Reporters on the Job

Disengagement Glimpsed : The closure of the Gaza Strip Thursday was triggered by a group of Israeli activists who had set up camp in an abandoned seaside hotel (see story). Correspondent Joshua Mitnick had been following the group for two weeks, and went to interview the occupants of the hotel on Wednesday. "I joined a tour group of American religious students in Jerusalem here for the summer. The activists at the hotel gave them a pitch to come and join them," says Josh. "They told them that God wouldn't penalize Jews helping their brother Jews."

After that, Josh visited a Palestinian house a few miles away that had been take over by the hotel activists. "They were throwing stones at the Palestinians living next door," he says. "They were trying to provoke an incident."

He returned to his home in Tel Aviv Wednesday, and awoke Thursday to reports that the Gaza Strip had been declared a closed military zone. He called the Israeli army media office and was told that he would be able to move freely, but just couldn't enter the area near the hotel. "When I got to the border between Gaza and Israel, there was an Israeli army roadblock," he says. "Several other reporters were also stuck there. We waited for two hours before we were bused to within about a mile of the hotel. I managed to jump into a passing civilian car that the army allowed to pass through the roadblock and was able to talk to one person being evacuated.

"This looks like a preview of the disengagement from Gaza. If so, it's going to be difficult to cover this pullout first hand. The army has been assuring journalists it will allow us as much access as possible. The reality on the ground was very different today."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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