May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble. May the name of the God of Jacob defend you. May He send you help from the sanctuary and strengthen you out of Zion; May He remember all your offerings and accept your burnt sacrifice. May He grant you according to your heart’s desire and fulfill all your purpose. We will rejoice in your salvation (Ps. 20:1-5a)
Dear Intercessors for Israel:
Israel is a nation that fronts the Mediterranean Sea. For over 120 miles its pristine beaches invite crowds who gather either to just enjoy the sea air, swim, practice wind surfing, or dine. Marylois and I as well as others have our favorite beaches. We usually love to gather at Camel Beach near Haifa, where we can relax under a sun umbrella, sit in a beach chair, drink a crushed mint lemonade enjoy seeing the ocean waves close by. There is a boardwalk along the shoreline where you can join other Israelis walking or you can choose to sit in a seaside restaurant and enjoy the catch of the day. Of course, you can also visit Caesarea, where the sands and ruins of past ages along the seashore invite your exploration. Peter Jones (a close friend) and I spent the better part of an afternoon a few years back, snorkeling in its waters, floating over sunken Roman pillars, and looking for hidden treasures. Then again, maybe the sea-shores near Israel’s Northern border near Lebanon, might grab your attention. Rosh Ha Nikra is known for its white limestone seaside grottos, where you can hear the sounds of the ocean waves roaring through them, as well as walk through the caverns. All these sites are at risk now.
An Ecological Disaster.
Two weeks ago, the beginning of a major ecological disaster occurred along Israel’s shores. A 55-foot dead Fin Whale washed on a beach near Tel-Aviv on February 19th. Veterinarians performed a necropsy on this sea creature and found significant quantities of black oil inside its lungs. Israel then found that its beaches were also contaminated with crude oil which had quickly interacted with the water forming masses of gooey tar.
Israel promptly closed all its Mediterranean beaches until further notice and called out its volunteers and its armed forces to clean up the mess. The Environmental Protection Ministry estimated that at least 1,100 tons of oil and tar (350,000 gallons @ 317 gallons to the ton of oil) had washed up on Israel’s shores, producing havoc among its wildlife, killing birds, sea turtles, crabs and fish alike. Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority announced that this spill “was one of the most serious ecological disasters” in the country’s history.
The Environmental Protection, Health and Interior Ministries issued a joint statement last Sunday (Feb. 28th) warning the public not to visit the entire length of the country’s 195-kilometer (120-mile) Mediterranean coastline, cautioning that “exposure to tar can be harmful to public health.”
Israel’s Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel announced that this harmful “oil spill” was deliberately caused by an Iranian sponsored ship spilling crude oil and was in fact an act of “Eco-terrorism.”. After a government investigation, radar tracking and satellite photos, Israel determined that it was a Libyan flagged tanker named Emerald. This ship had turned off its automatic identification system (similar to an aircraft transponder) and had proceeded to slowly sail near Israel’s sea borders on February 1st and 2nd while heading towards Syria. Shortly there-after this oil spill contaminated Israel’s beaches.
Both Israel’s Mossad and Government leaders were hesitant to call this spill an act of Eco-terrorism, preferring to say it may have been an accident or a mistake, as determining the right ocean currents and where to successfully discharge this crude oil, so that it was directed towards Israel was unlikely.
Even so, the fact remains both Iran and Syria are in the midst of on-going conflicts with Israel. This act also could have been deliberate in hopes of fouling Israel’s shores and inflicting damage on its ecology.
Israeli Ship Attacked
Last week a large Israeli owned cargo ship, the Helios Ray was damaged by two or more limpet mines, while crossing the Hormuz Strait. Four parts of the hull were blown apart with two gaps above the water line, and two below. These gaps measured approximately six to nine feet in width. An Iranian newspaper Kayhan, (which supports the ruling Ayatollahs) stated: “The crimes committed by the Zionist regime have made it a legitimate target.” (www.israelhayom.com) Israel Defense Minister Gantz replied to this threatening statement and warned Israeli’s that “Iran is looking to hit Israeli citizens and infrastructure.” Earlier in November 2020, a top Iranian nuclear scientist was assassinated in a secret Israeli operation. Israeli aircraft also frequently hit Iranian missile positions and military personnel stationed in Syria. Iran in turn has repeatedly promised reprisals against Israel for its attacks against its bases in Syria.
Iran is also under crippling U.S. sanctions, forcing it to sell and smuggle its crude oil to illegal buyers. The Emerald was tracked to a position between Northern Cyprus and Syria where it illegally transferred its oil to an Iranian tanker named the Lotus. A few days later, this massive oil spill reached Israel.
Israel has now organized a massive operation with thousands of Israelis volunteering to help clean up its beaches. The question remains was this oil spill a deliberate environmental attack, or just an accidental oil spill? Will another more serious “event” occur? For now, Israel has alerted its maritime patrols to keep an even a closer watch on the maritime traffic which sail near its sea borders
Pray for Israel and its ecology. May this land be “fruitful.” Pray that another Eco-disaster does not occur. Pray that Israel’s shoreline can be cleansed. Pray that its fishing industry does not incur long lasting harm.
A Fourth Lock-down?
As if Israel did not have enough troubles, Israel’s “Corona Czar” Nachman Ash announced that a “Fourth Lock-down” before the election was a real possibility, since the COVID virus pandemic may see a resurgence after the Purim celebrations. Over 5 million Israelis have been vaccinated. The government is issuing “Green Cards” which allow more freedoms for inoculated citizens to go to shopping malls, gyms, restaurants and sporting events. Yet, Israeli health authorities are still cautioning that persons receiving this vaccine may have to be re-inoculated every six months to keep their immunity. Ben Gurion, the nation’s principle airport may be re-opened to Israelis travelers this coming Sunday. Tourism though, looks to be a long way off, and when it opens, only tourists having “green cards” that prove they have been vaccinated, will be admitted.
Israelis voters will head to the polls, March 23rd to elect a new government. This will be the fourth election in two years, and polls show that many Israelis are “tired” of this constant merry go round of elections, where the differing parties compete to form a stable government. Many citizens have indicated that they would rather go on a vacation then vote. Pray for this upcoming election that Israel may elect effective leaders and form a stable government.
A Bombshell Decision
After 15 years of deliberation, (15 years!) the Israeli High Court of Justice (Israel’s Supreme Court) announced that that the State could no longer limit what it considers acceptable converts to Judaism, in immigrating to Israel under the Law of Return. Under that law, every Jew has the right to immigrate to Israel whether they are considered ethnically Jewish or by their religious preference. Until now, Jewish religious convert who immigrated to Israel had to be Orthodox Jews, to be accepted as citizens.
This ground-breaking decision will have a “bombshell” effect on immigration since it opens the way for Jewish converts who identify as being Reformed or Conservative to become Jewish citizens. For many years the Ultra-Orthodox had control of the Ministry of the Interior and had a monopoly on deciding on who could become a citizen. Now, this “log-jam” appears to be broken. Even so, new immigrants who wish to make Aliyah (return), must still qualify for their Israeli citizenship by applying in Israel through the government Ministry of Immigration and Absorption. This ruling is sure to raise up protests inside the Ultra-Orthodox and Orthodox Jewish communities as their rabbis consider Reformed and Conservative Jews to not be truly Jewish. This decision may also affect the outcome of the national elections, as to what party receives a majority.
Gene and Marylois/House of Peace