What does Israel mean by banning Al Jazeera?

Times Now

Israel’s cabinet unanimously voted to shut down Al Jazeera in the country on Sunday, immediately ordering the closure of its offices and a ban on the company’s broadcasts.
Here is all you need to know about Israel’s Al Jazeera ban, and how it might affect reporting on the war on Gaza — and beyond.
Why did Israel shut down Al Jazeera?
Additionally, the Al Jazeera television channel is completely banned in Israel, he explained.
The statement further said that Al Jazeera would continue to provide news to a global audience.
What are the reactions to the Al Jazeera ban?
Eldar also added that he expected the law that the Netanyahu government used to shut down Al Jazeera to be challenged in court.
Al Jazeera also called on media freedom and human rights organisations to condemn the shutdown and is currently assessing what to do next.

NEUTRAL

On Sunday, the Israeli cabinet decided in favor of closing Al Jazeera’s operations in the nation, directing the immediate closure of the organization’s offices and a ban on its broadcasts.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the announcement on X. A few hours later, video that Israel’s Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi had posted on X showed Israeli officials raiding the Al Jazeera office in East Jerusalem and seizing the channel’s equipment. The officials were specifically inspectors from the Ministry of Communications, who were supported by the police.

Here’s everything you need to know about Israel’s ban on Al Jazeera and how it could impact reporting on the Gaza War and other topics.

What caused Israel to shut down Al Jazeera?

A law allowing Israel to temporarily shut down foreign media outlets, including Al Jazeera, if it deems them to be a security threat was passed by the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, one month prior to the shutdown.

Imran Khan of Al Jazeera, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, went into further detail about the law’s provisions in a previously taped segment. The Al Jazeera website is prohibited in Israel by law, according to Khan. This includes “everything that has the option of entering or accessing the website, even passwords that are needed, whether they are paid or not, and whether they are stored on Israeli servers or outside of Israel.”.

Furthermore, he clarified, Israel has outright banned the television network Al Jazeera. Although some people in East Jerusalem have told Al Jazeera that they could still access the channel on television as of Monday afternoon, cable providers across the nation now display a message stating that the network is prohibited from airing.

The internet service provider who runs aljazeera.net, according to Khan, “is also in danger of being fined if they host the website.”.

The shutdown is “a very populistic move to feed the beast of the public opinion that is very disappointed from the conduct of the government in Gaza and in the international arena,” political analyst and contributor to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz Akiva Eldar told Al Jazeera, adding that this is also “to please the partners from the radical right.”. Many of the far-right parties and leaders, including Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich and Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir, who hold important positions in the cabinet, provide support to Netanyahu’s government.

As per the law passed on April 1, Karhi’s office stated that Al Jazeera is on indefinite lockdown, with the possibility of extensions.

Following the bill’s passage, Netanyahu declared he would “act immediately” to put an end to Al Jazeera’s operations. However, the shutdown’s timing—one month later—occurs during critical wartime negotiations between Hamas and Israel, which are being mediated by Qatar, where Al Jazeera’s headquarters are located.

Israel has previously threatened to close Al Jazeera’s office in Jerusalem in 2017, and in 2021, an Israeli missile destroyed the building that housed the broadcaster’s office in Gaza. During the ongoing conflict in Gaza, among other incidents, numerous Al Jazeera journalists have perished at the hands of Israeli gunfire or bombing, as have several of their families.

What response did Al Jazeera give?

In an announcement on Sunday, Al Jazeera denounced the closure, calling it a “criminal act” and cautioning that Israel’s repression of free expression “stands in contravention of international and humanitarian law.”.

Al Jazeera would keep delivering news to a global audience, the statement added.

What effect will the ban have on the reporting of Al Jazeera?

Reporters for Al Jazeera are unable to report from Israel anymore, including from occupied East Jerusalem. This is as a result of the equipment being seized and the closure of the main office located in West Jerusalem as well as the office located in occupied East Jerusalem.

In addition to servers, laptops, cameras, microphones, wireless transmission equipment, editing and routing equipment, and a few cell phones, Karhi claimed the equipment was ordered to be seized.

Al Jazeera’s Khan noted in the prerecorded report that Israel is also outlawing the use of any device for content delivery. This encompasses my smartphone as well. The Israelis can just take it away if I use it for any type of news gathering.

Access to both Palestinian areas is primarily controlled by Israel, so it’s unclear how the closure will effect the reporting of Al Jazeera correspondents who are in Gaza or the occupied West Bank. Al Jazeera has denounced previous attempts to target its offices and journalists in an effort to prevent them from covering Israel’s attacks on Palestinians, including those occurring during the current conflict.

For what reason is this important?

Israel has mainly prohibited foreign journalists from entering Gaza since the start of the conflict on October 7.

As a result, the only major international media outlet to cover the deadly Israeli bombardment and killings in the Palestinian enclave is Al Jazeera, whose correspondents in Gaza are among the few.

To demand “free and unfettered access to Gaza for all foreign media,” more than fifty international broadcast journalists signed an open letter to the Israeli and Egyptian governments in February.

What responses have there been to Al Jazeera’s ban?

International officials and advocacy groups for journalism criticized the ban, stating that it could stifle free speech and undermine democratic values.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Tim Dawson of the International Federation of Journalists stated, “I think the idea that it can simply close down an international broadcaster of considerable repute and history is atrocious.” Israel prides itself on being a democracy. Sadly, it is just one of many steps the Israeli government has taken to obstruct unrestricted coverage of this conflict. “.

President Joe Biden of the United States administration is against Al Jazeera being shut down in Israel, national security advisor John Kirby reiterated on Monday while speaking from the White House in Washington, DC.

“We firmly stated on World Press Freedom Day on Friday that we oppose that action,” Kirby clarified.

“Independent journalism is extremely important to the world’s society. It’s crucial for the public and for informed citizens, but it’s also crucial for influencing the policy-making process. Thus, we have zero support for that. “.

In a post on the social media platform X on Sunday, the UN human rights office also denounced the shutdown.

Yanis Varoufakis, a former Finance Minister of Greece and economist, posted a condemnatory message about the shutdown on X on Monday. “An element of Israel’s War On Truth is the banning of Al Jazeera.”. Its goal is to keep Israelis in the dark about what occurs in Gaza,” the author wrote.

Several other people on X brought up Israel’s recently announced intention to begin a ground invasion in Gaza’s Rafah, the country’s most recent land offensive in a seven-month conflict that has claimed the lives of over 34,700 people.

In an X post on Monday, British lawmaker Diane Abbott also denounced the closure.

Next, what?

Eldar told Al Jazeera from Tel Aviv, “I’m afraid this is not the last step.”. “.

According to him, the Israeli government may also close down other news organizations. We are aware that some ministers, including the minister of communication, are examining networks other than Israeli ones that the government finds objectionable.

The communications minister, Karhi, threatened Eldar’s newspaper, Haaretz, with sanctions in November due to the publication’s critical reporting on Israel’s Gaza War.

Eldar further stated that he anticipated a legal challenge to the legislation utilized by the Netanyahu administration to shut down Al Jazeera.

In addition, Al Jazeera urged human rights and media freedom organizations to denounce the closure. The organization is presently determining its next course of action. The media network said in a statement released on Sunday that it would use “all available legal channels to protect both its rights and journalists.”.

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