A reporter says he was attacked while covering a story in the northern town of Kiryat Ata on Saturday by a group of men who asked if he was a journalist before commencing their assault.
Daniel Siryoti, who writes for the free tabloid Israel Hayom, told his newspaper that he lost six teeth in the attack and suffered from a concussion, but managed to protect his stomach from a serious stab wound.
Siryoti said he was trying to interview the family of a woman killed in a car crash earlier that day when he got into a confrontation with a group of men he described as “apparently newly religious,” without further clarification.
“They noticed that I had a journalist’s sticker on my windshield and asked if I was a journalist. They started to curse and said we’re all traitors, we’re all leftists,” Siyroti said.
“At one point one of the young men came over on an electric bike, on which he was carrying a child, and tried to block my way. I told him he was endangering the child.”
Siyroti said that was the point at which the group began their attack, punching him, breaking his teeth and attempting to stab him in the stomach.
“I protected myself and got stabbed in the finger,” Siyroti said. “The others hit me in the face and broke my teeth. Somebody came with a switchblade and they shouted, ‘Stab him, stab him.’”
Siryoti said the assault ended when a woman and a man arrived at the scene. The woman told the group that “if you want to stab him, you have to go through me first,” before helping Siryoti to his car with the help of the man.
Israel Hayom said police have opened an investigation into the incident.
MK Ofer Cassif of the Joint List implied that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bore some responsibility for the attack.
“The writing was on the wall — Netanyahu’s Facebook wall. It’s time to put an end to right-wing incitement against journalists, who have become a target due to the fact that their role is to criticize the government.”
The prime minister’s famously combative relationship with the media has soured even further in recent years, with Netanyahu accusing the press of leading a “witch hunt” to oust him. In addition he has named individual journalists as biased and untrustworthy and denounced critical stories about him as “fake news.”