Friday, June 14, 2024

Israel turns around – the AP news agency gets its equipment back

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Throughout the war, Israel has had a camera in the south of Israel that has filmed the smoke rising from the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip from a distance. This photo was taken by one of the news agency’s photographers last Friday. Photo: AP / NTB

Of NTB | 21.05.2024 21:59:28

Culture and entertainment: On Tuesday came the news that Israel had seized the equipment of the American news agency and halted the live transmission of images from Gaza, which are delivered to thousands of media clients.

A few hours later, the White House announced that it was in contact with the Israeli authorities to get them to turn around, and not long after it became clear that Israel would return a seized camera and other equipment. But it is still unclear whether the news agency will be allowed to resume round-the-clock filming of the Gaza Strip from the city of Sderot in southern Israel.

Israel’s Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi says the Defense Ministry will reassess the news agency’s location of the camera filming Gaza.

Israel has justified the ban by saying that one of AP’s clients is the Qatari news channel Al Jazeera, which Israel recently banned.

Both the ban on Al Jazeera and the measures against AP have been met with strong international criticism, not least from press organizations which believe that freedom of expression and the press are getting worse and worse in Israel.

“The Associated Press strongly disagrees with the Israeli government’s decision to shut down our long-standing live broadcast,” Easton said.

“This decision was not based on the content of our broadcast, but rather the Israeli government’s abuse of a new law on foreign broadcasters,” Easton continued.

It was on Tuesday morning that representatives of the Israeli Ministry of Communications trooped up outside the city of Sderot where AP has had a camera that has been filming the Gaza Strip from a distance around the clock. They had with them an order signed by Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, and all equipment was confiscated.

The AP denied having broken the law and maintained that it had complied with Israel’s military censorship which, among other things, prohibits recording of troop movements that could endanger the lives of Israeli soldiers.

Al Jazeera is one of the few international TV channels that still broadcasts from inside the Gaza Strip and that shows the consequences of the Israeli attacks that have so far cost more than 35,000 Palestinians their lives.

When the channel was closed, Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide (Ap) was among those who called it an attack on press freedom.

– The world community is completely dependent on the media to get credible information about the situation. Banning a news outlet like Al Jazeera is a direct attack on press freedom, he said.

– While we are satisfied with this development, we are still concerned about the Israeli government’s use of the law on foreign broadcasters and the possibility for independent journalists to operate freely in Israel, says AP spokesperson Lauren Easton.

Earlier in the day, AP asked Israel to return the equipment.

On May 5, Israel shut down Al Jazeera and seized equipment from the station’s office in Jerusalem. Al Jazeera’s websites were also blocked in Israel.

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