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APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday August 21, 2014
 
Name of the day:
"Abu Ubaida."
--The name of a street in E. Jerusalem that was recently changed, it appears because it is also the name of a spokesman for Hamas' military wing, which has enjoyed a surge in popularity among Palestinians in recent weeks, amid Operation Protective Edge.**

 
Front Page News:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Son of death
  • Two Bibis // Nahum Barnea
  • In any case, an achievement // Alex Fishman
  • On the screen // Yossi Yehoshua
  • Where is the deterrence // Shimon Shiffer
  • Cabinet war
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links) Israel Hayom

 
The mystery over whether Hamas' military chief Mohammed Deif died in the Israeli attack on his home and the political brouhaha between the Israeli Prime Minister and his cabinet were the top stories in today's Hebrew papers as the commentators and analysts argued whether Deif's death is good for Israel or not. Meanwhile, there were various reports about who wants to go back to talks in Cairo and the Israeli papers turn a suggestive sentence into an admission in the kidnapping and murder of the three yeshiva teens.
 
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon held a press conference Wednesday evening, during which many thought they would find out if there were conclusive evidence that Israel had, indeed, killed Hamas military chief Mohammed Deif. Netanyahu said that no Hamas leaders were immune from attack, but did not confirm whether Deif was killed. Instead he spoke said that Netanayhu said that Operation Protective Edge would produce "a new diplomatic horizon" for Israel and said he looked forward "to restarting peace negotiations with a Palestinian government committed to peace with Israel..." Netanyahu also berated his ministers for making public criticism of his Gaza policy. Both Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett support toppling Hamas, but they do disagree on value of unilateral moves, Haaretz+ reported. Opposition Chairman Isaac Herzog, said Netanyahu was putting politics above security.
 
Meanwhile, Hamas denies Deif died in the airstrike that killed his wife and baby and another four-year-old boy. Deif’s alleged death certificate sparked an online debate. Hamas vowed revenge for Deif's family. Indeed, rocket fire from Gaza hits new heights with 168 rockets launched in 24 hours. Hamas also said it fired two rockets at the Israeli gas field off of the Gaza coast. The IDF recalled 2,000 reservists from leave and attacked dozens of targets attacked in the Gaza Strip with artillery and air strikes, killing 22 people.
 
There were conflicting reports about the future of negotiation talks in Cairo. In a recorded speech, Abu Obeida, Hamas' armed wing spokesman, called for the Palestinian negotiating delegation in Cairo to return home. "We tell Israel: you have failed. All you can do is kill children and women," said Abu Ubaida. He warned international airlines that Hamas would shoot rockets at Ben-Gurion Airport starting today at 6AM and he warned Israelis against gathering in large numbers as the al-Qassam Brigades would renew their rocket fire on Israel. The opening of the national league games was postponed as a result, reported Israel Hayom.
 
A member of Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian envoy to ceasefire talks in Cairo, Khaled al-Batch, said that after Israel's failure to assassinate Mohammed Deif, Israel will want to return to negotiations as it has no other alternatives. Al-Batch added that if Egypt invited the Palestinians back to Cairo, its members would be ready to return for discussions on a ceasefire. Indeed, the Arab media reported that Israel sent a five-person Israeli delegation to Cairo to hold meetings with Egyptian officials for discussions on finding a way to reach a ceasefire agreement with Hamas. However, Israel Hayom quoted an Israeli official, who said that talks with Hamas will not resume any time soon. The US blamed Hamas for the end of the ceasefire and called for an immediate end to rocket fire and a return to cease-fire talks. The UN Security Council also urged Israel and Hamas to resume talks. Meanwhile, a senior Fatah official said that Qatar claimed it would banish exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal if he agreed to Egypt's compromise offer in the indirect negotiations.
 
All the Israeli papers stated that "Hamas admits to kidnapping three Israeli teens," based on a recording from a Muslim scholars conference in Turkey. However, almost all of them used the translation given by Channel 2 News, which is not an admission: “There are those who say that it was your brothers in the al-Qassam Brigades, who carried it out for the sake of al-Qassam members who are in jails and who sit in a hunger strike,” al-Arouri was quoted saying. Times of Israel said that this quote was the strongest evidence yet of a Hamas link. [Which if true, means that there is little evidence until now despite Israel's claims that Hamas was linked. - OH] Hamas has denied involvement in the plot. Haaretz+'s military affairs reporter Gili Cohen used the translation given by an anti-Hamas YouTube channel, which is very different and according to which, Arouri said Hamas' military wing was responsible.

 
Quick Hits:
  • Gaza severely short of water for drinking and bathing - A major consequence of the water shortage, caused by Israeli strikes, is the outbreak of skin disease and other infections. (Haaretz+) 
  • US accuses Israel of targeting Abu Khdeir's family - State Department says concerned 'members of the Khdeir family appeared to be singled out for arrest' by Israel, after 2 cousins arrested. (Agencies, Ynet
  • Israel extends detention of 102 Palestinians - The Palestinian Prisoner's Society said Tuesday that Israel had extended the detention of over 100 Palestinian detainees from the occupied West Bank. (Maan
  • In South, parents fear for kids in schools without shelters - Schools further away from the Gaza border, but still in the line of fire, has shelters suitable for only a handful of students - if at all. (Ynet
  • Israeli forces deliver 'deportation order' to PFLP lawmaker - Khalida Jarrar told Ma'an that dozens of soldiers raided her house in Ramallah early Wednesday and delivered a deportation order "by an Israeli court" ordering her to leave Ramallah and go to Jericho for an unspecified period of time. She said it was a form of house arrest.  The PLO condemned the deportation. (Maan)
  • Finance Minister in favor of decision to prevent allowing national service at 'B'Tselem'Yair Lapid added that it is impossible to also include organizations such as LEHAVA. "If B'Tselem were really a human rights organization they would also be concerned about the rights of the Jews." B'Tselem: "It would be good if Lapid had bothered to study the issue." (Maariv
  • Israel demolishes 4 Palestinian homes near Nablus - A large group of Israeli soldiers escorted a bulldozer to the village of Aqraba and demolished four old houses, under the pretext that they were built without a permit, which Israel rarely grants. (Maan)
  • IDF reservists given 'emergency' extensions on some expenses, including rent - Knesset expected to pass bill defining service in Gaza war as emergency service. (Haaretz+)
  • Report: Qatar threatened to expel Meshal if he agreed to Cairo truce draft - German development aid minister accuses Qatar of aiding Islamic State. Senior Fatah official claims Qatar claimed it would banish Hamas leader if he agrees to Egypt's compromise offer in indirect negotiations. (Ynet and Haaretz
  • Palestinian injured after being hit by settler car south of Nablus - A Palestinian was injured after being hit by a vehicle driven by an Israeli settler south of Nablus on Wednesday. (Maan)
  • Hollande calls for demilitarization of Gaza - French president urges Israel, Palestinians to return to negotiations table after Hamas collapses ceasefire, proposes disarming Strip, lifting blockade with European supervision. (Agencies, Ynet
  • Operation Protective Edge: Even the burglars stayed home - As Israel battles Hamas in Gaza, local crime has dropped compared to the same period last year. 10 percent fewer criminal cases opened. 40 percent drop in theft from parked vehicles, 30 percent fewer break-ins and car theft. (Israel Hayom
  • Koteret Journalism school about to close down: What does this mean for the profession? - After 24 years in operation, the school may be closed due to few students. Doesn't anyone want to work in the media? "Everyone wants more screen time and less hard work," said Zvi Yehezkeli, an alumnus and a reporter for Channel 10 News. (Maariv
  • Egypt sentences Jordanian, Israeli for spying - Alleged 'Israeli Mossad spy' tried in absentia in Egypt together with Jordanian accused of working for Israel. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Israel alters Jerusalem street name to avoid Hamas association - The street in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood was originally named after a companion of the Prophet Muhammad, "Abu Ubaida," which is also the name of a spokesman for Hamas' military wing that has enjoyed a surge in popularity among Palestinians in recent weeks, amid an Israeli assault on Gaza. The streets signs were recently changed to "Bahaa al-Din." (Maan
  • Post-mortem testimony against Hamas - NY court accepts interview testimony of terror survivor as evidence in trial against Arab Bank that may have knowingly given services to Hamas. (Ynet)
  • Israeli ship unloads cargo in California despite pro-Palestinian protest - Zim vessel remained at sea after arriving at Oakland port, as pro-Palestinian protesters tried to stop it from docking and unloading. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Palestinian Druze poet Samih al-Qasim dies at 75
  •  - Known as a "resistance poet," Qasim's poems were embraced across the Arab world as a symbol of steadfastness in the struggle against foreign occupation. A long-time member of the Israeli communist party, Qassim passionately defended the rights and identity of Israel's Palestinian minority; He was arrested many times for his political beliefs. (Maan
  • Demonstrators hang massive Palestinian flag from Manhattan Bridge - The flag, which bore the words 'Boycott' 'Divest' and 'Sanction' as well as 'Gaza in our hearts' was quickly removed by police. (Haaretz)
  • Australian judge blocks protest against Israeli Film Festival - Pro-Palestinian activists planned to disrupt opening night in Sydney due to Israeli 'genocide' in Gaza. (JTA, Haaretz)
  • IAEA report to show Iran meeting nuclear deal terms - Diplomats claim Iran complying with articles of deal signed last year with world to curb its atomic activities. (Agencies, Ynet)


Features:
Who is Mohammed Deif?
The head of Hamas’ military wing has topped Israel’s 'most wanted’ list for the past twenty years for a reason. (By Amos Harel, Haaretz+)
Wounded French immigrant soldier: I want to return to my comrades
Gabriel Ben-Naim, 22, moved to Israel to join the military. He did not tell his parents he was fighting in Gaza, as he didn't want to worry them. Ben-Naim: "I will do everything I can to go back [to my comrades]. I am here because I am a Zionist." (Israel Hayom)

Commentary/Analysis:
Assassinations aren’t a solution (Haaretz Editorial) The only way out of the Gaza conflict and Israel's isolation is the diplomatic way.
Hamas is not a terror organization, but a state in the making (Arian Melamed, Yedioth/Ynet) Whether we like it or not, Hamas is slowly but surely establishing itself with a disciplined army of paid soldiers, an education system saturated with incitement, and state institutions. And it has an unequivocal ideology that refuses to go away, just like the Jewish settlement of 1947.  
Assassinations - like grass growing back (Ran Adelist, Maariv) The elimination attempt is a stress-relieving solution: A helpless establishment, which does not respond decisively and resolutely in a war that can not be won definitively and decisively, except through political arrangements, throws a bone to the masses.
What would Israel do in Hamas' shoes? (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) The Palestinian response to the killing of Mohammed Deif’s wife and son will be exactly like the Israeli response in the reverse situation: Vengeance and retribution.
Back to the familiar language of war (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom) Despite the escalation, the military campaign must coincide with efforts to resume the cease-fire talks.
Israel must make a decision on Gaza (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) There is a range of options for Israel to end the conflict in Gaza, and the government now needs to examine the alternatives, and make a decision. 
First deterrence - then negotiations (Eliezar Merom, Maariv) Returning to a military act and using offensive tools correctly will lead to deterring Hamas. Harming Mohammad Deif is the right move in the right direction. 
Is a signed agreement between Israel and Hamas necessary? (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Building a seaport, opening border crossings and acceding to the rest of Hamas' demands for a truce will provide Israel with enormous levers of influence over the organization.
 Respond with full force
(Yair Farjoun, Israel Hayom) The rocket fire on Israel reinforces the constant feeling that trying to negotiate with Hamas is futile.
In truce breach, a whodunit of little consequence to Israel (Elhanan Miller, Times of Israel) Hamas says it didn’t shoot on Tuesday afternoon and it’s possible a smaller group fired the first rockets. To Jerusalem, though, he who rules Gaza is responsible. 
Israel gambled on a morale boost, but it looks like Hamas' military chief got away (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Surviving Israel's latest attempt on his life, will only serve to reinforce the myth surrounding Mohammed Deif, a serial assassination-attempt-survivor.  
No one to talk to in Hamas (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom) The rocket fire on Israel reinforces the constant feeling that trying to negotiate with Hamas is futile. 
Where is the money? In wartime Israel, it's everywhere - just not in the south (Stav Shaffir, Haaretz+) Labor MK Stav Shaffir writes that only when the budget process is made transparent will the government stop catering to special interests.
Mohammed Deif also has a suitable replacement (Yossi Melman, Maariv) The possible demise of the head of the military wing of Hamas will not have a decisive influence on the struggle between Israel and the terrorist organization.
Obama and Netanyahu, from Gaza to Iraq: Closer than ever but miles apart (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Netanyahu ejected the U.S. from peace talks and cease-fire efforts; the results can be seen in the bombs on Gaza and the missiles over Tel Aviv. 
Why Egypt won't let Turkey be the key Mideast player it dreams of being (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Why al-Sissi won't let Erdogan be the key player he wants to be.
Arab MKs crossed the line (Gideon Allon, Israel Hayom) In visiting Qatar and expressing their support for Hamas, Balad MKs seem oblivious to the fact that even in a democratic state, freedom of speech has its limits.
Being a 'good' Jew means 'not affiliating with Israel' (Prof. Danny Ben-Moshe, Haaretz+) Critics of Israel can take Israel to task over proportionality, but to conceive of its actions as a genocide (while ignoring actual genocide in Iraq) is a contemporary blood libel. 
A fatal blind spot for sheer evil (Yair Lapid, Times of Israel) The following is the text of a speech delivered by Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at Platform 17, Holocaust Memorial Site, Berlin. 
The challenge of anti-Semitism (Ari Shavit, Haaretz+) Despite the Zionist revolution and Israeli sovereignty, we’re still Jews. As Jews we must defend ourselves, and as Jews we must stand for justice. 
At the heart of an asymmetrical fight (Daniel Doron, Israel Hayom) Perhaps the IDF is abstaining from effective warfare against terror because it believes the Left's mantra that "terror cannot be defeated through military means."
Netanyahu’s failed military doctrine (Israel Harel, Haaretz+) The government lacks the determination and stamina to get rid of Hamas, an organization guided by a neo-Nazi ideology. 
Netanyahu goes against Bennett because he failed against Hamas (Ben Caspit, Maariv) The whole world waited with bated breath for the press conference of the duo that is leading Israel only to hear what happened to Muhammad Deif. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense did not really know. So why convene the press conference yesterday? To clash with the serious threat of Lieberman, Bennett, and also Livni....What is the surprise that Hamas does not show flexibility? It knows that Netanyahu and Ya'alon will not do anything to it. It began to suspect that when the ground offensive was clearly defined as a "tunnel operation" and it became convinced of it after the leak of the presentation [by the IDF to the cabinet showing that a massive ground invasion will result in very high casualties for Israel - OH]. So when it turns out that there are quite a few cabinet ministers who think that you do need to defeat Hamas, it improves the chances of reaching an agreement, not reduces it. Therefore, Netanyahu's assault on cabinet ministers yesterday was unnecessary and was done only for the purposes of facade. After everyone realized 'being strong against Hamas' is no longer going to happen, Netanyahu is now trying to be strong against Naftali (Bennett) and Avigdor (Lieberman).
 
 
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
Copyright © 2014 Americans for Peace Now, All rights reserved.