The face of Shula Zaken, former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s secretary, peers from the front pages of both Maariv and Yedioth Ahronoth this morning. The longtime aide and confidant, who faces criminal charges in several of her boss’s corruption cases and was recently convicted of fraud in a separate case, gave interviews to both papers. In both, Zaken speaks about the challenges she’s faced, the moments of despair that nearly broker her, her anger at the justice system and her everlasting loyalty to Olmert. Zaken’s full interviews are scheduled to appear in the papers’ special Passover issues this weekend.
Yedioth’s top headline reads: “How Iron Dome was enlisted to justify taxes.” The article, penned by Alex Fishman and Gideon Eshet, argues that Netanyahu is misleading the public by claiming that its tax money goes toward the widely acclaimed missile defense system, when in truth most of its funding is sponsored by the US.
Also on Yedioth’s front page is an article headlined “Passover plight,” an expose on Israel’s poor and the hardships they face as the country prepares for the holiday feast.
Maariv’s second front-page story covers yesterday’s explosion and fire in Ra’anana, which started as a result of a welding accident and ended with six people injured and four people arrested for negligence.
Israel Hayom’s main headline reports on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt putting forward a presidential candidate despite post-uprising promises that it wouldn’t. Boaz Bismuth writes that the Islamist party’s effort to gain control of the entire government spells trouble for Egypt, Israel and the entire Middle East.
Other articles on the front page include a story on the Ra’anana fire and a story on an IDF medic who yesterday received a medal for her bravery and resilience treating victims of a terror attack on a bus, while she herself was injured.
Haaretz’s top headline reads “IDF: Evict the new Hebron outpost immediately.” The story reports on how despite the army’s demands to evict the settlers who occupied a house in the West Bank city, several cabinet ministers have come to the settlers’ aid.
A crime against nature
On Page 14 Maariv reports on a major flower heist that took place near Hadera a few weeks ago. The Nature and Parks Authority says hundreds of endangered and protected irises were uprooted from parks in the past three weeks and they believe they were stolen in order to be sold in foreign flower markets. The authority sees the theft as a grievous offense and has sought help from Interpol in detecting any of the purple flowers that make their way to overseas airports.
Yedioth features a heart-wrenching story on Page 14 about a two-year-old girl who lives in the surgical unit of the Dana Children’s hospital in Tel Aviv. The girl, called Titi, was brought to the hospital by her Sudanese migrant parents suffering from severe burns in her digestive and respiratory systems, apparently the result of swallowing a cleaning fluid. The injuries robbed her of her voice and social services took her out of her parents’ custody. The girl is now awaiting adoption and two families have asked to take her in, but according to the article, bureaucracy is holding things up. In the meantime, Titi is recovering and being taken care of by the nursing staff at the hospital.
On Page 24, Yedioth reports on statistics drawn from emergency calls to the police. According to the report, out of about 8,000,000 total per year, the highest number of 100 calls (Israel’s 911) are made to complain about vehicle-related offenses (28%). Next are complaints about disturbances of the peace and reports on suspicious objects (23% each) followed by reports on physical altercations, car break-ins and house break-ins. Interestingly, the statistics reveal that most of the calls to the police are about matters that the police don’t deal with and a whopping 2.5 million calls are prank calls.
Israel Hayom reports on a survey that found that 60 percent of Israelis are in favor of military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. According to the poll conducted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a majority of Israelis (65%) believe the fallout of such a strike would be preferable to life under the threat of a nuclear Iran.
Haaretz reports on the arrest of four directors of a popular ultra-Orthodox news website on extortion suspicions. According to the article, the men are suspected of blackmailing prominent members of the haredi community, asking for large sums of money in exchange for withholding publication of potentially damaging information.
Hooligans in the head office
Nahum Barnea writes in Yedioth’s opinion pages on the recent violence that has plagued Israel’s soccer world, blaming the team owners and managers. “Some of them are ex-cons, some of them are currently undergoing criminal investigations. The behavior of some of them on the pitch and in the locker rooms is bullying. Their business model is absurd. Their world is more closely related to illegal gambling than to the joy of sports,” he writes.
In Israel Hayom, Haim Shine writes about Passover as a national Jewish holiday. “Passover is the holiday of Jewish nationalism. It does not belong to the religious public alone; it belongs to every Jew. Millions of Jews around the world and in Israel will sit at the seder table, the children will ask and the adults will answer. The intergenerational dialogue is the greatest promise to the continued existence of the Jewish heritage,” writes shine. “Out of recognition of joint fate and destiny, we can manifest Israel’s spiritual message to the world and Israel’s material flourishing.”