Israeli president calls for BBC to issue ‘correction’ over its ‘atrocious’ reporting of Middle East conflict

By Thomas Brooke
5 Min Read

Israeli President Isaac Herzog has described the BBC’s coverage of the Middle East conflict as “atrocious” and urged Britain’s public broadcaster to issue a correction for its initial reporting of this week’s explosion at a Gaza hospital.

In an interview with the Daily Mail newspaper on Tuesday, the Israeli head of state slammed the broadcaster’s refusal to refer to Hamas as a terrorist organization and claimed that attacks against Israel were treated differently by the BBC than other terror attacks reported on across the world.

“The fact that it does not recognize Hamas as a terror organization requires a complete legal battle and public battle. It’s unbelievable,” he told the newspaper’s Jerusalem reporter Natalie Lisbona.

“What other type of torture do they want before they decide it was a terrorist organization?” he asked.

Herzog met with U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Thursday in Jerusalem and used the opportunity to exert further pressure on the broadcaster.

“We feel that the way the BBC characterizes Hamas is a distortion of the facts,” he told Sunak.

“We are dealing with one of the worst terror organizations in the world. I know that in modern democracies, such as ours and yours, you cannot intervene per se, but because the BBC has a certain linkage and it is known as Britain as such all over the world, there has to be an outcry … so that Hamas will be defined as a terror organization.”

“What else do they need to see to understand that this is an atrocious terror organization?” he asked.

Herzog also called for a “correction” by the BBC for how it reported Tuesday evening’s widely condemned blast on a Gaza hospital.

Israel was incensed after the BBC’s Jerusalem correspondent Jon Donnison, told viewers that it was “hard to see” who else could have been responsible for an explosion at a Gaza hospital other than the Israeli military.

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The Israeli government published several audio files and surveillance footage purporting to show that the rocket responsible for the blast was launched from the Gaza Strip and blamed the attack on a botched attack by Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian paramilitary organization.

There is still no indisputable evidence on either side to definitively prove who was responsible for the attack; however, Israel has gone on the offensive against media outlets who took the word of the Hamas-run health ministry in Palestine that blamed the Israeli military.

“You have a huge responsibility in these times, as the BBC,” Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner of Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) told the organization during an interview this week on the broadcaster’s Today program.

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“Your listeners are dependent on you to get this information, and when you for several hours were broadcasting ‘an Israeli strike on a hospital,’ you were doing them a huge disservice,” he added.

Some at the BBC have since accepted that mistakes were made in its initial reporting, including Jonathan Munro, the deputy chief executive of BBC News, who told an event in London on Thursday evening that the “language wasn’t quite right” during its live reporting.

“Somewhere along the line, human beings are going to make a mistake on a bit of output, and when it gets magnified and is used as an example of getting things wrong, it’s a very uncomfortable place to be.

“Of course, it shouldn’t have happened, and we need to make sure that we’re doubling down on keeping our language absolutely accurate,” he added.

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