The Israeli government has approved on 20 October a new regulation that will allow for the temporary shut down of news channels which ‘damage national security’. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urges Israel to review its decision in the name of media pluralism and the public’s right to know.
The proposed regulations, approved on 20 October, aim to prohibit news organisations from ‘undermining national security, public order or serving as a basis for enemy propaganda’.
While the regulation appears to be aimed at the operation of Qatari channel Al Jazeera, the IFJ fears they could also be used to shut down other media operating in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.
According to the Times of Israel “the communications minister — with the agreement of the defence minister — will be able to order TV providers to stop broadcasting the news outlet in question; close its offices in Israel, seize its equipment, and shut down its website or restrict access to its website, depending on the location of its server.”
Media organisations and journalists have struggled to cover the Israel-Gaza war from its start on 7 October when the Hamas launched an unprecedented attack in southern Israel. In response, Israel retaliated with airstrikes over the besieged Gaza Strip and formally declared war at Hamas.
Foreign and local media are faced with numerous restrictions including safety threats, electricity and internet shutdowns and emotional fears .
At least 15 Palestinian journalists,3 Israeli and one Lebanese journalists have lost their lives. The IFJ is verifying reports of other casualties in the Gaza strip. Several media workers have also been injured and others are missing. Many media offices in Gaza have been destroyed.
The latest decision of the Israeli government to restrict press freedom is another blow for the international journalism community and the public’s right to know..
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “We are deeply concerned at Israel’s attempt to censor media coverage of the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict using national security as an excuse to restrict critical media that do not confirm its narrative of the ongoing war. This is a clear attack on media pluralism and the public’s right to know. The whole world must be allowed to see what is happening in the ongoing conflict and we urge Israel to review its decision.“