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BBC ‘welcomes’ scrutiny of Israel-Hamas conflict coverage

The corporation has explained why it does not describe Hamas as a terrorist organisation.

The BBC said it “expects” and “welcomes” scrutiny of the way it covers the Israel-Hamas conflict.

The corporation has come under fire for not referring to Hamas as a terrorist organisation and been accused of bias against both Israel and Palestine.

Under its editorial guidelines, the BBC said it does not use the word “terrorist” but attributes it and makes it clear that Hamas is proscribed as a terrorist organisation by the UK Government.

A statement from the BBC board, after its regular monthly meeting, said: “No one who has watched or listened to harrowing reports over the last 10 days could be left in any doubt about the horror brought about by Hamas’s attack on defenceless civilians in Israel.

“As this war continues, with so many deaths of innocent civilians in both Israel and Gaza, the BBC will no doubt continue to come under scrutiny about the way in which we cover it – that is to be expected and also welcomed. The BBC is listening.

Israel-Hamas conflict
Protesters outside BBC Broadcasting House, London, calling for the BBC to change its stance on not labelling Hamas as terrorists (PA)

“We believe that our editorial guidelines serve us well, and continue to serve us well in difficult circumstances; we do periodically review them as a matter of course, and when we do so at our next planned review in the spring, we will consult and debate these issues just as we always do.”

The board also expressed its thanks to the teams across the BBC that have been covering the conflict, adding: “It’s the BBC’s job to inform people about what is happening and to explain as best we can, so that the audience can come to their own conclusions.

“The surest way to do this is through frank, compassionate and, where appropriate, explicit reportage of what happened: that is the role of the BBC.

“Audiences turn to us for clarity in a chaotic world, and along with the rest of the media, the BBC plays an essential role in helping to explain these events to them. That is what we were set up for, and for over 100 years it is the job that we have been proud to do on behalf of the British people.”

On Monday, the BBC said it has received complaints about its coverage of the conflict and there have been accusations of bias from both sides.

The complaints are in the high hundreds, rather than the thousands, it is understood.

Also, on Monday, hundreds of protesters booed the BBC and demanded the corporation labels Hamas as “terrorists” at a rally outside Broadcasting House.

The National Jewish Assembly hosted the rally alongside the UK Lawyers for Israel, the Campaign Against Antisemitism and the European Jewish Association.

Protesters placed posters of kidnapped Israelis on a wall opposite the BBC’s headquarters while others chanted, prayed and waved Israeli flags for about 90 minutes.

Israel-Hamas conflict
Red paint was sprayed over the entrance to the headquarters by Palestine Action (PA)

It comes after a pro-Palestinian group claimed responsibility for vandalising Broadcasting House with red paint as a protest over its coverage of the conflict on Saturday.

Palestine Action accused the broadcaster of having “blood on its hands”.

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