Reporters Without Borders reiterates its urgent appeal to the Israeli authorities to release the journalists who were accompanying the Gaza-bound humanitarian flotilla that was intercepted on 31 May. According to the latest information available to the press freedom organisation, at least 60 journalists were aboard.
“We point out that the journalists were there to do their job, which was to cover what happened,” Reporters Without Borders said. “They should not be confused with the activists. Three hundred of the flotilla’s passengers are about to be deported but journalists are still being held. We call on the Israeli authorities to free all the detained journalists and return their equipment, which was seized by the military.”
Three hundred passengers are currently at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport, from where they are to be deported today. Some journalists are among them.
Reporters Without Borders has also learned that the Al Jazeera crew that was aboard the flotilla, including correspondent Abbas Nasser and cameraman Isaam Zaatar, was expelled yesterday.
Reporters Without Borders is aware of 16 journalists being held at Be’er Scheva detention centre. They are Svetoslav Ivanov and Valentin Vassilev of Bulgaria’s BTV, Muna Shester of the Kuwait News Agency, Talat Hussain of Aaj TV, Paul McGeough and Kate Geraghty of the Sydney Morning Herald, Mario Damolin of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, David Segarra of teleSUR, Ayse Sarioglu of Taraf, Murat Palavar and Hakan Albayrak of Yeni Safak, Sümeyye Ertekin, Ümit Sönmez and Ersin Esen of TVNET and Ashwad Ismail and Samsul Kamal Abdul Latip of Astro Awani.
Reporters Without Borders has tried repeatedly to get in touch with them, so far without success.
Image Courtesy of DayLife - A Gaza Aid activist displays a message on the palms of their hands as they are taken away from Ella Prison on June 1, 2010 in Beersheba, Israel. Over 500 hundred pro-Palestinian activists, many of them Turkish nationals, were held in Beersheba following the deadly clashes when Israeli forces intercepted their flotilla as it attempted to deliver aid to Gaza. - Getty Images