VFI News January 14, 2020

Israel: It Hasn’t Rained This Hard In 50 Years

“Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught.” Prov. 3:25-26

Israel’s northern region broke a more than 50-year record for the highest amount of rainfall as of last weekend. According to the Israel Meteorological Service, in the northern coastal plain some 350 to 400 millimeters have accumulated over the last two weeks, and more than 400 mm. fell in the Western and Upper Galilee. Since Israel began taking official rain measurements 80 years ago, such large quantities of rain have been recorded in northern Israel only twice; in December 1951 and January 1969. A record was also broken last week in southern Israel, where some 122 mm. fell, breaking a 76-year-old record. A number of intercity highways in the North and South were blocked due to flooding and throughout the day on Thur. 9 Jan. 2020, rescue workers labored around the clock to assist hundreds of people who became trapped by floods. Amidst the damage caused by the inclement weather, the good news is that the Sea of Galilee has jumped 26 centimeters since the start of the rainfall and, according to meteorologists, has only 2.07 meters lacking to be full. The Sea of Galilee at 209 meters below sea level, is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth, and the second-lowest lake in the world after the Dead Sea, a saltwater lake. (VFI News) 

Israel seriously needs abundant rains after years of drought. Please pray that winter precipitation will continue to water the land but without further injury to people or damage to property.

Iran to Blame for Ukrainian Airline Crash

Tehran on Saturday 11 Jan. 2020 admitted that its air defenses were responsible for the crash of Ukrainian International Airlines 737 that took place on Wed. 8 Jan. 2020. The strike resulted in the deaths of all 176 people aboard. The victims include 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans, and three British nationals. University graduates migrating to Canada were among those who perished in the crash. Iran denied for days after Wednesday’s crash that it brought down the plane, although a top Revolutionary Guards commander said on Saturday that he had informed the authorities about the missile strike the same day it occurred. A military statement said the plane flew close to a sensitive Revolutionary Guards site at a time of high alert, although Ukraine said the plane was in a normal flight corridor. Ukraine International Airlines said Iran should have closed the airport. A USA official familiar with the intelligence said the aircraft was downed by two Russian-made SA-15 surface-to-air missiles. The USA saw Iranian radar signals lock onto the jetliner before it was shot down.  A senior Trump administration official commented that “Iran’s reckless actions have again had devastating consequences.” Condemnation of Iran poured in from around the globe after Tehran finally admitted that its military shot down the Ukrainian passenger jet. 

Angry crowds gathered on Saturday night in at least four locations in Tehran. Thousands of people assembled outside the gates of Amir Kabir University, near the former American embassy, to denounce the plane crash that the government blamed on human error and "USA adventurism." Protesters called for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to step down and for those responsible for downing the plane to be prosecuted. "Death to the dictator," some chanted. Grief-stricken Iranians complained on social media that Iran’s authorities had spent more time fending off criticism than sympathizing with victims’ families. Tensions between the USA and Iran have escalated following a recent USA precision strike that killed Iranian Quid’s commander Qassem Soleimani. Soleimani was plotting "imminent and sinister attacks" on Americans, Trump said, adding that the action was taken to stop a war. (VFI News)

Pray world leaders will be in agreement and find effective ways to end this regime’s menace to the nations, including its support of terrorist groups, and its nuclear and military ambitions. Intercede also that the Iranian people who want political and social change but live in fear of expressing their discontent will be encouraged in their hopes and find methods to succeed.

Hezbollah Sides With Iran - Vows to Attack Israel

The Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist group has vowed to attack the Jewish state if the USA responds to recent missile strikes carried out by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).  IRGC likewise said, "We in no way consider the Zionist regime (Israel) to be separate from the criminal USA regime in these crimes.  We warn the bloodthirsty and arrogant administration of the USA that any new, wicked act or further aggression against Iran will bring about more painful and crushing responses". The IRGC warned that they would attack Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and Haifa in Israel if Iranian soil is targeted. Iran has used terrorist groups in the past to strike its regional foes, including Israel, and could mobilize them if the killing of Soleimani ignited an armed conflict. Hezbollah was established by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard during Lebanon’s civil war in the 1980s. Today it is among the most effective armed groups in the region, extending Iran’s influence to Israel’s doorstep. Today, the group has an arsenal of tens of thousands of rockets and missiles that can reach deep into the Jewish state.  Iran has also long supported Palestinian terrorist groups, including Gaza’s Hamas rulers and particularly the smaller Islamic Jihad group. Such terrorist organizations receive aid, arms, and training from Tehran. (VFI News)

Continue to pray for the safety of Israel’s northern and southern border communities against all enemy attacks.  “He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me. God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.” Ps.57:3

Honduras Deems Hezbollah A Terrorist Organization

On Monday 6 Jan. 2020 Honduras announced that it would join several other countries that have declared the Lebanon-based Hezbollah group as a terrorist organization. "Honduras joins Guatemala and other countries in announcing that Hezbollah will be declared an international terrorist organization nationwide," said Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández. With the move, Honduras joins several countries including the USA, the UK, Canada, Argentina, Paraguay, and Israel, as well as Bahrain, which have declared Hezbollah a terrorist entity. In 2013, the EU blacklisted Hezbollah's “military wing” as a terrorist organization, but failed to blacklist the group’s political arm. However, EU members the Netherlands and the United Kingdom consider all of Hezbollah a terrorist organization. The British government formally announced last year that it intends to ban the political wing of the Hezbollah as well as the “military wing”. The German Parliament recently approved a non-binding resolution calling on the German government to “decree an activity ban against Hezbollah in order not to tolerate any activity in Germany by representatives of the organization. Israel's Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz welcomed Honduras’ decision saying, "I applaud the Honduran government for its important decision to declare Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and to take the necessary sanctions against it." Katz added, "This is an important step in the worldwide war against terrorism. (VFI News/Arutz-7)

 “All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all.” Isa. 41:11-12

2019 Anti-Semitic Crimes Increased 25% in NY City

The upsurge in anti-Semitic crimes in New York City was addressed days ago at a press conference at the Police Academy in Queens. The alarming rise in hate crimes across the five boroughs, shot up 20 percent in 2019 and was topped by a 26% spike in anti-Semitic incidents alone. There were 234 anti-Semitic crimes reported for the year compared to 186 in 2018, officials said. The city has been shaken in the past month by a spate of anti-Semitic attacks, including one in Brooklyn on 27 Dec. 2019 that was allegedly committed by Tiffany Harris, who was then released without bail thanks to the state’s new criminal-justice reforms. Earlier this month, thousands of people, some covered in Israeli flags and others singing Hebrew songs, poured into Lower Manhattan in a show of solidarity for New York's Jewish community in the wake of a spate of anti-Semitic attacks in the region. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined the crowd and announced $45 million in additional state funding to increase security around houses of worships, schools and other religious institutions, days after a man wielding a machete stormed into a rabbi's home in Monsey, New York, sending five people to the hospital. The incident that took place on 28 Dec. 2019 followed an early December shooting rampage at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City. The assault left three civilians, one police officer, and the two shooters dead after an hours-long gun battle. Both Cuomo and NY City Mayor Bill de Blasio have increased police patrols in Brooklyn neighborhoods with large Orthodox Jewish communities. (VFI News) 

Intercede for the safety of the NY Jewish community against all forms of anti-Semitism, whether it comes from individuals or groups. Pray for a halt to the spread of lies and prejudices that fuel anti-Semitism.  Intercede also against media bias where the supposed “crimes” of Israel are exaggerated, over-reported, and distorted. Anti- Israel bias greatly energizes anti-Semitism.

Israel Announces Anti-Missile Laser Breakthrough

Israel's Defense Ministry reported last week that it is developing breakthrough laser anti-missile systems to intercept drones, mortar shells and rockets, light aircraft and anti-tank missiles. The new systems will be cheaper and more effective than current solutions and complement Israel's Arrow (long-range), David's Sling (medium-range) and Iron Dome (short-range) missile defense systems. Engineers from the Defense Ministry's Weapons Development have been working on a classified laser missile defense project for the past few decades. Since 2009, the engineers have successfully been able to use algorithms to produce powerful focused laser beams and increase their effective range in various types of weather conditions. After the investment in the system according to one Defense Ministry source, "Every shot is very cheap, about one dollar per shot.”  Meanwhile, the price of launching a single Iron Dome interception missile is between $40,000 and $80,000. (VFI/Globes)

“No weapon forged against you will prevail.” Isa. 54:17

Israeli Debate Team Brings Home the Crown

An Israeli debate team has won the World Universities Debate Championship for the third time. The contest took place in Bangkok, Thailand during the last week of 2019. The winning duo, Hadar Goldberg and Maya Saveliev of the Open University Debate Team, made history as the first Israeli team of women to win the competition. They defeated 750 contestants from around the world in the English Second Language (ESL) category. It had numerous subjects for the nine debate rounds that the team went through, including democracy, ethics, geopolitics, and law. The accomplishment of a team comprised of only women is considered a significant step for the advancement of women in the Israeli debate scene. (VFI News)