At Netanyahu’s request, Israel is BANNING Al Jazeera (and any other foreign media deemed to be a “national security” threat)

Almost six months to the day after the October 7 Hamas attack, Israel is banning Al Jazeera from being broadcast within its borders, claiming the Qatar-based pan-Arab network is a mouthpiece for terrorists.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that, at his behest, the far-right Knesset passed temporary legislation allowing Netanyahu the privilege to ban any foreign media outlets and shut down their offices whenever a national security threat is detected.

Netanyahu, who is currently recovering from hernia surgery, announced almost immediately after the Knesset’s decision that he will be banning Al Jazeera with prejudice in his first post-legislation-passage action.

Al Jazeera has harmed Israel’s security, actively participated in the October 7 massacre, and incited against Israeli soldiers,” Netanyahu said on X, accusing Al Jazeera of actually participating in the October 7 attack.

“It is time to remove the bullhorn of Hamas from our country. 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 activity.”

Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi added that Al Jazeera will be blocked “in the coming day,” stating further that “there won’t be freedom of expression for Hamas mouthpieces.”

The temporary legislation is scheduled to expire on July 31, 2024, but could extend further depending on when Israel’s “significant military actions” against Hamas come to an end.

(Related: Last year, the Knesset introduced legislation to outlaw preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Israel – violators would face prison time.)

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Al Jazeera staff at risk of retaliation

Al Jazeera responded to Netanyahu’s decision with a chilling statement warning that if anything should happen to the media network’s employees anywhere throughout the world in the coming days, Netanyahu will be responsible.

Al Jazeera “holds the Israeli prime minister responsible for the safety of its staff and network premises around the world following his incitement and this false accusation,” the statement reads.

The statement goes on to say that “such slanderous accusations will not deter us from continuing our bold and professional coverage” of the war in Gaza, and that legal action will be taken if necessary to uphold and preserve that coverage in the face of Israeli censorship.

Israeli leadership is not in autonomous agreement over Netanyahu’s decision, by the way. Legislator MK Mansour Abbas argued that Al Jazeera should be allowed to continue broadcasting in Israel because the network “gives a platform to speakers from Israel, even to military spokespersons.”

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre also opposed Netanyahu’s censorship move, stating that the United States believes “in the freedom of the press … and that includes those who are reporting in the conflict in Gaza, so we believe that work is important.”

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Al Jazeera employees have, in the past, been killed by Israel Defense Forces (IDF). In 2022, correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh was killed while covering an Israeli raid in the West Bank. Last December, cameraman Samer Abudaqa was killed during an IDF operation in Gaza.

“I can see why Netanyahu had a hernia operation: he worries too much about terrorists being everywhere,” one commenter wrote. “He probably had his army ready to destroy the hospital in case terrorist doctors botched his operation.”

“And now he sees terrorists in newspapers, terrorists in flowers given to him in hospital, and probably the tea leaves in his cup. He’s starting to sound like a deluded third world dictator. Oh, he must be, after all, USA supports him.”

Another wrote that “only cowardly states ban media.”

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