Passover on a submarine

Passover on a submarine

The Hebrew-language media reminds readers about the IDF soldiers operating thousands of kilometers away from home during the holiday

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative photo of matza. (photo credit: Abir Sultan/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of matza. (photo credit: Abir Sultan/Flash90)

As millions of Israeli Jews prepare to celebrate the holiday of Passover, the front pages of the country’s Hebrew-language newspapers shift their focus Monday to the security men and women who will be spending the Seder away from their homes, patrolling the borders of the Jewish state… and far beyond.

Yedioth Ahronoth leads with a piece of photo-journalism on the Israeli Defense Force’s submarine units. Maybe it was the pre-holiday lull that prompted the paper to publish this series of low-resolution, mostly-unexciting pictures taken by soldiers serving in the prestigious navy unit, but still, its a bit hard to discern which feeling exactly Yedioth was attempting to evoke in its readers by presenting these particular photos. In one picture, a gas rig can be seen, and in another, the silhouette of a small ship manned by Israeli Navy SEALS.

To its credit, the daily shows another image taken from the viewpoint of a submarine periscope which shows a dolphin jumping above the ocean waves, and that is admittedly kind of cool. Yedioth reporter Tzachi Davush awkwardly adds that the photo-series should serve as a reminder of the sacrifices of the soldiers, who pursue secret missions thousands of miles away, deep underwater, while the rest of the country dines and wines at the Passover table.

Israel Hayom on its front page shows what has become an obligatory feature ahead of the Passover, namely, a photo of a band of troops, each chewing on their personal square of matzah. The paper adds that hundreds of thousands of Israelis are expected to hit the trail, or simply barbecue, in the country’s many national parks and nature reserves over the coming days. The daily concludes with a travel warning, reporting that Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau strongly advises not to head across the southern border to the Sinai, for fear of an attack on tourists by groups associated with the Islamic State.

On a different note, the daily reports that Israel is considering a proposal to bring wounded Syrian children to Israel for treatment. The proposal comes in the aftermath of last week’s attack by Syrian regime warplanes on the rebel-held northern province of Idlib. Over 80 people died in the attack, including 27 children, with many of the victims showing symptoms of exposure to the chemical agent sarin. Since 2013, Israel has quietly treated 3,000 Syrian casualties who were spirited across the border into Israel for medical treatment at special field hospitals or in Israeli medical centers.

Haaretz’s top story covers Israel’s practice of holding and burying the bodies of Palestinian terrorists within the Jewish state, in order to prevent funerals that could be turned into nationalist rallies. However, according to Haaretz, Israeli authorities have recently admitted that at least seven bodies of Palestinians who committed acts of terror during the second intifada could not be located. The bodies are typically buried by private contractors, and in many cases, not all paperwork is filed.

Haaretz reports that of 123 requests for the return of Palestinian terrorists’ bodies to their families — cases that have not yet been resolved — only 2 bodies have been definitely identified. In the past, several Israeli authorities and officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have expressed support for holding on to or significantly delaying the return of attackers’ bodies. The delay is thought to lessen the significance attached to any particular attacker, and so to reduce attendance at the funerals.

According to Yedioth, Rod Stewart will host Israeli diva Rita during his show on June 14 date in Tel Aviv. The Yarkon Park concert will be the final performance of Stewart’s “Hits” tour.

“I am happy and excited to host Rita at my show in Israel, the rocker told Yedioth. “I’ve heard her singing and I’ve read about her work in Israel and abroad, and I am sure that it will be a pleasure for us to sing and sail together on stage.” As you might have guessed, the two are set to perform Stewart’s famous hit “Sailing,” according to Yedioth. “It is highly flattering and exciting to perform with Stewart, one of the greatest rock stars in history, on the same stage.” Stewart, who recently turned 72 and who has sold more than 100 million copies of his albums over the years, has played in Israel twice before, in 2010 and in 1983, at the height of his career.

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