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Why Israeli PM Netanyahu vows to ban Al Jazeera news network

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to use a fresh national security law passed by parliament to ban news channel Al Jazeera from broadcasting in the country.

The law, passed on Monday by 70 votes to 10, grants top ministers the power to ban broadcasts by foreign channels seen as a national security threat and to shut their offices.

Netanyahu quickly called out Qatar-based channel Al Jazeera, the media station known for being critical of the Israeli government even before Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza.

“The terrorist channel Al Jazeera will no longer broadcast from Israel. I intend to act immediately in accordance with the new law to stop the channel’s activities,” Netanyahu said on X, formerly Twitter.

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The broadcaster slammed the ban as “part of a series of systematic Israeli attacks to silence Al Jazeera”, including the killing of one of its most prominent journalists in the region while covering an Israeli raid in May 2022.

In a statement, Al Jazeera said Netanyahu had launched a “frantic” and “disgraceful” campaign of accusations against the network, vowing to continue its “bold” coverage of the war.

Two Al Jazeera correspondents have been killed during the war and the broadcaster’s office in the besieged Palestinian territory has been bombed.

At least 95 journalists and media workers have been killed since the war began after an unprecedented attack by Hamas on October 7, according to the group, marking “the deadliest period for journalists since CPJ began gathering data in 1992”.