News Nosh 9.3.20

APN's daily news review from Israel - Thursday September 3, 2020 

Quote of the day:

"Successful leadership relies upon sociology and ideology – on a group of supporters united around a common interest and idea. Netanyahu rallied the Mizrahim and the religious behind him, promising them a bigger slice of the national pie after they’d been oppressed by “the left,” and he’s been keeping this promise."
--Haaretz Editor-in-Chief Aluf Benn writes about what makes Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu popular, despite it all.*

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • Expose - The (gang) rape in Eilat: The letters of the commanders of the elite commandos (Hebrew)
  • The rebellion in Yesh Atid (party) (Hebrew)
  • The rebellion in Bnei Brak (against corona testing) (Hebrew)
  • Education Minister Galant: Immunize every student in Israel against the flu (Hebrew)

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

Israel Hayom

  • Gamzu: “Without a change, we will have a lockdown” - Worrying record: 2,386 new infected
  • MK Shelach against MK Lapid: “Yesh Atid (party) is not registered in his name”
  • “They treated the girl like an object - and no one tried to stop it” - 11 indictments in the affair of the rape in Eilat
  • The surveillance, the planning, the hit: This is how (Hamas leader) Abu Al-Atta was eliminated
  • Peace in the skies: After approval of flights over Saudi Arabia, the Emirates are expecting tourists from Israel
  • Appeal to the Attorney General: “Investigate (Deputy Attorney General) Liat Ben-Ari in the real estate affair”

Top News Summary:
MK Ofer Shelah, the more left-wing senior member of Yesh Atid, the leading opposition party, has challenged the founder and chairman of the party, MK Yair Lapid, over the party leadership, ‘Corona czar,’ Ronnie Gamzu, slammed an ultra-Orthodox rabbi, who refused to have yeshiva students tested for corona and details and names of alleged rapists were revealed in the indictment that was submitted for the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl in Eilat - making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

Also, the latest on normalizing relations with the Arab world and the worries of the Israeli security establishment over the humanitarian and leadership situations in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. And at 10PM Wednesday, Syria said it shot down Israeli rockets launched toward an airbase in Homs from a US base on the Iraqi border.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu celebrated Saudi Arabia’s announcement that it would allow flights from all countries to use its airspace, but experts say that doesn’t include Israeli airlines. Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud emphaszied that the kingdom's decision doesn't change its position on the Palestinian issue. "The kingdom appreciates all efforts towards a lasting, just peace, in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative," he added in a tweet. But, "The joy was too early - at the moment El Al (Israeli airline) cannot yet pass over Saudi Arabia,” an Israeli travel company executive told 103FM/MaarivQatar told senior US advisor Jared Kushner that it won’t normalize relations until the two-state solution is implemented, but sources told KAN public broadcaster that Bahrain would be next to announce normalization, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in a phone call against any unilateral decisions that 'would undermine chances for peace' and he called for a renewal of talks between Israelis and Palestinians. Meanwhile, despite their internal conflict: Hamas and Fatah have agreed to cooperate against the Israel-UAE normalization agreement.  A meeting chaired by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will be held with the heads of organizations in the Gaza Strip to work together against the ‘plots’ of Israel and the US against the Palestinians.” (Maariv)

The Israeli defense establishment is concerned about a possible collapse of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Maariv’s military affairs correspondent, Tal Lev Ram wrote. “It is too early to signal a wave of escalation and terrorism is approaching from Judea and Samaria, but the internal situation in the PA is perhaps the worst and most difficult it has ever been - something that could affect security stability, wrote Lev Ram. Moreover, the Israeli security establishment believes that Hamas is losing control over the corona epidemic in the Gaza Strip. In just one week, the number of patients active in the Gaza Strip has increased eightfold - most of them outside the isolation facilities. So far five people have died in the Gaza Strip and the Gaza health system is considered to be failing, and it will have a hard time dealing with a high infection rate. The security establishment believes that the outbreak of the corona plague in the Gaza Strip had a major impact on Hamas' decision to agree to a truce, after receiving increased financial grants from the Qatari ambassador, which are also intended, among other things, to fight corona, Lev-Ram wrote. Moreover, Hamas reportedly wants to reach a prisoner exchange deal soon due to its fear of loss of control due to the coronavirus outbreak in the Gaza Strip due to a severe shortage of basic medical equipment and medical staff, coronavirus laboratories and tests, and respirators. A senior official involved in the recent indirect talks between Israel and Hamas mediated by an Egyptian security delegation and the Qatari ambassador for Gaza, Muhammad al-Amadi, told Israel Hayom that "now is the best time for a deal." Despite the Israel-Hamas ceasefire: The IDF arrested a man who crossed from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory. Israeli soldiers also found a suspicious object near the perimeter fence, which was taken for examination while the suspect was being interrogated by the security forces. (Maariv)

Details were revealed in the indictments of 11 males in the case of the gang-rape of a 16-year-old girl in Eilat. Four were accused of raping the girl, including twin brothers. The other seven are charged with watching, helping and doing nothing. The indictments revealed a ’celebratory atmosphere' and accused the suspects of using the girl “as a tool.” Unlike other cases, due to the condition of the girl who does not remember most of the incident, most of the evidence was based on DNA, digital findings and confessions of the accused, Ynet Hebrew reported.

Corona Quickees:

  • Coronavirus Israel Live: Daily Record Broken as Nearly 3,000 Cases Diagnosed - Top rabbi authorizes some yeshivas not to conduct COVID-19 tests as hundreds of cases confirmed ■ Drop in number of patients on life support ■ Health Ministry recommends reopening Egypt border. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Israel Failed: After Record 3,000 New Cases, Czar Threatens Holiday Lockdown - "The consistent refusal to cooperate from some of the red cities could result in a devastating outbreak," warns Prof. Ronni Gamzu, the head of the national campaign against the coronavirus pandemic. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • Gamzu slams top rabbi over comments dismissing virus testing - United Torah Judaism MK tells Gamzu 'not to get involved' in ultra-Orthodox affairs after coronavirus czar warns that without adherence to public health orders and encouragement of testing, officials would 'have to make complex decisions.’ (Ynet)
  • Yeshivas See 500 New Coronavirus Cases Week and a Half After Reopening - Many ultra-Orthodox religious institutions did not conduct testing or the capsule method of isolating groups of students from each other, leading to uptick. (Haaretz+)
  • Netanyahu's Right-hand Man Blames COVID Czar for Rising Ukraine Antisemitism - Coalition whip blasts Prof. Gamzu over letter to Ukraine president calling on him to prevent the annual pilgrimage to Uman. (Haaretz+)
  • MK Ayman Odeh on morbidity in the Arab sector: "The failure is the government’s, the responsibility is ours“ - The chairman of the Joint List did not spare criticism from his public in an interview at Ynet studio, adding that the police must act more firmly than before regarding the enforcement of guidelines in Arab localities: "There is a problem that there is a minority that is not following the guidelines and we are doing everything to change it. Police need to take more aggressive enforcement while upholding human rights.” (Ynet Hebrew)

Quick Hits:

  • Israeli army opens probe into soldiers planting explosives in Palestinian village - West bank division commander had launched his own investigation in wake of Haaretz report about three explosive devices placed in Qaddum, one of which exploded and injured a local resident. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel's Top Court to Hear Appeal Against Plea Bargain of Soldier Who Killed Innocent Palestinian - Military prosecutors are seeking a penalty of three months’ community service for the soldier who shot Ahmad Manasra, who was helping another Palestinian who was shot and wounded by the same soldier. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli Soldier, Police Officer Lightly Wounded, Palestinian Driver Shot in Suspected West Bank Attack - The suspect, sustaining moderate wounds, hit the two officers with his vehicle before getting out and running at them with a knife, according to the Israeli police. (Haaretz+ and Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • Family of Teacher Fatally Shot in Central Israel Insists Killing Was Not Accidental - Relatives claim the shots fired at the apartment building where Sharifa Abu Muammar lived were part of a growing feud with a rival local family. (Haaretz+)
  • Cabinet approves Israel holding onto all corpses of Palestinian attackers - Security cabinet accepted Defense Minister Gantz's demand to change the policy that until now was to only hold onto those who were Hamas members. Justice Minister Nissenkorn was the only one who abstained, due to Attorney General’s legal opinion, according to which it would be difficult to defend the decision in the High Court. The Shin Bet and the Attorney General objected, the army supported. (Ynet Hebrew and JPost)
  • Gantz signs four orders to seize millions of shekels of Hamas funds, property - Minister of Defense, Benny Gantz, signed four seizure and restraining orders in relation to Hamas' money and property in Gaza and around the world, amounting to millions of shekels. (Maariv and JPost)
  • Eilat beaches evacuated after Jordanian swims across border - Dozens of police officers, Border Police, and soldiers, as well as police sappers, scrambled to Eilat's southern beachfront on Wednesday to evacuate vacationers and sweep the area for a Jordanian citizen suspected of having infiltrated Israel by swimming across the border from Aqaba. (Israel Hayom and JPost)
  • Arrest of the Jordanian infiltrator in Eilat: Preliminary investigation shows that this is not a terrorist incident - An unusual incident was recorded on one of the city's beaches, when the diver's got out of the water aroused suspicion. The illegal alien was interrogated. (Maariv)
  • Prominent Israeli Rabbi Arrested After Two Women Complain of Sexual Assault - Two women, who came to Rabbi Netanel Shriki for advice, say he harassed them, and police believe more were assaulted. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel's top court clears way to extradite accused pedophile (ultra-Orthodox principal) Malka Leifer to Australia - Judges reject Leifer's appeal and rule she is fit to stand trial on 74 counts of rape and sexual assault of her students in Australia. (Maariv, Israel Hayom, Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Police investigate woman for alleged sexual harassment of Netanyahu's wife on twitter - Suspect claims tweets were mimicking threats she had received from Netanyahu supporters and were not directed at the prime minster's wife. (Haaretz+)
  • We’re on the map: Oxford University will award scholarships to Israelis - The Rhodes Scholarship Fund of the prestigious British university has approached the presidents of the institutions of higher education in Israel to inform them of the Rhodes scholarship and to recommend outstanding Israeli candidates. (Maariv)
  • U.S. Imposes Sanctions on ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda - ICC slams 'unprecedented' sanctions, which it says aim to 'interfere with the Court's judicial and prosecutorial independence,' over investigations into alleged U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: The International Criminal Court at The Hague is a "thoroughly broken and corrupt institution." (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli-Russian Businessman Steps in With Offer That Could Save El Al - David Sapir offers $51 million for 28% stake in El Al, giving him joint control over the company with Knafaim holdings; proposal would require El Al to scrap a planned $150 million stock sale. (Haaretz+)
  • Ancient Graves Discovered Outside Jerusalem Spark Battle Over Roadworks - Ultra-Orthodox activists protest removal of skeletons, dismantling of 1,900-year-old graves – despite the fact they're probably not Jewish. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • Archaeologists find Assyrian siege ramp at biblical city of Azekah - How did Sennacherib’s forces breach the Judahite defenses at Azekah in 701 B.C.E? It seems they repurposed the remains of a 1,000-year-old city wall, fashioning it into an attack ramp. (Haaretz+)
  • Ruins From First Temple-period Palace Found in Southern Jerusalem - The palace was likely built in the early seventh century B.C.E. in King Hezekiah's time, after Jerusalem had survived a siege by the Assyrians – capitals uncovered show palm tree motif typical of Kingdom of Judah. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • Pro-Israel Groups Celebrate Victory in Crucial Massachusetts Primary - Race between Richard Neal and progressive Alex Morse reflected divide between centrist and left-wing Democrats, including on Israel policy. (Haaretz+)
  • Lara Trump Campaigns With Jewish anti-Muslim Activist Laura Loomer - Loomer, a conspiracy theorist who has described herself as a 'proud Islamophobe,' is the Republican nominee in Florida’s 21st district. (Haaretz)
  • Amnesty: Iran flogged, sexually tortured prisoners in brutal post-protest crackdown - Human rights group finds widespread use of torture, other ill-treatment by Iran police, security agents and prison officials in aftermath of nationwide 2019 protests, with at least 3 sentenced to death in biased trials. (Ynet and Amnesty)
  • French leader in Baghdad, urges Iraqis to guard sovereignty - French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday that Iraq is facing multiple challenges with the two biggest problems being foreign interference in Iraqi affairs and the Islamic State group insurgents. (Israel Hayom)


Cellphone Hacking and Millions in Gulf Deals: Inner Workings of Top Secret Israeli Cyberattack Firm Revealed
Leaked documents confirm that Candiru does not just operate spyware for computers but also has operational mobile spytech. Here's what we know about the cyberattack firm offering 'untraceable' mic and camera manipulation. (Amitai Ziv, Haaretz+)

Top Commentary/Analysis:
Opening Saudi Skies to Israel May Pave the Crown Prince's Way Back to Washington (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) MBS seeks to restore his standing in the U.S. after Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed overshadowed him as a leader who shapes the new Middle East policy by normalizing ties with Israel.
Will other Arab countries follow UAE's lead (Rachel Avraham, Israel Hayom) "More countries from the Persian Gulf and maybe even other Muslim countries outside of the Persian Gulf will follow suit," one scholar says.
*The Right Supports Netanyahu Out of Shared Ideology – Jewish Supremacy (Aluf Benn, Haaretz+) Benjamin Netanyahu looks and sounds like one of us (left-wingers). Ashkenazi from an old-time family, highly educated with good English, wealthy with a host of properties to his name, an atheist who sneaks nonkosher food into Balfour. So why do they support him?…A thriving political movement like the Israeli right of 2020 isn’t just about the personal abilities, experience and wisdom of the man at the top. Successful leadership relies upon sociology and ideology – on a group of supporters united around a common interest and idea. Netanyahu rallied the Mizrahim and the religious behind him, promising them a bigger slice of the national pie after they’d been oppressed by “the left,” and he’s been keeping this promise. His close web of advisers – Ambassador Ron Dermer, National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat, spymaster Yossi Cohen, economist Avi Simhon, PMO director general Ronen Peretz – are all Mizrahim or religious. As are the politicians whom Netanyahu has promoted in Likud and the coalition.
Netanyahu's doctrine is not "peace for peace" but "I came, I saw, I won" (Orit Lavie-Nashiel, Maariv) The branding of the agreement to normalize relations with the United Arab Emirates as "peace" is marketing content intended to present Netanyahu as a visionary statesman and not as a politician acting on whims and personal considerations.
The hidden Zionists (Rabbi Marvin Hier, Israel Hayom) Non-Jews, both Christians and now even Muslims, are stepping forth to recognize the legitimacy of today's Zionists as the descendants and great-grandchildren of Abraham.
For renowned legal scholar, Israeli democracy meant Jewish dominance (Ran Greenstein, 972mag) Ruth Gavison, who died last month, was seen as a civil rights pioneer in Israel — yet her views justified overriding those rights to preserve a Jewish majority.
Rampant Violence in Arab Society Is Israel's Badge of Dishonor (Haaretz Editorial) The murder of Sharifa Abu Muammar, the 30-year-old mother of three and schoolteacher from Ramle, who was shot to death on Monday night in her home, is a badge of dishonor to Israel’s police, who have lost all control over crime in Arab communities and over the possession of illegal arms there. It is also a badge of disgrace for Israel’s government, which has not placed the dealing with crime and violence in Arab society at the top of its list of priorities, and a disgrace for the state, which treats its Arab citizens as second-class citizens, giving them second-rate police protection. Israeli society should also be ashamed for relating to violence in Arab society as a natural phenomenon with no chance of being uprooted.
Binyamin Netanyahu in the footsteps of Joseph McCarthy (Dr. Baruch Leshem, Ynet Hebrew) In the 1950s, the American senator based his communist persecution on fabrications, but in the end the media exposed them. These days it is happening in Israel as well.
For Netanyahu, the Biggest Danger of COVID-19 Is the Rise of Naftali Bennett (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) The former defense minister recently published a book on how Israel can defeat the pandemic. Hidden within is a playbook for how to defeat Netanyahu.
This Opposition Lawmaker Wants to Be the ‘Killer’ Israel’s Left Needs (Ravit Hecht, Haaretz+) Ofer Shelah, a hardboiled, hard-working politician, wants to bring about real change on the center-left. But he may have a hard time shedding his reputation as member of the out-of-touch elite.
Hamas eyes another Israel fight as Gaza teeters on brink of collapse (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) Terror group's leader Yahya Sinwar is preparing for fresh aggression in bid for political dominance ahead of October vote, even though coastal enclave is under total coronavirus lockdown and on cusp of economic and health disaster.
Dozens Are Killed in Air Strikes Attributed to Israel in Syria. But Who's Counting? (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) the victims of yet another Israeli air strike in Syria. Who’s heard about it? Who knows about it, who cares? Who has the energy to look into it? Military correspondents parrot, as is their wont, unfounded statements dictated by military spokesmen, with diplomatic correspondents celebrating in the Emirates, while on Monday night 11 more people are killed in a raid in southern Syria, attributed to Israel. According to the Damascus Center for Human Rights, three of the victims were Syrian soldiers and seven were “Iranian militia operatives,” which automatically justifies any bombing. A female villager was also killed and her husband wounded, but these things happen, after all. A dead woman in Syria really is a non-story. Are these air strikes essential? What is their goal? What are the risks they entail? What is being bombed and why?
Is America isolated on the world stage? (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) Compared to Obama, Trump is disliked by most of the world. But the Israel-UAE agreement illustrates that being admired by European allies seems highly overrated.
There was a better American president for Israel than Trump (Roy Goldschlager, Ynet Hebrew) The incumbent president is responsible for declarative measures whose actual meaning is unclear. In this discussion it is worth remembering Lyndon Johnson, whose support was exceptional on every scale.
It's the riots, stupid! (Gilad Zwick, Israel Hayom) The majority of Israeli journalists, who learn about the United States from the New York Times or CNN, fail to understand that Trump is gaining in popularity not despite the riots, but because of them.

Israel-UAE deal could position Abu Dhabi as 'idea capital' through higher education ties
"This is not the West coming to enlighten the natives, so to speak. This is two different cultures, and they need to learn from each other," says University of Haifa President Ron Robin. (Interviewed by Jacon Kamaras in Israel Hayom)

“We have operations that last 14 days, most of the time you wait at the target site "
The actions of his fighters in the middle of the sea are defined in the IDF as "on the verge of imagination." On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of Shayetet 13 (Navy Seals), the current commander of the unit, Col. D., talks about the daring operations of the people of silence far from home, about the dangers - and about the phone call from the chief of staff. (Interviewed by Yossi Yehoshua in Yedioth Hebrew)
When we ask Col. D. how far the naval commando fighters under his command have gone this year, he replies in one short sentence and immediately accompanies it with an elegant evasion: "Wherever there is a sea - we are able to act. But in the Shayetet, when you want to avoid talking about on walkie talkie, you say, ’I’m going down for a dive'. So here, I inform you: 'Going down for a dive.’” Shayetet 13 received a medal of honor from Chief of Staff Kochavi last summer. It was also accompanied by personal certificates of appreciation from Navy Commander Eli Sharvit, for what was defined as "groundbreaking operational activities." "At the end of any such operation," reveals Colonel D., "the chief of staff makes sure to call and congratulate the commanders and fighters." The head of the IDF Operations Division, Major General Aharon Haliva, described them as "on the verge of imagination." "We had thousands of hours of diving and thousands of hours of sailing this year, which is a lot more than in my time as a fighter," he says. "We have also developed new fighting methods. The operational challenge brings you to a situation where you are required to develop a suitable weapon within a few days to weeks, make it precise and make sure it brings the results to the millimeter. It does not always work, but when it does it is amazing.
"There are situations where there is a wait of many days in the field until the execution of the operation. The wait is also part of the operation, and it requires patience until the execution conditions are fully matured. This is not a one-hour flight and return to the squadron. Waiting for the right conditions, that you do not know exactly when they will arrive. When that happens - and it could be on the 12th or 13th day, you must 'explode' to full power. And that's after waiting in conditions that are not exactly an air-conditioned office.
“This transition, in one moment from zero to one hundred, requires very high sharpness in order to achieve accuracy in execution. This is also the reason why commanders must be there, up front. They need to influence, know and make decisions. But in these operations, the distance between failure and success is like a hair's breadth.
“It’s not a one-hour flight and and back to the flight squadron (like in the Air Force). We have operations that last 14 days, with most of the time you wait at the destination. When that happens - and it can be on the 12th or 13th day, you have to 'explode' one hundred percent."

'The IDF must allow women to apply to all roles'
Former Head of the IDF's Personnel Directorate-turned-MK Orna Barbivai believes it is high time the military named a woman to head the Israeli Air Force or the Navy – ahead of naming a female chief of staff. (Interviewed by Gideon Allon in Israel Hayom)

'Only Sephardi Jews have the right to live in Palestine'
In an interview with Arabic-speaking television, Palestinian Islamic scholar Omar Fora outlines his view of Israeli ambitions for the region and details which Jews he considers eligible for living in the Land of Israel. (Interviewed by Al-Quds Al-Yaum and reprinted in Israel Hayom)

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