(photo credit: Creative Commons)
The Foreign Press Association on Sunday urged the government to reverse its threat to punish journalists covering the Gaza flotilla, saying that the move "sends a chilling message to the international media and raises serious questions about Israel's commitment to freedom of the press."
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The statement added, "Journalists covering a legitimate news event should be allowed to do their jobs without threats and intimidation," calling on the government to "reverse its decision immediately."
Earlier Sunday, Government Press Office Director Oren Helman said that
journalists covering the flotilla aboard the participating ships will
face serious sanctions, including denial of entry into Israel for ten
years and their equipment being impounded.
Ahead of a new flotilla expected to be making its way to Gaza later this
week, Helman said, "Participation in the flotilla is an intentional
violation of Israeli law and is liable to lead to participants being
denied entry into the State of Israel for ten years, to the impoundment
of their equipment and to additional sanctions."
The GPO director called on representatives of the foreign press in
Israel "to avoid taking part in this provocative and dangerous event,
the purpose of which is to undermine Israel's right to defend itself and
knowingly violate Israeli law."
The GPO statement did not address Israeli journalists aboard the
Gaza-bound ships. International journalists from CBS, CNN, Al Jazeera
and various other American and international news outlets are expected
to cover the flotilla from the participating ships.