Despite the death of a world-record holding Israeli actress, the show must go on, and when it comes to the Palestinian unity drama and the southern sex scandal, it does so in top form.
According to an official in the Palestinian Authority president’s office who spoke to Haaretz, Israel informed PA President Mahmoud Abbas that it would sever all ties with the PA the moment a unity government is sworn in if it includes members of Hamas. Despite the threat to cut all ties (except security cooperation), Abbas’s people told the paper that the swearing-in ceremony would continue as scheduled on Monday at the Muqataa compound in Ramallah.
Israel Hayom reports that Abbas told a group of French activists Saturday that Fatah and Hamas reached a compromise concerning the composition of the unity government. The paper quotes him saying that should Israel withhold Palestinian tax money in retaliation for the embrace of Hamas, “we’ll know how to respond.”
The top story in Yedioth Ahronoth is about a 40-year-old woman from southern Israel who has been charged with sex with minors — reportedly as young as 12. The paper reports that the authorities first got wind of the woman’s actions after local children told their parents they’d been sleeping with the woman. That trickle of reports turned into a torrent of over 100 cases, but apparently the local welfare authorities knew about the problem all along and didn’t bother informing police.
“They all knew and buried their heads in the sand, and even now, after the story blew up, they are still keeping completely silent,” an official involved in the investigation tells Yedioth Ahronoth.
According to the paper, the welfare authorities might have known about this woman’s actions as much as five years ago. Appropriately, Yedioth Ahronoth runs a blurred photo of the woman in court wearing a T-shirt printed with the words “Running wild.”
Israel Hayom devotes its first five pages to reporting on the life and death of Hannah Maron, an Israeli actress who spent a staggering 85 years on stage and died over the weekend at age 90. The paper describes Maron’s death as “a great loss to the theater world and to Israeli culture.” Maron, winner of an Israel Prize, among her many accolades, was born in Germany and began acting when she was four.
The paper notes that her accomplishments weren’t limited to her acting career. “Maron became a political activist and called for peace and coexistence,” Israel Hayom writes. “Maron even joined in 1993 the Israeli delegation which accompanied prime minister Yitzhak Rabin (of blessed memory) for the signing ceremony of the Oslo Accords.”
Haaretz runs a lengthy obituary for Maron, but its most touching inclusion is of a poem she wrote ahead of her 90th birthday last November. The first stanza of the poem reveals a glimmer of the lady’s enduring wit: “I am almost 90! / They all say / that they really don’t see it! / But gentlemen! / How do we feel?”
Surprisingly, though Maron’s death features on the front page of Yedioth Ahronoth, its coverage is buried on Page 18. Well above its coverage of the actress’s final goodbye, the paper reports on the “American Gilad Shalit” who was released from Taliban captivity after five years. According to Yedioth Ahronoth, American soldier Bowe Bergdahl was freed after indirect negotiations between the Taliban and the US government, and five Afghan prisoners at Guantanamo Bay were set free in exchange.
Farther down on the news totem pole comes the suicide bombing thwarted by Israeli authorities on Friday. Haaretz devotes a few insignificant inches on Page 5 to the incident, recounting that Border Police officers noticed the 20-something-year-old Palestinian on Friday approach Tapuah Junction near the West Bank city of Nablus wearing a coat — despite the unusual heat. On orders from the Israeli soldiers, the man removed his coat, revealing an explosive vest with 12 pipe bombs, the paper reports. Sappers dealt with the vest, and the man was arrested.
Haaretz quotes an IDF officer saying that it remained unclear whether the Palestinian’s target was Tapuah Junction, or whether he was going to be picked up and brought elsewhere. Israel Hayom, however, writes that the terrorist was apparently on his way to an Israeli city, “but the vigilance of the fighters at Tapuah Junction in Samaria saved the lives of many.”
Yedioth Ahronoth quotes First Sergeant S., who was in charge of the checkpoint during the incident, saying, “It’s difficult to explain what goes through your head during those seconds. When we understood it was a terrorist with a bomb we acted automatically, really just like in the drills they have us do.”
“I have no doubt that a great disaster was averted,” he said. “Precisely for incidents like these we are prepared all the time.”