The Sunday Tribune was refused entry to the Gaza strip last week by the Israeli authorities despite having the correct press accreditation and letter from the Israeli embassy in Dublin recommending this newspaper be granted admission.
This newspaper travelled to the Middle East on the invitation of Irish charity Trócaire last week to write a series of reports about the work Trócaire supports in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.
The Sunday Tribune's trip was arranged before an Irish vessel, the MV Rachel Corrie, was among a flotilla of ships that were intercepted and denied entry to Gaza to drop off aid supplies to the region three weeks ago.
Nine Turkish men on board a ship that was part of the aid flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, were shot dead by the Israeli military.
Trócaire was informed by the Israeli Embassy of Ireland that the Sunday Tribune would be granted admission to Gaza on the basis of a letter of recommendation from the embassy.
However, the Israeli authorities decided to refuse to grant our entry into the Gaza strip. Through unofficial channels, we learned that the Israeli foreign office took the view that Trócaire was a "political group" and they did not want a journalist and photographer journeying with them into Gaza.
Three Trócaire staff members were permitted to enter Gaza while the Sunday Tribune returned home early. Trócaire's Emer Mullins said: "It is the three-year anniversary this month of the Israeli military blockade of Gaza and to mark this we invited the Sunday Tribune to travel with us to the region to report on the work we do to support the ordinary people living here who are in need of assistance.
"We went through all the correct official channels that should have ensured the journalist and photographer got into Gaza and it is an outrage that they were refused. The Israeli embassy advised us on how to facilitate the journalists' entry but despite this, the Israeli authorities decided to ignore its embassy's own recommendation. We utterly reject the claim that we are a political organisation. We are an Irish aid agency for social justice and human rights," she said.
"Trócaire has facilitated getting media into areas all over the world and we have never come across this before. The Sunday Tribune followed the protocol of the Israeli embassy in Dublin but the Israeli authorities decided to ignore the two journalists' valid press credentials," Mullins added.