Israeli officials reverse decision to seize AP equipment it had said violated media law

Israel’s communications minister ordered the government to return a camera and broadcasting equipment it had confiscated from The Associated Press (AP) Thursday, reversing course hours after blocking the news organization’s live video of Gaza.

The government seized the AP equipment from a location in southern Israel after accusing it of violating a new media law by providing images to the satellite channel Al Jazeera.

“While we are pleased with this development, we remain concerned about the Israeli government’s use of the foreign broadcaster law and the ability of independent journalists to operate freely in Israel,” AP spokesperson Lauren Easton said in an updated statement Tuesday.

Communications minister Shlomo Karhi canceled his own order and said the Israeli defense ministry will undertake a review of news outlets’ positioning of live video of Gaza.

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Israeli officials confiscated equipment from the Associated Press for violating its laws on media broadcasts. (Getty Images)

Israeli lawmakers in the Knesset passed a measure 71-10 in late March to grant Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the communications minister authority to temporarily shut down foreign media outlets and confiscate their equipment if they are deemed a “security risk” to Israel.

Israeli officials used the law to ban Qatar-based news station Al Jazeera from broadcasting from Israel on April 1.

In announcing the decision, Netanyahu called the organization a “terrorist channel” and “Hamas’ mouthpiece,” while also claiming, “Al Jazeera has harmed Israel’s security, actively participated in the October 7 massacre, and incited against IDF soldiers.”

The AP revealed that it refused requests from the Israeli government last week to stop its live transmission feed of northern Gaza and said that it would not stop sending images to Al Jazeera, which is one of thousands of customers.

In a statement before the actions were reversed, Easton had said, “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.”

“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,” she added.

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The Israeli government has defended its decision to seize AP news equipment after the country banned Al Jazeera from broadcasting within Israel.  (Getty Images)

Several organizations opposed the Israeli government’s decision to stop AP’s live feed coverage of northern Gaza.

“The Foreign Press Association is alarmed by Israel’s confiscation of the Associated Press’ broadcasting equipment today along the Israeli border near Gaza,” the organization wrote. “This is the latest in a series of chilling steps by the Israeli government to stifle the media.”

“This is an act of madness,” Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid wrote in a statement originally in Hebrew.

The Associated Press and Fox News’ Kristine Parks contributed to this report.

Jeffrey Clark is an associate editor for Fox News Digital. He has previously served as a speechwriter for a cabinet secretary and as a Fulbright teacher in South Korea. Jeffrey graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 with a degree in English and History. 

Story tips can be sent to [email protected].

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