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Gov´t To Limit Media Coverage of Expulsion

Some Israeli media have denounced as "unreasonable" government plans to severely restrict free press coverage during the scheduled expulsion of Jewish residents from 25 communities this summer.
First Publish: 3/18/2005, 12:51 PM / Last Update: 3/18/2005, 1:41 PM

The army has announced the Gaza and northern Samaria communities to be evacuated will be closed military zones. Radio, television and newspaper reporters will not be allowed to move from one community to another without permission and a military escort.

The only journalists who will be allowed to enter the communities will be "embedded" with military personnel who will restrict photographers. "Wherever there are cameras, passions are ignited," explained an army spokesman.

The IDF insists it has no intentions to gag the press. One of the army's explanations for the restrictions is that each community is "too small" to accommodate all the reporters. The major communities range in size from several dozen to several hundred families and cover hundreds of acres.

Israeli Channel 10 commentator Alon Ben-David accused the government of trying to "dictate to us where to go." Another reporter said the limits are "unreasonable."

The government already has announced that beginning at a date to be announced, it will not allow non-residents into the area, thus preventing a massive resistance effort planned by opponents to the program. Beginning next week, Israelis will be forbidden from officially moving to the affected communities. In recent weeks, hundreds of people have officially changed their addresses to Gush Katif, in order that they not be restricted from entering the area at any time in the coming months.