Gaza tunnel syndrome
Hebrew media review

Gaza tunnel syndrome

Unsurprisingly, the late-night bombardment of a Hamas cross-border tunnel that entered Israeli territory is the focus of Hebrew-language newspapers

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, center, visits an attack tunnel dug by a Palestinian terrorist group from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel during a visit to the area on December 20, 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, center, visits an attack tunnel dug by a Palestinian terrorist group from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel during a visit to the area on December 20, 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)

The army’s late-night bombardment of a Hamas cross-border tunnel is unsurprisingly the focus of the front pages on Israel’s major Hebrew-language dailies on Sunday.

“Four tunnels in four months,” Yedioth Ahronoth declares on its front page, in reference to other recent IDF attacks on Hamas built tunnels in the Strip.

The daily also reports the Kerem Shalom Crossing border into Gaza would be closed on Sunday, but says it’s not “a punishment” for the tunnel that run several kilometers inside Israeli territory but rather is due to a “situational assessment.”

Aside from the report of the tunnel bombardment, Yedioth dedicates the majority of its front page Sunday to the advancements in the first-ever drug aimed at women with advanced breast cancer caused by an inherited flawed gene.

The US Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved Lynparza, a medication for patients with inherited BRCA gene mutations who have undergone chemotherapy. Sometimes called the “Jewish gene,” BRCA has has been found to occur more frequently among Ashkenazi women.

Yedioth features profiles of several cancer patients and women who carry the gene.

“This is excellent news. Breast cancer has a relatively high survival rate, but the minute it metastasizes it can be difficult to overcome, and so this new treatment is very encouraging,” breast cancer patient Irit Tiger told the paper.

Professor Bella Kaufman, a breast cancer specialist and oncologist at the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, also praised the new medication as a breakthrough for women battling advanced breast cancer.

“It’s is important news for cancer patients in Israel, as there is a relatively high number of carriers of the BRCA mutations here,” she explains to the paper. “We very much hope that it will be included in the standard health care basket and will be accessible to all patients.”

Some Ashkenazi Jewish women who carry a particular BRCA-1 genetic mutation have a 65 percent chance of developing breast cancer. (Media for Medical/UIG via Getty Images)

Haaretz makes no mention of the new drug, instead focusing on the the weekly anti-corruption protests in Tel Aviv, the imminent deportation of undocumented African migrants and the latest scandal involving Yair Netanyahu who was last week heard in a recording bragging to his friends about strippers and prostitutes.

Columnist Gideon Levy takes aim at Israel’s political opposition for cowering in silence in the face of the Netanyahu government’s policies.

“The opposition continues to be a non-opposition. True, it has sent its sclerotic blood circulation racing and improved the technique of the struggle, but the content of its opposition remains as it was, cowardly and marginal,” he says.

Levy slams the left wing for not protesting on behalf of the tens of thousands of African migrants and refugees who are set to be forcibly deported from Israel in what he calls an “ethnic cleansing.”

In an editorial, the left-wing daily also levels harsh criticism of the controversial plan to expel the undocumented Africans as contrary to Israel’s Jewish and democratic values.

“How did it happen that xenophobia has taken over the Jewish state and risen to such a level that the country refuses to abide by basic international norms on the treatment of asylum seekers?” Haaretz asks. “Not only is the state not helping them in their time of need, but it’s persecuting them, along with anyone who aids them, and forcing them to choose between expulsion to a dangerous place and life in prison.”

Yedioth columnists too have harsh words for Netanyahu’s government. Ben Dror Yemini compares the chaotic administration of US President Donald Trump to that of Netanyahu.

Yemini says that like Americans, Israelis are becoming desensitized to the relentless scandals unfolding at the highest levels of government.

Asylum seekers protesting at the Holot detention center in the southern Negev Desert of Israel, February 17, 2014. (Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)

“The burning question is how the hell have we get to this place? How are these people getting away with this?”

“Americans knew about Trump’s behavior long before election day, but it did not affect his support,” Yemini writes. “And for Netanyahu still (shamefully) enjoys support in the double digits.”

“The painful answer is that animosity towards the media, the elites and political correctness is greater than [the scandals]. They are of course justified in part, but one wrong should not give way to a greater wrong.”

Meanwhile, the pro-Netanyahu freebie Israel Hayom generally refrains from criticizing the government, making no mention in Sunday’s paper of Yair Netanyahu’s stripper scandal or the impending deportation of African migrants and refugees.

Its columnists, too, choose to focus on topics other than the internal political scandals in Israel.

Diplomat Ron Prosor rails against the Palestinian UN refugee agency UNRWA for inflating statistics, perpetuating the existence of Palestinian refugees and tolerating terrorism.

“UNRWA was born into sin, and lives in sin,” he writes. “This organization perpetuates the Palestinian refugee issue, prevents reaching a political agreement, contributes to anti-Israel incitement and harms aid to real refugees.”

He praises the Trump administration for threatening to cut UNRWA funding as “historic,” saying that shuttering the agency entirely would be a first step toward “healing the disease before it turns malignant.”

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