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BBC 'propaganda' slammed for refusing to acknowledge Israeli settlements as illegal

Israeli forces interfere Palestinians who gather for a protest against the construction of Jewish settlements in Ramallah, West Bank on July 29, 2022. [Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency]
Israeli forces interfere Palestinians who gather for a protest against the construction of Jewish settlements in Ramallah, West Bank on July 29, 2022. [Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency]

The BBC has come under fire over its "typical" misinformation about Palestine following the publication of an article explaining Israel's latest aggression on the besieged Gaza Strip. Under the heading "Israel-Gaza violence: The conflict explained" the article offered its readers a historical explanation of Israel's occupation of Palestine and the recent onslaught on Gaza, which killed 44 citizens, including 15 children and four women. Another 360 Palestinians were wounded.

Israel's attack on the Palestinian territory, which began on Friday, is just the latest of many assaults against the 2.2 million residents who have been subjected to a full blockade by the apartheid state since 2007. More than 4,228 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by Israeli forces in the years since. The last major bombardment was in May last year on the back of a brutal crackdown on Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem.

In a section headed "Israel's boundaries today" the BBC addressed the issue of illegal settlements for Jews only in the occupied Palestinian territories. It acknowledged that in the past 50 years Israel has built settlements, where more than 600,000 Jews now live. However, the article did not mention that the settlements are outposts for Jews only connected by roads for use by Jews only to the land that Israel was created on in 1948. Though this omission was not met with disapproval, readers of the BBC article did express their anger over its description of the status of settlements.

"Palestinians say these [settlements] are illegal under international law and are obstacles to peace, but Israel denies this," said the BBC. The passage was criticised heavily, especially as the illegal status of settlements under international law is accepted universally, except by Israel, of course.

READ: Israel confiscates Palestinian land, uproots olive trees in Hebron

"Typical BBC article on Palestine" tweeted Chris Doyle, Director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding. Sharing "Palestinians say these are illegal under international law and are obstacles to peace, but Israel denies this" with his followers on the social media site, Doyle refuted the BBC's claim by saying that, "It is not Palestinians who say this. The UN Security Council says this, nearly every major power, the [International Court of Justice] says this." The ICJ is the highest legal body in the UN.

Others criticised the BBC article for its failure to acknowledge what many say is the root of the Israeli Palestine conflict. "Settler-colonialism is the root problem," said one twitter user in response to the BBC article. "You cannot go to another people's country with the intent of driving them out of their homes and off their land, and not expect 'problems'."

In the backlash against the broadcaster, the BBC was described as a state-affiliated media outlet that reflects the British government's foreign and domestic policies. "We shouldn't be in any doubt [about this]," tweeted one person.

READ: Getting rid of the Oslo Accords authority is the first step to Palestinian liberation

"Stealing someone else's land and then trying to ethnically cleanse all the original inhabitants tends to create conflict. How surprising," said another.

"When is the UK sending weapons & aid to the oppressed state of Palestine?" added a third, in what looked like a reference to Britain's arming of Ukraine in its resistance against Russia's military aggression. Legitimate Palestinian resistance to Israel's military occupation and aggression is described routinely as "terrorism" by the British government and its mouthpieces.

This is not the first time that the BBC has failed to cover Israel's military aggression on Palestine honestly. In May, it was among several mainstream media outlets in Britain that were accused of "sanitising" Israel's extremely racist and highly provocative flag march in occupied Jerusalem.

At Damascus Gate in the occupied Old City, ultra-nationalist Jewish mobs, who are often described as Israel's version of the Ku Klux Klan, sang: "Shu'afat is on fire" referring to Abu Khdair, the Palestinian child who was kidnapped, tortured, forced to drink petrol and then burnt to death by Israeli settlers in 2014. The settlers also chanted: "A Jew is a soul, an Arab is a son of a whore"; "Death to the Arabs"; "Muhammad is dead"; and "May your village burn". One video showed them chanting, "Shireen is a whore" referring to the murdered Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

The BBC's apparent failure to mention the racist and provocative chants was criticised on social media. "If there was a march with chants of 'Death to Jews' and 'A good Jew is a dead Jew', who thinks the BBC would ignore," said Doyle at the time. "Yet in this article there is not one mention of the 'Death to Arab' chants. This is not journalism, it is propaganda."

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