Sunday, April 21, 2024

Israeli PM calls for Al Jazeera shutdown, new law allows for ‘security threat’ bans on international media

Israeli PM

TEL AVIV, APRIL 2: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to close down Al Jazeera news network following the passing of a comprehensive law on Monday, granting the Government authority to ban foreign networks perceived as posing a threat to national security, CNN reported.
Netanyahu stated his intention to do so, and said “to act immediately in accordance with the new law” to stop the Qatari-based news outlet’s activity in the country, according to a post on social media platform X following the passage of the law.
Al Jazeera Media Network, which has produced dogged, on-the-ground reporting of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, slammed the decision in a statement, vowing it would not stop the network from continuing its “bold and professional coverage”, as per CNN.
The new law grants the Prime Minister and Communications Minister the authority to order the temporary closure of foreign networks operating in Israel.
According to CNN, Parliament’s approval of the law on Monday comes amid Israel’s ongoing war against Hamas and growing public discontent and protests against Netanyahu over his handling of operations in Gaza.
Netanyahu’s Government has consistently complained about Al Jazeera’s operations, alleging an anti-Israeli bias.
In his statement on Monday, the Prime Minister accused the network of being a trumpet for Hamas and accused it of “actively participating in the October 7 massacre and inciting against IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) soldiers.”
Al Jazeera, which is funded in part by the Qatari Government, said these were “slanderous accusations” that “jeopardize” not only the reputation of Al Jazeera but also the safety and rights of its employees worldwide.
Rights groups condemned the move to shutter Al Jazeera and the law’s potential implications. It was “deeply concerned” by the new legislation, “the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in a statement. “The law grants the Government the power to close any foreign media outlets operating in Israel, posing a significant threat to international media within the country,” Programme Director Carlos Martinez de la Serna said, adding it would “contribute to a climate of self-censorship and hostility toward the press”.
Blocking Al Jazeera “marks an alarming escalation, and Israeli efforts restrict the freedom of the press and further limit the access that citizens of the world have to the daily realities in Israel and Palestine”, Human Rights Watch’s Israel and Palestine Director Omar Shakir told CNN.
The White House also declared the reports of the move to shutter Al Jazeera “concerning”. “The United States supports the critically important work journalists around the world do. And that includes those who are reporting on the conflict in Gaza”, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday during a press briefing.
Israeli forces have since launched months of ongoing bombardment and ground operations in the Hamas-ruled enclave of Gaza, where the death toll stands at more than 32,000, according to the Ministry of Health in the strip.
The move also comes during a critical period for relations between the Israeli and Qatari Governments. The Gulf State has played a key role in ceasefire negotiations in the ongoing war.
The war between Israel and Hamas erupted on October 7 with a lethal attack by Hamas on Israel, killing over 1,200 people and capturing around 250 hostages, as reported by Israel.
Consequently, Israeli forces have conducted extensive bombardments and ground operations in Gaza, controlled by Hamas. The death toll in Gaza, according to the Ministry of Health there, has surpassed 32,000 amid the continuing violence. (ANI)