News Nosh 12.26.13

APN's daily news review from Israel

Thursday December 26, 2013


Quote of the day:

"We don't tell the journalists what to write. We don't tell them publish this or that article or put in another article. They are the freest journalists in Israel."

--Miri, wife of Jewish-American billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who owns the free tabloid 'Israel Hayom' and is a close ally of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, claims the newspaper is balanced.**

Front Page News:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • The secret channel - Secret contacts between Netanyahu and Abu Mazen
  • "Our darkest nightmare" - One of the terrorists expected to be released next week is responsible for the murder that horrified the country: Ofra Moses, who was pregnant, and her son who burned to death. The father and other children were severely injured
  • Reconciliation orders: Minister Naftali Bennett and his wife met with Assi Ezer, one of the prominent GLBT spokespersons in Tel-Aviv
  • "The youth acted towards my daughter like animals" - Mother of 12-year-old believed to have been gang raped speaks


Israel Hayom


News Summary:
The third round of releasing Palestinian prisoners will take place after all - despite Israeli right-wing internal pressure, and so will the Israeli declaration of more settlement homes - despite external international pressure. Meanwhile, tension is high between Israel and the Gaza Strip after a deadly exchange of fire, Yedioth reports that the Israeli and Palestinian leaders have had a secret communication channel for years and there are some new moves in the Knesset that don't bode well for Israeli democracy.
The announcement for new settlement construction is expected to be made shortly after the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners, early Sunday morning. This comes despite the pressure by the US and the EU. Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said, "I believe it is our right to build," while bereaved families erected a protest tent in Jerusalem. Maariv/NRG's Eli Bardenstein writes that "the surprise change in Netanyahu's decision stems from a combination of the release of the prisoners with the escalation (of violence) in the field. A senior official explained that Netanyahu was under internal political pressure, whereby if there were no declaration of settlement construction close to the release of the prisoners - it would be interpreted as Israeli weakness." The names of the prisoners to be released is expected to be released Thursday night, giving the families of those killed by the terrorists or others a chance to petition against the release. Habayit Hayehudi MK Ayelet Shaked promised to "eliminate future deals releasing terrorists." In a meeting with Knesset members, bereaved families expressed their opposition to the upcoming release of prisoners. "You are not protecting us. We can not explain this reality to our children, they said." (NRG Hebrew)
Meanwhile, Israel deployed Iron Dome batteries in the south of the country amid the tension with Gaza. But a senior Israeli official told Ynet that Hamas was not interested in the deterioration of the situation and military analysts agree, saying that neither side is interested in an escalation. Yaalon claimed the recent escalation in Palestinian attacks was linked to peace talks. And Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the spate of attacks was the result of Palestinian incitement. Haaretz also writes that Israeli officers are investigating why the Israeli Defense Ministry worker, Salah Abu Latif, was not wearing a helmet or ballistic vest, while he worked on the Gaza fence.
Meanwhile, Yedioth had a front page scoop that Netanyahu and Abbas were holding talks for years in London through a secret channel.

And in the Knesset, some moves that are not so good for democracy: Likud MK Miri Regev proposed a bill that would prevent an Israeli NGO from being registered if it denied the "Jewish character of the state," reports Maariv/NRG Hebrew, and Netanyahu together with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman decided to raise the threshold to enter the Knesset to 3.25% - which would push out the Arab parties in future elections, reports Haaretz.

Quick Hits:

  • Gaza lays to rest 3-year-old Palestinian girl killed by Israeli strike - Hundreds of mourners in Gaza Wednesday attended the funeral of Hala Abu Sbeikha, a 3-year-old girl who was killed by Israeli forces the day before. (Maan)
  • Gazan killed by IDF was collecting scrap - not damaging border fence, says brother - Oudeh Hamad's brother, who was wounded by the IDF firing near the border fence, says there were no warning shots. (Haaretz)
  • Islamic Jihad: 1,400 Israeli violations of Gaza ceasefire since 2012 - Israel has violated a November ceasefire with Gaza over 1,400 times since December 2012, a spokesman for the military wing of Islamic Jihad said Wednesday. (Maan)
  • Israeli forces injure 13-year-old Palestinian in Tulkarem clashes - Muhammad Ali Hassan Haddad, 13, was injured after being hit in the head by shrapnel from a stun grenade that Israeli troops fired at Palestinians in a neighborhood in western Tulkarem. (Maan)
  • West Bank: Stones hurled at bus; one injured - Following shooting, killing of Israeli citizen near Gaza border fence, IDF retaliation in Gaza Strip that killed three-year-old, stone hurlers target WB bus, injuring one. PM Netanyahu warns: 'Those who tested us were hit. Those who test us will be hit.' (Ynet)
  • UNRWA condemns Israel's 'Christmas Eve demolitions' in the West Bank - The latest demolitions in the West Bank, "the most recent of which occurred on Christmas Eve," have "severely threatened" the livelihoods of the families that lost their homes, said UNRWA. (Maan)
  • Israel closes probe of private guard who shot and killed Palestinian - High Court to rule on petition filed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem against the private security firm that operates in the area. (Haaretz)
  • US officials in Israel ordered to avoid public transportation - The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv issues temporary directive prohibiting U.S. citizen, embassy employees and their families from taking shared minibus taxis. This new restriction joins a long-standing ban on taking public buses in Israel. (Israel Hayom
  • High Court to mull demolition of illegal houses in legal West Bank settlement - The original Palestinian landowners want their land back in Ofra, but the state argues that the houses' fate must be decided with that of the entire settlement. (Haaretz)
  • The stinging insult of Dr. Nabil Shaath: "I don't understand why Israel is punishing me" - Israel revoked the VIP status of Shaath, 74, who is responsible for external affairs of the Palestinian Authority. Since then, he can't enter Israel to travel to Ben-Gurion Airport and must wait hours in line at Allenby Crossing to travel abroad. Netanyahu's office: "He is involved in incitement." Shaath: "My criticism is focused always on the Israeli government's policies." (Yedioth, p. 18)
  • Court reaffirms Ariel University's accreditation - Petition filed by Israeli university presidents association to overturn Ariel University's academic status denied. Minister Sa'ar: Ariel University received its academic accreditation through a bona fide process. (Israel Hayom)
  • Netanyahu's Christmas gaffe: Blessing Christians for serving in 'Jewish' army - Prime Minister commends Christian citizens for defending country, stops in the nick of time from uttering 'Jewish' state; Peres, in his own Christmas message, urges peace. (Haaretz)
  • Christmas in Bethlehem: It's a pity only that the Jews were not here, says mayor - Ten minutes from Jerusalem they celebrate Christmas like in Europe. The city was painted in many colors and thousands of tourists come to celebrate in the homeland of Jesus, reported Asaf Gabor, who also interviewed mayor. (NRG HebrewPHOTOS)
  • Jobs in Shin Bet: Chinese-speaking field coordinators - It is believed that the security systems want to make sure that spies don't enter the People's Republic, which has good relations with Iran. (Maariv backpage/NRG Hebrew)
  • Palestinian prisoners 'find cameras' in Rimon Prison jail cells - The Palestinian Prisoners Society said that the Israeli prison administration raided several cells after prisoners made the discovery. (Maan)
  • Large majority of Jewish public believe Israel, Palestinians must teach peace - Tel-Aviv University survey suggests public is more open to the Palestinian narrative than is commonly thought - and also overwhelmingly opposed to teaching youth that the West Bank is not part of the Israeli state. (Haaretz)
  • **"Israel Hayom newspaper is fair and balanced," (publisher) Adelson tells "Globes" - Sheldon Adelson also told "Globes" that "Yediot Ahronot" publisher Noni Mozes is an unelected dictator. (Globes)
  • Palestinian Authroity begins to pay back 1B shekels in electric bills owed to Israel - Palestinian Authority debt owed for power supplied to West Bank and east Jerusalem reaches NIS 1B shekels. PA begins to cover funds, but Ministers of Finance and Energy concerned sum will rise. Electric company to end year with heavy debt. (Ynet)
  • Arab MK calls for release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard - MK Ibrahim Sarsur was speaking on behalf of all the Arab factions during a Knesset debate to mark Pollard's 29th year in American prison. (Haaretz)
  • Illegal Palestinian workers found in hidden, sealed room - In a large law enforcement operation in Ashkelon against illegal workers and their employers, three illegal Palestinian workers were discovered hiding in a sealed room with no ventilation. 31 illegal workers and eight employers were arrested. (Israel Hayom)
  • South African solidarity activists visit Gaza - delegation of 19 solidarity activists from South Africa on Wednesday started a six-day visit to the Gaza Strip, a Hamas government official said. (Maan)
  • Gaza: Palestinian journalists launch soft revolution - New coalition of reporters aims to revolutionize Palestinian media, members wish to break away from propaganda-filled media, produce journalism that will reflect people's real concerns. (Ynet)
  • Egypt destroys 6 smuggling tunnels under Gaza border - Egyptian border guards on Tuesday afternoon discovered and destroyed six smuggling tunnels under the border with the Gaza Strip. (Maan)
  • Sinai: Egypt army claims to have foiled Hamas attack - Egyptian army says arrested 'Palestinian belonging to Hamas who planned to blow up his car in front of strategic security building' in northern Sinai, continuing string of incidents between post-Mori Egypt, Gaza rulers. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Egypt names Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group - Despite no proven link, Egypt decides to name Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization following the deadly Mansoura bombing, which killed 16 people and injured more than 100. Brotherhood promises ongoing protests against Mohammed Morsi's ouster. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli team competing in Abu-Dhabi under pseudonym - Without an identification mark: Five young Israeli chess players are competing in a major championship under the name of the World Chess Federation and without an Israeli flag. (Yedioth, p. 16 and Maariv, p. 10/NRG Hebrew)
  • Turkish court rejects Marmara victim's family's compensation plea - Relatives of Turkish citizen who was killed during IDF raid on Marmara flotilla demand compensation of $1.9 million from Israel via Turkish court. Judges reject plea, noting Israel cannot be tried in Turkish court. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • More U.S. universities withdraw from ASA over academic boycott of Israel - Kenyon College and Indiana University cancel their memberships in the association. (Haaretz)
  • Six Jewish youth charged with assault of neo-Nazi activists in France, and said: "We are members of Kahaneh Chai (considered Israeli terror organization by Israel and other countries) - Prosecution claims the accused, some of whom are members of the 'Jewish Defense League,' saw photos of barmen on Facebook who appeared to be making a Nazi salute. They located them in a club in a quarter with many Muslims and beat them with clubs and knuckle-dusters. (Maariv, p. 10)


Growing disquiet (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom) Despite uptick in Palestinian violence, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is not slowing down.
Israel must let the Gazans live (Haaretz Editorial) The Strip is a powder keg waiting to explode, and zero-hour is not far off.
Give Obama a chance (Udi Sommer, Ynet) It's too early to give a president with diplomatic, economic achievements a failing grade.
Atmospheric terrorism (Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom) We need to say, loudly and clearly, that we accept negotiations -- but not at any cost.
Israel has become Zionism's worst enemy (Zeev Smilansky, Haaretz) The occupation is emptying Judaism's toolbox of all wealth, turning Zionism and its manifestation into another fleeting, sad episode in the gloomy history of the Jewish people.
The ethical demand (Aviad Kleinberg, Yedioth/Ynet) In 21st-century West, human rights are civil religion. As an advanced country, Israel is expected to behave 'appropriately.'
Israel: Island of stability and sanity (Dr. Kobi Michael, Israel Hayom) The Arab Spring has allowed new opportunities to present themselves.
The price of Israeli-Palestinian peace (Ari Shavit, Haaretz) The process Washington is imposing on Jerusalem and Ramallah can lead to real peace even as it takes its toll in lives.
Hamas seeks end to current hostilities, but preparing for next war with Israel (Amos Harel, Haaretz) Gaza's leaders don't seem eager to prolong the confrontation with Israel, but the regime is using its time wisely to produce rockets capable of hitting Tel Aviv.
Both sides wary of escalation (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom) As the peace talks deadline looms, Israel will need to employ every possible avenue to avoid an unwanted escalation in the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria.


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