Government Press Office warns BBC over headline
Head of the Government Press Office Nitzan Hen on Sunday sent a harshly worded letter to the BBC in which he threatened the network with sanctions.
Hen’s letter to Richard Palmer, the head of the BBC bureau in Israel, was sent after the network published a headline that read “Palestinian shot dead after Jerusalem attack kills two.”
The headline, which mentioned the two Israeli victims in passive voice while neglecting the causality of the Palestinian being shot after he murdered two Israelis, was widely condemned in Israel.
The BBC later amended the headline but Hen told Palmer in his letter that the BBC’s efforts were “far from satisfactory.”
Hen charges that the BBC coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “unethical” and can incite more violence against Israelis.
According to Hebrew website NRG, officials in the GPO as well as in the office of the Israeli Embassy in London asked the network to change the headline and it was changed several times, but each time to a phrase that did not reflect the facts on the ground.
The network, which has a long history of anti-Israel bias, claimed in its defense that the headline in question was written by a junior editor and was not the result of a set agenda.
Israel expects an official apology, however, and a GPO official says the office is weighing the possibility of annulling the network’s journalists’ press cards, a decision that if implemented would not allow the network to continue operating in Israel. The GPO has other tools in its arsenal, including holding hearings for some journalists.