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Friday, May 15, 2009

Journalist Arrested for Breaking Military Law

Israeli newspaper reporter Amira Hass's was arrested at the Erez border crossing on 12 May as she returned to Israel after four months in the Gaza Strip reporting for the Tel Aviv-based daily "Haaretz". She remained in Palestinian Territories in violation of a military ban on Israeli citizens visiting the Palestinian Territories.

"Hass clearly violated Israeli law by residing in the Gaza Strip for four months, but Israel's blanket ban on Israeli citizens entering the occupied Palestinian Territories obstructs the work of its journalists and violates press freedom."

Hass told Reporters Without Borders that the Israeli police arrested her at about 4 p.m. (local time) as she was leaving the Gaza Strip on a charge of "illegally entering enemy territory."

With her lawyer and the newspaper's deputy editor present, she was questioned for three hours but limited her answers to confirming her identity.

She said she was finally released on condition that she would not try to re-enter the Gaza Strip by any means or route. But she added that "the ban is only valid for 30 days."

For further information contact Soazig Dollet, RSF, 47, rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris, France, tel: +33 1 44 83 84 78, fax: +33 1 45 23 11 51, e-mail: middle-east@rsf.org, Internet: http://www.rsf.org

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