Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, behind bars and dark sunglasses, was on every Israeli front page Sunday morning. The deposed leader received a life sentence from an Egyptian court for complicity in the killing of protesters during last year’s revolution.
The Cairo court’s decision provoked a tidal wave of discontent across the country, with its epicenter at Tahrir Square in Cairo. “Mobs in Tahrir: ‘Death to Mubarak,'” Israel Hayom‘s headline reads. Boaz Bismuth writes that the decision enraged Egypt’s youth and strengthened the Muslim Brotherhood. Mohammed Morsi, the party’s presidential candidate, vowed on Saturday to hold a retrial if elected. He writes, “What speaks more to the Egyptian people these days?!”
Israel Hayom’s political cartoon is the only one in the Israeli press to depict the imprisoned former dictator. Mubarak is depicted in the form of a pharaonic sarcophagus, wearing the royal crown and bearing the crook and flail. His hands, crossed over his chest, are shackled.
Haaretz reports mass protests in Cairo fueled by “rage [that] was not only because of the ruling, but also because of the events in the presidential elections and the anticipated clash between the heirs of Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood.” Haaretz points out that anger was also directed at the senior Interior Ministry officials who were let off the hook despite leading the charge against protesters last year.
Haaretz says that what the masses wanted was “a show trial.” The court operated according to judicial procedure but “the public wanted the ‘trial of the century’… that would even the score with Mubarak for 30 years of oppression and corruption,” it writes. The challenge for Egypt, according to the paper, is coping with the fundamental aspect of democracy, as “these procedures by their very nature can’t make everyone happy.”
Writing in Yedioth Ahronoth, Smadar Peri calls Mubarak’s trial a “political sentencing” aimed at calming the molten core of the revolution. “The outcome seems like a deal concocted by Judge Ahmed Rifaat, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, and Mubarak’s lawyer,” to keep the revolutionaries and the remaining Mubarak supporters satisfied.
Peri goes so far as to mourn the loss of Mubarak. “From our perspective,” she writes, including the entire country in her feelings, “it was difficult to see Mubarak on the stretcher yesterday, old and infirm, armed with sunglasses meant to hide what he felt when he heard his sentence.”
“We will remember Mubarak as an ally,” she adds, while “the fruits of his peace, whosoever the next president will be, will vanish.”
Maariv columnist Nadav Eyal says, “History will judge Hosni Mubarak, but it’s doubtful whether it will be worse than the revolution judged him, through the proper method — an Egyptian court.”
Although Mubarak ignored Western calls for reform, and although his secret police were brutal for decades and tried to suppress the revolution, few countries between the Mediterranean and Afghanistan were as open as Mubarak’s Egypt, he says.
Mubarak operated a regime “that didn’t know or didn’t want to behave with Syrian brutality,” which was both his downfall and his greatest compliment.
Attack averted and the death of a soldier
The Israeli press reports on the death of SSgt. Netanel Moshiashvili on Friday in a shootout with a terrorist who broke through the Gaza border fence. Haaretz’s headline reads “A soldier was killed by the fire of a terrorist that infiltrated from Gaza,” whereas Israel Hayom writes “The soldiers’ determination prevented a major terrorist attack against civilians.”
Haaretz features a short piece about 16-year-old Moshiashvili leaving his ultra-Orthodox yeshiva in order to enlist in the army at 18. “He did everything in order to go to [the Golani Brigade] like his father. We asked everyone we could to get him a Golani draft date,” the fallen soldier’s uncle said.
Yaakov Moshaishvili, Netanel’s father, said, “I am comforted by the fact that he protected the Jewish people and the State of Israel with his life.”
Yedioth Ahronoth reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to transplant the Givat Ulpana neighborhood of Beit El, which is slated for demolition.
The High Court of Justice ruled that the neighborhood was constructed on private Palestinian land and must be demolished. Instead, the prime minister announced, the five buildings in question would be lifted off their foundations and relocated to an abandoned firing range on government property a kilometer away.
Haaretz reports that the plan originated with Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser, who was reminded of the moving of the Templar complex in Tel Aviv in 2005.
Maariv also reports on carcinogenic bus stops. According to the paper, bus stops adjacent to power lines, transformers, or electrical boxes expose people waiting for the bus to high levels of radiation, which increases the risk of cancer or abortions. Maariv’s solution: stand 5 meters away.