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24 Nov, 2023 16:31

BBC accused of bias by own reporters – Al Jazeera

Employees have reportedly complained that the British state broadcaster is downplaying the suffering of Palestinian civilians
BBC accused of bias by own reporters – Al Jazeera

BBC journalists have accused the British state broadcaster of biased coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and hostilities in Gaza, Qatari state network Al Jazeera reported on Thursday. Israeli President Isaac Herzog had previously called the BBC's coverage “atrocious” in a verbal attack from the other side.

In a 2,300-word letter cited by the Doha-based outlet, eight UK-based journalists working for the BBC accused their employer of failing to accurately report the story due to “lack of critical engagement with Israel’s claims” about the conflict. 

They complained that terms like “massacre” and “atrocity” were used only to describe the crimes of the Palestinian militant group Hamas. The BBC painted Hamas as “the only instigator and perpetrator of violence in the region,” which is “inaccurate,” it said.

Israeli and Palestinian victims were not treated equally by the BBC either, the letter claimed, stressing that “humanizing coverage of Palestinian civilians has been lacking” on its platforms.

“It is largely in the last few weeks – as civilian deaths have exponentially increased and Western countries’ appetite for Israel’s attacks has waned – that the BBC has made more effort to humanise Palestinian civilians,” the message said.

“For many, this feels too little too late, and shows that the positions taken by governments in the UK and US have undue influence on coverage,”  it added.

The BBC didn’t provide context on the background of the current crisis, including “75 years of occupation, the Nakba, or the asymmetric death toll across decades,” the letter insisted. Nakba, or catastrophe, is what Arabs call the forced expulsions and killings of Palestinians in the 1940s, which paved the way for the creation of Israel.

Al Jazeera did not disclose the names of the journalists to protect them from reprisals.

Israel launched a massive bombardment of Gaza after the October 7 incursion by Hamas, which claimed over 1,200 lives, according to Israeli officials. The death toll on the Palestinian side has since surpassed 14,800, according to officials in Gaza, plus over 200 reportedly killed in the West Bank.

From the early days of the crisis, the BBC has been inundated with complaints. Over 1,500 arrived by mid-October, split roughly 50-50 between accusations of pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian bias, according to The Guardian.

Criticisms that Herzog made at about the same time focused on the use of neutral language. In an interview with the Daily Mail, he blasted the broadcaster for calling Hamas fighters “militants” rather than terrorists.