Pedophiles, Palestinians and piled-up snow take the lead in Thursday’s press, with the papers reporting on a rabbi sentenced to community service for touching a minor, clashes between the IDF and gunmen in Jenin, and Safed buried in white.
Israel Hayom leads off with the sentencing of Rabbi Mordechai Elon, a one-time celebrated mentor of the religious Zionist movement, to six months of community service, a 15-month suspended jail term, and NIS 10,000 ($2,850) in compensation for molesting a minor. It employs an Aramaic expression from the Talmud meaning “from a high roof to a deep well” to describe his fall from grace. The paper’s headline quotes the head of a children’s welfare group saying that the relatively lenient ruling sends “a terrible message to the victims.”
Elon’s response to the sentencing was quoted in the paper: “I happily accept the community service punishment. I have performed community service for 40 years already. I will be happy to do community service until [I am] 120.”
Yedioth Ahronoth’s headline for its coverage of the Elon trial is equally critical, reading “Didn’t admit, didn’t express remorse, won’t sit in prison.” Its reporter says that Elon walked out of the courtroom in Jerusalem with an expression like “someone who had a large stone rolled off his heart.”
According to the paper the prosecution does not intend to appeal the ruling, saying instead that they do not sniff at the punishment sentenced to the defendant. “The court addressed the entirety of the special circumstances in this instance, paying attention to the man in his position as the convicted,” attorney Sagi Ofir said. “We hope there will be an element of significant deterrence to people in similar circumstances.”
Maariv plays it straight, but quotes Elon’s expression of relief to be doing community service in its headline.
The papers are chilly about the Elon ruling, but Maariv unleashes an arctic blast of criticism about the “catastrophic” state of the northern city of Safed a week after it was hit by a winter storm. The paper says that whereas Jerusalem (a city approaching a million residents in the greater metropolitan area) received most of the attention, Safed (a burg of 30,000) received far less, and “the damage in Safed is much more serious and in the city they are struggling to determine when life will return to normal.”
Maariv quotes Safed Mayor Ilan Shohat saying that the city looks like it was hit by a tsunami. ”Years of investment down the drain,” he said, and gave the paper a laundry list of damage inflicted by the storm, most critically to schools and infrastructure.
The paper also reports that State Comptroller Yosef Shapira said he intends to investigate the country’s preparedness for the storm, given that there was ample advance warning to make arrangements.
Foreign policy concerns trump domestic issues for Haaretz on Thursday, as a private missive by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to US President Barack Obama in objection to the proposals recently laid out by Secretary of State John Kerry takes precedence. According to the paper, Abbas went over Kerry’s head and sent Obama a letter setting out his positions on the core issues being negotiated by the Israelis and Palestinians. In it he also voiced his objections to the proposal brought by Kerry during a recent trip, particularly those pertaining to security arrangements in the West Bank as part of a deal.
The meeting with Kerry on December 6 left Abbas “boiling and raging” and he therefore opted to commission a “non-paper” on the matter, the paper says. “In addition to addressing security arrangements, Abbas’s three-page document also dealt with other core issues, such as the borders of the Palestinian state, the settlements, recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and others.” In response to inquiries about the letter, Washington replied: “We do not comment on presidential correspondence.”
The media also covers a gunfight between IDF troops and gunmen in the West Bank city of Jenin that left one Palestinian dead and several injured on Wednesday night. The man killed in the shootout was identified in the Israeli press as 22-year-old Nafa Jamil A’sadi.
Haaretz reports that one man was killed and four injured after an elite police unit attempted to arrest a jihadist. According to Israel Hayom, nine Palestinians were injured and the man the Israelis were after was a member of the Islamic Jihad terrorist group. Maariv reports seven injured and says, citing Palestinian sources, that the suspect, Jamal Abu al-Hija, was involved in planning suicide attacks in Israel and was released as part of the deal to get Gilad Shalit back. Yedioth Ahronoth didn’t get the story out in time, as reports only emerged late Wednesday evening.