"Representatives of Israel’s Ministry of Tourism, the official host of the eight day visit by the Chilean miners who survived a record 69 days underground following an August 2010 cave-in at the San Jose copper-gold mine, refused entry to to Connie Hackbarth, Executive Director of the Alternative Information Center (AIC). Officials told her that only journalists formally recognized by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) were permitted to attend the press conference, and then only if they had received invitations via the GPO and confirmed their attendance. Hackbarth’s comments about the crucial importance of independent journalists, as clearly seen recently in Tunisia, Egypt and now Libya, were ignored and she was told not to be “ideological” and “to stop wasting (our) time”.
Despite Israeli government assurances that the visit by the Chilean miners would not be a “circus”, the massive presence of “official” journalists at the press conference and the planned conduct of a private party for Castellano-language journalists on 24 February clearly demonstrate Israeli intentions: to derive the maximum public relations benefit from the visit.
Chile is home to the largest Palestinian community outside of the Middle East, numbered at some 300,000.
Numerous Palestinian civil society organizations requested the miners not to accept Israel’s invitation to visit, or to combine it with a visit to the occupied Palestinian Territory with Palestinian guides."