JNN Newsletter - April 12, 2017

“Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did.” John 2:23

EXPECTING ISIS ATTACK, ISRAEL CLOSES TABA CROSSING INTO EGYPT IN UNUSUAL MOVE: In a highly irregular move, the Transportation Ministry shut down the Taba Crossing to Israelis trying to enter Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Monday 10 April 2017, citing fears of an imminent terror attack by ISIS. It is expected to reopen on 18 April 2017, with the end of the Passover holiday, but that decision will only be made following a security assessment, the Ministry said. Israelis currently in the Sinai Peninsula will still be able to return from Egypt and are, in fact, encouraged to do so immediately. Thousands of Israelis were expected to cross into the Sinai Peninsula for the Passover holiday. The decision to forbid that move comes a day after two lethal attacks on Egyptian churches by the ISIS terrorist group’s so-called Sinai Province. The closure was ordered by Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz, after discussion with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and other security officials. “This was an intelligence-security decision that was made in light of information that indicated plans to carry out a terror attack against tourists by the ISIS group’s Sinai Province,” Katz said. This was one of the few times the Taba Crossing was shut down since its opening in 1982, following the Israeli-Egyptian peace deal. The crossing was shut down in 2014, following a terror attack on the Egyptian side of the border. It was also closed in 2011 when Israel also assessed there was a high risk of terror attacks. (Times of Israel) Pray that Israelis vacationing in the Sinai will heed well-base Intelligence warnings to leave immediately. Often such alerts are ignored.

ROCKET ATTACKS SINAI ESHKOL REGION: A rocket fired from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula struck a greenhouse in southern Israel on Monday morning 10 April 2017, police said. Though no one was injured by the rocket, a 50-year-old man who was nearby when it landed suffered an anxiety attack as a result of the assault. The plastic sheeting that served as the roof the greenhouse was damaged, but the structure remained standing. Just after 11:30 a.m., the incoming missile alarm known as a “Code Red” sounded in the Eshkol region, near Israel’s westernmost tip, at the border with Egypt and the Gaza Strip. After a search of the area, police found the rocket in the community of Yuval, near the Egyptian border, in a greenhouse where tomatoes were being grown. According to the IDF, the rocket was fired from the Sinai Peninsula, presumably by the ISIS terrorist group’s affiliate there. The attack came hours after Israel shut down the Taba Crossing into the Sinai Peninsula, citing information about an imminent terror attack in the area. (Times of Israel) Once again we call upon our intercessors to pray against terrorist attacks and violence against Israelis and tourists during the vulnerable week of Passover.

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AL-SISI DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on Sunday 9 April 2017, declared a three-month state of emergency following the two deadly bombings on Coptic churches. "A series of steps will be taken, most importantly, a state of emergency for three months," Sisi said in a speech aired on state television. Sisi also announced establishing a new council for combating terrorism and extremism. At least 44 people were killed in the two explosions on Sunday. The first explosion occurred in a church in Tanta, Egypt, when a terrorist blew himself up during a Palm Sunday ceremony. Less than 12 hours later, a second explosion occurred in an Alexandria, Egypt church. The ISIS jihadist group claimed responsibility for the two explosions. In late February 2017 ISIS issued a video message vowing to target Christians, particularly in Egypt, saying Christians were their “favorite prey”, while showing footage of a previous church bombing. (Arutz-7)

UN CONDEMNS EGYPT CHURCH ATTACKS: The UN Security Council on 9 April 2017, condemned the bombings of two Coptic Christian churches in Egypt, calling the attacks “heinous” and “cowardly”. In a statement, the council urged all member states to cooperate with the Egyptian government in bringing to justice the perpetrators of the attacks, which were claimed by ISIS. “They expressed their deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims and to the government of Egypt and they wished a speedy and full recovery to those who were injured,” the statement said. “The members of the Security Council reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security,” it added. (INN)

A TIMELINE OF RECENT ATTACKS ON EGYPT’S CHRISTIANS: Sunday's 9 April 2017, bombings of two Coptic churches in separate cities claimed by ISIS are the latest attacks on Egypt's embattled Christian minority, increasingly targeted by ISIS and affiliated terrorists. The Copts have long been a favored target of extremists but the past five months been particularly brutal. USA-based think tank the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy said the attacks brought the total number of incidents against Copts to 26 in 2017, with a total of 88 killed including those at a major church bombing in Dec. 2016. Following are major attacks against Egypt's Coptic Christians over the past year: 9 April 2017: Twin bombings hit churches in the coastal city of Alexandria and the Nile Delta city of Tanta. At least 43 people were killed and scores of worshipers injured on the Palm Sunday attack.

Feb. 2017: Hundreds of Egyptian Christians flee their homes in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula, fearing attacks by ISIS terrorists. The group's North Sinai affiliate had killed at least seven Coptic Christians in the restive peninsula in less than a month. The ISIS group's affiliate in Egypt releases a video vowing to step up attacks against the Christian minority, describing them as their "favorite prey." It showcased a Dec. 2016 attack on the church adjacent to Cairo's Saint Mark's Cathedral, which claimed the lives of 30 worshipers. December 2016: A bombing at a chapel adjacent to Egypt's main Coptic Christian cathedral in Cairo claimed by ISIS kills 30 people and injuries dozens during Sunday Mass in one of the deadliest attacks carried out against the religious minority in recent memory. The high death toll serves as a grim reminder of the difficulties of Egypt's struggle to restore security and stability after nearly six years of turmoil. July 2016: Pope Tawadros II says that since 2013 there were 37 sectarian attacks on Christians in Egypt, nearly one incident a month. A Muslim mob stabs 27-year old Coptic Christian Fam Khalaf to death in the southern City of Minya over a personal feud. May 2016: A Muslim mob ransacks and torches seven Christian homes in Minya after rumor spread that a Christian man had an affair with a Muslim woman. The mother of the aforementioned man was stripped naked by the mob to humiliate her. (Fox) Intercede for God’s merciful protection to be on Egypt’s Christian community.

NETANYAHU LOBBYING FOR SYRIAN BUFFER ZONE AS RUSSIA REINFORCES SUPPORT FOR ASSAD: Israeli PM Netanyahu is lobbying for the creation of a secure buffer zone between Israel, Jordan and Syria as part of any future resolution to end the six-year Syrian Civil War. Netanyahu addressed the issue in recent talks with USA administration officials, as a means of maintaining regional stability by keeping Iran’s forces and the Iranian-sponsored terror group Hezbollah at a safe distance from Israeli territory. The prime minister insisted on the creation of a buffer zone on the Syrian side of the border, secured by forces other than those from the Jewish state. Netanyahu’s lobbying for the buffer zone comes after President Donald Trump’s surprise military strike on a Syrian airbase in response to the Assad regime’s chemical attack earlier this month, the latter killing at least 86 Syrians. Netanyahu expressed Israel’s full support for the USA strike. USA Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said on 9 April, 2017 that pushing Iranian influence out of Syria and removing Assad are now top priorities for the Trump administration. A coalition of Russian, Iranian and pro-Iranian forces loyal to Assad said that the USA strike crossed “red lines,” and that the coalition members would respond to any new aggression and increase their support for Assad’s regime. (Algemeiner)

‘WE NEED ANOTHER 100,000 SETTLERS IN THE GOLAN’: Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) spoke on 9 April 2017, about USA President Donald Trump's recent actions in Syria. Katz praised last week’s air strike as "moral and logical" and said it serves as a warning to Hezbollah and Iranian leadership. According to Katz, the strike shows a change in American policy, since former President Barack Obama left Israel to deal with evil on its own. The recent USA air strikes show this policy has changed. Katz also said the new policy would prevent Iran's military intelligence and expansion, both of which have cost Israel economically by forcing the country to invest resources into dealing with them. Israel must show its determination to keep control of the Golan Heights by sending another 100,000 citizens to settle it more efficiently, he concluded. (Arutz-7) About 47,000 people live on the Golan today, and how many of them are Jewish depends on which official body you ask. According to 2016 statistics, the spokeswoman for the Golan Regional Council said 25,200 Jews live in the area. But the Central Bureau of Statistics claimed Jews number 20,500. In any case, the statistics bureau says the Golan has the lowest population density of any region in Israel – 40 residents per square kilometer – even lower than in the Be’er Sheva-centered Southern District. The region, overlooking northern Israel and southern Syria, is strategic to the security of the Jewish state as it enables Israel to monitor Syrian movements. From 1948-67, when Syria controlled the Golan Heights, it used the area as a military stronghold from which its troops persistently sniped at Israeli civilians in the Hula Valley below, forcing children living on kibbutzim to sleep in bomb shelters. In addition, many roads in northern Israel could be crossed only after probing by mine-detection vehicles. Israel repeatedly, and unsuccessfully, protested the Syrian bombardments to the UN Mixed Armistice Commission, which was charged with policing the cease-fire, but nothing was done to stop Syria's aggression. Meanwhile, Israel was condemned by the UN when it retaliated. Pray for increased protection of Israel’s northern borders and steady population growth in this amazingly beautiful area.

The suggestions, opinions and scripture references made by JNN writers and editors are based on the best information received.

Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff