Israel's Welcome Winter Storm

“The multitude of your foes shall be like fine dust, and the multitude of the terrible ones like chaff that passes away. Yes, it shall be in an instant, suddenly.” Isa. 29:5

ISRAEL'S WELCOME WINTER STORM: Israel’s most intense storm of the season was hitting its peak Friday 5 Jan. 2018, with gusts reaching 100 kilometers an hour and flooding expected in towns from the northern Galilee to the Negev desert. Between 30 and 50 millimeters of rainfall fell overnight between Thursday and Friday in the Galilee, causing the Sea of Galilee to rise two centimeters within hours. Rainfall reached 47 millimeters in the central Golan Heights, while 55 millimeters fell at Haifa University, on the western edge of the Galilee. At least ten centimeters of snow fell on the lower ridge of Mount Hermon, Israel’s highest mountain, causing the ski resort at the site to announce it would be closed Friday. Hail fell in the coastal city of Netanya. The storm was forecasted to reach its peak in the afternoon, with eight-meter waves expected on the beaches of Tel Aviv. (Times of Israel) Continue to pray that Israel will experience abundant precipitation during this rainy season as the nation is moving into its fifth year of drought. Pray also that there will be no injuries, loss of life or property damage as a result of heavy storms.

TERRORIST DEATH PENALTY BILL PASSES EARLY KNESSET VOTE: Israel’s Knesset approved in a preliminary vote a bill that would make it easier for military courts to sentence terrorists to death, following hours of coalition infighting on 3 Jan. 2018. Benjamin Netanyahu came out in favor of the initiative, saying that the death penalty is “justice in extreme situations.” Netanyahu pointed to the massacre in Halamish in 2017, in which three members of the Salomon family were stabbed to death. He said that when he paid a condolence call to the family, Tova Salomon, who survived, described the assailant as slaughtering and laughing. "There are extreme cases, where people commit terrible crimes and don’t deserve to live,” the prime minister argued. “We’re changing the law for these situations.” The Yisrael Beytenu proposal, backed by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, would amend the current law that allows the death penalty if it is a unanimous decision by all the judges on the panel in a military court. Should the bill become law, a terrorist could be sentenced to death if two of the three judges agree to it. “We have a moral obligation to the people of Israel,” said MK Robert Ilatov, who proposed the bill. “When terrorists sitting in Israeli prisons end up going free in prisoner exchanges, I think the most moral thing is for terrorists to get the death penalty.” (J.Post)

USA AMBASSADOR NIKKI HALEY:“IRANIAN REGIME IS NOW ON NOTICE”: The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting Friday 5 Jan. 2018 called by the United States to consider the protests that have rocked Iran in recent days. After garnering Russian support for an open Council meeting, USA Ambassador Nikki Haley made her point that the protests in Iran are not sponsored by outside agitators and that the Iranian government is "now on notice" as the world is watching. She said the international community must also "do more" to prevent Iran from silencing protesters' messages, particularly by blocking some social media platforms. Iran tried to block the meeting, writing a letter to the Secretary General saying the USA has stepped up its acts of intervention. "Today the people of Iran are speaking to their government, and their message is undeniable: 'Stop the support for terrorism. Stop giving billions of our money to killers and dictators. Stop taking our wealth and spending it on foreign fighters and proxy wars. Think of us,'" Haley said. 

During the hearing, Haley called on her colleagues to amplify the message of the Iranian people. "We will not be quiet," she said.The Iranian people know the truth, and we know the truth. They are acting on their own will. Nothing will stop Americans from standing in solidarity with them." USA President Donald Trump and members of his administration have praised the anti-government protesters as people standing up to a repressive and corrupt regime. Haley said that "the world should applaud their courage," and the USA "stands unapologetically with those in Iran who seek freedom for themselves." (CBS)

IRAN PROTESTS SPREAD, EVEN AS MILITARY DECLARES THEM OVER: Iran’s most influential military commander on 3 Jan. 2018 declared the wave of anti-regime protests rocking the nation as over, despite reports that demonstrators continue to fill the streets in more than a dozen cities. Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Javari, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), also said those who’ve participated in the rallies were guilty of sedition. “Now we can say that it is the day when the 1396 sedition ended,” the general said, in reference to the current year in the Persian calendar. His remarks coincided with reports that elite IRGC troops had been deployed to at least three provinces to put down the rallies that have swept Iran since 28 Dec. 2017- featuring calls by some protesters for the ouster of the nation’s government. Videos emerged showing the anti-government unrest that has swept major cities has also spread to the countryside. Meanwhile, on Friday 5 Jan. 2018, tens of thousands of government supporters rallied across Iran, swearing allegiance to the clerical establishment and accusing arch enemy the United States of instigating the largest anti-government protests in nearly a decade. (Washington Times) Please continue to intercede for the toppling of the oppressive Iranian government presently in power. Pray for a shift that will eliminate Iran’s massive support for world terrorism, along with its nuclear ambitions.

WHY IRAN IS PROTESTING: The current unrest looks different than in 2009. Nonviolence is not a sacred principle. The protests first intensified in small religious towns all over the country, where the government used to take its support for granted. The chants are also different this time. They include "Down with embezzlers" and "Leave the country alone, mullahs." During the 1999 and 2009 uprisings, the protesters enjoyed support from powerful reformists. This time, the demonstrators don't want support from anyone associated with the status quo, including Rouhani, the reformist president. Iranian economists and intellectuals have long warned that something like this could happen. In early 2015, Mohsen Renani, professor of economy at the University of Isfahan, wrote expressing deep concern over rising inflation and government incompetence. A detailed study published last month by the BBC's Farsi-language service demonstrated the alarming decline of household income over the past decade. Iranians see pictures of the family members of the authorities drinking and hanging out on beaches around the world, while their daughters are arrested over a fallen head scarf and their sons are jailed for buying alcohol. (NY Times)

USA SEES 70% INCREASE IN ANTI-SEMITIC INCIDENTS: A total of 1,299 anti-Semitic incidents took place in the United States in the first nine months of 2017 - an increase of almost 70 percent from the previous year, according to figures released by the Anti Defamation League (ADL). The statistics include assaults, destruction of property and attacks against Jewish institutions. The report was revealed days ago at a Knesset session of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and the Diaspora. The number of attacks on Jewish schools and community centers doubled, as incidents of harassment and destruction of Jewish property are experiencing a sharp rise on USA college campuses under the guise of anti-Israel attacks.

Carol Nuriel, executive director of the ADL office in Israel, stressed that many incidents go unreported either due to the victim's fears or because identifying an incident as anti-Semitic is often problematic. Nuriel reported that from 1 January to 30 September 2017, there were 703 incidents of harassment, 162 bomb threats against institutions, 584 incidents of destruction of property -including 52 against institutions; and 12 physical assaults. The incidents took place across the United States. New York, which has the largest Jewish community, witnessed 267 incidents; California witnessed 197; Florida -69; and Pennsylvania -58. The ADL referred as well to the radical right wing march in Charlottesville Virginia last summer where anti-Semitic and racist slurs were hurled and swastika flags waved. Immediately after the march, there was a sharp uptick in anti-Semitic incidents. (Ynet) Pray according to scripture for those in danger of anti-Semitic harassment and violence: “Keep me safe, Lord, from the hands of the wicked; protect me from the violent, who devise ways to trip my feet.” Ps. 140:4

NIKKI HALEY HOSTS RECEPTION FOR 64 COUNTRIES THAT DID NOT SUPPORT UN JERUSALEM RESOLUTION: Nikki Haley, the USA ambassador to the United Nations, hosted a reception for the 64 countries that voted against or abstained from voting on a resolution condemning President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The “Friends of the US[A]” reception was held in New York at the USA mission to the United Nations. “It’s easy for friends to be with you in the good times, but it’s the friends who are with you during the challenging times that will never be forgotten. Thank you to the 64,” the USA mission posted on Facebook along with photos of some of the attendees. (Jewish Breaking News)

ISRAEL’S OVERWEIGHT HEDGEHOGS GO ON DIET: Ten overweight hedgehogs have had to go on strict diets and exercise regimes after they ate so much on the streets of Israel they struggled to curl up into a ball to fend off predators. Animal lovers found them waddling around and brought them into the hospital Ramat Gan zoo. Staff there said the hedgehogs had probably been snacking on food left out for pets. “A lot of people put cat food on the streets for the stray cats, which is very nice but the problem is that there’s other wildlife that eats it,” said zookeeper Becka Rifkin. One adult male named Sherman was 1.6 kilograms (3.5 lb) when he arrived at the facility two months ago, almost double the average weight for a hedgehog his age. He has since lost 120 grams after staff monitored his diet and left him to run around an enclosure. They hope they will be able to release him by the summer. (Reuters)

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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