Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Israel to Shut Down Al Jazeera Offices

Sun 05 May 2024 | 04:47 PM
Israa Farhan

The Israeli government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, unanimously decided on Sunday to halt the operations of the Qatari television network Al Jazeera in Israel as long as the war continues in Gaza, citing the network's perceived threat to national security.

Netanyahu announced via social media after the Cabinet's unanimous vote on the decision, stating, "The inciting Al Jazeera channel in Israel will be closed."

According to a government statement, the Israeli Minister of Communications issued orders for immediate implementation. However, at least one member of the Knesset, supportive of shutting down Al Jazeera's office, mentioned that the network could still attempt to overturn the decision through the judiciary.

Walid Al-Omari, the manager of Al Jazeera's office in Israel and the Palestinian territories, told Reuters that the Israeli government's decision is "serious" and driven by political motives rather than professional considerations.

Al-Omari added that Al Jazeera's legal team is preparing to challenge the decision, indicating a potential lawsuit against it in court.

The statement outlined that the measure would include closing Al Jazeera's offices in Israel, confiscating broadcasting equipment, blocking the channel's broadcast via terrestrial and satellite networks, and blocking its websites online.

The Qatari government funds Al Jazeera, which strongly criticizes Israel's military operation in Gaza, providing round-the-clock coverage since the war began. The Israeli statement did not mention Al Jazeera's operations in Gaza.

The Israeli Knesset approved a bill allowing for the temporary closure in Israel of foreign broadcasting stations deemed a threat to national security.

The law permits Netanyahu and the Security Cabinet to shut down the network's offices in Israel for 45 days, renewable, allowing it to remain in effect until the end of July or until the end of major military operations in Gaza.

Qatar, which hosts leaders from Hamas, is involved in mediation efforts for a ceasefire agreement and the release of hostages that could halt the war in Gaza.