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Israel Confiscates AP News Equipment But Walks Back After Public Criticism

Israeli authorities confiscated camera equipment of western media outlet the Associated Press on Tuesday, May 21, before “reversing course” following condemnation from several media groups including criticism from its staunch supporter and closest ally, the US. 

Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi said in a statement he had ordered officials to return the confiscated equipment. 

The Israeli Communications Ministry had initially accused AP for providing a live broadcast to Qatari news channel, Al Jazeera, which is currently temporarily banned by the Israeli Regime. 

The agency revealed that it was forced to shut down a live feed showing Gaza from the Israeli town of Sderot, claiming that it was an abusive use by the Israeli government of the country’s new foreign broadcaster law. 

“The Associated Press decries in the strongest terms the actions of the Israeli government to shut down our longstanding live feed showing a view into Gaza and seize AP equipment,” AP spokesperson Lauren Easton said.

The media law, passed in April, permits the government to order foreign broadcasters to temporarily halt operations on the pretext of national security. 

“The free press is an essential pillar of democracy and members of the media, including AP, do vital work that must be respected,” White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement. 

Media rights groups condemned the move, calling it “outrageous censorship.”

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