BBC Arabic features ‘expert’ who celebrated October 7

Former PLO ‘general’ Wasif Eriquat treated as ‘military expert’


BBC Arabic has repeatedly interviewed a former PLO general who celebrated October 7 as a “heroic military miracle” and has fired artillery shells on “Zionist positions” from Lebanon, the JC can reveal.

Viewers have been told that Major General Wasef Eriqat is an independent “military expert” based in the West Bank’s capital Ramallah. They have not been informed that he also happens to be the father of the BBC’s Ramallah correspondent, Eman Eriqat. He has appeared on the channel at least 12 times since the October 7 atrocities.

BBC Arabic is supposed to be bound by the same rules stipulating that news coverage should be accurate and impartial that apply to channels in English. But Eriqat’s interviews, conducted live with presenters in London, have often included highly questionable statements. None of the interviews have been conducted by his daughter Eman.

The broadcasts, which were monitored and translated by the media watchdog CAMERA Arabic, began on 28 October, when he said that on October 7 “1,200 resistance fighters defeated 10,000 of Israel’s elite of the elite in their backyard”. Eriqat claimed that Hamas, unlike Israel, did not attack civilians.

The following day Eriqat said Israel was “waging a war of genocide against the Palestinian people”, adding: “Those who planned the 7/10 operation made this heroic military miracle come true, with 1,200 Palestinian fighters superior to 10,000 Israeli soldiers.”

He has made the “genocide” claim numerous times, insisting that because Israel lacks the courage to engage in combat with “the Palestinian fighter”, it has killed civilians instead.

One such broadcast came on 7 November, when Eriqat told viewers: “Because they could not face the Palestinian fighters, they try to cover it up by saying that Hamas and the resistance use civilians as a human shield. That is incorrect and a lie.”

On 6 December, he broadcast the wholly unsubstantiated and unchallenged claims that 80 per cent of Palestinian casualties in Gaza were women, children and the elderly and that Israel had not attacked “a single military target”. That meant “there is nothing worthy of the name ‘military operation’. Rather, we talk about massacres carried out against the Palestinian people.”

On 26 December, Eriqat accused President Biden of being an “accomplice to the genocidal war”, whose goal was “eliminating the Palestinian people”. On 24 January, he said: “The Israeli military flails on the ground as it carries out acts of payback and revenge, relying on the air force, land-based and naval artillery to destroy infrastructure and kill the highest number of Palestinians possible.” Eriqat and his daughter welcomed her BBC colleague Jon Donnison to their home for dinner in May 2015.

In October 2023, the BBC apologised for Donnison’s on-air claim that it was hard to see what might have caused a blast at the al-Ahli hospital in Gaza other than an Israeli airstrike. The JC has revelaed that in 2012, Donnison passed off a picture of an injured Syrian girl as a “heartbreaking” image from Gaza.

The BBC may not have mentioned Eriqat’s PLO background, but he makes no secret of it. In an interview broadcast in 2014, which is still available online, he boasted that the “Palestinian artillery” that he led in Lebanon during the 1982 war was “the first Arab artillery force to reach Israel’s [strategic] depth” and that it had shelled “Zionist positions near the city of Acre”.

Eman Eriqat liked one of her father’ tweets during the Israel-Hamas conflict of May 2021 in which he said: “In Jerusalem Israeli prestige was broken, and our heroic people registered an accomplishment which armies fell short of.”

A CAMERA Arabic spokesman told the JC: “Wasef Eriqat’s inability to distinguish between civilians and combatants dates back to his own responsibility for attacks on northern Israel in the 1970s — as he himself indicated in a 2014 interview.

“Invited by BBC Arabic to contribute to its content over a dozen times since October 7, his current ‘military expert’ takes are similarly ignorant and repetitive and fail to meet the corporation’s professed standards of impartiality and accuracy.

“But without the due disclosure that he is a first relative of the same outlet’s Ramallah correspondent, what his BBC appearances seem to lack the most is transparency.”

A BBC spokesman said: “The BBC invites a range of contributors on our programmes as we are committed to hearing a broad spectrum of voices and perspectives, and as audiences expect, our journalists routinely question and challenge the views of contributors.

“As with all our services, BBC News Arabic is committed to achieving due impartiality across its output. Separately, being related to a BBC staff member does not preclude someone from appearing on our programmes to provide commentary.” Eman Eriqat did not respond to a request for comment.

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