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Media Summary

Trial for last ‘ISIS Beatle’ begins in US

BBC News, The Telegraph, The Guardian and The Times report on last night’s terror attack in the suburbs of Tel Aviv, which killed five people. The attacker was shot dead by a police officer, and subsequently identified as a 26-year-old Palestinian man from a village near Jenin, in the West Bank. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the country was “facing a wave of murderous Arab terrorism”.

Stephen Daisley writes for The Spectator about the new wave of terror facing Israel, following last night’s attack. He writes: “The ‘new situation’ Bennett and Israel’s security establishment fears is a wave of terrorism emerging from Arab towns within Israel. Those fears explain Bennett’s decision to expand the use of administrative detention (detention without charge) inside Israel — ‘in appropriate circumstances in which it is possible to present a proper legal basis’. The practice is widely used against Palestinian terror suspects in Judea and Samaria, which is governed by the Israeli military and where Israeli civilian law largely doesn’t apply.”

BBC News interviews Anoosheh Ashoori, who spent five years in an Iranian jail and was released earlier this month. He describes having to pinch himself almost every day to be sure he is back in London and no longer in Iran. In August 2017 he flew to Iran to visit his mother, who had undergone a knee surgery, but was subsequently arrested and accused of spying for Israel.

BBC News and The Telegraph report on the ‘ISIS Beatles’, as one of the members of the group is due to begin his trial in the US today. El Shafee Elsheikh is the last of the four to stand trial. He is facing charges of conspiring to kidnap, torture and kill British and American citizens. According to the US, the group beheaded 27 hostages. The Telegraph says, “The landmark trial will be the first – and likely the last – time such evidence against ISIS is aired in a public court. Most of its senior members died on the battlefield, or received conveyor-belt justice in secret hearings across Syria and Iraq.”

The Israeli media is dominated by last night’s terror attack in Bnei Brak. Shortly after 8pm local time, Diaa Hamarsheh entered Israel illegally from Yaabad, a Palestinian town near Jenin, and opened fire at anyone who happened to be passing by. He murdered two people who were sitting nearby at a local grocery store, stopped a passing car and shot the driver at point-blank range and continued to fire unconcerned at any pedestrian he saw. Yediot Ahronot pays tribute to the two members of the motorcycle-based patrol squad that neutralised the terrorist, one of which who died in the effort. Amir Khoury, who drove the motorcycle, was shot as he drove into the terrorist and died after being rushed to the hospital. He was single, lived in Nof Hagalil and served at the Bnei Brak precinct of the Israel Police’s Tel Aviv district. His father, Jarris, is also a retired police officer who served in the Tel Aviv district. Khoury is survived by his parents, a brother and two sisters. Just two months ago he won the Outstanding Officer award for the greater Tel Aviv region and was promoted.

Maariv quotes a length the political reactions following the attack. Opposition Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu said: “This is a sad and very difficult evening. Israel is in the midst of a dangerous wave of terrorism [the likes of which] we haven’t seen in many years. I extend my condolences to the families of the murder victims and pray for the recovery of the injured. I strengthen the security and rescue forces that are operating on the ground. We need to act resolutely to restore quiet and security to the citizens of Israel.” Religious Zionist Party Chairman Bezalel Smotrich said: “Difficult days for the Israeli people. I want to embrace the family families of the murdered, the injured and all Israeli citizens. I call on each and every one to say a prayer for the recovery of the injured and for quiet days. We are assured that the Jewish people will live forever; together we will emerge from this awful period to better days for the Jewish people.”

Israel Hayom speaks to Col. (res.) David Hacham, a former Arab affairs adviser to seven Israeli defence ministers, who said ISIS-inspired terrorists create significant challenges for intelligence agencies that make them harder to pick up. “There are all sorts of individuals caught up with ISIS extremist ideology and who pursue them with full force, as we have seen in Beer Sheva and Hadera. These are the actions of individuals, but which are still highly problematic to reach at the intelligence level.”

Also in Maariv, Ben Caspit writes: “What we’ve been seeing in the course of this past week is an upgraded repeat of the lone wolf Intifada that erupted here seven years ago. Back then, the terrorists were armed with knives. Today they’ve got pistols and rifles. That is far more dangerous and lethal, but we’ll prevail this time too.”  He adds: “Until we do, the question to ask is: when exactly do the decision-makers intend to understand what is happening? None of the idle talk about ‘recruiting Border Police companies in reserves’ has made an impression on anyone. A major effort needs to be undertaken to recruit a designated task force to restore Israeli governance and personal security.” Caspit provides a long list of action the government must take in order to stop this emerging wave of terrorism: “We are going to have to begin by massively increasing the number of police troops overall, and the number of police officers who are deployed on the ground in particular; we are going to have to continue with expedited legislation to establish minimum sentences; we are going to have to decide to use extraordinary means against terrorists—even if they are Israeli citizens; we are going to have to deal head-on polygamy in the Bedouin sector, which has created mixed family units (in which the mother comes either from Gaza or from the southern Hebron hills), which then become a breeding ground for hate and terrorism; we are going to have to act to reestablish Israeli governance, beginning with the roads of the Negev and ending on the streets of Bnei Brak. And we need to do all that now.”

In Yediot Ahronot, Alex Fishmen says “The ball is now in Israel’s court: any mistaken move, any emotional and hastily-made decision, is liable to send us back to the dark days of countless suicide bombing attacks inside Israeli territory. That would achieve the central goal of the Salafist organisations and Hamas: to start a third Intifada.” Fishman refers to the recent Israeli policy decisions on the Palestinian front, which were designed to reduce tensions over the coming religious holiday period, including by granting freer movement into Israel, and writes: “All the indicators on the ground pointed to things being calm, despite the intensive incitement to violence by Hamas and Iran. Now Israel is going to have to decide whether those goodwill gestures towards the Palestinians are to continue, or whether to revert to closures and restrictions.”

In other news, Haaretz reports that Dan Shapiro has left the Biden administration’s team on Iran after seven months as a part-time senior adviser. Shapiro was regarded the being one of the strongest pro-Israeli voices on US Special Envoy Rob Malley’s team due to his deep understanding of the US-Israel relationship. He is the latest high-profile departure from Malley’s team after Richard Nephew, Malley’s deputy, and two other leading negotiators stepped down two months ago reportedly due to frustrations with the administration’s Iran policy.

Israel Hayom notes Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked announced on Tuesday that given the long waits for appointments to renew passports, Israelis who hold valid foreign passports will be allowed to use them to leave the country until the end of August 2022. The Interior Ministry recommends that Israelis who will need to renew their passports in the next few months schedule appointments to do so without delay.

The Jerusalem Post reports that the High Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday that Education Minister Yifat Shasha Biton must award last year’s Israel Prize in Mathematics and Computer Science to Professor Oded Goldreich of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, ending a legal battle that began in April 2021. At the time, Shasha Biton decided to follow her predecessor Yoav Gallant’s (Likud) decision not to award Goldreich the prize, contrary to the prize committee’s unanimous decision in March 2021. Gallant refused to award the prize to Goldreich due to his signing a petition in 2021 calling on the EU to boycott academic institutions in the West Bank.