AP agency announces that its live video on Gaza was cut by Israel

AP agency announces that its live video on Gaza was cut by Israel
AP agency announces that its live video on Gaza was cut by Israel

The Associated Press announced Tuesday that its live video on Gaza had been cut by Israel, which accuses this American press agency of violating a law which allowed the Israeli authorities to ban the Qatari channel Al-Jazeera on their territory.

This decision sparked strong reactions abroad, from the UN Secretary General, for whom it is a “rather shocking” development to the White House who asked Israel to restore live video of AP, via Reporters Without Borders (RSF) which denounced “shameless censorship”.

“Associated Press denounces in the strongest terms the action of the government of Israel to close our live broadcast” which showed the Gaza Strip, where a war pits the Israeli army against Hamas for more than seven months, and “the seizure of our equipment,” the agency said in a press release.

She attributes this decision to “abusive use by the government” of Benjamin Netanyahu of the law passed at the beginning of April which allows the broadcasting in Israel of foreign media “undermining the security” of the State.

AP said authorities seized his camera as well as his broadcast equipment.

At the same time, in an article reporting the facts, the agency specifies that Al-Jazeera is one of the thousands of customers for video streams sent live by AP.

It indicates that agents from the Ministry of Communications arrived in the afternoon at the AP site in Sderot in southern Israel, on the edge of the Gaza Strip, and seized the equipment.

The officials handed the AP a document, signed by Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, alleging that the agency is violating the new law on foreign broadcasting, according to the agency.

“Warnings”

“We urge Israeli authorities to return our equipment and allow us to immediately restore our live broadcast, so that we can continue to provide ‘this important footage’ to thousands of media outlets around the world,” AP writes.

The Ministry of Communications said in a statement that “AP photographers regularly photograph the Gaza Strip from the balcony of a house in Sderot”, also placing “emphasis on the activities of (Israeli) soldiers and the ‘where they are’.

Israeli military censorship rules imposed on the press in the context of the war in Gaza prohibit the publication of images or information likely to allow the location of Israeli soldiers or military installations.

“The Israeli government has decided that it will not allow Al-Jazeera, which supports the terrorist Hamas, to broadcast from Israel,” the text then says.

“Despite warnings from Ministry of Communications inspectors that they were breaking the law and that they should stop feeding Al-Jazeera with their content… they continued to do so,” adds the ministry about AP.

The Foreign Press Association (FPA) denounced “a scandalous decision”, a sign according to it that Israel is on a “slippery slope” and “could block media coverage of virtually any event for vague reasons of security”.

In the world press freedom ranking established by RSF, Israel is in 101st place out of 180.

“Extremely worrying”

“Israel’s decision to restrict AP’s work is extremely worrying and constitutes a clear attack on press freedom,” responded Phil Chetwynd, AFP news director.

“The free flow of verified information and images from reliable sources is vital in the current very tense context. We urge the authorities to immediately reverse this decision and allow all journalists to work freely and without hindrance” , he said.

Israeli authorities have often criticized Al-Jazeera’s coverage of news in Israel and the Palestinian Territories where the channel has correspondents.

On May 5, Benjamin Netanyahu relied on a law passed by Parliament at the beginning of April to announce the ban on the channel and the closure of its offices, for a renewable period of 45 days.

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