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Israeli Authorities Shut Down Associated Press Gaza War Livestream Citing Al Jazeera Media Ban

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes a statement on Nov. 24, 2015, at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. (U.S. State Department/Released)
May 21, 2024

The Associated Press has alleged Israeli officials seized some of their equipment on Tuesday for violating an Israeli legal order to bar Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera from operating inside the country.

Earlier this month, the Israeli government ordered Al Jazeera to cease operations within Israel and began shutting down the broadcaster’s office spaces.

The AP, which serves as a wire service sharing content with news publications around the world, said it ran afoul of Israeli authorities for continuing to syndicate content with Al Jazeera, including a live video feed showing the ongoing Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip.

“The Associated Press decries in the strongest terms the actions of the Israeli government to shut down our longstanding live feed showing a view into Gaza and seize AP equipment,” AP Vice President of Corporate Communications Lauren Easton said in a Tuesday statement.

Easton said the Israeli decision to shut down the AP’s Gaza live feed was not based on the content of the feed “but rather an abusive use by the Israeli government of the country’s new foreign broadcaster law.”

“We urge the Israeli authorities to return our equipment and enable us to reinstate our live feed immediately so we can continue to provide this important visual journalism to thousands of media outlets around the world,” the AP executive added.

Before seizing the equipment, officials with Israel’s Ministry of Communications provided AP videographer’s with a notice, signed by Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, informing them that their live feed was in violation of the Israeli order against Al Jazeera.

“In accordance with the government decision and the instruction of the communications minister, the communications ministry will continue to take whatever enforcement action is required to limit broadcasts that harm the security of the state,” the Israeli ministry said in a statement it shared with the Associated Press and the Times of Israel.

Karhi and other members of the Israeli government moved to shut Al Jazeera down, on the premise that the Qatari broadcaster incites animosity and violence toward Israel with its coverage.

Al Jazeera and the Israeli government have had a contentious relationship in recent years. Israeli forces have killed Al Jazeera journalists covering the ongoing Gaza war, as well as past violence between Israeli security forces and Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Israeli forces have concluded they likely killed Palestinian-American citizen and Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh while she was reporting on armed Israeli operations in the West Bank in May 2022.

Israeli government officials have accused at least one Al Jazeera journalist, Ismail Abu Omar, of moonlighting as a Hamas commander. Omar was wounded in an Israeli strike in the near the southern Gazan city of Rafah in February while covering the operations there. Omar was reportedly wearing a blue flak jacket with press markings at the time of the strike.

This article was originally published by FreeBase News and is reprinted with permission.