Last Updated: Thursday, 27 November 2014, 09:28 GMT

Israel should not intimidate reporters covering flotilla

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date 27 June 2011
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Israel should not intimidate reporters covering flotilla, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e241a18c.html [accessed 27 November 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

New York, June 27, 2011 – The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Israeli authorities to allow journalists covering a Gaza-bound humanitarian aid flotilla to do their work without interference or reprisals.

On Sunday, Israel's Government Press Office announced that journalists aboard the ships would be subjected to a 10-year ban on entering Israel and "to the impoundment of their equipment and to additional sanctions." Following domestic and international outcry, authorities altered their stance. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced today that "journalists whose credentials are recognized by Israel" would not be subject to a 10-year ban, Reuters reported. But the prime minister's statement did not address the government's plans to confiscate footage and equipment, or its threat of "additional sanctions."

"CPJ is relieved that Israel has dropped a threatened 10-year entry ban on journalists covering this story, but it must do more," said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. "It must ensure that all journalists can report on the flotilla freely and without the threat of confiscation of recordings and equipment."

The Foreign Press Association in Israel, which represents hundreds of journalists working for international news outlets, said in a statement that "the government's threat to punish journalists covering the Gaza flotilla sends a chilling message to the international media and raises serious questions about Israel's commitment to freedom of the press." It added that "journalists covering a legitimate news event should be allowed to do their jobs without threats and intimidation."

The convoy of ships, dubbed Freedom Flotilla II, comes a year after a similar convoy attempted to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza, which has been in place since 2007.

In May 2010, Israel detained at least 20 journalists aboard the Gaza-bound flotilla. The Israeli military confiscated equipment and footage from journalists on the boats and, within days, broadcast edited excerpts of confiscated video that it labeled as "captured." To date, much of the confiscated equipment has not been returned to journalists, CPJ research shows. At the time, CPJ called on Israel to release all detained journalists, stop using seized footage, return all equipment, and take measures to ensure that similar attacks do not recur.

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