LONDON — Pro-Palestinian campaigners in Britain staged what they called a “die-in” to protest the BBC’s “grotesque” coverage of Operation Pillar of Defense.
Standing in front of the BBC headquarters in Birmingham, Britain’s second-largest city, Thursday night, activists read out the names of Palestinian civilians who were killed in Gaza during the course of the recent conflict. A group of children also handed the regional BBC management a portfolio of evidence which, they said, showed that the BBC was “biased towards the Israeli government and is not reporting the facts.”
Some 170 Palestinians were killed in the eight days of fighting — 120 of them were “engaged in terrorist activity,” according to Israel’s IDF Spokesman. Six Israelis were killed by Palestinian rocket fire. The IDF spokesman said the IDF made “every effort” to avoid causing civilian casualties in Gaza, and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Hamas of “hiding” behind Gaza’s children as it fired rockets indiscriminately into Israel.
In Israel and among pro-Israel supporters abroad, the BBC is widely regarded as hostile to Israel in its coverage. In the course of the Gaza conflict, a BBC reporter in Gaza tweeted what he called a “heartbreaking” photo of an injured Gaza Palestinian girl; it turned out that she was a victim of fighting in Syria; the reporter quickly apologized for the error.
Brian Sheridan, secretary of the West Midlands Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which organized the event with University of Birmingham Students for Justice in Palestine, said, “The BBC’s coverage of events in Gaza is a grotesque inversion of reality. Palestinians have the right to defend themselves. This war was started to allow Israel to test its new missile defense system, and unconditional support from Britain and the US allows Israel to continue to act with impunity.
“As well as mourning the deaths of all the civilians killed in this conflict we mourn the death of the BBC as an icon of investigative journalism.”
Naeem Malik, the group’s chair, said he was “shocked and angry at how Jeremy Bowen on the BBC News minimized the carnage by suggesting that Gaza has a culture of martyrdom. It reflects the stereotype that Israel wants to portray. It is racism in the extreme.”