Sudan Peace Deal with Israel
Sudan has agreed to a peace normalization deal with Israel. Though the process of establishing formal diplomatic relations will take more time than it did for either the United Arab Emirates or Bahrain, the Sudanese prime minister is looking forward to “a new chapter in our history.” Just a few hours before the announcement was made, the United States removed Sudan from its list of terrorist countries and Sudan paid 355 million dollars to American terror victims and their families. Delegations from Sudan and Israel have agreed to meet in coming weeks to negotiate the cooperation agreements. Among the issues to be discussed will be Sudan’s hope that Israel’s agricultural technology will be able to transform the large amounts of unused workable land to help improve Sudan’s economic situation. Another issue to be discussed is the thousands of Sudanese migrants who have come to Israel over the past fifteen years. Previously, the Sudanese in Israel could not be deported because of the humanitarian situation in their country and because Israel had no ties with Sudan. Sudan’s caution moving into the discussions is largely due to the current transitional government in Khartoum. The former long-standing government was toppled last year, and now Prime Minister Hamdok wants to shift their country toward democracy.
Please pray for Israel’s new ties with Sudan to grow and foster strong diplomatic relations.
Attack Tunnel Found
Early last week, another attack tunnel was found leading from Gaza into Israeli territory. It had thick concrete-lined walls but did not have an open exit yet into Israel. It was found because of the tunnel indication system that Israel has been installing to prevent underground border crossings into Israel. After the attack tunnel was destroyed, a rocket was launched into Israeli territory. Though no single group claimed responsibility for firing the rocket, Israel is holding Hamas accountable as the governing body of the region. The Iron Dome intercepted and destroyed the rocket. In response, Israeli Air Force planes and helicopters took out an underground Hamas infrastructure. This led to more rocket fire from Gaza on Friday, which resulted in no Israeli injuries or property damage. Though there has been no retaliation from Israel yet, a defense official indicated that one would be forthcoming.
Please pray tensions do not escalate between Hamas and Israel and that the building of attack tunnels designed to kill and kidnap Israelis would come to an end.
Senior Palestinian Politician in Israeli Hospital
Senior Palestinian official, Saeb Erekat, has fallen severely ill with COVID-19 and has been receiving treatment at Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center in Jerusalem. He was admitted there despite the Palestinian leadership’s decision earlier this year to sever ties with Israel, including the treatment of Palestinians in Israeli facilities. Erekat is currently on a ventilator and an ECMO machine, which artificially oxygenates his blood. He had a lung transplant three years ago and is also suffering from other major health issues, making his situation very complicated. He serves as Palestinian senior negotiator and has advised both Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas. He was one of the architects of the Oslo Accords and has been part of numerous rounds of peace talks with Israel. According to his daughter and hospital officials, his condition is stable with the current regimen of care.
Please pray for Saeb Erekat’s return to full health.
Black Flag Protestors
This past weekend marks the eighteenth week anti-Netanyahu demonstrators rallied throughout the country to show their discontent for the current government. Though the actual number of protestors cannot be verified, organizers claim 170,000 people took part, waving flags on overpasses, standing at intersections and along busy gardens, and even moving protests on bikes, running, or walking in large groups. The people are calling for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign over allegations of corruption and the way he has handled the coronavirus pandemic. The protests have been mostly peaceful, though there have been a few altercations and arrests, and a large police presence has been set up to keep watch. Netanyahu is on trial in three criminal cases for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. The prime minister has denied the allegations and attacked the police, the justice system, and other officials, calling the entire corruption scandal a “witch hunt.”
Please pray for Israel’s tense political situation along with dealing with the pandemic, financial hardships, and peace on her borders.
Living in a Virtual World
Israel has re-opened a little after its second national lockdown, but there are still significant restrictions in place to keep people from meeting together. For our online ministries, we need to “step it up” in order to create interesting videos, thought-provoking discussions and seminars, and find new ways to reach out and be an encouragement for those in need. We are grateful for our amazing teams in the Tel Aviv area and in Jerusalem who continue to change and adapt to these times. Our team serving with Holocaust survivors continues to call and video chat with people to encourage, pray for, and brighten their day. Some of our workers meet online with their youth groups. Even though there has been a decline in the number of youths attending the meetings (Zoom fatigue), there was recently a “full house” on Zoom. Teenagers are bored and desperate to see each other, and our workers were able to lead a Bible study and games online. We are seeing people respond to our posts with spiritual questions and welcoming discussion.
Please pray for more creative ideas and ways to minister to those around us. Also, we are asking for prayer for our workers in Israel as they seek to reach out to the not-yet-believing Jewish community, caring for the needy, and creatively connecting virtually with others.