Foreign Press Association condemns GPO flotilla threats

GPO: Journalists covering flotilla from boats face 10-year entry ban; Group says move "raises questions about commitment to freedom of press."

flotilla 311 (photo credit: Creative Commons)
flotilla 311
(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."
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."
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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.