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Israel's Gallant reportedly orders Al Jazeera closure in West Bank

Israeli defence minister has ordered block of Qatari network in occupied West Bank, according to report in Israel's Army Radio
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, who has reportedly ordered the closure of Al Jazeera in the West Bank, October 2023 (AFP)

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has reportedly ordered army Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi to block Al Jazeera from broadcasting in the occupied West Bank.

Quoting unnamed sources in the Israeli military, Israel’s Army Radio reported that the army was working to implement Gallant’s order against the Qatari broadcaster. 

According to the Times of Israel, it is not clear whether the order would apply to areas of the West Bank where Israeli settlers live, or if it would extend to Palestinian areas, where Al Jazeera is widely watched. 

It is also not clear if the order would mean the closure of Al Jazeera’s offices in Ramallah as well as a block on the network being watched across the West Bank. 

An Israeli army spokesperson told the Times of Israel: “The IDF [Israel Defence Forces] is working to implement the defence minister’s order.” 

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But the military did not confirm what the order was, and Gallant’s office has not released an official statement. Al Jazeera has not responded officially either. 

The reported move against the broadcaster is just the latest in a long campaign against it.

On 5 May, the Israeli government voted to shut down Al Jazeera’s operations in Israel. The broadcaster is one of the last remaining international media networks reporting from war-ravaged Gaza.

Al Jazeera previously broadcast live from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and just outside Gaza in northern Israel daily. It has since been forced to produce all its coverage from Ramallah. 

At the time of its closure in Israel, Shlomo Karhi, the Israeli communications minister, said in a statement that the government signed orders to immediately close Al Jazeera's offices in Israel, confiscate broadcast equipment, cut the channel off from cable and satellite companies and block its websites.

Following a cabinet vote on the closure, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed Al Jazeera reporters had “harmed Israel’s security and incited against soldiers,” and referred to the outlet as a “Hamas mouthpiece".

Neither Netanyahu nor the Ministry of Communications provided examples of Al Jazeera content that they claimed posed a threat.

Al Jazeera decried the decision and said the accusation that it threatened Israeli security was a “dangerous and ridiculous lie” and was part of Israel's “ongoing suppression of the free press".

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