Israel shutters Al Jazeera, continues to kill journalists

A man wearing a press vest holds the hand of someone wrapped in shroud

Al Jazeera bureau chief in Gaza Wael al-Dahdouh at the funeral of his son, Hamzah al-Dahdouh, also a journalist with the network, who was killed by an Israeli missile strike in southern Gaza on 7 January.

Bashar Taleb APA images

Israel’s genocide in Gaza has shattered the veneer of press freedom.

As The New York Times receives a Pulitzer Prize for its international reporting despite revelations debunking articles it had published accusing Hamas of using mass rape as a weapon of war, and as Western mainstream media elites gathered at the White House press dinner with President Joe Biden despite his relentless support for Israel’s genocide in Gaza, Israel’s unimpeded attacks on journalists continue.

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet voted to shut down operations of the Al Jazeera network in present-day Israel.

The move followed a recent law passed by the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, allowing the temporary shutdown of foreign broadcasters if the Israeli government deems they pose a threat to national security amid its ongoing bombing of Palestinians in Gaza.

Last Sunday, Israeli police raided Al Jazeera’s offices in Jerusalem, revoking press accreditations and prohibiting the network from airing its broadcasts.

Al Jazeera condemned Israel’s closure of its operations as a “criminal act,” asserting that it constituted a violation of international and humanitarian law.

“Al Jazeera affirms its right to continue to provide news and information to its global audiences,” the network said.

“Israel’s direct targeting and killing of journalists, arrests, intimidation and threats will not deter Al Jazeera from its commitment to cover, whilst more than 140 Palestinian journalists have been killed since the beginning of the war on Gaza.”

Al Jazeera is the leading international news outlet to broadcast what has become the defining images of Israel’s genocide in Gaza, with its journalists bravely reporting on the ground in the coastal enclave, including in northern areas.

It’s also the premier platform for airing resistance operation videos, often exclusively, by the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas.

The European Union Heads of Mission in Israeli-occupied Ramallah visited the Al Jazeera office to take photos with staff members:

Drone footage

In recent weeks, Al Jazeera has also broadcast multiple videos it asserts were captured by Israeli drones in Gaza.

The Qatar-based network does not explicitly disclose the source of such footage. Analysts speculate that the drones are apparently being captured by resistance groups in Gaza, either by commandeering the quadcopters in the air as the groups have demonstrated or they are being shot down and the data preserved.

The videos serve as documentation of potential war crimes perpetrated by the Israeli military.

One particular video shot by an overhead drone depicted the ruthless killing of four Palestinian men as they walked through a neighborhood in the southern area of Khan Younis to survey the aftermath of Israel’s ground invasion in the area.

The drone footage captures the relentless pursuit of the four men, repeatedly firing missiles at them until all are killed.

Another video broadcast by Al Jazeera depicts Israeli soldiers executing two men attempting to walk north, clearly posing no threat. An Israeli bulldozer then secretes the bodies in the dirt.

More recent footage published by Al Jazeera shows Israeli soldiers using a Palestinian man as a human shield.

The man is coerced into entering an abandoned school under the surveillance of two Israeli drones in order to scout the premises.

The same video segment also features additional footage captured by an Israeli drone, revealing Israeli armored vehicles stationed at what appears to be a makeshift military base located within an abandoned school in the Shujaiya neighborhood of Gaza City.

Over the course of its genocide in Gaza, the Israeli army has killed and injured a number of Al Jazeera journalists and staff, as well as their families.

An Israeli drone attack killed an Al Jazeera cameraman and injured the network’s bureau chief Wael al-Dahdouh in December. Israel killed al-Dahdouh’s wife, son, daughter and grandson in Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, on 25 October.

Slaughtered journalists

An Israeli airstrike killed photographer Baha Okasha along with members of his family in Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza on Saturday, bringing to 143 the number of Palestinian journalists killed in the Strip throughout Israel’s genocide, according to the Hamas media office in Gaza.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says it has been able confirm the deaths of at least 92 Palestinian and three Lebanese journalists.

Israeli attacks also killed four contributors to The Electronic Intifada, as well as members of their families, since 7 October.

This includes Mohammed Hamo, a journalist and translator based in Gaza, who was killed along with family members in November.

Hamo wrote an article for The Electronic Intifada in August 2023 about a Gaza photographer who was captured by Israeli soldiers while he was covering the Great March of Return in May 2018.

Israeli forces fired at Hatim Abu Sharia and his colleague, and then captured them, charging him with entering Israel unlawfully and photographing military facilities without authorization. He was sentenced to five years imprisonment and was released in 2023.

Last week, Abu Sharia was killed in an Israeli airstrike along with many members of his family.

Now, journalist Hamo and the subject of his article have both been killed in the ongoing genocide.

This has been the “most dangerous conflict for journalists in recent history,” United Nations experts said in February.


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Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.