Buildings are seen in the Arab Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm on January 30, 2020. Journalist Nidal Ikhbaria recently survived a shooting at his home in the city. (Reuters/Ammar Awad)

Journalist Nidal Ikhbaria survives shooting attempt at home in Arab Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm

New York, June 15, 2021 – Israeli authorities should conduct a swift and transparent investigation into the shooting attack on journalist Nidal Ikhbaria’s home, and hold the perpetrators to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

On June 9, unidentified people in the Arab-majority Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm fired more than 50 bullets into the home of Ikhbaria, an editor at the local news website Baladtna, according to a report by his employer, a post by the journalist on his personal Facebook page, and statements by the local press freedom groups Skeyes Center for Media and Cultural Rights and the I’lam Center for Media Freedom, Development, and Research.

Ikhbaria told Skeyes that he was home with his wife and daughter at the time, and said that bullets passed very close to them, but no one was injured in the attack. He also told Skeyes that he had not received any threats prior to the attack, and said he had “no enemies.”

Israeli police are investigating the attack, according to those reports. After the publication this article, the Israeli police spokesperson’s office emailed a statement to CPJ confirming that authorities had opened an investigation; the statement said that police were treating the attack “harshly” and would be examining all possible leads.

“Israeli authorities should swiftly investigate the unacceptable shooting attack on journalist Nidal Ikhbaria’s home and hold those responsible to account,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa representative, Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “Ikhbaria and his family were lucky to survive, and authorities must treat this attack with the utmost seriousness.”

Baladtna is a privately owned website that covers local news in the Umm al-Fahm and Wadi Ara areas, including art exhibitions, local crime, and police arrests of local activists.

Ikhbaria also posts political commentary on his personal Facebook account, where he has about 2,000 followers. The day before the attack, he published a post criticizing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, and Mansour Abbas, the leader of the Israeli Arab political party United Arab List.

CPJ messaged Ikhbaria via messaging app and emailed Baladtna for comment, but did not receive any replies.

Previously, on June 3, two masked men shot at the house and car of Arab Israeli journalist Hassan Shelan in the Arab-majority Israeli city of Taibeh, as CPJ documented at the time.

[Editors’ note: This article has been updated in its fourth paragraph to include the Israeli police spokesperson’s response.]