BBC News website promotes inaccurate claims about ICC warrants

On June 12th the BBC News website published a report by Matt Murphy headlined ‘Israel, Hamas accused of war crimes in new UN report’.

According to his Linkedin profile, Matt Murphy “completed a law degree at Ireland’s leading University, Trinity College Dublin”. Nevertheless, while quoting a professor from that same university, Murphy presented BBC audiences with inaccurate information concerning “warrants”: [emphasis added]

“Michael Becker, a professor of international human rights law at Trinity College Dublin, told the BBC that the International Criminal Court (ICC) – which has issued warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders – would likely rely on the report to find new lines of inquiry it can pursue in its investigation, but that it was unlikely to serve as “direct evidence” in the case.”

Later in his report, Murphy repeats that inaccurate claim:

“Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri and Ismail Haniyeh are already subject to an arrest warrant issued by the ICC for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant are also subject to similar warrants.” 

As reported by the BBC, on May 20th 2024 the ICC chief prosecutor announced that he had applied for arrest warrants for Israel’s prime minister and minister of defence, as well as three leaders of the Hamas terrorist organisation.

OMISSIONS IN BBC NEWS WEBSITE COVERAGE OF ICC ANNOUNCEMENT

As explained by Joshua Rozenberg KC at the time:

“The ICC has various checks and balances built into its rules. Khan’s task now is to persuade a pre-trial chamber of three judges to issue the arrest warrants he seeks.”

That pre-trial chamber has yet to issue any announcement on the topic of whether or not it has determined that there is sufficient evidence to issue those arrest warrants.

Murphy’s claim that the ICC “has issued warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders” is therefore inaccurate and misleading. CAMERA UK has submitted a complaint to the BBC on that issue.

The report which is the stated topic of Murphy’s article was issued on the same day and is portrayed as follows:

“Israel and Hamas have been accused of committing a litany of war crimes and human rights abuses since 7 October in a new independent report to the UN Human Rights Council.

The damning accusations, compiled by investigators from the UN’s Commission of Inquiry, accused both sides of war crimes for mounting attacks against civilian populations and “murder or wilful killings”.

The report, which covers the period up to the end of 2023, specifically accused Israel of crimes against humanity for torture, “extermination” and “gender persecution targeting Palestinian men and boys“.”

Murphy fails to inform BBC audiences that most of the Palestinians perpetrating acts of terrorism and violence against Israelis are males, including minors – some of whom are recruited as child soldiers by terrorist organisations.  

Also included in Murphy’s uncritical portrayal of the report’s findings is the following:

“Israeli forces were also accused of sexual violence for public stripping of Palestinians, which the investigators said was intended “to humiliate the community at large and accentuate the subordination of an occupied people”.”

He fails to point out to readers that the Palestinians concerned were terrorists – who deliberately do not wear military uniforms – or suspected terrorists and that the “public stripping” was a precaution to ensure that they were not concealing weapons or explosives on their person at the time of their arrest.

The full title of the body which produced this report is of course the UN Human Rights Council’s ‘Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel’. Murphy names just one of that body’s members:

“The panel, led by former UN human rights chief Navi Pillay, said Israel’s use of heavy weapons in populated areas constituted a war crime as it was a direct attack on civilian populations which intended to cause “maximum damage, disregarding the principles of distinction, proportionality and adequate precautions”.”

The fact that the same commission has already produced highly problematic reports – such as those published in June 2022October 2022 and June 2023 – is not mentioned by Murphy.

As noted here on previous occasions, the BBC has done remarkably little over the years to contribute to audience understanding of the UNHRC’s politically motivated bias against Israel. Despite having reported the establishment of that ‘Commission of Inquiry’ in May 2021, when evidence emerged concerning highly problematic statements made by its three members, the corporation was silent:

BBC SILENT ON UNHRC COMMISSION BIAS

There is of course nothing remotely novel about Murphy’s uncritical amplification of claims made in this report from a UN body. For years the BBC has refrained from adopting a critical approach to the United Nations, choosing instead to quote and promote anything put out by that organisation’s various departments and agencies, no matter how ridiculous.

That serial avoidance of the topic of anti-Israel bias at the UN means that Murphy’s readers would once again be ill-placed to understand the part of his report which states that “Israel – which refused to co-operate with the investigation – was quick to reject the report, accusing it of “systematic anti-Israeli discrimination”.”

More from Hadar Sela
BBC shows footage of ‘apparent rocket attack’ on north Israel
h/t @Lsorang on Twitter At around 16:30 on August 22nd four missiles...
Read More
Join the Conversation

2 Comments

  1. says: Neil C

    Nobody expects anything but anti-Israel bias from the BBC, as they themselves have Hamas sympathisers (if not members) working for them. The BBC News management team ought to take a long look in the mirror to ensure their horns are not showing before going to work in a morning. #defundthebbc

Leave a comment
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *