News Nosh: 8.16.18

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday, August 16, 2018

Quote of the day:
"If the weapons were hurting the Jews, they would do everything to find the murderers."
--An Arab resident of Nazareth reacted to the special report by State Comptroller Yosef Shapira, which found that the State had failed to do its job to decrease violence in the Arab communities of Israel.*

You Must Be Kidding: 
According to three different inquiry teams led by brigadier generals, which examined the events of 'Rafah's Black Friday' over the past four years, at least 72 innocent Palestinian civilians were killed that day, including women and children. Nevertheless, Chief Military Advocate General Maj. Gen. Sharon Afek found no one in the military guilty of criminal wrongdoing and ruled that there was no justification in taking any steps against any of the officers who led the fighting in the Rafah area that day—such as reprimanding or not promoting them.**

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Housing prices rise - Within one month: Jump of 0.9%
  • Death of a champion - Noa Hayat, 20, killed while riding her bicycle
  • Leptospirosis scare - Three more rivers were closed to bathers
  • The elite list - Is your high school outstanding?
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom

News Summary:
A children’s coach is suspected of molesting at least 140 girls, housing prices rose sharply and Israel opened the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing with the Gaza Strip, but was vague on other details, while Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced a long-term security plan for Israel - making today’s top stories in the Hebrew press There were also the conclusions of three reports or probes: no steps were to be taken against the IDF soldiers who killed at least 70 innocent Palestinian civilians on ‘Black Friday’ in Rafah in the 2014 Gaza war, the state has failed to eliminate violence in the Arab sector and outstanding young Israeli army officers don't want to be yes-men so they don't continue on to be career soldiers.

On the day that Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman reopened the Gaza commercial crossing and expanded Gaza fishermen’s fishing space, Lieberman told the residents of Gaza that calm pays off and that the Gaza Strip could be the ‘Singapore of the Middle East.’ But Adnan Abu Hasna, a Gaza spokesman of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, said, "People do not want to hear that Gaza will become Singapore or anything of that sort. They just want basic things -- clean water to drink, electricity for more than three hours a day." Lieberman explained to Israelis that he agreed to opening the crossing because he was separating between the civilians and the Hamas leaders. "My strategy is to talk directly to the Palestinian public, not with Hamas leaders," he said. [Interestingly, he contradicted his statements from when he was in the opposition and called for militarily decimating Hamas. Yesterday, he said the Gazans need to do it.

On the same day, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu unveiled security plans for the next decade, which requires increasing the security budget by $27 billion over the next decade, despite an earlier agreement that their would be no more additions to the budget for years to come. In an insightful analysis of what Netanyahu and Lieberman are and are not revealing about the negotiations with Hamas, Maariv’s Intel reporter and analyst, Yossi Melman, wrote that the Political-Security Cabinet is conducting secret discussions on an agreement with Hamas, “but is trying to hide them from the public. The public was not given a single word about it. Instead, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu preferred to ensure that the media received other information, according to which he presented the cabinet with Israel's security concept for 2030. Of course, it is important that the ministers hear estimates and data and scenarios about what is expected in more than a decade from now. But meanwhile, the burning problem is Gaza, and the prime minister is trying to avoid dealing with it.” (Full translation of Melman’s analysis in Commentary/Analysis below.) In essence, a Israel-Hamas cease-fire on Gaza, mediated by Egypt and the UN, went into effect based on the principles that were agreed upon at the end of 2014 Gaza war. The understandings don’t include prisoner exchanges, including the remains of IDF soldiers. An unnamed security cabinet minister told the media, "There will be no genuine deal with Hamas without the return of our sons and citizens home and the promise of long lasting calm in the region.” Melman wrote that means there will eventually be violence coming from Gaza again. And 103FM/Maariv interviewed Sufian Abu Ziyad, a Palestinian minister and a senior Fatah figure living in the Gaza Strip, who said that, the transfer of the Israelis held in Gaza “There were prisoner exchanges in the past, Rabin did it, so did both Sharon and Netanyahu, and everyone tried beforehand not to pay any price, and the longer it lasted, the more trouble it was…It’s a matter of price. A person needs to know (that) and prepare the Israeli public, that in order to return the soldiers, they have to pay a price, there is no free exchange of prisoners, Hamas will not do it even if Gaza blooms. (Hamas politburo chief, Yahyeh) Sinwar, who is a Hamas leader who was released in the Shalit deal, cannot afford to release the soldiers because of this or that hudna (ceasefire). He prefers to get a missile to his head rather than that happen.” Abu Ziyad said that it’s for the Palestinians to throw Hamas out. “…but how? Only through the ballot box.”

So only days after ‘The Intercept’ revealed that the IDF closed a probe into the IDF killing of four children playing on a Gaza beach in July 2014, even though it knew who was responsible for their negligent deaths via an attack drone, the Chief Military Advocate General Maj. Gen. Sharon Afek announced he had cleared the unnamed soldiers who killed scores of innocent Palestinians on ‘Black Friday’ in August 2014 during the Gaza war, when the soldiers used the controversial 'Hannibal Directive' to thwart the abduction of Lt. Col. Hadar Goldin and opened fire indiscriminately. Israel said that its soldiers killed 70 Palestinian civilians and 42 armed Palestinians, but other reports say that the number of civilians killed was between 135 to over 200. (Amnesty International provides the ‘Carnage in Rafah report here.) (Also Maariv)

**Interestingly, on the very week that the IDF closed a probe finding nothing wrong with the actions of soldiers who killed at least 70 innocent Palestinian civilians, the IDF Ombudsman Maj. Gen. (res) Yitzhak Brik wrote an “exceptionally scathing criticism of the Israel Defense Forces’ manpower policy,” saying there was essentially a yes-man atmosphere, whereby the lower ranking officers had to say everything was fine and not raise problems, Haaretz+’s Amos Harel and Maariv’s Tal Lev-Ram reported. In a letter he sent this week to senior officers and members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Brik quoted a brigade commander who said, “A situation has been created in the IDF in which no one dares to offer criticism at conferences and no one talks about problems. The generals show us a presentation that indicates the situation is excellent, but they are dealing with image, not with substance. We [the field officers] have turned into a bunch of cowards. I’m embarrassed that I too have stopped bringing up problems at conferences; unfortunately it would only do me damage. In any case things fall on deaf ears.” Consequently, the best young officers don’t want to continue as career officers and the IDF is forced to accept the mediocre ones, which affects the army’s abilities in wartime.

Lastly, State Comptroller Yosef Shapira released a scathing report blaming the state for not taking care to eliminate violence in the Arab sector, despite the promises to the Arab community. Between 2014-2016, there was 17.5 times more incidents of violence in the Arab sector than in the Jewish sector, injuries from firearms were between 2.5 to 12 times more than in other sectors in the Israeli population and 95% of the shooting offenses in residential areas took place in the Arab sector. Shapira wrote that the Israeli security services, the police, IDF and Shin Bet were not cooperating to eradicate arms smuggling into the Arab sector.That the police did not hire enough Muslim policemen, that it left uninhabited police stations and that these failures resulted in the deaths of 1,236 civilians between 2014-2016. According to the State Comptroller's report, by the end of 2017, only two police stations were established in Arab communities out of 11 that are supposed to be established by 2020. Between 2016-2020 Police were to recruit 10,000 officers, but only 600 of them are from the Muslim community, which is 6% although Muslims are 20% of the population. As part of the “City without Violence’ plan, the Interior Security Ministry promised to place security cameras and observation posts in areas with excessive violence and crime. But it was only implemented in 26% (18) of the towns with an Arab majority. And of those 18 towns, the cameras were hooked up to staffed observation centers in only 12. (Maariv, Israel Hayom Hebrew)

Ynet reported on the rage in the Arab sector following the release of the State Comptroller's report: "The police are abandoning us.” A resident of Nazareth said, "If the weapons were hurting the Jews, they would do everything to find the murderers." One bereaved father said: "The criminals don’t give a damn about the police and do what they want.”
Quick Hits:
  • Palestinian family evicted from West Bank home contrary to Israeli court's order - Two of the family's homes were demolished after the compound where they lived was purchased by a group led by a settlement funder. (Haaretz)
  • Palestinians wary as UN may not open schools in time - UNRWA says it is 'running on empty' after US aid cuts: 'We simply don't have enough money to pay 22,000 teachers'; Palestinian families worried about whether schools will open at the end of August. (Ynet)
  • Israeli forces open fire at Gaza fishermen - As part of Israel's blockade of the coastal enclave since 2007, the Israeli army, citing security concerns, requires Palestinian fishermen to work within a limited "designated fishing zone," the exact limits of which are decided by the Israeli authorities and have historically fluctuated. (Maan)
  • Israel detains Palestinian merchant at Gaza crossing - Israeli authorities detained Bassam Abu Sharia while he was at the Erez crossing and immediately transferred to an unknown location. Israeli authorities have detained five Palestinian merchants at the northern Gaza crossing since the beginning of the year. (Maan)
  • Attorney General Seeks to Soften Israel's Policy on Medical Treatment for Gazans - Defense chief opposes easing restrictions until the issue Israeli prisoners and missing persons is resolved. (Haaretz)
  • Goldin family petitions High Court against PM, Security Cabinet - Family of fallen soldier being held by Hamas says special ministerial committee on POWs and MIAs hasn't convened since January 2017, demands discussion of the committee before signing any agreement with the terror group. (Ynet)
  • Israeli forces detain 8 Palestinians in West Bank, including journalist - Israeli forces detained reporter for Palestine TV, Ali Dar Ali, after raiding his home in Ramallah. Dar Ali was the 7th Palestinian journalist detained in the last two weeks. Some of the journalists were later released after undergoing about one week of Israeli interrogation. (Maan)
  • Israel demolishes Palestinian-owned building in East Jerusalem - Witnesses added that the bulldozers demolished an under-construction residential building, owned by Nader Nasser Abu Riyaleh. under the pretext that it was built without the nearly impossible-to-obtain Israeli building permit. (Maan)
  • Police foiled stabbing attack in Jerusalem last week - 26-year-old Palestinian from Hebron arrested in the Old City while carrying a knife and tear gas; he initially claimed he came to the capital to pray, but further investigation revealed he planned to stab Israeli civilians or security forces. (Ynet)
  • Israeli forces storms (downtown) Hebron City, clashes erupt - Sources added that clashes broke out in the area between Palestinian youths and Israeli forces afterwards, in which youths threw stones and Israeli forces responded by firing several sound canisters and tear-gas bombs. (Maan+PHOTOS)
  • Reza Aslan tells Haaretz his interrogation was political; Israel denies, says he 'behaved suspiciously' - Reza Aslan says he was asked about his views of Netanyahu by Israeli interrogator; Shin Bet confirmed it briefly detained Reza Aslan, saying he 'raised suspicion' when arriving at the border crossing, but it denied he was questioned about his politics or threatened. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Shin Bet has denied 250 people entry into Israel this year — report - Public broadcaster says most of those stopped at the borders were Muslims amid concerns over their involvement in terror, espionage or political subversion. (Times of Israel)
  • Over 100 Lawyers and Advocates to Netanyahu: Stop Denying Entry to Human Rights Activists - 'We call on the Israeli government to respect the human rights of all people, and to cease its practice of excluding human rights defenders and advocates based on their criticisms of the government,' the letter says. (Haaretz)
  • Former defense minister Ya'alon: "Netanyahu wanted to appoint Yair Golan as chief of staff - thought he would be loyal to him" - The former defense minister Moshe Yaalon claimed on ‘The News’ that [in 2014] Netanyahu preferred Golan over Gadi Eisenkot, whom Yaalon wanted and who was ultimately appoint IDF Chief of Staff. “They don’t choose people based on a work record and abilities, but on the basis of an expectation of personal loyalty. I am certain that Yair Golan would not have been personally loyal to him, but Netanyahu thought (because) it would be a surprise appointment, (Golan) would feel he owed him.” (Maariv)
  • Elazar Azaria's father: "I will blame the government if a hair falls from his head" - Charlie Azaria, the father of a former soldier convicted of killing [an already shot, wounded and unmoving] terrorist in Hebron, is furious at the refusal to give his son a permit to carry arms. In Erel Segal's radio program on 103FM, he explained: "This is a delusional and incomprehensible step.” (Maariv/103FM)
  • “I came to kill”: A resident of Hadera was arrested on suspicion of trying to run over a policeman - Police arrested a 40-year-old resident of the city on suspicion of assaulting a member of the security forces. The man claimed it was revenge for being arrested a month earlier for disturbing the public peace. (Maariv)
  • Crime downtrend in Israel may be misleading - Adv. Dr. Dana Pugach, a leading expert in criminal justice, argues that there is a decrease in the reporting of crime, not a decrease in crime. (Globes English)
  • 40% of government bodies in Israel violating law on employing disabled - Almost half of Israel's government institutions are failing to meet a new law that requires them to fill at least 5% of jobs with handicapped workers. (Haaretz+)
  • Eritreans should be deported back to their country, Israeli appellate tribunal says - The adjudicator accused “infiltrators” of “rampant crime.” 'Israeli citizens living near infiltrators are suffering, and there is no choice but to deport them directly to their country of origin, otherwise they should be given permanent status in Israel.' Lawyers and human rights organizations: This is a political manifesto citing false reports the tribunal head heard in the media.” (Haaretz, Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • Swastika sprayed on Petah Tikva synagogue - Unknown perpetrators spray Nazis symbol on the outer wall of the Mikdash Moshe Synagogue alongside SS unit symbol; police is investigating the case. (Ynet)
  • Statistics show Israel's lowest emigration figures in a decade - Central Bureau of Statistics finds only 15,200 residents left Israel in 2016. Overall emigration balance for 2016 still negative, however, with only 8,900 Israelis returning from abroad. Number of returning residents in 2016 was highest since 2012. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel launches three-year program to boost cybersecurity industry - Government said it is investing $24 million to shore up the country’s cybersecurity industry as a global leader. Under the three-year program companies dealing with high-risk research and development will be eligible to receive up to 5 million shekels a year. (Haaretz+)
  • Youth hostel chain Selina inks deal to open massively in Israel - Selina, founded by Israeli partners, plans to set up 5,000 to 7,000 beds here in next five years. (Haaretz)
  • Abbas Not Interested Seeing Palestine Flag Waving in Tel Aviv - PA president calls on Arab leaders in Israel to moderate Palestinian nationalist discourse so as not to serve Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's interests, says Jews and Arabs need to deepen cooperation against nation-state law. (Haaretz)
  • Hamas reprises honeypot scheme to dupe IDF soldiers on Instagram - Hamas hoped IDF soldiers would respond to fake accounts of attractive women, allowing phones to be hacked, but plot was discovered. "We can say with absolute certainty that Hamas has failed and no classified information has leaked," IDF official says. (Israel Hayom)
  • PA again vows to continue paying prisoners, families of ‘martyrs’ - “We will not accept a cut or cancellation of salaries to the families of martyrs and prisoners, as some are trying to bring about.” (Maariv/JPost)
  • Lebanese army says troops injured by IDF while on patrol - According to the Lebanese army the two soldiers were targeted with smoke grenades and suffered from smoke inhalation. (Maariv/JPost)
  • Tehran 'categorically' denies al-Qaida growing stronger in Iran - Iran rejects U.N. report suggesting al-Qaida's leaders in Iran "have grown more prominent," are working with group leader Ayman al-Zawahri to cause "formations, breakaways and mergers of various al-Qaida-aligned groups" in rebel-held northwestern Syria. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Iran Supreme Leader admits mistake over nuclear talks - Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has admitted mistake in allowing Iran's foreign minister to speak to the US President during negotiations leading to the agreement; Iran's president: 'We will not let the enemy bring us to our knees.' (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Turkey says ready to discuss issues with US without threats - U.S. rules out removing crippling steel tariffs even if Ankara frees U.S. pastor. Qatar pledges $15 billion to boost plummeting Turkish lira. Vice President Pence: Turkey should not test President Trump's resolve to free wrongfully imprisoned Americans. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Palestinian-American congressional candidate called out over pledge to cut military aid to ‘discriminatory’ Israel - Michigan's Rashida Tlaib, poised to become one of America’s first Muslim congresswoman told an interviewer that ‘US aid should be leveraged’ and support to Israel ‘doesn’t fit the values of our country.’ (Haaretz)
  • Under pressure, UK Labour to adopt world definition of anti-Semitism - Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn draws condemnation after photos surface of him making Muslim Brotherhood hand gesture. Foreign secretary: If Corbyn thinks terrorism is justified, how would he have moral authority as PM to condemn terrorist murders? (Israel Hayom)

"Peter Beinart's arrest sends a message to American Jews - you are not welcome here"
The journalist joined a list of Israelis and foreigners who are detained for questioning at Ben-Gurion Airport or who are denied entry into Israel.  What they have in common: activity critical of the state or the government. (Mor Shimoni, Maariv)
Two generations with the hijab, two generations without
Amina Kahil had to marry when she was 13. Jada is fond of President Rivlin. Maryam moved to Ramle for a big house. And if Na’ima hadn’t been born that night in 1948, everything would be different. Four generations in the Kahil-Dalak-Kakhoub-Abu-Alhalawa family. (Noa Epstein, Haaretz+)
Letters to the Editor: Opening the curtain on Oz
In a very well written op-ed, Rabah Halabi makes the valid point that Israel is doing its best, by way of the back door, to become a state ruled by xenophobia. Add to this, cautioning a writer, Peter Beinart, at the airport about expressing left wing views. Next year, or so, he will be held as being a danger to Israel. Kindly read, regime. (Ze’ev M. Freed, Haaretz)
Shin Bet's Harassment of Left-wing Activists Serves Political Interests – and Not for the First Time (Mordechai Kremnitzer, Haaretz+) Source of problem isn’t in the security service, but in government’s delegitimization of Arabs and leftists.
Arabs and Jews: Dual loyalties (Noam Tirosh, Israel Hayom) American Jews can express affinity for Israel and its symbols without detracting from their loyalty to the U.S. Similarly, Arab Israelis can wave the Palestinian flag and also want to be an integral part of Israel.
Just Look at Ben-Gurion Airport (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) Profiling is the name of the game, intended to make it easy for us, the privileged Israeli Jews, and deprive and degrade all the rest.
The cabinet sees and is invisible, and Israel is again dependent on the grace of Hamas (Yossi Melman, Maariv) The Political-Security Cabinet is trying to impersonate Danidin, who sees and is invisible. It is conducting secret discussions on an agreement with Hamas, but is trying to hide them from the public. Yesterday, too, there was such a discussion, the fourth in recent weeks, but the public was not given a single word about it. Instead, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu preferred to ensure that the media received other information, according to which he presented the cabinet with Israel's security concept for 2030. Of course, it is important that the ministers hear estimates and data and scenarios about what is expected in more than a decade from now. But meanwhile, the burning problem is Gaza, and the prime minister is trying to avoid dealing with it. Yesterday there was no discussion or vote. This is perhaps the reason why Minister of Education Naftali Bennett did not attend yesterday's discussion and preferred to participate in executive meetings for the new school year. The night before, Bennett believed that the Cabinet would discuss an arrangement with Hamas and published a statement in which he and his Habayit Hayehudi party member, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, would not vote for it. In the past four days, there has been total quiet on the border, as a result of the mediation efforts of Egyptian Intelligence Chief General Kamel Abbas and UN Middle East envoy Nikolai Mladenov. In exchange for calm - the quietest days that have passed without any events since March 30, no firebombs or demonstrations on the fence - Israel has opened the border crossing in Kerem Shalom for unlimited supply of goods. 800 truckloads of fuel, gas, diesel, cement, building materials, animal feed, textiles entered the Gaza Strip for its two million residents and the area for fisherman was expanded to 17 kilometers.Without the government admitting this, this is the first stage in the arrangement outlined by Abbas and Mladenov in their talks with a senior Hamas delegation in Cairo. In effect, both sides have returned to the situation that has existed since Operation Protective Edge four years ago. This means that, despite Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman's remarks last night, Israel is conducting indirect negotiations with Hamas. Both sides wasted the quiet that has prevailed over the past four years, and has not turned it into a long-term arrangement. Now they are trying to do so, but the chances are not great. The gaps remain as wide as they were then. A senior political source said yesterday that without an exchange of prisoners, there will be no progress in the arrangement. Hamas demands as a precondition the release of 40 of its members, released in the Shalit prisoner exchange deal, and who were arrested following the (kidnapping and) murder of the three yeshiva students in Gush Etzion (in May 2014) and before the Gaza war (that began in July 2014) [Israel used the kidnapping of the three youth to make a massive sweep of detentions of political activists from both Hamas and Fatah. - OH] Israel has made a strategic decision that, in return for the bodies of soldiers, it will return the bodies of terrorists and for the two civilians held by Hamas, a small number of terrorists will be released, who don't have "blood on their hands." In short, now we are in a no-starter situation for the continuation of the process - unless Israel, contrary to its official position, compromises and agrees that the exchange of bodies and prisoners won’t be a precondition for the continued rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip. A senior official said last night that Israel's position on the matter had not changed. Blessed is the believer. So, the bottom line is, Israel is again dependent on the grace of Hamas. When Hamas wants, certainly when it realizes that rebuilding the Gaza Strip is stuck again, it will renew its attacks by launching burning balloons and kites, demonstrations on the fence and possibly rocket fire. The problem this time is that this could happen within a few months, when Israel is about to start new elections. Renewing violence on the eve of elections will undoubtedly hurt Netanyahu. Have we already said that Israel has no strategy for the Gaza Strip, but only a tactic designed to buy time? Well, this is also something, especially the desire of Netanyahu and Lieberman to avoid an unnecessary war with all its damage and casualties. Meanwhile, the prime minister and the defense minister are trying to advance a move aimed at increasing the defense budget, in contrast to the recommendations of former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon, Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon. It is hard to believe that Kahlon will agree to the demand, especially when we know that housing prices are rising again. So it is very doubtful that there will be any progress and you can smell the scent of the elections.
You wanted the ultra-Orthodox to serve in the army? (Yossi Klein, Haaretz+) We don't want them in the army in order to share the burden, we want them in the army so they can waste three years of their lives as well.
IDF watchdog vexed over 'serious motivation crisis among young officers'(Amos Harel, Haaretz+) IDF ombudsman is told that in the past, several good officers would compete for every position. Now a special effort is being made to recruit them and in a good number of cases, the army settles for those who are less qualified.
The IDF should listen to the warning of Major General (res.) Yitzhak Brik (Tal Lev-Ram, Maariv) The outgoing IDF ombudsman of soldiers claims that the large cut to the number of career soldiers, along with the shortening of compulsory service, will have a major and destructive effect on the army. The IDF attacked back: “He exceeded his authority.”
Netanyahu's Gate of Darkness (Haaretz Editorial) The government has decided to fight anyone who criticizes it, and the entryway to Israel has become another tool in this war.
Life is good (Dr. Haim Shine, Israel Hayom) Israel's record low emigration figures appear to mainly indicate one thing: The vast majority of Israelis realize that it is truly good to live in Israel.
The Palestinian flag is not mine (Abed L. Azab, Haaretz+) The Palestinian flag is in practice the flag of Yasser Arafat. No one asked the opinion of the Palestinian citizens of Israel when it was made the flag of the Palestinian people.
Turkey Opts for Economic Warfare Over Economic Policies (David Rosenberg, Haaretz+) Like other authoritarian leaders such as in Iran and Venezuela, Erdogan would rather fight untouchable enemies than deal with problems.
Lawfare in the service of terrorism (Amnon Lord, Israel Hayom) The aim of some left-wing organizations in Israel is to create a friendly environment for terrorism, to deter the IDF and provide the terrorists with as much freedom of operation as possible.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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