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'This is not Al Jazeera. This is American news outlet': Israel seizes broadcasting equipment of US media

Israeli authorities confiscated a camera and broadcasting gear owned by The Associated Press (AP) in southern Israel on Tuesday, alleging that the American news outlet breached a recent media regulation by supplying footage to Al Jazeera.

Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Jerusalem Updated on: May 21, 2024 23:47 IST
Israeli officials seize AP broadcasting equipment (R), Al Jazeera office (L)
Image Source : AP Israeli officials seize AP broadcasting equipment (R), Al Jazeera office (L)

Israeli officials seized a camera and broadcasting equipment belonging to the news agency The Associated Press (AP) in southern Israel on Tuesday. It accused the American news organisation of violating a new media law by providing images to Al Jazeera. The US privately urged the Israeli government to reverse the decision, two senior US officials said. The US officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the matter publicly.

Al Jazeera, which is based in Qatar, is one of thousands of AP customers, and it receives live video from AP and other news organisations.

Associated Press issues statement 

"The Associated Press decries in the strongest terms the actions of the Israeli government to shut down our longstanding live feed showing a view into Gaza and seize AP equipment," said Lauren Easton, vice president of corporate communications at the news organisation. "The shutdown was not based on the content of the feed but rather an abusive use by the Israeli government of the country’s new foreign broadcaster law. We urge the Israeli authorities to return our equipment and enable us to reinstate our live feed immediately so we can continue to provide this important visual journalism to thousands of media outlets around the world," Easton added.

Officials from the Communications Ministry arrived at the AP location in the southern town of Sderot on Tuesday afternoon and seized the equipment. They handed the AP a piece of paper, signed by Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, alleging it was violating the country’s foreign broadcaster law. “The communications ministry will continue to take whatever enforcement action is required to limit broadcasts that harm the security of the state,” the ministry said in a statement.

On May 5, Israeli officials used the law to close down the offices of Al Jazeera and confiscated the channel’s equipment, banned its broadcasts, and blocked its websites.

Shortly before its equipment was seized on Tuesday, AP was broadcasting a general view of northern Gaza. The AP complies with Israel’s military censorship rules, which prohibit broadcasts of details like troop movements that could endanger soldiers. The live shot has generally shown smoke rising over the territory.

The AP had been ordered verbally last Thursday to cease the live transmission — which the news organization refused to do.

Israel’s opposition leader calls govt's move "madness" 

Israel’s opposition leader Yair Lapid called the move against AP “an act of madness.” “This is not Al Jazeera. This is an American news outlet,” he said. “This government acts as if it has decided to make sure at any cost that Israel will be shunned all over the world.”

Karhi, Israel’s communications minister, responded that the law passed unanimously by the government states that any device used to deliver Al Jazeera content could be seized. “We will continue to act decisively against anyone who tries to harm our soldiers and the security of the state, even if you don’t like it,” he wrote to Lapid on X.

When Israel closed down Al Jazeera’s offices earlier this month, media groups warned of the serious implications for press freedom in the country. The law gives Karhi, part of the hard-right flank of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, wide leeway to 

(With inputs from agency)

Also Read: Netanyahu vows to ban Al Jazeera news network in Israel, calls it 'Hamas mouthpiece'


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