The IOF killed at least 13 Palestinian journalists since the start of the war on Gaza.
Israel is reportedly moving forward with its plan to ban Al Jazeera from reporting locally following the Israeli attorney general’s approval, Middle East Eye reported on Wednesday, citing Israeli media.
The reports claimed that Israeli attorney general Gali Baharav-Miara and Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi had reached an agreement on Tuesday on the wording of “emergency regulations” that would ban the Qatari outlet’s operations.
The development comes after multiple reports claimed that the Israeli communications minister was planning on shutting down Al Jazeera’s local bureau.
“This is a station that incites, this is a station that films troops in assembly areas (outside Gaza) … that incites against the citizens of Israel – a propaganda mouthpiece,” Karhi told Israel’s Army Radio, as quoted by Reuters on Sunday.
Karhi said that it “is unconscionable that Hamas spokespeople’s message goes through” Al Jazeera. “I hope we will finish with this today,” Karhi added.
Last week, a separate report pointed to an emergency Israeli cabinet meeting on the matter in which Karhi sought to approve the closure of Al Jazeera’s coverage in Israel. Reports at the time suggested that Israeli security officials had vetted the proposal.
The Qatari-based Al Jazeera network has yet to comment on the matter. However, the potential move has already sparked outrage among Al Jazeera’s staff and rights groups.
Palestinian digital rights defender Mona Shtaya told Doha News that the assaults on Al Jazeera fall under the broader Israeli pattern of manipulating the narrative and justifying its ongoing attacks on innocent civilians in Gaza.
“The recent assault on Al Jazeera is part of this broader pattern, intricately linked to the suppression and violence intended to manipulate the narrative, propagate disinformation, stifle the truth, and justify attacks on innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip,” Shtaya said.
On Tuesday night, the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) carried out a massacre at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza, killing more than 500 people within seconds. Israel attempted to distort the narrative by pushing out videos that claimed that Palestinian resistance was behind the attack.
Al Jazeera was among the outlets that covered the attack as it happened, dismissing Israel’s allegations.
IOF targeting of Al Jazeera
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.
“In these sensitive times, the real battle rages in the realm of information. Amidst the unfolding events, we’ve witnessed a multifaceted suppression of voices, coupled with acts of violence targeting communication infrastructure, such as attacks on journalists, media outlets and disruptions to internet and electricity services,” Shtaya added.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) separately told Doha News that it is “watching with great concern” the Israeli government’s threats to “censor media coverage” of the events in Gaza.
“We are watching with great concern efforts by Israeli government officials and political leaders to threaten and censor media coverage of the ongoing conflict in Gaza using vague accusations of harming national morals,” Sherif Mansour, CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator, virtually told Doha News.
Journalists have long been targeted by Israe though the attacks on the press have increased since the beginning of the occupation’s war on Gaza on 7 October.
Within 12 days, the IOF has killed more than 3,000 Palestinians, including more than 1,000 children and at least 13 Palestinian journalists. Israel also killed Reuters’ journalist Issam Abdullah during Friday’s attack on Al Jazeera’s team and other members of the international press in the South of Lebanon.
They were all wearing helmets and blue flak jackets that clearly identified them as members of the press when they were targeted.
Al Jazeera had confirmed in a statement that the IOF fired “a guided missile” at its crew in yet another attempt “to silence the media”.
“Coupled with reports of detentions, physical assaults, and harassment of journalists by Israeli security and Police on the ground, and on air, these efforts impedes journalists from fulfilling their crucial role and denies them the protection provided to them under international and humanitarian law,” Mansour added.
During Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in 2021, the IOF levelled a tower that housed international media offices, including Al Jazeera and the Associated Press. The 11-storey Al-Jalaa building was destroyed on live television.
The network saw the attack at the time “as a clear act to stop journalists from conducting their sacred duty to inform the world and report events on the ground.”
The IOF has killed more than 50 Palestinian journalists since 2000, per figures shared by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate. Veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was among the members of the press deliberately killed by the IOF.
In 2022, the IOF shot and killed Abu Akleh while she was covering an Israeli raid in Jenin and also attacked pallbearers carrying her coffin at the time. More than a year later, Israel has yet to be held accountable for the crime.