Israel's Netanyahu vows to enact Al Jazeera broadcast ban

Israel's Netanyahu vows to enact Al Jazeera broadcast ban
Al Jazeera said Israel's pledge to ban the network is of 'this latest measure comes as part of a series of systematic Israeli attacks to silence Al Jazeera'.
3 min read
Al Jazeera has accused Israel of systematically its employees, particularly during its war in Gaza [Getty/file photo]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged Monday to enact a ban on broadcasts in Israel from news channel Al Jazeera using authority lawmakers newly voted to grant him.

The potential ban escalates the running conflict between Israel's government and the Qatar-based channel that has intensified during Israel's war in the Gaza Strip, which has killed 32,845 Palestinians, mostly women and children.

"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, formerly Twitter.

Al Jazeera said "this latest measure comes as part of a series of systematic Israeli attacks to silence Al Jazeera".

It said this included the killing of one journalist before Israel began waging its war on Gaza on October 7 and the deaths of two more network correspondents and the bombing of its office during the Gaza war since.

And US White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said "if it is true, a move like this is concerning."

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said the law underpinning Netanyahu's pledge grants Israel the power to close any foreign outlets operating within its borders.

"This contributes to a climate of self-censorship and hostility toward the press, a trend that has escalated since the Israel-Gaza war began," a statement from the group added.

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Israel claimed in January that an Al Jazeera staff journalist and a freelancer killed in an air strike in Gaza were "terror operatives".

The following month it claimed another journalist for the channel, wounded in a separate strike, was a "deputy company commander" with Hamas.

Al Jazeera has fiercely denied Israel's accusations and accused Israel of systematically targeting Al Jazeera employees in the Gaza Strip.

Law passed by wide margin

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

His wife, two of their children and a grandson were killed in October bombardment of central Gaza's Nuseirat refugee camp, while his eldest son was the Al Jazeera staff journalist killed in January when a strike targeted a car in Rafah.

Al Jazeera said in a statement that Netanyahu had launched a "frantic" and "disgraceful" campaign of accusations against the network.

The channel said it "condemns these statements and sees as nothing but a dangerous ludicrous lie" and vowed to continue with its "bold" coverage of the war.

The law at the centre of Netanyahu's moves to bar Al Jazeera passed on Monday by 70 votes to 10 and grants the authority to top ministers to ban the broadcast of content from foreign channels deemed a security threat.

The law also allows Israel to order the closing of an outlet's offices.

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Al Jazeera bills itself as the "first independent news channel in the Arab world," and began broadcasting in Doha in 1996.

The Qatar-based network says it has more than 70 bureaus around the globe, with more than 3,000 employees from more than 95 countries and reaches more than 430 million homes.