Israeli police said Thursday they were deciding whether to charge two bodyguards in a scuffle with photographers during Leonardo DiCaprio’s visit to the Western Wall earlier this week.
Three photographers were injured Monday as DiCaprio, Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli and Refaeli’s family were touring a tunnel near the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray.
About 20 photographers, along with a crowd of fans and curiosity-seekers, waited for the 32-year-old actor to come out of the tunnel. The photographers gathered around as DiCaprio got into a van, and security guards tried to shoo them away.
Photographers said two of DiCaprio’s bodyguards began swinging their fists wildly in an effort to scatter the crowd.
“They were freaking out and going crazy,” said photographer Gali Tibbon, who suffered bruises to her forehead and collarbone. “It was pure violence.” The melee continued after the van drove away.
DiCaprio’s publicist, Shawn Sachs, said the blame rested solely with the photographers. “Leo is horrified that anyone might have gotten hurt in this situation, but the paparazzi really made this happen,” he said.
Two bodyguards were detained by police for questioning and then released.
Authorities were still gathering materials, but the probe was focusing on the two bodyguards, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Thursday.
“We understand it was the photographers who were attacked. The photographers didn’t attack the security guards,” he said. “It’s very clear it was an unnecessary incident.” He said he didn’t know when a decision to press charges would be made.
“The photographers were so intent on getting the picture that all means were legitimate for them,” he said.
Shy Perez, a celebrity columnist for entertainment magazine Pnai Plus, said the violence could have been avoided.
“We’ve had celebrities visit here in the past. What’s different is that he’s the first who hasn’t cooperated,” Perez said. “They don’t want to take his picture because he’s a criminal, or because people hate him. They wanted to because people love him.”