New York, November 4, 2011–Israeli forces arrested an unidentified number of journalists today after a group of soldiers boarded two humanitarian aid ships sailing toward Gaza and forced them to redirect to the Israeli port of Ashdod, according to news reports.
The flotilla sailed from Turkey on Wednesday, carrying US$30,000 worth of medical aid to the Gaza Strip, according to news reports. CPJ has confirmed the identities of at least three detained journalists: Lina Attallah, managing editor of the Egyptian independent daily Al-Masry al-Youm‘s English edition; Jihan Hafiz, correspondent for the U.S.-based syndicated broadcast program Democracy Now!; and Scottish journalist Hassan Ghani, who works for Iran’s Press TV. Al-Masry al-Youm said the ship’s 27 passengers will be handed over to Israeli police and immigration authorities.
“Israel must immediately disclose the names of all journalists aboard the ship and allow them to work freely,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “Israel should also refrain from confiscating any journalistic material as it has done in past raids.”
In May 2010, Israel engaged in a raid in which they stormed a convoy of ships carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip and arrested at least 20 journalists, confiscating their equipment and seizing and editing their footage of the raid, CPJ reported.