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 Israel Says Journalists Onboard Freedom Flotilla Will Not Be Allowed Into Israel

Monday June 27, 2011 05:33 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC News & Agencies

In another escalation against the Freedom Flotilla, heading to deliver humanitarian supplies to the Gaza Strip, the Israeli government stated Sunday that journalists, who are onboard the Freedom Flotilla 2 will be denied entry into Israel up to ten years.

Israeli paper, Maariv, reported Sunday that the Israeli Government Press Office issued a release stating that all foreign reporters who are part of the Flotilla “are violating the Israeli law”, and could be denied entry to “Israel” for up to ten years, in addition to other sanctions and penalties.

Maariv added that the latest declaration by the Israeli government comes as part of the ongoing Israeli attempts to prevent the flotilla from reaching Gaza.

The Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) said that the Freedom Flotilla is a “dangerous provocative act run by fundamentalist foreign and Islamic groups that support the Hamas movements, known around the world as a terror group”.

The GPO claimed that foreign reporters who wish to report on the flotilla “can enter Israel legally, and head to the Ashdod Port”, but should not board the ships.

On Saturday evening, the first ship of the flotilla, carrying the name Dignity, left France through the Corsica Port. The Luis Michael French Ship, that sailed earlier, had already docked in Greece.

Mazin Kahil, coordinator of the European Campaign Against the Siege, said that some of the ships are facing technical issues that could delay their sail this week.

The Freedom Flotilla coalition declared it is determined to sail to the besieged Gaza Strip to deliver humanitarian supplies despite Israel's threats to intercept and attack the ships.

On Sunday, Ireland declared that the Israeli siege on Gaza is “unjust and counterproductive”, but also advised its citizens to refrain from joining the flotilla on the Irish boat MV Saorise, Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported.

Following a meeting with Israel’s Ambassador to Dublin, Boaz Moda, Irish Foreign Minister, Eamon Gilmore, called on Israel to avoid military force in what he called “upholding the blockade on Gaza”. Haaretz said.

Twenty-five Irish nationals, including former and current members of the Irish and the European parliament, union leaders and former Irish Rugby international player, Trevor Hogan, will be boarding the Satires Irish Ship.

Ships from the United States, Canada, France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden, are also part of the Freedom Flotilla II, and intend to deliver urgently medical supplies and equipment.

Israeli Journalist, Amira Hass, is participating in the Flotilla on The Tahrir (Liberation) Canadian ship.

On Sunday, Hass published an article on Haaretz detailing the training that she and other participants are engaging in to prepare for an anticipated violent Israeli assault on the Freedom Flotilla.

They practiced nonviolent tactics and said that they are prepared for whatever will happen. All participants signed a nonviolence pledge.

On May 31, 2010, Israel attacked the Turkish Mavi Marmara, part of the Freedom Flotilla, killing nine Turkish activists, including a Turkish activist who carried U.S. citizenship.

An investigation by the Turkish government of last year's Israeli attack released its results two weeks ago, showing that the nine men killed were hit by 30 bullets fired at close range, with five of the men killed by shots to the head.

The 19-year old American citizen who was killed, Furqan Dogan, was killed by five bullets fired at a distance of 45 cm to his face, the back of his head, his leg and his back.

Journalists criticize Israel’s threats against media covering Gaza flotilla

[ 27/06/2011 - 12:39 PM ]

Journalists say Israel’s fresh threats to take dire sanctions against media covering the upcoming Gaza flotilla raise “serious questions about Israel’s commitment” to press freedom.

The statement issued by the Foreign Press Association in Israel was in response to a letter by the Government Press Office threatening to bar journalists joining the flotilla from entering the 1948-occupied territories for ten years.

The FPA statement says the “threat to punish journalists covering the Gaza flotilla sends a chilling message to the international media and raises serious questions about Israel’s commitment to freedom of the press”.

“Journalists covering a legitimate news event should be allowed to do their jobs without threats and intimidation,” the statement adds.

More than forty Western and Arab media outlets are set to join the flotilla.

“The Israeli threats, which conflict with all standards of human values, will not deter the peace activists on board the ships from achieving their objective of reaching Gaza, and they will not stop journalists and media organizations from carrying out their professional role in covering the international event,” said Khadir al-Mashayikh, the media official of the ship from Jordan scheduled to join the flotilla.

He called the threats “further evidence of the falsehood of Tel Aviv’s democracy claims”.

The source recalled that one of those killed during Israel’s military raid of flotilla’s predecessor in 2010 was a Turkish journalist who was filming the attack. The military force also confiscated all of the cameras on board and cut the ship’s internet connection.

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