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  • Writer's pictureGideon

Netanyahu announced his cabinet had voted unanimously to close the local offices of Qatar-owned broadcaster Al Jazeera

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday, May 05, 2024, that his cabinet had voted unanimously to close the local offices of Qatar-owned broadcaster Al Jazeera. This decision has escalated tensions between Israel and Qatar, particularly as Qatar plays a significant role in mediation efforts to halt the ongoing war in Gaza.

The move follows the adoption of a new law by the Israeli parliament last month, allowing the government to shut down foreign broadcasters considered to be a threat to national security. The law provides for the closure of such networks for a period of 45 days, subject to renewal by a judge.

Al Jazeera has condemned the decision as a "criminal act" and accused the Israeli government of attempting to conceal its actions in the Gaza Strip. The network has been a major source of information on the conflict, with its journalists remaining in Gaza throughout the war.

In response to the cabinet's decision, Al Jazeera has vowed to continue its coverage. The network has also accused Netanyahu of incitement and held him responsible for the safety of its staff and offices around the world.

This move by the Israeli government is not without precedent. In the past, the Egyptian government shut down Al Jazeera after a military takeover in 2013. However, the current decision marks the first time Israel has shuttered a foreign news outlet.

The closure of Al Jazeera's offices in Israel may have wider implications, particularly on international media coverage of the war in Gaza. Critics have raised concerns about the impact on press freedom and the ability of journalists to report on the conflict.

As of now, it is unclear when the closure will take effect or whether it will be permanent or temporary. The decision has sparked debate and raised concerns about press freedom, with many questioning the timing of the move amid ongoing mediation efforts to end the war in Gaza.

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