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Israel to shut down Al Jazeera over ‘incitement’

BY Claire Mom

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The Israeli government says it has decided to shut down Al Jazeera, a Qatari-owned TV station and news outlet, in the Jewish country.

In a tweet on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the decision was taken after a unanimous vote by the government.

Netanyahu described Al Jazeera as an incitement channel and thanked Shlomo Karhi, minister of communications, for swinging into action.

Earlier, police seized Al Jazeera’s broadcasting equipment from its Jerusalem offices, and pulled the Qatari news channel off air.

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The decision to shut the news outlet comes weeks after a law passed by the Knesset allowed the temporary closure of foreign media outlets deemed to be harming national security.

The law allows Netanyahu and his security cabinet to shut Al Jazeera’s offices in Israel for 45 days, a period that can be renewed.

“The government approved and I immediately signed the orders against Al Jazeera. Our orders will go into effect immediately,” Karhi said.

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“Too much time has passed and too many unnecessary legal hurdles for us to finally be able to stop Al Jazeera’s oiled incitement machine that harms the security of the country.

“For months, I did everything and will continue to do everything so that they can no longer operate from Israel.”

Karhi said he ordered the seizure of the station’s broadcasting equipment “used to deliver the channel’s content”, including editing and routing devices, cameras, microphones, servers and laptops, as well as wireless transmission tools and some mobile phones.

Israel has long had a rocky relationship with Al Jazeera, accusing it of bias and collaboration with Hamas, the Palestinian militant group.

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The Qatar-based network has repeatedly rejected the accusations.

Reacting to the development in a statement, Al Jazeera condemned the Israeli government’s decision to close its operations in Israel as a “criminal act” and warned that the country’s suppression of the free press “stands in contravention of international and humanitarian law”.

Press freedom groups have also condemned Israel’s decision to shut down the Qatar-based network especially as Doha has been at the forefront of mediation efforts to halt the war in Gaza.

 

 

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