“As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another and gifts to the poor… And that these days should be remembered and kept through out every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that the days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed.” Esther 9:22, 28

Dear Intercessors for Israel:

Purim Greetings!  These are days when all of Israel gathers together to remember and celebrate their great deliverance from the hands of the evil Haman.  It was a divine deliverance worked through Queen Esther who bravely approached the king and pleaded for her life and the lives of her people.

Purim is usually a happy time in Israel.  The streets are full of people and children dressed in costumes, colorful hats, and makeup.  It is a festive atmosphere.  The Book of Esther is read in all the Synagogues, and when-ever the name of Haman is mentioned, everyone attending tries to make as much noise as possible so it cannot be heard.  Local congregates stomp their feet and use loud rattling instruments called graggers to overpower the mention of his evil name.  Attending a Purim service is something that no one should miss.  Purim falls on the 20th and 21st of March this year.

Red Alert
On the evening of March 14th, Hamas terrorists launched two Fajr75 missiles towards Tel-Aviv.  One fell harmlessly into the ocean.  The other was intercepted by Israel’s anti-missile defense system – “Iron Dome.”  Perhaps these pre-Purim “greetings” from Israel’s enemies were a reminder that this nation still faces “evil Hamans” who desire to extinguish its light.  Please pray for Israel and that these attacks do not herald the start of another conflict. The IDF has responded with airstrikes upon terrorist positions in Gaza.

The Golan Heights
The Golan Heights are a high plateau of land once occupied by Syria, which extends some thirty by sixty miles East of the Lake of Galilee.  Israel captured this land in 1967 and annexed it in 1981. The United Nations then labeled this land as being “occupied territories.”  Only two nations accepted Israel’s claim.

The Golan Heights give Israel an excellent vantage point for monitoring Syria and its military activities. Damascus is only forty miles away.  The rugged land also provides a natural buffer against any sudden attack from Syria.   The area is also a key source of water.  Water from the Golan’s many streams and winter rains flow into the Jordan River. The area provides a third of Israel’s water supply, as the rocks beneath form a natural aquifer.  The land is fertile, and the volcanic soil is used to cultivate vineyards and orchards and raise cattle. About 20,000 Israelis live on the Golan.  It is also home to Israel’s only ski resort.

Israeli Controlled
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement this week that the US State Department is changing its description of the Golan Heights from being “Israeli-occupied” to “Israeli-controlled.” Pompeo’s declaration comes two days after Republican Senator Lindsey Graham had visited the Golan Heights with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.  They corporately declared that they would seek for the United States to formally recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Pray for this strategic area of land.  Pray for those Israelis and Druze that live there.  Mount Hermon, the tallest mountain in Israel, is called “the eyes of Israel.”  Many Israeli military facilities and communication sites are based there.  The United Nations also has a large observer force stationed on the DMZ line separating Israel and Syria

Ancient Ziklag Discovered
One of the ancient biblical sites which has eluded archaeologists for years has been the location of David’s town of Ziklag (I Sam. 27:6).  Its general location was said to be in the Negev, Israel’s southern desert land.

This week, the Israel Antiquities Authority revealed that a 1700-year-old inscription reading “Elusa” (Greek for “Haluza”) was discovered inscribed on a stone.  Haluza was an early city in the Negev along the ancient incense route.  In a Judeo-Arabic translation of the Pentateuch, Haluza is associated with the biblical town of Gerar.  It is one of the two main possible locations for the Biblical city of Ziklag, mentioned in Genesis and I Samuel 27 & 30.  During the Turkish Ottoman period, stones were taken from the site and used as construction materials for buildings in Gaza and Beersheba. Today, the site is almost empty of surface structures, with the archaeological treasures being hidden beneath the sand.

Still this newest discovery is just one more proof that the Bible is true.  It is not a book of fantasy or of unproven events and encounters.  It is a Book of Life, God’s Word to us, and as many have said “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth” (BIBLE).

The Golden Gate
Tensions again have erupted on Jerusalem Temple Mount between Israeli and Arab worshipers with fire bombs and riots.  Israel closed the site down for one day after thousands of Arab Muslims rioted, chanting “Allah Hu Akbar.”  These crowds violently entered the interior gatehouse of the Golden Gate or Bab al-Rahma (Gate of Mercy) in Arabic.

This Gatehouse (the interior of the Eastern Gate) has been closed to the public/all Muslims since 2003 when Hamas tried to set up terrorist training school at the site.  The Waqf, the Muslim custodian of the Muslim holy places on the Mount, has now openly encouraged Muslims to break-in and has claimed “settlers” (Israeli Jews) are repeatedly trying to “defile” the Al-Aqsa mosque.

Another false claim made by the Palestinian Authority accused Israel of plotting to build a Jewish house of prayer (The 3rd Temple) on the Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism which housed the two Temples built by Jewish kings in ancient Israel.   Jordan has also recently expanded the Waqf council which is administering the Muslim shrines at Haram al-Sharif and has added more representatives from the Muslim Brotherhood, PLO, and one from Turkey.  Turkish President Erdogan, who is an Islamist, has been working to expand his influence among Jerusalem’s Arabs.  He sees himself as the patron of Palestinian terror groups such as Hamas.   Erdogan regularly interferes in internal Israeli politics and the conflict with the Palestinian Arabs, and on Tuesday accused Israel of “blatant racism” because of the so-called Nation-State Law.

The Gate of Mercy, or Golden Gate, was sealed by Israel in 2009 because the group managing the area had ties to Hamas, and it has been kept closed to stop illegal construction work there by the Islamic Waqf, which acts as custodian of the site on behalf of Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. Israeli officials believe the work carried out by the Waqf, which refused to allow any Israeli observers, led to the destruction of antiquities from periods of Jewish presence in the area.  Last month, the Waqf reopened the site and Palestinian worshipers have begun to use it as a mosque, despite Israeli attempts to keep the area sealed.

Pray that the Waqf’s power and authority be diminished.  Pray that Turkish President Erdogan’s schemes regarding Jerusalem’s Temple Mount fail.

Open Up Ye Gates”
The Temple Mount has also been the scene of several strange phenomena.  Recently, a large stone fell from the Western Wall, narrowly missing worshippers, and then there was an inexplicable mist which surrounded the Dome of the Rock, a snake crawling out from between the stones of the Western Wall, and now, a sinkhole has appeared adjacent to the Eastern Gate.  In addition, pavement stones on the walkway in front of the Eastern/Golden Gate are sinking, tilting, and cracking.

Rabbi Yosef Berger, rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion and a member of the emerging Sanhedrin, believes he may have had a hand in the recent underground activities leading to the sinking sidewalk.

“Just before Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), the Sanhedrin stood outside the Sha’ar Ha Rachamim and blew shofars,” Rabbi Berger told Breaking Israel News. “We wanted to do something, anything, to help bring geula (redemption) closer. The connection between the Temple Mount and the Jewish people is a strong connection, like between a husband and wife. Perhaps the mountain heard us.” (www.breakingisraelnews.com)

Israel has had a very wet winter, and the grounds near the Eastern/Golden Gate are saturated. All of this area is loose landfill and bones.  Archaeologists would dearly love to excavate the area but so far are forbidden since it is a Muslim cemetery.  And perhaps many here are now wondering if these instances are signs of the Messiah’s coming!

Israel Elections
Israel’s national elections are due to be held on April 9th, just weeks away.   All the political parties and their candidates are feverously seeking votes and looking for ways to achieve victory over the opposition.  Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud party is in a tight race with the Left Center Blue and White party.  Prime Minister Netanyahu, despite his legal troubles, continues to lead the country and is popular with the voters.  He is under indictment for bribery and accepting gifts, but formal charges have not been presented to the court.

Recent polls show that if elections for Israel’s 120 seat Knesset were held now, the Blue and White party under Benny Gantz would win 31 seats, five less than in the last survey taken by the same pollsters eight days earlier.  Netanyahu’s Likud fell to 28 seats, down from 30 in the last poll.  The 64 to 56 lead of the Right-Center bloc over the Left-Center bloc is the largest since elections were initiated on December 24. These polls indicate that results could change dramatically at the last moment, because six parties are teetering on the 3.25 percent electoral threshold with four seats.  The poll predicted 10 seats for Labor; 7 each for Hadash-Ta’al, United Torah Judaism and the Union of Right-wing parties, 6 for Shas, and 4 for Kulanu, Yisreal Beytenu, Meretz, United Arab List-Balad, Zehut and New Right.   Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads Gantz in fitness to be prime minister by nine percent, 40% to 31%, according to the poll, after they were even a month ago. Gantz had 34% in the last poll. Eighteen percent said neither of them were fit to be prime minister and 11% said they did not know.  One of those parties is the New Right party of Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked. Former Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick is sixth on the list. Please pray for these upcoming elections and the next Israeli government to be formed.

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Purim!
Gene and Marylois,
House of Peace