After a relatively slow weekend for news, Sunday morning’s papers focus on the ongoing search for Malaysia Airlines flight 370 and the Purim festivities that kicked off the night before. On a more solemn note, the press pays homage to war hero Meir Har-Zion, who was laid to rest Sunday afternoon.
“The pilots are suspects,” runs Yedioth Ahronoth‘s headline, catching up on the new developments in MH370′s disappearance last week. An infographic shows the projected trajectory of the plane after it passed back over the Malay Peninsula and westward toward the Bay of Bengal.
Unlike many major news outlets, Yedioth Ahronoth is at least cognizant of the fact that it’s playing the “hypothesis game,” as it dubs the column in which two people who know very little about the incident guess what happened to the plane. One bit is written by a thriller author, who says that planes of that size don’t simply drop off the radar and land on an impromptu airstrip.
“If indeed the plane was diverted from its course and continued to fly several hours, as reported, one can assume that a large and capable entity was involved: a state,” Amnon Jackont writes. He points the (hypothetical) finger at “every dictatorship in fuel range of the plane, from Russia to Iran.”
Dictatorships? Russia and Iran? That’s not what’s on Haaretz‘s front page. Paraphrasing the Malaysian prime minister’s press briefing, the paper says that “the crew are suspected of hijacking [the plane] in the direction of Kazakhstan or Australia.”
Israel Hayom pushes the hard news back to Page 9 and instead focuses on the Purim celebrations. With a slight overdose of gravitas, the paper reports, “Today it happens: the Israeli people are expected to go out to the streets en masse and celebrate the Purim holiday with Adloyada parades and parties — and with loads of unique costumes of course.” Atop the usual information about time and place of such parades in various cities, the paper informs its readers that residents of southern Israel will also be celebrating the holiday. True to form, Yedioth Ahronoth tops the rest by publishing the most outlandish and borderline offensive costumes possible, including a woman in blackface dressed up as “the cover of National Geographic.”
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s comments on Channel 2 Saturday night also cause a bit of a buzz after he said that “there won’t be a [peace] agreement in our generation” with the Palestinians and said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was “not a partner for peace.”
“I discovered that the conflict is over all of [British Mandate] Palestine; they don’t recognize our right to exist here,” Yedioth quotes him saying.
Haaretz reports that Abbas is planning to tell US President Barack Obama that he will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state as part of the negotiations during their meeting Monday in Washington. According to the paper, Abbas’s two objectives in the US are to get borders for a future Palestinian state on paper and for Obama to pressure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to drop the whole Jewish state thing.
Yedioth Ahronoth also reports on Friday evening’s IED attack on an Israeli patrol along the border with Lebanon. One of the patrol vehicles was damaged, but none of the soldiers was injured. Haaretz notes that three soldiers were taken to Ziv Hospital in Safed, but according to the IDF it was only to make sure they hadn’t suffered from shock.
Yedioth says that the Israeli military suspects Hezbollah was behind the bomb, and tanks fired back into Lebanon in response. Haaretz shows a picture of UN inspectors in a Lebanese house that was struck by Israeli retaliatory fire. The Lebanese army reported that nine shells were lobbed into Lebanon, but no injuries were reported.
“Hezbollah’s hand was in the matter, and Hezbollah’s hand will be hurt,” the paper quotes an IDF source saying.
Meir Har-Zion’s passing at age 80 also earns a few inches of ink in the papers. He was the last surviving member of Ariel Sharon’s elite Unit 101, which carried out retaliatory strikes against Israel’s Arab neighbors in the 1950s. Haaretz calls him one of “the country’s icons of heroism,” Israel Hayom calls him “the legendary fighter,” and Yedioth Ahronoth says he was the “last testimony to the age of titans that is no more.” Haaretz quotes Sharon’s commendation of Har-Zion saying that he “was the most daring fighter of Unit 101 and the Paratroopers.”