Israel halts AP news agency live video feed of Gaza, seizes equipment


Wednesday, 22 May 2024 (09:43 IST)
The Israeli government on Tuesday stopped the Associated Press (AP) news agency from taking a live video feed from Gaza. 
AP had been filming northern Gaza from the southern Israeli town of Sderot, in order to provide footage of the Gaza war.
Israel is currently engaged in a military operation in Gaza against the Palestinian militant-Islamist group Hamas following the October 7 terror attacks.
Israel accuses AP of providing footage to Al Jazeera
The Israeli communications ministry said in a statement that its inspectors had "confiscated" equipment from AP at the direction of the Israeli government "in accordance with the law."
Later Tuesday, the Israeli communications minister ordered the return of the equipment, news outlet Axios reported.
Israel in April approved a law giving the Israeli government the authority to shut down foreign news broadcasters that are deemed a threat to national security. 
The Israeli government has accused the AP of supplying images to Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera, which has been banned from broadcasting from Israel under the new media law. The Israeli government is skeptical of Al Jazeera coverage, as Hamas leaders such as Ismail Haniyeh reside in Qatar. 
What has been the response?
In response, AP Vice President of Communications Lauren Easton said the organization "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."     
"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," she added, while calling on Israel to return AP equipment and allow the video feed to be reinstated.  
Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid said the decision to confiscate AP's equipment is "an act of madness."
"This is not Al Jazeera. This is an American news outlet," Lapid added. "This government acts as if it has decided to make sure at any cost that Israel will be shunned around the world."     
Media freedom organization Reporters Without Borders called the Israeli move "outrageous censorship," with UN spokesperson Stephanie Dujarric saying it is "quite shocking."  
Later Tuesday, a White House spokesperson said the US was engaging with Israel to seek a reversal of the decision.

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