The failed raid in Toulouse was the main front-page story on all of Israel’s major papers going into the weekend.

Yedioth Ahronoth‘s headline showed a picture of the SWAT team with the headline, “Account Settled.” The page 2 article gives a complete play-by-play of the standoff and raid itself, complete with an accompanying graphic of the apartment. Yedioth hosts Colonel Lior Lotan commenting on the raid, which he calls “An operational failure.” He points out that by all logic, the elite French squad entering a residential apartment that was not booby trapped, without hostages inside, and with superior forces,  should have taken Merah alive.

Maariv‘s front-page headline shows a picture of French President Nicolas Sarkozy with his head down and the headline “Judgment day for Europe.” Inside, the coverage is similar to Yedioth’s, but an additional article reminds readers that France will now be returning to another battle, the contest over the presidency, with the first round of voting just a month away.

Haaretz’s coverage of the Toulouse raid focuses on the raid itself as well as the videos filmed of the operation. Their headline, “Assassination on Live TV” sums up their coverage.

Israel Hayom’s front page focused on the revelation that Merah had visited Israel, and had a full page article about how Merah visited Israel, Iraq and Sryia. A related article discussed Netanyahu’s visit to the family yesterday and his expression of grief, “I saw the depth of grief and pain,” Netanyahu stated after visiting Eva Sandler, whose husband and two sons were killed in the attack.

March Madness

All the front-pages featured articles about the Israeli sports scene, but of very different flavors. Yedioth, Maariv, and Israel Hayom all focused on Maccabi Tel Aviv’s overtime win over Greek basketball team Panathinaikos,  in the Euroleague’s quarterfinals . The win evened the best of five series at one victory apiece as Maccabi tries to win the European championship.

Haaretz reported on its front page that hundreds of fans of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team attacked Arab workers at a Jerusalem’s Malkha mall, Monday night, after Beitar won their match. Haaretz quotes a female worker at the mall, “They stood in every entrance, on tables, they were everywhere. They were chanting ‘Death to Arabs’ and yelling and screaming.” The riot was captured on the mall’s security cameras but no arrests have been made.

Maariv’s page 3 article reports on the UN Human Rights Council’s decision to establish a fact-finding mission to investigate Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Maariv points out that the same council was also responsible for creating the inquiry commissions into Operation Cast Lead and 2010 Flotilla incident. Jerusalem has already stated that it would not participate in the inquiry and the story quotes Netanyahu’s reaction to the announcement: “It was sufficient to hear the Syrian delegate speaking about human rights to understand just how disconnected from reality this committee truly is.”

Let’s go to the primaries

Kadima’s upcoming primary also recieved major coverage with Avi Dichter’s dropping out and supporting Shaul Mofaz making headlines. Yedioth Ahronoth featured a poll showing who would bring more seats to Kadima if elected, Tzipi Livni or Shaul Mofaz? According to the poll, Livni would get 15 seats to Mofaz’s 12. The poll also compared how people would vote for other parties based on Kadima’s leadership. While most stayed the same (or only a change of one seat or so) Likud was the real winner of the poll, as in either situation they would get 29 seats. Ehud Barak’s Independence party was the big loser, receiving zero seats.

Maariv, Yedioth Ahronoth and Israel Hayom all featured very similar stories about the Electricity Authority’s decision to raise prices by 8.9% starting next month. Maariv and Yedioth included briefs about family’s and their soaring electricity cost, while Israel Hayom included an opinion piece from Hanai Shtrleicht, blaming the rise on the repeated attacks against the Egyptian – Israel pipeline that runs through the Sinai Peninsula.

Israel’s signing of the “Open Skies” program with the European Union was covered throughout with Israel Hayom pointing out the benefits to consumers’ wallets by lowering airfare to and from Israel. The plan will increase competition and give more direct flights to and from Israel is expected to be fully implemented within five years.

Haaretz reports that the Health Ministry found that early diagnosis of Down Syndrome was lower in the Arab community than in the Jewish community. The report states the reason for this gap is because only one blood test is subsidized by the Health Ministry and the accuracy of that test stands at only 70%. The health report also showed an almost doubling of Down syndrome cases in cities with larger ultra-Orthodox communities (Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, and Bnei Brak) compared to cities with a more secular population (Netanya, Tel Aviv, and Rishon Letzion).

Maariv’s back page has a ‘feel-good’ story about Lital Zestein, Israel’s first female boxer to compete internationally. The former krav maga instructor, dubbed by the paper as the “Israeli Million Dollar Baby,” has her sights set on the London Olympics this summer. But so far, her biggest challenge has not been in the boxing ring but rather finding funding.

Haaretz’s editorial calls on Israeli politicians to be careful when calling on French Jews to “return home.” “While concern and solidarity are just, Israeli politicians must not translate a terror attack into a political cliché.” The editorial concludes that by making the attack exclusive to Jews and accusing France of anti-Semitism, Israel harms France’s legitimacy.

In Israel Hayom, Dan Margilit looks a bit closer at the Kadima primary race and states that despite personal animosity between Livni and Mofaz, and the expected lack of interest from party voters, no matter what the outcome will be on next week, Kadima will be the loser.