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Israel closes Al Jazeera news network in the country –


By Michael Schwartz, Tim Lister and Lauren Said-Moorhouse, CNN

(CNN) — Israel has ordered the closure of Al Jazeera in the country, a move the Qatar-based news network called a “criminal act.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a message on

Ofir Gendelman, the prime minister’s spokesman for the Arab world, said on Sunday that the decision would be “immediately implemented”.

In a post on on the Internet will be blocked. ”

Israel’s Communications Ministry said on Sunday it had closed the network’s offices in Jerusalem and seized its communications equipment. “In addition, the network’s cable and satellite broadcasts were halted and access to its websites was blocked,” the ministry said.

Israeli cable providers stopped broadcasting the Al Jazeera networks late Sunday afternoon, CNN journalists in the country confirmed. The Al Jazeera cable channel in Israel now displays a message stating: “In accordance with the government’s decision, Al Jazeera broadcasting in Israel has been halted.”

Gendelman quoted Netanyahu as saying: “Al Jazeera reporters have damaged Israeli security and incited against IDF soldiers. It is time to drive the mouthpiece of Hamas out of our country.”

Video obtained by CNN shows Israeli police, accompanied by agents from the Israel Security Agency, entering Al Jazeera’s broadcast position in Jerusalem on Sunday.

Al Jazeera said the Israeli cabinet’s decision violated the human right to access information.

It continued: “Israel’s suppression of the free press to cover up its crimes by killing and arresting journalists has not prevented us from fulfilling our duty. Since the start of the war on Gaza, more than 140 Palestinian journalists have been tortured for the sake of the truth.”

Several of the network’s journalists working in Gaza have been injured or killed since October 7.

Al Jazeera again denied Israel’s “false accusations regarding our violation of the professional cadres governing media work” and called on media and human rights organizations to “condemn the Israeli authorities’ repeated attacks on the press and journalists.”

The move comes a month after Netanyahu vowed to shut down the country’s television channel after passing a sweeping law allowing the government to ban foreign networks seen as a threat to national security.

Netanyahu said on X in early April that he planned to “immediately act in accordance with the new law” to halt the outlet’s operations in the country. Netanyahu’s government has long complained about Al Jazeera’s activities, claiming anti-Israel bias.

The new law gave the prime minister and the communications minister the power to order the temporary closure of foreign networks operating in Israel – powers that rights groups say could have far-reaching consequences for international media coverage of the war in Gaza.

Spokesperson for the UN Secretary General Stéphane Dujarric condemned the closure of Al Jazeera on Sunday. “As we have said before, we firmly oppose any decision to reduce press freedom. A free press provides an invaluable service in ensuring that the public is informed and involved,” said Dujarric.

The Foreign Press Association (FPA) in Israel described the move as “a dark day for democracy” and “a cause for concern for all supporters of a free press,” while the Committee to Protect Journalists said it was “an extremely alarming sets a precedent for restricting international media outlets working in Israel.”

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch condemned the decision as an “attack on press freedom,” according to a written statement shared on Sunday by Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch (HRW).

“Instead of trying to silence reporting of the atrocities in Gaza, the Israeli government should stop committing them,” Shakir said.

The move comes after negotiators met in Cairo on Saturday in an attempt to secure a ceasefire and hostage agreement.

Negotiators have made progress on the technical aspects of a possible deal, but two Israeli sources say it could take a week to finalize the deal itself. Qatar has played a key role in negotiating a ceasefire in the ongoing war.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

The CNN Wire
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CNN’s Simone McCarthy, Kareem Khadder, Eyad Kourdi, Hamdi Alkhshali and Abeer Salman contributed to reporting.