Israel reportedly orders ban of Al Jazeera in West Bank

A picture shows a view of the Al Jazeera television network offices in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on May 5, 2024. [Getty]

Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has reportedly ordered a ban on the broadcast of pan-Arab TV channel Al Jazeera in the occupied West Bank

According to Israel’s Army Radio, Gallant had instructed army chief Herzi Halevi to impose the ban on the Qatari news broadcaster, following a previous ban in Israel

The report added that Israeli forces have already begun carrying out Gallant’s orders. 

Israeli news publication The Times of Israel reported that it has to be determined if the instructions apply only in areas of the occupied territory where Israeli settlers reside, or it also extends to Palestinian areas where higher Al Jazeera viewership is located.

Additionally, the military has also not confirmed whether the ban would be implemented at the Al Jazeera office in Ramallah, which is controlled by the Palestinian Authority or whether the network will be blocked to audience viewing across the West Bank. 

“The IDF is working to implement the defence minister’s order,” a spokesperson for the Israeli forces told The Times of Israel

On May 5, the cabinet of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unanimously decided to shut down Al Jazeera’s operations within Israel. 

The government announced that Netanyahu authorised Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi to immediately order the cessation of the channel’s broadcasts in Israel, in both Arabic and English.  

The ban also force Al Jazeera to close its offices in Israel, with Karhi ordering the confiscation of equipment used by its personnel to broadcast, according to Israeli news website Haaretz

Access to the network’s website is also blocked within Israel. 

The head of Al Jazeera in Israel and the Palestinian territories described the Israeli government’s decision to shutter the station’s local operations as “dangerous” and motivated by politics rather than professional considerations. 

Following the ban, Israeli police raided a room at the Ambassador Hotel in East Jerusalem that acted as the channel’s de facto office. 

Press freedom rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) had denounced Israel’s move to ban Al Jazeera citing censorship over its Gaza coverage amid global calls to safeguard press freedom. 

The Foreign Press Association said shutting down Al Jazeera in Israel was “a dark day for the media (and) a dark day for democracy”, and the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate slammed the move as “a war crime”. 

According to the CPJ, at least 105 journalists and media workers were among the more than 35,000 people killed in Gaza since October 7. 

Launched in Doha in 1996, the network says it has more than 70 bureaus globally, with 3,000 employees and an audience in 430 million homes. 

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