Text size

The Israel Defense Forces' refusal to allow reporters into the combat zones in the Gaza Strip is making it difficult for journalists, including television stations interested in broadcasting video from the field, to cover the fighting in Gaza.

The IDF ban is forcing journalists to rely on reports from Israeli soldiers and the IDF spokesman. Even Palestinian reporters who live in the Strip are having trouble covering the fighting because it is difficult for them to leave their homes or the buildings from which they're broadcasting.

As a consequence, journalists are not really getting an overall picture of the fighting, and are forced to piece stories together based on statements from Palestinian residents and IDF soldiers. This can affect important details in reporting, such as the number of Palestinian civilians killed.

The official number of fatalities is determined by the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas. After the Israeli bombing of a school in Jabalya on Tuesday, which killed at least 30 Palestinians, the ministry announced that a total of about 640 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the IDF operation, on December 27. But the ministry does not provide any statistics regarding how many of the fatalities are Hamas gunmen killed in clashes with the IDF and how many are non-combatants, and has even said that since the ground incursion began Saturday, all the Palestinians killed have been civilians.

In addition, Hamas leaders and operatives are in hiding for most of the day and are barely giving interviews, and cell-phone service in Gaza has been cut off for hours at a time since Monday, two factors that make it difficult to maintain contact with Palestinian sources.