With a shaky truce and the prospect of continued rocket fire at southern Israel, one question weighs heavily in the Hebrew papers on Friday: How will the security situation affect the Purim holiday festivities on Sunday?
Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks on the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and a tragic fire in Jerusalem, are highlighted as well.
Israel Hayom paints a bleak picture for southern children on the beloved Jewish holiday, under the headline “Purim, sponsored by Iron Dome.”
“The sad reality: In the south, the Purim holiday will be celebrated under the threat of rocket attacks,” it reports.
“Perhaps it’s the rainy weather, or perhaps it’s the rockets raining down, but in any event the children in the south walked around yesterday morosely. Although schools in the area will operate normally today, the foreboding [that an attack will shatter the calm] spoiled the Purim joy for them and for their parents.”
The paper quotes 10-year-old Yochai, who describes how the threat of imminent rocket fire ruined the holiday.
“I’m not even talking about the rainy weather we’ve been having, we could deal with that,” he said. “But the moment there are security problems, our parents won’t let us walk around in the streets in our costumes. The most we can do is dress up and stay close to home. There goes our fun.”
Similarly, Yedioth Ahronoth leads with speculation about the upcoming celebrations in light of the threat of continued rocket fire from the coastal enclave.
“It was supposed to be an evening of excitement — the final adjustments to costumes, preparing gift baskets, and the rattles raising dust. But with the renewed rocket fire, a bit before bedtime, the smiles on the faces of children of the south were replaced with worried looks,” the paper reports.
The question on everyone’s mind, the paper writes, is whether Purim parties could be canceled due to the security threat.
However, much to the relief of southern Israel’s children (and adults), after an evaluation with IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz Thursday night, the decision was reached to carry on with the parties as planned.
“This is not the first time we are having parties while rockets fall in the background,” Hila Razon, a 17-year-old high school student, told the paper. “Unfortunately, we are experienced in this area. We’ll overcome this, we won’t let it ruin the holiday, and I hope people show up despite it all.”
Since the Islamic Jihad ostensibly reached a ceasefire agreement with Israel, brokered by Egypt — an arrangement denied by Israel — Israel Hayom writes that more than 10 rockets have been fired at Israel, while Haaretz puts the tally at 18, and Yedioth Ahronoth reports 16.
Haaretz leads its coverage with Kerry’s comments on the peace negotiations with the Palestinians. The secretary reportedly said that the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state need not be an essential requirement for peace with the Palestinians. This recognition is implicit in the 1947 UN resolution. And Yasser Arafat recognized Israel’s Jewish character, he said.
“The statement reveals a difference of opinion between Jerusalem and Washington, and is expected to stir up renewed tension between them,” Haaretz writes.
The paper quotes an unnamed official, with ties to the White House, who said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vocal insistence on Jewish recognition has only complicated the problem.
“The more Netanyahu makes this a central issue, the harder it makes it for Abbas to accept the demand,” he said.
Israel Hayom emphasizes the furious response from right-wing MKs to Kerry’s statement.
Likud’s Tzipi Hotovely accused Kerry of “not understanding the root of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict he purports to resolve.”
“The secretary of state wants us to completely disassemble both our strategic assets and our moral baggage. I’m sure Prime Minister Netanyahu will clarify to our friend in the US government that we are in touch with reality, not illusions,” MK Danny Danon (Likud) said.
The papers also report on a fire that broke out in Jerusalem on Thursday, claiming the life of a toddler left alone in an apartment. The source of the fire was reportedly a radiator, which was left on in the bedroom and ignited a blanket that was lying nearby.
“The baby had no pulse and was not breathing,” Pini Greenberg, a paramedic on the scene, told the paper. The child was resuscitated by paramedics and was transferred to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center, where doctors were forced to declare his death.
Israel Hayom reports that the baby was sleeping in a crib when the fire broke out, but was discovered on the bedroom floor after his entire crib was entirely consumed by the fire.