Netanyahu govt. decides to close Al Jazeera offices in Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his government has decided to close the local operations of satellite TV network Al Jazeera.

Netanyahu made the announcement on social media on Sunday, describing the Qatar-based media organization as an incitement channel.

Al Jazeera issued a statement later in the day, condemning the Israeli decision. It says, "Israel's ongoing suppression of the free press, seen as an effort to conceal its actions in the Gaza Strip, stands in contravention of international and humanitarian law."

The broadcaster also said, "Israel's direct targeting and killing of journalists, arrests, intimidation and threats will not deter Al Jazeera from its commitment to cover."

Israel's parliament passed a law last month that allows the government to regulate foreign media outlets it deems to be threatening the country's national security.

Al Jazeera says the law allows the government to temporarily close offices of such media organizations, prevent the broadcast of their reports, block their websites, and confiscate broadcasting equipment.

A TV screen showing Al Jazeera's broadcast at NHK's Jerusalem bureau went black on Sunday afternoon. The screen instead shows Hebrew words that read, "In accordance with the government decision, the Al Jazeera station's broadcasts have been stopped in Israel."

Al Jazeera has been reporting from Gaza every day since the start of the current fighting to cover damage done by Israeli military attacks.

But Netanyahu has been criticizing the broadcaster's coverage. Analysts say the new law is targeted at Al Jazeera.