Reporters without Borders: Israel capable of best and worst

Organization writes: "Despite military censorship, its press still enjoys latitude that is unequaled in the region.”

Reporters without borders 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Reporters without borders 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel was among the 25 countries where journalists were killed in 2010, the nonprofit organization Reporters without Borders reported in its end of year Freedom of Press Report published on December 30.
One was killed last year – Cevdet Kiliçlar, a Turkish journalist who was among those aboard the Mavi Marmara vessel during the flotilla incident in May, according to information posted on the French-based organization’s website.
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In its specific analysis of Israel’s press freedom track record in 2010, the organization writes on its website: “Israel is capable of both best and worst practice when it comes to respect for press freedom. Despite military censorship, its press still enjoys latitude that is unequaled in the region.”
Among the cases highlighted by Reporters without Borders is Israel’s arrest and incarceration for three years of Golan resident, Ata Farhat, a correspondent for Syrian public television and the daily El-Watan.
Farhat was arrested for “espionage” at his home in the Golan on July 30, 2007, and spent three years in an Israeli prison before being released last August, writes the organization, adding that this case was likely not reported by the Israeli media “because it was designated a ‘defense secret,’ with lawyers for Farhat and the media forced to keep quiet about it.”
In another case, a correspondent for Iranian Arabic-language television Al-Alam, Khader Shahine was arrested on January 5, 2009, for reporting Israel’s entry into Gaza in the evening of January 3, before censorship was lifted.
“His assistant, Mohammed Sarhan, was also arrested and on January 13, both men were charged with divulging secret information‚ and broadcasting information to the enemy in time of war,” according to the Reporters Without Borders Israel page. “They were bailed on January 15 before being sentenced on 14 June 2009 to eight months in prison, six of them suspended.”
A spokesman for the Israel Police confirmed the arrests on Tuesday.
Overall, while the Freedom of Press Report 2010 reveals that 57 journalists were killed in 2010, a fall of 25 percent from the previous year, the number of journalists subjected to all sorts of physical dangers, including arrests, death threats and kidnapping cases continues to grow.
Jean-François Julliard, secretary- general of the French-based group, said there was concern over the phenomenon of journalists being kidnapped and/or used as bargaining chips in conflict zones.
“Abductions of journalists are becoming more and more frequent and are taking place in more countries,” the organization pointed out in the report.
“For the first time, no continent escaped this evil in 2010. Journalists are turning into bargaining chips. Kidnappers take hostages in order to finance their criminal activities, make governments comply with their demands, and send a message to the public. Abduction provides them with a form of publicity.
Here again, governments must do more to identify them and bring them to justice. Otherwise reporters – national or foreign – will no longer venture into certain regions and will abandon the local population to their sad fate.”
Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.