Israeli officials shut down Associated Press broadcast and seize camera equipment

Israeli authorities have shut down a live broadcast by the Associated Press (AP) and seized camera equipment, accusing the organisation of breaking laws because it provides material to the Al Jazeera news station, Sky news reports.

The incident happened in the town of Sderot, on the Gaza border, from where the AP has provided a near constant live picture of the northern Gaza skyline throughout the war.

Officials from the Communications Ministry handed over an order signed by the Communications Minister on Tuesday morning.

A verbal order to stop broadcasting had previously been issued last Thursday, which the AP refused to follow.

Commenting on the incident, the Associated Press said it "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.

"We urge the Israeli authorities to return our equipment and enable us to reinstate our live feed immediately so we can continue to provide this important visual journalism to thousands of media outlets around the world."

According to a statement reported by The Times of Israel, the Ministry of Communication said it will "continue to take whatever enforcement action is required to limit broadcasts that harm the security of the state."

Al Jazeera was recently banned from operating inside Israel, following a new law that allows the government to prohibit any broadcasters it deems to be harmful to national security.

Al Jazeera's offices in east Jerusalem were raided and equipment confiscated hours after that law was passed.

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