News Nosh 1.31.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday January 31, 2019

You Must Be Kidding: 
Habayit Hayehudi leader, MK Bezalel Smotrich, said his party would give immunity from criminal proceedings to soldiers who were indicted today for beating a detained Palestinian father and his son. According to the indictment, the soldiers removed the son's blindfold "so that he would see how they were hitting" his father. The father's injuries were so severe that he was unable to be questioned and required medical care for 3 days.*

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • The (Gantz) speech effect
  • Polls are not everything // Sima Kadmon
  • He didn’t say anything new // Limor Livnat
  • The show of force - Tens of thousands of Ethiopian-Israelis demonstrators blocked central roads in Tel-Aviv in protest of police brutality against them
  • We came to shout: Enough! // Titi Aynaw
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • Gantz takes off, Netanyahu stays stable, Gabbay is wiped out - Polls after Gantz’s speech show a new game
  • Chaos in the left-wing // Meir Uziel
  • The rioting after the demonstration - Thousands of Ethiopian-Israelis demonstrated against police brutality, when it was over dozens threw stones and bottles at police
Israel Hayom

Top News Summary:
The surprising political poll results following Benny Gantz’s maiden speech and the large demonstration by Ethiopian-Israelis were the top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

 A day after Benny Gantz’s first speech, polls showed that if his ‘Hosen L’Yisrael’ party connected with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, they would beat the ruling Likud party, something people didn’t foresee would happen by anyone for many years. Moreover, Gantz and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu were neck-and-neck in the question of who should be prime minister. Interestingly, Israel Hayom’s top story was that ‘senior people from the Yesh Atid party’ said that if Gantz doesn't join forces with their party, Lapid will "take him out.” (Lapid today denied this and said it “doesn't reflect the values of Yesh Atid, and has nothing to do with reality.”) Meanwhile, the Labor party crashed to six seats in the polls. (Also Maariv) Haaretz+ reported that Gantz’s Hosen L’Yisrael party is looking to diversify with women and Mizrachi Jews, of which it has none. Meanwhile, an effort was being made to exclude women visually. A campaign poster of MK Orly Levi-Abekasis, leader of the new Gesher party, was vandalized in Jerusalem, and her face was torn off. The Gesher Party responded: "An attempt to silence the voices of women. (Maariv) Naftali Bennett's party is being probed for allegedly not reporting campaign contributions in 2012. Some new candidates are making a bid for the leadership in the primaries of the Arab-majority parties, Hadash and Balad. Maariv has been doing profiles of candidates for different parties and one was of Nir Avishai Cohen, whose platform is about working to end the siege on the Gaza Strip. The deputy battalion commander in the reserves with the rank of major who was an officer in the Golani Brigade, was one of the founders of the Forum for the Advancement of Jewish-Arab Political Partnership. Cohen is running in the primaries of the Meretz party.

In other top news, thousands of Ethiopian-Israelis came to the peaceful protest in Tel-Aviv to protest against police brutality against them. The papers reported differently on the “scuffles” (Haaretz) or “clashes” (Israel Hayom) that took place between a few dozen protesters and the police “after” the demonstration ended (Haaretz) or “at the end” of the demonstration (Israel Hayom).
Quick Hits:
  • *They Beat a Detained Palestinian and Made His Son Watch: Five Israeli Soldiers Indicted for Abuse - Soldiers from ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda unit “slapped, punched and bludgeoned” detainees and hit them with sharp objects while they were handcuffed and blindfolded, and then forced the son to watch his father severely beaten. The soldiers were said to have made "calls of joy and boasting" during the abuse, which they also documented. Several right-wing politicians slammed the military for prosecuting the soldiers and offered to give them support. (Haaretz+, Times of Israel, Maariv, Israel Hayom, Ynet and i24news)
  • Following Political Disputes With Municipality, Israel Peace Group Gets Whopping Tax Bill - Southern city says group hasn't paid taxes, charges for seven years. Negev Coexistence Forum says retroactive demand is illegal and based on political reasons. (Haaretz+)
  • US security aid to Palestinians to end, envoys seek workaround - Sources say despite Abbas's decision to decline $60 million in annual American funding, fearing terror lawsuits, US, Israeli and even Palestinian officials are working to keep the money flowing to avoid severing a security cooperation with Israel in the West Bank. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Israeli-Palestinian Coexistence Groups Will Lose U.S. Support Because of Anti-terror Law - Because of the Anti Terrorism Clarification Act 'people-to-people' interactions between Israelis and Palestinians that have received U.S. government funds will lose significant funds. (Haaretz+)
  • Trapped in Gaza, Star of Sundance Documentary Misses Film Festival - Actor and playwright Ali Abu Yaseen, star of the film 'Gaza,' was blocked from leaving the Gaza Strip for the Utah-based film festival by blockade, border closures and bureaucracy. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Palestinians wounded in Gaza border riots to undergo surgery in Jordan - Humanitarian organizations sent doctors to Gaza who estimate some 5,000 people are in need of orthopedic procedures after being hit by Israeli fire during weekly clashes with the IDF; So far, they've been refused treatment in Israeli medical centers. (Ynet)
  • Israel's left and right agree: Hebron monitoring force wasn't helping a tense city - Employees of TIPH say they were not informed officially of Israeli decision to expel Hebron monitoring force and learned about it from the media. (Haaretz+)
  • Poll: Most Israelis believe legal system biased in favor of Left - When asked by Movement for Governability and Democracy how they perceive leading officials in justice system, 61% say Chief Justice Hayut is left-wing, over half say her opinions influence her work • Hayut calls to leave courts "out of political games." (Israel Hayom)
  • A huge plan: 36,000 Bedouin will be relocated - The plan: A series of infrastructure projects in the Negev, including the extension of Highway 6 and the construction of a high voltage line.  The first eviction will begin this year and will take about four years. Minister Ariel: "We will restore governance.” (Israel Hayom Hebrew and WAFA agency)
  • 6 murdered in Arab sector since the beginning of 2019 - Arab Israeli citizens gunned down while police have made only one arrest so far; 'Arab citizens' sense of personal security is radically decreasing, to the point that many residents fear to leave their homes,' says MK Yousef Jabareen. (Ynet)
  • Netanyahu to attend American-Polish Mideast conference in Warsaw - Netanyahu's attendance at February conference, previously slammed by Iran as a 'circus,' will follow his reported trip to India and may be succeeded by his attendance at the Munich Security Conference. (Haaretz+)
  • Netanyahu meets Lithuanian president in latest overture to former Soviet bloc - Netanyahu and Lithuania's Saulius Skvernelis sign agreement to increase cooperation on cyberdefense. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel’s Public Debt Grows for First Time Since 2009 - Officials seek to downplay increase, but economists warn 2019 will likely see increase, too. (Haaretz)
  • Israeli rescue teams in Brazil say no chance of finding survivors - The only foreign search and rescue delegation to assist Brazilian military in the wake of the dam collapse that killed at least 84 people say they've recovered 20 bodies while operating in extreme conditions never before encountered by Israeli troops. (Ynet)
  • ABC Orders Pilots for Two Israeli TV Show Remakes - New ABC shows 'Until the Wedding' and 'The Baker and the Beauty' are based on Israeli shows. (JTA, Haaretz)
  • TechNation: Israel Aerospace partnering with German firm on European moon mission - Cato Networks raises $55 million for cloud-based network security ■ Vertex Israel, TLV Partners top VC investors in Israel last year ■ Innovation chief: Intel expansion will have huge impact on Israeli tech. (Haaretz)
  • Al-Qaida threat grows in Syria as militants expand control in north - Militants linked to the terror group control about 5 percent of Syria’s territory, and experts say they could use their base in Syria to launch attacks on West. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • U.S. lawmakers again pursue resolution ending support for Saudi war in Yemen - Last month saw the first time either chamber of Congress had backed a resolution to withdraw U.S. forces from a military engagement under the War Powers Act. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran Ships 30 Tons of Mined Uranium 'Yellow Cake' to Facility in Isfahan - Yellow cake can be further processed into enriched uranium to make fuel for nuclear power plants, Iran’s stated aim, or to provide material for atomic bombs if refined much more. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran Facing the Toughest Economic Situation in 40 Years, Says Rohani - U.S. President Donald Trump last year pulled out of an international nuclear deal with Iran and re-imposed sanctions. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Trump Slams U.S. Intel Brass on Iran: 'Passive, Naive, Should Go Back to School' - The U.S. president tweeted the comments in reply to briefings by the heads of U.S. intelligence services to Congress. (Haaretz)
  • Revealed UAE hired U.S. mercenaries to hack enemies' iPhones with advanced spy tool - New report reveals 'Project Raven,' an espionage endeavor by the Gulf country that started in 2016 and spans targets from Yemen to Turkey. (Agencies, Haaretz)

'Iran was at the cutting edge of technology'
Four decades after fleeing, Iranian-Israelis reflect on pro-Western country that transformed into Shiite theocracy • "Iran had ATMs and color TV in the 1970s, when those things were considered novel," recalls Nissan Soleimani, who left at 15. (Dan Lavie, Israel Hayom)
Elections 2019 Commentary/Analysis:
Gantz Stunned in Election Polls, and Balfour Street May Be Gearing Up for New Benjamin (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Pollsters went crazy for Gantz after his debut speech - If he makes no mistakes, the center-left bloc may make a strategic choice and rally behind the former military chief of staff.
Gantz suddenly has charisma (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) Israel Resilience Party leader and former IDF chief Benny Gantz's debut speech can be considered a success. But this was the easy part, the hard part is to defeat PM Netanyahu at the ballot box.
With a Prime-ministerial Look, Benny Gantz Went for Netanyahu’s Jugular (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) The lights went on and Hosen L'Yisrael leader Benny Gantz broke his silence; others had attacked Netanyahu, but Gantz's barbs sounded more authentic.
Israeli Paradox: Why Gantz’s Right-wing Extravaganza Anoints Him as the Left’s anti-Netanyahu (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) His campaign launch had the hallmarks of a jingoistic junta with neo-fascist tendencies - but these didn’t deter Netanyahu’s detractors one bit.
A Poor Man’s Cause for Rejoicing (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) Finally we’ve found a worthy alternative to Netanyahu, who was making us distraught, a leader with something meaningful to say - But what kind of meaning is this? And what kind of joy?
They placed him on the left; in spite of what he said, the voters did not believe in Gantz (Meir Uziel, Maariv) One of the signs a supporter waved at Ganei Hataarucha (where Gantz gave his speech) read: "Yalla Balagantz" (Gantz chaos). Indeed, ‘balagantz’ began in the political system, but at the moment it seems that it is mainly in the leftist camp.
The Team Behind Gantz's Liberal Stance on Religion and State (Judy Maltz, Haaretz+) Benny Gantz, the man seen as the main challenger to Netanyahu in the upcoming election, was unusually forthcoming on issues such as freedom of prayer at the Western Wall and LGBT rights in his maiden speech. Here's why. Referring to the small southern agricultural community where he grew up, the candidate said: “In Kfar Ahim we lived side by side, observant, traditional and secular people, in modesty and with love of the land and the state. These values created who I am. They are what shaped me.” It is worth noting that since launching his political career a few months ago, Gantz has surrounded himself with individuals and advisers who happen to be active in promoting religious freedom and Jewish pluralism. The firm running his election campaign is Ben Horin and Alexandrovitz, a strategic-media consultancy. By chance, it also represents the Reform movement in Israel, as well as its advocacy arm, the Israel Religious Action Center.
Yair Lapid found himself dealing with a genetic cloning of his party (Nadav Haetzni, Maariv) Benny Gantz, who mumbles polished slogans and meticulous formulas in his speech, is trying to reach the same constituency as the chairman of “Yesh Atid.“ There is no doubt that a new drama is at hand.
Despite Campaign Videos, 2014 Gaza War Wasn't Gantz’s Finest Hour (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Army wasn't prepared, Gantz didn't tell this to cabinet, and the lengthy, costly, bloody war's gains were negligible.
One should not take lightly statements about the mass exodus to the streets if Netanyahu is indicted (Yitzhak Ben-Ner, Maariv) The question arises as to why the possibility of indicting the prime minister and his echoes in the Likud of repeated attempts to obstruct and stop the investigation and trial proceedings is not examined.
Dumbing Israel's Elections Down for the Floating Voters (Yossi Klein, Haaretz+) Battalions of pollsters and consultants and experts are after the stupid or 'politically challenged,' the army of the people who do not know how to vote who are worth about 10 Knesset seats.
Gantz presents: Hubris and slogans (Gideon Allon, Israel Hayom) Benny Gantz's 1,662-word speech was replete with hollow statements such as "we are one people, we all share the same flag, anthem and military." He said nothing about his goals or why he is running.

I Was a Settler. I Know How Settlers Become Killers (Shabtay Bendet, Haaretz+) I helped establish the illegal West Bank outpost where the suspects in the murder of a Palestinian woman, Aisha Rabi, studied. I've watched the Israeli right wing radicalize to the point of devaluing human life - for anyone who isn’t Jewish.
An Israeli Law That Seeks to Humiliate Arab Citizens (Elitzur Bar-Asher Siegal, Haaretz+) The nation-state law changed the status of the Arabic language - by defining Jewish tradition as superior the law ranks the cultural values of Jews from the Arab world lower than those from Europe.
Continue the Temple Mount revolution (Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom) After 50 years, policy is changing and Jews are being welcomed to their people's holiest site rather than being perceived as a threat and a danger to the status quo.
Israel Just Admitted Arming anti-Assad Syrian Rebels. Big Mistake (Daniel J. Levy, Haaretz+) For the first time on the record, a senior official confirmed Israel's secret unconventional war in Syria, aimed at preventing Iranian encroachment. But what did Israel gain from exposing its 'anti-intervention' lie after so many years of denial?
The Ethiopian community cries out: enough! (Titi Aynaw, Yedioth/Ynet) I can say with pride that our protest was staged in the same way we were brought up, with the quiet that is so typical of us, with determination and with our head held high. Labeling us as a violent community is unjust. The only difference between us and you is the color of our skin.
Growth of Israel's Debt Is Kahlon’s Failure (Haaretz Editorial) Israel's finance minister has raised the debt-to-GDP ratio to a dangerous level of 61.2 percent, with the numbers showing that this will only deteriorate throughout 2019 and in the years afterwards.
(Former) IDF commanders stand by troubled ultra-Orthodox battalion
The Netzah Yehuda Battalion suffered multiple setbacks recently including 2 soldiers killed by escaped terrorists, an accidental weapons discharge incident and an assault on Border Police but officers are confident that the unique unit will overcome. [NOTE: Headline does not note the numerous attacks on Palestinians by soldiers in the Battalion. Five were indicted today. - OH]
(Interview with Lieutenant Colonel (Res.) Segal, who was the commander of Netzah Yehuda seven years ago and with Major (Res.) Yossi Levi, who until recently served as a company commander at the battalion. Interviewed by Yoav Zitun in Ynet)

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