Committee to Protect Journalists Rebukes Israel’s Decision to Shut Down Al Jazeera: ‘Extremely Alarming’

The Arabic-language network “strongly condemns and denounces” what it calls a “criminal act”

Al-Jazeera-Logo

Israel’s new law banning Al Jazeera throughout the country went into effect on Sunday, something the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) described as “an extremely alarming precedent for restricting international media outlets working in Israel.” The law was passed on April 1.

The CPJ’s statement reads, “CPJ condemns the closure of Al Jazeera’s office in Israel and the blocking of the channel’s websites. This move sets an extremely alarming precedent for restricting international media outlets working in Israel. The Israeli cabinet must allow Al Jazeera and all international media outlets to operate freely in Israel, especially during wartime.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed he was banning Al Jazeera on Twitter/X.

The Knesset passed the law with broad bipartisan support. The law allows Netanyahu to ban any foreign media that he has determined is a detriment to the country’s security “in a real way.” The BBC reported that the shutdown does not apply to Facebook, where the channel will still be available to viewers in Israel, and the ban does not appear to impact the channel’s operations in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

On April 4, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) issued a statement in which they announced they had petitioned the Knesset overturn the law.

“Today, we petitioned the High Court of Justice and demanded that the law imposing sanctions on foreign broadcasting channels be abolished,” the statement began. “The temporary order passed by the Knesset this week allows a series of restrictions to be imposed on foreign media outlets. Such a move would prevent citizens from receiving information that does not coincide with the Israeli narrative and as such does not receive exposure in local media channels.”

“In the petition, we warned that this is a dangerous temporary order, which wrongly identifies security threats on the media to weaken the judiciary and free press. In addition to severely infringing on freedom of expression, the right to information, and freedom of the press, the bill crudely tramples on the independence of the judiciary by including an ‘override clause’ that prevents the court from overturning illegal decisions.”

“This is extreme legislation that seeks, specifically in times of war, while bearing the name of security in vain, to block the possibility of citizens of the country to consume and receive a variety of information. War is not a justification for silencing the media and judicial criticism,” the statement concluded.

The Qatari-founded and run media company has been an outspoken critic of Israel’s ongoing military operations in Gaza since the country’s ground invasion began and has reported nonstop on the current iteration of the decades-long conflict. In a statement, the network described the law as a “deceptive and slanderous move.”

“Ironically as the world marked World Press Freedom Day, the Israeli government closed Al Jazeera’s offices, preventing the public from accessing its content, disregarding the universally recognized fundamentals of freedom of expression,” the statement continued.

The network added that it “strongly condemns and denounces this criminal act that violates human rights and the basic right to access information” and that “Israel’s ongoing suppression of the free press, seen as an effort to conceal its actions in the Gaza Strip, stands in contravention of international and humanitarian law.”

Al Jazeera’s offices were raided after the law went into effect. Israel’s Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi  shared a video of the IDF seizing equipment on social media.

On Friday the CJP reported that at least 97 journalists and media workers have been killed since the start of the current Israel-Hamas conflict. Of those, 92 were Palestinian, 2 Israeli, and 3 were Lebanese. An additional 16 have been reported injured, 4 reported missing, and 25 reported arrested.

CPJ Program Director Carlos Martínez de la Serna said, “Since the Israel-Gaza war began, journalists have been paying the highest price— their lives—to defend our right to the truth. Each time a journalist dies or is injured, we lose a fragment of that truth.”

“Journalists are civilians who are protected by international humanitarian law in times of conflict. Those responsible for their deaths face dual trials: one under international law and another before history’s unforgiving gaze,” he concluded.

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.