U.N. calls for foreign journalists to enter Gaza

The United Nations has called on Israel to open Gaza to international journalists, a vital step that CPJ sought from the Israelis earlier this week. Yesterday, the U.N.’s chief of communications and public information urged the Israeli government to “ensure immediate access for international media into Gaza.”

On Tuesday, we wrote to Defense Minister Ehud Barak to urge him to allow access for the hundreds of journalists who have poured into Israel since the military campaign began on December 27. Israeli citizens, including reporters, have been forbidden from entering Gaza for the past two years, and the government began barring international journalists two months ago. 

In a letter to Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., Kiyo Akasaka, undersecretary-general for communications and public information, wrote: “Access to objective and factual information is of vital importance at all times, and plays a particularly important role in emergency situations.”

Below is an excerpt from the U.N.’s official statement:

Citing reports, including from the Foreign Press Association of Israel, that international media are not being allowed access to Gaza, Mr. Akasaka reminds the Israeli Government of the right to information enshrined in article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

He also recalls Security Council resolution 1738, in which the 15-member body urged all parties involved in situations of armed conflict to respect the professional independence and rights of journalists.

Member States have expressed a keen interest in what is taking place in Gaza, he states, adding that it is “of great importance to all concerned that international reporting be allowed to take place so that accurate information about the situation can inform global responses.”

A chorus of UN officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, have repeatedly called for an immediate halt to the fighting in Gaza and stressed the need to ensure humanitarian access to assist the 1.5 million civilians struggling amid rapidly deteriorating conditions.