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Updated May 21, 2024, 6:04pm EDT
mediasecurityMiddle East
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Semafor Signals

Associated Press equipment seizure underscores Israel’s tenuous press freedoms

Insights from The Committee to Protect Journalists, The Intercept, and Euronews

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REUTERS/Amir Cohen
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The News

Israel’s Ministry of Communications ordered the return of camera equipment to The Associated Press on Tuesday, after seizing the kit earlier in the day. The news agency had reportedly used it to provide a live feed of northern Gaza to Al Jazeera, which has been banned from operating in Israel under a new media law.

“We urge the Israeli authorities to return our equipment and enable us to reinstate our live feed immediately,” the AP said after the equipment was confiscated. The AP provides photos, video, and written journalism to outlets all over the world.

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The White House said the incident was “concerning” and the administration would investigate.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Rights groups warn Israeli media under threat

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Sources:  
Committee to Protect Journalists, Foreign Policy

Al Jazeera and the AP are subject to Israel’s draconian new foreign media law, but Israeli outlets are also targets: The Jerusalem Post has experienced cyberattacks, and the government has proposed banning cabinet members from speaking to Haaretz, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Netanyahu’s government has claimed it is motivated by security concerns, the actions are a “signal of intent” that show he will punish media critical of his administration, an Israeli media watchdog executive told Foreign Policy.

Ukraine’s controversial media law brought to light

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Sources:  
The Kyiv Independent, Euronews

Some journalists have used the AP incident to highlight press freedoms in Ukraine. In 2023, Kyiv passed a law expanding the media regulator’s powers, limiting which journalists get press credentials and shutting down news outlets if they don’t register properly with the regulator, according to The Kyiv Independent. The law’s reception has been mixed, according to Euronews: The Ukrainian project lead for Reporters without Borders said the development was a “positive move” that would help stifle Russian disinformation and propaganda, but the head of the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine doubted it would help with ​​“political independence” because the regulator’s board is appointed by lawmakers.

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