` `

Israel Restricts International Journalists' Access to Gaza: Impact on the Palestinian Perspective

Misbar's Editorial Team Misbar's Editorial Team
7th March 2024
Israel Restricts International Journalists' Access to Gaza: Impact on the Palestinian Perspective
International Journalists barred from entering Gaza since October 7 (Getty)

In early March, 55 international correspondents signed an open letter advocating for the permission of free and unfettered access to Gaza for all foreign media, allowing them to conduct their work independently and unrestrictedly, and to provide field reports accurately.

This initiative follows nearly five months of the war waged by Israel on the Gaza Strip, resulting in tens of thousands dead and wounded, predominantly among women and children. The war has exacerbated an already dire humanitarian crisis in the region.

55 International Correspondents Urge Israel and Egypt for Unrestricted Access to Gaza for Foreign Media

The journalists who signed the letter addressed it to the governments of Egypt and Israel, and it was delivered to their respective embassies in London, as reported by the BBC.

Among the signatories of the letter are CNN's chief international anchor, Christiane Amanpour, along with dozens of international correspondents from Sky News, BBC, Channel 4, and CBC.

In their letter, the journalists emphasized the importance of being present on the ground to provide comprehensive journalistic coverage. However, as of now, there has been no official response from either government to the letter.

The letter reads, “We call on the government of Israel to openly state its permission for international journalists to operate in Gaza, and for the Egyptian authorities to allow international journalists access to the Rafah Crossing.”

“There is intense global interest in the events in Gaza, and for now, the only reporting has come from journalists who were already based there.” The letter continued, “the need for comprehensive on the ground reporting of the war is imperative.”

55 journalists sign an open letter advocating for international journalists' entry into Gaza
55 journalists sign an open letter advocating for international journalists' entry into Gaza

Israel’s Exploitation of the Absence of Journalists in Gaza

Israel exploits the absence of international journalists within the Gaza Strip to promote its misleading narratives, which obscure the violations and massacres it perpetrates against Palestinians. On one hand, it casts doubt on the Palestinian narrative of events, while on the other hand, it presents its own narratives as the truth, despite their repeated debunking. One such instance is its narrative regarding the bombing of the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, and its most recent narrative about the "Flour Massacre," which claimed the lives of more than 100 Palestinians, alongside other fabricated narratives.

A supporting image within the article body

Alex Crawford: Presence of International Journalists in Gaza Is the Surest Path to Truth

In an opinion piece titled "Israel-Hamas war: Our first mission as journalists is to tell the full story, denied access to Gaza we cannot do that," Sky News correspondent Alex Crawford questioned “Why, after nearly five months into the war in Gaza, is there still no access to foreign journalists?”

In the article published on February 29, Crawford emphasized that “there is no substitute to having journalist boots on the ground and seeing it for yourself.” She underscored that this is “the only absolute way of finding out most accurately what is the truth. And in a world of misinformation, disinformation, false and malicious use of images, and 'alternative truths', it is the most effective way of nailing a lie.”

She explained that “being "on the ground" has simply not been possible in reporting the war inside Gaza,” adding, "We have been resolutely denied access to the Gaza Strip since the 7 October Hamas attacks inside Israel.”

She said that “the only journalists able to operate inside Gaza are those who were already inside the Strip at the time. And those journalists, like everyone else in Gaza, are trapped.”

She continued, "International media teams have been asking constantly for the authorities of Israel and Egypt to provide us with access, but we have been blocked. We have met officials in person, raised the issue continually in news conferences, and sent countless letters of request. And every other government with influence is failing to use its international pressure to change this reality."

In her article, the journalist pointed out that “there have been a few “selected” journalists who have been invited to briefly 'embed' with the Israeli military for rare, short, escorted tours inside Gaza,” noting that “the Israeli forces have not allowed any of the journalists they've escorted into Gaza to talk to any of the Palestinians inside.”

She stated that all governments should be pressuring Israel and Egypt to allow journalists into Gaza, emphasizing that “our colleagues inside should not be carrying the burden of covering this war on their own.”

In the same article, journalist Alex Crawford spoke about the number of journalists killed in this war, noting that “the figures are contested by the Israeli government and its supporters who claim alternatively that the Palestinian journalists inside are coerced by Hamas so are not independent.”

Crawford also addressed Israeli allegations that Gaza journalists are not "real" journalists, but Hamas fighters with media vests on.

She highlighted that these allegations imply that any alleged targeted killings of journalists by the Israeli military are acceptable. In the same context, she pointed out that journalists inside the Gaza Strip, most of whom are injured and suffering from serious health problems, have lost their homes and families, in addition to dozens of those who were killed.

Alex Crawford discusses the restriction on international journalists covering the war in Gaza
Alex Crawford discusses the restriction on international journalists covering the war in Gaza

Preventing International Journalists From Entering Gaza Is Unprecedented

For its part, the Foreign Press Association (FBA), representing a consortium of international media organizations in Israel and Palestine, filed a petition to the Supreme Court in Israel to grant international journalists independent access to cover the war from within Gaza. However, this request was met with rejection.

The FBA said in a statement published on January 9 that the Israeli Supreme Court recognized the infringement on the freedom of the press, but argued that “the restrictions on entry are justified on security grounds.”

The association added that 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 association stressed that the Israeli ban on independent foreign press access to Gaza since the beginning of the war is unprecedented, noting that Israel has allowed journalists to accompany the army in a “selective and controlled” manner and that the press reports they produce are subjected to strict censorship.

The association believes that 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.

Preventing International Journalists From Entering Gaza Is Unprecedented

Article 19: The Full Embargo on the Gaza Strip Exceeds the Permissible Restrictions

At the end of last January, ARTICLE 19, an international organization concerned with working to promote freedom of expression, expressed its serious concern about the continued and severe restrictions on international journalists’ entry to the Gaza Strip, calling for the necessity of allowing them to enter the Strip to disseminate independent reports.

ARTICLE 19 said that since October 7, there has been a ban on entering Gaza, preventing international journalists from covering the war on the ground. Both the Erez crossing from Israel into Gaza and the Rafah crossing from Egypt into Gaza have been closed to journalists.

It also pointed out that “while some international journalists have been embedded with the Israeli Forces, they have imposed strict conditions, including the requirement for reports to be submitted for review before publication and the prohibition of interaction with Palestinians.”

ARTICLE 19 said that the full ban on the Gaza Strip exceeds the restrictions permitted under international standards, stressing that granting access to independent journalists to report from the ground is essential for ensuring objective media coverage, documenting violations of human rights and humanitarian law, and protecting civilians.

Article 19: The Full Embargo on the Gaza Strip Exceeds the Permissible Restrictions

Israel Targeting Journalists in Gaza

In a statement released on February 16, the Government Media Office in the Gaza Strip stated that Israel had killed approximately 130 Palestinian journalists and targeted their families and homes with missiles. Additionally, many journalists have been injured, preventing them from fulfilling their duties on the ground and necessitating their evacuation from the Gaza Strip for medical treatment.

At the beginning of last February, United Nations experts condemned the killing, attack, and detention of Palestinian journalists in the occupied Palestinian territories, “particularly in Gaza, in recent months, highlighting Israel's blatant disregard for international law.”

“We pay special tribute to the courage and resilience of journalists and media workers in Gaza who continue to put their own lives on the line every day in the course of duty, while also enduring enormous hardship and tragic loss of colleagues, friends and families in one of the bloodiest, most ruthless conflicts of our times,” the experts said. 

“We have received disturbing reports that, despite being clearly identifiable in jackets and helmets marked “press” or traveling in well-marked press vehicles, journalists have come under attack, which would seem to indicate that the killings, injury, and detention are a deliberate strategy by Israeli forces to obstruct the media and silence critical reporting,” the UN experts said.

They stressed that the attacks on media in Gaza and restrictions on other journalists from accessing Gaza, combined with severe disruptions of the Internet, are major impediments to the right of information of the people of Gaza as well as the outside world.

The UN experts said, “We urge Israeli authorities to allow journalists to enter Gaza and protect the safety of all journalists in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In closing, we further urge the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court to give particular attention to the dangerous pattern of attacks and impunity for crimes against journalists.”

UN experts condemn killing and silencing of journalists

Read More

The Head of the Israeli Occupation Spokesperson's Unit Daniel Hagari Has Not Resigned Amid Israel-Gaza War

These Photos Do Not Feature Female Ukrainian and French Soldiers Participating in the War on Gaza