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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Open Gaza to media coverage By Haaretz Editorial

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon was among those who lent their voices to the international protest against Israel's tightening siege on the Gaza Strip. This past weekend, the heads of the world's most important media organizations joined the group, protesting in a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert against the closure of the Strip to international journalists.

"We are gravely concerned about the prolonged and unprecedented denial of access to the Gaza Strip for the international media, [which contradicts] the spirit of Israel's long-standing commitment to a free press," said the letter, which bears the signatures of the chiefs of international news agencies, the presidents of important television networks and the executive editor of The New York Times.

To serve their function sufficiently, representatives of the Israeli and international press must be in Gaza, just like in any other conflict region around the world. There is no way to cover the events in the Strip without free access to it. Journalists and those who dispatch them can and must take responsibility for their well-being, exactly as they do in every other war zone and conflict area in the world. Journalism is at times a dangerous profession, but no less dangerous is the darkening of a section of a country or a country itself, and preventing free press coverage there. The Israel Press Council, journalist associations, editors, writers, and like them, media consumers in Israel do not have to reconcile with the curbing of a free press. They must raise their voices in protest.


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