Union warns against incitement, attempts to hurt the press

‘Leftists go home’: Crowd accosts news crew at site of Jerusalem terror attack

Protesters tear down fence around Channel 13 reporters, tell them ‘we don’t want you here’; National Unity’s Benny Gantz also harassed at the scene

Channel 13 reporters and film crew heckled as they report from the scene of a terror attack in Jerusalem, January 28, 2023. (Twitter/used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Channel 13 reporters and film crew heckled as they report from the scene of a terror attack in Jerusalem, January 28, 2023. (Twitter/used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

An angry crowd accosted a television news crew in Jerusalem on Saturday, berating the journalists as “leftists” and telling them to leave the area as the reporters covered a terror attack that happened in the neighborhood the night before.

The Channel 13 news crew had been broadcasting from the site of a terror shooting that killed seven people and wounded three others in the capital’s Neve Yaakov neighborhood on Friday night.

Video from the scene on Saturday showed the crowd tearing down fencing around the journalists while chanting “leftists go home” and “death to terrorists.” Several men approached the reporters as they broadcast, shouting and gesturing at them. Others kicked over chairs and attempted to topple lighting equipment.

One man approached the news crew and shouted, “We don’t want you here. Do you want chaos?”

One section of fencing fell on Channel 13 reporter Udi Segal, who appeared uninjured.

After the incident, Segal wrote on Twitter, “The Channel 13 staff and I are pained and mourn the deaths of those murdered in Jerusalem. We came to tell their story. To report.”

“The violence and blatant racism toward the journalists was unnecessary. It won’t deter us,” he said.

Channel 13 released a statement, labeling the incident as an “attack” and “unacceptable.”

“It is our great pain that a broadcast so important, complex and painful ended in this way,” the network said, adding that the crew had seen members of the crowd acting aggressively toward reporters from other news outlets.

Channel 12 said some of its reporters were interrupted during a broadcast by chants from the crowd including “put handcuffs on police officers” and “death to terrorists.”

The Union of Journalists in Israel said in a statement, “The incitement and attempts to harm the press found their expression in Jerusalem tonight. This time, fortunately, it ended without anyone being injured, however things could easily end up differently next time.”

“We call on the government and the entire political establishment to immediately take action to lower the flames and the level of hatred and incitement,” the union said.

Channels 12 and 13, along with the Kan public broadcaster, are Israel’s leading television news networks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his political allies have often attacked the media as leftists, and Netanyahu has claimed the press has played a part in pushing for his prosecution in his corruption trial.

Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, said earlier this month that he intends to shut Kan down. Likud and Netanyahu have long been accused of seeking to shut down the public broadcaster due to its criticizing the government while receiving public funding.

“I see the media as too biased toward the left, and maybe I’m wrong. But let’s let the public decide,” Karhi said.

National Unity party leader Benny Gantz was also harassed by protesters at the site of the attack on Saturday night. Gantz, a centrist politician and former IDF chief of staff, had to be protected by security guards and police as the crowd moved in and heckled him with right-wing slogans, Channel 12 reported.

Video from the scene showed a bystander shouting at Gantz, “You’re a terrorist,” saying terror victims “were on his hands,” and accusing him of colluding with terrorism due to his meetings with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas while Gantz was defense minister in the previous government.

In 2021, Gantz, then defense minister, offered the Palestinian Authority a NIS 500 million loan to prevent the authority’s collapse, a move deeply unpopular with the political right.

During the previous government, then-opposition leader Netanyahu repeatedly lashed his political opponents, including Gantz, claiming they supported terror due to their dealings with the Palestinian Authority and for including the Arab Ra’am party in their coalition. In his previous stint as prime minister, Netanyahu also coordinated with the Palestinians, and courted Ra’am’s support during coalition negotiations in 2021.

Some protesters in the area of the attack also bashed Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara for “preventing harm against terror,” Channel 12 reported. Earlier Saturday, far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir assailed Baharav-Miara, accusing her of not authorizing security forces to seal the home of the Palestinian terrorist who carried out Friday night’s shooting.

Baharav-Miara swiftly denied the claim. After Saturday night’s security cabinet meeting, in which Baharav-Miara spoke about the issue, Netanyahu said the attacker’s home would be immediately sealed off.

Israeli security forces and first responders at the scene of a terror attack in Neve Yaakov, Jerusalem, January 27, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Friday’s Jerusalem terror attack, carried out near a synagogue during Shabbat, was the deadliest against Israelis in over a decade and ramped up tensions that were already soaring amid ongoing violence between Israel and the Palestinians.

The morning after the attack, a 13-year-old shot and wounded two Israelis in the capital. Later Saturday, a Palestinian gunman opened fire at a West Bank restaurant, causing no injuries. On Saturday night, a security guard near a West Bank settlement shot dead an armed Palestinian in another suspected attack attempt.

The rash of attacks followed days of violence in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Tensions have increased dramatically since Thursday morning, when an IDF raid in the West Bank against a terrorist cell left nine Palestinians dead — most of them gunmen and members of the cell, though at least one civilian was also killed.

The IDF said Thursday’s operation in the Jenin refugee camp was necessary to foil imminent attack plans by a local Islamic Jihad terror cell. The group had primed explosives and firearms, according to the IDF.

Thursday overnight saw rocket fire from Palestinian terror groups in Gaza and Israeli retaliatory air strikes, although both sides appeared intent on avoiding an escalation into a full-scale war.

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