From Hebron to Geneva
Hebrew media review

From Hebron to Geneva

IDF troops pinpoint suspected kidnappers as the teens' mothers appeal to what the Israeli press deems the least attentive ears

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.

Rachelle Fraenkel (left, in yellow headscarf) addresses the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Tuesday, June 24, 2014 (screen capture: UN)
Rachelle Fraenkel (left, in yellow headscarf) addresses the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Tuesday, June 24, 2014 (screen capture: UN)

Nearly two weeks into the manhunt for three missing teens, the IDF is starting to tighten the noose around the suspected kidnappers near the West Bank city of Hebron, and the mothers have gone to Geneva to make their plea to the world. For better or for worse, the press has not tired of covering the missing teens after 13 days.

According to a front page report in Haaretz, Israeli forces have removed some of the checkpoints that had been thrown up in Hebron in the past two weeks and moved in on an undisclosed location where it believes the kidnappers are situated. The paper reports, however, that some of the restrictions placed on Hebron residents, including the travel ban to Jordan for Palestinians aged 20-50 from the West Bank city, remain in force.

The paper also reports that the State Comptroller’s office was looking into the possibility of launching an investigation into the police dispatcher’s failure to report the kidnapping, which set the IDF back by several hours in its search for the missing Israeli teens. As readers may recall, the police officer on duty had difficulty understanding the distress call, and after review with his superior, determined it was a hoax.

Israel Hayom opts to take a different tack, leading with the text of Rachelle Fraenkel’s speech to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva and Boaz Bismuth’s report on the UNHRC’s condemnation of Israeli settlement construction at the same session. In an op-ed by Bismuth placed alongside his reportage, he scorns the “very biased and hypocritical” international body for its “hostile and unbalanced policy toward Israel.”

“They hurry to criticize Israel, but when three Israeli teens are kidnapped on their way home — evidently one can only dream of a condemnation” from the UNHCR, he says. Bismuth also ascribes the lack of international news coverage to the outlets’ reluctance to harm ratings during the World Cup.

The headline on Yedioth Ahronoth‘s main coverage of the mothers in Geneva is equally critical. “To penetrate the insensitive walls,” is how the paper describes the mothers’ mission. The paper includes some of the reactions to Fraenkel’s plea to the UNHCR, in which she appealed to them as a mother for their help in bringing her son home.

“It is a disgrace to employ her for this end,” said a Palestinian human right activist. “Is there also room for 5,000 Palestinian mothers whose children have been killed and kidnapped by Israel?”

“As a mother, my heart is with her,” the paper quotes another speaker saying in response to Fraenkel. “All of the children of the world deserve to live in freedom. But I saw how [the Israelis] treat Palestinian children.”

Veteran Israeli journalist Noah Klieger also pans the UNHCR in Yedioth Ahronoth, writing that in “in the decades in which this body has operated, not even one motion has been passed to the benefit of Israel. Despite this it has passed dozens, if not hundreds, of motions against the Jewish state.”

He calls the UNHCR a “den of wolves and hyenas” and rhetorically asks whether the members of the council have heard of the horrible acts against humanity happening in Iraq, Syria, Yemen or Nigeria.

“To be more precise: they apparently heard, but are not acting,” he says. “Because after all, it’s hard to blame Israel for kidnapping 300 girls in Nigeria.”

If you look hard enough in the tabloids, there are things happening in the world deserving of ink that doesn’t have to do with the kidnapped teenagers or the IDF’s operation to find them. Yedioth Ahronoth reports that the family of a woman who died in a fire in 2008 is filing a lawsuit against emergency responders who reacted to her call for help with derision instead of aid.

Israel Hayom reports that a minister in the Syrian government threatened to retaliate against Israel in response to the IDF’s strikes into Syria. Minister of State for National Reconciliation Affairs Ali Haidar is quoted in the paper saying that the cabinet decided it would strike back at Israel after the IDF killed four Syrian soldiers in retaliation for a bombing on the border that killed a 15-year-old Israeli. 

“If there was a ceasefire in the past [then] all of those agreements are canceled because of the Israeli aggression, [and] we’ve returned to a state of war,” he said.

Haaretz’s editorial goes after the Knesset Finance Committee, criticizing the funneling of NIS 888 million to the Education Ministry without discussion of what it was for and without debate. It calls the move to push the funds through by committee chairman MK Nissan Slomiansky (Jewish Home) “the pinnacle of absurdity.” 

Slomiansky, writes Haaretz, “took advantage of the fact that several MKs were late for a meeting and within minutes he ratified, on his own, this transfer of almost one billion shekels.” What for, you might ask? Of the nearly billion shekels, “110 million were earmarked for religious seminaries that encourage their students to join the army, 17 million were designated for ‘Jewish culture,’ 15 million went to Jewish education in the Diaspora, 1.4 million went to religious education and 78 million was earmarked for education in the settlements,” the paper writes. 

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