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In Midst of Gaza Fighting, Israel's Free Press, Taking Aim at Nation's Own Military Assault, Flourishes

Mourners on July 30, 2014, carry the body of a victim of an Israeli airstrike, which Palestinians said hit a United Nations school in the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza. Source AFP
Mourners on July 30, 2014, carry the body of a victim of an Israeli airstrike, which Palestinians said hit a United Nations school in the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza. Source AFP
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Israel’s military, taking a page from the United States, is controlling access that members of the media have to closely report on the fighting in Gaza.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • A Haaretz newspaper columnist who called on Israeli Air Force pilots to disobey orders and refuse to carry out bombings was widely criticized, but published.
    • The Israeli military is controlling media access to the fighting in an attempt to create positive coverage of the conflict.
    • The Handelsblatt columnist in Israel thinks the country’s media has largely suspended critical reporting in favor of solidarity and unanimity during wartime.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

The Israeli left-liberal newspaper Haaretz recently published a commentary by Gideon Levy. His column two weeks ago about the war in Gaza was so controversial and against the mainstream that Mr. Levy said he has received death threats. In several interviews, he said he dared go into the streets only when accompanied by a bodyguard. The journalist’s column drew an extremely bad reaction from most Israelis.

In the piece, titled “Lowest Deeds from the Highest Heights,” Mr. Levy urged Israeli Air Force pilots to refuse to carry out orders to drop bombs on the Gaza Strip. “Israel’s ‘heroic’ pilots have their fingers on buttons and joysticks; they are fighting against the most weak and helpless people,” he wrote.

Mr. Levy, who for years has been among the very few to report in an Israeli newspaper about the fates of individual Palestinians, enraged many people with his critical article, but he was not silenced. Even as radical a statement as the call to disobey orders in wartime was considered fit to print. No censuring authority intervened to suppress the criticism. The editorial staff of Haaretz did nothing to prevent the appearance of Mr. Levy’s op-ed.

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