The security cabinet voted Sunday night to shut down the pro-Hezbollah Lebanese al Mayadeen satellite news station in Israel, in line with emergency regulations passed last month to allow the government to close foreign news outlets it believes are harming national security.
The request to shutter the station was made by Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, who said al Mayadeen’s broadcasts “serve the interests of Israel’s enemies” and harm national security.
Karhi’s main target had been the Qatari-based Al Jazeera news network, which he has also accused of undermining national security, but Qatar’s involvement in negotiations to free hostages held by Hamas in Gaza has complicated efforts to shut down the channel in Israel.
Karhi’s request to shut down Al Mayadeen’s operations was approved by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and brought to the security cabinet on Sunday night, as is required by the new regulations.
Gallant said that he, along with the heads of all other security services, had recommended closing the channel.
An order to block Al Mayadeen’s online operations in Israel has now been issued, and an order to seize and confiscate its broadcasting equipment will be issued later Monday.
“Israel is at war. On land, in the air, at sea, in cyberspace, on the airwaves and in [the public] consciousness,” said Karhi in announcing the order to shut down Al Mayadeen.
“Broadcasts such as these identify with the enemy while harming state security and will be blocked. Al Mayadeen’s broadcasts and reports serve the despicable terrorist organizations, and the time has come for a reckoning with them.”
Karhi’s spokesperson did not respond to requests to provide examples of Al Mayadeen broadcasts that had harmed national security.
Gallant said that Israel would “not enable the dangerous propaganda of Al Mayadeen’s broadcasts to be broadcast.
“The steps that are being taken against the Al-Mayadeen ‘media network,’ which has become, in practice, the mouthpiece of the Hezbollah terrorist organization and its head [Hassan Nasrallah], are the right thing to do in the face of the supporters of terrorism who pretend to be journalists and whose goal is one thing: harming the security of the State of Israel and its citizens,” said the defense minister.
The order to shut down Al Mayadeen is the first to be made in line with the emergency regulations approved last month allowing the communications minister to shut down foreign media outlets deemed harmful to national security.
The new regulations allow the communications minister to shut down foreign media outlets during the current state of emergency, based on legal opinions by the security establishment that the outlet in question is harming national security
The communications minister can then order TV providers to stop broadcasting the news outlet, close its offices in Israel, seize its equipment, and shut down its website or restrict access to its website, depending on the location of its server.
The decision must be approved by the defense minister and the security cabinet, and is subject to the review of a district court, which must issue a ruling to uphold or deny the order within three days.
The order is valid for 30 days but can be extended for additional 30-day periods. The emergency regulations themselves are in place for three months, or until the specific state of emergency is formally ended by the government.