BBC reported to Ofcom over ‘disgraceful’ Israel war coverage as they refuse to call Hamas terrorists

BBC reported to Ofcom over ‘disgraceful’ Israel war coverage as they refuse to call Hamas terrorists

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Ofcom has received a letter complaining about the BBC’s refusal to call Hamas “terrorists” following the group’s horrific attack on Israel.

Lord Wolfson KC, Lord Pannick KC, Lord Grabiner KC and Jeremy Brier KC penned the letter to the regulator and accused the broadcaster of failing to show impartiality “beyond doubt”.

Lord Polak, who serves as honorary president of the Conservative Friends of Israel group, was also a signatory.

The five lawyers signed urged Ofcom to investigate the BBC’s coverage after Hamas attack resulted in slaughter, rape and abduction.

The letter said: “On October 7, 2023, Hamas launched a large invasion of the State of Israel which resulted variously in the slaughter, rape and abduction of over a thousand Israeli citizens.

“There is nothing controversial about that. It is a fact.

“The BBC has fallen well below its standards expressed in its Editorial Values in its reporting of that invasion and the consequences therefrom.”

The letter, addressed to Ofcom chairman Lord Grade, argued the BBC has not “shown impartiality in terms of the nomenclature it uses to refer to Hamas as ‘militants'”.

It also highlighted how Hamas was proscribed as a terrorist organisation and the BBC previously labelled Al Qaeda and the IRA as such groups.

The intervention comes after footage obtained by GB News showed a man in Golders Green label the BBC’s coverage a “disgrace”.

Hamas was among 78 groups proscribed as a terrorist organisation in 2019 under then-Home Secretary Priti Patel.

The decision makes it a criminal offences, punishable with up to 14 years in prison, to belong or invite support for Hamas.

Pro-Palestinian protesters descended on cities across the United Kingdom after Saturday’s attack, including outside the Israeli Embassy in West London.

However, the BBC has defended its coverage of Hamas’ unprecedented onslaught against Israel.

BBC director of editorial policy David Jordan said not using the word terrorist was a “very long-standing policy” which had “stood the test of time”.

He added: “We’ve called them massacres, we’ve called [them] murders, we’ve called them out for what things are and that doesn’t in any way devalue the awfulness of what is going on.”

A BBC spokesperson also said: “We always take our use of language very seriously.

“Anyone watching or listening to our coverage will hear the word ‘terrorist’ used many times – we attribute it to those who are using it, for example, the UK Government.

“This is an approach that has been used for decades, and is in line with that of other broadcasters.

“The BBC is an editorially independent broadcaster whose job is to explain precisely what is happening ‘on the ground’ so our audiences can make their own judgement.”

Politicians, members of the Royal Family and senior figures within the UK’s Jewish community have also criticised the broadcaster.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis accused broadcasters of trying to “wilfully mislead” by not using the word terrorist, adding: “The murder of babies where they sleep is not the act of a ‘freedom fighter’.”

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps urged the broadcaster to “get the moral compass out” and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer encouraged the BBC to “explain” its reasoning.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer has also raised the issue with BBC director-general Tim Davie and made clear her view that these were “acts of terror carried out by a terrorist organisation”.

Former BBC journalist Jon Sopel argued the broadcaster’s coverage showed the BBC’s editorial guidelines were “no longer fit for purpose”.

But veteran BBC correspondent John Simpson defended the coverage.

He said: “British politicians know perfectly well why the BBC avoids the word ‘terrorist’, and over the years plenty of them have privately agreed with it.

“Calling someone a terrorist means you’re taking sides and ceasing to treat the situation with due impartiality.

“The BBC’s job is to place the facts before its audience and let them decide what they think, honestly and without ranting.

“That’s why, in Britain and throughout the world, nearly half a billion people watch, listen to and read us.

“There’s always someone who would like us to rant. Sorry, it’s not what we do.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to Hamas’ surprise attack by vowing to “crush and destroy” the terror group, adding every member of the organisation was a “dead man”.

Hamas, who allegedly barbarically beheaded babies, confirmed on Monday it would executive Israeli civilian captives if Netanyahu continued bombing Palestinian territory without pre-warning.



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