Reporters Without Borders urges the Israeli authorities to release a list of the journalists who were arrested during yesterday’s raid on the humanitarian flotilla and to say where they are being held.
There were at least 15 foreign journalists travelling with the flotilla who still cannot be reached directly. These are the names of the journalists known to have been aboard the flotilla:
• Reporter Svetoslav Ivanov and cameraman Valentin Vassilev of Bulgarian television station BTV
• Muna Shester of the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)
• Talat Hussain, a presenter with Pakistan’s Aaj TV
• Sydney Morning Herald correspondent Paul McGeough and photographer Kate Geraghty.
• Al Jazeera correspondent Abbas Nasser and cameraman Isaam Zaatar
• Mario Damolin, a freelancer working for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
According to the latest information, he is now held in Be'er Scheva.
• David Segarra of TeleSUR
• Reporter Ayse Sarioglu of the daily Taraf
• Reporter Murat Palavar of the Islamist daily Yeni Safak (New Dawn)
• TVNET foreign news chief Sümeyye Ertekin, producer Ümit Sönmez and cameraman Ersin Esen.
An Al Jazeera TV crew was meanwhile attacked by Israeli citizens in the port of Ashdod yesterday after the defence minister gave a news conference about the attack on the flotilla. Walid Al-Omri, Al Jazeera’s bureau chief in the Palestinian territories, was injured in the attack, which followed virulent criticism of the Qatar-based TV station in the Israeli media.
31.05.10 - Israeli military prevents media from covering assault on humanitarian flotilla
Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns the censorship attempts that accompanied today’s deadly assault by Israel on a flotilla that was carrying humanitarian aid, 750 pro-Palestinian activists and several journalists to the Gaza Strip.
“We deplore this assault, which left a heavy toll of dead and wounded,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The journalists who were on the flotilla to cover the humanitarian operation were put in harm’s way by this disproportionate reaction. We urge the Israeli authorities to release the detained journalists and allow them unrestricted access to the Gaza Strip. The international community needs accurate information about this Palestinian Territory.”
At least 19 passengers were killed and 36 were wounded when Israeli naval commandoes stormed the “freedom flotilla.” It was transporting humanitarian supplies and consumers goods for the Gaza population, which has been under an Israeli blockade for nearly four years.
“Hundreds of Israeli soldiers attacked the flotilla and the captain of our boat is seriously injured,” Al Jazeera correspondent Abbas Nasser reported in his last call to his TV station’s headquarters in Qatar before communications were severed.
Two Bulgarian journalists working for the Bulgarian television station BTV were arrested during the assault. Bulgarian news media identified them as reporter Svetoslav Ivanov and cameraman Valentin Vassilev. Aaj TV presenter Talat Hussain was also on the flotilla. There is still no news of him. The Israeli authorities have forbidden all the journalists to enter the Gaza Strip.
Israeli public radio reported in the course of the morning that the authorities had banned the media from providing any information about the dead and wounded, who were taken to hospitals in Israel. The censorship order was lifted at around midday.