BBC audiences get comment on Israeli report on 2014 conflict from man who urged Gazans to be human shields

As readers are no doubt aware, the publication of the UN HRC report which was commissioned more than a month before last summer’s conflict between Israel and Hamas came to an end is expected later this week and we can of course anticipate generous BBC coverage of its content.

Ahead of the appearance of that report, the Israeli Foreign Ministry published a report of its own on June 14th. Readers can find the executive summary here and the full report here.

With remarkable alacrity, the BBC News website managed to produce an article ostensibly summarizing the 277 page-long document for audiences just hours after its publication. Titled “Israeli 2014 Gaza war actions ‘lawful’, report says“, the article includes a number of noteworthy points.BBC art Gaza report

Readers are told that:

“The 50-day conflict between Israel and Gaza militants, lasted from July to late August 2014. It left at least 2,189 Palestinians dead, including more than 1,486 civilians, according to the UN.”

As has been noted here on numerous occasions in the past, the BBC has failed to carry out any publicly available independent verification of the problematically sourced civilian/combatant casualty ratios it continues to quote (and defend) since the conflict ended  – and that despite its August 15th 2014 statement “we expect to return to this subject at a later date” which was appended to the article on Gaza casualty figures first published on August 8th and later rewritten after high-level intervention in response to the application of political pressure.

Moreover, the BBC has systematically ignored the existence of subsequent research which has shown that the casualty ratios quoted and promoted by the corporation are indeed in need of review.

Nevertheless, the fact that the BBC has no independently verified backing for the numbers it quotes and promotes does not prevent it from once again portraying them as reliable information in this article, which goes on to state:

The 277-page report, released by the Israeli foreign ministry, disputed the UN figures, estimating that 2,125 Palestinians had been killed, including 936 militants and 761 civilians, with the status of the remaining casualties unknown.”

Interestingly, that description of the report’s findings fails to clarify that those 428 “remaining casualties” (20% of the total) are all males between the ages of 16 and 50

Further on in the article, readers find the following statements:

“Meanwhile, a report from the UN Human Rights Council on the war is also expected to be published this week.

The council says its inquiry will cover “all violations of international humanitarian law” committed by both sides during the Gaza conflict.”

In fact, as the link provided shows and as has been noted here previously, the mandate given to the commission of inquiry on July 23rd 2014 is politically motivated by definition, with its start date defined as one day after the kidnapping and murders of three Israeli teenagers by a Hamas-funded terror cell and its geographic stipulations excluding investigation of “violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law” in Israel – such as missile fire at civilian targets.


For that very reason, of course, Israel decided not to cooperate with the commission’s activities and, whilst the commissioners themselves have stated that they “interpret this mandate to include investigations of the activities of Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, including attacks on Israel”, this article does not clarify to readers the terms of the original mandate and the circumstances surrounding its creation.

Nether does this article address the issue of the UN HRC’s long-standing obsession with and bias against Israel – which is of course very well documented and has been the subject of comment from the UN Secretary General, ambassadors and visiting dignitaries. The resolution which created the commission of inquiry was criticized by members of the US Congress and the US representative at the UN HRC described it as “yet another one-sided mechanism targeting Israel” whilst the representative of the EU member states on the Human Rights Council stated that was “unbalanced, inaccurate, and prejudges the outcome of the investigation by making legal statements.”.

Ignoring all of that vital context yet again, the BBC simply tells its audiences that:

“It [the MFA report] comes ahead of the publication of a UN inquiry into possible war crimes committed during the war, a report Israel dismissed as a waste of time.”

Moreover, the article promotes the following statements from the spokesman of a terrorist organization:

“The militant group Hamas, which dominates the Gaza Strip, called the Israeli report worthless. […]

A spokesman for Hamas said the Israeli report was “valueless”.

“Israeli war crimes are clear because they were committed in front of live cameras,” Sami Abu Zuhri said.”

Apparently (seeing as it avoided reporting on the topic at the time) the BBC believes that its reputation as a serious news outlet is not compromised by quoting Abu Zuhri on the subject of ‘war crimes’ despite the fact that immediately after the commencement of the conflict he appeared on Hamas TV to urge civilians in the Gaza Strip to act as human shields.

Related Articles:

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Law of Armed Conflict, Gaza and the BBC

More on the Law of Armed Conflict, Gaza and the BBC

JCPA e-book on Operation Protective Edge

A view of the 2014 Hamas-Israel conflict you won’t hear from the BBC

A new resource on Operation Protective Edge



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