ITV apologises for interview with reporter who called Hamas attack a ‘homecoming’

London-based Palestinian Latifa Abouchakra spoke to the channel’s news programme about Islamophobia


ITV News has apologised for interviewing a reporter from the Iranian regime channel Press TV who had described the Hamas atrocities committed on October 7 as a “homecoming by the Palestinian resistance”.

ITV presented Latifa Abouchakra as a London-based Palestinian. In an interview screened on Monday, she claimed she had been a victim of Islamophobia, saying: “I’ve been called a terrorist, I’ve been asked to go back home, I’ve had people in their cars making threatening gestures.”

The reason, she went on was that “Muslims and Palestinians are inherently terrorists according to the system here, according to the narrative of the media here and according to the narrative of the politicians.”

The Board of Deputies accused ITV News of a “staggering failure of due diligence” over the report. In a letter to chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall, the Board president Marie van der Zyl acknowledged there has “undoubtedly been a significant rise in Islamophobia in this country over the past few weeks”, which she utterly condemned.

However, Van der Zyl added: “ITV’s decision to invite on Ms Abouchakra was an astonishingly bad one. As a 20-second internet search could have informed your channel’s researchers, Ms Abouchakra is a reporter for Palestine Declassified, a show produced by Press TV, the state channel of the Iranian Ayatollahs’ regime.”

In a Press TV report that was broadcast on the day Hamas killed more than 1,300 civilians, Abouchakra told viewers: “As fragile as a spider’s web, the Zionist entity is shaking with fear; in an early morning shock, Palestinian resistance factions from Gaza launched an unprecedented three-pronged attack on the entity...what ensued was the homecoming of at least 1,000 Palestinians from the resistance factions into the fragile Zionist entity...over 100 settlers have been taken as prisoners of war by the resistance – the vast majority are members of the Occupation Forces.”

The clip of her report, Van der Zyl’s letter said, was published by the YouTube account of the Press TV programme for which she works, Palestine Declassified.

This is presented by the disgraced former Bristol university professor David Miller, who was sacked for alleged antisemitism, and the former Labour MP Chris Williamson, who left the party facing similar allegations.

Attached to the YouTube clip of Abouchakra was a message saying: “WATCH: What you need to know about the audacious #AlAqsaStorm operation by Palestinian freedom fighters.”

Abouchakra also said on the day Hamas terrorists launched their incursion on southern Israel: “Nothing will ever be able to take back this moment. This moment of triumph, this moment of resistance, this moment of surprise, this moment of humiliation on behalf of the Zionist entity. Nothing ever.”

Press TV’s broadcasting licence was withdrawn by Ofcom in 2012, but the channel remains available on the internet.

Van de Zyl’s letter claimed: “This was a catastrophic breach of your channel’s journalistic standards. We condemn any Islamophobic comments which Ms Abouchakra has received, but you must surely realise that while there are many British Muslims you could have invited on who could have justifiably complained about being wrongly associated with terrorists, Ms Abouchakra, due to her own actions, is not among them.

“I sincerely hope that your channel will be issuing a public apology for this egregiously incompetent decision, which is insulting to both British Jews and the many upstanding British Muslims who have been wrongly subjected to unjust targeting specifically because of their religion.”

ITV’s news’s editor Andrew Dagnell replied to van der Zyl on Tuesday. His letter to her stated: “Please be reassured that we would not have included the contributor you refer to had we been aware of her previous comments.

"We recognise that better due diligence should have taken place before she was featured.

"We apologise for this. ITV News London will tighten up the procedures around booking interviewees.

“ITV News has a responsibility to accuracy and due impartiality. We take these responsibilities particularly seriously while reporting on the situation in Israel and Gaza.”

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