The major Qatari-based news channel Al Jazeera is about to be shut down in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank by Israeli authorities. It has been accused of “helping Hamas” and encouraging violence against Israel. The ban is likely to include a raid on its offices in Israel.
The Israeli government on Friday approved “emergency regulations” giving it the power to shut down foreign news agencies which are deemed to be acting against the “security of the state”.
The first target for shutdown is believed to be Al Jazeera, given its staunchly pro-Palestinian news coverage, which has also rejected Israel’s denial of the Al Ahli Arab Hospital bombing and mass casualties. Media outlets ranging from i24 News to Times of Israel are reporting that Al Jazeera is the prime target.
The channel is the largest Arabic language news outlet in the world, and also is a prime global source for English-language updates from within Gaza.
Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi has emphasized that Israel was at war on “land, in the air, at sea, and on the public diplomacy front”.
“The regulations are retroactive, meaning broadcasts by the Qatari network since the war started can now be used as the basis for a decision to shut down the staunchly pro-Palestinian news outlet’s local branch.”
Karhi called out the major Middle East news outlet by name in his fresh comments. “We will not allow in any way broadcasts that harm the security of the state… The broadcasts and reports of Al Jazeera constitute incitement against Israel, help Hamas-ISIS and the terror organizations with their propaganda, and encourage violence against Israel.”
Israel’s communications and defense ministers have reportedly agreed to the following sweeping emergency powers:
- Israel will be able to order TV providers to stop broadcasting the news outlet in question;
- close its offices in Israel, seize its equipment, and
- shut down its website or restrict access to its website, depending on the location of its server.
Al Jazeera has frequently alleged that Israel’s military targets its correspondents in the field, as was the case with slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who had been shot in the head by Israeli forces while covering a raid on Jenin in the West Bank in May 2022.
🚨JUST IN: Al Jazeera Network Condemns Israel’s Attack on the Press:
“We condemn the new Israeli attack on the press that targeted Al Jazeera and international media.”
“We extend our condolences to the journalistic family worldwide and wish a speedy recovery to all the… pic.twitter.com/5mYy97FB1w
— Mario Nawfal (@MarioNawfal) October 13, 2023
Some online commentators have noticed the parallels with the Zelensky government in Ukraine, who early in the war with Russia moved strongly against media outlets deemed as ‘opposition’ or ‘pro-Russian’. This included a crackdown on Russian-speaking media in general, despite a huge portion of Ukrainian citizens speaking Russian as either a first or second language.