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Israel's War on Al Jazeera

Written by Subject: Israel

Israel's War on Al Jazeera

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org - Home - Stephen Lendman)

Owned and operated by the Qatari government, it functions much like Western media, featuring content the Al Thani monarchy wants aired.

It's sympathy toward Palestinian suffering is why Israel wants it shut down. Earlier it considered declaring the news agency a hostile entity. Instead, it restricted its activities in the country.

It no longer renews visas for its staff or issues new ones. Its journalists are denied access to government briefings, limited access alone to political and military officials - only to spokespersons of the prime minister, foreign ministry and IDF.

In August 2011, Al Jazeera (AJ) journalist Samer Allawi was arrested and detained for making contact with Hamas' military wing.

Jerusalem is its headquarters in Israel, perhaps not much longer. According to Israeli communications director Ayoub Kara, "professional discussions" were initiated to draft legislation, shutting down the network.

During July 14 - 28 Israeli instigated violence at the Al Aksa mosque and compound, Netanyahu lied, accusing AJ of "inciting violence" - demanding the shutting down of its operations.

According to Israel's press office head Nitzan Hen, press cards aren't permitted for journalists posing a "risk to national security."

On Sunday, Kara said Israel intends revoking press credentials of its journalists, ending its broadcasts on Israeli television if followed-through.

In response, Netanyahu tweeted Kara was "following my guidance...to end Al Jazeera's incitement in Israel."

The Federation of Arab Journalists (FAJ) denounced the move, calling it a flagrant free press violation, especially with regard to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

It called on the Federation of Journalists (IFJ) to intervene, pressuring Israel against implementing its hostile intention.

AJ slammed what it called its "dangerous" decision, a statement saying it "deplores this action," indicating it'll "follow up the subject through appropriate legal and judicial procedures."

AJ political analyst Marwan Bishara tweeted: "Israel takes its cue from Arab dictators: 'We have based our decision on the move by Sunni Arab states to close the Al Jazeera offices.' "

So far, AJ's Jerusalem bureau head Walid al-Omari said he hasn't received official notification of closure. He believes "Netanyahu wants to distract attention for issues he's facing" - relating to possible bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Jordan shut down AJ operations because of a Persian Gulf feud. Egypt's banned it years earlier - a nation Reporters Without Borders calls "one of the biggest prisons for journalists."

American University in Beirut's Rami Khouri said "(r)egimes that want to control power will almost always go after two targets - the media and foreigners."

AJ's operating days in Israel appear numbered.

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