As long-time readers will be aware, during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 the BBC failed to independently verify casualty figures and civilian-combatant casualty ratios provided by the Hamas-run health ministry in the Gaza Strip. Instead, its coverage during and since that conflict was based on data obtained from partial sources which it promoted to audiences without fact-checking.
Since then BBC journalists appear to have ceased trying to independently verify information provided by a terrorist organisation and instead adopt a qualifying ‘he said-she said’ approach which includes describing all Gaza Strip casualties as “Palestinians”, regardless of whether or not they belonged to terror groups.
Here are some examples from the first two days of BBC reporting on the recent events in Israel and the Gaza Strip. [emphasis in bold added]
November 12th 2019, BBC News website, ‘Israel kills top Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant in Gaza’:
“Israeli aircraft also targeted PIJ rocket-launching units in two separate strikes, according to the IDF. Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry reported that three Palestinian men were killed in northern Gaza.”
November 12th 2019, BBC News website, ‘Israel-Gaza violence spirals after killing of top Palestinian militant’:
“Violence escalated after Israel killed PIJ commander Baha Abu al-Ata. Four more Palestinians were also killed. […]
Three Palestinians were killed in air strikes in northern Gaza, one of which targeted a group preparing to launch a rocket, Israel said.”
November 12th 2019, BBC World Service radio, ‘Global News Podcast’:
Tom Bateman [03:40]: “And inside the Gaza Strip, Israeli airstrikes have resumed. The latest is they targeted two people on a motorbike that Israel says were a rocket launching unit. One of those people has been killed…”
November 13th 2019: BBC Radio 4, ‘Today’:
[0:34:39] Mishal Husain: “There are fears of a further escalation of violence between Israel and Gaza after 24 hours of violence in which a Palestinian commander was killed by Israel, rocket attacks from Gaza injured Israelis and Palestinians were killed in further Israeli strikes on the territory. […] Tom, first what do we know of those latest Israeli strikes and the Palestinians who died?”
Tom Bateman: “…Palestinian media reporting that one Palestinian has been killed in those strikes so that brings the total of Palestinians who’ve died over the last 24 hours, including Abu al Ata the Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader that was targeted by the Israelis yesterday, that total number to eleven.”
[2:33:07] Mishal Husain: “…rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel, injuring Israeli civilians and Israeli airstrikes have killed another 14 Palestinians.”
Tom Bateman: “By nightfall [on November 12th] health officials there had said in addition to al Ata and his wife, another 8 Palestinians had been killed. Israel said it targeted Islamic Jihad militant sites including people trying to launch rockets.”
Mishal Husain: “And the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza says there’s now a total of 16 people who have been killed in the Israeli airstrikes, including the Islamic Jihad commander and his wife.”
November 13th 2019, BBC World Service radio, ‘Newshour’:
[09:19] Tim Franks: “More Palestinians have been killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. At least 23 are reported to have died in the territory.”
November 13th 2019, BBC News website, ‘Israel-Gaza fighting continues for second day after militant’s death’ – version 7:
“Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said 26 Palestinians, including three children, had been killed by Israeli fire by Wednesday evening. […]
The IDF said “20 terrorists” were killed, most of them from Islamic Jihad.
The health ministry in Gaza, which is run by Hamas militants, said three children were among the 23 people killed in Israeli strikes on Wednesday.
PIJ said the dead included members of its military wing, the al-Quds Brigades. Khaled Faraj, a field commander, was killed in a strike in central Gaza.”
As we see, the BBC made no attempt in any of those reports to independently verify the claims of various parties. Neither was any effort made to inform audiences in its own words of how many of those killed in the Gaza Strip were members of terror groups – even when they had been identified as such by their own organisations.
The BBC cannot possibly claim that such an editorial policy contributes to meeting its public purpose remit of providing “duly accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming to build people’s understanding” and offering “a range and depth of analysis and content not widely available from other United Kingdom news providers” so that “audiences can engage fully with major… global issues”.