Chaos. When it erupts, opinions and perspectives become skewed. Amid the tension of violence and war, while bombs blast and life is on the line, those affected do not naturally stop to take a step back and assess the situation fairly. This is why the presence of trained, professional members of the press is a necessity in a conflict situation such as the current fiasco in the Gaza Strip region.
As of the morning of Jan. 14, after 18 days of raging conflict in the Gaza Strip region, nearly 1,000 lives sounded the death toll and more than 4,300 injuries had been tallied. According to the New York Times last Thursday, the United Nations declared a suspension of its aid operations following the death of two drivers behind the wheel of United Nations-flagged vehicles. The drivers were coordinating their movements with the Israeli military. The Red Cross, an international organization, has scolded Israel for its policies.
When the ceasefire between Gaza and Israel began to collapse a month ago, the Israeli defense ministry closed access to the Gaza Strip region to all foreign journalists, for security reasons. On Tuesday, 17 journalists and media activists responded. Organized by the Doha Centre for Media Freedoms, the group rode a bus to Egypt’s Rafah border crossing with Gaza in an effort to defy Israel’s restrictions.
The attempt proved unsuccessful and journalists continue to fight for the ability to cover the raging war. On Jan. 15, Israel’s supreme court will hear a petition brought by the Foreign Press Association demanding that Israel allow reporters into Gaza to cover the conflict.
At City on a Hill Press, we commend the Doha Centre for Media Freedoms as well as the Foreign Press Association for their efforts on behalf of journalism. We are not an authority on the topic of the Israel-Palestine conflict and do not intend to comment on the conflict one way or another. We do think, however, that Israel was wrong to ban foreign journalists from entering the Gaza Strip. News coverage and public information are essential witnesses to any conflict.
When it comes down to it, there will either be journalists on the scene, pledged to honesty, attempting to portray the truth in an unbiased way, or civilians and soldiers plagued by violence telling the tales of war.
It is by way of the press that the outside world takes note or even hears about a conflict such as the current quarrel between Israel and Palestine. It is important that foreign journalists, who do not live in the region and do not have a vested interest in either country, be on the scene reporting.
Journalists, of course, are human beings. This renders perfect objectivity impossible. However, a foreign journalist pledged to portray the truth is less likely to taint a story with a bias than a person whose world is being torn apart by the confusion and brutality of a conflict like that of Israel and Palestine.
A world without reporting and public access to information is blind and deaf. It is by way of journalism and public access to the truth that the world connects. It is not guaranteed that the truth will always be achieved through journalism, but the freedom for the press to make an effort is vital. At the very least, the reporting of foreign journalists opens the topic of the conflict up for discussion. It is necessary for the world to hear and see and bear witness to bloody conflict. It is through the awareness of the world that change can eventually appear. Public information will set us free.