Sanctions on Al Jazeera’s Israel Operations

According to Haaretz:

The government will impose sanctions on Israel-based employees of the Al Jazeera network in response to the closure last month of the Israeli trade office in Qatar, which hosts and funds the network. Qatar had closed the office in opposition to Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Following the closure, the Foreign Ministry, in conjunction with the newly-formed national information directorate in the Prime Minister’s Office, considered declaring the station a hostile entity and closing its offices in Israel. After submitting the idea to legal review, however, concerns emerged it would not be permitted by the High Court of Justice.

Instead, it chose to limit the network’s activity in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. First, Israel will not renew the visas of Al Jazeera’s non-Israeli employees or grant visas to new employees. Second, station representatives will have reduced accessibility to government and military bodies, and will not be allowed into briefings or press conferences.

Israeli officials have recently criticized Qatar’s warming relations with Hamas and Iran. Foreign Ministry director-general Aharon Abramowitz told attendees at the Herzliya Conference on Monday that Qatar is moving toward a “radical axis.”

The supposed “democratic” Israeli government has little care for democratic principles, here trying to reduce press freedom. Clearly banning Western journalists from Gaza wasn’t enough to prevent images of Israeli acts of massacre being transmitted globally.  This is a problem for the Foreign Ministry and the propaganda outfit the national [dis-] information directorate and their solution is further unfreedom: try and ban those responsible, namely Al Jazeera.

Fear not as the BBC explains all:

Israeli officials say they are taking measures to restrict the work of the Arabic television network, al-Jazeera, inside Israel.

It follows a decision last month by al-Jazeera’s owners, the state of Qatar, to cut trade ties with Israel.

Israeli officials were fiercely critical of al-Jazeera’s coverage of the conflict in Gaza, accusing it of being a mouthpiece for the militant Islamist movement, Hamas.

An Israeli official in Jerusalem was quoted as saying that it was Qatar’s own actions which had now created a problem for al-Jazeera.

I’m glad the “impartial” BBC had time NOT to ask anyone other than Israeli officials about this important anti-democratic decision eroding press freedom of access to one of the worlds most catastrophic humanitarian disasters.  Heaven forbid they should explain that Israel has a problem with the truth getting out, through televised images of their slaughter, blockade and destruction.  All the BBC has done is repeat the Israeli governments position, this is not journalism, it’s propaganda.

It’s worth remembering that the national [dis-] information directorate was set up after the Lebanon war in 2006 where 1,300 Lebanese civilians were killed.  An Israeli conference after the war concluded they had lost the PR battle as it’s difficult to counter images of innocent murdered civilians, according to Dr Ra’anan Gissin, “you need to shoot a picture before you shoot them.”  This is all about authoritarian control of pictures and public thought; it’s nothing to do with Al Jazeera being a Hamas mouthpiece, which it is not, nor is it to do with Qatar closing a trade office; that is clearly just childish tit-for-tat “legitimising” spin.

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