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Israel-Palestine war: Israeli minister seeks arrest of journalists who 'harm national morale'

Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi's proposal would allow Israeli police to arrest citizens, including journalists, for disseminating information critical of Israel
Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir (R), with Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi (L) during a parliament session in Jerusalem on 13 December 2022 (AFP)

Israel's communications minister is proposing emergency regulations that would allow police to arrest citizens and journalists who publish content deemed to "harm national morale".

Under Shlomo Karhi's proposal, those restrictions could be placed upon publications that have been used as a "base for enemy propaganda".

Journalists and other citizens could have their homes searched, property seized and could be placed under arrest for speech the government deems undesirable.

The proposal comes on the ninth day of fighting between Israel and Palestinian groups, which has killed at least 2,450 Palestinians in Gaza, including 724 children and 458 women. In the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, 56 people have been killed by Israeli fire. Meanwhile, at least 1,300 people have been killed in Israel.

Earlier on Sunday, Karhi said he was seeking a possible closure of Al Jazeera's local bureau, accusing the Qatari news station of pro-Hamas incitement and of exposing Israeli soldiers to potential attack from Gaza.

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The proposal to shut down Al Jazeera had been vetted by Israeli security officials and was being vetted by legal experts, Karhi said at the time, adding that he would bring it to the cabinet later in the day.

Al Jazeera and the government in Doha had no immediate comment.

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"This is a station that incites, this is a station that films troops in assembly areas [outside Gaza]... that incites against the citizens of Israel - a propaganda mouthpiece," Karhi told Israel's Army Radio.

"It is unconscionable that Hamas spokespeople's message goes through this station," he said, adding: "I hope we will finish with this today." It was not clear if the latter statement referred to a cabinet discussion or implementation of a closure.

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