On October 4 and 7, 2020, at least eight Israeli journalists who were reporting on COVID-19 lockdown compliance in Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods of Mea Shearim and Kiryat Belz and in the cities of Bnei Brak and Beit Shemesh came under attack by residents, according to news reports and social media posts by the journalists and their employers.
On October 7, Shahar Glick, a reporter for Israel’s Army Radio; a two-person TV crew working for the state broadcaster Kan; Liran Tamari, a reporter for the local news website Mynet; and a two-person i24 News TV crew were attacked while they were covering enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions, according to the same sources.
A group young ultra-Orthodox Jews assaulted Glick, a reporter who covers the ultra-Orthodox communities for Army Radio, snatched his cell phone, and tried to gag him while he was covering an event in defiance of COVID-19 restrictions in Kiryat Belz, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz and an audio account of the incident that Glick posted on his personal Twitter account.
“I was sitting on a bench and an ultra-Orthodox man sat next to me and told me repeatedly to leave the area or else it won’t be pleasant. I refused and he signaled five Hasidic men or so who jumped me and beat me violently. When I tried to call for help, they tried to gag me. I got scratches and was bleeding. They took my phone and the man who had sat next to me told me that I should follow them to an alley if I wanted my phone back. He told me not to worry and to follow him to an alley where there were a lot of Hasidic Jews and where I didn’t feel safe,” Glick said in the audio account.
Glick added that the same man questioned him, took pictures of his ID and press cards, and hinted at things that had happened to journalists who had dared to report on the lives of the Hasidic community. He wrote down his address, forced him to promise that he would not tell anyone about the incident, and to send a message to his employer saying that nothing had happened.
According to Haaretz, prior to the assault, the same man had asked him whether he was Shahar Glick and showed him a tweet that Glick had posted half an hour earlier showing ultra-Orthodox men dancing in a public square.
Glick did not immediately reply to CPJ’s request for comment sent via messaging app on November 3.
Also October 7, a Kan TV crew consisting of reporter Ittai Gad Shickman and a cameraperson, who was not identified, were chased away by a group of ultra-Orthodox children while they were covering a mass event hosted by Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky in Bnei Brak, a city 6.5 km (4 miles) east of Tel Aviv, according to news reports and video footage that Shickman posted on his personal Twitter account.
A video that Schikman posted on his Twitter feed shows him running away from a large group of children until he comes across what appears to be a police motorcycle.
Another video that Shickman posted on Twitter shows a group of ultra-Orthodox men and children surrounding their car and throwing different objects at it, including a cardboard box and what looks like plastic bottles. In the same post, Shickman wrote that only the cameraman’s car was damaged.
In another post in response to a police statement saying that Shickman had arrived after the event was over and the police had left, Shickman wrote that he had filed a complaint with the police for damages to the car.
CPJ reached out to Shickman via messaging app and email on October 19 and he referred CPJ to the spokesperson for the broadcaster Kan. CPJ reached out for comment to the spokesperson via messaging app on October 19, but did not receive a response.
A glass bottle was thrown at Liran Tamari, a reporter for the local news website Mynet while he was covering riots in the Jerusalemite Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim on October 7, according to Haaretz and a tweet by Tamari. In his tweet, Tamari wrote that the glass bottle nearly hit him. CPJ was unable to determine who threw the bottle.
CPJ reached out to Tamari for comment via messaging app on October 29 but did not receive a response.
The i24 TV crew–consisting of reporter Pierre Klochendler and the cameraman, who was not identified–were assaulted by a group of ultra-Orthodox men and children while they were trying to interview them in the city of Beit Shemesh, 30 kilometers west of Jerusalem (19 miles) on October 7, according to Haaretz and footage that i24 News posted on its Twitter account.
The footage shows Klochendler approaching a group of ultra-Orthodox men and trying to interview them and an orthodox man urging him to leave the area and go home. It also shows a child kicking the cameraman.
According to Haaretz, stones were thrown at their car, breaking one of the windows.
I24 News did not immediately reply to CPJ’s request for comment and an inquiry about the identity of the cameraman sent via messaging app on October 20.
In a separate incident on October 4, Channel 13 reporter Yossi Eli and cameraman Kobe Cohen were attacked by ultra-Orthodox men while reporting on riots in Jerusalem, according to Haaretz and pictures and footage posted by Eli and other journalists on Twitter.
Eli posted on his Twitter account a picture of their car with the back window broken. Eli also wrote in the same post “when an angry mob comes after you, you run for your life. It’s the first time I feel unsafe on the streets of Jerusalem.”
Eli’s colleague, Liran Tamari, posted a video of ultra-Orthodox men and children surrounding the Channel 13 team’s car and hitting and kicking the car’s windows and door.
Eli also posted on Twitter a picture of a stone inside their car and wrote that it had nearly hit Cohen.
CPJ reached out to Channel 13 for comment via messaging app on October 29, but did not receive a response.
Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told CPJ via messaging app on October 21 that the police had arrested a suspect involved in an incident in which a journalist was confronted in a neighborhood in Jerusalem and damage was caused to his equipment.
Rosenfeld did not specify the name of the journalist, but the Times of Israel reported that a man was arrested on October 15 on suspicion of assaulting Glick.