News Nosh 2.15.21

APN's daily news review from Israel - Monday February 15, 2021


Quote of the day:

"Anyone who thinks that a Palestinian inhabitant of the occupied territories cares much whether he is uprooted by extremist Itamar Ben-Gvir or the Jewish National Fund, pride and joy of the Zionist vision, would be wrong. The Iraqi poet Muthaffar al-Nawab wrote: 'The sheep cares not for the shape of the blade in the slaughterhouse.'"
--Haaretz commentator Odeh Bisharat writes about the cynicism of the Jewish National Fund (JNF/KKL), which asks Jews in the Diaspora to fund forestation of the Negev, and meanwhile, expells Arabs from their land.*

Breaking News:
Israel Struck Near Damascus, Syria Says, Killing Six, as Israel Air Force Begins 'Surprise Exercise'
Missiles were fired from Golan Heights and Galilee, Syrian army statement says, not mentioning casualties. (HaaretzYnet and Maariv and VIDEO

Front Page:


  • Extensive study: Pfizer's corona vaccine protects against the virus at a rate of 94%
  • The lighting legislation will be the elephant in the china store // Mordechai Kremnitzer
  • Jewish National Fund (JNF/KKL) management approved that the fund act to expand settlements
  • Her husband abused her for 20 years and now the state insists on convicting her
  • The Arab voters saved Meretz party in 2019. It will need them again this time
  • Republicans celebrated Trump's acquittal, but the trial displayed the depth of the rift in the party // Nettanel Slyomovics
  • Better than nothing // Raviv Drucker writes that Meretz must be saved despite becoming irrelevant
  • State critics // Zvi Bar'el writes that while people celebrate Saudi Arabia releasing a human rights activist, there are many more in jail
  • Naftali Glicksenberg made a documentary about the High Court justices and explains how they, too, actually serve the government rule
  • All the parties oppose lockdowns and call to open up the economy. None are willing to pay the price // Hagai Amit

Yedioth Ahronoth

  • The vaccine works - Enormous study found: Pfizer vaccine has 94% effectiveness
  • The teaching staff that refuse to get vaccinated - and endanger the children
  • Judo tournament without isolation - Israel gave okay for 600 athletes to land in Israel despite the closure of Ben-Gurion Airport
  • The mark of Cain // Nahum Barnea on the agreement between Netanyahu and (the Kahanist, Itamar) Ben-Gvir (Hebrew)
  • Take responsibility // Amichai Attali on the excuses of the men who murdered or tried to murder their wives

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

  • "Effectiveness of Pfizer vaccine in preventing illness: 94%"
  • The battle over opening (businesses)
  • The grants plan to be presented today to government ministers
  • Royal expansion: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle expecting second child

Israel Hayom

Top News Summary:
The Pfizer vaccine has been proven to be a success, the battle over allowing businesses to open continues and the government mulls over how to sanction Israelis who refuse to get vaccinated - making top stories in today's Hebrew newspapers.

Also, Israel will begin supplying natural gas to Gaza in a deal brokered by the EU, UN and Qatar. The agreement also includes building a pipeline to the ailing Gaza City power plant. Dubai’s ruler and The United Arab Emirates' Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has sworn in the country's first ambassador to Israel, Mohammed Mahmoud Al-Khaja, while the Persian Gulf Jewish communities established their first regional organization to bolster Jewish life in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait, Israel Hayom reported. And Iran's exiled judoka, Saeid Mollaei, the one whosebosses said he had to forfeit the game rather than fight an Israeli judoka, landed in Israel ahead of the Tel Aviv competition.

Corona-related Quickees:

  • 94 Percent Drop in Symptomatic COVID Cases Seen Among Vaccinated, Biggest Israeli Study Shows - The Pfizer COVID vaccine, the study found, was equally effective for all age groups, including people aged 70 and older. (Haaretz,Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • Netanyahu Pushes for Legislation to Disclose Names of Unvaccinated Israelis to Authorities - Coronavirus cabinet approves advancing the proposal, which will address how the information on those not yet vaccinated will be protected. (Haaretzand Israel Hayom)
  • Netanyahu: Israel needs 5M vaccinated to reopen - Coronavirus cabinet meeting on lockdown exit strategy opens with a sparring match between PM and Gantz, while coronavirus czar says vaccinations must be made mandatory for all medical and teaching staff. (Ynet)
  • Israel eases flight restrictions but no decision on trade - Coronavirus cabinet on Sunday decided to allow up to 2,000 people into Israel every day under Health Ministry restrictions, and tasked the Defense Ministry with preparing hotels to accommodate the arrivals for their quarantine period. No substantial decision on when to reopen businesses was taken, however. (Ynet)
  • While Israelis stranded abroad, hundred of foreigners permitted to enter Israel for judo - More than 500 people from 63 countries will arrive for a judo competition in Tel Aviv due to begin next week; business men forced to wait in the UAE after being unable to secure seats on special flight out of Germany sent to return Israelis. (Ynet)
  • In Shift, Vast Majority of New COVID Cases in Israel Under 39 - New COVID mutations and low rate of inoculation among young people are contributing factors – with some Israelis from the age bracket getting seriously ill. (Haaretz+)
  • Despite lifting of lockdown, Israel bans reopening of shops in Jerusalem's old city - Israeli police have been patrolling markets of Jerusalem's Old City more than usual, in attempt to foil any initiatives aimed at boosting economic life of the Old City and helping merchants recover from recession caused by lockdown, said chairman of Jerusalem Merchants Committee. (WAFA)
  • Israeli Lawmakers Divided Over Palestinian Request for COVID Vaccines - Palestinian Authority requests 1,000 vaccines for Gaza medical teams. MK Zvi Hauser, Head of Knesset committee: Jabs will reach Hamas, not medics. (Haaretz+)
  • Following U.S. Protest, Israel to Permit American Carriers to Fly 'Rescue' Flights to Tel Aviv - Until now, El Al had the exclusive right to offer limited flights for Israelis stranded in the U.S. while Ben-Gurion Airport is closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Haaretz+)
  • COVID could see Israel hosting UEFA Euro 2021 - If pandemic in Europe is still serious in May and June to warrant athletic events without spectators, tpossibility that UEFA Euro2021, as well as key games in the Champions League and European League, might be held in Israel, president of the Israel Football Association Oren Hasson said Sunday. (Israel Hayom)

Quick Hits:

  • Israeli settlers attack Palestinian bus near Nablus - A number of Israeli settlers today evening attacked and smashed the windows of a Palestinian bus that got lost while driving in the outskirts of 'Asira al-Qibliya village, according to local sources. (WAFA)
  • Jewish National Fund Leadership Okays Plan to Expand West Bank Settlements - The organization's board of directors still needs to approve the decision, which would allow it to expand its purchase of land in the West Bank for the benefit of Jewish settlements, and will do so after the election. (Haaretz+)
  • JNF Deputy Chair Slams Organization's Plans to Formalize Settlement Expansion - Rift in the organization over policy to expand remit into West Bank intensified after deputy chair Alon Tal spoke to Defense Minister Benny Gantz, whose Kahol-Lavan party opposes the move. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli forces notify for demolition of houses south of Nablus - 15 Palestinian residents received demolition notices against their houses, under the pretext they were built without a permit. However, as the Occupying Power, Israel is prohibited by Fourth Geneva Convention from demolishing property of the protected Palestinian people unless strictly justified by military necessity. This may constitute a war crime, said human rights organization, Al-Haq. (WAFA)
  • Report: Joint Arab List head received money from PLO - Abbas "saw Odeh as having the power to change the political map. The funds are meant to cover Odeh's personal expenses ahead of the elections in Israel," a Palestinian official tells cable television. [NOTE: Report is by Channel 20, right-wing religious pro-settlement cable channel. - OH] (Israel Hayom)
  • The (Bedouin) father who lost his son in an explosion of military munitions: "Life is more important than money" - Mahmoud Abu Kawdar, 10, and his seven-year-old cousin were killed by a 40 mm bullet they found outside their home in the Bedouin areas in the Negev, after security forces operated in the area. Almost four years later, the court ruled that the Ministry of Defense would pay the family 2.5 million shekels. But the father finds no consolation: "What is more dear than a son? This would not have happened in (Jewish cities of) Beersheva or Nevatim." (Ynet Hebrew)
  • 24% jump in sexual assault reports in the IDF - Report of the Chief of Staff's Adviser on Gender Affairs reveals the increase in the number of complaints to the MPC. (Israel Hayom Hebrew)
  • IDF bases have become easy pickings for thieves - Army personnel are forbidden to use lethal force against criminal elements who infiltrate military facilities if they are unarmed and are not perceived as a threat to troops - even if they do attempt to steal sensitive weapons systems. (Ynet)
  • Israeli Cop Who Shot Wife Dead Pleads Self-defense - Amir Raz initially said he had no explanation for shooting his wife in their West Bank home, before changing his testimony on Sunday. (Haaretz+)
  • AZM launches 'Herzl 125' to mark Zionist anniversaries - The American Zionist Movement is launching a "Herzl 125" initiative this weekend to highlight important Zionist anniversaries in 2021-22. (Israel Hayom)
  • In a call with Egyptian leader, Palestinian President Abbas commends Egypt's role in intra-Palestinian dialogue - The President expressed his appreciation for Egypt for its long-running efforts to achieve intra-Palestinian national reconciliation and end the division in Palestine. He said the recent dialogue of the Palestinian factions in Cairo achieved remarkable success in the way to facilitating the convening of the national elections. (WAFA)
  • Islamic Jihad to boycott Palestinian elections - The Gaza Strip-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group announced over the weekend that it will boycott the Palestinian parliamentary election scheduled for May because the vote is being held under the auspices of the Oslo Accords. (Israel Hayom)
  • 25 radio stations launch joint coverage urging greatest turnout to elections - The one-hour campaign of joint coverage from 11 am to 12 pm urges citizens to ensure their registration with the Commission before the deadline on the 16th of this month, as a prerequisite to voting and candidacy in the upcoming elections. (WAFA)
  • Human Rights Watch says Australia is 'blocking' international justice for Palestinians - Human Rights Watch has strongly condemned remarks made by Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne in which he said the International Criminal Court had no jurisdiction to investigate Israeli war crimes in Palestine. (WAFA)
  • Archaeologists Find Earliest Known Beer Mega-factory, in Egypt - Facilities to make beer go back over 13,000 years, but nothing the size of this facility – built by a necropolis at Abydos – had been found before. (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Iranian intelligence minister: Israel did not kill Fakhrizadeh - The man responsible for the killing of Iran’s top nuclear scientist was fired by Iranian intelligence shortly before the hit took place, says Mahmoud Alavi. (Agencies, Israel Hayom/JNS and Maariv)
  • Heavy clashes rage in central Yemen; dozens killed - The Iranian-backed rebels earlier this month renewed their attack on the oil-rich province, an anti-Houthi stronghold held by the internationally recognized government. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Turkey says militants executed 13, including soldiers, police, in Iraq - Turkey's Operation Claw-Eagle 2 previously led to the deaths of 48 PKK militants, including three senior members, and the capture of two insurgents. (Agencies, Haaretz)

Between the ICC and JCPOA, Israel Doesn't Need JNF to Stir Up Trouble With Biden (Alon Pinkas, Haaretz+) With its plan to start buying Palestinian land to support West Bank settlements, the Jewish National Fund (or JNF) just became another acronym headache for President Biden.
*JNF and Kahanist Leader: Two Sides of the Same Coin (Odeh Bisharat, Haaretz+) Anyone who thinks that a Palestinian inhabitant of the occupied territories cares much whether he is uprooted by extremist Itamar Ben-Gvir or the Jewish National Fund, pride and joy of the Zionist vision, would be wrong. The Iraqi poet Muthaffar al-Nawab wrote: “The sheep cares not for the shape of the blade in the slaughterhouse.”
The Mark of Cain (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth Hebrew) One day it became clear that a synagogue was being built on private Palestinian land in Givat Ze'ev, a settlement north of Jerusalem. When the legal proceedings, and the proceedings that followed the proceedings, and the political pressures, and the violence, were exhausted, there was no escape from demolition. At this point the Kahanists went into action: They took over the frame of the building, blocked it to police entry, put up signs and summoned the media. Itamar Ben-Gvir, the leader, was there, of course. Ben-Gvir loves the media, he understands the media, and the media loves him.
Diversion Tactics: False Equivalence With a Vile Racist (Chen Lieberman, Haaretz+) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and right-wing spokesmen have a simple answer to explain their alliance with Jewish supremacist and extreme rightist Itamar Ben-Gvir: Israeli Arab film director Ibtisam Mara’ana. How is this candidate’s name supposed to explain the part played by the prime minister in paving the way for far-right Kahanists to the Knesset? It isn’t. But when the real answer is that Netanyahu will do just about anything to avoid a trial, it’s preferable to go with the diversion tactic of “look at that non-Zionist.”
Six Lies About Israel's Wild West Settlement Outposts (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) The Israeli authorities' lies, coupled with violence by settlers and soldiers alike, are allowing the continuous expansion of so-called individual farms – i.e., illegal outposts – in the occupied territories.
Israel must fight back against the ICC (Dr. Dore Gold, Israel Hayom) The Jewish state must not allow the court to undercut its self-assurance regarding the fundamental justice underpinning its cause.
The return of 'progressive' diplomacy (David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom) A wholesale changeover in Washington's foreign policy elites is underway; a substitution of mindsets that worries Israel. Here is a survey of recent deep-think journal articles that map the shift.
No Phone Call From Biden Is a Wake-up Call (Haaretz Editorial) When Netanyahu was asked last week if he wasn’t disturbed that Biden hadn’t yet called, he replied, “He is calling heads of state in the order he sees fit; he hasn’t gotten to the Middle East yet.” But this is not an insignificant technical matter. Biden’s message is clear: Things aren’t going to be the way they were. The type of relationship that the United States has had with Israel over the past four years has changed, and there is a price to the diplomatic romance Netanyahu conducted with Trump.
Navigating Israel's ship of state through the Biden storm (Caroline B. Glick, Israel Hayom) Right now, it seems that neither Israel nor the US's Arab allies in the Persian Gulf can partner with the Biden administration to promote Washington's regional policies.
Two Statistics Illustrate Problems Facing Israeli Arabs Today. Only One Gets Talked About (Tali Heruti-Sover, Haaretz+) The NEET rate – which stands for Not in Education, Employment, or Training – is 30 percent in Israel's Arab communities, more than twice the Jewish rate.
Netanyahu Labels Unvaccinated Israelis as the New Enemy (Mordechai Kremnitzer, Haaretz+) Netanyahu has tied his fate in the election to COVID vaccinations, and suspicion arises that his proposals are influenced by personal considerations. Meanwhile, disclosing names of Israelis who have yet to get vaccinated paves way for severe infringement of privacy.
Is a long-term arrangement in Gaza really possible? (Col. Grisha Yakubovich, Israel Hayom) For Hamas, a deal would involve securing its role as a Palestinian governing entity with tangible achievements to present to the Palestinians. But it would come with a price: being cut off from Iran.
US Jews are increasingly vocal on Israel. Why are their progressive groups still silent? (Zach Weinstein, 972mag) Establishment Jewish organizations are working to shut down all criticism of Israel. Will their challengers on the left finally take a stance?
President Biden and the Muslim Brotherhood trap (Yoram Ettinger, Israel Hayom) Will Biden's foreign policy and national security team face the reality of the Muslim Brotherhood's track record and core ideology?
No Way Out of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Prison (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Critics of the regime in the country and abroad have fallen victim to the Saudi social media surveillance system.


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