GPO Warns Flotilla Journalists

Oren Helman

Writing in a 22 June op-ed for YNet, HonestReporting’s Managing Editor Simon Plosker stated:

We should all be extremely concerned by the announcement that among those sailing on the imminent flotilla to Gaza are journalists representing mainstream media, including the New York Times and camera crews from CNN and CBS.

He also said that:

Israel would do well to remind those journalists on board the flotilla that they will be active participants in an illegal attempt to break what is a legal naval blockade under international law.

It appears that the Israeli government agrees. The Director of the Government Press Office, Oren Helman, has sent a letter to all members of the foreign media in Israel warning of the consequences of taking part in the flotilla:

I would like to make it clear to you and to the media that you represent, that participation in the flotilla is an intentional violation of Israeli law and is liable to lead to participants being denied entry into the State of Israel for ten years, to the impoundment of their equipment and to additional sanctions.

I implore you to avoid taking part in this provocative and dangerous event, the purpose of which is to undermine Israel’s right to defend itself and to knowingly violate Israeli law.

Unlike in neighboring Arab states where foreign media are either barred from reporting e.g. the Syrian uprising, or restricted by government appointed “minders” e.g. Libya, the foreign press have almost virtual freedom to report from Israel free from intimidation or threats.

Israel does, however, have the right to draw its own red lines, particularly when journalists are involved in activities that break the law or threaten the security of the state. In this case, those members of the press who are planning to “embed” themselves with the flotilla certainly cannot claim that they haven’t been warned.

UPDATE 27 JUNE 2011: According to Reuters, the Israeli government is reconsidering its threat to bar foreign journalists from entering the country for 10 years.

Why Does Israel Need to Maintain a Naval Blockade?

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