Citing a new media law, Israeli officials removed AP’s live footage from Gaza

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli authorities seized camera and broadcast equipment belonging to The Associated Press in southern Israel on Tuesday, accusing the news agency of violations. New Media Act By providing images to Al Jazeera.

The Qatari satellite channel is one of thousands of AP customers who receive live video from AP and other news organizations.

“The Associated Press condemns in the strongest terms the Israeli government’s actions to shut down our long-running live feed showing a view into Gaza and seize AP equipment,” said Lauren Easton, vice president of corporate communications at the news agency. “The shutdown is not based on the content of the feed, but rather the Israeli government’s misuse of the country’s new foreign broadcasting law. We call on the Israeli authorities to return our equipment and immediately restore our live feed so that we can continue to provide this important visual journalism to thousands of media outlets around the world.”

Officials from the Ministry of Communications reached the Andhra venue in the southern city of Sterod on Tuesday afternoon and seized the equipment. They handed over a piece of paper signed by Communications Minister Shlomo Garhi to the Andhra Pradesh government, claiming it was in violation. Foreign Broadcasting Act of the country.

Not long ago, the equipment broadcast the general view Northern Gaza. The AP complies with Israel’s military censorship rules, which prohibit broadcasting details such as troop movements that could endanger soldiers. The live shot usually shows smoke rising in the area.

The seizure followed a verbal order on Thursday to stop the live broadcast – which the news agency refused to do.

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“As per the decision of the government and the instruction of the Minister of Communications, the Ministry of Communications will continue to take all necessary enforcement measures to curb broadcasts harmful to the security of the state,” the ministry said in a statement.

Israel’s opposition leader Yair Lapid called the move “an act of madness”.

“This is not Al Jazeera. This is an American news agency,” he said. “This government is acting as if it has decided to ensure at all costs that Israel is ignored around the world.”

Israel’s communications minister, Shlomo Garhi, responded by saying the law, passed unanimously by the government, said any device used to deliver Al Jazeera content could be seized. “We will act firmly against anyone who tries to harm our soldiers and the security of the state, even if you don’t like it,” he wrote to Labit on X.

Israeli authorities used the law to close the Qatar-based broadcaster’s offices on May 5 and seize the channel’s equipment, ban its broadcasts and disable its websites.

At the time, media groups warned of serious implications for press freedom in the country as Garhi, part of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-right wing of the Likud party, gave the law broad latitude to enforce it against other media outlets.

“Today Israel’s move is a slippery slope,” the Foreign Press Association said in a statement, warning that the law would “allow Israel to prevent the media from covering any news event for unclear security reasons.”

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said the United States was “watching” what happened and that it was “essential” journalists were allowed to do their jobs, but she stopped short of condemning Israel’s actions.

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Israel has long had a rocky relationship with Al Jazeera, accusing it of being anti-state, and Netanyahu has called it a “terrorist channel” that spreads incitement.

Al Jazeera was one of the few international news agencies to remain in Gaza throughout the war, broadcasting footage of airstrikes and overcrowded hospitals and accusing Israel of massacres. A.P. also in Gaza.

During the previous 2021 Israel-Hamas war, the military destroyed the building housing the AP’s Gaza office, claiming that Hamas had used the building for military purposes. The AP denied any information about a Hamas presence, and the military offered no evidence to support its claim.

The war in Gaza began with an attack by Hamas in Israel that killed 1,200 people and took 250 hostages. More than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to Gaza’s health ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and militants in its numbers.

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Girga reported from London. Cheung Min Kim in Washington contributed to this report.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

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