Al Jazeera has explicitly and extensively covered the suffering of millions of Palestinians through its reporters and journalists on the ground since Israel declared its latest war on Gaza.
The Israeli government has abandoned its initial move to close down Al Jazeera’s offices in Israel, a proposition originally advanced by Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, Israeli outlet Ynetnews reported.
According to high-ranking Israeli sources, the reconsideration of the decision has been attributed to “strategic and security” deliberations.
Initially, the plan to shut down Al Jazeera’s bureau in Israel received preliminary governmental approval and was slated for examination by the expanded security cabinet.
However, officials concluded to set aside the entire plan, acknowledging Qatar’s vital role in negotiations surrounding the release of captives held by Hamas in Gaza.
Qatar considers Al Jazeera a critical tool in these diplomatic endeavours, and Israeli authorities concluded that eliminating the media outlet would have a detrimental impact on such negotiations, according to Ynetnews.
An anonymous Israeli government official revealed said there had been a schism among the nation’s security agencies over whether Al Jazeera’s broadcasts from Israel genuinely posed a national security threat.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, tasked with delivering a recommendation to the cabinet on whether to proceed with the closure, chose not to do so.
Over the years, Al Jazeera has been subjected to various deliberate attacks by Israel for its detailed and impartial coverage of the violence committed by the IOF against Palestinians, including the latest war on Gaza.
Unlike other renowned media outlets that have been accused of parroting the Israeli narrative, Al Jazeera explicitly details the suffering of millions of Palestinians through its reporters and journalists on the ground.
On Tuesday, Israel killed 19 members of a family related to one of Al Jazeera’s broadcast engineers, Mohamed Abu Al-Qumsan during a devastating attack on the Jabalia refugee camp..
The attack, which resulted in the deaths of at least 400 Palestinians, was severely denounced by the Qatar-based media organisation.
In an official statement, Al Jazeera condemned the “heinous and indiscriminate” killing of Mohamed Abu Al-Qumsan’s family members, describing the act as an “unforgivable act.”
The fatal Israeli assault claimed the lives of Al-Qumsan’s father, two sisters, eight nephews and nieces, his brother, his brother’s wife and their four children, his sister-in-law, and an uncle.
Israel has also threatened Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Gaza, Youmna ElSayed, telling her and her family to leave or risk death.
On Monday, Youmna ElSayed’s husband received a call telling him to flee Gaza City and head south, despite the fact that there are no safe routes out of the area.
Meanwhile, an air strike last week killed the family of Al Jazeera’s Gaza bureau chief, Wael Dahdouh. He lost his wife, son, daughter, and grandson.
Al Jazeera said in a statement that it “condemns the Israeli threat” to ElSayed and her family.
“This vile threat comes only a few days after the indiscriminate killing of the family of Al Jazeera Arabic’s journalist, Wael al-Dahdouh, who were asked to move south before being bombed,” it added.
Qatar’s mediator role
Qatar, which hosts Hamas’ political bureau, has been at the forefront of efforts to free civilians held by the Palestinian group. Despite not having diplomatic relations with Israel Qatar has played a pivotal role in negotiations to release captives.
Signifying its diplomatic power, Qatar successfully orchestrated the release of two American captives—mother and daughter, Judith Raanan and Natalie Raanan—held by Hamas on October 20.
Just three days later, the Gulf state, alongside Egypt, also secured the release of two elderly women, 79-year-old Nurit Yitzhak and 85-year-old Yocheved Lifshitz.
“We are ready to conduct an immediate prisoner exchange deal that includes the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in exchange for all prisoners held by the Palestinian resistance,” said Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Thousands of Palestinians are currently in 19 Israeli prisons, as well as one in the occupied West Bank. Currently, Israel imprisons around 1,264 Palestinian administrative detainees, 5,200 political prisoners, 33 women, and 170 children.
Separately on Wednesday morning, reports confirmed Qatar’s role to secure a deal allowing foreign nationals and seriously wounded patients to evacuate Gaza through the Rafah crossing.
The reported agreement enables the exit through the shared Gaza-Egypt Rafah crossing, the only portal in and out of the besieged enclave. While Qatar has yet to publicly comment on the reported deal, live footage broadcast on Al Jazeera on Wednesday morning showed hundreds flowing into the Rafah crossing as the gates opened.
However, a source told Reuters that the evacuation agreement is separate from other negotiations currently being undertaken by Doha, which primarily focus on the release of captives from Hamas as well as efforts for humanitarian ceasefires.
Gaza’s humanitarian catastrophe
Israel’s war on Gaza has resulted in an unparalleled humanitarian disaster.
More than one million residents have been internally displaced, and the destruction will take years to mend, as highlighted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Since Israel enforced a total siege on Gaza since October 8, the Palestinian enclave has grappled with a dire scarcity of essential resources like fuel and water, exacerbating the woes of an already beleaguered medical sector.
More than one-third of Gaza’s hospitals have ceased operations due to either inflicted damage or fuel shortages, according to official sources. Furthermore, only 10 remaining hospitals in the north of the Strip continue to operate under precarious conditions.
Earlier this week, an Israeli offensive led to the obliteration of the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital.
Meanwhile, the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) confirmed that 26 trucks with humanitarian aid had entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing, a critical passage not under Israeli control. Since October 7, only 144 aid trucks have entered Gaza through this route, regrettably without any fuel supplies.