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Police extract veteran journalist from hostile mob at right-wing protest

President Rivlin condemns verbal assault on Channel 12’s Amnon Abramovich; Gantz says journalists must not be threatened, for democracy’s sake

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Screen capture from video as journalist and commentator Amnon Abramovich, center, is escorted by police after he was surrounded by a mob at a right-wing protest in Tel Aviv, June 20, 2002. (Twitter)
Screen capture from video as journalist and commentator Amnon Abramovich, center, is escorted by police after he was surrounded by a mob at a right-wing protest in Tel Aviv, June 20, 2002. (Twitter)

A mob of protesters at a right-wing rally on Tuesday night surrounded veteran Channel 12 political commentator Amnon Abramovich, hurling insults at him as he tried to cover the event outside the Tel Aviv Museum.

Several Israel Police officers were needed to extract Abramovich from the crowd, members of which shouted such slurs as “fifth columnist,” “traitor,” “dishrag,” “wretch,” and “stinking cinder.”

Abramovich was disfigured from burns he suffered when he was seriously injured while serving as a tank driver in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Videos of the incident were shared on social media by, among others, fellow journalists.

In the footage, Abramovich, wearing a white shirt and with a face mask down below his chin, is seen being escorted by a phalanx of police officers who hold back protesters as they continue to shout at him.

President Reuven Rivlin condemned the incident, tweeting, “We must not accept such sights. No journalist should need security while he is carrying out his job, whatever his views.”

“Don’t just close your eyes, this isn’t our way,” Rivlin urged. “This is not the way of the Israeli people.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz also denounced the incident.

“You can disagree, you can have differences, but it is strictly forbidden to threaten journalists,” Gantz tweeted. “A free press is a cornerstone of a democratic and pluralistic country.”

Opposition leader MK Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid-Telem party tweeted, “Is Bibi also not connected to this?” He was apparently referring to Netanyahu’s attacks on the media, which he accuses of teaming up with police and prosecutors to oust him from office with a trio of corruption cases.

The demonstration, titled “Only the people will decide,” was to protest against what is seen as excessive and biased Supreme Court interference in the running of the country by striking down Knesset bills backed by the right.

Right-wing activists protest against the Supreme Court and in support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on June 23, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Abramovich, a reporter and prominent commentator, has covered the criminal investigations into Netanyahu.

Netanyahu is on trial for three cases of fraud and breach of trust, as well as bribery in one of the cases.

Another rally, by left-wing activists, was held the same evening in the city’s Rabin Square to protest Netanyahu’s planned annexation of areas of the West Bank.

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