Haaretz reporter arrested after questioning police

Weitz approached the officers in Tel Aviv as they were questioning a construction worker, asking what they were doing and explaining that he was a journalist.

Israeli journalist Gidi Weitz speaks at a conference of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, held in Tel Aviv on March 28, 2019. (photo credit: FLASH90)
Israeli journalist Gidi Weitz speaks at a conference of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, held in Tel Aviv on March 28, 2019.
(photo credit: FLASH90)

Haaretz journalist Gidi Weitz was arrested by Israeli police on Monday after he attempted to interview them, saying he was interfering with their duties, the newspaper reported.

Weitz approached the officers in Tel Aviv as they were questioning a construction worker, asking what they were doing and explaining that he was a journalist.

One of the officers yelled at him to leave and "contact the spokesperson's office," according to Haaretz. Weitz was adamant, claiming he was doing his job, at which point the officers placed him under arrest and confiscated his phone.

Haaretz said that police searched Weitz and that the commander of the police station let him go shortly after his incarceration.

The Police said the officers had been responding to a report regarding "suspicious individuals" when they questioned Palestinian construction workers, at which point Weitz arrived. They added that Weitz refused to heed the officers' orders to leave and that he was unconditionally released after his arrest, the Haaretz report continued.

Male hands arrested with handcuffs in Criminal concept (illustrative) (credit: INGIMAGE)Male hands arrested with handcuffs in Criminal concept (illustrative) (credit: INGIMAGE)

The Jerusalem Press Club denounced the incident, tweeting, "We strongly condemn the arrest of @Haaretz journalist, Gidi Weitz. He was arrested following a false claim by policemen, after introducing himself as a press member. This insufferable ease in which the police arrest anyone who simply asks a few questions should make us all worry."

Police said they were investigating Weitz's claim that he had identified himself as a journalist to the police officers prior to his detention, Haaretz said.

Srugim cited Haaretz police and criminal correspondent Josh Breiner as writing: "The most honest man I know has been arrested in vain. My colleague Gidi Weitz. "One of the policemen did not like it and from then on, a complete delusion: the policeman stopped Gidi, handcuffed his hands and feet, ordered a vehicle and he was taken to Lev Tel Aviv station, where his shoelaces were also taken from him."

According to Srugim, another Haaretz reporter, Revital Hovel, also decried the police's actions, writing, "The police spin machine works fast. Gidi Weitz spoke to me on the phone in real-time. They immediately started threatening him. They did not like the questions. He made it clear to them that he was a journalist – I heard it. A moment later, he was arrested."