Now that the fighting in Gaza is on standby, life is back to normal and the Israeli papers don’t have to report on anything — nothing else is happening, right? It certainly appears so by the looks of the tabloids.
The ever-populist tabloid Yedioth Ahronoth salutes the troops at the end of what it calls a successful operation, and proceeds to say in its Page 2 editorial that there’s a sour taste in the soldiers’ mouths because they wanted “a decisive end” and didn’t get it.
“It’s likely to happen in the future, particularly thanks to the revolution in Egypt or perhaps thanks to the operation, but nobody can guarantee that’s how it will be,” columnist Nahum Barnea writes. He says the past four wars in the last eight years have been characterized by a “sequence of perturbing disappointments.”
“Now Israel is prepared to come to terms with, or perhaps cooperate, with a Palestinian government that Hamas is party to,” he says in his rambling piece. But Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is “the big winner” inasmuch as he’s seen, almost universally, as the “solution” to the current conflict.
For Israel Hayom, the ceasefire is a return to normalcy for Israelis, and that’s the picture it paints: sunshine, happiness and flowers. It leads off with a quote from IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz: “Indeed, there’s a hot summer here. The fall will come afterwards, the rain will wash away the dust of the tanks, the fields will be watered and the red south in the positive meaning of the word — of sunflowers, flowers and stability — will be here, and will be here for many years to come.” Only as an afterthought does the paper note that the Home Front Command still urges civilians to remain vigilant and be prepared to head to shelters in case of a rocket siren.
Nonetheless, the brief respite in violence comes as a “breath of fresh air” to residents of the south, the paper reports.
From the looks of Haaretz’s front page, however, one would assume that it’s reporting from a completely different country than the other two. Whereas Yedioth Ahronoth and Israel Hayom show photos of celebrating soldiers and Israelis back at the beach on their Page 1, Haaretz shows the destruction in Gaza and reports that Hamas has threatened to renew its fire on Israel Friday unless its demands are met. Israel and the Palestinians have not reached an agreement to extend the tenuous three-day truce, it reports.
The paper paraphrases remarks by unnamed Egyptian sources involved in the ceasefire talks in Cairo that the positions of the Palestinians and Israelis are distant, and “if the sides remain stuck in their positions, the talks are likely to reach a crisis,” the paper reports. Reuters quotes an unnamed Israeli source saying that the sides agreed to extend the truce by an additional three days, but Hamas officials insist that if their demands aren’t met they’ll recommence hostilities.
Yedioth Ahronoth runs its coverage of war-related articles deep into the back pages of the paper, including a two-page spread of its front pages over the course of the nearly month-long conflict.
It reports that although the dust has yet to settle, Israel is already preparing itself for a barrage of lawsuits by the Palestinians and a possible “Goldstone 2,” referring to the UN’s investigation into alleged war crimes by Israel in the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead in 2009.
The paper quotes senior officials in the Foreign Ministry saying they expect Israel to contend with a diplomatic and legal battle which will make the Goldstone Report look like kindergarten by comparison. The army’s military advocate has already launched investigations into the shooting and killing of civilians in the Gaza Strip, the paper reports, and the probes by Israel will be used to claim that it’s checking the incidents on its own, and therefore there’s no need for international bodies to do so.
Haaretz reports in its beefy Page 3 analysis that the Gaza operation is a prelude to a future war against Hezbollah in Lebanon, and that the firepower employed by the IDF down south will pale in comparison to that it will unleash in the north. The paper, surprisingly, includes coverage of the ongoing legal woes of former prime minister Ehud Olmert on its front page, however, and reports that one of the old cases against him will be reopened.
Israel Hayom, farther back, runs reports from Australia of Jewish kids being threatened by anti-Semitic hooligans in Sydney who shouted “death to the Jews” and “Heil Hitler.” “Not just in Europe,” the paper writes.