The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has reportedly asked Qatar to moderate Al Jazeera’s coverage of Israel’s war against Hamas, amid concerns within the Biden administration that the channel is inflaming public opinion and heightening the risks of a wider conflict.
Blinken raised the satellite news channel’s coverage with the Qatari prime minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani, according to the website Axios, which said the US’s top diplomat had disclosed the request in a meeting with US Jewish leaders.
The US administration’s concern over the network reflects the high impact its coverage has on public opinion in the Arab world.
Al Jazeera is one of the few news organisations with a functioning bureau in Gaza, enabling it to report on the destructive impact of Israel’s heavy bombardment of the territory, which the Palestinian health ministry says has so far killed 7,028 people, nearly 3,000 of them minors.
This week Al Jazeera’s chief correspondent, Wael al-Dahdouh, became part of the unfolding story when his entire immediate family was killed in an Israeli airstrike on a house in the Nuseirat refugee camp, where they had relocated to after Israel’s warning on 13 October for residents to move from northern Gaza.
The network broadcast footage of al-Dahdouh breaking down in grief as he peered at the body of his son in the hospital morgue. His wife, daughter and grandson were also killed in Tuesday’s strike, along with 21 other people.
“They take revenge on us in our children?” he said, as he knelt over his son’s body.
In a statement, the network said it “strongly condemns the indiscriminate targeting and killing of innocent civilians in Gaza, which has led to the loss of Wael al-Dahdouh’s family and countless others”.
Another Al Jazeera journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, was shot dead last year while reporting on an Israeli raid in the West Bank. The Israeli military subsequently admitted there was a “high probability” that one of its soldiers had shot her, after initially insisting she had been killed by Palestinian gunfire. A joint investigation conducted by Forensic Architecture and the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq later alleged that she had been killed “deliberately” and Al Jazeera submitted a formal complaint to the International Criminal Court. [Continue reading…]