News Nosh 06.23.15

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday June 23, 2015 

Quote of the day:
״Now what? Now let's stop telling ourselves our narrative, and let's deal with some of the claims."
--Senior Maariv political commentator Ben Caspit writes today that the UN report on Operation Protective Edge was "balanced and restrained."


Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • The hypocritical report – UN: Israel and Hamas suspected of war crimes
  • A bad place in the middle // Nahum Barnea
  • The report and the reality // Alex Fishman
  • Mega-fraud // Ben-Dror Yemini
  • The IDF’s dilemma // Yossi Yehoshua 
  • Lynch on military ambulance
  • Breaking the conspiracy of silence – Chilling testimonies from inside the ultra-Orthodox community about people who dare to complain about pedophiles against the rabbis’ orders
  • Square of anger – Ethiopian-Israeli demonstration in Tel-Aviv got out of control
  • The race for an apartment – what is likely to happen to the housing market after acquisition tax is raised beginning tomorrow
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • The (UN) report and the (Israeli) anger
  • Lynch in the Golan Heights: Druze stoned an ambulance that brought injured Syrians to Israel
  • The train left the station – Transportation Ministry gives timetable for building the Tel-Aviv light rail
  • About six years // Talia Levine
  • Interest rate remained 0.1%
Israel Hayom

News Summary:
Israel slams a damning UN report on Operation Protective Edge as biased - but some Israeli commentators have a different take, and Golan Druze attack an IDF ambulance and kill an injured Syrian making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers. Meanwhile, the Knesset was in an uproar over the UN report on the Gaza war and over the Israeli MK joining a humanitarian flotilla to Gaza.
 
The UN Human Rights Council commission charged with investigating last summer’s Gaza war found evidence of war crimes by both Israel and Hamas and urged the international community to use the report to support a separate investigation at The Hague into the status of occupied Palestinian territories. The report found that one third of those killed in Gaza were children, but also noted the effect that 'indiscriminate rocket fire' had on Israeli civilians. Nevertheless, “The extent of the devastation and human suffering in Gaza was unprecedented and will impact generations to come," said the commission's chief, former US judge Mary McGowan Davis. (Full text of UN report here.) The report also suggested that Israel doesn't do enough to investigate and punish alleged war crimes, and that Israel must "break with its lamentable track record" and hold perpetrators accountable. It called on Israel to release details regarding its 'targeting decisions.’ Both Israel and Hamas rejected the accusations against them, although Hamas was satisfied with the findings against Israel.
 
Israel accused the UNHRC of having a 'singular obsession with Israel.’ The pro-Netanyahu tabloid, Israel Hayom, called the findings “absurd," listing “Hamas warning Israeli citizens before shooting, calling terror tunnels legitimate, and (declaring that) the IDF used human shields.” The paper said the report “Gave rights to terror.” Israel also did not like being compared to Hamas. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said the report was biased and that it incites and foments against Israel.

**But numerous senior Israeli analysts had a very different take on the report. In a very powerful piece, Maariv’s top political commentator Ben Caspit wrote the UN report was “balanced, restrained and avoided placing guilt too explicitly, it distanced itself from labels and sweeping recommendations by using a great deal words of reservation, and it almost evenly divided its criticism between Israel and Hamas (although Hamas was not mentioned by name). Come let’s not disparage that. If in the Goldstone Report, Hamas overwhelmingly defeated Israel, in the current report it’s a draw. In the sequence of reports following Goldstone, the Operation Protective Edge report is not bad.” Caspit agreed with the UN statement that the Hamas tunnels were not “terror tunnels” because it was “a fact” that they were used solely for attacking the IDF even when they could have been used for attacking civilians. He also wrote that “the IDF had clear information that Hamas was only using the tunnels against military targets” and told him so.  “Hamas terrorists could have entered (Nahal Oz) kibbutz, but they attacked a military base,” he wrote. Caspit writes that the report suggests that if Israel had cooperated instead of boycotting it could have influenced the outcome. He calls on Israelis to "stop telling ourselves our own narrative and start dealing with some of the claims." He commended Israel for not attacking the Judge, as it did in the case of the Goldstone Report. "It's time to try and be a little smarter and a little less righteous. Rules are rules, you should adapt to them. The present report demonstrates for the first time that the game is not completely sold. That we can affect the outcome." [Note: Caspit is no leftie. He has written that he generally voted for Likud or Yesh Atid. - OH] Haaretz's Amos Harel, Maariv's Yossi Melman, and Yedioth's Nahum Barnea also wrote that Israel needs to examine some of the claims of war crimes. (See Commentary/Analysis below.)
 
The report sparked a furious debate at the Knesset plenum during a motion of no confidence. Far-right-wing Education Minister Naftali Bennett said the report was stained with blood for allowing the murder of Jews, but he sparked a storm when he attacked Israeli left-wing (human rights) organizations, Maariv’s Arik Bender reported. He noted that the report’s allegations of war crimes came from testimonies provided by Israeli human rights organizations, Btselem and Breaking the Silence. “We're so good at harming ourselves,” said Bennett from the podium. “Those organizations such as B'Tselem, the New Israel Fund, Breaking the Silence. After all, if the world misses some war crime (accusation) to invent for us – we have among us those who will invent it by themselves.” Bennett said the solution is the ‘NGOs bill.’ “Those who try to turn our soldiers into war criminals - and with foreign funding - we need to stop them, and now.” Then far-right-wing Habayit Hayehudi MK Sharon Gal took the podium and railed against MK Hanin Zouebi, as he had promised to do before the elections. At the end of his speech, he looked at MK Zouebi and said: “When a picture is shown of a four-year-old boy at the Knesset, you sit still. Learn to sit quietly and respect our murdered, you cheeky person." Directly thereafter a commotion began in the Knesset, as MK Zouebi shouted and demanded that MK Gal apologize and retract his remarks, but the latter refused. And even despite the request of the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, Yitzhak Vaknin, who asked that he choose his words in a softer way, MK Gal did not recant.
 
Interestingly, Maariv’s military affairs reporter Noam Amir reported that the IDF Military Advocate General’s (MAG) Office continues to receive complaints about events that took place during Operation Protective Edge. Right now, on the MAG's desk still lays file about ‘Black Friday’ in Rafah, which recounts serious allegations about mass killing in retaliation for the incident in Rafah in which Lt. Hadar Goldin was killed and kidnapped. Until now, 190 complaints of war crimes were filed and only one person was indicted - for allegedly looting a Palestinian home in Gaza.
 
MKs weren’t the only ones to attack Breaking the Silence for its contribution of soldiers’ testimonies on human rights violations to the report. The comedy duo, Shai and Dror, who make surprise phone calls to Israelis in the news, called Yuli Novak, the CEO of Breaking the Silence, and asked about her work, Maariv reported.
Novak: "Dozens of officers and soldiers who fought in Operation Protective Edge, came to us after the operation. They talked about a policy that, from their point of view, was ‘crazy', ‘unreasonable' and about ‘things they did not come across before,’ and we released their testimonies.”
Dror: "You crossed lines and went and told about it to foreigners. That’s where you apparently lost the relative legitimacy that you had in Israel…”
Novak:...
Shai: “But why do you rat us in the world? You contribute to the wrong side of the debate.”
Novak: “I think exactly the opposite of you. This debate about the conduct of the IDF, IDF policy that Israel conducted abroad, unfortunately there is another voice there." (Maariv with audio recording)
 
Angry Druze on the Israeli-occupied side of the Golan attacked an IDF ambulance carrying wounded Syrians, killing one of them. The Druze oppose the fact that the IDF has been helping wounded Syrians without checking if they are members of rebel organizations, including those threatening their Syrian brethren. Yedioth wrote that “the IDF did not learn a lesson” because this was second such attack on an IDF ambulance in 24 hours. (Ynet has photos of the incident.) Netanyahu condemned the attack saying that the state would not let residents “take the law into their own hands.”
 
Meanwhile, the Knesset House Committee is holding a special session today to discuss whether to suspend MK Basel Ghattas from the Knesset the moment he steps aboard the ship, which is part of the flotilla to the Gaza Strip. Ghattas says this is a humanitarian act and that Israel must end the siege on Gaza, while right-wing MKs see him as a traitor and his participation as a terrorist act. Ghattas called his critics "hypocrites," saying they were "trying to make headlines at my expense. I want to remind them that Israel apologized over the Marmara affair" (when Israel hijacked a ship to Gaza and killed nine Turks on board.” Tomorrow the Knesset plenum will hold a special session on the matter and Culture Minister Miri Regev appealed to the Attorney General to revoke Ghattas’ immunity if the goes on the ship. [Meanwhile, alleged drug-taking, prostitute-pimping MK Oren Hazan remains in the Knesset, only suspended from his position as Deputy Speaker. - OH]

Quick Hits:
  • Israel advances 'softer' force-feeding bill aimed at hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners - Country's doctors slam proposal, with leading medical ethics expert calling it 'insane.' (Haaretz+)
  • Palestinian sentenced to 17 months jail over Facebook posts - Israeli judge sentenced Uday Mufid Ibrahim Bayomi on charges of incitement based on posts he made about Israel on Facebook. No information given about the posts. (Maan)
  • Minus shackles, Israeli trial of Palestinian lawmaker opens - The defense attorney for Khalida Jarrar, who denies all charges, demands to know if material from her confiscated computers is being used as evidence. (Haaretz+)
  • In secret meeting, Israel and Turkey renew reconciliation talks - Foreign Ministry director general Dore Gold met with his Turkish counterpart at a rendezvous in Rome, kept secret from national security advisers. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Defense Ministry gives in to rabbis' request, nixes female performers at IDF event - Event honored students finishing pre-army preparatory programs; students also complained that women speakers weren't allowed to address ceremony. (Haaretz+) 
  • Israeli settlers chop down 70 olive trees in Salfit and fence off Palestinian land in Jammain, Nablus - Palestinian farmers said the trees, which lay close to Ariel and Tapuah settlements, were cut down with chainsaws. In Jammain, "Palestinian land owners are unable to access their lands, as they have been fenced off with barbed wire. Settlers have planted trees in these areas to reinforce their control over the area." (Maan)
  • 4 injured in East Jerusalem clashes - Locals said Israeli forces fired stun grenades at a group of men near Damascus Gate, which sparked clashes that extended inside the Old City just as worshipers were leaving Al-Aqsa Mosque. Meanwhile, Israeli forces raided al-Issawiya neighborhood after Palestinian youths allegedly threw a firebomb at a police patrol. (Maan)
  • Stop funding 'racist' Beitar Jerusalem, former soccer star urges Israel - Rifaat Turk insists authorities put club's leaders on trial over reluctance to hire Muslim, Arab players; threatens to approach FIFA, EUFA. (Haaretz+)
  • NFL Hall of Famers receive warm welcome in Jerusalem - Jewish billionaire and New England Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, sponsored and accompanied 19 former football stars on week-long "Touchdown in Israel: Mission of Excellence" event. Israeli ambassador to U.S.: Football stars are loved, they are like a year's worth of public diplomacy. (Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • Wounded soldiers raise millions in emotional meeting - Almost a year after the war, the most seriously wounded soldiers from Operation Protective Edge convene to thank the hospital staff that saved their lives. (Ynet)
  • Al-Midan theater: We'll turn to European Union for funding - In reaction to culture minister's decision to freeze funds to Arab theater, which staged play about Israeli-Arab terrorist, a meeting of Arab artists and MKs says it will seek funds from the EU. (Ynet
  • Israeli Arab family of 5 suspected of joining ISIS- - 
  • Relatives who alerted Israeli authorities say family flew to Romania and plan to reach Syria. Mayor of Sahknin, their Galilee town: 'They were brainwashed.' (Haaretz+) 
  • Israeli women’s group urges boycott Chris Brown’s July concert - R&B singer-dancer was convicted of attacking then-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009. Israel Women's Network says shunning Rishon Letzion gig would act to 'stop rewarding these violent men.' (Haaretz+) 
  • Strategic report shows degree of concern about Israel’s future - The National Economic Council has highlighted the weak links the state must address if it wants to prosper – including tackling discrimination against Arab men, a north-south divide and the treatment of nongraduates. (Haaretz+)
  • Abbas: No place for Hamas in new government - French FM says Palestinian president wants new government to include only those who recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept Quarter principles. (Agencies, Ynet and Maan)
  • Western-backed former Palestinian PM accused of money laundering - Former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad denies wrongdoing, yet assets have been frozen. (Haaretz)
  • Israel returns 19 confiscated Gaza fishing boats - In April, Israel returned 15 boats, in what Palestinian fishermen said was the first time Israel had given vessels back. But Gaza Fisherman's Union Chief criticized frequent Israeli attacks on local fishermen. (Maan)
  • Egypt digging trench along Gaza border to stop smuggling - The 20-meter deep trench, through which all entering vehicles and people must pass, will help prevent the use of tunnels to bring goods across the border. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Middle East Updates / Blast in Egypt's restive Sinai region wounds police - More than 20 air strikes by Arab forces hit targets controlled by Houthi rebels across Yemen late on Sunday. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • India representative office marks International Yoga Day in Ramallah - The Representative Office of India on Sunday celebrated the first ever International Yoga Day at the Farashe Yoga Center in Ramallah. Farashe Yoga has also trained dozens of individuals that teach the practice of Yoga in various Palestinian towns and villages. (Maan)
  • Turkish Jewish community hosts 700 for Iftar dinner - Community thanks Edirne residents for their support in reopening a newly-restored synagogue, the Hurriyet Daily News reports. (Haaretz)
  • Al-Jazeera journalist detained in Germany on Egyptian warrant released - Ahmed Mansour was convicted in absentia by a Cairo court of torturing a lawyer, a charge his lawyers and reporters' groups call politically motivated. (Agencies, Haaretz)


Features:
Behind the scenes of Jordan's discreet ties with Israel
A new Jordanian think tank that focuses on Israel is tucked away on the seventh floor of a glass-fronted Amman office building, without a sign announcing the presence of the Center for Israel Studies. Israel needs Jordan as a security buffer while Jordan needs Israel's water and economic stability. (Sam McNeil, The Associated Press, Haaretz)
Fire vs. the holy: At the Church that was arsoned, they still believe in coexistence here
Burned books, chairs that melted in the fire and a history of unsolved incidents of vandalism against holy sites of other religions. A visit to the Church of the Loaves and Fishes (Church of Multitudes) proved that at one of the most important places to Christianity in the country they still hope that this was the last crime. (Eyal Levy, Maariv)

Commentary/Analysis:
UN report finds: Israel's 'roof-knock' warning no way to prevent civilian casualties (Ilene Prusher, Haaretz+) For many Gazans, there's no way to tell an Israeli warning from the real thing, not to mention the little time left to flee before airstrike comes. 
Not a fixed game: UN report on Operation Protective Edge was balanced (Ben Caspit, Maariv) The report that was presented in Geneva on the recent conflict in Gaza was balanced and demonstrated for the first time that Israel could influence the findings. The onslaught against it by the best of our country was ridiculous. It seemed as if they wrote their response before they read the report.
Netanyahu's Ramadan 'greeting' to Israeli Muslims - in a word: obscene (Bradley Burston, Haaretz+) This is the greeting, to all of us: A greeting in the form of a warning. A greeting, which says that things are actually fine, after all – and you'd better agree that they are, if you know what's good for you.
Jews are here to stay (Dr. Haim Shine, Israel Hayom) Only if we settle every corner of our land will the terrorists realize that force will achieve nothing for them.
UN Gaza war report signals Israel's top leaders toward The Hague (Barak Ravid, Haaretz+) The report hints that after all other measures have failed, the ICC is the only thing that can actually deter the two sides from yet another round of fighting. 
Heavy charges in UN report warrant a probe, not self-righteousness (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) The Gaza war report may seem more balanced than its predecessor, but if Israel expends any more energy insisting it has the 'most moral army in the world' it will likely end up in The Hague. 
Six takeaways from the UN's Gaza war report (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Though it started as a sham, final report is scrupulous, focusing equally on both Israel and Palestinians – had Israel cooperated with investigators, maybe it could have gotten more favorable results. 
Want to make sure Israel doesn't become a Jewish-fascist state? Take a tip from Turkey (Kobi Niv, Haaretz)+) People who wish to live in a secular-democratic-liberal Israel must go beyond tribal lines, or else slide into the abyss of a religious dictatorship. 
With each headline, Miri Regev grows stronger (Eitan Haber, Yedioth/Ynet) The culture minister fervently shoots the right words to the headlines from every possible weapon; there will always be someone who will react to her comments, and she eagerly storms the responder and the response.
Michael Oren's claims that Obama abandoned Israel are baseless (Amos Eran, Haaretz+) Any suggestion that President Barack Obama has abandoned Israel overlooks actions by previous U.S. presidents and Obama's actions in the international arena.
Not exactly a 'lone wolf' attack (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) The recent series of sporadic terror attacks are taking place for reasons that are more or less always the same. While Hamas and Islamic Jihad don't necessarily sanction the attacks, they provide the inspiration behind them.
Broadcast 
reform in Israel depends on Kahlon (Haaretz Editorial) Kahlon must decide whether to implement Kulanu's platform, which promised to confront strong special-interest groups, or yield to powerful political pressures.
Block the flotilla of terror (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom) Israel should send a clear message that it will not permit evil to dock in Gaza.
Egypt must lift Gaza blockade (Khaled Diab, Haaretz) On visit to Gaza Strip, Egyptian-born writer discovers that despite hardship caused by Israel, Egypt's siege is the more emotionally painful one. 'Why is Egypt doing this to us?' Gazans want to know. 
The danger of the 'enemy within' concept (Sever Plocker, Yedioth/Ynet) The anti-liberal populism speaks against the 'ruling elites' in the name of deprived people, even if the elected representatives of these deprived people have been in power for many years.
Israel's allies cannot defeat BDS alone - we need Israel's help (Alan Johnson, Haaretz+) If Israel wants to keep BDS movement from turning it into a pariah, it must understand that, fair or unfair, Israel's legitimacy as a Jewish state is tied to its commitment to a Palestinian one. 
The cost of ongoing incitement (Dr. Edy Cohen, Israel Hayom) The PA uses every outlet in its control to broadcast the message that there is only room for "one Palestine from the river to the sea."
Will the real Michael Oren please stand up? (Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz+) Oren's image as a cautious scholar-diplomat has suddenly morphed into that of a politician on a ruthless crusade against the Obama White House.
Michael Oren's baseless anti-Obama articles (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) Israel's former ambassador to US presents the two countries as identical twins with an equal standing, which work in agreement and share all their secrets; any change in this intimate relationship is seen as an abandonment and betrayal. That is far from the truth, of course.
Pogrom on the Mount of Olives (Yigal Dilmoni, Israel Hayom) Only when desecration is directed again non-Jewish targets do our politicians go out of their way to condemn the perpetrators.
UN report on Gaza will further embed Israelis in their isolated bunker (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz) The all-out diplomatic assault against the inquiry’s findings will safeguard Israel’s self-imposed repression of last summer’s atrocious carnage.
10 years since Gaza pullout: Myths vs. reality (Shimon Shiffer, Yedioth/Ynet) The only question that should be directed at Israel's decision makers as we mark a decade since the disengagement is what alternative can they offer for regulating our relationship with the millions of Palestinians living around us.
 

Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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