Netanyahu's Cabinet votes to close Al Jazeera offices in Israel

(EDITORS NOTE: Image depicts death.) Wael Al-Dahdouh, Al Jazeera bureau chief in Gaza, center, comforts relatives at the funeral of his son, Al Jazeera journalist Hamza Dahdouh, killed in an Israeli airstrike, in Rafah, southern Gaza, on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is focused on accelerating humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians in Gaza and garnering support for post-conflict Gaza’s governance. Photographer: Ahmad Salem/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ahmad Salem | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that his government has voted unanimously to shut down the local offices of Qatar-owned broadcaster Al Jazeera.

Netanyahu announced the decision on X, formerly Twitter, but details on the implications of the step on the channel, when it would go into effect, or whether it was permanent or temporarily shuttered were not immediately clear.

The decision escalated Israel’s long-running feud against Al Jazeera. It also threatened to heighten tensions with Qatar, which owns the channel, at a time when the Doha government is playing a key role in mediation efforts to halt the war in Gaza.

Israel has long had a rocky relationship with Al Jazeera, accusing it of bias against it.

Al Jazeera is one of the few international media outlets to remain in Gaza throughout the war, broadcasting bloody scenes of airstrikes and overcrowded hospitals and accusing Israel of massacres. Israel accuses Al Jazeera of collaborating with Hamas.

Al Jazeera, the Doha-based broadcaster funded by Qatar’s government, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Al Jazeera’s Arabic-language broadcaster acknowledged the news in its broadcast Sunday. Its English arm continued to operate with live shots from East Jerusalem just minutes after the announcement by Netanyahu.

While Al Jazeera’s English operation often resembles the programming found on other major broadcast networks, its Arabic arm often publishes verbatim video statements from Hamas and other militant groups in the region. It similarly came under harsh U.S. criticism during America’s occupation of Iraq after its 2003 invasion toppled director Saddam Hussein.

It remains unclear how such an order would be enforced by Israel.

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