Israel Confiscates AP’s Equipment

The agency’s live feed from Gaza was allegedly being used by the banned Al Jazeera

The Associated Press violated a new media law by providing a service to Al Jazeera, the Israeli authorities said on Tuesday, after seizing a camera and broadcasting equipment that transmitted a live feed from Gaza.

Communications Ministry officials visited the AP location in the southern Israeli town of Sderot on Tuesday afternoon, the agency said. They handed AP staff a piece of paper signed by Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, alleging it was violating Israel’s foreign broadcaster law, and confiscated the equipment.

In a statement about the seizure, the ministry said it would “continue to take whatever enforcement action is required to limit broadcasts that harm the security of the state.”

AP’s feed from Sderot mainly showed smoke from explosions rising over northern Gaza. The agency has said it complies with Israeli censorship rules and does not show anything that could endanger soldiers.

“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,” said Lauren Easton, the agency’s vice president of corporate communications. 

“The shutdown was not based on the content of the feed but rather an abusive use by the Israeli government of the country’s new foreign broadcaster law. We urge the Israeli authorities to return our equipment and enable us to reinstate our live feed immediately so we can continue to provide this important visual journalism to thousands of media outlets around the world,” Easton added.

AP also revealed that it had received a verbal order from Israel on Thursday to stop the live transmission, but refused to do so. Al Jazeera was one of AP’s many clients subscribing to the live feed.

Israel banned the Qatar-based outlet earlier this month, calling its reporting on the Gaza conflict “incitement” of terrorism and vowing to seize any hardware used to deliver its content. Al Jazeera’s offices were closed on May 5 and its websites were blocked in Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government invaded Gaza last October, following a series of raids by Hamas militants on nearby Israeli military bases and villages. An estimated 1,200 Israelis were killed and another 250 taken captive in the October 7 attacks. 

Since then, Israeli military operations in Gaza have resulted in the deaths of 35,562 Palestinians, while 79,652 have been injured, according to the enclave’s health ministry.