Israel's government advances bill to ban Al Jazeera permanently

Israel's government advances bill to ban Al Jazeera permanently
Israel's ministerial committee for legislation approved a bill on Sunday to make the temporary ban on Al Jazeera permanent.
3 min read
24 June, 2024
The United Nations human rights office and the United States have criticised the shutdown of Al Jazeera's Israel operation [Getty]

Israel has moved a step closer to making a temporary ban on news network Al Jazeera permanent, according to Israeli media reports, with the ministerial committee for legislation approving a bill on the issue on Sunday. 

The temporary measure, currently in place, allows Israel to suspend broadcasts of foreign media outlets for 45 days if they are deemed to cause "significant harm to national security", while the new bill seeks to extend this provision indefinitely, Haaretz reported.

The bill, which was introduced by far-right Likud MK Ariel Kallner, who had called for a second Nakba in Gaza, would allow the channel's broadcast to be stopped permanently without the need for a review of another extension.

It needs to be approved by the communication and justice ministries and revised for additional discussions after its first reading in parliament, and before a second vote.

The temporary provision, officially known as the Bill for Preventing a Foreign Broadcasting Organisation from Harming State Security, is currently in effect until 31 July.

10 alarming Israeli actions against journalists since 7 Oct.
1. Journalist casualties: Over 108 journalists and media workers have been killed in Gaza
2. Targeted attacks: Israeli forces 'deliberately' targeting journalists, including a Reuters reporter in Lebanon
3. Temporary suspensions: Israel has implemented temporary bans on foreign media operations, including Al Jazeera
4. Intimidation & harassment: Journalists have faced threats from armed forces even during live coverage
5. Arrests & detentions: Numerous journalists have been arrested, with at least 46 journalists detained in Gaza
6. Censorship & restrictions: Israeli authorities have imposed censorship and restricted media coverage
7. Assaults & physical abuse: Multiple reports of journalists being assaulted and held at gunpoint while reporting
8. Destruction of media infrastructure: Israeli airstrikes have destroyed media offices and infrastructure
9. Cyberattacks: Journalists and media outlets have been subjected to Israeli cyberattacks
10. Threats & intimidation: Journalists have been threatened, and their families have faced harassment

Earlier this month, the High Court of Justice gave the state until 5 August to reply to a petition filed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel challenging the temporary order.

Last month, Israel shut down Al Jazeera's operations in the country after a unanimous vote in the Knesset ordering the news outlet to cease its broadcasts in Israel in both Arabic and English.

The ban also saw Al Jazeera close its offices in Israel and its equipment confiscated by police. Access to the network's website was also blocked from within Israel.

The head of Al Jazeera in Israel and the Palestinian territories described the Israeli government's move as "dangerous" and motivated by politics rather than professional considerations.

In response to its banning, Al Jazeera said: "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 had 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 reporters.

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

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The 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.

The United Nations human rights office and the United States have criticised the shutdown of Al Jazeera's operations in Israel.

The ban came 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.