Thursday, June 3, 2010

Israel Censors News on Deadly Flotilla Raid

By Mel Frykberg

"TEL AVIV, Jun 3, 2010 (IPS) - Attempts by media to interview some of the hundreds of Free Gaza (FG) members, who were being deported from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport, Wednesday, were thwarted by Israeli authorities.

"No you will not be able to talk to them or interview them," Shahar Ariel, a deputy-spokesman from Israel’s ministry of foreign affairs told IPS as TV crews and journalists jammed one of the airport’s sidewalks and filmed the dramatic departure...

Some of the details leaked out, but journalists were forbidden from talking to the wounded in the hospitals with Israeli Defence Force (IDF) soldiers stationed in hospital corridors to enforce the blackout.

Reporters Without Borders (RWB) reported that at least 60 of the approximately 700 passengers on board the FG flotilla were journalists and slammed the treatment of the media.

"We point out that the journalists were there to do their job, which was to cover what happened. They should not be confused with the activists," RWB said.

Some of the reporters on board the boats were assaulted and their equipment confiscated or destroyed. They were amongst the last to be released by the Israeli authorities.

"We tried to race ahead of the commandos so that we could send out pictures of the dead and wounded to the international media," Huwaida Arraf, FG’s chairwoman, told IPS. "But our satellite phones had stopped functioning. The Israelis had scrambled the signals to prevent us communicating with the outside world.''

"It was clear from the beginning that Israel was trying to control the media coverage of the event to present its version of events to the world.

"As soon as the commandos boarded they confiscated our mobiles, recording and video devices and then started filming instead," Arraf told IPS......"

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