Israel seizes AP equipment, accuses news organization of providing services to banned Al Jazeera

Illustrative: An employee of Al Jazeera walks past the channel's logo at its headquarters in Doha, Qatar, in 2006. (AP/ Kamran Jebreili, File)
Illustrative: An employee of Al Jazeera walks past the channel's logo at its headquarters in Doha, Qatar, in 2006. (AP/ Kamran Jebreili, File)

Israeli officials seize a camera and broadcasting equipment belonging to The Associated Press in southern Israel, accusing the news organization of violating a new media law by providing images to Al Jazeera.

“In accordance with the government decision and the instruction of the communications minister, the Communications Ministry will continue to take whatever enforcement action is required to limit broadcasts that harm the security of the state,” the Communications Ministry says in a statement.

The AP denounced the move, saying that the Qatari satellite channel is among thousands of 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,” says Lauren Easton, vice president of corporate communications at the news organization.

“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. We urge the Israeli authorities to return our equipment and enable us to reinstate our live feed immediately so we can continue to provide this important visual journalism to thousands of media outlets around the world.”

Officials from the Communications Ministry arrived at the AP location in the southern town of Sderot  and seized the equipment. They handed AP a document signed by Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi alleging it was violating the country’s foreign broadcaster law, AP says.

Shortly before the equipment was seized, it was broadcasting a general view of northern Gaza. The AP complies with Israel’s military censorship rules, which prohibit broadcasts of details like troops movements that could endanger soldiers. The live shot has generally shown smoke rising over the territory.

A screenshot taken from AP video showing a general view of northern Gaza as seen from southern Israel, before the camera was seized by Israeli officials on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo)

The seizure followed a verbal order Thursday to cease the live transmission — which the news organization refused to do, AP says.

Israeli officials used the law to close down the offices of the Qatar-based al Jazeera broadcaster on May 5 as well as confiscating the channel’s equipment, banning its broadcasts, and blocking its websites.

Most Popular