BBC apologises for reporting unverified Hamas ‘summary executions’ claim

Corporation admits it should have sought to corroborate the claim from the terror group


The BBC (Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

The BBC has apologised for reporting unverified claims from Hamas that the Israeli Defence Force carried out “summary executions” of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. 

On Christmas Eve, BBC radio news bulletins reported the Hamas allegation, but the corporation has since said that sufficient efforts were not made to fact check the claim made by the terror group.

The source of the story appears to be an unverified report from AFP news agency that Hamas had gathered testimonies showing 137 Palestinians had been executed since the start of Israel’s war on Hamas.

In a statement, the BBC said: “In overnight output we ran a story about Hamas accusing the Israeli army of carrying out summary executions in the Gaza Strip.

“This was a Hamas statement, but although the accusations were attributed and our story contained a response from the Israeli military saying they were unaware of the incident and that Hamas was a terrorist organisation that did not value truth, we had not made sufficient effort to seek corroborating evidence to justify reporting the Hamas claim. We apologise for this mistake.”

This is not the first time that the BBC has admitted mistakes in its reporting of the conflict in Gaza.

In November, it apologised for misreporting a Reuters story. A news reader twice said that Israeli soldiers who had entered Shifa Hospital in Gaza “were targeting people including medical teams and Arab speakers.” This was false.

The corporation was also accused of wrongly attributing blame for the Al Ahli Hospital blast in October. After complaints, the corporation said it was “wrong to speculate” on who was responsible for the blast at the hospital.

In May 2023, BBC News CEO Deborah Turness launched BBC Verify with a team of 60 journalists and the aim of “fact-checking, verifying video, countering disinformation, analysing data and – crucially – explaining complex stories in the pursuit of truth.” Turness put trust in the corporation at the forefront of her agenda.

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