Tight Censorship Working in Israel’s Favor

Keeping Foreign Press Out of Gaza Keeps International Coverage 'On Message'

Following in the footsteps of the United States’ efforts to discourage reporting in its assorted wars outside of an embedded scenario, the Israeli government has taken the strategy to unprecedented levels in the modern era.

While the United States had the disadvantage of fighting its recent wars in massive countries with porous borders, Israel has the advantage of launching its offensive in a tiny enclave which it has had a lot of practice in keeping people and goods from entering and leaving.

The results are staggering: the only foreign media in the strip is a handful of Arabic-language reporters who were there before the war started, while hundreds of other journalists who flocked to Israel to report on the war have remained there, complaining more perhaps than the Israeli government would prefer, but dutifully remaining on the Israeli side, covering the rocket fire and remaining safely insulated from the thousands of civilian casualties just miles away.

Even while they are stuck in Israel, the reporters have largely obeyed the new military censorship laws, with the only reported case of someone violating the orders being quietly detained for spreading “confidential information” against the government’s will.

Israel is quite pleased with the results, which may set a dangerous precedent for future wartime censorship not just by their government, but for America and any other nation that hopes to manage its image while causing enormous civilian death tolls. Protests are omnipresent but relatively small, and western governments remain reluctant to publicly criticize even Israel’s most blatant violations of international law. With little public outcry, the United States government has felt comfortable praising and defending the war.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.