ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 139

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After series of attacks on reporters at rallies, TV regulator demands police action

Second Authority for Television and Radio urges cops to bring about ‘eradication of this phenomenon’ as journalists from 4 main networks targeted at pro- and anti-overhaul protests

Police escort Channel 12 news reporter Gilad Shalmor during a pro-overhaul rally in Tel Aviv, July 23, 2024. (Twitter. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Police escort Channel 12 news reporter Gilad Shalmor during a pro-overhaul rally in Tel Aviv, July 23, 2024. (Twitter. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

After several reporters for TV news networks were attacked Sunday and Monday while covering the political drama, the Second Authority for Television and Radio, Israel’s commercial broadcast regulator, urged Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai on Monday to prevent what it said was a growing number of threats and attacks on journalists.

“What began as ‘isolated’ incidents has become a serious trend,” the Authority said in a letter sent to Shabtai.

It said journalists from “all outlets” have been attacked, particularly while covering protests, despite the heavy presence of police officers.

It expressed concern both for the physical well-being of reporters and “harm to freedom of the press and the public’s right to know.”

The Authority called on police to take immediate action to stamp out such behavior.

“We call on you to exercise your authority… until [you have achieved] the eradication of this phenomenon,” it said.

In response, police said Shabtai condemned attacks on journalists and stressed the force was committed to ensuring the media can “broadcast reports and reliable information in real-time.”

“The Israel Police will continue to allow journalists to do their work,” a police statement said.

The TV regulator sent the letter to Shabtai a day after several journalists reported being attacked Sunday during a mass protest at Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street, held by supporters of the government’s judicial overhaul.

The Kan public broadcaster said reporter Itsik Zuarets was hit in the head by a bottle thrown by a protester. It said Zuarets was not hurt and continued broadcasting.

According to Channel 12, reporter Gilad Shalmor was attacked by protesters there, before police intervened and separated between the demonstrators and news crew.

Video showed several officers walking with Shalmor as they push away a man who approached them.

In another incident involving Channel 12, police escorted the network’s reporter Ori Isaac away from a group of protesters who crowded around him.

Additionally, Channel 13 news said demonstrators blocked a car in which its reporter Noga Nir Neeman was riding.

In a video filmed from the car, several protesters are seen banging on the hood as they stand in the vehicle’s path.

And at an anti-overhaul demonstration in Jerusalem on Monday morning, a man physically attacked Atay Shalev, a reporter for the right-wing Channel 14, live on air.

The incidents follow other recent attacks on journalists reporting on rallies against the government’s planned drastic overhaul of the judiciary and on counter-protests by its supporters. Several of the assaults were against Channel 13’s staff for its perceived anti-Netanyahu slant.

In late April, during a massive right-wing rally urging the government to unfreeze its highly controversial judicial overhaul plan, a glass bottle was thrown at Channel 13 reporters covering the demonstration, narrowly missing them.

In late March, ahead of another right-wing rally, a Channel 13 team was attacked by members of the far-right La Familia group, causing reporter Yossi Eli to be hospitalized with a broken rib and dealing a head injury to cameraman Avi Cashman.

In January, an angry crowd accosted a Channel 13 crew in Jerusalem, berating the journalists as “leftists” and telling them to leave the area as the reporters covered a terror attack in Jerusalem’s Neve Yaakov neighborhood the night before in which seven people were killed.

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