Tensions Flare around al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem
High tensions and rioting threaten Jerusalem’s Old City, particularly the al-Aqsa mosque. As Ramadan nears its end, Israeli officials are working hard to keep peace and safety for its citizens. For many days, riots and arrests have occurred on the Temple Mount. Jewish extremists are attempting to provoke anger and aggression while Muslim rioters hurl fireworks and stones. Israel has banned any non-Muslims from entering the Temple Mount until the end of Ramadan next week.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh threatened further escalation of violence if Israelis continue ascending the Temple Mount. The violence on the Temple Mount threatens a wider regional conflict. The Iron Dome intercepted a rocket from Gaza on Wednesday night. Shrapnel landed and caused some damage in Sderot, a neighboring city. Israel’s air force carried out airstrikes in Gaza on a military post, a terror tunnel, and an underground rocket manufacturing site. These events mark the first threat to peace along the Gaza/Israel border since the conflict last May.
Please pray for peace and calm to cover Jerusalem and that God will change the hearts of those who seek to do harm.
After Two Years, Israel Lifts Mask Mandate
Israel has decided to lift its mask mandate that had been in place since April 2020. This mandate required everyone in an enclosed environment (including malls, transportation, schools, and stores) to wear a mask. Places where masks are still mandatory include nursing homes, hospitals, and other health centers.
“We have finally learned how to live alongside the coronavirus—without panic, with responsibility and judgement,” Prime Minister Bennett and Health Minister Horowitz said in a joint statement about this decision. “The coronavirus has not disappeared, but currently no special restrictions are needed. We are acting as we have been doing since the establishment of this government: safeguarding public health while lifting restrictions whenever possible.” Bennett and Horowitz think that now, after two years, people can “live alongside the coronavirus” and get used to another new normal.
Please pray for the health and safety of those who are at high risk.
Israeli Astronaut Ready to Return to Earth
Israel’s second-ever astronaut, Eytan Stibbe, is set to return to earth on Monday. His mission is the first private space flight to visit the International Space Station. This flight is also the first with an all-civilian crew. During his time on the International Space Station, Stibbe conducted thirty-five experiments in health, agriculture, and technology. At a farewell ceremony near the mission’s end, Stibbe ironically commented that he was ready to stay for another month. Although his stay was not extended by a whole month, their return, set for last Wednesday, was rescheduled for five days later due to bad weather.
Please pray for the astronauts to return safely and that the research they conducted will benefit others.