Israel plans to shut down local Al-Jazeera offices

Israel has announced plans to effectively expel the Al Jazeera network from the country, revoking journalists' credentials, shutting the company's bureau in Jerusalem and pulling its broadcasts from national cable and satellite television networks.

During the press conference, Kara also said that the interior ministry will also be involved in shutting down Al Jazeera's office in Jerusalem. No timetable for the measures was given.

The move follows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's call for the station's offices to be shut down, accusing it of inflaming tensions around Al-Aqsa mosque, the Jerusalem holy site where Palestinians staged an nearly two-week protest last month against Israeli security measures installed after a deadly shootout.

During a press conference, Israeli Communications Minister Ayoub Kara announced his intentions to limit Qatari-owned Al Jazeera's activity within Israel.

Jordan and Saudi Arabia have closed Al Jazeera's local offices, while the channel and its sites have been blocked in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain.

Al Jazeera said Israel is also seeking to scramble the network's satellite links to the country, which is widely watched, particularly by Palestinian Israeli citizens.

"I have appealed to law enforcement agencies several times to close the Al-Jazeera office in Jerusalem", Netanyahu said on July 27 in calling for the channel's expulsion.

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Al Jazeera has condemned the decision.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently accused the broadcaster of incitement.

"Al Jazeera stresses that it will closely watch the developments that may result from the Israeli decision, and will take the necessary legal measures towards it", it said in a statement. He claimed that the network was being used by groups to incite violence in Jerusalem.

The official defended Al-Jazeera's coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, saying it is "professional and objective" and gives both sides of events.

"Regimes that want to control power will nearly always go after two targets-the media and the foreigners", the American University in Beirut's Rami Khouri told Al Jazeera.

Qatar's Arabic-language news channel first launched in 1996, and shook up the media landscape in the Middle East by airing criticisms of governments and rulers in the region. Netanyahu had accused Al Jazeera of encouraging a recent crisis that took place around a holy site in Jerusalem known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif.

  • Adam Floyd