Israel orders Al Jazeera to shut down local operations

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TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) – Israel on Sunday ordered the local offices of Qatar’s satellite news network Al Jazeera to close, threatening to close ties between the broadcaster and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-line government amid ceasefire negotiations brokered by Doha. A long-standing feud between them intensified. Balance is maintained with Hamas.

The unusual order includes confiscating broadcasting equipment, blocking the channel’s news broadcasts and blocking its website, and is believed to be the first time Israel has shut down a foreign news organization operating in the country.

Al Jazeera cut off its connection to Israel’s main cable and satellite provider hours after the order. However, the website and multiple online streaming links remain operational on Sunday.

The network has been reporting nonstop on the Israeli-Hamas war since the militants’ first cross-border attack on October 7, amid a heavy Israeli offensive that has resulted in casualties among its staff. We provide 24-hour reporting in the Gaza Strip. The Arabian Division frequently releases verbatim video statements from Hamas and other regional extremist groups, including on-the-ground reports of casualties from the war.

“Al-Jazeera reporters violated Israel’s security and incited attacks on soldiers,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “The time has come to remove Hamas spokespersons from our country.”

Al Jazeera issued a statement pledging to “pursue all legal avenues available to us through international law institutions to protect both our rights and the right to information of journalists and the public.”

“Israel’s ongoing suppression of press freedom, which appears to be aimed at covering up its actions in the Gaza Strip, violates international and humanitarian law,” the network said. “Al Jazeera cannot be stopped if Israel directly targets journalists, kills them, arrests them, or threatens them.”

The Israeli government has taken action against individual reporters for decades since its founding in 1948, but it broadly tolerates a turbulent media scene that includes foreign outlets around the world, including Arab countries. At the start of the war, it also blocked the Beirut-based Hezbollah news channel Al-Mayadeen from broadcasting overseas.

According to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, a law passed last month allows the government to take action against Al Jazeera.

Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi later released footage online of authorities searching a hotel room broadcast by Al Jazeera in East Jerusalem, something Palestinians hope to do one day for their future state. I’m here. He said authorities had seized some of the channel’s equipment there.

“We have finally been able to stop Al Jazeera’s well-oiled demagogue that is undermining the security of the country,” Karhi said. His office announced a ban on Al Jazeera from operating in Israel for at least 45 days, which could be renewed.

The ban does not appear to affect the channel’s operations in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, where Israel exercises control but is not sovereign territory.

The decision risks escalating tensions with Qatar, at a time when the Doha government is playing a key role in mediation efforts to stop the conflict. war in gazaalong with Egypt and the United States.

Qatar has strained relations with Netanyahu, particularly after comments he made suggesting Qatar was not putting enough pressure on Hamas to loosen the terms of the ceasefire agreement. Qatar hosts exiled Hamas leaders in Doha.

Although the two sides appear to be close to an agreement, multiple rounds of negotiations so far have ended without an agreement.

Hamas condemned the Israeli government’s order in a statement on Sunday and called on international organizations to take action against Israel.

Israel’s Foreign Press Association criticized the order.

“With this decision, Israel joins the dubious club of authoritarian governments that ban broadcasters,” the newspaper said. “Today is a dark day for the media.” The New York-based Project Journalists Committee similarly warned that the move would set an “extremely worrying precedent for restricting international news organizations operating in Israel.”

Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, criticized Israel’s order as an “attack on press freedom.”

“Instead of trying to silence reporting on atrocities in Gaza, the Israeli government should stop doing so,” he added.

Israel has long had a volatile relationship with Al Jazeera, accusing it of bias. Relations deteriorated significantly about two years ago when he was an Al Jazeera correspondent. Shireen Abu Akre Killed during an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank.

Their relationship deteriorated further after the outbreak Israel’s war against Hamas On October 7, an extremist group carried out a cross-border attack in southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking 250 hostages. Since then, Israeli military operations in Gaza have killed more than 34,000 people, according to local health officials, but the numbers are not broken down between civilians and fighters.

Israeli media largely avoids the plight of the people of the Gaza Strip, focusing instead on the October 7 attack, the hostages held there, and the heroics of the Israeli military.

Meanwhile, in December, Israeli airstrikes caused deaths. al jazeera cameraman He reported on the war in southern Gaza. Wael Dadou, the channel’s Gaza bureau chief, was also injured in the same attack. Mr. Dahdu was a well-known correspondent to Palestinians during many wars and was subsequently evacuated from Gaza. Wife, three children and one grandchild killed in Israeli airstrike.

Al Jazeera was one of the few international media outlets to remain in Gaza throughout the war, broadcasting bloody scenes of airstrikes and overcrowded hospitals, and condemning the massacres committed by Israel.

However, criticism of the channel is not new. During the U.S. occupation of Iraq after the 2003 invasion toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, the U.S. government appointed the station to broadcast videos of late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. did.

Al Jazeera is closed or blocked other middle east governments.

Most notably, in 2013, Egyptian authorities raided a luxury hotel used by Al Jazeera as a base of operations following a military occupation following mass protests against President Mohamed Mursi. Three Al Jazeera employees were sentenced to 10 years in prison, but were released in 2015 following widespread international criticism.


Gambrell reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press writers Jack Jeffrey in Jerusalem and Melanie Lidman in Tel Aviv contributed.

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