Israel Readying Emergency Regulations Allowing Arrest of Journalists for Factual Reporting

One Israeli journalist said Israel’s far-right government—trying to stop Al Jazeera’s Gaza broadcasts—is “acting more like Putin’s” regime.

By Brett Wilkins Published 10-16-2023 by Common Dreams

Shlomo Karhi, a member of the right-wing Likud party who is currently Israel’s communications minister, with Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Shlomo Karhi/Facebook

Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi confirmed Sunday that he is drafting regulations that will empower him to order police to arrest journalists for factual reporting and target anyone he believes has damaged national morale during Israel’s ongoing war against Gaza.

Haaretz reports that Karhi—a member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party—is preparing draft emergency regulations titled “Limiting Aid to the Enemy through Communication” which would allow him to direct police to arrest any civilian, remove them from their home, and seize their property if he believes they have disseminated information that might harm national morale or be used as “enemy propaganda.”

The new regulations will apply to the general public as well as local and foreign media professionals—and will be applicable to both truthful and inaccurate reporting.

In a Sunday morning radio interview with Galey Israel, Karhi acknowledged that the proposed regulations are aimed at shutting down broadcasts by Qatari state-owned broadcaster Al Jazeera in Israel and Gaza, where Israeli forces have killed more than 2,800 people including at least 700 children while injuring over 10,000 others since last Saturday’s Hamas-led infiltration attack that left upwards of 1,400 Israeli civilians and soldiers dead, 3,200 injured, and around 200 others kidnapped.

“As far as I’m concerned, they won’t be able to operate in Israel, [but] I don’t know what the legal counsel will leave from the regulations I’ve introduced—including the confiscation of equipment and office closures,” Kahri said.

According to Haaretz‘s Avi Bar-Eli:

It should be noted that the draft regulations, as formulated by the communications minister, fully contradict Israel’s democratic values and are unlikely to be approved by the government’s legal counsel.

Ironically, Karhi himself falls under the definition of offenses he published, having previously expressed contempt for Supreme Court justices, refused to state he will obey Supreme Court rulings, and, six months ago, expressed disdain for reserve soldiers who refused to volunteer.

Israeli journalist Etan Nechin wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that Netanyahu’s government “is acting more like Putin’s.”

Earlier this year, Kahri courted controversy by announcing his intent to shut down Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster—which he accused of “left-wing bias”—and Army Radio. He has also introduced legislation to shutter Israel’s media watchdog and stands accused of favoring pro-Netanyahu outlets.

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

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