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Al Jazeera Media Network has condemned as a “criminal act” the Israeli government’s decision to end the broadcaster’s operations in Israel. This suppression of the free press “stands in contravention of international and humanitarian law.”

“Al Jazeera Media Network strongly condemns and denounces this criminal act that violates human rights and the basic right to access of information. Al Jazeera affirms its right to continue to provide news and information to its global audiences,” the network said in a May 5 statement.

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. Israel’s direct targeting and killing of journalists, arrests, intimidation and threats will not deter Al Jazeera from its commitment to cover, whilst more than 140 Palestinian journalists have been killed since the beginning of the war on Gaza.

The Network vehemently rejects the allegations presented by Israeli authorities suggesting professional media standards have been violated. It reaffirms its unwavering commitment to the values embodied by its Code of Ethics.

The closure followed a vote by the Israeli cabinet to shut down Al Jazeera, weeks after the parliament passed a law empowering the government to declare foreign broadcasters to be security risks, and shut them down.

Al Jazeera reports that Israel’s Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi ordered the seizure of Al Jazeera’s broadcasting equipment “used to deliver the channel’s content,” including editing and routing equipment, cameras, microphones, servers and laptops, as well as wireless transmission equipment and some mobile phones.

Tim Dawson, the deputy general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, told Al Jazeera from London, that it is “utterly a retrograde and ridiculous decision.”

“Closing down media, closing down television stations is a sort of thing that despots do,” he said.

“Israel makes much of being a democracy and the idea that it can simply close down an international broadcaster of considerable reputation and history is atrocious,” he added.