As the death toll mounts and passions spike, the Foreign Press Association in Israel condemned on Wednesday what it called “deliberate official and unofficial incitement against journalists” who are reporting on the fighting in Gaza. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/24/world/middleeast/foreign-correspondents-in-israel-are-targets-of-intimidation.html?ref=world That includes “forcible attempts to prevent journalists and TV crews from carrying out their news assignments,” the association said.
The statement was released as some Israelis, apparently incensed by what they see as reporting on the Israeli offensive in Gaza that is overly sympathetic to Palestinians, have started to take their frustration out directly on foreign correspondents.
One example cited by the press association was an assault Tuesday on a reporter for BBC Arabic, Firas Khatib, who was shoved during a live report from the city of Ashkelon, a frequent target of rockets fired from Gaza.
The irate Israeli man who burst into the live shot called Mr. Khatib a “son of a whore” during the assault. A BBC spokesman said in an email, “Firas was unharmed and will continue reporting as normal.”
Last week, as Israel launched its ground invasion of Gaza, the CNN correspondent Diana Magnay reported live from a hilltop in Sderot where residents have gathered day after day to cheer Israeli strikes on their Palestinian neighbors.
Later, she reported on Twitter that some of the spectators on the hill had threatened to destroy her crew’s car “if I say a word wrong.” In her subsequently deleted update to Twitter, Ms. Magnay called those who had tried to intimidate her “Scum.”
Ms. Magnay was pulled from her post after the incident and reassigned to Moscow.
The press association also complained on Wednesday about an Israeli military attack the day before on the offices of Al Jazeera “on the 11th floor of a known commercial center” in Gaza City. Although the Israel Defense Forces apologized and promised to investigate the attack, it took place just one day after Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Liberman, called the network “the mainstay of the Hamas propaganda system” that “has abandoned even the semblance of a reliable media outlet, and broadcasts, to Gaza and the world, anti-Israeli incitement, lies, provocations and encouragement to terrorists.”
Mr. Liberman said Israel was re-evaluating the status of Al Jazeera, “with the intention of preventing it from operating in Israel.”
“Just as Great Britain would not permit Der Stürmer to establish a television channel to broadcast from London, and the United States would not permit an Al Qaeda channel to broadcast from New York,” the foreign minister said, “so must we act in order to prevent Al Jazeera from broadcasting from Israel.”
The treatment of foreign correspondents in Gaza has been generally more positive, as citizens there hope that a clear picture of their suffering will force the outside world to come to their aid. As the bombardment continued this week, however, Jonathan Miller of Britain’s Channel 4 News reported that some residents of the destroyed Gaza City neighborhood of Shejaiya treated his crew
Also on Wednesday, the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, which monitors conditions in the Palestinian territories, said that the state radio network had refused to broadcast a public service announcement in which the names of Palestinian children killed in the Gaza offensive were read aloud.
Sarit Michaeli, a spokeswoman for the group, said in an email that “Israeli media avoids reporting anything other than” the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza.
To humanize the victims, she wrote, “we approached Israeli Radio in order to buy ads listing the names of these children. The radio refused us, claiming that these adverts were ‘politically controversial.’ But the refusal to give these dead children names is not a neutral act. It is a way of silencing public debate in Israeli society about the terrible civilian death toll in Gaza.”
Blocked from the airwaves, B’Tselem posted one of the ads online and asked supporters to share the audio, in which the names of the dead were read out.