Foreign journalists arrive in Israel to cover swap

PMO, IDF Spokesman's Office operating press center at entrance to Tel Nof IAF base, press expected at Kerem Shalom crossing, Ofer Prison.

October 17, 2011 23:46
2 minute read.
Photojournalists [file photo]

Photojournalists photographers journalists reporters 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)


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More than 40 foreign journalists have arrived on “short notice” for the release of Gilad Schalit, the Government Press Office told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

“It’s a lot compared to a normal situation,” said Oren Helman, director of the GPO.

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The number is still significantly lower than the turnout to Israel prior to the Palestinian UN statehood bid in September. During the week prior to Abbas’s speech at the UN, the GPO estimated about 150 reporters and journalists came to the country.

The journalists coming this week will arrive from Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Brazil, Turkey, Italy and Switzerland, among other places, and will join an expected 300 Israel-based foreign journalists at the Tel Nof Air Force base near Rehovot on Tuesday, according to Helman.

Some of the publications represented include the BBC, the Guardian, France 24, CBS, Al Jazeera English, CNN, The Washington Post and German newspaper Bild, he said. These journalists join about 2,000 correspondents based in Israel who work for some 450 foreign news media outlets.

“Since the moment the information about the swap was released I got many phone calls from different bureau chiefs in Israel and foreign outlets from abroad that were asking about their ability to send journalists to Israel and get temporary press cards for them,” Helman said.

“Our press card is very important for journalists because with it they can enter press conferences that the government organizes,” he continued, “they can enter media events which will be in Tel Nof tomorrow, and they can move to the Gaza Strip and to Judea and Samaria.”

Hanani Rapoport, CEO of Jerusalem Capital Studios, which assists foreign media representatives while in Israel, agreed that the attention surrounding the Schalit release is much greater than most of the news interest the country has attracted in recent months. So much international coverage concerning a single event inside Israel has not occurred since the Turkish flotilla incident in June 2010, Rapoport said in a statement.

The Prime Minister’s Office and IDF Spokesman’s Office are jointly opening a press center at the entrance of the Tel Nof Air Force base, which will operate from early morning until late in the evening and will require press credentials and security checks, according to the GPO.

In addition to the center at Tel Nof, the IDF Spokesman’s Office will be organizing press areas at the Steel Monument near Karem Shalom and at the entrance of Ofer Prison, while the Israel Prisons Service will open press centers at the entrances of Ketiot Prisons and Hasharon-Tel Mond Prison.

Meanwhile, this week, despite technically being closed for Succot, GPO employees were summoned to work in order to provide services and temporary press cards to the additional foreign journalists arriving, according to Helman.

“We had a very busy month,” he said, “and it’s a very interesting month for Israel around the world.”

Click for full JPost coverage of Gilad Schalit

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