Israel seizes broadcasting equipment of AP  

The AP denounced the move, accusing the government of abusing the recently passed foreign media law…reports Asian Lite News

Following its crackdown on Qatar-based media outlet Al Jazeera, the Israeli government seized the broadcasting equipment of The Associated Press (AP) in southern Israel, accusing the news agency of violating a new media law by providing images to Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based media giant reported on Tuesday.

Al Jazeera said it was among thousands of clients to receive live video feeds from the AP and other news organisations.

The AP denounced the move, accusing the government of abusing the recently passed foreign media law.

“The Associated Press decries in the strongest terms the actions of the Israeli government to shut down our longstanding live feed showing a view into Gaza and seize AP equipment,” Lauren Easton, vice president of corporate communications at the AP, was quoted as saying by Al Jazeera.

“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. We urge the Israeli authorities to return our equipment and enable us to reinstate our live feed immediately so we can continue to provide this important visual journalism to thousands of media outlets around the world,” she added.

According to Al Jazeera, 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, the AP was broadcasting a general view of famine-struck northern Gaza where Israeli forces continue to press on a ground and aerial assault.

The AP said it complies with Israel’s military censorship rules, which prohibit broadcast of details like troops movements that could endanger soldiers. The live shot showed smoke rising over the besieged territory, the Al Jazeera reported.

The seizure followed a verbal order Thursday to cease the live transmission, which the news organisation refused to do, according to Al Jazeera.

“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 Israel ministry said in a statement.

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid decried the move as “an act of madness”.

“This government behaves as if it has decided to make sure at all costs that Israel will be swayed all over the world. They went crazy,” he said.

The White House said it was a “concerning” development.

“We stand firm in our belief that journalists have the ability, right to do their jobs,” the White House said, according to Al Jazeera.

On May 5, the Israeli cabinet voted unanimously to shut down Al Jazeera in the country, immediately ordering the closure of its offices and a ban on the company’s broadcasts and websites. Al Jazeera condemned the decision as a ‘criminal act’.

It came weeks after Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed a law on April 1 allowing Israel to temporarily shut down foreign media outlets, including Al Jazeera if deemed a threat to security. (ANI)

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