The relative calm along Israel’s southern border with Gaza was shattered Tuesday when a sniper in Gaza shot and killed an Israeli working on the fence.
Haaretz is the only paper to use its front-page headline to describe the situation: “Third terror attack in two days: one Israeli killed on the Gaza border; 3-year-old girl killed in IDF retaliation.” The cut-and-dried article details how Salah Abu Latif, from the Negev town of Rahat, was shot by a sniper while working to repair the security fence close to Kibbutz Nahal Oz. Hours after he was shot, the IDF retaliated by attacking positions in Gaza, which the paper reports injured 10 Gazans and killed a toddler.
Yedioth Ahronoth sets the tone with its front-page headline, “The south is on edge.” Columnist Alex Fishman writes that the situation could spin out of control as now “in Israel they are waiting to see Hamas’s response to an attack that injured civilians, and then what the response of the IDF will be to the Hamas response.” But in the next sentence, Fishman offers a bit of optimism, “Though neither side has any interest in opening the southern front.”
Israel Hayom and Maariv take a more bombastic tone with their coverage of the attack, both prominently placing a quote from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the attack, “Whoever will test us will pay the price.”
Yoav Limor writes in a column in Israel Hayom that both sides “really want to avoid escalation.” But there is a troubling trend, “There is no apparent connection between the attack yesterday in Gaza and the shooting of the rocket at one of the communities near the fence yesterday.” In the past, when Hamas wasn’t in power, terror attacks were used to sabotage peace talks, but now it seems that the attacks from Gaza are designed to embarrass Hamas (and kill Israelis).
Maariv includes in its coverage of the attack a column by Shalom Yerushalmi who writes that the attacks could embarrass Netanyahu, who is actively trying to boost development in the south. Netanyahu was in Sderot promoting the opening of a train station when he received word of the attack. His presence there during the attack was symbolic of the difficulties in building up the south. Yerushalmi ends his piece by focusing on newly elected Sderot mayor, Alon Davidi. “Davidi didn’t want to promote the city because of the missiles occasionally landing on it. He didn’t want to present dangers, but hope. One Palestinian sniper that caused a harsh Israeli response showed him how just how difficult this task is.”
All the papers include a brief profile of the victim, Salah Abu Latif, who was killed on his first day of work. Maariv quotes his uncle who told the paper, “He went to work, not to kill.”
Israel Hayom quotes the family saying, “It’s a shame that a young man should die because of that. We do not even look at whether he was a Jew or Arab, what matters is that they should stop this war. Salah started to build a house that he was to be married in in the summer. ”
However, over in Haaretz, the paper reports that the family was upset that the police did not immediately release Abu Latif’s body for burial. It took four hours after he was pronounced dead until the body was released, forcing the burial to be delayed a day. According to the paper, the family received no explanation for the delay and Rahat Mayor Talal al-Karwinawi had to intervene to get answers. Abu Latif’s uncle, Majar, lashed out, saying, “If this was a Jew who died, everyone would be up in arms, but for a Bedouin no one cares.”
The next steps
How will the recent surge in attacks affect the peace process? Yedioth includes an article on the unhappiness at the upcoming prisoner release, called the “The mothers’ outcry.” The piece profiles mothers of terror victims whose perpetrators are set to be released in the next round of prisoner releases. Chaya Rond, who lost her son in a 2002 terror attack, told the paper, “When we hear about a terror attack we think it’s a waste to chase after them because in any case they’ll release them. The majority of the country is against these ridiculous steps, but no one cares what we think.”
While Yedioth focuses on the emotional, Israel Hayom updates its readers on the political disagreements between Israel and the United States. As part of the ongoing discussions about security arrangements in the Palestinian territories, Israel wants the right to conduct “hot pursuit” of terrorists into a Palestinian state. The Palestinians are against this move, saying it would erode their sovereignty. Israel also wants the right to operate freely within Palestinian cities, which the Palestinians reject for the same reasons.
Finally, shifting away from terrorism, Maariv includes an article on the recent discord in Shas after the death of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. The paper reports that there’s a battle waging between current Shas head Aryeh Deri and its former leader Eli Yishai, with Deri seemingly getting the upper hand. Yishai is increasingly being frozen out of party functions by Deri and Deri is courting support from within the religious community to solidify his political base. Three months after death of Yosef, the spiritual leader of Shas, it appears that Deri is the sole leader of the party, much to Yishai’s dismay.