Paparazzi pandemonium

Violence erupts as DiCaprio and Rafaeli fend off photographers in Jerusalem.

By MIRIAM SHAVIV
March 14, 2007 10:05
2 minute read.
bar leonardo 88 298

bar leonardo 88 298. (photo credit: AP/File Photo)

 
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It's unlikely that Bar Rafaeli ever expected the kind of homecoming she received this week. The 21 year-old Israeli supermodel romantically linked with Oscar-nominated movie star, Leonardo DiCaprio, 32, for the past year and a half, has been hounded by paparazzi ever since she landed in Israel with her famous boyfriend on Sunday. Rafaeli took DiCaprio home to Hod Hasharon, where photographers were waiting for them at every corner. The two were spotted by the media before they even landed in Israel due to the ironic coincidence of being on the same Frankfurt flight as a group of Israeli reporters returning from a "MAMMA MIA" musical junket in Ireland. Local photographers saw dollar signs all over the couple's visit and weren't about to allow a single shot escape them. But when violence broke out between DiCaprio's bodyguards and the paparazzi, it was clear the excitement had gone too far. Rafaeli wanted DiCaprio to get a taste of her country and heritage, first taking him (along with her close family) to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. Yad Vashem gave them a private tour in English and Leo was reportedly moved by his visit. The trouble only began later that evening, when they made their way to the Western Wall tunnel. Groups of photographers waited for them at both tunnel exits, and when their tour ended, DiCaprio's bodyguards and several photographers clashed violently. How exactly the fisticuffs started is still a source of contention. An Associated Press journalist reportedly had his nose broken and others were lightly injured. Eli Mendelbaum, a Yediot Aharonot photographer, said he was awaiting the couple in an effort to do his job "without bothering anyone" when the muscle-bound bodyguards brutally pushed him to the ground. The moment the pair exited the tunnel, he said, the bodyguards began beating people. Several journalists said they were punched and their equipment damaged. Others said Rafaeli's father was actually the source of the trouble, provoking and bullying the photographers. To be fair, the paparazzi were out in full force. Entertainment talk show host Guy Pines went so far as to rent a helicopter to acquire the perfect picture. Following the fracas, police detained the bodyguards for questioning and took testimony from the photographers. Bar and Leo were ostensibly unfazed by the hubbub, and celebrated her brother Neal's 31st birthday that same night at a Tel Aviv club. Steel gates had already been prepared at the club to maintain a barrier between the couple and the trailing paparazzi. Travelling alternately in a dark blue Jeep Pajero and a white van, the drivers were apparently instructed to drive directly to the club's entrance to sneak them in as easily as possible.

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