News Nosh 1.3.21

APN's daily news review from Israel - Sunday January 3, 2021

You Must Be Kidding: 
The Israel Defense Forces said that “a violent disturbance developed involving about 150 Palestinians that included stone-throwing on a massive scale,” to which soldiers responded by “using crowd-dispersal methods and firing into the air.”
--A video of the incident in al-Rakiz village in the West Bank shows neither 150 people nor firing into the air or even at limbs. It shows three unarmed shepherds scuffling with armed soldiers as they try to wrest back their property – an electricity generator the size of a medium carton. The generator is a lifeline for the shepherds, whose village Israel won't allow to connect to the water or electricity supply. It is pulled back and forth between the soldiers and the shepherds. A photo shows an Israeli soldier aiming from point-blank range at Harun Abu Aram's head. The shot is heard in the video and then screams of women and Abu Aram is seen sprawled on the ground, he was shot in the throat. Another shot is heard. Then the soldiers left with the generator.**

“Sometimes the tanker arrives late or only half-full. By the time it returns full, school is over. So another day goes by without water, and I have to convince my young daughter that the next day she’ll be able to wash her hands there.”
—Adnan al-Nabari, chairman of the parents’ committee of the Israeli-Bedouin school in Tel Arad, which receives its water from tankers because the state refuses to lay a pipeline to hook up schools to the water grid.**

Quote of the day:
“When the IDF Spokesperson covers up for the army this way, it is an accessory to a crime. When the IDF Spokesperson whitewashes this way, soldiers know that nothing terrible happened. They can rely on the collaborators – most of the military reporters – not to make a fuss. After all, nothing happened. Nothing.”
--Gideon Levy writes in an Op-Ed after an Israeli soldier shot a Palestinian shepherd in the neck frompoint-blank range, while the shepherd tried to wrest a generator from the soldiers trying to confiscate it.*

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • “Immediately close the education system” - On the way to a full lockdown
  • We passed the million: Israel #1 in the world for rate of vaccinations (Hebrew)
  • (Singer) Arik Einstein that we didn’t know - To mark his 82nd birthday today, family of Arik Einstein (RIP) launches website with photos not yet seen (Hebrew)
  • Israeli legend - (Singer and actor) Lior Yeini 1936-2021 (Hebrew)

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

  • Preparing for tighter restrictions
  • They will accept a correction - State prosecutors will submit corrected indictment against Netanyahu to District Court today (separating Netanyahu from his family)
  • Protesting in the name of Ahuvia - Hundreds of (settler) youth demonstrated next to offices of Unit Investigating Police and clashed with police
  • Bloody weekend in Arab sector: Five people murdered in two days

Israel Hayom

Top News Summary:
*The biggest stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers were the plan to tighten the lockdown restrictions and pride over Israel being the country that has vaccinated the highest percentage of its population so far - which is outrageous because the biggest story in today’s Hebrew newspapers should have been that an Israeli soldier shot in the neck and paralyzed for life a young Palestinian shepherd who was desperately trying to help wrest away his neighbor’s generator from a group of Israeli soldiers who were trying to confiscate it. The two videos (here and here) are not for the weak of heart. What was also outrageous is that the IDF Spokesman's Unit called it  a "violent riot" involving 150 Palestinians and featuring "mass stone throwing" and that troops used riot control measures and shot into the air. Haaretz's Gideon Levy called on people to watch the online video and wrote, “When the IDF Spokesperson covers up for the army this way, it is an accessory to a crime. When the IDF Spokesperson whitewashes this way, soldiers know that nothing terrible happened. They can rely on the collaborators – most of the military reporters – not to make a fuss. After all, nothing happened. Nothing.” (See in Commentary/Analysis below.) This photos shows the soldier pointing at the shepherd's head. The Palestinian Foreign Ministry has demanded the UN investigate. There was other violence towards Palestinians that was not reported on. The Palestinian news website IMEMC reported that 18 Palestinians were shot and injured by Israeli soldiers at the weekly protest march in Kufur Qaddoum. Soldiers stormed rooftops and flew drones overhead to disperse foul smelling chemicals at the crowd.

The reaction of Israeli security forces to the tugging of an electric generator contrasted starkly with their reaction to the violent right-wing protests against the killing of a settler youth, Ahuvia Sandak who died in a car accident when police chased his car for him allegedly throwing rocks at Palestinian cars. That protest Saturday night did make big news. It was the fourth protest in a week and it, too, was violent. The protesters flipped over a police car and threw stones at police, injuring some of them. Yet, Maariv titled it, “Protesting in the name of Ahuvia.” Yedioth and Haaretz didn't ignore the facts: they reported that traffic was blocked, infrastructure was destroyed and policemen were attacked. That the protesters “attempted to lynch Arabs” in Jerusalem, “savagely” (Yedioth) attacking with wood planks and stones and shattered the Arabs’ car windows, but the passengers managed to escape. (Yedioth Hebrew)

Also making news, on the anniversary of the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, Iran's Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif urged Trump to avoid an Israeli 'trap' to provoke war, saying new intel indicates 'Israeli agent-provocateurs' are planning to attack American targets in Iraq to provoke war. And Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Trump "perpetrated many crimes but the economic embargo on Iran and the assassination of Qassem Soleimani are crimes we cannot forgive." Rouhani promised that Iran will avenge Soleimani's death "at a time and place that it sees fit.” Earlier in the week, Arab media reported that that anonymous US sources said that Riyadh and Jerusalem want to sabotage President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to re-enter negotiations with the Iranian regime, by getting Trump to strike Iran in his final days before leaving office.

In interesting comparisons, a headline on the pro-Netanyahu ‘Israel Hayom’ newspaper read: “Austic man given job as model.” Meanwhile, Haaretz reported that 200 classes for autistic children are operating above full capacity.

Elections 2021:
Yedioth also noted that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was courting the Arab vote ahead of elections. ‘Israel Hayom’ reported that he announced at a Likud meeting that he is considering appointing a ‘Muslim minister.’ Yedioth wrote: “He warned against their votes for Knesset, called their representatives ‘supporters of terror’ and claimed that a government supported by them is illegitimate. But suddenly the Prime Minister is using the peace agreement with the UAE, the corona vaccines and even Jabotinsky’s doctrine to get the support of the Arab citizens of Israel. MK Ahmed Tibi: “Netanyahu is capable of putting on a galabiyeh (Arab cloak) and calling himself ‘Abu Yair’ before the elections.” To illustrate Netanyahu’s courting of Arab-Israelis, Yedioth printed a large photo of him with Arab citizens in the Arab city of Um al-Fahm, where he celebrated the vaccination of the millionth citizen. Of course, he could have gone to any vaccine center in the country to mark the event. Speaking at a Likud meeting, Netanyahu declared, "This time we will have at least two Knesset seats from the Arab sector. They love our peace, they see that we have eradicated crime.”  Balad party chairman MK Imtanes Shehadeh, slammed Netanyahu's moves and said: "Netanyahu's chair is shaking, so he imagines scenarios in which the Arab public will vote for the man who oppressed, divided, incited and evicted it. Our buses are ready to flock to the polls, but certainly not to vote for the those who instigated against us.” However, RA’AM party Chairman MK Mansour Abbas, who has shown willingness to ally with Netanyahu in order to achieve more for his voters, said: "I was happy to identify first and lead the change in the perception of politicians on the Israeli right towards Arab society, from a hostile attitude toward the Arab citizens of the country to the attitude that places them at the center of political discourse in the shadow of this complex election! We are the sons and faces of Arab society who represent it with dignity.” (Maariv)

‘Israel Hayom’ also reported that right-wing leaders are also courting the Russian speakers. Meanwhile, anti-Netanyahu protests continued Saturday night for the 28th week and some protesters were detained outside Netanyahu’s residence. Yedioth reported that someone tried to set on fire a tent belonging to an anti-Netanyahu protester. Meanwhile, Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn accused Defense Minister Benny Gantz of agreeing to politicize the attorney general and state attorney appointments because he allegedly wants to run on a joint ticket with the far right-wing Yamina party.


Quick Hits:

  • Settlers chase herders off pastures in Jordan Valley - Israeli hilltop youth settlers attacked Palestinian herders Saturday night in the northern Jordan Valley, forcing them to leave. (WAFA)
  • Settlers attack and injure Palestinian farmers in the south of West Bank - Israeli settlers from different illegal outposts assaulted Palestinian farmers working on their lands in Umm Lakhous hamlet in Masafer Yatta. The hamlets have been under daily attacks by Israeli settlers, who are often protected by Israeli army, in their efforts to force their Palestinian residents to leave the area in order to take it over and use it for settlement expansion. (WAFA)
  • Israel delaying badly needed treatment of a sick prisoner, says body - Since 2018, Jamal Amr, 49, from Hebron, has been suffering from tumors in the liver and kidneys, stomach and intestinal problems, urinary tract infection and nerve problems, and is therefore in urgent need of medical treatment, the Commission said in a report. So far, Amr has only been receiving painkillers from the prison administration. (WAFA)
  • Palestinian prisoner hunger strike 21 days after being detained without trial on the day of his release from prison - Jibril Zubaidi, resident of Jenin refugee camp, was detained by Israeli occupation army on February 25, 2020, sentenced to 10 months prison and fined 2,000 shekels ($550). His release date was December 12, 2020, but he was astonished that an Israeli court had given him a six-month administrative detention sentence on the day of his expected release. (WAFA)
  • Israel to fund drones, patrol units to monitor unauthorized Palestinian construction - The Settlement Affairs Ministry has allocated $6.2 million for West Bank regional councils to purchase electronic tracking devices to monitor building by Palestinians, who are seldom granted construction permits. (Haaretz+)
  • In Rare Move, Palestinian Forces Go Into East Jerusalem Neighborhood After Triple Murder - Palestinian police need Israeli approval to enter Kafr Aqab, which is officially in Jerusalem but lies on the Palestinian side of Israel's West Bank wall. Army forces, also accompanied by Palestinian police, entered the village to restore order and calm the winds. Locals say Israeli forces and authorities rarely police or even visit it. (Maariv, Haaretz+ and WAFA)
  • Suspicion of insider collaboration: More than 90,000 bullets were stolen from Tselim military base - An unusual incident occurred over the past weekend, when burglars managed to get with a vehicle to the bunker area in the training center, and quickly loaded the ammunition on it. (Maariv and Ynet Hebrew)
  • IDF reveals it struck 50 Syrian targets in 2020 - Military's annual statistics report says that most of the strikes targeted Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah or Iranian-backed military units in the war-ravaged country. (Israel Hayom)
  • IDF intercepts 93% of rockets fired from Gaza in 2020, report finds - Military data shows that 2020 saw 60 terror incidents, as the IDF also destroyed 300 Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip. The IDF recruited 3,000 reservists and conducted 235,000 epidemiological investigations to assist the government in its efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus. (Israel Hayom)
  • In first, female officer to head intelligence efforts against Iran - Lt. Col. R., 37, who started her military service decrypting aerial images, says she is "excited and proud" to be the first women in a job so important to Israel's security. (Israel Hayom)
  • Despite challenges of 2020, aliyah (immigration) applications skyrocket - Nefesh B'Nefesh received more than double the number of aliyah applications this year, 6704 compared to the 3035 applications in 2019. [NOTE: But actual immigration in 2020 dropped by about 30% - OH] (Israel Hayom)
  • More Than 200 Classes for Children With Autism Are Operating Above Full Capacity - The growth rate of classes in mainstream schools for students with autism is not keeping up with the number of children diagnosed. (Haaretz+)
  • Poll: English-speaking Israelis seek greater role in setting national policy - It was undertaken by the Anglo Vision, an initiative to unify the community around certain policies to become a political force. (Israel Hayom)
  • Friend says Pollard already ruled out key option regarding his future - "I've suffered enough," former spy reportedly tells individual who inquired on whether he would seek elected office, just days after arriving in Israel. (Israel Hayom)
  • Palestinian President Abbas welcomes Hamas letter on reconciliation, calls on elections commission to meet with him - Palestinian Presidency announced Saturday that President Mahmoud Abbas, received a written letter from Ismail Haniyeh, Head of Hamas Political Bureau, conveyed to him by Jibril Rajoub, Secretary of Fatah Central Committee, and after having read the letter, the President gave his instructions to Rajoub to relay to Hamas his welcome of what was stated in the letter regarding ending the division, building partnership, and achieving national unity through democratic elections with full proportional representation - legislative and presidential elections, and the National Council – to be held simultaneously, and his affirmation of Fatah’s commitment to the path of building national partnership and unity. (WAFA)
  • Graffiti Reading ‘Murdering Jews We Will Hang You’ Painted at Spanish Jewish Cemetery - The Madrid incident was the latest in a string of cases of vandalism against Jewish sites in Europe this week, including in Halle, Germany, Bulgaria and Belarus. (Haaretz+)


***Kids at Israeli Bedouin School Are Learning How to Spend the Day Without Water
The school is the only one in Israel that lacks a regular water supply, and the students wait every day for tankers to show up – which they often don’t, or come half empty. One day last week the children had to wait for the truck – the school day had begun without the kids having the chance to take a drink, wash their hands or flush a toilet. According to parents, the tanker arrived two hours later. Other times, they say, it doesn’t arrive at all or doesn’t bring enough water. The parents’ attempts to question the driver or his company were to no avail. The Education Ministry, ultimately responsible for the issue, declined to comment to Haaretz or provide details on the dropout rates of Bedouin students. (Or Kashit, Haaretz+)
Israeli Troops Shot a Palestinian With a Rubber Bullet, Then Tried to Snatch Him From the Ambulance
Israeli troops fired at protesters who were supporting shepherds whose village had been demolished. After one protester, Fahdi Wahdan, a 25-year-old farmhand, was hit with a rubber bullet, soldiers tried to prevent him from getting treatment. Video footage of the horrific incident appeared on Palestinian social media and was picked up by television stations around the world. This is the face of the IDF. Wahdan is a very simple young man – in the ambulance someone was heard shouting that he is majnun, “crazy” – in the hope of protecting him. In any event, with his short height he doesn’t look as though he poses any sort of threat. On November 24, he took part in a demonstration of solidarity with the residents of Khirbet Humsah, located also in the valley, to the southwest, where on November 3 the Israeli Civil Administration in the territories perpetrated one of its largest acts of destruction in recent months. The villagers were given 10 minutes to grab all their belongings and possessions that day, before the wrecking crew set to work: 18 structures were razed, leaving 11 families – 74 souls, 41 of them children – without a roof over their heads in the rain, wind and cold of the Jordan Valley in winter. In the West Bank a day of solidarity with them was called for November 24. Wahdan waited that day at the entrance to Tayasir, where people from all across the West Bank gathered… (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+)
Volunteers for combat: a record number of more than a thousand Arab servicemen in the IDF (since the corona outbreak)
[Reporter neglects to explain why the rise: The IDF is seen in a more positive light since the outbreak of corona because it was deployed in Arab and ultra-Orthodox towns and cities to hand out food when people were on lockdown. Many of those volunteering will be working in the Home Front Command in their villages and cities during an emergency. - OH] A 2-fold jump in the number of volunteers from the Arab sector, including Muslims and (Palestinians) from E. Jerusalem, who volunteered to join the IDF, most of them after the breakout of the corona crisis. 450 of them enlisted in combat units, as scouts and fighters in the Bedouin patrol unit, but not only. Several dozen of the combat fighters from the Arab sector were integrated into infantry brigades such as Kfir and Nahal. Others serve in various tracks, as doctors, nurses, drivers, and as soldiers of the Home Front Command who will be deployed in their localities during an emergency. Some of them will be integrated, through the army, as policemen or Border Police.  In order to facilitate young people from the Arab sector to volunteer for the army, the Manpower unit has in recent months conducted online “summoning campaigns”, in which you can sign up to receive a summons for military service, receive information about service tracks and more. About 4,000 Israeli minorities approached and expressed interest, according to Manpower data, about 1,200 of them were found relevant and about 250 already in the process of enlistment in the army. “Some 700 of them were from Arab countries, including places like Lebanon and Syria. Perhaps this is part of the change the region is going through. We couldn’t believe the demand,” said an officer in IDF Manpower. "As a result, we opened a recruitment office at the entrance to the Alon Tribute Base in the Galilee, a base where they will learn to improve their Hebrew. This branch will be able to recruit a total of up to 2,500 people a year to the IDF." There was also an increase in volunteers for the "Ambassadors in Uniform" program, a short training of several weeks for opinion leaders in the Arab sector, as reported by Ynet. And in recent rounds more than 100 participants in the training have been registered, twice as many as in previous years. In the IDF Population Administration they are also working in a targeted manner with minority populations: in the coming weeks, 900 Arab-Christians will be approached with the intention of recruiting at least a quarter (about 200 of them), three times the number of Christians who enlist each year. The IDF is less willing to give details about this in light of the sensitivity, but this year a breakthrough was also felt regarding the willingness of young Druze from the four villages in the northern Golan Heights to enlist in the army, and moves have already been made in these villages. Historically, they refrained from expressing formal identification with the State of Israel, out of appreciation or fear that in the future the Golan Heights would be returned to Syrian control as part of an agreement between the two countries. The IDF has realized the expanding potential of military service from the Arab sector and is preparing to open technology classrooms as technical affiliates, similar to the Air Force Technical School and its branches in Druze villages, also in Arab high schools. "Since the beginning of the Corona crisis, there has been a significant change in the willingness of young people in the sector to take part in IDF activity, and this is also happening in the ultra-Orthodox sector: about two weeks ago, we opened Phase 2 internships for older citizens who would join the army in the reserve service, and there were ultra-Orthodox who we had never seen, and not just youth dropping out of yeshivas. "Only youth dropped out of yeshivot. The IDF's activity following the epidemic in the Arab and ultra-Orthodox localities had an impact," a senior officer in the manpower department told Ynet. "The IDF's activity in the Arab and ultra-Orthodox localities since the epidemic began has had an impact," a senior officer in the manpower department told Ynet. Hundreds of these newcomers to the IDF, from the Arab and ultra-Orthodox sectors, will be integrated into "population" companies in the reserves, so that in case of emergency they will put on uniforms and act as a force of the Home Front Command within their locality or village. These are emergencies such as war, violent escalation, earthquake, extreme weather or, as it was this year - an epidemic. This, with the understanding that this is a force that best knows the local population, its needs and language. The demand to serve in these companies is so great that just in the ultra-Orthodox sector there will be opened by the end of April at least three rounds of training that will add 300 ultra-Orthodox soldiers to the Home Front Command in for an emergency. "Momentum has been created, now the army is perceived differently by the ultra-Orthodox and Arab publics," the officer added. (Yoav Zeitun, Maariv)
Palestinian Teenagers Bashar and Yousef Join a Grim Statistic: Shot by Israeli Forces
787 West Bank Palestinians, including 155 minors, were wounded last year by either sponge-tipped or live bullets fired by soldiers and the Border Police. Bashar lost an eye, Yousef has skull fractures. Both will require long convalescences. (Amira Hass, Haaretz+)
Bahraini, Emirati activists in Israel feel 'like family returning home'
A new joint project focuses on people-to-people encounters with activists and professionals representing academia, art, literature, politics, education, activism and the hospitality industry. (Eliana Rudee, Israel Hayom)
From FireEye to Israel: Cyber Emergency Response Chief Warns ‘Everyone's a Target'
Israel has faced a slew of cyberattacks in recent months. The man in charge of responding to them tells Haaretz about how his team does it. (Omer Benjakob, Haaretz+)

Generator Terrorism (Haaretz Editorial) Harun Abu Aram, 24, of the West Bank village of al-Rakiz, in the South Hebron Hills, of the, was shot in the neck at close range Friday after confronting soldiers who had seized a generator from a neighbor’s home that had been razed. The Israel Defense Forces said soldiers had been sent to the scene to stop illegal construction and that “a violent disturbance developed involving about 150 Palestinians that included stone-throwing on a massive scale,” to which soldiers responded by “using crowd-dispersal methods and firing into the air.” But a video of the incident shows neither 150 people nor firing into the air or even at limbs. It shows Abu Aram trying to wrest the generator – the size of a medium carton – from the soldiers’ hands. In the course of the struggle Abu Aram was shot suddenly – a direct shot at his head – from point-blank range. This has the hallmark of a typical incident in the territories from the school of the occupation: A Palestinian loses his life much too easily in the kind of confrontation that would have ended differently had it taken place within the borders of the state. As is usual for incidents in which there is an incriminating video, the IDF will investigate. If culprits are found, they are nearly certain to get off cheaply, since in Israel nothing is cheaper than Palestinian lives…
**When Israeli Soldiers Moonlight as Armed Robbers (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) An armed robbery that deteriorated into a murder attempt took place Friday in the remote South Hebron Hills village of Al-Rakiz. The armed robbers, in uniform, tried to steal a generator in broad daylight and in full view. The robbers tried to load the generator onto their vehicle as its rightful owners, three unarmed shepherds, tried to save their property with their bare hands. The generator is a lifeline for these shepherds, whose village is not allowed to connect to the water or electricity supply. That’s why they fought for it with all their meager strength.
A light unto the nations during a global pandemic (Boaz Bismuth, Israel Hayom) The world is in awe of the mass vaccination drive propelling Israel toward finally quashing COVID-19, so maybe it's time to admit that Israel is probably not such a horrible place to live in.
Caution: The Militias Are Rampaging! (Haaretz Friday Editorial) The rampage of right-wing activists, hilltop youths and their supporters following the death of Ahuvia Sandak from the settlement of Bat Ayin, who died after his car flipped over during a police chase, is becoming increasingly violent and out of control. In stark contrast, the government and police are displaying indifference and incompetence. In recent days, Palestinian vehicles have been stoned almost nightly. Policemen have been assaulted at demonstrations and police cars vandalized. There was also an attempt to torch a police building. Several policemen who were in that chase have received protection, due to concern that they would be the targets of revenge attacks. Security-related sources told Haaretz that these protests have run wild and that the silence of the politicians is being interpreted as support for the rioters. This obviously didn’t stop Public Security Minister Amir Ohana from paying a condolence call to Sandak’s home and further weaken the police’s standing in the eyes of the right-wing rioters…
The storm over the soldier who did not shoot at a Palestinian who threw a Molotov cocktail got out of proportion (Ran Edelist, Maariv) About two weeks ago, Border Police officers killed a driver at a checkpoint near Jerusalem who, according to testimony, got out of his vehicle with his hands raised. …Saturday afternoon. A young Palestinian gets out of his vehicle near Kedumim settlement and turns toward a guard post overlooking the road. A soldier who was alone in the position comes out of it to find out what he wants. Using the suspect arrest procedure, he identifies a danger and cocks his gun. The Palestinian throws a Molotov cocktail from a distance of a few meters and escapes towards a vehicle that stands about ten meters at the side of the road. It was not stated what demon was in the bottle, whether it was burning and what the damage was - there wasn’t any. The soldier does not shoot a Palestinian, who escaped in the vehicle. No drama. No casualties. One has to be a particularly dangerous and cunning terrorist to throw an object at a soldier near a photographed guard post and get away in a vehicle. The Shin Bet caught up with him within a day. Five or six seconds passed from the time that he threw it to the moment he escaped. I have no idea what happened to the soldier in those moments. He did not seek contact. That is, he did not fire in order to kill. He did not try to shoot the Palestinian in the legs to stop him, not even at his car. He acted not like a Golani Brigade patrol battalion soldier, which is supposed to be more Golani [reference to aggressive - OH] than Golani. These are silly critiques of internal IDF macho games….Instead of conducting an open inquiry in the battalion to draw lessons, the incident went through a completely unimportant media upheaval as if it were a symptom that endangers the existence of the nation, plus an offense from the Bible over the command to stand up and kill before you are killed. Or in the style of [far-right-wing MK] Betzalel Smotrich: "This story is crazy. A fighter in the Golani patrol unit is afraid to shoot a terrorist who lights and throws a Molotov cocktail at him from zero range." Smotrich was a soldier who served at the IDF Kirya base in Tel Aviv. The soldier himself claimed he was not at his best. The commander of the patrol battalion ousted him, and the brigadier general supported the battalion commander. Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yossi Bachar wrote: "The reality of the Molotov cocktails has always been complex, because there is no other danger once the person who threw it runs away." The last time combat soldiers were ousted for failing to make contact was in June 2017. A Maglan fighter was ousted after he did not shoot at a 15-year-old Palestinian girl who stabbed and scratched him lightly at the entrance to the Mevo Dotan settlement in Samaria. "The fighter did not act to neutralize the terrorist, as is expected of him as a soldier in the IDF," it was said. "In light of this, the soldier was dismissed from a combat position." In October 2015, a young woman waving a knife from a distance of about three meters in front of four armed soldiers was shot and wounded. The shooting soldier explained that his job was to protect the people of Israel. About two weeks ago, Border Police officers killed a driver at a checkpoint near Jerusalem who, according to testimony, got out of his vehicle with his hands raised. Go explain that sometimes not shooting is also an option.
In the place where leftists are set on fire (Prof. Yoram Yuval, Ynet Hebrew) Last week, a protest tent of my sister Ofra was set on fire at Balfour [near the Prime Minister’s Residence VIDEO], where she sometimes sleeps with her daughter, as well. You did not hear about it because Netanyahu did not condemn it and the media that is terrified of him was silent. Is it already allowed to compare? I blame the man who lives in a big house whose foundations stand on brotherly hatred. I blame you, Binyamin Netanyahu, the one who instigates and the one who dismisses , the one who pretends to be pious and pretends not to know. You did not even bother to condemn my sister's assassination attempt - an attempt that took place like a stone's throw from your fortress in Balfour. Did you not know that too, Mr. Prime Minister? You didn’t hear about that either?
Could Netanyahu, the Leftophobe, Be a Closeted Leftist? (Carolina Landsmann, Haaretz+) The new “anyone but Bibi” camp is all about the radical right. Lieberman, Sa’ar, Zeev Elkin, Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaded, Yoaz Hendel, Zvi Hauser – and the door is still open. It’s truly hard not to burst out laughing when you hear the prime minister hissing “you leftist” at supporters of annexation (a move he blocked), advocates of deporting migrants (he signed off on a UN plan that involved Israel absorbing some of the asylum seekers) and opponents of a deal with Hamas (he has held indirect negotiations with Hamas and bought relative calm).
Bennett, Saar, Lieberman and Netanyahu: It is no longer clear who is right-wing and who is just disguising himself (Nadav Hatezni, Maariv) Right-wing parties assume their voters are in their pockets and try to dress up to wink at the crowd outside the camp. And also: What do settlers living in sub-conditions do, who see with their own eyes how Netanyahu is preparing the Bedouin land grab in the south?
Gantz, Stop the Ethnic Cleansing in the West Bank (Michael Sfard, Haaretz+) Actually, not only Israel and the U.S. are in a political transition period. Europe, which is dealing with cruel waves of the coronavirus, is experiencing a period, hopefully transient, in which its activity as a global political power is largely paralyzed. Thus, with the international radar diverted to heavy COVID-19 regions and Trump’s antics, the settlers’ hunger can be addressed. About two weeks ago a bill legalizing dozens of illegal outposts (which the law euphemistically calls “young settlements,” which is like calling an armed robbery “an economic initiative”) passed a preliminary reading into law in Knesset.
Looking for the right formula on the Left (Yossi Beilin, Israel Hayom) The center-Left and left-wing parties have much to offer, if the right people run and the right people step down.
Left-wing Meretz Party Has Ended Its Role in Israeli Politics (Yossi Melman, Haaretz+) Meretz no longer has the right to exist as an independent political entity. But its worldview, values and ideology definitely do, more importantly than ever given Israel’s downward slide towards becoming a fragile democracy. Meretz has been shrinking for years, facing extinction. What’s required now is the establishment of a new and wide-embracing entity, a social democratic party based on its underpinnings.
Is loyalty to Balfour [Netanyahu] behind the appointment of D. as head of the Mossad? (Ran Edelist, Maariv) It is to be hoped that unlike his predecessor, the Mossad chief appointee, D., will be guided by the national interest and not the Balfour (Netanyahu) one. Upon taking office, he should also abolish the assassination (of Arabs) policy as Israel’s key tool in dealing with strategic issues.
Holocaust, Militarism and Machiavelli's Advice: How Fear Took Over Israel (Eva Ilouz, Haaretz+) Israel may be the best-defended state in the world, but its people's existence is based on an ethos of constant fear.
The legend of the masses of immigrants who will come to Israel during the Corona epidemic (Dr. Nathaniel Fish, Ynet Hebrew)  The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Absorption are trying to hide the fact that, despite forecasts, there was a dramatic drop in the number of immigrants in 2020. Last June, the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Absorption promised that "by the end of 2020, about 50,000 Jews will immigrate to Israel, almost twice as much as in any previous year." These bombastic headlines obscured the simple truth that not only was there no increase in immigration this year as promised, but, in fact, the number of immigrants had dropped by more than 10,000 people. In 2019, more than 30,000 people immigrated to Israel, but in 2020 we are barely scratching the 20,000 mark. Simply put: in 2020 there was a dramatic drop of more than 30% compared to the previous year.
Is 'Jewish' a Nationality or Religion? Inside Israel's Fierce, Bitter Debate About Identity (Simon J. Rabinovitch, Haaretz+) How one man’s quest, half a century ago, for the right to define his own family’s identity unwittingly set up a momentous clash between Israel’s secular and religious power centers, changed the Law of Return and still fuels conflict over who is a Jew.
Without an engine and without an anchor: Avrum Burg symbolizes the extreme left when he gives up on his Jewish identity (Prof. Arieh Eldad, Maariv) I would not bother you with the personal problems of Avrum Burg who seeks to delete his registration as a Jew [see Haaretz interview below], if he weren’t an example of the extreme left trying to give up the identity of the Jewish people…Burg hasn’t been a Zionist for a long been time. He "supports a very substantial repeal of the Law of Return. I want all people who come to Israel to pass through the Citizenship Law and not through the Law of Return. The Law of Return will remain as an article in the law: if a person and community are persecuted for their Judaism, they will have a fast track,” says Burg.. Thanks. And if a Jew is not persecuted, if he is just a Zionist, and wants to immigrate to Israel? His fate will probably be, according to Burg’s post-Zionist doctrine, not to mention Burg’s anti-Zionism, like the fate of a Chinese person or an Eskimo seeking to become a citizen here. The man who was the chairman of the Jewish Agency, and thus also in charge of its immigration department, turns out to be someone who did not believe in the mission he took on. He just took a job. He denies that "the Land of Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people.”…Anyone who wants to cancel the "Hatikva" national anthem (“Colonialist Anthem"), who would like to see an Arab mayor in Jerusalem and an Arab prime minister in Israel - certainly has no trouble giving up on the Declaration of Independence, which declares that the Land of Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people. Burg is trying to convince us that he has become a cosmopolitan creature who has become detached from the shackles of religion and nationality. He is not defined and therefore has no definition. Burg is trying to give up his identity. He gave up religion a long time ago and now he also wants to be erased from the ranks of the nation. I would not bother you with his personal problems. But he is an example of an extreme left that lost the engine and also gave up the anchors. He was swept away. Many like him have disappeared into the Jewish people throughout history…But we have an identity and a people and a country and longings and an engine and anchors. It is no longer possible to be delayed by the roadside dropouts.
Iran will have its revenge (Oded Granot, Israel Hayom) With only three weeks left before Trump leaves the White House, Iran's window of opportunity for action is quickly narrowing. Any military action against US targets under a President Biden could seriously undermine Iranian efforts to bring the US back into the 2015 nuclear accord.
Yemen Explosions Heard All the Way in Jerusalem, as Israel Braces for Iranian Revenge (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) It is still unclear what role, if at all, the Iranians played in the attack. But as the anniversary of General Soleimani's death nears, the entire Middle East is riddled with warning signs.
Israel troubled by Iran's retribution dilemma (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom) The fact that Iran could use Hezbollah, its Lebanese proxy, to attack Israel is a given. But how worried should Israel be about Iran's proxy in Yemen? The threat is not imminent but it cannot be discounted.
Is peace with the Gulf states real? Yes, it is. (David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom) Emirati pursuit of peace with Israel is backed by a genuine discourse of religious moderation and broad-mindedness.

A Scion of Zionist Aristocracy Wants to Quit the Jewish People. Will Israel Let Him?
Why Avraham Burg, who has served as Knesset speaker, interim president and head of the Jewish Agency, is asking Israel to annul his registration as a Jew. This extraordinary act, which seems light-years away from most of Burg’s well-known public activity, comes in the wake of the enactment in 2018 of the Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People. This is not an extreme step, Burg maintains – on the contrary, it is a necessary and logical one. “I ask myself what the citizen who wasn’t happy about the law is supposed to do,” he tells Haaretz in an interview. “It’s not some sort of law about traffic offenses – for me, this law constitutes a change in my existential definition. Because my assumption is that the High Court of Justice will not touch this law, I am moving to the next stage.” (Interviewed by Ravit Hecht in Haaretz+)

Morocco aims to become tourism hotspot for Israelis
Tourism Minister Fettah Alaoui sees increasing Israeli visits as a challenge, promises Israelis will be safe during their visits, meanwhile the local Jewish community is already preparing to host Israeli tourists and expanding kosher options. (Interviewed by Yaniv Halili, Yedioth Hebrew)

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