Six Inmates Escape High-Security Prison—Four Recaptured
On Monday morning last week, six high-security inmates escaped northern Israel’s Gilboa Prison. Since the prisoners’ disappearance, Israeli authorities have launched a wide search for them. These inmates dug a hole in their cell’s drainage system and tunnelled out of the prison. The number of escapees and the gravity of their crimes makes this one of the worst prison breaks in Israel’s history.
Officials consider them very dangerous and are conducting a massive manhunt in northern Israel with helicopters, drones, checkpoints on the roads, and police searching on foot. Four of the six escaped men were serving life sentences for horrible terrorist attacks against Israelis. One of the other men is a notorious commander in a well-known Fatah brigade. Authorities believe the prisoners received outside help and discovered that the guard tower near where they escaped the prison walls was unattended. So far, the Israeli Police have recaptured four of the six escapees thanks to Arab Israelis who reported seeing them. The other two remain at large.
Please pray for the safety of the civilians in northern Israel, as two of these prisoners are still on the loose. Please pray they are found swiftly.
The Central Bureau of Statistics Releases New Year’s Population Numbers
As Israel celebrates the Jewish high holidays, the Central Bureau of Statistics reports that Israel’s population has grown by 146,000 people since last year, including 20,000 immigrants. Israel usually sees many more immigrants in a year. However, the drastic closures at airports and other travel restrictions related to the pandemic have made immigration drop by almost 41 percent since 2019.
Currently, Israel has a population of 6.94 million Jews (74 percent of the population) and 1.98 million Arabs (21 percent of the population). Israel is also home to 466,000 people of other ethnic groups (5 percent of the population). That is a total of 9.3 million people, and Israel will likely have 10 million people by 2024.
Israel is not only a country of diverse religions but also of various levels of observance within Judaism. More than 44 percent of Israel’s Jewish citizens identify as secular, 32 percent as slightly religious, and 21 percent as quite religious or ultra-Orthodox. Overall, there are 15.2 million Jewish people worldwide. Of those, 8.2 million live outside Israel—the four countries with the largest Jewish communities are the United States, France, Canada, and Great Britain.
Please pray for Israel’s continued growth and development as more people come to live and thrive in the land.
Israel to Open Borders to Tourist Groups
Israel’s borders have remained closed to most foreign nationals for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic to prevent major outbreaks and surges. Even relatives of Israeli citizens have had a very hard time entering the country, which has frustrated many. Israel relies heavily on tourism as one of its top sources of income. Thousands working in the tourism industry have been hard hit and unable to work for many months. Israel is trying a pilot program starting September 19 to allow groups of tourists to enter the country. They will need to show proof of a second vaccination within the last six months or a third vaccination.
Travelers will also need to have a serological test at the airport to verify the presence of antibodies. With these precautions, the group does not need to quarantine. Only tourists from countries classified as “yellow” or “orange” can enter, which at the moment includes all nations except for four: Brazil, Bulgaria, Mexico, and Turkey. A group may not have more than thirty participants, but there is no limit on the number of groups that can enter the country.
Please pray for those struggling in the tourism industry, as many have not worked for more than a year and a half. Please pray also for the safety of the tourists as they come to experience the land once again.
The Day of Atonement in Israel
This week, Jewish people around the world will observe Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement—the holiest day of the whole year. On this day, people pray and fast for the forgiveness of sins and acceptance from God. In Israel, all stores are closed, there are no cars on the roads, and airplanes do not fly. Rather, it is a quiet day of deep introspection.
On Yom Kippur, even people who are not religious reflect on their sins and connection with the Lord. As believers in Jesus, the Sinless One, we can be thankful for the atonement He has provided through His death and resurrection.
Please pray with our workers in Israel for the salvation of the Jewish people worldwide.