The Word:  Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor My covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you. ‘Afflicted city [Jerusalem?], lashed by storms and not comforted, I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with lapis lazuli. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones.  All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace.  In righteousness you will be established: tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you. If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you… no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,’ declares the Lord. (Isaiah 54: 10 - 17)

O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence!” And You will not save. Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; There is strife, and contention arises. Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore perverse judgment proceeds. (Habakkuk 1:2-4)

*      Pointers for prayer:  As Jerusalem comes to terms with more Arab Palestinian Terrorist attacks that are waging an Islamic war against Israel; please pray for the families of those who have tragically been killed, and for the victims of these attacks who survived.  Pray that the Lord would put a wall of fire around Jerusalem –and would extend that protection around the rest of Israel.

*      As I mentioned last week, one of the roles of Christian Friends of Israel is to be pro-active rather than re-active.  In my second report under ‘pain turns to anger’, we need to be careful not to allow human rage to allow hated and bitterness to take over, but to use any righteous anger to cause us to intercede and take action where we can.  Please remember that with the recent United Nations vote, along with the global conference on January 15, 2017 where representatives from 70 different countries will gather in Paris, France, this will only bring further trouble to the Jewish State.  There is so much to pray into here.  Without doubt, 2017 is already bringing great challenges.  With Jerusalem celebrating her 50th anniversary of reunification, and the Belfour 100, we can only wonder at what the rest of this year will bring. 

How long O Lord?     Last Sunday in our fellowship, the worship leader led with a song that I’d not heard for many years.  It was the old Noel Richards song, ‘Great is the darkness’.  The opening lyrics had a profound effect upon me as we sang, “Great is the darkness that covers the earth, oppression, injustice and pain. Nations are slipping in hopeless despair, though many have come in Your name.  Watching while sanity dies, touched by the madness and lies… Come Lord Jesus” etc.  I shared my thoughts on this in front of the congragation, for without doubt great darkness does indeed cover the earth.  Just from reporting over the past 5 years on Syria alone shows that ‘oppression, injustice and pain’ have pounded that nation under the Assad regime.  Again, without doubt, nations are slipping in hopeless despair – especially if one is looking at the Islamic Middle East (which is 99.9% of the land mass in that area).  And when we examine the ludicrous decisions of the United Nations (with UNESCO included), sanity has died, and the UN have been touched by the madness and lies.  It’s bleak.  This report is bleak.  I wish I had some joyful news to bring, but our world – specifically within the Middle East - is bleak.  And at that point on Sunday morning I hadn’t understood the full depth of the horrific attack unfolding in Jerusalem.  

In many ways, reading from the book of Habakkuk this week summed up my anger regarding the events in Israel on Sunday and Monday.  As I read it, I added my thoughts [please note, these are only my thoughts – not my miss-translation of the Scriptures]:  “O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence! [Terrorist attacks and more terrorist attacks]” And You will not save.  [We know the Lord does hear our prayers, but it is hard when we don’t see answers, and when these attacks happen]… For plundering [of land that belongs to Israel] and violence [Islamic terrorism] are before me; There is strife, and contention arises. Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth [especially from the United Nations]. For the wicked surround the righteous [Israel may not yet be a truly righteous nation, but they are one of the best nations in the world with high standards]; Therefore perverse judgment [the United Nations] proceeds. (Habakkuk 1:2-4).

In 2002, I survived a terrorist attack in Jerusalem when a bus on Mexico Street was torn apart by Hamas terrorists - I will never forget that day – it was a period when the Arab intifada was full on in Israel.  A few weeks later, I was having a harrowing flight back to the UK from Israel and my mind-set was stretched to breaking point and looking back I must have been suffering from trauma.   The flight back to the UK was awful with the El Al plane struggling in the storm we had hit.  As I looked out of my window, I saw a white light in the distance through the clouds of thunder and lightning.  I shuddered... what was it?  In my confusion, it looked like the main light at the front of another plane, and it was heading straight towards us.  Fear took over, and like a frightened child in bed that pulls the duvet over their face, I rather stupidly closed the shutter on the window though not sure why. I then prayed for safety.  Ten, maybe fifteen minutes went past and all seemed well. The storm was still bad however and the seatbelt sign remained on and we were still being shook somewhat.  But what had happened to the light I saw?  I opened my shutter on the window again, and through the cloud and rain I could still see the light... I couldn’t believe it. It was only then that I realised I was sat near the wing, and the light was the wing light! Did I feel stupid or what?  You bet! 

It’s amazing what fears a storm can bring when flying in the midst, but then, I was rather stressed out, as I had experienced something back in Jerusalem that could have ended my life had it not been for the Lord’s intervention.  During my stay in Israel that time, I had travelled, as per norm, to the place where I was staying on the No. 20 bus through the neighbourhoods of Jerusalem.  I wasn’t as familiar with the City then, and I remember I had to follow the map of Jerusalem as I travelled.  I knew that two stops after passing Mexico Street I needed to get off.  The following morning on 21st November 2002, that very bus - Egged Bus No.20 – my bus - passed down Mexico Street in the Kiryat Menahem neighbourhood of Jerusalem and upon that bus sat a Hamas suicide bomber.  When the bus reached the bus stop on Mexico Street, he set off his suicide bomb belt.  Eleven people were killed and over 50 were seriously wounded.  The bus was filled with passengers, including schoolchildren, travelling toward the centre of the city during rush hour.  Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.  Thankfully, my life was spared, yet the trauma lasted a long time.  Even now, every time I hear of a loss of life through Palestinian terrorists, it makes me so angry. Yet I also feel guilty as to wonder why I survived that attack when others are killed.

These photos are of Yael Yekutiel, a Facebook friend of mine, who was one of the four Israeli's killed on Sunday by a Palestinian terrorist. How can someone so young die at the hands of such an evil monster?  On that Sunday, 8th January 2017, 4 Israeli’s were murdered by an Arab Palestinian. All the victims (three girls and one man) were 22 years old and younger.  All four served as IDF soldiers, but they were killed in a truck ramming attack in Jerusalem.  They were identified as 20-year-old Lt. Yael Yekutiel of Givatayim; 22-year-old cadet Shir Hajaj of Ma’aleh Adumim; 20-year-old cadet Shira Tzur of Haifa; and 20-year old Erez Orbach of Alon Shvut.  It was only later when the full story was being reported that the consequences had full impact on me.  Our prayers go out to their families. However, with the United Nations targeting Israel with their ‘anti-Israel’ bias, surely this attitude will only inspire more Islamic Palestinian terror attacks upon Israelis.

The terrorist, an Arab Palestinian, rammed his truck into a group of Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem killing the four people mentioned and wounding another 17, including one in life-threatening condition. This was one of the deadliest attacks of what is more than a year-long campaign of Islamic violence.  Security camera footage (this comes with a viewer’s warning) showed the truck driving at a high speed off the road and into the crowd of people in the Armon Hanatziv neighbourhood. The truck is then seen backing up quickly, apparently trying to crush more people, before the terrorist was shot dead.  Leah Schreiber, a witness, told reporters, “There was no sense in that reverse… he drove backward to crush more people. That was really clear.”  An Israeli bus driver who witnessed the incident said on the radio that the truck ploughed into the group of soldiers, and that they fired on the driver, who reversed direction and ran over them again. Israeli TV stations said the terrorist was killed, and footage showed bullet holes in the truck’s windscreen. 

On Monday, Israelis came out in the thousands to lay to rest the four soldiers.  Yael Yekutiel (aged 20) was from Givatayim, which is east of Tel Aviv. It is part of the metropolitan area known as Gush Dan. Givatayim was established in 1922 by pioneers of the Second Aliyah.  Yael loved horse riding, was full of light and life. She just seemed to love everyone and everyone loved her.  Her friends and relatives who gathered to comfort the family members simply haven’t processed what happened, it is so terrible.  Yael was buried at the military cemetery in Kiryat Shaul, in northern Tel Aviv.  The three other soldiers were also buried on Monday.  Shir Hajaj (aged 22) was buried at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem.  Erez Orbach (aged 20) was buried at the military cemetery in the community of Kfar Etzion, located in the Judean Hills between Jerusalem and Hebron, and Shira Tzur (aged 20) was buried at the Haifa military cemetery.   Hundreds attended each of the ceremonies, the first of which began at 11 a.m. and the last at 3 p.m.  Please do pray for the families and loved ones.

This week, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu along with the Israeli Health Minister visited the IDF Soldiers who were injured in Sundays' Terror Attack. The Prime Minister visited the soldiers at the Hadassah University Medical Centre, Jerusalem along with Health Minister Yaakov Litzman.

Pain turns to anger    As is the usual response to any terrorist attacks on Israeli Jews, Arab Palestinians took to the streets and social media to celebrate the truck-ramming attack in Jerusalem in which the four IDF soldiers were killed.  In the Gaza Strip, the ruling Hamas terrorist group praised the attack, calling it a “natural response to the Israeli occupier’s crimes” and stating that this was proof that the “Jerusalem Intifada” was not over.  Since September 2015, Islamic Palestinian terrorists have killed 40 Israelis in an ongoing surge of violence.  A short time after Sunday’s attack, people in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority-controlled ‘West Bank’ were seen festively handing out sweets to mark the occasion. 

According to the Palestinian Authority (Abbas’ Fatah party) the terrorist attack is sanctioned by Islam.  The official PA daily referred to it as "a car ramming operation" and wrote that the killer "died as a Shahid" (i.e., a Martyr who died for Allah). By calling the terrorist murderer a Shahid, the PA is telling its people that murdering the Israeli youths was sanctioned by Islam and seen as positive Islamic behaviour.   Palestinian Media Watch ( have stated that the PA TV went out of its way to focus on the religious value of the terror attack by using the term "Shahid" seven times, mostly as a replacement for the terrorist's name.  In contrast, the terrorist's name was only mentioned twice; both times informing that he became a Shahid [Official PA TV, Jan. 8, 2017].   However what really turns the pain of seeing Israelis killed into anger, is the knowledge that the Palestinian Authority will be using money given by British tax payers and other nations to pay the terrorist's wife £627 ($760 or 2900 shekels) monthly!    

According to the Palestinian Media Watch, the PA’s fundamental policy of supporting all Palestinian terror, Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (and remember Mahmoud Abbas is generally seen as the ‘moderate’ one in Western society) will reward the terrorist's wife with a lifetime monthly allowance. According to PA law, the family of a Shahid receives a base payment of 1400 shekels per month. A wife of the Shahid receives an additional 400 shekels, for each child she receives 200 shekels, and for being a resident of Jerusalem an additional 300 shekels. In total, the wife of this murderer will receive 2900 shekels (£627) per month for the rest of her life. In addition, within the next few months, she will receive a one-time grant of 6000 shekels (that is the equivalent to £1285.67).  On top of this, Mahmoud Abbas has not condemned this terror attack. Abbas' silence is a strong message to Palestinians because it contrasts his fervent and vocal condemnations of the other recent terrorist attacks by Isis caused by vehicle ramming’s in Berlin and Nice.  Thousands of Hamas activists and supporters took to the streets of Gaza on Sunday night to rally against Israel and praise the terrorist ramming attack in Jerusalem which killed the four Israelis.

Do pray regarding the upcoming global conference    In a tiny glimmer of hope, in Germany, Berlin lit up the Brandenburg Gate with Israel's flag on Monday evening after the Jerusalem terrorist attack.  Following this, the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands flew the same flag atop its city hall building, also in solidarity following the Jerusalem attack. The city's Moroccan-born Muslim mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb decided to make a gesture of solidarity with Israel following the truck-ramming attack that claimed the lives of four IDF officers.

However, we must pray about the upcoming global conference.  As I stated last week, on January 15, 2017, representatives from 70 different countries will gather in Paris for an unprecedented global conference.  The stated goal of this conference is to promote a "two-state solution" as the way that “lasting peace” will be brought to the Middle East. However Israel will not even be there!  In Israel, there is a tremendous amount of concern that whatever is agreed upon at this conference will immediately be used as the basis for a U.N. Security Council resolution that would permanently divide the land of Israel and create yet another Islamic Palestinian state.  The UN Security Council resolution 2334 that was passed three weeks ago made all Israeli settlements, or rather communities, in Judea and Samaria – or what the UN term as ‘the West Bank’ - and in East Jerusalem, illegal.  It set the 1967 ceasefire lines as the border between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and it granted every single inch of East Jerusalem to the Palestinians – which would include The Temple Mount and the Western Wall.  However it stopped short of giving official U.N. Security Council recognition to an Islamic Palestinian state, and that is why this conference on January 15, 2017 is so important.  

Hamas slams Facebook   The Hamas movement has slammed Facebook’s administration after the social media giant blocked dozens of accounts and pages in support of the movement following the launch of a social media campaign by the group promoting the actions of Hamas' first bomb manufacturer.  Husam Badran, a Hamas spokesman, said in a statement that Facebook had closed more than 90 pages supporting Hamas, in addition to 30 personal accounts affiliated with the movement.  As part of an anniversary to celebrate 21 years of the death of what Hamas describe as ‘The Engineer,’ Hamas were creating many pages on the social media site.  Yahya Ayyash was assassinated in 1996 during the administration of Shimon Peres after Israeli authorities suspected him of being behind a number of suicide attacks against Israelis.  Hamas supporters launched a campaign promoting the actions of Ayyash, and adopted the slogan “Be Like Ayyash,” prompting Facebook to shut down more than a hundred pages and accounts.  Hamas responded to Facebook demanding that the social media giant respects Hamas’ point of view. The irony of the situation is that both Hamas and the Fatah Palestinian Authority have themselves been slammed by NGOs such as Amnesty International for restricting any freedom of press in their areas, and even handing out extreme jail sentences to anyone who attempts to tell the truth in Hamas/PA controlled areas.

Lobby Day 2017    Finally, just a quick reminder that Lobby Day is fast approaching.  Please consider joining us along with the Zionist Federation as we lobby Parliament together on important issues concerning Israel.  The date is Wednesday 25th January.  Do let CFI UK know if you intend to come, by phone: 01323 410810 or by email:   Click here for more details.

David Soakell  

(CFI Church Liaison Officer (UK) & WoZ News Report Correspondent)

Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, Christian Friends of Israel UK & Jerusalem, Israeli Embassy London, The Jerusalem Post, & Israel National Radio