5774 Exposed: The Stories Haaretz Uncovered This Year

Head of Haaretz's news department Noa Landau picks the year's most impactful investigative reports and exposes.

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
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Children in southern Israel seek shelter during a rocket alert siren.
Children in southern Israel seek shelter during a rocket alert siren. Credit: Reuters
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

5774 was a busy year for the news desk at Haaretz. Live updates, extensive analyses, exclusive reports, in-depth exposes and magazine features - all were sorted, prepared, packaged and presented to you daily by the women and men of the news desk and its branches. Some stories necessitated complex and arduous legal battles, and some had immediate public impact and some ignited fierce debates.

It is difficult, then, to single out one story out of hundreds. Yet if I had to pick one story that particularly touched me, it would have to be the report which revealed that the areas where the Bedouin communities reside in the Negev were defined as "open areas" during Operation Protective Edge. As such, these areas were unprotected by the Iron Dome missile defense system or any other emergency facility such as sirens or shelters.

A photograph sent in by our photographer in the south Eliyahu Hershkowitz was particularly haunting: A tin shack blown to bits by a rocket in the Lakia area of the Negev. Sisters Maram and Atil lived in that shack; two Israeli girls aged 11 and 13, who were wounded in the explosion. They were not, of course, the first girls to sustain wounds in our region's non-stop conflict, but contrary to other Israeli children – and for countless and controversial reasons that should be irrelevant when it comes to the right to safety and security – Maram and Atil never stood a chance. The area in which they live was defined by their country as an "open area." As such, the Iron Dome was not calibrated to protect them, no one built them a reinforced room, siren systems or even a simple freestanding shelter – all simple means of protection available to almost all of us. Maram and Atil lost the fight as soon as they were born, with no right to appeal, because our Israeli IDs have 50 shades of unequal blue.

Our political correspondent Jonathan Lis revealed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman agreed to raise the electoral threshold, a move that could dramatically affect the next elections.

Besides covering the presidential race, Lis also revealed this year that Netanyahu is advancing a bill under which the largest party to emerge after a general election would automatically form the government, bypassing the president. Lis also wrote extensively on battles in the Knesset including the "governability bill," the "loyalty-citizenship" laws and the bill to distinguish between Muslim and Christian Arabs. He was also the first to report recently on the bill to make Hebrew the only official language of the State of Israel.

Beyond the political, diplomatic, legal and security-related coverage, Haaretz paid particularly close attention to Israel Police this year.

Our police correspondent Yaniv Kubovich wrote dozens of disconcerting reports regarding the police, revealing, among others, new details on the "Pinto-Arviv" affair. Kubovich also revealed that Israel Police Central District Commander Bruno Stein attended a private party hosted by a prominent lawyer suspected of corruption. A day after the story was published, Stein announced his resignation.

During the summer's hostilities, Kubovich exposed the harsh criticism police chief Yohanan Danino came under for not returning from New York days after the three teens' kidnapping, as well as a scathing report on the performance of police hotlines presented a year before the kidnapping.

Kubovich's other exposes included an internal report that faults how police handle domestic violence, a report that shows that not a single indictment has been filed in Israel for the use of "date-rape drugs," how the poor or mentally impaired bear the brunt of spiking arrest numbers and how despite the Attorney General's advice, police keep making arrests for light drug possession.

Legal correspondent Revital Hovel covered the problematic conduct of the prosecution in the murder trial of Roman Zadorov, and revealed the hearing in which Maj. Gen. Nisso Shaham said that sexual relations between high-ranking officers and their subordinates are common in the Israel Police.

Our correspondent Ilan Lior revealed this year that Uganda was the "third country" to which Israel had begun deporting African asylum seekers. He also published an investigative report showing that asylum seekers are sent to Rwanda and Uganda with no arranged status, no basic rights and in most cases no official documents or permits. This month, Lior sparked a public debate when he revealed that Arab names were dropped from the list of the most popular names in Israel in 5774.

Besides non-stop reporting on the situation in Israel's south, Shirley Seidler led the coverage of the Bedouin protest over Prawer relocation plan and the mass arrests that followed.

Haaretz's Or Kashti was the first to report extensively on the "leftist' teacher" affair – in which Adam Verete, a teacher at the ORT Greenberg High School in Kiryat Tivon, was accused by a student of expressing extreme left-wing views in class. Education correposndent Yarden Skop revealed, alongside colleague Lior Dattel, that religious Israeli schools will censor human reproduction from textbooks.

Religious affairs correspondent Yair Ettinger continued to shine a light behind the scenes of the Rabbinical courts, and it is worth to note his column title "When Rachelle Fraenkel recited the Kaddish, the chief rabbi said 'Amen'" and the interview with Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau, in which he told Haaretz that the Law of Return is "problematic."

Haaretz's Roy (Chicky) Arad says his "most difficult, symbolic story" was "Learning to build rockets, in a Tel Aviv square," but at the desk we chose to highlight his expose on the discrimination of foreign workers who get hurt on the job, and his tireless coverage of worker's rights.

Haaretz's scoops weren't confined to the borders of Israel: Last but not least we'd like to mention that Anshel Pfeffer was the first to report from Crimea when Ukrainian soldiers faced off with Russian troops in bid to reclaim seized aircraft. Pfeffer's report was widely quoted in leading news outlets around the world.

Noa Landau is the head of Haaretz's news desk.

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