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Israeli Media Are Silenced On Prisoner Affair

Jerusalem (AP) — Israel’s military censor, which has long served as the country’s guardian of state secrets, is suddenly under the microscope following a pair of sensitive reports broken by the international media.

An Australian broadcaster’s story this week about the suspicious death of an Australian-Israeli prisoner held by Israel, following foreign reports of an Israeli airstrike in Syria last month, have revealed the limits of Israel’s decades-long censorship rules and court-imposed gag orders. In today’s Internet age, many are now asking whether these restrictions are even relevant.

The idea behind the objections is that in today’s communications environment, when everybody is essentially a publisher with a potentially worldwide audience, to censor “the media” is somehow akin to censoring conversation itself, which Israel, as a democracy, would never conceive of doing.

The censorship office, which emerged from an agreement between editors and the government in the 1950s, has long wielded heavy control over reporting of Israel’s military and intelligence forays abroad and over domestic affairs it wants to keep under wraps.