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December 14, 2023

CNN’s Clarissa Ward enters Gaza in defiance of ban

By Clara Aberneithie

Chief international correspondent for CNN Clarissa Ward has become one of the first Western journalists to report from Gaza during the current conflict in defiance of a media ban.

Since 7 October, the Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza has been closed, prohibiting journalists from entering. The Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza has not permitted journalists to cross since the war started.

However, Ward has made her way in. So far, at least 63 journalists have been killed during the Israel-Hamas, the vast majority killed by Israeli action.

She said: “We enjoyed a very privileged position on this occasion, we did feel relatively safe, we were only on the ground for a matter of hours.”

Reporting on the damage she saw, Ward added: “I can honestly say I don’t think we’ve ever seen it quite on this scale.”

The ban on international reporters has resulted in a reliance on Palestinian journalists, aid and health workers, and social media for updates.

Israel has repeatedly cut off phone communications and internet from Gaza during the war.

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Israel has permitted some journalists to enter, but only under the supervision of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF).

Stories covered on these visits must be reviewed by Israel, prompting concerns about accuracy. The BBC, Channel 4 and CNN are among those to have reported via the IDF. In an interview for CNN’s ‘Tug of War’ podcast, CNN reporter Jeremy Diamond explained his experience of entering Gaza with the IDF in early November.

He said: “We operated under the observation of Israeli commanders in the field. We weren’t allowed to move unaccompanied within Gaza. And as a condition of entering Gaza under escort with the IDF, we also had to submit all of our materials and footage to the Israeli military for review before publication.

“I think it’s important to note that the Israeli military only asked us to delete one piece of footage which showed sensitive military technology on one of their armoured personnel carriers.”

The Foreign Press Association (FPA), an NGO representing international journalists reporting from Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, has challenged Israel’s ban.

In a statement, it said: “Israel has always enabled access to Gaza during and after previous rounds of fighting.

“It also is legally obligated, under a previous supreme court ruling.” In 2008, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that journalists must be allowed entry into Gaza even during ongoing conflict.

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