Naval gazing
Hebrew Media Review

Naval gazing

The Hebrew papers continue to hail the 'Klos-C' mission, while a witness in the Holyland case is denied a plea bargain

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Footage of the capture of the 'Klos-C' on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. (Screen capture: IDF)
Footage of the capture of the 'Klos-C' on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. (Screen capture: IDF)

Two days after the interception of the “Klos-C” ship carrying missiles bound for Gaza terror groups, the Israeli press continues to sing the praises of Israel’s troops and dedicates much of its coverage to the newly disclosed information about the operation.

Yedioth Ahronoth features a two-page spread on the mission, including pictures from the ship, comments by the IDF’s Military Intelligence chief at a press conference Thursday, and interviews with soldiers who took part in the takeover. The paper declares the operation “a perfect surprise” and describe the soldiers’ performance as “impressive.”

For commandos aboard the ship, the experience was thrilling, the paper writes.

“From the moment we sailed, the tension and excitement increased, because we knew exactly what we were heading towards,” Guy Ron, 20, told the paper. “As the moment of confrontation drew near, the adrenaline rose steadily.”

Once the ship was under Israeli control, the soldiers were “euphoric,” he said.

In an op-ed for the paper, Yossi Yehoshua writes that while the Israeli press touts the accomplishments of the soldiers aboard the ship, the real heroes are the “silent members” in intelligence.

“You won’t see them in the photographs the IDF spokesmen took from the helm of the “Klos-C” ship. Their names, too, can’t be published. But the credit for the mission should, first and foremost, be given to the silent members of the intelligence unit.”

Yehoshua also cautions that it may be time to temper the congratulations and encourage the IDF to concentrate its efforts on future missions.

“And after the compliments stage, the army must be told the time has come to stop the celebrations… It’s best if it [the army] lowers its profile, leaves the studios and goes back to work. If the Hezbollah and Hamas arsenals are any indication, there were shipments that the IDF didn’t manage to catch. The next ship is already on its way.”

Israel Hayom commends the Israeli forces most overtly with a whopping four-page feature — and gives prominence to a dig at its competitor Yedioth Ahronoth for not being gung-ho enough in its coverage of the mission.

“In Yiddish, there is a name for this, ‘kleine mensch,’ in Hebrew — small people. Like those who can never rejoice when their opponents are victorious,” Gonen Ginat writes. “Those people who would gouge out their eyes — so long as they hurt the other side too. According to Yedioth Ahronoth, it seems it’s better to be the target of rocket fire, rather than stand under a Netanyahu government that captures it [the missiles].”

Maariv leads with the new information as well, but with less pomp. “The first phase of the operation was satisfactory, especially considering the intelligence success in providing exact information on the ship, and in the way it was carried out,” the paper writes.

The only paper not to highlight the mission directly, Haaretz uses the new information as a springboard to discuss the Iranian nuclear deal negotiations.

“The impressive operational and intelligence success of the IDF, in conjunction with the Mossad, has been translated into a political narrative. The ship capture serves Israel in its explanations to the West that Iran cannot be trusted,” Amos Harel writes.

This comes in the midst of “Israeli disapproval for the concessions the US has made in the interim agreement, which [Israel] views as excessive, with too little received in return from Iran.” Israel is concerned that beyond these concessions, the US government has been misled by the Islamic Republic’s “charm offensive,” and is secretly hoping to “allow Iran renewed entry into the club of legitimate states, even if it’s through the back door,” continues Harel.

Meanwhile, late Thursday night, the prosecution in the Holyland corruption case against ex-premier Ehud Olmert decided against a plea bargain with Shula Zaken, Olmert’s former office manager. As the decision was reached close to midnight, only Yedioth Ahronoth and Haaretz caught it in time for Friday’s papers.

Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert's bureau chief Shula Zaken arrives at the Jerusalem District Court, October 1, 2013. (photo credit: Tal Shahar/Flash90)
Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert’s bureau chief Shula Zaken arrives at the Jerusalem District Court, October 1, 2013. (photo credit: Tal Shahar/Flash90)

Yedioth Ahronoth reports that the prosecution found Zaken’s testimony implausible. Quoting unnamed legal officials, the paper says Zaken provided “headlines” rather than hard evidence that would incriminate her former boss.

Both papers quote Zaken’s attorney on the final decision.

This testimony was “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said.

“She [Zaken] extended her hand to the state and it spurned her handshake. I hope this decision will be overturned in the future, as it is a mistake.”

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