Names and faces
Hebrew media review

Names and faces

Salam Fayyad's resignation and Lapid's attempts to finalize the budget proposal are pushed to the inside pages by Memorial Day

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Soldiers sit atop a tank outside Gaza, 2012 (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
Soldiers sit atop a tank outside Gaza, 2012 (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

As Israel prepares to mourn 23,085 fallen soldiers and 2,493 terror victims, Sunday’s papers push the news to the edge of the cover page or inside, making room for pictures of families and soldiers visiting military graves throughout the country.

Haaretz is the only daily to highlight the resignation announced by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Fayyad, who’s been in office since 2007, felt the relationship between him and PA President Mahmoud Abbas had reached an all-time low. Washington tried to convince him to remain but he’s set on leaving, the report says.

For Israel’s Memorial Day, which will start this evening, Haaretz tells us that 92 new names (including wounded veterans who died) were added to the list of fallen soldiers since last year, and 10 more citizens were killed in terror attacks.

Israel Hayom is filled with stories of those killed in battle and terror, putting names and faces behind the national day of mourning. In one case, MK Yoni Chetboun (Jewish Home) recalls how his company was ambushed in Bint Jbeil during the Second Lebanon War, and how he carried the body of his commander, Maj. Roi Klein, after he jumped on a grenade to save the lives of his soldiers.

A different story is that of the Imaani family, who moved to Israel from Tehran following the Islamic revolution. After the move, the parents buried two sons; one was shot in an IDF training accident and another, 11 years later, killed when a suicide bomber in 2002 targeted the Moment Cafe in Jerusalem. “The thought that maybe our giant loss would have been avoided if we’d stayed in Iran doesn’t leave me,” the mother, Tali, confesses.

In a similar vein, Maariv brings the stories of fallen soldiers — through the eyes of their former commanders. “This week I started, along with your wonderful sisters Tamar and Amit and your dear friend Ron, to prepare for your 42nd birthday,” Maj.-Gen. A. writes in an open letter to Captain Nir Poraz, who was killed during the attempted rescue of Nachshon Wachsman in 1994.

Alongside the personal stories, Yedioth Ahronoth reports that the majority of Jordanian legislators are in favor of pardoning the soldier who killed seven Israeli girls near Naharaim in 1997, and that the families of the victims are preparing to fight the decision. “This murderer killed seven innocent girls, he should rot in jail,” Shlomo Bedayev, who lost his daughter Shiri in the shooting, told the daily.

Yair Lapid’s attempts to finalize the 2013-14 budget continue to make headlines in light of the finance minister’s proposal to raise the country’s deficit for the sake of less drastic cuts. Haaretz and Yedioth Ahronoth report that Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer heavily opposes the idea, which is why he has refused to attend meetings on the matter. Maariv quotes sources who say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pleased with his party members who are attacking Lapid, since he sees the finance minister as a potential threat.

The story of a 13-year-old girl attacked by an Amstaff dog while playing in her Beersheba garden is in Israel Hayom and Yedioth. “I didn’t do anything to the dog,” the teen recalled from her hospital bed. “[The dog] jumped on me with no reason, attacked me and bit me in the neck, the back, the eye. I’m filled with cuts,” she said.

It’s not the first time an Amstaff — a breed known as good attack dogs — has injured someone in Israel, and the owner, suspected of negligence and arrested. The event once again brings to the surface a decade-old law forbidding the sale of dangerous dogs to private owners.

The surprise story of the day is a small piece in Israel Hayom, about an unexploded 70-year-old bomb found Friday in northern Tel Aviv. The quarter-ton payload was most likely dropped on the city during a lethal 1940 air raid carried by the Italian air force.

After all the news, it’s good to see the papers remember what’s really important as they warn Israelis that national BBQ day — also known as Independence Day — could be in danger. The reason? Weather reports indicate a drastic drop in temperatures on Tuesday.

What does this mean?

Barak Ravid, writing in Haaretz, calls Fayyad’s resignation a “dramatic development.” Reminding readers that the Palestinian leader was a financial expert, educated in the US, Ravid says “Fayyad was the address” for Jerusalem and Washington regarding all matters of security and monetary cooperation.

Fayyad’s departure “is another sign of the internal crumbling of the Palestinian Authority and the deep political crisis it is in,” Ravid writes. “To survive, Abbas is using a semi-dictatorship regime in the West Bank, in a Hosni Mubarak style. Bloggers and journalists are thrown into prison, demonstrations and criticism quelled harshly, the government isn’t functioning and the ruler continues to travel the world.”

In Maariv, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon writes about the “wounds that have trouble healing.” The former IDF chief of general staff describes the feeling that will engulf Israelis at the graves and memorials around the country as the sun sets and the siren sounds.

“The country will freeze. Faces and names will cross in front of each and every one of our eyes, an unforgotten smile, conversation, meeting, an experience which would have been at the edge of our memory had the worst of all not happened,” writes Ya’alon.

Every person is unique, each family has its own pain, Ya’alon says, emphasizing that the painful sacrifices happened so that the state could survive and flourish. He ends with the traditional prayer, “May the memory of the fallen be blessed.”

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