Fifty-year-old Yedioth Ahronoth reporter Tzadok Yehezkeli, who was seriously injured Tuesday morning in Georgia while covering the ongoing fighting in the city of Gori, near the South Ossetian border, landed at Ben-Gurion Airport Wednesday morning and was immediately taken by ambulance to Jerusalem's Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital for treatment.
Yehezkeli's condition slightly improved overnight, but is still listed as serious but stable.
Israeli doctors landed in Georgia at midnight to help treat Yehezkeli, who had undergone two operations in Tbilisi. The doctors, Professor Avi Rifkind, Dr. Micha Shamir, along with paramedic Ran Elbas, accompanied the reporter on the flight back to Israel and then to Hadassah.
At around noon Yehezkeli was standing with several other local and foreign reporters in the town square when a sudden blast occurred, apparently caused by a single mortar.
The man who evacuated Yehezkeli and got him to an ambulance was Dutch RTL reporter Jeroen Akkermans, who was also injured in the blast. An RTL cameraman, Stan Storimans, was killed in the blast, along with three Georgian civilians. Akkermans sustained light shrapnel wounds to his leg.
"All the journalists were standing near the town square when the bomb fell," RTL's reporter in Israel, Conny Mus, told Ynet.
Receiving the Sokolov Prize for Journalism (Photo: Avigail Uzi)
Mus said that despite the difficult ordeal, Akkermans had phoned the Dutch channel's Israeli bureau several times to check in on Yehezkeli's condition. "He kept calling, he didn't even know Tzadok's name," said Mus, adding that Akkermans was also receiving treatment in Tbilisi.
Yehezkeli treated at Ben-Gurion Airport (Photo: Hadar A.)
The divorced father of two was renowned for his daring, filing frequent dispatches from deep within the West Bank over the years.
Yehezkeli was the 2002 recipient of the Sokolov Prize for Journalism for an investigative series of articles co-authored with fellow journalist Anat Tal-Shir. The two uncovered the Kishon diving scandal, which
claimed the army was to blame for the high rate of cancer among former navy commandos who trained in the polluted waters of the Kishon River.
Outside of work Yehezkeli was an avid competitive cyclist.
In September 1985 he was stabbed by a Beitar Jerusalem soccer fan after criticizing one of the team's players. Yehezkeli, who covered sports for Yedioth at the time, sustained wounds to his shoulder, arm and thigh, and was hospitalized in moderate condition.