Israeli government says it will block Al Jazeera from broadcasting

Al Jazeera Gaza bureau chief Wael Al-Dahdouh
The son of Al Jazeera Gaza bureau chief Wael Al-Dahdouh (pictured) was killed in an Israeli strike in January [Getty Images]
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The Israeli parliament has approved a law giving the government the power to ban broadcasts of TV channels including Al Jazeera, the Qatari-owned network.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would "act immediately" to close the network's local office.

The US expressed concern over the move.

With foreign journalists banned from entering Gaza, Al Jazeera staff based in the strip have been some of the only reporters able to cover the war on the ground.

The Knesset, Israel's parliament, approved the bill allowing foreign networks considered a threat to national security to be "temporarily" banned.

The ban would be in place for a period of 45 days at a time, which could be renewed. The law would stay in force until July or until the end of significant fighting in Gaza.

"Al Jazeera will no longer be broadcast from Israel," Mr Netanyahu wrote on Twitter/X, calling the network a "terrorist channel".

For years, Israeli officials have accused the network of anti-Israeli bias. But their criticisms of the broadcaster have intensified since the Hamas attacks of 7 October. Authorities claim it has close links with Hamas, which Al Jazeera vehemently denies.

In a statement, Al Jazeera said: "Netanyahu could not find any justifications to offer the world for his ongoing attacks on Al Jazeera and press freedom except to present new lies and inflammatory slanders against the Network and the rights of its employees.

"Al Jazeera holds the Israeli Prime Minister responsible for the safety of its staff and Network premises around the world, following his incitement and this false accusation in a disgraceful manner."

The channel has accused Israel of deliberately targeting its staff. Journalists including Hamza Al-Dahdouh, the son of Al Jazeera Gaza bureau chief Wael Al-Dahdouh, have been killed by Israeli strikes. Israel denies targeting journalists.

Qatar, where Al Jazeera is headquartered, is mediating talks between Israel and Hamas over the now almost six-month long conflict. Previous negotiations mediated by Qatar led to a temporary ceasefire and the release of 105 Israeli hostages.

It is not clear, though, if the move by Israel will affect the ceasefire talks.

Israel has previously banned a smaller Lebanese channel, Al Mayadeen, from operating in the country.

"If it is true, a move like this is concerning," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said when asked about the proposed ban.

The war began when Hamas fighters stormed into southern Israel on 7 October last year, killing about 1,200 people and seizing 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. About 130 of the hostages remain in captivity, at least 34 of whom are presumed dead.

More than 32,800 Palestinians have been killed and 75,000 injured in Gaza since Israel launched its military campaign, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. It says 70% of those killed were women and children.

Al Jazeera first launched in 1996 and shook up the media landscape in the Middle East by airing criticisms of governments and rulers in the region.

But some governments in the region have taken issue with the network's coverage. It has been closed or blocked in countries including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.

Al Jazeera says it was the first Arabic channel to feature Israeli politicians and commentators on the air.