All eyes on the south
Hebrew media review

All eyes on the south

Israel's newspapers showcase daily life under the threat of rockets and question the next steps

A soldier stands guard next to an Iron Dome battery near Ashdod (photo credit: AP/Ariel Schalit)
A soldier stands guard next to an Iron Dome battery near Ashdod (photo credit: AP/Ariel Schalit)

As the rockets from Gaza keep pounding Israel’s south, this morning’s newspapers attempt to convey what life there is like for the residents. The million inhabitants who have spent the last four days attempting to live their normal lives amid the constant threat of bombardment, and especially the children, who have been forced to get used to the soundtrack of sirens and explosions, appear on the front pages of all the Hebrew dailies.

“Children under fire,” reads the main headline of Yedioth Ahronoth under a photo of a little girl crouching on the ground and covering her head, in response to an air raid siren in Beersheba yesterday. Yedioth’s special coverage features letters written to the paper by young children living in the south. The children write about their experiences and mostly about their feelings, their fears and their frustrations.

“The heart is with the south,” reads the main headline of Israel Hayom. Senior columnist Dan Margalit, writes that the residents of the south deserve the gratitude of the nation for showing resilience under fire, with no mass exodus and few complaints. The front page displays a photo of children taking cover in a bomb shelter alongside photos of people celebrating weddings. Another front-page photo shows Prime Minister Netanyahu visiting an Iron Dome battery stationed in the south and vowing to continue acting militarily “for as long as it takes.”

Maariv also features a photo of children cowering in a bomb shelter, underneath a headline that reads, “The army is preparing to continue the combat.” According to the article, thanks to the impressive showing of the Iron Dome defense system and the protection it offers, the IDF feels it can carry on with its airstrikes and “exact a price” from the terrorists in Gaza.

A secondary headline in Maariv reports on calls for the education minister to revoke the Israel Prize recently awarded to Rabbi Haim Druckman for lifetime achievement. According to a petition signed by former students of the rabbi, Druckman in 1997 failed to report indecent acts committed against minors by a Bnei Akiva yeshiva head who was under his supervision.

Haaretz’s front page also leads with headlines from the south, reporting on a drop in the number of rockets fired on the region. Also featuring a photo of children in a bomb shelter, Haaretz is the only newspaper to report on Palestinian fatalities on page 1.

On Page 21 Maariv reports on the aborted right-wing protest planned for yesterday in Nazareth against Arab MK Hanin Zoabi. After the police canceled the demonstration due to security concerns, they allowed National Union MK Michael Ben-Ari to enter the city alone and drove him around the city in a police vehicle. Ben-Ari promised that he and his supporters would return in full force.

Yedioth’s Page 16 features a story on a family who went to visit a loved one’s grave in Petah Tikva’s Yarkon cemetery, to discover that it had been run over by a bulldozer, which overturned the grave stone, shredded the wreaths they had placed there days previously and mixed their relative’s grave with three adjacent ones. According to the article, the damage was the result of maintenance work done on cemetery infrastructure.

Israel Hayom reports on Page 21 on the early success of the police’s new speed camera project. According to police figures, the dozens of cameras spread out across the country have led to a decrease in the number of speeding tickets issued and the number of people who ran red lights. The numbers show a steep decline from the previous month when the cameras were placed but transgressors received only issued warnings, not fines.

Haaretz’s financial supplement TheMarker tallies up the financial cost of the recent violence in the south. Business in the region has reportedly dropped by 50 percent, with the worst-hit stores being fashion and electrical appliance chains, coffee shops and fast food outlets. The major problem, according to the article, is convincing employees to come to work with the continuing threat of rocket attacks.

Thoughts on southern resilience

In Israel Hayom, Uri Heitner explains the resilience of the residents of the south, claiming that they are uncomplaining because they see that the state is doing its part to protect them. “The meaning of our sovereignty is that Jews will not be defenseless in their homeland but rather citizens of a country that is responsible for their safety. As a sovereign state, Israel is determined not to allow the Iranian enemy to arm itself with weapons of mass destruction and is likewise determined not to allow Palestinian terror to plant death and destruction among its citizens,” Heitner writes.

Haaretz columnist Akiva Eldar writes that the recent violence in the south plays into Netanyahu’s hands by presenting the Palestinians as impossible partners for peace. “If I believed in conspiracy theories, I would suspect that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the rocket fire on the communities in southern Israel at the weekend. After all, it isn’t possible that Bibi hasn’t learned that after every assassination of a senior terrorist leader, the residents of the south will feature in the television news headlines. Against the backdrop of a sad little girl from Sderot who remained at home with her Red Riding Hood costume for the Purim festival, the fable of ‘We gave them Gaza and we got Kassam rockets’ sounds much more convincing,” he writes.

In Maariv, Einat Saragusti writes about the gender implications of the recent escalation and calls for more women to be involved in the decision-making process or at the very least to be considered when such decisions are made. “When the security apparatus, made up entirely of men, make security-related decisions, the ones who pay the price are mostly women,” writes Saragosti, arguing that it is the women, the mothers, the teachers and the social workers who then have to go in and pick up the pieces.

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