update deskIsrael at War

Israeli raid shuts down Al Jazeera’s Nazareth studio

The confiscated equipment included a camera, TVU transmitter, tripod and audio kit used to directly transmit live broadcasts.

Inspectors from Israel's Communications Ministry seize Al Jazeera equipment at the Qatari broadcaster's Nazareth studio, May 9, 2024. Credit: Israel Communications Ministry.
Inspectors from Israel's Communications Ministry seize Al Jazeera equipment at the Qatari broadcaster's Nazareth studio, May 9, 2024. Credit: Israel Communications Ministry.

Inspectors from Israel’s Communications Ministry on Thursday confiscated Al Jazeera television broadcast equipment during a raid on the stations’ studio in Nazareth.

The action comes at the directive of Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi to close the Qatari broadcaster’s local operations following Sunday’s unanimous Cabinet approval of action under a Knesset law passed last month that will bring about the closure of Al Jazeera’s bureau in the country.

The confiscated equipment included a camera, TVU transmitter, tripod and audio kit used to directly transmit live broadcasts as late as Wednesday despite the ban.

Nazareth police officers assisted in the seizure.

“In accordance with the government’s decision and the order of the minister of communications, the Ministry of Communications will continue to carry out enforcement actions to the extent necessary to limit broadcasts that harm the security of the state,” the ministry said.

The Knesset voted 71-10 in April for the law that gives the prime minister authority to shut down the anti-Israel broadcaster’s local operations, which Jerusalem has accused of aiding the enemy in its war against the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza.

The legislation states that the communications minister may act against a foreign channel that harms the state’s security, with the consent of the prime minister and the approval of the Cabinet or the government. The prime minister and Cabinet can approve the measure after security officials prove that the channel poses an actual security risk.

The measures enable authorities to order television providers to stop broadcasting the outlet; close its offices in Israel; seize its equipment; shut down its website; and revoke press credentials for staff.

Al Jazeera was founded with the financial backing of the Qatari royal family and has served for decades as a mouthpiece for the regime, which provides asylum for the leaders of Hamas, a group designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, Canada, European Union, Israel and other nations.

The Arabic-language network is notorious for its anti-Israel reporting, antisemitic rhetoric and Holocaust denial, even as its English outlet has sought to offer a veneer of objectivity to Western viewers through some high-profile international anchors.

In February, the IDF exposed a Palestinian reporter working for Al Jazeera in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Abu Omar, as a Hamas terrorist operative. It came days after the IDF exposed Al Jazeera employee Mohamed Washah as a Hamas officer, citing documents seized in the Gaza Strip.

In another incident in March, the channel quietly removed a libelous story accusing Israeli soldiers of raping Palestinian women in Gaza, a day after it went viral on social media.

“It was revealed through Hamas investigations that the story of the rape of women in Al-Shifa Hospital was fabricated,” tweeted Al Jazeera columnist and former director Yasser Abuhilalah. “The woman who spoke about rape justified her exaggeration and incorrect talk by saying that the goal was to arouse the nation’s fervor and brotherhood.”

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