Palestinians scuffle with Israeli police officers in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem on May 4, 2021. Israeli protesters and police have recently attacked journalists throughout Israel. (AP/Mahmoud Illean)

Israeli journalists assaulted and harassed by protesters and security forces

From April 21 to May 15, 2021, demonstrators and security forces assaulted and harassed journalists in cities throughout Israel, according to news reports, journalists’ social media posts, and data compiled by the Union of Journalists in Israel (ITONAIM), a local trade group.

The incidents occurred following the outbreak of protests over the eviction of Palestinian families from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in favor of Israeli settlers, according to news reports.

On April 21, protesters chanting right-wing slogans in Jerusalem’s Zion Square attacked Suleiman Maswada, a reporter for the state-owned broadcaster Kan 11, Yossi Eli, a reporter for the Israeli broadcaster Channel 13, and Yedidya Epshtei, a camera operator for Channel 13, according to the ITONAIM data and footage of the incident shared on social media by the journalists.

In an interview with Channel 13, Eli said that protesters kicked him and knocked him to the ground, punched Maswada, and pepper sprayed Epshtei while shouting insults and threatening to attack them if they continued filming. He said that the team had set up near a police car, but that the officers left right before they went on-air.

Footage shared by Maswada shows protesters knocking down his camera, and two more videos show protesters trying to cover the camera’s lens, and a masked protester kicking Epshtei in the back.

On May 6, in Sheikh Jarrah, an Israeli police officer shoved Moshe Nussbaum, a reporter for the broadcaster Channel 12, after he complained to the officer about police violence against protesters, according to the ITONAIM data and footage of the incident posted on social media.

Also in Sheikh Jarrah on May 6, an Israeli police officer threw a stun grenade near Hassan Shelan, a reporter for the Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronot’s news website Ynet, which exploded and sent shrapnel into the journalist’s leg, according to ITONAIM, Shelan’s employer, and tweets by the journalist.

Shelan was filming the protest when police officers ordered that he leave the scene, according to Ynet, which reported that the journalist showed police his press card, but the officers shoved him away. An officer then threw the stun grenade at Shelan and shouted for him to leave, according to that report.

On May 11, members of a protest organized by the Israeli right-wing groups Lehava and Otzma Yehudit attacked Channel 13 reporter Baruck Kara while he was covering their demonstration in the central Israeli city of Ramla, according to ITONAIM, news reports, and footage of the incident. 

That footage shows Kara trying to report while protesters scream at him, shove him, try to snatch the microphone from his hand, and cover his camera operator’s lens.

On May 12, an unidentified person threw a stone that hit Ayala Hason, a news anchor for Channel 13, in the head while she was covering riots in the Israeli city of Lod, according to the ITONAIM data and news reports

Those reports blamed members of the far-right group known as “La Familia” for throwing the stone, and said that they also tried to smash Channel 13 camera operator Rami Sigawi’s camera and threw a stone at sound engineer Kobi Shemer.

On May 14, unidentified people in the Israeli city of Ramat Gam shoved and screamed at Channel 13 reporter Lior Keinan while she was covering the fall of a Hamas rocket in the city, according to ITONAIM and footage of the incident. 

That footage shows Keinan interviewing an eyewitness when a passerby points at the camera and says that the media is to blame for the situation; a second passerby then started screaming at Keinan and shoved her until border police officers intervened and forced the passerby to leave.

On May 15, rioters in Tel Aviv’s Jaffa neighborhood attacked Omri Maniv, a reporter for Channel 13, while he was covering the riots from his car, according to the ITONAIM data, news reports, and a Tweet by Maniv. 

Rioters broke the mirrors of Maniv’s car and pepper sprayed the journalist, who was subsequently treated by paramedics, according to those reports. In his tweet, Maniv said that he was not seriously injured.

Also on May 15, Israeli police in the city of Umm al-Fahm fired a stun grenade whose shrapnel hit Janel Jabrin, a freelance reporter who contributes to the Israeli daily Haaretz21, in his right knee while he was covering protests in the city, according to ITONAIM, photos posted to social media, and the journalist, who spoke to the Skeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom, a regional press freedom group.

Jabrin told Skeyes that he was covering the protests along with a group of journalists when a police car stopped near them and fired stun grenades and rubber bullets at them. He said he was hit by shrapnel from a stun grenade and was taken to a clinic for treatment. Those photos on social media show that Jabrin was wearing a helmet and a protective vest when he was attacked.

In response to an email from CPJ, the Israeli police’s spokesperson office referred CPJ to a website to file an official complaint against the police. CPJ responded by reiterating a request for comment about the attacks on journalists, but did not immediately receive any reply.

CPJ emailed Channel 13 and 12, Kan 11, and Haaretz for comment, and messaged the outlets on their social media channels, but did not immediately receive any replies.