IFJ Welcomes Israel U-turn on Warning to Media over Gaza Aid Flotilla

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

today welcomed the decision of the Israeli Government to reconsider the warning

to slap a ten year ban on foreign reporters who plan to board the new aid

flotilla bound for Gaza ,in defiance of the blockaded imposed by Israel. The

decision also threatened to seize journalists' equipment.

The government announced on Monday that Prime Minister Benjamin

Netanyahu had ordered a review of the measure after widespread criticism in

media circles and representation from the Journalists' Association in Jerusalem

(JAJ), a branch of the IFJ affiliate in the country, the National Federation of

Israeli Journalists (NFIJ).

"We welcome the review of the measure and urge the

government to restrain from any action against media covering the event," said

Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "We should not have the repeat of last year's

heavy handed intervention of Israeli navy who failed to distinguish between

journalists and activists. Our members in Israel are to be commended for their

staunch defence of the rights and safety of journalists now just as they acted

with speed to assist colleagues caught in violent clashes aboard the first Gaza

aid flotilla."

According to media reports, the Israeli Deputy Prime

Minister Moshe Yaalon said that senior government officials were unaware of the

warning which was issued on Sunday by the head of the Government's press

office, Oren Helman, to media organisations. The Deputy Prime Minister

reportedly told media that the government is anxious to avoid clashes with


The warning provoked an outcry among journalists' organisations

led by the Foreign Press Association in Israel which described it as "a chilling

message that raised questions about Israel's commitment to freedom of the


In a statement, the Journalists' Association in

Jerusalem called on the Government

of Israel to cancel the decision to punish journalists who will be on board the

second Gaza flotilla. The JAJ also requested Prime Minister Netanyahu to order

the Israel Defence Forces to enable free coverage of the event.

Last year, the IFJ condemned the brutal attacks on

civilians, including journalists, by Israeli forces in the assault on a

flotilla that tried to breach the military blockade of the Gaza coastline in

Palestine. One media staff was among the nine people killed by Israeli soldiers

during the raid and many journalists were detained and had their equipment

confiscated by Israeli authorities. The JAJ coordinated the IFJ efforts to

recover the equipment .

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235

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The IFJ represents more than 600.000

journalists in 131 countries