Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) at a February 5 meeting in Jerusalem with French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne. Israeli media have reported that Netanyahu is seeking to make it illegal to publish leaked details from security cabinet meetings without military approval. (Photo: Pool via Reuters/Gil Cohen-Magen)

CPJ calls for Israel to halt war censorship plans

Washington D.C., February 16, 2024—The Committee to Protect Journalists expressed concern on Friday about Israeli government plans to make it illegal to publish leaked details from security cabinet meetings without approval from the military censor, saying this restriction would severely damage press freedom.

“We urge Israel to drop this plan and ensure that the media can report freely. The Israeli government must not hide information about its conduct in the Israel-Gaza war,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “We need press freedom in time of war and in time of peace. It is our firewall for democracy and our antidote to the fog of war. Censorship must end both in Israel and Gaza.”

CPJ has documented numerous cases of censorship, threats, and intimidation against Israeli and Palestinian journalists since the start of the war.

Israeli forces have killed an unprecedented number of journalists since October 7, refused to give any guarantees to international news organizations regarding the safety of their employees in Gaza, and only allow foreign media to enter Gaza on escorted military tours provided they agree to submit pre-publication coverage for military approval. In January, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected a petition by the Foreign Press Association for military authorities to allow foreign journalists to report inside Gaza.