“The Lord will guide you always. He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and strengthen your frame. You shall be like a well-watered garden, like a spring, whose waters never fail.” Isa. 58:11
ABUNDANT RAINS CAUSE ISRAEL’S DESERTS TO BLOOM: A four-mile stretch between Kibbutz Kalya and Ovnat in Israel’s southern region is the perfect location for viewing beautiful new wildflowers. The desert seeds, dormant for years, have germinated due to this winter’s rains and visitors are flocking to see the budding desert landscape. Israel’s abundant rainfall this year has also replenished the Sea of Galilee. For nearly two decades water levels in the Dead Sea, which is the lowest place on earth, were depleted, as was the Sea of Galilee. The Dead Sea receives the overflow from the Sea of Galilee, Israel’s only fresh-water source. However, due to continual years of drought, the dam that feeds the Dead Sea remained closed. Presently, it is hoped that the dam will be opened, and the Dead Sea will receive much-needed replenishing. The Water Authority reported that the water level of Lake Kinneret/the Sea of Galilee was measured on Tues. 25 Feb. 2020 and is 96 centimeters shy of being full. The Dead Sea has nearly 10 times more salt than oceans. Visitors who enter the water can simply lift their feet and float naturally, due to the high salinity. Considered the eighth wonder of the world, the Dead Sea has high levels of oxygen and special minerals, known for their healing properties. (VFI News)
ISRAEL BOMBARDED WITH 90 ROCKETS IN TWO DAYS: Gaza Strip terrorists fired 90 rockets at Israel on Sunday 23 Feb. and Monday 24 Feb. 2020. 90% of those heading toward populated areas were intercepted by the IDF’s Iron Dome system. In response, Israel launched multiple retaliatory air raids against Islamic Jihad bases in Gaza, as well as an airstrike on a squad as it was preparing to launch rockets. There was some damage to homes and infrastructure in Israel, and a few Israelis sustained minor injuries while running to bomb shelters. With the latest round of rocket fire, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is seeking to prevent any long-term agreement between Hamas and Israel. In addition to seeking to conduct a holy war to destroy Israel, PIJ is also motivated by its need for financial assistance from its Iranian sponsors. Tehran has instructed the PIJ and other Iranian proxies to increase their terror activity in the wake of the killing of Revolutionary Guards Gen. Qasem Soleimani by the US in January 2020.
The EU and Germany on Mon. 24 Feb. 2020 condemned Palestinian Islamic Jihad for firing rockets at Israel. “Indiscriminate firing of rockets on the civilian population is totally unacceptable and must stop,” said Emanuele Giaufret, the EU’s ambassador to Israel. German Ambassador to Israel Susanne Wasum-Rainer said, “We condemn the rocket attacks by PIJ in the strongest possible terms.” Netanyahu said he’d conveyed a message to Hamas that if it did not stop Gaza terrorists behind the attacks, Israel would target Hamas directly. “If you don’t shoot them, we will shoot you. I’m talking about a war,” he said. “I’m not looking for a war. But we have prepared something you can’t even imagine.” Meanwhile, men, women and young children are living in terror and fear. A children’s’ playground in Sderot suffered a direct hit in the rocket attacks. Air-raid sirens sounded throughout southern Israel. Tentative calm was restored overnight between Monday and Tuesday of this week along the Gaza Strip border, following a two-day clash between the IDF and the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). A spokesman for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad vowed to continue fighting against Israel, shortly after a ceasefire went into effect on Tues. 25 Feb. 2020 ending two days of clashes between Israel and the Gaza-based terror group. (VFI News)
NIKKI HALEY SLAMS SANDERS FOR BOYCOTTING AIPAC: Ex-US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley slammed 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Monday 24 Feb. 2020 over his announced boycott of next week’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in Washington, DC. Haley pointed out, that Sanders “has never attended and has no clue what the organization is about or what it stands for. Go back to defending Fidel Castro and socialist dictators,” the former South Carolina governor and potential future Republican presidential candidate added. “We will go back to defending peace, democracy, and our ally Israel.” Last weekend Sanders, who has emerged as the front-runner in the ongoing contest for the Democratic nomination, said, “The Israeli people have the right to live in peace and security. So do the Palestinian people. I remain concerned about the platform AIPAC provides for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights. For that reason, I will not attend the conference. Responding to the Vermont senator, AIPAC said, “Senator Sanders has never attended our conference and that is evident from his outrageous comment. In fact, many of his own Senate and House Democratic colleagues and leaders speak from our platform to the over 18,000 Americans from widely diverse backgrounds, who participate in the conference to proclaim their support for the US-Israel relationship. By engaging in such an odious attack on this mainstream, bipartisan American political event, Senator Sanders is insulting his very own colleagues and the millions of Americans who stand with Israel,” AIPAC continued. “Truly shameful.” (United With Israel)
IRAN REPORTS AT LEAST 16 DEAD FROM CORONAVIRUS: Iran’s latest report on the coronavirus is that 16 people have died from the epidemic as of Tues. 25 Feb. 2020. Meanwhile, Iranians worry that authorities could be underestimating the scale of the outbreak. Iran has the highest number of deaths from coronavirus outside China, where the virus emerged in late 2019. Among the infected was the deputy health minister, who tested positive for coronavirus, state media said. “Among those who had been suspected of the virus, 35 (new cases) have been confirmed. He said 95 people had been infected across Iran. Some unconfirmed reports gave a higher death toll. Worried that official numbers could underestimate the scale of Iran’s outbreak, many Iranians took to social media to accuse authorities of concealing facts. Popular anger has been high for months over the handling of a Ukrainian passenger plane crash in January, which the military took three days to admit was caused by an Iranian missile fired in error. The incident revived anti-government protests that rocked the country in November against a hike in fuel prices, which swiftly turned political with calls for Iran’s rulers to step down before authorities cracked down. The head of Qom’s Medical Science University, Mohammad Reza Ghadir, expressed concern over “the spread of those people infected by the virus across the city,” adding the Health Ministry had banned releasing figures linked to the coronavirus. Authorities ordered the nationwide cancellation of concerts and soccer matches and the closure of schools and universities in many provinces and have urged Iranians to stay home. Iran said on Monday 900 cases were suspected, dismissing claims by a lawmaker from the holy Shi’ite city of Qom who said 50 people had died in the city, the epicenter of the new coronavirus outbreak. Six Arab countries reported their first cases, with those infected all having links to Iran. Kuwait said this week the number of infected people there had risen to eight. Bahrain said it had eight cases, four were Saudi nationals and two Bahrainis. (VFI News)
JORDAN, ISRAEL PREPARE FOR LOCUST SWARMS: Jordan’s Ministry of Agriculture has announced an “utmost state of emergency” as locust swarms descended on Saudi Arabia via Yemen. Minister of Agriculture, Ibrahim Shehadeh said that an emergency room had been set up with the cooperation of several departments including the Royal Jordanian Air Force, the Royal Badia Forces and the Jordan Customs Department. Syria, which borders Israel along with Jordan is preparing for an outbreak as well. Israel is also preparing for the possibility of the first desert locust infestation in seven years. The infestation in 2013 caused hundreds of thousands of shekels in damage to Israel’s agriculture industry. In a recent situation evaluation, Agriculture Minister Tzachi Hanegbi said that there is currently only a low chance that the locusts will come to Israel but stressed that the forecast could change, and preparations should be made in advance. Iran has also begun preparing for the swarms currently located south of the country. Agricultural experts in Iran have warned that the locusts could invade Iran’s central regions as well. In Asia, Pakistan has declared a national emergency to combat the locust infestation. The swarms there have reached northwest India and are approaching China as well. (VFI News)
EGYPT’S FORMER PRESIDENT HOSNI MUBARAK DIES: Egypt’s ousted former President Hosni Mubarak died on Tues. 25 Feb. 2020 at the age of 91, weeks after undergoing surgery. Mubarak ruled Egypt for 30 years until he was expelled following mass protests against his rule in 2011. He was jailed for years after the uprising but was freed in 2017 after being acquitted of most charges. Egypt has declared eleven days of mourning for the deceased president. Mubarak was the longest-running president in Egypt’s history, having led the government for thirty years from 1981, following the assassination of Anwar Sadat, until the violent riots of the Arab Spring in 2011. (VFI News)
ISRAELI CYCLING TEAM WELCOMED IN UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: The latest sign of warming relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors, members of the Startup Nation cycling team are participating in a race from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. Israel’s national cycling team, called “Israel Start-Up Nation” is competing for the first time in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Cycling Tour, this week. The team received a “warm reception” in Dubai, the first stop of the track. The competition goes from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, a 148-kilometer ride through all seven UAE states, and will take seven days to complete. It is one of the largest sporting events in the Middle East. “Competing in the UAE in the team uniform is an inspiring moment,” said Israeli cyclist Omer Goldstein. “Until recently, it would have seemed like an unrealistic dream.” Goldstein said he was surprised by the warm reception the Israeli team received, noting that many locals asked to take selfies with team members, dressed in the Israeli flag colors of blue and white. “This is the victory of sports over politics,” he said. (VFI News/United With Israel)
The suggestions, opinions and scripture references made by VFI writers and editors are based on the best information received.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff