Operation "Cast lead": news control is a military objective - Palestinian journalists caught between Israeli firing and Hamas threats

    MONTREAL, Feb. 15 /CNW Telbec/ - "Set against hundreds of casualties,
including many civilians, the toll of violations of press freedom during
operation 'Cast Lead' in Gaza, might appear small. But news was another
casualty of this war. The sealing off of the Gaza Strip, which was the full
responsibility of the Israeli authorities, is unacceptable and disturbing.
Beyond this conflict, control of news in time of war has become a military
objective throughout the world. Now it has become the norm", said Reporters
Without Borders, as it released its report on violations of press freedom
during the Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip, in January 2009.
    "Hamas is also responsible for serious press freedom violations.
    Contrary to what its leaders say, journalists are not free to criticise
the Islamist movement, to communicate the stance of other factions or simply
to set forth divergent opinions. Most journalists who spoke to Reporters
Without Borders in Gaza share this point if view, but none of them can express
themselves publicly, so great is the risk of reprisals," stressed the
organisation, which has recorded 28 journalists arrested by Hamas forces for
their political opinions, since it took control of Gaza in June 2007.
    Reporters Without Borders went to Israel and the Gaza Strip at the end of
January to establish a tally of press freedom violations during this conflict.
After investigating on the spot, Reporters Without Borders puts at six the
number of journalists who were killed, two of them while doing their job.
Around 15 were wounded. And at least three buildings housing media were hit by
Israeli fire.
    In the report, Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns all attacks
carried out by the Israeli Army against buildings housing Palestinian or
foreign media and calls on the Israeli Army and government to rapidly provide
detailed explanations for hits on these buildings.
    "The United Nations should demand to take part in these investigations
and non-governmental organisations should also be involved. Reporters Without
Borders now expresses its wish to contribute to this independently. Other
investigations carried out by the Israeli Army in the past into the deaths of
journalists or bombing of media have had highly reprehensible results, in the
process exonerating soldiers of all responsibility", writes the organisation
in concluding its report.
    Reporters Without Borders believes that, since the launch of the second
Intifada in September 2000, the number of journalists killed has reached seven
and more than 100 were wounded.
    Reporters Without Borders maintains that the closing of the Gaza Strip to
the press constituted a serious and unacceptable violation of press freedom.
On this too, the organisation strongly urges the United Nations to adopt a
resolution immediately calling on Israel to stop using such coercive methods
to control news.
    The organisation proposes that, with the agreement of the Israeli
authorities, press equipment should be sent to the Gaza Strip. This equipment
is today sadly lacking: film cameras, tapes, cameras, editing equipment,
generators were all damaged or destroyed. Since Israel controls all goods that
get into the Gaza Strip, Reporters Without Borders calls on the state of
Israel to show discretion in its control of equipment entering the Gaza Strip.
Equipment that is essential to the press should benefit from the same
conditions as humanitarian supplies.
    Download the report "Operation 'Cast Lead': Control of information as
military objective": http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=30310

For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters sans frontières Canada, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4188; 

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