Al Jazeera looking at legal action against Israel’s ban on station

  • Post last modified:May 8, 2024
  • Reading time:5 mins read

Al Jazeera will look to pursue all possible legal action against Israel’s ban on its operations there, the TV network’s news director has said. He likened the actions of the far-right government to ‘something from the 1960s’ – and doubled-down on the media outlet’s coverage of Israel’s genocide, saying it would refuse to “report politely” on the state’s atrocities.

Israel: shutting down Al Jazeera – and the truth

Israel took the Qatar-based station off air after prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government voted on Sunday 5 May to shut it down. It was over its coverage of Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza.

Al Jazeera English news director Salah Negm said the network would “follow every legal path”:

If there is a possibility of challenging that decision we are going to pursue it until the end.

Under a cabinet decision which Netanyahu said was “unanimous”, authorities raided Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem offices. It shuttered them up, confiscated its equipment, and pulled its team’s accreditations.

Negm said:

The equipment which was confiscated, the loss that we suffered from stopping our broadcast, all of that is subject matter for legal action.

The Israeli government said the order was initially valid for 45 days, with the possibility of an extension.

Hours later, screens in Israel carrying Al Jazeera’s Arabic and English channels went blank, apart from a message in Hebrew saying they had “been suspended in Israel”.

‘An action from the 60s’

The shutdown does not apply to the Israeli-occupied West Bank or Gaza Strip, from which Al Jazeera still broadcasts live on Israel’s ongoing genocide.

Al Jazeera immediately condemned Israel’s decision as “criminal”, saying on social media site X that it “violates the human right to access information”.

But Negm downplayed the ban’s impact on Al Jazeera’s coverage of the war and on the public’s ability to access its content, even with its website now blocked in Israel:

It’s an action from the 60s rather than the 21st century to take such a decision of shutting down.

He also said the channel could rely on other sources for information without “people on the ground”:

I know people that have VPN can see us online anytime.

The decision came after Israel’s parliament last month voted to pass a new national security law granting senior ministers powers to ban broadcasts by foreign channels over threats to security.

In his statement, Netanyahu claimed that:

Al Jazeera correspondents have harmed the security of Israel and incited against IDF soldiers.

Al Jazeera: we won’t report “politely” on Israel killing journalists

But Negm questioned which broadcasts the Israeli government considered a security threat, calling the ban an “arbitrary decision”.

Since the start of Israel’s genocide, it has bombed Al Jazeera’s office in the Palestinian territory and killed two of its correspondents. Negm said:

Al Jazeera has lost a few people, their families have suffered so that’s really different from other conflicts in this sense.

Al Jazeera’s Gaza bureau chief Wael al-Dahdouh was wounded in an Israeli strike in December that killed the network’s cameraman.

Israel killed Dahdouh’s wife, two of their children and a grandson in October, during its bombardment of central Gaza’s Nuseirat refugee camp. It then killed Dahdouh’s eldest son, an Al Jazeera staff journalist, alongside another journalist in Rafah in January when it targeted the car they were travelling in with a strike.

Israel has killed at least 97 journalists and media workers since 7 October, among them Palestinians, Israelis, and Lebanese.

Negm said:

That’s not something that we can just report politely. We have to be wary and careful and alert the people of the nature of the war that’s going on and how deadly it is for the people and also for us as a profession.

Featured image via Global News – YouTube

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