News Nosh 4.23.20

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday April 23, 2020

Number of the day: 75

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • Who are you, Health Ministry Director, Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov?
  • 20 years exactly since they became the symbol of the withdrawal from Lebanon: Where are they today? (Photo of soldiers holding up their weapons and shouting with glee)
  • The oversight of the defected tests
  • The battle over fireworks - Government decided to allow fireworks shows on Independence Day, but mayors considering completely canceling them (Hebrew)

Maariv This Week

  • Between harshening and easing (restrictions)
  • No excuses left // Yehuda Sharoni
  • US: Annexation - an Israeli decision
  • Attack at a (West Bank) checkpoint - The soldier was hit by a car and stabbed

Israel Hayom

  • Remember them, protect us - Families (of fallen soldiers) go to the graves of their loved ones early (before Memorial Day)
  • Exit plan - Entry to military cemeteries will be prohibited; Kindergartens and schools will operate beginning July; Digital phone tracking of quarantined people was cancelled
  • Talks with Yamina faction: “The gaps are not wide”
  • The rehabilitation mission that awaits the next Culture Minister // Michal Aharony
  • Fighter’s rest - Revolution in IDF: Soldiers are entitled to 7 hours of sleep
  • Our joint enemy: corona // Jason D. Greenblatt and Bishara Bachbach
  • Bitter coffee - Yitzhak and Ruth Ben-Shitreet from Ashdod are unhappy, not just because of corona. The coffeeshop “Ben’s Place,” they created in memory of their grandson who fell in Operation Protective Edge, closed because of corona crying out for help
  • Not allowed to take off: No plan formulated yet for the aviation industry

Top News Summary:

Families visiting their beloved fallen soldiers ahead of Memorial Day, when the country will again be on lockdown, as it will be on Independence Day next week, corona tests that are faulty and crucial coronavirus information kept under wraps made top stories in today's Hebrew newspapers, and in the background was the news about the moves of the new unity government being formed. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that if Israel’s new government wants to annex land in the West Bank it’s up to Israel and the US will talk about it with Israel privately.

Elections 2020 / Netanyahu Indictment News:
Haaretz+ reported that Likud and Kahol-Lavan are in a legislative marathon to change Basic Laws that would allow them to form this unity government. Israel Hayom stressed again that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wants the far-right-wing Yamina faction in the coalition and that the gaps are not large. Today, Thursday, the High Court decided it would hear a petition against the Netanyahu-Gantz coalition agreement, in light of the fact that Netanyahu is facing three indictments of moral turpitude. Netanyahu’s trial is set to begin on May 24th after courts resume activity.

Corona News and Quickees:

With the current wave of corona outbreak over, Israel decided to reopen the economy, shops and businesses, but at the same time it is taking precautions and putting people back on lockdown next week on Memorial and Independence Days. Moreover, there will be stringent restrictions during the month of Ramadan, prohibiting Muslims from praying at Mosques, visiting family, as is the tradition, and from holding joint post-fast dinners. Israel Hayom Hebrew reported that Director General of the Ministry of Health Moshe Bar Siman-Tov and the heads of the Arab sector have been preparing for weeks ahead of the month of Ramadan and the challenges expected during the very family-oriented holiday.

  • Coronavirus death toll at 191, with 14,592 confirmed cases - As of Thursday morning, the number of Israelis who have recovered from the virus now stands at 5,334. The number of recoveries has now exceeded the number of new diagnoses for the eighth day in a row. (Haaretz+, Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • Israel Blocks Palestinian Police From Enforcing Coronavirus Regulations in Jerusalem - PA police stopped from entering Kafr Aqaba – inside Jerusalem’s boundaries but on other side of the separation barrier – where locals say Israel isn’t helping. (Haaretz+)
  • Crucial Coronavirus Info Unavailable to Israeli Public, Ministers, and Decision Makers - Only a select group has access to Health Ministry's raw data, most of whom have nothing to do with the health care system ■ Ministry official: 'We get processed information in the form of reports, not raw information.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Israel Suspends Police Phone-tracking for Coronavirus Quarantine - Law enforcement now to use surprise home visits, other means, to ensure coronavirus isolation orders are obeyed. (Haaretz+)
  • IDF lab for identifying fallen soldiers refitted to test coronavirus - In a matter of just four days, the specialized lab for identifying fallen soldiers through DNA testing, which is subordinate to the Military Rabbinate, was completely transformed to help in the fight against the coronavirus. Hundreds of coronavirus samples are tested daily. (Israel Hayom)
  • Under Defense Minister Bennett's instruction: IDF lab has stopped corona testing for Gazans - The reason for the decision is that the testing at the military laboratory in Zrifin military base was not coordinated with the political echelon, i.e. Defense Minister Naftali Bennett. Security official: “This is a mistake, we have a definite interest that the epidemic will not erupt in the Gaza Strip.” In total, only about 100 tests were done over the course of two days.  (Maariv, MEMO and JPost)
  • Magen David Adom suspends most coronavirus testing due to faulty component - HMOs await Health Ministry's decision on whether to re-examine individuals tested using faulty swabs shipped from China as officials unsure malfunction has affected test results. (Ynet)
  • Suspicion: Soldiers smoked an e-cigarette with their friend who was in solitary confinement and they got infected with corona - Ynet has learned that an epidemiological investigation has revealed that some soldiers in the base in the south violated orders, and spent time with their companion, who was in isolation and infected with the virus. A basic training soldier testified: "Soldiers met and hugged as if nothing, guidelines were not enforced." IDF Spokesman: "Those involved were reprimanded, the buildings are regularly disinfected.” (Ynet Hebrew)
  • Israel's counter-terror fighters adapt to coronavirus - Though their missions remain unchanged, the police special unit must now operate using protective gear and oxygen masks to protect themselves - and their detainees - during the pandemic. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Weed sellers see spike in demand as Israelis deal with coronavirus crisis - Veteran drug dealer 'E.' says sales increased by 30-40% when buyers stocked up as lockdown loomed, warns cannabis will continue to be sold on black market until it is legalized. (Ynet)
  • Israel Blocks Palestinian Police From Enforcing Coronavirus Regulations in Jerusalem - Israel stopped PA police Tuesday from entering Kufr Aqab – inside Jerusalem’s boundaries but on other side of the separation barrier – where locals say Israel isn’t helping. (Haaretz+)
  • The IDF and the police entered a Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem to enforce the guidelines of the Corona battle - Troops arrived at village of Kufr Aqab in the north of Jerusalem [over Green Line - OH], which is beyond the separation fence, Thursday, after Palestinian police forces were detained for trying to enforce corona restrictions in the area. IDF soldiers' activities in the area are considered exceptional, as they have no authority to detain the villagers, because they have Jerusalem residency. Since the battle against the virus began, the state has at least twice authorized armed Palestinians to operate in the neighborhood to enforce local regulations related to corona. The local council in Kufr Aqab is trying to impose a closure on residents, since Israel does not operate there. (Haaretz Hebrew)
  • Palestinian workers cannot go to work - and the factories in the Barkan (Israeli industrial zone in West Bank) are not operating - Because of the Palestinian Authority's corona closure: Shamir salads factory has been closed for a week, as have cookie, detergent and carpet factories in Barkan and Ariel. Factory owner: "Everyone in the area has been hurt, we are at a loss." (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Too poor to buy, too scared to meet: Palestinians face joyless Ramadan - The holy fasting month is expected to start Friday but, as elsewhere, residents of Gaza and West Bank are this year facing the prospect of celebrations without usual large gatherings for family meals or evening prayers. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Dinner on a doorstep: reaching the Middle East's vulnerable in lockdown Ramadan - As some 320 million Muslims face enforced separation at a time when socializing is almost sacred, region's countries and communities find new ways to reach those in need. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Iranian: 'I need a source of income and I take all the risks' - Like the wider Mideast Iranians in cities rely on delivery for many of their daily supplies amid one of the world's worst outbreaks of the coronavirus. For $15 a day, deliverymen feed people who stay at home. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)

Other Quick Hits:

  • Israeli Border Police officer moderately wounded near Jerusalem in stabbing, car-ramming attack - Soldiers at the site shot the assailant, who later died, according to Border Police. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Israeli policeman filmed assaulting ultra-Orthodox man in Jerusalem - Justice Ministry to investigate after footage shows cop shoving man who posed no threat, after which other officers are seen passing by without reacting. (Haaretz+)
  • Hamas Sees Improved Chances for Prisoner Swap Deal With Israel, Lebanese Report Says - Sources from the group told Al-Akhbar that Cairo sees willingness on Israel’s part to move ahead in talks, but deal dependent on Israel’s new government. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • Israel Clears Illegal West Bank Outpost Near Settlement of Yitzhar - In outposts near Yitzhar, IDF, Border Police and the Civil Administration evacuated four buildings illegally built in Area C in outposts ‘Kippah Srugah’ and ‘Tkuma’ and demolished six buildings in Komi Uri and one in Lehava, and two people were detained for resisting eviction and for violence. ‘Kumi Ori’ outpost is a closed military zone, settlers have refused to stay away from the area and have confronted Israeli forces a number of times. A security official said the evacuation passed relatively quietly, but soldiers remained at the site to enforce the closed military zone order and they are on high alert for violent incidents that may occur in the near future as a protest against the eviction. Yitzhar settlement responded: "The evacuation is a government ‘price tag’ (revenge act - OH) during corona days. One of the evacuees is in her ninth month of pregnancy." (Haaretz+ and Maariv and Ynet)
  • Israel thwarts terror attack at country's biggest soccer stadium - Shin Bet domestic security services reveal that 3 Hamas operatives from the West Bank had planned last month to carry out several deadly attacks, including at Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium that has a capacity to house over 30,000 people. (Ynet)
  • Report: Israel warned Hezbullah activists before attacks in Syria - According to the New York Times, terrorist operatives received "surprising" phone calls and were told to leave bases before being attacked. The goal, reportedly, is to avoid a total war with Hezbollah. This was how the assassination of the (Hezbollah) people in the jeep last week was ‘missed.’ Mossad chief, is is said, opposes this policy: “Kill terrorists without fear.” (Ynet Hebrew and NYT)
  • Coalition deal keeps Amir Ohana’s state attorney in place - The coalition deal signed between Kahol-Lavan and Likud on Monday is expected to keep Acting State Attorney Dan Eldad in office for another six months, despite fierce opposition from his direct boss Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, who was not consulted on the issue. (JPost)
  • Attorney General Mendelblit against Acting State Attorney: “Ethical and professional failures were discovered in his work" - The Attorney General sent a letter Thursday to the Civil Service Commissioner stating that there was a legal impediment to extending Attorney Dan Eldad's tenure, and strongly attacked him: “He hid from issues that he was dealing with.“ (Maariv and Yedioth Hebrew)
  • *Poll: 75% among Arab sector define themselves as Israeli - Jewish People Policy Institute's Pluralism Index notes a major shift on identity affiliation among Arab Israelis. Haredim rank last among all sectors in terms of contribution to the state's success. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel's Top Court Strikes Down Law Requiring Asylum Seekers to Deposit 20% of Salaries - In effect for over two years, law was meant to encourage asylum seekers to leave. (Maariv and Haaretz+)
  • "For us it's a victory over the terrorists and the Nazis" - Eight months after they lost their daughter Rena in a mine blast at ‘Danny Spring’ (settler name for West Bank spring - OH), Ethan and Shria Shenrab embraced a baby girl, born on the eve of Holocaust Day: "We sanctify life, not death.” (Maariv)
  • New US law allows terror victims to sue PA - The Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act of 2019 seeks to force Ramallah to pay damages to terror victims and their families. It is believed the Palestinian Authority owes victims upwards of $423 million. (Israel Hayom)
  • Hand grenade, military vest found at UNRWA school in Gaza - UN agency "strongly and unequivocally" condemns "flagrant violation" of international law after military items are found during a routine inspection at an empty school. (Israel Hayom)
  • Chabad Bans Envoy From Participating in Israeli Independence Day Ceremony - Kathmandu's female ‘shaliach’ withdraws participation in torch-lighting event after rabbinical court’s firm opposition. It is widely known that the Hasidic movement has an ambivalent relationship with Zionism and the State of Israel. On the one hand, Chabad vocally supports Israeli annexation of the West Bank and has an organized presence in West Bank settlements. On the other hand, it has not come to terms with the secular aspects of Zionism and the Israeli government. (Maariv and Haaretz+)
  • Danish Bible Society’s translation omits dozens of references to Israel - The Danish company for holy writings claims it was seeking to prevent confusion with the modern-day state; critic accuses organization of ‘replacement theology.’ (Ynet Hebrew and Times of Israel)
  • Trump instructs Navy to 'shoot down' Iran gunboats if they harass U.S. ships - Comments come a week after 11 vessels from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy came dangerously close to U.S. ships in the Gulf. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran's Revolutionary Guard says it successfully launched military satellite - The launch comes after a U.S. drone strike killed Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in January. Israel condemns the launch, calling on the international community to impose additional sanctions on Iran. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Pompeo Says Iran's Military Satellite Launch Might Defy UN Resolution - At a time of heightened tensions, Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps says Wednesday it successfully launches country's first military satellite into orbit. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Explained: Iranian Missiles and Trump's Threats: Iran-U.S. Tensions Flare Anew - Iran Guard commander threatens U.S. Navy after Trump tweet. (Agencies, Haaretz)


‘Capitulation, Not Compromise’: How Israelis Who Voted for Gantz Feel Now He’s in Bed With Bibi
Many Kahol Lavan supporters tell Haaretz they feel deceived and betrayed – but others see a pragmatist who opted for the least of all evils by agreeing to an emergency unity government with Netanyahu. (Judy Maltz, Haaretz+)
What Is Ramadan? Everything You Need to Know (But Were Afraid to Ask)
The beginning of each new month in Islam is marked by the observance of a new moon. (Haaretz and VIDEO)

Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
Netanyahu and Gantz’s Hostile Takeover of Israel's Legislature (Haaretz Editorial) The coalition agreement between Likud and Kahol Lavan marks another stage in the executive branch’s takeover of the legislative branch.
"Prime Minister Benny Gantz," that scares me (Brigadier General (Res.) Zvika Vogel, Ynet Hebrew) His dubious service as chief of staff, the fact that he was dragged into the government by Gabi Ashkenazi, and that he will serve as a decoration at IDF Headquarters for a year and a half, I could deal with. But this is a leader? The new government, whose sole purpose is to set an end date for Binyamin Netanyahu's term, came to life in sin. Benny Gantz as defense minister, and later as prime minister - that’s a crime. No one has any doubt that by joining the "Emergency Government,” the voice is Benny Gantz’s, but the hands are Gabi Ashkenazi’s. And anyway, after three election campaigns in which so much dirt has come out, it's clear that in this government, each of the senior officials holds the others by their testicles. It may be pleasant to them, but it is also a guarantee of failure. In the balance of fear that exists between the senior figures, is embedded an immediate danger of deterioration and the fulfillment of mutual threats.
The meaning of unity (government): Israel will be managed between the government cabinet and the defendant's bench (Attorney Tomer Naor, Maariv) The normative and institutional competence of Netanyahu, the first prime minister in our history to serve while being indicted on bribery charges, has been harmed, and he is in constant conflict of interest. The High Court must intervene on this issue.
Unity gov't set to cost Israel over NIS 900 million (Gad Lior, Ynet)  The new coalition is set to be unprecedented in its numbers with a rumored 56 ministers, the biggest government in Israeli history, which would cost the state close to NIS 1 billion over the next 3 years
Trump, Biden or His Base: On Annexation, Netanyahu Must Decide Who's Dispensable (Daniel B. Shapiro, Haaretz+) Netanyahu’s fast-track West Bank settlement move risks infuriating key current and future allies. Will the coronavirus crisis accelerate Israel’s West Bank annexation – or derail it?
This is not betrayal by Gantz. This is the collapse of the left-wing across the world (Chaim Tomer, Ynet Hebrew) This is not just an Israeli phenomenon: the center-left sees its ideology falling apart, the strategy dissolving and charismatic leaders not growing.
The legal challenges to Israel's unity government (Gilad Morad, Ynet) The Supreme Court will have to rule on the legality of a criminally indicted person assuming the position of prime minister after a motion to block Netanyahu from the leadership has already been tabled.
High Court of Netanyahu: Improper interference in the politics of the political process (Attorney Ze'ev Lev, Maariv) The petition against the Prime Minister (forming a government) contradicts the Basic Law, and the Government Law, which explicitly states that it is possible to appoint a person against whom criminal proceedings are already underway.

Other Commentary/Analysis:

How COVID-19 has sparked anti-Semitic conspiracy theories (Fiamma Nirenstein, Israel Hayom) In the wake of the pandemic, it has become clear that the Jewish people's right to a state and self-defense can be questioned in the name of a virus.
In Egypt, Only the Rich Have the Privilege of Staying Home in the Time of Coronavirus (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Egyptians residing in rural areas are forced to commute to big cities without protective gear and without a health system that can provide proper treatment.
The Ramadan dilemma (Smadar Perry, Yedioth/Ynet Hebrew) About a billion Muslims will be stranded in their homes in the coming month in light of the corona epidemic. Countries in the region are concerned about whether the fast will harm and what is allowed to watch on television. When more than a billion Muslims are stuck in homes, it will be the month of television viewing. But dozens of films will not be broadcast this year, due to Corona: filming was cut off, editing wasn’t finished, and even the “Egyptian Intelligence Files” series, which centers on an Egyptian espionage case, will not air. It is possible that the government, with the strong encouragement of President A-Sisi, decided not to provoke Israel. Meanwhile, A-Sisi is the only one of the 22 leaders of the Arab world to be seen - just once - with a mask, at a gathering of thousands of military personnel. Most of the Arab leaders have disappeared from their homes. Ahead of Ramadan, they moved to hiding places, from where they will oversee the management of their country.
The Jews Who Befriended Turkey and Became Genocide Deniers (Marc David Baer, Haaretz+) Prominent Jews, from Turkish chief rabbis to Israel's presidents to U.S. lay leaders, have propped up Turkey’s Armenian genocide denial. That's only just begun to change.
An immense but imperative sacrifice (Amnon Lord, Israel Hayom) The decision to forbid bereaved families from being with their loved ones on Memorial Day is gut-wrenching. But that doesn't mean it's wrong, particularly if we want to continue easing restrictions and returning to normal life.
Birds of a feather Trump and Netanyahu are poles apart on coronavirus crisis (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Netanyahu’s inherent alarmism has saved Israeli lives; Trump’s oblivious recklessness has enabled thousands of American deaths.
What makes Rabin Square a cornerstone of Israeli democracy (Naama Riba, Haaretz+) Thousands of protesters thronged the square on Sunday evening, standing at the requisite six feet from one another but showcasing the square at its best.
Do the Jews really need a Conference of Presidents? (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) A dispute over the choice of a new leader for the umbrella group of "major" Jewish organizations calls into question whether even the pretense of a unified voice is still possible.
Is an Israeli diamond tycoon using Trump-adjacent lobbyists to subvert U.S. foreign policy? (John Prendergast, Haaretz+) If mining tycoon Dan Gertler finds a way to skirt the U.S. sanctions already imposed on him, that will seriously undermine U.S. anti-corruption efforts – and have major implications for U.S. foreign policy.
'When the cat's away, the mice will play' (Nurit Greenger, Israel Hayom) While the world is distracted defending itself against the ravages of COVID-19, Iran tightens grip on Nagorno-Karabakh.

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