Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Passes Away

Ariel Sharon has passed away a month before his 86th birthday. The cause of death was organ failure; Sharon had been on life support for eight years following a major stroke in 2006. His family was by his side at the moment of his passing, and all of Israel is remembering his accomplishments as War General and Prime Minister. He fought in the War of Independence, the 1956 Sinai Campaign, the Six-Day War, and especially in the Yom Kippur War in 1973 when he led the Israel Defense Forces across the Suez Canal. Prime Minister Netanyahu praised Sharon, saying, “I think he represents a generation of Jewish warriors who arose with the resumption of our Independence.” He was buried on Monday at his ranch in southern Israel. (Jerusalem Post)

Please pray for Ariel Sharon's family as they mourn his death.


Security Measures Reinforced for Sharon's Funeral

Israel's police and military were on high alert as Ariel Sharon's casket made its way from Jerusalem to his home in the Negev, just a few miles away from Gaza. Many Israeli leaders and international dignitaries, including United States Vice President Joe Biden and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, were present at the memorial. Biden and Blair spoke at the funeral, along with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Netanyahu. Hundreds of police patrols, helicopters, and drones accompanied the procession as it moved southward from Jerusalem, and the Iron Dome missile protection system was on high alert. About an hour after the funeral, two rockets from Gaza were fired into southern Israel, landing in open fields and causing no injuries. (INN)

Please pray for an end to rocket attacks in the area near the Gaza Strip.

Pope Announces Upcoming Visit to Israel

The Pope has announced that he will make his first trip to Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Amman, Jordan from May 24-26. When Benjamin Netanyahu visited with the Pope in December, he personally invited the Pontiff to visit the country. Past papal visits were made by Pope Paul VI in 1964, Pope John Paul II in 2000, and Pope Benedict XVI in 2009. (Haaretz)

Please pray for this special relationship between the Pope and Israel's leaders.

Israeli Athlete Unwelcome in United Arab Emirates

An Israeli soccer player was left behind by his Dutch team when the team headed to training camp in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The team was originally told that the Israeli player could come – then, at the last minute, they were notified that if the player arrived in Abu Dhabi, he would be arrested on the spot. This is just another case of the Arab boycott against Israel. (Ynet)

Please pray for an end to the Arab boycott and other antisemitic acts worldwide.

Bible Study Resumes after Major Snowstorm in Jerusalem

During December's major snowstorm in Israel, much of Chosen People Ministries' work had to be paused as people were stuck at home because of poor roads, unsafe walking conditions and no buses. It took some time to rebuild the momentum. One night, no one had showed up for the weekly Bible study. The leader was about to leave when three women rang the doorbell, happy that they had finally arrived. The next week, five people were able to make it – and finally, three weeks after the snowstorm, the study had gotten back to its regular fourteen attendees. Praise God for the diligent souls who came out to hear His Word!

Food Prices Increase Drastically in Israel

Food prices in Israel are 25% higher than in Europe, according to a recent study from the Knesset. In addition, between 2005 and 2013, food prices rose 16% in Israel compared with a 1.8% increase in Europe. Fruits and vegetables are the only categories of food that are less expensive in Israel. The prices are particularly high in food sectors where competition is low, or which are price controlled, such as milk, cheese and eggs. (Jerusalem Post)

Please pray for many who find it difficult to put food on their tables, with these rising food prices.

Water Increases in the Sea of Galilee

The winter storms that struck Israel in December filled up reservoirs and drenched fields, and the Sea of Galilee's water level rose 11 cm. However, the Dead Sea's depth continues to decrease. In October, it decreased 14 cm; in November, 8 cm; and in December, 3 cm. Although the Dead Sea is connected to the Sea of Galilee via the Jordan River, evaporation due to high temperatures in the summer is causing an overall decrease in its water levels. This is alarming to Dead Sea conservationists. (Jerusalem Post)

Please pray for this amazing natural wonder to be preserved.

Jewish Iranians Join Israeli Defense Forces

According to recent data, last year, 110 Persian (Iranian) Jewish people immigrated to Israel via another country. The Israeli Defense Forces are very interested in these Farsi speakers, and on average, fifty of them join the military every year. Once in the IDF, one in five are drafted into the intelligence units. The IDF tries very hard to convince these special soldiers to extend their mandatory service into military careers, and 15% do so. Their special language skills are used to help in intelligence reports involving Iran. (Ynet)

Please pray for Israel's complicated relationship with Iran.