Sneaking in and staying out: 11 things to know for August 18
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Israel media review

Sneaking in and staying out: 11 things to know for August 18

A rash of attempted Gazan infiltrations has everyone scratching their heads and Rashida Tlaib’s grandma sets the internet on fire

A picture taken from Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip shows an Israeli tank near the border fence with the coastal enclave on August 1, 2019, following a firefight with a Palestinian gunman. (Said Khatib/AFP)
A picture taken from Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip shows an Israeli tank near the border fence with the coastal enclave on August 1, 2019, following a firefight with a Palestinian gunman. (Said Khatib/AFP)

1. Not getting used to it: Just when you thought it was safe to take vacation, Gazan violence reared its head again over the weekend, this time with some rockets adding a cherry on top of the now traditional foiled attempt to sneak some gunmen into Israel.

  • The weekend violence dominates most print front pages Sunday morning, including Yedioth Ahronoth, which plays the human interest element, like a picture of a 15-year-old girl having her birthday party in a bomb shelter.
  • The paper is not exactly subtle in highlighting popular frustration in the south. “Understandings? Restraint? It seems not everyone in Gaza heard about it,” the paper remarks snottily, above a picture of Sderot resident Itzik Twitto pointing to his smoker which was damaged by shrapnel which hit his yard.
  • “This is what we’ve been living with for 20 years,” Twitto is quoted telling Channel 12 news. “We have kids and I don’t want war, but it all depends on Hamas. It decides what will be.”
  • “We can’t get used to this,” Twitto’s neighbor Arik Abuhatzera tells Army Radio.

2. Kidnap contest? The rockets were just the start, with the army saying around midnight that it used a tank and helicopter to strafe a group of Palestinians approaching the fence in what is widely seen as an infiltration attempt.

  • The incident is the fourth since the start of the month in which Palestinians tried to cross the border.
  • On Twitter, journalist Shimrit Meir calls the rash of attempts a “plague” and surmises that they may be part of a “systematic, cross-organizational attempt to kidnap a soldier, which has perhaps developed into an internal contest to see who can bring home the first prize.”
  • In Walla News, meanwhile, Amir Bohbot sees the increase in violence as an Iran-directed attempt to take advantage of the Israeli government’s overwhelming desire for calm ahead of elections, knowing it won’t respond too hard and risk a war.
  • “The political leadership will need to decide if it is going to launch a quick offensive to return deterrence and show … how determined Israel is to return calm, or the sides will continue to fiddle until the last moment when the string breaks and then there will be no choice.”
  • Former general Shlomo Harari tells Army Radio he thinks the attempts are proof that Hamas is starting to lose control.
  • Kan radio’s Gal Berger, though, tweets that the head of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, must be “rolling with laughter” at seeing all the different ways Israel finds to avoid assigning blame to Hamas, from lightning strikes to angry youths.

3. Out come the lone wolves: The weekend also saw a car-ramming attack in the West Bank, a day after a stabbing in Jerusalem and a little over a week after a yeshiva student was killed.

  • “There’s no doubt: The Palestinian arena is trending toward an escalation in violence, and for the first time in a while, Israel will also have to deal with a more explosive situation in both the West Bank and Gaza,” Yoav Limor writes in Israel Hayom.
  • Channel 13’s Alon Ben David, meanwhile, writes that the attacks prove that the “lone wolves are not going away.”

4. The not so itty bitty sitty committee: Neither are the Palestinian grandmothers. After Michigan congresswoman Rashida Tlaib cancels her planned trip to the West Bank to visit her grandmother over what she describes as oppressive Israeli conditions, Palestinian grandmothers are suddenly everywhere. Well everywhere as in Twitter, where #MyPalestinianSitty becomes a trend, with Twitters users whipping out pictures of their sittat left and right.

  • “Twitter Bursts With ‘Sitty’ Love For Palestinian Grandmas,” gushes the Huffington Post.
  • “This #MyPalestinianSitty hashtag is in honor of Rashida Tlaib’s grandmother, Sitty Muftiya,” Linda Sarsour writes, sharing a picture of her own grandma. “Her courage, clarity, and fierceness are inspirational. She reminded Palestinians how much we have to be proud of. Our grandmothers teach life.”
  • Some pro-Israel Hasbarists, meanwhile, launch an unsuccessful attempt to hijack the hashtag and push the narrative that ruin was brought upon their sitty by invading Arab armies and not Israel, and like everything else on Twitter, it devolves into yet another fight.

5. The sitty and the city: US President Donald Trump was less impressed with Tlaib or her sitty, obnoxiously writing that “The only real winner here is Tlaib’s grandmother. She doesn’t have to see her now!”

  • (At least he didn’t make a sophomoric joke like calling her a “shitty.”)
  • Her grandmother responded to Trump’s comments on Saturday, saying of the president “May God ruin him,” and expressing disappointment and confusion over the fact her granddaughter would not be visiting.
  • “She’s in a big position, and she cannot visit her grandmother,” Muftiyah Tlaib is quoted telling the Washington Post a day earlier. “So what good is the position?”
  • The Tlaibs are from Beit Ur al Fuqa, which is sliced by infamous Route 443, and a Twitter thread by settlement watchdog Dror Etkes explains the strange place the village finds itself in.

6. Speaking of highways: Former transportation minister and current foreign minister Israel Katz is widely seen as throwing Israeli envoy to the US Ron Dermer under the bus after he told Channel 12 news that the ambassador’s initial welcoming of Tlaib and Ilhan Omar was made without consulting the government.

  • Haaretz reports that Katz is lying, according to a source who says Dermer consulted with five government offices, including Katz’s Foreign Ministry.
  • Former US envoy Martin Indyk wonders if the move wasn’t meant as some sort of payback as part of a Katz-Dermer tiff, especially since Dermer didn’t even get Katz a meeting with Mike Pompeo during his recent visit to the US.

7. Not helping Israel’s case: Also thrown under the bus by the whole affair are pro-Israel Democrats, who are left holding the bag for a position reviled pretty much across the board, giving a boost to those on that side of the aisle who are no big fans of the Jewish state, ToI’s Eric Cortellessa writes.

  • “Pro-Israel activists in Washington say the case for traditionally supportive postures on the Jewish state will henceforth be more difficult to make. In other words, Netanyahu just gave anti-Israel activists in America one of the biggest boosts they could possibly imagine,” he writes.
  • In Haaretz, Noa Landau writes that by backing out of visiting, Tlaib lost out on seeing her family, but foiled Israel’s attempts to soften the blow of the affair and publicly put down Palestinians and their supporter.
  • “The decision not to come has for now prevented the creation of a new precedent in the implementation of the boycott law: a formal declaration ahead of time as a condition for a visa. Tlaib the granddaughter lost, Tlaib the politician won, and the system will now continue on to the next case,” she writes.
  • Israel Hayom, meanwhile, gives the story a dismissive “old-wives tales” headline (In Hebrew, the saying is grandmother’s tales). “It’s Israel’s sovereign right to draw a red line on letting Tlaib and Omar enter,” the paper’s Eldad Beck writes.

8. Where’s Mozes? Most of the Hebrew-language press, though, has moved on from the whole Tlaib affair, focusing on more domestic concerns.

  • For many outlets, that means headlines about Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes having a hearing over his role in an alleged bribery scandal involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and efforts to hobble Israel Hayom.
  • Two outlets conspicuously forget to report on the hearing, however: Yedioth /Ynet and Israel Hayom, as the Seventh Eye points out. Hmmm.

 

9. Race for the Russians: What Israel Hayom does have a headline of is its “special report” on how that Netanyahu could yet manage to convince Russian-speaking voters to abandon Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu and vote for him.

  • “The Russian vote is not in Liberman’s pocket,” reads the paper’s front page headline (which even overshadows the Gaza violence.)
  • Noting that Liberman has steadily lost support in recent years, Mati Tuchfeld writes in the paper that, “The Russian-speaking public is the deciding factor, but they are not stupid.”

10. Kiev to victory: The report is coming out just as Netanyahu is heading to Ukraine, which is maybe Israel’s next most important ally now that the US has been lost.

  • The visit is the first by an Israeli prime minister in 20 years, when Netanyahu also visited, during his first term, and is widely viewed in the lens of elections.
  • The trip will also include a visit to the memorial at Babi Yar, where thousands of Jews were killed in a massacre during the Holocaust, in which Ukraine has been criticized as being slow to memorialize and admit the role of its countrymen.
  • In 2016, President Reuven Rivlin ignited controversy when he chided his hosts during a visit there.
  • In a sign that things may not have changed despite Ukraine having a Jewish president and prime minister, an official program does not mention the fact that the victims at Babi Yar were Jews.

11. Smoked out of hiding: Most Israeli news sites, though, are more interested in the Ukraine caper involving weed marketplace suspect Amos Dov Silver and his attempted escape to Uman, before he was caught and extradited early Sunday morning.

  • His lawyer’s claims of police brutality are widely covered and despite arriving on the Ben-Gurion tarmac at 5 a.m. at least some media was waiting for him as he flashed a V for victory sign, according to a video shared by a Ynet reporter.
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