Israeli government says it will ban Al Jazeera

3 weeks ago 26

Al Jazeera Gaza bureau chief Wael Al DahdouhImage source, Getty Images

Image caption,

The son of Al Jazeera Gaza bureau chief Wael Al Dahdouh (pictured) was killed in an Israeli strike in January

The Israeli parliament has approved a law giving the government the power to ban broadcasts of TV channels including Al Jazeera, the Qatari-owned network.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would "act immediately" to close the network's local office.

The US expressed concern over the move.

With foreign journalists banned from entering Gaza, Al Jazeera staff based in the strip have been some of the only reporters able to cover the war on the ground.

The Knesset, Israel's parliament, approved the bill allowing foreign networks considered a threat to national security to be "temporarily" banned.

The ban would be in place for a period of 45 days at a time, which could be renewed. The law would stay in force until July or until the end of significant fighting in Gaza.

"Al Jazeera will no longer be broadcast from Israel," Mr Netanyahu wrote on Twitter/X, calling the network a "terrorist channel". His government has long accused Al Jazeera of anti-Israel bias, but has previously stopped short of a ban.

Al Jazeera did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The channel has accused Israel of deliberately targeting its staff. Journalists including Hamza Al Dahdouh, the son of Al Jazeera Gaza bureau chief Wael Al Dahdouh, have been killed by Israeli strikes. Israel denies targeting journalists.

Qatar, where Al Jazeera is headquartered, is mediating talks between Israel and Hamas over the now almost six-month long conflict. Previous talks mediated by Qatar led to a temporary ceasefire and the release of 105 Israeli hostages.

Israel has previously banned a smaller Lebanese channel, Al Mayadeen, from operating in the country.

The war began when Hamas fighters stormed into southern Israel on 7 October, killing about 1,200 people and seizing 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. About 130 of the hostages remain in captivity, at least 34 of whom are presumed dead.

More than 32,800 Palestinians have been killed and 75,000 injured in Gaza since Israel launched its military campaign, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. It says 70% of those killed were women and children.

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