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Israel 'banning' entry of bulletproof vests for journalists in Gaza

April 19, 2016 10:14 P.M. (Updated: April 20, 2016 11:14 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Israel has been banning the import of flak jackets into the Gaza Strip, a local committee for Palestinian journalists in Gaza said Tuesday.

“Arab and international groups have repeatedly tried to bring bulletproof vests and helmets into the Gaza Strip to help provide safe and professional environment for journalists, but Israeli authorities always impede the process,” the committee said in a statement.

It called for Israel to be held fully accountable for any harm that might befall to the hundreds of journalists who report from the Gaza Strip, “without bulletproof vests to protect them from gunshots and missiles fired by the Israeli forces during clashes with Palestinians.”

The statement added that several journalists had been injured on the job because they weren’t wearing bulletproof vests.

The committee called on the International Federation of Journalists, UNESCO, Reporters without Borders and other organizations to pressure Israel to abide to international conventions instead of “turning a blind eye to international laws and humanitarian values.”

Responding to a request for comment from Ma’an, a spokesperson for the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said that "bulletproof vests are dual-use devices whose entry requires examinations of the security establishment.”

“When we get a request to (allow entrance to) vests, we shall examine it with the security protocols," she added.

On Saturday, the Committee to Support Palestinian Journalists said that Israel had detained 43 journalists in the occupied Palestinian territory since October 2015, including two foreign reporters.

In a statement released in March, Palestinian media freedoms group MADA said it was “highly concerned” by recent Israeli resolutions targeting Palestinian media, saying it neglected “the main reason for the whole conflict, which is the continuous occupation and all systematic violations against Palestinian people.”

The watchdog also released a report last month showing that 2015 had seen an “unprecedented” increase in Israeli violations against Palestinian journalists across the occupied Palestinian territory.
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