The Israel Defense Force (IDF) arrested Al Jazeera journalist Ismail al-Ghoul on Monday during a firefight with terrorists at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital. The Qatari television channel immediately decried his arrest, insisting that he is a legitimate journalist. More than a week later, the Israelis released him. Not surprisingly, Al Jazeera has used this moment to proclaim its innocence. But the Qatari network has a lot more to explain.

In February, Al Jazeera denounced the IDF after one of its correspondents was injured in an IDF UAV attack. The IDF Arabic spokesman fired back, tweeting that Ismail Abu Omar “held the position of Deputy Company Commander in the Hamas’ Eastern Battalion of Khan Yunis. Abu Omar even filmed himself participating in the bloody massacre in Nir Oz on October 7 and posted it on social media.” Soon after, analysts online began to share video that Abu Omar took during the 10/7 attack. In a bizarre twist, Abu Omar actually signed his name to a Telegram photo of a murdered IDF soldier whose body was taken by Hamas into Gaza. Al Jazeera denied any wrongdoing, stating that its “employment policies and regulations stipulate that the employee should stay away from political affiliations that may affect his performance.”

On January 7, Hamza al-Dahdouh was killed, along with another journalist, in an IDF airstrike that targeted their vehicle on the way from Khan Yunis to Rafah. Al Jazeera condemned the strike. Hamas announced Dahdouh’s death and added his name to a list of journalists purportedly killed in the war. Days later, however, the IDF tweeted that the vehicle was hit because the men inside were operating a drone that posed a threat to Israeli soldiers near Rafah. The IDF then revealed that Dahdouh was an operative in the  “Electronic Engineering Unit” and a regional official in the “Rocket Unit” of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Al Jazeera responded that it “strongly condemns and rejects and expresses its extreme astonishment at the false and misleading attempts of the Israeli occupation army to justify the killing of fellow journalist Hamza Wael Al-Dahdouh and other journalists.”

The other Al Jazeera journalist in the car with Dahdouh was cameraman Mustafa Thuraya. The IDF claimed that Thuraya was actually operating the drone. The IDF asserted that Thuraya’s name appeared on a list of operatives fighting for Hamas’s Al-Qadisiya Battalion. Al Jazeera managing editor Mohamed Moawad admitted that Thuraya was a freelance drone operator for the network, but he denied Thuraya was flying a drone when he was killed.

Al Jazeera was again in the headlines after the IDF seized the laptop of Muhammed Wishah who was employed by the channel Al Jazeera Mubasher. On February 11, the IDF Arabic spokesperson in tweeted that Wishah’s laptop was seized during operations in the northern Gaza Strip, and that the computer contained damning images and documents proving that Wishah is a commander in the military wing of Hamas. He reportedly dealt with anti-tank weapons before he began to develop aerial weapons in the Hamas Air Force in 2022. Al Jazeera did not respond to these allegations. Wishah subsequently deleted social-media postings that showed him shaking hands with Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar and Ismail Haniyeh (since preserved elsewhere). Hamas soon announced that the IDF was releasing “incitement publications” targeting journalists, warning that the Israelis were deliberately waging a war on Palestinian society.

These incidents, along with other intelligence, ultimately prompted the Israeli government to propose a law to shut down Al Jazeera in Israel. And yet, the Israeli government continues to engage with the government of Qatar in the ongoing hostage negotiations. Perhaps it goes without saying, but if the Israelis are convinced that journalists on the Qatari payroll are actively working with terrorist groups in Gaza, engaging the Qatari government to achieve a ceasefire with Hamas sounds insane.

It sounds even more insane given that Qatar has hosted a Hamas headquarters in Doha, and it has been paying Hamas $30 million per month since 2018. These funds undeniably helped Hamas prepare for the assault of October 7.

The Israelis are likely to continue dealing with the Qataris until a hostage deal is reached. But this does not explain why the United States continues to treat the terror-supporting Gulf nation as an ally. The support that Qatar has provided to terrorist groups like Hamas, the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and even the Islamic State is beyond dispute. And the string of incidents in Gaza indicating a collaboration between Al Jazeera and Hamas are consistent with what American forces dealt with during the Iraq War, when Bush administration officials complained that Al Jazeera journalists somehow knew exactly where to be and had their cameras rolling during attacks that targeted American servicemembers. Al Jazeera’s fever-pitch incitement against the United States was another challenge that Washington never quite ironed out with Doha.

A reckoning is urgently needed in the United States on the connection between Qatar, Al Jazeera, and terrorism. Intelligence needs to be declassified. High-level hearings need to be convened. It’s time to pull the plug on Qatar’s media asset that provides cover for violent actors in Gaza and beyond. More important, it’s time to end the charade that Qatar is an ally, once and for all.

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