Times of Israel reporter feared for his life in attack by Palestinian masked men
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Times of Israel reporter feared for his life in attack by Palestinian masked men

Avi Issacharoff was beaten while covering protests in the West Bank on Friday, and extricated by PA security personnel

Avi Issacharoff

Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel's Middle East analyst, fills the same role for Walla, the leading portal in Israel. He is also a guest commentator on many different radio shows and current affairs programs on television. Until 2012, he was a reporter and commentator on Arab affairs for the Haaretz newspaper. He also lectures on modern Palestinian history at Tel Aviv University, and is currently writing a script for an action-drama series for the Israeli satellite Television "YES." Born in Jerusalem, he graduated cum laude from Ben Gurion University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies and then earned his M.A. from Tel Aviv University on the same subject, also cum laude. A fluent Arabic speaker, Avi was the Middle East Affairs correspondent for Israeli Public Radio covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and the Arab countries between the years 2003-2006. Avi directed and edited short documentary films on Israeli television programs dealing with the Middle East. In 2002 he won the "best reporter" award for the "Israel Radio” for his coverage of the second intifada. In 2004, together with Amos Harel, he wrote "The Seventh War - How we won and why we lost the war with the Palestinians." A year later the book won an award from the Institute for Strategic Studies for containing the best research on security affairs in Israel. In 2008, Issacharoff and Harel published their second book, entitled "34 Days - The Story of the Second Lebanon War," which won the same prize.

Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces outside the Israeli-run Ofer prison in the West Bank village of Beitunia, on May 16, 2014. (Photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash 90)
Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces outside the Israeli-run Ofer prison in the West Bank village of Beitunia, on May 16, 2014. (Photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash 90)

BEITUNIA, West Bank — I found myself seconds away from being beaten to death by a mob of Palestinian masked men during clashes in the West Bank town of Beitunia, north of Jerusalem, on Friday.

I’m not prone to exaggeration. It was a case of life and death, and I was within moments of falling victim to the kind of lynch that saw two Israeli soldiers who strayed into Ramallah in 2000 beaten to death by a baying mob.

I was saved by pure good fortune: Two plainclothes members of the Palestinian Authority security forces happened to be nearby and waded in to extricate me. I was already being hit and kicked from behind when they rescued me.

I’ve been covering the Palestinian territories for many years, and been in no shortage of sticky situations, but this came out of the blue. It was totally unexpected.

I was there to report on the Nakba Day protests with a cameraman colleague from Walla News. He was some distance from me when he was approached by several Palestinian journalists who told him to “Get out.”

Palestinians mourn the deaths of two Palestinian teens, shot by the IDF, at their joint funeral in the West Bank town of Birzeit, north of Ramallah, on May 16, 2014. (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Palestinians mourn the deaths of two Palestinian teens, shot by the IDF, at their joint funeral in the West Bank town of Birzeit, north of Ramallah, on May 16, 2014. (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

I walked toward them, and told them that if they had a problem, they should be talking to me. One of the Palestinian journalists, a young woman, then called over to a group of masked men, who swiftly surrounded me and began attacking me.

Only the fact that those two PA security personnel happened to be there saved me. They extricated me and my colleague, and got us to safety. I dread to think what would have happened if they hadn’t been there.

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