Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s short visit to Moscow for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin catches the attention of Israel’s Hebrew-language newspapers.
But while Israel Hayom sticks to a dry description of the meeting and mostly highlights the security issues discussed by the two leaders — particularly concerning Israel’s control of the Golan Heights and the IDF’s activities to ensure Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah cannot get any more of a foothold along the northern border — Yedioth Ahronoth drops a bombshell of a report by revealing the ostensible “real reason” Netanyahu so urgently sought to hold talks with Putin.
“A Russian-Syrian force shot at Israeli Air Force jets,” reads Yedioth’s headline, explaining that the meeting between Netanyahu and Putin was scheduled in light of the security incident. “Netanyahu and the commander of the IAF requested of the Russian president: Tighten security coordination in order to avert such cases in the future.” Additional information regarding the alleged incident is not provided in Yedioth, however, and the paper’s report quickly descends into a rehash of Israeli-Russian military coordination in the past.
Israel Hayom chooses to focus on Netanyahu’s statements concerning the Golan Heights, according to which the strategic ridge will remain under Israeli sovereignty whether a comprehensive agreement to end the Syrian civil war is reached or not. “The Golan Heights is a red line,” Israel Hayom quotes the prime minister as saying. The paper interprets the phrase “red lines” as being attributed to Israel’s control of the northern region, though, in fairness, Netanyahu uttered the statement in connection with the Jewish state’s fight against Hezbollah and other terrorist groups.
Meanwhile, Haaretz reporter Lee Yaron uncovers the chilling state of affairs in several of Israel’s hostels for autistic children, and describes cases of neglect, inexperience on behalf of staff members, and even abuse. “I am the father of an autistic child, and I served as a staff member in a hostel for autistics for three years,” an unidentified man tells Yaron in an interview.
“After I saw what goes on there… There is no chance I will let my son stay at a hostel, I would rather endure all the hardship of caring for him than put him in a place like that.”
Yaron goes on to examine a number of recent incidents at such hostels, including a case in which a patient who was known to be prone to over-hydration was left unattended for several hours, after which he was found dead in his room. The main problem with autistic hostels, Yaron explains, is that while almost anyone can be recognized as a staff member — regardless of their actual training — many of the hostels are severely understaffed. Yaron adds that the state does not allocate much funding to autistic hostels, and many of the sites can only sustain themselves by requesting donations.
Thursday’s major road accident in the Carmel Tunnel near the northern Israeli city of Haifa also features prominently in the Hebrew-language media, as the outlets attempt to decipher the exact reason that led to the crash. This morning, it was reported that a 17-year-old was pronounced dead, while another 53 people were injured in the accident. Yedioth Ahronoth labels the crash a “nightmare in the tunnel,” and provides a graphic description of the accident and of the condition of the casualties. The paper also issues several tips for “returning home safely” ahead of the Passover vacation, and urges Israelis to buckle up, avoid any distractions, give kids an activity to focus on, and remain alert throughout the drive.
Finally, the countries’ major papers, like millions of music lovers worldwide, mourn the loss of the artist known as Prince, who passed away at age 57. Almost all the dailies use some variation of a Prince song as the basis for their headline on the musician’s death, with Israel Hayom’s “a purple rain of tears” most representative of the phenomena.
“The feeling of lose is exacerbated when the world loses people that are one of a kind, ones that have no replacement, those whose departure means something is gone forever,” Israel Hayom contributor Aharon Lapidot writes. “People who are original, daring, who challenged life and frameworks and conformity. Three months ago it was David Bowie, this week it was Ronit Elkabetz, and today it is Prince.” All he and millions of fans can ask now, Lapidot concludes melodramatically, is how Prince can just leave them, standing alone, in a world that’s so cold.