UK

Broadcast journalists send open letter calling for foreign media access to Gaza

The broadcasters represented are Sky News, the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, CNN, ABC, NBC, and CBS.

Palestinians walk through the destruction left by the Israeli air and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip in Gaza City on February 10 (AP Photo/Mohammed Hajjar)
Gaza city Palestinians walk through the destruction left by the Israeli air and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip in Gaza City on February 10 (AP Photo/Mohammed Hajjar) (Mohammed Hajjar/AP)

A group of more than 50 broadcast journalists have sent an open letter to the embassies of Israel and Egypt calling for “free and unfettered access” to Gaza for foreign media.

The letter, sent by correspondents and presenters from the main broadcasting outlets based in the UK, also appeals for better protection for journalists already reporting in the territory.

The broadcasters represented are Sky News, the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, CNN, ABC, NBC, and CBS.

From those outlets, 55 journalists signed the letter, including Sky News’s Alex Crawford, the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen, Orla Guerin and Fergal Keane, and CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

They wrote: “Almost five months into the war in Gaza, foreign reporters are still being denied access to the territory, outside of the rare and escorted trips with the Israeli military.

“We urge the Governments of Israel and Egypt to allow free and unfettered access to Gaza for all foreign media.

“We call on the government of Israel to openly state its permission for international journalists to operate in Gaza and for the Egyptian authorities to allow international journalists access to the Rafah Crossing.”

Some journalists have been invited to briefly “embed” with the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) for escorted tours inside Gaza, though they could not talk to any of the Palestinians there, Crawford wrote in a Sky News article.

The letter continued: “There is intense global interest in the events in Gaza and for now the only reporting has come from journalists who were already based there.

“It’s vital that local journalists’ safety is respected and that their efforts are bolstered by the journalism of members of the international media. The need for comprehensive on the ground reporting of the conflict is imperative.

“The risks of conflict reporting are well understood by our organisations who have decades of experience of reporting in warzones around the world and in previous wars in Gaza.”

Crawford said it is understood that roughly more than 20 journalists have been killed every month in Gaza since October 7.

She wrote: “Our journalist colleagues in Gaza who we’ve been talking to on a daily basis and on whose work everyone is relying, need to be – and should be – protected in times of war.

“They are incredibly brave and suffering monumental stress while doing their jobs in extremely dangerous circumstances, all while trying to protect their families, find food, water and somewhere to sleep or shelter. Their deaths and injuries should be an uncontroversial matter of great concern.”

Bowen, the BBC’s Middle East editor said on Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent programme: “I can only surmise that Israel is not allowing reporters to work freely inside Gaza, because their soldiers are doing things they do not want us to see.”

He added: “Reports from foreign journalists might back up Israel’s assertion that, to use a common phrase in Israel, ‘they are the most moral army in the world’, or foreign journalists might uncover evidence that backs up those allegations of war crimes as well as the even more serious one of genocide – ’til we get in, we’ll never know.”