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Israeli authorities raid Al Jazeera after shutdown order

Written by World News

(Reuters) – Israeli authorities raided a Jerusalem hotel room used by Al Jazeera as its office after the government decided to shut down the Qatari-owned TV station’s local operations on Sunday, an Israeli official and an Al Jazeera source told  Reuters.

Video circulated online showed plainclothes officers dismantling camera equipment in a hotel room, which the Al Jazeera source said was in East Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet shut down the network for as long as the war in Gaza continues, saying it threatened national security.

Al Jazeera said the move was a “criminal action” and the accusation that the network threatened Israeli security was a “dangerous and ridiculous lie” that put its journalists at risk.

It reserved the right to “pursue every legal step”.

The network has criticised Israel’s military operation in Gaza, from where it has reported throughout the war.

“The incitement channel Al Jazeera will be closed in Israel,” Netanyahu posted on social media following a unanimous
cabinet vote.

A government statement said Israel’s communications minister signed orders to “act immediately”, but at least one  lawmaker who supported the closure said Al Jazeera could still try to block it in court.

The measure, the statement said, includes closing Al Jazeera’s offices in Israel, confiscating broadcast equipment, cutting off the channel from cable and satellite companies and blocking its websites. It did not mention Al Jazeera’s Gaza operations.

Israeli satellite and cable television providers suspended Al Jazeera broadcasts following the government decision.

There was no official comment from the Qatari government, which deferred to Al Jazeera.

The network last month complained of “a series of systematic Israeli attacks to silence Al Jazeera”.

It said Israel deliberately targeted and killed several of its journalists, including Samer Abu Daqqa and Hamza AlDahdooh, both killed in Gaza during the conflict. Israel has said it does not target journalists.

Qatar established Al Jazeera in 1996 and views it as a way to bolster its global profile.

“Al Jazeera Media Network strongly condemns and denounces this criminal act that violates human rights and the basic right to access of information,” the network said in a statement. “Al Jazeera affirms its right to continue to provide
news and information to its global audiences.”

The UN Human Rights Office also criticised the closure.

“We regret cabinet decision to close Al Jazeera in Israel,” it said on X. “A free & independent media is essential to ensuring transparency & accountability. Now, even more so given tight restrictions on reporting from Gaza. Freedom of expression is a key human right. We urge govt to overturn ban.”

Israel’s parliament last month ratified a law allowing the temporary closure in Israel of foreign broadcasters considered to be a threat to national security.

The law allows Netanyahu and his security cabinet to shut the network’s offices in Israel for 45 days, a period that can be renewed, so it could stay in force until the end of July or until the end of major military operations in Gaza.

Qatar, where several Hamas political leaders are based, is trying to mediate a ceasefire and hostage release deal that could halt the Gaza war.

 

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