Israel bans Al Jazeera over Gaza war coverage

Israel bans Al Jazeera over Gaza war coverage
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that Al Jazeera will be banned in Israel, with its offices closed down and equipment confiscated.
3 min read
05 May, 2024
Al Jazeera has been commended for its reporting of Israel's war on Gaza since October 7 [Getty]

The cabinet of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has on Sunday unanimously decided to shut down news channel Al Jazeera’s operations within Israel, a government statement announced.

"The government under my leadership has unanimously decided: the incitement channel Al Jazeera will be shut down in Israel," Netanyahu’s statement read on X.

Netanyahu authorised Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi to immediately order the cessation of the channel's broadcasts in Israel, in both Arabic and English. 

The ban will also force Al Jazeera to close its offices in Israel, with Karhi ordering the confiscation of equipment used by its personnel to broadcast, as reported by Haaretz.

Access to the network's website will now be blocked from within Israel.

The head of Al Jazeera in Israel and the Palestinian territories described the Israeli government's decision to shutter the station's local operations as "dangerous" and motivated by politics rather than professional considerations.

Al Jazeera's legal team was preparing a response, Walid Omary told Reuters, in possible anticipation of a court appeal against the decision.

The move to ban Al Jazeera has been under consideration for some time, with Israel’s hostility toward the Qatari news network intensifying since the beginning of its war on Gaza following the events of 7 October.

In early April, the Israeli Knesset granted Netanyahu the authority to ban broadcasts from foreign channels deemed a security threat, specifically with Al Jazeera in mind.


“The terrorist channel Al Jazeera will no longer broadcast from Israel. I intend to act immediately in accordance with the new law to stop the channel's activities,” Netanyahu said on X at the time.

In response to the law's passage, Al Jazeera stated, "This latest measure is part of a series of systematic Israeli attacks aimed at silencing Al Jazeera."

The Middle East’s largest news network reported that Israel’s action against it included the killing of two network correspondents and the bombing of its office during the Gaza war on 7 October.

Without providing evidence, Israel accused the two slain Al Jazeera journalists of being "terror operatives," a claim that the network vehemently denied, stating that Israel was "systematically targeting" its staff.

In December, Al Jazeera's bureau chief in Gaza, Wael al-Dahdouh, was also wounded in an Israeli strike that killed the network's cameraman.

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This incident followed the killing of Dahdouh’s wife, two of his children, and a grandson in October, after an Israeli strike on their home in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.

Last month, US spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said Israel’s then-proposed ban on Al Jazeera was “concerning”.

The ban also threatens to raise tensions with Qatar, at a time when the Gulf state is playing a crucial role in mediation efforts to halt the war in Gaza.

It also comes amid Israel’s wider attacks on press freedom, with its assault on Gaza being the deadliest for media workers in recent history.

More than 100 journalists, almost all of whom are Palestinian, have been killed by Israel in seven months of its war.