Compassion

Help Israeli families restore the lives, homes and security that went up in smoke.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

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

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New Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Leader Said Wiping Israel Off the Political Map Is Their Strategy

by Joshua Spurlock

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Israel wouldn’t have a cemetery to bury their dead in “Palestine” if they went to war with Iran, says new IRGC head, Hossein Salami. (Illustrative)

Monday, 22 April 2019 | Wiping Israel off the map, forcing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to flee via the sea, threatening Europe with missile capabilities if efforts are made to disarm the Iranian missile program—these are just some of the sentiments expressed in the last year by the new leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami. And all of these sentiments were reported by Iranian media.

The IRGC is a powerful military body in Iran that also wields significant economic influence. The IRGC was recently designated by the United States as a terrorist organization due to their involvement in terrorism around the world.

The Mehr News Agency reported in January that Salami went beyond calling wiping the “Zionist regime”—Iran’s code name for the State of Israel—off the political map as just a dream, stating it was in fact a strategy for Iran. He further warned that if Israel went to war with Iran, Israelis wouldn’t even have a cemetery left to them in “Palestine” to bury their dead.

Those comments came just days prior to Mehr reporting on Salami’s warning that if Europe sought to disarm Iran of its missile capability, Iran would need to take a “strategic leap” in their missile program. This came as he issued a veiled threat at Europe that Iran’s missile range was limited not by technology, but by strategy.

Meanwhile, the Fars News Agency report announcing Salami’s nomination to head the IRGC on Sunday quoted the new IRGC leader as saying last October that Netanyahu needed to learn how to swim in the Mediterranean Sea—apparently alluding to the popular Arab refrain of driving Israel into the sea. Fars quoted Salami as saying that “there is no way for him except fleeing the region.”

However, it’s not as though Salami’s predecessor heading the IRGC, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, was peaceful. The Fars report said that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei instructed Salami to stay the course charted by the former IRGC commander and at least one expert doesn’t expect much to change.

Saeed Ghasseminejad, a senior advisor and financial economist at The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), tweeted on Sunday that “Salami replaced Jafari as the new commander of the IRGC. He was Jafari’s deputy for a decade so don’t expect significant differences.”

The nomination of Salami comes at a time when the IRGC is under significant pressure by the US. When the US designated the IRGC as terrorists, the US unleashed a range of sanctions not only on the IRGC, but also on those doing business with them.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a comments published by the State Department regarding the designation, didn’t hold back in his description of the IRGC.

“The IRGC masquerades as a legitimate military organization, but none of us should be fooled. It regularly violates the laws of armed conflict; it plans, organizes and executes terror campaigns all around the world,” he said.

The terror designation is one more area where Salami will take offense at the West. According to Press TV—another Iranian news source—he called the US designation “foolish” and in return accused the US of being a primary sponsor of terrorism.

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this story on April 21, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Photo Credit: Mohammad Reza Jofar/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray God’s hand of protection over the land and people of Israel amid these serious threats from the Islamic regime. Intercede for the Land of Promise that her enemies will not be allowed to make a mockery of her.

Scripture

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


- Psalm 83:1–4

IDF Officer Warns Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza Could Trigger Attacks on Israel

by Matan Tzuri

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The humanitarian crisis in Gaza could lead to more violent riots.

Friday, 19 April 2019 | The humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip is “at breaking point,” and could trigger a new wave of attacks on Israel, a senior IDF [Israel Defense Forces] officer warned Wednesday, citing an alarming infant mortality rate of 4,900 deaths in 56,000 annual births.

According to Lt. Col. Khatib Mansour, who is charged with Palestinian affairs at the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT),  while the Israel–Gaza border is currently relatively quiet and Egyptian brokered agreements with Hamas are appearing to hold, civilian suffering in Gaza is great.

Speaking to Israelis who live in the area of the Gaza border, Mansour said that 97% of water sources in the Strip are polluted and electricity is only available for eight hours a day.

Suicide rates are high, while anyone who can is leaving, he said.

This unsustainable situation, he warned, will manifest in an increase of attacks against Israelis.

He told his audience that IDF forces stationed along the border have noticed many of the Palestinians taking part in the violent “March of Return” weekly protests along the security fence are under the influence of drugs.

There are no prospects for the future for the youth of the Gaza Strip, Mansour said. They know no better lives, and are told by their teachers and religious leaders that Israel alone is responsible for their situation.

Gaza has been under the control of the Islamist terror group Hamas since it seized power in 2007. A recent series of protests against the organization in Gaza were met with brutal suppression. Days after the start of the protests, Hamas fired a long-range rocket into central Israel, destroying a home on Moshav Mishmeret [north of Tel Aviv].

Israel responded with a series of airstrikes targeting the organization and other Palestinian so-called resistance groups.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on April 17, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: badwanart0/pixabay.com

Photo License: pixabay.com

Prayer Focus
Lift up the civilians in the Gaza Strip before the Lord. Ask Him to ease their suffering and open their eyes to the true source of their misery—Hamas and its corrupt leadership, not Israel. Pray that God will protect Israel from being the target of misplaced anger by the people of Gaza.

Scripture

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.


- Genesis 50:20

US Releases First Official Map Showing Golan Heights as Israeli Territory

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The US has released a new map showing the Golan Heights (white) as Israeli territory. (Illustrative)

Friday, 19 April 2019 | The United States published for the first time on Tuesday a map showing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, three weeks after the country officially recognized Israeli sovereignty over the strategic plateau.

The map shows the 1974 cease-fire line between Israel and the Syrian regime as a permanent border, whereas the border with Lebanon continues to be demarcated as the 1949 armistice line. It also clarifies that while the US recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, it does not take a final position on the boundaries of the city.

US Special Envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, shared a picture of the map on social media saying: “Welcome to the newest addition of our international maps system after @POTUS issued a proclamation recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”

Standing alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on March 25, 2019, US President Donald Trump made formal a move he had announced earlier in the month.

“Today, aggressive action by Iran and terrorist groups in southern Syria, including Hezbollah, continue to make the Golan Heights a potential launching ground for attacks against Israel,” Trump said, as he explained the decision.

Netanyahu hailed the move as a “diplomatic victory” and stressed that “Israel won the Golan Heights in a just war of defense.” During the Six Day War, Israel was defending itself from aggression on the part of its Arab neighbors, Syria, Jordan and Egypt—meaning that the territory was not taken in a war of aggression but constituted a lawful territorial change in response to outside aggressors.

Israel has long argued that it cannot risk a permanent entrenchment of Iranian and Hezbollah forces along the eastern shores of the Sea of Galilee. The shift in policy has gained increasing bipartisan support. In January, House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D–Md.) said, “Israel should maintain control of the Golan Heights.”

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project in its publication The Tower on April 18, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: CIA World Factbook/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the United States’ continued steps of recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Ask Him to put a shield of protection over the region from Israel’s enemies to the north.

Scripture

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped…The LORD is their strength, and He is the saving refuge of His anointed. Save Your people, and bless Your inheritance; shepherd them also, and bear them up forever.


- Psalm 28:7a, 8–9

Israel Offers Assistance after Devastating Terrorist Attacks in Sri Lanka

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Aftermath of the bombing in Sri Lanka on Sunday.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019 | Israel has offered Sri Lanka assistance in the aftermath of devastating suicide bombings at churches and hotels on Easter Sunday that left nearly 300 people dead and more than 500 injured.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed “deep shock over the murderous attacks against innocent civilians in Sri Lanka.” The Israeli leader, in a statement released on Sunday, said that “Israel stands ready to assist the authorities in Sri Lanka at this difficult time.”

He added: “The entire world must unite in the battle against the scourge of terrorism.”

Sri Lankan authorities have arrested 24 people in connection with the suicide bombings and labeled those responsible “religious extremists.” The government on Monday said that a local jihadist group—the National Thowheeth Jama’ath [NTJ]—was responsible for the massacres.

NTJ came to notice last year when it was linked to the vandalization of Buddhist statues. Sri Lanka is predominantly Buddhist, with significant Hindu, Christian and Muslim minorities.

“The attacks in Sri Lanka, including those at prayer celebrating Easter Sunday, are a despicable crime…” Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin wrote on Twitter. “Israel sends condolences to the families of the victims and wishes for the recovery of the injured.”

One church, St. Anthony’s Shrine, and the three hotels in Colombo are frequented by tourists. Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry said that at least 36 foreigners were among the dead. Countries that have confirmed their citizens were killed in the attacks include the United States, Australia, Britain, Denmark, Portugal, Japan and China.

The prime minister’s office said that Meir Ben-Shabbat, the head of Israel’s National Security Council, had spoken to Udaya Seneviratne, secretary to Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena, to offer Israeli humanitarian aid.

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) and United Hatzalah teamed up in January to train first responders in Colombo in mass casualty incidents and disaster management. The Sri Lanka military, police force, search and rescue units and the fire department took part in the exercise and learned techniques developed in Israel to deal with large-scale attacks and natural disasters.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by The Israel Project in its publication The Tower on April 22, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: i24News English/YouTube/Screenshot

Prayer Focus
Ask God to bless Israel’s efforts in helping her hurting neighbor so that all the training and assistance will bear fruit and shine a light during this time of darkness. Cry out for those who are wounded or mourning the loss of a loved one.

Scripture

Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!”


- Lamentations 3:22–23

Palestinians Admit to Turning Down Israeli Peace Offer of 100% of Judea and Samaria

by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

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Abbas turned down a deal in 2008 that offered the Palestinians more than the territory of Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019 | As Israel, the [Palestinian Authority] PA and the international community await the publication of the American peace plan, it is clear, based on PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’s behavior in previous peace talks, that nothing the United States can offer will be enough for the PA leader.

[Palestinian Liberation Organization] PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, who was present at the negotiations between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Abbas in 2008, recently told PA TV how generous Olmert’s offer was on all final status issues. In fact, Olmert literally accepted all the PA’s publicly expressed demands, and even offered Abbas more than the full area of the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and Gaza—yet Abbas still rejected the offer.

Erekat explained that the area of the West Bank and Gaza Strip before they came under Israeli control in 1967 was 6,235 square kilometers [2,407 square miles]. Olmert offered Abbas even more land than that—a total of 6,260 square kilometers [2,417 square miles]. At the negotiations, Erekat encouraged Abbas to accept the offer, saying that he could tell Palestinians: “I got more than the 1967 territories.” Still Abbas rejected the offer.

Regarding Israel’s capital Jerusalem, Olmert was likewise very generous. According to Erekat, Olmert offered: “What’s Arab is Arab, and what’s Jewish is Jewish.” This would have kept the Temple Mount—Judaism’s holiest site—under Palestinian rule with far-reaching implications for Jews and Judaism. The PA has said many times they would never allow Jews access to the Temple Mount since they consider Jews’ presence on any area of the Temple Mount a desecration of the nearby Al-Aqsa Mosque. Yet Olmert still offered to give this to the Palestinians for peace—and even this wasn’t enough for Abbas.

On the topic of refugees, Olmert was also forthcoming. He offered to have 150,000 refugees absorbed into the State of Israel over a period of 10 years. Still Abbas rejected it.

It’s no wonder that Abbas has announced that the PA has already rejected Trump’s peace proposal—his yet unpublicized “Deal of the Century.” Since Abbas already rejected a peace offer that included more than 100% of the land he claims he wants, all future offers, including the Trump plan, which will never be as generous, will likewise be rejected by Abbas.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Palestinian Media Watch on April 16, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Beivushtang/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Beseech the Lord to intervene and have His way in this situation. Ask Him to open the eyes of the international community to see the truth of who is to blame for blocking peace in the region.

Scripture

The thoughts of the righteous are right, but the counsels of the wicked are deceitful. The words of the wicked are, “Lie in wait for blood,” but the mouth of the upright will deliver them. The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous will stand


- Proverbs 12:5–7

Survey Reveals One-third of Americans Holds Incorrect Beliefs about the Holocaust

by Itamar Eichner

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A survey revealed that many Americans are uninformed about the events of the Holocaust.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019 | One-third of Americans believe only two million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, and 66% of millennials have never heard of Auschwitz, according to a comprehensive national survey on Holocaust awareness and knowledge among adults in the United States, released by the Claims Conference, founded to deal with restitution for Holocaust survivors.

Over 45% asked could not name any of the 40 ghettos or concentration camps present in Europe during the Second World War. That number increases among people born in the 80s and 90s.

The study reveals 68% of Americans believe there is anti-Semitism in the US and 37% say neo-Nazis exist in large numbers. Seven out of 10 say fewer people care about the Holocaust than in the past. A majority (58%) believe a similar event could take place again.

According to the study, Americans are not educated enough about the Holocaust and reports schools must do more.

However, not all results were negative. Nine out of 10 surveyed (93%) believe all students should learn about the Holocaust in school and eight out of 10 say it is important to keep teaching about the Holocaust so it does not happen again.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on April 14, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Leeturtle/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for truth to be revealed, not just in the United States, but in all the countries in the world that are ignorant about the evils of the Holocaust so that it will never be repeated. Thank the Lord for the overwhelming willingness of people to be educated on the dark history of the Jewish people and pray that the thirst for knowledge will come to fruition.

Scripture

Yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.


- Proverbs 2:3–5

Israeli President, IDF Chief Hold Passover Meal with 400 Lone Soldiers

by Joshua Spurlock

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President Rivlin and other Israeli leaders celebrated Passover with hundreds of lone soldiers from all over the world.

Monday, 22 April 2019 | It’s always challenging to celebrate holidays without any family, and when one is serving in the military as well, that can make it even more so. In response to that, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and leader of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi on Friday celebrated the traditional Passover meal—known in Hebrew as a seder—with 400 “lone” soldiers, or IDF troops who do not have family in Israel to support them.

“Despite the difficulties of being a soldier, and even more so of being a lone soldier, you chose to serve the state in order to protect us all,” Rivlin [said at] the event per an Israeli press release. “You are brave and wonderful people. It is a great honor to sit with you here tonight…It is an opportunity for us to give something back to you.”

The Passover meal marks the Israelite’s freedom from slavery in Egypt as described in the biblical book of Exodus and involves multiple special foods to recall that experience. Rivlin highlighted those themes as important to today’s times as well—especially for the military.

“One does not attain freedom overnight. Freedom is a sustained effort—spiritual and physical. Today, too, we must protect our freedom and our right to live in the State of Israel. Because of that, we still need a strong army,” said Rivlin. “Each one of you comes from a different background. But you all have in common the fact that you chose to give of yourselves for the benefit of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.”

The 400 “lone soldiers” originally hail from dozens of different nations, according to the press release. The event was held at the Yahad–United for Israel’s Soldiers (UFIS) facility at Givat Olga. In addition to Rivlin and Kochavi, the chairman of UFIS, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yoram Yair, Chief Education Officer Brig.-Gen. Zvika Faireisen and CEO of UFIS Brig.-Gen. (res) Ilan Tal also joined the seder meal.

While the lone soldiers do not have easily accessible family to celebrate [with], they do have people who care about them—including Rivlin.

Said the Israeli president, “I am delighted to be celebrating this festive holiday evening with you, dear soldiers…Today, Passover is a holiday where families gather for the seder meal. We are your family and you are our family. You are part of us, and we are part of you.”

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this story on April 21, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Photo Credit: ראובן (רובי) ריבלין@ruvirivlin/Twitter

Prayer Focus
Bring the soldiers of the IDF before God and ask Him to bless them and watch over them, especially those who have left behind their loved ones to come to the Land of Israel to serve alone.

Scripture

Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name. Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, just as we hope in You.


- Psalm 33:20–22

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