Israeli court extends Al Jazeera broadcast ban for 35 days

The extension comes amid ongoing tensions between the Israeli government and Al Jazeera, which have escalated since the outbreak of the Gaza war in October.

An Israeli court has confirmed and extended the government’s shutdown of Qatar-based news channel Al Jazeera for an additional 35 days, according to a statement from the Israeli justice ministry on Friday, June 14.

The Tel Aviv district court upheld the communications minister’s instructions to halt Al Jazeera’s broadcasts, close its bureaus in Israel, block access to its websites, and seize its equipment. This decision follows an initial 45-day order issued in early May, which took Al Jazeera off the air in Israel.

The extension comes amid ongoing tensions between the Israeli government and Al Jazeera, which have escalated since the outbreak of the Gaza war in October. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration has long been at odds with the news network.

It’s important to note that the shutdown does not affect Al Jazeera’s broadcasts from the Israeli-occupied West Bank or the Gaza Strip, where the network continues to cover Israel’s conflict with Hamas.

The legal basis for this action stems from a security law passed by the Israeli parliament in April, which allows for the banning of foreign media broadcasts deemed to undermine security.

Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi defended the decision, describing Al Jazeera as a mouthpiece for terrorism in the service of Hamas. He stated that the government would continue to take necessary steps to cleanse the region of terrorism and incitement to violence.

The court acknowledged the importance of freedom of expression, especially during wartime, but argued that when there is a significant threat to state security, priority is given to the latter consideration.

This development raises concerns about press freedom in Israel, which is currently ranked 101 out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2024 World Press Freedom Index. The situation continues to evolve, with potential implications for media coverage and international perceptions of the ongoing conflict in the region.