Al Jazeera's Gaza bureau chief Wael al-Dahdouh

Al Jazeera's Gaza bureau chief Wael Dahdouh works in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on December 12, 2023. (Photo by Mahmud HAMS / AFP)

(Photo: Mahmud Hams/AFP via Getty Images)

'Rogue, Authoritarian State': Netanyahu Vows to Ban Al Jazeera Under New Law

"After murdering multiple Al Jazeera journalists, Israel is now moving to expel the news organization entirely," said one advocacy group.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged Monday to "immediately" move to ban Al Jazeera from broadcasting from Israel after the Knesset approved legislation that gives the country's government the power to shut down the operations of foreign media outlets deemed a threat to national security.

In a social media post, Netanyahu called the Qatari-owned network a "terrorist channel" and said he would use the new law to halt its activities in Israel.

"I welcome the law promoted by Communications Minister Shlomo Karai with the support of coalition members led by coalition chairman Ofir Katz," wrote Netanyahu.

Under the new law, the Israeli communications minister can ban foreign outlets with the prime minister's permission. The measure, which also gives Israeli authorities the power to confiscate a foreign media outlet's equipment, passed the Knesset in an overwhelming 71 to 10 vote.

The law's passage comes days after Al Jazeera broadcast video footage of Israeli soldiers gunning down two unarmed Palestinians in northern Gaza, one of whom was waving a piece of white fabric in a gesture of surrender. The footage showed Israeli bulldozers subsequently burying the two bodies under the sand of the beach where the killings took place.

"Israel continues to act as a rogue, authoritarian state with total impunity."

Al Jazeera has a bureau in Jerusalem and offices in the West Bank and Gaza, and it has covered Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip closely and critically, regularly reporting and broadcasting footage and eyewitness accounts of Israeli atrocities. Al Jazeera is one of the few international media outlets to broadcast live from Gaza during Israel's latest war on the Palestinian enclave.

The outlet's correspondents have been among the dozens of journalists killed, wounded, or detained by Israeli forces in Gaza since October 7.

Wael Dahdouh, Al Jazeera's Gaza bureau chief, was wounded by an Israeli missile attack in December. Israeli forces have killed five members of Dahdouh's family—including his son, Hamza, who was also an Al Jazeera journalist.

"After murdering multiple Al Jazeera journalists, Israel is now moving to expel the news organization entirely," Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East wrote in response to the new law's passage. "Israel continues to act as a rogue, authoritarian state with total impunity."

Al Jazeerareported Monday that the Netanyahu government has been threatening to shutter the outlet and other publications for months under the guise of wartime security.

In a statement ahead of Monday's vote, the Association for Civil Rights expressed opposition to the proposed crackdown on foreign media outlets, arguing that the measure's "real purpose is not security-related but political: to allow the government to impose sanctions on foreign broadcasting tools whose broadcasts are not to its liking."

"In addition to the grave infringement on freedom of expression and freedom of the press, it also prohibits the court from overturning a non-proportional decision, effectively tying the court's hands from intervening in decisions regarding the closure of media outlets," the group said. "This is a direct continuation of the judicial overhaul, harming the courts and media outlets, all while cynically using war and security justifications."

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