Tensions flare over Israel-Gaza conflict reporting

Published October 15, 2023
A picture taken from Sderot shows smoke plumes rising above buildings during an Israeli strike on the northern Gaza Strip on October 14. — AFP
A picture taken from Sderot shows smoke plumes rising above buildings during an Israeli strike on the northern Gaza Strip on October 14. — AFP

KARACHI: Journalists and officials engaged in animated discussions over the reporting on the Israel-Gaza conflict, while another dialogue took place between a news anchor and a former Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister.

Mishal Hussain from BBC Radio 4 and Grant Shapps, UK Defence Secretary had a spirited disagreement regarding the organisation’s reporting on the conflict in Israel and Gaza. Separately, Marc Lamont Hill from Al-Jazeera engages in a dialogue with former Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.

UK Defence Secretary confronted the BBC presenter about the network’s refusal to label Hamas as a “terrorist” group. During the exchange, Mr Shapps accused the media outlet of ‘insufficient interest in Hamas’, and Ms Husain defended the BBC’s position, citing its editorial guidelines.

Mr Shapps argued that Hamas’s actions clearly qualify as “terrorist activity,” to which Ms Husain questioned whether he sought a change in the Ofcom broadcasting code. The dispute revolved around the BBC’s choice of terminology in its reporting on Hamas. This disagreement took place as the UK dispatched warships in support of Israel.

They also discussed Israel’s call for 1.1 million people in north Gaza to evacuate before an expected ground offensive within 24 hours. Ms Husain questioned the feasibility and the UK government’s stance. Mr Shapps reiterated UK support for Israel’s self-defence and its efforts to warn civilians mentioning the likelihood of British nationals among Hamas-held hostages in Gaza during a Sky News interview.

In a discussion on Al-Jazeera, Marc Lamont Hill questions former Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon about whether Israel’s bombing of civilians constitutes a war crime. Mr Ayalon firmly denied this and argued that their actions were a justified response to a ‘surprise’ attack on Israel the previous Saturday.

“The IDF was taken by surprise and initially suffered a significant setback. However, the victory they achieved during the first 24 hours was at the cost of innocent lives, including babies, children, and entire families who were killed in their beds,” he said.

Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2023

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