On Jerusalem Day, Israel Police Limits Photographers to 'Secure Pens'

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Marchers in the streets of the capital during Sunday's Jerusalem Day events.
Marchers in the streets of the capital during Sunday's Jerusalem Day events.Credit: Nir Hasson

Ahead of Sunday's Jerusalem Day celebrations in the capital, the police informed photographers covering the events that they could only do so from designated areas surrounded by security services, the Israeli media watchdog the Seventh Eye reported.

The central event of the day's celebrations, the march through the Old city – including its Muslim Quarter – known as the Flag March, would only be covered from four pens erected along the route of the march, which the police called "communications areas."

"We will be kept in a closed area and they will take us wherever they want and whenever they want," one photographer told the Seventh Eye. "And there's nothing we can do about it because they use the excuse of national security or public safety."

The practice of quarantining photographers was initiated at last year's Jerusalem Day events, after clashes between police and photographers the previous year. Photographers say that there's nothing new about the police's methods, which are part of a trend that has been developing since the second intifada.

"The Israel Police go to extraordinary lengths to prevent photographers from covering the Jerusalem Day events and interfere with their ability to fully document its handling of and involvement in violent events," a photographer said.

A police spokesman said in response that there was no basis to the claims of the photographers. The police, she added, had simply held a briefing for foreign journalists in Israel during which it explained all the activities that would be undertaken by the police to ensure effective and transparent coverage of the Jerusalem Day events.

"Contrary to the unfounded allegations, secure areas were presented for the good of the photographers; defined areas in central locations from which it will be possible to cover all the events securely.

"It was made clear that the movement of photographers and reporters would not be regulated in the correct balance, as long as it does not interfere with operational deployment."

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