Polish ambassador to Israel attacked near his embassy in Tel Aviv

Ambassador Marek Magierowski managed to take a picture of the attacker and his vehicle, which led to the man's arrest 90 minutes later.

May 15, 2019 21:09
3 minute read.
 Polish Ambassador to Israel Marek Magierowski

Polish Ambassador to Israel Marek Magierowski. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)


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Poland's Ambassador to Israel, Marek Magierowski, was attacked on Tuesday outside the Polish Embassy in Tel Aviv, according to a report by the Hebrew website Ynet.

Magierowski was standing outside the embassy when a man started to physically and verbally assault him. The ambassador was too overwhelmed to understand the words his attacker said. All he heard was, "Polish, Polish," said Magierowski, Ynet reported.

The Polish Embassy immediately filed a complaint with the Israeli Police, while Magierowski filed a complaint with the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

The ministry contacted the police and asked them, as well as the authorities charged with security of the foreign embassies in Tel Aviv, to treat the incident with the utmost importance.

Magierowski managed to take a picture of the attacker and his vehicle, which led to the man's arrest 90 minutes later. The ambassador was informed by the Foreign Ministry that the man had been arrested, and he commended the police and their efficiency.

"We received a report of an incident involving the Polish ambassador in Israel on Tuesday. A suspect approached the ambassador when he was sitting in his car and spat at him," The Police Spokesperson's Unit said in a statement. "Police forces arrived at the scene and began searching for the suspect, who was arrested in the area. The Suspect is a 65-years-old man from Herzliya, he was arrested and will appear before the court in Tel Aviv on Wednesday."

"I am very worried to hear of a racist attack on @PLinIsrael ambassador @mmagierowski. Poland strongly condemns this xenophobic act of aggression. Violence against diplomats or any other citizens should never be tolerated," Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki commented on Twitter.

At a court hearing on Wednesday, he was put under house arrest until police complete their investigation, his lawyer said.

David Johan, the suspect's lawyer, told reporters his client had been turned away from the Polish Embassy on Tuesday after trying to inquire about restitution.

Later, outside the embassy, the alleged assailant "approached the vehicle of the Polish ambassador to Israel, opened the door and then spat (at him)," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

Johan said the assault was not premeditated, adding: "My client was walking in the street and an embassy vehicle honked at him."

In a statement issued to reporters, the suspect, Erik Lederman, said his family had been through the Nazi Holocaust and that a Polish embassy employee had used an anti-Semitic slur against him while he was there, which he found upsetting.

"I did not know that Poland's ambassador was in the car. Consequently, I would like to express my sincere apology for what happened," Lederman said.

Poland's Ambassador to Israel Marek Magierowski denied in a post on Twitter that there had been any inappropriate behavior or language used by embassy employees.

The Foreign Ministry confirmed that Israel's ambassador to Poland, Anna Azari, was invited to Warsaw for clarifications on the incident.

Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon also commented, saying: "Israel expresses its full sympathy with the Polish ambassador and shock at the attack. Israeli police are currently investigating. We will update our Polish friends. This is a top priority for us, as we are fully committed to diplomats' safety and security."

The attack on the Polish ambassador comes amid a diplomatic spat between Poland and Israel. This week, the Polish Foreign Ministry canceled the scheduled visit of an Israeli delegation to Warsaw, which was to take place on Monday.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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