Netanyahu’s cabinet votes to shut down Al Jazeera’s operations in Israel

Photo: Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Sunday that his government has unanimously voted to shut down the local operations of the Qatar-owned broadcaster Al Jazeera. This move escalates the ongoing dispute between Israel and the channel amid cease-fire negotiations with Hamas, mediated by Qatar.

The measures, effective immediately, include closing Al Jazeera’s offices in Israel, confiscating broadcast equipment, halting the channel’s broadcasts, and blocking its websites, according to Netanyahu’s office.

Israeli media report that the decision allows the government to block the channel from operating in the country for 45 days.

“Al Jazeera reporters have compromised Israel’s security and incited against our soldiers,” Netanyahu stated. “It’s time to remove the Hamas mouthpiece from our country.”

This action marks the first time Israel has shuttered a foreign news outlet, although it has previously taken actions against individual reporters. A law passed last month enables the government to act against foreign channels it views as harmful to the country, the statement noted.

Al Jazeera headquarters in Doha has not yet responded, but several correspondents from the network discussed the potential impacts on air. One correspondent noted that the order would affect operations in Israel and East Jerusalem but not in the Palestinian territories.

In 2017, Israel threatened to revoke an Al Jazeera reporter’s credentials after an interview in which the reporter expressed support for Palestinian “resistance.” Al Jazeera has continued to operate in Gaza throughout the ongoing conflict, broadcasting scenes from airstrikes and hospitals and accusing Israel of massacres, while Israel accuses Al Jazeera of collaborating with Hamas.