On Sunday, Israel's Communication Minister Ayoob Kara demanded Al Jazeera's journalists' press cards be revoked, that cable news providers throughout the country block Al Jazeera's transmissions and that the pan-Arab news broadcaster be shut down altogether in Israel, according to the Independent.
Speaking at a press conference — which Al Jazeera was prohibited from attending — Kara, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, alleged that the news station produces material utilized by militant groups to “incite” violence.
“Regimes that want to control power will almost always go after two targets — the media and foreigners. Everybody goes after the media,” noted Rami Khouri of the American University in Beirut.
Aidan White, director of the Ethical Journalism Network in London, emphasized that Kara's remarks presented “a full frontal attack” on press freedom.
"It is a shocking statement, and it completely undermines Israel's claims to be the only democracy in the region, because it gets to the heart of one of the most important institutions of democracy,” White said, adding that the attack on Al Jazeera is, in fact, “an attack on all critical independent journalism.”
Kara justified the attack by citing the fact that Jordan and Saudi Arabia have imposed a ban on the news network.
“We have based our decision on the move by Sunni Arab states to close the Al Jazeera offices and prohibit their work," Kara said.
While local offices of Al Jazeera have been closed in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, the news broadcaster's transmission has been blocked in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.