A day after Egypt’s military coup (or transition of power — depending on your point of view) there was a mysterious explosion at a Syrian missile warehouse and a new international whodunit was born.
Last Tuesday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon summed up his sentiments regarding accusations that Israel was responsible for the July 5 blast. “When there is an attack or explosion of one sort or another in the Middle East, usually, no matter what, we are blamed,” he said. But that was before American sources hinted that there might be some truth to the accusation.
Sunday’s Israeli papers run with the American intimations, via a report on CNN. Maariv’s headline sums up the story pretty succinctly: “American sources state: Israel attacked a Syrian missile base near Latakia.” The paper differs from its counterparts by gleaning reports from London’s Sunday Times and Al-Hayat that state it was actually the navy, and not the air force, that was responsible for the attack.
Israel Hayom gives two pages to the story and includes a short article aimed at boosting national morale: Israel tested its own new missile. According to the article the IDF deemed Friday’s long-range missile test a success.
Also included in its coverage is an op-ed piece in which Dan Margalit highlights the one thing that Israel and Syria have in common right now: denying the recent strike. Margalit argues that even if Israel did commit the attack, lying about it would be in both Israel and Syria’s interest by helping to avert war. And it might not even be lying, it would just be playing by the rules. “There are no lies in the violent international arena,” he writes, “there are tricks and ruses and deceptions and decoys, and those are the rules.”
Haaretz’s front page reports that the US has told Israel “pressure on Iran has not weakened, but increased.” The assurance comes due to Israeli worry that because of the election of the relatively moderate Hasan Rouhani there’ll be less pressure on Iran. However, the paper reports, Rouhani’s election hasn’t changed a thing and the Americans are waiting to see a “change in attitude.”
There was some excitement surrounding the choice of Jacob Frenkel as the next governor of the Bank of Israel. But as Yedioth Ahronoth reports, his nomination is in danger after it emerged that Hong Kong airport authorities once suspected Frenkel of stealing a bottle of cologne. “Embarrassing smell,” reads the paper’s front-page headline, inside wondering if the incident, which occurred seven years ago, could actually impede his appointment. Frenkel, for his part, calls the whole incident an unfortunate misunderstanding. The confirmation committee is expected to take more time to look into the incident.
Perhaps another unfortunate misunderstanding is how Dan Ronen (former northern district police commander) should be characterizing the most recent report in Maariv regarding his appointment to the Home Front Defense Command. The newspaper dug up an article he wrote a year ago in which he said, “The Home Front Defense Ministry was established for political reasons and is unnecessary and should be abolished.” Now that he has been tagged to lead the office, he’s been singing a different tune. Ronen offered praise for current Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan (who appointed Ronen to the position): “The situation has changed, thanks to Minister Erdan, and the ministry now has purpose.”
While questions may linger about the public confirmations of Frenkel and Ronen, Israel Hayom reminds its readers not to fret about things going on behind the government’s doors, like possible Prisoner X’s. “Even in the ’70s there was a Prisoner X,” reads the article headline, which is a quote taken from former IDF military intelligence chief Shlomo Gazit. Gazit, in an interview with Army Radio, said that during his tenure there developed a situation to keep a prisoner in isolation. But he reassured the public: “The legal system was made aware of it, even though the public was not.”
All in the family
There has been a lot of coverage of the nomination for the Ashkenazi chief rabbi, but the Sephardic chief rabbi race is also heating up, especially within the Yosef family. Haaretz reports that former chief rabbi and Shas spiritual adviser Rabbi Ovadia Yosef endorsed on Friday his youngest son, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, for the position. That blessing was snatched from his older brother Avraham, who is also running for the position. Avraham was considered the front-runner until last week when the police began investigating him for breach of trust allegedly committed while he was chief rabbi of Holon.
Meanwhile, Saturday night in Tel Aviv saw a return of the social protests that gripped the country two years ago. Yedioth reports that 2,500 people gathered to protest the fact that nothing has changed in Israel. The demonstration featured speeches from Daphni Leef, who led the protests in 2011, and from Black Panther Charlie Biton. Biton told the crowd, “We are starting a second round. We need to change the reality.” The protesters walked from Israel’s national theater to Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv, pausing for a moment of silence when they passed the spot where Moshe Silman self-immolated a year ago.