BBC News ‘not clear’ whether hostage video ‘filmed under duress’

On April 6th the BBC News website published a report concerning the announcement that the IDF had retrieved the body of an Israeli hostage who was murdered by his Palestinian Islamic Jihad captors in the Gaza Strip.

Written by Jemma Crew, that report is headlined “Israel’s military says body of hostage Elad Katzir recovered from Gaza in night operation”.

Around half an hour after its initial publication, the report was updated to include the following: [emphasis added]

“In January, Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad published a video purporting to show Mr Katzir speaking from captivity in Gaza.

It was not clear if he had been filmed under duress or was able to speak freely.

In the video, Mr Katzir said he had been close to dying more than once, and called on the Israeli government to stop the war and bring him and other hostages home. He also repeatedly said he loved and missed his family.”

Apparently the BBC is of the opinion that a person held hostage for months by a terrorist organisation – after his father was murdered and his elderly mother also taken hostage – may have been able “to speak freely” when forced to take part in a propaganda video.

Perhaps due to the fact that the BBC’s bizarre phrasing was called out by several social media users, some seven hours later that highlighted sentence was removed from the report and replaced with one which is actually little better:

“In January, Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad published a video purporting to show Mr Katzir speaking from captivity in Gaza.

Prisoners of war and hostages are protected under international humanitarian law, and so the BBC does not broadcast the full details of material which may have been filmed under duress.

In the video, Mr Katzir said he had been close to dying more than once, and called on the Israeli government to stop the war and bring him and other hostages home. He also repeatedly said he loved and missed his family.”

The BBC’s report does not tell readers that in fact the video released by the PIJ in January was the second one in which Elad Katzir had been forced to participate, with a previous video having been published in December.

The last four versions of Crew’s report end by telling BBC audiences that:

“According to Israel, 253 Israelis and foreigners were taken during the attacks.

About 129 hostages remain unaccounted for after being kidnapped – at least 34 of them are presumed dead.

Israel gives a slightly higher official figure because it includes four people taken hostage in 2014 and 2015. Two of these are believed to have died.”

Notably, very similar wording appears in another BBC report published late on March 6th UK time under the headline “Tens of thousands of Israelis rally in Tel Aviv demanding Gaza hostage deal”.

“According to Israeli counts, 253 Israelis and foreigners were taken during the Hamas attacks.

About 129 hostages remain unaccounted for after being kidnapped. At least 34 of them are presumed dead. 12 bodies have been recovered by the IDF.

Israel gives a slightly higher official figure because it includes four people taken hostage in 2014 and 2015. Two of these are believed to have died.”

The opaque phrasing in that last sentence refers to Avera Mengistu and Hisham al Sayed – whose names BBC audiences had never heard until June 2022 – and to Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin who were killed (rather than “believed to have died”) during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

The BBC fails to tell its audiences that – as with the hostages taken six months ago – the ICRC has not visited Avera Mengistu or Hisham al Sayed in all the years that they have been held hostage in the Gaza Strip and no information is provided on the topic of the lack of significant intervention from many human rights organisationsthe UN and the international community.

Related Articles:

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BBC NEWS REPORT FALLS SHORT ON THE AIMS OF HAMAS KIDNAPPINGS

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