Israel Orders Closure of Local Operations of Al Jazeera and Seizes Equipment

Israel ordered Al Jazeera, a news network from Qatar, to close its local offices on Sunday. This comes amid ongoing tension between the network and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. Al Jazeera’s coverage of cease-fire negotiations between Israel and Hamas, mediated by Qatar, has been a point of contention.

This is a significant move by Israel, marking the first time it has shut down a foreign news outlet in the country. The order includes seizing broadcast equipment, stopping the channel’s reports, and blocking its websites. While Al Jazeera was removed from Israel’s main cable and satellite providers, its website and online streaming links remained active.

Al Jazeera has been covering the conflict between Israel and Hamas extensively, providing 24-hour coverage in the Gaza Strip. However, Israel accuses the network of harming its security and inciting against its soldiers. Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that it’s time to remove what he calls the “Hamas mouthpiece” from the country.

Prime Minister Netanyahu

In response, Al Jazeera vowed to pursue legal action to protect its rights and journalists. It condemned Israel’s actions as a suppression of the free press and a violation of international law.

While Israel has previously taken action against individual reporters, this move targets an entire news network. A law passed last month allows the government to take such action against Al Jazeera.

The decision hasn’t affected Al Jazeera’s operations in the West Bank or Gaza, but it could strain relations between Israel and Qatar. Qatar has been involved in mediation efforts to halt the conflict.

Israel Orders Closure of Local Operations of Al Jazeera and Seizes Equipment
Al Jazeera office

Hamas condemned Israel’s decision, calling for international organizations to take action. The Foreign Press Association in Israel and the Committee to Protect Journalists criticized the move, seeing it as an attack on press freedom.

Israel has accused Al Jazeera of bias in its reporting. Relations soured further when an Al Jazeera correspondent was killed during an Israeli military raid in the West Bank. Since the start of the conflict, an Al Jazeera cameraman was also killed in Gaza.

Relations between Israel and Al Jazeera worsened after Israel’s conflict with Hamas began on October 7. The conflict started when Hamas attacked southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking 250 others hostage. Since then, Israel’s military campaign in Gaza has resulted in over 34,000 deaths, according to local health officials.

Al Jazeera has been one of the few international media outlets to remain in Gaza during all the conflict (Credits: Al-Jazeera)

Israeli media has largely focused on the attack by Hamas and heroic stories of the Israeli military, rather than the suffering in Gaza.

In December, an Israeli airstrike killed an Al Jazeera cameraman and wounded the network’s bureau chief in Gaza, Wael Dahdouh. Dahdouh, a well-known correspondent, later left Gaza after losing his wife, three children, and a grandson in Israeli strikes.

Al Jazeera has been one of the few international media outlets to remain in Gaza throughout the conflict, showing scenes of airstrikes and crowded hospitals and accusing Israel of massacres.

Criticism of Al Jazeera isn’t new. During the U.S. occupation of Iraq in 2003, the U.S. government targeted the network for airing videos of Osama bin Laden. Al Jazeera has also faced closures or blocks by other Middle Eastern governments.

In 2013, Egyptian authorities raided a hotel used by Al Jazeera after mass protests against President Mohammed Morsi. Three Al Jazeera staff members were sentenced to 10 years in prison but were released in 2015 due to international criticism.

Sajda Parveen
Sajda Parveen
Sajda Praveen is a market expert. She has over 6 years of experience in the field and she shares her expertise with readers. You can reach out to her at [email protected]
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