Father crime
Hebrew media review

Father crime

The Israeli press tries to grapple with the Wednesday killing of two children, this time at the hands of a father

A shocked neighbor observes the murder scene in Tel Aviv, where 52-year-old Eli Gur killed his two children before committing suicide, on Thursday, September 19, 2013. (photo credit: Roni Schutzer/Flash90)
A shocked neighbor observes the murder scene in Tel Aviv, where 52-year-old Eli Gur killed his two children before committing suicide, on Thursday, September 19, 2013. (photo credit: Roni Schutzer/Flash90)

It’s been two days since the shocking murder-suicide of a 52-year-old father and his two children, but Israelis picking up newspapers Friday morning, the first paper published since the incident, get to relive the horror of hearing the news all over again.

Israel Hayom sums up the zeitgeist pretty simply with the headline “Monster father,” which would be a great name for a Disney movie under radically different circumstances.

Unfortunately, the circumstances are that an estranged father on Wednesday kidnapped his two children, aged 4 and 5, and flung them off a Tel Aviv rooftop, before jumping off himself. The killings came just three days after a Jerusalem mother stabbed her two children to death and tried to kill herself, but in this case there is a twist: The mother had tried to go for help a year ago — fearing the father would do something drastic — to no avail.

Hagit Ron-Rabinovitch writes in the paper (a bit tastelessly) that her neighbor saw the killings coming, noting that there seems to be a copycat effect at play when this type of incident happens. She then tries (again, a bit tastelessly) to imagine the children’s last moments.

“Did Eden get close to her father like my 4-year-old does, when we get to a high floor? And what were the last words of Yahav? What did Eden scream as she was thrown between the heaven and the earth? Who did she call for help? To her mother or to her father, to save her from the chaos?”

Yedioth Ahronoth gives a heart-wrenching account of the bereaved mother’s day after the deaths, somehow gaining access to her home in Bat Hefer. “The kids’ pajamas are still laid out on their little beds. On the floor are games, waiting for kids who won’t return. …From the living room the crying of Ronit [the mother] could be heard. ‘God, why did this happen to me?’ she asks those who have come to comfort her. ‘What will be now, what will be? My Yahav and Eden are no more. I have no desire to live. How will I continue to live without them? Why did he do this to me, why did he take them?’ The first horrible night she spent at her friend’s house. She didn’t close her eyes.”

The paper runs a column from another bereaved mother who lost her three children at the hands of their father three years ago, who suggests that there will be many more tear-filled, sleepless nights. “Unlike me, Ronit doesn’t have family to support her in these hard days,” Lilach Shem Tov writes. “I ask that her friends in Bat Hefer hold her and try to help her. She needs to be with people all the time.”

Maariv notes that 10,000 restraining orders are broken every year, but only one-quarter of the offenders are ever arrested. “Most restraining orders don’t have teeth and do nothing to actually increase protection,” the head of the social workers union tells the paper.

MK Zehava Gal-On (Meretz), who has tried to advance legislation that would give said teeth to the restraining orders, is quoted in the paper as saying the court orders are actually harmful. “A restraining order can be a death sentence for women and their children,” she says. “When a judge signs a restraining order, he knows he’s dealing with a violent, dangerous man. But on the other hand, he knows there is no way to enforce the order.”

WMDo’s and WMDont’s

The other big news making the rounds revolves around Syria, Iran and wars and weapons of mass destruction, with each paper taking a different tack. Haaretz leads off with what it calls an “Iranian smile,” trying to parse what Tehran is really up to with its seeming turn toward the West.

“Expectations are rising in advance of Rouhani’s speech to the General Assembly next week in New York,” the paper’s Zvi Bar’el writes. “There are expectations that he will present not a general statement of principles, but will, in fact, make concrete proposals that could serve as a basis for negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries on nuclear enrichment and ways of supervising Iranian nuclear facilities.”

Maariv reports that Russian leader Vladimir Putin is calling for Israel to declare and give up its nuclear weapons, since Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, which was collected in response to Israel’s reported nukes, is heading the way of the garbage bin. The paper’s Uri Elitzur notes that Putin is building up his image as the world’s opposition leader, and one who makes a great alternative to US President Barack Obama. “Today, every Arab leader knows that if there’s somebody you can count on, his name is Vladimir Putin, and somebody it’s not suggested to rely on is Barack Obama.”

Days after the first confirmed death of an Israeli in the Syrian civil war, Yedioth reports that the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, is warning that more Israeli Arabs may be heading there to join al-Qaeda in the fight. The paper notes that the Shin Bet opinion came out in response to the conditional freeing of a resident of Taibe, 26, who was trained in Jordan and tried to join the jihad in Syria — but failed somehow. Upon returning to Israel, he was arrested for making contact with an enemy organization.

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