APN's daily news review from Israel
Monday May 06, 2013
Note: Due to a computer glitch, yesterday's News Nosh was not sent. It's key parts were combined into today's News Nosh.
Quote of the day:
--What Google is now calling what it previously called the 'Palestinian Territories,' much to the irk of Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister.**
Front Page News:
- Israel on high alert for fear of escalation in north - Israel attacked weapons shipment in Syria, second strike in 48 hours
- In Israel debating where is Assad's red line // Amos Harel
- Obama backs Israel, but the attack raises the pressure on him // Chemi Shalev
- Syrian regime in difficult dilemma and almost has no options to act // Zvi Bar'el
- Holyland trial: Today testimony of key witness Yossi Olmert
- Francoise Holland closes a faltering year
- Rebellion at Saharonim jail - Hundreds of African migrants refuse to return to their cells
- Which are the 100 companies in Israel best to work
- Directors in civil service pressured to allow appointment of relatives - This is how you get a raise and an exemption from a tender
- Secret message to Assad - Effort to lower the tension after strikes in Syria
- Noise and quiet // Nahum Barnea
- In their court // Alex Fishman
- On a thin line // Yossi Yehoshua
- Assad in a dilemma // Smadar Peri
- Who didn't Netanyahu take with him for his economic visit to China? Economics Minister Naftali Bennett
- Bigger is worth more - Why do four companies get such generous tax benefits?
- Israel attacked again in Syria, high alert on northern border (Hebrew)
- U-turn // Amir Rappaport
- Thanks to the ambiguity // Ben-Dror Yemini
- Quiet, we're firing // Udi Hirsh (Hebrew)
- After three years in Tel-Hashomer, Mohammed and his grandfather from Khan Younis want to stay in Israel
- Israeli sedated and put on a respirator after severely injured in Palestinian riots in Samaria (northern W. Bank)
- Accessibility Index - Which cities in Israel are most accessible (to wheelchairs)
- To love to death - Hundreds arrived yesterday to the cemetery in Kfar Ma'as to escort the children's author Dvora Omer, who died Thursday at age 80
- Tension - Airspace in north closed; Iron Dome batteries deployed near Safed and Haifa
- Against Iran on all fronts // Eliezar (Chaney) Merom
- Risk out of no choice // Dan Margalit
- Battle over the chief rabbi: Again contacts over an Ariel-Amar 'deal'
- Despite the tension: Prime Minister left for official visit to China
- Pride in honor of Jerusalem Day: Capital leads in hi-tech field
- Likely that health committee will make all kiosk drugs illegal
The second Israeli air strike in the heart of Syria, the possible consequences and the resulting tension in the north made the big story in today's Israeli newspapers. Meanwhile, Yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister left for China today and today a Turkish delegation arrives for talks on compensation of the nine Turks killed in the Mavi Marmara affair. Meanwhile conflicting Israeli-Palestinian reports (and bad reporting!) over clashes between settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank.
Yesterday, Israeli newspapers proudly reported on what they - and everyone else - assumed was an Israeli attack on an weapons shipment for Hezbollah Syria early Friday morning. Commentators applauded the 'necessary strikes' on the Fatah-110 surface-to-surface missiles, which an Israeli official anonymously told The Associated Press were conventional 'game-changing' weapons. But even as the papers were delivered to doorways early Sunday, another strike had already taken place on the outskirts of Damascus- within just 48-hours from the first. With the exception of Israel Hayom, the analysts today seemed less sure of themselves and of Israel's decision to attack. (See commentary/analysis below.) Sunday morning's attack hit three targets in a northern Damascus suburb and local doctors said over 100 elite Syrian Army soldiers were killed. The US received no early warning on the Israeli strikes in Syria.
Israel had hoped the Syrians would not blame Israel for the attacks, but Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister told CNN Sunday afternoon that this was 'an act of war.' The Syrian security cabinet held an emergency meeting, blamed Israel for the attacks, and announced that they "open the door to all options." The punishment would come at time that Syria chose. Later a report came out that Syria stationed missiles aimed at Israel. Iran said, "It trusts Hezbollah to retaliate." Moreover, Brig. Gen. (Res.) Nitzan Nuriel, former head of the Counter Terrorism Bureau, told Army Radio that Iran and Hezbollah could retaliate for Israel's strikes in Syria by targeting Israeli and Jewish institutions abroad. "Everywhere there is an Iranian embassy, there is usually one person, and probably more, directly involved in planning terrorist activity against Jewish and Israeli targets."
Tension jumped in Israel and Israel put the north on high alert, closing the northern airspace from civilian air traffic and moving two Iron Dome anti-missile batteries to the north: one to Haifa and one to Safed. Israel feared the response could come in the way of rockets from Hezbollah on the Lebanon border or from Syrian in the Golan. Israel also cancelled an annual Home Front drill meant for preparing for a unconventional weapons attack, for fear that simulating a chemical weapons attack and sounding sirens across the country could only make people on the other side of the borders more jumpy.
To help calm things, Netanyahu sent a secret message through diplomatic channels to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to explain that Israel's sole interest was to bar weapons from reaching Hezbollah - not to attack the regime, Yedioth and Haaretz reported. Netanyahu hoped this will make it easier for Assad to avoid responding to the strikes. Yedioth wrote that Israel thinks that Syria does not want to engage Israel in a military conflict.
Still, the tension did not stop Netanyahu from flying yesterday to China. The declared purpose of the five-day trip was to promote economic relations between the two countries. But Netanyahu plans to ask Chinese leaders not to oppose sanctions on Iran, wrote Maariv. (NRG Hebrew) Ten days ago, Military Intelligence Chief Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi made a secret visit to China to discuss Syria and Iran, Haaretz reported. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is also visiting China this week. Senior Chinese officials said they would be happy to hold a summit between Netanyahu and Abbas, although that is unlikely. Their visits were carefully planned so that they never bumped into each other. Ambassador to Israel Gao Yanping told Israel Hayom in a special interview Friday that the relations between the two countries are at an historic milestone and that "China views its relations with Israel with tremendous importance."
It is still unclear what were the targets on Friday morning: some Syrian rebels said it was a site near the border with Lebanon. Others from the Syrian opposition claimed the Israeli Air Force targeted the Damascus airport. US officials told the New York Times that the attack targeted surface-to-surface Fateh-110 missiles stored at a Damascus airport and believed to be intended for Lebanon's Hezbollah. Indeed, an official Syrian news agency reported that rockets started a massive fire at the airport. The US announced it is allocating $60 million to support the rebels.
Interestingly, Senior Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad said Saturday that Hezbollah was not interested in chemical arms. "Hezbollah does not have chemical weapons. We have ways of knowing. They are not keen to take weaponry like this, preferring systems that can cover all of the country (Israel)," he said. [Hezbollah probably does not want to get its hands dirty with them because it doesn't want to lose any legitimacy it has and risk being considered a terror organization by countries that don't already consider it such. - OH] A Hezbollah political official said that Hezbollah won't let Israel and the US take over Syria, while US President Barack Obama already said Saturday that Israel has the right to guard against Hezbollah arms transfer. The Syrian regime accused Israel of bombing a research center near Damascus as well as other targets.) And, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman called Israeli sorties into Lebanon's air space on Thursday as a continuation of Israel's 'policies of aggression' and called for the world to intervene. Ynet has prepared a comparison look at the arsenals of Israel and Hezbollah.
A Turkish delegation arrives today in Jerusalem for the continuation of discussions over the Turkey-Israel reconciliation agreement. The main difficulty is a dispute over how much money Israel will compensate the families of the nine Turks Israeli forces killed on the Mavi Marmara. (NRG Hebrew) There was some progress in the first meeting, during which the two sides agreed the money would be deposited in a Turkish humanitarian fund and it will pay the families, Yedioth wrote. Turkish media reported that Israel agreed to give $6 million, but Israeli sources denied the report. To soften the Turks up, the Israelis have agreed to a request by the Izmir Zoo for animals, Maariv/NRG reported. Israel is sending a large shipment including dozens of zebras, antelope, monkeys and fruit bats, Maariv reported. Meanwhile, former defense minister Ehud Barak landed in Istanbul - the first time a senior Israel official stepped on Turkish land since the Mavi Marmara affair, Yedioth and 972Mag reported.
Maariv, Ynet and Maan reported very differently on violent clashes between settlers and soldiers and Palestinian villagers on Saturday night. Maariv reported that an Israeli settler from Neria settlement is sedated and on a respirator after being struck by 'a dozen Palestinians with sticks' who approached him as he stood quietly demonstrating at 'Doar Junction' after Shabbat was over. [Doar Junction is the settlers name for what the Palestinians call Beir Ayoub - which is the entrance to the village of Ras Karkar. - OH] The demonstration was against the 'declining security situation on the roads of Judea and Samaria.' "According to the protest organizers," wrote Maariv's Amichai Atali, "They did not hurt anyone and the attack was one-sided." There was no mention of any Palestinian injuries. Ynet was somewhat better. It reported that settlers and Palestinians clashed and that 10 people were injured 'near Binyamin settlement.' There is no such settlement, Binyamin is the regional settler council (the Hebrew version has it right) and while the article reports on three injured settlers, there is no mention of the other seven. But, according to Palestinian news agency Maan, it was a very different story. "Hundreds of settlers guarded by Israeli forces entered the Beir Ayoub area at the entrance of the (Ras Karkar) village and clashed with the people there. Townspeople tried to prevent them but their attempts failed. Eight Palestinians were wounded by (Israeli army) rubber-coated metal bullets, one of them in the eye and one in the chest. Settlers attacked three houses and assaulted the occupants of the Beir Ayoub area, setting fire to houses and olive trees in the area. As clashes heated up, mosques began calling on nearby villages and people to help them," Maan wrote. On Sunday, witnesses told Maan that settlers were preparing to raid another village near Ramallah. "A group of extremist settlers gathered early Sunday near the central West Bank village of al-Janiya in northwest Ramallah preparing to storm the village, locals told Ma'an. A witness said...that dozens of settlers escorted by Israeli troops and police officers gathered at the main entrance to the village, while local young men closed the road with rocks trying to prevent the attack. Activists in the village used mosque loudspeakers to urge residents to defend their village."
- **Deputy FM tells Google: Recognition of Palestinian state undermines peace talks - In letter to Google CEO Larry Page, Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin urges company to rescind decision to refer to Palestinian territories as 'Palestine,' arguing that such measures encourage Palestinians to take one-sided actions. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
Settlers attack man near Bethlehem - A group of settlers threw stones at Ahmad al-Zaglool at a road junction near Betar Illit settlement. Al-Zaglool, who is from the nearby village of Husan, was moderately wounded and taken to hospital for treatment. (Maan)
- MKs work to revive 'nation-state' bill - Two MKs seek to remove controversial elements from the scrapped bill and send it back to the Knesset. Original bill called for Jewish religious law and for dropping Arabic as an official language. (Israel Hayom)
- Large chemical weapons drill postponed over tension in north - "Turning Point 7" was scheduled to take place May 26-30. Drill was supposed to address the threat from nonconventional weapons, specifically chemical weapons. (Israel Hayom)
- Danes, Finns upgrade Palestinian diplomatic status - Foreign ministers of Denmark, Finland decide to upgrade status of Palestinian missions in their countries so 'Palestine gets the same status' as other embassies. (Agencies, Ynet)
- US to Israel: Redesigned bomb can destroy Fordo nuke plant - Wall Street Journal reports Americans showed Israeli officials video of Pentagon's advanced 'bunker buster' bomb hitting target to convince Israel not to launch unilateral strike in Iran. (Ynet)
- Former Bush administration official: Israel may be behind use of chemical arms in Syria - Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, says Israel may have conducted 'false flag' operation aimed at implicating Bashar Assad's regime. Describes its government as inept and Netanyahu as 'clueless.' (Haaretz)
- Fayyad denies criticizing Palestinian Authority in New York Times interview - Outgoing Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who was quoted slamming the Palestinian leadership, says was misled by correspondent. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
- British Jewish groups slam Bedouin settlement bill ahead of discussions - While the government seeks to advance legislation of a bill that would see tens of thousands of Bedouin resettled, British Jewish youth groups and Israeli rights organization say the law would unjustly displace thousands. (Israel Hayom)
- Hamas rejects Arab League initiative for Israeli-Palestinian peace - Ismail Haniyeh says outsiders cannot decide the fate of the Palestinians, stressing: 'Palestine is not a property, it is not for sale, not for a swap and cannot be traded.' (Agencies, Haaretz)
- 'Jews shouldn't take God's promise to Abraham literally' - In new report titled "The Inheritance of Abraham? The 'Promised Land,''' the Church of Scotland, once a staunch supporter of the Jews' right to their ancient homeland, says Israel does not belong to the Jewish people. (Israel Hayom)
- 536 pine trees in (E.) Jerusalem get the ax without a permit - When a local resident asked to see the permit for cutting down the trees, workmen showed her a permit that had been issued and then revoked. [The trees are on Har Homa, the controversial neighborhood built on a hill between Jerusalem and Bethelehem over the Green Line - OH] (Haaretz)
- Jerusalem interchange named after Benzion Netanyahu, PM's late father - WATCH: At inaugural ceremony, PM says state is making efforts to connect Jerusalem with rest of Israel; municipality expedites junction's naming process, circumventing city's usual rules. [Of interest, the interchange links two Jewish neighborhoods beyond the Green Line to Hwy 443, which is also in the West Bank. - OH] (Haaretz)
- Video exposed of IDF soldiers defecating on fellow fighter - Video, first discovered by Haaretz, handed over to IDF authorities. Initial investigation suggests incident was not a hazing ritual, but the result of a wager. GOC Northern Command says incident will be treated "severely." (Israel Hayom)
- Atmosphere of terror reigned under Lieberman, says ex-deputy FM - Danny Ayalon, the central witness in the fraud trial against the former foreign minister, says ministry officials still reluctant to speak out against their ex-boss since he may yet return to his post. (Haaretz)
- Some 250 Palestinian tourists conned into illegal trip to Eilat, sent back to West Bank - Travel agency in East Jerusalem apparently lied to tourists about having proper documentation to enter Israel and passed them off as employees of a large Israeli company; Eilat police held the tourists in their hotels until they were escorted back to the West Bank. (Haaretz)
- MK Zoabi blames police of women homicide in Arab sector - Dozens protest women murders in Umm al-Fahm following murder of 29-year-old; Zoabi: Police closes murder cases in Arab sector without reason. (Ynet)
- Israeli man who crossed into Lebanon returns to Israel - Red Cross transfers Ramla resident Simon Sa'adati to IDF custody five days after he illegally entered Lebanon. (Ynet)
- Google de facto recognizes the state of Palestine - The name 'Palestinian territories' is changed to 'Palestine' across all Google products; Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman says Google shouldn't get involved in international politics. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Tapuach terror victim's widow lashes at IDF general - Tzofia Borovsky calls Brig. Gen. Nitzan Alon 'heartless, talented hater' after razing of outpost commemorating husband murdered this week. (Ynet)
- Disabled Gaza toddler lives in Israeli hospital - Abandoned by his parents and the Palestinian Authority, 3-year-old Mohammed al-Farra, whose hands and feet were amputated, has known just one home: the yellow-painted children's ward in Tel Hashomer hospital. (Israel Hayom)
- At least 62 bodies found in Syria's Banias - Assad's forces raid Sunni city, kill dozens of civilians including 14 children in second massacre in area this week; dozens still missing. (Agencies, Ynet)
- Syrian president visits Damascus university - In second rare public appearance this week, amid reports of Israeli attack, Bashar Assad inaugurates Damascus University statue in honor of 'martyrs' killed in civil war. (Ynet)
An Israel against peace is a danger to its citizens (Friday Haaretz Editorial) The past few days suggest most members of Israel's new government regard every new initiative for advancing the peace process as a threat that must be repulsed. Such a government is a threat to its citizens.
The government vs. the Knesset (Sunday Haaretz Editorial) Avigdor Lieberman calls his proposal to raise the threshold for a party to enter the Knesset "strengthening governability," but it sounds more like the tyranny of the majority and weakening the checks and balances inherent in the Israeli system of government.
Getting rid of the nationalism disease (Salman Masalha, Haaretz) Nationalism is a human illness; the path to recovery is the establishment of two separate national entities - Israel and Palestine.
Anat Kamm, the forgotten Antigone (Yitzhak Laor, Haaretz) Kamm is an exceptional hero. She went so far, even farther than the few who refuse to serve and occasionally stand up to challenge the occupation, disappearing below the horizon of the obvious. She did not refuse to act. She acted and paid dearly.
The left could win a referendum (Don Futterman, Haaretz) A referendum on a future peace settlement would polarize Israel, but at least the two-state solution camp would have to get up out of their self-righteousness and fight to win hearts and minds - and a campaign budget.
Lieberman veers left (Aryeh Eldad, Haaretz) Lieberman's has long abandnoned his refusal to establish a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River. He is ready to give up even his own house in the West Bank settlement of Nokdim, he once announced.
Arab initiative - so what? (Hagai Segal, Yedioth/Ynet) All Mideast peace plans begin with triumphant speeches on US lawns and end with pools of blood deep inside Israel.
Golda Meir's memories (Amir Oren, Haaretz) In order to demonstrate just how dramatic the missed opportunity was at the end of Golda Meir's time as prime minister - after the Yom Kippur War, no less - here's a transcript of a secret conversation they had on March 1, 1974.
Loose lips (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom) Eventually, Olmert and Dagan will realize the damage their chatter had caused.
My high school reunion: We're a messed up generation (Gideon Levy, Haaretz) No single role model, not an intellectual, not a warrior, nor a politician. Class of 71, you children of the heart of the city and country: The group picture at the halfway point, is drab and depressing.
An illusion called territory (Dror Eydar, Israel Hayom) The conflict is not about territory. The Arab nations have territory in abundance. Israel's very existence poses a heretical, defiant challenge to the Muslim world, its beliefs and values.
Bull in the Knesset's china shop (Uri Misgav, Haaretz) You can't lead a peace process and instill it in people's hearts if you don't know how to lead.
Despite new Arab League initiative, resumption of Israeli-Palestinian talks is nowhere in sight (Barak Ravid, Haaretz) Netanyahu continues to demand that negotiations begin with issues of security and the Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and opposes talks on the basis of the 1967 borders with territorial exchanges.
The imaginary invalid (Gonen Ginat, Israel Hayom) The sudden epidemic that mysteriously afflicted dozens of train drivers was about as real as the new Arab League land-swap peace initiative.
On the Israeli strikes in Syria:
Israeli force must be used with discretion (Haaretz Editorial) The Israeli government must make sure that its military operations will not spark an escalation that could set the whole region aflame.
With each strike, Israel both pressures Assad to respond and risks a blunder (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz) According to foreign media reports, Israel's recent attacks went well. But what will happen next time there's intelligence informationa bout attempted weapons transfers to Lebanon? One must assume there will be a next time, because neither Iran nor Hezbollah wants to see those advanced weapons in rebel hands.
Israel's northern front isn't quiet anymore: Will Damascus retaliate? (Amos Harel, Haaretz Sunday) For more than two years, Israel has avoided the troubled waters of the changing Arab world. The recent attacks in Syria may herald the end of that period.
Assad's dilemma: Blame Israeli strike on rebels or retaliate and risk open war (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz) Other options also don't bode well: Retaliating through Hezbollah wouldn't stop the Syrian uprising and is liable to expose Iran's limited ability to help its Lebanese ally now that Syria can't serve as a logistical base.
Syria: The silence of the wolves (Oudeh Basharat, Haaretz Sunday) There is nothing surprising about the chilling worldwide silence that accompanies the massacre in Syria. In nature, each wolf outlines his territory. Unluckily for Syria, it is located in the Russian wolf's territory.
Juxtaposition of Israeli action and U.S. inaction on Syria puts more pressure on Obama (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz) Damascus bombings highlight perception that Obama is walking away from red line that he drew in the Syrian sand. But if he acts and things go wrong, Israel will share the blame.
From Khartoum to Damascus (Boaz Bismuth, Israel Hayom Sunday) Israel's reported strikes in Syria send a message to all those who claim we want to drag America into a war. On the contrary, we can do the job ourselves. In Syria, or anywhere else.
A message to Iran (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom Sunday) The message is that Israel will go anywhere (Sudan, the Gaza Strip, Syria and Lebanon) to fight against Iran's efforts to arm Israel's enemies.
Fighting Iran on all fronts (Vice Adm. (res.) Eliezer Marom, Israel Hayom) From terrorist groups on its borders to far-off arenas of operation, Israel is forced to fight an enemy it never chose.
The West does not really want to intervene (Dr. Ronen Yitzhak, Israel Hayom) This is Obama's moment of truth. The lack of an appropriate military response in Syria will prove to the world, and especially to Iran, that his threats hold no weight.
Israel taking a necessary risk (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom) The West is using Israel as a mercenary to undermine Assad's regime and to that end, it is willing to back the IAF's strikes in Syria.
Next strike not far off (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom) Even when the current tension dissipates, the shadow war will continue.
When it comes to Syria and Hezbollah, Israel is walking a tightrope (Amos Harel, Haaretz) Israel is standing by its red line declarations that no chemical or advanced weapons fall into Hezbollah's hands, and ensuring that the internal Syrian strife does not become a conflict between it and Assad.
When deterrence is lacking (Alex Fishman, Yedioth Sunday) ...The more that the Syrian regime is falling apart, the rate of convoys will increase - and with it the rate of targeted attacks. Hezbollah is making every effort to transfer from Syria as many arms as possible. Today, more than ever, it is taking the chance that the convoys will be discovered and attacked, because the other option is abandoning the equipment in Syria. ..Assad is no longer a threat - his dependence on Hezbollah is so high that he cannot refuse them...(The writer says that Hezbollah and Syria ignored Israeli 'warnings' - the warning being when Israeli Air Force jets flew over Lebanon they were signaling not to transfer weapons to Lebanon.) And when there is no deterrence, there is no choice but to attack. When speaking of the flow of weapons from Syria to Hezbollah that are defined by Israel as 'game-changing,' Israel won't cooperate with the Americans. We will inform them a very short time before the special operation, but not include them in the decisions. That is unlike decisions on hitting strategic facilities...Not everyone in the US administration likes that independence, and its possible that is the reason for the leaks declaring the Israeli strike, like the one at the end of January, which came from US officials. We can assume that since the Syrian civil war became catatonic, Israel is focusing a greater intelligence effort in order to understand where the Syrian weapons are flowing, conventional and chemical. The focused effort will naturally bring more information and more targets. Israel did not succeed in the past to thwart a great number of weapons from being smuggled to Lebanon. Hezbollah was smart enough and chose a timing that made it difficult to attack the convoys, like when weather was particularly difficult. But the main problem concerning Israel now is not the amount, but the quality of the rockets and missiles. There is a group of missiles held by the Syrian army that has the ability to be precise, even in a range of hundreds of kilometers and also with a particularly heavy missile head that can hold chemical materials. We're speaking of a missiles that were they to hit strategic Israeli centers could be critical...The central consideration before giving an approval for an attack is not just its likelihood to succeed - but the price and the reaction. The plan of action, in my opinion, must be that the enemy can deny its existence and not be obligated to react. Another prerequisite is that civilians are not harmed, which would not only be diplomatically harmful, but also raise the likelihood of a conflict. Another question is what types of weapons justify taking a chance of entering a conflict...
Amid endless chatter on Syria's chemical weapons, Israel's defense minister emerges as the responsible adult (Amos Harel, Haaretz Sunday) While former Premier Ehud Olmert and other politicians have been prattling about various issues, including Assad's arsenal, Ya'alon dealt quite deftly with the media uproar over the surprise IDF exercise in the north.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.