BBC News’ confused messaging on Gaza Strip executions

On May 25th we noted here the absence of BBC reporting on the topic of thirteen scheduled public executions (some of which have apparently since taken place) in the Gaza Strip. On May 26th an article titled “UN alarmed by Hamas plans for executions in Gaza” appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page.Gaza executions art  

Linking to a report from the New York Times, the article tells readers that:

“One Palestinian group has documented 67 executions in Gaza since 2007.

However, that figure does not include the killings of people accused by Hamas of being collaborators during wartime. At least 25 were shot dead after the 2014 conflict with Israel.” [emphasis added]

As was documented here at the time – reports of extrajudicial killings of alleged ‘collaborators’ which emerged in the local media during (rather than “after”) the 2014 conflict were not addressed by BBC correspondents on the ground, with the exception of cases in which Hamas sought publicity.

Despite having noted those mass executions of alleged ‘collaborators’, the report then goes on to tell readers that:

“The Hamas authorities mostly stopped carrying out the death penalty in June 2014, when a government of national consensus was formed and officially placed in charge of Gaza.”

The apparent source of that statement appears in the linked NYT article:

“Hamas mostly stopped the executions after June 2014 because a national unity government led by President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority was officially placed in charge of Gaza.”

Whether or not that confusing information is intended to communicate to BBC audiences that there is cause to view the killing of alleged ‘collaborators’ differently to other executions is unclear but obviously the conflicting statements “[a]t least 25 were shot dead after the 2014 conflict with Israel” and “[t]he Hamas authorities mostly stopped carrying out the death penalty in June 2014” are not conducive to audience understanding of the issue.

Relating to the legal questions surrounding the planned executions, the article fails to inform readers of the moratorium on death sentences put in place by the PA president in 2005.

“On Wednesday, Hamas-affiliated members of the Palestinian parliament announced they had approved a measure allowing executions to be carried out in Gaza without having first been ratified by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in the West Bank. […]

 It was not clear what authority the MPs had to authorise executions in the coastal territory, given that the full Palestinian Legislative Council has not met since Hamas reinforced its power in Gaza in 2007 following a violent rift with Mr Abbas’ Fatah movement.” [emphasis added]

That latter euphemistic statement is how the broadcaster charged with building “a global understanding of international issues” portrays to its audiences a terror organisation’s violent military coup against the representative body of the Palestinian people as recognized by the international community.

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