BBC Watch has in the past documented the BBC’s decidedly sparse interest in internal Palestinian affairs.
“Although the conflict is clearly just one story among many in the region, only very occasionally do audiences see stand-alone reports about Palestinian affairs which are not framed within that context and do not have an Israel-related component.
Insight into internal Palestinian politics which would enhance audiences’ comprehension of Palestinian society (as well as the conflict) is relatively rare in BBC coverage. Reporting on social and human rights issues within Palestinian society is even more scarce and thus BBC audiences see a blinkered and largely one-dimensional view of Palestinian life.”
In August 2017 and again in July 2018 we noted that the BBC had totally ignored a story about Palestinian Authority citizens suing the PA over torture by its security forces.
However, when ‘Human Rights Watch’ (one of the political NGOs most frequently quoted and promoted in BBC content) published a report on October 23rd, BBC News website quickly published an article linking to the relevant HRW press release under the headline “Palestinian forces routinely arresting and torturing critics – HRW“.
“The Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank and Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip routinely arrest and torture peaceful critics and opponents, Human Rights Watch says.
A report based on interviews with former detainees alleges the rival factions have “established machineries of repression to crush dissent”.
Security forces, it says, often taunt, threaten, beat, and put detainees in painful stress positions.
The PA and Hamas deny the allegations.”
While the vast majority of the BBC’s 704-word article is given over to paraphrasing and quoting HRW’s press release, at its end readers find second-hand responses taken from a Reuters report on the same story.
“Officials in the West Bank and Gaza rejected the findings.
Maj Gen Adnan al-Dmairi, a spokesman for the PA’s security forces, told Reuters news agency: “Arrests are being carried according to the law and we are committed to upholding the law.”
Eyad al-Bozom, spokesman of the Hamas-run ministry of interior in Gaza, said: “We do not have a policy of torture. This is a violation of the law.”
“We have taken action against officers who violated the law, including issues of torture. Some were detained and put on trial, others were demoted,” he added.”
Readers may recall that Adnan Damiri (or, as spelt in the Reuters article, Dmairi) is the same PA police spokesman whom the BBC found it appropriate to quote when, in 2016, it portrayed a temporary roadblock set up by Israeli troops following a terror attack by a member of the Palestinian Authority security forces as “collective punishment”.
While it is obviously refreshing to see this issue getting some exposure on the BBC’s website (and the article did at least refrain from recycling the irrelevant comment relating to Israel found in the HRW report), it is nevertheless notable that this is not a report by the BBC informing its funding public about the serious topic of torture conducted by Palestinian factions but the recycling of a report by an external organisation.
And so, BBC audiences still await serious, original BBC reporting on this issue as well as on other aspects of internal Palestinian affairs.