.; A compilation of news reports from the past week for the information of those committed to .praying.for Israel
David’s Comment: Israel is Facing Two Unknowns – Please Increase Your Prayers
As we reach the end of the second month of 2020, much of the world is facing the challenge presented by the Coronavirus. The future extent of the virus is unknown – it could begin to reduce its impact in the nations where it is currently spreading, or it could continue to spread to more countries, the number of people infected will increase dramatically, and the number of deaths will continue to increase. Already there has been a large impact on the world’s financial markets as factories close down and the subsequent drop in production affects sales and profits. As I began to write this comment on Tuesday evening, stock markets around the world were dropping as fears of a worldwide pandemic grow. Some have rebounded but the markets are very unstable.
Here in Israel there has been a major development concerning the virus as news broke last Saturday night that a Sth. Korean tour group who had been in contact with hundreds of Israelis, arrived back in Korea with at least 9 of them infected with the virus. A flight from Korea was sent back after the 12 Israelis on board were taken off the plane and sent home by ambulance to be quarantined for 14 days. Another 1000 Korean tourists already in the country were asked to stay in their hotel rooms and not to go out into public. More than 1400 Israelis, including a number of school students who had been in contact with the Korean group are also in quarantine. Health officials and Ministry of Interior officials are closely monitoring the situation, and are considering closing Israel’s borders to tourists from all the countries where the virus is rapidly spreading. Tourists from China, Hong Kong, Sth. Korea and Thailand are already banned. Israelis are being warned not to travel to Italy.
For Israel the virus is a huge threat medically and financially as tourism is a major source of the nation’s income. The number of tourists has grown from 3 million in 2016 to over 4 million in 2019, and it was set to increase again in 2020 until the Coronavirus came on the scene. And banning tourists from the affected countries is creating diplomatic problems as well. The Sth. Korean government is most unhappy about their people being refused entry and sent back home, but these measures are necessary if countries really want to stop the virus from taking hold.
The other major issue currently facing Israel is the 3rd election in 12 months set to take place on March 2nd. Already there is concern that the virus will possibly affect the turnout of voters, which is very likely to be low anyhow due to fact that Israelis are tired of going to the voting booth every few months, with no clear winner. Unless the LORD does something dramatic, it is expected that this 3rd general election will also fail to produce a clear winner who can form a new government, leaving the nation in an ongoing and dangerous state of political limbo.
Added to all of the above, southern Israel has been under rocket attack for the last few days. More than 80 rockets were fired from Gaza in 48 hours. This may have been an attempt by Hamas to influence next week’s Israeli general election, as it places PM Netanyahu in a tricky situation. A week before the election, with many communities close to the Gaza border under rocket attack, schools and businesses closed, and Israeli families living in their bomb shelters, all eyes are on PM Netanyahu. Will he keep his threat to Hamas and strike back very strongly, opening up the possibility of another war, or will he back down, in the hope of maintaining calm, at least until the election is over?
So …… plenty to pray about. Please do take these challenges currently facing Israel to heart, realising that whatever happens in Israel, will also affect you personally in the long term. Messiah Yeshua will return to Jerusalem, and the Kingdom will only come when Israel is fully restored (Acts 3:21) so please do join us in praying that GOD will show His mercy and that Israel will pass through this time of challenge, coming out the other side even stronger and more prepared to invite their Messiah to come back, as they look up to Heaven and cry out Baruch ha Bah B’ Shem Adonai – Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the LORD. We pray that the LORD will protect you and those close to you protected from the virus.
The LORD bless you as you bless Israel by standing in defense of her right to exist on all of the land given to the Jewish people by the GOD of Israel. Please pray that all Israel will turn back to their GOD. Do not be silent, but share this with your fellow Christians, share it with your pastors, and with anyone you have a chance to speak to. Lets also pray for a breakthrough to the Muslims, and please remember to pray Divine protection for all of the soldiers in the IDF.
Shabbat Shalom ….. David & Josie
This Week’s News Items
1. Coronavirus has reached Israel Israel Today News Feb 23rd
Coronavirus has arrived in Israel, and it likely found its way here via one of the successes of which Israel is most proud: booming Asian tourism. Christians from the Far East today now make up a large and growing percentage of the pilgrims arriving annually in the Holy Land. Over the weekend, 200 Israelis were ordered to self-quarantine after coming into contact with a group of Sth. Korean tourists. The group had already returned to Korea, where 18 of their number were subsequently confirmed as having contracted coronavirus. While in Israel, they had apparently visited a number of sites at the same time as Israeli school groups. Those children and their teachers are now confined to their houses for the next 14 days. The group was escorted by 12 Israeli Border Police officers when visiting the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Those officers have also been quarantined. The Palestinian Authority also ordered anyone who had come into contact with the tourists to self-isolate and be checked for infection. On Saturday night, Israel turned back a Korean Air flight, eliciting strong protest from Seoul. After extracting 12 Israelis aboard the flight, Israel sent the plane back to Korea with the rest of its passengers. Sth Korea?s Foreign Ministry said that it regretted what it saw as ?excessive and unreasonable? measures by Israel. Around the same time, an update was posted to the website of the Israel Health Ministry warning that the Jewish state might soon close its borders to all non-citizens. The warning was later removed, but the fact that it was posted indicates the level of stress in Israel. The Foreign Ministry has expressed concerns that barring travelers from Sth Korea, Japan, China and Thailand will harm not only incoming tourism, but diplomatic relations and burgeoning business ties with those nations. Pray that the virus will be contained in Israel and it will not be necessary to close the borders to tourists.
2. International Criminal Court Denies “Palestine” Jurisdiction Times of Israel News Feb 23rd
The notion that ?Palestine? is a full-fledged state that can grant jurisdiction to the International Criminal Court was dealt a serious blow over the past week, as seven countries and many scholars of international law argued that the issue was not as simple as the Palestinians and their supporters would like to make it seem. Even some countries that have formally recognized the ?State of Palestine? along the pre-1967 lines argued that Palestine cannot necessarily be considered to have validly granted the ICC jurisdiction to probe war crimes allegedly committed on its territory.
Germany, Australia, Austria, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Uganda last week submitted written documents to The Hague, each asking to become a “friend of the court? that is not a party to the case but wants to offer its views. They all posited that Palestine cannot transfer criminal jurisdiction over its territory to The Hague. Not a single country filed a request to argue the opposite.
Pray that this decision will stop the PA attempting to take Israel to the ICC and any other type of court
3. Gaza Ceasefire Broken by Islamic Jihad Rocket World Israel News Feb 25th
The Islamic Jihad terror group in the Gaza Strip announced a unilateral cease-fire on Monday, calling for a halt after two days of intense fighting with Israel, just a week before the country?s national elections. In a short statement, the Iranian proxy said it had completed its retaliation for the killing of three of its members. But it vowed to respond to any further Israeli aggression. But just hours after the announcement, at least two rockets were fired out of Gaza, raising the prospect of renewed fighting, bringing the total number to more than 80 in 2 days. Israeli aircraft pounded dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip, while Islamic Jihad militants bombarded southern Israel with heavy rocket fire before the cease-fire announcement Monday evening. Israel also expanded its retaliation to Syria, where some of the Iranian-backed group?s leaders are based, killing two more Islamic Jihad terrorists. There were no reports of civilian casualties on either side. Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Netanyahu, locked in the final days of an election campaign, threatened Gaza?s Hamas rulers with a stepped-up operation if the rocket fire continued. I am talking about a war, he told Israel?s Army Radio station. I will only go to war as a last option, but we have prepared something you can?t even imagine.? Despite the tough rhetoric, both sides had an interest in ending the fighting quickly. Pray that a war in Gaza is not necessary at the diffucult point of time, with the election next week and the threat of the coronavirus spreading out of control.
4. First Israeli Aircraft Flies Over Sudan Skies United with Israel News Feb 17th
The first Israeli airplane recently passed over the skies of Sudan, and Israel is developing ties with a long list of Arab and Muslims countries. PM Netanyahu declared, ?I have been developing contacts with Arab countries and Muslim countries. A year ago, Sara and I were on a very moving visit to Oman, and two weeks ago, we had a very moving visit with the president of Sudan, an Arabic speaking Muslim country that has had the no’s against Israel. No recognition, no Israel basically. And now, we?re discussing rapid normalization.” PM Netanyahu met at the beginning of the month in Uganda with Chairman of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan, a significant sign of the developing normalization between Israel and Arab and Muslim countries. Israel and Chad renewed their diplomatic ties in November 2018, 46 years after they were cut off, after Chad?s President met with PM Netanyahu in Jerusalem. Israel?s ties with several Arab countries have significantly advanced in recent years, openly and covertly, as shared strategic interests, and primarily confronting Iran?s advent in the region, have brought both sides to the same table. In October Israel’s Foreign Minister revealed that Israel is in the process of working on a non-aggression pact with several Arab states in the Middle East to face the common threat emanating from Iran. Pray that more and more Arab nations begin to seek for diplomatic and trade relations with Israel.
5. PM Netanyahu & Likud Party Ahead by 1 Seat World Israel News Feb 22nd
After lagging behind its main rival Blue and White in the polls over recent months, Prime Minister Netanyahu?s Likud party has taken the lead just a week ahead of the March 2 Knesset election, according to the latest polls. Based on several public opinion surveys published on Sunday and Monday, the Likud would edge out Blue and White, 35-to-34, in the 120-member Israeli parliament.
The right-wing block, led by Likud, is projected to receive 57 mandates, still four short of the 61-seat majority. Blue and White and the Left receive only 44 mandates and could surpass the Right only if they depend upon the Joint List, a faction predominantly of Arab members who are non-Zionists, meaning that they do not recognize Israel as the Jewish State. Joint List is seen as winning 14 seats, meaning its support would boost a Blue and White coalition to 58 seats. No Israeli government has ever included non-Zionists, though such MKs have supported a government coalition from the outside to ensure a majority in parliamentary votes, including when the Knesset would vote to support the formation of the coalition. However, political pundits have said that unless a surprise occurs, Israel may be forced to face a fourth round of elections. The Balance of Power continues to lie in the hands of Avigdor Liberman, leader of the Israel Beiteinu party, which, according to the polling, would win seven seats. Liberman, widely viewed as a right-winger, has not been willing to join a Netanyahu government of right and religious parties after the April and September ballots.
Blue and White has expressed a willingness to join a national unity government, but within the faction, there are objections to allowing Netanyahu to serve as prime minister because of indictments against the premier in three cases of alleged fraud and breach of public trust and, in one case, alleged involvement in bribery. The trial is scheduled to begin in mid-March. Pray that the election on Monday will produce a clear winner and a new government.
6. Israeli Knesset Speaker of the House Praises President Trump World Israel News Feb 21st
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein praised US President Trump for his fresh approach to Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, but said the American plan still contains one fatal flaw: a Palestinian state. ?The plan?s importance is that it changes the entire approach. No longer must Israel give everything for the chance of peace. No longer are we presumed guilty,? Edelstein said in an interview on Monday with a German newspaper. Referring to President Trump?s comprehensive ?Peace to Prosperity? proposal, Edelstein went on to explain that the reason it won?t succeed in kick-starting the peace process is because it guarantees the Palestinians an independent state. ?This tells the Palestinians they don?t really need to negotiate, that they will still get a state, even as they call the President of the United States a ?dog,’? Edelstein said. More than that, he pointed out the absurdity of the fact that all peace plans of the past 20 years have had to deal with how to protect Israel from violence emanating from a future Palestinian state. ?Everyone knows that this state will be hostile from the very beginning. Will American marines have to protect us from terrorism?? he asked. Has the world learned nothing from Israel?s full surrender of the Gaza Strip only to have it transform into a haven for jihadists? Pray that the US peace proposal is never even attempted to be implimented.
7. Buddist Abbot: Israel Keeps its Promises Israel Today News Feb 21st
The abbot of a remote Buddhist monastery in Laos where hundreds of poor children are cared for was surprised: Many countries promised to help but then disappeared. Only Israel stood by her word and we will never forget it. In the city of Wangfujing in North Laos, where the entire community live according to a Buddhist lifestyle, monks and nuns care for about 500 children in the large Pha Oh Abbey. The monks are extremely poor, sleep on the floor and teach the children in harsh conditions in small crowded study rooms. The abbot is the highest religious figure in the entire province. He founded the large convent 10 years ago. A few months ago, VP Gilad Cohen of Israel?s Foreign Ministry in Asia and the Pacific and Israeli ambassador to Vietnam visited the region. The abbot explained that the monastery had a single computer and that another computer could have been very helpful in managing the huge school. The request touched Cohen?s heart and he promised the abbot that Israel would take care of his computer. Cohen contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and despite the serious budget crisis in the office ? his request was accepted, and the Foreign Ministry contributed a computer, screen, keyboard, and even office software. Last week, the ambassador arrived with the computer and delivered it to the abbot, saying: ?The gift is given in love from the State of Israel. The abbot said that he was surprised that we came back, Cohen said. Many foreigners visit us and ask what we need, promising to help and disappear again,? the abbot told Cohen. ?Well done that you kept your word. You have demonstrated true friendship and we will never forget it,” the abbot said. Pray that more countries will begin to appreciate the blessings that Israel brings to the nation.