Al Jazeera condemns new Israeli law, rejects Netanyahu’s ‘lies’ | Freedom of the Press News

Media network denounces Israeli prime minister’s ‘slanderous accusations’, says they incite against the safety of its journalists around the world.

Al Jazeera has condemned a new Israeli law that could shut down its operations in Israel and said “lies” spread by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu incited against the safety of the media network’s journalists worldwide.

As Israel’s war on Gaza nears the six-month mark, the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, on Monday overwhelmingly backed legislation which allows the government to order the closure of foreign networks operating in Israel and confiscate their equipment if it is believed its content posed “harm to the state’s security”.

After the vote, Netanyahu said on X he intended to take immediate action to stop Al Jazeera’s activities in Israel, accusing the network of “actively” participating in Hamas’s October 7 attack and inciting against Israeli soldiers.

Al Jazeera Media Network denounced Netanyahu’s “frantic campaign” as nothing but “dangerous” and “ludicrous” lies.

“Netanyahu could not find any justifications to offer the world for his ongoing attacks on Al Jazeera and press freedom except to present new lies and inflammatory slanders against the Network and the rights of its employees.”

In its statement, the Qatar-based news organisation also accused Netanyahu of “inflammatory slanders against the network and the rights of its employees”.

“Al Jazeera reiterates that such slanderous accusations will not deter us from continuing our bold and professional coverage, and reserves the right to pursue every legal step,” it said, adding that it held the Israeli prime minister responsible for the safety of its staff and premises around the world “following his incitement and this false accusation in a disgraceful manner”.

The network also said the law, which Israel has been pushing since the beginning of its nearly six-month war on Gaza, was “part of a series of systematic Israeli attacks to silence Al Jazeera”.

It cited the 2022 killing of correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh while she was covering an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank town of Jenin and the killing of its journalists Samer Abudaqa and Hamza Dahdouh during the war in Gaza, as well the “deliberate targeting of a number of Al Jazeera journalists and their family members, and the arrest and intimidation of its correspondents in the field”.

Jodie Ginsberg, the chief executive officer of The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), said the passing of the law was “an incredibly worrying move”.

“It’s another example of the tightening of the free press and the stranglehold the Israeli government would like to exercise,” Ginsberg told Al Jazeera.

“We’ve seen this kind of language before from Netanyahu and Israeli officials in which they try to paint journalists as terrorists, as criminals,” Ginsberg said, commenting on the prime minister’s remarks. “This is nothing new.”

The CPJ says it has documented the killing of at least 95 journalists since the start of the war.

White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said an Israeli move to shut down Al Jazeera would be “concerning”.

“The United States supports the critically important work journalists around the world and that includes those who are reporting in the conflict in Gaza,” Jean-Pierre told reporters.

The law was passed as Netanyahu faces massive demonstrations against his handling of the war on Gaza and the security failures which did not detect the Hamas-led attacks on southern Israel. At least 1,139 people were killed in those attacks and about 250 captives were taken to Gaza, according to Israeli authorities.

Israel’s war on Gaza has killed at least 32,916 people, mostly children and women, according to health officials in the besieged territory.

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