Israel's plans to shut down Al-Jazeera condemned

By staff writers
August 8, 2017

Human rights and media organisations have condemned the announcement by Israel's communications minister, Ayoub Kara, that the Israeli government has decided to close Al Jazeera' s office in Jerusalem and take the channel off air.

The announcement follows Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement, made in late July, when he accused the Qatar-based broadcaster of incitement over the Temple Mount, a sensitive Jerusalem holy site, and being unprofessional in the coverage of the Al-Aqsa Mosque clash between Palestinian worshippers and Israeli security forces.

Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International's Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director, said:"This is a brazen attack on media freedom in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The move sends a chilling message that the Israeli authorities will not tolerate critical coverage.

"By acting to suppress Al Jazeera, the Israeli government joins a host of other countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, which have demanded the channel's closure in the wake of the dispute between Gulf countries and Qatar.

"All journalists should be free to carry out their work without facing harassment or intimidation. Instead of initiating a repressive clampdown on freedom of expression the Israeli authorities must halt any attempt to silence critical media."

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) strongly condemned the move. The IFJ President, Philippe Leruth, said: "The decision by Israeli authorities to close down Al Jazeera's office in Jerusalem and to withdraw their journalists' credentials under a general accusation of supporting violence is an attack against press freedom and pluralism of information.

“If some information broadcasted by Al Jazeera was wrong, Israeli authorities had the possibility to exercise their right to reply. Choosing not to do this, and instead joining an international campaign against Al Jazeera, they give the impression they want to silence a voice that doesn't please them which is contrary to the democratic values they represent.

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), an IFJ affiliate, also condemned the announcement, saying, “We stand in solidarity with Al Jazeera, its journalists and crews working in Palestine. The move of the Occupation Authorities to close down Al Jazeera is a grave violation of freedom of expression and the rights of journalists to work.” The PJS also called on Arab states not to involve media and journalists in their political disputes.

* Amnesty International https://www.amnesty.org.uk/

* International Federation of Journalists http://www.ifj.org/

* Palenstine Journalists' Syndicate http://www.pjs.ps/en/

[Ekk/4]

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