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
Brave actions warrant a surge of support. This is a brave young woman to take on a goose stepping state especially when she knows what they are capable of.
I must be very naive but there is one part of this article I do not understand.
‘ 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.’
If you could just go to my blog and post an answer at any of my recent pieces, I would appreciate it. Why would they not want the Israeli people to know what life is like in Gaza at this time? I know they are not exactly people I would like to have as neighbours, none of the leaders in the Middle East appeal much, but why is this worded in this fashion?
I have been doing a lot of work on and about Palestine but not dug too much into the Hamas issue other than to understand “thug” can be very applicable and to feel that the common people are very much caught in an untenable situation, but Arafat had sold them out too. Thanks for your help.
Richard Silverstein says
Not all Hamas leaders or members are thugs or goons. But the ones who hustled Hass out of Gaza that particular day were. There are some who are terribly threatened by any Jew or Israeli who genuinely attempts to find common cause with them. Some have a narrative that suspects any Israeli of either being Mossad or having some ulterior motive. That’s what I was being critical of in my statement.
Bruno Leicht says
I just read your comment in google-groups about the impersonator / stalker of yours.
The very same thing is happening to me since more than two years. Did you find a solution?
Thanks for a reply and keep up the good work,
for violating a law which forbids residence in an enemy state.
Well then Israeli police has much work in future. All settlers in the West Bank must be arrested on the same grounds or Israeli law system is a “joke” (which it interestingly is).
State is a sovereign political entity, a well-defined jurisdiction, with its own set of laws and courts or a sub-national political entity in several countries. So if Israeli law system (but obviously not the political system) sees Gaza as a sovereign state the interesting question is why the other part of the same entity, West Bank, is not and how can Israel behave against the state Gaza as it does. In any case the international law experts will have amusing times ahead when analysing what Israel’s “declaration” that Gaza is a state means.
Israel is increasingly using methods against critics and less “loyal” press which we can see in countries like Burma, Zimbabwe etc. House arrests, detentions on very suspicious grounds and not allowing even Jewish critics to enter the country.
Richard (not Silverstein) says
So Amira Hass (I’m not sure if she is Ashknazi, or Sephardi, or Druze, or ‘Arabic’) Has been arrested by ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’.
By the charges she faces, it seems that Israel already accepts that Gaza is ‘an enemy state’.
That’s quite a confession for the Israelis.
IIRC, a while ago Israel unilaterally designated Gaza an “enemy entity”, not a state. I’m at a loss though if there’s a consistent legal definition of “entity”, what it is, and if this designation has any legal standing.
Pretty Pink Unicorns says
Amirah is the daughter of two survivors of the Bergen-Belsen death camp, and hence most likely an Ashkenazi.
I thought she’d been hustled out of Gaza by Hamas because they felt they couldn’t vouch for her safety at that time. What was she to fear though: Hamas (she’s critic of Israel but also of Hamas) or Israeli strikes? Either way, a dead Israeli journalist on their hands would be terribly hard to deal with.