A portrait of the stabber as a young man
Hebrew media review

A portrait of the stabber as a young man

Israel's papers discuss disturbing phenomenon of pre-teen Palestinian attackers

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Police, security guards and paramedics arrive on the scene of a stabbing attack on the light rail in the Pisgat Zeev neighborhood of Jerusalem on Nov. 10, 2015. (Magen David Adom)
Police, security guards and paramedics arrive on the scene of a stabbing attack on the light rail in the Pisgat Zeev neighborhood of Jerusalem on Nov. 10, 2015. (Magen David Adom)

The seemingly lower and lower age of Palestinians who choose to carry out vicious attacks against civilians and members of the country’s security forces is on the minds of all Israelis. The leading papers place the phenomenon, as well as its implications on the practicality of achieving peace or quiet, on the top of their agenda.

Israel Hayom leads with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech at the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly, highlighting the more hawkish points raised by the Israeli leader during the gathering. “Netanyahu: There is no peace because of the Palestinians,” reads the paper’s massive headline, as if to indicate beyond any reasonable doubt that the free daily’s editors agree with the prime minister’s assessment. The paper further stresses Netanyahu’s statements according to which when the government will be met with a Palestinian leadership willing to accept Israel as a Jewish state, there will be peace.

Beyond Netanyahu, the paper focuses on the disturbingly young age of the two Palestinian teens who were behind a stabbing attack on a light rail train in the northeastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze’ev. “Aged 11 and 14, with a knife — and murder in their eyes,” the aptly dramatic headline reads. The paper reports that these two “terrorist-children” assaulted and lightly wounded a light rail security guard before being subdued.

Yedioth Ahronoth dedicates a much larger portion of its front page to the attack, calling the younger attacker an “11-year-old terrorist” in a blood red-fonted headline near a photo of the second assailant being carried away by an Israeli police officer. The teenage stabber’s face is blurred out, as is the policeman’s, perhaps for fear of retribution on either side. Netanyahu’s speech is completely absent from the paper’s lead page.

In Haaretz, alongside a similar picture of the young Palestinian attacker being led away by a member of Israel’s police force, a report states that the Justice Ministry is seeking to advance legislation aimed at providing the state with means to punish kids who committed terrorist acts when they grow up. The new legislation, being pushed by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, would have underage assailants serve prison sentences when they reach the age of 14. The proposed legislation began coming into fruition following an attack by a 13-year-old Palestinian, the paper reports.

Yedioth’s second most prominent story unabashedly shifts from the daily’s typical reporting style to editorializing, blatant criticizing Israeli members of Knesset for voting in favor of a self-raise. “NIS 40,000 a month is not enough: The MKs have set up for themselves an extra 1,000 shekels in wages,” the paper says. The daily makes it a point to note that two of the Knesset’s most populist and controversial figures — Oren Hazan of Likud and Jewish Home’s Yinon Magal — were among the 11 parliamentarians to have pushed for the raise. Yedioth even adds a mashed-up photo of the two smiling smugly, in what seems to be a subtle attempt to convince readers that the members of Knesset are not worthy of receiving any more financial benefits for their service.

Amid the mounting criticisms of the Supreme Court from the Israeli right over the legal body’s perceived leniency on home demolitions for Palestinian terrorists, Haaretz publishes a surprising poll regarding the public’s trust of several leading state agencies and institutions. While only 35 percent of Israelis who took part in the poll say they have trust in the Knesset, an overwhelming 62% have confidence in the Supreme Court. The poll finds that only 36% trust the cabinet, and that less than half — 42% — indicate they have faith in the police.

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