Israeli cabinet decides to close Al Jazeera’s local operations

Israeli cabinet decides to close Al Jazeera's local operations
Israeli cabinet decides to close Al Jazeera's local operations/Reuters
Israeli cabinet decides to close Al Jazeera's local operations
Israeli cabinet decides to close Al Jazeera's local operations/Reuters

Israeli cabinet decides to close Al Jazeera’s local operations

Israeli cabinet decides to close Al Jazeera’s local operations

Israeli cabinet decides to close Al Jazeera’s local operations

JERUSALEM, May 5 (Reuters) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet decided on Sunday to shut down Al Jazeera’s operations in Israel for as long as the war in Gaza continues, on the grounds the Qatari television network threatens national security.

Al Jazeera rejected accusations that it harmed Israel’s security as a “dangerous and ridiculous lie” that puts its journalists at risk and said that it reserved the right to “pursue every legal step”.

The network is funded by the Qatari government and has been critical of Israel’s military operation in Gaza, from where it has reported around the clock throughout the war.

“The incitement channel Al Jazeera will be closed in Israel,” Netanyahu posted on social media following the unanimous cabinet vote.

A government statement said Israel’s communications minister signed orders to “act immediately”, but at least one lawmaker who supported the closure said Al Jazeera could still try to block it in court.

The network is funded by the Qatari government and has been critical of Israel’s military operation in Gaza, from where it has reported around the clock throughout the war.

“The incitement channel Al Jazeera will be closed in Israel,” Netanyahu posted on social media following the unanimous cabinet vote.

A government statement said Israel’s communications minister signed orders to “act immediately”, but at least one lawmaker who supported the closure said Al Jazeera could still try to block it in court.

The measure, the statement said, will include closing Al Jazeera’s offices in Israel, confiscating broadcast equipment, cutting off the channel from cable and satellite companies and blocking its websites. It did not mention Al Jazeera’s Gaza operations.

Al Jazeera previously called Israeli efforts to curtail its operations an “escalation” and said in a statement in early April that it “comes as part of a series of systematic Israeli attacks to silence Al Jazeera”.

It said that Israeli authorities have deliberately targeted and killed several of its journalists including Samer Abu Daqqa and Hamza AlDahdooh, both killed in Gaza during the conflict. Israel has said it does not target journalists.

Qatar established Al Jazeera in 1996 and views the network as a way to bolster its global profile.

Israel’s parliament last month ratified a law allowing the temporary closure in Israel of foreign broadcasters considered to be a threat to national security.

“The background of this (shutdown) decision is not professional or journalistic … it’s political,” said Waleed Omari, bureau chief of Al Jazeera in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The station was preparing a legal response, he said.

The law allows Netanyahu and his security cabinet to shut the network’s offices in Israel for 45 days, a period that can be renewed, so it could stay in force until the end of July or until the end of major military operations in Gaza.

Qatar, where several Hamas political leaders are based, is trying to mediate a ceasefire and hostage release deal that could halt the Gaza war.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by VoM News staff and is published from syndicated feed)

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