BBC’s Mishal Husain in new clash with Tory minister over Hamas

International development minister Andrew Mitchell takes to airwaves

Independent Reporters
Tuesday 17 October 2023 10:48 BST
BBC’s Mishal Husain clashes with Tory minister over Hamas and Gaza water supplies

The BBC’s Mishal Husain was in another testy exchange with a Cabinet minister today over the Israel-Hamas war.

She interrupted Foreign Office Minister Andrew Mitchell after he supported Israel, saying it had suffered the biggest loss of Jewish lives since WW2.

And he hit back again after Ms Husain questioned the why Israel had cut off water supplies to Gaza.

Mr Mitchell said Hamas was to blame making weapons out of water pipes.

The exchanges on Radio 4 Today follow a similar clash between Ms Husain and Defence Secretary Grant Shapps last week over the BBC’s decision not to refer to Hamas as terrorists.

Mr Mitchell spoke out after Ms Husain asked him if the Government had asked the Israeli government how it would ‘limit civilian casualties’ in its proposed military offensive in Gaza.

He told her: "It is worth making the point that Israel uses its defence forces to protect its citizens. Hamas uses its citizens to protect Hamas."

This was a reference to the way Hamas is accused of placing military bases in civilian areas to make it harder for Israel to attack them.

When Ms Husain asked: “Why are so many civilians in Gaza dying then?” Mr Mitchell replied: “They are dying because of the appalling acts of terror perpetrated by Hamas, a terrorist organisation, in an attack on Israel which saw more Jewish people murdered than at any time since the Holocaust.”

At this point Ms Husain interjected: "Forgive me, I am not asking how this phase began. It’s about the nature of how this operation is being conducted. Is it being conducted in a way that minimises civilian casualties? Because if it is the numbers are very significant."

Later in the interview, when Mr Mitchell said Israel had a right to defend itself and he believed the Israeli Army would "respect international humanitarian law," Ms Husain challenged him again, saying: "The water supply (to Gaza) has been bombed. That’s why people are in this situation."

Mr Mitchell retorted: "Let’s be clear: water pipes have been dug up by Hamas and the pipes themselves turned into offensive weapons. This is all as a result of the appalling events perpetrated by the terrorists in Hamas."

The public broadcaster’s reporting on Israel and Palestine has long been scrutinised by both sides of the long-running conflict.

The BBC’s HQ in London, Broadcasting House, was doused in red paint last week by pro-Palestine activists, who accused it of “manufacturing consent for Israel’s war crimes”.

Supporters of Israel have meanwhile criticised the broadcaster for its policy of avoiding the use of the word “terrorist” to describe groups, including Hamas. The broadcaster says the term is loaded.

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