On September 1st the BBC News website published a report that was originally titled “Palestinian prisoners held by Israel set to go on mass hunger strike”. A day later its headline was changed to “Palestinian prisoners held by Israel call off mass hunger strike”.
Credited to Raffi Berg, that report promotes claims made by the official Palestinian news agency but carries no response from Israeli sources. A filmed report by Tom Bateman dating from December 2021 (discussed here) is embedded into Berg’s article.
Berg promotes the politically motivated framing of convicted terrorists as “political prisoners”: [emphasis added]
“The issue of Palestinians held by Israel is one which unites Palestinian society regardless of political differences. Palestinians consider the detainees as political prisoners. Many of them have been convicted by Israel of security crimes, including terrorism and murder.”
He also recycles an assertion from “civil liberty groups” on the topic of administrative detention but fails to identify those organisations, meaning that readers are unable to assess for themselves any political motivations behind their claims.
“Israel says the measure is necessary for its security, but civil liberty groups say the practice is a violation of human rights.”
The report closes:
“On Wednesday, a high-profile prisoner held in administrative detention since his arrest last December ended a six-month hunger strike.
Khalil Awawdeh, who is accused by Israel of belonging to the militant group Islamic Jihad, said Israel had agreed to release him on 2 October. There was no immediate confirmation by Israel.”
As regular readers will know, the BBC frequently uses the ‘Israel says’ format as a means of qualifying information – often unnecessarily. Nevertheless, this portrayal of Awawdeh as being “accused by Israel” of belonging to the PIJ is especially absurd given that his release was one of the Operation Breaking Dawn ceasefire conditions demanded by that terrorist group less than a month before this article was written. As reported by the Times of Israel on August 9th: [emphasis added]
“The head of the PIJ, who is currently in Iran, said the ceasefire was contingent upon Israel releasing the two members.
“From the very beginning, we insisted that the two leaders be freed — the brother on hunger strike, and Bassam Al-Saadi,” said PIJ leader Ziad Nakhaleh in an interview that aired on the Islamic Jihad’s Palestine Today television network.
Nakhaleh said Israel had agreed to release Awawdeh and Al-Saadi “with explicit Egyptian guarantees.”
“The enemy tried to proceed slowly in agreeing to this demand, but in the end, it has conceded to these demands, with explicit Egyptian guarantees — that our mujahid brother Khalil Awawdeh will set out for the hospital tomorrow, and then he will go home.”
In other words, even though the Palestinian Islamic Jihad has been entirely open about Awawdeh’s membership, the BBC preferred to conceal that information and instead portray him merely as being “accused by Israel” of belonging to a terrorist organisation.
So much for the BBC’s obligation to provide “accurate and impartial news”.