Light for the Last Days

Israel Desk – Israel in General

Pipeline from Israel to EU.  April 2017.

Italy, Israel, Greece and Cyprus have pledged to move ahead with the world’s longest undersea gas pipeline from the eastern Mediterranean to southern Europe, with support from the European Union.  If carried out as planned, the long-discussed $6.2 billion pipeline would take gas from Israel and Cyprus’s recently discovered offshore gas reserves to Europe and could help reduce the continent’s dependence on Russian energy at a time of ongoing tensions.  Energy ministers from the four nations, as well as the EU’s Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Canete, pledged their commitment to the project.

Feasibility studies had been completed, the ministers said, but work on developing it would not begin for several years – with current expectations for it to go online in 2025.  “This is going to be the longest and deepest sub-sea gas pipeline in the world,” said Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud).  Both Israel and Cyprus have started to extract gas from their offshore fields in recent years, with far larger fields expected to come online in the future.

Officials from the countries have sought to market the gas to Europe as an alternative to dependence on Russian imports, and Canete admitted it would help limit reliance on the Nord Stream pipeline via Russia.  “The north stream is a pipeline (which) adds nothing to the security of supply,” said Canete. “Cyprus and Israel are very reliable suppliers.  “We highly value gas supply from the region as a vital source of our gas supply that can make a valuable contribution to our strategy to diversify sources, routes and suppliers.  “This is a pipe that unites and will have the full support of all the members of the European Union.”

This is not good news for Russia and could be a factor in the coming Russian move against Israel described in Ezekiel 38-9.  ‘Have you come to take spoil?  Have you gathered your army to take booty?’  Ezekiel 38.13.  

Israeli firms revolutionising financial technology.  May 2017.

If it has been a long time since you’ve waited for a bank teller, called your stockbroker or mailed a cheque, you can thank financial technology (fintech). And much of that innovation in how we move and protect our money is coming from Israel.  

According to The Floor fintech startup hub in Tel Aviv, at least 430 Israeli fintech companies are developing products for needs ranging from digital banking to fundraising.  Israel’s reputation in deep data science has lured some $650 million in venture capital for the fintech sector. Financial institutions including Citibank and Barclays have established innovation labs and accelerators in the startup nation.

The companies listed include:

MyCheck, founded in Tel Aviv in 2011, offers an Uber-like branded mobile payment solution for hospitality merchants (mostly restaurant chains) on three continents. Users get features including faster checkout, the ability to divide a bill and add a tip, while merchants get analytics tools and increased customer engagement.

BioCatch uses behavioral biometrics to provide behavioural authentication and malware detection solutions for web and mobile banking applications.

Cyberark is growing world wide as it works to create a “protection belt” to prevent the spread of cyber attacks in already penetrated networks.

One wonders if all this high tech industry is preparing the way for the 666 system of Revelation 13.

Drought in Israel.  Plans to save Galilee.  May 2017.

For the fourth year in a row, Israel’s northern region is suffering from drought, and the state of the Kinneret (Galilee), which was once the main source of drinkable water in the country, is only getting drier; Water Authority mulls plan to pump desalinated water in an effort to save the lake. The annual rainfall stands at only about 71 percent of the cross-year average.  Due to the worrying situation, the Water Authority is mulling over a plan to pump tens of millions of cubic meters of desalinated water into the Kinneret in order to prevent it from drying up.  Data show that in the Kinneret area, as well as areas from which rainfall flows into the Kinneret, rainfall was measured at only 70 percent of the average.  The shortage of water in the lake is causing an increase of salt levels in the water and could lead to environmental degradation and render the water unusable for irrigation or drinking.

Israel is not suffering from water shortages thanks to its desalination facilities, though there is no guarantee that the facilities will be able to keep up with demands. This is the fourth year in a row that the northern region is hit by drought, and the results can be seen in the sad state of the Kinneret and the area’s streams and springs.

The forecast for the coming years is a continuous decline in rainfall in the northern region, so even if the country won’t experience a drought, there will still be a shortage of water flow into the Kinneret.

With the looming danger of the Kinneret’s declining water levels that could lead to degradation in the quality of its water, the Water Authority is also examining a plan to pump up to 50 million cubic meters of desalinated water into the lake in next winter, should the desalination facilities have a surplus of unused water.  However desalinated water lacks basic minerals, and research is still needed to conclude what sort of effect it could have on the lake and the local fauna and flora.  The low water levels have already led the Water Authority to almost completely halt all drawing of water from the lake.

Appeal to plant trees in Israel.  March 2017.

Zo Artzenu, a Jewish charity, is appealing for funds to plant trees in Israel.  At the time of Israel’s New Year for Trees (Tu Bishvat), its appeal reads ‘In November 2016, tens of thousands of trees were destroyed, many due to arson fires set by our enemies. Now more than ever, Israeli farmers need your help to replace fruit trees that have been burned. Let’s plant even more trees than were destroyed!  STARTING RIGHT NOW, OVER 20 KINDS OF FRUIT TREES WILL BE PLANTED.  Apples, Apricots, Almonds, Dates, Figs, Pears, Plums, Pomegranates and so much more!  In the Bible, God promises to bless those who properly observe the laws of planting in Israel:   “I will ordain My blessing for you…” (Leviticus 25:21).

Israel’s health is good.  June 2017.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released their annual report this May, and Israel’s standing is good. The health statistics report touches on topics such as life expectancy rates, infant and maternal mortality rates, use of alcohol and drugs, vaccination and disease rates, and other medical services and information.

Israel ranks high in life expectancy, with men’s life expectancy being around 80 years and women’s being around 84 years old. The country as a whole ranked eighth in the world. Perhaps this high expectancy also has to do with Israel’s vaccination rate which was shown at 94%, and their overall low alcohol consumption. The chances of dying of serious diseases like cancer, stroke, heart attack or diabetes in Israel are only 9.3%, placing the small country impressively at number 5 on the list.

Due to the high quality of medical services in Israel, the WHO report shows that the infant mortality rate is also ranked low on the list in comparison to other countries whose medical services are lacking, such as in developing countries like Africa. The Israeli infant mortality rate is 4 in 1000, while the maternal mortality rate stands at 5 in 1000.

Israeli scientist honoured by Arabs.  June 2016

In Israel’s Negev Desert, one scientist did the impossible. Daniel Hillel helped figure out a way to bring water to crops in dry regions, first in the Middle East and then around the world.  Hillel developed ’micro-irrigation,’ which drips in just enough water to keep the soil optimally moist — all day, every day. That differs from traditional irrigation that soaks the ground in intervals, which uses more water.

‘I can’t say that I was the inventor of it, but I was very active on the early stages of it and developing the philosophy of it,’ said Hillel.  Water scarcity plagues farmers across the globe. Hillel’s work has taken him to dozens of countries to promote the water-saving technology

An estimated 9 billion people will live on the planet by 2050, up 30 percent from today. That will require a massive increase in agricultural output. Micro-irrigation offers one answer, as it dramatically reduces the water needed while boosting production.

Before Hillel was awarded the World Food Prize, nominations for him poured in from Jordan, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, a testament to friendships cultivated by addressing shared challenges.  Today, the method is used across the Middle East, as well as across Asia, Africa and the Americas.  ‘I’m a great believer in international cooperation, and I’ve devoted much of my career to it,’ Hillel said in an interview with the Associated Press.

Israel prepares for major earthquake.  June 2017.

At the cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on 18th June, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held an urgent discussion on home front preparations for a major earthquake that is expected to hit Israel in the coming years.

The discussion kicked off a nationwide emergency drill involving rescue forces from the army, police and medical organisations.

‘As part of our efforts and actions to improve home front emergency preparedness, we are beginning today a national earthquake exercise, called ‘Earthquake 2017,’‘ said Netanyahu. ‘There are enough earthquakes around us in all senses of the word, but we live adjacent to the Syrian-African rift, and an earthquake can hit at any moment. They already have and they undoubtedly will.’

Should an earthquake hit, the prime minister reminded the public that the emergency procedures are quite opposite to those during a missile or terrorist attack.  With the border area with Jordan at high risk for earthquakes, Israel is working with the Jordanian Red Crescent and Hebron’s Greenland Association to train local residents as first responders in the event of such a catastrophe.

Zechariah 14.4-5 and Revelation 11.13 both prophesy major earthquakes in Israel in the last days.

UN Resolution on Israel.  January 2017.  

On 23rd December the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2334 which affirmed that Israel’s establishment of settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, had ‘no legal validity, constituting a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the vision of two States living side-by-side in peace and security, within internationally recognised borders’. It demanded ‘that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.’  It said that it would not recognise ‘any changes to the 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations’ and that the settlements were ‘imperilling the two state solution.’   

Mr Netanyahu accused the Obama Administration of masterminding the resolution: ‘From the information that we have, we have no doubt that the Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, coordinated on the wording and demanded that it be passed,’ Mr Netanyahu said in a statement.   This act is seen as Obama’s revenge on Netanyahu for not playing ball with his plan for setting up a Palestinian state and giving him the legacy of being the President who brought peace to the Middle East.   It is also timed to put a UN Security Council resolution in place before Donald Trump takes over as US President.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) sees this as is a major victory in their campaign to internationalise the conflict and condemn Israel internationally as a country that rejects peace with the Arabs.  Abbas has said, ‘This proves that the world rejects Israeli settlements as illegal, and acknowledges they were established on our occupied land, including east Jerusalem.’  They are also seeking to exploit the UN resolution to promote boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel. PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said that because of the resolution, ‘It will now be possible to impose a boycott on the settlements, and even employ legal sanctions against companies that work with them.’  One of Abbas’s close associates, Mohamed Shtayyeh, said, ‘Israel used to say that Jerusalem is its united capital, and that the 1967 borders are not the final borders, thereby claiming ownership of Palestinian territories, but now the world has determined otherwise.’

Israel sees this resolution as a trigger, intentional or not, for renewed bloodshed.  The Palestinians will see it as a demand that Israel hands over all territory taken in the Six Day War in which the Arab armies once again sought to destroy Israel.  This includes the Old City of Jerusalem and the suburbs around Jerusalem, all Israeli towns built in the area of Judea and Samaria since 1967.  They will be under no requirement to promise to a permanent peace with Israel. No Palestinian negotiator can demand less than the U.N. has already given the Palestinians.  

However no Israeli can give away Israel’s holiest sites or uproot the hundreds of thousands of settlers who dwell east of an armistice line that was never meant or expected to be a border.  Some on the right wing of Israeli politics are saying that they should ignore the UN and go ahead and annex the territories where there are Jewish settlements. Naftali Bennett, a minister in Israel’s government has said, ‘It’s time to move from withdrawals to sovereignty.  The conclusion is to stop marching down the suicidal path to a Palestinian state and apply the law of Israel in Maaleh Adumim, the Jordan Valley, Ofra and all of Area C as soon as possible.’   

So we have some more twists and turns in which Jerusalem remains the burdensome stone, burdening all nations (the UN) as the Bible prophesies.  The attempt to divide the land and the city of Jerusalem will lead to the end time conflict as prophesied in Joel 3 and Zechariah 12-14.  

Tony Pearce

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