Yaniv Zohar, a former Associated Press video journalist and beloved colleague who covered conflicts and major news in his homeland for three decades, was killed at his home in the bloody Hamas attack.on October 7 with his wife and two daughters. He was 54 years old.
Zohar worked for the AP’s Israel bureau for 15 years, from 2005 to 2020, covering all of the country’s major news events. But his area of expertise was intermittent warfare at the gates of his home in Kibbutz Nahal Oz, near the border with the Gaza Strip.
Zohar was often the first to alert the press office of nearby violence and the first to arrive on the scene.
Notably, he was deeply involved in covering the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and was the first journalist on the scene of the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier.by Palestinian activists the following year.
“Yaniv was the AP’s eyes and ears in southern Israel, always among the first to respond to news in this busy region,” said AP editor-in-chief Julie Pace. “He was a part of the community in which he worked, providing him with information that was invaluable to his colleagues. When tensions rose in the Middle East, his colleagues were quick to ask, “What does Yaniv say?” » »
In recent years, Zohar worked as a photographer for the daily Israel Hayom.
“He was a wonderful friend, a devoted father, a man of heart and generosity,” the newspaper praised in a statement. “He was always chasing the next photo despite the difficult views he was photographing.”
He met his death in perhaps the most devastating spectacle of all, as witnessed by at least 2,000 Hamas activists.and gruesomely killed more than 1,400 Israelis in the deadliest attack in the country’s 75-year history.
Zohar and his family were on the front lines of the massacre in their border kibbutz. He was killed along with his wife, Yasmin, 49, and his two daughters, Tehelet, 20, and Keshet, 18. Zohar’s son, Ariel, 13, who had gone for an early morning jog, escaped alive.
Yasmin’s father, Haim Livne, was also killed in the attack.
Zohar was a gentle giant, standing over 6 feet 3 inches tall. However, his many friends described him as modest, calm, quiet and generous. Although fiercely competitive, he was beloved by his fellow journalists who covered the region, and his home near the Gaza border became a base for other journalists arriving to report the latest news.
“His heart was as big as his body,” said photographer Yehuda Peretz, his close friend.
About 1,000 people attended Zohar’s funeral Tuesday in central Israel, where the service was interrupted four times by air raid sirens and rocket fire from Gaza. from Israelcould be seen interrupting the rockets in the sky above.
According to Jewish tradition, burials take place as early as possible. But it took 10 days before Zohar and his family could be buried due to the delay due to the large number of victims and the lengthy DNA procedure needed to identify all the bodies.
Zohar’s sister Sivan said repeated air raid sirens prevented mourners from finishing their eulogies.
“They don’t even let us bury our dead,” she said, her voice trembling. “They broke into their house and murdered all those good, innocent people in cold blood.”
For her father, an 89-year-old Holocaust survivor, she said the experience was like a “second Holocaust.”
She said Zohar’s son would be raised by his sister and the family planned to have his bar mitzvah ceremony in a month. “We will continue to celebrate life and we will not let anyone destroy us. This is how we will avenge their deaths,” she said.
Sivan described his brother as a dedicated journalist whose images from the region went around the world and as a man of peace who believed in coexistence.
Veteran AP video journalist Alon Bernstein recalled his many visits to Zohar’s home and how much they enjoyed sharing a bottle of Jack Daniels together.
“Yaniv was a good friend and a true pro. We worked together overseas and across the country, covering violence wherever it broke out,” Bernstein said. “I have witnessed many atrocities during my long career as a news cameraman. None of them have been as horrific as what happened to Yaniv and his family. It is too terrible to be describe.”
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