Light for the Last Days

Israel Desk – 25th March 2020

Go to For Latest talk on Israel and peace treaty.

Coronavirus in Israel.

As the highly contagious coronavirus spreads around the world, Israel and the Palestinians struggle to contain a local outbreak that has virtually halted daily life and led to tens of thousands of people entering quarantine.

■ 1,656 Israelis have so far tested positive for the coronavirus, with the vast majority of cases mild and 49 recoveries. One patient has died and 31 are in serious condition

■ In the West Bank, 57 cases have been diagnosed so far, and 17 have recovered, the majority of them in Bethlehem. The Palestinian prime minister ordered a lockdown as of Sunday night 

■ In Gaza, two cases were diagnosed in patients who returned from Pakistan

■ Israel’s government approved emergency measures to limit movement of citizens and trade, shuttering cultural and recreational establishments as well as schools and universities and banning gatherings of over 10 people.

■ No foreigners are allowed to enter Israel, unless they apply for special permits from the Foreign Ministry in advance and can prove they are able to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival.

Israel Today magazine reports that Bible passages are increasingly finding their way into public discourse as Israel enters a time of national lockdown and fear escalates over the spread of COVID-19.

The following verses are just a sampling of those spotted in the past 48 hours on Israeli news websites or social media platforms, or overheard in casual conversation:

For this time I will send all my plagues on you yourself, and on your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth. Exodus 9:14

Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the wrath has passed by. Isaiah 26:20

As long as they have the disease they remain unclean. They must live alone. Leviticus 13:46

When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.’ 2 Chronicles 7:13-14

Wash your hands, you sinners…! James 4:8

With increasing restrictions on public gatherings, rabbis have turned to digital streaming as a means of corporate prayer in accordance with some of the aforementioned verses. Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau and IDF Chief Cantor Shai Abramson hosted a mass online prayer service. Both events could be watched live on YouTube and on mobile applications by those Israelis inclined to participate.

In an interview on TV Channel 12, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his interviewer, Dana Weiss that “we must pray to the Creator of the World that this plague ends.”

A notice went out to all local Messianic believers that from 7pm-8pm they were invited to participate in a time of joint prayer against the spread of the coronavirus. The message read: “During this time we will pray corporately, in one heart and raise our voices to the Lord that He might stretch out His hand to heal, release signs and wonders- in the name of Yeshua the Messiah.”

Some more Virus stories from Israel.

More than 100,000 Israelis have been laid off and are eligible for unemployment benefits as a result of the economic situation in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Amid the worldwide tourism slowdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, Israel Hotel Association (IHA) president Amir Hayek warned that the hotel industry is “on the brink of collapse.”

The Israeli Drug-Maker Teva has developed a tablet to fight the virus. It is to Donate 10 Million Coronavirus-Curing Pills to Hospitals Across U.S. TEVA announced that they will immediately donate over 6 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulphate tablets via wholesalers to hospitals throughout the U.S. to supply the dire demand for the medication as an ‘investigational target ‘to treat coronavirus. The company is also considering alternative means to address the worldwide demand.

A Hebrew media report on Wednesday cited unidentified officials as saying that scientists at the Ness Ziona-based Institute for Biological Research were close to developing a vaccine for the coronavirus. The Defence Ministry which controls the institute clarified that they are developing a vaccine that is still not ready and will take some time to develop.

Israel’s Health Minister Yaakov Litzman was asked what he’s doing to stop the growing coronavirus pandemic in Israel. Litzman responded reminding the Israeli people to wash hands, to ensure social distancing and not to congregate in places with more than 10 people. The minister added that if people don’t comply, it will be problematic. He also added that “God is watching over us.” As the head of an ultra-orthodox party, references to God are to be expected. But when asked about the chances of Israel continuing to be under complete shut-down until the Passover holiday, Litzman offered a rather unconventional response saying: “God forbid! We are praying and hoping that Moshiach (messiah) will arrive before Passover as it is a time of our redemption. I am sure that the Messiah will come by Passover and save us the same way God saved us during the Exodus and we were freed. The Moshiach will come and save us all.”

Iran’s Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi took a break from hating Israel long enough to announce a religious ruling that it would be permitted to use a “Zionist” vaccine against the coronavirus. “It is not permissible to buy and sell from Zionists and Israel,” Shirazi said Wednesday to the Iranian daily Hamdeli. “Unless the treatment is unique and there is no substitute.”

Iran is now the secondary epicentre for COVID-19 transmission. Its mortality rate for COVID-19 far surpasses China’s. Due to the spread of the virus in Iran and the financial crisis afflicting the country the mullahs are losing even more popular support and the regime finds itself less able to support its massive imperialistic expenditures and obsessive focus on assaulting Israel throughout the Middle East and abroad. As a result, Israel has a sad-but-real window of opportunity to act against Iran and the Iranian proxies that encircle it. The lethal aid and military units Iran has sent into Syria, Lebanon and Gaza will be stretched thin as the mullahs back home struggle to cope with the health crisis—and the economic / civil discontent it rekindles—at the expense of foreign adventures. The budgets of Iranian proxies Hezbollah and Hamas are no doubt under review in cash-strapped Tehran.

Anti-Semites, especially in the Muslim world, have accused the Jews of being responsible for the crisis, reminding Jewish people of the trauma of the Black Death in Medieval Europe when Jews were blamed for causing the plague, leading to pogroms in which thousands of Jews were killed.

Sources in Hamas-controlled Gaza have warned Egypt and Qatar that if they don’t get their money, they will send half of Israel into bomb shelters and increase the number of patients with Coronavirus. Israel told the terror organization that they would not tolerate renewed rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip. The threats have been renewed under Hamas leadership in an effort to increase aid to Gaza in light of their state of emergency and that the coronavirus brought upon them. The report also adds that the Hamas leadership fears that their funding will dry up compelling them to force Israel’s hand with threats of renewed attacks.

Unity government for Israel?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has invited Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz to talks about forming an emergency unity government amid the coronavirus pandemic. “We are in the midst of a global event unlike anything else in the history of the state’s existence,” Netanyahu said in a television address.

The Israeli government has been a political deadlock for a year after three elections have not produced a clear winner to form a governing coalition. The most recent election on March 2 left Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc three seats shy of a majority.

Earlier, Israel’s Defence Minister Naftali Bennett called for an emergency unity government as well. “Israeli citizens, this is an emergency situation,” Bennett said in a statement released on Thursday evening. “And at such an hour, an emergency government headed by Netanyahu is needed.”

Blue and White chair Benny Gantz is “inclined to form a unity government with Benjamin Netanyahu serving as prime minister first in a rotation”, reported Haaretz, despite Gantz’s “suspicions” of the Likud leader, “and even at the price of breaking up Blue and White”. Gantz’s condition is the “the enacting of a law to ensure that the rotation takes place on a set date”.

Despite Gantz’s favourable view of a broad unity government, one of Blue and White’s senior figures, former Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon, apparently “refuses to join a unity government led by Netanyahu, even if an agreement on setting up such a cabinet is reached with Likud”.

Meanwhile, Haaretz added, another senior Blue and White leader, former military chief Gabi Ashkenazi, has told Gantz that he would not join a minority government backed by the Joint List.   Blue and White number two Yair Lapid, for his part, “is still agonising over whether to join a government led by Netanyahu or remain in the opposition, the sources said”.

Gantz had been working to build a minority government backed by the Joint Arab List. However, at least three Knesset members on the centre-left have balked at the prospect of forming a government tied to support from the Arab parties. No Arab party has ever been part of a governing coalition in Israel.

The Joint Arab list is headed by Ayman Odeh and Ahmed Tibi who has praised Jihadist “martyrs” including suicide bombers. Additionally, the Joint List made a list of demands for entering negotiations with Gantz including a ban on Jews on the Temple Mount. The rest of their demands include:

  • Building new neighbourhoods in Jerusalem – for Arabs.
  • No more Jewish construction in Judea-Samaria, and giving in to all PA demands.
  • An end to the drafting of Druze fighters into the IDF.
  • Veto power over all IDF operations.
  • Ending the Jewish Law of Return and Immigration Benefits.
  • Enacting an Arab Law of Return and encourage millions of Arabs to immigrate to Israel.
  • Providing 100% autonomy to Arab schools, and all other Arab sectors. Provide generous subsidies for free housing.

Accepting these demands would virtually give the Arab List parties the power to bring an end to Israel as a Jewish State, especially the demand for a veto over IDF operations and on the Law of Return. It would seem to be an act of suicide for any Israeli party to accept such conditions.

Gog and Magog? Russia Warns Israel of War Over Syria

Russia’s ambassador to Syria this week issued what some saw as a veiled threat should Israel continue bombing Iranian assets in the war-torn country.  On February 6, an aerial attack on a target near Damascus killed 20 Syrian and Iranian military officials. It also caused Syrian air defences to inadvertently fire on an airplane carrying 172 passengers. The plane managed to safely land at a nearby airport.  Israel Defence Minister Naftali Bennett later hinted that the attack was just another in a long series of Israeli strikes against Iranian assets that are admittedly in Syria for the purpose of threatening the Jewish state.

Russian Ambassador Alexander Yefimov wasn’t interested in Israeli justifications.  In an interview with Sputnik Arabic, Yefimov called the Israeli raids “provocative and very dangerous.” He further cautioned that “this increases the possibility of conflict over Syria.” Since Syria is already in conflict, his warning was taken to mean that the ongoing Israeli raids could eventually result in an armed clash between the Jewish state and Russian forces in the region.

Israeli political and military officials have never been shy about referencing the biblical “War of Gog and Magog.” (Ezekiel 38-9).  It’s something they believe is going to happen. However, given the warm relations between Jerusalem and Moscow in recent years, many found it hard to believe the traditional interpretation that this great Gentile army would include Russia.

But, Ambassador Yefimov is not wrong about the stage being set for the kind of incident, intentional or not, that could suddenly turn friends into foes.  Israel is aware of this risk, but apparently deems the threat of Iranian hegemony to be greater than the possibility of accidentally sparking an apocalyptic showdown with Russia.  

Information from Israel Today.  Note however the situation in the north of Syria with Turkey in our ‘Signs of the Times’ column.

Israel thankful for the rain.

While much of the world is experiencing floods and misery as a result of too much rain, Israel is thankful for the blessing of abundant rain, causing a steady rise in the water level of the Sea of Galilee.  Heavy rain and even snow in northern Israel over the past two months have helped to increase the level of the Galilee to just below the upper red line which is its maximum level. When the snow on Hermon melts, the water level may reach the point when the Galilee reaches its maximum level, causing the Degania Dam to be opened for the first time in years, to allow excess water to flow out and replenish the waters of the northern part of the Jordan River.

This is a big change to the situation a few years ago where there was concern that the Sea of Galilee was too low and droughts were causing difficulties in the land. Thankfully Israeli ingenuity has helped to make Israel one of the most effective countries at conserving water, so they have ways to avoid these situations, but it is wonderful to see the blessing of rain upon God’s land and people.

Latest News from Israel.  

For news from Israel go to Jewish News Service. Here are some examples:

Netanyahu promises strong and stable government

Netanyahu calls for unity government

Sanders would be ‘most anti-Israel president in the history of this nation’

Jordan Israel Peace Treaty at risk

Palestinian cleric – Hating Jews is an Islamic obligation



Tony Pearce