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FJ Calls for Global Protest Over Media Blockade
Monday, 12 January 2009 13:29
by Richard Kastelein

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called on the journalism world 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
Iran TV says Israel strikes Gaza office, two hurt

An Iranian state television station said two people were wounded by an Israeli rocket strike on the building housing its office in Gaza on Friday.

"Israeli rocket strikes Gaza media building, wounding two," Press TV said in a breaking news headline, after initially reporting no casualties in the incident.

"Israeli forces have targeted Press TV and al-Alam television stations in the Gaza Strip," the English-language satellite station said. Al-Alam is Iran's Arab-language television station.

An Israeli military spokesperson said the building had not been targeted, though it may have sustained "collateral damage".

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.

VIDEO - Israeli forces bombed a building that was used by press members in the central Gaza.

"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."

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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 beleagured 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 related 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.
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