Israel, Middle East
Political Leader: Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Religions: Judaism 80.7%, Islam 14.6%, Christianity 2.2%, Other 2.5%
Persecution Ranking: Not Ranked
Number of Terrorist Groups: 24
Acts of Terrorism: 1,341; Casualties: 1,473
Percent of Corruption: 41%
% of People in Poverty: 21.6%
Israel, officially the State of Israel, is a country in Southwest Asia located on the southeastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea. It has borders with Lebanon in the north, Syria and Jordan in the east, and Egypt on the southwest, and contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. The West Bank and Gaza Strip, which are partially administrated by the Palestinian National Authority, are also adjacent.
The division of Palestinian Authority’s into two separate states of Israel and Palestine started in 1993 with limited self-governance in the West Bank. It took further shape in 2005 when formal peace agreements and reciprocal steps were made by leaders. The final division was made and a border established in 2005. Palestine had parliamentary elections in January 2006 when a new religious dimension entered Palestinian politics with the terrorist organization Hamas becoming the first democratically elected Islamic government in the Middle East in recent years.
Israel has had skirmishes with Hamas since then. Israel also has grappled with a growing concern that terrorists, weapons and funds were being smuggled between Egypt and the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing―manned by the Palestinian Authority’s Border Crossing Authority, international observers and Egyptian border guards―and a series of tunnels under the 12 kilometer Philadelphi Corridor that separates Gaza from Egypt.
Lebanese Hizballah continued to provide support to select Palestinian groups to augment their capacity to conduct attacks against Israel. Hizballah also continued to call for the destruction of Israel, and directly launched a number of attacks from Lebanon. Israeli security services maintained that Palestinian terrorists attempted numerous times to perpetrate attacks in Israel, but were thwarted.
Jews make up 80.7% of the population Muslims constitute 14.6% and Christians 2.2%,
Challenges for Christians:
Many Jews have deep feelings of resentment and mistrust towards Christians. Members of the Messianic Jewish community in Arad reported suffering verbal harassment and physical violence at the hands of ultra-Orthodox Jews. In July 2005 the Messianic congregation in Arad published a letter in Iton HaTzvi that reported harassment by members of an ultra-Orthodox community. In September 2005 the High Court heard a petition by ultra-Orthodox Jews seeking the right to demonstrate at the house of a family of Messianic Jews and reversal of a police decision prohibiting such a demonstration. At end of the reporting period there was no further information on a court ruling. According to Messianic Jews resident in Arad, since 2004 the Gur Hassidim have demonstrated regularly in front of the homes of Christians and Messianic Jews in Arad to protest alleged Christian proselytizing by this group. In interviews with Ha'aretz newspaper on November 14, 2006, the mayor and several officials of Arad objected to Messianic Jews in their city but acknowledged having no legal basis to expel them.
- Pray that God would defeat the demonic forces that are behind terrorists groups such as Hamas, Fatah and Hizballah.
- Pray that the influence of violent groups operating in neighboring countries will stop spreading into Israel. (2 Timothy 2:24–26)
- Praise God for his continued purposes on this region.
- Thank God for that the number of Jews and Muslims who are becoming Christians is growing.
- Thank God for the Christians and Jews that remain in Palestine and pray for their protection.
- Pray that the hearts of Jews would be opened to see Jesus as their personal Savior and the fulfillment of their Jewish heritage.
- The ultra-religious Orthodox Jews (Haredi) dominate society, even though they only represent 10% of the population. Pray that the complete power of God’s grace and love would break through all religion and pride.
- 97% of the Arab population in Palestine are Muslims and few missionaries are working in these communities to share the Gospel. Pray for God’s laborers to be sent there.
Sources: 24-7 Prayer, Operation World, Wikipedia, Country Reports on Terrorism 2006, International Religious Freedom Report 2007, Open Doors, The World Factbook