The BBC stands accused of disseminating an antisemitic blood libel after a news anchor claimed IDF soldiers “are happy to kill children” in a segment about Israel’s counterterrorism operation in Jenin.
During an interview with former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday evening, BBC anchorwoman Anjana Gadgil accused the IDF of deliberately targeting minors.
“The UN has defined them as children and we know that four people between the ages of 16 and 18 have been killed in this targeted attack—let’s not forget this is a targeted attack,” Gadgil stated, alleging that “the Israeli forces are going in looking for these people.”
“But these are terrorists,” Bennett retorted. “You know, a 17-year-old terrorist can murder civilians. There’s a fundamental difference between what they’re doing, which is explicitly and deliberately targeting civilians, and what we’re doing, which is targeting terrorists. That’s exactly the opposite. We’re doing the right thing; they’re killing civilians.
“The fact that you’re creating this moral equivalence or even worse. I think it’s unacceptable,” the former premier added.
המראיינת מה-BBC העזה לטעון בפניי ש״חיילי צה״ל שמחים להרוג ילדים״ (!).
ממש במילים אלה.
צפו בתשובה שלי.
(מתוך ראיון שלי הערב ל-BBC). pic.twitter.com/RUTZfdmAfo
— Naftali Bennett בנט (@naftalibennett) July 4, 2023
The Israeli military began a major counterterror operation in Jenin in the early hours of Monday, including the entry into the Samaria city of significant ground forces. More than 1,000 IDF troops participated in the campaign, which is believed to be the largest deployment in Judea and Samaria in two decades.
The IDF said on Tuesday it had killed 12 PA Arabs, all of them terrorists. At least two of them were younger than 18; Majdi Arawi and Ali al-Ghoul were both claimed by the Islamic Jihad terrorist group.
“This isn’t journalism, it’s a blood libel,” commented the pro-Israel media watchdog group HonestReporting. “What a despicable accusation.”
“The malice in such an accusation can’t be overstated,” said the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA). “Whatever her intent, it’s precisely this kind of language which fuels toxic antisemitic tropes accusing Jews of murdering non-Jewish children.”
The Board of Deputies of British Jews called Gadgil’s remarks a “clear breach of the Corporation’s own guidelines” and said it would contact the BBC’s director-general to protest “in the strongest possible terms.”
Update: According the TheJC.com, a BBC spokesperson apologized (sort of), though as of now, there is no official apology posted on the BBC website.
The spokesperson reportedly told The JC, “The complaints raised relate to specific interview questions about the deaths of young people in the Jenin refugee camp… The United Nations raised the issue of the impact of the operation in Jenin on children and young people… While this was a legitimate subject to examine in the interview, we apologise that the language used in this line of questioning was not phrased well and was inappropriate.”
They could have been done better.