Israeli Journalist Seriously Hurt in Georgia Returns to Israel for Treatment

Yedioth Ahronot reporter Zadok Yehezkeli wounded by Russian army fire that killed Dutch journalist.

A reporter for Israel's Yedioth Ahronot newspaper, Zadok Yehezkeli, was returned home Wednesday a day after he sustained serious wounds while covering the clashes in the Georgian city of Gori.

Yehezkeli underwent surgery at a hospital in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi on Tuesday, and doctors said he was still in serious condition after the operation. According to doctors, the bullet that hit Yehezkeli in the shoulder damaged several of his internal organs.

Two doctors from Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, and a Magen David Adom paramedic flew to Tbilisi on Tuesday night to help stabilize Yehezkeli before his return.

The medical crew said Wednesday that his condition had slightly improved overnight, but is still described serious. Upon his arrival, he was rushed to Hadassah hospital.

Yehezkeli was apparently hit by Russian army fire while covering humanitarian aid efforts in the war-torn city as part of a group of international and local journalists.

A cameraman for the Dutch television station RTL, Stan Storimans, was killed, a Georgian reporter was seriously wounded and a Greek journalist was lightly hurt in the incident.

Conny Mus, RTL's correspondent in Israel, said that it was another RTL employee, Yaron Eckermans, who got Yehezkeli over to an ambulance for transportation to the hospital.

Yehezkeli, a 52-year-old father of two, was sent to Georgia by Yedioth to report on the clashes that broke out last weekend in the breakaway region of South Ossetia. The headline of Yehezkeli's Tuesday morning article read "rescue us."

Yehezkeli is one of Yedioth's most senior journalists. In the 1980s, he received death threats from Beitar Jerusalem soccer fans in his capacity as the newspaper's sports correspondent and subsequently transferred to the paper's magazine department. In 1987, he was stabbed by a Beitar fan because he had criticized one of the team's players. Yehezkeli was hospitalized in moderate condition with injuries to the shoulder, arm and thigh. Five months earlier, he was attacked by two Beitar fans in the parking lot of the Yedioth offices in Jerusalem sustaining injuries to the face and head.

Yehezkeli received the Sokolov award for journalism in 2002 for a series of investigative articles co-written with Anat Tal-Shir, about carcinogenic materials in the Kishon river where elite Israel Defense Forces commandos had been training.