Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman has set his sights on a new enemy: the television network Al Jazeera.
As Israel enters its third week of a bloody confrontation with Hamas in Gaza, Lieberman on July 21 called the Qatari network a crucial piece of Hamas’ propaganda effort and said the Israeli government is already in the process of banning it.
“Al Jazeera has abandoned even the semblance of a credible media outlet, and it broadcasts – both within Gaza and outside it, to the world – anti-Semitic incitement, lies, provocation and encouragement to terrorists,” Lieberman said.
Al Jazeera is bankrolled by and maintains it headquarters in the tiny, oil-rich nation of Qatar, a country that is eager to play a more dominant role in Middle-Eastern politics, and despite having no formal relations with Israel, is known to maintain several back channels of trade and industry. But Qatar is also the current home of Hamas leader Khaled Meshal and an open supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood.
“Qatar constitutes the economic spine of the most radical terrorist groups,” Lieberman said.
Less than 24 hours after Lieberman’s statement, Al Jazeera reporters in Gaza said warning shots had been fired into their Gaza City headquarters. Terrified staffers wrote on Twitter that the fire had come from Israel Defense Forces soldiers, and the building was evacuated.
The IDF, however, denied the incident, and conflicting reports on Twitter said that incident had in fact been shattered windows caused by a nearby explosion.