Shutdown threat: When has Israel targeted Al Jazeera before?

Netanyahu has repeatedly called to shut down Al Jazeera in Israel, while the Israeli military has attacked and killed its journalists in Palestine.

Israel’s parliament passed a law on Monday that allows temporary shutdowns of foreign media in Israel including — and perhaps principally — Al Jazeera.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said several times he intends to shutter Al Jazeera in Israel.

The law allows for the closure of foreign media bureaus for up to 45 days, a renewable period, and would stay in effect until the end of July or until major military operations in Gaza conclude.

It also allows for the confiscation of their equipment if it is believed they pose “harm to the state’s security”.

“Al Jazeera harmed Israel’s security, actively participated in the October 7 massacre, and incited against Israeli soldiers,” Netanyahu said in a post on X on Monday. “I intend to act immediately in accordance with the new law to stop the channel’s activity.”

Netanyahu’s comments and threats are only the latest in a series of Israeli attacks on Al Jazeera.

Has Israel threatened to shut down Al Jazeera before?

On July 26, 2017, Netanyahu threatened to shut down Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem office, commenting on the outlet’s coverage in a Facebook post, saying Al Jazeera journalists “incite violence”.

Netanyahu’s post came during significant fallout over al-Aqsa Mosque between Israeli authorities and Palestinians.

Before that, on March 12, 2008, Israel’s government press office sanctioned Al Jazeera staff in Israel after Al Jazeera TV covered celebrations following the release of Samir Kuntar from Israeli prison. Kuntar, a Lebanese Druze member of the Palestinian Liberation Front and Hezbollah, had been sentenced for murder, attempted murder and kidnapping.

Has Israel attacked Al Jazeera’s offices outside Israel?

On May 15, 2021, the al-Jalaa Tower in Gaza City, which housed the offices of Al Jazeera and The Associated Press, as well as numerous residences, was destroyed by an Israeli missile.

This was during a full-scale Israeli assault on Gaza which took place between May 10 and 21, 2021.

Has Israel harmed Al Jazeera journalists?

Most recently, on March 18, 2024, Al Jazeera Arabic correspondent Ismail al-Ghoul was arrested for 12 hours and beaten by Israeli forces in Gaza City’s al-Shifa Hospital. Israeli forces also destroyed media equipment.

Earlier during Israel’s current war on Gaza – on February 13, 2024 – Al Jazeera Arabic correspondent Ismail Abu Omar and his cameraman, Ahmad Matar, were wounded in an Israeli attack north of Rafah, Gaza.

On December 15, 2023, Al Jazeera’s Gaza bureau chief, Wael Dahdouh, was injured in an Israeli drone attack in Khan Younis, Gaza.

And, on June 5, 2021, Al Jazeera Arabic journalist Givara Budeiri was detained for hours and physically assaulted while covering a demonstration in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

Have Al Jazeera journalists been killed?

On January 7, 2024, Al Jazeera journalist Hamza Dahdouh, the eldest son of Wael Dahdouh, was killed by an Israeli missile strike in Khan Younis, Gaza. Hamza Dahdouh was in a vehicle near al-Mawasi with another journalist, Mustafa Thuraya, who was also killed in the attack.

On December 15, 2023, Al Jazeera Arabic cameraman Samer Abudaqa was hit in the same Israeli drone attack that injured Wael Dahdouh, in Khan Younis, Gaza. Abudaqa bled to death over four hours as emergency workers stood by unable to reach him because they needed Israeli military approval to go in safely.

Humanitarian organisations and other journalists pressed the military to facilitate his evacuation but the Israeli military blocked help from reaching the site as Abudaqa bled. Abudaqa had bled to death by the time help was allowed to reach him.

Dahdouh said the strike happened in an area where there was “no one but us”, adding that they were undoubtedly targeted.

A year and a half before the war on Gaza began – on May 11, 2022 – Israeli forces killed veteran Al Jazeera Arabic journalist Shireen Abu Akleh as she was reporting from Jenin in the occupied West Bank. Abu Akleh was known as the “daughter of Palestine”.

Israel’s narrative on what happened to Abu Akleh shifted several times. Immediately after she was killed, Israeli authorities said Palestinian fighters had killed her, decrying accusations against Israeli soldiers.

Two days later, the Israeli army said the bullet that killed Abu Akleh could have been from an Israeli soldier. A statement released by the Israeli army added that the soldier was targeting Palestinian gunmen who had fired at him, and Abu Akleh was hit instead.

Abu Akleh’s colleagues who were with her, alongside multiple investigations, asserted that there were no Palestinian fighters in the vicinity when she was killed.

Six days later, the Israeli authorities identified the Israeli weapon that may have killed her. On September 5, 2022, Israel said there was a “high possibility” that Abu Akleh had been “accidentally hit” by Israeli army fire, but a criminal investigation would not be launched.

Has Israel harmed anyone else linked to Al Jazeera?

Israel’s attacks have extended to the families of journalist as well. On October 25, 2023, Wael Dahdouh’s wife, younger son, daughter and grandson were all killed when an Israeli air raid hit the house they were sheltering in within the Nuseirat refugee camp.

Dahdouh and his family had been displaced and were sheltering in what the Israeli army told them was a safe zone after the Israeli army ordered civilians in northern Gaza to move to the south.

The Israeli military confirmed that it was its air strike that killed Dahdouh’s family in a statement to CNN. The military added in the statement that the strike was targeting “Hamas terrorist infrastructure”.

What has Al Jazeera said about the latest threat?

The Qatar-based network rejected what it described as Israel’s “slanderous accusations” and accused Netanyahu of “incitement”.

“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 network said in a statement.

“Al Jazeera reiterates that such slanderous accusations will not deter us from continuing our bold and professional coverage, and reserves the right to pursue every legal step.”

Source: Al Jazeera