1. Gotta keep ‘em separated: Authorities are girding for possible trouble with protesters set to converge on Jerusalem Thursday evening to protest outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence, two days after a rally in Tel Aviv that started outside the home of Public Security Minister Amir Ohana was underlined by right-wing attacks on the demonstrators.
- The lingering effects of Tuesday’s attacks on protesters heavily overshadow coverage of what is to come.
- “Given what happened in Tel Aviv, we are also planning on guarding the protesters with a wide circle around them in order to prevent confrontations between the camps themselves and to prevent violence between civilians,” a senior police official is quoted saying in Ynet.
- Chief police investigator Roee Waldamn tells Army Radio that “Tensions are rising and getting to areas we did not want them to reach. We are sending an unequivocal message to anyone coming to do harm — we will not allow people to use violence to keep other people from realizing their democratic rights.”
- Walla news reports that police in Jerusalem are deploying “large forces” to Jerusalem to keep the peace, especially with far-right group La Familia planning on having its own protest nearby.
- Channel 12 news reports that police are at “peak readiness,” and among the large forces will be an unusually high number of undercover cops.
- A message from La Familia, described in Walla as “threatening,” gets amplified by the media, with nearly every outlet transcribing their statement in which they say they won’t “remain apathetic and sit quietly as the state crumbles before our eyes,” and describing protesters as “anarchist extremists.”
- Haaretz reports that: “Accounts obtained by Haaretz show that La Familia members were invited by Likud to protests the party had organized. Amnon Ben-Ami, a Likud activist from Petah Tikvah involved in the party’s larger demonstrations, shared La Familia’s statement and wrote he was glad they have accepted his invitation to attend the protest.”
- However, Ben-Ami tells the paper that “I disagree with the wording of an announcement that contains threats or violence, … I also call on La Familia people not to fall into the hands of the fans of your newspaper and not to get violent.”
2. From bad to worse: In the meantime, many are still coming to terms with what occurred Tuesday.
- Yedioth Ahronoth writes that “the blood, beatings and chaos that was sowed by the attackers, right-wing supporters, are a new step and a crossing of a red line that has not been seen here yet.”
- Defense Minister Benny Gantz tells Channel 13 that “this signals in my eyes a slippery descent that can lead us to civil war.”
- Pictures of one of the protesters who was attacked Tuesday, Shay Sekler, shirtless and bloodied with a bandana over his face, are prevalent in coverage.
תיעוד חדש מתקיפת המפגינים בת"א: משליכים כיסא ותוקפים מפגין שנדחף לקרקע. הנשיא: "רצח מפגין ורצח רה"מ – לא תרחיש דמיוני" > https://t.co/FchTTy4EQG@HatukaShosha @amit_segal @OrRavid pic.twitter.com/UecOKQfM24
— החדשות – N12 (@N12News) July 29, 2020
- Sekler says in a widely disseminated video statement on Wednesday that the attackers coordinated their assault, and that he asked for police help after the incident but was ignored.
- “In the area of Kaplan Street I met undercover police officers — I was covered in blood — and asked them for help and that they call for medical assistance. I was ignored,” Sekler tells Haaretz.
- Speaking to Channel 13 news, police commander Haim Bubliel, who oversaw Tuesday’s demonstration, says that the problem is that the protesters were moving around and marching places. “We know how to secure parades, we do it for Purim or Pride. I cannot be at every street corner, but I can secure the main thoroughfare. Once there are dozens of reports of incidents, you can’t run to every place.”
- Opposition MK Ofer Shelach tells Kan that he feels for the cops — but because of the pressure being put on them from politicians: “The police are doing their work under very difficult conditions, they are between a rock and a hard place. When the prime minister and public security minister put pressure on the police, it puts them in an impossible position.”
3. Someone to fight with: The hubbub happens to coincide with the Ninth of Av, the day on the Jewish calendar when Jews commemorate, among other things, the burning of the Second Temple, and mourn the destructive effects of internecine hatred, giving pundits and others something else to color their coverage with.
- But more recent conflicts cast an even heavier shadow, leading to prophesies of doom, and any possible attempt to lower the flames is accompanied by finger-pointing.
- Israel Hayom’s Ariel Kahana charges that “among public leaders, mostly on the left but not only, there are many who are pouring gas on the fire, and hoping to cause a political crisis. Even the social networks, which were supposed to connect people, have become a cesspool.”
- But the lead editorial in Haaretz claims that: “Political violence in Israel tends to move in one direction: From right to left. This isn’t only about the past history of political violence — Rabin’s assassination and the murder of Emil Grunzweig. … After pouring fuel on every possible public venue and then handing out matches to everyone, [Netanyahu and Ohana] have no shame in preaching about the need ‘to lower the flames.’ This is their pattern of behavior: To incite, and then to tweet; to divide and then condemn. This game of double talk is liable to end with yet another murder. The blood will be on Netanyahu’s hands.”
- Yedioth’s Nahum Barnea writes that the events in Tel Aviv transport him back to the 1983 murder of Grunzweig, a Peace Now activist murdered by a grenade lobbed by a right-winger into a left-wing march, in a front-page column headlined “until the next murder.”
- “Today is the Ninth of Av, and it’s traditional to preach of peace on a day like this, but I’m not there,” Barnea writes. “I’m interested in building the Third Temple, not the destruction of the first and second ones. People kiss and make up on soap operas; in a democratic society, every man battles for his ideology within a space given him for freedom of speech, no more and no less.”
- Minister Chili Tropper hearkens back to an even more recent murder, Shira Banki, killed exactly five years ago by an extremist while marching in a Jerusalem Gay Pride parade. “Five years after the murder, there is still blood on the streets.”
- Banki’s father tells the station that “What’s happening now has returned me to the summer of 2015. It’s easy to say Shira’s killer was crazy, but that’s not it. This man, from the first moment of his terrible deeds, got a lot of support from many close circles.”
4. Threat level Twitter: Israel Hayom also leads with the violence, but not the same violence as everyone else, instead covering its front page with quotes from an interview with Ohana, including placing front and center the claim that “at the demonstrations there are calls to murder the prime minister.”
- “We won’t have a civil war, but the violence is growing. There is a feeling of hate in these demonstrations, not of an argument. There have always been disputes, but now there is a strong feeling of hate from both sides,” he’s quoted saying.
- In Haaretz, Yossi Verter writes that following the violence in Tel Aviv, “Netanyahu — the fastest draw on Twitter when it comes to himself or his son — waited, deliberately, for 14 hours before posting a self-righteous, hypocritical message that dealt mostly with himself and threats directed against him and his family.”
- Indeed on Twitter, Netanyahu posted a screenshot of someone named Dana Ron threatening his life on Facebook, saying he had filed a police report.
- A thread by a user named Yossi Dorfman casts doubts over that claim, noting that Dana Ron only recently created their account, doesn’t seem to have many actual friends, posted a year’s worth of anti-Netanyahu links in a few minutes just before making his threat and other problems pointing to it being an avatar or false flag.
- (Of course there’s no assumption that if it is indeed fake, it was faked by someone who actually does hate Netanyahu and wanted to cover up their identity.)
- The Calcalist news site reports that it took the tweets to Facebook to ask if they can determine if Dana Ron is real or not.
- “One should hope that a police probe or Facebook check will uncover if there is a really a user like this, or perhaps it is faked, and if so, find out who is running it and for what purpose,” the site writes.
5. Going somewhere? Writer A.B. Yehoshua tells Army Radio that he is all for protesting against Netanyahu, but “this is a time of crisis, we have corona. The numbers are going up every moment.”
- Indeed, they are going up, though they don’t seem to be growing too quickly, and while that could be a vagary of testing numbers, Channel 12 news reports that internal Health Ministry data shows a significant slowdown in the number of seriously ill cases and fatalities in the latest wave of infections, when compared to the first wave in March-April.
- According to the report, health officials believe the drop may be the result of several factors, including a higher percentage of asymptomatic cases; a caseload that trends younger; at-risk populations being better protected; and better knowledge of effective treatments for the sick.
- Things are going so swimmingly that Israel is even thinking of reopening its skies to incoming tourists.
- Channel 12 news reports that Israel may open up to some “green” countries as early as next month: Austria, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, South Korea, Lichtenstein, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland.
- Yedioth lays out more details of Tourism Minister Asaf Zamir’s plan, which will actually start by letting in people scheduled to come to Israel as part of an educational program, such as via MASA, though it’s unclear when the green-light will actually be given.
- Participants will need to show proof of insurance that covers coronavirus, a test no more than three days old showing they are negative for the virus, and a commitment to enter quarantine upon arrival.
- According to the report, after that group, the ministry will work on letting in “capsules” of tour groups under similar conditions, and only then will there be the possibility of opening to “green” countries for quarantine-free travel.
- If you are stuck at home, though, at least you may have something new to watch soon. Times of Israel’s Jessica Steinberg reports that many Israeli TV series have resumed shooting, albeit with some changes to account for the new normal.
- “Much of ‘Shtisel’ is filmed on location in old Jerusalem apartments, some of which are still occupied by elderly residents who, despite careful preparation, were often afraid to let the cast and crew in because of the coronavirus,” director Alan Zingman told Steinberg.
- Walla reports that what might not be ready in time is the school system, quoting Education Minister Yoav Gallant saying some parts of the plan will not be in place by September 1. “The model is supposed to break classes into parts and up manpower. But even though distance learning is at the center of the program, the minister warned that half the schools will not be fully ready for it in time.”