News Nosh 08.20.14

APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday August 20, 2014

Quote of the day:
"My generation is the era of state-paid, indictment-immune rabbis counseling hatred, preaching racism, inciting bloodshed, exalting war, degrading democracy, sanctifying inequality, forbidding compromise, undermining solutions."
--Haaretz+ commentator Bradley Burston writes that Israel will be better off when his generation is dead.**

Front Page News:
Yedioth Ahronoth Maariv This Week (Hebrew links)
  • Back to the shelters
  • Waiting for a savior // Yossi Melman
  • Point at the head // Eliezer Merom
  • Don't abandon us // Shai Hermesh
  • Police recommend: MK Hanin Zouebi to trial
  • "$150,000 and no indictment" - Channel 10 published the recordings of transcripts from talks of Adv. Ronal Fisher and his client, chairman of Ashdod Port labor union, Alon Hassan
Israel Hayom

A few rockets and the collapse of the Gaza talks, the end to the ceasefire and the renewal of mutual violence was the top story in today's Hebrew papers.
Just before 4PM, Palestinians reportedly shot three rockets into Israel that landed in an open field outside Beersheva. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu blamed Hamas and responded by withdrawing the Israeli delegation from the Cairo talks and declaring the end of the ceasefire. Hamas said that it knew of no rockets that were shot. 

Reading the Israeli papers, it is unclear what happened in what order afterward. Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon gave the green light to fire missiles into Gaza. One of those missile strikes was allegedly an assassination attempt on the leader of Hamas' military wing, Mohammed Deif, killing his wife and child. Hamas responded with a barrage of rockets on the south and center of Israel at about 10:40PM. Israelis living in the south were told to enter shelters and Palestinians in Gaza City rushed to UN facilities for shelter. 
Only hours earlier, a Hamas official said there had to be an agreement by midnight, because there would be no more ceasefire extensions. The Israeli papers reported that Hamas had hardened its position in the talks on Tuesday. Yedioth's Alex Fishman wrote that "Hamas came to the negotiations with impossible demands because until last night it had not been caused the necessary pain. Maybe now, in this second opportunity, the army improved its plan and its performance." However, Yedioth's diplomatic affairs correspondent, Itamar Eichner, wrote that while it is believed that Khaled Mashaal ordered the renewal of fire, "it also appears that Israel was not excited to sign the draft of understandings with the Palestinians. One of the claims is that Netanyahu feared that the agreement that was being formulated in Cairo would not have been approved by the security cabinet, and therefore an order was made to harden the Israeli positions. Moreover, political officials assessed that in the present situation, it is preferable for Israel to act toward a unilateral move based on the principle of 'quiet in exchange for quiet,' and to ease the siege on Gaza, without an official agreement with Hamas." Indeed, Hamas accused Israel of undermining the negotiations by bringing up new demands.
Interestingly, an Israeli security cabinet member said Tuesday night that Israel was still cautiously optimistic of reaching an agreement, even though there was a consensus among the Israeli leadership on the need for a strong response to the renewed rocket fire, but that far-reaching decisions would not be made in haste. [It is unclear whether this interview was given before the assassination attempt on Hamas' military wing commander, Mohammed Deif. - OH]

After the Palestinian barrage of rockets, Israeli cabinet ministers called to abandon truce talks and reach a decisive victory over Hamas. One said Netanyahu was "not convening the cabinet because he doesn't want to bring the decision on decisive action to a vote. He's putting up a tough front, but hopes something happens and an agreement with Hamas is reached quickly." [Interestingly, that was said after Israel withdrew its delegation from talks, after the assassination attempt, and after the heavy barrage of rockets on Israel. -OH]
Yedioth reported that the Shin Bet announcement that Hamas has set up infrastructure in the West Bank whose goal is to attack Israel and destabilize the West Bank in order to topple the Palestinian Authority has caused a rift between Hamas and Fatah. However, Haaretz+ and Maariv had very different reports. Haaretz+ wrote that the Palestinian Authority knew nothing about a Hamas West Bank network and that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas fears that these reports could have political repercussions and endanger the Palestinian unity government. Maariv reported that the Palestinian side denied the report: "There was no cell that planned a military coup," said Palestinian security forces spokesman General Adnan Damiri, calling it "an Israeli invention" to undermine the unity government and divide the (leadership of the) West Bank from the Gaza Strip. Unlike yesterday's papers, which quoted the Shin Bet announcement as fact, Haaretz+ today wrote that "Israel suspects the operatives intended to set up a network of cells to commit attacks against Israel and to carry out a coup of the Palestinian Authority." Meanwhile, Abbas will be meeting today with Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal and the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in Doha.

Quick Hits:
  • Most Israelis believe Gaza operation was justified, poll finds - However, most Israeli Jews and nearly half of Israeli Arabs do not believe the operation will lead to quiet on the border. (Haaretz
  • Israel has held U.S.-Palestinian teen since July - Mohamed Abu Nie, 15, arrested during East Jerusalem protest (over murder of E. Jerusalem teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir) July 3 and last heard from July 31. A consular official said the US was "gravely concerned over the prolonged detention of this U.S. citizen child." (Haaretz)
  • Appeal in Knesset to Netanyahu: "Demolish the homes of the murderers of Abu Khdeir" - MK Talab Abu Arar (TAL-RAM party) sent a letter to the Prime Minister: "You destroyed the homes of suspects in the murder of the (yeshiva) teens before any suspicions were confirmed. Against the Jewish terrorists there is already an indictment." (Maariv
  • Knesset Ethics Committee to probe Arab lawmakers' trip to Qatar - Knesset Members Haneen Zoabi, Basel Ghattas and Jamal Zahalka travelled to Qatar without securing the committee's approval, and are refusing to say who funded the trip. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel Police recommends putting Arab Knesset member on trial - MK Haneen Zoabi being investigated after apparently calling Arab police officers in a Nazareth courtroom 'collaborators.' (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • 'Peace is for preparations for war' - Hamas offers inside look at tunnels - Blindfolded Reuters reporters taken on tour of a secret tunnel inside Gaza, in a Hamas attempt to disprove Israel's claims it destroyed the group's border tunnels. (Reuters, Haaretz
  • Turkish shipbuilder wants to send floating power station to Gaza' - There has been no adverse reaction from the Israeli side,' Turkish energy minister says after Turkish shipbuilder Karadeniz Holding says it wants to send power-ship to Gaza. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Missing U.S.-Israeli soldier found dead, army says - David Menahem Gordon had been missing since Sunday. IDF launches investigation into his death. (Haaretz
  • Israeli special needs kids face rockets, and even a cyber attack - Pro-Hamas hackers take over website for visually impaired young people with other disabilities, upload images of wounded children, jihadist songs. (Ynet)
  • Foreign students not deterred by Israel's security situation - Drop in overseas registration at Israeli universities has been 'minimal.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Only medicine company in Gaza targeted by Israel - Dr. Marwan al-Astal said the Middle East Pharmaceutical and Cosmetics Laboratories, or Megapharm, produces only medicine, and Israel has no “excuse” for targeting it “because they know it is a medicine company.” Company lost almost $500,000 after airstrikes hit equipment, raw material and electricity generators. (Maan)
  • British diplomat snapped with scarf that covers whole of Israel with Palestinian flag - Image of Consul General Alastair McPhail taken earlier this year during visit to Gaza; British Foreign Office reportedly declines to comment. (Ynet)
  • Israeli food makers seek solution to EU settlement sanctions - The EU bans the import of organic produce from settlements. From September 1 it will block the entry of all animal products, including eggs, poultry and dairy. (Haaretz+)  
  • Tesco ransacked by pro-Palestinian protesters - Demonstrators demand that Tesco stop selling Israeli food products; meanwhile, the Tricycle Theater overturns previous decision to refuse to host UK Jewish Film Festival. (Ynet)
  • Palestinian detained by Israel at Allenby suffers mental breakdown - Muath Dureidi, 30, crossed the Allenby Bridge into the West Bank, excited to take a job in his native Palestine. But, Israeli forces detained him at the crossing and kept him isolated from the outside world for the next 28 days. He now sits mute in the Arab Specialized Hospital in Nablus. (Maan)

The intolerable ease of being nasty on social media
Three right-wing Israelis talk about the abuse they hurled online during the war - and try to sound penitent. (By Roy (Chicky) Arad, Haaretz+)

**Israel will be better off when my generation is dead (Bradley Burston, Haaretz+) Someday, a new generation will arise in Israel, look at what we've been doing, and say to my generation: You had your chance. You blew it. You're done. 
Israel's surprise assassination attempt on Deif may backfire and strengthen Hamas resolve (Amir Oren, Haaretz+) Killing Hamas commanders and military experts has never changed the basic equation when it comes to Israel's battles with the coastal enclave.
Following new rocket strikes, Israel has a clear message for Hamas (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) By recalling the delegation to Cairo and striking targets in Gaza, Israel is telling Hamas: no talks under fire, and no war of attrition.
Why did Israelis support the pointless Gaza war? (Aeyal Gross, Haaretz+) It’s hard to write against a war when people are fearful of rocket fire, worried about their relatives both at home and at the front, and mourning the dead. But the question must be asked.
Target the head: The goal should be effective - Hamas leaders (Eliezar Merom, Maariv) Israel should go back to the most effective threat - it is appropriate that any Hamas leader who threatens to destroy the State of Israel and orders the firing of rockets on its citizens, knows that he is a target.
As Gaza truce talks fail, Israel must turn to UN (Barak Ravid, Haaretz+) It’s not too late for Israel to pursue a UN Security Council resolution that would, in the long run, change the reality in Gaza.
Equal shelter for all (Haaretz Editorial+) Israel’s government must recognize that all its citizens, the Bedouin included, have equal rights.
Israel can't let the enemy take the initiative (Uri Heitner, Israel Hayom) The strategy of avoidance carries a heavy price, keeping the Israeli public in thrall to a radical jihadist enemy.
American Jewish leaders fiddle while Israeli democracy burns (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Jews fight for freedom, equality and minority rights in America but exempt themselves from the same battle in Israel.
The backlash against Arab integration (Ron Gerlitz, Haaretz+) Rightists are unwilling to accept a situation in which Arabs are not only getting stronger socioeconomically but also opposing the Israeli military and the national narrative.
Ambiguous negotiations (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom) Near the Gaza border, calm is the greatest enemy of vigilance.
Saving the Mideast from apocalypse (Sefi Rachlevsky, Haaretz+) The elimination of the curse of colonial borders imposed on Iraq, not to mention other countries, is of utmost urgency.
Blame Israel's schools for the racism (Or Kashti, Haaretz+) Young people shouting 'Death to Arabs' prove the success of the educational system more than its failure.
Arabs watch out (for Israeli racism) (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) 'Arab watch out, my sister is not public property' is an excellent slogan; no saying could better summarize the values of the undemocratic, chauvinist, ultranationalist and racist Jewish state. 
Hamas' provocation - succeeded (Yossi Melman, Maariv) The three rockets to Beersheva and Netivot, which ended the cease-fire, were designed to drag Israel into a response - which is what happened. Both sides are standing their ground and refusing to compromise. Meanwhile, the ministers are running a cynical campaign...The ongoing Gaza war can be divided into four sub-systems. One military; another economic - the economy is increasingly being harmed; the third is the effect on the home front - especially the daily lives of citizens and the psychological impact on them. And there is another battle - political. There has never been a war in which politicians (not all, of course) - and worst of all, cabinet ministers, those who are supposed to make decisions - are cynically running an election campaign on the backs of soldiers fighting at the front, at the expense of the dead, at the expense of the confused public and the desperate residents of the south. At their head, march Ministers Tzipi Livni, Naftali Bennett, Avigdor Lieberman and Gilad Erdan. And now the question remains, what will happen? No one knows exactly. Probably more of the same. Not really a war of attrition, but a kind of attrition, in which both sides will try to show some restraint. Of course, the danger is that it will get out of their control. How long can this continue? Not long. In two weeks the school year opens. And by then the economy will continue to falter and the government will hope that somehow a savior god will extricate the sides from their fate.

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