Freedom of the press in Israel, such as it is, took another hit today as the Israeli Defense Ministry announced that, in spite of an order by the Israeli Supreme Court to allow eight foreign journalists to enter the Gaza Strip, it would continue to keep them out, citing security reasons.
With an ever growing number of reports of Israeli troops targeting civilians in the Gaza Strip, and multiple reports on the growing humanitarian crisis in the strip, the Israeli government seems determined to keep anybody from entering the strip who might be able to confirm the reality on the ground, while they continue to insist that everything is going “completely as it should be.”
But there is no shortage of qualified media waiting to enter. Hundreds of journalists have entered Israel since the war began, and the Israeli Foreign Ministry reports “masses of requests” to enter the warzone. Yet sources say keeping all the journalists safely on the Israeli side of the border is helping the government ensure that war coverage stays on message, and the reporters will only be allowed into Gaza when the military decides it is suitable for international consumption.
It seems to be working. While the American media rarely responds to Israeli invasions with anything but glowing approval, the current war is receiving an almost unprecedented lack of editorial coverage. But how can they comment, when the only official source of information out of the strip is the military, and they’re carefully filtering what they release?
Yet even inside Israel the censorship regime is growing. We already reported that Israel is preventing journalists from getting too close to the Gaza Strip, but the government is also refusing to issue press cards to foreign reporters who may be too critical of the war “for security reasons,” and Israeli television is reporting that one journalist, an Iranian, has already been arrested by the Israeli government for violating its new censorship rules.