Israel top court rejects foreign media appeal for Gaza access

Israel top court rejects foreign media appeal for Gaza access
Israel's Supreme Court has denied international media organisations' appeal for independent access to Gaza.
3 min read
09 January, 2024
The court argued the restrictions were justified on "security grounds" [Getty]

Israel's Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by international media organisations to allow independent access for journalists to the war-torn Gaza Strip.

Israel controls entry to the besieged Palestinian territory and has not allowed journalists to travel there independently since the start of its onslaught on 7 October.

The court argued the restrictions were justified on "security grounds", as the independent entry of journalists could "endanger" Israeli forces.

In its ruling handed down on Monday, the court said allowing journalists inside Gaza could "give away" operational details, including troop locations, in a way that could "put them in real danger".

The Foreign Press Association (FPA) in Jerusalem, which floated the petition as a representative of dozens of international media organisations in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, said it was "disappointed" by the ruling.

"Israel's ban on independent foreign press access to Gaza, for 95 days straight, is unprecedented," the FPA said in a statement on Tuesday.

The court said it was seeking to find a balance between the safety of journalists and soldiers with the "freedom of the press".

It stressed that only some foreign and Israeli journalists were given limited access to Gaza under Israeli military escort.

But the FPA said the military escorts have been limited to select foreign media and are highly controlled.

Journalists from some US corporate media outlets - including Fox News and CNN, were embedded in the Israeli army and escorted into Gaza.

However, it was under the condition that Israeli military commanders reviewed all materials and footage recorded by the journalists before it was published.

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"We believe Israel's concerns about reporting on troop positions do not withstand scrutiny at a time when Palestinian journalists continue to operate in Gaza, and when it is vital for the foreign press to access areas of Gaza where troops are not present," the FPA said.

At least 112 journalists and media professionals have been killed since Israel's war began more than three months ago, a death toll that is thought to be the highest in the history of modern wars.

The International Criminal Court said on Tuesday it was investigating potential crimes against journalists since the outbreak of war on October 7.

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On Sunday, Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera said an Israeli strike killed two of its Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip.

After the latest deaths, the United Nations rights office said Monday that it was "very concerned" by the high death toll of media workers in the territory.

Israel's indiscriminate and relentless war on Gaza has killed over 23,000 Palestinians - 70 percent of whom were women and children, and wounded at least 58,926 people.