Israel must refrain from banning international media, including Al Jazeera, in the country, ensure the safety of journalists, and protect the right of media to freely cover the ongoing war in Gaza, the International Press Institute (IPI) said today.

The Israeli parliament this weekend gave final approval to new legislation allowing the government to ban foreign broadcasters that pose a “national security” risk. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would act “immediately” to ban Al Jazeera from operating in Israel, claiming it had “actively participated in the October 7 massacre, and incited against IDF soldiers”. Many senior politicians in Israel including the communications minister have repeated this claim and refer to the measure as the “Al Jazeera law”.

IPI Executive Director Frane Maroević called on Israel to stop its campaign against the broadcaster.

“Banning Al Jazeera’s operations in Israel without due process would be another blatant attack on press freedom”, he said. “We are gravely concerned that this law grants expansive powers to politicians to block broadcasters on the vague basis of ‘national security’. Disturbingly, it borrows from an authoritarian playbook in casting unwanted news coverage as a security threat.”

He added: “Al Jazeera and its courageous correspondents have played a vital role in covering this war and its devastating humanitarian impact. The IPI global network calls on Israel to step back from this draconian move and allow Al Jazeera to operate and be accessed freely. Israeli authorities should urgently investigate killings, attacks, and threats to the safety of Al Jazeera journalists and all others covering the war.”

Maroević also repeated IPI’s call on Israel to allow international media free and unfettered access to Gaza.

Al Jazeera previously rejected claims of “incitement”, calling them part of Israel’s “attempt to justify the killing and targeting of journalists” and said its journalists adhere to ethical and professional standards.

The war in Gaza has resulted in an unprecedented threat to journalist safety, with several Al Jazeera journalists among those killed or injured. The toll includes the killing of Al Jazeera freelancer Hamza Wael Dahdouh and contributor Mustafa Thuria in Gaza in January. In October, Al Jazeera correspondent Carmen Joukhadar was wounded in an airstrike in southern Lebanon that also killed Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah.

In May 2022, Israeli forces shot and killed Al Jazeera correspondent and IPI World Press Freedom Hero Shireen Abu Akleh. To date, Israel has held no one accountable for her killing.