Four newspapers, four top stories

Four newspapers, four top stories

State-sponsored massacres in Syria, Iranian bravado, a record-breaking Tu Bishvat, a Jerusalem landmark restored -- and a tragic local story of death and desertion

This photo supplied by Zaka shows members of the organization at the scene of a hit-and-run accident in northern Israel early Friday morning. (photo credit: Zaka / Flash90)
This photo supplied by Zaka shows members of the organization at the scene of a hit-and-run accident in northern Israel early Friday morning. (photo credit: Zaka / Flash90)

While each of the print dailies, Yedioth Ahronoth, Maariv, and Israel Hayom, leads today with different stories, none passes over the tragic hit-and-run incident that took place over the weekend in which a 19-year-old woman was run over and abandoned by no fewer than four drivers. The young woman’s face stares out of photos in all the papers, beneath condemnatory headlines.

Haaretz leads with a story revealing the existence of secret Syrian documents that expose Iran’s role in propping up the Assad regime, including the recent transfer of more than a billion dollars from Tehran to Damascus. Haaretz also features on its front page a photo of a pile of garbage amassing in the street due to the general strike, and a story on the Education Ministry’s decision to recruit retired teachers and students to help meet the requirements of a new law dictating state education for all children aged three and above.

Yedioth Ahronoth leads with a story on the IDF canceling the Iron Dome project, meant to defend Israel from short-range rockets and mortars, due to budget cuts. It also features a prominent headline quoting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announcing that he wouldn’t fire the ministers of finance and the interior over their roles in the Carmel forest fire. Both high-ranking ministers are the subjects of a scathing State Comptroller report on their role in the December 2010 tragedy that cost the lives of 44 people.

Maariv leads its coverage with a story on satellite images, recently released by the US State Department, which show the Syrian military aiming artillery cannon toward civilians. It also reports on the ongoing negotiations between the Finance Ministry and the labor union to end the general strike, which finally ended today, its fifth day.

Israel Hayom leads the paper with a headline that reads: “Defying the world,” linking Iran’s weekend announcement of an upcoming breakthrough in its nuclear program with the “smoking gun” images from Syria. For both countries, the article claims, the international community’s diplomatic efforts have so far proven ineffectual.

In its inside pages, Yedioth Ahronoth features a translation of a Times of London story claiming that Israel is operating a covert-operations base in Azerbaijan, from which it is launching attacks against Iran.

Another story announces the start of renovations on Jerusalem’s landmark Montefiore Windmill. The 140-year-old, long-dormant mill is expected to be churning out flour once more in the near future and the paper features a mock wanted ad calling for applications from professional millers.

The paper also reveals old love letters written by President Shimon Peres to his wife Sonia, who passed away a year ago.

Maariv provides its readers with an extensive profile of recently elected Supreme Court Judge Asher Grunis alongside a wrap-up of current president Justice Dorit Beinisch’s term in office.

On Page 19, Maariv presents what it claims are the first pictures taken of a settlers’ “Price Tag” attack in progress. A security camera perched above a Palestinian store captured images of three young settlers vandalizing property, which led to their arrest.

Israel Hayom provides extensive coverage on the road carnage of the weekend and reveals that this year’s Tu Bishvat plantings were the most extensive in Israel’s history. During the week, more than 1.2 million saplings were planted across the country.

Haaretz features a story on the court being asked to define fascism, after right-wing group “Im Tirtzu” (“If you will it”) filed a libel suit against a Facebook group that called it fascist in one of its posts. The paper also draws attention to the dwindling shark population along Israel’s coasts due to illegal fishing by Gaza-based fishermen.

The back pages of the papers all look similar this morning, featuring the smiling faces of Ina Broder and Bar Ben-Vakil, the winners of Israel’s “Amazing Race” reality competition, which ended yesterday. The two young women faced an uphill battle against stronger and quicker teams throughout the season, but won in true Cinderella fashion in the end.

Toxic talkbacks

In the opinion pages, Maariv’s Gabi Siboni warns of cyber-vigilantism and suggests that like other attacks aimed at foreign states, hacking attacks be left to the authorities. He points to an existing vacuum in Israel’s cyber-response capabilities and calls to correct that by empowering the police or the Information Protection Authority with additional resources.

Addressing a different online battleground, Haaretz features an op-ed by Shaul Arieli on Israel’s vitriolic talkback wars. “Online comments — in which the reader can add his/her views to an authored piece — offer the concrete potential for dialogue, for mutual encouragement of ideas and for correcting errors,” he writes. “Except that, in the absence of any need for those participating to identify themselves, or exhibit any substantive or ethical responsibility for the things they write, the phenomenon has deteriorated and become simply a stage for statements that lack all these criteria — often from these anonymous ‘keyboard warriors.'” Arieli concludes by offering websites some ideas on how to retrieve a semblance of civility.

In a column titled “the blabberers’ war,” Yedioth Ahronoth’s Eitan Haber advises against false bravado in the face of a war with Iran. He claims that the civilian population has been coddled for generations by wars fought outside of Israel’s borders and is dramatically unprepared for a war that will inflict heavy damages on the home front. Despite extensive media coverage describing the predicted outcome of such an attack, he writes, there are still many who call for launching a surprise attack and conquering the enemy. “Those who do so have no idea what they are talking about. The only thing they can take over the world with is nonsense, ignorance and stupidity.”

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