BBC defends Panorama Gaza flotilla doc

By Jessica Elgot, August 18, 2010
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The Gaza flotilla incident was investigated by BBC's Panorama

The Gaza flotilla incident was investigated by BBC's Panorama

BBC Panorama has issued a strong rebuff to viewers who claimed the programme "Death in the Med" - shown on Monday night - was biased in Israel’s favour.

Pro-Palestinian groups attacked the BBC for its criticism of those onboard the Gaza flotilla.

Presenter Jane Corbin concluded: “The bid to break the naval blockade wasn’t really about bringing aid to Gaza. It was a political move designed to put pressure on Israel and the international community.”

The Zionist Federation praised the documentary and urged supporters to thank the BBC for its fair coverage.

In response to the widespread complaints, the BBC issued a robust statement which said: “This programme intended to explore the considerable confusion about what actually happened on the Mavi Marmara on the day in question.

"Israel has been accused of breaking international law by seizing a Turkish ship. Israel says they were terrorists. Turkey insists they were innocent victims.

"Viewers were shown a wide range of opinions and whenever a question of authenticity of footage arose, we made this clear " .

The BBC declared that the programme makers had spoken extensively "to the groups and individuals involved in the incident, including three Israeli commandos involved in the raid; the head of the IHH - Bulent Yildirim; the Free Gaza Co-ordinator onboard the Mavi Marmara - Lubna Masarwa; three Turkish activists and activist Ken O'Keefe, all who were onboard the Mavi Marmara on the night in question.

“We also spoke to Hamas official Dr Ahmed Yousef in Gaza. They were all given sufficient time and a platform to make their points.

“Overall we dismiss claims that this programme showed bias in favour of Israel. The programme's aim was to try to uncover what really happened on the Mavi Marmara.

“Panorama went to great lengths to give opposing sides the opportunity to air their views and we felt the programme accordingly carried out its analysis in a fair, impartial and balanced manner. We simply allowed viewers to make up their own minds in their own time based on what they saw and heard.”

Activist Ken O’Keefe and the Muslim Defence League are organising a protest outside the BBC on Sunday.

Last updated: 8:04pm, August 18 2010