Israel Seizes AP’s Equipment, Reverses Move After Pressure

by | May 21, 2024

Israel Seizes AP’s Equipment, Reverses Move After Pressure

by | May 21, 2024

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Israeli authorities seized broadcasting equipment from the Associated Press and blocked the outlet’s live feed of Gaza. The move is part of a crackdown on media in Israel. The White House expressed concern over the theft of the American outlet’s equipment. The AP reports the Israeli government later ordered the cameras to be returned to the journalists, and the feed was restored. 

On Tuesday, Israel seized cameras and broadcasting equipment used by the AP in southern Israel. Tel Aviv claimed that the AP was in violation of a new law allowing the government to ban Al-Jazeera. Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi argues that the law extends to any organization providing material to the Qatari-based outlet, giving him the power to shut down the AP livestream.  

The AP said the order they were given by authorities during the seizure was signed by Karhi, who is a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party. After the livestream was shut down, a senior AP official slammed Tel Aviv. 

“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. “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.”

On Thursday, the Israeli Communications Minister ordered AP to halt its livestream of Gaza. The AP argues that its video coverage of the Strip complies with Israel’s censorship laws and refused to comply with Tel Aviv’s order. 

The seizure drew prompt backlash from the Israeli and American governments, leading to a reversal of the move later in the day. 

While the AP welcomed the reversal, a top official at the outlet expressed ongoing concern about the freedom of the press in Israel. “While we are pleased with this development, we remain concerned about the Israeli government’s use of the foreign broadcaster law and the ability of independent journalists to operate freely in Israel,” said Easton. 

The White House, which has largely refused to condemn anything Israel has done over the past seven months, said it was “concerned” by the censorship. Israeli opposition figure Yair Lapid called it an “act of madness.” 

“This is not Al Jazeera, this is an American media outlet that has won 53 Pulitzer Prizes,” Lapid posted on X. “This government behaves as if it has decided to make sure at all costs that Israel will be swayed all over the world. They went crazy.” 

Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone is news editor of the Libertarian Institute, opinion editor of Antiwar.com and co-host of Conflicts of Interest with Will Porter and Connor Freeman.

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