New York, October 28, 2019 -- Israeli authorities should investigate the assault on journalist Daniel Siryoti and ensure that the perpetrators are held to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On October 26, in the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Ata, a group of at least five men assaulted Siryoti, a reporter for the daily Israel Hayom newspaper, while he was in the town on assignment, according to news reports and the journalist, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.
“We are extremely disturbed by this assault on journalist Daniel Siryoti, who was only doing his work reporting the news for the public,” CPJ Middle East and North Africa Representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado said from Beirut. “We hope that Israeli authorities will soon apprehend the suspects and make it clear to the public that assaults on journalists doing their jobs will not be tolerated.”
A group of men approached Siryoti’s car after noticing a “Press” sticker on it, and asked if he was a journalist, he said. When he said yes, the men started cursing at him and said he was probably left wing, a liar, and a traitor, and accused him of working with Arabs, Siryoti told CPJ.
Siryoti attempted to drive away, but a man on a bike blocked his path; when he exited his vehicle, the men started punching him, grabbed him by the arms and legs, and hit him in the face several times, knocking out six of his teeth, Siryoti told CPJ. He said one man took out a knife and tried to stab him in the stomach, but Siryoti blocked the blow with his hand, which was stabbed instead.
One of the men told another to “bring the big knife,” at which point two bystanders intervened, allowing Siryoti to get back in his car and drive away, he told CPJ. He drove to a police station in the nearby town of Kiryat Haim, and was taken in an ambulance from there to a hospital, he said.
The hospital treated him for his dental injuries, stab wound, contusions, and a concussion, and released him, according to those news reports.
Siryoti told CPJ that police have opened an investigation into the incident, and said that officers took him back to the scene to reconstruct the attack and showed him pictures of potential suspects. He added that the attackers were men from the ultra-Orthodox community.
CPJ emailed the Israeli Police Coastal District Headquarters in Haifa, which has jurisdiction over Kiryat Ata, requesting comment on the status of the investigation, but did not immediately receive a response.
Siryoti told CPJ that he has worked as a journalist for 25 years in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories as well as in Egypt and Jordan, and that this was the first time he had been physically assaulted.
“When I was attacked, I told my attackers that my newspaper isn’t even a left-wing newspaper,” he told CPJ. “And they said, ‘we don’t give a shit, you’re all the same.’”