Tragedy and training
Hebrew media review

Tragedy and training

A deadly end for a young couple; new developments on the Iranian nuclear program; and how to survive an earthquake

Soldiers practicing a rescue mission in 2004. Is Israel ready for an earthquake? A major exercise on Sunday aims to find out. (photo credit: Flash90)
Soldiers practicing a rescue mission in 2004. Is Israel ready for an earthquake? A major exercise on Sunday aims to find out. (photo credit: Flash90)

Making the front pages of all the major dailies was the tragic story of a young couple that ended in death and heartbreak in the hills outside of Jerusalem on Friday.

“Love until death,” reads Israel Hayom’s front-page headline. The article describes the decision of 18-year-old Raz Attias and his girlfriend to deal with her pregnancy by double suicide. The couple told friends of their plan and Raz even sent an email to Channel 2, which notified the police. When the police found them in a car outside Beit Shemesh, Attias was holding a gun to his girlfriend’s head. He fired at police officers who returned fire, killing him. The unnamed girlfriend escaped unhurt and told the paper, “We were so determined to put an end to our lives. I knew that on Thursday we were going to die.”

Yedioth Ahronoth includes in its coverage another unfortunate development: a war of words between the two families. Reacting to the tragedy, Raz’s mother, the only one from the two families who knew about the pregnancy, told the media, “she [the girlfriend] is guilty. Everything happened because of her.” Responding to the statement, the girlfriend’s mother said, “I suggest that the parents take some responsibility for their child.” The mother went on to add, “If they only included me…we could have solved this together. Two families could have worked to solve this, not just one.”

Immediate questions were raised about how the police reacted to the situation but Maariv reports that the initial police investigation into the matter shows the police reacted appropriately. The police who responded to the situation were volunteer officers, but the Jerusalem police stated that everything was done by the book. “The volunteers acted exactly according to plan when police are fired upon. Once the police force is fired upon and that endangers the force or innocent civilians, the police must return fire in order to neutralize the source of the fire.”

Talk it out

The other major story dominating the Israeli press is about a purported agreement between the United States and Iran to hold direct talks about Iran’s nuclear program. On its front page, Haaretz translates part of a New York Times report that claims that the US government confirmed that there is a deal to begin negotiations. As for a time frame, the article states that Iranian officials are insisting that talks only begin after the US presidential election as “they want to know with whom they would be negotiating.” Yet the article conculdes, “It is not clear if Romney would continue direct negotiations with Tehran if he wins the presidential election.”

Israel Hayom also reports on the same New York Times article (although it buries it on Page 9) but alongside it also reports on the beginning of Austere Challenge 12, the joint American and Israeli military exercise scheduled to begin Sunday. The exercise, which is the largest exercise between the two militaries to date, will simulate rocket fire from a number of directions into Israel. The exercise itself is expected to last four weeks and will include warships, submarines, and 2,000 American soldiers.

Military drills aren’t the only drills taking place, as the Home Front Command will be holding a major earthquake preparation drill. According to Yedioth, the drill will include sending messages and interrupting broadcasts to simulate an emergency. Officials are asking the public to participate and practice their own emergency drills so people know how to react in case of a real earthquake. If you don’t know what to do, Yedioth offers some help: If at home, go outside to an open area (but only if you can get there in a few seconds). If not, stand in a doorway or a stairwell. If you can’t get to a stairwell or threshold, take cover under some heavy furniture.

Let’s make a decision!

On the election front, Maariv reports that this week Tzipi Livni and Ehud Olmert are each expected to announce whether they will run in the upcoming election. The article is scant on details but instead lays out four possible solutions for the two former politicians: Olmert and Livni run together in a new party, Olmert doesn’t run and Livni establishes a new party, Olmert doesn’t run and Livni joins Labor or Yair Lapid’s “Yesh Atid” party, or neither Olmert nor Livni will run for office.

However, Haaretz reports that all indications point to Ehud Olmert not returning to political life after all. “Olmert sources: Little chance that he will run in the elections,” reads Haaretz’s headline, with the article citing Olmert’s legal situation as well as poll results that aren’t enticing enough to pull him back into the political arena.

While Olmert may be considering a comeback, developments have caused the Lebanese prime minister, Najib Mikati, to offer his resignation. “Lebanon is burning,” reads the headline in Israel Hayom, which prints pictures of the destruction after Friday’s car bombing. The article provides a summary of the events in Lebanon in the wake of that car bombing with killed Lebanon’s intelligence chief, General Wissam al-Hassan. Aside from Mikati offering to resign (an offer rejected by his president), thousands of demonstrators took to the street to protest what they feel is the pro-Syrian bias of the government.

Underneath the article Israel Hayom includes an opinion piece by Boaz Bismuth titled “Hezbollah threatens the political system.” He opens the piece by mocking the Lebanese tourism minister who wants to sue the TV series “Homeland” for portraying Beirut as a dangerous place. “It’s recommended to send that indictment to Hezbollah and the Syrian regime as well,” Bismuth writes. The piece lists the various killings and bombings that have the “fingerprints of Hezbollah” and goes on to mention that Hezbollah has sent fighters to help Syria, sent a drone into Israel and now killed has a major political figure in Lebanon. In closing the piece, he warns, “Unlike Hamas, Hezbollah cannot afford to turn its back on Assad.”

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