The tipping point

The tipping point

A ceasefire reached and attacks in Jerusalem take the lead in Israeli media, with little mention of Palestinian death

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

The scene where a tractor driver flipped over a bus on Shmuel Hanavi Street in Jerusalem, on Monday, August 4, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
The scene where a tractor driver flipped over a bus on Shmuel Hanavi Street in Jerusalem, on Monday, August 4, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A bus knocked over in a deadly attack and rumors of a possible ceasefire are the lead stories in Tuesday’s papers, after Palestinian terrorists carry out two acts of violence in Jerusalem and fighting in the Gaza Strip may have reached a break. The major headline-grabbing attack in Jerusalem involved a Palestinian man using an excavator to run over a Jewish man, then smash a bus repeatedly with its digging arm. The ceasefire was set to take hold at 8 a.m. Tuesday for three days (and has thus far held).

The front page of Haaretz leans towards the issue of the ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, while the attacks in Jerusalem play second fiddle. The paper reports that the deal between Israel and the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip was announced by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, and that the sides agreed to an unconditional 72-hour truce, with an option to extend. During this time, an Israeli delegation will head to Cairo to negotiate a more lasting ceasefire to end hostilities in the Gaza Strip, it says. Haaretz quotes an Israeli official saying that if the truce takes hold, the remaining troops in the Gaza Strip will be pulled back into Israeli territory. The paper reports that the greatest concern for the Palestinian factions, particularly Hamas, is that the longer-term ceasefire arrangement comes up short and they don’t bring home the results they set out for to the Palestinian people — namely, lifting the siege on Gaza and freeing prisoners.

Israel Hayom, on the other hand, refers to the attack in Jerusalem as the “Tractor of Death” in its headline, and says that “the scenario the police and Shin Bet feared came true yesterday.” The paper dispenses with the usual precautionary terms, such as allegedly and reportedly, and says that 23-year-old Muhammed Naif El-Ja’abis worked as an excavator operator at a site next to the scene of the crime “until he decided to go on a killing spree.”

The paper reports that Ja’abis first struck a pedestrian, who died of his injuries, and quotes the driver of the bus he repeatedly struck with his excavator arm saying, “he rammed into me and I didn’t know what happened.”

“I simply could have died, it was very frightening,” Nabli Abed Alhai, 31, of East Jerusalem tells the paper.

The paper calls the two police officers at the scene of the crime who fired multiple rounds into Ja’abis “the heroes of the day,” and publishes their play-by-play recount of the incident.

The second attack, the shooting of a soldier on Mount Scopus, gets significantly less press in Israel Hayom. Haaretz reports that the soldier remains in serious condition at the nearby Mount Scopus branch of Hadassah Hospital.

In Yedioth Ahronoth, the first order of business is the return of IDF soldiers to Israeli territory and the pullout from the Gaza Strip. The paper’s lead story is neither about the terrorist attack, nor about the ceasefire, but about the IDF destroying the last tunnel beneath the border. While most of the troops have been pulled back to Israeli territory, some remain in Gaza and may be withdrawn on Tuesday, the paper writes.

“When the decision is made [to call them back]… the end of the operation will be accompanied by a sour feeling and the determination that [it was] a strategic draw with Hamas,” the paper says. In the end, the war in Gaza was not one that belongs to the generals, it writes in its populist fashion, but of the foot soldiers and lower-ranked officers.

The paper’s coverage is likewise all blue, white and green, with a beaming soldier bearing a rifle and an Israeli flag. It reports on the 64 soldiers and officers whose lives are the Israeli toll of Operation Protective Edge thus far, and makes no mention of the cost in Palestinian lives. (Israel Hayom doesn’t mention the word Palestinian in its reporting on the 72-hour ceasefire until eight paragraphs in, and makes no mention of the death toll in Gaza.) Yedioth Ahronoth reports that the Palestinian delegates in Cairo “climbed down from the tree” and accepted the Egyptian ceasefire proposal. Though Israeli officials weren’t present, it reports, they were notified of the situation.

As always, the political cartoons in Israeli papers are telling as regards the prevalent sentiments about the war. Yedioth Ahronoth’s reflects the Israeli government’s turnaround in its relationship with the Palestinian Authority, and its desire to see the PA take control of Gaza instead of Hamas. It shows Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas; in the first frame, before Operation Protective Edge, Netanyahu tells Abbas to go to hell (azazel) and after the op he tells Abbas “Go to Gaza (Aza, in Hebrew).”

Screen capture of Yedioth Ahronoth's political cartoon on Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Screen capture of Yedioth Ahronoth’s political cartoon on Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Haaretz notes the near obsessive nature of Israelis’ attention to the 24-hour media coverage of Operation Protective Edge, with a man glued to his recliner watching Channel 2 News’s live action shots. His wife, frustrated like most Israelis, tries unsuccessfully to pry him free.

Screen capture of Haaretz's political cartoon on Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Screen capture of Haaretz’s political cartoon on Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Israel Hayom’s cartoon, meanwhile, is an incoherent jumble of images and biblical allegories. It shows two soldiers with shovels mounted on the ends of their rifles filling in a tunnel entrance. One soldier quotes the biblical verse “They will beat their swords into plowshares,” and the second replies, “Literally and figuratively.”

Screen capture of Israel Hayom's political cartoon on Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Screen capture of Israel Hayom’s political cartoon on Tuesday, August 5, 2014
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