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Al Jazeera faces ‘security threat’ ban as Israel passes new law

In Europe
April 02, 2024
<span>After the law was passed, Benjamin Netanyahu posted on X that Al Jazeera would no longer be broadcast from Israel.</span><span>Photograph: Ronen Zvulun/EPA</span>” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/xKy2a96Q1j3l_JL4akbYbA–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/theguardian_763/3df12bf660d6d37410be49beb6bd293e” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/xKy2a96Q1j3l_JL4akbYbA–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/theguardian_763/3df12bf660d6d37410be49beb6bd293e”></div></div></div><p><figcaption class=After the law was passed, Benjamin Netanyahu posted on X that Al Jazeera would no longer be broadcast from Israel.Photograph: Ronen Zvulun/EPA

Israeli legislators have approved a bill paving the way for a ban on Al Jazeera and other international news outlets perceived as posing a threat to security.

After the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, promised to take prompt measures to force the end of Al Jazeera’s operations within the country, parliament granted senior ministers authority to shut down foreign news networks.

Netanyahu confirmed the decision on social media, declaring that the Qatari satellite television station will no longer be aired in Israel and vowing immediate action under the new law.

“Al Jazeera will no longer be broadcast from Israel,” Netanyahu wrote in a post on X after the law was approved in its final readings on Monday. “I intend to act immediately in accordance with the new law to stop the channel’s activity.”

Telecommunications minister, Shlomo Karhi, announced that the closure of Al Jazeera was imminent.

Al Jazeera condemned Netanyahu’s remarks, calling them “a dangerous and ridiculous lie” and saying they were the prime minister’s justification “for the ongoing assault” on the media network and press freedom. In a statement, the network vowed to persist in its reporting with “boldness and professionalism”.

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre expressed concern about the ban.

“We believe in the freedom of the press. It is critical. It is critically important, and the United States supports the critically important work journalists do around the world, and that includes those who are reporting on the conflict in Gaza,” Jean-Pierre told reporters.

“So, we believe that work is important. The freedom of the press is important. And if those reports are true, it is concerning to us.”

Al Jazeera, which has been fiercely critical of Israel’s military operation in Gaza, has previously accused Israel of systematically targeting its offices and personnel.

Karhi accused Al Jazeera of encouraging hostilities against Israel.

“It is impossible to tolerate a media outlet, with press credentials from the government press office and with offices in Israel, acting from within against us, certainly in wartime,” he said.

This is not the first time Israel has threatened the use of emergency regulations to crack down on Al Jazeera’s operations in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

In mid-October, Israel’s government approved wartime regulations permitting the temporary closure of foreign media outlets that were viewed as posing a threat to the nation’s interests.

At that time, Karhi said he anticipated that the measures would be directed at Al Jazeera, which has been broadcasting live from Gaza during theconflict with Israel.

Several press freedom organisations criticised the moves to close down Al Jazeera and other media entities.

Israel has frequently clashed with Al Jazeera, which maintains offices in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

In 2017, Israel vowed to expel Al Jazeera’s journalists, shut down its offices and prevent it from broadcasting.

The then communications minister, Ayoob Kara, accused the network of fostering violence, particularly in relation to issues concerning al-Aqsa mosque.

In 2022, Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli forces while reporting in Jenin, located in the occupied West Bank.

In January, Al Jazeera accused Israel of the targeted killing of two of its journalists in Gaza.

Hamza Dahdouh and Mustafa Thuria were killed while on assignment for Al Jazeera, while a third freelancer, Hazem Rajab, was wounded.

Dahdouh was the eldest son of Al Jazeera’s bureau chief in Gaza, Wael Dahdouh, whose wife, two other children and a grandson were killed by a previous Israeli strike in October.

According to Reporters Without Borders, 103 Palestinian journalists have been killed by the Israel Defense Forces since Hamas launched its attack on Israel, sparking the war in Gaza.

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