3 Israeli Reporters Probed Over Travel to Syria, Lebanon

The Israel Police recently investigated three journalists suspected of unauthorized travel to enemy states Syria and Lebanon to report for some of the country's main media outlets.

Ron Ben Yishai, who has reported many times from countries with which Israel has no relations, was sent by Yedioth Ahronoth to Syria two months ago, shortly after Israeli planes attacked what was identified in the foreign press as a nuclear facility. Tzur Sheizaf visited Lebanon for Maariv and Channel 10 television, and Lisa Goldman reported from Lebanon for Channel 10.

Ben Yishai and Goldman were questioned last month, and Sheizaf was questioned yesterday. The police said in a statement yesterday that the National Serious and International Crimes Unit is investigating journalists who traveled to Arab countries without obtaining permits from the Interior Ministry, as required by law.

"The police take a grave view of Israeli citizens traveling to enemy countries, even if this is done on foreign passports they hold. Besides endangering their own lives, traveling to enemy countries also poses a danger to national security," the statement said.

The offense is punishable by up to four years in prison, under the Infiltration Prevention Law, the police said.

One theory that has been floated is that the main motive for querying the journalists is a desire by the police and State Prosecutor's Office to signal that they do not practice a double standard. The police had summoned for questioning Arab citizens of Israel, including several members of the Knesset who had visited Syria and Lebanon.