PM Netanyahu vows to ban Al Jazeera news broadcast in Israel

AFP , Ahram Online , Monday 1 Apr 2024

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged Monday to enact a ban on broadcasts in Israel from the news channel Al Jazeera using authority lawmakers have just voted to grant him.

Al-Jazeera channel s Jerusalem office
An employee of TV channel Al-Jazeera is seen at the channel's Jerusalem office. AFP


The potential ban is a fresh escalation in the running conflict between Israel's government and the Qatari channel during Israel's war on Gaza.

The White House said it was concerned by the move to ban broadcasts of Al Jazeera.

"I'm going to refer to Israel for what they may or may not be considering," said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

"If it is true, a move like this is concerning."

Israel claimed in January that an Al Jazeera staff journalist and a freelancer killed in an air strike in Gaza were "terror operatives."

The following month it claimed, also without providing evidence, another journalist for the channel, wounded in a separate strike, was a "deputy company commander" with Hamas.

Al Jazeera has fiercely denied Israel's accusations and accused Israel of systematically targeting Al Jazeera employees in the Gaza Strip.

"I intend to act immediately by the new law to stop the channel's activities," Netanyahu said on X, formerly Twitter.

The law giving Netanyahu this authority, which passed on Monday by 70 votes to 10, carries the power to ban the broadcast of content from foreign channels but also allows the closing of their offices in Israel.

Netanyahu's Likud party said he asked "to make sure that the law to close Al Jazeera will be approved this evening" in Israel's Knesset.

In December, Al Jazeera's bureau chief in the Palestinian territory, Wael Al-Dahdouh, was also wounded in an Israeli strike that killed the network's cameraman.

Israel has also killed Al-Dahdouh's sons, daughter, and grandson in other attacks.

The Israel war on Gaza war has taken a severe toll on journalists in all sorts of media outlets.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) preliminary investigations showed that Israel killed at least 90 journalists and media workers in Gaza and three in Lebanon since 7 October.

The press advocacy group is also investigating numerous reports of other journalists killed, missing, detained, hurt, and threatened by Israel.

It is also investigating damage by Israeli bombardment to media offices and journalists’ homes.

Shireen Abu Akleh

In 2022, the Israeli army killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh with a bullet to the back of the head while covering an Israeli military incursion in Jenin in the occupied West Bank.

A CNN investigation unearthed evidence – including two videos of the scene of the shooting – that there was no active combat, nor any Palestinian militants, near Abu Akleh in the moments leading up to her death.

A UN independent commission that examined the killing of Abu Akleh, concluded in October 2023 that Israeli forces used lethal force without justification under international human rights law and, intentionally or recklessly, violated Abu Akleh's right to life.

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