Israel Backpacker Held In Russia, Freed
American-Israeli backpacker Naama Isaachar, who had been jailed in Russia for nine months on charges of drug possession, has been pardoned by Vladimir Putin and returned to Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu had been in discussion for weeks with the Russian government to discuss her release, and personally escorted her home on his plane. Although there were nine grams of marijuana found in her luggage while on a layover in the Moscow airport, she did not have access to it, and therefore could not use or sell it. She had been sentenced to seven and a half years for drug possession—a weighty sentence. Many believe she was a pawn in a fight between Israel, the United States, and Russia. Israel gave the Alexander Courtyard—an important building found in Jerusalem’s Old City—to the Russian Orthodox Church. Naama was en route home to Israel from a backpacking trip in India when she was arrested. Her mother met her at the Moscow airport and accompanied her home.
Praise God for Naama’s safe return home to Israel. Please also pray for her transition back to normal life….and for her salvation!
The Long-Awaited Peace Plan Revealed
In what President Trump calls a “win/win” for both sides, the long-awaited peace plan was revealed. Prime Minister Netanyahu and his political rival, Benjamin Gantz, had flown to Washington, D.C. to discuss separately the peace plan with President Trump. After decades of fighting, the plan gives Israel most of what it has been trying to achieve, including an Israeli-controlled unified Jerusalem as her capital, and the ability to continue oversight of the current settlements in the West Bank. It will also give the Palestinians more land to develop in the south and a future embassy. The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmood Abbas, immediately denounced it saying, “a thousand times, no.” He has since cut off ties with the United States and with Israel. There will be much more discussion on the peace plan in the future.
Please pray for wisdom and understanding for both sides as this peace plan is considered.
Israel Halts All Flights In and Out of China
Israel has now banned all flights to and from China until March 25, 2020, amid world fears of the coronavirus. The last two flights recently landed in Israel. The people returning from China must remain quarantined for two weeks, though at the moment the quarantine will be self-imposed. There is talk of evacuating Israeli diplomats and their families from China. Currently, there is a cruise ship off the coast of Italy that is suspected of carrying the coronavirus with twenty-eight Israelis on board. All passengers are being involuntarily quarantined.
Please pray for health and protection against the coronavirus. Please pray that a vaccine can be developed.
Prince Charles Visits Tomb of His Grandmother in Israel
Recently, Prince Charles, the future king of England, visited Israel for the World Holocaust Forum, which brought dozens of world leaders and dignitaries to Israel to remember the liberation of Auschwitz Death Camp seventy-five years ago. Prince Charles had been to Israel before, but never for a formal visit. He paid a special tribute to his grandmother, Princess Alice, who is buried just outside of the Old City of Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives, in the Russian Orthodox Church of St. Mary Magdalene. Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Israel, has declared her as “Righteous Among the Nations,” a title for anyone who is not Jewish though risked their lives to save Jewish people during the Holocaust. Prince Charles has said that this title brings immense pride to him and his family. Charles said, “I have long drawn inspiration from the selfless actions of my dear grandmother, Princess Alice of Greece, who in 1943, in Nazi-occupied Athens, saved a Jewish family by taking them into her home and hiding them.”
Praise God for Princess Alice and her heroic efforts and those of countless others like her who saved Jewish people from death during the Holocaust.
Volunteers Come to Help Serve In the North
The northern city of Nahariya was recently hit badly by heavy rainstorms in Israel. The river running through the center of town rose and caused major flooding and damage in the city. Access to the city was effectively shut off and people had to be rescued with heavy duty trucks and transport vehicles. One of our workers in that area invited a team of experienced volunteers from the United States to help with flood damage and repairs to homes and buildings. They were welcomed with open arms and were honored by the mayor. They shared their faith and gave glory to the Lord through their service.
Please pray for future interactions with their neighbors as our workers continue to share about Jesus the Messiah!