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Israel bans Al Jazeera: What does it mean and what happens next? | Israel War on Gaza News

Israel’s cabinet voted unanimously on Sunday to shut down Al Jazeera in the country, immediately ordering its offices to close and the company’s broadcasts to be banned.

The decision was announced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on X. Hours later, Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi published images on by police – raiding the Al Jazeera office in East Jerusalem. and confiscate the channel’s equipment.

Here’s everything you need to know about Israel’s ban on Al Jazeera and how it could affect reporting on the war in Gaza – and beyond.

Why did Israel close Al Jazeera?

The closure comes a month after Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed a law on April 1 allowing Israel to temporarily shut down foreign media outlets – including Al Jazeera – if it considers them a security threat.

In a previously recorded report, Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, explained the terms of the law in more detail. According to the law, the Al Jazeera website is banned in Israel, “including anything that has the ability to enter or access the website, even necessary passwords, whether paid or no, and whether they are stored on Israeli servers or not.” outside of Israel,” Khan added.

Additionally, the Al Jazeera television channel is completely banned in Israel, he explained. In the country, cable operators now display a message saying the channel is banned from broadcasting, although in East Jerusalem some people told Al Jazeera they could still access the channel on television Monday after- noon.

Khan added that the Internet service provider that hosts “also risks being fined if it hosts the website.”

Akiva Eldar, a political analyst and contributor to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, told Al Jazeera that the closure is “a very populist measure aimed at feeding the beast of public opinion which is very disappointed by the government’s conduct in Gaza and on the international scene “. », adding that it is also “to please the partners of the radical right”. Netanyahu’s government relies on the support of a group of far-right parties and leaders – many of whom, like Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, hold key positions within government.

Karhi’s office said Al Jazeera would be closed for 45 days and the closure could be renewed, in accordance with the law passed on April 1.

When the law was passed, Netanyahu said he would “immediately act” in accordance with the law to shut down Al Jazeera’s operations. However, the timing of the closure, a month later, coincides with crucial negotiations between Israel and Hamas over the war, brokered by Egypt and Qatar, where Al Jazeera is headquartered.

Al Jazeera has been targeted by Israel before: Netanyahu threatened to close its Jerusalem bureau in 2017, and an Israeli missile destroyed the building housing the channel’s Gaza bureau in 2021. Many Al Jazeera journalists – and in several cases, their families – have been killed by Israeli gunfire or bombing, notably during the current war in Gaza.

What was Al Jazeera’s reaction?

On Sunday, Al Jazeera issued a statement condemning the shutdown, calling it a “criminal act” and warning that Israel’s suppression of the free press “constitutes a violation of international and humanitarian law.”

The statement further said that Al Jazeera will continue to provide news to a global audience.

What impact will this ban have on Al Jazeera’s reporting?

Al Jazeera correspondents can no longer report in Israel, including occupied East Jerusalem. Indeed, the main office in West Jerusalem and that in occupied East Jerusalem were closed and equipment was confiscated.

Karhi said the equipment he ordered confiscated included editing and routing equipment, cameras, microphones, servers and laptops, as well as wireless transmission equipment and some cell phones.

In the pre-recorded report, Al Jazeera’s Khan added that Israel also bans any device used to deliver content. “That includes my cell phone. If I use this to do any type of information gathering, then the Israelis can just confiscate it.”

Although it is unclear how the closure will affect the reporting of Al Jazeera correspondents who are in Gaza or the occupied West Bank, access to both Palestinian regions is largely controlled by Israel. Al Jazeera has called previous attacks on its journalists and offices attempts to target its journalism and prevent it from reporting on Israeli aggression against Palestinians – including during the current war.

Why is this important?

Since the start of the war on October 7, Israel has largely blocked the entry of foreign journalists into Gaza.

This means that Al Jazeera’s correspondents in Gaza were among the few from a major international media organization to bring the deadly Israeli bombings and killings in the Palestinian enclave to the world’s attention.

In February, more than 50 international journalists signed an open letter to Egyptian and Israeli authorities calling for “free and unhindered access to Gaza for all foreign media.”

What are the reactions to the Al Jazeera ban?

Journalism advocacy groups and officials around the world have denounced the ban, warning it could hamper the free flow of information and cripple democratic ideals.

“Israel prides itself on being a democracy, and I think the idea that it could just shut down an international broadcaster of considerable reputation and history is atrocious,” Tim Dawson of the International Federation of Journalists said in an interview at Al Jazeera. “Unfortunately, this is part of a long series of actions that the Israeli government has taken to try to prevent free media coverage of this conflict. »

Speaking from the White House in Washington, DC, on Monday, National Security Advisor John Kirby reiterated that US President Joe Biden’s administration opposes the closure of Al Jazeera in Israel.

“We do not support this action, as we made very clear on Friday on World Press Freedom Day,” Kirby explained.

“The work of independent journalism around the world is absolutely vital. This is important for informed citizens and the public, but it is also important for helping to inform the policy-making process. So we don’t support that at all.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights also condemned the closure in a message published on social media platform X on Sunday.

Greek economist and former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis posted on X on Monday, condemning the closure. “Israel’s banning of Al Jazeera is one aspect of its war on the truth. This is intended to prevent Israelis from knowing what is happening in Gaza,” he wrote.

On killed.

Diane Abbott, a British parliamentarian, also condemned the closure in a message on Monday.

And after?

Eldar, who spoke to Al Jazeera from Tel Aviv, said: “This is, I’m afraid, not the last step. »

He added that other news outlets could also face closure by the Israeli government. “We know that there are ministers, including the Minister of Communications, who are turning to other networks, including Israeli channels, which do not satisfy the government.”

In November, Karhi, the communications minister, threatened Eldar’s newspaper, Haaretz, with sanctions for its critical coverage of Israel’s war on Gaza.

Eldar also added that he expected the law used by the Netanyahu government to shut down Al Jazeera to be challenged in court.

Al Jazeera also called on media freedom and human rights organizations to condemn the closure and is currently evaluating how to proceed. The media network’s statement released Sunday said it will use “all available legal avenues to protect both its rights and those of journalists.”

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jack colman

With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class. After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim. Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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