It was only a day ago that everything seemed to be going, if not swimmingly, then on the right track, to end over a month of Israel-Hamas fighting with some sort of ceasefire deal.
That all went to pot yesterday afternoon, though, as rocket fire resumed seemingly out of the blue and Israel cut off talks in Cairo. The night soil seems to have really hit the region’s whirring blades, though, with a reported Israeli hit attempt on Hamas armed wing chief Muhammad Deif, as the press sees it.
Yedioth Ahronoth’s front page puts a picture of the famously elusive Deif in a mockup of gun sights, while Israel Hayom’s main headline crows that “Deif is in the target,” along with side by side pictures of a large piece of rocket shrapnel on an Israeli highway (which looks awfully photoshopped to this untrained eye) and the tangled mess that is now Deif’s Gaza home.
Haaretz meanwhile, just notes matter of factly across eight columns that the ceasefire has collapsed, rocket fire is renewed and Israel is attacking. The paper complements its lack of flair (read sensationalism) with a somewhat meandering commentary from Amir Oren, who wistfully recalls the good old days when rockets were just a part of everyday life, suggesting that the month of fighting, and now the attempt on Deif’s life, may have changed the equation for Hamas and for Netanyahu.
“For now … the bitterness of the southern residents may be enough to force Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into a corner because of the high expectations raised for a meaningful change in the security situation. What two months ago would have been considered a relatively quiet day, with only a rocket or two falling in open areas, will no longer be tolerated, since every rocket challenges Netanyahu’s claims of victory and deterrence.”
Over in Israel Hayom, which usually offers a pretty clear window into Netanyahu’s thinking, Dan Margalit writes that the breakdown in talks proves that Israel should never have even been trying to negotiate with a group like Hamas.
“Hamas’s leadership consists of crooks, tricksters, liars, thieves, people you can’t trust, not even to keep a one-day ceasefire. Precisely because they are like this, it’s better to make a temporary arrangement with them, and not rely on them to come to a long term solution. There is no peace with them, but only managing crises with them through the supreme hand of the IDF.”
In Yedioth, Alex Fishman bitterly claims that the end of the ceasefire gives both sides a chance to go back to what they wanted to be doing in the first place: “The Egyptian attempt to extend the truce was a bid to resuscitate a corpse. Both sides, Israel and Hamas, had no intention of really coming to a deal. It’s much more comfortable for them to go back to doing what they know how to do best: trying to kill each other in a war of attrition.”
‘Bash the snake’
The paper’s 10 pages of coverage on the return to fighting also includes some human interest tales of southern residents who are once again finding themselves under fire, just when they might have thought it was safe to hope for some quiet. “This is a not-pleasant situation,” a resident of Kibbutz Nahal Oz tells the paper. “It’s very hard. This uncertainty, where you don’t know what will be tomorrow, is insufferable. Everyone came back to the kibbutz, but not we still don’t know where this will go, and so we are waiting a few days to see if we’ll be forced to leave the kibbutz again.”
Southerners may not know what will happen, but their leaders seem to be united in what they want to happen, namely blasting Hamas into the Stone Age, Israel Hayom reports.
“We need to hit back as if there are no talks in Cairo, and continue trying to extend the ceasefire as if there’s no shooting,” says Shaar Hanegev regional council head Alon Schuster, channeling Yitzhak Rabin.
Sderot mayor Alon Davidi is less mincing: “We need to give them a hard-hitting and solid strike, which will change the rules of the game decisively and overwhelmingly. Any response other than bashing the head of the snake in Gaza shouldn’t be considered and will just worsen the current situation.”
In Haaretz, education reporter Or Kashti takes off his reporter hat to pen a scathing indictment of the way the education system tackles Israeli racism, which he says is just a Band-Aid that doesn’t address the issue.
“Young people shouting ‘Death to Arabs’ prove the success of the educational system more than its failure. Such youths have internalized an aggressive worldview in which the strong side erases the ‘other’ – be he Arab, poor or Mizrahi (a Jew of Middle Eastern origin) – just like they saw in school. Thus, in schools they recite Israel’s Declaration of Independence, which promises equal rights regardless of religion, race, or gender, but ignore the inequality between Jews and Arabs; they praise ‘equality of opportunity’ for all, but don’t address the gaps between pupils from different socioeconomic backgrounds; they praise ‘national unity,’ but marginalize the history of large swaths of the population.”