Israel media review

Making waves: What the press is saying about a terror spate and Omicron spite

A deadly West Bank attack is linked to a series of assaults over the past month, with the media pushing plenty of ideas of what to do or who to blame

Israeli security forces inspect the scene of a shooting attack near Homesh, in the West Bank, on December 16, 2021. (Hillel Maeir/Flash90)
Israeli security forces inspect the scene of a shooting attack near Homesh, in the West Bank, on December 16, 2021. (Hillel Maeir/Flash90)

1. Month of mayhem: Terror reared its ugly head again Thursday with a shooting attack in the northern West Bank that left father Yehuda Dimentman dead and two others injured. While the number of attacks in recent weeks is far from the several-a-day pace of past bouts of terror, frustration appears to be rising, sparking a slew of “terror wave” references in the media.

  • Yedioth Ahronoth uses the words “terror wave” on its front-page coverage, while Israel Hayom’s package on the shooting attack includes a tick-tock on “weeks of terror” going back to a Jerusalem Old City stabbing on November 17.
  • “Today marks a month exactly since the attack that started this wave of terror,” tweets Army Radio’s Shahar Glick. “We’ve gotten to seven attacks with Jewish victims in a month. An average of one attack every four days.”
  • The attack isn’t exactly like the previous ones though. Channel 13’s Or Heller, reporting shortly after the attack, notes that “it seemed like the wave of terror of individual attackers had somewhat calmed, but tonight we see a much more organized attack, with a cell, live fire.”
  • In Yedioth Ahronoth, columnist Yossi Yehoshua writes that in discussions among the brass in Defense Ministry headquarters about the terror attacks, “Everyone, from the head of Central Command to COGAT, the chief of the IDF and head of the Shin Bet, were unanimous in there being no thread tying them together, no organized planning, and no justification to call it a “wave of terror.” That is until Thursday’s attack.
  • “The attack last night is something altogether different, more severe in its results, with signs of professional planning in advance, by a cell with live-fire weapons, that knew where to target and how to escape from the scene,” he adds, going on to surmise that it has hallmarks of a Hamas attack. His piece (which bears the hallmarks of something repurposed at the last moment) ends up arguing for a more nuanced approach to fighting terror, in which Palestinians, particularly those in Gaza, are given something to lose.
  • In Israel Hayom, Yoav Limor also blames Hamas for the attack and calls to bring down the hammer: “The issue isn’t this one specific attacker. The last few weeks have seen a sharp uptick in terror in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Attack follows attack, and despite all efforts, Israel cannot stop the wave. Every attack… inspires more Palestinians to action, to try and emulate the success. With Hamas’s buttressing and continuing hemming and hawing by the Palestinian Authority, Israel is once again dealing with the danger of terror spreading to a point where it will necessitate special operations, from boosting troops to carrying out preventative arrests.”

2. Heading back to Homesh? Kan reports that some settlers are planning to resettle Homesh, the evacuated outpost where the victims were returning from, and other media reports are chock full of settler leaders calling for a yeshiva that has remained there to be legalized or other actions to give the settlers a win as a response to the attack.

  • “The politicians and defense brass promising to bring the perpetrators to justice is trivial. The best way to settle the score and dissuade them long term, and eventually permanently, is to do exactly what they promise to thwart, that is bolstering Jewish settlement in the heart of the land, and in this specific case: a return to Homesh now,” Makor Rishon editor Haggai Segal tweets.
  • Israel Hayom columnist Meir Indor writes: “Terror groups live on the hope that by killing and murdering they will scare the Jews away from their homeland. This hope must be exterminated by building settlements exactly where they try to kill and maim.”
  • Speaking to Army Radio, Shas party chief Aryeh Deri bolsters settlers by going after Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, who spoke out about “settler violence” with a top US official this week and was bashed by members of his own government for apparently tarring all settlers.
  • “The murderous attack is the result of harsh incitement against our brothers the settlers,” he says.
  • ToI’s Jacob Magid has some questions about that line of reasoning:
  • Walla news rounds up all the right-wingers blaming the attack on Barlev, and notes it’s not just coming from the opposition. “We’ve had another very painful reminder right now that in Judea and Samaria there are no [two sides]. The murderous violence is directed at Jewish settlers.”
  • On the other hand, some media outlets note that in fact, the violence is not a one-way street. “Last month, Palestinians from the village of Burka were attacked by Israeli settlers while trying to work their land at the entrance to Homesh,” Haaretz reports. “Three of them were hit with rocks, sticks, and fists, and evacuated to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus with light head wounds. Video footage distributed by the Shomron Regional Council of settlements also showed Palestinians throwing rocks at settlers.”
  • Unrelated to the shooting, ToI’s Aaron Boxerman writes about the wave of settler attacks on Palestinians, and the lack of justice in those parts: “Security officials say that this year has seen a drastic spike in violence by Jewish extremists in the West Bank. In 2020, the Shin Bet registered 272 violent incidents in the disputed territory; so far in 2021, the domestic security agency has recorded 397, with two weeks still to go before year’s end. The incidents flicker past in news reports and police blotters. The same towns are mentioned again and again: Burin, Burqa, Kafr Malik, Huwarra, al-Tuwani. Few arrests are made, and the tension never seems to lower.”

3. Waiver mire: At least everyone in Israel can agree on what to do about the Omicron coronavirus mutation. Just kidding.

  • No sooner had the government announced new rules for malls this week meant to restrict access for unvaccinated individuals, than the media was playing up threats by business owners to ignore the directives.
  • “These rules are confusing,” a Channel 13 reporter said Tuesday night, seemingly backing the “rebellion.”
  • By Friday morning the order was off the table, the latest in a series of measures to be nixed after pressure.
  • “The government failed in its attempt to present clear policy to the public and has been seen as waffling over unnecessary measures that were announced and then retracted,” writes Haaretz’s Amos Harel. “The prime minister is deeply frustrated. Early identification of the threat was met by public indifference, and many interpreted the early measures he took as signs of hysteria.
  • “But more than anything, he’s facing difficulties within his own coalition government,” he adds, singling out Education Minister Yifat Shasha Biton and Health Minister Nitzan Horovitz for failing to fully back kid vaccination drives.
  • Channel 12 reports that “Bennett has become the most hard-line member of his government when it comes to restrictions meant to curb infections.” The channel says his main focus is on child vaccinations and restricting travel.
  • Bennett is apparently not backing down on travel, with Kan reporting that he wants to paint the whole world “red,” restricting travel to and from anywhere and imposing longer quarantines on those who do travel.
  • Tourism industry people would like that to be canceled as well but to little avail.
  • “The economy minister is fighting for malls, and for us, the transportation minister leaves us behind,” a travel industry source is quoted telling Army Radio.
  • Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman’s advice for those in the travel industry to give it up and find new jobs doesn’t go over well either, ToI’s Ricky Ben-David reports.
  • Tour guide Yoav Rotem tells her that the Finance Ministry plan is “a slap in the face.
  • “Investing in the sector will cost less than rebuilding it,” he says. “This government doesn’t understand anything about tourism. We need real support — not to go and re-train in unrelated professions.”

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