Israeli President slams BBC over Hamas coverage in talk with Sunak

Israeli President slams BBC over Hamas coverage in talk with Sunak

October 19, 2023

Israeli President Herzog slams BBC’s ‘distortion of the facts’ for refusing to call Hamas terrorists during talks with Rishi Sunak

  • ‘We feel the way BBC characterises Hamas is a distortion of facts,’ Herzog said
  • Hamas is officially designated as a terrorist organisation in the UK, US and EU
  • The public broadcaster has defended its use of language in name of impartiality 

Israeli President Isaac Herzog slammed the BBC for what he said was a ‘distortion of the facts’ over its reporting on Hamas during a meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak today.

‘We feel that the way the BBC characterises Hamas is a distortion of the facts,’ Herzog said, arguing the group should be referred to as ‘an atrocious terrorist organisation’ rather than ‘militants’.

‘We are dealing with one of the worst terror organisations in the world… because the BBC has a certain linkage and it is known as Britain all over the world, there has to be an outcry so that there will be a correction, and Hamas will be defined as a terror organisation.’

Sunak, who this morning arrived in Israel to ‘express solidarity’ with the country over Hamas’s October 7 attack, responded: ‘To your last point, we should call it what it is – an act of terrorism perpetrated by an evil terrorist organisation.’

Last night, Herzog gave an exclusive interview to the Mail in which he piled more pressure on the BBC, declaring: ‘The fact that it does not recognise Hamas as a terror organisation requires a complete legal battle and public battle. It’s unbelievable.

‘What other type of torture do they want before they decide it was a terrorist organisation?’

Hamas is a Palestinian Islamist political group that competes with other rival movements in Palestine and governs more than 2 million people in the Gaza Strip.

But it also has a heavily armed militarised wing known as the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades – the group responsible for the ruthless attacks on Israel that saw some 1,400 people killed, according to authorities.

Hamas is officially designated as a terrorist organisation in the UK, US and the EU.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog slammed the BBC for what he said was a ‘distortion of the facts’ over its reporting on Hamas during a meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak today

Herzog expressed his gratitude to Sunak for ‘your support and your decisions and your leadership’

The public broadcaster previously justified its language use in the name of impartiality, adding its job is to explain ‘precisely what is happening on the ground so audiences can make their own judgement’. 

President of Israel Isaac Herzog blasts the BBC as ‘atrocious’ for refusing to brand Hamas as terrorists in his first interview since the war erupted 

BBC director of editorial policy David Jordan said not using the word terrorist was a ‘very long-standing policy’ which had ‘stood the test of time’. 

He added: ‘We’ve called them massacres, we’ve called [them] murders, we’ve called them out for what things are and that doesn’t in any way devalue the awfulness of what is going on.’

And BBC veteran foreign correspondent John Simpson defended the coverage claiming ‘calling someone a terrorist means you’re taking sides’. 

In recent days, Israel’s official social media accounts have repeatedly called out the BBC for allegedly favourable coverage of Hamas. 

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said Herzog has ‘not just a right’ but a ‘duty’ to defend his country during their talks today. 

Sunak said: ‘We will stand with you in solidarity with your people and your right to defend yourself to bring security back to your country, to your people, to ensure the safe return of the hostages that have been taken and I know we will talk further about that later on.’

He added: ‘You have not just a right to do that, I think you have a duty to do that, to restore that security to your country.’

A No 10 spokesperson said ‘The Prime Minister ‘expressed his personal condolences for the horrific loss of life in Israel as a result of Hamas’ terrorism’.

‘He reiterated that the UK stands in solidarity with Israel and firmly believes in the country’s right to self-defence in line with international law,’ the spokesman added.

Herzog in return expressed his gratitude to Sunak for ‘your support and your decisions and your leadership’.

‘We are extremely grateful to you, Prime Minister, for your support and your decisions and your leadership,’ he said as the two met in Israel.

However, Sunak also stressed the importance of getting aid to desperate Palestinian civilians after Israel blockaded Gaza amid its incessant bombing campaign of the Strip. 

‘Palestinians are victims of what Hamas has done and it’s important that we continue to provide humanitarian access’, the Prime Minister said, adding he was keen to ensure aid reaches ‘those who need it’.

His statement comes hours after Israel yesterday opened a border crossing in the south of Gaza, allowing some aid trucks to enter – the first crack in a punishing 11-day siege. 

Many among Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have cut down to one meal a day and resorted to drinking dirty water.

Palestinians gather at site of Israeli strikes on houses in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, October 19, 2023

A Palestinian man cooks and prepares food for displaced people whose homes were destroyed during Israeli raids

A child is recovered from the rubble of a residential building leveled in an Israeli airstrike, in Khan Younis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, 19 October 2023

Palestinians, who fled their house amid Israeli strikes, shelter at a United Nations-run centre after Israel’s call for more than 1 million civilians in northern Gaza to move south, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, October 18, 2023

Today, Israel continued its brutal bombing campaign of the Gaza Strip. 

Gaza hospital blast killed ‘several dozen’ and not 471 as Palestine health bosses claimed, insists Israeli government spokesman as two sides trade accusations about horrifying explosion 

Even after Israel told Palestinians in the north to evacuate to what it called ‘safe zones’ in the south, strikes continued overnight throughout the densely populated territory.

A residential building in Khan Younis, a city in southern Gaza where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians had sought shelter, was among the places hit. Medical personnel at Nasser Hospital said they received at least 12 dead and 40 wounded.

During the Prime Minister’s trip to the Middle East, in which he is expected to meet a number of counterparts, No 10 said he plans to press for more aid to be allowed into Gaza and for those ‘trapped in the territory’ to be allowed to leave the 25-mile area.

He will call for the ‘barbaric’ acts carried out by Hamas not to ‘become a catalyst for further escalation of conflict in the region’.

In parallel with Sunak’s travel, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly will visit Egypt, Turkey and Qatar in the coming days to underscore the UK’s message.

A readout of the meeting between Sunak and Herzog offered by Downing Street said: ‘The Prime Minister and President Herzog agreed on the importance of getting urgent humanitarian support to ordinary Palestinians in Gaza who are also suffering. 

‘The Prime Minister welcomed yesterday’s announcement that Israel would not stop aid from entering Gaza. He expressed his sincere hope that further progress could be made on delivering crucial food, water and medicine.

‘The Prime Minister conveyed his gratitude to President Herzog for the support Israel has provided to British nationals caught up in the attacks, including to the families of those who have been taken hostage. The leaders agreed to continue working tirelessly to secure their release.

‘The Prime Minister and President Herzog stressed the imperative need to avoid further escalation of violence in the region. They agreed to continue working together to that end.’

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