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Why is Israel taking such extraordinary measures against coronavirus? Banning flights. Banning tourists and travel. Quarantines. Because a large-scale outbreak could devastate our small, globally-connected country. Netanyahu warns of a “global pandemic,” the worst in 100 years. So far, so good in Israel. But please pray. Here’s the latest.

Coronavirus-Israel

UPDATED: (Washington, D.C.) — As I prepared to fly out of Tel Aviv to speak at the AIPAC conference here in Washington last week, Israel’s Health Ministry issued an unprecedented warning. The government urged Israelis not to travel internationally unless absolutely necessary, due to concerns over the rapidly spreading coronavirus. 

Given that I was about to begin a six-week book tour for The Jerusalem Assassin, I decided to fly anyway and trust the Lord (and good hygiene) to keep me healthy. But wherever I go, the coronavirus is the number one topic. And for good reason.

As of Friday night:

Prime Minister Netanyahu rightly says Israel cannot take any chances but must take extraordinary measures to protect lives as well as Israel’s globally-connected economy.

“It must be understood that we are in the midst of a global pandemic,” Netanyahu said this week. “They do not call it this, but this is the truth and it needs to be said. It could be that it is among the most dangerous of such pandemics in the past 100 years.”

Netanyahu noted that “Israel is in the best situation of all other countries, together with another two or three Western countries,” but added that “we are in the midst of a global epidemic, the most dangerous of these epidemics in the last 100 years [and] have had to take tough, even very rigid steps, to slow the spread of the disease in Israel.”

So far, so good — the measures have contained the virus as best as we can tell.

Yes, Israel does have an estimated 100,000 people in quarantine.

Yet as of Friday night, only 21 people in Israel have contracted the virus, and no one — thank God — has died. 

Please pray for both Israelis and Palestinians as we combat the virus. Please pray for world leaders and health authorities to have the wisdom — and God’s mercy — to save lives and quickly and effectively stop this virus before it becomes a worst-case scenario. And please pray that the Lord would be gracious to those whose jobs and businesses are being adversely affected by the virus.

Finally, I would encourage Evangelical Christians to continue traveling to Israel on tours, pilgrimages, study opportunities, prayer trips, volunteer opportunities, and so forth. Israel is a very safe country. Officials are taking the challenge very seriously. And it would be a real blessing for Evangelicals to stand with Israelis and Palestinians, pray for us, and help the Israeli and Palestinian economies by visiting at this time. The only reason not to come is if you are sick or have recently been in countries on the restricted list.

Thanks so much, and I’ll keep you posted on these and other developments on this blog and on Twitter.

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