So this is what Israeli democracy has come to: an Israeli journalist, covering one of the most important news stories facing her country, is arrested. On what charge? Basically, doing her job:
Israel Police on Tuesday detained Haaretz correspondent Amira Hass upon her exit from the Gaza Strip, where she had been living and reporting over the last few months.
Hass was arrested and taken in for questioning immediately after crossing the border, for violating a law which forbids residence in an enemy state. She was released on bail after promising not to enter the Gaza Strip over the next 30 days.
Hass is the first Israeli journalist to enter the Gaza Strip in more than two years, since the Israel Defense Forces issued an entry ban following the abduction of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in a 2006 cross-border raid by Palestinian militants.
Last December, Hass was arrested by soldiers at the Erez Checkpoint as she tried to cross into Israel after having entered the Gaza Strip aboard a ship run by peace activists from Europe.
She decided to challenge Israel’s refusal to allow its own nation’s journalists cover Gaza, where no Israeli had reported for the past two years. That means during Operation Drop Dead (Cast Lead) and other Israeli incursions, while a few brave foreign reporters covered the conflict, no Israeli could do so. Their own country was prosecuting a devastating war against the Gazan people, yet no one could enter and tell Israelis what was happening.
Brava to Amira Hass. We must muster all the support we can for her. Go to the phonebook and look up the phone number for your local Israeli consulate or embassy. Call and tell them to drop the charges against her immediately.
This is nothing more than the rightist goons of the Israeli police and Bibiphiles thumping their chests and, like good gorillas everywhere, establishing their dominance (of the political process). The Israeli military and intelligence can brook no opposition, no chinks in the national consensus against Hamas. Anyone who challenges prevailing views much be criminalized. This is what they did to Azmi Bishara in their whispering campaign against him (with no charges filed), and Jeff Halper when he took the Free Gaza ship and later returned to Israel.
Undoubtedly, the police will decide not to pursue these charges. But the fact that they levelled them at all is disturbing, especially in a country that likes to call itself (inaccurately) the only democracy in the Middle East. And lest we make the mistake of only criticizing Israel, we should remember that the last time Hass visited Gaza she was detained and hustled out of the place by Hamas goons who were frightened that an Israeli journalist actually was interested in reporting on their plight for an Israeli audience. The thought must’ve sent shivers up and down their spine.
H/t to Joel Katz