TEL AVIV (Mar. 15)
The Israel Defense Force plans to take punitive action against journalists who file what it contends are false reports of events in the administered territories.
This was confirmed Tuesday by the IDF’s chief spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ephraim Lapid, who said the measures would be applied against both Israeli reporters and foreign correspondents.
But the National Federation of Israeli Journalists has vowed to fight any government attempt to punish reporters whose copy it dislikes.
The federation noted Monday that the IDF has recourse to the Press Council or the federation’s own ethics committee if it feels there has been a misrepresentation of facts. But the journalists professional association said it would not allow the government to be “both the accuser and the judge.”
According to Lapid, the IDF’s purpose is to combat what it claims is an increasing number of false news reports from the West Bank and Gaza Strip that do damage to its image.
An example cited was a report that Palestinians have been thrown out of helicopters. The IDF spokesman said there is “absolutely no truth” to such reports. He said there have been exhaustive investigations of every rumor.
The question of local press coverage may become moot if the Press Workers Union carries out its announced plans to strike Israeli newspapers “for an indefinite period” beginning Friday.
The issue is a threat by the Publishers Association to insist on separate wage negotiations at each newspaper, instead of the collective bargaining in force until now.