Bombs away
Hebrew media review

Bombs away

A bus blows up near the border, a top cop's career blasts to smithereens, and police prepare to divert resources from drugs to car bombs

The wreckage of the bus blown up near the Taba crossing on the Egypt-Israel border, February 16, 2014 (photo credit: AFP)
The wreckage of the bus blown up near the Taba crossing on the Egypt-Israel border, February 16, 2014 (photo credit: AFP)

A destroyed bus at the Egypt-Israel Taba border crossing and the destroyed career of anti-corruption czar Menashe Arviv jostle for top billing across the print media landscape Monday morning.

New details about Arviv, who until recently headed the police’s anti-graft division, were released Sunday afternoon, creating what Israel Hayom calls “a minefield” surrounding the former top cop.

Yedioth Ahronoth’s front page gives the laundry list of favors Arviv allegedly received from Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, quoting a recording it got its hands on from Pinto associate Bentzi Suki, thought to be the main macher in funneling green-backed goodwill from Pinto to Arviv.

Among the benefits Don Arviv allegedly got from Pinto’s cronies were a nice hotel room, big wads of cash, and a large discount on a home in the US. “I gave his son Tzachi $2,000 every month and afterward the Shuva Yisrael yeshiva foundations also sent him $2,000 a month,” Saki is quoted as saying in the recording.

Arviv, for his part, calls the claims malarkey. However, in Israel Hayom, Dan Margalit calls for the opening of a criminal probe into Arviv’s dealings, saying only good can come of it (assuming your last name isn’t Pinto or Arviv). “Should Pinto and his men be brought to testify in court and be investigated – all for the better; and if not, the police internal affairs division will need to muster all its strength and connections to get at the truth in order to decide whether to put the head of Israel’s secret police on trial,” he writes.

Maariv and Haaretz both put pictures of a bombed-out bus hit by an explosion Sunday afternoon near the border with Israel, killing three Korean tourists and an Egyptian driver, front and center. Maariv calls it jihad on the border, but the paper’s Mordechai Kedar notes that the bombing sent a message not to Jerusalem, but to Cairo, where Gen. Abdel Fattah El Sisi is running the show. “Post-revolution Egypt, under secular military rule, has become a target no less important than the State of Israel,” he writes.

Mapping discontent

Haaretz meanwhile has a bone to pick with the government, which it reports is getting ready to give out tax benefits to settlements, and not just any settlements but isolated settlements, which will come under the umbrella of “national priorities” criteria under new rules approved Sunday. The story is a recycled one from several months ago, when the same controversy was aroused over the creation of the national priorities map. Despite Haaretz’s very specific figure of 35 new settlements being added to the list under the new rules, the government is quoted as saying no communities have yet been added and won’t be until 2015. “The ministers weren’t given a list of communities, but only general definitions,” a Finance Ministry official is quoted saying. “It still isn’t clear how the decision to increase the points granted to communities near the border [will affect] the number of settlements on the new map [of priority communities] or the scope of benefits that their residents will get.”

Israel Hayom is sticking with the story of the wave of gangland killings, reporting that the police are shifting tactics to go after bombs instead of blow. The paper quotes a senior police official as saying that the crime gangs have dozens of bombs in their possession, including ones stronger than the street has seen thus far. “We need to take the human intelligence and technology and operational manpower working against drug smuggling and concentrate the efforts on uncovering bomb smuggling,” a bodyless ether floating within the police is quoted as saying.

But Tel Aviv bomb makers aren’t the country’s only worry. Maariv reports that ahead of a new round of nuclear talks between the West and Iran, Israel’s stubborn line refusing to recognize the utility of diplomacy has made it difficult for Jerusalem to wield any influence in Geneva.

“There is no real dialogue. The stance that [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu set is determined and we cannot stray from it,” a senior official is quoted saying. “Thus we have no chance to wield any real influence over the talks.”

In Haaretz’s op-ed page, Uzi Baram writes that a recent outburst by MK Moti Yogev against European Council head Martin Schulz puts Israel in the worst of company.

“Without intending to, when I saw Yogev’s chutzpa in telling off Schulz, I traveled in my mind to South Africa in 1993, and couldn’t not see the similarities between people such as Yogev and the heads of the apartheid regime in South Africa. In 1993 I arrived for an official visit in South Africa. Those were days filled with belief and hope. My visit came about a month before the white regime cleared out in favor of the black majority. At a dinner I sat next to the interior minister of Pretoria. The conversation revolved around the roots of apartheid and the minister explained at length how right the regime was: It protects the superiority of the whites, who contribute more to the country, and advances the blacks in an evolutionary fashion,” he writes. “I am not making an analogy between the government of Israel and the apartheid government. The facts are different. But Yogev’s personality and his childish defiance against the honored guest reminded me of the sparkling eyes of the minister from Pretoria, who believed in discrimination based on race and had no patience for public criticism.”

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