Israeli Officials Seize AP Equipment, Accuse News Agency of Violating New Media Law

By Yoni Weiss

The main headquarters of Qatari news broadcaster Al Jazeera in the capital Doha. (KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Israeli officials on Tuesday seized a camera and broadcasting equipment belonging to The Associated Press in southern Israel, accusing the news organization of violating a new media law by providing images to Al Jazeera.

“In accordance with the government decision and the instruction of the communications minister, the Communications Ministry will continue to take whatever enforcement action is required to limit broadcasts that harm the security of the state,” the Communications Ministry stated.

The AP condemned the action, emphasizing that Al Jazeera is just one of many clients that receive live video feeds from the US news agency.

“The Associated Press decries in the strongest terms the actions of the Israeli government to shut down our longstanding live feed showing a view into Gaza and seize AP equipment,” said Lauren Easton, vice president of corporate communications at AP. “The shutdown was not based on the content of the feed but rather an abusive use by the Israeli government of the country’s new foreign broadcaster law. We urge the Israeli authorities to return our equipment and enable us to reinstate our live feed immediately so we can continue to provide this important visual journalism to thousands of media outlets around the world.”

Communications Ministry officials arrived at the AP’s location in Sderot and seized the equipment, delivering a document signed by Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, alleging a violation of the foreign broadcaster law, according to the AP.

Just before the seizure, the equipment was broadcasting a general view of northern Gaza. The AP complies with the IDF censorship rules, which restrict broadcasts of sensitive details such as troop movements that could jeopardize soldiers. Typically, the live shot has shown smoke rising over the territory.

The seizure followed a verbal order on Thursday to cease the live transmission, which AP refused to comply with.

Previously, Israeli officials used the same law to shut down the offices of Qatar-based Al Jazeera on May 5, confiscating the channel’s equipment, banning its broadcasts, and blocking its websites.

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