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Media blackout continues; no foreign journalists allowed into Gaza

Jan. 6, 2009 11:13 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 6, 2009 11:13 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - Despite a 1 January decision to allow foreign journalists into Gaza, not one has been able to enter the area.

A petition was handed to the Israeli High Court by the Foreign Press Association in Israel, demanding that Israel cease their media blackout in Gaza, imposed since early November.

Israeli officials announced on New Year's Day that they would allow eight journalists at a time into the Gaza Strip through the northern Erez crossing, "When it is open."

The crossing was scheduled to be open briefly when Israel was set to allow almost 250 Gazans holding foreign passports out of the area. The crossing was cancelled due to the security situation in the area, and access denied to the journalists wishing to enter the Strip. Israeli sources said officers at the crossing were too busy processing the Gazans leaving the area to work on allowing access to the foreign press.

A small handful of international journalists are currently in Gaza, having refused to leave the area despite Israeli warnings that the crossings would be closed and they would be unable to leave. Several international news agencies have hired local journalists to report from the area, since they are prohibited from leaving the area by Israel.

The foreign journalists who demanded access to the Gaza Strip are for the most part now reporting from the border area outside Gaza.

The FPA demanded that journalists be allowed into the area, and accused Israel of allowing reporters to cover only "one side" of the conflict.

The organization was responsible for compiling a list of journalists to be allowed into Gaza, and confirms that not one has been allowed in despite thorough security checks. The FPA will not make the names public until the journalists are safely in Gaza.

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