A recent letter to the editors of the Jerusalem Post was sent in by the Dutch RTL media journalist Connie Mus, regarding the baring of international correspondents from Gaza during the recent war there.The journalist, who like others from international news services, as well as Israeli journalists, was not allowed into the Gaza Strip to directly report on the recently suspended IDF Operation Cast Lead which, until halted by a very flimsy cease fire agreement, resulted in the deaths of 14 Israelis and more than 1,400 Palestinians. Mus, who is a foreign correspondent for the Netherlands based RTL News Service, complained that she and her fellow journalists were prevented from directly reporting on and filming the fighting in Gaza during the 22 day operation, and were forced to do so from a hill located outside the Gaza border which they named the “Hill of Shame”.
While Ms. Mus may have thought she had some valid points in regards to her comments about the Israeli government barring foreign correspondents from entering Gaza during the fighting there, judging from what occurred during the 2006 war in Lebanon, having a slew of international journalists stationed in Beirut and elsewhere not only increased the negative propaganda war against Israel but also put the lives of these people in mortal danger.
Mind you, field correspondents have often been exposed to harm’s way during warfare, and many have paid the ultimate price for doing so. But due to the intensity of the bombing and fighting which did occur in many parts of Gaza, several of these journalists, and the camera and other logistical personnel which usually accompany them, might have been killed or injured during the three week operation.
It might be noted that during the 2006 war in Lebanon, in which over 1,190 Lebanese (mostly civilians) and 165 Israelis (44 civilians) were killed, a news photographer and TV technician were killed and at least 12 journalists suffered various injuries and wounds. According to statistics noted by the international organization Journalists Without Borders, 81 journalists and auxiliary personnel lost their lives in the line of duty in 2006 alone.
That none of the journalists covering Operation Cast Lead suffered even minor injuries can be attributed to the ban which was imposed on them by both the government and the IDF. After the cease fire was declared, these journalists have not wasted any time going in to Gaza to get the “full story” as was indicated in the “BBC Ad” incident when the BBC refused to broadcast a controversial fund raising advertisement that has been judged to be show partiality towards Hamas. In light of this, maybe there’s logic to these restrictions after all.