‘Dark day for media’: Israel shuts down local Al Jazeera offices in country, seizes equipment

Photo from balcony overlooking main television studio from behind presenter's desk of Al Jazeera office.

Israeli authorities closed the local offices of Al Jazeera on Sunday, shortly after a government vote to use new laws to shut down the satellite news network’s operations in the country, The Guardian reported.

Critics described the move as a “dark day for the media” and raised concerns about the Netanyahu government’s stance on free speech.

Israeli officials justified the closure by citing Al Jazeera as a national security threat. The country’s prime minister announced on social media after a unanimous cabinet vote, “The incitement channel Al Jazeera will be closed in Israel.”

A government statement said Israel’s communications minister had issued immediate orders to close Al Jazeera’s offices, confiscate broadcast equipment, cut off the channel from cable and satellite services, and block its websites.

Al Jazeera, funded by Qatar, has been critical of Israel’s military operations in Gaza and provided continuous coverage throughout the seven-month genocide in Gaza.

In response to accusations of threatening Israeli security, Al Jazeera called the claims a “dangerous and ridiculous lie” that endangered its journalists.

“Al Jazeera Media Network strongly condemns and denounces this criminal act that violates human rights and the basic right to access information,” the company stated. “Al Jazeera affirms its right to continue providing news and information to its global audiences.”

After the ban took effect, Al Jazeera aired a pre-recorded “final report” detailing the restrictions imposed by the Israeli government.

The network has accused Israeli authorities of targeting its journalists, including those killed in Gaza during the conflict. Israel denies these accusations.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also criticized the decision, emphasizing the importance of a free and independent media for transparency and accountability.

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