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Arab Israeli reporter attacked over mistranslation of his post on prison break

Comments by Channel 13 journalist Ali Mograbi were incorrectly translated, making it appear he named a Nazareth family that helped turn in fugitives to police

Channel 13 reporter Ali Mograbi faces off with a group of angry protesters outside the Nazareth District Court on September 11, 2021. (Screenshot)
Channel 13 reporter Ali Mograbi faces off with a group of angry protesters outside the Nazareth District Court on September 11, 2021. (Screenshot)

A mistranslation of a post from an Arab Israeli reporter about the capture of several fugitive prisoners over the weekend led to threats against him and his family and an encounter with a group of protesters on Saturday night.

Ali Mograbi, a reporter for Israel’s Channel 13 news, has been covering the story of the six Palestinian security prisoners who escaped from the high-security Gilboa Prison on Monday. Over the weekend, four of the six fugitives were recaptured by Israeli security forces, assisted in part by a family in Nazareth that reported sightings of the men.

Mograbi wrote a post on Facebook in Arabic reporting that the family assisted in turning in some of the prisoners, but a mistranslation into Hebrew implied that Mograbi had named the family involved.

While reporting on Saturday night from outside the Northern District Court in Nazareth where four of the prisoners were appearing at a hearing, Mograbi was accosted by a group of Arab Israeli protesters, some of whom shouted at him and shoved him. Mograbi said he has been inundated with threats against him and his family due to the mistranslation.

“They publicized the post [with a translation] from Facebook or Google Translate and thought I published the name of the family,” he reported on Channel 13 on Saturday. “I have received curses and threats, and people have used photos of my children to threaten me.”

It was not immediately clear who had first posted the mistranslation of Mograbi’s post.

Mograbi later wrote that he would never publicize any information that would endanger any civilians.

“There are people who are trying to harm me for no reason,” he tweeted. “I would never harm anyone, I would never reveal [information] or endanger any person. I am first and foremost a human being and only after that a journalist, and nothing will cause me to act differently.”

Mograbi said the entire incident was caused by “a misunderstanding with the translation.”

“People carried out a media lynching against me on social media,” he said. “I’ve received curses and threats and they’re not justified — if I had erred, I would have apologized and admitted my mistake, but I didn’t.”

He said he also received threats from Jews who believed he had revealed the family’s name. “I’ve been attacked on all sides.”

Zakaria Zubeidi arrives for a court hearing at the District Court in Nazareth, on September 11, 2021. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Four of the six fugitives who escaped on Monday were captured by Israeli security forces over the weekend.

The first two suspects — Yaquob Qadiri and Mahmoud al-Arida — were arrested in the northern majority-Arab city of Nazareth in northern Israel late Friday night, after police received tips from residents of the area about them. The other two — Zakaria Zubeidi and Muhammad al-Arida — were picked up on Saturday morning in Nazareth, police said.

The four men were brought to a Northern District Court in Nazareth on Saturday night for their first hearing following their capture. Prosecutors accused them of having planned to conduct a major terror attack following their escape, a crime with a possible sentence of 15 additional years in prison.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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