Gilad Shalmor
Gilad Shalmor Eyal Ben Yayish, Channel 2

One of the two Israeli journalists attacked by an Arab lynch mob in Jaffa Saturday night spoke out for the first time since the attack, describing the attack in a lengthy Facebook post on Sunday.

On Saturday night, Channel 2 reporter Gilad Shalmor and photographer Gal Zeitman were assaulted by Israeli-Arab rioters while covering the funeral of an Arab man who was shot and killed after he attacked and fled a police officer.

Arabs attending the man’s funeral rioted, damaging property and clashing with police.

Shalmor and Zeitman, who were just meters from the funeral procession, soon became targets as dozens of rioters formed a lynch mob, beating, strangling, and kicking the two hapless journalists.

"I've been in some unpleasant situations, but yesterday the feeling was that if you did not get yourself out of there, no one would rescue you," said Zaitman. "At some point we felt that if we did not summon the strength and try in any way to break through this circle of youths - we would just not get out of there. Because there was not one single shout from an adult trying to break it up, but on the contrary - there was enthusiasm. We managed to get out of there with a lot of luck.”

Shalmor took to Facebook Sunday evening to put his own testimony on record.

“We were in a lynch yesterday. Gal, the photographer, and I went to cover the funeral of the young Jaffa man who was shot by police. As usual, we tried to bring the pictures and the sounds from the middle of the storm, to convey the situation and to bring our viewers the most objective images.”

“We marched with [the funeral procession]. Hundreds of people, most of them young people, marched behind a vehicle carrying the young man’s body and called out ‘Allahu akbar’. After I was invited over [to the procession] by some of them I felt, mistakenly it seems, that I was safe enough.”

Within moments, Shalmor said, the situation changed and the two found themselves under attack.

“It started when they began to beat Gal. They grabbed his camera and smashed it. He was punched and kicked, but managed to escape.”

As the mob went in for the kill around Shalmor, he stood his ground – to attempt ask forgiveness for intruding..

“I remembered how on a safari in South Africa, the guide explained that if you there’s a wild animal chasing you, don’t run away – that only encourages [the animal’s] natural instinct to pursue. So I stood my ground across from the [rioters] who had beaten Gal and I raised my hands to signal apology. I thought that if I just ask for forgiveness for our having interfered, I’d be able to leave in peace.”

But as Shalmor soon discovered, his attempted ‘apology’ did nothing to bring about a peaceful resolution to the situation.

“There was no one to talk with. The first punch that was landed on my face was tolerable. Again, the instinctive thought was, don’t fight back, even though you could, even though you know how. That will only make the mob angrier.”

At that point, Shalmor was punched again, then kicked.

“Two of them dragged me to the ground, while others ripped my shirt. Another person was holding me, with his arms around my throat. He put his mouth up to my neck and bit it hard.”

“Then I had another clear thought: the time I’d estimate an attack would last against someone who has been subdued and is on the floor has already passed.”

This was no minor assault by hoodlums, Shalmor then realized – it was a full-blown lynch mob attempting to kill him.

“I’m going through a lynch. I don’t know how long it lasted. It could have been five minutes or 15 seconds. I have no idea. I also have no idea how many people took part. Maybe 5, maybe 15.”

“I was alone there and I understood that I had to get out of there as fast as possible. But I couldn’t see out of one eye, and my left leg was too weak to drag myself out of there. Dozens of people were around me, cheering in a bloodlust, yelling things which I’m hearing as if I was sitting in a closed room and they're standing outside the door.”

The nightmare ended only after Shalmor was pulled from the crowd suddenly and told to run for his life.

“Apparently the animals had had enough, since no one chased after me.”

After his escape, Shalmor was evacuated to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv for treatment. His injuries included broken ribs, torn shoulder joints, a black eye, and contusions all across his body.

“Only by a miracle did nothing worse happen.”