Ayoub Kara, the Communication Minister of Israel has announced that the country is seeking to close the Jerusalem office of Al Jazeera and revoke the credentials of its journalists.
The announcement came from the minister during a press conference in Jerusalem on Sunday, attending which was forbidden for Al Jazeera. Ayoub Kara, a member of the Druze community from Likud party of Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Qatar based broadcaster has become the “main tool of Daesh (ISIS), Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran”.
The announcement of closing the network’s Jerusalem office came after the President had, on July 27, said that he wanted Al Jazeera to be dismissed over tensions on the sensitive holy site of Jerusalem. The broadcaster has constantly been accused of bias in covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
On July 14, two policemen near the Al-Aqsa compound of east Jerusalem were shot dead by three Israeli Arabs who came out of the compound. Following this attack, Israeli administration installed new security measures in the premise that included metal detectors. This was heavily protested and criticized by Palestinians who refused to enter the holy site for nearly two weeks. The protests had left 6 Palestinians dead. The conflict ended with Israeli authorities removing the newly installed security measures.
Referring to the two Druze Policemen who got killed in the attack, Kara accused Al Jazeera of “inciting violence which has provoked losses among the best of our sons”. The minister also asserted that almost all the countries of the region; including Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, have held that the broadcaster incites religious extremism and terrorism and that it was ridiculous that the broadcast of the channel continued from Israel.
The ministry also revealed its plan of revoking the credentials of the journalists who work for the channel and disconnect its satellite and cable connection. The statement from the ministry also held that it would seek to limit the access of the station’s Arabic broadcasts to the state’s Arabic citizens. It is important to note that they make up a total of 17.5 percent of the population of Israel.
Upon the announcement, the President congratulated the Communication Minister “who on my instructions took concrete steps to end Al-Jazeera’s incitement”.
Al Jazeera has however opposed the announcement saying that Kara’s statements are unsubstantiated and the broadcaster would take all necessary legal action against the threat by the government.