Israel’s Supreme Court has rejected a petition from the Foreign Press Association in Jerusalem to allow independent access for journalists to report in the Gaza Strip.
In a ruling Monday, the court recognized the infringement on the freedom of the press but argued that the restrictions on entry are justified on security grounds. The court accepted Israeli defense authorities’ claims that journalists in Gaza could be put at risk in wartime and endanger soldiers by reporting on troop positions, and that it was too dangerous for Israeli personnel to be present at the border to facilitate press entry to Gaza. The court invited the FPA to ask for access when circumstances change.
The FPA is disappointed in the court’s ruling. Israel’s ban on independent foreign press access to Gaza, for 95 days straight, is unprecedented. The Israeli military’s embedded journalist escorts have been limited to select foreign media, are highly controlled and short in time. We believe Israel’s concerns about reporting on troop positions do not withstand scrutiny at a time when Palestinian journalists continue to operate in Gaza, and when it is vital for foreign press to access areas of Gaza where troops are not present. Contrary to the claim of Israeli authorities and the court, during the war only one foreign journalist has been granted entry into Gaza through Egypt on an escorted visit.
As Israel allows humanitarian aid into Gaza through its Kerem Shalom crossing, the FPA believes solutions can be found to overcome security concerns and allow journalists to enter Gaza. The FPA believes that even under the current circumstances, the authorities are able to work out a satisfactory arrangement with foreign journalists to better serve all parties.
The FPA will monitor Israel’s policies at the border and will expect independent press access as conditions develop.
The Board of the Foreign Press Association