News Nosh 3.9.21

APN's daily news review from Israel – Tuesday, March 9, 2021


You Must Be Kidding: 
At the instruction of Israel’s Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, Israel police dispersed an International Women’s Day event in East Jerusalem.**

In 2020, 574,000 posts on social media included violent anti-Arab text, making a rate of one out of every 10 posts about Arabs.
—A report by 7amleh - The Arab Center for Social Media Advancement - reveals how has the corona pandemic has affected the discourse of racism and incitement against Arabs and Palestinians on Israeli social media networks.***

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • The ballot counting challenge - More than half a million votes in double envelopes - This is how the the dramatic 48 hours after the closing of the ballot stations will look
  • Bennett is getting himself into trouble // Sima Kadmon (Hebrew)
  • “He is brave”: The parents of the soldier from Egoz (who didn’t open fire on the thieves stealing his weapon) speak (Hebrew)
  • A royal storm (over Meghan and Harry’s interview)

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

  • “We won’t demand further restrictions on Passover Eve” -
  • Death rate dropping, infection rate dropping and Health Ministry is optimistic
  • The skies are also opening: The “Green Terminal” at Ben-Gurion Airport has begun operation
  • Expense of choice - Corona precautions at polling stations will cost 72% more than previous elections
  • The most exposed there is - The interview with Meghan and Harry

Israel Hayom

  • Two weeks till elections: Waking up the field
  • Right-wingers, don’t give in to the campaign of hatred // Haim Shine
  • ‘Ad Kan’ organization report: Testimonies that disprove the tales of war crimes
  • “We lost a groundbreaking scientist” - Dr. Shimrit Perkol-Finkel died in accident (CTECH)
  • The kingdom in a storm - Britain in shock from claims of racism in royal family
  • Gideon Sa’ar: “Oppose closing supermarkets on Shabbat”; Ultra-Orthodox: “You won’t be the prime minister”

Top News Summary:
The additional corona costs for the upcoming Israeli elections, the efforts by the parties and leading politicians to get voters behind them and the interview the Duke and Duchess of Essex gave to Oprah were the top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

A look at three security-related events and a sentencing:
It is interesting to note how differently the Hebrew media reported on three different incidents that took place between Palestinians and Israelis yesterday as well as on how it viewed the sentencing of a Khaled Qu'ad.

Yedioth Hebrew’s right-wing West Bank correspondent, Elisha Ben-Kimon reported that “three attempted terrorist attacks were thwarted yesterday in Judea and Samaria.” One was early morning during an Israeli military raid on the Palestinian town of Tubas, near the Jordan Valley, another was at noon at a settlement outpost and the third was in the evening near al-Khadr village, west of Bethlehem. Israel Hayom Hebrew gave a detailed report about the incident in Tubas, interviewing both the soldier and the commander involved. According to the report, during the IDF detention operation in Tubas by soldiers of the IDF Jordan Lions Brigade, a 25-year-old Palestinian tried to stab a soldier who was standing outside the house the soldiers was raiding. The soldier got in a hand-to-hand struggle with the young Palestinian who attacked him with a knife in each hand. After a few seconds, the deputy commander of the battalion, Major A., arrived at the scene. "I was a few meters away, I saw them struggling. I tried to push the terrorist to the ground, I grabbed his head and pinned him to the refrigerator that was thrown there, while punching him. When I arrived I did not realize he had knives. [The soldier] managed to break free, took a half step back and shouted at me that [the Palestinian] had a knife. I aimed my weapon at him, fired at his legs and he fell.” Israel Hayom wrote that “when asked why he did not open a 'suspicious arrest procedure' and fire into the air before the terrorist reached him, Corporal A. said: ‘I have often been in situations where a person approached and explained that he just wanted to go to work, or that he had one reason or another. It all happened in one moment, really fast.’ Major A. added: ‘This is a situation in which a decision must be made in a split second. Shooting in the air is also considered perfectly fine in this situation, and what he did is also the right decision.’”

Then around 12 noon, a Palestinian woman entered a caravan on the Sde Efraim outpost (only Haaretz mentioned it’s a settler outpost) and either took or was armed with a knife [MaarivOnline says she took one) and tried to stab the Israeli woman living there, but failed. The Israeli woman left the caravan and called out to neighbors for help. They came and got a hold of the Palestinian woman and called the police, who came and arrested her and took her for interrogation. Maariv noted that a similar incident took place at the beginning of last month, when a “terrorist” arrived at the outpost and ran toward one of the homes and got into a physical confrontation with a guard, who along with the farmer (Eitan Zeev) shot dead the “terrorist.” (Haaretz’s Gideon Levy wrote about the unarmed Palestinian accountant, Khaled Nofal, 35, who drove to the outpost in the middle of the night and tackled a guard and fought with him and then was shot dead and his family has no idea why.)

Then comes the third incident around 7 pm. According to the Hebrew papers which (with the usual exception of Haaretz) took the army’s version as fact, “a force from the 636th Battalion detected attempts to throw stones at Road 60 in Gush Etzion. The fighters fired at the fleeing terrorists.” (Yedioth Hebrew) Haaretz+ reported that the IDF said that the two 17-year-olds threw Molotov Cocktails, not stones and that one was critically injured, near al-Khader town. However, according to the Palestinian press, the two youth were not trying to stone passing Israeli drivers, but that, that they were protesting against soldiers for an army raid in their town. WAFA and IMEMC press reported that Israeli soldiers stormed al-Khader town and invaded civilian homes, which triggeredviolent confrontations with local Palestinian youths who resisted the military incursion.Soldiers opened fire towards the youth, hitting two protestors. One of the boys was shot twice, in the pelvis and the foot, his condition was described as critical, the other boy was struck in the foot. Soldiers fired teargas canisters at the protestors, causing inhalation injuries. It is unclear whether the teens were struck with live rounds or rubber-coated steel rounds, the Palestinian press reported.

[NOTE: What is worthy to note in the Tubas and al-Khader  incidents is:
1.) The soldier in the Tubas incident did not initiate “suspect arrest procedure,” i.e. open fire, when the Palestinian man approached him because many times people asked to pass because they had to go to work or for other reasons and he allowed them, he said. He clearly did not consider every Palestinian a potential terrorist.
2.) The officer in the Tubas incident did not shoot the Palestinian the moment he saw him fighting with the soldier and when he did discover that the Palestinian held knives he shot him in the leg and not to kill. Such conduct is very rare in E. Jerusalem, where the Border Police are stationed and where it is expected that forces shoot to kill someone who attacks or attempts to attack a Border Police officer. - OH]
3.) In the case at al-Khader, either the IDF or the Palestinian press is making things up. he IDF claimed that the two youth were “terrorists” and that they were throwing things at passing Israeli cars, but the Palestinian press said the IDF entered the village sparking a clash with residents and many suffered from teargas inhalation.

Khaled Qu’ad is a “terrorist” convicted of “abetting a murder,” according to Israel Public Broadcasting KAN and the right-wing religious Channel 20Qu’ad was sentenced to two years in prison for not reporting that he was asked to take part in a terror attack. Haaretz+ shared that when one of the convicted perpetrators told Qu’ad that he planned to commit a major attack, Qu’ad asked to be let out of the car they were in, saying “I don’t want to get involved in this.” They had no contact since. Haaretz not only didn’t refer to him as a “terrorist,” it also revealed why the prosecution and defense reached a plea bargain with such a short sentence: torture. And, furthermore, the military prosecutor wanted to hide that fact. In her ruling, the judge wrote a paragraph that the military prosecutor requested she immediately delete: that both sides — prosecution and defense — asked her to respect the plea bargain they reached which, she wrote, “I was told that the deal stemmed from significant evidentiary problems, since, among other things, special methods were used during the interrogation of several people, including the person who incriminated the defendant, questioned in an ‘investigation of necessity.’” “Special methods” usually means that torture was used in the interrogation, reporter Amira Hass explained. “Investigation of necessity” means the usual restrictions on interrogation tactics don’t apply because the investigator claims he needs information urgently, such as to prevent an attack.

Elections 2021:

  • Yesh Atid surges in polls, reaches 20 seats - Survey by Tel Aviv-based 103FM Radio gives the right-wing bloc 46 mandates to the Center-Left bloc's 62 – excluding Yamina, which has yet to commit to joining either bloc. (Israel Hayom)
  • Trying to wake up the area: Netanyahu's conference blitz - Many conferences every day, a journey from the north to the south and long broadcast hours on social media networks: with the decreasing of corona restrictions, the Prime Minister is charging towards his voters and trying to deal with an even bigger challenge than the lack of a head-to-head campaign against Lapid: the problem of the public fatigue. (Ynet Hebrew)
  • The decisive moments - Netanyahu is plowing the country.  Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) is aiming for more than 20 seats. Gideon Saar (New Hope) is fighting the polls. And Naftali Bennett (Yamina) is keeping the cards close to his chest. The countdown has begun: In exactly two weeks, Israeli citizens will go to the polls for the fourth time in less than two years. (Yuval Karni, Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Hesder Yeshivas (where religious soldiers spend part of service) Aid Far-right Israeli Party Flouting Military Election Rules - Far-right 'Religious Zionism' party holds meetings in publicly funded yeshivas throughout the country, ignoring IDF laws. (Haaretz+)
  • After MK Golan calls him a "terrorist": Ben Gvir demands that Golan remove his immunity for a libel suit - Chairman of (far-far-right-wing Kahanist) "Otzmah Yehudit" ('Jewish Power') party, who is a candidate on the 'Religious Zionism' faction for the Knesset, called on MK Yair Golan from Meretz to remove his immunity so that he could file a defamation lawsuit against him in court, after Golan Tweeted: "The terrorist who was not drafted into the IDF, Itamar Ben Gvir, thinks that Nitzan Horowitz should be questioned on suspicion of treason - no less." Meretz party chairman, Nitzan Horowitz, had earlier said that "there were grounds" for the ICC to probe Israel for war crimes. (Maariv)
  • Netanyahu Falsely Blames Attorney General for Economic Plan Delays - Justice Ministry officials voice concern after Israeli leader urges supporters to rally at its headquarters. (Haaretz+)
  • Gideon Saar presents: Zigzag on opening supermarkets; Ultra-Orthodox deputy minister: He won't be prime minister - When he was Interior Minister in 2014, the chairman of New Hope party banned the opening of supermarkets on Shabbat, but now he declares that he will not support their closure on weekends. The ultra-Orthodox returned fire. Deputy Minister Uri Maklev of United Torah Judaism said: "New Hope is trying to paint itself at the center of the discourse, as if they are going to form the government. Unfortunately, they are recycling old arguments about 'supermarkets - open or closed' and trying to improve their positions, so, it does not appear that anyone will enter into coalition negotiations with them. In any case, from all the political scenarios, one prediction is clear: Saar will not be the prime minister. It is either Bibi or Lapid." (Israel Hayom Hebrew)
  • Ultra-Orthodox Party Shas Marketing Government Food Aid as Chairman's Personal Initiative - Shas ads marketing food coupons as a personal project of Arye Dery have popped up throughout the country. (Haaretz+)

Quick Hits:

  • The ultra-Orthodox and the Arabs are not considered part of Israeli society - Recently published survey conducted by the Anti-Defamation League revealed dismal data about the rifts in the State of Israel - only about 30% of the population see the ultra-Orthodox and Arabs as an integral part of Israeli society. 81% believe that Israeli society is more divided than ever. Next Tuesday (9.3), the Israel Social Cohesion Conference will be broadcast live on Ynet, with the participation of politicians, influencers and members of the media who will discuss ways of action for social change. (Ynet Hebrew)
  • ***Report: Anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab racism and incitement in Israeli social media increased by 16% in 2020 - "7amleh" social media monitoring NGO said Monday that anti-Palestinian racism and incitement by (Jewish) Israelis on social media has increased by 16% in 2020 compared to 2019. 574,000 posts on social media in 2020 included violent anti-Arab text, at a rate of one out of every 10 posts... an increase of 79,000 posts compared to last year. (WAFA and 7amleh report)
  • Criticism after Israeli Police Who Arrested Two Gun Theft Suspects, Photographed Them Bound and Blindfolded - The unusual photographs were distributed on social media after the suspects' arrest over allegedly assaulting an Israeli army soldier and stealing his weapon. (Haaretz+ and Yedioth Hebrew)
  • **Israel Breaks Up East Jerusalem Women's Day Event, Claiming It's Affiliated With PA - The police order was signed by Public Security Amir Ohana, who said the event was organized by the PA; organizers said was run by local women in East Jerusalem. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel orders halt on construction of houses west of Nablus - Israeli forces stormed the northwestern part of Zawata village, where they posted notices ordering a halt on the construction of three houses, two of which were in the finishing phase. (WAFA)
  • Palestinian Education Ministry to deal firmly with (E.) Jerusalem schools embracing Israeli curriculum - Ministry reiterated its rejection of any attempt to adopt Israeli curriculum, including subjects such as history which are viewed by Palestinians as tantamount to adopting the historical narrative of the enemy, in Palestinian schools. (WAFA)
  • 4 Galilee residents arrested over attack on IDF soldier, theft of weapon - Police says the men are accused of helping the two main suspects hide from security forces; meanwhile, Egoz Unit commander says a fighter who can't fight off 2 people, does not belong in the elite commando subdivision. (Ynet)
  • Israel Hayom hosting conference on crime and security in southern Israel - Largest-circulating paper in Israel partners with Hashomer HaChadash and the Farmers Federation to launch event that aims to make governability and sovereignty a main issue on the public agenda. [NOTE: This conference focuses on crimes by Bedouin against Jews, without dealing with the underlying causes of poverty and lack of government services and infrastructure. - OH] (Israel Hayom)
  • Arab-Israeli Protest strike following the assassination attempt on the mayor of Qalansawa - Following the shooting and serious injury of Qalansawa’s municipal director, the Association of Directors and Secretary Generals of Local Municipalities announced it was going on a warning strike. The union demands that the level of security of the CEOs be strengthened. (Maariv)
  • Arab Israeli who aided Hezbollah sentenced to 5 years - Mahmoud Jabarin was convicted under a plea bargain in which he admitted contacting Lebanese group's operatives and providing them when intelligence on various Israeli locations. (Israel Hayom)
  • Opening new prison, Military Police seeks criminal reform in IDF - Army’s top cop says his unit has undergone significant reforms following the suicide of a soldier being recruited as a police informant. (Maariv and VIDEO and Times of Israel)
  • BDS activists reported at anti-normalization events in Gaza Strip, Tehran - Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh addresses virtual conferences, saying: We see good results to the work of our diaspora in delegitimizing the occupation. (Israel Hayom)
  • Cyprus, Israel, Greece sign deal on electric cable link - The development and implementation of the EuroAsia Interconnector are an additional, key element of the emerging Eastern Mediterranean Energy Corridor. (Israel Hayom)
  • (Right-wing) Advocacy group Ad Kan takes apart NGO's claims of IDF abuses- New report claims anonymous testimonies collected by Breaking the Silence from soldiers who fought in Operation Protective Edge in 2014 were "edited" to match the NGO's narrative or misrepresented. Breaking the Silence: This is a "pack of lies." (Israel Hayom)
  • (Right-wing) organization: EU governments funding leftist Israeli NGOs supporting ICC probe - According to NGO Monitor, 35 local organizations advocating for The Hague to investigate Israel for alleged war crimes have received over $100 million in foreign funding. (Israel Hayom)
  • Families of 3 murdered teens slam ICC's 'evil cynicism' - The International Criminal Court at The Hague's recent ruling to investigate Israel for alleged war crimes "was made in sin and will inevitably end in sin," the families of Naftali Frenkel, Gil-ad Shaer, and Eyal Yifrach say in public letter. (Israel Hayom)
  • Lebanese Army Fires at Israeli Drone Over Lebanese Border Town, Hezbollah TV Station Reports - Israeli forces reportedly fired flares in the area. (Agencies, Haaretz and Maariv)
  • Lebanese Protesters Block Main Roads to Beirut in Seventh Day of Protests - Since the Lebanese pound tumbled to a new low last Tuesday, protesters have been blocking roads daily. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • UN Nuclear Watchdog: Iran Enriching Uranium With New Advanced Centrifuges - The move is part of a recent acceleration by Iran of its violations of restrictions under that deal, which granted Iran relief from financial sanctions in return for curbs to its nuclear activities. (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Biden Administration Reinstates Sanctions on Israeli Mining Magnate Gertler - Dan Gertler, who is embroiled in a corruption scandal in the Democratic Republic of Congo, received a reprieve in Donald Trump's very last days in office. (Agencies,Haaretz)
  • U.S. Commits to Saudi Defense After Houthi Attacks on Oil Heartland - Houthis step up attacks as U.S., UN push for truce; Biden halts support for offensive operations but pledges to continue to aid Saudi defense. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Report: Indian intel links Iran-affiliated group to Israel embassy explosion - Sources close to developments in probe say that the explosive device was planted near Israeli embassy by local Indian Shia cell on Iran's behalf, Hindustan Times reports. (Haaretz and Ynet)


How Christian Evangelical Money and Biblical Prophecy Are Driving Immigration to Israel
Once the proud preserve of Jewish Diaspora organizations, aliyah funding is increasingly being ‘outsourced’ to deeply devout Christian groups with equally deep pockets and their own motives to encourage the in-gathering of the exiles. (Judy Maltz and Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz+)

For Jewish Israelis, 'The Other' Just Doesn't Exist (Odeh Bisharat, Haaretz+) The Strategy and National Security Conference being organized Wednesday by Haaretz and the Commanders for Israel’s Security NGO will be held without the participation of a single Arab citizen. At first I told myself: Okay, what do we Israeli Arabs have to do with such lofty matters? They are of concern only for the chosen few. Ordinary folks like us would be better off organizing a “Bread and Labor Conference.” But after I looked at the list of participants, all good kosher Jews, of course, I realized that one of them, at least, also has nothing to do with strategy: What does Betzalel Smotrich, that champion of racial purity, have to do with security matters? And if Smotrich is invited, I thought, then why not invite the rising star of Israeli strategy – Itamar Ben-Gvir – to enable him to present his strategic doctrine that centers around expelling the Arab enemy? In that case, it would also be a good idea to invite representatives of those slated for expulsion, so they could say what type of transportation they’d prefer for their trip across the border: an air-conditioned bus? A plane? Or maybe their own cars?..
A judicial system that works for women (Esther Hayut, Yedioth/Ynet) Israeli women who seek to change the unfair reality of their lives have found a friend in the Labor Court that encouraged them to fight discrimination of all kinds and embrace the right to choose their own paths.
Cancel culture and uniformity of opinion in academia (Najat Al-Saied, Israel Hayom) Has left-wing influence in academia become so aggressive that it is pushing aside freedom of expression?
The Israeli Left's Most Daunting Election Problem: Centrist Voters (Anshel Pfeffer,Haaretz+) Meretz and Labor should have both thought of this a month ago, when they had a chance to merge their slates and run on one list.
Netanyahu Took a Gamble on Reopening, and the Cost of His COVID Policy Will Only Be Clear After Election (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) As Israel's general election gets closer, dubious interests are surrounding the lifting of coronavirus restrictions and the hasty return to routine.
A right-wing man only votes for the Likud, but... (Gilad Sharon, Yedioth Hebrew) I will not vote for a party of ‘atmosphere’ or a for an awful type of person like (Kahanist, Itamar) Ben-Gvir, but only for a rooted party. However, this does not exempt the Likud from a deep mental reckoning and from the need to return to being a body whose members have an opinion of their own.
Netanyahu Chose to Depend on the ultra-Orthodox Parties (Alexander Yakobson,Haaretz+) For Netanyahu, the Haredim are the only ones – perhaps even more than some Likud figures – whom he can rely upon completely in his hope of attaining what apparently interests him above all: forging a parliamentary majority for legislation that would halt his trial on corruption charges. The dependency on them ensures the Haredim unprecedented political power.
Meretz Might Not Make It Into Knesset. This Is What Its Disappearance Would Mean(Noa Landau, Haaretz+) Merav Michaeli’s election as chairwoman of Labor, together with the makeup of her party list, prompted a theory that there’s no longer any real difference between Labor and Meretz…One statement by Meretz chairman Nitzan Horowitz last week slashed a real dividing line between him and Michaeli – and this line runs through The Hague: “The settlements and the right are dragging Israel to The Hague,” he tweeted. “The ongoing construction and threats of annexation are embroiling Israel in accusations of war crimes. The settlement obsession must stop and the peace process with the Palestinians must be restarted. Not just to prevent legal proceedings, but to advance the Israeli interest.” From a left-wing point of view, this does not count as a brave, or even problematic statement. Blaming the settlements for the problem of The Hague is easy, as this is a clear violation of international law. In comparison, Michaeli’s response to the threat of the investigation in The Hague was an exact copy of Netanyahu’s approach, even as she accuses him: “The court’s decision is grave and problematic. It assumed authority it doesn’t have and imposed it on Israel in a distorted way. I have full faith in the Israeli justice system and in the IDF. I have warned repeatedly against Netanyahu’s destructive policy.”
Attack on Israeli cargo ship: Isolated incident or start of new campaign? (Yoav Limor,Israel Hayom) The answer to this debate will be given if and when the Iranians carry out another attack. In the meantime, Israel must enlist the help of partners and convince them that the fight against Iranian terror, similar to the nuclear program, is not just an Israeli problem, but a global interest.
COVID Doesn't Care About the Green Line. Israel Must Vaccinate All Palestinians(Haaretz Editorial) Vaccination of Palestinians with permits to work in Israel is an important and welcome step that must be the first in a series of measures that will culminate in the vaccination of the entire Palestinian population. The logic that says Israel’s responsibility for the Palestinians ends at the checkpoints must be rejected. All the more so in light of the ownership claims of successive Israeli governments over the territories themselves.
If the military expect determination from its fighters, it must provide them with tools for self-defense (Moshe Nestlebaum, Maariv)…What is common to the thefts from IDF bases in the south, to the Aryeh Schiff case from Arad in which Bedouins tried to steal his vehicle [and he shot one dead as he was driving away - OH], and to the Egoz Unit soldier who was attacked while navigating in the area and his weapon was snatched - is the fact that the IDF and civilians have long lost deterrence against Bedouins in the south and criminal organizations in the north….An IDF spokesman referred to the investigation into the incident, saying that "the (Egoz Unit) fighter who was attacked fought with all his might." If the fighter had used his weapon [against the thieves], it is likely that his weapon would not have been snatched, but chances are good he would have found himself in jail or with an indictment. In addition, the commander of the Egoz Unit said, according to the media, that “Even in combat he will not accept a (soldier of his being) captive, unless he is, God forbid, a corpse ... This is a minimum standard in the unit.” It should be noted that the IDF disregarded his remarks, and as stated, the commander himself also issued a clarification afterwards. I am curious to know if the same criterion set by the Egoz Unit commander towards the wounded soldier who fought the people who snatched his weapon, he would be willing to apply to his children or grandchildren when they serve in the IDF, when they are not given the basic tools to protect their lives. The military must provide them with the appropriate tools to defend themselves, while at the same time working to restore deterrence. Criminal organizations in the morth have for the past year armed themselves with Tommy Guns, a weapon used by Chicago's brutal gangsters. The deadly weapon…could be aimed at security forces. The snatching of the weapons of the soldier from the Egoz Unit is only a trailer for what awaits us when deterrence is eroded or when it has not existed for a long time…
The Palestinians will be left with a Hague hangover (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) Ultimately, the Palestinians will find themselves alone against Israel, and they must choose whether to continue expecting someone else to do their job for them.
American conciliation is back. Israel is in trouble (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth Hebrew) The United States is changing direction when it comes to the Middle East in general and Iran in particular. Netanyahu should not outright disqualify the pursuit of an improved nuclear deal, but on the condition that he also deal with its support for terrorism.
Will Biden's moves bring the Saudis closer to Israel? (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) Former US President Obama's push to appease Iran propelled the Arabs into the arms of the Jewish state. There may be limits, however, to how far the Saudis may embrace Israel.
How Turkey and Israel Are Ramping Up Pressure on Their Minorities, and Their Politicians (Louis Fishman, Haaretz+) The HDP in Turkey and the Joint List in Israel crafted an unprecedented political renaissance for their countries’ Kurdish and Arab minorities. But now Erdogan and Netanyahu must invalidate them to stay in power.

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