Have I mentioned here that Israel is barring reporters from getting into Gaza?
Today in The New York Times, correspondent Ethan Bronner gets a top Israeli spokesman to explain why:
“Any journalist who enters Gaza becomes a fig leaf and front for the Hamas terror organization, and I see no reason why we should help that.”
As I have written here before, in all my years of covering Gaza, I have never had a Hamas minder and never had Hamas try to censor my copy (while, in fact, I and other reporters here operate under Israeli censorship rules).
In the past, Hamas has arrested, detained and tried to intimidate local Palestinian journalists, which makes it all-the-more-important to have outside reporters there to cover what's going on.
Take the case of attack on the UN schools. There have been eyewitness reports that Hamas militants were firing mortars near the UN compound. The AP spoke to the people by phone.
The inability of reporters to get to the scene, to talk to survivors at the hospital, to see the aftermath of the attack makes it much more difficult to figure out what really happened.
In this case, independent international eyes could have helped shed more light on what even the Israeli government admits was a horrible tragedy.
(Photo of Danny Seaman, courtesy of Israel Government Press Office.)