What is Israel Trying to Hide?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Citing safety concerns, the Israeli military has barred foreign journalists’ access to Gaza, defying a mandate last week from the Israeli Supreme Court ordering that a small number of international journalists be allowed into Palestine. Yet despite its supposed safety concerns, Israel allowed relief organizations to deliver 80 truckloads of emergency supplies during a 3-hour cease-fire on Wednesday. Daniel Seaman, director Israel’s Press Office, asserted that opening the border would pose unnecessary danger, but also argued that Hamas would use the grisly images to wage a public relations war, commenting, “Any journalist who enters Gaza becomes a fig leaf and front for the Hamas terror organization, and I see no reason why we should help that.” After being denied access day after day, The Foreign Press Association made this statement on Tuesday: “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.”

Although relief organizations have been granted access to Gaza, once inside, their missions have been repeatedly obstructed by the Israeli military. After evacuating 18 wounded survivors from a building blockaded for four days by Israeli soldiers, the International Committee of the Red Cross issued a statement saying that the Israeli military had, “failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded.” Israeli soldiers posted around the building attempted to chase relief workers away, but eventually the Red Cross removed the emaciated survivors on a donkey cart, as the ambulance could not navigate through Israel’s barricades.
The U.N. estimates that, since Hamas began firing rockets into Israel on December 19th, when a 6-month cease-fire agreement ended, 1/3 of the 680 Palestinians killed have been women and children. Ten Israelis have died, three of them civilians. Four of the soldiers died from misfired Israeli artillery.
Red Cross Reports Grisly Find in Gaza (by Craig Whitlock, Washington Post)
Despite Court Order, Journalists Barred from Gaza (by David Folkenflik, All Things Considered-NPR)
Israel Puts Media Clamp on Gaza (by Ethan Bronner, New York Times)
Frustrated Reporters Locked out of Gaza War Zone (by Arthur Max, Associated Press)


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