Disgruntled southerners still seeking safety
Hebrew media review

Disgruntled southerners still seeking safety

Residents of communities near Gaza voice frustration at renewed rocket fire after Israel promised that they'd return home to safety

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.

Israeli soldiers at the scene where a rocket had exploded and fallen near the border with the Gaza Strip on August 8, 2014. (Photo credit: Edi Israel/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers at the scene where a rocket had exploded and fallen near the border with the Gaza Strip on August 8, 2014. (Photo credit: Edi Israel/Flash90)

Friday’s failed ceasefire makes headlines Sunday as Israelis stop to ask, “What’s next?” Disgruntled and disillusioned residents of the south feature prominently, after they returned home this weekend to renewed rocket fire.

“As far as we’re concerned, Operation Protective Edge isn’t over,” Yedioth Ahronoth quotes residents of Kibbutz Nir Am, one of the communities along the border and in the line of fire, saying. After the residents of the south were told by the IDF brass to return home, only to be greeted Friday morning by rocket fire once more, “in place of hope despair took hold,” the paper writes. Residents of the hard-hit community decided to leave and not come back until the security situation normalizes; “residents of Nir Am have had enough,” the paper writes.

Disgruntled residents of the Sha’ar Hanegev and Eshkol regions of southern Israel also feature prominently in Israel Hayom, which quotes one civilian saying, “we, the residents [of southern Israel], have a terrible feeling of betrayal and abandonment.”

“They promised us mountains and hills, and we asked, we really implored, that we could return home. Many families were tempted and returned home with their kids, straight into rockets and mortars,” Rachel Tavivi is quoted saying.

“I am angry at myself that I believed the assurances,” Adva, a mother of three from Eshkol, tells the paper. “This morning I am returning to my family in the Golan Heights.”

Haaretz focuses on the desperate attempts by Egypt to cobble together a ceasefire agreement between the various Palestinian factions and Israel. It reports that after Hamas renewed rocket fire on Friday, Israeli delegates in Cairo walked out and have refused to recommence negotiations until the attacks on Israeli civilians cease. The paper cites official sources in Egypt saying that the gaps between the Israeli and Palestinian sides remain significant.

According to a source close to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas who spoke to Haaretz, the Hamas focus on the demand that Gaza be allowed to establish a seaport as part of the ceasefire negotiations is puzzling. “The principal issue as far as we’re concerned is the removal of the occupation and establishment of an independent state in the ’67 borders in the [Gaza] Strip and the [West] Bank, which will allow us to establish an airport and seaport,” the source says.

The issue of battered southerners only makes it to Page 4, but on its front page Haaretz shows a house in the southern town of Sderot which suffered a direct hit from a rocket over the weekend. It speaks to a resident of the south who was seeking refuge in the north who says that after the IDF assured southern residents that it was safe to return home on Wednesday, she was reluctant. “On Thursday we gave it a chance and returned home [to Kibbutz Alumim], but the first thing the children heard the next morning was a Red Alert siren,” Ruti, a resident of the Sha’ar Hanegev region says.

“It’s impossible to continue like this.”

The other major story in the Sunday morning roundup is Washington’s air campaign against the Islamic State in northern Iraq. “ISIS in the US’s crosshairs,” reads Israel Hayom’s headline. “President [Barack] Obama didn’t want this, but in the end he was forced to give the order,” it says.

Yedioth Ahronoth’s coverage is relegated to Page 24, but it finds The New York Times’s interview of Obama published on Friday far more interesting. In particular, the American president’s remark that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is too strong and Abbas is too weak to make peace grabs a headline on Page 14.

The US president noted Netanyahu’s spike in ratings during the Gaza operation, and tells The New York Times’s Thomas Friedman that if Netanyahu “doesn’t feel some internal pressure, then it’s hard to see him being able to make some very difficult compromises, including taking on the settler movement.”

“That’s a tough thing to do. With respect to Abu Mazen [Abbas], it’s a slightly different problem. In some ways, Bibi is too strong [and] in some ways Abu Mazen is too weak to bring them together and make the kinds of bold decisions that Sadat or Begin or Rabin were willing to make,” Obama said.

Haaretz’s front page also features a brief obituary for the late Israeli producer-director Menachem Golan, who died this weekend at 85. In its brief blurb, it calls Golan “among the most prominent people in Israeli cinema,” and reports that he will be laid to rest on Sunday in Kfar Saba.

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