Israel Gets Into Scuffle With the AP, Shuts Down Live Video

Says news org is violating foreign media law by giving images to Al Jazeera, confiscates equipment
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 21, 2024 9:13 AM CDT
Israel Shuts Down AP's Live Gaza Feed, Seizes Equipment
A general view of northern Gaza from southern Israel, before the feed was shut down by Israel on Tuesday. Israeli officials seized a camera and broadcasting equipment belonging to the AP, accusing the news organization of violating the country's new ban on Al Jazeera.   (AP Photo)

Israeli officials seized a camera and broadcasting equipment belonging to the AP in southern Israel on Tuesday, accusing the news organization of violating a new media law by providing images to Al Jazeera. The Qatari satellite channel is among thousands of clients that receive live video feeds from the AP and other news organizations. The AP denounced the move, saying it "decries in the strongest terms the actions of the Israeli government to shut down our long-standing live feed showing a view into Gaza and seize AP equipment," per Lauren Easton, VP of corporate communications. "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."

Officials from the Communications Ministry arrived at the AP location in the southern town of Sderot on Tuesday afternoon and seized the equipment. They handed the AP a piece of paper, signed by Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, alleging it was violating the country's foreign broadcaster law. Shortly before the equipment was seized, it was broadcasting a general view of northern Gaza. The AP complies with Israel's military censorship rules, which prohibit broadcasts of details like troop movements that could endanger soldiers. The live shot has generally shown smoke rising over the territory. The seizure followed a verbal order Thursday to cease the live transmission—which the news organization refused to do.

"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," the ministry said in a statement. Israeli officials used the law to close down the offices of the Qatar-based broadcaster on May 5, as well as confiscate the channel's equipment, ban its broadcasts, and block its websites. Israel has long had a rocky relationship with Al Jazeera, accusing it of bias against the country. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called it a "terror channel" that spreads incitement. Al Jazeera is one of the few international news outlets that has remained in Gaza throughout the war, broadcasting scenes of airstrikes and overcrowded hospitals and accusing Israel of massacres.

(More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

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