BBC Gaza spin is deliberately pro-Hamas
Human Rights Watch report condemns injustice towards civilians in Gaza under Hamas rule
A damning report was published on Wednesday by Human Rights Watch (HRW) documenting how Hamas ‘security services in Gaza routinely conduct arrests without routinely presenting warrants, refuse to promptly inform families of detainees’ whereabouts, deny detainees’ access to a lawyer and torture detainee’s in custody’.
Laws that uphold the basic rights of citizens are routinely broken because Hamas’ ‘security forces commonly arrest civilians and present them before Gaza’s military judiciary, even though its remit should be limited to military offenses’.
The importance of this story remains with nearly two million people living under Hamas rule who live in fear of torture, warrantless arrest and trials without conviction.
So why did the UK’s biggest broadcaster choose to help Hamas whitewash this story? It was picked up by most major news and broadcasting outlets but the state-funded ‘impartial’ BBC has overstepped the mark in attempting to 'balance' its coverage of the report, promoting the denialist response from a Hamas spokesperson at the front and centre of its coverage.
Over the past few years, the BBC’s political coverage of the Middle East has been criticised by many for not providing the detailed and accurate news that readers, listeners and viewers are entitled to.
The corporation has also been suspected of an anti-Israel bias, which has been in its reporting on the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Instead of a deep look into the report itself, followed by examples of the abuses, the BBC waits only until the third line of its article to quote Hamas Deputy Foreign Minister Ghazi Hamad, who said: "Maybe we have some violations from time to time, but it is not a widespread phenomenon."
While clinging onto the reins of power in Gaza, Hamas is far from a legitimately elected government. Following the elections in 2006, the terrorist group set out to consolidate its power by murdering opposition figures and ruling the strip with an iron fist. Elections were previously due in 2010 but have now been delayed indefinitely.
Despite this, the BBC affords Hamas not just equal airtime in response to the report, but puts the Hamas line front and centre of their debate and further broadcasting the interview with Hamad on another page on its website. Bizarrely, though the story has nothing to do with Israel, the BBC also links highly to a 'special report' on Israel and the Palestinians, directly under the headline, "Gazans face 'serious abuses' in criminal justice system".
To report this story in such a way is not only inaccurate and misleading, but lends legitimacy to the terrorist government in Gaza. The BBC is not new to reporting the region through its green-tinted glasses, either. So far this year, The Commentator has revealed that the BBC refused to acknowledge Israel had a capital city under the ‘key facts’ section of its Olympic page, that the corporation spent a whopping £332,780.47 on legal fees to conceal the Middle-East ‘Balen Report’ from the public, and that the corporation uses online pictures which convey the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a distorted way. On every one of these matters, the BBC has had to express its ‘regret’ – yet nothing changes.
Injustice in Gaza under Hamas
“After five years of Hamas rule in Gaza, the criminal justice system reeks of injustice, routinely violates detainee’s rights, and grants impunity to abusive security services”, says Human Rights Watch Middle East Director Joe Stark.
An individual case study of injustice brought against Abdel Karim Shrair highlights the significant abuse of human rights and illegal actions used by the al-Qassam brigades, the Internal Security Service, the judicial system of the Military courts and Hamas authorities.
Before Shrair was ‘sentenced to death and executed by firing squad in May 2011 for ‘collaborating with Israel’, he allegedly endured torture for three weeks before being transferred to police custody, warrantless arrest and incommunicado detention and severe injuries across face, arms, legs and chest. The charge that was brought against Shrair in part was on the basis of information that his lawyer alleged was obtained under torture.
Human Rights Watch can also confirm that three criminal defence lawyers in private practice had been arbitrarily arrested and tortured in detention by Hamas security forces.
Gaza’s judiciary which consists of civil and military branches failed to hold to account security forces that operated outside the law or to uphold detainee’s rights in seven cases documented by HRW.
In cases examined by HRW, the military judiciary did not throw out any criminal cases against detainees because of due process violations. Any credible claims of torture by detainees were ignored or failed to be investigated by the military judiciary.
The intra-Palestinian political rivalry between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority is still the root cause of many abuses against detainees’ but there have been increasing reports of custodial abuse in Gaza against detainees accused on non-political crimes.
It is disappointing to say the least that the BBC has decided to disregard this information and rather, to afford Hamas a 'right of reply' which takes precedence over the main story. It is unfortunate that nearly 25 million people involuntarily subscribe to the BBC through the license fee and yet they are persistently and intentionally misled about the systematic abuse which is taking place by Hamas in Gaza. Does this correlate with the BBC’s editorial guidelines? I think not.
Natalie Glanvill is an Editorial Assistant at The Commentator and tweets at @NatalieGlanvil1
Read more on: detention, human rights, gaza, palestine, human rights watch, al qassam brigades, joe stark, bbc hamas, bbc bias, Hamas, when did hamas take over gaza, Hamas charter, Guardian support for Hamas, bbc website, and BBC Middle East coverage
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