Syria rocket fire: Not accidental after all?
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Syria rocket fire: Not accidental after all?

As reports emerge saying projectiles launched at Golan may have been deliberate, Israelis continue to grapple with fallout from #MeToo campaign against sexual assault

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

An Israeli flag flutters above the wreckage of a tank on a hill in the Golan Heights overlooking the border with Syria on October 18, 2017. (AFP Photo/Jalaa Marey)
An Israeli flag flutters above the wreckage of a tank on a hill in the Golan Heights overlooking the border with Syria on October 18, 2017. (AFP Photo/Jalaa Marey)

Reports that the rockets fired over the Syrian border over the weekend may have been deliberate and not spillover fire from the civil war largely dominate Israel’s print media on Sunday.

IDF officials tell the Yedioth Ahronoth daily that the five rockets launched at Israel early Saturday morning were “not what spillover fire looks like.”

The unnamed military official noted there was no fighting going on in Syria at the time of the fire, and the area from which the rockets were fired is under the control of the Syrian army.

Yedoth’s front page coverage of the incident includes a prominently featured op-ed by a retired IDF general who lambastes the government for its handling of the recurring rocket fire from its northern neighbor, saying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies are dragging the country into war.

In a lengthy and prominently placed op-ed, Maj. Gen. (res) Amiram Levin slams the government for not resolving the situation.

“To my dismay, we have a prime minister who is more concerned with headlines and empty buzzwords rather than advancing common sense diplomacy,” he says. “Yes, the retaliatory fire by the IDF is the right thing to do, but smart and measured leadership does not have to heap frenzied words to the fire.”

Amiram Levin in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2016. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

“Israel is the strongest military power in the region, and it’s not smart to flaunt it.”

Levin adds dryly that as the prime minister and his government are war-mongering, it is now the responsibility of the IDF to “minimize the chances of going to war.”

Yedioth on Sunday also gives ample coverage to the growing backlash against Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich over his remarks regarding the #MeToo campaign.

As millions of women from across the world addressed their own experiences with sexual assault, Smotrich publicly denounced the campaign for “turning all men into sexual predators, and all women into victims.” He said the “dishonest, exaggerated and dangerous” campaign was being driven by “radical feminist” elements and should be boycotted.

The paper calls his response “disturbing,” and features several responses condemning his remarks.

“It’s worth noting that eight months ago Smotrich compared the evacuation of [the illegal West Bank settlement] Amona to the brutal rape of a woman,” the paper says. “But when it comes to actual sexual assault against women he is much more forgiving.”

Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich attends a party conference at Bar Ilan University on September 26, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

An accompanying op-ed by Yedioth journalist Meirav Batito takes Smotrich to task. Batito says that Smotrich has crossed all lines with his latest tweet, and is trampling “both Israeli and universal values” by siding with sexual predators.

Sunday’s edition of Israel Hayom also leads its front page with the Syrian rocket fire over the weekend.

The free daily strikes a more dramatic tone in its coverage of the incident, focusing heavily on the IDF’s vow to continue retaliatory strikes against Syrian targets in response to the sporadic rocket fire.

“The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm the sovereignty of Israel and the security of its residents, and the continuation of such incidents will only exacerbate Israel’s response,” an unnamed army official tells the paper, reiterating that Israel holds Damascus responsible for any and all rockets fired at Israel.

In its opinion pages, Israel Hayom’s cartoonist, Shlomo Cohen, aptly depicts the delicate Israel-Syria border as being held together by matches as rockets soar overhead.

Haaretz, Israel’s leading left-wing newspaper, does not mention the Syrian fire at all on its front page, instead highlighting the Trump administration’s backing of the Egyptian-led peace efforts in the region.

According to the paper, Washington sees Cairo’s success in brokering a reconciliation deal between Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah as having created an positive opportunity for the region.

“Egypt has helped us crack open a door to Gaza that didn’t exist a few weeks ago, and we see it as a possible opportunity,” an unidentified senior White House official told the paper. “Israelis and Palestinians are so much better off if we can make something out of it.”

In its opinion pages, Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy also weighs in on the #MeToo campaign, calling for the awareness efforts to extend to female Palestinian victims of the Israeli occupation.

“Let’s see how the world responds to this campaign, especially Israelis – the same Israelis who took part in #MeToo and are now obliviously wandering the streets of Ramat Hasharon and Ramat Aviv,” Levy writes.

“#AnaKaman [Me too in Arabic] will bring the testimonies of Palestinian women who live (or were killed) under the Israeli occupation,” he says before sharing a half-dozen stories of Palestinian women

“All this is just the start of the campaign that will never happen, certainly not in Israel,” he concludes wryly

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