The Israeli government has approved regulations allowing temporary shutdown of foreign news channels, under pretexts of ensuring “national security” as the Israeli Communications Minister seeks to shut down international news television network Al Jazeera.
Viewers around the world have grown accustomed to Al Jazeera’s live coverage of events on the ground, covering events from a wide range of angles and delivering by-the-minute news on the latest updates, and the broadcaster’s journalists gained a reputation for not shying away from significant danger, even when targeted by Israeli forces.
Among the big names in international journalism today, Al Jazeera has been standing out as one of the few channels that have reported accurately on recent developments and have not applied skewed, double standards and often dehumanizing coverage.
Indeed, even Western observers who have had enough of biased pro-Israeli, pro-US and anti-Palestinian discourse have encouraged their surroundings to watch Al Jazeera, citing their “exceptional” coverage and “top class” interviewees as two of the many reasons to follow the channel.
Anyone familiar with Al Jazeera’s coverage will know that the outlet has made its pro-Palestine views abundantly clear, even going so far as to providing concrete proof debunking the Israeli state’s claim that the Al-Ahli Hospital massacre was the result of a Hamas misfire, rather than a targetted Israeli airstrike.
Not only so, but Al Jazeera has directly broadcasted some of Israel’s war crimes live, such as the usage of internationally-prohibited white phosphorus in Gaza and South Lebanon, in addition to targeting and killing journalists.
Israeli Forces’ Targeting of Journalists
Israeli Forces have deliberately targeted non-combatting civilian groups, including medical crews, residential areas, religious centers, hospitals, schools and journalists, having killed more than 11 journalists in the last two weeks.
The targeting of journalists covering Israeli violations of human rights and international humanitarian law has been a systemic strategy by Israeli forces. In Lebanon, an Israeli strike targeted a group of journalists from various news platforms including Al Jazeera, AFP and Reuters, killing Lebanese Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah and seriously injuring several others, such as photojournalist Christina Assi.
Assi remains hospitalized following severe injuries incurred to her legs, and will have to undergo additional operations in the future.
Silencing and Canceling Pro-Palestinian Voices
The Israeli government’s move to shut down Al Jazeera can be detrimental for efforts of viewers around the world to get comprehensive updates on the latest developments, insightful analytical content and non-skewed coverage.
Shutting down Al Jazeera’s bureau will provide ghastly prospects for viewers looking for live coverage of the events in Gaza, free from pro-Israeli rhetoric and racist bias. Shutting down a pro-Palestine broadcaster, who has insisted on airing live coverage of the ongoing genocide in Gaza, is a reactive move by the Israeli occupation to suppress pro-Palestine sentiments in the country, and worldwide.
In doing so, Israel is trying to grasp some control over the narrative. In the past twelve days, pro-Palestine protests have grown in size and frequency. Today, organizations worldwide have called for a global strike to demand the end of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people.
This move, while being publicly presented as a matter of national security, demonstrates deep fear that Palestinian voices can no longer be suppressed, and their suffering no longer denied.
Israel has been known for conducting extensive public relations (PR) strategies in the past to help bolster its image as a “prosperous country”, which regularly include skewed coverage, inviting influencers and celebrities on trips to the country, and utilizing social media accounts to counter any negative commentary.
Al Jazeera’s live coverage has provided direct evidence that Israel’s PR strategy is not reflective of events on the ground. Not only so, but Al Jazeera’s coverage has the potential of being used as evidence that the occupation committed deathly atrocities in Gaza and the West Bank. Analysts and activists online are already calling for the occupation to be tried, and Benjamin Netanyahu to be held accountable in international criminal court.
While Israel can grasp to regain control of the narrative, the scales have already been tipped: support for Palestine is rampant worldwide, even if Western states express sentiments for Israel instead.