Published On: Fri, Nov 17th, 2023
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Outrage as BBC accused of ‘Hamas apologism’ in latest Israel report | World | News

BBC News International Editor Jeremy Bowen has come under fire for his comments regarding the Israeli military’s actions in Gaza.

Bowen’s remarks, made during a report on the conflict, have sparked accusations of “Hamas apologism” and raised concerns about the objectivity of the BBC‘s coverage.

During the report, Bowen discussed the Israeli military’s targeting of Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, saying: “The priority they gave to Shifa means that once they drove into Gaza City, they killed a lot of people.

“Their argument has always been that so many people have been killed because Hamas has been using them as human shields.”

Bowen expressed scepticism about the evidence presented by the Israeli military, particularly regarding a pile of Kalashnikovs allegedly found in the hospital. “The evidence up to now on the pile of Kalashnikovs there, I’m afraid is not convincing,” he added. “Wherever you go in the Middle East, you see an awful lot of Kalashnikovs.”

He also raised concerns about the freedom granted to journalists visiting the hospital, suggesting that the Israeli authorities limited their ability to move around freely. Bowen concluded by highlighting the potential impact of the ongoing conflict. He said: “If they cannot prove this point about human shields, the pressure for a ceasefire is going to increase.”

In response to Bowen’s comments, Daniel Sugarman, Director of Public Affairs for the Board of Deputies of British Jews, criticised the BBC‘s reporting. Sugarman wrote on social media: “Ah, I see the BBC has reached the ‘maybe the pile of Kalashnikovs in the Gazan hospital actually belonged to the hospital security team’ stage of their Israel reporting.”

Kate Hoey, a member of the House of Lords, said: “It does seem [as] if even the great Jeremy Bowen has firmly established himself as a supporter of those who oppose Israel taking out Hamas.”

Barrister Edward Levey, accused Bowen of straining “every sinew to cast doubt on the claim that the hospital was being used by Hamas terrorists”.

He added: “The weird thing is that when it comes to Israel, nothing short of “conclusive proof” seems good enough for the BBC. If this ludicrous comment had been made by anyone other than a BBC journalist, [the presenter] would undoubtedly have questioned it, but instead she sat quietly and said nothing.”

Their criticism was echoed by other users of the social media network X, formerly Twitter.

One wrote: “The constant delegitimisation of evidence produced by Israel, in contrast to the report that ‘a man in the hospital said Israel was shooting people in the hospital at random’ going unchallenged in the previous report, is quite frankly, appalling journalism.”

Another user suggested that the BBC‘s reputation “will never recover from this war”, describing their reporting as “Hamas apologism”.

It comes as earlier this week, the BBC was forced to apologise after a newsreader incorrectly claimed that Israeli soldiers were “targeting medical staff and Arab speakers” at Gaza’s largest hospital.

A newsreader had been citing a report by news agency Reuters, stating that the IDF confirmed it would be carrying out a “precise and targeted operation” against Hamas in Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital.

An IDF spokesperson told the publication: “The IDF forces include medical teams and Arabic speakers, who have undergone specified training to prepare for this complex and sensitive environment, with the intent that no harm is caused to the civilians.”

However, the BBC newsreader had mistakenly said in what is understood to be a live broadcast: “We are hearing from Reuters that is reporting that Israel, it says its forces are carrying out an operation against Hamas in Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital and they are targeting people, including medical teams as well as Arab speakers.

“They are also saying that Israel is calling on all Hamas operatives in the hospital to surrender at this point.”

The newsreader then went on to repeat the misreported information, adding: “They are targeting … it’s Arab speakers as well as some of the medical staff there and they are asking all Hamas operatives in that hospital to surrender.”

The BBC aired a clarification and said it had “misquoted a Reuters report”, and added: “We apologise for this error that fell below our editorial standards.”

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