Israeli Officials to Return Seized AP Equipment After Accusing Agency of Sharing Broadcast With Al-Jazeera

The Israeli Communications Minister announced Tuesday night that equipment taken from The Associated Press on the grounds that the agency violated a new media law would be returned, after the United Stated reportedly asked that it do so.

Israel had accused AP of sharing images with Al-Jazeera, which was evicted from Israel following the recent passing of a law barring it from reporting within Israel.

Minister of Communications Shlomo Karhi announced that his department was walking back the decision. “Since the Ministry of Defense wishes to examine the matter of the broadcasts from these locations in Sderot regarding the risk to our forces, I have now ordered to cancel the operation and return the equipment to the AP, until a different decision is made by the Ministry of Defense,” Karhi said in a statement.

Axios reported that the U.S. had requested that Israel return the equipment, citing two unnamed sources familiar with the matter.

The AP condemned the confiscation, 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.

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.

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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