Keep out, Israel warns US broadcasters

Israel has threatened legal action against CNN and NBC for ignoring military orders and broadcasting from the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, as part of the crackdown on foreign media reporting of its conflict with the Palestinians.

The Israeli government has also has revoked the accreditation of two Abu Dhabi TV journalists, after the station broadcast a story on March 31 alleging that Israeli troops executed a group of young men in Ramallah.

Israel’s government press office said it had sent written complaints to CNN and NBC, whose correspondents continued broadcasting from Ramallah after Israel declared the city a closed military zone, off limits to journalists.

“If they do not stop violating Israeli law, the state of Israel will be compelled to take the steps to which it is obliged by law,” the government press office said, without elaborating.

The government accused the Abu Dhabi TV journalists, Leileh Odeh and Bassam Azawi, of purveying “crude anti-Israel propaganda and have been taking a hostile and combative attitude, creating uproar in the Arab world”.

Abu Dhabi TV had also showed “utter disregard” for Israeli military censorship rules, the government added in a furious outburst against the satellite channel.

Broadcasters and press organisations have rounded on Israel for censoring reports following its decision to ban all journalists from the city of Ramallah on Friday.

The BBC yesterday protested to Israel after its correspondent, Orla Guerin, came under fire from an Israeli tank, which had moved in on a peace demonstration.

Millions of viewers saw her reporting on the protests when the tank turned on her forcing her to withdraw shouting, “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot”.

CBS veteran Dan Rather narrowly missed a suicide bomb attack on Monday when he and two producers drove past a checkpoint on the edge of Jerusalem, where moments later a car bomb exploded, killing the bomber and a policeman.

Hearing the explosion, the CBS team doubled back to gather footage, a CBS spokesman said.

A few hours later Rather anchored the CBS evening news from Jerusalem. He will be in Israel for a few days, depending on the news, CBS said.