Israel passes law to ban Al-Jazeera, calls it a “terrorist channel”

Israel has already banned all foreign reporters from Gaza, making the flow of information about its genocidal war extremely difficult

April 02, 2024 by Abdul Rahman
Israel's assault on the press during the war on Gaza has been constant. AJ Bureau Chief Wael al-Dahdouh suffered the loss of several family members since October 7.

The Israeli parliament passed a law on Monday, April 1 giving direct powers to the government to ban Al-Jazeera from broadcasting in the country and seize its assets. “I intend to act immediately in accordance with the new law to stop the channel’s activities,”  Netanyhau tweeted immediately following the passage of the bill in the Knesset. He also termed Al-Jazeera a “terrorist channel.”

The law, first introduced in February this year, was adopted on April 1 by a vote of 71 members of the Israeli parliament (Knesset) in favor and just 10 against. The only people who voted against the bill were the Arab members of the Knesset.

The bill empowers the prime minister and minister for communication to order the shutting down of a broadcaster which is deemed a threat to national security and seize its assets in the country. The law provides for a complete shutting down of all the offices of the channel and shutting down its website in the country.

Though the law allows for judicial review within 24 hours of the order to shut down a channel and gives the district court three days to decide on the matter, given the record of collaboration between the Israeli judiciary and the government, the provision hardly creates any hope.

The order to ban the channel will be effective for a 45 day period. However, that period can be renewed for an indefinite number of times.

The law is temporary in nature and would be valid until July 31.

Repeating a long held Israeli bias against Al-Jazeera, Israel’s Communication Minister Shlomo Karhi called it a “Hamas mouthpiece” and claimed that the law is designed to check the parties who “use freedom of the press to harm Israel’s national security and IDF soldiers and who incite to terrorism during a time of war.”

Silencing the truth about Israeli lies, crimes, and genocide

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called the move to shut down Al Jazeera “alarming.”

The direct ban on Al-Jazeera is the latest Israeli attack on press freedom amid its genocidal assault on Gaza. In October, Israel issued a ban to all foreign journalists from entering Gaza, this was later slightly relaxed to allow for journalists to embed with the IOF and work under their supervision. In November, Israel had banned Lebanese outlet Al-Mayadeen under its emergency media regulations.

Israeli forces have repeatedly targeted and killed journalists in Gaza and elsewhere since the beginning of the war often claiming they were Hamas operatives. According to the CPJ, at least 95 journalists have been killed in Israeli attacks since October 7, the UN Human Rights Council put the number over 120.

Al-Jazeera released a statement rejecting Israel’s latest attempt to silence it. “The network stresses that this latest measure comes as a part of a series of systematic Israeli attacks to silence” it, “including the assassination of its correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh, the killing of its journalist Sameer Abu Daqqa and Hamza Al Dahdouh, the bombing of its office in Gaza, the deliberate targeting of a number of journalists and their family members, and the arrest and intimidation of its correspondents in the field.”

Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was assassinated in May 2022 by an Israeli sniper when she was covering an Israeli raid in Jenin in the occupied West Bank. The channel’s office was bombed in May 2021 when Israel was carrying out attacks in Gaza in which more than 250 Palestinians were killed and around 2,000 were wounded.

Al-Jazeera journalists Sameer Abu Daqqa and Hamza al-Dahdouh were killed in Israeli strikes in Gaza in December and January respectively during the current war. The channel’s bureau chief Wael al-Dahdouh, Hamza’s father, lost most of his other family members in Israeli bombing in October. Wael was injured in another Israeli attack and was shifted to Qatar for treatment in January.