UK broadcast journalists demand open access to Gaza

UK broadcast journalists demand open access to Gaza

GAZA (AFP): More than 50 UK-based broadcast journalists have sent an open letter to the Israeli and Egyptian embassies calling for “free and unfettered access” to Gaza for foreign media, British media reported Wednesday.

The letter, from 55 correspondents and presenters from the main broadcasting outlets based in the UK, appealed for better protection for journalists already reporting in the territory.

“Almost five months into the war in Gaza, foreign reporters are still being denied access to the territory, outside of the rare and escorted trips with the Israeli military,” said the letter, quoted by multiple local media outlets.

“We urge the Governments of Israel and Egypt to allow free and unfettered access to Gaza for all foreign media.”

It called on Israel to openly state its permission for international journalists to operate in Gaza and for the Egyptian authorities to allow international journalists access to the Rafah Crossing between Egypt and Gaza.

Journalists who signed the letter include Alex Crawford from Sky News, Jeremy Bowen from the BBC and Christiane Amanpour from CNN.

Although some journalists have been invited to briefly “embed” with the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) for escorted tours inside Gaza, they have been prohibited from talking to any of the Palestinians there.

“There is intense global interest in the events in Gaza and for now the only reporting has come from journalists who were already based there,” said the letter.

“It’s vital that local journalists’ safety is respected and that their efforts are bolstered by the journalism of members of the international media.

“The need for comprehensive on the ground reporting of the conflict is imperative.”

United Nations reports indicate that at least 122 journalists and other media workers have been killed and many others wounded in the Gaza Strip since war erupted there following Hamas’s deadly attacks inside Israel on October 7.

The Palestinian militants also killed four Israeli journalists on October 7, while three journalists have been killed by Israeli shelling on the Lebanese side of their border.

Israel’s supreme court on January 9 rejected a request from international media for free access to Gaza.

The fighting in Gaza was triggered by Hamas militants’ assault on southern Israel, the worst since the country’s 1948 founding. Around 1,140 people died in the attack, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said on Wednesday that at least 29,954 people have been killed in the Palestinian territory during the war between militants and Israel.

The toll includes at least 76 deaths in the past 24 hours, while 70,325 people have been wounded since the conflict began on October 7, a ministry statement said.