Israel: IFJ calls on the Israeli government to lift ban on foreign media to enter Gaza

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Source/Author: IFJ

On 9 January, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the Foreign Press Association (FPA) in Jerusalem to allow independent access for journalists and media workers in Gaza, citing “security concerns”. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the ruling and reiterates its call on the High Court and the Israeli government to allow foreign media to enter Gaza to ensure independent reporting and to stop infringing freedom of the press. The Federation is concerned that the prolongation of the ban contributes to Israeli military control over international media coverage of the war in Gaza.

The Foreign Press Association (FPA), a non-profit organisation “representing journalists working for international news organisations reporting in Israel and Palestine”, filed a petition with the Israeli Supreme Court on 19 December, seeking immediate access to the Gaza Strip for international correspondents. An initial request sent by FPA to the Israeli Defence Forces (IFD) and the government press office was ignored.

Since the Israeli government blocked civilian access to the Gaza Strip on 7 October, following the deadly attack by Hamas, only Palestinian journalists based in Gaza and, to a very limited extent, international media crews embedded with the Israeli military under controlled conditions, have been able to report on the ground.Therefore, international journalists covering the war have to rely mostly on local journalists who are inside the Gaza Strip.

The IFJ has several times called on Israel to let foreign press enter Gaza to report on the ground.

Israel’s ban not only prevents journalists from doing their work, but deprives the public of its right to freedom of expression, which includes the right to receive and impart information without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.

To date, at least 88 Palestinian journalists and media workers have been killed in Gaza since 7th October.

Weeks after the start of the war, the Israeli military announced that it could not guarantee the safety of journalists in Gaza Strip. On 28 October, the IFJ, together with its affiliate, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS), called on the Israeli government to fully comply with international human rights law and international humanitarian law, and to act to prevent any war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “Since 13 October and our call to Unesco, we have demanded that the Israeli government allow international media to enter the Gaza Strip. It is a matter of global public interest that  not only local but also international journalists bear witness and document the ongoing war in Gaza. Prolonging the ban on entering the Gaza Strip is denying the world a true picture of events in Gaza.”

Source: IFJ