Israel to Shut Down Al Jazeera Until the War Ends; Netanyahu Cites National Seucirty Concerns

By Thea Felicity

May 05, 2024 10:56 AM EDT

Correspondent Nour Awdeh of the Al-Jazeera English-language news channel, the sister channel of Qatar's Arabic television Al-Jazeera, which hit the airwaves 15 November 2006, is filmed as she gives her report in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanun the scene of an Israeli military operation last week that left 19 people dead. Al-Jazeera English came on the airwaves today with a heavyweight cast of presenters and the ambition to compete with Western broadcasting giants. The English-language channel said its launch ushered in "a new era in international news", and began broadcasts with a news bulletin featuring reports from the Gaza Strip, Sudan's Darfur region and Tehran.
(Photo : MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images)

Cabinet members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Al Jazeera's operational shutdown in Israel. According to Reuters, Netanyahu cited concerns that the Qatari network threatens national security.

"The incitement channel Al Jazeera will be closed in Israel," Netanyahu announced.

According to a government statement, Israel's communications minister has been instructed to take immediate action, which includes closing Al Jazeera's offices, seizing broadcasting equipment, disconnecting the channel from cable and satellite providers, and blocking its websites. 

The decision to shut down Al Jazeera's offices could potentially remain in effect until the end of major military operations in Gaza or until the end of July.

The statement, though, did not indicate whether this would impact Al Jazeera's activities in Gaza.

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Al Jazeera Israel-Palestine Coverage

Al Jazeera has denied allegations of compromising Israel's security, labeling them as "dangerous and baseless," asserting that such claims endanger its journalists and are part of a broader effort to silence the network. 

The news outlet also claimed that Israeli authorities have deliberately targeted and killed some of its journalists during the conflict, allegations which Israel denies.

The network, funded by the Qatari government, has been reporting extensively on Israel's military actions in Gaza throughout the conflict.

Qatar's international media office has not yet responded to requests for comment.

Shutting down Al Jazeera is not a first for Israeli lawmakers, as they recently passed a law allowing for the temporary closure of foreign broadcasters deemed to pose a threat to national security.

Waleed Omari, Al Jazeera's bureau chief in Israel and the Palestinian territories, described the decision as politically motivated rather than based on professional or journalistic considerations. 

He indicated that the station is preparing a legal response to challenge the closure.

READ MORE: Israel Shuts Down Airspace as Preparation for Defense Against Iran's Drone Attack

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