BBC News again promotes Al Jazeera lawfare

Back in May we documented the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s promotion of Al Jazeera lawfare on Radio 4:

Newsreader: “The Al Jazeera news network says it’s referring the death of a Palestinian journalist to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. This comes after an investigation by the Palestinian Authority concluded that Shireen Abu Akleh was deliberately killed by an Israeli soldier during a raid in the West Bank. Israel says the allegation is a blatant lie. Our correspondent Yolande Knell reports from Jerusalem.” [emphasis in italics in the original]


On December 6th the BBC News website published an article by David Gritten headlined “Shireen Abu Aqla: Al Jazeera files case at ICC over journalist’s killing”:

“The Al Jazeera network has submitted a case against Israeli forces at the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the killing of Shireen Abu Aqla.

The Palestinian-American journalist was shot in the head during an Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank in May.

The Israeli military concluded that one of its soldiers probably killed her, but called her death unintentional.

Al Jazeera said that was completely unfounded and that its evidence showed it was a “deliberate killing”.”

The report uncritically promotes a link to and extensive quotes from a statement put out by Al Jazeera which includes blatantly politicised terminology: [emphasis added]

Al Jazeera, which is based in Doha and funded by the Qatari state, said in a statement on Tuesday that its legal team had conducted a detailed investigation into the killing and “unearthed new evidence”, including eyewitness accounts and multiple videos.

“Al Jazeera has highlighted in its submission to the ICC Prosecutor that the new witness evidence and video footage clearly show that Shireen and her colleagues were directly fired at by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF),” it said. “The claim by the Israeli authorities that Shireen was killed by mistake in an exchange of fire is completely unfounded.”

“The evidence presented to the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) confirms, without any doubt, that there was no firing in the area where Shireen was, other than the IOF [Israeli Occupation Forces] shooting directly at her. The journalists were in full view of the IOF as they walked as a group slowly down the road with their distinctive media vests, and there were no other persons in the road.””

It goes on to link to a BBC report from June 2021 which amplifies earlier baseless claims made by the Qatari outlet:

“The statement added: “The evidence shows that this deliberate killing was part of a wider campaign to target and silence Al Jazeera.”

Rodney Dixon KC, a lawyer for Al Jazeera, said the alleged campaign included the Israeli air strike that destroyed a Gaza City tower block housing the offices of Al Jazeera and the Associated Press (AP) news agency during a conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in May 2021.”

Readers are not informed that the UK based lawyer’s previous activities at the ICC include representation of the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation in the Mavi Marmara case.

As has been the case in the past, BBC audiences are not provided with any of the relevant context concerning Al Jazeera such as its throwing of a birthday party for a terrorist, its record of Holocaust revisionism, its hosting of antisemitic content from the late Muslim Brotherhood leader Qaradawi, its acceptance of an award from Hamas for ‘exemplary coverage’ or the fact that it is funded by the same government that has poured millions of dollars into the Gaza Strip.

Gritten’s report continues with amplification of a statement from a person who was invited to Al Jazeera’s press conference concerning its submission to the ICC:

“Abu Aqla’s family, who submitted their own complaint to the ICC in September, said they supported Al Jazeera’s submission.

“The evidence is overwhelmingly clear, we expect the ICC to take action,” her niece, Lina Abu Aqla, told a news conference in The Hague.”

Coincidentally or not, on the same day that this report by David Gritten was published, the BBC also launched its BBC 100 Women list for 2022.

“The BBC has revealed its list of 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2022. […]

This is the 10th season of 100 Women, so we are taking the opportunity to explore what progress has been made over the last decade. While there have been huge steps forward for women’s rights – from the number of female leaders to the MeToo movement – for women in many corners of the world it still feels like there is a long way to go.

The list also reflects the role of women at the heart of conflict around the world in 2022 – from the protesters bravely demanding change in Iran, to the female faces of conflict and resistance in Ukraine and Russia.”

Heading this year’s list of “inspiring and influential women from around the world” is Shireen Abu Akleh’s niece.

Just three weeks ago the BBC chose not to broadcast the opening ceremony of the World Cup in Qatar, instead preferring to focus audience attentions then and since on environmental concerns, accusations of corruption and human right abuses in that country. 

At the same time (as has been the case for the past seven months) the BBC once again uncritically parrots the unevidenced claims, politicised terminology and delegitimising narrative concerning Abu Akleh’s tragic death as advanced by the inadequately presented, serially anti-Israel, Qatari state media mouthpiece which days earlier had released a ‘documentary’ on the topic.

That intriguingly disparate editorial policy once again casts a spotlight on the BBC’s self-conscription to the promotion of a one-sided politically motivated account of the Shireen Abu Akleh story.

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