Another BBC Verify report adds to its record of imbalance

On the evening of Friday, February 9th, the BBC News website published a report by BBC Verify headlined “Israeli soldier videos from Gaza could breach international law, experts say”.

Credited to Merlyn Thomas and Jamie Ryan, that report opens as follows:

“Videos of Gazan detainees stripped, bound and blindfolded that were filmed and uploaded online by Israeli soldiers could breach international law, legal experts say.

International law says detainees must not be exposed to unnecessary humiliation or public curiosity.”

Readers then discover that BBC Verify has the time and publicly funded resources to trawl through the personal social media accounts of Israeli soldiers and reservists:

“BBC Verify looked at hundreds of videos openly shared by Israeli soldiers in Gaza since November 2023. We verified eight showing detainees.”

The report continues:

“Dr Mark Ellis, a leading UN advisor to international criminal tribunals, said the footage we showed him from Israeli soldiers might violate the recognised rules for treating prisoners of war.” […]

“Dr Ellis says the key is “not creating a public curiosity” for prisoners of war and not “degrading them or humiliating them”.

He added: “The idea of walking people through in their underwear and filming that and sending it out certainly would violate that.

“The rules that are set down would not in any way allow this type of act.””

Apparently BBC Verify did not ask Dr Mark Ellis about “the rules” concerning the use of very similar footage and images by the BBC News website itself – including BBC Verify – in content with worldwide reach that would create far broader “public curiosity” than any personal social media account.

Neither, it would appear, was Dr Ellis asked about the legal status of the multiple videos put out by the terrorist organisation Hamas showing some of the Israeli hostages kidnapped on October 7th.

BBC Verify solicited a similar opinion from another “legal expert”:

“Human rights lawyer Michael Mansfield said the footage should be assessed by a UN court.

“There is a very severe restriction on on [sic] how you deal with people who are detained who are prisoners of war in a time of war or conflict, which this plainly is, and that provision is really one in which you are intended to treat prisoners with respect,” he said.”

However, BBC Verify failed to comply with BBC editorial guidelines concerning ‘contributors’ affiliations’ by informing readers of Mansfield’s long-standing anti-Israel activism and collaboration with lawfare campaigns against Israel. Readers may recall Mansfield’s 2010 portrayal of the participants in the IHH Mavi Marmara flotilla as “a collective of courageous individuals”.

This latest item from BBC Verify should be viewed within the context of the content it has produced (sometimes in collaboration with other departments) for the BBC News website since the war began. Of twenty-four items which have appeared on that platform since October 7th, three more recent ones have concerned attacks on shipping by the Houthis:

Tracking Houthi attacks in the Red Sea January 20, 2024

US and UK strikes fail to slow Houthi attacks  February 1, 2024

BBC Verify looks at impact of strikes in Yemen February 5, 2024

Four early reports related to the Hamas invasion and slaughter of Israeli citizens:

Footage and maps help build up picture of assault  October 7, 2023

Watch: How Hamas’ shock attack on Israel unfolded  October 7, 2023

How Hamas staged Israel lightning assault no-one thought possible  October 8, 2023

Supernova festival: How massacre unfolded from verified video and social media October 10, 2023

(Those four items were discussed below:

REVIEWING BBC REPORTING ON ROCKET ATTACKS FROM THE GAZA STRIP

BBC NEWS WEBSITE REPORTING ON THE HAMAS ATTACK ON SDEROT POLICE STATION

EXAMINING BBC VERIFY REPORTS ON THE OCTOBER 7 EVENTS IN ISRAEL)

A much later report related to the topic of the Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip:

‘I’m not ready to lose hope’: The hostages still in Gaza December 1, 2023

One item concerned disinformation about casualties in Israel and the Gaza Strip:

False claims of staged deaths surge in Israel-Gaza war  December 22, 2023

One report concerned the planning of the October 7th attack by Hamas:

How Hamas built a force to attack Israel on 7 October  November 27, 2023

The other fourteen items produced by BBC Verify in that time period have all concerned events in the Gaza Strip:

Strike on civilian convoy fleeing Gaza: What we know from verified video  October 16, 2023

(Discussed here:

REVIEWING BBC VERIFY REPORTING ON THE SALAH AL DIN ROAD EXPLOSION)

Gaza hospital: What video, pictures and other evidence tell us about Al-Ahli hospital blast  October 18, 2023

Gaza hospital: Breaking down video of Al-Ahli Arab hospital explosion  October 19, 2023

Gaza hospital blast: What does new analysis tell us?  October 26, 2023

(Discussed here:

REVIEWING BBC VERIFY REPORTING ON THE AL AHLI HOSPITAL INCIDENT)

Strikes on south Gaza: BBC verifies attacks in areas of ‘safety’  November 1, 2023

Israel-Gaza war: Dead bodies and tanks on road south as people flee November 9, 2023

How the dead are counted in Gaza  November 16, 2023

(Discussed here:

BBC’S FACT CHECK DEPARTMENT ROOTS FOR HAMAS CASUALTY FIGURES)

BBC assesses footage of hostages and tunnels released by Israel November 20, 2023

Nearly 100,000 Gaza buildings may be damaged, satellite images show   December 1, 2023

Al-Mawasi: Gaza humanitarian zone not humane, evacuees say December 8, 2023

Israel-Gaza war: Video shows Gaza detainees allegedly ‘surrendering guns’ – what we know December 10, 2023

Israel Gaza: What Gaza’s death toll says about the war  December 20, 2023

At least half of Gaza’s buildings damaged or destroyed, new analysis shows January 30, 2024

(Discussed here:

BBC VERIFY TELLS A CONTEXT-FREE TALE OF DAMAGE AND DESTRUCTION)

Israeli soldier videos from Gaza could breach international law, experts say February 9, 2024

In other words, with BBC News website audiences having already seen almost three times more BBC Verify content concerning alleged Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip than reports on Hamas’ activities both in Israel and in the Gaza Strip (such as the theft of humanitarian aid and the suppression of public protest), this latest item about the personal social media activity of two Israelis currently serving in the army should not come as much of a surprise.

Neither, of course, should questions concerning the imbalance and lack of impartiality displayed by the BBC in its coverage of this conflict.

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1 Comment

  1. says: Grimey

    Nobody – but nobody – in my large circle of family and friends – ever listens to BBC News – which has become a subject of jokes and sarcasm in everyday conversation.
    The popular source for proper unbiased news is France24, which reports facts as they are – not anti-Israel items cherry-picked by antisemitics.

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