Netanyahu Vows to Close Al Jazeera Office Amid Gaza Conflict

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans to close Al Jazeera’s local office during an ongoing conflict in Gaza.

The Knesset swiftly approved a bill enabling the temporary shutdown of foreign broadcasters deemed a national security threat. Al Jazeera, funded by the Qatari government, condemned the move as part of a broader campaign to silence the network.

The approved law allows Netanyahu and the security cabinet to close Al Jazeera’s offices in Israel for 45 days, extendable until the end of July or major military operations in Gaza conclude.

Netanyahu moves to close Al Jazeera office (Credits: AAP)

Al Jazeera refuted allegations of endangering Israel’s security, labeling them as baseless and dangerous, placing its journalists at risk.

The network has been critical of Israel’s military operations in Gaza, reporting extensively on the conflict. Al Jazeera accused Israeli authorities of targeting and killing its journalists, including Samer Abu Daqqa and Hamza AlDahdooh. Despite Israeli denials of targeting journalists, tensions remain high.

Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karai accused Al Jazeera of inciting hostility against Israel, asserting the impossibility of tolerating a media outlet acting against the country from within.

The decision raised concerns, particularly from the United States, emphasizing the importance of press freedom.

Qatar, which founded Al Jazeera in 1996, views the network as a means to bolster its influence in the Arab region. Amid ongoing ceasefire negotiations and escalating violence in Gaza, talks on a proposed truce face challenges.

Knesset swiftly approves bill allowing temporary shutdown of foreign broadcasters (Credits: Reuters)
Knesset swiftly approves bill allowing temporary shutdown of foreign broadcasters (Credits: Reuters)

Netanyahu‘s call for increased pressure on Hamas raises speculation on the motives behind the move against Al Jazeera.

While Al Jazeera reserves the right to pursue legal action against the closure, Israeli officials stress the importance of due process.

Previous attempts to shut down the network’s offices were met with resistance, with Israel instead halting broadcasts of another channel, Al Mayadeen.