News Nosh - 11.13.19

APN's daily news review from Israel

Wednesday November 13, 2019

Quote of the day:

"The question is what will happen the next time the Qatari money fails to come in time or the events on the (Gaza border) fence get out of control, now that we no longer have Baha to blame."
--Middle East commentator Shimrit Meir writes in Yedioth that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad brigade commander Israel assassinated was a convenient target.*

You Must Be Kidding: 

"Those who succeed in a labeling campaign know that next step will prevent Hamas's defeat."
--Yedioth's BDS commentator Ben-Dror Yemini writes that the European Union decision to oblige EU countries to label settlement products gives Hamas support to shoot rockets at Israel.**

Breaking News: 

Rocket fire from Gaza resumes after a quiet night; IDF Strikes in Gaza
220 rockets fired since Tuesday morning, 90 percent intercepted, army says ■ 19 Palestinians killed, 69 wounded in Israeli strikes ■ Commando unit deployed to secure border communities from possible infiltration. (Haaretz and Ynet)


Front Page:

Haaretz

Yedioth Ahronoth

  • The assassination - Dramatic intel achievement: Precise missile hit senior Jihad man in Gaza when he was in bed
  • The alert - Half the country paralyzed, a million pupils stayed home.
  • Iron wedding - In the morning she takes cover, in the evening she’s a joyous bride

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

  • Under fire
  • Double elimination // Ben Caspit
  • The day after // Tal Lev-Ram
  • Scared country // Kalman Libeskind
  • 8-year-old from Holon collapsed during siren and hospitalized in ER
  • Fright in the Home Front: Entertainment areas in Tel-Aviv region closed following rocket fire
  • Islamic Jihad rejects Egyptian attempt to mediate a ceasefire

Israel Hayom

  • “The stars were aligned, it was the time for the elimination
  • After the elimination and the shooting: Alert in the center and the south (of the country);
  • Likely: Also today no school in the south; Under the sponsorship of the escalation: Getting closer to a unity government
  • The elimination that united the sides // Amnon Lord
  • Israel acted from the head, not the stomach // Erel Segal
  • The people of Israel want and need victory // Dov Trachtman
  • Ashkelon in the Gaza periphery - Correct an injustice of years // Tomer Glam
  • Test of the operation is in the deterrence // Yoav Limor
  • The surgical operation is a signal to Iran // Oded Granot
  • Power vs. the terror: Also of the citizens // Gershon Hacohen
  • It’s time to disarm Gaza // Zvi Hauser
  • Where are schools closed? Updates on the website
  • History returns? Because of the situation, the soccer game in Israel with Messi and Argentina could be canceled
  • Againת European hypocrisy: The EU approved labeling products from Judea and Samaria [West Bank settlements]; Fury in Israel: “Wrongful decision”
  • Who needs to go to work? Which businesses will get compensation? The security situation and you

Top News Summary:

Following Israel’s assassination of the commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s (PIJ) northern Gaza Strip brigade commander, Baha Abu al-Ata, early Tuesday morning, PIJ launched almost 200 rockets on southern and central Israel (Iron Dome intercepted almost half), paralyzing half the country (one million children didn’t go to school for the first time since the Gulf War), and Israel fired dozens of missiles on targets in Gaza, killing eight Palestinians, while some politicians and commentators wondered if the assassination were not motivated by political interests - i.e. making a minority government with the Arab party’s support less likely. There was little else in the news was not related to the overhead exchanges of fire.

According to Maariv’s military correspondent, Tal Lev-Ram, Abu al-Ata had changed the rules of the game against Israel acting independently from agreements between Hamas and Israel - and Hamas was wary to impose itself on him. Haaretz’s Jack Khoury wrote that Abu al-Ata felt more freedom than Hamas to take action against Israel, also because he was not the ruling body, which had to take responsibility for its actions vis-a-vis Israel. Abu al-Ata was not the only target between Monday night and Tuesday morning. An attack on the Damascus home of an Islamic Jihad official there was also attributed to Israel. Secretary-General of the PIJ, Ziad Nahala, responded saying, “We are going to  war.” Palestinian factions said, "Israel crossed a red line by returning to the police of assassinations.” (Maariv) Military analysts explained that the Hamas leadership is in a conundrum, not wanting to join the rocket launching, unless many Palestinian civilians are harmed and it is forced to by popular demand. (See Commentary/Analysis below.) Israel Hayom reported that senior Hamas officials in Gaza have been lambasting the top two Hamas officials, Yahya Sinwar and Ismail Haniyeh, over their reluctance to back PIJ’s attack on Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Israel wasn't interested in an escalation and emphasized that the killing of Abu al-Ata was necessary because “Abu Al-Ata was a ticking bomb.”  But not all Israeli lawmakers were convinced. MK Omer Bar Lev (Labor-Gesher) said: “In the last year and a half, there were a large number of opportunities to eliminate [Abu al-Ata], as well as other senior Islamic Jihad and Hamas leaders, but the security cabinet has avoided doing so. Why did Netanyahu change his stance now, just seven days before the end of MK [Benny] Gantz’s mandate to form a government? Regrettably, the answer is clear.”  When asked whether the killing also killed the chances of a narrow government led by Gantz with the support of the Arab parties, Bar-Lev said, "The option that Gantz will form a government in the next seven days has been greatly reduced." (Maariv) Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman also questioned the intent: “A year ago, (when Lieberman was defense minister) we discussed the possibility of targeted assassination of Baha Abu Al-Ata, it was a limited forum. The heads of the defense establishment supported his elimination, I demanded that, too. The one who strongly opposed the assassination was Prime Minister Netanyahu. What has changed since then? I do not know.” The chairman of the Joint List, Ayman Odeh, wrote that Netanyahu is a “cynical person who lost two elections in a row, and will leave only scorched earth in a desperate attempt to remain in his job. For a decade he woke up every morning with the goal of entrenching the occupation and avoiding the chance of peace – and that is what he did today." But President Reuven Rivlin called on MKs to keep a united front: “This is not the time for political disputes.”  And Kahol-Lavan chairman Benny Gantz expressed his support for the targeted killing. Nevertheless, numerous analysts said the escalation with Gaza greatly decreases the possibility of a minority government with the Joint List, which condemns targeted killings and missile attacks on Gaza. Egyptian and international mediators began Tuesday to try to make a truce, but PIJ said the conditions were not ripe for a ceasefire. The EU and the US condemned the rockets from Gaza.

The papers were filled with stories about how scared Israelis in the south and the center of the country were, what parents should tell children, how couples who planned to marry that day felt when they discovered their big day was ruined (Maariv), and even how tourists in Tel-Aviv felt. The websites shared video clips of falling rockets. (Also here and here.) And only Amira Hass reported that one Israeli missile hit a human rights office in the Gaza Strip
 

Quick Hits:

  • Blow to Israel: EU States Must Label Products From Israeli Settlements, Top Court Says - European Court of Justice rules that not labeling settlement products could mislead consumers about Israel being 'an occupying power' in the Palestinian territories. (Haaretz+, Maariv, Yedioth Hebrew and Israel Hayom)
  • Jordan foils plot against U.S., Israeli diplomats and American soldiers, report says - Despite a frosty peace with Israel, the U.S. ally has been uncompromising in fighting radical groups. (Agencies, Haaretz and Maariv)
  • Report: "Milchan pushed for Yossi Cohen's appointment as head of Mossad" - The CEO of a cyber company, whom the head of the Mossad, Yossi Cohen, was supposed to replace, testified in Case 1000: Arnon Milchan worked hard for (Cohen) to receive the senior post.  Channel 13 News reported on the relationship between the head of the Mossad and billionaires Arnon Milchan and James Packer. It publicized the police transcripts of businessman Arnon Milchan describing his relationship with Yossi Cohen. Milchan testified: "The Netanyahu couple asked me if he would be loyal to them. I said he would be very loyal." PM's office: "False and lie.” Cohen: “Never happened.” (Ynet Hebrew, Maariv and Times of Israel)
  • Russian Hacker Held in Israel Extradited to United States - High Court has turned down Burkov's petition against his extradition, in a step the Russian Embassy said 'did not contribute' to ties between the two countries. (Yedioth Hebrew and Haaretz+)
  • More violence in the Arab sector: Former soccer player shot dead in front of his mother - Murad Abu-Kishak, 46, a former Premier League footballer on Petach Tikva team, fed pigeons in the yard of his home in Jaljulya when an anonymous man emerged from a vehicle, fired 12 bullets at him and fled. Police suspect that it was a blood revenge, because his son is currently detained on suspicion of murder. In Haifa, Fouad Mar'i, a business owner in the city, was murdered. (Maariv and Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Israeli Laborer Killed in 80th Fatal Work Accident This Yea -  72-year-old was hit by a bulldozer in a factory yard in Haifa. (Haaretz+)
  • Sanders: My Pride for Israel Lives Alongside My Support for Palestinian Freedom - Bernie Sanders pens an essay for left-wing magazine Jewish Currents, argues that Trump’s 'own words helped inspire the worst act of antisemitic violence in American history.’ (JTA, Haaretz)
  • Report: India warns Israeli, Jewish targets under imminent threat - Indian intelligence warns terrorist cells affiliated with Islamic State, al-Qaida are planning attacks on synagogues, groups of Israelis in India. (Israel Hayom)
  • Iran bans sale of Israeli author Yuval Noah Harari - Iran's culture ministry alleges that Harari's books promote the theory of evolution while hardliners say it's an attempt at 'soft toppling' the Islamist system. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • 'YOU? Really?' Iran's Zarif mocks EU warning over nuclear deal - Iran has long blamed the Europeans for failing to provide the economic benefits it was meant to receive under the deal. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • U.S. troops in Syria say they’ll keep pressure on ISIS after group kills priest - Further north, three car bombs went off Monday in the town of Qamishli, killing at least six people while a priest was shot dead. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Turkish forces in patrol shoot at protesters in Syria's Kobani, say witnesses - Mustafa Bali, spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces, which the YPG spearheads, said in a tweet: 'Turkish army is firing live bullets on Kurdish protesters and killing them in broad daylight.’ (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • In Washington, Erdogan Receives a Warm Welcome From Trump – and a Cold Shoulder From Congress - Turkey's president arrives after pushback from lawmakers over visit, following Ankara's invasion of northeast Syria. (Haaretz+)

Commentary/Analysis:

Hamas Is, for Now, the Only Responsible Adult in the Israel-Gaza Conflict (Muhammad Shehada, Haaretz+) Hamas has not joined in Islamic Jihad's retaliation-by-rocket campaign against Israel. But if Netanyahu ramps up air strikes or assassinations any further, Hamas will be forced to enter the fray.
*Who will we blame now? (Shimrit Meir, Yedioth Hebrew) Not (Iran’s Revolutionary Guards commander) Suleimani, not (Hezbollah leader) Nasrallah, not (Hamas politburo chief) Haniyeh and not even (Hamas leader in Gaza) Sinwar: Baha Abu Al-Ata, whose name is fresh in the general consciousness to such an extent that reporters are still confused about its pronunciation, is the man whose elimination led to a celebratory press conference by no less than the Prime Minister, Chief of Staff and the Shin Bet. Abu al-Ata's name has begun to increase in military briefings in recent months, to the extent that one Palestinian commentators said a few weeks ago: "I have no idea who it is, I have never heard the name, but the Israelis say it so many times that I'm sure they plan to do away with him." Anyone who recently read the profiles about "the de facto leader of Islamic Jihad in Gaza," "Iran's financial pipeline," "a violent and unpredictable man," might think that Israel has eliminated the fierce counterpart to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. But, not really. He is a talented Gazan terrorist terrorist who, until we did not start the campaign to glorify his name, was mainly known among Hamas and Jihad militants, made trouble and disrupted the order. In other words, something in Israeli proportions is very flawed if the elimination of a brigade commander in the Islamic Jihad's military arm is presented as a tremendous achievement while bringing about the paralysis of half the country and intense fire on the home front. This does not detract from the intelligence and operational capability that allowed the precise locating of the Abu Al-Ata couple’s bedroom. You can also learn from this the amount of enemies the man has created for himself in the Strip. But if this is the price that Israel has to pay to remove a tactical obstacle from the process of a long-term arrangement [between Israel and Gaza - OH], then it is difficult to assess what a deep root treatment in Gaza will look like. Because in the Middle East everything is related to everything and most of it is related to Iran, it’s probable that the fact that Iranians are preoccupied with protests in Lebanon and Iraq has reduced the chance of a flare up in the north and allowed attention to Gaza. The elimination of Abu Al-Ata puts to the test the recent IDF concept that most of the troubles originate from Islamic Jihad, while Hamas deepens its commitment to the path of settlement with Israel. The IDF predicted that (Hamas chief in Gaza) Sinwar would not rush to join in the celebration, leaving most of the response to Jihad. This assessment may also have been based on a "theoretical" test by the mediators, said one of the sources involved. Indeed, as of yesterday evening, Hamas’ profile was lowered to a minimum. The question is what will happen the next time the Qatari money fails to come in time or the events on the fence are out of control, now that we no longer have Baha to blame. In addition, the fact that Hamas fails (or does not want badly enough) to curb Jihad itself should raise questions. That is supposed to be their part of the deal. Two positive points nonetheless: one concerns self-control and the lack of mishaps in the Southern Command and the Gaza Division, and the other is the fact that Israel, despite the complicated political situation that has weakened it greatly in the eyes of its enemies, has carried out proactive military action with coordination and unity. If there is a message for Iranians at this event - that is the important message.
A test for deterrence (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom) Hamas is hardly lamenting the "loss" of senior Islamic Jihad terrorist Baha Abu al-Ata, but it may be compelled to join the Islamic Jihad's attack on Israel to ensure its status in Gaza remains strong.
Think about the day after (Giora Island, Yedioth Hebrew) At the time of writing, it is still unclear whether we are on the path to escalation that will intensify to a major Israeli operation, or is it an event that you will die down in a day or two. I think the second option is the correct one. The main reason is that the two main sources of power - Israel and Hamas - are interested in calming things down, but no less important, the two actors that apparently want escalation do not necessarily think the timing is right for them. Those two are the Islamic Jihad and Iran. Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) was caught unprepared. Its charismatic commander, the man who controlled the organization with a high hand, disappeared. The damage to [the wing in] Damascus also undermined its confidence. The result is seen on the ground. Currently, 5-7 activists of the organization were killed while preparing for the shootings. This has not happened in all the events of the last year when the PIJ was the initiating actor. While Iran encourages any harm to Israel, the clear Iranian desire is to create a stranglehold around Israel, a ring that includes Hezbollah in Lebanon, Shiite militias in Syria and the PIJ in Gaza (and possibly even remote assistance from Iraq and Yemen), and then, at the desired time, to operate them against Israel. The situation today does not allow this, first and foremost because Hezbollah is in the midst of an internal political crisis in Lebanon and all its action to help "our brothers in Gaza" will be perceived in Lebanon, and rightly so, as a sacrifice of Lebanese interests for the benefit of Gaza, something which is very unpopular in Lebanon. In order for the scenario of things dying down in a short time to actually happen, it is important to emphasize the following four things: First, we must be satisfied with a measured assault, which should only be against activists planning to shoot us. This kind of restraint for another 24 hours serves us. Second, it doesn't matter who shoots last. If we can continue to prevent injuries on our side, and PIJ wants to claim that it fired last, and allegedly forced us to stop - let it have that. The truth of this round is well understood by it. Third - make sure that all the crossings to Gaza, including those that bring food and fuel, are closed. That is more legitimate and effective than more bombs. Fourth, you must act like the prime minister and the chief of staff and be careful of overly enthusiastic statements that also create an obligation to go beyond what is desired…
Most focused there (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth Hebrew) Baha Abu Al-Ata was a stepson in the terror family. Although it may not always seem that way, this family has rules. There is a logic to the madness. Al-Ata decided to give ignore the rules, to let loose, to mange, in effect, his own private war against Israel, when he wanted and how he wanted. Not only was he a problem for us, he was a problem for Egypt and for Hamas. In Israel, it was believed that as long as he was active in the field, it would not be possible to reach a long-term settlement in Gaza. Any attempt at the arrangement would be met with attacks that will require the government to respond, and put the campaign in Gaza into a tailspin. Over the past six months, explicit and direct warnings have been sent to him. When he continued his path, the decision was made to physically eliminate him. It was believed that Hamas would not mourn his death. It was likely that his top echelons in Gaza would respond with a sigh of relief. The elimination was meant to be the most targeted there is. I am referring not only to the effort to mitigate the collateral damage - his wife and another man who was in the apartment were killed with him - but mainly the effort to keep Hamas out of the picture. In the exchange of gunfire yesterday, following the assassination, the IDF refrained from firing on Hamas' positions. Even the attacks on Islamic Jihad targets were minimal. In three cases, squads that were on the way to launch (rockets) were shot at [and killed]. Workshops were hit here and there. The assumption was that if twenty-thirty people were killed, Hamas would have to intervene. Besides Al-Ata, his wife and the extra man in their apartment, between 15-20 people were killed. Indeed, as of last night, Hamas did not fire. It let Jihad launch more than 200 rockets, but avoided launching itself. Gaza and Israel are waging war, and Hamas put a lock on the weapon. This should teach us something about the mood in Hamas. We said the return of targeted eliminations; We said Hamas' surprising behavior; The third innovation is the Home Front story. The order issued by the Home Front Command yesterday morning was strenuous and sweeping: one million children who were going to kindergarten and schools stayed home; Hundreds of thousands of people did not go to work; The city streets in the center - also in Tel Aviv - were empty. At the end of the day, the IDF said that the launches from Gaza were smaller than expected. That’s half the story. The other half was the fear that casualties in the center of the country would require the Cabinet to push for escalation in Gaza. It is a very politically sensitive period, and the political echelon is more attentive than ever to certain elements of public opinion. It is better to absorb claims of defeatism than to go into an uncontrollable decline. Therefore, they went for restraint in Gaza and containment in Sderot, Modi'in and Rishon Lezion…
Will Hamas rein in Islamic Jihad in Gaza? (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) Since none of the parties to the agreements to bring quiet to the Strip actually favor escalation and a prolonged conflict, Hamas may stay out of this cycle, despite its rhetoric, allowing calm to return to the area within a few days.
Hooray for Israeli Strategic Surgery (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) The IDF spokesperson promised the country’s frightened civilians that “we are not returning to the policy of assassinations.” He is correct. Not because there won’t be more targeted killings, but because there is no policy. There’s shooting from the hip, there’s political score-settling, and above all there’s the need to show the Israeli public that there’s someone in charge who is fully in command even as he drowns in a foul swamp of legal troubles. This is a one-off celebration, a kind of passing-of-the-flag ceremony from the outgoing defense minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to the incoming one, Naftali Bennett. The targeted killings aren’t a new invention. When they were still defined as “policy,” they brought about the surgical murders of many Hamas leaders, including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz Rantisi, as well as the “elimination” of around 60 additional leaders, military commanders and militants in Hamas and Islamic Jihad. That number doesn’t include the Hezbollah members and the Iranian scientists whose demonstrative killings did not really diminish the military threat to Israel.
Calculated assassination (Alex Fishman, Yedioth Hebrew) When Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman last glanced at the drone images that flowed to the Shin Bet’s special operations commander and compared them with the data that appeared on the computer monitor, he knew there was no turning back. All the stars, as he would later describe it, worked out as planned. The prey was in the trap. It was clear to him - as it was clear to the prime minister, the chief of staff and other senior chief of staff - that once he gave the green light to the elimination of Baha Abu al-Ata and the baton passed to the Air Force, the State of Israel, including the Tel-Aviv region, would enter into a military conflict that could continue between a few days to a about a week, and this is also unclear. It all depends on the amount of casualties on each side and the extent of Hamas involvement. Hamas has no interest in fighting today as it could lose Egyptian support and Qatari money. But as the confrontation prolongs public pressure, from inside Gaza, may lead it there. What was laid on the tables of the prime minister and defense minister and brought for the Cabinet's approval more than a week ago was clear intelligence on complex terrorist activities, including rocket fire, in the coming days. The army and the Shin Bet recommended the elimination of the engine behind the planned attack, as well as dozens of previous attacks: Al-Ata. After all, any attempt to eradicate the man will, in any case, be met with a heated reaction from the organization against Israel. Once the target of the liquidation was marked, the military confrontation would follow, without losing the element of surprise. Al-Ata himself acted like a wanted man and changed his apartment frequently, but his surroundings were routine. If Israel were to broadcast a state of emergency in the Gaza Strip, he would have long gone into hiding, under a hospital or a kindergarten. Yesterday at 4am, the Air Force attacked a three story building in Gaza. The Shin Bet provided pilots with the location of the apartment, and also signaled to them against which wall was the bed where Abu al-Ata was sleeping. At 04:15, according to an official spokesman in Syria, Israel attacked Akram Aghour’s home in Damascus, near the Lebanese embassy in another Hezbollah stronghold. Aghouri and Al-Ata were acquaintances, operationally and politically related. Aghouri was not only the Jihad's liaison, to Iran but also the head of the military department of the organization and the one who was managing his finances…The hand of Al-'Ata is lacking (to the PIJ), but the assessment in Israel is that this picture will change and more we will see greater barrages to longer ranges. The question is where will it stop and whether the risk that Israel has taken here has justified itself. Meanwhile, Islamic Jihad gets credited for an achievement: it has succeeded in partially paralyzing life in Israel. It is doubtful whether that will satisfy it and its patrons in Damascus and Tehran.
After Israel's targeted killing in Gaza, what comes next depends on Hamas (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Despite reassurances from premier and military, and potential political gains for Netanyahu and Gantz, Israel is not fully in control of the escalating situation with Gaza's Islamic Jihad.
Frightened country: Whoever behaves and is perceived as weak - pays the price of the weak (Kalman Libskind, Maariv) The fear that Israel is broadcasting has a price, and it meets us once every few weeks or months in the "red color” (warning siren). If this elimination remains a solitary event, nothing will change.
For Islamic Jihad, Revenge for Israel's Killing of Gaza Leader Isn't a Top Priority (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Palestinian group would use Baha Abu al-Ata’s death for a revamp, while ruling Hamas may find itself trapped in a dangerous paradox.
Counterterrorism 101 (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) The elimination of Islamic Jihad terrorist Baha Abu al-Ata, a man defined as a "ticking time-bomb," undoubtedly prevented countless terrorist attacks and dealt Islamic Jihad a serious blow.
**The Hasbara (advocacy) arm (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth Hebrew) The (settlement) product labeling campaign gives Hamas and Islamic Jihad the backing to provoke Israel…With amazing timing, the European Court of Justice has decided to oblige European countries to comply with EU Commission directives and to label products originating from the settlements. One could argue that this is a legitimate decision, which has nothing to do with the general boycott campaign against Israel, and certainly not Hamas and jihad organizations. The problem is that there is a link between the tribunal's decision not only with the BDS campaign, but also with the boldness of Jihad and Hamas to provoke Israel. The judges in Luxembourg did not intend, but they backed up those elements, among Palestinians and leftist organizations, who have no interest in ending the occupation or criticizing the settlement enterprise, but something else entirely: denying Israel's right to exist. As already revealed by the NGO Monitor Research Institute, some 20 organizations are working to promote the “[settlement] product labeling” campaign. Their practice of labeling products is part of the ‘stages process’…for which receive grants from Europe to allow them to publish anti-Israel reports, which are submitted to Europe to adopt anti-Israeli decisions. What is the connection to things heating up in Gaza? Well, it's the bodies that are organizing campus protests, from London to Stockholm and from Amsterdam to Paris, which portray Israel as a genocide state, plus the slogans "FREE GAZA" and "FREE PALESTINE". Now these bodies are gaining success, which, although largely symbolic, is a boost of encouragement to continue the struggle against Israel. And if in the coming days the warming will lead to a confrontation between Israel and the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip - they will be there to set public opinion on fire. They are the hasbara (advocacy) arm of Hamas and Jihad. They have a fully operational role, even if through propaganda. Every confrontation with Hamas begins with international understanding of Israel's right to respond to the rockets being launched at its population centers. Yesterday, too, there was condemnation from Europe about the rocket fire from Gaza. But the images of destruction are reaching every channel in the world, and representatives of the hostile organizations are organizing incitement in networks and demonstrations. Also in operations "Cast Lead" and “Protective Edge" Israel could have defeated Hamas. But the protest, in the end, blocks Israel. Those who succeed in a labeling campaign know that next step will prevent Hamas's defeat. And Hamas can afford to provoke Israel and launch more and more missiles, because it knows these institutions are its security belt. It has happened before, there is no reason for it not to happen again.
A Jewish Democratic congressman called me a Nazi collaborator (Alan Dershowitz, Israel Hayom) When government officials berate people for expressing contrary points of view, free speech and dissent are chilled.
Dangerous flirtation: The fact that he did not incite for the murder of Rabin does not absolve Netanyahu of indirect responsibility (Nir Kipnis, Maariv) This dangerous flirting has always taken place between politicians and groups they make sure to condemn. Netanyahu loved the masses, and like many before him, he assumed he could control it, and was wrong.

Elections 2019 Commentary/Analysis:
Verdict in Ashkelon Mayor's Case Doesn’t Bode Well for Netanyahu (Mordechai Kremnitzer, Haaretz+) PM’s team may cheer the disgraced official’s acquittal of bribery, but ruling actually defends the democratic process - and therefore the prosecution.
Following the escalation: The possibility of a minority government has become a surreal idea (Anna Barsky, Maariv) The Lieberman-Gantz meeting was not canceled but merely postponed, while his meeting with the PM remained on schedule. If the security situation does not calm down, then it will start to affect the political arena.
Doubts About Gaza Decision Showcase Netanyahu as the Little Boy Who Cried Wolf (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) To counter allegations of personal motivation and political timing, Netanyahu recruited security chiefs to vouch for him.
Gaza Escalation Makes Minority Government in Israel a Distant Prospect (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Chances of a unity government have supposedly become greater after the killing of an Islamic Jihad commander – but it's far from a done deal
Islamic Jihad Commander’s Killing May Not Be a Political Ploy, but It’s Certainly Advantageous for Netanyahu (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Accusations of political considerations in launching military operations are rarely founded in Israel, where military and intelligence chiefs have ways to complain about abuse of their professional judgment.
Political leaders: Stand up and be counted (Isi Leibler, Israel Hayom) A third election seems increasingly likely but that may have an abominable and possibly disastrous reflection on Israel’s political leaders.
Amid Gaza escalation, Netanyahu-Gantz 'crisis government' closer than ever (Ravit Hecht, Haaretz+) Israel may have broken its cycle of elections but at the cost of a barrage of missiles on its southern front and uncertainty in the north.

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

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