known as the “Jerusalem Axis” is Iran’s counterweight to the Abraham Accords, and finds support in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.

Arab and Lebanese sources indicate that Iran has been actively working towards establishing a shared operational headquarters for Hezbollah, Hamas and PIJ in southern Lebanon. There are indications of plans to create a joint center to coordinate rocket attacks on Israel.

While the move seeks to strengthen the Jerusalem Axis’s military capabilities, the terror groups themselves are reportedly less than enthusiastic about the plan.

Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, has expressed opposition to the initiative, preferring to maintain a more neutral stance. However, Saleh al-Arouri, an influential Hamas figure reportedly based in Turkey, supports closer ties with Iran and is leading the push for an “Iranian option.”

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, too, prefers to maintain his status as an independent proxy rather than fully aligning with Hamas.

As for PIJ, it is directly funded by Iran to the tune of some US $100 million annually. Tehran gave PIJ permission to pursue the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire that ended a five-day conflict with Israel.

The heightened coordination between Iran and its proxies was evidenced by a series of meetings involving high-ranking officials earlier this year.

In one meeting of note, Esmail Ghaani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, held discussions with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas deputy Arouri and senior officials from PIJ and Hezbollah at the Iranian embassy in Lebanon. On April 6, shortly after Ghaani’s visit, a barrage of rockets was fired at Israel from Lebanon, strongly suggesting a coordinated effort.

Israel responded to the rockets by targeting Hamas-affiliated sites in southern Lebanon. The following day, Hassan Nasrallah held a meeting with Haniyeh, further indicating Hezbollah’s involvement and approval of the rocket fire.

These events underscore the close coordination that already exists between Iran and its proxies, which Tehran is now seeking to extend to the operational sphere.

The establishment of an operational mechanism in southern Lebanon aligns with Iran’s broader objective with regard to Israel. It also potentially aligns with the goals of Hezbollah. By activating Hamas from Lebanese soil, the Lebanese terror group can shield both its own assets and those of Iran from Israeli retaliation.

However, Hezbollah faces internal political pressure in Lebanon, including from its own Shiite community, discouraging any action that could potentially cause a destructive conflict akin to the 2006 war. Hezbollah’s delicate position in Lebanon may lead the terror group to seek an alternative solution.

For Hamas, however, the situation is far more complex. Tehran’s proposed coordination mechanism would potentially turn Hamas into a de facto proxy of Hezbollah.

Senior Hamas leaders, including Sinwar, who maintains close ties with Egypt, and Khaled Meshaal, the Hamas leader associated with Qatar, find such an arrangement to be unacceptable.

This is reportedly causing tension with the pro-Iran group in Hamas led by al-Arouri.

Which camp ultimately gets the upper hand remains to be seen.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on May 16, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Hassan Jedi/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Bring this evil scheme hatched by Iran to unite its proxies to form a united front against Israel with the aim of inflicting greater carnage. Remind God of His promise to watch over Israel without slumbering or sleeping (Ps. 121:4) and pray that these malicious plans will be brought to nothing.


Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the LORD shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: “Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.”

- Psalm 2:1-6

Nicosia Seeks Partner for Plan to Ship Cypriot, Israeli Gas to Europe

by JNS

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An Israel Navy vessel sails near one of Israel’s natural gas rigs in the Mediterranean Sea.

Wednesday, 17 May 2023 | A plan to ship Israeli and Cypriot gas to Europe will be presented to energy companies on May 29, Cyprus’s energy minister said on Tuesday.

The plan, an alternative to the more ambitious US $6.8 billion EastMed pipeline project, which stalled after Washington withdrew support in 2022, involves the construction of a pipeline linking Israeli and Cypriot gas fields, as well as a gas liquefaction plant in Cyprus. The process of gas liquefaction involves cooling gas below its boiling point so it can be safely stored and transported.

Offshore natural gas from both countries would be liquified for transport before being exported by ship to Europe.

Two large international oil and gas companies have so far expressed interest in the initiative, Minister Giorgos Papanastasiou told AP. The plan will be pitched to each company individually, as getting them on board is key to getting the project off the ground, he added.

Speaking to reporters on May 15, the Cypriot energy minister said that a liquefaction plant could take about two and a half years to build, while a pipeline to Israel’s gas fields would take some 18 months, according to Reuters.

“It will be a corridor that will exist. Instead of a pipeline [directly to Europe] it will be a connection between Israel and Europe, which can be done through Cyprus,” said Papanastasiou.

“It could be a virtual pipeline which would link though Cyprus to the rest of Europe in liquefied form,” he added.

On May 11, Papanastasiou accompanied Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides on a visit to Jerusalem for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Papanastasiou intends to return to Israel for further discussions.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Europe has been moving to diversify its energy sources. Turkey has also been courting Israel to collaborate on energy ventures.

Israel has separate agreements to sell natural gas to Europe via Egyptian liquefaction facilities.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on May 17, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDF/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for God’s favor over this initiative that will see Israeli energy sources flow into Europe. Pray that this will be a source of rich blessing both for Israel and the nations benefiting from her natural resources. Also sing praises to God for His bounty on the Land that enables Israel to prosper.


For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper.

- Deuteronomy 8:7–9