The Israeli Knesset Enables the Government To Shut down International Media Outlets

( – Every nation has laws in place to safeguard its national security. In times of escalated tensions or conflict, a government may enact temporary measures to further batten down the hatches. That’s what Israel’s Knesset recently did and the move concerned others, including the United States.

On the evening of Monday, April 1, Israeli’s Knesset approved what’s called the Al Jazeera law in a 71-10 vote. The legislation allows its government to temporarily prevent foreign news outlets from operating in the country if they are found to pose a national security threat. The move was spearheaded by Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, who had the outlet in his crosshairs, accusing them of acting as “Hamas mouthpieces.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement on X, formerly Twitter, saying “Al Jazeera harmed Israel’s security, actively participated in the October 7 massacre, and incited against IDF soldiers.” The outlet was one of the only to broadcast live from Gaza, putting the Israeli assault front and center.

Karhi said he would be shutting it down “in the coming days,” accusing them of “incit[ing] to terrorism.” The network refutes these claims, lobbing an accusation at Israel that it simply wants to justify the deaths of the journalists who have been killed in the midst of the conflict. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) previously reported that nearly 100 had died during the war.

The reaction from the West, particularly the US, was one of concern. Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said in a comment to reporters, “We believe in the freedom of the press. It is critically important.” The sentiment was echoed by the CPJ, which issued its own statement, urging Netanyahu to reverse course, saying the Jewish state has expressed hostility toward international media.

This isn’t the only time Israel has targeted an outlet. Government officials shut down a Lebanese-based outlet, Al-Mayadeen TV, last November.

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