Haaretz threatened with sanctions by Israeli comms minister over Gaza war coverage

Haaretz threatened with sanctions by Israeli comms minister over Gaza war coverage
The threats from Israel comms minister Shlomo Karhi came as the minister banned the Lebanese channel Al Mayadeen and threatened to shut down the operations of Al Jazeera.
2 min read
24 November, 2023
Haaretz has often been critical of the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu prior to the outbreak of the Gaza war [Photo by Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images]

Israeli news publication Haaretz has been threatened by Israel's communications minister with sanctions over its coverage of the Gaza war.

Shlomo Karhi, who is also a member of Netanyahu's governing Likud Party, proposed a resolution to the cabinet that would cease connections between the Israeli government and Haaretz.

These connections include cutting state employee subscriptions, advertisement agreements, and an end to all communication between the government and the paper.

The left-leaning English and Hebrew-language publication has been critical of Israeli government.

In a letter to Cabinet Secretary Yossi Fuchs, Karhi justified the proposal because of the publication's "offensive line which undermines the war's goals and disparages the military effort and its social fortitude".

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The letter went as far as to say that "some of the paper's publications even cross the criminal standard set in those far-flung sections of the penal code reserved for wartime only".

He added that as a client of Haaretz, the government could decide to end its relationship, especially as the publication "is sabotaging Israel in wartime and undermining the spirit of Israeli soldiers and civilians in the face of the enemy".

In response to the proposal Haaretz took the opportunity to promote their subscription service, tweeting an image that read "When Netanyahu's government wants to shut us down, it's time to read Haaretz."

The Union of Journalists in Israel voiced support for Haaretz, saying that Karhi's proposal "is a populistic proposal devoid of any feasibility or logic, and its entire purpose is to garner likes among his political base at the expense of dedicated journalists".

The sentiment was seconded by the Journalists' Association of Jerusalem, which stated that "we can only note that every media company in Israel as the right to exist according to law without being placed under economic siege because of the opinions it publishes".

Karhi, who took up his role as communications minister alongside the Netanyahu government in December 2022, has made a number of proposals against the press in Israel since the outbreak of the war in Gaza on 7 October.

This includes the closure of the West Bank offices of Lebanese TV channel Al Mayadeen citing "harm" to state security during wartime due to the broadcaster's alleged pro-Hezbollah stance.

Israel has been engaged in fighting with Hezbollah and Palestinian armed groups on the Lebanon-Israel border and has blocked Al Mayadeen's website inside Israel.

Likewise, Karhi also proposed shutting down Al Jazeera's operations in Israel, although the cabinet denied authorisation due to Qatar's involvement in negotiations to secure the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas, Haaretz reported.