Amnesty International slams Israel’s decision to shutdown Al Jazeera operations

Amnesty International has called Israel's decision to close the Jerusalem offices of Doha-broadcaster Al Jazeera ‘a brazen attack on media freedom’

Al Jazeera's offices in Jerusalem
Al Jazeera's offices in Jerusalem

An Amnesty International official has described Israel’s decision to shutdown Qatar's flagship Al Jazeera operations in Israel as a “chilling message that Israeli authorities will not tolerate critical coverage."

"This is a brazen attack on media freedom in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories," Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty's deputy Middle East and North Africa director, said in a statement on Monday.

On Sunday Ayoub Kara, Israel’s communications minister, proposed shutting down Al Jazeera’s office in Jerusalem, revoking press credentials of the network’s journalists while also shutting down Al Jazeera’s cable and satellite transmissions.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said on 27 July that he wanted Al Jazeera expelled amid tensions over a sensitive Jerusalem holy site.

Israel has regularly accused the Doha-based broadcaster of bias in its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In a statement Amnesty said that Israel "joins a host of other countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, which have demanded the channel's closure in the wake of a dispute between Gulf countries and Qatar". 

The Gulf dispute began on 5 June when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting "terrorism". Qatar has labelled the allegations as "baseless". Then on 22 June, the group issued a 13-point list of demands, including shutting down Al Jazeera.

Amnesty International has called on Israel to "halt any attempt to silence critical media."

"All journalists should be free to carry out their work without facing harassment or intimidation," the rights group said, adding that Israel's move is a "repressive clampdown on freedom of expression."

On its English language website, Al Jazeera condemned the measures as "undemocratic" and said that it will take legal action, as well as continuing operations in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

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