Israel Restores Press Credentials to 2 Suspended Foreign Reporters

The Israeli government has restored the press cards of two foreign correspondents whose credentials were suspended last month for bypassing military censorship rules.

Ian Black of the British newspaper The Guardian and Carol Rosenberg of The Miami Herald claimed at the time they were merely transmitting material published in the Israeli press on a Nov. 5 training accident at Tze’elim in the Negev that killed five soldiers in an elite unit and wounded five more.

The exercise, which, it later emerged, had been observed by the Israeli army chief of staff, triggered what has been called a war of the generals over responsibility for the mishap.

A preliminary inquiry panel singled out three officers for responsibility in the fatal accident, which is under ongoing investigation by the military police.

The suspension of the press credentials of the two foreign correspondents by the Israel Government Press Office was widely condemned by the media worldwide and led to calls by Israelis for review of censorship procedures.

The Government Press Office decided to return the cards because it was “favorably impressed” with the behavior of the two journalists concerned, said the office’s director, Uri Dromi.

Both reporters said withdrawal of their credentials had not affected their work, although Black described the move as “unpleasant and manipulative.”

Rosenberg said she had spent most of the last month in Somalia and had not needed her card.

Israeli military censors are now studying a plan to issue warnings to correspondents on “unpublishable material” rather than leaving the decision on whether to submit copy to the censor to the reporters themselves, said Dromi.

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