VFI News October 29, 2021
Hamas Building Second Front in Lebanon to Shoot Rockets Into Israel!
Hamas is building a second front in southern Lebanon to shoot more rockets into Israel!
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Iran Expanding Uranium Enrichment at Natanz Site, Says UN Nuclear Watchdog
Iran has taken another step to increase its enrichment activities in purifying uranium beyond 20 percent, Reuters reported Monday, October 25, citing a report by the International Atomic Agency.
The move at Iran’s Natanz plant is likely aimed at building knowledge of the refinement process, the report said, as the product from changes to centrifuges is not being kept.
Though Iran already enriches uranium to 60% at Natanz, research to improve enrichment methods is opposed by Western powers, as it is irreversible and builds Iran’s ability to produce weapons-grade uranium.
“On October 25, 2021, the Agency verified that Iran began feeding (uranium hexafluoride gas) enriched up to 20% U-235 into a single IR-6 centrifuge in R&D line 2 at PFEP,” the IAEA said in its report.
“The resulting product and tails streams were being re-combined,” the IAEA report noted, meaning that the enriched uranium was not being stored.
In response to the developments, the IAEA report said it will “increase the frequency and intensity of its safeguards activities” at the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant, an aboveground facility located at the Natanz site.
A statement from the IAEA outlining the report said that last week Iran had notified that it planned to make changes involving uranium enriched up to 20% in the setup of clusters of small to medium-sized enrichment centrifuges at Natanz. However, so far, those additional machines have not been fed, according to the IAEA report.
Earlier this month, the head of Iran’s atomic energy agency said the country has enriched more than 120 kilograms of 20% enriched uranium
On Monday US Special Envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, said Iran’s explanations for staying away from nuclear talks in Vienna are “wearing thin.”
Malley said Washington is increasingly concerned Iran will choose to continue to delay the resumption of nuclear talks or come back to the negotiations with unrealistic demands. The US is intensifying “in the coming days and weeks” its diplomacy and consulting with allies on steps should Iran choose that path, according to Malley.
Though the preference is to find a diplomatic solution, Malley reiterated that the US will use “other tools” to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons if the Vienna talks fail. (TOI / VFI News)
“God, we ask that you continue to protect israel and Your people from nuclear warfare and destruction.”
The articles included in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Vision for Israel. We try to provide accurate reporting on news pertinent to Israel, the Middle East, the diaspora, and Jewish issues around the world—and we hope that you find it both informative and useful for intercessory prayer.
Iran Cyberattack, 4,300 Gas Stations Disrupted
Around 4,300 gas stations across Iran were disabled by a cyberattack on Tuesday, October 26, lasting until Wednesday, October 27, when gasoline distribution returned to normal.
Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi stated that the cyberattack was meant to create disorder, stating that “there should be serious readiness in the field of cyberwar and related bodies should not allow the enemy to follow their ominous aims to create problems.”
The cyberattack disrupted the sale of heavily subsidized gasoline across the Islamic Republic, which Raisi said on Wednesday was designed to create "disorder and disruption."
The details of the attack and its source are under investigation, Abul-Hassan Firouzabadi, Secretary of the Supreme Council to Regulate Virtual Space, said.
While the origin of the attacks is unknown, some have speculated that it was caused by the US, Israel or local Iranian anti-regime groups.
The Oil Ministry said that only sales with smart cards used for cheaper, rationed gasoline were disrupted. (JPost / VFI News)
Islamic State in Afghanistan Could Attack US in 6 Months
The US intelligence community has assessed that Islamic State in Afghanistan could have the capability to attack the United States in as little as six months, and has the intention to do so, a senior Pentagon official told Congress on Tuesday, October 26.
The remarks by Colin Kahl, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, are the latest reminder that Afghanistan could still pose serious national security concerns for the United States even after it ended its two-decade-old war in defeat in August.
The Taliban, which won the war, are enemies of the Islamic State and have seen its attempts to impose law and order after the US pullout thwarted by suicide bombings and other attacks claimed by Islamic State.
They include bombings targeting the minority Shi'ite sect and even an Islamic State beheading of a member of a Taliban militia force in the eastern city of Jalalabad.
In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Kahl said it was still unclear whether the Taliban has the ability to fight Islamic State effectively following the US withdrawal in August. The United States fought the Taliban as well as striking groups like Islamic State and al Qaeda.
"It is our assessment that the Taliban and ISIS-K are mortal enemies. So the Taliban is highly motivated to go after ISIS-K. Their ability to do so, I think, is to be determined," Kahl said, using an acronym for Islamic State in Afghanistan.
Kahl estimated Islamic State had a "cadre of a few thousand" fighters.
Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi of the new Taliban government has said the threat from Islamic State militants will be addressed. He also said Afghanistan would not become a base for attacks on other countries.
Kahl suggested al Qaeda in Afghanistan posed a more complex problem, given its ties to the Taliban. It was those ties that triggered the US military intervention in Afghanistan in 2001 following al Qaeda's September 11 attacks on New York and Washington. The Taliban had harbored al Qaeda leaders.
Kahl said it could take al Qaeda "a year or two" to regenerate the capability to carry out attacks outside of Afghanistan against the United States. (JPost / VFI News)
“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.” - Matthew 24:6
Iran Offers to Talk to Europeans about Restarting Nuclear Negotiations
Iran has formally suggested to the three European countries signed on a landmark 2015 nuclear deal that they hold talks about a return to negotiations aimed at saving the unraveling pact, the state-owned Press TV outlet reported Wednesday, October 27.
The proposal comes as the United States has said its patience was running thin with the Islamic Republic’s excuses for not directly returning to stalled European Union-sponsored talks in Vienna to revive the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Citing an anonymous source familiar with the developments, Press TV said that Iran had told Britain, France, and Germany that it was willing to meet with their representatives either in their own capitals or in Tehran. The purpose of the talks would be to discuss the restarting of the Vienna negotiations on reviving the JCPOA, the report said.
So far there has been no response to the offer, the source noted, rejecting a Tuesday, October 26, Wall Street Journal report that said Iran had declined a request from those countries to hold discussions.
Top Iranian nuclear negotiator Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri is in Brussels for separate talks with the European Union’s Deputy Secretary-General Enrique Mora. In an effort to save time, Britain, France and Germany told Bagheri they were willing to send representatives to join the meetings with Mora. WSJ reporter Laurence Norman tweeted Tuesday that Bagheri had turned down the idea.
“This looks like out and out time-wasting even as Iran tries to create [an] image of engagement,” Norman tweeted.
On Monday, October 25, US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley said Iran’s explanations for staying away from nuclear talks in Vienna were “wearing thin.”
Malley called Iran’s actions “in contradiction or inconsistent with what they claim to be their desire to come back to the JCPOA,” while saying the US was ready to adapt to a reality in which Iran does not return to the nuclear deal.
The US, China, Russia, Germany, France and Britain struck the JCPOA accord in Vienna with Iran on its nuclear program in 2015 under President Obama.
The nuclear deal began to fall apart in 2018 when then-US president Donald Trump’s administration withdrew from it and reinstated sanctions. Iran in turn again started to ramp up its nuclear activities, particularly enrichment of uranium which is bringing it nearer to the threshold of making a bomb.
All dialogue has been stalled since the sixth round of talks in June when ultraconservative Ebrahim Raisi won Iran’s presidential election.
Though the preference is to find a diplomatic solution, Malley reiterated that the US would use “other tools” to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons if the Vienna talks fail. (TOI / VFI News)
“God, we ask that You help Iran to see reason, and protect Your people from the threat of nuclear warfare.”
Roots & Reflections
Far beyond the headlines and deep within the land of Israel, there are richer stories to be told. Stories about the true Israel of today—a complex, vibrant, modern, and yet very traditional place where Jews and Arabs have lived together as neighbors for three thousand years. Roots & Reflections offers you a slice of life as it is today in Israel—a land where the most dramatic events in the history of the world have unfolded.
Eight Antiquity Robbers in Israel Search for Gold, Get Caught in Pit
Archaeological evidence suggests that the site of Be’er Kalech in southern Israel was in use for millennia, from the Bronze Age (3300-1200 BCE) to the Ottoman domination, which ended just a century ago. Among others, Be’er Kalech features ancient cisterns, tombs and quarried caves used for raising doves and pigeons, which provided both food and fertilizer to the population.
During the weekend, a group of eight robbers was caught by IAA inspectors as they were digging in an ancient well at the site. Six of them were actively excavating and another two were observing the work.
The suspects, who were transferred to a police station for interrogation and indictment, are residents of the Bedouin city of Tel Sheva. Robbing or damaging antiquities in Israel is a criminal offense that carries a sentence of up to five years in prison.
“Unfortunately, some residents of the South tend to believe in ‘legends’ about Ottoman-era gold caches that exist in the southern region,” said Amir Ganor, director of the IAA Robbery Prevention Unit. “We at the IAA have identified a growing trend in which squads of antiquities robbers go to archaeological sites equipped with excavation tools, look for hidden signs in the area, and dig deep pits while harming the heritage of all of us.”
According to Ganor, sometimes well-known sheiks in the Bedouin sector encourage the activity.
“The sheikh is supposed to help locate the gold and fight the ‘demon’ that guards the treasure in the depths of the earth,” he said. “Just last month, a famous sheikh was caught in a moat in Nahal Hagav with other suspects. (JPost / VFI News)
Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. - Ephesians 4:28
2.5 Mil. Christians Visited Israel in 2019. Will They Return Post-COVID?
Donna Jollay has lost $3 million and thousands of clients since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.
“We are reaching a breaking point,” the owner of Jerusalem Tours International told The Jerusalem Post.
Jollay purchased her company, which specializes in Christian tourism, six months before the start of the pandemic. She said she has at least six groups that she has rescheduled five times since March 2020.
“We are seeing people lose hope,” she said. “They are giving up. You can only be rejected so long by the one you love until you say that it isn’t meant to be.”
Before the COVID-19 crisis, Christian visitors flooded Israel to visit the places they read about in the Bible, connect to their history and experience a glimpse of the future – when most believe Jesus will return and usher in a messianic era that begins in the Holy Land.
But since the pandemic, all tourism – including Christian tourism – has totally dried up.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and the Health and Tourism ministries approved a plan on Thursday, October 21, to allow vaccinated and recovered tourists into the country beginning Nov. 1, despite a revelation that at least a handful of cases of the new AY4.2 variant have entered Israel in the last few days. But even as the government approves the plan to open the gates of Ben-Gurion Airport once again to individual travelers, it is unclear whether Christians, who used to account for the largest percentage of annual tourists, will come back the way that tour operators surely hope.
For perspective, before COVID, Israel had reached 4.5 million tourists a year, of which 2.5 million or 55% were Christians, according to data released by the Tourism Ministry at the end of 2019.
The majority (84%) visited Jerusalem, and 65% Tel Aviv, as well as many holy sites throughout Israel, from the Jordan River to the West Bank settlements they call the “biblical heartland” – home to ancient Shiloh, city of the Tabernacle, for example.
In May 2021, when Israel first launched a pilot program to let in small groups of vaccinated tourists, the first to land in the country was a group of 12 Christians led by Tom Zelt from Prince of Peace Church in Fremon, California. The travelers were students at the Concordia Seminary in Missouri, visiting as part of their study program.
But they were few and far between, as Israel’s coronavirus travel rules have kept the vast majority of visitors at bay. The government promised in June, July and again this month to open the country to individual tourists, but no formal announcement had been made until Thursday. And in the release from the Prime Minister’s Office it was already stressed that the plan “would be updated according to developments and the discovery of new variants.”
With evangelical Christians, the situation is even more complex.
Evangelicals are the least likely to be vaccinated of any other Christian group in the United States, according to data reported by Pew Research Center.
Only 57% of white Evangelical Protestants have received at least one dose of the vaccine, Pew reported earlier this month, compared to 82% of Catholic adults, 73% of white non-Evangelicals and 70% of black Protestants.
Christians have often been the people who come to support Israel during its hardest times. They showed up in solidarity during the Second Intifada, and have flown into the country and headed down South to connect with their Israeli brothers and sisters during wars with Hamas.
“They are willing to lay down their selves and their lives to support Israel,” Jollay said. “It is a very hard and sad situation for the Evangelicals to understand: Why isn’t Israel taking them into consideration when they are the largest supporters, when they come when no one else comes?” (JPost / VFI News)
“God, we ask that You protect Israel from Coronavirus, and allow travelers to come and experience the beautiful culture and faith of Your people.”
First Public Israeli Flight Lands in Saudi Arabia
An Israeli private jet landed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Tuesday morning, October 26, per KAN news, marking the first time a public flight from Israel has ever landed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The news comes just a day after the first flight from Saudi Arabia landed in Israel, as an Emirati 737 Royal Jet landed in Ben-Gurion airport Monday evening, October 25.
This is the latest among improving regional ties for Israel: Agreements to normalize ties with four nations — UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan — have been realized since the 2020 Abraham Accords.
While there remain no commercial flights between Saudi Arabia and Israel, as the two states share no official relations, the flights are a considerable advancement in Saudi-Israeli relations, as both nations finally opened their airspaces to each other just last year.
Surrounded by nations that have clashed with Israel in the past, free air travel is not something that is taken for granted in Israel. Along the 2020 normalization of ties with Bahrain, Sudan, Morocco and the UAE was the opening of airspaces to Israeli flights, along with announcements of direct flights to Dubai, Morocco, and Bahrain. (JPost/ VFI News)
“If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.” - James 2:8
3 Jewish Baseball Players Could Make or Break the 2021 World Series
The World Series is upon us, and there are likely more Jewish players in this year’s edition than there have been in decades.
The American League champion Houston Astros, who ousted Chaim Bloom’s Boston Red Sox last week, feature star slugger Alex Bregman. The National League champion Atlanta Braves boast an impressive duo of Jewish players: pitcher Max Fried and outfielder Joc Pederson.
(The Astros did not include Jewish backup catcher Garrett Stubbs on their roster. Had Stubbs been added, this would probably be the most Jewish World Series ever.)
For Bregman and Pederson, it is a rematch of the infamous 2017 World Series, when Bregman’s Astros beat Pederson’s former team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, while using illegal sign-stealing techniques that led to high-profile suspensions. Pederson hit three home runs during the series, and Bregman added two of his own.
Hardcore Jewish baseball fans may recall the 1959 World Series, a matchup between the Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox, which also included three Jewish players: L.A.’s pitching roster boasted the legendary Sandy Koufax and the series’ Most Valuable Player, Larry Sherry, while Chicago had pitcher Barry Latman, although he did not appear in the series (just three years later, however, he would be named an All-Star).
But thanks to its Jewish talent, this year’s Series promises to feature just as many memorable Jewish moments. Here’s a Jewish guide to the 2021 Fall Classic. (JPost/ VFI News)
“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith.” - Romans 12:6
The suggestions, opinions, and scripture references made by VFI News writers and editors are based on the best information received.
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