Two days after a terror attack left a three-month-old baby dead in Jerusalem, tensions are high in the holy city, and the papers and police fear the worst is yet to come.
The front page of Yedioth Ahronoth warns its readers: “High alert in Jerusalem.” The paper reports that police are preparing for violence after Friday prayers at the Dome of the Rock and have beefed up security. Thousands of extra Border Police will be deployed around the Temple Mount Friday morning to prevent any violence. Authorities already announced that access to prayers on the Mount will be restricted to men over the age of 40, although women of any age can enter.
While Yedioth reports on what is being done to prevent violence, Israel Hayom tells its readers who is to blame for it all: Mahmoud Abbas. “Netanyahu: The attack in Jerusalem is supported by Abu Mazen [Abbas],” reads the front-page headline. On the inside pages, the paper elaborates on the prime minister’s statement. Netanyahu added that the Palestinian Authority “glorifies the murderers and embraces the organization to which the terrorists belong: Hamas.”
Despite the blaming and the police reinforcements, Israel Hayom columnist Dan Margalit believes there is still time to prevent more violence. While Margalit says the writing is on the wall, and the fears that the violence could spread to the West Bank are understandable, it doesn’t have to be that way. He faults both Netanyahu and Abbas for not working to resolve the tension through dialogue — not necessarily on final-status agreements, but to improve the daily lives of both peoples. He urges both sides who care about Jerusalem to “find the strength and courage to have a dialogue with each other” — before this Friday becomes known as “Black Friday.”
Haaretz dedicates three pages to the tensions in Jerusalem, which is a lot for the normally stingy paper. The front page reports on a different aspect of the tension in Jerusalem, mainly that it was used as a diversion to approve 1,600 tenders for building across the Green Line. The tenders are for the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in Jerusalem, which is relatively close to where the terror attack occurred on Wednesday.
Ramat Shlomo has already caused a diplomatic crisis with the US in the past, when the neighborhood was first approved in 2010, while US Vice President Joe Biden was visiting. There has been no reaction yet from the US on the more recent tenders.
Continuing its coverage, Haaretz reports that Israeli police are considering fining and imprisoning parents of minors who participate in riots, as occurs in the West Bank. According to the report, police and prosecutors are looking for a way to implement a West Bank military code that levels fines and possible imprisonment for parents of minors under the age of 14 who participate in nationalist-related crimes.
No similar law exists under Israeli civil law beyond rules for parents posting a bond that guarantees a child will appear at a court date or at an investigation.
Police want to implement the change because of the number of minors involved in the rioting. Since the gruesome killing of Muhammed Abu Khdeir in July, there have been 260 minors arrested in riots, and all have been released. Police told the paper that a large percentage of the rioters in Jerusalem are children under 14, and police have almost no tools at their disposal to deal with them.
Rivlin will go to Kfar Kassem
The attention may be on Jerusalem right now, but President Reuven Rivlin is preparing to leave the capital on Sunday to visit Kfar Kassem, the site of a massacre 59 years ago. The paper’s columnist Nahum Barnea writes that Rivlin will say that what happened there was a “great injustice” and a “tragedy.”
Knesset Member Issawi Freij, who is from Kfar Kassem, said that “there are great expectations for the [Rivlin’s] speech.” Despite attempts by Balad party members to try to boycott the visit, Freij proclaimed: “We are doing everything to ensure that this will be a respectful event.”
One less-respectful event was the recent speech by MK Hanin Zoabi, in which she compared Israel Defense Force pilots to Islamic State (IS) fighters. In a follow-up to that story, Israel Hayom commissioned a survey to gauge the public’s response — and the public isn’t happy: 85% of the respondents said they would like to see Zoabi removed from the Knesset, whereas only 11% voted not to remove her. An additional 4% said they don’t know.
The survey also asked, “Who is most suitable to be the prime minister of Israel?” 29% said Netanyahu; Naftali Bennett and Isaac Herzog each got 9%; and Avigdor Liberman received 8% of the vote. An additional 29% of the respondents — the equivalent of those who voted for Netanyahu — said, “I don’t know.”
The never-ending saga
Just when you thought it was safe to forget about the Harpaz affair, it rears its head yet again. The latest development? As Haaretz reports, the missing recorded conversations from Ehud Barak’s office — from the time when he served as defense minister — may have been found. Some DVD recordings have been located in the safe of an employee who recently retired from the Defense Ministry.
The missing conversations have been a point of contention for former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, who argued that the disappearance of potential evidence was suspicious. Still, the paper points out, these tapes probably aren’t connected to the Harpaz affair: They are from 2006 and 2012, whereas the Harpaz affair occurred from 2009-2011.
Finally, all three papers take the time to tell you about the time, as daylight savings time ends in Israel this weekend. Israelis will get an extra hour of sleep between Saturday night and Sunday morning. At 2 am Sunday morning, Israelis should move their clocks back to 1 am — or, if their clock is a smartphone, let the clever device do the changing for them.
But, the paper warns, because Israel used to end daylight savings time a month earlier, before Yom Kippur, users of old cell phones may wake up Sunday morning to find their clocks wrong. Newer computers and phones should make the change correctly.