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January 01, 2009

Court: Foreign Journalists to Enter Gaza

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Steve Gutkin of the Foreign Press Association/AP photo

The Jerusalem Post reports today that the High Court has ruled in favor of allowing small groups of journalists to enter Gaza at times when the crossing are already open for humanitarian aid:

The State on Thursday agreed to a proposal by the High Court of Justice to allow a small group of foreign journalists to enter the Gaza Strip as part of a pool of reporters.

The recommendation by the court weakens a nearly two-month old government ban on foreign correspondents from entering Gaza. But it falls far short of overturning the ban and restoring the total press access demanded in a petition filed by a group of foreign reporters based here.

The court's proposal, submitted for the approval of both sides, would allow a pool of up to 12 foreign journalists into the Hamas-run territory only when the border is already open for humanitarian shipments. . . .

Government Press Office head Danny Seaman said that he prefers that Palestinian stringers and reporters cover the news from Gaza instead of foreign journalists, since international journalists are routinely used and exploited by the Islamic regime.

"Based on our experience from the war in Lebanon and the way the foreign press has conducted itself in Gaza, we know that Hamas is in complete control of the news, and that reports from Gaza are carried out under duress," Seaman said.

"Foreign media in Gaza will become fig leaves for the news, and will give credibility to the reporting," he said.

The petition charges that the ban constitutes "a grave and mortal blow against freedom of the press and other basic rights," and gives the unpleasant feeling that the State of Israel has something to hide. . . .

Israel has also voiced its displeasure over the international media's balance in their coverage of Gaza, saying reports inflate Palestinian suffering, while not always making clear that Israeli military actions are in response to Palestinian attacks.

A study published by the Joan Shorenstein Center for the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government examined coverage of the 2006 Lebanon war and explained how in an asymetrical war "between a state and a militant, secretive, religiously fundamentalist sect or faction," the battle is two-fold -- military and informational.

Summarizing the findings of Marvin Kalb's study, Anshel Pfeffer wrote:

Miniaturization, wireless broadcasting and high-speed links enable news organizations to overcome technical obstacles. Censorship and intimidation, however, still remain. Which means that democratic societies living by the ideals of a free and unfettered press will always be at a disadvantage to dictatorships and oppressive ideologies, adept at manipulating the media.

Read more on how Hamas and Hezbollah have manipulated the foreign press. See here for more on intimidation of journalists.

Posted by TS at January 1, 2009 05:02 AM

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