About

Al Jazeera ordered to shut down its operations in Israel

Share
Israel has ordered international news service Al Jazeera to shut down its operations in the country.
Al Jazeera's news website and broadcasts have been blocked in Israel.

Israel has ordered international news service Al Jazeera to shut down its operations in the country.

It comes after the country passed laws last month allowing the government to ban foreign news outlets.

Officials have raided Al Jazeera’s offices in Jerusalem, blocked its website, and stopped broadcasts.

Al Jazeera strongly condemned what it called Israel’s “criminal act”. Press freedom advocates have warned it sets a dangerous precedent for international media.

Background

On 7 October, Hamas launched an attack on Israel. According to data cited by the UN, roughly 1,200 people were killed.

Hamas, which Australia lists as a terrorist organisation, captured about 240 hostages. 133 remain captive today.

Israel responded by declaring war and bombarding Gaza. According to data cited by the UN, more than 34,600 Palestinians have now been killed since 7 October. Israel’s war in Gaza has caused a humanitarian crisis.

Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera broadcasts news in Arabic and English. The Qatari Government partially funds the broadcaster, billed as the first “independent news channel in the Arab world” when it launched in 1996.

Over the past 30 years, Al Jazeera has been temporarily shut down by other Middle Eastern countries as a political statement against Qatar.

Tensions between the broadcaster and Israel have escalated since Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot dead in the Occupied West Bank in July 2022.

A U.S-led investigation found Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) gunfire was likely responsible for her death, but it did not arrive at a “clear conclusion”.

Latest

Israel has repeatedly condemned Al Jazeera’s coverage of the war in Gaza since 7 October. The network, which has been broadcasting from the ground in Gaza, has been critical of the Israeli Government.

Since the start of the war, Israel has accused Al Jazeera of using “freedom of the press to harm the security of Israel and IDF soldiers”.

“There will be no freedom of expression for Hamas’s mouthpieces in Israel,” Israel’s Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi said.

Foreign media

Last month, Israel’s parliament passed a law allowing the Communications Minister to ban foreign news outlets if a network or broadcaster is believed to be “harming the state”.

Karhi branded the legislation “the Al Jazeera law” and vowed to take action against news sites that “incite terrorism in a time of war”.

The law also sparked concern from the international community, including the European Union and Israel’s closest ally, the U.S. The White House said they “very clearly… don’t support” the ban on Al Jazeera.

Office raids

Over the weekend, Israel’s senior ministers unanimously decided to order Al Jazeera’s offices to close down.

The government agreed to confiscate Al Jazeera’s broadcast equipment and raid its Israeli offices. Al Jazeera’s website is now unavailable in Israel and its channel has been blocked on Israeli TV.

Karhi also posted a video on social media showing Israeli police and officials raiding Al Jazeera’s office in Jerusalem.

Al Jazeera is still available to audiences in other parts of the world.

Response

The Al Jazeera Media Network has condemned Israel’s “deceptive and slanderous move” to crack down on its network across Israel.

Additionally, it has strongly rejected the way the Israeli Government described its journalism, including accusing Al Jazeera of being a “mouthpiece” for Hamas.

In a statement, Al Jazeera said it would not give in to Israeli pressure, and vowed to continue its coverage of the war in Gaza.

Global reaction

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a global group dedicated to press freedom, has condemned Israel’s closure of Al Jazeera.

The CPJ also released a statement saying: “This move sets an extremely alarming precedent for restricting international media outlets working in Israel.”

According to the group, at least 97 journalists have been killed in Gaza since 7 October.

Become smarter in three minutes

Get the daily email that makes reading the news actually enjoyable. Stay informed, for free.

Be the smart friend in your group chat

Join thousands of young Aussies and get our 5 min daily newsletter on what matters in your world.

It’s easy. It’s trustworthy. It’s free.