News Nosh 7.6.20

APN's daily news review from Israel - Monday July 6, 2020

Quote of the day:

“The occupation is the mother of all evils…The status quo is good for Israel because Israel gets all it wants without paying a price.”
In an interview, former Shin Bet chief Carmi Gillon, says the Palestinians “got screwed.”*

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • Every government and its Yom Kippur blunder // Nahum Barnea writes that the government put great effort to stop corona spread and gain time, but then didn’t do anything with that time (Hebrew)
  • Last night at hospital: Overload
  • Academic exams moved to Zoom and the cheating industry is celebrating

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

Israel Hayom

  • In the cross hairs: The sea, parks and gyms - Dramatic night meeting: Health Ministry recommends harsher restrictions
  • Soldiers will go home only every 21 days; Reserve exercises will be frozen
  • Iran admits: “We were harmed”
  • The tracking storm: There is a quarantine order - but there’s no one to talk to about it
  • Researchers: “The virus is carried by air”
  • “Enough of the violence against us”: From this morning, social workers on strike
  • Arab leaders in a message to Israel: “We are not disturbed by sovereignty, we will be satisfied with a symbolic condemnation”

Top News Summary:
Corona warnings, corona restrictions and corona economic consequences continued to lead and fill the Hebrew newspapers. Annexation was all but a distant memory, with the exception of the ever-hopeful 'Israel Hayom,' which repeated its story that the Arab states quietly accept Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank. This comes despite vocal opposition from Jordan and the UAE.

Of interest were the noticeably different reports about a clash between settlers and Palestinian farmers in the area between Karnei Shomron settlement and Biddiya village. Most of the Hebrew media quoted the settlers saying that about 100 Palestinians attacked several settler youths in the area and that a pickax may have been used on the head of a settler and that four were wounded and brought to an Israeli hospital and that 'someone' may have been shot. (Later the websites updated that it was a settler who shot a Palestinian.) Ynet and i24 News reported: "Several wounded in brawl between settlers and Palestinians - clash near settlement of Ma'ale Shomron reportedly started after Palestinian farmers allegedly hurled rocks at several settler youths in the area." Some of the media referred to the settlers as 'youth' and other said they were 'farmers cultivating land.' Only the English-language 'Times of Israel' reported the full story, by researching, interviewing the Palestinians, using full quotes from the police and sharing the whole story, instead of what the settlers told the media. TOI quoted the Palestinians who said that there were two Palestinian farmers who were cultivating their land and both were shot by the settlers when they refused to leave, after which dozens of Palestinians showed up and threw rocks at the settlers. [NOTE: This is more believable because Palestinian farmers do not go out in dozens to farm the same privately-owned piece of land -OH.] The four settlers who went to hospital had only cuts and bruises. The police said the violence was probably due to dispute over ownership of the land. But, with the exception of TOI, the impression was that this was not Palestinian-owned land, even though it is outside of the walled and fenced boundaries of the settlements. Maariv reported only a short item on page 10. TOI also included photos of a shot and bleeding wounded Palestinian man and videos.

Iran made headlines after confirming that a building was damaged by the Thursday fire at the underground Natanz nuclear site. An Iranian spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said the damage could slow down centrifuge development. The New York Times quoted a Middle Eastern intelligence official Monday saying Israel had planted a bomb at the site. In an interview yesterday Defense Israeli Minister Benny Gantz said that "Everyone can suspect us all the time, but I don't think that's the right recipe. Not every event that happens in Iran is necessarily related to us.” (Maariv) Gantz also said that Iranian “systems are complex [with] very high safety constraints,” and that he is “not sure they always know how to maintain them.” Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi simply said, “Our actions are better left unsaid.” Meanwhile, Iran said it has built underground missile cities along the Gulf coast.

Also, three rockets were launched from Gaza into the Gaza periphery (one was intercepted and two landed in fields). Israel struck Hamas targets in response.
Corona Quickees:

  • Health Ministry reports 548 confirmed cases of coronavirus, 82-year-old dies - Of the 11,540 people currently fighting the virus, 333 are in hospitals with 86 described in serious condition, including 27 on ventilators; hard hit Jerusalem sees 93 new cases, Tel Aviv reports 86 new cases. (Ynet)
  • Netanyahu says Israel in 'state of emergency' in wake of virus resurgence - PM warns during weekly cabinet meeting the government will have to take actions beyond what was agreed upon last week; adds WHO identified Middle East as COVID-19 hotspot; vows to present financial plan. (Ynet)
  • Palestinian Authority reimposes lockdown amid virus surge - West Bank, residents of the Palestinian Authority have been ordered since Friday to remain at home unless they need to purchase food or medicine. Movement between cities and towns is heavily restricted. The lockdown is expected to last five days. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • The hospitals are flooded - At Sheba, Ichilov, Kaplan, and Assaf Harofeh Hospitals there were exceptional loads of corona patients or suspects. The Ministry of Health announced that Corona patients will no longer be directed to Wolfson, Maayanei Hayeshua and Assaf Harofeh due to lack of space.
    "It's a multi-casualty event," one of the doctors said last night. (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Coronavirus Israel Live: Restrictions on Religious Services, Bars Reimposed - Hospitalizations jump by 13 percent in less than a day. Universities to hold exams remotely. Public security minister in quarantine after Border Police chief diagnosed. (Haaretz+)
  • IDF: Combat soldiers to be allowed home only once every 21 days - As corona numbers continue to rise, IDF places further restrictions on troops. Large reserve soldier exercises will be frozen. (Maariv and JPost)
  • 'Israel Has Days to Contain Coronavirus Outbreak, or Health Services Could Collapse' - Expert panel issues stark warning, urges Israeli army to take over management of coronavirus crisis. (Haaretz)
  • Overworked, Underpaid and at Risk, Israeli Social Workers Launch General Strike - Social workers demand negotiations over their conditions, while warning of an impending social disaster created by the coronavirus crisis. (Haaretz+)
  • Contrary to instructions: A high-ranking police commander held a high school graduation party with dozens of participants - Deputy Police Commander Miri Peled, from Herzliya, managed to upset her neighbors. One of them, Elad Sadikov, a city council member, said of Peled and her husband, Micha, also a police officer: "The music shook the whole neighborhood and we asked her to lower it. There are several synagogues near her house, but there was zero consideration on her part. I also told her that she was having a party with dozens of people and that they were without masks. She told me, 'Do what you want about it’…Hopefully, bullies like this family will be denounced by the Israeli police.” (Maariv+VIDEO and Israel Hayom Hebrew)
  • Israel Must Take Food Insecurity Seriously, Expert Panel Warns, Calling to Increase Aid - The National Food Security Initiative assists about 11,000 families, but council estimates that there are about 150,000 families in need of such aid. (Haaretz+)
  • Isolation? The Coronavirus Crisis Brought These Arab and Jewish Experts Together - Crisis Experts is a new Israeli think tank that addresses a glaring omission in a state panel trying to combat COVID-19 – the lack of female and Arab representation. (Judy Maltz, Haaretz+)
  • Iran records highest daily death toll from COVID-19 - The number of new daily infections and deaths in the Islamic Republic has increased sharply in the last week, recording 163 deaths in the past 24 hours. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Coronavirus cases rising in Saudi Arabia, UAE after curfews lifted - Other Gulf countries have also moved to ease restrictions, although Kuwait has maintained a partial curfew and Qatar, Bahrain and Oman did not impose one at all. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Kansas newspaper likens virus mask mandate to Holocaust - Cartoon published on the Anderson County Review's Facebook page depicts Gov. Laura Kelly wearing a mask with a Star of David on it, next to a drawing of people being loaded onto train cars and a caption reading, 'Put on your mask and step onto the cattle car.’ (Agencies, JPost)
  • Amazon removes Trump-supporting swastika printed medical mask from site - The mask was available for a short time before the online retail giant removed the anti-Semitic item following complaints from shoppers. (Israel Hayom)


Quick Hits:

  • Prominent journalist, Netanyahu critic, loses TV job - Channel 13 diplomatic correspondent Barak Ravid among nearly 40 people who received dismissal letters from station, which cited financial distress. Close associates of Ravid suspect political motive behind firing. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • With his death he commanded co-existence - On Friday, 45-year-old Michael Ben-Zikari drowned and died when he rescued a family from the Bedouin village that was in distress in Lake Zikim. Yesterday, in Ashkelon Cemetery, his funeral became a moving demonstration of coexistence between Israeli [sic- Jewish - OH] and Bedouin society. Jamil Akram, the father of the children, aged 6, 9 and 14, whom Ben-Zikri rescued, also came to the cemetery. Youth from Hura also came, walking quietly as they carried signs. One read: "We acknowledge and appreciate your courage." The residents of Hura who came to the funeral said that the day after the event, Ben-Zikri became a hero in their town. Former Knesset Member Taleb a-Saneh, who also attended the funeral ceremony, said: "Michael, you have become the symbol of our community. You could have saved one child and then stopped, but you continued to extract them all and paid the most highest price. Among us, in Islam, the name Michael means 'angel.' You were the angel of the family...We will name a street after you." (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Netanyahu Given 30 Days to Prove He Returned Money to Cousin for Legal Defense - Haaretz obtains permits committee document stating that he only had to repay a tenth of the $300,000 he was gifted after proving the rest was used for wife’s legal defense. (Haaretz+)
  • Netanyahu's Son Takes Center Stage in Corruption Sagas - Though he holds no official position, Yair Netanyahu is considered a key adviser and the mastermind of his father’s increasingly confrontational social media strategy. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Female soldier detainees in the Military Prison: "We suffered harsh and disgraceful treatment" - Female soldiers detained said they were locked up in cells for 22 hours a day, and suffered from severe conditions. One recently released: "Most of the day I sat on the floor." IDF: "Every allegation of abuse is baseless.” (Maariv)
  • Masked Assailants Shoot at Home of Mayor of Israeli Arab Town - The mayor of Shfaram, a member of Likud, was not injured and says he never got a single threat since taking office in 1998. (Haaretz+)
  • Netanyahu Extends Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen’s Term Through June 2021 - Cohen, who assumed the role in 2016, is considered close to Netanyahu, represented the prime minister on many policy missions. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • Iran, China negotiating a 25-year 'strategic accord' - Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif says Tehran and Beijing will release the details of the deal when it is finalized. (Israel Hayom)
  • 'Sound of Resilence:' Lebanon Holds Baalbek Music Festival Despite Virus, Economic Crisis - This year's program will broadcast the performances, held among Roman columns, on local and regional TV stations and be live streamed on social media platforms. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • On Independence Anniversary, Algeria Lays to Rest Anti-colonial Fighters Returned From France - The fighters took part in an 1849 revolt after French colonial forces occupied Algeria in 1830 and were taken to Paris as war trophies to be held for decades. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Facebook urged to do more to stop LGBT+ hate speech in Arab countries - The letter from activist groups in the Middle East and North Africa added to the pressure on Facebook to do more to block hate speech. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Warplanes hit Libya's al-Watiya airbase where Turkey may build base, sources say - Last month, the United States said Russia had sent at least 14 MiG29 and Su-24 warplanes to an LNA base via Syria, where their Russian airforce markings were removed. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Rocket fired towards Baghdad Green Zone, child injured - Paramilitary groups backed by Iran have come to dominate parts of Iraq's security institutions, economy and political life. (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)

Top Commentary/Analysis:
Ayman Odeh in Ramallah, a Bridge to Peace or Ragged Red Carpet? (Odeh Bisharat, Haaretz+) What a scandal! The leader of the Joint List in Knesset, Ayman Odeh, went to Ramallah empty-handed. He didn’t give Hamas even a measly dollar, and nevertheless politicians and media outlets have been calling him a supporter of terrorism. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has permitted the transfer of $15 million in Qatari funding to Hamas several times, but no one has accused him of supporting terrorism. On the contrary, masses of Israelis have turned out to vote for him. The path to patriotism is convoluted. The firestorm of criticism over Odeh’s attendance at Fatah’s and Hamas’ press conference in Ramallah is ridiculous. Why? Because the Arab population of Israel is part of the Palestinian people...and Israeli governments have been holding intensive negotiations with Hamas – both diplomatic and security-related ones...
When My Daughter Called Israel an Apartheid State, I Objected. Now, I'm Not So Sure (Katie A. Weiner and Allen S. Weiner, Haaretz+) In the shadow of annexation, the embodiment of power prevailing over justice and international law, I am running out of counter-arguments. This is how Israel is losing America.
U.S. Jews Are Clear: We Won’t Back Bibi’s Conspiracies, Colonial Inclinations or Corruption (Eric H. Yoffie, Haaretz+) We believe in a Jewish and democratic Israel. We feel no obligation to defend Netanyahu’s pathological viciousness, monumentally stupid annexation, incitement and self-enrichment.
Arab leaders siding with Israel against Tehran (Ariel Kahana, Israel Hayom) Last week's announcement of a deal between Abu Dhabi's Group 42 and Israeli government defense companies to cooperate on solutions to coronavirus proves that regional threats trump all else.
The Prime Minister of Despair (Carolina Landsmann, Haaretz+) Politics has the power to emancipate. Real leaders have the power to infuse hope, especially at moments of uncertainty and crisis. Unfortunately, the crisis catches Israel when it is in the clutches of Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu has no faith in people or in humanity. He believes in power and his goal is to survive at any price. He buys time until they invent the coronavirus vaccine, like he bides his time until they develop a vaccine for Islam…Gideon Levy (in his Op-Ed) wrote about despair and the recognition of the terrifying truth that we have nowhere else to go….Strangely, Levy’s opinion piece actually infused me with hope because it reminded me that this despair isn’t necessarily existential. It has a name…
What's in a name? The Israeli-Palestinian case (Raphael G. Bouchnik-Chen, Israel Hayom) Did the Jewish state commit a historic misjudgment by selecting the name "Israel"?
Older Israeli Protesters: Your Struggle Is Important, but You're Living in the Past (Yair Asulin, Haaretz+) “Only” changing a government is not an objective. Did you ever ask yourselves what realizing the concept of democracy means in 2020 to young people who are used to voting a thousand times a day on social networks, and for whom pressing a button can place them anywhere around the globe? What really shapes their identities? What do concepts such as sovereignty and privacy, or even liberty, mean when alongside a physical world there is a growing new world with a digital way of life? More and more members of the younger generation sense, consciously or unconsciously, that we are at the end of the era of politics. The state is no longer the only address, the only option, as it largely was for you...
If Kanye West Is Running for President – He Can Knock Visiting Israel Off His to Do List (Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz+) It’s unclear if the unpredictable rapper is serious about his presidential bid, but if he is, at least he has two trips to the region under his belt. Before the Israel visits and presidential announcements, West got into hot water with the American Jewish community in 2013.
Likud has left the periphery behind (Dina Dayan, Israel Hayom) Historically low voter turnout in traditional right-wing strongholds indicates a growing, silent protest movement expressing despair and understanding that Likud doesn't care about their problems.
Stop Digital Tracking of Coronavirus Patients by Israel's Security Service (Haaretz Editorial) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the coronavirus crisis continues to be a resounding failure. Last Wednesday, the Knesset passed temporary legislation enabling the Health Ministry to seek the Shin Bet security service’s help in identifying people who had contact with coronavirus patients. The day after the law passed, the ministry began sending messages to tens of thousands of people telling them to quarantine because they were near a confirmed coronavirus patient. But some of those people say they were at home at the time in question and didn’t have contact with anyone. Moreover, it turns out that the Health Ministry failed to prepare properly for the resumption of cellphone tracking. As a result, many people who were told to quarantine due to a mistake and wanted to challenge the order found it difficult, sometimes impossible, to reach the ministry….To cover up their failures, Netanyahu and his government are seeking shortcuts by employing controversial tactics. Israel has been revealed in all its civic nakedness, and for lack of other options, it is asking the security services to solve its problems for it…
Governing before everything: How should a country be run where there is balances between the powers (Dr. Haim Misgav, Maariv) In 1978, there was a government in which two prime ministers, Yitzhak Shamir and Shimon Peres, ruled for two years, each in turn, for two years, with Yitzhak Rabin alongside as defense minister. Rabin, prime minister until the 1977 turnover (from Labor to Likud), joined the two incumbent prime ministers and together they were dubbed the "Prime Minister's Forum," and when Attorney General Yitzhak Zamir demanded to launch a criminal investigation into the Bus 300 Affair, in opposition to their opinion, they showed him the door. [The Bus 300 Affair was when two Palestinians hijacked an Israeli bus and demanded the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails. Israeli commandos succeeded in taking over the bus and it was reported they killed the two Palestinians in the takeover. However, a journalist photographed the two Palestinians taken prisoner. They were executed afterward by the Israeli forces. The cover-up sparked a storm. - OH] With one [sic - decision], they ended the Attorney General’s term. The president at that time, Haim Herzog, granted a pardon to all those involved in the killing of the two terrorists, after they were captured alive, even before they were even prosecuted. This is a move that the current president wouldn't even know how to to make happen. This unorthodox conduct even received the blessing of the High Court of Justice. Indeed, against Justice Aharon Barak's disagreeing opinion - but what does it matter. This is how to run a state where the balance between the authorities exists - and I miss it. Mostly, I miss the High Court of those times. The inspiration of the founding fathers still hovered above. Sovereignty was applied without any attorney general trying to put a stick in its wheels, as Ben Gurion did in 1948. Nobody thought then that things could not be done. Legal advisers did not manage the national agenda. They did not even consider the possibility of telling the political leadership, the one that was elected in a democratic election, what should be done or when, in their opinion, there were “legal impediments.”…Elected officials set the policy and no legal official could tell them that what they were doing was disproportionate or unreasonable.  The judges also knew the limits of their authority. Political appeals did not enter into the High Court. It's a shame those days have passed, perhaps they will never be again. Inspired by (former chief justice) Aharon Barak, many of today's judges think they are in the role of ministering angels, which is bad. I do not want to talk about all the quirks that accompany the Attorney General, who holds the two most significant positions in the judiciary and is like a crowned Prince. But probably in the days of Peres, Shamir and Rabin he would have finished his job if he ruled contrary to their opinion. The three did not need more than a one night meeting to decide, which would not happen these days. Israeli society as a whole is caught up in to a kind of spin, from which there is no exit. In fact, every decision of the elected authority requires the signature of the Attorney General, and although his authority is not defined by any law - there is no way to turnover his decisions and the High Court gives them full backing.
How Israel Discriminates Against Evangelical Christians (Michael L. Brown, Haaretz+) When Israel shuts down a channel run by one of the world's largest Christian broadcasting networks, it appears that the country's much-touted promise of religious freedom doesn’t include evangelicals.
On the Road to Happiness: The elected officials care for their personal well-being more than the citizens’ (Yair Bar Cole, Maariv) The level of personal and national happiness will not recover as long as politicians do not internalize that talk does not help and that their conduct, policies and actions should be derived from the situation of every individual.
For Now, Iran Faces Bigger Threats Than Mysterious Explosions at Nuclear Sites (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) A deep economic crisis is pushing the latest incidents off the public and political agenda. But Israel and the U.S. should avoid making dangerous assumptions
Natanz blast rocks Iran on many levels (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom) The quickest way for Iran to harm Israel is through its proxies in Syria. The public accusations of Israel necessitate, at the very least, raising the alert level in the north.
The Hell of Syria's Army Draft Is One Many Try Their Best to Avoid (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Before 2011, military service provided a decent livelihood for young men and was even a status symbol. That changed during the drawn-out war.
Their honor, our money (Tali Ben Ovadia, Yedioth Hebrew) The moment when this crisis began can be marked as one day. On the eve of that Seder, when the Israeli public was asked to sit with its nuclear family alone at the holiday table. On the most symbolic night for Jewish parents separated from their young children, and worse - children had to say goodbye to their elderly parents and leave them to mumble alone that night...The next day, when it was discovered that the prime minister, the president of the state and several other ministers had violated the instructions and celebrated with their children, the trust between the leadership and the public cracked down...Then the numbers and stories of the real Corona casualties began to be revealed. One million people who made a long line in front of the unemployment bureaus and hundreds of thousands of self-employed people who lost their livelihoods and found themselves without proper government support, without a back, without an attentive ear. In the midst of those days came the second break. Netanyahu and Gantz pretend not to hear the voices and see the sights, establishing the most monstrous government that has ever been here. 34 Ministers of Nothing and Not Anything, invented ministries, alternative offices, Audi 8 - their honor, our money. Under the title of a unity government, a disconnected from the people government was established in Israel....That is why there is something so refined in Tzachi Hanegbi's statement [that the claim that people don't have food to eat is nonsense. - OH] In one sentence, he formulated the relationship between the Israeli leadership and the public here. You are nonsense, we are the main thing. You will be under the weight of the stretcher, we will take care of the house in Caesarea, drive a luxury vehicle, and make sure there are two CEOs for the minister in charge of water, two ministers in the Ministry of Defense and a minister without a portfolio [Tzachi Hanegbi] who has nothing to do but go to talk shows and commit suicide live [reference to his unpopular statement. - OH]...

*'The Palestinians Got Screwed. They Are Now a Non-issue Around the World'
Former Shin Bet chief Carmi Gillon talks to Haaretz about the occupation, Netanyahu's cowardice and why he laughs when people call him a leftist. (Interviewed by Ravit Hecht in Haaretz+)

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