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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.

Bridges for Peace will be taking a break from April 4 – 6 as our staff members celebrate the holidays.

Hamas Leads Massive Riot, Uses Human Shields on Israel-Gaza Border

by Joshua Spurlock

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Violent riots on the Israel-Gaza border

Monday, 02 April 2018 | Tens of thousands of Gazans rioted on the Israeli border last Friday, wielding Molotov cocktails, burning tires and attempting terrorism against Israel’s Gaza border security system. During the rioting, the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] killed at least 10 known terrorists with a history of involvement in attacks, the IDF Spokesperson tweeted, later following up with photos of all ten terrorists.

During the riots, which Hamas dubbed the “Great Return March” and claimed would be peaceful, a terror cell opened fire on Israeli forces, the IDF Spokesperson Twitter feed reported. A follow-up tweet said that in response, the IDF—“according to the rules of engagement”—fired at the terrorists and then further struck three Hamas terror sites.

The IDF Spokesperson tweeted that “this severe shooting attack is further proof that the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip use these violent riots to camouflage terror.” A separate tweet highlighted that Israeli tanks prevented an infiltration attempt by terrorists trying to break across the border. Tweeted the IDF Spokesperson, “The Hamas terror organization is responsible for violent riots and everything taking place under its jurisdiction. The IDF will not allow the security fence to be turned into an area of terror.”

IDF Spokesperson Maj. Keren Hajioff detailed the Gaza riots in a summary video posted to the IDF Spokesperson’s Twitter feed. She noted that more than 30,000 Palestinians participated in the riots that included Molotovs, burning tires and efforts to “harm or destroy Israel’s security infrastructure.”

Haijoff said, “Our soldiers precisely targeted the specific terrorists that attempted to carry out these attacks of terror, some of them known terrorists to our security forces.”

She further highlighted that Hamas used “innocent civilians as tools of terror” and said that a seven-year-old girl was “forced to cross the border into Israel. Thankfully, IDF soldiers identified her and brought her back to her parents in Gaza without harm.”

The presence of children certainly didn’t make the protests peaceful. Israeli Prime Minister’s Office Spokesman Ofir Gendelman posted to Twitter photos of an assault rifle and a grenade found with Gaza terrorists who attacked Israeli soldiers. “Palestinians say they were peaceful protesters. In what world?” tweeted Gendelman.

He separately tweeted that even Hamas had specifically called out that some of those killed were members of the terrorist organization. Those were not the only operatives.

Gendelman said that a spokesman for the political faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas claimed that “14 of those killed yesterday in the #GreatReturnMarch while trying to attack Israeli territory were Fatah members, trying to outscore Hamas who claims 5 were its members. By that he admits that none were peaceful protesters.”

Gendelman also tweeted that Hamas claimed one of the terrorists killed by Israel as just being an artist, conveniently leaving out that he “was a Hamas terrorist, whose job was to dig terror tunnels into Israel. Never believe anything Hamas says.” Gendelman included a photo of the “artist” holding a rifle in camouflage with the Temple Mount in a poster behind him.

Said spokesperson Maj. Hajioff, “The IDF will operate to contain the violent rioters. The IDF will continue to act against any violation of Israeli sovereignty and any attempt to hurt its civilians.”

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this article on 01 April 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/TBU NEWS/youtube.com

Prayer Focus
Cry out to God on behalf of the IDF soldiers serving on the Gaza border. Pray for their physical and emotional protection. Lift up Israel’s leaders during these tense times and ask God to grant them the wisdom to devise the strategies to ward off Hamas’s attempts to harm Israel.

Scripture

For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;


- Proverbs 2:6-7

Israel Reportedly Flies Over Iranian Nuclear Sites

by Joshua Spurlock

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Israeli F-35 stealth fighter jet (illustrative)

Monday, 02 April 2018 | Israeli stealth fighter jets reportedly flew over Iran in the last month, including locations thought to be part of Iran’s nuclear program, avoiding detection by Russian radar in Syria in their path from the Jewish state to the Islamic republic. The Jerusalem Post last week cited the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida as the source of the claims, which also alleged that the Israeli F-35 jets can fly to and from Iran twice without refueling—addressing a critical component to any potential Israeli missions in Iranian airspace.

However, a source in the Russian Ministry of Defense refuted the report that the Israeli jets could have evaded Russian air defense systems. In comments to the Russian news outlet Sputnik and published in the outlet’s English website, the defense source called that idea “total stupidity.”

If the Israeli flyover claims are true, they would come just months ahead of a deadline imposed by the United States on the Europeans to upgrade the Iranian nuclear deal or the Americans will pull out of the accord. If the US were to exit the deal and reinstate sanctions on Iran, the Iranians may choose to cancel the deal as well and push forward on their nuclear weapons program. Meanwhile, Iran is already back to its old rhetoric of predicting the destruction of Israel.

In response to the Gaza riots in which Israel killed a number of Palestinian terrorists, Iran’s powerful paramilitary Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) was quoted by the Iranian PressTV outlet as predicting that events in the region would lead to the speeding up of the removing of the “cancerous tumor of Israel.”

The IRGC also pledged to “spare no effort” to support the Palestinians and would “further activate” their capabilities in that goal. Over the years, the IRGC is believed to have been involved in planning terror attacks around the world to target Israelis and Jews.

The harsh rhetoric and the report of Israeli flyovers come just over a month after an Iranian unmanned aerial vehicle was shot down over Israeli airspace in an unusual escalation.

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this article on 01 April 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Ofer Berkovich/Israeli Air Force/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Beseech God to bring to light and foil every plan of Iran and its proxies to annihilate the Jewish people. Remind Him of His promises of protection over the Promised Land. Pray for the government of Israel as they face tough decisions regarding safety and security.

Scripture

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.


- Psalm 33:10-12

US Blocks Security Council Resolution Condemning Israel over Violent Hamas Protests

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United Nations Security Council

Tuesday, 03 April 2018 | The United States on Saturday blocked a draft United Nations Security Council statement expressing “grave concern” over Israel’s handling of the Hamas-led “March of Return” along the border with Gaza and calling for an “independent and transparent investigation” into the violence.

The resolution, tabled by Kuwait which represents the Arab states in the council, reaffirmed “the right to peaceful protest” and expressed “sorrow at the loss of innocent Palestinian lives.” It also called “for respect for international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including protection of civilians,” Agence France-Presse reported.

The Israeli military has so far identified ten of the fifteen Palestinians killed as members of terrorist organizations.

The draft statement was circulated to the council on Friday, but on Saturday the United States raised objections and said it would veto the resolution. The United Kingdom reportedly also blocked the passing of the statement.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) on Saturday charged that the US and UK were “accomplices in the horrific massacre committed by the Israeli occupation army against our defenseless people,” for preventing Arab efforts to condemn Israel at the UN.

On Sunday, the PA launched a personal attack on the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, calling her an “ambassador of animosity, hatred and dark ideology,” holding her responsible for the failure of the resolution.

“The US ambassador insists on taking positions in support of the occupation and in defense of its crimes and violations,” said a statement issued by the PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ramallah. Blaming Haley for adopting a “barefaced hostile position” against the Palestinians, the ministry attacked the ambassador’s “blind bias in favor of Israel and its crimes.”

The latest attack on Haley is another sign of the continued rejection by Palestinian leadership of any criticism from the US, especially of the PA’s continued support of terror. It also follows several personal attacks by PA officials against members of the US administration.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas recently called the US envoy to Israel, David Friedman, a “son of a dog” and a “settler.” Earlier this year, top Palestinian diplomat Saeb Erekat in an interview with a Palestinian news website, advised Haley to “shut up.”

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 02 April 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Public domain/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord to convict those who condemn Israel unjustly. Praise God for allies willing to protect Israel against bias in the UN. Ask Him to guard over Ambassador Haley, as she endures targeted public persecution.

Scripture

You have heard their reproach, O LORD, all their schemes against me, the lips of my enemies and their whispering against me all the day. Look at their sitting down and their rising up; I am their taunting song. Repay them, O LORD, according to the work of their hands.


- Lamentations 3:61-64

Meet the Most Senior Representative of the Druze Community in the IDF

by Yoav Zitun

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Kamil Abu Rokon, new Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories

Monday, 02 April 2018 | Brig. Gen. Kamil Abu Rokon was promoted to the rank of major general on Thursday as he was appointed the new Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, replacing outgoing COGAT Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, who served in the position for the last four years.

The appointment ceremony was held at the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] chief of staff’s office in the Kirya IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, and was attended by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and members of the IDF General Staff.

Abu Rokon, who is currently the head of the Border Crossings Authority in the Defense Ministry, is set to officially take the position in May. He will be the second Druze appointed to the post, as well as the second Druze to ever reach the rank of major general.

“As the most senior representative of the Druze community in the defense establishment and in the IDF, I take upon myself an additional responsibility, even if not formally, to work for the full integration of members of the community in the IDF and the state, to promote the community’s activity towards the security of the State of Israel, and to serve as its mouthpiece within the establishment,” Abu Rokon said at the ceremony.

Lieberman, lauding Mordechai as “a one-man advocacy office” who the state owes much gratitude to, told Abu Rokon that COGAT will nevertheless benefit from his experience and skills. He then wished him success in his new post, especially as he enters it at such a “sensitive time.”

Eisenkot praised the decision, saying he is confident Abu Rokon is the right man for the job and will bring his “enormous experience to the post.”

Mordechai himself commended the selection of Abu Rokon as his replacement.

“Beyond our friendship, he has tremendous knowledge, and I have no doubt that he is right for the task,” he said. “I have no doubt that the general staff will help him, and he will succeed in leading this excellent organization forward.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 29 March 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson

Prayer Focus
Rejoice over this milestone for the Druze community in Israel. Ask God to guide Brig. Gen. Kamil Abu Rokon’s steps and to bless him with knowledge and wisdom to fulfill this crucial role. Pray that his family will serve as an example and a blessing in their community.

Scripture

Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before unknown men.


- Proverbs 22:29

Israeli Lone Soldiers Celebrate Passover with Special Seder Feast

by Roi Rubinstein

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IDF soldiers celebrating Passover

Monday, 02 April 2018 | Several hours before millions of Jews across Israel sat down at the dinner table to celebrate Passover, some 250 lone soldiers gathered Friday morning for a special Seder [Passover ritual meal] feast.

For most of them, this is their first Seder away from their countries of birth and their families.

May Cassif, 20, who made aliyah [immigration to Israel] from Boston and serves at a religious college for girls in Har Gilo in Jerusalem, talked about how happy she was about her decision to immigrate to Israel in 2016.

“This is a very cool country. There may be a lot of difficulties compared to where I come from, but this is what makes this country interesting,” she said.

A year ago she was in basic training, but this year would be her first Passover as an Israeli citizen. “My family is very happy I’m here,” she said.

Vladimir Steinman, 21, feels the same. He immigrated to Israel in 2014 from Latvia, and currently serves in the Givati Brigade’s reconnaissance platoon. “It makes me very happy that the army is taking care of us like this,” he said.

He said he was happy to be wearing the olive green uniforms. “I’m Zionist, and that is why I wanted to make aliyah. My family stayed behind, and I’m trying to convince them (to come),” he said.

This is Steinman’s third Passover in Israel and the first in the IDF [Israel Defense Forces]. “The last two years, I celebrated with my adoptive family,” he said.

Ivan Lavrov, 21, who made aliyah from Belarus five years ago and lives with his grandmother, is one of the more veteran immigrants.

Lavrov, who serves as a technician for a Puma IFV in the IDF’s Engineering Corps, told Ynet that while this is his fifth Passover in Israel, he was still very excited to be celebrating it in IDF uniforms with hundreds of soldiers.

“I made aliyah through the Masa Israel organization and then went to a pre-army school at Tel Aviv University before enlisting,” he described his journey.

“Of course I miss my parents. I’m personally very close to my mother, who lives in Belarus,” he admitted.

The head of the IDF’s Manpower Directorate, Maj. Gen. Moti Almoz, also attended the special Seder, telling the lone soldiers, “The story of Israel’s escape from Egypt has a positive ending. It starts with despair, as a pessimistic story, but it ends with freedom. To reach that, we need people to believe in freedom, make decisions and take actions.”

The event was organized by Yahad– United for Israel’s Soldiers, a joint organization of AWIS (Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers) and The Libi Fund.

An additional 150 soldiers who were invited could not make it due to the high tensions on the Gaza border, which required many lone soldiers to stay in their bases or otherwise deploy to the border.

At another event that took place Thursday in the southern resort city of Eilat, some 200 IDF orphans released hundreds of balloons into the air with the writing “Dear Father.” They attached letters to the balloons addressed to fathers who were killed while performing their duty in Israel’s security forces.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 30 March 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/facebook.com

Prayer Focus
Offer thanksgiving for the lone soldiers who had the opportunity to celebrate Passover for the first time in Israel. Ask for God’s favor on each soldier who chooses to leave the comforts of home and family to join the IDF and stand guard over Israel. Pray a special blessing of comfort over their families.

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

Israeli-Palestinian Doctors Work Together to Save Baby’s Life

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Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in Jerusalem

Tuesday, 03 April 2018 | Doctors at both Israeli and Palestinian-operated hospitals joined forces to save the life of a Filipino baby boy in Jerusalem, The Times of Israel reported Thursday.

On February 14, Francis Joseph was born at the Red Crescent Hospital in East Jerusalem with a rare and serious heart defect, which required a complicated and risky open-heart surgery. The so-called “Jatene procedure,” which the Palestinian-operated hospital did not have the necessary facilities to perform, was however possible in Hadassah Hospital in the capital’s Ein Kerem neighborhood.

When Dr. Julius Golender, a pediatric cardiologist at the hospital, received an emergency call from his colleagues at the Red Crescent Hospital, Golender consulted immediately with his fellow pediatric cardiologists from Hadassah, Dr. Juma Natshe and Dr. Sagi Gavri, who together came up with a plan to save the baby’s life.

They first stabilized the newborn’s critical condition by performing a procedure known as a cardiac catheterization before moving him to Hadassah Hospital for open-heart surgery. The Jatene procedure is named for its creator, famed Brazilian cardiologist Dr. Adib Jatene, who first performed it successfully in 1975.

“I was surprised when suddenly these experts from Hadassah showed up at the Red Crescent Hospital, and in my view it was a miracle,” said Nina, the mother of the boy, who wanted to be identified by first name only.

“We did everything we could possibly do so that it would be possible to perform surgery on the newborn baby in Hadassah and fix the heart defect that he was born with, which had caused this extremely complicated medical condition,” said Gavri, soon after the catheterization.

The successful surgery took a little over five hours, according to the hospital.

The baby’s mother, Nina, thanked the doctors and the hospital for stepping in and performing the life-saving surgery on her son. “We were undoubtedly very lucky that Hadassah got involved and saved my child and my family,” she said.

A few weeks after the surgery, Francis Joseph was discharged from the hospital and allowed to go home. When he returned to the hospital a month later for a checkup, his doctors said he was “in good condition, active and smiley.”

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 30 March 2018. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Public domain/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Give thanks for the precious life saved and lift up Francis for complete healing and restoration. Praise God for this example of Israelis and Arabs working together to be a blessing to the community.

Scripture

Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?


- Amos 3:3

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