OPT: Two Israeli channels, BBC permitted brief access to Gaza strip; IFJ denounces "cynical attempt to ensure that media tell the story from the Israeli side only"

Another Gaza Journalist Killed, IFJ Calls for Global Protest Over Media Blockade

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called on the world of journalism to raise its voice in protest over Israeli government pressure on media trying to cover the Gaza conflict. The Government has imposed a blockade on the world's media trying to report on the crisis inside Gaza.

The IFJ call comes as another Palestinian journalist was reported killed - the fourth victim of recent Israeli military action in Gaza. Eyhab Al Wahidi, who worked as a cameraman for the Palestinian Broadcast Corporation in Gaza, was killed with his wife and mother-in-law yesterday when Israeli troops shelled their home in Gaza city. The family's children were injured.

"The media crisis in Gaza has become intolerable," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "The systematic manipulation and control of media trying to report on Gaza and the casualties being sustained inside the territory require a concerted response from the world's media."

Despite an Israeli Supreme Court ruling ordering the government to allow a limited pool of journalists to enter Gaza, the army continues to block entry. Yesterday, two Israeli channels and the BBC were permitted to briefly accompany Israeli ground forces, but there is no hint that the government will permit journalists unfettered access to Gaza.

According to media reports, journalists for most television networks are broadcasting from a hill outside Sderot, and relying on Gazan journalists to serve as their eyes and ears. Meanwhile, Israel's sophisticated communications operation provides beleaguered media staff with contacts, fact books full of charts and statistics, tours of the south of Israel and interviews with the Israeli victims of rocket attacks from Gaza.

"There is a cynical attempt to ensure that media tell the story from the Israeli side only," said White. "The truth cannot be told unless journalists are free to move, to talk with everyone involved and to see with their own eyes what is happening on the ground."

The IFJ says that legitimate security concerns are being raised, particularly relating to the safety of media staff. "But this should not be used as an excuse to keep journalists from doing their work," said White.

"Media must be free to judge the risks for themselves and not be constrained. When one side takes control of the message, truth-telling becomes overwhelmed by propaganda." The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 123 countries worldwide.

Updates alert on restrictions on foreign media in Gaza:


For further information, contact the IFJ, International Press Centre,

Residence Palace, Block C, 155 Rue de la Loi, B-1040 Brussels, Belgium, tel: +322 235 2200 / 2207, fax: +322 235 2219, e-mail: ernest.sagaga@ifj.org, Internet: http://www.ifj.org/