‘Hamas’s Mouthpiece’: Israel Raids, Shuts Down Al Jazeera In The Country

REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon

John Oyewale Contributor
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Israeli authorities raided and shut down Qatar-based television news network Al Jazeera in Israel with the unanimous approval of the Israeli government, according to an official statement.

“The Government, today, unanimously approved the closure of Al Jazeera according to the proposal of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi,” the statement from Netanyahu’s office released Sunday read.

The orders, signed by Karhi, reportedly went into immediate effect.

Netanyahu conceived and advanced the law based on his conviction that Al Jazeera was “harming the state,” the statement implied. Karhi implemented the law after having received “at least one security opinion and the approval of either the Government or the Security Cabinet.”

“Al Jazeera correspondents have harmed the security of Israel and incited against IDF soldiers. The time has come to eject Hamas’s mouthpiece from our country,” Netanyahu said, the statement reported.

The orders instructed that not only would the Israel-based offices of any foreign media network deemed to be “acting against the state” be closed, but also the Israeli authorities would seize the network’s broadcast equipment, prevent broadcasts by the channel’s journalists, take the channel off cable and satellite companies, and block the channel’s website, among other measures.

Karhi shared a video which he said showed “[i]nspectors from the Ministry of Communications, backed by the Israel Police,” raiding Al Jazeera’s offices in Jerusalem and seizing the broadcaster’s equipment.

People could still watch the channel through Facebook in Israel regardless, the BBC reported.

Karhi also praised “heroic” reservists who enforced the closure of the television channel, which the reservists claimed was a “murderous terrorist station”.

Karhi bemoaned “too many of the legal pitfalls” in the buildup to the proposal’s approval and vowed, “There will be no freedom of expression for Hamas’s mouthpieces in Israel.” He also thanked Netanyahu for “for the determination and the support against all odds” and said Israeli citizens supported the prime minister in his push to eliminate Hamas, the statement revealed. (RELATED: Al Jazeera Spied On American Jews For A Documentary And It’s About To Premier)

Karhi’s criticism of critics of the closure drew mixed reactions.

“The time has come to close the terror channel,” far-right Knesset member Zvi Sukkot replied in part to Karhi.

“Closing communication channels by government decision is a step of anti-democratic regimes,” secular Jew and founder of  the secular organization “Enlightened Israel” Naor Narkis  replied to Karhi while also implicitly accusing the Israeli government of being “a messianic theocracy.”

The orders to close Al Jazeera in Israel came only two days after the World Press Freedom Day. The U.N. Human Rights office expressed regret at Israel’s decision. “A free & independent media is essential to ensuring transparency & accountability. Now, even more so given tight restrictions on reporting from Gaza. Freedom of expression is a key human right. We urge govt to overturn ban,” the U.N. office tweeted.

The non-profit organization Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the shutdown and warned that the decision “could set a dangerous precedent for other international media outlets working in Israel.”

Al Jazeera has faced repeated allegations of anti-Israel bias.

An Al Jazeera journalist lost his wife, son, daughter and grandson, during an Israeli bombing raid in response to Hamas’s Oct. 7 2023 terror attack on Israel, the Financial Times reported.

The Qatari government funds Al Jazeera even as Qatar reportedly plays host to Hamas’s political office, funds advanced weapons research that critics allege could undermine U.S. national security, and is the country of residence of Hamas’s leader Ismail Haniyeh. Qatar has a strategic partnership with the U.S.