Big Media Kvetches About Israeli Press Freedom, Ignores Hamas Restrictions

July 18, 2010 17:45 by

Two Palestinian press photographers covering weekend West Bank clashes were wounded by the IDF. According to the Jerusalem Post:

The photographers were said to be among the protesters, making it difficult to pick them out.

Here's what's known about the incident: One of the photographers worked for AFP. And the Foreign Press Association issued a statement suggesting that Israel's Border Police are getting too rough, then sniffed:

We would appreciate it were the authorities to remind the various forces involved, that open, unhindered coverage of news events is a widely acknowledged part of the essence of democracy.

Everyone knows how these protests work. Scripted clashes and grandstanding for the cameras have been the modus operendi for years.

It's always the same: Palestinians start protesting, at first peacefully. Gradually, the situation escalates till soldiers are forced to fire rubber bullets and tear gas to protect themselves and disperse the crowd. The violent images are the ones you always see in the news.

Journalists covering clashes know what they're in for, and have no right to complain. War correspondents who bristled at Israeli press restrictions during the Gaza war correctly pointed out that they're big boys who don't need the IDF's patronizing protection (those media restrictions were for a different reason, however).

Now let's talk about press freedom in Gaza. This weekend, (via Elder of Ziyon) the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedom (MADA) listed far more severe Hamas press restrictions. These include:

• detaining the dean of Media faculty in Aqsa university Dr. Ahmad Hamad and the Greek director Bindles Baba Byblos after filming a wedding in Beit Hanoun

• preventing AFP photographer Mohammed Al-Baba from covering a march for Hizb Al-Tahrir

• blocking three journalists from traveling to Egypt

• continually barring the delivery of three West Bank daily newspapers in Gaza

The FPA's criticisms of Israel aren't leveled at Hamas of course. Democracies are so much easier to slam when journos decide access is more important than principle.

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