Israel maintains media ban in Gaza

6th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

Israel defies Supreme Court ruling and refuses to let “spoiled” foreign media into the Gaza strip.

JERUSALEM – Israel on Tuesday maintained a ban on journalists entering the Gaza Strip to cover its war on Hamas despite a Supreme Court ruling that foreign reporters should be let in.

The Foreign Press Association (FPA) made a strong protest over the ban but the head of the Israeli government's press office said foreign media were "spoiled" and Israel would not risk the lives of its soldiers to protect them.

Israel's Supreme Court ordered the government on Friday to allow foreign reporters into the Gaza Strip and eight names were chosen for the first group to go in.

But no journalist has been allowed into Gaza where thousands of Israeli troops are fighting Hamas in a campaign to halt rocket attacks.

More than 580 Palestinians, including nearly 100 children, have been killed since the Jewish state's offensive began on 27 December.

International media cover the war through Palestinian reporters based in Gaza.

"The unprecedented denial of access to Gaza for the world's media amounts to a severe violation of press freedom and puts the state of Israel in the company of a handful of regimes around the world which regularly keep journalists from doing their jobs," said an FPA statement.

"We call on the Israeli authorities to lift this ban immediately in line with the decision of their own country's Supreme Court and the basic principles of democratic statehood.

Danny Seaman, head of the Government Press Office, said: "No reporters are allowed into Gaza because our soldiers will not sacrifice their lives to protect them."

Seaman said reporters are "spoiled".

"Reporters were not forced to leave Gaza over the past months, but were too scared to stay there," claimed the spokesman.

"The world press doesn't care about the suffering of the Israeli people. They are only worried about the Palestinian. Why isn't anyone reporting on what's happening in southern Israel?"

Four people have been killed in Israel and dozens wounded in rocket attacks from Gaza since Israel started its military offensive.

Yigal Palmor, a foreign ministry spokesman, commented: "I can't say that there is a deliberate and overall decision not to allow reporters in. There is fighting at the crossings. Hamas is shelling the crossings and the army does not want to take responsibility for the lives of civilians."

[AFP / Expatica]

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