Dozens Of High-Profile Journalists Urge ‘Unfettered’ Access To Gaza Strip

Dozens of high-profile news anchors and correspondents from around the world wrote to the Israeli and Egyptian governments Wednesday, urging them to grant “unfettered” access to the Gaza Strip in order to report on the ongoing war there.

“We urge the Governments of Israel and Egypt to allow free and unfettered access to Gaza for all foreign media,” stated the letter, which was addressed to the Israeli and Egyptian embassies in the United Kingdom. Neither government immediately responded to HuffPost’s request for comment on the letter.

“We call on the government of Israel to openly state its permission for international journalists to operate in Gaza and for the Egyptian authorities to allow international journalists to access the Rafah Crossing.”

Despite global interest in the war, foreign reporters were “still being denied access” outside of rare “escorted trips” with the Israeli military, the letter noted, and otherwise, “the only reporting has come from journalists who were already based there.”

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 89 Palestinian journalists and media workers have been killed since Oct. 7, when Hamas militants staged a bloody attack in Israel, which in turn retaliated with a massive air assault and invasion of the Strip.

Among the prominent signatories to the letter are CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, NBC News’ Richard Engel, and the BBC’s Nick Robinson. In all, the letter has more than 50 signatories from outlets including ABC, CBS, Sky News, Channel 4 and ITN.

CNN’s Clarissa Ward, who marked a rare exception to the foreign non-escorted media blackout in Gaza when she embedded with a United Arab Emirates field hospital crew that entered the Strip in December, also signed the letter.

“This letter is the latest in a series of efforts we have made as international correspondents to be allowed access to Gaza to report independently,” Ward wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. In January, in a Washington Post opinion piece, she noted that a similar call for access from multiple Western outlets to the Israeli and Egyptian governments “went unanswered,” and that the Israel Supreme Court rejected a petition for foreign reporters to access the Strip.

According to respective government authorities, casualties in Israel from the Hamas attack were around 1,200 — in addition to around 240 captives taken into Gaza — and Palestinian casualties in Gaza now approach 30,000.

“It’s vital that local journalists’ safety is respected and that their efforts are bolstered by the journalism of members of the international media,” the correspondents’ letter stated. “The need for comprehensive on the ground reporting of the conflict is imperative.”

The letter, a copy of which was posted online by CBS News Foreign correspondent Debora Patta, a signatory, concluded by noting that news organizations understood the risks involved with conflict reporting.

Currently, international journalists are only occasionally allowed into Gaza as part of escorted trips with the Israeli military — and the resulting reporting material must be approved before publication by the military.

“The army has full control over who goes in, where you go and what you see,” Josef Federman, The Associated Press’s news director for Israel, the Palestinian Territories, and Jordan told Voice of America earlier this month.

In October, the Israeli government told Reuters and Agence France Presse that given the circumstances in Gaza, “we cannot guarantee your employees’ safety, and strongly urge you to take all necessary measures for their safety.”