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5 May, 2024 13:46

Israeli government shuts down Al Jazeera

The Qatar-based news channel has called the decision “dangerous” and politically motivated
Israeli government shuts down Al Jazeera

The cabinet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has unanimously voted to halt the operations in Israel of Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera, the government has said in a statement.

Israel has long accused Al Jazeera, which remains one of the few international news channels to have correspondents on the ground in Gaza, of showing bias against it and of cooperating with Hamas militants. The broadcaster has been denying the accusations.

Netanyahu took to X (formerly Twitter) on Sunday to announce the development, writing that “the government headed by me unanimously decided: the incitement channel Al Jazeera will be closed in Israel.”

Shortly after that, Israel’s Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi said that he had signed the orders to restrict the broadcaster’s operations, which would be effective immediately.

The hardware “used to deliver the channel’s content,” including editing and routing equipment, cameras, laptops and some mobile phones, is going to be seized, Karhi wrote on X.

The Israeli government’s decision is in line with a law passed by the country’s parliament, the Knesset, in April, which allows for temporary closure in Israel of foreign broadcasters deemed a threat to national security during the conflict in Gaza. According to the legislation, the ban requires recertification every 45 days.

The head of Al Jazeera in Israel and the Palestinian territories, Walid Omary, insisted that the move by Netanyahu’s cabinet was “dangerous” and motivated solely by political considerations. The broadcaster’s legal team is preparing a response to the ban, Omary told Reuters.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Gaza, Hani Mahmoud, said that Palestinians are perceiving the shutdown of the news channel as “a desperate move to prevent fair coverage of what’s going on on the ground” in the enclave.

Al Jazeera has “documented the atrocities” and “acts that go against international human rights law,” Mahmoud claimed, adding that this was “something that did not really sit well with the Israeli government.”

The death toll from Israel’s ongoing airstrikes and ground offensive in Gaza has already reached 34,654 people, while 77,908 others have been wounded, according to the Palestinian enclave’s health ministry. The campaign was launched in response to the October 7 Hamas cross-border attack on Israel, in which at least 1,200 people were killed and 250 taken hostage.