APN's daily news review from Israel
Sunday February 17, 2013
Quote of the day:
"People who commit severe treason and espionage are not offered plea bargains."
--Haaretz journalist Uri Misgav reveals more on the Prisoner X affair.**
Front Page News:
- Ayalon: Lieberman pressured me to advance unsuitable appointments within the Foreign Ministry
- The path to cancelling keeping the Foreign Ministry for Lieberman could pass through the High Court
- Israel re-arrested 14 (Palestinians) released in the Shalit deal
- Emails reveal: This is how they try to recruit a senior economist to IDB Holdings
- War in Syria getting closer to border: 7 wounded Syrians received treatment in Israel
- Why is the budget of the Prime Minister's residence kept as secret as the nuclear plant in Dimona?
- Energy of the meteor in Russia: 30x more intense than in Hiroshima
- Oscar Pistorias broke out crying and denied murdering his girlfriend
- 1/4 page ad: Could there be an Israeli apartheid? Conference at the Van Leer Center on Wednesday at 5PM
- In X's neighborhood - Yedioth correspondent with the Jewish community of Melbourne
- "Obama comes to talk directly with the Israelis" - Deputy advisor to national security speaks about preparations for his visit
- On the dock - Today former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman's trial begins
- Like 30 atom bombs - That was the intensity of the explosion from the 10 ton meteor
- Today: Avigdor Lieberman on the dock. Key witness: Danny Ayalon (Hebrew)
- Tough away game // Shalom Yerushalmi
- Alliance between Lapid and Bennett gets stronger despite Netanyahu's efforts to break it: Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi told Likud-Beiteinu - we will only join the government coalition together (Hebrew)
- Fear in the security establishment: Wave of Syrian refugees to try to enter into Israel (Hebrew)
- For first time since outbreak of Syrian civil war, IDF allowed seven wounded Syrian citizens to enter Israel (Hebrew)
- Report: Zygier's family received millions of shekels in compensation
- Trail of destruction - Like in a sci-fi film: 10,000 ton meteor exploded above Russia
- Civil war in Syria arrives at border: 7 wounded Syrians evacuated for medical treatment in Israel
- Minister (Moshe) Yaalon: Bennett-Lapid alliance strange, motivated by extraneous considerations
- Today: Did you read the indictment against Lieberman in the ambassador affair?
- Report on causes of death of Prisoner X to be published this week
- For first time: Education Ministry holding speech competition for bar and bat mitzvah boys and girls
Avigdor Lieberman is in the dock today, wounded Syrians were transferred to Israel yesterday and the latest revelations on the Prisoner X affair made top stories in today's Israeli papers. Meanwhile, in the Palestinian Territories, a Day of Rage in solidarity with the hunger-striking prisoners in Israeli jails, Israel Hayom reports on Israeli-Hamas talks in Egypt and Hamas blamed Israel for the expulsion of its MPs from Bulgaria.
Seven wounded Syrians came to the border in the Golan Heights and asked Israeli soldiers for help. They were evacuated to a hospital in Safed and now the Israeli security establishment is concerned that more wounded Syrians will do the same, writes Maariv. Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon said that the event does not represent a change in Israeli policy. Some papers called them rebels, other called them civilians. Ynet reported that the hospital director said that Syrian civilians, enemy combatants, and terror operatives have all been treated at the hospital before.
More details have been revealed about the Prisoner X affair. The results of the probe into the death of Ben Zygier will likely be published this week. According to the investigation Zygier committed suicide in his cell on December 15, 2010. Haaretz reports that the Israel Prison Service may have received orders not to film Zygier in his cell, unlike Yigal Amir who was watched 24/7. Moreover, writes Haaretz, "Protocol requires every person who arrives at the Prison Service to appear on their first day before a committee of doctors, psychologists and other professionals who evaluate the likelihood that they will attempt to harm themselves or others. In Ben Zygier's case, no such risk assessment is known to have taken place. The decision to skip this meeting was apparently made by someone other the Prison Service." Israeli sources told Ynet that it is not unusual that security prisoners 'disappear' in Israeli jails. Sources familiar with Zygier affair say the suspected Mossad operative was not the only prisoner charged with security offenses to be held in isolation under a false name. "He disappears into interrogation rooms, and no one knows where he is. They do it using two tools: A gag order and an injunction that prevents the detainee from meeting with an attorney." Australia will conduct its own probe into the Prisoner X affair and has asked that Israel pass on all information surrounding Zygier's death. Also, a photo analysis commissioned by Reuters casts doubt on the suggestion that Zygier was a member of the 'hit squad' on Hamas official, Mahmoud Mabhouh. The Australian reporter linked to the Zygier case said his home was burglarized the day after he spoke with Zygier in 2010.
Journalist Uri Misgav writes in Haaretz a very revealing piece, asking questions that many do not want to ask. He writes that Zygier was offered a plea bargain involving prolonged imprisonment, which his wife and state-appointed attorneys advised him to take to avoid a trial. "People who commit severe treason and espionage are not offered plea bargains," writes Misgav. According to Misgav, "the most troubling and problematic factor in the story is the Israeli justice system - the only body whose hands are not tied...(Yet) the unnamed judges decided to conduct the trial in the dark. Not behind closed doors, as customary in sensitive security cases, but in complete darkness, as though it never existed. A trial held in the dark cannot by definition be a just one...Ben Zygier died in Ayalon Prison on December 15, 2010. Six days after his 34th birthday, four days after his second daughter's birth. And most important, a day after his meeting with attorney Avigdor Feldman...The offense Zygier was charged with could be said to have problematic implications, not intentions. He was not a traitor who sold state secrets to Israel's worst enemies for money or ideology. He had committed an offense of negligence, inadvertently, with no malice aforethought. The act could have led to a certain breach of security. According to the information I've gathered, it was not a fateful offense and the authorities' reaction was disproportionate. The fact that Zygier was offered a plea deal corroborates this assumption. People who commit severe treason and espionage are not offered plea bargains...But the "treason" clause in the Israeli law book is so broad that almost any breach of Israel's security can be included in it."
Hundreds of Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli soldiers near Ofer Prison - where the administrative detainees are held. The Palestinians, including MK Ahmed Tibi, rallying in solidarity with the four hunger-striking prisoners. The clashes prompted the European Union to call on Israel to give better conditions to jailed Palestinians. EU Foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said she was 'following with concern' the deteriorating health of the four Palestinian and she called on Israel to restore their family visiting rights. Haaretz noted that fourteen Palestinians who were released in the Gilad Shalit deal are back in Israeli jails - two of them are hunger striking.
According to Egyptian reports, an Israeli delegation has landed in Cairo for discussions on implementing the second phase of the Gilad Shalit deal on the understandings regarding a ceasefire, Israel Hayom wrote. The Israeli officers who arrived are believed to be in indirect discussions over opening the crossings into and out of Gaza. Meanwhile, Hamas has blamed Israel for the expulsion of four Palestinian MPs from Bulgaria. The leader of the Hamas delegation said Israel pressured Sofia to expel them from Bulgaria on Friday. Salah Bardawil said the delegation met with media and some political figures during the visit.
- Former FM Lieberman's trial underway - Three-judge panel to preside over Yisrael Beiteinu chair's fraud trial. State adamant, will pursue moral turpitude conviction that may bar him from politics. (Haaretz and Ynet)
- 'Druze price tag' graffiti found in Galilee tomb - Unknown vandals spray-paint hate slogans, cause damage in tomb of Jonathan ben Uzziel in Upper Galilee; police launch investigation. (Ynet)
- Image of two Gaza children killed in Israeli strike wins World Press Photo prize - Swedish photographer Paul Hansen snags top photojournalism award for haunting image captured during Palestinian children's funeral; violence in the Middle East a dominant theme in the competition. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Two American Jewish organizations call for further review of Hagel statements - The Anti-Defamation League and American Jewish Committee request explanation from Obama's defense secretary nominee on 2007 speech in which he allegedly said the State Department acted as an 'adjunct' of Israel's foreign ministry. (JTA, Haaretz)
- Egypt court orders belly dancing station off air - Judge says ads for sexual enhancement products aired on ElTet 'offensive' and can 'arouse' viewers. (Agencies, Ynet)
- Hezbollah says 'no comment' on Burgas report - Speaking to hundreds of supporters, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah warns Israel against attacking Lebanon, threatens to attack Israel's power plants. (Haaretz and Ynet)
- France considers recognition of Hezbollah as terror group - Following Bulgarian investigation pertaining to Hezbollah involvement in Burgas terror attack, France says if probe's final results prove link, country is to announce Nasrallah's organization as terror group; EU expected to back decision. (Ynet)
- Because of war in Syria: Rise in number of Golan Druze studying in Israel - For years the youth preferred to leave to study in Syria, which included matriculation exams, a B.A. and even pocket money from the state. This year, very few crossed the border. (Maariv, p. 4/NRG Hebrew)
- Syrian civil war edges closer as seven rebels taken to Israeli hospital - Syrian rebels overrun a military police checkpoint in Khan Arnabeh, a town in the Golan Heights near the ceasefire line along the demilitarized zone with Israel. (Haaretz)
- Hundreds protest Iran-Argentina investigation pact in Buenos Aires - Rally in response to the announcement of joint investigation of the AMIA center bombing of 1994. (JTA, Haaretz)
- Iran vows revenge against Israel for killing of Revolutionary Guards commander - Iran said on Thursday that the military commander, Hassan Shateri, was killed in Syria fighting; meanwhile, in warning to Israel, Hezbollah leader says Israeli power facilities 'only need a few rockets.' (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
- Turkey-Iran gold trade wiped out by new U.S. sanctions - Turkey, Iran's biggest natural gas customer, has been paying for its imports with Turkish lira, because sanctions prevent it from paying in dollars or euros. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- 'Major powers to ease sanctions if Iran shuts down Fordow nuclear plant' - Western officials say big powers plan to offer to ease gold sanctions if Iran took steps to shut down the newly expanded uranium enrichment plant. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Khamenei: Iran not seeking nuclear weapons - Iran's supreme leader stresses that though Islamic Republic is not seeking to develop nuclear weapons, if it did, 'no power could stop us.' (Agencies, Ynet)
- Likud-Beiteinu calls for drafting 70 percent of Haredim within 5 years - Head of Netanyahu's National Economic Council publicly outlines Likud's proposal for first time; plan was submitted to Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi as a part of the coalition negotiations. (Haaretz)
- Likud: Bennet will bring about leftist gov't - Stalled coalition negotiations see political finger-pointing gain speed as rightist parties butt heads. Habayit Hayehudi says it will only enter coalition with Yesh Atid: "... it will be under our own terms, with senior portfolios and without the haredim - just like Lapid is demanding." (Yedioth/Ynet)
The fatal blow of solitary confinement (Gideon Levy, Haaretz) Keeping a human being in isolation for a prolonged period is unbearable torture that should be illegal.
Checking our house [play on Hebrew idiom meaning maintenance] (Chilo Rosenberg, Maariv/NRG Hebrew) "Was the Secret Services Sub-Committee of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in the picture? This is a cardinal question regarding public oversight of the security and intelligence services. The public deserves an answer. If it becomes clear that the sub-committee was in the picture, it is possible to relax. If the answer is no, then there was a very serious breach here. All elements involved in the affair, and its revelations, must be undergo a thorough examination." Rosenberg says that many people and committees have warned of faults and miscues in Israel's decision-making on national security issues and suggests, "Those sounding the warnings are not the enemies of Israel's national security establishment..."
A mosque left to die (Oudeh Basharat, Haaretz) A mosque wall collapsed in the deserted Palestinian village Ma'alul two winters ago, and when the descendants of the village's former inhabitants rushed to repair the damage, they were prevented from continuing with their work.
Need to define common enemy (Yoaz Hendel, Yedioth/Ynet) Law defining terror would make it difficult for Europe to blame Israel for all of Mideast's problems.
Invisible neighbors (Haaretz Editorial) For most of the residents of Nofit, the members of the Hawaled clan are invisible. Their cluster of shacks is reached via Nofit's access road, which thousands of residents drive daily, and yet only a few have ever visited the area or are even aware of the conditions there.
Obama is not the key (Niva Lanir, Haaretz) We should have already learned a long time ago that in a place that doesn't seek peace and doesn't want to make peace, there won't be peace.
An inconvenient truth (Robert Fattal, Ynet) Continued stalemate in peace process helps Palestinians reach their goal of demographic superiority.
Why Israeli leftists must see 'Lincoln' (Vered Kellner, Haaretz) The Radical Republicans' purist disdain for compromise in Lincoln's time is shared by today's left in Israel. They might sleep well at night, but by refusing to engage in realpolitik, what world will they wake up to in the morning?
Israel's insensitivity to Australian Jewry (Shahar Burla, Haaretz) Beneath the surface, there is increasing distrust of Israel among Australian Jews, and for good reason.
Prisoner X affair - Shot by our forces (Emanuel Rosen, Yedioth) "The foreign media reports describe Ben Zygier as a sad type, but nothing like a double agent or traitor who sold his soul for a wad of dollars or radical ideology...I see a fairly young man, scared and broken, who opened his heart and his deepest secrets after he was revealed and burned, who decided to speak not to receive a prize and not completely conscious of his actions. Ben Zygier was no Mordechai Vaanunu. Not even a Nahum Manbar. He was not supposed to tried for treason against the homeland or for serious spying....Zygier was a fighter who found himself in distress. It happens to fighters in the battle field whether they are in Golani, the armored corps or even in the Mossad. He was exposed by the Australian security services and by local journalists and he reacted not as a Mossad fighter is expected. His exposure was, according to military analysts, to a great extent the fault of his commanders, who changed his identities no less than four times and sent him to countries like Iran and Syria without thinking the Australians might notice that... Along with the heavy questions that were raised and that were not yet raised, it also needs to be asked if Zygier's life was not abandoned, Zygier, who fell in a place where only those who are senior members of the organization and not soldiers are allowed to make a mistake...I see Zygier as a fighter who fell in battle by bullets from our forces. Correct me if I am mistaken."
As transparent as Sara's dress (Yossi Sarid, Haaretz) They call themselves friends of Israel, but a small group of powerful American Jews are making a mockery of democracy on Capitol Hill and our own hill.
On censorship and other follies (Yoel Marcus, Haaretz) Four comments on current events, which show that stupidity is built-in for bodies that are supposed to be the height of intelligence.
Mossad identity crises (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz) The fog surrounding the affair of so-called Prisoner X may never dissipate, but one thing is already clear: Mossad procedures for devising identities for its agents need to be revised.
A liar or a blabbermouth? Ben Zygier was not suited to work for the Mossad (Amir Oren, Haaretz) A thorough investigation would have had to disqualify someone with Zygier's personality for service in the Mossad. But when a prospect's cultural identity is made more important than the person, the acceptance bar is lowered.
Lieberman trial is attorney general's test (Ido Baum, Haaretz) The reigning Israeli champion of extrication from possible criminal indictment will face off with former youth boxing champ Yehuda Weinstein, the man whose specialty is criminal law.
Iran is eyeing a strategic partnership with the Kurds (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz) The ongoing political realignment in the region is throwing up some surprising potential partnerships.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.