News Nosh 7.29.20

APN's daily news review from Israel - Wednesday July 29, 2020

Quote of the day:

“People are scared to come to protests because of this. It’s frightening to think that next time the attackers might use a knife.”
--Dor Segal, an eyewitness of the Tuesday night attacks on anti-Netanyahu protesters by groups of young men wearing black.*

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

  • Making order - For the first time since the regular corona declarations, the Prime Minister cleared the TV stage for project manager Prof. Ronni Gamzu, who made clear: “From now on, I’m responsible.”
  • Suddenly, we’re together // Ben Caspit
  • Violence clashes in the heart of Tel-Aviv - exchange of blows with right-wingers and police at the protest in front of Minister Ohana’s home
  • The dismissal and the response - Coalition Chairman Miki Zohar dismissed Knesset Corona Committee Chairwoman MK Shasha-Biton; Calls in Likud to dismiss Zohar
  • A great and difficult hour // President Reuven Rivlin

Israel Hayom

  • “There won’t be anymore illogical restrictions” - Gamzu to ‘Israel Hayom’: We will reexamine the closure on weekends, we will cancel the banning on playgrounds
  • “Hezbollah will act within two days” - Security establishment assessment
  • Storm in the Likud after the dismissal of MK Shasha-Biton
  • Protest and clashes
  • Demonstration against the polling station // Itamar Fleishman
  • No audience, but there’s a championship
  • The initiative for a town only for Ethiopians - the establishment of a ghetto // Dani Ababa
  • Mourning over the destruction (of the Holy Temple): Tonight is the fast of Tu B’Av
  • Rebelling with much respect: (Actress) Shira Hass is a candidate for an Emmy (for her role in Netflix series, ‘Un-Orthodox’

Top News Summary:
Relief after the first statement of the newly appointed ‘Corona Czar,’ Prof. Ronni Gamzu, more Israeli forces deployed on the northern border with the expectation of another Hezbollah action on the northern border (but Israeli vacationers were unfazed) and concern following a violent and organized right-wing attack on anti-Netanyahu protesters in Tel-Aviv made today’s top stories in the Hebrew newspapers. Also making news, Likud MKs got angry after coalition whip and loyalist to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ousted Likud MK Yifat Shasha-Biton as Knesset Corona Committee Chairwoman for not doing Netanyahu’s bidding.

A 103FM/Maariv poll found that the popularity of the Likud party led by Netanyahu  popularity continues to dive and that the Yesh Atid party led by Yair Lapid is strengthening. Together, Kahol-Lavan and Yesh Atid reach 29 seats, putting them slightly behind Likud’s 31. The Labor didn’t pass the minimum threshold. The poll also found that a large part of the right-wing voters think that the conduct of the police towards the anti-Netanyahu demonstrators is influenced by political considerations.
If elections were to take place today, here's how Israelis would vote:
Likud: 31
Yesh Atid (Lapid) and Telem (Yaalon): 19
Joint List: 16
Yamina: 13
Kahol-Lavan: 10
Shas: 9
Yisrael Beiteinu: 8
Yehadut Hatorah: 7
Meretz: 7

*Israel’s acting police chief declared that violence (against demonstrators) will not be tolerated after five anti-Netanyahu demonstrators were hospitalized following an attack by at least 10 men. The attackers, who were caught on video, used stones, bottles and pepper spray as 1000 people marched in Tel-Aviv towards the home of Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, over his pressure on police to prevent the demonstrations in front of Netanyahu’s residence. (See VIDEO by Asaf Shafir who follows the attackers and another VIDEO and here and here.) This was the fourth attack on demonstrators in a week.

Corona Quickees:

  • Coronavirus czar presents national plan to combat pandemic - New 'Magen Israel' outline moves contact tracing to IDF control, more autonomy to municipalities over restrictions; Gamzu acknowledges eroded public trust, promises no 'illogical moves.’ (Haaretz, i24News and Ynet)
  • Israel sees eight deaths, 1,363 new COVID-19 cases - Newly appointed coronavirus czar pushes plan to divided cities into 'green', 'yellow' and 'red' categories, with each one subject to specific restrictions according to the local morbidity. (Ynet)
  • Israel records highest daily number of virus cases since start of pandemic - Out of 33,377 patients, 315 are in serious condition, with 96 connected to ventilators; death toll rises to 490; coronavirus czar unveils new national outline to combat the novel virus. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Israel Prepares for 'Coronavirus Aliyah' as Ministry Says Applications Rise - Immigration and Absorption Ministry wants extra $122 million annually over the next five years. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli Army Reservists Staffing COVID-19 Call Center Walk Off After Spike in Calls - The surge in call volume from people mostly seeking to appeal quarantine orders was due to a change in Health Ministry policy, which soldiers complained was unclear and difficult to relay. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel Plans to Boost Number of Coronavirus Tests to 60,000 per Day by Winter - Health Ministry to ask for bids to establish two large private labs for COVID-19 testing, one in the north and one in the south. (Haaretz+)

Quick Hits:

  • Coalition Leaders Overusing a Rule to Curtail Legislative Debate, Says Knesset Report - Move shortens the debate to three hours, allowing the opposition to present no more than 100 of its reservations. (Haaretz+)
  • 'Everyone Is Dissatisfied' as Israeli Arab Lawmakers Try to Cover Split on LGBTQ Rights - Vote to ban so-called conversion therapy laid bare a range of attitudes within the Joint List. But the most prominent one? To avoid an official stance. (Haaretz+)
  • Yemeni blogger jailed by Saudi court for supporting equal gay rights - Human Rights Watch says kingdom sentenced refugee Mohamad al-Bokari to 10 months in prison, $2,600 fine and deportation after he expressed support for LGBTQ+ rights on social media. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Likud's Amir Ohana to Resign Knesset Seat, Stay on as Public Security Minister - Ohana, who is openly gay and has voted against his party's stance on LGBTQ issues, resigned based on a law that allows a limited number of cabinet members to free up their parliamentary seats. (Maariv and Haaretz+)
  • Israeli artist takes aim at Netanyahu with life-size statue - Installation, depicting a disheveled premier in a mock re-enactment of the Last Supper and in Tel Aviv Rabin Square, is the latest twist in a summer of protests against the PM and his conduct. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Israel city's bid to honour Egyptian diva stirs anger - Haifa town council head defends the decision name one of the city's streets in honor of Umm Kulthum, who was adored by Jews and performed in the city in 1930s, while critics, among whom is PM's son, call the move 'shameful and crazy.’ (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Returning UN envoy: Israel won’t suffer for tight Trump ties - Danon dismisses notions Jerusalem will pay a price for its tight ties to the divisive president should he be defeated in November, says Jewish State could prosper with either Trump or Biden in the White House. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Knesset Christian Allies Caucus celebrates faith-based diplomacy - KCAC Chair MK Sharren Haskel: Faith-based diplomacy is the strongest weapon we have in the arsenal of international Israel advocacy. (Israel Hayom)
  • Human Rights Activists Urge Israel to Stop Spy Tool Exports to Hong Kong Police - Petitioners say Israel's Cellebrite phone-cracking product is a 'dual-use' technology attacking pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. (Haaretz+)
  • El Al Owner Fights to Retain Control Despite Israeli Airline's Financial Meltdown - The airline is pressuring the treasury to let it take a $250-million loan as an offer from New York businessman faces unexpected obstacles. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli Actress Shira Haas Nominated for an Emmy Award for Her Role in 'Unorthodox' - Dystopian series 'Watchmen' leads all nominees with 26. (Haaretz+ and NYT)
  • Sixth-century Church Found by Circassian Village Near Mount Tabor - Discovered during works ahead of building a playground, the church or monastery is likely to join the first ancient church found in Kafr Kama – and be built over. (Haaretz+)
  • NEW: Ynetnews and ILTV team up for daily English news show - Broadcasting directly from Ynet's own studios in central Israel and integrating our own original reportage, ILTV offers expert insight into the biggest issues and events from the region. (Ynet)
  • Readers continue to favor Israel Hayom, TGI survey finds - Kantar Media's Target Group Index, which reviewed media readership between July 2019 and June 2020, gives Israel Hayom a clear lead over main rival, Yedioth Ahronoth. (Israel Hayom)

Top Commentary/Analysis:

Peeked - and weren’t harmed (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth Hebrew) The IDF’s unusual order to soldiers: even though the terrorists crossed the border to kill or kidnap soldiers - do not harm them.
Hezbollah Can’t Afford a War With Israel (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Like the Israeli government, Hezbollah must consider the reaction of Lebanon’s residents, who see it as one of the main culprits in the country’s economic collapse.
Israel and Hezbollah's miracles on the Lebanon border (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) Since 2015, all cross-border incidents between the IDF and Hezbollah have 'miraculously' ended without any casualties or even wounded; it's almost as if the two sides were participating in staged shows for their respective publics.
Hezbollah's dilemma: For now, it seems that the organization does not intend to respond (Avi Issacharoff, Maariv) The Shiite organization cannot afford a military entanglement with Israel now, so even if another response comes from it, it will not be one that will drag the IDF into war.
For Hezbollah, Arab Spring turned into winter (Jalal Bana, Israel Hayom) The Shiite terrorist group's decline is encouraging but it must be taken with a sizable grain of salt, as its road to dubious redemption may spell fresh hostilities with Israel. 
An IDF balancing act on the Israel-Lebanon border (Yoav Zitun, Ynet) Reporter's Notebook: Israeli officers say army conducting sensitive work away from frontier area, aiming to thwart Hezbollah's efforts to obtain precision weapons, keep Iran from Syria entrenchment - and a border blowup could harm that operation.
Will there be another war with Lebanon amid pandemic? (Rachel Avraham, Israel Hayom) While no one wants hostilities to escalate, Hezbollah is unpredictable making war a very distinct, albeit slim, possibility.
Hezbollah Got Dangerously Close to IDF Troops, and Israel Is Wary of Another Attempted Attack (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Military plans aggressive response if the Lebanese group tries to strike again after failing on Monday to inflict casualties on IDF troops.
Hezbollah is not afraid of the IDF. Something needs to be done (Omer Dustri, Ynet Hebrew) The organization is undeterred and unmoved by the numerous threats from the Israeli government and military. Since a confrontation is a matter of time anyway, it may be appropriate timing for making a limited action against it.
A Clear Message From West Bank Mosque Burning: Palestinians Must Disappear (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) The arsonists’ indirect message is: Look at us, we do whatever we like and will continue to do it, because the police won’t bother to search for us and the army won’t turn us in. And if they do catch us, they won’t prosecute us, and if they do prosecute, the judges will find an excuse to acquit us. That’s how it’s been for years.
Netanyahu, this street violence is on you (Ben Dror-Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) A small, violent group can endanger democracy, and these thugs look up to you, believe they are doing your bidding, while you and your son spread lies about legitimate demonstrators and do nothing to rein in the mob.
How This Likud Backbencher Became Public Enemy No. 2 for anti-Netanyahu Protesters (Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz+) Public Security Minister Amir Ohana is reportedly furious that police aren’t cracking down on anti-Bibi protesters, further alienating him from the majority of the mostly progressive LGBTQ community.
There is no connection to corona: The organizers of the demonstrations are only interested in the eliminate the Prime Minister politically (Zalman Shoval, Maariv) The organizers of the demonstrations will continue on their own even if there is an improvement in the situation, because it is not the elimination of the corona that interests them, but Netanyahu's political elimination. But something positive is also happening: first buds that the sane Zionist left-wing is beginning to recover and sober up.
Replace the word leftists with "Jews" (Ksenia Svetlova, Ynet Hebrew) According to the Bibists, leftists are part of a global satanic movement that controls money and the media and endangers the world. Oh, and they also spread diseases. Sound familiar?
Likud MK's ouster for defying PM sparks short-lived internal party rebellion (Moran Azulay, Yedioth/Ynet) Row erupts after coalition chair Miki Zohar removes Yifat Shasha-Biton as coronavirus panel chair for ordering gyms to open despite government decision to keep them closed, sanctions Finance Minister Katz for row between the two, other lawmakers for ignoring party line.
Netanyahu Is Using the State Budget to Stay in Power (Haaretz Editorial) Finance Ministry accountant general Rony Hizkiyahu announced this week that he is resigning. The background is the ongoing inability of the government to pass a budget…Israel has been without an approved budget since the beginning of the year. The budget with which the accountant general has been managing the government was actually passed in 2017, and by force of circumstances – namely, three consecutive elections – has been the basis for government activity well into 2020. The result is a gap of between 15 billion and 20 billion shekels between the budget framework and the actual budgetary needs…Despite the prime minister’s false demagoguery, the budget crisis is a fabricated one. There would be no problem passing a budget tomorrow. But to do this, he must agree to approve a two-year budget, for 2020 and 2021, just as he committed to do in the coalition agreement.
Israel Is Going to Pay a Heavy Price for Its Fiscal Follies, and This Top Official Knows It (Meirav Arlosoroff, Haaretz+) The treasury's accountant general doesn't want to be there when Israel's credit rating is lowered, and that's why he's stepping down.
Israel's Future Still Depends on Benny Gantz, a Political Spare Tire (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Israel is the only country in the world that has a spare prime minister in storage. It’s logical. When the authority of the prime minister expires, particularly when he is showing signs of losing his senses and his behavior is endangering public health, the economy and state security, one must be able to go to the storeroom and pull out a prime minister to replace the defective one. It’s not the most attractive option but it can’t be otherwise.
Unconditional love should overcome baseless hatred (Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom) Tisha B'Av is a time to look at the parallels between modern-day Israel and Second Temple-era Jerusalem, where Jews were tearing themselves apart even before the Romans arrived.
A Million Votes: Why Biden Is Making Unprecedented Efforts to Court Muslim Americans (Amir Tibon, Haaretz+) Though the community only comprises about 1 percent of the U.S. electorate, it is largely situated in crucial swing states such as Michigan, Ohio and Florida.

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