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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Israeli Cabinet Votes to Ban Al Jazeera Operations in Israel Under Netanyahu

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his cabinet has unanimously voted to close broadcaster Al Jazeera’s operations in Israel.

The move came after Israeli lawmakers recently approved a new media law widely referred to as the “Al Jazeera law” that gives the government powers to ban foreign broadcasters if they are deemed a risk to state security.

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Mr Netanyahu announced the cabinet decision in a post on X, formerly Twitter, in which he called Al Jazeera “the hate channel.”

Israeli communications minister Shlomo Karhi said on Sunday that he had signed the closure order and that it would be implemented immediately.

According to Israeli reports, this means that offices in Israel could be closed, broadcasting equipment confiscated, the station removed from cable and satellite television channels, and its website blocked.

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The Israeli government had accused Al Jazeera, which is based in the Gulf emirate of Qatar and has a wide reach in the Arab world, of biased reporting on the ongoing war against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

Al Jazeera has reported extensively on the catastrophic situation in the Palestinian territory and shown images of death and destruction that are rarely seen on Israeli television stations.

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The channel also regularly shows videos of attacks on Israeli soldiers by Hamas’ military arm, the Qassam Brigades.

The channel has rejected allegations of bias and, in the past, accused Mr Netanyahu of spreading “new lies and inflammatory slanders” against the network.

Al Jazeera has also accused the Israeli military of deliberately targeting journalists on several occasions.

Netanyahu has accused Al Jazeera of “damaging Israel’s security, actively participating in the massacre on October 7, and inciting against Israeli soldiers.”

ALSO READ: Thousands of Israelis call on Netanyahu to resign over Gaza war

Al-Jazeera was founded in 1996 and is headquartered in Doha. It was one of the first Arab TV stations to publish critical reports on the region and quickly gained popularity.

The Israeli government’s efforts to ban Al Jazeera have drawn criticism from some of the country’s most prominent allies, including the United States and Germany.

The US State Department expressed irritation about the decision and reiterated support for the free press all over the world.

A German Foreign Office spokesman also criticized the so-called Al Jazeera law last month: “A free and diverse press landscape is the cornerstone of a liberal democracy.”

(dpa/NAN)

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