Foreign Policy Blogs

Access a Problem for Israeli Journalists

Last week, award-winning journalist Amira Hass was arrested after returning from four months of reporting in the Palestinian Authority. Hass, who reports for Ha’aretz newspaper, was not held long after being arrested, but her case highlights a major problem for journalists in the region: access. Or lack of. It’s illegal for Israeli journalists to go to the Palestinian Authority areas to do their jobs.

According to a release from Reporters Without Borders on Hass’s case:

Reporters Without Borders condemns Israeli newspaper reporter Amira Hass’s arrest at the Erez border crossing yesterday as she returned to Israel after spending four months in the Gaza Strip reporting for the Tel Aviv-based daily Haaretz in violation of a military ban on Israeli citizens visiting the Palestinian Territories.

“Her arrest is disturbing,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Hass clearly violated Israeli law by residing in the Gaza Strip for four months, but Israel’s blanket ban on Israeli citizens entering the occupied Palestinian Territories obstructs the work of its journalists and violates press freedom.”

Hass told Reporters Without Borders that the Israeli police arrested her at about 4 p.m. yesterday as she was leaving the Gaza Strip on a charge of “illegally entering enemy state.” With her lawyer and the newspaper’s deputy editor present, she was questioned for three hours but limited her answers to confirming her identity.

She said she was finally released on condition that she would not try to reenter the Gaza Strip by any means or route. But she added that “the ban is only valid for 30 days.”

Hass entered the Gaza Strip by the southern Rafah border crossing at her newspaper’s request four months ago and wrote many stories about the impact of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead (from 27 December to 18 January) on the territory’s population.

The question remains of how the people of Israel can gain access to news about their neighbors—their lives are intertwined on some level. Hass’s case is only the most recent chapter in an ongoing struggle for press access in the region.



Genevieve Belmaker

Genevieve Belmaker is a freelance journalist and contributing editor with The Epoch Times ( She also contributes to Quill, the magazine of the Society of Professional Journalists and Her blog on journalism is

Genevieve has traveled throughout the U.S., Asia, Central America, Israel and the West Bank for reporting assignments, including major investigative reports on the recovery of New Orleans, the encroaching presence of China in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, the dangerous import of melamine-contaminated milk into the U.S. and settlement outposts in the West Bank. She regularly reports on issues related to journalism, and the work of journalists.

She holds a BA from the University of Southern California in International Relations, and has been a member of several prominent national and international professional media organizations, including the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the International Women’s Media Foundation, the New York Press Club, and the Newswomen’s Club of New York. She lives in Jerusalem, Israel with her husband and son.

Areas of Focus:
New Media; Journalism; Culture and Society