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US ‘concerned’ after Israel seizes AP equipment used to aid Al Jazeera

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By World Israel News Staff

The Biden administration expressed concern Tuesday after Israeli police shut down a video feed operated by The Associated Press and confiscated broadcasting equipment.

Israeli authorities closed down an AP live video feed of the Gaza border set up in the southern Israeli town of Sderot Tuesday, and seized a camera and other broadcasting equipment, after the Communications Ministry accused AP of ignoring a recently-passed law barring cooperation with the Qatar-based Al Jazeera media outlet.

On April 1st, the Knesset passed the “Al Jazeera Law,” which allows the government to temporarily shut down foreign news outlets if are deemed to threaten Israel’s national security.

Days later, the Israeli government voted unanimously to endorse the closure of Al Jazeera‘s operations in Israel, empowering Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi to revoke the outlet’s press credentials and to order police to confiscate their television transmitters.

Since then, the Communications Ministry has accused AP of violating the law by providing video footage and live video feeds in Israel to Al Jazeera.

Last Thursday, Israel ordered AP to cease providing its live video feed in Sderot to Al Jazeera. AP refused to comply with the order, prompting Israeli police to intervene Tuesday, shutting down the live feed and seizing the equipment used for the broadcast.

 

“In accordance with the government decision and the instruction of the communications minister, the Communications Ministry will continue to take whatever enforcement action is required to limit broadcasts that harm the security of the state,” a Communications Ministry spokesperson said.

The Associated Press vice president of corporate communications, Lauren Easton, issued a statement condemning the move and demanding the return of the confiscated equipment.

“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.”

“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.”

To shutter a media outlet under the “Al Jazeera Law”, Israel’s communications minister must first receive a report by the security services outlining the “factual foundations” of the dangers they believe the outlet represents, and both the prime minister and security cabinet must approve the shut-down as well.

The chief justice of a district court must also sign off on such an order within three days of its presentation, and has the right to change the period of time it is to be applied.

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