The issues Israel has faced since the beginning of the year have only intensified during the month of March. The nation continues to experience severe internal unrest as well serious threats from beyond its borders.
The controversial judicial reform continued to be a central issue last month. At the end of March, PM Netanyahu fired defense minister Yoav Gallant, citing his response to the recent refusal of reserve troops to report for duty, triggering even more extreme backlash by protesters, and ultimately leading to a pause in the judicial legislation.
Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, began March 22, and the IDF is on high alert as violent rioting sweeps Judea and Samaria. In addition, a terror attack in Tel Aviv killed one Israeli, and three terror attacks have now occurred in the same Palestinian village, Huwara, most recently injuring two Israeli soldiers.
The third week of March, Israel rescinded the 2005 Disengagement law in northern Samaria, prompting the first summons of an Israeli ambassador to the US since 2009.
The Jewish holiday of Passover begins the evening of April 5th. Jews in Israel and around the world will celebrate with a festive family meal called a Seder whose centerpiece is the retelling of the story of the Exodus.
There is much to be in prayer for. We ask that you intercede on behalf of Israel and Hope for Israel throughout the month of April.
PLEASE JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR:
Controversy surrounding the judicial reform has grown throughout March as the government continued to push through their legislation. IDF reservists from several elite combat units also sparked controversy as they protested by refusing to participate in reserve training. Many have condemned their politicization of the IDF.
The tension finally boiled over when Netanyahu fired Defense Minister Yoav Gallant towards the end of the month. Although the PM cited Gallant's handling of the situation with the IDF reserves, Gallant had criticized Netanyahu’s course of action the day before, and many felt that Gallant’s termination really reflected this. Regardless of the reason, the prime minister’s move ignited the most intense protests yet, which ultimately led him to halt the judicial reform. This pause will, God willing, allow time for the different parties to dialogue and for the tense political and cultural to calm down.
While both sides of the argument have legitimate reasons to believe as they do, the bigger issue is the growing cultural fissure in Israeli society between religious and secular, right and left. The unwillingness to facilitate dialogue and compromise, the politicization of the IDF and the all-or-nothing determination of both sides is concerning. Palestinians have widely celebrated the chaos online, with hashtags like “#israelisburning” in Arabic.
Please continue to pray for:
- Respect for the rule of law, the distribution of power, and basic government institutions from all sides of the political aisle.
- Compromise between Government and Knesset Opposition
- National unity and dialogue, based on humility and a desire to understand different perspectives
- Continued social, religious, and judicial liberty
- For Israel’s military and security forces to remain apolitical and effective even during the upheaval
Israeli Security and Terror, Especially During Ramadan
Following an extremely bloody beginning of the year, the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority held two consecutive summits in Jordan and in Egypt, brokered by Jordanian, Egyptian and US delegations, during which both sides pledged a renewed commitment to peace and de-escalation. As part of the talks, Israel promised to refrain for a period of 4 months from approving new settlement activity in Judea and Samaria.
This discussion of de-escalation appears to be mostly theoretical, as three more terror attacks occurred in March, claiming the life of one Israeli and severely wounding three others; the IDF continued its nightly raids on the homes of Palestinian terror suspects; and the Israeli government made Jewish settlement in northern Samaria legal once again.
The IDF remains on high alert as Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, begins. Forces in Judea and Samaria have already seen intense rioting, and two soldiers were wounded by gunfire in the village of Huwara. Huwara, the same Palestinian village where two other terror attacks have occurred in the last month, presents a major challenge for security forces in the area.
Please pray for:
- Discernment and timing for right-wing politicians in advancing potentially inflammatory bills in the Knesset
- Comfort and healing to the victims of terror and their families
- A de-escalation of the tense security situation
- Protection and alertness for Israel's security forces as they seek to execute justice and protect Israeli civilians through arrests, arms seizures, and day-to-day guarding duties
- Wisdom for security forces in crafting policy in the village of Huwara
- A calm and peaceful Ramadan
Iranian Nuclear Ambitions
An international nuclear watchdog announced that Iran has reached 84% uranium enrichment, marking a significant increase from the last noted 60%, and leaving only a small jump to a full capacity for nuclear weapons production. Iran also renewed their diplomatic relationship with Saudi Arabia, which is concerning, since Israel had previously seen Saudi Arabia as a future partner in the Abraham Accords.
Israeli leaders remain seriously concerned about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, as well as their army of proxy terror groups, such as Hizballah, in the region. Several political and military leaders have made direct references to an Israeli airstrike against Iran, and the question has become not if, but when, they will strike. Authorities are also concerned that Iran or its proxies could attempt to take advantage of the perceived weakness caused by the current internal conflict in Israel.
On the Diaspora front, a concerning report recently emerged of an Iranian mapping program, which seeks to locate Jewish institutions in the Diaspora, presumably to be able to target Jewish communities more easily.
Please pray for:
- Continued wisdom for Israeli leadership as they pursue a policy of deterrence against the Iranian threat, especially in light of mass protests in Israel
- International cooperation against Iran
- Wisdom for Israeli military leadership on when and how to strike Iran
- Wisdom to counter Iranian proxies on Israel’s northern border, such as Hizballah
- Safety for international Jewish communities who could be viewed as a target by Iran
Tensions between the Biden Administration and the new Netanyahu government continue to increase. The US has made their disapproval of the new government clear, issuing condemnations of the Israeli judicial reform among other issues.
Following a controversial speech given by Israeli Finance Minister Betzalel Smotrich in France, and a Knesset vote to rescind the 2005 Disengagement Law from northern Samaria, the US Deputy Secretary of State summoned the Israeli ambassador to express his disapproval for the first time since 2009. The US and Israel do not usually express disapproval of each other by traditional diplomatic means such as summoning ambassadors, so this is a noteworthy escalation in the US-Israel tensions.
After Netanyahu paused the judicial reform, the US Ambassador to Israel was quoted as saying that Netanyahu would soon receive an invitation to the White House. These rumors were quickly dispersed by President Biden himself who said that the prime minister would not be receiving an invitation any time soon. He also expressed continued disapproval over the political situation in Israel. This prompted several retorts by Israeli politicians, including Netanyahu, as well as his less-diplomatic colleague, Itamar Ben Gvir, who said that Israel “is not just another star in the American flag.” In other words, many Israelis feel that the US is trying to babysit their internal affairs.
The US has simultaneously insisted that they will continue to support Israel in matters of national security and defense.
This American ambiguity comes at a bad time for Israel; the Jewish State is currently facing an appraisal by the ICJ on the legality of their presence in Judea and Samaria according to international law.
Please pray for:
- Wisdom on the behalf of Israeli leaders and diplomats to negotiate between Israel’s domestic and international interests
- Definitive American policy which actively supports Israel on the international stage and not just behind closed doors
- For an accurate and unbiased legal assessment of the Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria by the Hague commission
The Feast of Passover
Passover, the Jewish feast celebrating God’s redemption of His people from slavery in Egypt, begins the evening of April 5th. Jews in Israel and around the world begin the holiday with a long and festive meal whose centerpiece is the retelling of the story of the Exodus. There follow seven days where the eating of leaven is forbidden, and Jews instead will eat matzah, a cracker-like unleavened bread.
This year, Passover coincides with Ramadan, meaning that the security situation in the country is tense and many soldiers will be celebrating the holiday on base. The holiday is also overshadowed by the intense upheaval the country is currently experiencing, surrounding a controversial judicial reform bill and the resulting backlash.
Please pray for:
- For Israelis to recognize the true and ultimate Passover lamb, Yeshua!
- For Israelis to remember what they have in common through the holiday of Passover
- For a restoration of unity and goodwill between Israelis of different opinions
- Safety for all, especially for those travelling for the holiday and for Israel’s security forces who work around the clock, even on holidays, to protect the country
HFI Prayer requests:
We continue to prayerfully seek the Lord’s wisdom and guidance to implement a renewed vision. Please join us in praying for:
Moran had a wonderful time hosting the ministry’s flagship tour “Experience Israel” last month! It was a fruitful time on many levels, and we are grateful for your prayers. This month will be a bit quieter, and Moran will be able to reconnect with the staff in the office. He has some big decisions facing him, so please pray for wisdom and clarity of thought. He will also enjoy some time off with his family during the Passover holiday.
Please also pray for:
- Wisdom regarding the various aspects of the ministry that he oversees.
- Guidance and inspiration as he writes his weekly Scripture commentaries.
- A time of refreshment with his family during the Passover holiday.
HFI Staff & Board Members
Please pray for:
- Blessing over our staff & board members who devote time and energy to executing our vision for the ministry
- Protection over their families while they serve
- Wisdom for the board members as they make decisions that impact the ministry in tangible ways
- Our US representative Bill Katz as he drives and flies thousands of miles every week to speak on behalf of Hope for Israel,for health & traveling mercies, protection over his wife and daughter while he is traveling, and for fruitful meetings and speaking engagements
Threefold Vision for Empowering the Future Generation of Believers
Please pray for:
- Wisdom for the staff as they continue this year’s program
- Unity in the hearts of the team
NerYah Youth Group:
We continue to see incredible growth and progress in our relationships as leaders with the believing youth! We have visited several of the teens in their schools and they were very excited to see us. Additionally, we held our traditional Purim activity last month, and the believing youth loved the experience!
We are especially encouraged by the development that we have seen in one believing teen who is home-schooled. At the beginning of the school year, he was shy, insecure and had difficulty communicating with the other youth. Gradually, we have seen him come out of his shell, gain confidence, and take a more active part in NerYah activities.
Please pray for:
- Hunger among the believing youth to know God through reading His word
- The financial situation of one of our leaders. She requested wisdom and calm in handling some financial challenges that she has experienced recently
- Blessing over the studies of two of our leaders who are university students
- Wisdom for the leadership staff as they consider leadership next year. Please pray that God would lead the right leaders to remain part of NerYah!
At the end of March, we distributed Passover care packages to our believing soldiers. While we give packages to soldiers four times a year, this Passover the packages were a bit different and very well received by the soldiers! We are also encouraged by several soldiers who have turned to us to ask for advice and support. We are thankful that they see us as a safe space. We continue to be blessed by a wonderful team behind our believing soldier program. They have a heart to support the soldiers and have invested a lot of thought and time into them this year.
Please pray for:
- Encouragement and new strength for our team of leaders
- The building of deeper and more meaningful connections between the soldiers and leaders
- Continued spiritual, physical and mental strengthening for the believing soldiers as they fulfill their various jobs. Please pray that they would see God work in their lives even when they are detached from any believing framework
- Guidance and wisdom for the next stage of their lives for several believing soldiers who finished their army service in March
Post-Military & University Students
The second semester of university studies began this month, and it will include many cumulative exams and projects. In addition, we held our bi-annual meeting for all the believing students in our program, during which we shared a meal, reconnected, and Tigist presented a short message about giving. Overall, it was a blessed time!
Please pray for:
- Guidance and wisdom for Tigist and Sapir as they prepare content for the next student meeting which is scheduled for 21.4.
- Strength and alertness for the students as they begin the second semester of studies and for wisdom and success in all their academic work this semester
- New students who are joining the program
- The tutoring program to continue to grow and be able to impact more youth!
- Wisdom and guidance for the program’s leadership as they receive scholarship for next year
- Wisdom for our team as they continue to provide counseling and career advice to newly released soldiers, many of whom are overwhelmed and confused by the new stage in their life and the new challenges and responsibilities it poses
HFI Media Projects
Our various media projects keep people connected to HFI and help educate people about Israel's spiritual and historical significance. In a day and age where many people oppose Israel, we see advocating for both Israel and what the Word of God says about Israel as top priorities.
Please pray for:
- Wisdom, insight and creativity for our media team.
- Increased engagement with our target audience on social media platforms, especially on our new “Beyond the Headlines” Instagram page.
- A video crew that we can work with in Israel to generate new content.
- creating a grassroots movement of Israel advocacy via YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
- Informative & interesting articles and other original material that will educate our audience and encourage their spiritual development.
- Insight and efficiency in updating our website and messaging; that God would provide the right website designer.
One of the main objectives of our tour operation is to cover ministry overhead, so that a higher percentage of donations can go to projects.
Please pray for:
- wisdom for Moran as he continues to make challenging decisions regarding the tour operations.
- BJ & Beverly for wisdom, flexibility, and patience as they handle the complex coordination of these tours from the USA.
- For our Cyprus-Greece tour to fill up
- a strong candidate to fill the position of Tour Coordinator in our Israel office.
God has been so faithful in providing for the ministry's operating and project costs! We ask that you pray that He will continue to do so, and that we will be able to bless more Israelis than ever!
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