Shomrim’s Year: A look back at the biggest stories of 2020

Cloaked in Trauma, from the Gaza-border to the Yom Kippur War; COVID-19 and the government’s failure to protect Israelis’ society; the massive leak that shook the world’s financial system. One thing on which we can all agree: 2020 was an unforgettable year

Cloaked in Trauma, from the Gaza-border to the Yom Kippur War; COVID-19 and the government’s failure to protect Israelis’ society; the massive leak that shook the world’s financial system. One thing on which we can all agree: 2020 was an unforgettable year

Cloaked in Trauma, from the Gaza-border to the Yom Kippur War; COVID-19 and the government’s failure to protect Israelis’ society; the massive leak that shook the world’s financial system. One thing on which we can all agree: 2020 was an unforgettable year

December 29, 2020

Summary

1.

Israel’s battered region: The IDF’s Qassam Generation – trauma rekindled

Shomrim’s flagship project in 2020 dealt with the issue of post-trauma in Israeli society. The first in a series of articles by journalist Renen Netzer focused on the youth of the Gaza-border communities, who, after growing up under fire, reach the age of enlistment in the Israel Defense Forces and the trauma slams home hard: “I simply couldn’t shoot … There is always the feeling that something is being repressed.”

Amit Sha'ar from Kibbutz Nirim | Photo: Jonathan Bloom

2.

The children of the Gaza-border communities – ongoing trauma

The second article in the Cloaked in Trauma project focused on children in the Gaza-border communities, 40 percent of whom exhibit post-trauma symptoms and are prone to behavioral regressions such as bedwetting, sleep disorders, obesity, depression and aggression. “Mom, do we hear the siren when we die?” Moran Hila-Madmoni’s 9-year-old son asked her one evening on their way home to Sderot.

Moran־Hila Madmoni and her 9־year־old son, Yisrael Meir | Photo: David Vinokur

3.

The huge leak that shook the global financial system

Thousands of Suspicious Activity Reports from banks worldwide were revealed to the public in the framework of the so-called FinCen Files affair, led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, of which Shomrim is a member. We revealed hair-raising stories about Israel Aerospace Industries and business tycoons Roman Abramovich and Lev Leviev.

4.

Shomrim’s Israeli Innocence Project: How many innocent people are doing time?

Inspired by the Innocence Project, an American legal organization that has secured the release from prison of hundreds of innocent individuals since its establishment some 30 years ago, we started over the past year to look into the issue in the Israeli legal and justice system too. The results are dismal – beginning with the severe dearth of retrials, and through to the starring role played by false admissions of guilt in criminal convictions In Israel.

Yitzhak Bakring. Offense: Reckless driving, Conviction: 2009, Acquittal: 2011 | Photo: Shlomi Yosef

5.

The Year of the Coronavirus, Part 1: The Health Ministry’s endless string of failures

We kept track throughout the year of the ramifications of the COVID-19 crisis, with comprehensive investigative reports into the emergency services that failed to step up and the contingency plan for a pandemic that remained unused, the scandalous conduct of the former health minister and certain hospitals, and the failure to properly inform the public of the efficacy of Vitamin D – even though the information was readily available.

The underground parking at Rambam Health Care Campus inHaifa, which was converted into a COVID-19 unit for 700 patients | Photo: Bea bar Kallos

6.

The Year of the Coronavirus, Part 2: The heavy social and economic cost to the public

In addition to our focus on the health aspect of the pandemic that has brought the world to its knees, Shomrim also dealt extensively with the social implications of the crisis. We brought to public attention statistics that show how poorer population sectors are more likely to contract the virus; we looked into the failing third-sector NGOs and the threat that looms for the ultra-Orthodox community’s economic stability; and we followed the misfortunes of the newly homeless on the country’s streets.

Bat-Chen Zohar lost her job and was forced to come back living with her parents | Photo: Shlomi Yosef

7.

The Year of the Coronavirus, Part 3: The mortal blow to Israel’s democracy

The wave of anti-government protests and all they entailed kept Shomrim very busy too, with in-depth reports on the police’s controversial crowd-control measures, a series of three image galleries depicting Israel’s democracy in the shadow of COVID-19 and we shined a spotlight on the intense crisis facing the Israel Police.

Protests on Balfour Street | Photo: Bea Bar Kallos

8.

Paint it black: Colors, sounds and voices from the emerging Black protest movement

Lior was slapped in the face by a police officer when he was 15; Rachel knows that it’s a struggle that will be passed down from generation to generation; the same patrol car team apprehended Shimon twice in the same month; Tal is angry with Israelis who identify with the Black protests in the United States but are criminally indifferent to the situation at home. Shomrim’s special Paint it Black project offers 10 monologues from a new generation of proud and conscious women and men from the Ethiopian community.

Shimon Wanda, self-portrait

9.

The never-ending war: Multi-generational trauma

Anxiety, depression, violence, avoidance, fear, addiction. The second part of our Cloaked in Trauma project was devoted to the Yom Kippur War veterans whose PTSD has come to the surface in their later years, following decades of repression, and also to their families and the families of other victims of military-related trauma who are living the struggle as if they, too, were there.

Shiraz Greenbaum and her father Michael | Photo: Asaf Einy

10.

Listen to Greta: The environment is crying out for help

Israel’s open spaces, beaches and green urban expanses are fighting for their lives in the face of real estate pressures – and without much success; as part of a special Shomrim project, photographer Jonathan Bloom went out into the field to document just some of the eyesores that remind us that profits for the few means losses for the rest of us. With the collapse of the long-disused twin cooling towers of an oil refinery in northern Israel, we also went out to investigate the secrets behind “the most monitored area in the world,” only to find a whole lot of hot air.

BAZAN Oil Refineries | Photo: Orit Siman Tov