A lot of soul searching and confusion are found on the front pages of Sunday’s Hebrew dailies after the pointless murder of a teenager rattles the country.
Yedioth Ahronoth has a picture of the victim, Naor Atias from Petah Tikva, under the headline, “He was only 16.” Inside, the paper highlights a statement from the suspected killer: “We caught him, beat him, I took out my knife and stabbed him. I made the mistake of my life.” Yedioth explains the stabbing took place in a park in Petah Tikva where two youth gangs were fighting over a girl, and what started out as a shouting match ended in tragedy. The suspected attacker also told authorities that prior to the stabbing he drank half a bottle of vodka.
Israel Hayom includes an op-ed from Hatnua MK (and former Tel Aviv police chief) David Tzur, who quickly identifies why this case struck a chord with the country. “Every murder is shocking, but the sense of shock and frustration is exponentially greater when it involves a minor.” While Tzur acknowledges that alcohol played a role, he says that part of the solution is educating police departments on how to deal with youths and expand their patrolling of parks and other areas of entertainment. “There needs to be cooperation between the educational institutions and law enforcement to have a massive presence in recreation areas, to have zero tolerance for violence, to educate and to set limits,” Tzur concludes.
Over in Haaretz, the murder makes the front page, but most of the page’s real estate belongs to the peace talks and the possible progress being made. Haaretz reports that US Secretary of State John Kerry may return to Israel on Monday (on Sunday morning, Kerry updated that he would return even earlier, by Sunday night) because he was so encouraged by the progress being made. Kerry left Israel Sunday morning for Saudi Arabia and Jordan, but had marathon meetings with Abbas and Netanyahu over the weekend that he indicated left him optimistic — despite some of the pessimism from the Palestinian side — about getting a framework agreement in place.
While Kerry may be upbeat, Maariv has an interview with someone who is not so happy with the current peace talks – former Mossad chief Meir Dagan. Saying that he has no interest in entering politics, Dagan spoke about a range of issues, including how he agrees with Netanyahu that the agreement between the West and Iran is “very bad.” He called the recent dust-up about the Jordan Valley a manipulation and said, “it is of no security importance.” He also called for Israel to make peace with the Palestinians via an agreement with Arab nations as a group, through the Arab League.
Fighting for his life
Former prime minister Ariel Sharon’s medical condition continues to worsen and the papers seem resigned to the fact that Sharon is on his deathbed. Yedioth reports that the past weekend was a “sad one” as his bodily functions continued to shut down one after another. His family and friends are continuing to pray for Sharon, but, the paper writes, “they are arriving at the hospital to have one final hug — before it’s too late.”
Maariv quotes Professor Zeev Rotstein, director of Sheba Hospital (where Sharon is being cared for), saying doctors “are continuing to take care of him, but his situation won’t improve.” Rotstein went on to say that while he feels that these are Sharon’s final days, he continues to hold out hope. “Doctors always continue to look forward and hope. As we said before, Arik is a strong guy and he has surprised us before.”
Passing the test
Things along Israel’s northern border aren’t getting any calmer, especially now that Hezbollah may have acquired advanced long-range missiles. Israeli papers reported on a Wall Street Journal article that quotes US officials saying Hezbollah may have smuggled advance missile parts from Syria into Lebanon in recent months. Hezbollah apparently may have engineered power outages along the Syrian-Lebanese border to hamper Israeli surveillance of the moves. According to the article, Hezbollah has acquired 12 Yakhont anti-ship missiles since July.
Israel has feared that the proliferation of advanced weaponry to Lebanon would be one of the long-term repercussions of the Syrian civil war, a fear that contributed to the attention paid to a recent successful test of Israel’s anti-missile defense system Arrow 3. Israel Hayom reports that while it’s still a preliminary test (there was no missile to intercept), officials deemed it an important step towards the system becoming operational. The Arrow 3 will be part of a multi-layered missile shield that includes Iron Dome for short-range missiles, David’s Sling for medium-range and the Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 systems for long-range missiles.
In the opinion pages, Haaretz’s editorial calls for the poor to participate in the national debate on solving the problem of poverty in Israel. As the debate continues in the government on how to help Israel’s 1.75 million citizens who live below the poverty line, the paper points out, there is one group notably absent from the process — the poor themselves. The editors argue that to combat poverty the government needs to listen to and understand the stories and lives of the poor. The piece quotes Israel Prize laureate and Hebrew University professor of social work Jona Rosenfeld, saying, “The poor live in a different world from mine. I want to work with the poor, not for them.”