Foreign Journalists Demand Gaza Access
Israeli supreme court to hear petition protesting against block on reporters seeking to cover conflict
Israel's supreme court will hear a petition tomorrow brought by the Foreign Press Association, which represents around 400 foreign journalists, demanding that Israel allow reporters into Gaza to cover the latest conflict.
The sole pedestrian crossing from Israel into Gaza, at Erez, has remained closed to journalists since Israel's bombing campaign began on Saturday.
Two years ago, after Hamas won the Palestinian elections, Israeli authorities stopped all Israeli journalists and Palestinian journalists with Israeli identity cards crossing into Gaza, saying it was too dangerous.
Last month, as the last ceasefire between Israel and Gaza militant groups began to collapse, the Israeli defence ministry closed the Erez crossing to all foreign journalists as well, citing "security" reasons.
Egypt has largely kept its one crossing into Gaza, at Rafah, closed except for in rare medical emergencies, and it too does not allow journalists to cross. The only reporters in Gaza now are Palestinians who live there and work for news agencies or for Palestinian and Arab satellite channels, including al-Jazeera.
In an open letter, the Foreign Press Association said this week that the closure of the Erez crossing to journalists marked "an unprecedented restriction of press freedom. As a result the world's media is unable to accurately report on events inside Gaza at this critical time," it said.
"Despite our protests the Israelis authorities have refused to let journalists in ... Never before have journalists been prevented from doing their work in this way. We believe it is vital that journalists be allowed to find out for themselves what is going on in Gaza. Israel controls access to Gaza. Israel must allow professional journalists access to this important story."
Previous hearings have been held on the issue at the supreme court without any clear resolution of the case.