Back in the revolving door
Hebrew media review

Back in the revolving door

After the man arrested for killing an Israeli turns out to have been freed in the Shalit deal, the press again looks at prisoner swaps

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Ziad Awad (L) and his son Izz Eddin (R) at Ofer Military court on June 23, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Ziad Awad (L) and his son Izz Eddin (R) at Ofer Military court on June 23, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The ongoing drama surrounding the kidnapping of three Israeli teens in the West Bank remains the top story in Tuesday morning’s papers. But the announcement that Israeli authorities arrested a Palestinian released during the Gilad Shalit deal in 2011 on suspicion of involvement in the shooting of an off-duty policeman in April dredges up the issue of prisoner releases and brings it back into public discussion.

Daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth calls the Shin Bet’s announcement that it arrested Hamas operatives Ziad Awad and his son Izz Eddin Hassan Ziad Awad in connection to the shooting death of Baruch Mizrahi on Passover eve “The revolving door.”

The two were arrested on May 7 on suspicion of shooting the 47-year-old off-duty policeman and father of five. The press’s indignation stems from the fact that Awad was released as part of the 2011 prisoner swap to bring captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit home. 

Israel Hayom runs statements by Mizrahi’s widow, in which she says that Awad should be given the death penalty so that he can’t kill again.

“We hope justice will hold them accountable and they’ll receive the death penalty,” Hadas Mizrahi is quoted in the paper saying. “There is no forgiveness here. The solution is only this punishment, not five-star imprisonment. This will prevent them from murdering again.”

“If there was no bargaining chip,” she said, referring to Shalit’s capture by Hamas in 2006, “it’s likely that my husband would be alive today.”

Yedioth Ahronoth runs a headline quoting Mizrahi saying, “This is the result of releasing terrorists.”

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal’s statement to Al Jazeera on Monday about the kidnapped teens takes top spot in Haaretz. Meshaal is quoted saying that he knows nothing about the incident and can neither confirm nor deny that the Islamist movement he heads had anything to do with it. He nonetheless praised those who carried out the kidnapping, saying that “we need to free our prisoners from the occupation’s prisons.”

“If [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu had paid attention to the families of the [Palestinian] prisoners and hadn’t attacked the reconciliation government, then the atmosphere among the Palestinians wouldn’t have been as tense as it is today,” Mashaal said.

One of Yedioth Ahronoth’s columnists, Ben-Dror Yemini, writes that the Gilad Shalit deal was a tailwind for terrorism and says Israel never should have gotten caught up in the “hysteria” that let so many convicted terrorists go free.

Smacking of “I told you so,” he says he opposed the move to release over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for the lone Israeli soldier at the time as a naive decision which would have dire consequences.

“The freed [Palestinian prisoners] already returned to terrorism, and dozens of them have been arrested in recent years. Now it’s Ziad Awad, a released [prisoner] who murdered Baruch Mizrahi,” Yemini writes, adding he hopes the Shalit “surrender” would be the last such deal.

In Haaretz, Kobi Niv criticizes the disparity in language used by Israelis about Israeli and Palestinian minors involved in and killed in the conflict. He notes that when a Palestinian kid is shot by the IDF, the Israeli press refers to him as a “youth,” insinuating he’s been inculcated by terrorist groups to lay down his life in the attempt to kill. But if it’s an Israeli teen of the same age killed by Palestinians, they are referred to as “children” and their killers “child murderers.”

The papers also report on matters besides the kidnapped teens and Hamas, but they only get around to them fairly far back. Israel Hayom reports on Damascus’s rage at Israel’s “flagrant violation” of Syrian sovereignty in retaliating against the blast that killed a 15-year-old two days ago. The paper notes in passing, very low down, that the only government official who attended Mohammed Karaka’s funeral was Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz.

Haaretz also reports that the ultra-Orthodox Shas party’s new leader said that women should not pursue advanced academic degrees because “it is not their way to Torah.”

The paper notes that the ruling by Rabbi Shalom Cohen is a radical step to the right compared to his predecessor, the Sephardic movement’s founder Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who died last year. The ruling, the new spiritual leader’s first, conflicts with the Shas movement’s tenets, Yosef’s daughter having been the head and founder of an ultra-Orthodox college that received her father’s blessing.

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