News Nosh 11.14.18

APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday November 14, 2018
Quote of the day:
"I hope that this war will stop. My father has Jewish friends and he was in good contact with everyone, we do not want others to go through what we've been through. It is very painful.”
--One of the children of Mahmoud Abu Asbah, a Palestinian construction contractor who was killed Monday night when a rocket fired by militants from the Gaza Strip hit a building in Israel where he stayed during the week.*

Breaking News:
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman Resigns, Urges Early Elections (Haaretz, Ynet and Israel Hayom)

Front Page:
  • Israel and Hamas agreed on a ceasefire and returning to the understandings of Operation Protective Edge
  • Inappropriate response // Yossi Verter
  • Netanyahu is willing to take a big risk to get quiet in the Gaza Strip // Amos Harel
  • Dramatic race in elections in Jerusalem: (Secular candidate) Berkovitz has lead after counting 60% of the votes
  • "I'm jailed by him" The recordings reveal the relations between Moshe Leon (the other Jerusalem mayoral candidate) and the "boss" Lieberman
  • (Deputy Attorney General Dina) Zilber was right // Yitzhak Zamir
  • A vengeful initiative // Yuval Shani
  • A pair of boxing gloves and a lie - The Imam's daughter hid from her parents her boxing hobby
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Close battle in Jerusalem - After counting 70% of the votes the 35-year-old secular candidate led by a small percentage over Moshe Leon
  • After the ceasefire: The Gaza periphery protest
  • Divide and failure // Nahum Barnea
  • About-turn! // Alex Fishman
  • A wake-up call // Yossi Yehoshua
  • The right decision // Ben-Dror Yemini
  • The suitcase measurement // Matan Tzuri
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom

News Summary:
Israel and Hamas agreed to a truce after the fiercest flare-up since 2014, Israelis living in a town near the Gaza Strip protested and Israeli commentators concluded Hamas had the upper hand while in Jerusalem, the close race for mayor looked like a victory for the secular candidate. But after the papers went to press, the religious candidate close to Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Interior Minister Arieh Deri, Moshe Leon came out the winner.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu forced his cabinet ministers to choose between going to war or accepting the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire deal with Hamas. They chose the deal. Or so said Netanyahu and some other sources. But afterward, four ministers said they opposed ending attacks against Hamas, including the Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett as well as Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Minister Zeev Elkin. But Netanyahu said everyone agreed. (On the other hand, they also didn’t say they preferred to go to war.) (Maariv) [UPDATE: Lieberman resigned today over the decision for a ceasefire and called for early elections.]

[NOTE: Over the last few days, Maariv’s Ben Caspit has given great insight into the backstories of the news, whether how Netanyahu got the ministers to agree to the truce in that 7-hour cabinet meeting or what happened when a Hamas patrol discovered the IDF special intel unit near Khan Younis. I highly recommend you read his piece from today, translated below.  - OH] Ynet reported that Hamas requested the cease-fire using four different mediators. - OH]

From the point starting after the incident in Khan Younis, where a secret Israeli unit was caught by Hamas forces resulting in a Palestinian commander, six Palestinian fighters killed and one Israeli commander killed -  until the ceasefire was agreed upon, seven more Gazans were killed by some 160 Israeli airstrikes and one man was killed in Israel by the Palestinian rockets. That man happened to be a Palestinian, Mahmoud Abu Asba, 48, with a permit to stay in Israel. His family, which lives in the West Bank town of Halhoul, near Hebron, was devastated. (More info from Ynet and Haaretz+)

A senior Israel Air Force officer said the IDF was striking in the heart of Gaza, but taking care not to harm Gazans so as to prevent an all-out war. Haaretz+ reported that the Israeli army fears that funerals in Gaza would inflame the West Bank. The Gaza Housing Ministry said 880 structures were damaged in one way or another. Nevertheless, Hamas was perceived both by Israelis and by Palestinians as winning the round of fire in terms of image and the Gaza Strip celebrated its victory. A Hamas official told KAN Channel 1 News: "We gave Israel a blow, we changed the rules of the game.” (Maariv) Another source said that "Hamas, like Israel, did not want war.” In the southern Israeli town of Sderot, a few hundred people protested the cease-fire. (Ironically, they used the same method of protest that the Palestinians use to protest against Israel: burning tires.) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cut his trip to Kuwait short Tuesday and called for an urgent meeting Thursday of the Palestinian leadership to discuss how to stop the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip. Abbas ordered sending emergency medical supplies to Gaza.

One of the significant incidents in this round of fighting between Israel and Hamas was the anti-tank missile attack on an Israeli military bus, in terms of what it meant about Hamas' strategic decisions. Hamas released a video showing soldiers removing their things from the bus and walking away, after which the bus drives ahead, then stops, at which point the Hamas fighters shoot it. Only the one soldier standing near the bus at the time of the attack was wounded from the explosion. (Oddly, Haaretz English wrongly wrote that “a large number of soldiers were standing near the bus at the time of the attack,” even though the video shows otherwise. Also, earlier media reports wrote that all the soldiers got off the bus before it was hit. Haaretz military analyst Amos Harel noted that the video revealed that the Hamas squad was aware of all the details and chose to fire after the soldiers got off the bus and the bus moved forward. Harel believes this indicated “an operational choice by Hamas not to escalate tensions to the point of outright war." The IDF is probing the incident, which left the bus exposed to the Gaza border. An IDF commander reportedly lied to the military police to get them to lift the roadblock, which put the bus in the line of fire.
Quick Hits:
  • New details emerge on heroic actions of IDF officer killed in Gaza - After covert IDF force was detected at Hamas checkpoint on Sunday, Lt. Col. M. opened fire to draw attention away from his comrades • While he was hit by enemy gunfire, his move gave his team critical time to leave their vehicle and charge the enemy. (Israel Hayom)
  • Palestinians release video of (February) Gaza border attack on IDF soldiers - In first, Popular Resistance Committees' military wing releases footage of attack in which 4 IDF soldiers were wounded near the southern Gaza border in February, when an explosive device went off near an army patrol. (Ynet)
  • (Arab-Israeli) Ex-MK imprisoned for smuggling cellphones to security prisoners denied early release - Parole board says Basel Ghattas has failed to expressed ‘genuine remorse’ for actions, hasn’t enrolled in rehabilitation. (Maariv and Times of Israel)
  • In video - Israeli forces hold students, teachers at Hebron checkpoint - Israeli forces prevented Palestinian students and teachers from entering Qurtuba elementary school in Hebron Tuesday after the Palestinians refused the soldiers’ demand that to photograph each of them upon their arrival to the school and before they cross the checkpoint. (Maan)
  • (MK) Oren Hazan suspended from Knesset for six weeks - In late October, Hazan said to Defense Ministry Deputy Director-General Hezi Meshita, who is responsible for dealing with disabled veterans’ rehabilitation: “You think that because you’re a brigadier-general in reserves, you’re God. The sun doesn’t shine out of your behind. I wish that you’ll suffer like these people, and then you’ll feel something. You and your children!” (JPost and Maariv)
  • Thousands of artists sign petition against 'culture loyalty' bill - Online petition garners 2,800 signatures on Facebook, among them five Israel Prize laureates • "No government can be allowed to use public funds to prevent the legitimate presence of diverse views and opinions in the public sphere," says petition. (Israel Hayom)
  • Senior Israeli doctors protest Trump's aid cut to East Jerusalem hospitals - Eighteen senior Israeli doctors say sudden $20-million cut will significantly harm the health of Jerusalem's residents. (Haaretz+)
  • Top Chefs Pull Out of Tel Aviv Food Festival Following BDS Pressure - Gabrielle Hamilton and Ana Ros cancel their participation in Tel Aviv's Round Tables festival. BDS movement claims victory, but neither chef has confirmed their reasons for cancelling. (Haaretz+)
  • Brazil risks Middle East trade with potential Israel embassy move - Egypt’s abrupt cancellation of a planned trade visit causes alarm in the world’s biggest exporter of halal meats. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • US offers $5 million for information on Hamas leader - State Department designates son of Iran-backed Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah a terrorist and promises a multi-million dollar reward to those with details on location of several high-profile Palestinian and Lebanese terrorists. (Agencies, Ynet)

PHOTOS: 24 hours of destruction in Gaza and southern Israel
Israel and Palestinian militants exchanged rocket and missile fire on Monday night, following a botched Israeli commando incursion into the Strip a day earlier. By Tuesday evening, the two sides had announced an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, but not before at least seven people, all of them Palestinian, were killed, and many others wounded in both Israel and Gaza. (By Mohammed Zaanoun and Oren Ziv / +972mag)
On social media, there are no gag orders
Identifying details of IDF Lt. Col. M., who was killed during a mission in Gaza, quickly spread through social media despite the media blackout; while security officials condemn what they view as a despicable phenomenon, social media experts say it's a lost battle for those trying to conceal information in this day and age. (Noam Barkan, Yedioth/Ynet)
According to foreign sources: Are Israel's state secrets still truly preserved?
The exposure in social media networks and on foreign websites of the information about Lt. Col. M. once again raised the problem of maintaining information security: "The censorship does not stop every goal, but when it stops, it is a whole world.” (Ilana Stutland, Maariv Magazine supplement, cover)
Why Hamas' Missile Attack on Israeli Bus Actually Shows It's Not Looking to Spark Full-on Gaza War (Amos Harel, Haaretz+ and Haaretz Hebrew) The most disturbing incident in the last 24 hours may indicate an operational choice by Hamas not to immediately escalate tensions to the point of outright war. The missile blew up the bus and seriously wounded a soldier standing nearby [Correction: next to it - OH]. The bus had been bringing reinforcements to the area, with dozens of soldiers disembarking just moments [correction: minutes - OH] earlier. Even though this is not shown in the video, it’s clear that the Hamas squad was aware of all the details and chose to fire at this time [i.e. after the soldiers had already disembarked and the bus drove away. - OH]
Netanyahu can’t look reality in the eye and tell the public the truth about Gaza (Ben Caspit, Maariv) …The flak jacket, called "The Political-Security Cabinet," was flawless this time too. The prime minister rushed to return to Israel from Paris, but he did not convene the cabinet upon his return, or even that evening. He knew that blood was boiling and he did not want to try the patience of the cabinet members. Better to wait. Meanwhile, a night passed in which the Israeli air force made Hamas pay (especially in infrastructure), things calmed down and then, only then, was it the turn of the cabinet. For seven hours they sat there and churned water. Netanyahu had all the time in the world. Everyone can speak, and at length. The army presented the options, but not all of them. War or a long-term arrangement. This is what was agreed upon the night before between the prime minister and the chief of staff. There was no third way and the cabinet ministers had no choice. They don’t want war. Dozens of people killed in the Gaza swamp are not an option for anyone, right now. They were forced to remain with the Egyptian proposal for calm… Let’s make a bit of order: Hamas did not win this round. It gained some achievements and managed to restore its image among its people after being humiliated at the end of the week when it sold itself for $15 million (in cash). As far as physical blows are concerned, Hamas has taken far more than it has given. And something else, in order to be honest: the one who got the train stuck on the rocks was Israel. The secret operation that became entangled on Sunday evening left Hamas no choice. They suffered seven or eight dead (as opposed to one killed in the IDF), they discovered the best of Zionism's sons in their backyard at a sensitive time, they had to respond. Then it was our turn, and again their turn, and the night between Monday and Tuesday was very difficult for them. Eight high-rise buildings were collapsed in Gaza and many other infrastructure targets. Hamas sought a cease-fire in the afternoon, but it did not arrive until the next day, so that in the general balance of gains and losses, Hamas came out at a loss. In other words, overall deterrence still exists. Hamas is no longer interested in another round of fighting. The problem is that it does not end here. As far as consciousness is concerned, Hamas won. It rehabilitated its image as the leader of the "resistance." It pushed a million scared Israelis into the protected rooms, dictated the pace and arrived at the event prepared on a digital media level. The abandonment (by the IDF) near the border fence reached new heights. Young Palestinians filmed themselves crossing it barefoot, back and forth, unhindered. A bus got hit by a Cornet missile is very reminiscent of the Israeli ship that sailed like a lame duck against Nasrallah and was almost sunk, and also the heavy price we paid in Operation Protective Edge when mortar shells hit entry points of forces. The IDF appears to be dragging and hesitating. For (Hamas politburo chief) Yehiya Sinwar and Ismail Haniyeh, they don’t need much more than that. Netanyahu returned home relatively in good shape. For the past two days, he has suffered a lot of damage to his political base. Likud strongholds have turned against him, Likudniks have begun to speak against him, social media is bubbling and even (opposition party leaders) Lapid, Gabbay, Livni and General Eyal Ben-Reuven hit him from the right. It may be that in all of the strategic considerations that a leader should consider, Netanyahu acted correctly. This we can only know in hindsight. The problem with our prime minister is that he can not look directly at reality and admit it. To tell the truth to the public. What is the problem with telling us, friends, there is currently no one to defeat. There's no reason to bury eighty of our boys. We have urgent and more important tasks. I'm focused on the northern front. I'm getting ready for Trump's plan. There is no magic solution to Gaza and we have no one to give it to. So let's swallow our pride and move on. No, he will not say these things because it might take from him to the right for Bennett, or for Lieberman. So he wraps himself in the cabinet, hides behind the IDF and the defense establishment, and tries to put the blame, as always, on someone else. It does not matter who. That’s the way Bibi is, and so it seems he will be.
Next flare-up in Gaza is only a matter of time (Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) Both Israel and Hamas have shown restraint in this week's violence in Gaza, as neither really wants to plunge into another war • But Hamas believes Israel is more worried about war than it is, and the terrorist group is determined not to blink first.
Netanyahu Is Willing to Take a Big Risk for Quiet on Gaza Border (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Hamas leaders may now believe they can gradually raise the intensity of military action against Israel without paying much of a price.
Restore Israeli deterrence in Gaza (Aharon Levran, Israel Hayom) Israeli deterrence has been eroded due to the willingness of Hamas and Gaza's residents to endure suffering, and Israel's apparent lack of desire to exercise its capacity to deter.
Hamas didn't start this fight, but it won't win it either (Samer Badawi, +972mag) If Hamas allows Israel to drag it into another lopsided fight, it will not only cost the lives of countless innocent civilians in Gaza, it will also distract from ongoing mass resistance to the siege.
Civilians without protection (Haaretz Editorial) Too many residents of Israel's southern cities’ older neighborhoods live without a security room or a public shelter nearby– or with a shelter that cannot accommodate all the area’s residents
This is not how you create deterrence (Ron Ben Yishai, Ynet) the current pace of IDF attacks does not affect terrorist organizations; only a sharp, powerful blow, including a fixed ground operation, will make Hamas beg on bended knees; and yes, it will come with a price—Israelis lives will be lost; also, is it time to incorporate laser-based interception systems?
A Country Enveloped by Gaza (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Israel's military escalation with Hamas wasn’t inevitable. It stemmed from an algorithm that triggers automatic responses by right-wing cabinet members.
Hamas trying to challenge Iron Dome (Yoav Zitun, Ynet) The Palestinian terror groups are firing large barrages of rockets from Gaza in the hopes of overpowering Iron Dome. The IDF has increased the number of Iron Dome batteries and interceptor missiles.
In Gaza flare-up, Netanyahu is hoisted with his past petards (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Netanyahu taught the Israeli public that every terror attack is a casus belli and that he has presto-chango solutions to it all.
The health system in Gaza cannot handle another war (Amjad Yaghi, +972mag) A new war would lead to the collapse of an already-debilitated medical infrastructure in Gaza, Palestinian health officials warn.
Hamas is in dire straits and Netanyahu is saving it, giving it dollars and diesel (Prof. Arieh Eldad, Maariv) Never has a sovereign state surrendered to a terrorist organization when all domestic and international conditions were in its favor. Hamas is in dire straits and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu surrenders to it and pays it protection money.
Why Netanyahu Will Do Almost Anything for a Gaza Cease-fire (And It Has Nothing to Do With Peace) (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) A cease-fire in Gaza fits in perfectly with Netanyahu's strategy: Bullying the Palestinians until they give up, then pushing them off the political agenda.
Hamas will decide when the shooting will stop - and then the dilemma will return to Israel (Dr. Gadi Hitman, Maariv) Israel is not eager to fight and prefers quiet understandings and the prevention of humanitarian deterioration in the Gaza Strip. In this sense, Israel and Hamas have a long-term, shared interest.
Even a Short War Is a Costly Affair (Hagai Amit, Haaretz) Iron Dome missiles, tank shells and smart bombs don’t come cheap and the government is already contending with a swelling budget deficit.
The casual racism of war-time Israel (Edo Konrad, +972mag) Trauma and racism are an inescapable part of Israeli society, especially on days when the drums of war are beating.
Hamas tries to dictate new rules of game in Gaza, but it may be misjudging Israel (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) The terror group’s aggressive response to an Israeli incursion may have been influenced by Netanyahu’s comments, according to which he is not interested in an escalation.
The founders of the state are thrown out by the re-writers of history and pushed away as traitors (Nathan Zehavi, Maariv) The founding generation, which is dying off, is already marked by a bunch of scum that calls them "leftists" and "traitors." In memory of the Palmachnik, Noa Russo, who was buried on Kibbutz Hulata, which she loved so much.
Israelis like their racism sweetened (Rogel Alpher, Haaretz+) Watching the jovial interview with Jewish terrorist Yitzhak Gabai aired on Channel 20 was like watching Israeli society caught with its pants down.
Why the Sultan of Oman invited Netanyahu (Amatzia Baram, Haaretz+) The sultan, who is not likely to pay a domestic price for the Netanyahu's visit, is trying to promote an arrangement that will cool off the Israeli-Palestinian crisis while keeping a distance.
Israel won't bounce back from double whammy of missile war and budget deficit (David Rosenberg, Haaretz+) While Irone Dome shows its holes, another war is being fought between Israel's economists and the Finance Ministry.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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