Israel paved way for possible shutdown of Al Jazeera over security concerns: Reports

Israel’s government has approved emergency regulations allowing it to temporarily shut down foreign news channels in exceptional cases, according to Israeli media reports on Friday.

The move appears aimed at Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based broadcaster that Israel has denounced for years for what it sees as biased coverage towards the Palestinians.

Israel’s unity government, formed after the Hamas terrorist attacks on October 7, has mooted for days the possibility of taking steps against Al Jazeera, despite concerns from press freedom groups.

The Times of Israel said the emergency regulations would allow Israeli authorities to stop broadcasts, close local offices, and restrict access to the channel’s website.

A decision is initially valid for 30 days but can also be extended for another month.

According to reports, the cabinet must agree to take action against a channel, and the decision is subject to court review.

Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi has spearheaded the effort against Al Jazeera, claiming the channel is potentially endangering the country’s national security.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said this week it was disturbed by the Israeli government’s actions.

“We are deeply concerned by Israeli officials’ threats to censor media coverage of the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict.

“ The officials using vague accusations of harming national morale,” Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa programme coordinator, said.