All my Xs live in Ayalon Prison
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Hebrew media review

All my Xs live in Ayalon Prison

The labor pains of an Egyptian civil war dominate coverage, but Yedioth has the scoop on another secret inmate

The Ayalon Prison complex in Ramle, central Israel (AP/Ariel Schalit)
The Ayalon Prison complex in Ramle, central Israel (AP/Ariel Schalit)

Egypt graces the front pages of most Israeli dailies on Tuesday, but the most interesting story (besides the fact that Maariv actually put out a paper) is splashed across nearly the whole A1 of Yedioth Ahronoth.

Just when you thought it was safe to forget the name Zygier, the paper reports that there is a second secret prisoner being held in the same Ayalon Prison, a prisoner Y if you will (or a second prisoner X, according to Yedioth). Unfortunately, the paper devotes about two and half paragraphs to the news (slightly more than it wrote about the original prisoner X before it was censored several years ago), instead focusing on a report that it obtained detailing the various failings by prison guards in the Zygier affair, which saw the former Mossad agent kill himself while in his tightly supervised prison cell. All the information the paper has on this Prisoner Y comes from a statement in the report by Zygier’s lawyer that there are two other people being held in similar conditions to Zygier: Yitzhak Rabin assassin Yigal Amir and another secret security prisoner.

Don’t try looking for boring details of who wrote the report or how Yedioth came upon it. You won’t find them. Instead the paper delves straight into the juiciest bits of the report, focusing mostly on how the camera covering Zygier’s shower, where he did the deed, had constant problems, but nobody bothered to have it fixed. Camera 116, as it is called, dated from the mid-90s and often left a blind spot in the shower area.

“From the videos that were passed to us it was extremely hard to get needed information, and that is because of the quality of the technology,” the head of the investigating committee is quoted in the report saying.

Remember the days when 50 dead in Syria elicited a front page story and oodles of analysis (unlike today when it barely warrants a brief)? That’s how it is today for Egypt, still in the tentative first stages of a possible civil war. Maariv reports that the Muslim Brotherhood is on the cusp of launching an “armed intifada,” noting that the start of Ramadan on Tuesday will likely help the Islamists’ cause.

“Interim President Adly Mansour needs to call an emergency meeting with all the political forces,” a senior member of the pro-Morsi camp is quoted as saying in the paper (which is notable for the very fact that a pro-Morsi official is accepting the legitimacy of Mansour). “At this critical moment nobody can speak for everybody. There are some who want a civil war, with intensity and anger. Egypt needs stability.”

Unfortunately, the front page of the paper, which is going through its own labor tumult and wasn’t even supposed to print Tuesday, contains a referral to an analysis by Cairo correspondent Gideon Kurtz that somehow got left on the cutting room floor.

Israel Hayom also thinks Egypt is headed for a civil war after the killing of 51 Muslim brotherhood people during clashes with the army on Monday. In an uneven analysis, Dan Margalit opines that instead of coming together for the sake of Egypt, both camps are heading straight for extreme opposition to each other, which he quotes New York Times Tom Freidman as saying is the way of the Middle East. Then he writes some unrelated things and ends with the doozy that “it’s too early to tell” whether the army will be able to control Egypt, and that all assessments are null and void. Why did we read this again?

Haaretz, which leads with the same picture of two women facing off against the army as Maariv, focuses on the White House statement that the US will continue to fund Egypt despite the coup that wasn’t a coup. Despite that vote of support, analyst Amos Harel writes that any goodwill the army received in the wake of the coup d’faux is being frittered away with each bullet shot at Muslim Brotherhood supporters, who are putting themselves in the line of fire in a ploy to deligitimatize the military.

“As for the United States, though it gave tacit consent to the coup, it was already uncomfortable with the toppling of a democratically elected government, and the pictures of the massacre will make it even harder for the Obama administration to support the generals. It’s no accident that Al Jazeera — the television station based in the Brotherhood’s best friend, Qatar — replayed scenes and testimony from the massacre again and again,” he writes.

Writing about a more local ouster, Maariv reports that former Benjamin Netanyahu aide Ron Dermer is doing his homework and working to smooth over any American opposition to him replacing Michael Oren as ambassador to the land of the free (and home of the brave).

The paper reports that Dermer, who is a shoo-in for the position, met recently in Washington with US Secretary of State John Kerry and other top officials. Though the US doesn’t have to approve the appointment, Israel would rather not rustle any feathers and fears Dermer, a Florida-native who openly backed Mitt Romney in the 2012 elections, may rub the White House the wrong way.

Yedioth cites a senior unnamed official saying that there are at least three African countries willing to take in Israel’s 55,000 or so asylum-seekers, in exchange for a hefty package of military, financial and agricultural aide. The question of where the asylum seekers will be sent has been a hot one in the Israeli media since Netanyahu made the cryptic statement that he had found a buyer. According to the source quoted in the paper, Jerusalem is still continuing complementary efforts to have them returned to their home countries if it can be done safely.

In the op-ed section, Haaret’z token right-winger, former foreign minister Moshe Arens, wonders where Netanyahu is leading this fine country of ours in negotiations with the Palestinians: “Nobody can object to his readiness to enter into negotiations with Abbas without preconditions, even though it is clear to all that Abbas does not speak for and cannot make commitments for all of the Palestinians. That is, after all, a traditional and reasonable Israeli position — let’s sit down and talk, and maybe we’ll find that we can reach an agreement. But behind this simple, almost simple-minded, position, there now hide implicit Israeli concessions which are becoming more explicit by the day.”

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