News Nosh 3.7.21

APN's daily news review from Israel - Sunday March 7, 2021


You Must Be Kidding: 
"Also in warfare, I will not accept (a soldier being) a captive unless he is, G-d forbid, a corpse..."
--A message an IDF commander sent to his soldiers.**

Breaking News:
Palestinians Claim Three Gaza Fisherman Killed by Israeli Fire; Army Denies
Nizar Ayash, chairman of the Gaza Fishermen's Association, said that the three fishermen were hit by a projectile near to Khan Younis. The Israeli military said in response that "the Israeli navy did not fire" at the Strip, and that it is investigating the reports. Earlier in the day, WAFA reported that Israeli forces opened fire and water cannons at fishermen while sailing at about three nautical miles from the shore, causing partial damage to at least one boat and forcing fishermen to return to the shore. (Haaretz+ and Maariv

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • Almost back to routine
  • He was only a name in a scandal that shook the state. For 20 year he was silent - until now
  • “Protecting one’s home is moral” - Ohad Ben-Yishai, the most severely injured soldier in Operation Protective Edge (2014 Gaza War) attacks International Criminal Court decision to investigate Israel for war crimes
  • (Singer) Omer Adam presents: VIP landing (from abroad to avoid quarantine)
  • Independence like the old days: Independence Day torch-lighting ceremony will take place in front of an audience

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

  • Open - Restaurants, wedding halls and hotel restaurants reopen today
  • “Battle against the crime in the Arab sector” - Some 15,000 people participated in demonstration in Um Al-Fahem for the eradication of violence in the Arab sector
  • Under fire - Commander of IDF’s Egoz Unit sparked storm when he said that he “won’t accept having a (captive) soldier, unless it’s a corpse”

Israel Hayom

Top News Summary:
As of today, Israelis can eat in restaurants, sip coffee in cafes and get married in event halls and 7th-10th graders finally go back to school and on Friday, for the eighth week, thousands of Arab Israelis peacefully protested against police violence towards them and police inaction against violence within Arab society (and then Saturday night the director of Qalansawa municipality was shot and severely injured) were the top two stories across today’s Hebrew newspapers. Also statements by two Israeli politicians the commander of an elite IDF unit made waves.

The right-wing blasted MK Nitzan Horovitz, chairman of the left-wing Meretz party, after he said he supported the International Criminal Court’s decision to investigate Israel for war crimes. In their first conversation together, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US Vice President Kamala Harris spoke on the phone to discuss the ICC decision. Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas thanked the ICC for its decision to ‘pursue justice.’

Channel 13 military analyst, Alon Ben-David, said that Environmental Affairs Minister Gila Gamliel made a baseless claim when she said that the oil spill that damaged Israel’s coast was intentionally caused by Iran (“environmental terror”). Ben-David said that such a conclusion would have needed to be determined by the security establishment - but“neither the Mossad nor the army were invited to participate in the oil pollution investigation,” he told 103FM/Maariv. "I did not hear that it was a deliberate attack. Perhaps Minister Gamliel meant that the damage was so great that the spill should be considered an attack, but such incidents regarding security cannot take place without the security system. The Ministry of the Environment does not really have tools to ascertain that it was an attack and to determine that it was intentional.  On the face of it, the defense establishment does not know of deliberate oil emissions off the coast of Israel. What could very well be, is that an Iranian ship that smuggled oil in violation of sanctions tried to transfer it to another ship, which they often do at sea, and this transfer went awry for them. In order to determine that this is really an attack, we need more evidence that was not presented by the Ministry of the Environment." Greenpeace slammed Israel, also calling it a “baseless claim.” However, ‘Israel Hayom’ continued to push the Iran blame game, interviewing would-be Venezuelan leader Juan Guaido, who said his opponent had smuggled uranium to Iran. Speaking of Iran, Maariv, Israel Hayom and the Walla newswebsite reported that following US encouragement, Germany, France and Britain withdrew the proposal to condemn Iran that they intended to raise at the International Atomic Energy Agency conference. Maariv’s Europe correspondent, Gideon Kotz, reported that a French source explained that the surprising move came following the fact that Iran sent “encouraging messages” in recent days regarding renewal of the diplomatic channel between the sides regarding implementing the nuclear agreement and opening unofficial talk.

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz told Fox news that Hezbollah has hundreds of thousands of rockets and Israel is 'ready to fight.’ And Maariv’s Tal Lev Ram reported that the IDF is preparing for a large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip. According to Lev Ram, the "Tight Spring" military exercise was held over the last week  with intention to prepare the commanders in the maneuvering brigades for the possibility of a large-scale military confrontation.

**And, after an Israeli soldier’s gun was stolen in a struggle with two thieves in an Arab-Israeli village, the commander of the soldier’s elite Egoz Unit said he preferred a dead soldier than a captive one. The commander, whose name has not been revealed, wrote to his soldiers: “Also in warfare, I will not accept (a soldier being) a captive unless he is, G-d forbid, a corpse, I’m sorry, but this is a minimum standard in the unit! There is no captive, no stealing weapons, (there must be) striving for contact, victory till the end.” The IDF Spokesman responded to reporters saying: "The officer erred.” (Also Maariv)

Elections 2021:

  • Netanyahu's Likud Worried That Supporters Won’t Bother to Vote in Israeli Election - Netanyahu was counting on his COVID-19 vaccination strategy to lead the March 23 election campaign. But the message did not sink in; it even raised hackles and is going to be shelved. (Haaretz+)
  • Channel 13: Center-left may back right-wing Bennett for PM if needed to prevent Netanyahu majority - Some anti-Netanyahu parties weighing plan to support right-wing Yamina chairman in a rotational premiership in order to pull him from the right-wing religious bloc that supports Netanyahu, report says. (Maariv, p. 8 and Times of Israel)
  • With 2 weeks until Israelis head to the polls, parties fight for every vote - Only 62% of Israelis are certain they will vote in the March 23 election and 13% say the will not be heading to the polls, Israel Hayom-i24NEWS survey shows. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • After pressure, Pfizer CEO postpones Israel visit until after election - Last week, Israeli scientists warned Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla that Netanyahu may exploit his visit for his election campaign. (Haaretz)
  • Netanyahu ally defends campaign ad likening Reform Jews to dogs: It was 'merely showing the truth' - Ultra-Orthodox party leader Moshe Gafni defends controversial election campaign video, says 'I won't be in a coalition with people who will stab Judaism in the back.' (Haaretz+)
  • Anti-Netanyahu Protesters Attacked in 37th Consecutive Week of Demos - Protests were held outside the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem, opposite Netanyahu’s private residence in Caesarea and at dozens of highway intersections and bridges around the country. (Haaretz+ and JPost)
  • WATCH Netanyahu: SNL vaccine joke ‘is so false, many many Arabs are voting for me’ - In a 'Fox & Friends' interview, Netanyahu says his opposition to Iran's bid to acquire nuclear weapons is 'absolute,' but that he hoped that he could see 'eye to eye' with Biden on the issue. (Haaretz+ and JPost)
  • Israel's State Comptroller Softens Report on Netanyahu's Misconduct After Prime Minister's Appeal - Englman’s decision was contrary to the positions taken by some members of the comptroller’s team, who argued for levying sanctions against Netanyahu. (Haaretz+)

Corona-related Quickees:

  • Israel Reopens Restaurants, Pubs, Event Venues for Those Vaccinated Against COVID - COVID-vaccinated Israelis stuck abroad no longer need approval of special committee to return to country ■ Grades 7-10 return to school in areas where infection rates are low enough. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Israel Postpones COVID Vaccine Drive for Palestinian Workers, Citing Budget Issues - No new date has been set for the start of the campaign. The postponement took contractors and those involved in the drive by surprise, as they had believed that the budget for it had already been approved. (Haaretz and i24News)
  • Israel Vaccine Data: How Many Have Already Been Inoculated for COVID - 53 percent of Israelis has received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, and 39.8 percent the second. Vaccine data shows promising results. (Haaretz)
  • World Bank approves $25 million grant to support Palestinian municipal response to COVID-19 - World Bank approved $15 million grant to help Palestinian municipalities maintain vital services and provide jobs to households whose income has been adversely affected by the COVID-19 crisis. (WAFA)

Quick Hits:

  • 37 Palestinians Shot Trying to Sneak Into Israel Since 2020: UN - Figures have soared from just three in all of 2018 to 23 last year and 14 since the beginning of 2021; workers pass through breaches in security barrier. (Haaretz+)
  • Settlers attack a Palestinian family near Salfit - Israeli settlers from Brukhin settlement physically attacked the family members of Mr. Hatem Othman al-Haj Saturday while they were on their own farm and smashed the windshield of their parked vehicle. No injuries were reported, local sources said. (WAFA)
  • Settlers chop off olive trees adjacent to Bethlehem and assault farmers south of Bethlehem - Hardcore Israeli settlers from Gush Etzion chopped down 15 olive trees in Artas village Saturday that belonged to Mr. Jamal Abdullah Ismail. At Kisan village, settlers protected by military assaulted farmers while working in their own lands. (WAFA)
  • Israel takes over 658 dunams of Palestinian land in Bethlehem - Israeli occupation authorities issued today a military order expropriating 658 dunams of Palestinian land in the village of al-Ubeidiya for a water collection project that will only serve the Israeli settler communities. (WAFA)
  • UN: In two weeks, Israel demolished 35 Palestinian structures, displacing 98 people, including 53 children - Citing the lack of building permits, Israel demolished or seized in the occupied territories in the period between 16 February and 1 March 35 Palestinian-owned structures, displacing 98 people, of whom 53 were children, and otherwise affecting about 60 others, according to a report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. (WAFA)
  • Peace Now: 500 words determine fate of seven Palestinian families in an East Jerusalem neighbourhood - Approximately 500 words were all what the judges of the Jerusalem District Court needed to determine the fate of seven Palestinian families with 31 people, eight of them are children, in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, according to the Israeli Peace Now movement. (WAFA)
  • Soldiers injure Palestinians in non-violent procession near Nablus - Israeli soldiers injured, Friday, many Palestinians during a nonviolent procession against the illegal settlements on Beit Dajan village lands. Israel intends to illegally annex village lands for settlement construction. (IMEMC)
  • Court Orders Police to Compensate Ethiopian Israeli Wrongfully Detained Over 'Color of His Skin' - The police ordered to pay young man 20,000 shekels and legal fees in connection with incident that took place in 2018 when the young man was 15 years old. (Haaretz+)
  • WATCH: (Jewish) Minors systematically harassed foreign workers in Ramla - Five minors aged 15-16 are accused of attacking and causing damage to property of foreign workers from China in the city of Ramla. The five shared video clips among themselves in a WhatsApp group called “Beating up the Chinese." (Maariv and VIDEO)
  • Israel Sees Sharp Rise in Combat Soldiers Needing Psychiatric, Financial Aid - Most are asking for economic help for their families due to the coronavirus crisis; budget for such assistance has more than doubled in response. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli military's $2 billion future transport helicopter is allergic to dust - Besides the impact on the U.S. military, the news are an embarrassment to Israel, which just last week approved an order of 20 of the helicopters at a cost of $2.25 billion. (Haaretz+)
  • Cairo wants flag carrier to operate direct flights to Tel Aviv - Egyptair plans to operate 21 flights to Israel every week. Air Sinai has operated the route for decades due to late Egyptian President Mubarak's opposition to letting state-owned airline land in Israel. (Israel Hayom)
  • Flying over Israel, Pope Francis sends greetings to President Rivlin - "Entering Israeli airspace on my Apostolic journey to Iraq, I send warm greetings to you and the people of the nation," Pope Francis relays in message en route from Rome to Baghdad. (Israel Hayom)
  • Pope Francis Holds Historic Meeting With Iraq's Top Shi'ite Cleric - Visiting the birthplace of the Prophet Abraham in Ur, Pope Francis says violence in the name of God is 'the greatest blasphemy.’ (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Israel offers to help Azerbaijan rebuild Nagorno-Karabakh - Azerbaijan's ambassador to Turkey reveals Israeli companies have offered Baku assistance in rehabilitating Nagorno-Karabakh territory following ceasefire with Armenia. (Israel Hayom)
  • Iran's Revolutionary Guard Says Airplane Hijacking Disrupted - The Guard announcement on Friday did not identify the hijacker. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Lebanon's Caretaker PM Warns of Chaos as Currency Plunges - In October, Saad Hariri was named to form a new Cabinet but five months later, disagreements between him and President Michel Aoun on the shape of the Cabinet has stood in the way of a new government’s formation. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Russian Warships, Syrian Forces Kill Four in Strikes in North Syria - 24 people were also wounded by the missiles, which hit an oil refinery and market under the control of Turkish troops and Turkish-backed rebels, a war monitor reported. (Agencies, Haaretz)


For the Sixth Time, Israel Razes a Disabled Palestinian's Home
There’s no way for Palestinians to build legally on their own land in Isawiyah. Almost all the construction there has been illegal, but the Jerusalem Municipality has chosen to single out this man. (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+PHOTOS)
Explained: What does the ICC war crimes probe mean for Israeli officials?
What’s the timetable look like? What happens if Israel doesn’t cooperate? Here's what Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda's decision to look into the behavior of Israel and Hamas means, and what happens next. (Judy Maltz, Haaretz+)

Picture Israeli Labor Party Leader Michaeli in Prison (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) If MK Merav Michaeli had been sentenced to two years in prison for pro-women’s rights political activities and for being a leftist the world would be up in arms over her arrest, as would Israelis: an MK in prison for political activity? Israel locks up lawmakers? Political prisoners in the only democracy in the Middle East? The Israeli Alexei Navalny? The European Union would announce sanctions on Israel that very day. The U.S. would join. That’s what they did last week to weak Russia. But Israel the superpower can do as it pleases, it can even imprison an opponent of the regime. Michaeli has not been arrested, of course, nor convicted nor sentenced to prison, but Khalida Jarrar has. The two women have a lot in common. They are both in their 50s, both members of parliament who won their seats in democratic elections, both are secular leftists who have devoted much of their lives to the feminist struggle.
Israel needs coherent strategy on Iran and Palestinians (Former Mossad chief, Tamir Pardo, Yedioth/Ynet) As a regional military power, Israel should set policy based on comprehensive evaluation of national interests and not by improvisation, casting off the existential fear and the shadow of the Holocaust of yore.
Can ICC's 'unbiased investigation benefit Israel? (Michael Laitman, Israel Hayom) Instead of complaining about the world's double standard against the Jews, we should see it as both a compliment and a challenge.
A state that has nothing to hide has no reason to fear an ICC investigation (Friday Haaretz Editorial) B’Tselem’s “apartheid document,” published in January, and the International Criminal Court’s decision soon after to investigate Israel’s potential war crimes in the occupied territories have stirred much debate on the nature of the Israeli regime. The subject was also the focus of the online Haaretz Conference on Democracy on Wednesday. However, despite this important debate, a majority of Jewish-Israeli reactions preferred to smash the mirror rather than think about fixing the reality. With the election coming up, this reality should be confronted head-on, leading to the question “What next?” to which I turn below.
The short-term addiction to silence makes Israel a serious player in the Iranian game(Col. (res.) Ron Tira, Maariv) Although Israel bases itself on the tactical success of its attacks, it ignores the fact that at the strategic level the attacks do not turn Iran from its course and do not prevent it from shaping reality.
Arabs Are Crying Out for a Gun-free Society, but Israel Has No Answers for Them(Yousef Jabareen, Haaretz+) Last Friday, just as I did on the previous six Fridays, I demonstrated outside the police station at the entrance to Umm al-Fahm, the town where I was born and still live. The demonstration was quiet and orderly. But due to a deliberate decision by the police, brutal violence began – rubber bullets, stun grenades and skunk water were fired in every direction. Dozens were wounded, including the mayor, Dr. Samir Mahameed, and me. But the story isn’t that the town’s elected leader was shot at; this isn’t the first time something like that has happened. The real story is the more than 20 Arabs who have been murdered over the last two months. The story is Mohand Mahameed, an Umm al-Fahm resident who was hospitalized due to police violence, and Ahmed Hijazi, who was shot and killed by the police in Tamra last month.
For years, Netanyahu mocked the prophecies of the "political tsunami." This week it arrived (Ben Caspit, Maariv) For years, the prime minister and his mouthpieces have ignored warnings about the future that awaits Israel if it continues to act like a bull in a china shop. This week it arrived, and Netanyahu is the sole culprit. But the worst of all his sins is what he has done to the Jewish people.
ICC Decision Makes the Israeli-Palestinian 1967 Lines Relevant Once Again (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) The prosecutor’s decision to launch an investigation into possible war crimes by Israel was made possible by the UN decision to grant the Palestinians state status in 2012.
The collapse of Netanyahu's foreign and security policy could cost him the election(Ran Edelist, Maariv) The collapse of Netanyahu's foreign and security policy could cost him the election. On the other hand, the 15 years of his “the Iranian nukes” campaign have already succeeded in fooling the public, the media and the defense establishment.
Israel and the International Criminal Court: From Victims to Criminals (Michael Sfard,Haaretz+) Few people are aware of it, but on the final day of 2000, Israel signed the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court. Like the United States, which also became a signatory that day (that’s why we signed), Israel later announced that it wouldn’t ratify the treaty and so wouldn’t become a party to it.
The Peace Formula (Eyal Biram, Yedioth/Ynet) As the ink slowly dries out on Israel's peace deals with Arab nations, Israelis now can connect with people from areas that were out of reach only a little while ago through Zoom events aimed at building bridges and personal connections.
Biden abandons Middle East peace (Caroline B. Glick, Israel Hayom) The Biden administration is the most ideologically rigid and radical administration in US history. Its actions have served to undermine the accords by removing their American foundations.
What it’s like to be an 'official non-Jew' in a shamefully ethnocentric Israel (Arkadi Mazin, Haaretz+) Arriving in Israel 30 years ago, I never imagined my Jewish identity, worn so defiantly and proudly through the antisemitism-laced Soviet years, would be revoked by the Jewish state. And there are hundreds of thousands like me.
Letters to the Editor: Israel Is an Ethnic, Not Liberal, Democracy (Richard Sherman, Haaretz) Jotam Confino can certainly criticize the Israeli immigration system because of certain understandable bureaucratic frustration he endured in reacquiring Israeli citizenship – probably a rarely submitted request. However he should read (reread?) The Balfour Declaration and the Israeli Declaration of Independence.
Civil Alternatives Will Help Israel Maintain ‘Purity of Religion’ (Carolina Landsmann, Haaretz+) Justice David Mintz couldn’t let it rest. “There is no escaping the need to recognize people who were converted in Reform or Conservative communities in Israel as Jews for the purpose of being considered under the Law of Return,” he wrote in last week’s High Court ruling. “However,” he added, “one can only hope that a minority with impure intentions does not abuse the situation, because alongside this ruling lies a danger with unforeseeable consequences.” What’s Mintz afraid of? Let the ultra-Orthodox Shas party do the explaining. “Danger! Thousands of infiltrators and foreign workers will become Jews through Reform conversion!” Shas wants you to imagine a Reform synagogue in Tel Aviv’s Levinsky Park, where asylum seekers congregate, with a direct route to citizenship, no standardized test required…
The brouhaha over defining Jews as an ethnic minority (Melanie Phillips, Israel Hayom) The notion that Judaism is both religion and peoplehood feeds the paranoid suspicions of the anti-Semite that the Jews are slippery customers who change their shape at will and thus hide in plain sight.
Letters to the Editor: Hatchet job (Ben Alofs, Haaretz) I completely agree with David Miller’s assessment of political Zionism as an ethnic cleansing ideology. It is the ideological basis of the racist apartheid regime by the State of Israel imposed on the Palestinians.
The mission: To defeat the media hate (Dr. Haim Shine, Israel Hayom) Ideology has left the building, and propaganda and jumbled propaganda-reporting has taken its place, fueled by a pathological hatred for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The absurdity of leftists voting for Gideon Saar and Naftali Bennett (Adv. Nitzan Kahana, Yedioth Hebrew) In the name of “Just-Not-Bibi" there are those who are willing to choose the knights of religionization, the darlings of the settlements and those who despise corruption. This is unfounded mainly because of the reasonable possibility that in the end they will sit under Binyamin Netanyahu.
Bibi challengers determined to prevent another stalemate after Israeli election (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) If Netanyahu doesn't get a clear victory, his main rivals will bite the bullet and work together to ensure a stable government comes out if Israel's fourth election in two years.
An Israeli Revolution of the Battlefield, Ten Years On (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Both Israel's Iron Dome and Trophy mark a decade since becoming operational. But while the first eases pressure to send soldier into the battlefield, the second makes their deployment easier.
Don't throw MBS under the bus (Mitchell Bard, Israel Hayom) Rulers of Saudi Arabia have been exporting their anti-Semitic, anti-Christian and anti-Western beliefs around the world for decades, but Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman seems to hold none of those views and is reigning in extremists.
Why Netanyahu Can't Count on MBS (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) And why the Gulf may still feature prominently in Israeli PM's election campaign
Our Middle Eastern 'situational ethics' (Sarah N. Stern, Israel Hayom) If we are going to be outraged about human rights, then our outrage should extend to the entire region.
Abbas and Hamas: A turning point towards peace with Israel? (Ben Lynfield, Times of Israel) Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and prominent Fatah leader Jibril Rajoub have pulled off a near mircacle by persuading Hamas leaders Yihya Sinwar and Ismail Haniyeh to commit the 'Islamic resistance movement' to adopt popular peaceful resistance and to stop rocket attacks, at least for now. If this is sustained, and much depends on Israel's response, it could mean no more indiscriminate rocket fire at Israel and no more suicide bombings. [NOTE: Hamas stopped making suicide bombings on Israelis in 2005 after the organization's political bureau ordered the military wing to stop. The military wings of Fatah and Islamic Jihad continued to make suicide bombings after that. Nevertheless, Hamas continues to be considered by Israelis as a perpetrator of suicide attacks, while Fatah is seen as Israel's security partner, which it is.  - OH]

German Ambassador to Israel: "It will be impossible to extinguish the love in my heart for this country"
In a special interview, Ambassador Dr. Susanna Vazum-Reiner talks about the courageous relationship with Israel, the new anti-Semitism, the criticism of the pro-Palestinian votes of its representatives at the UN, her admiration for our vaccination campaign and the Israelis in Berlin. (Interviewed by Mordechai Chaimovitch in Maariv)

Lapid: My ambitions can wait; if Netanyahu wins, Israel will enter dark times
‘I’ll do everything needed for a change of government,’ Yesh Atid head says. If PM is reelected, he’ll make Israel an ‘illiberal democracy, somewhere between Hungary and Turkey.’ (Interviewed by Times of Israel)


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