Israel extends Al Jazeera ban by 45 days, cites security threat

 Al Jazeera, a Qatari-backed broadcaster, faced a setback in Israel as the country's telecoms regulator extended a ban on its operations for another 45 days. This decision came after the Israeli cabinet deemed Al Jazeera's broadcasts a threat to national security.

Initially, a 35-day ban had been imposed by the government, citing security concerns, and it was upheld by a Tel Aviv court. In response to a petition by Al Jazeera challenging the closure, Israel's Supreme Court labeled the measure as "precedent-setting." The court gave the Israeli government until August 8 to present arguments on why the law preventing foreign broadcasters from harming national security should not be considered void.

Al Jazeera contended in court that it does not incite violence or terrorism, and argued that the ban was disproportionate. However, the network's broadcasts on cable and satellite providers, as well as access to its websites, remain blocked according to Israel's Communications Ministry.

Shlomo Karhi, the communications minister, defended the ban stating that it was necessary to prevent a "terrorist channel" from broadcasting and endangering Israeli security forces. He expressed confidence that the closure orders would be extended in the future.

During the court proceedings, Judge Shai Yaniv mentioned evidence, although unspecified, of a close relationship between Al Jazeera and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. He accused the channel of promoting Hamas' objectives.

The tension between Israel and Al Jazeera escalated when Israeli authorities raided a hotel room in Jerusalem used by Al Jazeera as an office, leading to the shutdown of its operations for the duration of the Gaza conflict.

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