“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Matthew 5:44-45 (TLV)

Shalom. There is so much happening that requires our prayer and attention and so I’m grateful for a few minutes of your time today.

Thank you for standing on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people through your support and your prayers.

I’ve included the verses above because you will see that much of the news this week concerns two countries that are enemies of Israel and her people. But we are called to pray for them – for their leaders and their people. And God is working His plan – a plan we can trust completely.

Regarding the nuclear talks with Iran – both the Iranian and U.S. governments report “progress” in the process of coming to an agreement. The Biden administration has offered to “ease sanctions” – without citing which ones exactly. And the Iranian government has responded positively to the prospect – again, without citing which specific steps they would take to de-escalate. These talks are at an extremely fragile point and present an excellent opportunity for prayer.

Syria is again making headlines after a Syrian missile exploded deep in Israeli territory last week, not far from a nuclear reactor. The Israeli military and a top U.S. military official both said they do not believe the reactor was the intended target.

In addition, you will find a current news story regarding COVID-19 and Israel.

As you read these stories, please lift these events, situations and the people involved in prayer.

SOME PROGRESS MADE, BUT DISAGREEMENTS PERSIST IN IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL TALKS

U.S. President Biden’s administration has indicated openness to easing sanctions against Iran vital to their economy, including oil and finance, with the goal of narrowing differences in the nuclear agreement conversations. This is according to a report in The Wall Street Journal last week.

Even with this progress, senior diplomats involved in the process say weeks of difficult negotiations over the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) remain. The talks, taking place in Vienna, are complicated by Iran refusing to meet directly with the U.S. as well as domestic politics in both Washington, D.C. and Tehran.

Senior officials resumed talks this week after five days of meetings last week. Those involved say progress has come as the U.S. provided more information about the sanction relief the country is prepared to provide.

A senior U.S. State Department official said, “There still are disagreements, and in some cases, pretty important ones. We are not near the conclusion of these negotiations. The outcome is still uncertain. We have made some progress.”

U.S. CONTINUES CONVERSATIONS WITH ISRAEL CONCERNING NUCLEAR DEAL

Regarding Israel’s reservations about returning to the deal, the State Department official said: “We have numerous conversations with Israeli officials before and after every round of talks. We will have one again [this week].

“We believe we have been transparent within the process; we intend to be as transparent as we can. We know there’s a disagreement with Israel’s perspective and we respect that. We’ll try to be as transparent as we can about how we do things, [and] that we want to go and listen to their perspective as well.”

SYRIAN MISSILE LANDS DEEP IN ISRAELI TERRITORY

Last Thursday, a Syrian missile reached deep into Israeli territory and set off air raid sirens near the country’s top-secret nuclear reactor. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officials said it was a misfire and not a deliberate attack. In response, Israel fired airstrikes on the missile launcher and other targets in Syria.

“There was no intention of hitting the nuclear reactor in Dimona,” said Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman, the IDF’s chief spokesman.

An Israeli missile-defense system tried to intercept the incoming missile but failed. Defense Minister Benny Gantz said the incident was under investigation.

Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, gave a similar assessment to the Senate Armed Services Committee last Thursday, The Washington Post reported.

“I think it reflects, actually, incompetence in Syrian air defense, where they were responding to Israeli strikes on targets in Syria. They fired their missiles, the missiles went ballistic, literally, and followed a parabolic trajectory to Israel,” McKenzie said. “I do not believe it was an intentional attack, but just rather a lack of capability on the part of the Syrian air defenders.”

Israel has launched airstrikes at Syria multiple times in recent years at military targets connected to Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah militia, both allies of Syrian President Bashar Assad. These strikes routinely draw a response from Syria. Thursday’s exchange was unusual because the Syrian missile landed deep inside Israel.

SANA, Syria’s state news agency, said the exchange began with an Israeli airstrike on a suburb of the capital, Damascus. This area is believed to house Syrian army installations and equipment as well as bases and weapons depots belonging to Iran-backed militias. SANA said four soldiers were wounded.

This missile exchange comes at a time of growing tensions between Israel and Iran. It also threatens to complicate attempts to revive the JCPOA nuclear deal.

ISRAEL’S HEALTH MINISTRY REQUESTS CITIZENS AVOID TRAVELING ABROAD

All Israelis are being advised to avoid unnecessary trips abroad to prevent new variants of the COVID-19 virus from entering the country. This recommendation was issued by Israel’s Health Ministry last Thursday, according to The Jerusalem Post.

“The situation in the world is such that we highly recommend not to travel abroad if you do not have to,” the Ministry’s Director-General Chezy Levy said last Thursday. “At the same time, the Health Ministry identified seven countries where there is very high COVID morbidity and a good chance of getting infected or catching variants. We recommend as much as possible not to travel to these countries. Just don’t go.”

Even those who are vaccinated against COVID might be at risk of getting infected with new variants, the Ministry’s warning said.

LET US PRAY TOGETHER

Please pray with me for:

  • God’s provision and direction concerning the JCPOA nuclear deal negotiations
  • Protection for Israel from Syria, Iran and others who oppose Israel and the Jewish people. And, pray for these countries that they will seek peace with Israel rather than conflict
  • A peaceful God-inspired solution for Israel’s government following the country’s fourth inconclusive election in the past two years
  • Protection for the people of Israel from variants of COVID-19
  • Jewish people to recognize Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah

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