The ongoing diplomatic tussle between Poland and Israel has taken a nasty turn following the assault on Polish ambassador to Israel Marek Magierowski  in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. Magierowski was attacked in the street outside his embassy, media reports said.

According to reports, the incident occured when Magierowski was in  his car outside the embassy on Soutine Street in Tel Aviv.  A man who had come to the embassy approached him  and suddenly assaulted him; he also spat on the ambassador's face. The attacker yelled at the ambassador in Hebrew when the car's door was opened. The shocked ambassador said all he could understand were the words "Polish, Polish."

Magierowski managed to take pictures of the man and his vehicle and later filed a complaint with the Foreign Affairs ministry. The assailant, a 65-year-old Israeli man named Arik Lederman, was arrested 90 minutes later. 

Lederman claimed later that he was provoked when an embassy guard called him “Zhid” ( an anti-semitic Russian slur) when he visited the embassy, reports said. He said the ambassador’s car beeped at him and he didn’t know that Magierowski was inside the car. His lawyer said Lederman had apologized for assaulting Magierowski.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki condemned the attack and called it “racist” and “xenophobic.”  Morawiecki added that Poland will never tolerate violence against its diplomats or citizens.



Poland summoned the Israeli ambassador in Warsaw, Anna Azari, after the incident.  Meanwhile, expressing regret over the incident, Israeli Foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said they are investigating the incident.

Israel and Poland are already embroiled in a diplomatic standoff over the sensitive issue of how to remember Holocaust,  a brutal genocide during World War II that was carried out by Nazi Germany with the help of local collaborators. Nearly six million European Jews were killed between 1941 and 1945 in that genocide. The issue of paying reparations for the properties of Jews forcibly taken away by the Nazis and Poland's post-war Communist regime is the latest dispute between both countries.

The Polish prime minister had canceled his trip to Israel earlier in 2019 over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial statement in Warsaw that "Poles cooperated with the Nazis."  Netanyahu's comment invited the fury of Polish historians, who accused him of suggesting that Poland had collaborated with Nazi Germany.

They also blamed him for embracing the views of nationalistic leaders who have projected a distorted image of the Holocaust.