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Media Summary

UN ignored Beirut bombing requests from bereaved families

The BBC claims that the UN repeatedly ignored requests from bereaved families for information to help the official investigation into the Beirut port explosion which killed 219 people in August last year. The probe, according to the BBC, has been beset by delays, rows and recriminations, leaving families and survivors no closer to finding out who, if anyone, was to blame.

The Telegraph and Reuters report on yesterday’s terror attack in Jerusalem in which a Hamas operative used a submachine gun to shoot one dead and injure up to four more before being killed by Israeli police. “On a morning like this one can draw support from the [British] decision to delineate Hamas – including what is called its political wing – as a terrorist organisation,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told his cabinet on Sunday.

The Times writes that aid agencies are demanding emergency intervention by the UN in the crisis in Afghanistan amid fears a new flood of refugees will try to cross into Iran and head on West.

The Financial Times says Iran’s President Raisi is under increasing pressure to deliver economic promises as working class families struggle with rising prices, joblessness and economic hardship.

The Independent reports that the UK is trying to push through a new bill widening its powers to strip Britons of their citizenship. Correspondent Bel Trew meets families in Roj, northeast Syria, who have been left in limbo following their citizenship being stripped from them.

The fiancée of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi has called on Justin Bieber to cancel his upcoming concert in Saudi Arabia next month, says the BBC.  The Canadian singer is among the stars set to perform at the kingdom’s first Formula One Grand Prix in Jeddah. Human Rights Watch has also called on Bieber and the other performers to pull out of the F1 concerts, saying the events are aimed at diverting attention from Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

The Guardian reports that workers in Qatar claim companies are refusing to enforce sweeping new labour laws created to stamp out human rights abuses. Conditions for migrant workers in Qatar have been heavily scrutinised ahead of next year’s FIFA World Cup to be held in the small Gulf country.

Libby Purves writes an op-ed in The Times about cricketer Azeem Rafiq’s “dumb teenage jokes” which “were an example of casual racism [antisemitism] that even now you don’t have to strain to hear”. Meanwhile, The Telegraph says Rafiq is facing an investigation by the England & Wales Cricket Board over the exchange of messages in 2011 with another cricketer in which he used antisemitic slurs.

The Israeli media is dominated by yesterday’s shooting attack in the Old City of Jerusalem that left a 26-year-old citizen dead and four others wounded. Shortly after 9am a Palestinian assailant opened fired adjacent to the Temple Mount at Jews leaving the area of the Western Wall after morning prayers. Eli David Kay, who worked as a tour guide at the Western Wall, was shot and died shortly after security forces took down the assailant. Four other people were wounded in the attack, including two civilians who are listed in moderate-to-serious condition, and two Border Policemen who were lightly wounded. The assailant, 42-year-old Fadi Abu Shkhaydam from East Jerusalem, is believed to be a Hamas member and acted alone. Kan Radio says the security establishment is on a heightened state of alert as authorities are concerned about copy-cat attacks by lone-wolf terrorists who are inspired by yesterday’s shooting. Security officials said that Hamas has been trying for a long time to agitate and set fire in Jerusalem.

Yoav Limor writes in Israel Hayom that “Abu Shkhaydam did not meet the profile of the average terrorist. He was older (42), married and a father of children. Presumably, and in contrast to lone wolves who have committed terror attack in the last few years, his motive was ideological, not personal.” Limor assesses that whilst the police’s swift reaction to the shooting stopped a much larger terror attack from occurring, they failed to prevent it entirely. “The easy accessibility that terrorist elements have to weapons, the ease with which West Bank residents can cross the Green Line — and, as noted above, the many points of friction between Jews and Palestinians in the Old City area — create a major challenge for security forces in Jerusalem.”

In Maariv, Tal Lev Ram argues that yesterday’s shooting does not herald a new wave of terror attacks, even though the attack was the second in Jerusalem in less than a week. “This terrorist’s profile — a religious Hamas member — only goes to show just how hard it is to characterise a terrorist who embarks on a suicide mission. In the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel is fully responsible for security. This theatre continues to be the security establishment’s soft underbelly. It’s become difficult to prevent attacks, particularly because the assailants have blue [i.e. Israeli] ID cards. Looking forward at the near future – Hamas’ growing popularity, combined with the PA’s crumbling standing on the Palestinian street, do not bode well, despite the common interests and the good relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”

Elior Levy writes in Yediot Ahronot that Hamas’s praise of the attack “reflects its greatest aspiration at this time — to undermine security stability in the West Bank and in Jerusalem as much as possible while at the same time strictly maintaining quiet in the Gaza Strip”. Levy adds: “Hamas is in a very sensitive situation today in the West Bank. The PA’s security organisations have begun a military operation to stamp out the reign of armed gangs in Jenin and in the refugee camp there. The PA is also taking steps against Hamas’s attempts to produce a display of power in the West Bank every time Hamas-affiliated prisoners are released when their imprisonment terms are up. Instability in the West Bank will help Hamas weaken the PA and force it to be less aggressive toward Hamas activists and its top members.”

Elsewhere, Maariv reports that the Knesset will host a conference today called ‘Stopping Settler Violence’ despite the objections of right-wing MKS. MKs Mossi Raz (Meretz), Ibtisam Mara’ana (Labour) and Osama Saadi (Joint List) sponsor the conference. Yesterday, Yehuda Wald, the director general of the Religious Zionism Party, asked Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy to cancel what he called “the left’s conference of hate and incitement”. Wald said: “Jewish blood is shed like water in the streets of the Old City next to the last remnant of our Holy Temple, tomorrow they are planning to hold a conference in the Knesset to talk about ways to stop settler violence.” In response, MK Raz said he would hold the event as planned. “I am sorry for the death of the man who was murdered in the Old City in a cursed terror attack, and I send my wishes for a speedy recovery to the people who were wounded in the attack. But terrorism, gunfire and murder does not justify settler violence against local residents.”

Kan Radio reports that State’s witness Nir Hefetz, who served as media adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu, will begin testifying this morning in Netanyahu’s trial. His testimony was postponed from last week after there were leaks about the information that Hadas Klein, who was personal assistant to Arnon Milchan, gave the prosecution. Hefetz’s testimony is likely to take several weeks.