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Media Summary

Only survivor of Italy cable cash taken to Israel

The BBC and The Times report that authorities in Italy have launched an investigation after six-year old Eitan, the only survivor of a deadly cable car crash in May, was taken to Israel by his grandfather. Eitan Biran’s parents, younger brother and two of his great grandparents were among 14 people killed in the accident. Eitan had been staying with paternal aunt Aya Biran-Nirko in Italy since being released from hospital. Eitan’s family had lived in Italy for several years before the crash, and Biran-Nirko was granted custody in June. However, Eitan’s maternal relatives in Israel filed for custody of Eitan in August and on Saturday, Eitan was taken out by his maternal grandfather, Shmulik Peleg, who moved to Italy after the crash and had visitation rights.

The Times reports that the US army has withdrawn advanced anti-missile systems from Saudi Arabia. Satellite images of the Prince Sultan air base, 70 miles south-east of Riyadh, show that a section that had housed US batteries since 2019 is empty. The removal coincides with a US decision to relocate weapons to Asia to counter a perceived threat from Beijing. Last week Saudi Arabia cancelled a visit by US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, who was on a Gulf tour to thank allies for their support during the evacuation of Afghanistan.

The BBC, Reuters, Financial Times and The Guardian report that Iran has agreed to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the global nuclear watchdog, to service cameras used to monitor Iranian nuclear sites. IAEA inspectors will also be allowed to replace the cameras’ memory cards, and they will be kept in Iran. Iran had previously said it would only hand over camera footage from key nuclear sites after an agreement is reached to lift US sanctions. The agreement comes just before a meeting of the IAE Board of Governors this week at which Western powers were threatening to seek a resolution on Iran. The coordinator of the now-stalled nuclear talks in Vienna, European Union political director Enrique Mora, said on Twitter that the agreement “gives space for diplomacy”, adding it was crucial for the talks to resume as soon as possible.

The Times reports that United Arab Emirates is considering a shift to a Monday-to-Friday working week to bring it into line with the global economy. In the past year reforms in the Gulf state have included the decriminalisation of alcohol and cohabitation. This summer Dubai allowed restaurants to stay open during Ramadan, when Muslims fast until sunset

The Independent publishes a piece by the late Robert Fisk who recalls the 1996 Israel-Lebanon conflict and questions with the benefit of hindsight whether the IDF would have embarked on such a massive military operation at such enormous cost just to avenge the wounding of five Israelis by Katyusha rockets.

Reuters reports that Qatar’s foreign minister held talks with the prime minister of Taliban-ruled Afghanistan over the weekend, in what is described as the highest-level foreign visit to Kabul since the militant group seized the capital last month. Qatar is considered one of the countries with the most influence over the Taliban and played a pivotal role in the evacuation of Western nationals and Afghans who helped Western countries.

In the Israeli media, Israel Hayom runs a commentary that dismisses much of Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s plan for Gaza as a “re-enactment of the same worldview” that underpinned Israel’s 2005 disengagement from Gaza and the Western coalition’s failed efforts in Afghanistan. The article added: “If the State of Israel is forced to fight another major war in Gaza, the military operation will have to be preceded by political and diplomatic action. In that sense, Lapid’s plan is a positive initiative. Lapid said that the public needs to know that ‘we have turned over every stone,’ a turn of phrase that he borrowed from one of the experts on inducing the collapse of security arrangements — Ehud Barak.” Barak Ravid echoes a similar sentiment in Walla, saying: “A vital component in Lapid’s speech was his desire to take the initiative and not continue to enact the policy of sitting and doing nothing, which was so evident under Netanyahu. That may the major novelty in what he said. Lapid believes that Israel must be active in mobilizing the international community to rebuild the water, electricity and transport infrastructure in Gaza so that the population and Hamas will have something to lose. But Lapid added conditions to his initiative that render it devoid of real content — first, the return of the MIAs’ bodies. More and more government officials have come to recognise that this condition does not serve Israel’s interests.

Maariv reports that the manhunt for the two remaining escapees from Gilboa prison continues into its seventh day, after four of the security prisoners were captured over the weekend unarmed. The paper says the police’s working assumption is that one of the prisoners is believed to have crossed into the West Bank, whilst the search on the other is still inside Israel. More information is coming to light over the actions of the six prisoners after they broke out of prison last week. According to the media, the six headed on foot for the nearby Arab town of Na’ura, some four miles from the prison, where they begged several residents to drive them to the city of Jenin in the West Bank, but were refused. After being rebuffed by local residents, the six spent less than an hour in a local mosque where they showered and changed clothes before heading out of the town. Israeli investigators initially believed they spent the night there.

Walla reports of an attempted stabbing attack this morning at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank. According to a military source, a man ran with a knife while shouting “Allah akbar” at soldiers who were on route toward Jerusalem, and they shot and seriously injured him. No soldiers were injured in the suspected attack. This attack was preceded by a similar one last Friday, in which a police officer was injured during a stabbing attack in the Old City of Jerusalem. The assailant’s profile was unusual for this type of attack. Hazam al-Julani, a 50-year-old East Jerusalem resident, worked as a doctor in the east of the city and even ran a complementary medicine clinic. He was evacuated from the scene to Hadassah Mount Scopus Hospital in Jerusalem, but was pronounced dead soon after.

Yediot Ahronot publishes a commentary asking why nobody has taken responsibility for the prison break. “Prison Service Commissioner Lieutenant General Katy Perry already said she has no plans to resign over this scandal. And why should she? Did someone resign after deadly Mount Meron stampede in April or the collapse of a synagogue stand at Givat Ze’ev synagogue earlier this year? The loss of control during the riots in mixed cities in May? The wildfires in Jerusalem (which were the biggest over the past decade)? Or even the forgery of COVID-19 test results by Uman pilgrims who came back after Rosh Hashanah? In places where accountability is not the norm, no one will take responsibility. And where there’s no responsibility, something is broken, and it will forever be that way.”

Kan Radio notes the trial of Opposition Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu resumes this morning at the Jerusalem District Court. Netanyahu has been charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in Case 4,000, which is also known as the Bezeq-Walla affair. The defence is expected to argue that the numbers of requests from Netanyahu to the former Walla CEO, Ilan Yeshua, was similar to the number from other politicians. The prosecution, alternatively, is expected to argue that Netanyahu demanded positive coverage very frequently, much more than other elected officials.

Yediot Ahronot’s health affairs correspondent, Sarit Rosenblum, reports that health-care officials are concerned about the increasing number of parents who appear to be choosing to allow their children to become infected with COVID-19 so as to obviate the need for repeated testing and quarantining. Two weeks following the start of the new school year, 155,000 students remain at home. Among them, 43,000 have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 110,000 are in quarantine – a rate of one out of every 45 school-age children testing positive. Almost 6,000 children become infected every day. Prof. Eli Someck, who is the director of the children’s ward in Mayanei Hayeshua Hospital, is quoted as saying: “Children have reached the ICU and have even put on ECMO because of COVID-19. We are seeing heart damage because of the multisystem inflammatory syndrome that can appear after COVID-19. It is important that children not become infected, especially since soon there will be vaccines for five-year-olds and older and then for even younger children. Why count on nature when you can count on modern medicine?”