With Operation Protective Edge caught between a possible ceasefire and an expanded offensive, the Hebrew newspapers Wednesday continue to play the guessing game, while highlighting the increased international and domestic tension with regard to the next stage.
Deeper inside the papers, but with their young, smiling images finding pride of place on the front pages of all three national dailies, the 10 soldiers slain on Monday are laid to rest.
In Israel Hayom — following a two-page spread of photos of IDF soldiers that waxes patriotic, with the title “Our secret weapon: Our troops” — the paper outlines the festering discord between the IDF and the government.
It reports that the cabinet’s unchanging instruction to keep dismantling the tunnels, without any indication of how the offensive is set to proceed, is upsetting the army leadership. “The fact that there are no changes in the instructions troubles the military branch,” it reports, quoting a senior army official who said the main goals of the operation have already been met. The official says that the option for a reoccupation of the Gaza Strip has been presented to the security cabinet, but has not (yet?) been approved.
Over in Haaretz, the paper’s Amos Harel also records the friction between the IDF and government in past days, after one military official tells the press the government knew about the tunnels since June 2013, and another high-ranking figure called on the government to make a decision already. He writes that the “prolongation of the operation and the accumulation of losses,” namely the deaths of 53 IDF soldiers, is the source of the military’s mounting frustration.
Both Israel Hayom and Yedioth Ahronoth present the alleged Channel 1 transcript of a phone call between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama, and the subsequent denials from Washington and Jerusalem, as the latest in a series of setbacks in US-Israeli ties.
The paper’s diplomatic correspondent Barak Ravid reports – quoting a senior official — that the Foreign Ministry has urged Netanyahu to draft a UN Security Council proposal to end the present operation. Proposing a UN resolution, which is how the 2006 Lebanon war ended, would give Israel the upper hand, the official says, while compromising Hamas’s international legitimacy and advancing Israeli interests, such as the disarmament of Gaza and the restoration of PA control to the coastal enclave.
Meanwhile, Yedioth presents a full spread with a tongue-in-cheek glossary of terms and their definitions in the context of the operation, many of which point to the continued internal and international tensions. Some gems include:
• “Humanitarian ceasefire – an invention of politicians who very much want a ceasefire, but are unwilling to admit it”
• “Barack Obama – the US president and one of the most maligned people in Israel in past days. Accused of knowing nothing about politics and the Middle East mentality. We’ve almost forgotten that during his term the security relations between countries have improved immeasurably, and that without Obama and his predecessors in the White House we could forget about the Iron Dome”
• “WhatsApp – the application that beat the military censor”
• “Hanin Zoabi – the public’s number one enemy or a challenge to the freedom of speech and democracy, depends whom you ask.”
The papers also cover the funerals of the 10 soldiers killed in action on Monday, offering concise characterizations and brief excerpts from their eulogies.
Sgt. Nadav Raimond, 19, was a third-generation paratrooper, proudly following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps. Sgt. Barkey Ishai Shor, 21, of Jerusalem was a volunteer for numerous causes, his father says. Sgt. Dor Dery, 18, Jerusalem is described as having excelled at everything, while Sgt. Daniel Kedmi, 18, of Tsofim was “a leader from birth.” Staff Sgt. Eliav Eliyahu Haim Kahlon, 22, of Safed always made sure the people around him were happy, his mother says. Staff Sgt. Adi Briga, 23, of Beit Shikma’s sister says he was “our light,” and at the funeral of Cpl. Meidan Maymon Biton, 20, in Netivot, the siren rang out and thousands ran for cover.
Staff Sgt. Moshe Davino, 20, of Jerusalem is described by his cousin as “an angel in the body of a man.” Davino’s four close childhood friends – all of whom are deployed together in Gaza and nicknamed the “Katamon crew” after their neighborhood in Jerusalem – had uploaded a picture to Facebook when they were called up (except for one friend, who was late), under the caption: “Even spending time in Gaza can’t separate us!” according to Yedioth.
And Pnina Sagi, the mother of Sgt. Erez Sagi, 19, of Kiryat Ata says at her son’s funeral: “In our last conversation, you told me ‘Ima (mother), I’m ready for this, I trained for this.’ But I know your voice. I heard in your voice the fear every fighter has before he enters combat.
“Forgive me my son Erez that I wasn’t there to protect you,” she says.