APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday, March 12, 2012
Quote of the day:
"I never hid my opposition to the shooting of missiles at Israel. I opposed in the past the shooting of Lebanese rockets at Israel and I continue to oppose it unequivocally. But in a completely immoral manner Israel justifies the killing of civilians, claiming that someone hid behind the armed men and then they fired."
--MK Ahmed Tibi responding to right-wing politicians ire for his Facebook status update.**
Front Page News:
- Egyptian effort to achieve ceasefire in south
- Amos Harel / Egyptian feeling (English edition title: Behind the scenes, both Israel and Hamas want violence to end)
- Burial at 'civil' cemetery in center of country will cost thousands of shekels due to procrastination
- Doctors and nurses at Hadassah hospital admit: we are partly to blame for patient violence
- Osem gave sponsorship and the Bamba baby (icon of a popular snack) was chosen as Israel's new Olympic mascot
- Getting to a ceasefire - Egypt tries to bring calm, Iran pushes to continue shooting. While Islamic Jihad increases the rate of rockets, Egypt and Hamas are trying to bring an end to the round of escalation
- Alex Fishman / Running in place
- Another resident (of 'Big Brother') revealed: "I also took pills"
- Last night: Advanced contacts for ceasefire in south (Hebrew)
- State will compensate parents who stayed home with children (Hebrew)
- Questions and Answers: Must I go to work? Law says employers and union must determine compensation for employees forced to stay home from work (due to violence)
- Rabbi Druckman: I am sorry that I did not report to the police - Rabbi responded to petition to deny him the Israel Prize for Life Achievement (Hebrew)
- Ramle resident shot while walking dog - 6 youth arrested on suspicion of killing George Abdo, father of five, for nationalistic reasons
- Basis for ceasefire: "Quiet will be answered with quiet" - Netanyahu accuses: Iran is behind Islamic Jihad's rocket attacks
- Yoav Limor / Calm, or Golani Brigades will enter the Gaza Strip
- Dan Margalit / The goal: Renew the ceasefire
- Our Olympic mascot: The Bamba baby
For the third day straight Israeli newspapers covered the human aspect resulting from the violence between Gaza and Israel - that is, on the Israeli side. The empathy of Arab members of Knesset for the Palestinians in Gaza raised the ire of right-wing MKs also made the news. Angry Egyptian MPs voted to recall their ambassador from Israel and end gas sales to the Jewish statejust as Egypt appointed a new ambassador to Tel-Aviv. Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas plans to send a letter with an ultimatum to Israel's premier out of frustration over the freeze in the peace process and a freelance American-Israeli journalist caught on video soldiers throwing a tear gas grenade at a group of Palestinians by-standers, but the soldiers deny it.
After nearly 200 rockets fell in Israel and 37 Israeli air strikes killed 26 Palestinians in Gaza, including four civilians, a cease-fire deal between Islamic Jihad and Israel that was negotiated through Egypt and Hamas was to take effect at 1AM local time last night. Five mortars were shot at Israel this morning, but the IDF has not responded. Haaretz has a timeline of the rockets shot at Israel over the last year. As it always does, the IDF blamed the civilian deaths on the Palestinians, whose fighters often shoot from populated areas. And while the IDF warned that continued fire could prompt a ground invasion, commentators such as Haaretz's Amos Harel wrote that both Hamas and Israel are interested in the ceasefire. Not only Islamic Jihad fired rockets, but members of Fatah, said IDF officials. IDF claimed that Iran was encouraging Islamic Jihad to continue to fire. This would not be the first time Hamas' archrival has participated in attacks on Israel to put Hamas in a difficult spot. The IDF said that the high number of rockets launched from Gaza is a "dramatic development in terms of the quantity and rate of the fire.” They were medium-range and the IDF saw no indication of attempts to target central Israel with long-range rockets. The Israeli papers discussed at length how the violence in the south affected the children, the local businesses, and the working parents.
The reactions of Arab MKs to the Israeli attacks on Gaza also made the news. In the Knesset, emotions ran high as Arab MKs accused Israel of instigating the Gaza fighting. "Israeli blood is no purer than Palestinian blood,” MK Jamal Zahalka said to Minister for Home Front Defense Matan Vilnai. And when MK Ahmed Tibi wrote on his Facebook page, 'Oh Gazans, be strong' right-wing MKs called for him to be dismissed from the Knesset, Israel Hayom reported. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reacted saying, "Tibi's identification with Gaza, even hinting, is a grave thing, even very grave."MK (Likud) Danny Danon asked the Attorney General to dismiss Tibi from the Knesset and MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) presented a bill to end the term of MKs supporting, as per her definition, the armed struggle against Israel. Tibi responded to the attacks saying, "I never hid my opposition to the shooting of missiles at Israel. I opposed in the past the shooting of Lebanese rockets at Israel and I continue to oppose unequivocally. But in a completely immoral manner Israel justifies the killing of civilians, claiming that someone hid behind the armed men and then they fired. I oppose the harming of civilians and I oppose the harming of people under occupation. For this people need to be ashamed, especially people like Danny Danon." Ynet also has a piece on it here.
The Israeli parliament was not the only one up in arms over the Gaza-Israel fighting. Haaretz and Ynet reported that Egypt's parliament unanimously voted in support of expelling Israel's ambassador in Cairo and halting gas exports. The motion is largely symbolic, because only the ruling Military Council can make such decisions. Yet, on the same day, Egypt appointed Amb. Atef Salem as its new ambassador to Tel-Aviv, Yedioth reported. He was previously the Consul-General in Eilat and he replaces Yasser Ridda.
Frustrated by the stalled peace process Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his advisers are preparing a letter to be delivered to Netanyahu, most likely by the end of the week, that will put the blame on Netanyahu for the freeze in the peace process and will pose an ultimatum to Netanyahu. For more details about the ultimatum see Haaretz's article here.
Meanwhile, new journalist-turned-politician Yair Lapid said yesterday that "The Palestinians right now are not ready to make peace with us," Maariv's NRG Hebrew site reported. Speaking at a business-academic forum at Tel-Aviv university meeting, he said, "Of course everyone in this country knows what needs to be given, and we all know how it will end, but what we don't know is when that will happen and how many will die till then...I don't want to control three and a half million Palestinians because I'm an Israeli patriot, and I don't want a state for all its citizens because I want a Jewish state." (Maariv's NRG Hebrew)
Jewish American-Israeli photojournalist Mati Milstein caught on video Israeli border police tossing a gas grenade at Palestinians who were not doing anything. The Border Police claims the clip was staged, but I know Mati - he's an honest man and a very good journalist.
- 15-year-old [Palestinian] boy killed in latest airstrike on Gaza (Maan)
- Israeli delegation cannot travel to U.S after MK Ben Ari denied entry visa - Knesset speaker banned MK delegation after National Union MK Ben Ari's application was denied based on State Department's prerogative to ban terrorists from U.S. (Haaretz)
- Six teenage [Arab] boys arrested on suspicion of killing Ramle man - Sa'adi's son said that, in his last moments, his father told the friend who found him that "they shot me because of Gaza." (Haaretz)
- No fear: Students take exam under fire - More than 70 Beersheba students decide to ignore rockets, show up for exams. (Ynet)
- Israel lets aid into Gaza - Gaza border crossings to remain open for delivery of goods, medical care. (Ynet)
- Fourth Iron Dome battery to be deployed in April (Israel Hayom)
- Lieberman: Iran provides oxygen to Gaza terror groups (Haaretz)
- Young lives spared as students in south stay home from school (Israel Hayom)
- Lessons canceled in northern Gaza amid Israeli strikes (Maan)
- Study: Palestinian children struggle to cope after Israeli detention - According to the study released by Save the Children Sweden and YMCA-East Jerusalem, 90.6% of detained children suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after release. (Maan)
- Palestinians put fabricated photos against the IDF on internet - Photo of girl killed in car accident six years ago and of casualties from Operation Cast Lead in 2009 were presented on internet as if from the present IDF attack on Gaza. (Maariv, p. 6 and NRG Hebrew)
- Air crisis between (Israeli) Arkia Airlines and Turkey - The Israeli airline requested to begin the new Tel-Aviv-Anatalya flights with armed guards and to provide a room for questioning suspicious passengers. Turkish authorities refused. (Yedioth, p. 42)
- Anger in Egypt: Israeli flag waved on soccer field - Port Said soccer team fans waved Israeli flag with written demand to release their friends detained by local authorities following deadly clashes after soccer game over a month ago. (Maariv, p. 14)
- 2 Israeli Arabs, Ukrainian get life for arms smuggling (Ynet)
- Report: 2 Israelis arrested after 'discussing Iran' on flight -Passengers on flight from Las Vegas to London arrested after making 'repeated inappropriate and threatening comments' about Iran, armed police meet plane on landing. (Ynet)
- Record number of tourists visit Israel in February - Some 232,000 foreign tourists visit in February - 6% more than February 2011, 4% more than February 2010. (Haaretz)
- Israeli actor cast as al-Qaeda terrorist in Indie film (Ynet)
- Dozens of Syrian women and children killed in Homs; state and opposition trade blame (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Iran insists Parchin is not nuclear site, but agrees to let IAEA inspect (Agencies, Haaretz)
In Israeli military, a growing orthodoxy Roni Daniel, a former infantry commander and a present-day defense correspondent, recently visited military headquarters in Tel Aviv. There, a urinal that uses a motion detector to clean itself was signposted: "Forbidden on the Sabbath". Troops, he realized, were being ordered to defer to Orthodox Jewish curbs on the use of electricity between Friday night and Saturday night. (Reuters piece on Maan)
Jewish architect Marc Mimram has come up with a radical plan to link the Palestinian Authority areas The Frenchman believes his 37 kilometer bridge could benefit everyone, including Israel. (Haaretz)
From Gaza to the West Bank: crossing the rubicon The significance of Israel's recognition of the Gaza Strip and West Bank as one territory is primarily legal and political, the achievement of a nationalist organization striving to prepare for statehood. (Haaretz)
War in Israel's south will not defeat Gaza terror (Haaretz Editorial) Was it really necessary, after a long period of calm, to embroil Israel in a war that paralyzes the lives of a million civilians?
Gaza presses Israel (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) Terror groups boost rate of rocket fire in order to press Israel to agree to ceasefire terms.
Netanyahu's 'catastrophe law' prevents an Iran strike (Nehemia Strassler, Haaretz) The politician understands that in order to prevent a future catastrophe, he must generate a small crisis immediately.
Netanyahu's Holocaust-based rationale (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz) Netanyahu knew he'd be attacked for evoking the Holocaust, but saw the political benefits. Seven years after the government decided to evacuate outposts, their construction continues.
Israel, between Serbia and Kosovo (Adar Primor, Haaretz) Serbia has generated dichotomous associations in recent years: At one end stands the best tennis player in the world, and on the other the most notorious war criminal Europe has known since World War II.
One more victory like this... (Uri Misgav, Haaretz) Israelis are captives in the existing situation and are accepting it submissively; an entire nation, which upon its establishment was an example to the world of initiative, is now making do with 'containing the events' or 'managing the conflict.'
Behind the scenes, both Israel and Hamas want violence to end (Amos Harel, Haaretz) Iron Dome success elicits exaggerated sense of confidence among some Israelis; IDF shows improvement in coordinating intelligence and the air force, increasing precision of strikes to result in relatively few civilian casualties.
Israel and Hamas have a common interest (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom) Israel and Hamas both want a cease-fire, for different reasons.
The reasons behind Islamic Jihad’s incessant rocket fire at Israel (Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz)The clear goal of the Islamic Jihad is to show Hamas up and shore up its position in its competition with the rulers of Gaza.
Jews must fight evil (Donniel Hartman, Ynet) Targeted killings of terror leaders are moral acts in line with Jewish value of self-defense.
Say no to surgical strikes (Yakir Elkariv, Ynet) Assassinating senior terrorists is morally right, but paralyzes much of the country.
Israel's secret power (Rubik Danilovich, Israel Hayom) The most vital component of Israel's deterrence is our solidarity.
Preparing for entering - Dome of illusions (Shmuel Zakai, Yedioth) "The current round of fighting in the south and the relative success of Iron Dome are liable to create a dangerous illusion to the effect that this system can resolve the complex problem that Israel is destined to deal with in the near future." Zakai, a former IDF Gaza Division commander, notes the new situation that has been created in Sinai after the fall of the Mubarak regime and believes that, "The government must internalize the fact that there is a new situation in the south. The export of terrorism to Sinai requires a much more effective defensive alignment so that it would be possible to foil attempted terrorist attacks not just by striking at the organizations' leaders (successors always pop up immediately)." Zakai cautions that, "Without a well-conceived attack initiative, Israel is liable to be dragged – within a short time – into additional escalations."
Quiet, we're shooting (Yehuda Sharoni, Maariv and NRG Hebrew) "The conflict in the south guarantees that the defense budget will not only not be cut, but will be increased...The cost of Iron Dome is about $50 million, each missile costs $100,000. At the moment three domes are operating and soon there will be a fourth. In 2013 there will be two more...When people say 'Quiet, we're shooting' all the voices of criticism on the expansion of the defense budget disappear...In the last round of (social justice) protest, they wished that the defense budget would shrink and the leftover would be used as a sources for social services, education, and society. Even Barak promised to help the protest. Promises and reality are different...Is there any chance that the budget priorities will ever change? If they do the messiah will die before the defense minister calls the finance minister and tells him there is no need to increase the budget because the IDF succeeded in dealing with its budget. A real defense budget cut is possible only with a finance minister who has political power. And that's possible when the prime minister is also the defense minister (e.g. Yitzhak Rabin), such a prime minister can force himself to make the cut necessary. There is another option: Ehud Barak becomes prime minister and Binyamin Netanyahu becomes defense minister."
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.