Israeli journalist beaten by blackshirts in Athens

Journalist working for the JC in Athens left bloodied after fascist gang attack


By Gil Shefler, June 14, 2012
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Israeli Gil Shefler after the assault

Israeli Gil Shefler after the assault

When I made plans to go to Greece to investigate the rise of Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi party that won almost seven per cent of the vote in the recent elections, I knew I was putting myself in some danger. After all, I intended to visit its headquarters and interview its members, who have been linked to a spate of attacks on foreigners. Still, when I was attacked by assailants in Athens, it came at an entirely unexpected moment.

I was walking outside the National Archaeological Museum at 8pm - still daylight in Greece in the summer - when suddenly I saw dozens of foreigners running in every direction.

Behind them was a group of about 15 masked men wearing black shirts and wielding batons. I instinctively took out my camera to film the attack, but before I captured any images, the assailants turned on me.

I was beaten in full view of dozens of passers-by - who were too scared to intervene - until I lay bloodied on the pavement. My attackers, who spoke Greek, told me in broken English they wanted my camera, but I held on to it for dear life.

After a few minutes, they left and, after 20 minutes or so, I was rushed to hospital where I was treated for wounds on my head, back and arms. A cut to the head required four stitches, but I suffered no fractures. I was lucky.

The following day, I had to cancel a meeting with an NGO that helps illegal migrants who are assaulted but, from a journalistic point of view, I could afford it. I already knew what that was like.

Last updated: 10:49am, June 15 2012