News Nosh 8.27.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday August 27, 2019
Quote of the day:
"Fifty-two years have passed since the Six-Day War, and the two populations are intertwined. The future of Hadassah Hospital depends on Palestinian export duties, the West Bank cannot continue to exist without Israeli foodstuffs, and we cannot manage without the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who work in Israel."
--Former Israeli peace negotiator and politician, Yossi Beilin.*

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Warning to Hezbollah
  • The Nasrallah dilemma // Yossi Yehoshua
  • A seminal event // Alex Fishman
  • Prize for hatred // Ben-Dror Yemini
  • Expose - The list of conditions of Otzma Yehudit
  • Expose - These are the most crowded classrooms in Israel
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • Military sources: “If Hezbollah attacks, the response will be sharp”; Iran threatened: Israel will pay a high price
  • Report: Iran advancing “regular army” in Gaza
  • Negotiations for Trump-Rouhani meeting
  • Likud: Considering legislation to place cameras in polling stations
  • Exclusive: Statistics on accidents in schools revealed

Top News Summary:
As Israel tightens security along its northern border following threats of retaliation by Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah following Israeli four attacks on Lebanese and pro-Syrian and pro-Iranian targets, President Donald Trump said he was willing to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and French President Emanuel Macron said it could happen ‘within weeks’  - making top news in Hebrew newspapers.

Following the promise by Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah that Israeli soldiers will pay for Israel military attacks - one of which killed two Hezbollah militiamen in Syria late Saturday night and the other in which two ‘suicide drones crashed in a Hezbollah neighborhood of Beirut a few hours later - Israel went on alert, limiting traffic along the northern border out of fear of an impending retaliation. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also threatened to harm Lebanon if Hezbollah takes responded. Interestingly, Yedioth gave a sort of ‘Israel Hayom’ version of the threats by leading with Netanyahu’s “warning to Hezbollah.’ However, Haaretz and Maariv thought that Hezbollah’s threat, which all the papers reported was being taken very seriously by the Israeli security services, was the more important story. (See also Commentary/Analysis below.)

Nasrallah was not the only one who got angry. Lebanese President Michel Aoun denounced both as “a declaration of war." And in Iraq, a powerful political bloc in the Iraqi parliament also called the air strikes in Iraq ‘a declaration of war,’ and the President and Prime Minister said they were an ‘attack on Iraq’s sovereignty.’

All in all, four attacks were perpetrated between late Saturday night and early Monday morning, two in Lebanon, one in Syria and one in Iraq and all attributed to Israel, one of which Israel took responsibility for.

1.) Late Saturday night Syria, Israel’s air force struck a building in Aqraba, Syria, southeast of Damascus, from which an Iranian drone attack was reportedly slated to be launched. Two Hezbollah people were killed. Unusually, both the IDF spokesman and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued statements about Israel being responsible, thereby breaking - again - Israel’s policy of ambiguity regarding attacks abroad.
2.) Early Sunday in Beirut, two drones crashed into Beirut’s Dahiyyeh neighborhood - a Hezbollah part of town. They were reportedly carrying 5.5 kilograms (12 pounds) of C4 explosives. In his speech, Nasrallah warned Israeli soldiers at the border to "await our response” and added: "I am telling Israeli residents on the northern border, do not believe your government that you are safe – you are not."
3.) Sunday afternoon on the Iraq-Syria border, near the Abu Kamal border crossing. A drone reportedly struck a convoy on the Iraqi side of the border that included Shi’ite militia commanders. Iraqi reports said nine people were killed. [NOTE: Iraq reopened the border crossing just three weeks ago after being closed for over eight years. - OH]
4.) Early Monday morning, eastern Lebanon:  Israeli warplanes attacked a base of the Syrian-backed group known as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

And while Israeli media reported that Israeli residents along the northern border were not fazed, residents of the Gaza periphery were very upset about the reality there, particularly after some 4000 people attending an outdoor music festival Sunday heard rockets launched from nearby Gaza. (video) "This horror film is part of our lives," residents said (Maariv). Two of the rockets were intercepted, while a third landed in an open area, sparking a fire but causing no damage or injuries. Hamas denied responsibility. Interestingly, although Israel attacked two Hamas military targets in response, the IDF blamed Islamic Jihad for the rocket fire. Appealing to Gazans, the Israeli military claimed that that Islamic Jihad is doing the dirty work for the Iranians at the expense of the enclave population's well-being and security. Also Monday, Netanyahu slashed Gaza fuel imports in half.

Amid the tension on five fronts (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and West Bank) Netanyahu invited the leader of the opposition party, Benny Gantz, to a security briefing. Netanyahu was absent from the debriefing.

Elections 2019 Quickees:
  • Israeli election panel chief bars use of cameras at polling stations - Justice's decision comes after Likud activists placed cameras at Arab polling stations in Israel's last election in a move that was slammed as attempt at voter suppression. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • In the Likud they decide: we will go for a speedy legislative path for a "Camera Law" - Despite the opposition of the Election Commission chairman, and the short time remaining, the ruling party announced that they intend to enact a law to allow cameras to be used at polling stations. (Maariv)
  • Poll: The right-wing and left-wing blocs are almost equal, but neither secure majority, Lieberman is still the kingmaker - The week of a series of security events has led to the rising strenght of the large parties. In the left-wing, Labor party bypasses the Democratic Camp - which loses two seats, according to survey released by Kan public broadcaster. (Maariv and Haaretz)
  • On Sunday, Israel's top court bars two leaders of Kahanist party from running for Knesset - Baruch Marzel and Bentzi Gopstein of the Otzma Yehudit party are followers of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose vitriolic racism against Arabs got his Kach party banned from running in the 1988 election. (Haaretz+)
  • Netanyahu Asked Kahanists to Drop Out of Election, Party Source Says - Otzma Yehudit Chairman Itamar Ben-Gvir says party delivered message to Netanyahu that without it, there is no chance for a right-wing government. (Haaretz+)
  • Loyalty in exchange for ‘cease fire’ - On the one hand: Itamar Ben Gvir (Otzmah Yehudit), on the other: Nathan Eshel, (Netanyahu confidante). The demand by the chairman of Otzmah Yehudit: Halt Likud attacks against us - in exchange for automatic support for Netanyahu in the next government. (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Going out to the field: Sara Netanyahu joins the Likud campaign - The prime minister's wife will show up today at the party's mobile studio - where she will be interviewed by Culture Minister Miri Regev. Next week, the Likud campaign will go up a gear. (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Arab Israelis are having a crisis of confidence — and it may keep them away from ballot on Election Day - Residents of a number of Israeli Arab communities who spoke to Haaretz say that the Joint List hasn't been responsive to their issues, and reject Ayman Odeh's statements. (Haaretz+)
  • "They are black, we are white": Likud rage over statement by Kahol-Lavan MK - Right-wing fury towards Knesset member Ram Ben-Barak after the latter was interviewed at a Saturday cultural event on behalf of them, saying "You want to call it right-wing and left-wing? Call it right and left. You want to call it black and white? Call it black and white. They are black, we are white. My only intention and I will repeat it was to clarify where the country is going - if we continue with the existing regime, the State of Israel is going to be a dark state. On 17.09, we in Kahol-Lavan are committed to establishing a democratic, enlightened, equitable and liberal state.” The ruling party claimed that it was another unfortunate statement by members of the Lapid-Gantz party against Likud voters. “After calling us mascots and looters, after calling us beavers, MK Ram Ben-Barak now calls Likud voters ‘black.’ Our answer will come at the ballot box - the Likud must defeat the patronizing attitude of the left.” Amsalem (Likud): "We have already been called riffraff, nothing will help you"; Deri (Shas): "Racism is still here.” Ben-Barak said that by ‘black and white’ he intended to distinguish between ‘darkness and light, fascist and liberal.’ (Maariv and Times of Israel)
Quick Hits:
  • Army disarms IED on West Bank highway days after deadly terror bombing -  Explosive device found near Nablus appears to be of a different variety than the one used in attack that killed Rina Shnerb, 17. (Yedioth Hebrew and Times of Israel)
  • Trump hints that parts of peace plan may be released before Israeli election - U.S. President says the entire plan would not be released before the election, but we 'may see what the deal looks like' before September 17. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • Republican delegation meets Israeli, Palestinian business leaders week after Tlaib, Omar banned - Israeli-Palestinian business cooperation in Judea and Samaria “is just getting its legs,” says Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), and “will become a very useful force in this country.” (Israel Hayom)
  • Veteran Israeli Journalist Apologizes for Calling Arabs ‘Savages’ - Longtime media personality Yaron London issues an apology Tuesday for his offensive 'choice of language', but says he sees no reason to retract his statement made Monday. (Haaretz+)
  • Tel Aviv bus driver bars IDF veteran with PTSD and his service dog - Yaron Edel, who has suffered with post-trauma, nightmares and anxiety since his time in the IDF ended in 2006, says the incident triggered a flashback to the battlefield. (Ynet)
  • Israeli Border Police Uncover, Neutralize Explosive Device in West Bank - Device found a week after a similar weapon had exploded in a spring and killed 17-year-old Israeli girl Rina Shnerb. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli Court Bars Men-only, City-funded Concert - Judge says northern city of Haifa failed to make case for barring women from event using public funds. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel says Iran's Quds Force team arrived in Syria months ago to prepare for drone attack - Israeli army chief says elite unit's commander personally oversaw attack planned in a Golan Heights base, which Israel said it thwarted in overnight strike. (Haaretz+)
  • This Israeli Supermarket Chain May Be Abetting Rain Forest Devastation to Get Cheap Meat - Greenpeace report shows the Cresud company, whose CEO is a Shufersal shareholder, is responsible for cutting down 1.2 million dunams of trees in the Gran Chaco forest. (Haaretz+)

Israel should worry: recent events are reminiscent of the first intifada (Yossi Melman, Maariv) The attacks are not to be seen as individual events, these are the first flares of the 1987 intifada popular uprising. Gaza and the West Bank are volcanoes - just before eruption.
Transfer of Palestinians has always been the Israeli consensus (Hagai El-Ad, Yedioth/Ynet) The media can express as much shock as it likes over news that the cabinet has discussed Israel funding the dispatch of Gazans from the Strip, but one can draw a straight line from the creation of the state in 1948, through Prime Minister Levi Eshkol and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan post-1967 and all the way to Netanyahu, Smotrich and Gantz today.
Israel Fears Trump Might Sit Down With the Iranians – and Be Outmaneuvered (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Intelligence community doesn’t trust that Trump won’t sign an agreement that will leave everyone worse off, but are even less sure that Khamenei will play along.
If there is a meeting between Trump and Rouhani, it will create a difficult challenge for Netanyahu (Shlomo Shamir, Maariv) When the handshake between Trump and a president whose leaders are committed to obliterating Israel is seen, Trump will be able say to American Jews: You see, what does loyalty to Israel mean?
Why Iran Is Risking a Major Escalation With Israel (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Israel prevented the Iranians from building bases from which to launch attacks against it. But it failed to dislodge them from Syria – and Putin plans to keep it that way.
Iran's foiled 'killer drones' were attempt to avenge Israel's strikes in Iraq (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet)  Israel's decision to go public with the news that the military thwarted an unprecedented Iranian aerial attack from Syrian territory sends a message to Khamenei, Putin and the rest of the world still skeptical about Iran's intentions in the region.
An end to ambiguity (Yuval Karni, Yedioth Hebrew) Focusing on security discourse rather than religious and state affairs may be a double-edged sword for Netanyahu. You can say that the era of security ambiguity is almost completely broken. Netanyahu - rightly or not - wanted to publicize Israel's responsibility for a successful action against Iran on Syrian soil. In the short term, Netanyahu is gets political credit...There is a symbolic circle closure here: In 2006, Netanyahu "bragged" that he had been informed in advance of a daring operation to destroy the nuclear reactor in Syria at the time of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Netanyahu was the first to harm the ambiguity of the operation, which had been kept secret for many years. In recent days, the ambiguity has been broken in a more formal way and not through a slip by Netanyahu in a television studio. It can be debated how effective the security ambiguity policy is in the modern age where everyone knows exactly who did what. But one can also argue about the constant gnawing of this policy, which is criticized by generals and former security ministers - is it necessary? Isn't it disclosing operational details? And does the timing of the release of the information affect this difficult election campaign?
An escalation with Iran, and Israel’s opposition is silent (Haaretz Editorial) In Israel there is no opposition; this disturbing realization is becoming clearer. In the midst of a confrontation between Israel and Iran, which is spilling over in the Middle East, Israelis are only hearing the opinion of the government, which isn’t being challenged for a moment by those supposed to be an alternative in the upcoming election. At a time when the military is attacking targets linked to Iran in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and military chief Aviv Kochavi are providing details about attacks, contrary to Israel’s traditional policy of ambiguity, the public is denied a discussion on the objectives and risks of the fighting.
Netanyahu's boasting about (attacks in) Syria is understandable, but why does IDF Chief of Staff Kochavi lend it a hand? (Yossi Melman, Maariv) The PM prefers a security agenda over economic or personal, so it is no wonder that he briefs and publishes a video of the attack. But, there are questions about the timing that remain unanswered.
The myth of the 'Arab Jew' (Lyn Julius, Israel Hayom) Post- and anti- Zionist academics continue to ignore what most Jews raised in Arab countries say and feel, as "discrimination" against Mizrahi Jews serves as a useful stick for bashing Zionism.
The Hizbullah dilemma (Yossi Yehoshua, Yedioth Hebrew) The morning after the attacks in Lebanon and Syria attributed to the IDF, Israel tries to enter Nasrallah's head and prepare for every possible response. Hezbollah may look for a military target in the north, similar to attacks on Mount Dov in the past. Concern: If the rules of the game have indeed changed - it may react sharply, leading to regional escalation.
Israel broke the rules of the game with Hezbollah, and now the ball is in Nasrallah's court (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) The strike in Syria, the mysterious incident in Lebanon and reports on attacks on Iraqi border: In 24 hours a serious escalation between Israel and Iran got underway. But in the short term, the real threat may actually not come from Tehran.
Drone Air Forces Are Taking Off Across the Mideast, Challenging Israeli Defenses (Yaniv Kubovich, Haaretz+) From what was thought of as some sci-fi fantasy, drones have rapidly become a weapon of choice in the Middle East. While the Israeli military is underprepared, one official says a 'drone swarm' attack may be 'right around the corner.’
Israel is taking Hezbollah seriously (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) Hassan Nasrallah has threatened action against Israel that could come from either of its northern neighbors, and in Jerusalem they are wondering if Iran's patience is running out after dozens of unimpeded IDF attacks on its assets.
Israel Believes Nasrallah's Threats Over Lebanon Strikes, Braces for Retaliation (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Israel's top political echelon briefed by defense establishment, which assesses Hezbollah chief will have to make good on public statements.
The facts behind Nasrallah’s threats directed at Israel (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) The reason the leader of Hezbollah has taken responsibility for the base of operation from which the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were prepared to launch their attack was to distance both Iran and the Syrian regime from embarrassment.
*They're here, and so are we (Yossi Beilin, Israel Hayom) It turns out that while the Palestinian economy is more dependent on Israel than Israel is on the PA, there are certain sectors – such as health care – that would collapse if the PA were to pull its people out.
Two Palestinian Sisters Kept Apart by Successive Israeli Prime Ministers (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) It took nearly 20 years for a woman from Gaza to be allowed to see her sister in Jaffa. That’s what happens when the Strip is run like a big prison.
Despite Russian and American promises, the Shi'ite axis reaches our border (Ben Caspit, Maariv) The dramatic success of the civil war in Syria, the surprising success in Yemen and the obvious Sunni weakness against Iranian sails, with only Israel facing them off.
Meet Donald Trump’s Least ‘Disloyal’ Jews (Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz+) Before Trump, the last thing a U.S. president working to win over American Jewry would do is embrace a Messianic Jew, but not anymore. Trump’s presidency has ushered in a new era for ‘Jews for Jesus.’
The West Bank must not become a duplication of Gaza (Shimrit Meir, Yedioth/Ynet) West Bank attacks are carried out by either lone-wolves or locally organized groups hiding any thread that might lead to the Hamas leadership in Gaza that hopes to avoid having to pay a price.
Emigrating From Gaza to the Grave, With a Little Help From Israel (Mohammed Azaiza, Haaretz+) This week I once again fell into a low point of despair and sorrow as a resident of the Strip, when I opened my computer in the morning and found out about the death of a pharmacist from Gaza, who drowned in the sea in an attempt to get from Cyprus to the European continent. I saw his pictures with his family, celebrating his children’s birthdays, the family’s good wishes on the most recent holiday, which included a hope that they would meet soon, in a better situation. The pharmacist, Tamer al-Sultan, didn’t risk his life for financial gain, although who knows better than I do that the economic situation in Gaza is very tough. I understand what his objective was. He left in order to seek hope for his children. What is happening now in Gaza is an internalization of despair, to the point where people will prefer to try to escape, even with a real risk to their lives, only in order to seek hope.
90 years since the Hebron massacre, the hatred surrounding the Jewish people and its state has not ended (Yossi Ahimeir, Maariv) Even today, Arab murderousness does not stop and does not take hesitate to use various measures. Dreams of peace can be fostered, but we face the harsh reality.
Personae non gratae (Nurit Greenger, Israel Hayom) When US Reps. Omar and Tlaib allowed a terrorist-sympathizing group to organize their planned visit, they made themselves unwanted in the country. Israel should not have vacillated; it must respond resolutely in such cases.

Elections 2019 Commentary/Analysis:
Labor’s Peretz sacrifices mustache to atone for sabotaging his own revolution (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Peretz’s prevarication on Netanyahu overshadowed his just protest against Israel’s deteriorating social services.
Peretz's mustache stunt will come back to bite him (Einav Schiff, Yedioth/Ynet) Labor chairman's public removal of his iconic mustache to stifle rumors about his negotiating a deal with Netanyahu is one of saddest things seen on TV in recent years.
Labor leader loses trademark mustache, but election could cost him much more (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) What the heck was Channel 12 News thinking when it gave in to a base PR trick by desperate mustache-less Labor-Gesher leader, Amir Peretz?
Despite the dormant election campaign, deep currents are taking place beneath the surface (Dr. Revital Amiran, Maariv) Ayman Odeh, Ehud Barak and Benny Gantz mark the beginning of an important change in Israel's democratic and political horizon.
Arab Israeli Leader Should Take Things Step by Step (Tzvia Greenfield, Haaretz+) The leader of the Arab parties’ Joint List, MK Ayman Odeh, has stated that he would consider recommending Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz as the next prime minister and might even join a center-left government under certain conditions – including ending the occupation, repealing the nation-state law and revoking demolition orders and bans on Arab construction. This shows that the Arab political leadership is undergoing an important process of sobering up. But this process still intersects with reality only to a limited degree. To end the occupation, it’s first necessary to replace the government. But if the Joint List demands a priori that Kahol Lavan announce policies that would make it very hard, perhaps even impossible, to replace the right-wing government with a saner, more moderate one, what will these wise men have achieved through their demands?

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