A new week starts in Israel with front-page headlines in all of the newspapers reporting on the tragic and senseless death of a Beersheba man who was stabbed to death Friday night, apparently because he angered a group of youths hanging outside his house by asking them to be quiet.
“Gadi died in my arms,” screams the top headline in Yedioth Ahronoth, with a quote by Michal Vichman, the murdered man’s wife, who witnessed the killing from her apartment balcony.
Maariv‘s headline elaborates. “Gadi approached them and then one of the boys charged him and headbutted him while stabbing him. I ran to the park but only saw him gasp and die.”
Nearly as disturbing as the killing itself is the police’s handling of the event. According to police statements, the emergency call center received four separate calls that night complaining of the noisy group, one of nearly 40 public disturbance reports in the city fielded over the course of the night. Police said that a patrol car was sent to the location, but officers did not spot the disturbance and left the scene. According to Vichman, the police only arrived after her husband was attacked and the killers ran away.
Vichman also said the police prevented her and other passersby from treating Gadi while he was still alive, instructing them to wait for an ambulance crew.
A full investigation has been launched, but police admit that they have no leads to aid them in apprehending the suspected murderers.
And they’re off!
Elections news makes front-page headlines in all the Hebrew dailies too, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set to formally announce the already agreed upon September 4 date for general elections, this evening at the Likud party convention in Tel Aviv.
“Netanyahu to officially launch elections season,” reads Maariv’s headline.
Haaretz notes that the gathering will mark the beginning of Likud’s election campaign, and will include the introduction of new regulations for the party primaries scheduled for the week of June 10.
Other stories making the front page include: Maariv’s reporting on the rising cost of tomatoes due to a farm labor shortage, Yedioth’s coverage of new development in the Harpaz forgery affair, Haaretz’s report on new recommendations made to ensure civilian oversight on IDF probes, and Israel Hayom‘s curtain raiser on the French presidential elections being held today.
Both Yedioth and Maariv dedicate the first four inside pages of the paper to the killing in Beersheba. Also included are reports on other violent crimes, including four other killings that took place over the weekend, as well as chronicles of Israel’s short but painful history of random and spontaneous murders by youths.
With crime and politics dominating the media there is not much room left for anything else. Israel Hayom reports on Page 19 on the mixed homecoming of Hagai Amir, the brother of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin, who was released from jail after serving a 16-year sentence on Friday. According to the report, an unrepentant Amir was met with warm embraces from supportive family members and catcalls from left-wing activists, all of whom waited for him outside the prison gates early Friday morning.
Amir, who along with his family spent his first weekend as a free man with relatives at the West Bank settlement of Shavei Shomron, was greeted there with posters reading “Thou shall not murder” and a cold shoulder from the residents.
Yedioth features a story on Page 14 reporting that the source of the foul smell that spread across the Tel Aviv region on Thursday has yet to be identified, but warning that had it been caused by a dangerous substance, residents would have been in trouble as the country’s dangerous substance response units are severely under-budgeted.
Yedioth’s back page reports on 28 hikers who were taken to hospital Saturday after eating seeds of a poisonous plant. Doctors said it was not clear why all the hikers had partaken of the seeds, but warned against ingesting unfamiliar flora when in nature.
Maariv’s back page story reports on the death of US rap star Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys. The veteran hip hop group, made up of Jewish New Yorkers, is well known in Israel and the story describes Yauch, who died at the age of 47, as being the conscience of the trailblazing trio.
The roots of murder
Sharon Kidon writes in Maariv’s opinion pages on the “Evolution of violence,” referencing the killing of Gadi Vichman. “The horrid murder in Beersheba is not a singular case. Violence is an existential threat that demands urgent and comprehensive treatment,” she writes.
Anat Lev-Adler also writes about the killing in Yedioth, linking today’s youth’s disregard for life to a lenient justice system that allows men like Hagai Amir to go free despite their refusal to repent for their deeds. “Such a man must remain behind bars for the rest of his life, or until he apologizes. Otherwise his renewed presence [among us] will continue to poison society and lead to the next murder,” writes Lev-Adler.
Gideon Levy in Haaretz writes about the upcoming elections in an essay entitled “Sparta is headed to the polls.” “The crucial issues Israel is facing — the occupation, the peace process [what's that?], the rule of law, democracy, inequality — will again be cast aside, maliciously of course. They will be substituted by the marginal issue of drafting the ultra-Orthodox, while the specter of a regional war is haunting Israel,” Levy writes.