Israeli media are fuming after a Beersheba court approved a police request that all Israeli media outlets hand over their photographs of Saturday’s riots in protest over the Prawer Plan to resettle thousands of Bedouin in the Negev.
“This is a sweeping, inappropriate step that is simply not done around here,” say Haaretz’s lawyers, who filed a letter of protest with the court Tuesday morning, “which turns the media into an arm of the investigators. A sweeping order like does unacceptable harm to freedom of the press, freedom of expression, and the public’s trust in the media.”
With the court order, the campaign against the Bedouin protests is already headed in the wrong direction, says Maariv’s Amnon Lord. “The immediate reaction of every journalist in a democratic state must be to reject the police demand for this type of cooperation between law enforcement and the media….Even if it is clear that during the riots crimes were committed, and even if it is clear that in these riots there are leaders pushing people to commit violent crimes and even rebel against the state — there is no justification for coming to the media with a demand that they hand over their photographs. The media is not an intelligence arm of law enforcement. The media does not pass along warnings before protests or riots, even if it is clear there will be disturbances. So we should not be expected to pass along evidence after the fact.”
Haaretz’s Rachel Neeman contrasts Netanyahu’s support of the three Druze soldiers who were prevented from entering the Dimona nuclear reactor with their unit by security staff with his denunciation of the Bedouin riots in Hura.
“What can we understand from this?” Neeman asks in an article with provocative title that could be read either as “The conquest of the Negev” (a condemnation of the Bedouin) or “The occupation of the Negev” (a condemnation of the state).
“That Netanyahu sees the Druze as ‘good Arabs’ and the Bedouin as ‘bad Arabs,’ wild outlaws and enemies of the state? Or perhaps, in land fights, these nuances are not important, and whoever can use more strength will not hesitate to threaten activist and use stun grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets? Police on horseback and [elite] Yasam forces battling stone-throwing youths once again erase the Green Line, but the red line is still fluid. If the flames pick up a little more, could another red line be crossed?”
Yaron London, writing in Yedioth Ahronoth, sees both the Bedouin and Haredim as minority populations struggling to keep their traditions in the face of pressure from the modernized Israeli majority. But he feels the ultra-Orthodox are getting much gentler treatment.
“If we were determined to advance the Haredim toward modernity with the forceful methods with which we intend to advance the Bedouin, we would need, first of all, to force them to teach general studies in their schools, to force them to serve in the army with no exceptions, and maybe even to forbid them from building special towns within which it is easy for them to keep their nice inferior customs. We don’t do that, because these actions would violate our view of human rights and because we understand that their firm refusal will break the desire of the majority. Why do we do to the Bedouin what we wouldn’t dare do to the Haredim? The main reason is that the former are easy to compel and the latter, because of their numbers and political power, cannot be compelled.”
In Israel Hayom, Smadar Bat Adam supports the Prawer Plan, and remains optimistic about its implementation. Eighty-five percent of the Bedouin in question have no problem moving to proper towns, she writes, and 70-90 percent of Bedouin were in such towns by the end of the 1970s.
“The listening process came before the bill was submitted, during which Minister Benny Begin and his staff working on the law met a thousand people. Their ears were open. The government recognized the cities that were important to the Bedouin. On the one hand, it multiplied the compensation for land taken by the government by 250%, and on the other hand decided that whoever does not agree to this arrangement within a certain timeline will lose his compensation.
“The protest today is over money, so I am optimistic.”
And while the Negev heats up, Gaza, for now anyway, is manageable for Israel, and the cooperation between Israel and Hamas has actually reaped some benefits for Jerusalem, Maariv reports.
The commander of the Gaza Brigade, Mickey Edelstein, spoke with residents who live near the Gaza border about the relative quiet in the area, and attributed much of it to cooperation with the Strip’s Islamist rulers.
“Today, we have a zone of 100 meters in which we are operating inside of the strip,” he told the group, according to a recording that reached Channel 10. “At the beginning Hamas demanded we not go in even one meter. We passed along the message that this is for their own good, and will keep them from having to deal with Palestinians who reach the fence to protest, and they accepted this…We tell Hamas at the right time, that we will be in certain area, and it positions its people on the other side to keep the quiet.”
But cooperation is only one factor, writes Amir Rapaport. In addition to the deterrent effect left by Operation Pillar of Defense, the Egyptian desire to see its border with Gaza sealed has borne fruit. “Since this is a supreme Egyptian interest, Cairo is in an all-out war against weapons smuggling from Gaza, including Fajr missiles…The effort is working. Hamas and Islamic Jihad are unable to fill their Fajr bunkers, which were damaged in Pillar of Defense. They are only able to refill their long-range stocks by building them at home.”
Things aren’t looking good for the Gazan economy either, said the government’s coordinator in the Palestinian territories, General Eitan Dangot, in a meeting with 28 EU ambassadors in Brussels.
“According to a senior Foreign Ministry official,” writes Eli Berdenstein in Maariv, “Dangot told them about the electricity supply in Gaza, which only is enough for 16 hours a day on average, the sewage running in the streets since the pumping stations don’t work due to the lack of electricity, and the lack of drinking water because the pumps have stopped.”
Egypt is of no help, Dangot said, since it “sees Hamas as an enemy,” and told the EU diplomats that Israel was working with the PA to find a solution, even though Hamas refuses to pay the PA for Israeli gas it tries to send to Gaza.