Israel shuts down AP live feed of Gaza, White House calls the move ‘concerning’

The White House is investigating Israel’s decision to shut down and seize broadcast equipment belonging to the Associated Press under the same media law it used to shut down Al Jazeera’s operations in the country earlier this month.

On Tuesday, officials with Israel’s Communications Ministry travelled to an AP facility in Sderot and took possession of gear that was then being used to broadcast a live feed of the Gaza skyline.

They did so after showing journalists there an order signed by Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi.

Israeli officials have claimed that the AP, which provides video footage to thousands of news organizations, violated the country’s new media law by allowing Al Jazeera to use its broadcast feed after Al Jazeera was banned from operating in the country on May 5th.

The ministry said it had acted “in accordance with the government decision and the instruction of the communications minister” and would “continue to take whatever enforcement action is required to limit broadcasts that harm the security of the state”.

Israel’s new foreign broadcaster law was enacted by the right-wing government led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It was written to target Al Jazeera, which is funded by Qatar’s government, at the same time that Qatari officials have been hosting Hamas representatives for negotiations.

The Associated Press had been reporting nonstop since the October 7 terror attacks by Hamas militants, often from within Gaza and by presenting firsthand accounts of the damage from Israeli airstrikes.

Asked about the Israeli move while traveling aboard Air Force One en route to New Hampshire, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the censorship of the US-based news organization “concerning”.

“We’re gonna be looking into it. And obviously this is concerning, and so we want to look into it,” she said.

Jean-Pierre added that both she and President Joe Biden have repeatedly expressed the importance of a free press, which she called a “pillar of our democracy”.

“You guys are the fourth estate. You guys hold us hold us accountable and make sure that the facts are out there and that is essential to the American people — to the world globally. And so we’re going to always continue to be steadfast on that. And certainly we’re going to look into this,” she said, adding that the reports from Israel were “concerning to hear”.

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