Two days after their bodies were found, the funerals of Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel dominate print media coverage Wednesday, competing only with the release of the emergency call made by Shaar on the night of the kidnapping, which was ultimately ignored by dispatchers.
“The bravery of Gil-ad, the failure of the police,” reads the main headline on Yedioth Ahronoth, accompanied by three pictures of the teens’ mothers at the funerals Tuesday. “The nation of Israel in mourning, and anger,” reads Israel Hayom, which graces its front with a picture of the three flag-covered bodies.
Both papers run large transcripts of the tape, though while Yedioth writes that the noises heard after a kidnapper yells “head down” only may be gunshots, Israel Hayom and Haaretz are both sure that they are.
Yedioth’s Sima Kadmon writes that had Shaar called his mother instead of the police, the army would have begun the search right away instead of eight hours later, though considering the teens were killed shortly after being nabbed, it likely would not have made a difference. But the implications of the police’s mistake are much wider.
“Three outstanding families buried their boys yesterday,” she writes. “And in this tragedy, even without knowing all the details, it’s not hard to fill in the gaps. To imagine the situation. It’s hard to believe that in this country somebody would not deal at some point with the thought of what if this happened to him or to his child.”
In Israel Hayom, Dan Margalit writes that the biggest takeaway is that erring on the side of caution and alerting someone else in these cases should always be done. Still he says, it’s impossible to put yourself in the shoes of the person who handled the call on the night of June 12.
“Hearing the tape increases the bitter feeling that the dispatcher did not do enough to save the youths. This is a feeling bordering on anger. But still, it’s important to put forward three claims that can explain the failure somewhat. At the start, it is hard to hear Gil-ad’s words ‘They kidnapped me.’ What was heard by the public last night was scrubbed of all the background noise by the police. The dispatcher did try to call back and they didn’t answer. And routine is the largest foe of the watchman.”
Haaretz gives wider play to the funeral than the tape, noting that unlike other funerals of terror victims in the past, what occurred yesterday was cleansed of any talk of politics or wider comment on the Israeli-Palestinian situation, by mutual agreement of the families.
Still, the paper reports, “Despite the attempt to stick to the mutual guarantee, the father of Naftali Fraenkel said clearly, ‘You were killed because you were Jews; there should not be confusion for even a moment.’”
Yedioth and Israel Hayom run separate dispatches from each of the funerals, with snippets of eulogies from each and news about the funeral services. “There was a feeling of preparation already from the entrance to Elad,” Israel Hayom’s reporter writes from the funeral of Eyal Yifrach.
“The first to come out into the synagogue plaza was Iris, the mother of Eyal, looking exhausted. Afterward came his father Uri. The eulogies began softly but the voices grew as it went along.”
Gaza or settlements?
While the three youths were found, the hunt for the kidnappers is still underway, and the question of how Israel will respond is still up in the air, papers report.
In Haaretz, Amos Harel writes that Netanyahu would rather not launch a major operation in Gaza, but will be prodded into doing something the international community won’t like by his right-wing base. “Netanyahu reportedly met with settler leader Zeev Chever on Monday night. Chever has no interest in Gaza — he only wants more housing units. Moderate cabinet ministers such as Lapid, Livni and, surprisingly, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch are waging a holding battle. Some building will take place, but they hope it is limited to the Etzion Bloc, not to isolated settlements,” he writes.
Yedioth reports, though, that some ministers are keeping a large Gaza operation on the table, including Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Liberman, leading to a heated exchange between Bennett and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon at a cabinet meeting Tuesday night:
“’What you are suggesting will lead to an increase in hostilities that we won’t be able to control, until we have all-out war in Gaza. Do we really want a war in Gaza now?’ Ya’alon asked.
“‘It’s preferable that we be the ones that launch it,’ Bennett shot back.
“‘You are insisting on kicking the wall, you will find yourself barefoot and hurting,’ Ya’alon warned. At some point, Chief of Staff Benny Gantz got involved and attacked Bennett until Ya’alon calmed down.”