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Media Summary

Rocket fire into Israel continues overnight, despite reports of ceasefire

The main item of Israel-related coverage in the UK media today is the rocket and missile attacks from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, and the efforts to avoid further conflict. In other news, many outlets report on a television interview given by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to Syrian state television. The Independent carries a piece on the Egyptian authorities’ difficulties with hard-line Islamists in Egypt. The Financial Times notes that a Hezbollah-associated Lebanese suspect in the murder of Rafik al-Hariri, the country’s former prime minister, has said that authorities know where to find him but cannot arrest him. There is also wide coverage of events in Libya, where rebels have taken control of much of Tripoli.

At the weekend, the main items of Israel-related coverage were the events on Israel’s southern border following last week’s terror attacks, with the papers and online new sources featuring reporting and analysis of the latest developments. Many papers also had pieces on the continuing repression of protests in Syria. The Sunday Express and Sunday Mirror noted Assad’s rejection of international demands that he step down, whilst the Independent on Saturday reported that Russia is refusing to back calls for Assad to leave office. The Financial Times on Saturday reported that the European Union is preparing to ban Syrian oil imports, whilst the Daily Star on Sunday noted that British officials have not endorsed suggestions that the UK could join a ban on Syrian oil imports. The Sunday Times reported that sanctions against Syria to be adopted by European leaders could cripple Gulfsands Petroleum, a London-listed oil explorer with assets in the country. The Mail on Sunday profiled Reem Haddad, spokeswoman for the Assad regime in Syria. Meanwhile, the Sunday Times also noted an Iranian government link to the collapse of a Welsh steel mill, following allegations of fraud on behalf of a legal advisor to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Independent on Sunday reported the display of two works by graffiti artist Banksy that are critical of Israel’s security fence.

In the Israeli media, all papers focus on events in the south of the country and the continued rocket fire on Israeli communities, despite Hamas’s announcement of a ceasefire last night. All papers also report on Assad’s television interview yesterday, and also feature pieces on the events in Libya. The Jerusalem Post notes a statement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev that the Palestinian Authority leadership’s failure to condemn the terror attack on Israeli civilians last week raises ‘serious questions’ about their ‘readiness for independence and commitment to fight terrorism.’  Israel Hayom notes Defence Minister Ehud Barak’s expression of regret for the deaths of Egyptian personnel during the Israeli pursuit of the attacks’ perpetrators in Sinai.