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Israel extends Al Jazeera ban for 45 days citing security threat

Rhino: Agencies – Israel’s telecoms regulator on Sunday extended the ban on Al Jazeera’s operation in Israel for another 45 days after the cabinet agreed that the channel’s broadcasts pose a threat to security.

A Tel Aviv court last week upheld an initial 35-day ban on Al Jazeera’s operations in Israel, imposed by the government on national security grounds, which expired on Saturday.

In a separate ruling on a petition filed by Al Jazeera challenging the closure, Israel’s Supreme Court described the action against the channel as precedent-setting.

The court gave the Israeli government until 8 August to submit arguments on ‘reasons why the law preventing foreign broadcasters from harming national security’ should not be considered invalid.

Court documents showed that Al Jazeera told the court that it does not incite violence or terrorism, and that the ban is disproportionate. The channel, which has criticized Israel’s military operations in Gaza, has said it intends to appeal the extension of the ban.

Israel’s Communications Ministry said the network’s broadcasts via cable and satellite services and access to its websites would remain blocked.

‘We will not allow the terrorist channel Al Jazeera to broadcast from Israel and endanger our fighters,’ said Communications Minister Shlomo Karaei, adding that the law authorizes him to take such action against foreign broadcasters.

“In light of the seriousness of the damage to state security, I am convinced that the closure orders will be extended in the future as well.

Judge Shai Yaniv said he had obtained evidence, which he did not specify, of a close and long-standing relationship between Hamas and Al Jazeera, accusing the channel of promoting the group’s goals.

Al Jazeera said it rejects all of the minister’s claims, justifications and accusations.

Israeli authorities raided a Jerusalem hotel room used by Al Jazeera as an office on 5 May and said it would be suspended for the duration of the Gaza war.

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