Israel shuts down AP live broadcast, confiscates equipment for violating law

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Inspectors of the Israeli Communications Ministry on Tuesday confiscated photographic equipment and halted a live broadcast of the U.S.-based Associated Press (AP) news agency, Israeli state-owned Kan TV news reported.

The Israeli action was carried out in the southern city of Sderot, near the Gaza Strip, when the AP team was documenting the situation in Gaza amid the ongoing conflict.

The ministry said that AP violated a new Israeli law enacted in early April, granting the government the authority to bar the broadcasting of the Qatari news channel Al Jazeera in Israel.

The ministry said that the agency transferred the materials it filmed to Al Jazeera, thus breaking the new law.

“The Israeli government has determined that it will not allow the terrorist-supporting Hamas channel Al Jazeera to broadcast from Israel,” the ministry said. “The law and the orders do not distinguish whether it is Al Jazeera itself or suppliers who deliver the material to it from Israel.”

It added that although AP was warned earlier, the agency continued its actions.

“We will continue to act decisively against those who try to harm our soldiers and the country’s security,” said the ministry.

In response to the shutdown, AP said, “We strongly disavow the action of the Israeli government. The shutdown was not based on the content of the feed but on the government’s misuse of the new foreign broadcasting law.”

It also urged the Israeli authorities “to return our equipment and allow us to resume our live feed immediately, so that we can continue to provide this important visual journalism to thousands of media outlets around the world.”

The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said that Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi did not inform the prime minister about the confiscation of the broadcast equipment from AP.

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid said that, “This is an act of madness. AP is a media outlet that has won 53 Pulitzer Prizes. The government makes sure at any cost that Israel will be ostracized all over the world, they have gone crazy.”

The White House expressed concern over Israel’s action against AP, adding that it believes journalists have the ability and right to do their jobs.

The Foreign Press Association in Israel said it is alarmed by Israel’s “outrageous move,” adding that “this is the latest in series of chilling steps by the Israeli government to stifle the media. Israel’s move is a slippery slope.

Source: Xinhua

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