BBC says it has given ‘careful consideration’ to Israel-Hamas conflict coverage

The BBC has received complaints from people who think it has been biased against Israel and people who think it has been biased against Palestinians.

Hannah Roberts
Monday 16 October 2023 17:57 BST
BBC Broadcasting House (Lucy North/PA)
BBC Broadcasting House (Lucy North/PA)

The BBC said it has given “careful consideration” to all aspects of its coverage of the Israel-Hamas conflict following complaints it has been biased against both Israel and Palestinians.

In a statement responding to the complaints, the BBC said: “Careful consideration has been given to all aspects of our coverage to ensure that we report on developments accurately and with due impartiality in line with the BBC editorial guidelines, which are publicly available.”

The statement, published on the BBC website, added: “We understand that this is an extremely worrying time for people not only in the region, but also in the UK and around the world, and we have reflected this in our coverage.

The huge loss of civilian life on both sides makes this a shocking and difficult story to cover.

BBC

BBC News has provided our global audiences with coverage and first-hand testimony of the atrocities committed by Hamas and the suffering in Gaza.

“We have made clear the devastating human cost to civilians living in Israel and Gaza, and the unprecedented nature of what has happened.

“The huge loss of civilian life on both sides makes this a shocking and difficult story to cover.”

Speaking about its decision not to describe Hamas as a terrorist organisation, it added: “The BBC, along with many other UK and global news organisations, does use the word ‘terrorist’, but attributes it.

“We have made clear to our audiences that Hamas is proscribed as a terrorist organisation by the UK and other governments.”

I absolutely endorse those describing these attacks calling them what they are - attacks of terror by a terrorist organisation

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

The broadcaster said BBC News has examined the history and complexities of the conflict and its reporting has included opinions that come from all sides.

The numbers of complaints to the BBC are in the higher hundreds, not in the thousands, and there is a handful of numbers difference between the complaints totals for perceived Israeli and Palestinian bias, the PA news agency understands.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Conservative MP Chris Clarkson (Heywood and Middleton) said of the BBC: “When faced with child murder, rape and torture (the BBC) decided that Hamas should be called militants rather than terrorists.

“The political leaders of this country and our royal family can decide that they’re terrorists – why can’t our national broadcaster?”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak replied: “I agree with (Mr Clarkson). I absolutely endorse those describing these attacks calling them what they are – attacks of terror by a terrorist organisation.

“Now, he will know the BBC is editorially and operationally independent of Government but the Culture Secretary has raised this issue directly with the director-general and we wait to see.”

On Saturday, a pro-Palestinian group claimed responsibility for vandalising the BBC’s Broadcasting House headquarters with red paint as a protest over its coverage of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Palestine Action accused the broadcaster of having “blood on its hands” after staging the protest in London in the early hours of the morning.

The group posted on X, formerly known as Twitter: “Palestine Action left a message overnight for the @BBC: spreading the occupation’s lies and manufacturing consent for Israel’s war crimes means that you have Palestinian blood on your hands”.

A spokesperson said: “We at Palestine Action cannot stand by and let western media justify and manufacture consent for genocide through racist, callous coverage.”

The BBC declined to comment about the incident, saying it was a matter for the Metropolitan Police.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in