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BBC upholds complaint over reporter’s Gaza tweet

    Details of casualties during Israel Pillar of Defence operation were disputed (Photo: Flash 90)
    Details of casualties during Israel Pillar of Defence operation were disputed (Photo: Flash 90)

    The BBC Trust has partially upheld a complaint against the BBC’s coverage of Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defence in Gaza last November.

    Stephen Franklin, a Zionist Federation member who has repeatedly challenged the corporation over its reporting on Israel, took issue with a tweet from news correspondent Wyre Davies.

    On November 15 2012, a day after the week-long operation began, Mr Davies tweeted from Gaza: “In this ‘limited operation’ at least 13 Palestinian and 3 Israelis have been killed — nearly all citizens.”

    Mr Franklin protested that while the three Israelis killed had been civilians, it was “not true” that even a majority of the Palestinians had been — and that the comment gave a misleading impression of the number of civilian deaths.

    When his complaint to BBC World News and then the corporation’s editorial complaints unit proved unsuccessful, he took it to the trust’s editorial standards committee.

    The committee concluded that to say “nearly all” of the reported 16 dead were civilians had “gone beyond the information that had been obtained at that point” and therefore constituted a breach of accuracy guidelines.

    It added that the breach “reflected nothing other than the extreme pressure under which Mr Davies and other journalists in Gaza had been working”, and that the tweet did not need to be corrected or deleted.

    But the trust also concluded: “The complaint raised important questions about the use of Twitter which would need to be considered further.”

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