Israel Update

January 8, 2012


“Do not drag me off with the wicked, with the workers of evil, who speak peace with their neighbors while evil is in their hearts.” Psalm 28:3

US AND ISRAEL PREPARING FOR BIGGEST DEFENSE DRILL EVER - UK SENDS WARSHIP TO THE PERSIAN GULF: The Israeli military is gearing up, together with US forces for a major missile defense exercise, the IDF announced Thursday. The “Austere Challenge 12” drill is designed to improve defense systems and cooperation between the US and Israeli forces. The exercise will be the largest-ever joint drill by the two countries. Thousands of American and Israeli soldiers from different units will take part. The drill will test multiple Israeli and US air defense systems against incoming missiles and rockets. Meanwhile, the Islamic Republic continues to issue threats to close the Strait of Hormuz. The US response to Iranian saber-rattling has been a firm declaration that deployment of US military assets in the Persian Gulf region will continue as it has for decades. On Saturday the UK’s Royal Navy announced it is sending its most advanced warship to the Persian Gulf. The deployment is intended to send a message to Iran following its threats to close the Strait of Hormuz. Western countries have readied plans to use strategic oil stocks to replace almost all Gulf oil lost if Iran blocks the waterway. Sixteen million barrels of crude oil pass through the strait daily.  Iranian officials have threatened to block the strait if new sanctions imposed by the US and planned by the EU, with the aim of discouraging Iran's nuclear program, harm Iran's oil exports. Additional weight to world concerns over Iran’s covert nuclear weapons development came earlier this month when the Islamic republic announced it had produced its first nuclear fuel bar, an accomplishment Western experts estimated it could not achieve. (AP)

OBAMA’S SANCTIONS ON IRAN MAY BE A PAPER TIGER: President Barack Obama last week signed a law that allows him to impose harsher sanctions on countries that deal with Iran’s energy sector and central bank, but critics claim the law could prove to be a “paper tiger.” The Defense Authorization Act that Obama signed while vacationing in Hawaii ostensibly forces sanctions on countries that deal with the Central Bank of Iran and trade in the Islamic Republic’s energy sector. However, the waiver clause also gives the president the option to postpone the sanctions while other countries bide for time. Imposing sanctions immediately could spike the price of crude oil and possibly spark a recession this year, when President Obama is trying to fight off a sharp decrease in popularity before his campaign for re-election in November. (INN)

IRAN'S CLERIC SAYS FACEBOOK IS NOT ISLAMIC - MEMBERSHIP A SIN: It is common in Iran for senior Islamic clerics to be asked about their stance on certain social issues. Their answers are regarded as a form of decree. ISNA news agency on Saturday covered the response of a senior religious leader, to the question about Facebook and Iranian membership in the social networking service. "Basically, going to any website which propagates immoralities and weakens the religious belief is un-Islamic and not allowed, and membership in it is therefore haram (a sin)," the ayatollah replied. According to recent official figures, 17 million Iranians have a Facebook account, despite heavy restrictions and filtering imposed by the government. The country recently established a cyberpolice unit to better police the Internet. (Ha’aretz)

ISRAEL, PA TO MEET AGAIN AFTER 16 MONTH LULL: Israel and Palestinian negotiators meeting in Amman last week for the first direct talks in 16 months agreed to continue discussions, with another round scheduled in Jordan this week. PA President Mahmoud Abbas warned, before the Quartet-sponsored meeting that Israel's failure to accept Palestinian demands would prompt him to take hard measures. Abbas again said the peace process would not be revived unless Israel agreed to freeze settlement construction and accept the pre-1967 lines. (J Post) The Palestinian Authority at every juncture continues to place the same impossible demands upon Israel, which include the freezing of all expansion in many of the Jewish state’s most mature and thriving communities, and a return to unsafe borders. This is precisely what happened in the Gaza Strip, turning life into a nightmare for Israelis who lost livelihood, community and homes. All of these were given to their foes in return for a false peace. Residents who presently live in Israel’s southern communities now, more conveniently for terrorists, have their lives constantly disrupted by ongoing rocket attacks. These projectiles are launched from the Gaza Strip that Israel vacated - an area now occupied by terrorist entities including Hamas.

PALESTINIAN SESAME STREET AILS WITHOUT US FUNDS: The children's program, Sesame Street, "Sharaa Simsim" in Arabic, has been put on hold for the 2012 season because of a funding freeze by the US Congress. It is one of several of the US-funded Palestinian programs and institutions being affected after Congress froze the transfer of nearly $200 million to its­ Agency for International Development. The suspension aims to penalize the Palestinians for appealing to the UN for statehood. The funding suspension is reportedly breeding resentment and frustration in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, even among the most progressive organizations. Danny Labin, an executive at the Israeli TV channel that co-produces the Israeli Sesame Street, said the funding halt to the Palestinian show is extremely unfortunate. "Young children, whether Israeli or Palestinian, who are in need of educational tools to foster diversity appreciation and to prepare for life in a pluralistic society, should not be penalized or held accountable to the politics and political leadership, over which they have no control," Labin said. (Ha’aretz) Sadly, this development leaves many young Palestinian television viewers with only terrorist-controlled networking of children’s programs. These alternative programs often promote religious extremism, violence, and hatred of Israel. This is done via Disney characters and other teddy-bear creatures. Similar indoctrinations appear, even in new issues of text books used to educate Palestinian children. Pray for Palestinian youth to be presented with learning and leisure materials that form healthy minds and positive viewpoints.    

HAREDIM THROW STONES AT BUSES IN BEIT SHEMESH: Police on Thursday dispersed dozens of haredim (ultra-Orthodox) who were throwing stones at buses in Beit Shemesh. Two people were arrested during the incident and one policeman was injured. Days prior to the bus attack, police dispersed another disturbance in the city after Israeli media revealed haredi extremists verbally attacked an eight-year-old girl for failing to dress modestly. In a separate incident on Thursday, police arrested an ultra-Orthodox man in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood for yelling offensive comments at a woman who was passing by. During the arrest haredim threw stones at police forces. (J.Post)

ISRAEL-EGYPT PEACE APPEARS TO NEARING ITS END: Egypt's new dominant political force, the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist entity, vowed this month to increase Cairo's hostility toward Israel and possibly even cancel the Camp David Accords. This was contrary to all the grand statements by Egyptian, Israeli and Western diplomats that the Camp David Accords were in no danger, but comes as no surprise to observers viewing the situation through the lens of reality. Muslim Brotherhood deputy leader Dr. Rashad Bayoumi insisted in a recent press interview that his group will never recognize Israel or its right to exist "under any circumstance." When reminded that the Camp David Accords obligate Egypt's government to recognize and have peaceful relations with Israel, Bayoumi said he doesn't care. "This is not an option. Whatever the circumstances, we do not recognize Israel at all."  He added that the Brotherhood respects international conventions but would take legal action against the peace treaty with the Zionist entity. On Saturday, the Muslim Brotherhood announced it had won at least 41% of the seats in Egypt's lower house of parliament, with Islamists of various sects occupying almost two thirds of the assembly so far. Some 62% of potential voters cast their ballots in the third round of the election which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday. (Israel Today/ INN) “They dress the wound of My people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.” Jeremiah 6:14

SCHOLARLY WORLD EXCITED OVER JEWISH SCROLLS FIND: The scholarly world is thrilled with the discovery of ancient Jewish scrolls in a cave in Afghanistan’s Samangan province. They may be the most significant historical finding in the Jewish world since that of the Cairo Geniza in the 19th century, according to one source. “We know today about a couple of findings,” Haggai Ben- Shammai, professor emeritus of Arabic language and literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was quoted as saying. “In all, in my opinion, there are about 150 fragments. It may be the tip of the iceberg.” The scrolls, which were part of a geniza – a burial site for sacred Jewish texts – date from around 1,000 years ago and are in Arabic, Judeo-Arabic and ancient Persian. (J.Post)


Blessings from Israel 

Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff 


As international speakers and messengers of the Good News through music, Barry and Batya Segal are at the forefront of what God is doing in the present day nation of Israel. With strong ties in both the nations and Jerusalem, the Segals are weaving the deepest roots of our biblical heritage together with the fresh Spirit-filled worship of today to create their rich harmony of Scripture and song.

The Segals have a vast vision for God's purposes in the nations and to the people of Israel. In fact, their longing to help rebuild Israel both spiritually and physically inspired them to pioneer the non-profit charity organization, Vision for Israel and The Joseph Storehouse. This arm of their ministry focuses on assisting the poor and needy, widows and orphans, and reaching out to the new Jewish immigrants coming into the land of Israel. Vision 's most challenging project to date is "The Joseph StorehouseŽ", humanitarian aid center, located in the hills of Jerusalem. The Joseph Storehouse functions as a channel of blessing to all of Israel, Jewish and Arab, through the gathering and distribution of emergency medical supplies, food, clothing, and other basic life necessities. USA office contact info: Vision for Israel, PO Box 7743, Charlotte NC 28241, 866-351-0075. The Segal's web site is


Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.    


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