Sick kids, overcrowded hospitals, lying ex-aides and mis-sent emails, budget cuts, racist fans, chemical weapons fears, shameless self-promotion, Iranian explosions, monkeys in space, human sacrifice, cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria – all these and more can be found on the front of Israel’s four leading Hebrew newspapers… er, except for maybe the last three items.
Each paper leads off with a different tidbit in Israel’s wide world of news, and Yedioth Ahronoth decides to go straight for the heartstrings with a story about overcrowded hospitals and poor sick kids in the hall because there’s no room in the actual wards.
“Every day of winter we see between 80 and 100 admissions, and we have only 12 beds,” the head of the pediatric emergency ward at Wolfson Hospital in Holon tells the paper. Other sections of the hospitals are also overflowing, with a national occupancy rate of 103%. If you’re sick in Tel Aviv, where area hospitals are at about 140% occupancy, it might make sense to take a ride north to Nahariya, where the hospital is at a downright roomy 56% occupancy rate.
If not, though, don’t be surprised if your roommate is a piece of overcooked schnitzel: “The sick are even being put in the dining room,” a doctor tells Yedioth. “The truth is that I feel very sorry for them.”
If you do travel north for some get-well R&R, be wary — it may not last. Maariv reports that all is not quiet on the northern front and some communities are even preparing bomb shelters for the possibility that Syria’s civil war will soon spill over into the verdant hills of the Galilee, via Hezbollah and the acquisition of Assad’s chemical weapons.
With two Iron Dome anti-missile batteries recently being moved to the north, the mayor of Kiryat Shmona, just getting back on its feet after the battering it took in 2006’s Second Lebanon War, is not taking any chances, especially if the next missiles that come flying overhead have chemical or monkey payloads. “I’m following the reports on the changes around us,” Mayor Nissim Malka tells the paper. “We’ve decided not to wait for new instruction. In the last few days we checked all the shelters, signed with a contractor, and have started to rush to refurbish the few public shelters that still need to be outfitted for emergencies.”
Israel Hayom, which gloatingly puts its circulation numbers on the front page, reports, based on the Lebanese press, that pro-Assad Hezbollah fighters are holding a number of bases in Syria and are helping protect chemical weapons sites, which puts the staunchly anti-Israel terror group ever closer to a feared doomsday weapon.
War or no, Haaretz reports that yet again, the IDF’s own worst enemy is itself. In 2012, its top story says, suicide was the No. 1 cause of death among IDF soldiers, with 14 taking their own lives. The number is seven fewer than in 2011, but still higher than any other cause of death in the army’s ranks, according to the report. “Official IDF figures show that during 2012 eight soldiers were killed in traffic accidents, three were killed during training and similar accidents, five soldiers and reservists died in action, two drowned, and six died of illness.”
The great space ape caper
But Syrian chemicals weapons, depressed soldiers and overcrowded hospitals are just child’s play when compared to Iran’s MONKEY IN SPACE, which makes the front page of both Israel Hayom and Haaretz for some reason. Could Fajr missiles with simian payloads be the real existential threat Israel is facing?
Yedioth’s spook reporter Ronen Bergman, for some reason unimpressed by flying monkeys, instead examines the reports of a large explosion of the Fordo nuclear facility near Qom, wondering if there is any truth to them. Bergman can only conclude that the rumors of a large number of people trapped in the underground facility is false, supposing that if they were, the families would have said something by now. The rest, though, is anybody’s guess:
“Are we talking about a ‘normal’ malfunction, as happens now and then in projects of this size (and which has occurred several times in the Iranian nuclear program), or about another sabotage operation from the Mossad (which have been many and successful, should foreign reports be believed)? Or is this a provocative report dispersed by members of the Iranian opposition meant to embarrass the regime (which have also been plentiful)?”
Israel Hayom’s Dror Eidar, meanwhile, takes the UK’s Sunday Times to task for publishing an anti-Israel, and some say anti-Semitic, cartoon, saying it is indicative of the world’s attitude toward Israel and the Jews.
“What are the chances The Sunday Times, like the rest of the world press, understands what is happening in our region,” he asks. “It is not negligence, but an intellectual laziness that refuses to make room for the complex reality and get into the thick of regional differences of religious nuances, and look in depth at the education and communications of the nations. Who needs it, if you can blame the Jews?”
Haaretz devotes its editorial to calling for ex-Netanyahu aide Natan Eshel, who makes front pages for an email he accidentally sent to Labor head Shelly Yachimovich, to be booted from politics once and for all, as he was supposed to be following allegations of sexual misconduct.
“Instead of the prime minister setting high moral standards for Israeli society, and thereby marking the proper path for his citizens to follow, he preferred to keep faith with his crony, and thereby to undermine fundamental public norms,” the paper writes. “Netanyahu should end his cooperation with Eshel and replace him with someone more suitable.”