News Nosh 2.23.21

APN's daily news review from Israel - Tuesday February 23, 2021


Quote of the day:

“The possibility that Israel gathers shepherds into its knapsack as though they were assets in a virtual reality game, is horrifying. The arrest of people for bargaining purposes is an act that suits criminal gangs, which treat people like tradable property. It strips the kidnapped people of their humanity and turns the kidnappers into human traffickers. If the defense establishment – which has already committed such abductions in the past, as in the famous affair of the bargaining chips from Lebanon (which ended in the High Court of Justice decision to release them) – has not uprooted this practice, it is embroiling itself in a grave criminal act that cannot be ignored. Objectifying human beings is a clear act of dehumanzation, whether it is sexual objectification or security objectification."
—Human rights attorney Michael Sfard raises the chilling questions over the imprisonment of two Syrian shepherds, who were released in exchange for the Israeli woman, who crossed the border into Syria on her own accord.*

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • One month till elections: Pointing at targets - Senior politicians pulled out the knives at the ‘Yedioth Ahronoth Conference’
  • Gantz: “Instead of focusing on the target, the officers are shooting me in the back”
  • Lapid: “It is possible to form a (coalition) government with the support of the Joint List”
  • Sa’ar: “The Likud and the Palestinians - a new low”
  • Bennett: “Lapid is hugging the supporters of terror”
  • Charging alone // Sima Kadmon writes that Benny Gantz doesn’t realize he
  • doesn’t have support
  • Netanyahu’s trial will begin again only after elections
  • “We need to ensure that Iran doesn’t have nuclear capacity for decades” - Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva warns against returning to the Iran nuclear deal
  • Because of the fear of Purim h
  • oliday parties: Night curfew over the weekend

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

Israel Hayom

  • The Purim (holiday) challenge
  • Court: There were flaws with the Attorney General’s conduct
  • A (basketball game) with spectators
  • Who is responsible for the pollution of the coast? Exceptional gag order on the affair
  • The ‘(Disappeared Jewish immigrant) Children of Yemen’ affair: Government unanimously approved compensation and expressed sorrow

Top News Summary:
The government plan to impose a night curfew during the Purim holiday to prevent parties and corona spread, the Jerusalem court decision to postpone the evidentiary stage in Netanyahu’s trial until after elections (at which all the main papers expressed surprise - except Israel Hayom, which focused on the judges’ statement that they found flaws in the Attorney General’s process of approving in advance the investigative actions in Netanyahu’s cases) and the highly unusual decision to put a gag order on the probe into the disastrous massive oil spill that covered Israel’s coast in tar (the Ministry of Environment said the order was due to “complex international aspects” of the investigation) - were today’s top stories.

Also making news was the historic government decision to pay reparations to Yemenite-Israeli families for the disappearance of over 1000 children 70 years ago. At the time, the families were told by officials that the children had died without ever providing proof in state's early years. The Yemenite families insisted that their babies were abducted by the government and testimonies that emerged over the years indicated that at least some of the children were put up for adoption in Israel or with Jewish families in the United States.NOTE: As in some other cases of wrongdoings by Israel towards individuals (e.g. the Mossad-attributed killing of a Moroccan waiter in Sweden, Iraqi Jews killed in bomb attacks in Baghdad in the ’50’s, which were attributed to Israel-backed Jewish underground trying to get Jewish Iraqis to immigrate to Israel out of fear - OH), the government paid compensation, but did not actually take responsibility. Instead it expressed sorrow.

Also, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi yesterday that the Biden administration supports the two-state solution.

Quick Hits:

  • In Attempt to Stem Violence, Israeli Army Brass Meet With Radical Settlers - Following weeks of unrest after the death of teenage settler Ahuvia Sandak, settlement leader takes top IDF official in West Bank on 'precedent-setting' tour of outposts. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli Navy Ship Sinks (Palestinian) Boat Off Gaza Coast - Security sources say boat approached navy ship and refused to stop, while military says preliminary investigation shows boat had no weapons or explosives on board. Reports in Gaza said it was a fishing boat. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Palestinian farmers near the southern Gaza border leave their fields after Israeli occupation forces open fire at them - Israeli forces stationed at the border fence east of the city targeted farmers and their lands with bullets and sound bombs, forcing them to leave the area in fear of getting shot. (WAFA)
  • Israel exiles Palestinian youth from his hometown in E. Jerusalem - Daniel Abu Nasra, 20, was summoned for interrogation by Israeli intelligence at al-Maskobiya detention center west of the city of Jerusalem and handed him a notice ordering his exile from his hometown in at-Tur for a period of 14 days. (WAFA)
  • (US) Jews split over storied charity's support for settlements - Jewish National Fund Israeli branch KKL proposal could potentially channel hundreds of millions of dollars into the expansion of settlements, some of them deep inside the occupied territory; North American CEO Russell Robinson there will be no impact on fundraising. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • E. Jerusalem homeowner accuses Israel of demolishing his house in reprisal for working as guard at Al-Aqsa Mosque - Israel claimed  demolition due to lack of building permit, but Fadi Ilayyan said the two-story, four-apartment residential building location was within a zoned area of the E. Jerusalem neighborhood where construction is allowed. Four families, including 12 children, were displaced. (WAFA)
  • Two shops in an East Jerusalem neighborhood and built 50 years ago demolished by Israel without prior notice, says owner - Israeli bulldozers today demolished two shops in Sur Baher, a Palestinian neighborhood south of occupied East Jerusalem, without prior notice, according to Mohammad Tarshan, owner of the shops. (WAFA)
  • French Activists Hold Event Urging Boycott of Israeli Apartheid - On Saturday, 20 February, a dozen activists and supporters of the Collectif Palestine Vaincra, a member organization of the Samidoun Network, organized a Palestine Stand outside the Capitole metro station in Toulouse, France. They promoted the #BoycottPuma campaign, highlighting the complicity of this sponsor of Israeli apartheid football teams. (IMEMC)
  • Palestinian University lecturer among 20 Palestinians detained by Israel in the occupied territories - An Israeli military raid in the Nablus city neighborhood of Rafidya resulted in the detention of two Palestinians, including Mustafa Shunnar, 60, a lecturer in the Department of Sociology at al-Najah University. (WAFA and Alaraby)
  • The AJC wants ‘Saturday Night Live’ to apologize for vaccine joke - “Israel is reporting that they’ve vaccinated half of their population, and I’m going to guess it’s the Jewish half,” Michael Che, the co-host of SNL’s news parody, “Weekend Update,” said. (JPost and YouTube)
  • Lapid: Netanyahu Eulogy for Rush Limbaugh 'Not the Kind of Politics We Should Have' - Opposition leader Lapid, speaking at a Brookings Institution conference, accuses Netanyahu of turning Israel into a partisan issue. Another Netanyahu challenger, Sa'ar, says on Iran talks: 'We can't compromise our security.' (Haaretz+VIDEO)
  • Gantz Says Ex-defense Officials' Letter Urging Him to Quit Is a 'Shot in the Back' - Former Prime Minister Barak, ex-national security adviser among 130 signatories to full-page ad calling on Gantz to drop out of election race amid concerns Kahol Lavan doesn't have enough votes to make it into parliament. (Haaretz+)
  • Central Elections Committee nixes activists who used leaked link to sign up for election jobs - Right-wing group [semi-facist - OH] Im Tirtzu group was among those to utilize prematurely distributed link to applications page for jobs processing absentee ballots. (Times of Israel)
  • As Israeli Woman Crossed the Syrian Border, Soldiers Were Looking the Wrong Way - The Israeli army initially thought the woman, who was returned in a Russian-mediated prisoner swap, had entered Syria through an unfenced part of the border, but investigation found she had climbed over the border fence. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • Anti-LGBTQ incident occurs every 3 hours in Israel, report finds - Advocacy group reports almost 3,000 cases in 2020 - a 27% increase from previous year, with 1 in 5 victims under the age of 18; pandemic and subsequent lockdowns lead to rise in abuse and harassment at home, study found. (Israel Hayom and Yedioth/Ynet)
  • 'Hundreds of foreign cyberattack units target Israel, US; everything is hackable' - Israeli cybersecurity expert Menny Barzilay warns that for the first time in history, crime is being led by the smartest people in the world. "Detection is not enough; we have to be able to detect attacks that we did not stop and respond effectively," he says. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli tank protection system has transformed land warfare - Rafael's Trophy system has amassed more than 1 million operational hours and saved countless lives in combat since 2011. It's now installed on a growing number of armored vehicles, including on four American tank brigades. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel to Limit Entry of Citizens to 200 a Day Over Coronavirus Quarantine Issues - Israel further restricts how many people can arrive in the country after committee told that requirement for arrivals to quarantine in state-run hotels wasn’t properly enforced. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Palestinian COVID Vaccine Plan Faces Large Funding Gap, World Bank Says - Cost estimates suggest that 'about $55 million' would be needed to cover 60 percent of the population, of which there is an existing gap of $30 million. (Agencies,Haaretz)
  • Hamas-ruled Gaza launches coronavirus vaccination drive - Palestinian official and Abbas rival Dahlan secures initial supply of some 20,000 Russian vaccines from the UAE; medical workers and patients with chronic diseases to be given vaccination priority. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Report: Hamas will not nominate candidate for Palestinian presidential vote - Announcement seen as likely boon for Palestinian Authority President and Fatah Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who is struggling in public opinion polls. (Israel Hayom)
  • Palestinian Foreign Minister: Israel’s impunity fueled by lack of accountability- At the session of the UN Human Rights Council Monday, Riyad al-Malki stated that the Israeli was exploiting the pandemic to consolidate its expansionist settler-colonialism of Palestine, and refusing to assume its responsibilities in terms of providing vaccines to the Palestinian people, particularly in the besieged Gaza Strip. (WAFA)
  • Cash-strapped PA refuses to cut terrorists' stipends, (right-wing Israeli) NGO says - Despite its dire economic state, exacerbated by the global pandemic, Ramallah's "pay-for-slay" policy saw it pay over $150 million in 2020 to terrorists and their families, said Palestinian Media Watch. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel's National Library gifted rare 15th-century Scroll of Esther - Dating from pre-expulsion Spain and Portugal, the Megillah is "an incredibly rare testament to the rich culture of the Jews of the Iberian Peninsula," says library curator Yoel Finkelman. (Israel Hayom)
  • UAE and Qatar Hold First Meeting Since Gulf Detente - Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt agreed in January to restore diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Doha, which had been severed in 2017. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Israeli-Swedish ocean wave energy producer wins Global Innovation Award in Abu Dhabi - Public votes for Eco Wave Power, winner of the United Nations' Climate Action Award and recognized as "pioneering technology" by Israel's Energy Ministry, in the Life Under Water category as part of Abu Dhabi's Sustainability Week. (Israel Hayom)
  • Yemen's Iran-backed Houthis Raise Stakes With Marib 'Blood Bath' - The escalation comes amid renewed efforts to end the war after a dramatic change in the U.S. position towards Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition hoping to restore Hadi's government. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Khamenei: Iran May Enrich Uranium to 60-percent Purity 'If Needed' - The 2015 nuclear deal caps fissile purity to which Iran can refine uranium at 3.67 percent, far below the 90 percent suitable for a nuclear weapon, and the 20 percent achieved by Iran before the agreement was reached. (Agencies, Haaretz)

How Do You Run a City With No Country? Ramallah Mayor Has an Answer
American filmmaker David Osit realized that he is stuck with a one-dimensional view of Ramallah after meeting local hipsters. So he decided to present a more in-depth picture in his documentary film 'Mayor.’ (Tzach Yoked, Haaretz+)

Who Knew Israel Was Kidnapping Syrian Shepherds? (Michael Sfard, Haaretz+) I’m lucky I’m not a Syrian shepherd living near the border with the State of Israel. Because if I were a Syrian shepherd on the Golan Heights, I might not return home at the end of a day’s work. I might leave the village in the morning with my sheep or goats, and while I was sitting on some rock and playing the flute (if that’s still in fashion in the trade), representatives of the strongest power in the Middle East would “pluck” me – in the words of Or Heller, the military correspondent on TV’s Channel 13. Just like that, as though I were a flower. What that means, for anyone who didn’t understand, is that they would arrest me and take me to a prison in Israel.
Our woman in Damascus (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) The latest prisoner swap raises the question of how much Israel's citizens are responsible for their own actions and whether the government should intervene; we should also ponder whether our politicians are capable of pure altruism.
The main question in the Syria affair: Why did the censor ban the publication of what Israel gave in exchange for the woman’s release? (Moshe Nestlebaum, Maariv) There has been no such drama in a long time. What military censorship banned from being published was reported on Syrian television. The secret, which was the property of government ministers, turned into the public domain.
Keeping the Israeli Public in the Dark, Again (Haaretz Editorial) Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is showing a consistent and dangerous tendency to operate in the shadows, behind the public’s back and with a dimming of the media. Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Ministry announced that a Magistrate Court in Haifa had imposed a gag order on the investigation of the tar pollution of the country’s beaches. The court acceded to the ministry’s request and prohibited the publication of any detail which could lead to the identification of the vessel suspected of causing the pollution. As usual in such cases, the public is supposed to be convinced that the state is concealing details for the public’s own benefit, just as the court was convinced by the ministry’s arguments that “publication at this sensitive stage could harm a complex investigation which has international ramifications..."
The destruction of the boats in front of the Gaza Strip: A glimpse of the expected challenge to Israel vis-à-vis Hamas at sea (Tal Lev-Ram, Maariv) Hamas' control of over the sea strip is precisely why the sunken vessel belongs to the organization. Hamas understands that the IDF is seriously harming Hamas on land, and is investing in capabilities from the sea - which, if not stopped, could lead to severe damage to the Israeli consciousness.
Saturday Night Live tells the uncomfortable truth about Israel (Edo Konrad, 972mag) Michael Che's joke about Israel's COVID-19 vaccination campaign pokes fun at a regime that does little to hide its supremacist policies.
No, 'Saturday Night Live' Isn't Inciting the Mass Murder of Jews (Joshua Shanes, Haaretz+) 'Saturday Night Live' made a joke about Israel discriminating against non-Jews and U.S. Jewish groups accused it of bloodcurdling antisemitism. It wasn’t antisemitic at all.
The missing link to expose Israeli apartheid at The Hague? Torture (Itamar Mann, Israel Hayom) The ICC has overlooked how the Palestinian Authority, like its occupier, is using torture to maintain Israel's regime of racial domination.
There’s a Shake-up in Store for Saudi Arabia, and Biden Isn't Concealing His Target (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) The U.S. president isn't recalibrating the relationship with the whole country, but with one specific person.
Path to renewed nuclear talks is open (Damian Pachter, Israel Hayom) Faced with Iran's plan to limit UN inspectors' access to its nuclear facilities, the US is firmly on its way to renegotiating with the Islamic Republic over its nuclear ambition. But the era of snap IAEA inspection has apparently come to its end.
As Biden Seeks New Iran Nuclear Deal, Netanyahu Knows He Has Little Say (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) While Netanyahu urges Biden to use 'maximum pressure' on Iran, a swift International Atomic Energy Agency agreement extends the deadline for U.S., Iran negotiations.
Compensation is first step in righting a terrible wrong (Uri Cohen, Israel Hayom) The Yemenite families whose children were displaced in the early days of the state seek closure. The government must do more than offer monetary reparation to alleviate three generations of pain.
Top Guns or Mavericks? Israel’s Fighter Pilots Have Taken Control of U.S. Military Aid Budget (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) The annual U.S. military aid budget of $3.8 billion is being monopolized by Israel Air Force jocks, at the expense of what the Israeli army actually needs.
Our 'Netanyahu fixation' will destroy us (Avi Bareli, Israel Hayom) Our sovereignty and democracy depend on very deep constitutional and administrative reforms to our sick systems of law enforcement system and checks and balances.
How Not to Maintain the Integrity of the Israeli Election Process (Noa Landau, Haaretz+) It was only a matter of time until the Israeli right-wing tried to import Donald Trump’s “stolen election” campaign – in spite of its ugly denouement on Capitol Hill. And in fact, the right-wing ‘Im Tirtzu’ movement was the first to pick up the gauntlet…For every celebration of democracy, which in Israel’s case has already turned into a day of mourning because we’ve had so many election campaigns, there are boring bureaucratic mechanisms. Someone has to count, register, load, fold – and supervise. And so, aside from the jobs in the polling places that are reserved for representatives of the various parties, there are also jobs designated for those who are not politically affiliated at the time of recruitment, such as the secretaries of the polling committees, those supervising the purity of the elections and the vote counters, including the counters of the double envelopes (votes cast by those who cannot reach their designated polling place, such as, diplomats). For these jobs, which are at the heart of the democratic system, Im Tirtzu, which definitely does have a political identity, has been attempting in recent weeks to recruit as many volunteers as possible…
Where Are These Three Smiling Fatah Figures Today? (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) Liberation and freedom are always beautiful during the period of struggle. But when ex-freedom fighters become members of the new regime, the cracks overshadow their heroic past.
American Jewry can no longer afford to be silent (Irit Tratt, Israel Hayom) As anti-Israel lawmakers increase in numbers, American Jewry's unwillingness to confront their anti-Zionist rhetoric underscores the growing disaffection that Krauthammer had been alluding to for years.
Why a prominent U.S. Orthodox group dumped its Trump-loving leadership (Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz+) During the Trump years, the National Council of Young Israel became so political, it found itself entangled in the president's impeachment trial. Last week, grassroots activists forced the organization to change course.


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