Geneva–The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor condemns the decision of Israeli authorities to close the Al Jazeera office in Jerusalem and ban the channel’s journalists, calling it “a serious escalation of Israeli violations against media institutions.”
“The Israeli decision demonstrates that Palestinians are not the only target of Israel’s policies,” says Yahia Ashraf, a researcher at the Geneva-based Euro-Med. “Israel, which claims to be the only democracy in the region, is actually complicit along with other oppressive countries in the Middle East in repressing freedoms and legitimate expressions public opinion.”
Israeli Communications Minister Ayoub Kara announced Sunday the decision to revoke the Qatari network’s media credentials in the country, demanding that it close its office in occupied Jerusalem and stop broadcasting. Kara further accused Al Jazeera of “supporting terrorism and inciting violence.” He added that more laws will be enacted to support the closure.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the action after charging Al Jazeera with inciting violence during the clashes at Al-Aqsa Mosque.
“This oppressive action comes after Israel already has taken other concrete measures to control media workers,” adds Ashraf. “Since the beginning of the Gulf crisis and the blockade on Qatar in early June, Al Jazeera has been the target of a retaliatory campaign, including the expulsion of employees from the countries participating in the blockade.”
In recent months, Israel has violated the rights of Palestinian media as well; for example, its authorities confiscated materials from the Al-Quds channel in the West Bank and assaulted and arrested Palestinian journalists, barring them from work.
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor calls on the international community to intervene to force Israel to respect freedom of expression as dictated by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Political officials in the Israeli government should be held accountable for spreading hatred and incitement against foreign media.
Furthermore, effective measures should be taken to ensure the protection of journalists from political interference. The right to freedom of opinion and expression is the cornerstone of all rights granted to human beings in international covenants and laws.