Gilad Shalit, a Former Hostage, Helps Families of Hostages
Gilad Shalit, a former Israel solider, was a hostage for five years (2006–2011) under Hamas in Gaza. Hamas released him as part of a controversial exchange in which Israel freed 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. Yahya Sinwar was among those prisoners Israel released and is now Hamas’ primary leader. Shalit contacted the hostages’ families to see if he could offer support and encouragement. Though it took some time to schedule a meeting, he assured the families of the hostages their captive loved ones would, despite the hardships, be able to recover and return to happy, full lives. He himself has been able to travel, obtain a university degree, work at a newspaper, and get married since his release.
Please pray for the hostages who have returned to recover and lead full lives and for those who remain in captivity.
Israeli Forces Remove a Division from Gaza Fighting
Israel has released its 36th Division, including the Golani Brigade, from their service in Gaza. Three combat divisions remain in Gaza. The goal is to allow the 36th Division time for rest, reorganization, and training. They served in Gaza for eighty days and were the second division to enter Gaza, the 162nd Division being the first. During their time in Gaza, the soldiers of the 36th Division were instrumental in dismantling Hamas’ infrastructure and engaging in urban warfare in northern and central Gaza. The withdrawal of the troops marks the largest reduction of Israeli forces in Gaza since the start of the war. This step signals the Israeli Defense Forces’ transition to the next phase of the Swords of Iron War.
Please pray for these troops who have a chance to go home, rest, and be with their families for the first extended time in a while.
Families of Hostages Send Messages of Love via Loudspeakers
Using powerful loudspeakers, families of the Israeli hostages Hamas holds captive in Gaza gathered in Kibbutz Nirim on the Gaza border to shout messages of love and words of encouragement. Families took turns to speak to their loved ones through a microphone. Speakers hoisted high by cranes amplified their voices in the hope the sound would reach the hostages in the tunnels. The families recently marked 100 days since October 7, when Hamas kidnapped more than 240 hostages, most of whom were civilians. The families have steadfastly raised awareness of their plight in and outside Israel. Negotiations are taking place with Qatar and Egypt serving as mediators.
Please pray for the families of hostages who agonize over their loved ones being held by Hamas. Pray for the hostages—for their peace, comfort, and protection over their bodies and minds.
Dinner Invitations Lead to Great Conversations
A few of our staff members scattered across Israel have had similar, very encouraging stories lately. In the aftermath of October 7 and the feelings of insecurity, fear, and distrust, many not-yet-believers are pursuing friendships with our staff! Through the simplicity of a dinner invitation or the desire to sit together to talk about deeper topics, quite a few not-yet-believers have had wonderful conversations about hope, God’s love, and their feelings of doubt about a good God. Our staff have been able to pray with them, read the Scriptures, and tell their life stories and testimonies.
Please pray for trust and further open doors for these friendships to grow so our workers can continue proclaiming the Lord—and for more similar stories!