Al Jazeera condemns Israel's 'criminal' decision to close offices

AFP , Ahram Online , Sunday 5 May 2024

​Qatar-based network Al Jazeera on Sunday condemned as "criminal" a move by the Israeli government to ban the broadcaster from operating over the coverage of the Gaza war.



"We condemn and denounce this criminal act by Israel that violates the human right to access information," Al Jazeera said in a statement on X.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier that his government has decided to shut down the s channel, with which his administration has had a long-running feud.

Netanyahu's announcement was immediately echoed by Shlomo Karai, Israel's Minister of Communications. In a statement, Karai said that Al Jazeera will be closed immediately, and its equipment will be confiscated.

The decision comes a month after Netanyahu vowed to shut down the television channel in the country following the passage of a sweeping law allowing the government to ban foreign networks perceived as posing a threat to national security.

Netanyahu said on X in early April that he intended “to act immediately in accordance with the new law” to stop the outlet’s activity in the country. 

In response, Al Jazeera – which has been producing on-the-ground reporting of Israel’s war on Gaza – slammed the decision and vowed to continue its “bold and professional coverage.”

The US State Department said it will “continue to make clear” to Israel that it supports “the work that the free press does,” including Al Jazeera.


Blocking Al Jazeera "marks an alarming escalation, and Israeli efforts restrict the freedom of the press and further limit the access that citizens of the world have to the daily realities in Israel and Palestine,” Human Rights Watch's Israel and Palestine Director Omar Shakir has said.

In an opinion piece published by the New York Times on 17 April, Jodie Ginsberg, the chief executive of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), wrote: “The high rate of journalists’ deaths and arrests, including a slew in the West Bank; laws allowing its government to shut down foreign news outlets deemed a security risk, which the prime minister has explicitly threatened to use against Al Jazeera; and its refusal to permit foreign journalists independent access to Gaza all speak to a leadership that is deliberately restricting press freedom. That is the hallmark of a dictatorship, not a democracy.”

Journalism is in the process of being eradicated in the Gaza Strip as a result of Israel’s refusal to heed calls to protect media personnel, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said. 

RSF reiterated its call to the international community to protect Palestinian journalism and step up pressure on Israel for an end to the massacre in Gaza, where more than 105 journalists have been killed since 7 October

In February, 55 journalists have sent an open letter calling on Israel to provide "free and unfettered access to Gaza for all foreign media".

The letter signed by correspondents and presenters for broadcasters with UK bases, including the BBC's Jeremy Bowen, and Lyse Doucet, said the need for comprehensive on-the-ground reporting is "imperative".

The journalists write that "foreign reporters are still being denied access to the territory, outside of the rare and escorted trips with the Israeli military".

The escorted trips are highly controlled and often only to show tunnels that the Israeli army claims are used by Hamas.

Only one foreign journalist has been granted entry into Gaza through Egypt on an escorted visit. 

The letter calls on Israel's government to "openly state its permission for international journalists to operate in Gaza".

Israel's decision on Sunday came as Qatar, which along with Egypt, plays a key diplomatic role in truce talks between Hamas and Israel.


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