Ex-BBC director of television says broadcaster is ‘failing the public’ by refusing to call Hamas fighters ‘terrorists’ – as corporation comes under mounting pressure to change policy that ‘fuels anti-Jewish extremists’

  • BBC has constantly referred to Hamas  as a ‘militant’ group and ‘militant’ attack

The BBC’s former director of television joined voices today criticising the broadcaster for not calling the Hamas gunmen terrorists in news broadcasts.

Bulletins went out of their way to call them a ‘militant group’ and the appalling massacre a ‘militant attack’.

The terrorists are known to have murdered 700 Israelis so far in the outrage, which has been likened to 9/11.

Danny Cohen, the former director of television at the BBC, expressed disbelief at his former employer’s reluctance to label Hamas a terror group.

He said: ‘This is no time for the BBC or any other UK news organisation to call terrorism anything but what it is.

‘Having worked for the BBC, I understand the delicate balancing act it aims to perform. I also know that the BBC employs a great number of dedicated journalists, committed to their profession and their belief in the important role it plays in a healthy democracy.

Danny Cohen, the former director of television at the BBC, expressed disbelief at his former employer’s reluctance to label Hamas a terror group

Israeli police officers evacuate a woman and a child from a site hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, southern Israel

The BBC has been slammed for referring to Hamas, a terror group, as ‘militants’ and describing attacks as ‘militant attacks’

‘This is why it makes it even harder to understand why BBC News is unable to see something for what it is – and call it what it is, without prevarication, without qualification.

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‘Words matter. The BBC, and other UK news organisations, are failing the public when they fail to accurately report terrorism and war crimes for what they are,’ he wrote in the Telegraph.

Mr Cohen’s thoughts were echoed by human rights organisation The Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Director Michele Alkin said: ‘There has been a long, double standard by the BBC, as well as other media outlets, in terms of usage of the term ‘terrorist’ vis-a-vis Israel.

‘It is absolutely imperative there be one, fair standard used. Sadly, the Jewish State continues to be singled out.’  

Although the government classifies Hamas as a ‘single terrorist organisation’, the BBC referred to it as a ‘militant’ group and called the invasion a ‘militant’ attack.

Yesterday there was growing disquiet about the BBC’s refusal to use the word terrorist in reference to the attacks, which have seen the Islamist group inflict brutal violence on Israeli citizens.

A plume of smoke rises above buildings in Gaza City during an Israeli air strike in retaliation to Hamas terror attack on Saturday

An Israeli soldier directs a self-propelled howitzer near the southern city of Ashkelon

About 700 Israelis have reportedly been killed since the Palestinian terrorists crossed over into Israel from the Gaza Strip in a surprise assault. 

One BBC online report described a warning that ‘Hamas militants from Gaza are still fighting’ in Israel.

Another said Israeli security forces were carrying out operations to rescue hostages ‘taken by Palestinian militants’.

The choice of language comes despite shocking footage of the way innocent civilians were targeted in the attack.

A video showed a student screaming ‘Don’t kill me!’ after being seized at an outdoor peace festival and driven off on a motorbike by a gunman.

Fire and smoke rise following an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City, after the terror attack by Hamas

Former Tory Party chairman Eric Pickles said the broadcaster’s coverage had been ‘universally biased and dreadful’.

He added: ‘Hamas is a terrorist organisation. They are breaking into civilian homes and murdering children. 

‘It is beyond belief that the one place you look for balance, the BBC, is not delivering coverage that is fair, balanced or reasonable. 

‘They need to get their act together.’ Stephen Pollard, the editor-at-large of the Jewish Chronicle newspaper, described the corporation as being an ‘utter disgrace these last 24 hours’.

A BBC spokesman said: ‘We reported the Hamas attacks and the response by Israel in line with the BBC’s editorial guidelines. We have included contributors who have condemned the attackers as terrorists.’

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