Israeli Leadership Bans Al Jazeera From Israel

( – The Israeli government has banned Qatari media outlet Al Jazeera and closed its offices in a Jerusalem hotel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the decision on Twitter, saying his cabinet voted unanimously in favor of the move.

Police raided Al Jazeera’s base in Jerusalem’s Ambassador Hotel on May 5, and Israel’s Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi confirmed officers had seized broadcasting equipment. Israeli leaders immediately came under fire for impeding press freedom, and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) filed an urgent request to the country’s Supreme Court to overturn the ban.

The organization responded to the government’s claim that Al Jazeera is a “mouthpiece for Hamas,” saying these are “unfounded.” ACRI alleged that the true motivation was Israeli attempts to silence critics and target Arab journalists.

The Foreign Press Association (FPA) condemned the Israeli cabinet and pleaded with its members to reconsider the decision. It issued a public statement saying the Jewish state had joined “a dubious club” of authoritarians and dictators who intimidate reporters. Similarly, the Committee to Protect Journalists noted that press freedom is more critical during wartime and encouraged Mr. Netanyahu to reserve the proscription.

Israel’s leader decided to pull the network after accusing it of posing significant security concerns and inciting violence against Israeli Defense Force (IDF) troops. Walid Omary, the head of Al Jazeera in Israel, described the government’s actions as “dangerous” and politically motivated. A formal statement from the outlet called the ban “criminal” and a violation of international law. It said Al Jazeera would pursue all legal avenues available to ensure it could continue broadcasting from inside the Jewish state.

Al Jazeera has reported from inside Israel and the Gaza Strip since conflict erupted last October. Figures suggest it is among the most-watched media outlets in the region, but Israel said it is allied with Hamas.

Partly funded by the Qatari government, Al Jazeera is frequently accused of bias and has been described as a “standard bearer” for Islamists.

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