Al Jazeera

Israel Raids Al Jazeera Offices, Pulls the Plug on Broadcast Operations

(Reclaim The Net)—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced the government’s decision to terminate Al Jazeera’s operations in Israel, citing the Qatari-owned network as a provocateur of “incitement.” The closure was unanimously agreed upon by the cabinet. Reacting strongly, Al Jazeera labeled the Israeli government’s action as “criminal.”

The restrictions also extend to foreign journalists, notably barring them from entering Gaza, leaving Al Jazeera’s personnel among the few reporters present on the ground. This decision has been informed by longstanding accusations from Israeli authorities of the network’s alleged anti-Israel bias. The criticism has escalated following the deadly Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7, 2023.

The Israeli government has escalated its measures against Al Jazeera by raiding its offices and halting its broadcast amidst the ongoing conflict in Gaza today. Describing the network as a vehicle for Hamas propaganda, Israel’s actions culminated on Sunday when police stormed Al Jazeera’s premises at the Ambassador hotel in Jerusalem. Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi publicized the raid with a video on X/Twitter, showcasing officers and inspectors seizing equipment from a hotel room.

Despite these tense conditions, Al Jazeera has been one of the few channels reporting from Gaza, where, as alleged by the Hamas-run health ministry, at least 34,683 Palestinians have been killed and 78,018 injured since the conflict’s escalation on October 7. Israeli officials maintain that Al Jazeera has maintained close connections with Hamas, an allegation the network strongly refutes.

In a significant legislative move last month, the Israeli parliament approved a law granting the government authority to temporarily shut down foreign broadcasters considered threats to national security amid the ongoing war with Hamas. Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi emphasized that the ban was effective immediately and required renewal every 45 days. The order potentially allows for office closures, website takedowns, and equipment seizures.

As the host country for Al Jazeera, Qatar continues its role in mediating ongoing negotiations between Israel and Hamas. These talks are part of efforts to resolve the conflict that has persisted for nearly seven months. Previously, Qatar’s mediation efforts have successfully facilitated a temporary ceasefire and the release of 105 Israeli hostages.

The network has accused Israel of deliberately targeting its journalists. Hamza Al-Dahdouh, whose father Wael Al-Dahdouh heads Al Jazeera’s Gaza bureau, was reportedly killed in an Israeli strike. Israel, however, denies any intent to target journalists. In a firm response to the ban, Al Jazeera stated, “Israel’s suppression of free press to cover up its crimes by killing and arresting journalists has not deterred us from performing our duty.”