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Israel attempts to shut down Al Jazeera's office and ban journalists

07 August 2017

Israel's Communications Minister Ayoub Kara on Sunday said Jerusalem wants to shut down television network Al Jazeera's offices in the capital city and revoke the credentials of its journalists, Al Jazeera reported.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been threatening to shut Al Jazeera's operations in the country, accusing the network of inciting violence against Israel.

Kara said it was "delusional" that other Arab states in the region had banned Al-Jazeera for these reasons, but Israel so far has not.

"It is a shocking statement, and it completely undermines Israel's claims to be the only democracy in the region, because it gets to the heart of one of the most important institutions of democracy", he said to Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera said in July that Israel was aligning itself with four Arab states - Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain - that have severed diplomatic and commercial ties with Qatar.

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Speaking on Sunday, Mr Kara said: "We have identified media outlets that do not serve freedom of speech but endanger the security of Israel's citizens, and the main instrument has been Al Jazeera".

Al Jazeera's English newsroom in Doha, Qatar.

The israeli minister of Communications has motivated its decision by the fact that "in recent times, nearly all the countries of the region, especially Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, came to the conclusion that Al-Jazeera incites terrorism and religious extremism".

Al Jazeera's office in Jerusalem.

According to Kara, this announcement came as a direct continuation of the decision made by a majority of the Gulf Sunni states, who determined that Al Jazeera supports terrorism and religious extremism.

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An Al Jazeera official in the Qatari capital Doha told AFP that the channel "deplores this action from a state that is called the only democratic state in the Middle East, and considers what it has done is dangerous".

'I have appealed to law enforcement agencies several times to close the Al Jazeera office in Jerusalem. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has likened its coverage to "Nazi Germany-style" propaganda.

He was referring to recent violence in and around a Jerusalem site that is revered by Muslims and Jews in which six Palestinians and five Israelis, including two policemen, were killed.

Al Jazeera has also faced government censure in neighboring Egypt when, in 2014, three Al Jazeera staffers were jailed for seven years and the network's offices were closed.

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Israel attempts to shut down Al Jazeera's office and ban journalists