By Daniella Peled
January 20, 2009
Haaretz reports that the misguided decision to bar all journalists from Gaza during Operation Cast Lead was down to the edict of the Prime Minister’s Office. The High Court itself ruled against the ban; by last week both the IDF and the Defence Ministry said that journalists could be allowed in. But the PMO stood firm.
Of course, Olmert has got form in this area. During his visit to London last month, he barred JC special correspondent Anshel Pfeffer from all his press briefings. Why? Because seven years before, while Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem, Pfeffer had publicly criticised him over the Versailles disaster, where poor construction led to the collapse of a wedding hall in which 23 people were killed.
I was also banned from all the media events with Olmert. Why? Because the week before, the JC ran a front-page piece revealing that his visit had been deemed to be entirely pointless by senior officials from both Israel and the UK.
This ridiculous prime ministerial broiges was of course on an entirely different scale than the ban on media in Gaza. But it is telling that a disgraced leader feels the need for such paranoia towards the media. And his ill-judged exclusion of the media is hardly going to help with the growing accusations that, hidden from the world’s gaze, Israel was carrying out war crimes in Gaza.