The unconscious prisoner’s dilemma (The Times of Israel)

All three major Hebrew-language papers dedicate sections of their front pages to Sunday’s violent demonstrations in Ashkelon for and against the release of Palestinian hunger striker Mohammad Allaan, who on Friday slipped into a coma and has been described in critical condition.

According to Yedioth Ahronoth, clashes broke out at the city’s main entrance between the two groups of protesters, supporters of Allaan on the one hand and right-wing activists on the other, with demonstrators hurling stones at cars, blasting pepper spray at cops, and eventually physically assaulting each other. Above the article, the daily plasters an image of Palestinian women raising their hands and signaling victory with their fingers, alongside a picture of a right-wing demonstrator, the lower half of his face covered in an Israeli flag. Yedioth pegs the blame for the violence on Joint (Arab) List MK Hanin Zoabi and ultra-nationalist Baruch Marzel, who according to the paper each riled up their respective camps.

Israel Hayom notes that the original protest in support of Allaan took place despite the fact that it had not been authorized by police, and voices concern that the clashes are indicative of a growing rift between Jews and Arabs in the country. “The riots – and the worry,” reads Israel Hayom’s main headline. The paper adds that police and army forces are preparing for an “escalation.”

If and when Allaan regains consciousness — and if he continues to refuse to eat — Israel’s government must decide whether it will invoke a law passed in July allowing the force-feeding of prisoners when their lives are in danger.

Haaretz quotes a Turkish official as saying that Israel and Hamas are on the verge of a breakthrough in negotiations over a possible long-term truce agreement. The daily adds that other Turkish sources indicated that the establishment of a seaport in the Gaza Strip was being discussed in the talks between Israel and Hamas as well. According to Arabic media outlets quoted by Haaretz, the proposed truce would last for up to ten years, and even the Islamic Jihad terrorist group would join in on the agreement.

Optimism over the possibility of a truce with Hamas aside, Haaretz also reports that the IDF is concerned that Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, backed by the Iranian regime, is planning to carry out attacks along Israel’s northern border. “It is clear that all the terrorist activities [near the border] over the past two years, Iran had been behind them,” a senior IDF officer told Haaretz. “You can see their fingerprints in the weaponry, in the direction. There is a clear hand guiding these incidents, they are exploiting the border,” the officer concludes.

Back in Yedioth, the paper warns that the Israeli economy is experiencing a slump in growth, partly due to a sharp 12.5% drop in exports, a 7.5% dip in imports, and a slowdown in average consumption. Yedioth’s business analyst, Sever Plotzker says the new figures released by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics are simply “worrisome.”

According to a report by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) brought forward in Israel Hayom, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization personally requested that US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz take part in negotiations between the P5+1 world powers and Tehran over the latter’s nuclear program. Ali Akbar Salehi, who studied at MIT alongside Moniz, said he wanted the energy minister to be involved in the talks, since the US official was capable of “moving things along.” Israel Hayom takes the report as evidence that Iran had always had the upper hand during negotiations with world powers.

Haaretz plays up new research released by a German team of scientists who claim that the birth of a firstborn child has a negative effect on couples’ overall average rate of happiness, even more than being unemployed, going through a messy divorce, or — sit tight — the death of a loved one.

The German researchers, who conducted the study over a period of two decades, claim that their findings may suggest why many upper- and middle-class couples in Europe settle for only one child. The study did not focus on families with more than one child, so it is unclear whether in Israel, where the birthrate is significantly higher than in other developed countries, the average couple is more or less happy than the typical German couple.

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