BBC News again circles the wagons in report on Al Jazeera story

On May 5th the BBC News website published a report which is currently presented under the headline “Al Jazeera office raided as Israel takes channel off air”. Credited to Vicky Wong, that report opens as follows: [emphasis added]

“Israel’s government has moved to shut down the operations of the Al Jazeera television network in the country, branding it a mouthpiece for Hamas.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the cabinet agreed to the closure while the war in Gaza is ongoing. […]

Al Jazeera called claims it was a threat to Israeli security a “dangerous and ridiculous lie”.”

Later in the report, readers are told that:

“For years, Israeli officials have accused the network of anti-Israeli bias.

Their criticisms of the broadcaster have intensified since the 7 October Hamas attacks on southern Israel, in which about 1,200 people were killed and more than 250 were taken hostage. Some 128 of those hostages are still unaccounted for, with at least 34 presumed dead. […]

Last month, the Israeli parliament passed a law giving the government power to temporarily close foreign broadcasters considered a threat to national security during the war against Hamas.”

Readers are not provided with any further details concerning that law and its implementation. As the Times of Israel explained last month:

“The new law gives the prime minister and the communications minister the authority to order the temporary closure of foreign networks operating in Israel and confiscate their equipment if it is believed that they are “doing actual harm to state security.”

It is the communications minister who is empowered to issue such orders, but only after receiving the approval of the prime minister and the security cabinet, and after a professional position paper has been presented to the prime minister and the communications minister by the security services detailing the “factual foundations” of allegations that the channel is causing damage to Israel’s national security.

The law empowers the communication’s minister to order “content providers” to cease broadcasting the channel in question; order the channel’s Israeli offices to be shuttered; order the channel’s equipment confiscated; and order the channel’s website to be taken offline, if the server is physically located in Israel, or otherwise block access to the website.

Such orders are valid for 45 days but can be renewed for further 45-day periods.

Under the terms of the law, any order to shut down a foreign news channel must be brought within 24 hours for judicial review by the president of a district court, who must then decide within three days if they wish to change or shorten the period of the order.

The law itself has been passed as a temporary law and will expire on July 31 or earlier if the declaration of an emergency situation is lifted by the government.”

Vicky Wong obviously couldn’t be bothered to do the research that would have enabled her to inform her readers of examples of instances in which Al Jazeera has indeed functioned as a mouthpiece for Hamas. She chose not to mention the fact that Al Jazeera chose to provide Hamas with the platform from which to announce its October 7th attacks on Israel.

“On October 7, 2023, after the surprise invasion of Israel by Gaza militants, the Al-Jazeera Network (Qatar) aired an audio recording of Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif’s announcement of the launch of Operation Al-Aqsa Deluge. Deif said that the invasion of Israel – in which so far over 600 Israelis have been killed, over 2,000 injured, and at least 100 kidnapped and taken to Gaza – was the “first strike” of the operation. He called upon Palestinians in the West Bank, in Jerusalem, and inside Israel itself to carry out attacks against Israelis using guns, knives, Molotov cocktails, and vehicles.”

Neither did Wong bother to inform BBC audiences that Al Jazeera engages in lawfare against Israel or to provide them with relevant context such as its throwing of a birthday party for a terrorist, its record of Holocaust denial and 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.

Wong did however elect to use seven paragraphs of her report to uncritically amplify condemnations of Israel’s decision to close down Al Jazeera’s activities in Israel from four different sources: an inadequately presented political NGO, two press organisations – including one regularly quoted, promoted and supported by the BBC – and a controversial UN department which risibly refers to a media outlet which does not criticise its own government as “free and independent”.

“The shut down of Al Jazeera in Israel has been criticised by a number of human rights and press groups.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) said they had filed a request to the country’s Supreme Court to issue an interim order to overturn the ban.

The group said that claims that the broadcaster was a propaganda tool for Hamas were “unfounded”, and that Sunday’s ban was less about security concerns and more to “serve a more politically motivated agenda, aimed at silencing critical voices and targeting Arab media”.

The Foreign Press Association (FPA) urged the Israeli government to reconsider its decision, saying the shut down of Al Jazeera in the country should be “a cause for concern for all supporters of a free press”.

The FPA said in a statement that Israel now joins “a dubious club of authoritarian governments to ban the station”, and warned that Mr Netanyahu has the authority to target other foreign outlets that he considers to be “acting against the state”.

The Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ) Program Director Carlos Martinez de la Serna echoed the same concerns, saying: “The Israeli cabinet must allow Al Jazeera and all international media outlets to operate freely in Israel, especially during wartime.”

The UN’s Human Rights office also called the Israeli government to reverse the ban, posting on X: “A free & independent media is essential to ensuring transparency & accountability. Now, even more so given tight restrictions on reporting from Gaza.””

No less predictable is Wong’s promotion of a canard which has long been promoted by Al Jazeera:

“Al Jazeera has accused Israel of deliberately targeting its staff.

Journalists including Hamza al-Dahdouh, the son of Al Jazeera Gaza bureau chief Wael al-Dahdouh, have been killed by Israeli strikes. Israel denies targeting journalists.”

The link in that second paragraph takes readers to a highly problematic report published by the BBC in January which was previously discussed here:


Wong fails to inform her readers that Hamza al-Dahdouh was a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad or of his extensive family ties to that terrorist organisation. Neither does she clarify that additional Al Jazeera journalists in the Gaza Strip have been exposed as members of terrorist organisations.

At the bottom of Wong’s report readers find a link to a report on the same topic which was published on April 2nd under the headline “Israeli government says it will block Al Jazeera from broadcasting”. That article by Ido Vock and Hugo Bachega likewise erases Hamza al-Dahdouh’s terror connections while providing amplification for Al Jazeera’s canard:

“The channel has accused Israel of deliberately targeting its staff. Journalists including Hamza Al-Dahdouh, the son of Al Jazeera Gaza bureau chief Wael Al-Dahdouh, have been killed by Israeli strikes. Israel denies targeting journalists.”

While there is nothing remotely surprising about its ‘circling the wagons’ approach to this latest story about Al Jazeera, the BBC needs to ask itself the very serious question of why the end result of its prioritisation of ‘professional loyalties’ is the failure to provide factual and objective information about that media outlet which would enable BBC audiences to form their own opinions about the Israeli government’s decision.

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  1. says: col Mark Ingram

    Neither did the BBC and World Service in particular (who dedicated half its news output that day) have the courage or need to inform its audience that their own country (whoes tax payers pay for the wages) did exactly the same thing , together with most of EU, by closing down Russia Today (RT) at the very beginning of the conflict in Ukraine. At least Israel waited 7 months !

  2. says: john in cheshire

    I think the bbc and others need to be reminded about which countries have banned the Russian News organisation, RT.
    Isn’t this a case of pots calling kettles black?

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