Image Source : REUTERS Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Jerusalem: Israel has extended the ban on Qatar-based news channel Al Jazeera for another 45 days after the cabinet agreed that its broadcasts posed a threat to national security. This came days after a court in Tel Aviv upheld a 35-day ban on the channel on national security grounds and a minister said he hoped to extend the ban for another 45 days when it runs out on Saturday.

Israeli authorities raided a Jerusalem hotel room used by Al Jazeera as its office on May 5 and said they were shutting the operation down for the duration of the Gaza war, accusing the broadcaster of encouraging hostilities against Israel. A 35-day ban was upheld on Saturday until June 8 by Tel Aviv District Court Judge Shai Yaniv, who said he found evidence of a long-standing and close relationship between the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera said it “rejects all the minister’s claims, excuses and accusations”.

Al Jazeera denies allegations

Al Jazeera has long been accused of promoting the goals of Hamas. In a separate ruling on a petition by Al Jazeera against the closure, Israel’s Supreme Court described the measure against the Qatari-backed broadcaster channel as “precedent-setting”. It gave Israel’s government until Aug. 8 to offer arguments for “why it should not be determined that the Law Preventing a Foreign Broadcaster from Harming National Security” is void. 

Al Jazeera had told the court it did not incite violence or terrorism and that the ban was disproportionate, court documents showed. The channel, which has criticised Israel’s military operations in Gaza, said it planned to appeal the latest ban extension. The Qatar-based network has denied the allegations and has previously accused Israel of systematically targeting its offices and personnel.

The network’s broadcasts on the cable and satellite companies and access to its websites will remain blocked, Israel’s Communications Ministry said. “We will not allow the terrorist channel Al Jazeera to broadcast from Israel and endanger our fighters,” said Shlomo Karhi, adding that the law authorised him as communications minister to take such action against foreign broadcasters.

Why Israel has banned Al Jazeera?

Israel has long had a rocky relationship with Al Jazeera, accusing it of bias. Relations took a major downturn nearly two years ago when Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh was killed during an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank. Israeli officials have long complained about Al Jazeera’s coverage but stopped short of taking action, mindful of Qatar’s bankrolling of Palestinian construction projects in the Gaza Strip – seen by all sides as a means of staving off conflict. Israel’s communications minister accused the station on October 15 of pro-Hamas incitement and exposing Israeli troops to ambushes.


Qatar has had strained ties with Netanyahu in particular since he made comments suggesting that Qatar is not exerting enough pressure on Hamas to prompt it to relent in its terms for a truce deal. Qatar hosts Hamas leaders in exile. The sides appear to be close to striking a deal, but multiple previous rounds of talks have ended with no agreement.

(with inputs from Reuters)

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