News Photographer Tells of Escape From Lynch Mob

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli security forces in Jaffa. (Flash90)

One of the two Israeli journalists who were savagely attacked by an Arab mob while covering the funeral of a robbery suspect who was shot and killed by police in Jaffa over the weekend, related details of the harrowing, near-death experience to Arutz Sheva on Sunday.

Gal Zeitman, a photographer, and Gilad Shalmor, a reporter, both working for Channel 2 News, were set upon by dozens of attackers and barely escaped with their lives.

Zeitman said: “I’ve been in some unpleasant situations, but yesterday the feeling was that if you did not get yourself out of there, no one would rescue you. At some point we felt that if we did not summon the strength and try in any way to break through this circle of youths, we would just not get out of there. Because there was not one single shout from an adult trying to break it up, but on the contrary — there was enthusiasm. We managed to get out of there…”

He said that they had taken precautions, and were not rushing into a dangerous situation without thinking, but it became life-threatening unexpectedly.

“We arrived after having coordinated through inside contacts who said that we were welcome there and could come. At some point, the atmosphere changed,” he said. “From a friendly atmosphere of wanting to document the funeral, it turned into a very hostile atmosphere, and all this happened within a few seconds: We suddenly found ourselves separated, both Gilad and myself, by these waves of people pushing us.”

They were “surrounded by two concentric circles of rioters, so that anyone who wanted to could give us a punch or a kick; there was no one to talk to. It was a bunch of young people with murder in their eyes. To try to convince them was to remain there and take more blows.”

Shalmor was the more severely hurt of the two, and evacuated by ambulance to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv where he was treated for injuries to his eye socket, ribs, legs and back.

At the hospital, he was listed in “light to moderate” condition, but only because the injuries did not pose a danger to life or result in permanent disability.