Israel’s war comes to Europe
search
Hebrew media review

Israel’s war comes to Europe

Hebrew-language newspapers see the London terror rampage through the unique eyes of a country that has dealt with its own similar bloodbaths

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Police officers and members of the emergency services attend to a person injured in a terror attack on London Bridge in central London, June 3, 2017. (AFP/Daniel Sorabji)
Police officers and members of the emergency services attend to a person injured in a terror attack on London Bridge in central London, June 3, 2017. (AFP/Daniel Sorabji)

Over a day after a deadly terror rampage in London, the stabbing and ramming spree is still very much on the minds of the Israeli press Monday morning, with papers dedicating the majority of their coverage to the Islamic State-claimed attack in London on Saturday which left seven people dead.

Much of the coverage looks at the attacks, in which three unidentified attackers ran people over with a van on London Bridge then lunged with knives seemingly at random at crowds, through the lens of a country that has dealt with its own spurt of similar terror incidents.

“18 minutes of horror” leads the front page of Israel Hayom (although the British authorities said the attack lasted only 8 minutes before the police shot the terrorists), with coverage of the latest attack to strike the UK dominating its first 10 pages. Israeli eyewitnesses who describe the panic that ensued as the car-ramming and stabbing attack was unfolding at a popular London nightlife hub noted the differences between the British and Israeli public’s response to terrorism.

“When I turned toward the bridge I saw a ton of police rushing to the scene on horseback. The British looked shocked, but we Israelis, we’re used to this,” one Israeli student said. “Nothing was back to normal the next day. The atmosphere on the street immediately turned to an atmosphere of gloom,” he added.

“I have to admit that its probably because I grew up in Israel that I’m less fazed by it, but my friends and colleagues here in London are very anxious and burdened by it,” another Israeli living in the British capital told the paper.

Armed police on St. Thomas Street, London, Sunday June 4, 2017, near the scene of Saturday night's terrorist incident on London Bridge and at Borough Market. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)
Armed police on St. Thomas Street, London, June 4, 2017, near the scene of Saturday night’s terrorist attack on London Bridge and at Borough Market. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)

Israel’s main left-wing newspaper Haaretz also leads with the London attack, but instead of the carnage of the actual knife and van assault it instead spotlights the wider consequences for Britain and Europe.

Columnist Amos Harel calls the uptick in jihadist-linked attacks on the Continent in recent years “Europe’s Intifada” and notes the difficulties in combating the phenomenon of lone-wolf attackers. Like in Israel, Harel suggests that Western nations will increasingly adopt Israeli counterterrorism tactics including armed police officers and ramped-up monitoring of internet activity.

Harel predicts that if reelected, British Prime Minister Theresa May could see her vow to crack down on domestic terror cells lead to a fierce national debate over the boundaries of the security services’ power.

Meanwhile, Haaretz’s Anshel Pfeffer predicts that Saturday’s attack will only further confuse undecided voters on election day Thursday. While May has promised an all-out campaign to stamp out Islamic extremism, her opponent Jeremy Corbyn has claimed that Western intervention in Middle East conflicts has significantly contributed to the surge in jihadist terrorism in the West.

Pfeffer says that “perhaps it’s time [Britons] started asking whether those in charge really know what they’re doing.”

Yedioth Ahronoth‘s coverage of the attack is dominated by a first-hand account from its London-based reporter Yaniv Halili, who happened to be at a nearby bar when the attack unfolded. Halili described the police officers who evacuated area bars as “polite yet aggressive” while they announced to patrons that “there are terrorists are here in the area.”

Yedioth appears to be impressed with May’s speech following the attack, declaring the British leader’s remarks had “restored her courage.”

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May delivers a statement outside 10 Downing Street in central London on June 4, 2017, following the June 3 terror attack.(AFP Photo/Justin Tallis)
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May delivers a statement outside 10 Downing Street in central London on June 4, 2017, following the June 3 terror attack.(AFP Photo/Justin Tallis)

May on Sunday morning denounced the “evil ideology of Islamic extremism,” and said Britain had perhaps been “too tolerant” of extremist ideologies in the past.

With a national election looming later this week, Yedioth calls May’s remarks a “polished campaign speech that aims to remind British voters that she is the only candidate who can effectively eradicate terrorism.”

Yedioth however doesn’t abandon the topic du jour: the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War.

The newspaper continues to delve into reports that Israel was prepared to detonate an atom bomb to deter invading Arab armies as a “doomsday” plan during the 1967 war.

Adding “new details” to complement the New York Times report on Saturday, Yedioth features interviews with IDF veterans who confirm the claim made by leading Israeli nuclear scholar Avner Cohen and retired IDF brigadier general Yitzhak Yaakov.

What is perhaps the most notable part of Yedioth’s coverage is how palpable the IDF’s inexperience in nuclear warfare was at the time. Former IDF officers tell the paper the idea to detonate an atomic bomb was a “spontaneous” one.

“We weren’t sure why they told us to lie down a kilometer and a half away from the device when it would be detonated,” an IDF vet said. “We were wondering what would happen to us, would we burn up immediately? Get thrown from the blast? None of us knew what would happen.”

An Egyptian transport burning after a direct hit from an Israeli tank during the Six Day War, June 5, 1967. (David Rubinger/Government Press Office)
An Egyptian transport burning after a direct hit from an Israeli tank during the Six Day War, June 5, 1967. (David Rubinger/Government Press Office)

As part of its special ongoing coverage of the 50th anniversary, Yedioth features the personal reflections of the war in which Israel defeated the combined Arab armies in just six days and captured the West Bank.

“I’m sorry that we won,” writes Emunah Alon, who says the last half century has “dragged both us and the Palestinians into a dead end.” While she admits that Israel’s control of the West Bank has brought about “discouragement and bloodshed” to both sides, Alon argues that the territory “never belonged to Palestinians.”

Unlike in the 1948 War of Independence, Alon says the war of 1967 has never really ended, and “we must decide for ourselves whether this land is really ours.”

On the other side of the political spectrum is author and rights activist Sami Michael, who draws parallels between Israel’s policies regarding the West Bank and the failed imperialist policies of the French and British Empires.

He says Israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank reflects the “morally bankrupt side of Israeli society” and has divided the country by having different laws for West Bank settlers, Palestinians, and Israelis living in

Finally, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to West Africa makes an appearance both in Yedioth and Israel Hayom.

The pro-Netanyahu Israel Hayom naturally features the prime minister’s latest overseas visit on its front page, prematurely declaring the trip aimed at bolstering Israel’s relations with Muslim African nations “a success.”

Yedioth is less impressed with Netanyahu’s diplomatic overtures, choosing instead to highlight an awkward encounter.

According to the paper, Netanyahu’s Shin Bet security guards got into a fight with the security team of Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé, delaying the meeting between the two leaders for over an hour. The daily calls the incident “tense” and “embarrassing.”

read more:
comments