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BBC Arabic corrects coverage 80 times over Gaza war

May 6, 2024 at 11:41 am

BBC Arabic [Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images]

BBC Arabic, the BBC’s Arabic-language news channel, was forced to make corrections to its coverage of Israel’s war on Gaza, on average every other day during the first five months of the conflict, according to a report by The Telegraph on Saturday.

Over the first five months of the war, following the Hamas-led resistance operation on 7 October, 2023, the channel was prompted to correct its content 80 times due to complaints.

Tim Davie, the Director-General of the BBC, has previously praised BBC Arabic’s work, but a series of complaints by the Campaign for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (Camera), which The Telegraph notes “lobbies for ‘accurate and balanced’ coverage of Israel,” highlighted several issues with the channel’s reporting.

One of the repeated “errors” involved referring to Jewish communities in the occupation state as “settlements” and their residents as “settlers”, which occurred in 30 and 4 instances respectively.

BBC Arabic also faced criticism for describing Hamas and Hezbollah as “the Resistance” in a few instances and referring to attacks on Israelis as “resistance operations,” despite the widespread acceptance of the usage across the region. Both movements are designated as terrorist organisations under UK law.

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Following Camera’s complaints, certain content was completely removed from the BBC Arabic website. This included a video that questioned the mainstream media narrative of the Kfar Aza kibbutz attack on 7 October, which resulted in at least 52 deaths, and another video that presented an unverified claim the killer of a Palestinian-American child was Jewish.

BBC sources defended its Arabic channel as “a vital source of impartial news in a region which is dominated by partisan media”. It also denied that all the corrections were significant errors, stating that corrections can “vary in substance”.

A BBC spokesman said: “BBC News Arabic provides independent news 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to audiences across the Middle East and around the world.”

“The service is covering the war accurately, impartially and diligently but when mistakes are made, we rightly acknowledge and correct them, reminding our staff of the high standards audiences know and expect from the BBC.”

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