Media Summary

No survivors found in Beirut after search

The BBC leads with a report from inside the war-torn country of Yemen. Six months since coronavirus spread in Yemen, the BBC is the first international broadcaster to reach the country to see how people are dealing with the pandemic.

The Telegraph reports that British female Islamic State suspects have been smuggled out of detention camps in northeast Syria, with some raising funds online to pay for further escapes, according to jihadist social media activity.

The Guardian continues to follow the anti-Netanyahu protests in Israel held every Saturday night for the several months. Although the demonstrations have been largely peaceful in recent weeks, protesters scuffled with police in several locations on Saturday night, resulting in 13 arrests. The Police also said two officers were slightly injured when a crowd burst through a police blockade.

The Guardian reports that Egyptian security forces have arrested six witnesses, including three women, in an investigation into an alleged gang-rape case previously hailed as a watershed moment for women’s rights. According to Human Rights Watch, a woman was seized from her car in front of her building and another was arrested at her holiday home overnight by the country’s powerful National Security Agency.

The Independent reports that rescue workers in Beirut have been unable to find anyone trapped under a collapsed building one month on from the deadly blast. The chances of finding a survivor had been slim but sensitive equipment operated by a volunteer Chilean team had repeatedly detected signs of shallow breathing amid the rubble, which lead to an intense three-day search for survivors.

The Financial Times looks at Iran’s emerging partnership with China as it attempts to neutralise the impact of US sanctions. The paper writes that “in what appears to be a tactical shift for a theocratic state under pressure from US sanctions and hopeful for better relations with other states, Iran’s leaders are working on a ‘comprehensive’ 25-year plan to become ‘important strategic partners’ with China.” The BBCnotes that Iran now has more than 10 times the amount of enriched uranium permitted under the JCPOA agreement.

All the Israeli media report on the decision by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to impose a night-time curfew in the 42 “red” cities and towns instead of opting for full lockdowns in a dozen of the localities that suffer from the highest coronavirus infection rate as decided by the coronavirus cabinet last week. The night-time curfew will begin every evening at 7:00 PM and continue until 5:00 AM for a period of two weeks. During that time, no one will be allowed either to enter or leave the towns. Businesses must close at 5:00 PM, with the exception of grocery stores and pharmacies. The public will not be permitted to stray more than 500 meters from their homes, and travel beyond that will be allowed only for buying food and medications. Yediot Ahronot described the weaker restriction as “capitulation” to the ultra-Orthodox parties, as many of the expected towns to be under full lockdown are populated by the religious sector. Mayors of Haredi cities warned Netanyahu that there would be a civil rebellion by the residents if he imposed a complete lockdown on Haredi cities.

Kan Radio News reports that 1,500 people had tested positive for coronavirus yesterday – a  relatively low number because fewer tests were carried out over the weekend. A total of 453 patients are hospitalised in serious condition, among whom 131 are on ventilators. The number of people in Israel who have died of the coronavirus stands at 1,019.

In Yediot Ahronot, Yual Karni writes that Netanyahu retreated due to three reasons: i) the fate of the right-wing bloc; ii) The [Naftali] Bennett threat; and iii) the rebellion by the Haredi mayors. After the right-wing bloc was dismantled, according to Karni, Netanyahu has only one political alliance left — his alliance with the Haredim. The coronavirus crisis has made it easier to put pressure on Netanyahu, who is also worried about the rise of strength of Bennett’s Yamina in the polls. And finally, the Haredi public is feeling deprived, ostracised and, in the last few days, has begun to wage an independent battle against a lockdown.

Nahum Barnea says the government’s problem is not a failure to impose a partial lockdown on a handful of “red” cities, which is not going to stop the rise of infection in the country. Instead, the problem is the constant “zigzag” of policy decisions that has eroded the public’s confidence in the ability of the coalition. Barnea writes: “The Israelis have been casting a vote of no-confidence in the street with their public disregard for the instruction to wear masks, with their disregard for social distancing and strict hygiene. They are voting no-confidence at weddings, parties, gatherings, yeshivas and in prayer services in mosques and synagogues. Their lack of confidence is so important to them that they are willing to risk their health for its sake.” He adds that, “There isn’t any confidence because there isn’t any leadership. A leader is someone who is capable of making tough decisions, decisions that aren’t in tune with popularity polls and with the whims of their base. A leader is someone who makes sure to tell the truth to his or her voters, even when the truth is disturbing. Israel doesn’t have a leader of that sort presently.”

Ben-Dror Yemini has a similar message, writing that the “problem isn’t the Haredim; the problem is the Haredi leadership and the prime minister who capitulates to it. What exactly is Netanyahu afraid of … the turn of events yesterday was reflective of the way things have worked in recent years, and that is already habitual with Netanyahu. When faced with a choice between acting in the service of the national interest and in the service of his own short-term and dubious self-interest—it is the latter that prevails.”

Haaretz writes that the corruption trial is predominately occupying Netanyahu and in chances of survival are totally dependent on his political moves, which all aim to decrease the risk of conviction. “Netanyahu needs the Haredi parties more than ever as the base for his coalition. He cannot survive without them, and thus cannot anger them or allow himself to take any steps that would put their alliance at risk. He has very little wiggle room.”

Kan Radio News reports on comments made by Opposition leader Yair Lapid, who said that the government was not only out-of-touch but was dangerous as well. He said that the public was no longer willing to pay the price of the miserable wheelers and dealers running the government and that if the prime minister and the ministers were scared of each other, causing the government to be paralysed and resulting in distorted decisions, they needed to be sent packing.