Al Jazeera decries Israeli move to shut down the TV channel in Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his Cabinet has unanimously voted to close broadcaster Al Jazeera’s operations in Israel.

The move came after Israeli lawmakers recently approved a new media law – widely referred to as the “Al Jazeera law” – that gives the government powers to ban foreign broadcasters if they are deemed a risk to state security.

Netanyahu announced the Cabinet decision in a post on X, formerly Twitter, in which he called Al Jazeera “the hate channel.”

Al Jazeera decried the Israeli decision and vowed to pursue “all avenues” available to protect its rights and employees.

The Israeli government has accused Al Jazeera, which is based in the Gulf emirate of Qatar and has a wide reach in the Arab world, of biased reporting on the ongoing war against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

Al Jazeera has reported extensively on the catastrophic situation in the Palestinian territory and shown images of death and destruction that are rarely seen on Israeli television stations. The channel also regularly shows videos of attacks on Israeli soldiers by Hamas’ military arm, the Qassam Brigades.

On Sunday, Al Jazeera again categorically denied accusations from Israel of biased reporting on the conflict in the Gaza Strip.

“The Netanyahu government has decided in a highly misleading and calumnious step to endorse the order to shut down Al Jazeera offices in Israel,” the network said.

The channel condemned what it called an “Israeli criminal act” that violates the human right of access to information.

“We confirm that we will pursue all avenues at international and legal organizations to protect our rights and crews,” it added without elaborating.

Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi said on Sunday that he had signed the closure order and that it would be implemented immediately.

According to Israeli reports, this means that offices in Israel could be closed, broadcasting equipment confiscated, the station removed from cable and satellite television channels and its website blocked.

The channel has repeatedly rejected the allegations of bias and, in the past, accused Netanyahu of spreading “new lies and inflammatory slanders” against the network.

Al Jazeera has also accused the Israeli military of deliberately targeting journalists on several occasions.

Netanyahu has accused Al Jazeera of “damaging Israel’s security, actively participating in the massacre on October 7 and inciting against Israeli soldiers.”

Al-Jazeera was founded in 1996 and is headquartered in Doha. It was one of the first Arab TV stations to publish critical reports on the region and quickly gained popularity.

The Israeli government’s efforts to ban Al Jazeera have drawn criticism from some of the country’s most prominent allies, including the United States and Germany.

The US State Department expressed irritation of the decision and reiterated support for the free press all over the world.

A German Foreign Office spokesman also criticized the so-called Al Jazeera law last month: “A free and diverse press landscape is the cornerstone of a liberal democracy.”

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