Monday in Israel was bookended with explosions in two of Israel’s major cities, but the accidental gas explosion in Jerusalem that killed an entire family unites Tuesday’s front pages.
The front page of Israel Hayom runs a photo of the family that was killed in the early hours of Monday morning after a gas leak exploded in their apartment building. On Sunday, residents complained of the stench of gas; a technician was sent out and left after giving the OK. The blast killed Avraham and Galit Tufan and their 2-year-old son, Yossef Haim. Police quickly arrested the technician and charged him with negligence.
Yedioth Ahronoth also puts the tragic explosion front and center (with the headline, “A family erased”) and gives updates on the other people injured in the blast. Most of the injuries were light except for those of an elderly couple and their daughter, who lived in the apartment next door: The couple was moderately injured, whereas their daughter is still in serious condition.
Yedioth also provides its readers with information on how to identify a gas leak and what to do in such a case. Aside from smelling the gas leak, you can possibly hear it or even see if there is a tear in the gas pipe. If you discover a leak, the paper recommends the following: Shut off the gas supply to your building; inform the other residents; don’t light any fires or turn on any electric appliances; and call the gas company and the firefighters.
The front page of Haaretz features the explosion, but its top story is that of IDF waste. Although an astounding 39% of the total land in the country is designated for the army — whether for bases or training — the Israel Defense Forces is still spending millions of shekels a year renting civilian space for its needs. In 2013, the army spent over 97 million shekels (about $28 million) on rent. The majority of the land dedicated for military use is in the south; most of the rent is spent in cities such as Tel Aviv — where the Defense Ministry is housed.
Surprisingly, Maariv is the only paper to put Iran — and the cessation of the enrichment of uranium — on its front page. On Monday, United Nations inspectors confirmed that Iran had, in fact, stopped enriching uranium to 20%, as per its agreement with the West. However, it doesn’t seem that the world can breathe a sigh of relief. Olli Heinonen, the former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that Iran is about 2-3 weeks away from a bomb, if it wants it.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke in the Knesset on Monday. Although his speech won’t cause Israel to switch the Star of David for a maple leaf, it did electrify the papers.
In a speech that touched on various topics, Haaretz highlights Harper’s statement in which he called anti-Zionism “the new face of anti-Semitism.” The paper reports that the speech was very sympathetic to the Israeli government’s position on the major topics. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who introduced Harper in the Knesset, may have had an idea of the kind words that were about to be spoken by Harper, since he declared: “I want to tell you, members of the Knesset, that in the international community there are those who know the facts, but you [Harper] have the courage to speak the truth.”
Harper’s speech also made an impression on Israel Hayom, which used Harper’s Churchill-like phrase as its headline, “Through fire and water — Canada will stand with you.” Harper also told the parliamentarians, “I support Israel, because it is right to do so. It does not matter if it is convenient or popular. Israel is the only country in the Middle East that has always presented the ideas of peace and democracy.” However, not all in the audience were so happy with the speech. Israeli Arab Knesset members Ahmad Tibi and Taleb Abu Arar walked out when Harper denounced those who brand Israel an apartheid state.
Rockets in Eilat
Two loud explosions were heard in Eilat on Monday night as two Grad rockets were fired from the Sinai Peninsula, but landed in an open area. Yedioth reports that scared residents heard the incoming rockets and scrambled to get to shelters in time. The attack came as a surprise to the city and the IDF; the army had not received any warnings about any possible attacks. The paper also reports that overnight there were three mortars that fell on open areas in the Eshkol Region, which borders the southern Gaza strip.
In Haaretz, Amos Harel writes that the two rockets pose a new type of threat to the IDF — the lack of info. The new attacks are coming from small jihadist groups, a change from the two usual suspects of Hamas and Hezbollah. These new groups don’t openly organize or train, so there’s no place to retaliate once the IDF does learn who is behind the attack. Whether Israel likes it or not, these groups may just be dragging Israel and the Gaza Strip closer to an escalation.
Finally, Israel Hayom is celebrating the fact that it is the most widely read paper in all the land. The paper gleefully reports on a survey carried out by the group TGI, which reported that Israel Hayom leads the pack with a read rate of over 38%, whereas Maariv finishes last with 3.5%. Referring to its success, the paper writes, “The most Israeli of newspapers is now the most read.”