Winter Shows Up In Israel

“The Lord will reign forever. He will be your God, O Jerusalem,  throughout the generations. Praise the Lord.” Ps 146:10

WINTER SHOWS UP IN ISRAEL: Israel receives two days of much-needed rain as meteorologists predict another dry winter. After a long stretch of dry weather, winter returned to Israel on Sunday 24 Dec 2017, bringing rain to most areas of the country. On Sunday night, five centimeters of snow fell on the Hermon's lowest slopes and ten fell on its upper slopes. The ski site is currently open to visitors, at no charge. On Monday morning ten millimeters of rain had fallen since Sunday in Israel's north and center, with fifty millimeters falling in the Lower Galilee's army headquarters, and 12 millimeters falling into the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). Also on Monday morning, measurements indicated that the Kinneret's water level had risen a centimeter and a half, marking the lake's first rise since April 2017. At its current level of 214.38 meters, the Kinneret's water level is at its lowest in nine years. In an effort to save the sinking lake and its ecosystem, Israel recently decided to pump desalinated water into the Kinneret. (INN) Please intercede that this will be an unexpectedly wet winter in Israel. Thank you to those who have already been praying for abundant precipitation during this rainy season.

GUATEMALA ALSO MOVING EMBASSY TO JERUSALEM: Guatemala’s president announced on Christmas Eve that the Central American country will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, becoming the first nation to follow the lead of USA President Donald Trump in ordering the change. Guatemala was one of nine nations that voted with the United States and Israel last week when the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a non-binding resolution denouncing Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Morales said that after talks with Israeli PM Netanyahu, he decided to instruct Guatemala’s foreign ministry to move the embassy. The Czech Republic has said it is considering such a step, also Honduras and Paraguay are expected to join the embassy move to Jerusalem. Trump upended decades of USA policy with his 6 Dec. 2017 announcement that he was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Though Trump said he was merely recognizing reality and not prejudging negotiations on the future borders of the city, Palestinians saw the move as siding with Israel on the most sensitive issue in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked praised Guatemala's decision. "I am certain that this is only the first step towards the transfer of the embassies of other countries," Shaked said. (NY Post/INN)

A SEASON TO GIVE A SPECIAL GIFT TO JERUSALEM: As 2017 comes to a close we want to thank all of you who have given so generously throughout the year. We couldn’t have blessed the needy of Israel in so many diverse ways without you. For those who would like the opportunity to bless Israel before the year’s end there is still time for you to make a tax deductible gift before 31 Dec. 2017, according to the laws in your own country. Give generously at www.visionforisrael.com. For residents in the UK and outside N. America visit our website at www.josephstorehouse.co.uk. Please continue to help hands and hearts at VFI rebuild hope and provide for the nation’s poor both now and in 2018. “Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.” Rom.15: 26-27

ISRAEL JOINS USA IN WITHDRAWAL FROM UNESCO: Israeli PM Netanyahu has instructed the country’s foreign ministry to withdraw from UNESCO. Netanyahu made the announcement that Israel would be joining the United States in withdrawing from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on 24 Dec. 2017 during the weekly Cabinet meeting. “I think that this is appropriate, given this organization’s biased, one-sided and absurd attitude toward us, and against the background of the USA’s strong stand at the UN, which we welcome,” Netanyahu told his Cabinet. In October 2017 the United States announced that it would leave UNESCO, citing as a reason “continuing anti-Israel bias.” Six years ago, the United States cut off more than $80 million a year, about 22% of its entire budget for UNESCO, in reprisal for its acceptance of Palestine as a member. Israel also suspended its funding at that time. Israel’s withdrawal will go into effect at the end of 2018, the same day as the United States. It takes a year for the withdrawal to take effect. The two countries will remain as observer states. The announcement comes after the UN General Assembly last week passed a resolution rejecting any recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in the wake of the pronouncement by Trump two weeks ago. In recent years, UNESCO has passed resolutions that rejected Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, and placed the Cave of the Patriarchs and the Old City of Hebron in the State of Palestine - and on the list of world heritage sites in danger. It frequently refers to the Temple Mount only by its Arabic name, Al-Haram al-Sharif. (JTA)

WHAT KIND OF MENTAL ILLNESS IS SWEEPING THROUGH THE UN? Jewish economist Ben Stein blasted the UN General Assembly after it overwhelmingly voted against USA President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The body on 21 Dec. 2017 voted 128 to 9, with 35 abstentions, in favor of a resolution condemning Trump's action. “It is a shame and a disgrace that the overwhelming majority of negative votes in the United Nations have been against Israel, and I often wonder what kind of mental illness is there sweeping through the United Nations, sweeping through the whole world, that hates Jews so much?” Stein said in an interview on Fox News. “Israel is so generous, that even when terrorists fighting in Syria are wounded, their fellow terrorists bring them to Israeli medical stations to get treated, and this is the way Israel gets treated? It’s a disgrace to humanity!” he added. (Arutz-7)

IRANIAN – BACKED FORCES MOVING CLOSER TO ISRAEL: Syrian army forces, backed by Iranian-supported militias, pushed deeper into the last rebel-held enclave near a strategic border area with Israel and Lebanon on Sunday night, 24 Dec. 2017. The army and the Shiite forces advanced east and south of the Sunni-rebel held bastion of Beit Jin backed by some of the heaviest aerial bombing and heavy artillery shelling since a major assault began over two months ago to seize the area. The Syrian army said it had encircled the village of Mughr al Meer at the foothills of Mount Hermon as troops moved toward Beit Jin amid fierce clashes. The enclave is the last rebel bastion left in the south west of Damascus that had since last year fallen under government control after months of heavy bombing on civilian areas and years of siege tactics that forced rebels to surrender. A western intelligence source confirmed rebel reports that Iranian-backed militias including the Hezbollah terrorist group were playing a major role in the ongoing battles.

“The Iranian backed militias are trying to consolidate their sphere of influence all the way from southwest of Damascus to the Israeli border,” said Suhaib al Ruhail, an official from the Liwa al Furqan rebel group that operates in the area. A recent ceasefire agreement between the USA, Russia, and Jordan left Iranian-backed militias just three miles from the Israeli border. Worried by Iran’s expanding influence in Syria after the defeat of ISIS, Israel has allegedly carried out strikes against suspected Iranian targets inside Syria in recent weeks. (Arutz-7) Syria, and especially Iran and the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group have clarified their goal for the destruction of the Jewish state time and time again. It is vitally important to continue to pray for Israel’s safety and preparedness in the event of unanticipated developments or surprise attacks. This is especially true in the light of the words of the Biblical prophet, who saw as is recorded in Jer. 1:13, “the boiling pot facing away from the north,” tilting over Israel and set to be overturned.

SAUDI ARABIA BARS ISRAELI CHESS CHAMPIONS FROM COMPETITION: Saudi Arabia confirmed on 24 Dec. 2017 that Israeli chess champions will not be issued visas, effectively barring them from competing in this week's chess championship in Riyadh. Israel had attempted to send seven chess champions to the international speed chess championships in Saudi Arabia. However, the Saudi government has refused to grant the Israel chess players visas, meaning that they will likely be unable to attend the match. Riyadh also refused visas to delegations from Iran and Qatar. Israel Chess Federation spokesperson Lior Aizenberg said, "The event is not a world championship if they prevent chess players from several countries from taking part. Every chess player should have the right to participate in an event on the basis of professional criteria, regardless of their passports, their place of issue or the stamps they bear.” (Times of Israel)

OVER 400 TERRORIST ATTACKS THWARTED IN 2017: Shin Bet Chief Nadav Argaman said on Sunday 24 Dec. 2017 that the security agency has thwarted over 400 terror attacks in 2017, including 13 suicide attacks and 8 kidnappings, as well as 1,100 potential lone wolf attacks. Argaman spoke at a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Sunday morning and warned that “the period of quiet we are experiencing is misleading; Hamas is hard at work trying to execute terrorist attacks.” Argaman noted that in 2017 only 54 attacks were successfully carried out in comparison with 108 attacks that were carried out in 2016. In 2016, the Shin Bet stopped 344 major attacks, meaning that the total number of thwarted and successful attacks were similar between 2016 and 2017, but the security agency succeeded in thwarting more of them in 2017. The major improvement was from preventing 400 potential lone wolf attacks in 2016 to preventing 1,100 potential lone wolf attacks in 2017. (J.Post) Continue to intercede for those watching over the safety of Israel to be alerted when and where terrorist plans are brewing and to be able to prevent attacks and Islamist violence against Israelis. Pray especially for the peace of Jerusalem which is always a primary target for acts of terror.

NETANYAHU PROMISES TO LEAD TOUR OF HOLY SITES IN ISRAEL NEXT CHRISTMAS: Israeli PM Netanyahu posted Christmas greetings on Facebook. “It’s a pleasure for me, on Christmas Eve, to be here, standing in Jerusalem, the holy city,” Netanyahu said in a video greeting, standing on a balcony overlooking the city. “I’m very proud to be the Prime Minister of Israel; a country that says Merry Christmas, first to its Christian citizens, and to our Christian friends around the world. I’m proud that Israel is a country in which Christians not only survive, but they thrive! Because we believe in this friendship among people. And we protect the rights of everyone to worship in the holy shrines behind me,” the prime minister also said. In the video Netanyahu promises that next Christmas he will lead a guided tour of Christian holy sites in Israel. (JTA)

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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