News Nosh 7.26.20

APN's daily news review from Israel - Sunday July 26, 2020

You Must Be Kidding: 
Police shot water cannons at heads of people demonstrating against Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu across from his residence.*

Quotes of the Day:
“When I got up. I got another jet [of water] in the back. I tried to hide but they were spraying at us from everywhere. It was a battlefield. They didn’t attempt to disperse us, but rather to scare us from demonstrating again.”
--Yonatan Kimmel, who came to Jerusalem to demonstrate against Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, was hit by police with a water jet to his head, puncturing his eardrum, knocking him down, cutting his head and bruising him all over his face and body.*

"I'm the one who was proud to defend. I'm the one who was brainwashed. I'm the one who traveled with you in the big world, the one who went with you to demonstrations and I'm also the one who is unable to explain to my children why I did it. You won’t remember me. I don’t matter to you. Only you are important to you. So guess what? Yesterday I came to visit you, yes, yes, at Balfour. I am the one who, if you wake him up in the middle of the night, will know in 37 seconds to how to reach every house in the area with my eyes closed. I was the one who heard the voices of despair of our people yesterday in both the left-wing demonstration and the right-wing demonstration on the other side of the street. I was the one who was beaten by policemen yesterday just because I came to exercise the basic democratic right in Jerusalem. I am the one who was hit by water with unreasonable force from an extreme means of dispersing demonstrations (water cannon) simply because the police…does not have the capacity for restraint.”
--Nir Aden, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's former Shin Bet personal security guard, wrote in a Facebook post that went viral.**

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • From Balfour to Caesaria - Thousands demonstrated and called on Netanyahu: “Resign”
  • Demonstration of power // Oded Shalom
  • In one voice // Ben-Dror Yemini
  • The working youth // Yehonatan Geffen
  • Tense weekend on the northern border
  • Special project: 100 days till US elections

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

Israel Hayom

  • Tense north: The fear - situation will quickly escalate
  • (Coronavirus Manager) Gamzu starts to work: The order - to find a single model for predicting seriously ill
  • Demonstrations and clashes
  • It’s time to dismantle this government // Jacob Bardugo
  • 15,000 teaches are needed to teach small groups of pupils from September 1st
  • From today: Extreme and long heat wave
  • Historic and sad: Ben-Gurion airport is empty, so hot air balloons were allowed to take off from runways
  • 99 days till US elections: Trump and BIden are in a battle of a kind they didn’t expect

Top News Summary:

Tension with Hezbollah rose on the northern border after Israel killed an activist with the organization (and Israel practically apologized afterward, saying it was an accident, according to two reports (also Maariv) and demonstrations against Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu got stronger and wider, as did police aggression.

Also, explosions were reported on the Israeli-controlled side of the Golan Heights along the border with Syria, damaging some buildings and a car early Friday afternoon, in what was reportedly a response to an Israeli drone inside Syria. (Maariv) Then Israel hit Syrian army targets in retaliation for the retaliation. (Maariv)

According to Brig. Gen. Gil Aginsky, former head of the Israel Navy's Haifa base, Hezbollah will try to attack Israel's gas rigs. According to Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak Gershon, Deputy Commander of the Northern Command in Reserve,”The last thing Nasrallah wants is a war with Israel that will bring destruction to Lebanon.” (Maariv/103FM) And Maariv military correspondent, Tal Lev-Ram, reported that the security establishment assessement was that the army's high level of alert may last for a long time.

*Thousands participated in demonstrations against Netanyahu last week on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, both in front of his residence on Balfour Street in Jerusalem and elsewhere across the country. Reports of police using excessive force against demonstrators increased. On Friday, some 6,000 people rallied outside the Prime Minister's Residence and police were caught on video shooting a water cannon jets at a demonstrator’s heads, making him unconscious and injuring him. Others reported of being injured. The police detained 55 protesters. Gil Salomon, one of the demonstrators arrested in Caesarea, said that "All the way to the police station, the policemen argued over what reason they will give for detaining me.” Solomon said the arrest was completely arbitrary: "I did not come to demonstrate at all, it was a beautiful day, I wanted to walk." (Maariv/103FM) Public Security Minister Amir Ohana asked the police chief to bar protests outside the official residence, but the police said it can't be done. In the wake of the protests, new fences were erected at Netanyahu’s private home in Caesarea.

And in what appears to be the first time since the anti-Netanyahu demonstrations began, some supporters of Netanyahu attacked and harmed demonstrators in three places across the country.
Nir Sahar, a protester who was stabbed in the south of the country by 15 people, said, “I hope someone did not send Likud mercenaries.” (Maariv/103FM) A group attacked a protester in Jerusalem, using a helmet and a glass bottle. And another demonstrator was attacked by a Netanyahu supporter in Ramat Gan.

**Also making headlines, Nir Aden, a former Netanyahu bodyguard, attended a demonstration, after which he wrote a post on Facebook calling on Netanyahu to resign. The post went viral. See ‘Interviews’ at the bottom to read the full translation. Former senior Shin Bet officials were furious, calling it “crossing a red line.” One said: "This is a violation of the code of ethics on which the organization is based.” (Maariv) Maariv's senior political correspondent, Ben Caspit, gives his answer to this ethical dilemma. (See Commentary/Analysis for translation.)

Corona Quickees:

  • Israel's coronavirus death toll reaches 464; 329 in serious condition - 1,108 confirmed cases on Saturday, despite reduced weekend testing; 33,854 currently fighting COVID-19, including 100 on ventilators; study by healthcare provider points to only 1% of Israelis having coronavirus antibodies. (Ynet)
  • Tel Aviv hospital director named Israel's coronavirus czar, says 'challenges are enormous' - Ronni Gamzu led pandemic fight in nursing homes, but wasn’t initially short-listed for the new post. (Haaretz+)
  • Despite pandemic, Gaza prepares for special celebration - Gazans are thronging beaches and crowding markets filled with holiday sweets and clothes as they prepare to celebrate Eid al-Adha largely free of the coronavirus restrictions. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel to conduct clinical trials for rapid coronavirus tests on thousands of Indian patients - New testing methods, if effective, could give results in minutes ■ India has become popular destination for clinical trials due to lax regulations and rampant poverty. (Haaretz+)
  • 2 Mideast countries, world’s top virus rates per population - Aggressive testing boosted the number of confirmed cases as health officials in Bahrain and Qatar targeted vulnerable labor camps and neighborhoods. (Agencies, Haaretz)

Quick Hits:

  • Israel frees Hamas West Bank leader from detention after being imprisoned for 16 months (without trial) - Hassan Yousef, a co-founder of the Palestinian Islamist group, was arrested on April 2 last year at his Ramallah home. Following his arrest, Yousef, who is considered a top spiritual leader in the faction, was handed a six-month detention order that was extended for another six months and then for a further four, his son told AFP. (Agencies, Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • Next Hearing in Netanyahu Corruption Trial Set for December 6; PM Will Have to Appear in Court in Person - Netanyahu's attorneys are expected to ask the court to squash the indictment against him. Premier is charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust. (Haaretz+)
  • 'US wants Israel to earmark land for future Palestinian state' - Speaking to Israel’s Army Radio on Thursday, former US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt says the Trump administration's Middle East peace plan commits Israel to allocate lands to the Palestinian Authority. (Israel Hayom)
  • Netanyahu, Gantz trade accusations of leading Israel to another election - Prime minister calls report he seeks November election 'absurd,' as ex-Kahol Lavan faction presents bill to delay budget deadline. (Haaretz+)
  • Ultra-Orthodox Representative Blames Netanyahu for Talk of 'Unnecessary' Early Election - Calling the possibility of new election cycle 'ludicrous,' Deputy Minister Uri Maklev says the prime minister is trying to 'drive a wedge' between Gantz and his United Torah Judaism party. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel election polls: Support for Netanyahu's Likud drops, right-wing slate on the rise - One of two polls, published after President Rivlin urges ministers to avoid an early election, gives the Netanyahu-led right-wing bloc a clear majority. (Haaretz)
  • Report: The Joint List may dismantle due to the dispute over the LGBQT conversion therapy law - The Joint List has been embroiled in internal conflicts following disagreements over the vote on the law. MK Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Joint List, who belongs to Hadash, supported the law, while the Ra’am MKs claimed that this contradicts the opinion of the voters. (Maariv)
  • Israel's finance minister can't block funding to aid asylum seekers, attorney general rules - Yisrael Katz had ordered the funding suspended following an outcry from activists opposed to the presence of foreign migrants in south Tel Aviv, but government aid to NGOs expected to go ahead. (Haaretz+)
  • Rights groups call on Palestinian Authority to release anti-corruption protesters - Activists are held for supposed violation of coronavirus emergency orders, as authorities deny claims of political arrests. (Haaretz+)
  • Qatar set to deliver another $10 million to Gaza, envoy says - Qatari envoy to Gaza, Mohammed Al-Emadi, says $10 million will be distributed via post offices throughout Gaza to some 100,000 families, with each family receiving $100. (Israel Hayom)
  • Jerusalem ultra-Orthodox protesters call to release ultra-Orthodox man detained for spitting at policewoman - 13 detained during protest Wednesday night against the continued detention of Benjamin Friedman, who has been in custody for three months for spitting at a policewoman. Police forces in the area have often used violence against demonstrators. Footage circulating on social media from Wednesday's demonstration shows a police officer kicking one of the protesters hard and punching him in the face. Other images show police pushing demonstrators who fall to the floor. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel seeks to impose criminal liability for construction accidents on entrepreneurs - So far only site managers or foremen were held responsible for onsite accidents. (Haaretz+)
  • IMF is the only way out of crisis, French FM tells Lebanese leaders in Beirut - Pushing for serious reforms, France's Le Drian tells officials during the first visit by a senior Western official since the economic crisis began: 'Help yourself so we can help you.’ (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • US House votes to maintain security aid to Israel - The Pentagon blueprint for the upcoming year allocates $500 million towards missile defense systems in Israel such as the Iron Dome, David's Sling, and Arrow 3. (Israel Hayom)
  • US military chief visits Israel amid tensions with Iran - In an unannounced visit, Army Gen. Mark Milley, the Joint Chiefs chairman, met Friday with senior Israeli military and intelligence officials at an airbase in southern Israel to discuss "regional security challenges." (Israel Hayom)
  • U.S. fighter jets approach Iranian passenger plane over Syria, Iranian media reports - After initially saying that a single Israeli jet came near the plane, the IRIB news agency quotes the Iranian pilot as saying there were two jets that identified themselves as American. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran Condemns U.S. After Warplane Fly-by Panics Civilian Airliner Passengers - Zarif says 'these outlaws must be stopped before disaster' after incident over Syria led to several passengers being moderately wounded. (Agencies, Maariv and Haaretz)
  • Iran says foreign states may have carried out cyberattacks, plays down their role in fires - Iran suffers 'thousands of cyberattacks' daily, says Iran foreign ministry spokesperson, but reminds media that fires also happen for natural reasons. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • 'Help us help you', France tells crisis-hit Lebanon - French foreign minister says Paris stands ready to mobilize support but Beirut must take first action on reform as it wrestles with financial meltdown rooted in decades of state corruption and waste. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Erdogan Joins Thousands at Istanbul's Hagia Sophia for First Friday Prayers in Decades - Turkey's president declared the sixth-century monument – originally a Christian Byzantine cathedral – a mosque, in a decision critics say deepens religious divisions. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Saudi Arabia's King Salman undergoes successful surgery, state news agency says - The king was admitted to hospital, suffering from inflammation of the gallbladder. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • 91-year-old Kuwaiti emir flies to U.S. for medical care after surgery - Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah has several times sought medical treatment in the past few years. (Agencies, Haaretz+)


COVID-19 and the Absence of Israeli-Palestinian Coordination Spell Grim Fate for Gaza Cancer Patients
Gazans suffering from cancer, six of whose stories are presented here, are paying a particularly high price for these recent obstacles. (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+)
Report: Russia-backed militia taking over Syrian Golan Heights
Dubbed "The Huran Army," the biblical name of the region, the militia is hostile to both Iran and the Syrian regime and could provide a buffer zone cushioning Israel's northeastern border. The Russians have been steadily gaining control over the Syrian Golan Heights region in recent weeks, establishing their own strong militia in the area, Hebrew-language outlet Channel 12 News reported Friday.
The Huran Army, consisting of multiple Muslim officers from the Caucasus, is hostile to both Iran and the Syrian regime, Channel 12 News reported. Taking control over three Syrian provinces adjacent to the Israeli border – Daraa, Quneitra, and Jabal al-Druze –the Russian-backed militia could provide a buffer zone cushioning Israel's northeastern border. Moreover, many of the militia recruits are reportedly past rebels who were treated in Israeli hospitals and also received food and medical provisions from the Jewish state. (Israel Hayom)
'They're Scared': LGBTQ Rights Divide Israel's Arab Lawmakers
Three Joint List legislators, all from the communist Hadash faction, supported a bill that would ban so-called conversion therapy, toeing the line between their conservative political partners and a progressive agenda. (Judy Maltz, Haaretz+)
"I was sorry I was right": Former Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal in the last interview of his life
When the first rocket from Gaza was fired at his city, he was the only one who warned that a solution had to be found and he knocked on tables until the Iron Dome anti-missile battery system arrived. In a big interview before his death last February, he spoke openly about his relationship with the government.  Eli Moyal is the kind of political leader who was so precise in their ability to understand the public and take care of its needs, from a real and caring place," says Nati Deener, creator and initiator of the TV series about Iron Dome. “Unfortunately, he did not reach senior key positions. There were reasons and circumstances for this, some in my opinion with a deliberate hand. My impression was that Eli doesn’t do bullshit. He reads the map and displays it in your face, even if it is uncomfortable to the ear. I always felt he did not represent right or left, but he was always clear. Also on the issue of rockets and Gaza, he told us that (Israel) must decide on one of two ways - military or diplomatic - and after deciding which path to go on, it must be taken to the end. No staying in the middle, a little of this and a little of that, because then there is nothing. We hope that the series will leave a mark on Moyal's work for Sderot in its most difficult days.” The series creators' interview with Moyal has become the last major interview he has given in his lifetime, and is presented here. (Maariv)
Acclaimed hummus book 'will never come out in Hebrew, the language of the occupation'
'On the Hummus Route' reignites passions in the 'battleground of cultural appropriation,' as chef Joudie Kalla argues it 'normalizes the occupation, something I never would have dreamed of lending a hand to.’ (Moshe Gilad, Haaretz+)

Top Commentary/Analysis:

Netanyahu Must Be Declared Incapacitated Now (Friday Haaretz Editorial) Ever since the criminal investigations against him began, and even more so since the attorney general decided to indict him, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has held the state hostage in his efforts to escape justice.
Israel's Second Coronavirus Wave Stalled Annexation, but Netanyahu Still Wants It (Barak Ravid, Haaretz+) I’m old enough to remember the days when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared victory over the coronavirus and moved on to focus intensively on a different topic – annexing 30 percent of the occupied West Bank. Neglect in contending with the pandemic and its consequences, in favor of focusing on annexation, was a major factor in the grave mismanagement of the second wave of the outbreak and the exacerbation of the economic and public-health crisis. Netanyahu’s handling of the annexation issue raises serious questions about his judgment and the amount of forethought he gave to the move and its implications.
Will budget battle plunge Israel into yet more elections? (Moran Azulay, Yedioth/Ynet) Political insiders say a fight over how to plot the country's spending is at the heart of the issue, with Blue & White accusing Netanyahu and Haredi allies of planning fourth national ballot since April 2019 at height of twin health and economic crises.
There's Nothing Netanyahu Likes More Than to Rule Temporarily Forever (Carolina Landsmann, Haaretz+) Interior Minister Arye Dery was the underwriter of the unity government. He and Construction Minister Yaakov Litzman promised Kahol Lavan leaders Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi that they would guarantee that the job of prime minister rotated as planned. In an interview with the newspaper Haderech this week, Dery made it clear that his Shas party opposes new elections, adding, “The dispute over the budget is solvable.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must not be allowed to control the conversation, build up a story about a lack of the governability needed to fight the coronavirus and thereby justify dismantling the government. His opposition to a two-year budget is meant to dismantle the government and return to a status he likes even better than that of prime minister – temporary prime minister in a caretaker government.
The protest is of wealthy privileged members from the center of the country (Shlomo Maoz, Maariv) Netanyahu is afraid of the protesters, but when they were first exposed to problems they were indifferent, as they were the problems of the weaker parts of society from the periphery. If they are going to protest, let it be for the sake of revolution and not for the benefit of the rich.
***Too few people who know the truth about Netanyahu and his family have decided to break the silence (Ben Caspit, Maariv) There has never been such a thing before: a former security guard in the Shin Bet's personal security unit identified himself with his name and photo and published a scathing and sharp post against the man he guarded, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Nir Aden, the grandson of the late General Avraham Aden ("Bern"), did so on his Facebook page over the weekend and caused a great stir not only in on social media networks, but also in the security service circles, among graduates of the personal security unit and other security officials...Nir Aden did not speak to reporters over the weekend (it's not that I didn't try). In my opinion, he never spoke to journalists. He came to demonstrate against the prime minister anonymously. Something broke in him this weekend. As far as I could find out through his associates, the police violence at Balfour at Thursday’s demonstration caused him a deep shock. He, too, was hit with the jets of the water cannon, like many other demonstrators who tried to disperse quietly. He returned home, sat down in front of the keyboard and wrote what was on his heart. Aden did not reveal secrets. Did not engage in gossip. He didn't tell what he saw in Balfour. And yet, the dilemma surrounding what Aden has done is alive and kicking and not simple: the Shin Bet is considering taking action against him. The story was transferred to the Legal Department. Someone told him to "expect to be harmed." The reasons for the anger in the Shin Bet are as follows: There is a hard code of ethics among the security guards of the personal security unit. They do not exist. They are like air. They are there all the time, everywhere, in every situation, It seems to me that during the investigation against President Moshe Katsav (for rape) and prior to the filing of the indictment against him, an attempt to force the president's security guards to testify as to whether or not he was in a certain place at a certain time was thwarted. That, says the Shin Bet, is the way it should remain. This is the principle on which the whole story is based. They have a case. In my opinion, they have a case, but Aden stumbled into the case. Because there is also a country here.. The Shin Bet Personal Security Unit does not only protect the prime minister. It protects Israeli democracy. On the night of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, the Shin Bet, during a brutal and almost violent move, took Shimon Peres to a secure service facility in Tel Aviv, for fear he would be harmed as well. "If another prime minister is assassinated here, it's the end of democracy," the person who told me at the time told me. Nir Aden (and another Shin Bet personal bodyguard, Dror Eitan,) committed a democratic act over the weekend. They did not disclose state secrets or professional secrets, they did not violate the privacy of those being guarded, they spoke as citizens and patriots. "One of the most important things between security guards and the people they guard is trust," one of the former senior members of the personal security unit told me over the weekend...He said the things from the blood of his heart. On the other hand, there are moments in the life of a nation where it is impossible to remain silent. I do not think Nir Aden has harmed the principles of the security work. The maximum that the occupants of the house in Balfour can currently suspect of their security guards is that, when the day comes, they may join the demonstrations against them. Not bad. It is damage that can be contained. Over the weekend I saw, by chance, the movie "State Secrets," which tells the story of Katharine Gun, who worked for one of the British intelligence agencies and leaked to the British press a document proving that the US and Britain are deceiving the whole world ahead of their unnecessary invasion of Iraq. Gun failed to prevent one of the dumbest wars in history by leaking it and was prosecuted on serious charges. On the day the indictment was read, the British prosecution decided to dismiss the indictment. The details that became clear years later proved that Gun was right. For the British system the war was illegal at the time she leaked the document. Had they listened to her, the world would have saved hundreds of thousands of deaths, heavy destruction of an entire country and intense longing for dictator Saddam Hussein. Today's Iraq has become an Iranian metropolis, and the energy the United States has expended on this unnecessary adventure has come at the expense of fighting the real enemy: Iran. Nir Aden's post should not be compared to the leak of Katharine Gun or even to the leak of the Pentagon documents (Vietnam War) by Daniel Ellsberg. But there are times when it is difficult for people to remain silent. Unfortunately, too few people who know the compelling truth regarding Binyamin Netanyahu and his family have decided to break the silence. And I'm not just talking about security guards.
Start With Drums, End in the Slammer: Anti-Netanyahu Protests Gain Momentum (Nir Hasson, Haaretz+) In just over a week, the mass protests calling for the PM’s resignation are only getting louder. This is not good news for Netanyahu.
Netanyahu is laundering the language (Einat Ovadia, Yedioth/Ynet) We live in 'post-truth' era, where public attitudes are based on appeal to sense of 'unity,' personal opinions and gut feelings, while facts and truth are of secondary importance in shaping public opinion and get lost in hodgepodge of carefully selected words.
This government is over (Jacob Bardugo, Israel Hayom) We can hold another election, or get rid of the rotation for prime minister, or vote no-confidence – but we cannot go on as we are.
As Chaos Reigns, Netanyahu Must Carefully Weigh Whether He Really Wants an Election (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) The opinion polls show that Avigdor Lieberman will be the kingmaker again, while Likud legislators are wallowing in hatred and the settling of accounts.
To create change, the tribes of modern Israel must work together (Moti Shklar, Ynet) Organizers' unspoken demands for loyalty to certain ideals have kept many right-wing, ultra-Orthodox and Arab Israelis from participating in just protests against government's indulgence and corruption, but we must accept our differences and unite.
Peter Beinart Doesn’t Realize That the Israeli-Palestinian Divide Is Too Wide to Bridge (Shaul Arieli, Haaretz+) Last week Gideon Levy heaped praise on Peter Beinart’s New York Times piece in which the American columnist wrote that the two-state solution was dead due to the irreversible number of settlers in the West Bank. The two pundits conclude that one state should be established since, as Beinart says, “The goal of equality is now more realistic than the goal of separation.” The contribution of journalists of Beinart’s caliber is often expressed as a simple description of a complex reality. But in this case his statement, which in no way reflects reality, which should include better knowledge of the situation on the ground rather than the embracing of official data.
The Netanyahu government is doing nothing to prevent the Palestinians from de facto taking over all of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) (Nadav Haetzni, Maariv) Along with the provocateurs of the extreme left, it is time for the guards of the Land of Israel to take to the streets and the Judea and Samaria areas. Only if we continue to control them will we ensure the continued existence of the State of Israel.
It's Time to Calm the Northern Border (Haaretz Editorial) The attacks by the Israel Defense Forces in southern Syria were in response to the firing of a rocket or mortar shell that exploded in the buffer zone on the Golan Heights and caused damage in the town of Majdal Shams. Israel doesn’t know for sure whether the community was targeted or whether it was hit by anti-aircraft fire against an aircraft that had apparently crossed over from Israel, but it was quick to say that “The IDF holds the Syrian regime responsible for the fire, will continue to operate decisively and will respond forcefully to any violation of Israeli sovereignty.” This was one more attack of the kind Israel has been conducting for months now inside the sovereign territory of Syria. While sanctifying its own sovereignty, Israel violates the sovereignty of neighboring states like Syria and Lebanon, and presumably that of Iran as well, all the while enjoying Russian silence and American support.
Israel is taking advantage of an economic crisis in Lebanon and Iran to record security achievements (Tal Lev Ram, Maariv) Were it not for the corona, the headlines would have dealt with the growing war between Israel and Iran and Hezbollah. And perhaps Corona has something to do with it: some argue that the socio-economic situation in Lebanon and Iran can be exploited to increase pressure on them. And perhaps some have listened to this claim because the scale of attacks attributed to Israel in Syria and Iran has been rising recently. It is important to emphasize: sometimes a gas pipe explosion is just a gas pipe explosion, not the result of intentional acts, writes Raz Zimet, one of the leading researchers in Israel on Iran, who quoted a researcher at the University of Milan. the Italian researcher examined and found that from mid-May to July 2019, 97 fires or explosions occurred at power plants, factories, research centers and other infrastructure in Iran. They did not make the headlines because they were incidents due to poor maintenance and serious infrastructure problems at the facilities. What was then true is still true today. And yet, there are cases where explosions occur in places of strategic importance, and then it can be assumed that it is an intentional hit. Such as the severe damage to the nuclear facility in Natanz attributed to Israel.
'Lebanon Crisis Is So Deep, Nasrallah Has No Time for Iran' (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Overlooking a darkening front, head of the IDF’s Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Amir Baram, says Lebanon and Hezbollah are undergoing the worst crisis in their history. But an internal collapse there, he warns, will be just as dangerous for Israel.
Despair is not made more comfortable: Iran is experiencing a crisis on a historic scale (Avi Issacharoff, Maariv) A mysterious chain of fires and explosions, millions of corona patients, an unprecedented economic crisis, growing social anger and rising political tensions between the moderates and conservatives. It is not clear where the Iranian public and its leadership are headed.
Hezbollah Is in Crisis, but Peripheral Pressure May Push It to Act Against Israel (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Nasrallah hasn't commented on Damascus incident attributed to Israel ■ IDF's preparations in recent days indicate a readiness for a possible response on northern border.
Hezbollah might seek escalation with Israel (Daniel Siryoti, Israel Hayom) With Lebanon seeing the worst economic crisis in its history, and the people calling to de-arm the organization, an armed conflict with Israel might be the distraction Hezbollah needs to stay alive. 
The War in Syria Is Moving to Libya, With New Players and Shuffled Alliances (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Egypt and Turkey are the main rivals fighting for control in the North African country, but the conflict is also where the strategic interests of Arab countries, the EU, and Russia clash – as the U.S. watches from the sidelines.
Israel must support Azerbaijan, especially now (Rachel Avraham, Israel Hayom) A strong Azerbaijan is in Israel's best interests, because it is more than just an ally.
As UAE Spacecraft Heads for Mars, the Arab World Eyes a Rebound in Scientific Prowess (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) But even countries prepared to invest in the knowledge economy face a shortage of people skilled enough or willing to invest years of study to join a burgeoning field.
Career bureaucrats are undermining Israel's global standing (Rep. Douglas Lamborn, Israel Hayom) President Trump and his congressional allies have treated Israel as a respected friend rather than a troublesome political liability.
As U.S. veers left, Israel swerves right (Dr. Nachman Shai, Yedioth/Ynet) America's demographic is changing, and so are its dominant political allegiances, something that both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi must realize ahead of the U.S. presidential elections in November.
Bennett Should Be Appointed to Handle Coronavirus Crisis (Nehemia Shtrasler, Haaretz+) Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon knew Benjamin Netanyahu very well. Back in 2005, he said, “That man is easily stressed out and vulnerable to pressure. He always goes into a panic and loses his cool. But to run this country, you need judgment and nerves of steel, two things he doesn’t have.”
Thanks to Lack of Leadership, Everyone Loves Naftali Bennett (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) He’s the next real thing. Naftali Bennett, that is. Following his drubbing at the polls in March, and with a curse from the prime minister’s residence still hanging over his head, he’s back – and big-time. The guy who in the past warned us about tunnels under the border is now becoming the seer of the coronavirus pandemic. Just as he knew how to deal with Gaza, he knows how to deal with COVID-19. More and more center-left Israelis are being drawn to him… The marveling over Bennett has been fed by the leadership vacuum in the center-left camp, which hasn’t managed to provide any sort of alternative, even in the face of Benjamin Netanyahu’s decline.

Interviews (and Facebook Posts):

****Former Prime Minister's security guard: "The people are divided and you are cut off"
Nir Aden, a former Shin Bet security guard who guarded Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and is the grandson of the late General Avraham Aden "Bern", who was the commander of the Armored Forces (GIS) and commander of the Southern Command during the War of Independence,  was one of the protesters at the Balfour protest Thursday night. Friday he wrote a post on his Facebook account in which he attacked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and called on him to resign: "It is time for you to vacate your seat." (Facebook and Maariv and Times of Israel)
"Hi Bibi. The truth? It’s strange to call you Bibi. Strange because all the years I was your shadow I was not allowed to address you by your name," Aden began and wrote.
"Remember me? Nir Aden.”
"Maybe try to concentrate, still nothing?
"I was one of those who was willing to lose my life for you.
"I was one of those who took aggressive courses in the Shin Bet to change the human instinct and jump on you, to protect you with my body when your life faces danger.“
"Still don’t remember?
"I'm one of those whom you and many others have called 'Salt of the earth. You know, one of those who did the army, those who have buried friends, those who have followed you ‘blindly.’ Nothing? Still nothing?
"I am the one who once aggressively neutralized a person who wanted to protest at a Likud conference. I am the one who stood for countless hours outside your home, in winter, in summer, on Saturdays and holidays.
"We traveled the world together, you and I ... I always sat in the front and you ... in the back, I would open the door for you every morning, saying good morning.
"I was the one who was the fly on the wall at meetings in the White House, in the ‘hole’ (underground command center) at IDF headquarters, and in other strange places ...
"I'm the one who was willing to kill. In your name. For your sake.
"I am the one who knows the house on Balfour Street better than my house, I am the one who has always stood by your right shoulder and "I am the one whose left ear has always heard too much.
(Because a headset was stuck in the right one.)
"I'm the one who was proud to defend.
"I'm the one who was brainwashed. I'm the one who traveled with you in the big world, the one who went with you to demonstrations and I'm also the one who is unable to explain to my children why I did it.
"You won’t remember me. I don’t matter to you. Only you are important to you.
"So guess what? Yesterday I came to visit you, yes yes, in Balfour. I am the one who, if you wake him up in the middle of the night, will know in 37 seconds to how to reach every house in the area with eyes closed.
"I was the one who heard the voices of despair of our people yesterday in both the left-wing demonstration and the right-wing demonstration on the other side of the street. I was the one who was beaten by policemen yesterday just because I came to exercise the basic democratic right in Jerusalem. I am the one who was hit by water with unreasonable force from an extreme means of dispersing demonstrations (water cannon) simply because the police…does not have the capacity for restraint.
"And you, Bibi? You did not even go out to say hello, or sorry, or thank you. You were scared. But listen here to something, I felt you, I knew you were sitting in your favorite chair on the Balfour patio and listening. And moving uncomfortably. I'm also the one whose grandfather, Avraham Aden “Bern,” hung the ink flag with his friends in Umm Rash Rash in 1949. the one whose uncle was Finance Minister Yitzhak Modai. The one whose father, Omer Aden, commanded combat squadrons in the Air Force. And today? Today you no longer remember. Not my friends, not my brothers and sisters, not my uncle, not my father and not my grandfather, certainly not me. But I do! I remember. And today, I'm the one who's ashamed. I'm the one who's sad.
"I’m worried. I thought it would be right to suggest that you take a moment to read the Declaration of Independence, it has a paragraph on the vision of the State of Israel, if you forgot then here is the quoted passage, I didn’t touch it, okay?…
"The nation is torn, Bibi. And you are disconnected from reality, like the government of hack politicians you have assembled with your favorite doll. Listen to what I say to you. I felt it yesterday when I came to visit you at your home in Balfour," Aden continued.
“I think it's time to go home, to let us rebuild our broken country, to vacate your seat for real leaders. Clean, ethical. Leaders like those who signed the same Declaration of Independence, those who shed blood for democracy. Those who for whom the common good comes before their personal benefit. Those who do not lie, do not steal, do not do “tricks.”
"I know you Bibi, I know you well, and that's exactly why it's clear to me that you will not get up and go, but it was important for me to send you my regards, to tell you that yesterday I came to visit and tell you that I and all my social circles are sick and tired, we are here to fight for our country, we are here to turn the ship of all of us in the direction of its original vision.”

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