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Two Arab journalists jailed for violating Israeli censorship on January's Gaza offensive

Two Arab journalists jailed for violating Israeli censorship on Gaza offensive
Kadir Shahin (3rd L) and Muhammed Sarhan (2nd R), journalists working for an Iranian television network, arrive at Jerusalem district court January 13, 2009. Israel filed charges against the two, both Israeli Arabs that reside in East Jerusalem, accusing them of allegedly reporting the beginning of Israel's ground offensive in Gaza despite a military censor's order.

The Jerusalem District Court sentenced two journalists from East Jerusalem to two months' imprisonment for their report to Iranian television about the start of the ground offensive in the Gaza Strip in January, Haaretz newspaper has reported.

The Haaretz report said: [Link]

The two were sentenced as part of a plea bargain to charges that they violated military censorship restrictions by reporting the start of the Operation Cast Lead incursion two hours before journalists were permitted to do so.

The two, reporter Kadir Shahin and his producer, Muhammed Sarhan, pleaded guilty to negligently passing information to the enemy.

The ground offensive commenced at 7:12 P.M. on January 3, and military censorship banned any reporting on the matter before 8:28 P.M. However, the two reported at 6:33 P.M. to Iran's Al-Alam television station that massive movement of armored vehicles had began toward the Strip, plus they added that artillery attacks had intensified and gave specific locations.

"Proximity and immediate broadcasting are power. And information, as was broadcast, is not only power, but is nearly equivalent to weaponry," the judges wrote in their decision. "One does not need to be an expert or have great understanding in military history in order to know that the hour at which a military operation begins is of paramount importance," they added.

The Jerusalem Post had some other details: [Link]

Shahin, 34, and Sarhan, 26, were reporting from the Israeli side of the Gaza border on January 3, when they noticed IDF soldiers preparing to enter the Hamas-controlled territory, the indictment states.

The two men, residents of east Jerusalem who work for the Ramallah-based PMCC production company, began a live broadcast on Iran's Al-Alam Arabic-language satellite TV channel detailing the soldiers' moves, even though they knew that the information had not been cleared with the censor and that it could harm the operation, the charge sheet relates.

Date posted: June 15, 2009 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 398