AFP1 April 2024 | 17:00

Israeli PM vows to enact Al Jazeera news broadcast ban

The potential ban is a fresh escalation in the running conflict between Israel's government and the Qatari channel during Israel's war with Hamas militants in Gaza.

Israeli PM vows to enact Al Jazeera news broadcast ban

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv on 28 October 2023 amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. Picture: AFP

JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged Monday to enact a ban on broadcasts in Israel from news channel Al Jazeera using authority lawmakers have just voted to grant him.

The potential ban is a fresh escalation in the running conflict between Israel's government and the Qatari channel during Israel's war with Hamas militants in Gaza.

Israel claimed in January that an Al Jazeera staff journalist and a freelancer killed in an air strike in Gaza were "terror operatives".

The following month it said another journalist for the channel, wounded in a separate strike, was a "deputy company commander" with Hamas.

Al Jazeera has fiercely denied Israel's accusations and accused Israel of systematically targeting Al Jazeera employees in the Gaza Strip.

"The terrorist channel Al Jazeera will no longer broadcast from Israel. I intend to act immediately in accordance with the new law to stop the channel's activities," Netanyahu said on X, formerly Twitter.

The law giving Netanyahu this authority, which passed on Monday by 70 votes to 10, carries the power to ban the broadcast of content from foreign channels but also allows the closing of their offices in Israel.

Netanyahu's Likud party said he asked "to make sure that the law to close Al Jazeera will be approved this evening" in Israel's parliament, the Knesset.

Al Jazeera's bureau chief in the Palestinian territory, Wael al-Dahdouh, was also wounded, in an Israeli strike in December that killed the network's cameraman.

Qatar is also the home base for Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

The war between Israel and Hamas began with the militant group's October 7 attack that resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel's retaliatory campaign has killed at least 32,845 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.