May 5, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel Shutters Al Jazeera Bureau

May 5, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel Shutters Al Jazeera Bureau

Latest Developments

Israel carried out a long-threatened temporary closure of Al Jazeera’s operations in Israel on May 5, accusing the Qatari-owned television channel of pro-Hamas incitement. “Al Jazeera reporters harmed Israel’s security and incited against [Israeli] soldiers. It’s time to remove the Hamas mouthpiece from our country,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement following a unanimous vote by his cabinet to take action against the channel. Police subsequently raided Al Jazeera’s makeshift bureau in an eastern Jerusalem hotel.

The government order also requires the confiscation of Al Jazeera’s broadcast equipment and the blocking of its websites. Al Jazeera said its legal team was working on a response — a possible signal that the closure would be contested in Israel’s court system.

On April 1, the Israeli Knesset passed a wartime emergency law that enables the 45-day closure of foreign media outlets deemed to be endangering national security. Such closures can be renewed. Multiple Al Jazeera reporters have been credibly linked to terrorist activities against Israel.

Israeli officials had previously held off on taking action against Al Jazeera, citing the need to keep open channels with Qatar as it mediated hostage deals with Hamas. But Jerusalem has become disillusioned with the Qataris’ fruitless recent interventions and failure to shut down the Hamas office in Doha as a means of pressuring the Palestinian terrorist group.

Expert Analysis

“For too long, the Qataris have been allowed to play all sides. They are cozy with the world’s worst actors but see their money as a way of buying influence in the West. This sinister behavior has played out on air through Al Jazeera, which broadcasts reactionary Islamist propaganda and violent incitement. It’s long past time for Western countries to ban this Islamist influence operation masquerading as a media outlet.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“Aside from its foreign control by Qatar, we have seen ample evidence of Al Jazeera’s material support for terrorism since October 7. The controversy is not over Israel’s decision to shut them down but rather America’s decision to do nothing.” Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“Media organizations should not be able to abuse the freedoms provided for in democratic societies. Democracies are not required to protect incitement to violence and other abuses that harm its citizens by hiding behind the veil of legitimate media outlets.” — Toby Dershowitz, Managing Director of FDD Action

U.S. Government Efforts to Restrict Al Jazeera

There is international precedent for Israel’s decision to ban or have oversight of news outlets. For example, in 2022, the European Union (EU) banned the Russian state-run media outlet RT, formerly Russia Today. And in 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) ordered Al Jazeera+, an American subsidiary of Al Jazeera, to register as a foreign agent of the Qatari government because Al Jazeera is “controlled and funded by the Government of Qatar.” Yet Al Jazeera+ has defied the order and refused to register as a foreign agent. Congress has called on the DOJ to require the parent company, Al Jazeera, to register as well. The DOJ has not confirmed whether it will take action.

The United States has designated the Hezbollah-linked Al-Manar TV and Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV as terrorist organizations. Further, the EU has banned Al-Manar TV, and the EU supported France’s decision to ban Al-Aqsa TV for incitement.

Qatar-Owned Al-Jazeera To Close Israel Bureau Pending Israeli Cabinet Vote,” FDD Flash Brief

Washington Should Clip Qatar’s Media Wing,” by Natalie Ecanow

Al Jazeera should report, not inflame, the Gaza war,” by Hussain Abdul-Hussain

The Growing List of Al Jazeera Terrorists,” by Jonathan Schanzer


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