News Nosh 1.6.21

APN's daily news review from Israel - Wednesday January 6, 2021

Quotes of the Day:
“We grew up with the ideal of the heroic soldier, we sent them care packages, we visited the tanks they fought in, we dressed up as soldiers in pre-military training camps and we elevated their deaths on memorial days. The fact that this is the reality we’re all used to does not make it a-political. Enlistment is a political act, no less than refusal to do so.”
—From a letter signed signed by 60 Israeli high seniors declaring they refuse to serve in the Israeli army because of the occupation of the Palestinians.*

“It starts with school trips to Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, in which no political contexts are discussed. We’re only told about the battles. There’s an elephant in the room that no one is talking about…Until we talk about the Nakba in class, how it happened that most of the Palestinians who lived here fled or were expelled, or about the theft of their possessions, we won’t understand how much the problem remains part of our lives. This is sweeping history under the rug. When I began to understand this, I immediately started thinking about what else we were ‘sold’ in school.”
— Daniel Paldi, one of 60 high seniors who signed a letter refusing to serve in the Israeli army because of the occupation.*

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

  • On the way to Lockdown 3
  • Directors of internal wards at hospitals: Heavy loads
  • Between two presidents - Congress expected to approve Biden’s victory today
  • The female vote/voice - Minister for Social Equality abandoned Kahol-Lavan to go to (Lapid’s) Yesh Atid
  • Attorney General Mendelblitt to Court: I gave oral approval for investigating Netanyahu, written approval was not necessary

Israel Hayom

  • No choice: closing; Severe restrictions
  • The American achievement, the Israeli opportunity // Oded Granot on the Arab-Qatar reconciliation
  • Local elections on the image of the US // Boaz Bismuth in Georgia
  • Planting hope: Ahead of Tu B’shvat holiday, internet planting campaign
  • Parents: “Add medicine against life-threatening convulsion to subsidized medicine list”
  • Another departure from Kahol-Lavan: Merav Cohen allied to Lapid; Huldai: “Gantz’s voters, come to us”

Top News Summary:
The government decided to impose a strict lockdown starting Thursday night: schools will be closed as hospitals become even more overcrowded and, meanwhile, Kahol-Lavan is looking right-wing to solve its low ratings - making top news in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

Elections 2021:
Kahol-Lavan faces more woes: A minister from Kahol-Lavan joined Yesh Atid and Tel-Aviv mayor and premier candidate Ron Huldai called on disappointed Kahol-Lavan voters to vote for his party, Hayisraelim (‘The Israelis’). Nevertheless, it will come to a surprise to many that people in Kahol-Lavan support a move to ally with Naftali Bennett’s far-right-wing Yamina party in order to be able to pass the minimum threshold to enter the Knesset - the condition being that extremist MK Bezalel Smotrich stay out, Yedioth Hebrew reported. Yamina is reportedly also interested in Kahol-Lavan’s large cash box, which could help with the campaign. Some say that Gantz is seriously considering retiring from political life if the alliance with Yamina is not formed, Maariv’s Ben Caspit reported. Meanwhile, Rafi Peretz, leader of extremist party Habayit Hayehudi, dropped out of the race. According to the latest election poll, Likud loses a seat from the previous poll, with 18 seats for ex-Likudnik Gideon Sa'ar and 14 seats for Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party, meaning the top three parties will be right-wing.

Quick Hits:

  • Israeli officer [sic - civilian] shoots dead Palestinian after suspected knife attack near Bethelehem - Ahed Ahkhalil, 25, from the town of Beit Ummar, who was wielding a cleaver, was shot and killed by a civilian a a West Bank junction. Military says suspect threw a knife at the civilian, who opened fire in response and neutralized him. Hours later clashes broke out between youth and Israeli soldiers in Beit Ummar. (Israel Hayom, Ynet and Haaretz+ and WAFA)
  • Updated: Young Man Paralyzed after Israeli Forces Shot Him in the Neck (when trying to wrest his generator from soldiers), Totally Dependent On Life Support - The bullet, fired by a soldier from point-blank, shattered C5, C6, and C7 of his spine. He cannot feel or move any of his limbs and is completely paralyzed from the neck down, in addition to being fully dependent on life support. “They have been pressuring us to leave our lands; Haroun did nothing wrong; he was in his home when the soldiers came and tried to confiscate the electricity generator, which the family depends on,” said his father. (WAFA)
  • Israeli occupation forces halt work on an agricultural road in northern Jordan Valley - Israeli soldiers stormed the area east of Tayasir village and impounded a bulldozer belonging to a contractor who was laying the groundwork for a new agricultural road funded by the Palestinian Ministry of Local Government. (WAFA)
  • Israeli forces demolish agricultural shed south of Bethlehem - Israeli forces demolished an agricultural shed belonging to local resident Ibrahim Ghunaim in the town of al-Khader. They further destroyed a number of olive saplings. (WAFA)
  • Israeli forces threaten to destroy 13 commercial sheds west of Jenin - Israeli forces stormed the village of 'Aneen and verbally threatened residents that they would burn down and destroy the sheds if they were not removed, said Radi Khadour, a shed owner. (WAFA)
  • *60 High School Seniors Refuse to Serve in the Israeli Army Because of the Occupation - The group's members say in a letter their stance comes from 'taking responsibility for our actions and their implications,' and accuse the education system of ignoring the Palestinian narrative. (Haaretz+)
  • In Blow to Netanyahu's Defense, Attorney General Tells Court He Approved Corruption Probe - Mendelblit's office refutes claim by Netanyahu’s lawyers that approvals were handed over retroactively. (Haaretz+)
  • As Massive Facebook Suit Looms, Israeli Spytech Firm NSO Eyes Going Public - NSO's surveillance software has been reportedly used against dissidents and journalists across the globe. Despite its history of controversies, senior officials from the company met with the head of Israel’s stock exchange. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel shut eight construction sites a day in 2020 over safety hazards - Labor Ministry report says 3,000 sites were shuttered and that accident-related deaths dropped by 22 percent, but figure doesn’t account for the West Bank or coronavirus lockdowns. (Haaretz+)
  • Vast cache of stolen antiquities found in huge raid in central Israel - The thieves caught in the raid even restored some of their looted treasures; detectives needed a truck to cart away the coins, jewelry, statues, and figurines and pottery from ancient Greek and Italy. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli firms thwart '$100m cyberattack' by China-linked hackers - A group of hackers linked to China has shifted gears with the coronavirus crisis, moving from cyberespionage to ransomware and targeting the world’s largest online gaming firms, researchers say. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli firm provides Gaza with drinking water from the air - Watergen's solar-powered generators can produce 5,000-6,000 liters of potable water per day, depending on humidity; while not enough to meet enclave's complete needs, it's 'a start,' says Palestinian machine operator. Generator is brainchild of Russian-Israeli billionaire Michael Mirilashvili. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Saudi, Qatari leaders embrace ahead of Tuesday Gulf detente summit - Experts say Riyadh pushing reluctant allies for resolution to row with Doha to show Biden that it is open to dialogue; U.S. president-elect has vowed to take harder line with kingdom over its human rights record, role in Yemen war. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • President Abbas appreciates the positions of GCC leaders in support of Palestine at Gulf summit - Palestinian President Mahmous Abbas expressed deep appreciation for the clear and strong positions of the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council at the Summit held Tuesday in Saudi Arabia, in which they stressed that the Palestinian cause is the core issue of Arabs and Muslims. (WAFA)
  • The two longest serving Palestinian political prisoners in Israel complete 38 years behind bars - Karim Yunis starts tomorrow his 39th year behind bars, and his cousin, Maher Yunis, also starts later this month his 39th year behind bars, said the PPS. They are among the 26 Palestinians arrested before the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 for resisting its occupation who are still in prison. Twelve of them are Arab-Israelis. (WAFA)
  • Israeli Defense Firm Elbit Wins Contract to Build Greek Air Force Flight School - Defense deal inked amid growing tensions between Greece and Turkey over their mutual claims to major gas reserves discovered in the Aegean Sea. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • Gantz wants Israel to buy 3rd squadron of F-35 stealth fighters - Defense Minister says he hopes Israel will complete a procurement deal before US President Donald Trump is out of office. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel to announce two temporary missions in the UAE - After opening a mission in Bahrain, and before reopening its embassy in Morocco, Israel prepares to announce the opening of two diplomatic representations in the UAE. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Report: Former Israeli ambassador to Turkey named UAE envoy - Eitan Na'eh is slated to head Israel's temporary mission to UAE while a permanent one is being established. (Israel Hayom)
  • Bill by Algerian lawmaker looks to criminalize promoting peace with Israel - If law is passed, offenders could face up to 15-year imprisonment, high fines and may have their professional accreditations rescinded as part of punitive measures. (Ynet)
  • U.S. rolls out fresh Iran sanctions as Trump term nears end - Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says 'Trump admin. remains committed to denying revenue flowing to the Iranian regime as it continues to sponsor terrorist groups, support oppressive regimes, and seek weapons of mass destruction.’ (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Iran Tests 'Kamikaze' Drones as Military Chief Vows 'Fierce' Response to Any Aggression - Military exercise comes amid increased tensions following the anniversary of the assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • U.S. Treasury Chief Meets Egypt's President Ahead of Landmark Sudan Visit - Sissi's office said the two discussed the disputed dam that Ethiopia is building over the Blue Nile River, other regional issues. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Crusader-era Siege Ramp Protected Israeli City From the Desert for a Thousand Years - Israeli archaeologist identifies massive siege ramp erected by Muslim or Christian warriors to conquer Ashkelon – which has been shielding the city from encroaching sand dunes ever since. (Haaretz+)

How Netanyahu Helped Tear Down the Jewish-Arab Wall (Haaretz Editorial) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems to have done a U-turn recently in his attitude toward Israel’s Arab citizens. He began 2021 by visiting health maintenance organization clinics in Tira and Umm al-Fahm, where he was photographed with Jabarin Mohammed, the millionth Israeli to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. He spoke about his desire to win Arab votes and his intent to have the cabinet approve a plan to end violent crime in the Arab community. By late 2020, he had already begun growing closer to MK Mansour Abbas – the chairman of the United Arab List, a component of the Joint List electoral alliance of predominantly Arab parties.
Maybe there is good news for the Arabs in dismantling the Joint List (Dr. Michael Milstein, Yedioth/Ynet Hebrew) The party is worried about the polls predicting a decline of 4-5 seats. But that may end up allowing a more diverse choice for Arab citizens, including voting for Zionist parties, and as a result, give them also more influence.
How Netanyahu Silenced the Family of an Israeli Civilian Trapped in Gaza (Itay Rom, Haaretz+) A particularly interesting story lies concealed in the appendix to the amended indictment filed this week against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding allegations that he provided regulatory concessions to the controlling shareholder of Bezeq telecommunications in exchange for favorable coverage on Bezeq’s Walla News website. In legal language, the story is described as follows in Section 150: “Change in headline and downgrading article that dealt with the fact that Netanyahu has not yet met with the family of Avera Mengistu.” (“Downgrading article” refers to giving it a less prominent position on the Walla website). What lies behind this dull description is a sickening incident. An Israeli civilian crosses into the Gaza Strip and disappears. His suffering family complains in the media that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not bothered to visit them. And then, as a result of the prime minister’s ties to a media owner, the CEO of the website intervenes and prevents their message from getting through to the public. They are silenced.
Prime Minister, raise your head proudly and embrace standing trial (Gideon Reicher, Maariv) If you had obeyed our advice, you would have stood upright and proud before the judges to (say to) a committee: “I have not sinned.” Prove your claim that "there will be nothing because there is nothing.”
Qatar Showed Force Can Actually Bring Peace in the Middle East (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Since the embargo in 2017, Qatar has defied expectations to build new alliances and a more resilient economy. In the regional standoff, it is the Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council that blinked first.
It was not the concern for Middle East peace that guided Kushner, but the dollars (Shlomo Shamir, Maariv) The reasons for the Trump administration's obsessive courtship of the Persian Gulf states are money, funding and capital. Jared Kushner helped the parties formulate the reconciliation agreement, not out of a desire to bring peace to the region.
Despite Detente, Ties Between Qatar and the Gulf Are Still a Ticking Bomb (Sebastian Castelier, Haaretz+) 'The wound is very deep': Gulf leaders put on a good show of newfound brotherly love at the GCC summit, but their formal end of conflict can’t paper over deeper social and political fractures.
As it hopes for long-term truce, Israel prepares new battle doctrine for Gaza (Yaakov Lappin, Israel Hayom) Fresh capabilities, in addition to re-evaluating offense and defense, are coming into play in the IDF, which assumes that in five years, its enemies will possess much greater abilities.
The Top Secret That Could Seal Netanyahu's Political Future: How Many Vaccines Does Israel Have? (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) As shipments of the vaccines begin to slow, Health Ministry officials keep dodging the question of how many vaccines Israel actually has.
Since Neil Armstrong, there has not been such a small step with such a big resonance as the return of (spy Jonathan) Pollard (Ran Adelist, Maariv) Various penny patriots and “patriots” welcomed Jonathan Pollard tremulously. For those who know and understand, Pollard is a greedy spy. Not a Mossad agent or an Israeli spy, but an American blabber mouth.
Iraq is rapidly becoming the region’s next failed state (David Rosenberg, Haaretz+) Economic collapse is imminent and the political class is incapable of doing anything about. It’s Lebanon all over again, but on a much bigger scale.
Esther Horgen's killer can count on Abbas (Ruthie Blum, Israel Hayom) In the warped world of Palestinian terrorists, having a friend die of an illness in an Israeli jail is sufficient cause to slaughter an innocent woman jogging through the forest near her home.
Settlers Control the Drones. The Israeli Army Then Pulls the Trigger (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) The Israel Defense Forces and the Civil Administration are acting in the West Bank under the orders of the settlers. We’ve known that for a long time, but the generator incident on Friday indicates how quickly our forces respond to the directive of their commanders. A few hours before an IDF soldier shot Harun Abu Aram, 24, who is now lying paralyzed, unconscious and ventilated in a Hebron hospital, a photography drone flew over the village of al-Rakeez, southeast of Yatta. We know that settlers had launched it around 9 A.M. on Friday, January 1 (Abu Aram’s birthday, as it happens). We know that its operators immediately reported something to the Civil Administration. What did they report? That those cheeky Palestinian criminals were insisting on living on their land? That they had put up a toilet stall or set down an old swing for the kids, or extended a water pipe? That they had topped some structure with a tin roof that hadn’t been there two weeks ago? These are extremely serious violations under the laws of the only Jewish state in the world, so long as those committing them are Palestinians...
Israel is under attack. Where is the cyber authority? (Amitai Ziv, Haaretz+) Israel’s national cyber authority, under the auspices of the Prime Minister’s Office, enjoys a hefty budget and fancy offices – but you wouldn’t know it from the recent waves of cyberattacks on Israeli companies, critics say.
Iran Is Amassing Bargaining Chips Ahead of the Biden Presidency (Yossi Melman, Haaretz+) A year after the assassination of its Revolutionary Guards commander Qassem Soleimani, Tehran realizes that belated revenge would provoke an immediate, painful response, so it’s settling for posturing a-la “hold me back” — for now.
Post-Soleimani Iran adjusts to a changing Mideast (Raz Zimmit, Yedioth/Ynet) Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force, under a new commander, has reverted back to smaller clandestine fighting unit, enlisting loyal militias to do its bidding as an overall strategy as Tehran seeks to expand control in region.
Facebook Accused Haaretz of ‘Fake News.’ If Only That Was Their Biggest Lie (Oded Yaron, Haaretz+) Facebook’s policy chief called a Haaretz Editorial ‘fake news,’ claiming the platform works to maintain Israel’s election integrity. That’s a joke.

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