VFI News July 10, 2020

Fourth Mysterious Explosion Leaves Iran Under Pressure

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. - 1 Corinthians 13:1

On Saturday yet another massive fire damaged a power plant in its restive Khuzestan province. Iran said, once again, this was an accident. But quietly Iran is letting it be known that there are concerns, including through commentary at its major media suggesting it might respond to the attacks.

On July 3, ImageSat International (ISI) revealed images of the Khojir facility, the one that blew up on June 26. That was the first of the four explosions. The ISI assessment says that gas tanks were damaged under a shed and that the gas was destined for a missile facility nearby.

We now know that another incident occurred at a medical center days later in Tehran and then another explosion damaged the Natanz facility on July 2. The July 2 explosion was then identified by Kuwait’s Al-Jarida media as a cyber attack. This ups the concerns for Tehran, because if it feels it is under a cyberattack it will need to respond. (JPost / VFI News)

The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. —Psalm 11:5

Opposition Leader: Violence on the Way Due to Netanyahu, Coronavirus

Violence will soon break out among Israelis, because of incitement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his loyalists—and the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus—opposition leader Yair Lapid warned at the Ma’ariv newspaper’s OECD Conference on Sunday.

Speaking to Ma’ariv analyst Ben Caspit, Lapid said Netanyahu’s continued attacks on Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit were “completely irresponsible.”

“It is going toward violence,” Lapid predicted. “People are in despair, because they don’t have what to eat.”

Lapid blamed his former political partner, Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz, for facilitating the formation of the government. He said he was not impressed by Gantz and other Blue and White figures starting to criticize Netanyahu.

“It’s nice that they criticize, but we already have a state comptroller,” Lapid said. “The question is whether they can succeed in preventing something.”

Lapid said he would be the main challenger to Netanyahu in the next election but declined to predict when it would take place. (JPost / VFI News)

From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight. —Psalm 72:14

“God, we ask that you continue to watch over the people of Israel—that you would keep them safe from all forms of violence.”

Israeli Airline El Al to be Nationalized

El Al's Board of Directors ruled on Sunday evening in favor of the outlay the Finance Ministry suggested in order to keep the airline in business during the global coronavirus crisis, and the ongoing pilots’ strike that halted all operations.

The state will guarantee a $250 million loan and will purchase $150 million worth of stocks in the company, meaning it would control 61% of El Al. The process of releasing these new stocks for the state to buy them is expected to be completed by early October.

The goal is that, when the company is stable, an outside investor would purchase it. An unnamed Israeli citizen had already made inquires into the matter, Haaretz reported last week.

The decision ends 15 years during which the firm was controlled by Knafaim Holdings – specifically, by David Borowitz and his wife Tami Moses Borowitz who together controlled 32% of the shares. (JPost / VFI News)

Partisan Outrage over California Church Singing Ban

Faith leaders are speaking out after California Gov. Gavin Newsom banned singing and chanting in houses of worship last week due to a surge in coronavirus cases following weeks of protests.

“Places of worship must, therefore, discontinue singing and chanting activities and limit indoor attendance to 25 percent of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower,” the new guidelines read as state health officials recommend churches have members sing online from their homes.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention officials point to singing as a proven way to spread a virus as the Golden State recorded more than 11,700 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, the highest single-day count of any state. With over 271,000 confirmed cases and at least 6,366 deaths, California now has the second-highest number of cases behind New York.

Sean Feucht, a worship leader at Bethel Church who also leads several non-profits in Northern California, called the order an "unprecedented attack" on the freedom of worship and said he is defying the Democrat governor's ban. (Fox / VFI News)

“God, we ask that you give discernment and knowledge to church leadership on how to best safeguard their congregations.”

Israel Reaches Highest State Deficit in History

Israel currently faces the biggest deficit in history with NIS 58.2 billion (USD 16.9 billion). In June 2019, the deficit was NIS 22 billion.

The causes for this are the government’s expenses due to the coronavirus pandemic and the reduction of tax-generated income.

The accumulated deficit of the government for the past 12 months is NIS 88.4 billion, which is 6.4% of the Israeli Gross Domestic Product.

With 6 months remaining to the year's end, Israel still does not have a budget as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pushing to approve a budget until the year ends, and Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz is pushing for a two-year budget, saying this would encourage stability. (JPost / VFI News)

“I will not retract my comments on Israel”—Chief Justice, S. Africa

Chief Justice of South Africa Mogoeng Mogoeng, who has been facing criticism in South Africa for attacking the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party's alleged one-sided approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, responded to the attacks by saying that he will not retract his statements, according to report Saturday.

The Chief Justice rejected the notion of a retraction during a prayer meeting was organized by Healing The Nation Of Africa Campaign, which Mogoeng agreed to lead.

Mogoeng's comments were made during a live webinar on Tuesday, where he lamented his country’s adoption of a lopsided attitude toward the Israel-Palestinian conflict and said that it would have greater influence if it displayed a more balanced approach.

He said that his nation’s history of forgiveness and understanding should have informed its approach to peacemaking, adding that as a practicing Christian he believed that those who curse Israel will themselves be cursed. (JPost / VFI News)

I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” —Genesis 12:3

“God, we ask that you bless, support, and encourage those who seek justice and peace—particularly when that peace is controversial.”

Russia: Turkey Tested Anti-Air Missiles on US F-16 Jets

Turkey, a member of NATO, tested the Russian-made S-400 air defense system on US-made F-16 jets during a drill in November 2019, Russia’s state media TASS has reported. The use of the S-400 against the F-16s was already reported last year, but the new details from Russian media appear to cement the claim and infer that something more was going on in those tests.

Russia has an interest in knowing how well its air defense performs against US warplanes. Russia’s S-400 is the top tier of its numerous air defense systems. Some of these systems have been called into question due to mistakes.

S-200s used by the Syrian regime shot down a Russian airplane by mistake in 2018. Iranian models of Russian systems have scored big in 2019 with the shoot-down of a US drone, but the Iranians also shot down a civilian jetliner in January. (JPost / VFI News)

Taiwan to Launch Platform Showcasing its Tech Ecosystem Based on Israeli Model

The COVID-19 crisis has triggered a surge in global demand for breakthrough technologies to combat the pandemic, reinvigorate the economy, and address other societal challenges. It also reiterated the need for an effective global digital tool to find innovative solutions and create collaborations among entrepreneurs, companies, and investors.

This was the setting for the signing on July 7 of an agreement between Start-Up Nation Central (SNC), an independent nonprofit organization that builds bridges to Israeli innovation, and Innovation to Industry (i2i), a tech ecosystem builder that supports and connects innovation stakeholders in Taiwan.

Under the agreement, i2i will launch a "Global Finder" in Taiwan - an online innovation discovery and ecosystem development tracking platform modeled after the successful Start-Up Nation Finder. The platform will include a mapping of nearly 30,000 tech companies, hundreds of incubators, over 200 VCs and other stakeholders active in Taiwan’s ecosystem, enabling them to expand their business opportunities with the world. (ID / VFI News)

“God, we ask that you continue to bless Israel with innovators and thinkers that inspire the next generation of world-changing technologies.”