Media watchdog: British press biased in coverage of Gaza war


Date published: 31st July 2009

Source: Hareetz

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Just Journalism says major British media sources misquoted IDF soldiers’ testimonies on Gaza offensive.

A U.K. media watchdog has called into question ongoing British press coverage of the Gaza conflict in January, accusing prominent members of the mainstream media of biased reporting.

The organization Just Journalism claims that the BBC website and the Independent newspaper misquoted controversial testimonies from Israeli soldiers who were involved in the Gaza offensive. Both organizations reportedly truncated quotes from soldiers, thereby altering the impact and context of their comments.

Decisions such as these, the group says, “raise concerns about the handling of this source material and whether audiences are being provided with the full facts.” The group defines itself as “an independent research organization focused on how Israel and Middle East issues are reported in the U.K. media.”

The soldiers’ testimonies, released in Israel by the organization Breaking the Silence, include allegations that Israeli troops ordered local Gaza residents to go first into houses believed to contain armed Palestinian fighters. This practice, known in Israel as “neighbor procedure,” was banned by Israel’s High Court in 2005.

The watchdog also claims that the British press charged Israel with committing war crimes in Gaza twice as frequently as similar accusations were levelled against Sri Lankan troops in a conflict taking place at the same time halfway around the world.

“Across the five daily broadsheets, war crimes allegations in relation to Israel were addressed twice as often as war crimes allegations in relation to Sri Lanka,” says a report by the group.

Israel launched Operation Cast Lead on December 27, 2008, in an effort to halt ongoing rocket fire on its southern communities. The Palestinians say that more than 1,100 people were killed in the three-week offensive, among them at least 500 women and children.

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