Tuesday’s developments in Operation Protective Edge were not the most encouraging: a soldier MIA and presumed dead, a direct hit by a Hamas missile on an Israeli home, and a large number of cancellations of flights in and out of Ben-Gurion airport. But despite all those, the Israeli press was largely upbeat on Wednesday.
“We are strong and we will complete this mission” is Yedioth Ahronoth’s headline, quoting Colonel Ghassan Alian, the recently injured head of the Golani infantry brigade. Alian was released from the hospital on Tuesday and immediately returned to the brigade where he spoke to his soldiers.
Also on Yedioth’s front page are the pictures of the eight soldiers known to have been killed on Tuesday along with a picture of Oron Shaul, whom the IDF listed as MIA. Inside the paper asks, “Where did Oron disappear to?” and reports that the security services believe that he was killed alongside his comrades in the APC attack on Sunday morning. However they won’t say that officially.
Israel Hayom also uses the inspiring words of Alian on its front page, “The colonel: They shoot – we win.”
Aside from the Alian quote, the first two pages of the paper cover the decision of foreign airlines to stop flying to Israel. The decision comes after a Hamas missile landed in the city of Yehud and destroyed a home there. Yehud is only 4.4 kilometers (about 2.75 miles) from the airport and the hit sparked fears among foreign airlines. The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) issued a 24-hour ban on American airlines from flying in or out of Tel Aviv and the European Union issued similar guidelines.
Aharon Lapidot writes that the decision by aviation officials in America and Europe causes Israelis to feel like they are under siege. Open airways are a strategic need, he writes, which feed Israel’s economy. “This is a dramatic move, which has already swept up almost all the other foreign airlines and increased the sense of siege and isolation among many Israelis.” Another effect that the move showed Israelis is how important the national carriers (El Al, Israir, and Arkia) are to the country.
Over in Haaretz, its front page recaps all the developments of the past day but also includes an article on a resolution passed on Tuesday, in which the foreign ministers of the EU called for all terrorist groups in Gaza to disarm and condemned the rocket fire from Gaza on Israeli civilians, calling it “criminal and unjustified acts.” The paper reports that Israeli diplomats around the continent worked hard to remove clauses that were critical of Israel. According to the paper, Israel welcomed the resolution, which also called for an immediate ceasefire.
The IDF pushes on
While the airline cancellations and soldiers’ deaths captured the headlines, the papers also provide an update of how the IDF is performing in the field. Haaretz reports that over 100 targets were hit in the Shejaiya neighborhood and that overall 28 tunnels have been discovered and six have been destroyed. The head of the Nahal infantry brigade said of the fighting, “Hamas is fighting with all of their might. They have tried to kidnap our soldiers, but I’m happy to say they have not succeeded.”
Yedioth provides a rundown of Tuesday’s developments. Among the numbers it provides: 29 soldiers injured, 259 terror targets attacked, 210 terrorists killed from when the ground invasion began. Also, 89 rockets were fired at Israel on Tuesday, with 20 being shot down by Iron Dome and 1 rocket succeeding in damaging two houses in Yehud.
The highly motivated spirit of the Israeli press isn’t reflected just on the front pages but also in the op-eds. Israel Hayom columnist Boaz Bismuth writes “Hamas is euphoric – but we win.” Bismuth says that reports out of Gaza say that Hamas is euphoric, but he can’t figure out why. He doesn’t give it too much thought though, quoting Napoleon Bonaparte: “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” And Bismuth thinks that Hamas’s mistake is that it has forgotten how strong Israeli society is. “The enemy changed over the years, and the war has changed — and only one thing remains the same: the spirit of the warriors and spirit of the people.” If Hamas is euphoric, let them have that, he says, “We’ll take the victory.”
In Yedioth, Nachum Barnea urges Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take the initiative in the operation. Barnea writes that while world leaders play phone tag trying to arrange a ceasefire, Israel should not rest on its laurels. Instead in should rely on its deterrent power to create a ceasefire that lasts and not rely on agreements to do the job.
Over in Haaretz, the op-ed wants an explanation from the government and the army why they were complacent regarding the tunnel threat. The paper points to Netanyahu’s willingness to accept a ceasefire last week, but the paper asks, “If the tunnels were such a strategic threat, why was he pushing for ‘quiet in return for quiet’?” The paper declares that if the tunnel threat was underestimated, then this was a major intelligence failure that must be investigated.