Frustrated reporters still trying to enter Gaza Strip

January 22nd, 2009 - 3:28 am ICT by IANS  

Rafah crossing (Egypt), Jan 22 (DPA) Around 40 journalists and humanitarian aid workers were stuck Wednesday, some of them for the third day running, at the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, waiting to enter the coastal enclave.Israel blocked journalists from entering the Gaza Strip through its Erez crossing during the entire three weeks of fighting and has since only let in a limited number, forcing many reporters to try their luck via Rafah, Gaza’s main entry point to, and exit point from, the outside world.

While the crossing point functioned as an entry point into the Gaza Strip for a few days, by Monday afternoon it too was closed to reporters, many of whom had arrived there after travelling hundreds of kilometres, via Cairo, from the Israel-Gaza border.

As they milled around between piles of personal baggage and metal boxes of television equipment, or sat chain-smoking in the little tea shop that is the crossing point’s only source of refreshment, the journalists expressed frustration at being unable to report on the situation in the Gaza Strip following Israel’s 22-day offensive.

“The entire war we’ve been at borders,” says the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen, who, like nearly all foreign journalists, covered the Israeli offensive from the Israeli border with Gaza.

“I’m fed up with borders, I want to get inside Gaza,” he says.

Human rights observers like Mark Garlasco of Human Rights Watch, have not been allowed in through Erez at all.

“From day one, from the beginning of the conflict, Israel barred our entry. We made another push after the ceasefire, but were again barred,” said Gaslasco.

For many, as time slips away, there is a concern that reporting will be negatively affected and the ability to investigate allegations made during the conflict will no longer be possible.

“Israel’s desire to withhold access from human rights observers will backfire. The truth will eventually get out, but may allow Hamas time to cover up acts which may have placed it in violation of the Geneva convention,” he says.

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