Egypt on Tuesday prevented two senior Al Jazeera journalists from entering the Gaza Strip through Rafah border, the London-based Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi reported on Wednesday.
The two, Ahmad Mansour and Ghassan Bin Jido, said that the Egyptian authorities did not provide an explanation for their decision, and that employees of other media outlets were allowed to cross into the besieged territory without delay.
During Operation Cast Lead last month, the network's coverage of the events in Gaza was critical of Egypt's opposition to Hamas. Mansour and Bin Jido are known for their favorable attitude toward the Palestinian "resistance movement," as Hamas is known in the Arab world. They said they'd stay put until Egypt provides a "reasonable" explanation for their detention at the border.
Ben Jido, the head of Al Jazeera's Lebanon office, interviewed Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in the wake of the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and held a special program in honor of the convicted terrorist Samir Kuntar upon his release in a prisoner swap deal last year.
On Tuesday, it was reported that the Israeli government is set to impose sanctions on Israel-based employees Al Jazeera in response to the closure last month of the Israeli trade office in Qatar, which hosts and funds the network. Qatar had closed the office in opposition to Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip.
Following the closure, the Foreign Ministry, in conjunction with the newly-formed national information directorate in the Prime Minister's Office, considered declaring the station a hostile entity and closing its offices in Israel. After submitting the idea to legal review, however, concerns emerged it would not be permitted by the High Court of Justice.
Instead, it chose to limit the network's activity in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. First, Israel will not renew the visas of Al Jazeera's non-Israeli employees or grant visas to new employees. Second, station representatives will have reduced accessibility to government and military bodies, and will not be allowed into briefings or press conferences.
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