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- Passover Eve Terror Attack near Hebron
- Donetsk: Jews Must Register or Face Deportation
- Thousands Take Part in Priestly Blessing
- US Shifts Goals in Israel–Palestinian Talks
- Temple Mount Closed after Riot
- Air Force Attacks Syrian Vehicles Trying to Enter Jordan
- Assad: We’ve Reached Turning Point in Fighting
- Egypt’s Gas Shortage Sparks Tensions
- Never Stop Believing: Tobi’s Journey from Nigeria to the IDF
- Israel a Favorite among Chinese Tourists
Passover Eve Terror Attack near Hebron
Tragedy struck on Monday (Apr. 14) evening when Baruch Mizrahi and his family, who were traveling to a Passover seder, were ambushed near the city of Hebron. The attack left the 47-year-old father of five dead at the scene, his pregnant wife and 9-year-old son wounded. Mizrahi, who served 25 years in various senior roles the army and at the time of his death was Chief Superintendent with the police force, had been called a “genius” in security matters.
A group of three Israeli vehicles came under heavy fire from an automatic weapon as they traveled along Highway 35. The IDF investigation has not yet revealed if this was the work of a lone attacker or an organized terror cell. What is clear, however, is that the location of the ambush was carefully chosen, the weapon used was an AK-47 and the assailant(s) had an escape route planned.
The timing of the assault did not appear to be coincidental, occurring on the first night of Passover when Israelis were gathering with families to celebrate. In addition, tensions in Judea–Samaria, always present, had the potential to be higher than usual. As part of the week-long holiday, tens of thousands of Jewish people were expected to attend a special prayer service at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron on Wednesday. The following day, Palestinians were planning mass rallies as part “Prisoner Day.” While no terrorist organization has taken credit for the attack, both Hamas the Palestinian Islamic Jihad have publicly praised the perpetrators.
- (By Janet Aslin, Bridges for Peace, April 17, 2014)
- Photo Credit
Lift up the wounded and brokenhearted family of the slain man in prayer. May the LORD comfort them as they mourn. Pray that the perpetrator(s) will be apprehended and will not be honored by the Palestinian people for his act of terrorism. Ask justice for the innocent.
The righteous cry, and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.- Psalm 34:17–18 (NASB)
Donetsk: Jews Must Register or Face Deportation
Fear replaced communal atmosphere in Donetsk's Jewish community as armed men handed out a leaflet Passover eve [Apr. 14]. The leaflet demanded the city's Jews supply a detailed list of all the property they own, or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated.
Donetsk, a Ukraine province with 4.3 million people—10 percent of Ukraine's population—and 17,000 Jews, is home to much of the country's heavy industry, and is thus the biggest prize of the eastern regions where pro-Russian separatists have captured government buildings in the past week.
"Dear Ukraine citizens of Jewish nationality," the flyer began, "…(the interim government) has decided that all citizens of Jewish descent, over 16 years of age and residing within the republic's territory are required to report to the Commissioner for Nationalities in the Donetsk Regional Administration building and register. ID and passport are required to register your Jewish religion, religious documents of family members, as well as documents establishing the rights to all real estate property that belongs to you, including vehicles."
"Evasion of registration will result in citizenship revoke and you will be forced outside the country with a confiscation of property." To add insult to injury, the leaflet demanded the Jews pay a registration fee of $50.
According to Alex Tenzer, a Kiev native and one of the directors of the National Association of Immigrants from the Former USSR in Israel, said: "The Jewish-Ukrainian leadership supports Ukraine's new government, but it's hard to tell whether the leaflet is valid or simply a provocation. Anyway, the material is very anti-Semitic and reminds me of the kind of material distributed by the Nazis in WWII."
Jenia from Israel, who also received the letter from a Jewish acquaintance, said "the Jews in Donetsk are uncertain of anything; it is unclear who is responsible for the leaflet and who controls the city at the moment.
"We don't feel safe like we used to because of the political instability in the area; there isn't a legitimate president or sovereign. Currently Donetsk is ruled by a junta."
- (By Michal Margalit, Ynetnews, April 16, 2014)
- Photo Credit
- www.wikipedia.org/ANDREW BUTKO
- Photo License
Remember the Jewish community in Ukraine, praying that the Lord will give them wisdom and understanding of the times in which they are living. Ask the Lord to be a protective covering over them.
My times are in Your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me.- Psalm 31:15
Thousands Take Part in Priestly Blessing
Jewish worshipers were undeterred by recent tensions and flocked to the Old City to receive the Priestly Blessing. Dozens of people—secular, religious and ultra-Orthodox, as well as tourists who are not Jewish—took part in the traditional Birkat Kohanim (Priestly Blessing) at the Western Wall on Thursday [April 17] morning.
The blessing, a Jewish prayer recited by Kohanim (Jewish priests in direct patrilineal descent from Aaron), is regularly performed during Chol HaMoed Pesach (the intermediate days of Passover) and in Sukkot.
Tens of thousands of Jewish worshipers did not let the recent tensions deter them from flooding the alleyways of the Old City under tight security in order to receive the blessing of the Kohanim, the descendants of the Levi tribe.
Facing the mass of worshipers stood hundreds of Kohanim, covering their faces with prayer shawl and performing the blessing: "May the LORD (YHWH) bless you and guard you / May the LORD make His face shed light upon you and be gracious unto you / May the LORD lift up His face unto you and give you peace."
The Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch led the prayer, and Israel's Chief Rabbis Yitzhak Yosef and David Lau were also in attendance. At the end of the blessing, the Kohanim also bless the pilgrims who came to Jerusalem.
The mass prayer at the Western Wall, which started during the War of Attrition (in 1970) has been taking place for over 40 years—twice a year. The custom was brought back by Jerusalem resident Rabbi Menachem Mendel Gafner. During one of his prayers at the Western Wall, Gafner remembered a midrash (Talmudic legend) that describes the unique nature of the priestly blessing, even after the destruction of the Temple—and decided to restore the ritual to its former glory.
- (Excerpts of article by Kobi Nachshoni, Ynetnews, April 17, 2014)
- Photo Credit
Exalt our God, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings! Thank Him for His faithfulness throughout all generations. Praise Him that there is a generation of His people in Jerusalem today.
- Numbers 6:24–27
The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.
US Shifts Goals in Israel–Palestinian Talks
It wasn’t that long ago, less than nine months, that the US wanted the Israel-Palestinian talks to forge a “final status agreement.” Then, the focus for the talks tempered to just reaching a “framework agreement.” Now, the US is just hoping to keep the talks going.
In comments released by the State Department, spokesperson Marie Harf said that the current talks are seeking “just to extend” the talks. And after a tragic murder of an Israeli by Palestinian gunfire earlier this week, just keeping the sides talking will be a tall order.
Harf, under duress from a reporter in the press briefing, said the current Israel–Palestinian discussions still have an ultimate goal in mind, but the current focus is much less significant. When asked if they’d dropped the goal of reaching a framework deal, Harf said, “I’m just saying what we’re focused on now in these next set of meetings.”
“We still have a goal of a lasting peace agreement that addresses all issues between the two parties. That’s our goal. That’s always been our goal,” said Harf. “How we get there, we’re focused right now on the next step, which is seeing if we can get an agreement on extending the negotiations.”
Of course, that’d be a lot easier if the Palestinians made their interest in reaching a peace deal more apparent. Right now, the Palestinian Authority and their state-sponsored media have been making the opposite impact.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement after the shooting incident on Monday, “This reprehensible murder… is the result of the incitement for which the Palestinian Authority is responsible. The Palestinian Authority continues to constantly broadcast—in its official media—programs that incite against the existence of the State of Israel.
“Last night this incitement was translated into the murder of a father who was traveling with his family to celebrate the first night of Passover.”
Nine months of talking peace and instead we’re talking about murder. It looks like the US has a tough road ahead, even if their only goal for now is just to keep talking.
- (By Joshua Spurlock, The Mideast Update, April 16, 2014)
- Photo Credit
- The Mideast Update/Pete Souza
Pray for Israel’s leaders, especially PM Netanyahu as he leads the nation during these turbulent times. Ask God to bless them with unity, to give them hearts to seek His plans for Israel and the courage to withstand the pressures of the world.
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 33:11–12
Temple Mount Closed after Riot
Dozens of Arab youths, some masked, rioted on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Wednesday [Apr. 16] morning, throwing stones and fire crackers at security forces at the site. A policeman was lightly hurt. The site had opened to visitors as planned, but was closed after the clashes began.
The rioters were dispersed using stun grenades and other crowd control measures. An electrical junction box at the entrance to a mosque sustained some damage.
Elsewhere, young Arab protesters threw stones at police officers in an alley in the Old City. One policeman was lightly wounded.
In recent days, there have been a series of clashes between police and young Arabs on the Temple Mount, and security forces have attempted to prevent Arab youths from gathering at the mosques in the area.
Palestinian media reported that 25 Palestinians had been hurt in the clashes, and that a guard at the mosque had been arrested. Police also reportedly declared the site a closed military zone and sealed off the Mughrabi Gate into the Old City.
- (Excerpts of article by Noam 'Dabul' Dvir, Ynetnews, April 16, 2014)
- Photo Credit
- www.wikipedia.org/David Shankbone
- Photo License
Appeal to the LORD that those who are inciting violence among young Palestinians will see the senselessness of their efforts. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:- Psalm 122:6–8
May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, prosperity within your palaces.For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say,
Peace be within you.
Air Force Attacks Syrian Vehicles Trying to Enter Jordan
The Syrian conflict has expanded its reach yet again, with Jordan the latest country to use its military on forces threatening its border. The instigators of Jordan’s foray into the violence remain unclear. Were they from the Syrian regime, or rebel forces? And, if they’re rebels, does that mean a new war front could be opening?
Jordan, as an ally of the United States and not the Iranian circle of friends, is typically thought of as being opposed to the Syrian regime that has murdered tens of thousands of its own people. However, The New York Times reported that that the Syrian army said the vehicles that tried to enter Jordan weren’t theirs. Inside sources gave conflicting reports to The New York Times. One said the vehicles did belong to the rebels, one denied that they did.
Citing a statement from the Jordanian Armed Forces, Petra reported that the vehicles were camouflaged and attempted to enter Jordan from Syria. After warning shots from Jordanian fighter jets didn’t discourage the vehicles, the jets opened fire and destroyed the vehicles.
The incident raises concerns not only that the Syrian civil war could now bring Jordan into the fighting—spreading the conflict to yet another country—but includes the possibility that the terror groups fighting with the Syrian rebels could become an ongoing threat to neighboring nations such as Jordan.
In other words, Syria’s civil war could see a fourth front in its conflict. Already the rebels are fighting the regime and its allies, the different rebel groups fought each other and the Syrian regime has had some skirmishes with neighboring nations such as Israel and Turkey. But now, a new battle could emerge, in which extremist rebel groups start fighting with neighboring countries as well.
- (By Joshua Spurlock, The Mideast Update, April 17, 2014)
Thank God for the relative stability and calm of the Israel–Jordan border. Pray that this armed incursion into Jordan will not escalate into a situation that would affect the nation of Israel.
May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble; may the name of the God of Jacob defend you.- Psalm 20:1
Assad: We’ve Reached Turning Point in Fighting
After three years and more than 150,000 killed and millions displaced from their homes, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad says the fighting has reached a “turning point.” Speaking to political science students at Damascus University on Sunday [Apr. 13], Assad was quoted by state-run media as saying that the turning point was in “terms of continuous military achievements…and in terms of national reconciliation."
The president continues to aggravate supporters of the Syrian rebels with his insistence that he will seek to retain his office in the election scheduled for July. The day before Assad’s speech saw a single-day death toll of 275; and new allegations of Assad’s troops using chemical weapons abound.
Despite an Israeli verification that gas was used in March, the official United States position is that the reports are “unsubstantiated,” a position some believe is being articulated in order to avoid the obvious questions regarding an American response to a blatant breach of the agreement that obviated the US intent to strike militarily after it was confirmed that chemical weapons were used.
- (By The Media Line, April 13, 2014)
Praise the Almighty with your whole heart because He is above all men and nations! Petition Him for His good and righteous will to be done regarding Syria and those who suffer there.
Arise, O Lord, do not let man prevail; let the nations be judged in Your sight. Put them in fear, O Lord, that the nations may know themselves to be but men.- Psalm 9:19–20
Egypt’s Gas Shortage Sparks Tensions
Egypt has faced almost daily power cuts since the uprising that led to the ouster of the former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Now, as summer approaches, officials say they expect up to six hours of power shortages each day as energy consumption increases and supply diminishes.
Gas consumption in Egypt has doubled during the past decade, but production has been in decline since 2009. “The development of gas fields has been hindered in recent years by the lack of a satisfactory price for producers selling gas to the government,” noted Wafik Alfred Hanna, a senior partner at Deloitte. Political instability, payment delays and uncertainty about government policies have also had a negative effect on investments.
At least as a temporary measure, Egypt needs to raise gas imports in order to meet surging demand. Last October, Israel said that Egypt had expressed interest in importing its gas via the pipeline connecting the two countries, which until spring 2012 transported gas the other way—from Egypt to Israel. However, Egypt denied its interest in the Israeli gas, saying it is eyeing liquid natural gas (LNG) imports instead, even though pipeline supplies from Israel were probably cheaper. Although Egypt and Israel have a peace treaty, a deal to buy Israeli gas would prove politically unpopular in Egypt.
Egypt has several energy resources other than natural gas, including crude oil, wind, tide, geothermal, and solar energy. “There is definitely an imbalance within the energy system that must be dealt with quickly. “ Kamal added.
Renewable sources of energy such as solar power are very expensive to develop. Frustrated by gas shortages at its factories, the cement company Lafarge started importing coal at the end of October without a government permit.
- (Excerpts of article by Sherif Elhelwa, The Media Line, April 13, 2014)
- Photo Credit
- Photo License
Exalt the Lord, that in His mighty wisdom, he brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt and to Himself! Incredibly, now Israel is in a position to provide resources to Egypt, if Egypt chooses to accept them. Pray for peace in Egypt, and that the needs of the people will be foremost in the minds of its leaders.
For the children of Israel are servants to Me; they are My servants whom I brought out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.- Leviticus 25:55
Never Stop Believing: Tobi’s Journey from Nigeria to the IDF
Passover symbolizes renewal and change. These two special qualities define Lieutenant Tobi Cohen, who came all the way from Nigeria to serve in the Israel Defense Forces [IDF].
Tobi grew up on the stories of her father, an Israeli who served in the Armored Corps. “At age 16, I decided that it was my time to make a change. I joined a program which sends young people to Israel, and eventually helps them make Aliya [immigration to Israel],” Tobi says. “After one year I joined a ‘Mechina’ (a pre-military program), and it was there that I started to feel more connected to the army.”
Tobi’s journey was not easy. “New immigrants are often embarrassed to speak, because they may say something wrong, and I was one of them,” Tobi says. “But at some point I realized that I couldn’t go on like this. I made a lot of mistakes along the way, and it was hard, but it was worth it.”
“Here in Israel, everyone sees the army as something very ordinary—they simply grow into this reality,” Tobi says. “For me, it was a far away dream that I wanted to fulfill. After a few months in the army, I already wanted to become an officer. I know it might sound strange, but I fell in love with the army.”
Lt. Tobi struggled her way to Officers Course, slowly overcoming her difficulties with the language along the way. She is in charge of all the tutorials of the Home Front Command. These include guidance on how to act during natural disasters as well as emergencies such as rocket attacks.
“I think that joining the army is amazing, and gives you a different perspective on your life. No matter how long a soldier serves, even if it is for a short period of time, it is an experience that changes your life.”
- (Excerpts of article by the Israel Defense Forces, April 15, 2014)
- Photo Credit
- Israel Defense Forces
Thank the Lord for the courage of young adults who are willing to leave their homes and families to come to Israel, especially to serve in the IDF. Pray that many Jewish families living in other nations will decide to make aliyah (immigration to Israel).
Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the Gentiles, to give thanks to Your holy name, to triumph in Your praise.- Psalm 106:47
Israel a Favorite among Chinese Tourists
The number of Chinese tourists visiting Israel rose by 30 percent in 2013, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported, quoting Israel's Tourism Ministry. Chinese tourists spent an average of $286 a day in Israel (not including souvenirs), more than tourists from other countries.
Quoting the Tourism Ministry's director-general Amir Halevy, Xinhua reported 30,000 people arrived in Israel last year thanks to "the rapid development of bilateral commercial, technological, agricultural exchanges."
"Considering over 100 million overseas journeys are made by Chinese people every year, we see more potential in bilateral tourism exchanges," Halevy said. He noted Israel was working on recruiting more Chinese tour guides, as well as providing special tour services, to accommodate more Chinese visitors.
Halevy said Israel's goal was to attract 40,000 Chinese tourists in 2017, and 100,000 in 2020. To that end, Israel was working with Chinese airlines to launch direct flights to Ben Gurion Airport, and a reform in entry visas for Chinese visitors to Israel was introduced.
"China is a leading destination in the campaign of the Israeli Tourism Ministry for emerging markets," Tourism Ministry Uzi Landau told Xinhua last year. "We will work to increase the number of tourists from China to Israel over the next few years," Landau added. The Tourism Ministry also led seminars in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou last year, introducing hundreds of Chinese travel agents to Israeli tourism.
- (By Ynetnews, April 16, 2014)
As many people from throughout the world visit Israel each year, we praise the Lord that His Holy city will magnify Him in the world.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in His holy mountain.- Psalm 48:1