BBC launches probe into journalists over ‘backing Hamas’ on social media

BBC launches probe into journalists over ‘backing Hamas’ on social media

LONDON (AA) : The BBC has launched investigations into journalists working for its Arabic service in the Middle East over social media posts “justifying” killing of Israeli civilians by Hamas,” according to local media reports.

The British public service broadcaster has taken action after people questioned the impartiality of six reporters and a freelancer in their social media posts on X, accusing them of anti-Israel bias and celebrating Hamas attacks on social media.

One of the comments on one of the posts was reportedly saying: “morning of hope,” referring to the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel.

Senior broadcast journalist Mahmoud Sheleib, broadcast journalist Aya Hossam, correspondent Sally Nabil, Cairo-based Salma Khattab, Beirut-based religious affairs correspondent Sanaa Khouri, Beirut-based program editor Nada Abdelsamad, and Egypt All Sports, a company run by Amr Fekry, a sports correspondent and pundit at BBC Arabic, are among the seven reporters under investigation, daily MailOnline reported on Sunday.

The report added that the journalists have been taken off the air while the investigation is being carried out.

The Telegraph reported, citing the BBC, that Hossam is a freelancer and will no longer work for the corporation.

Ten days into the conflict with Palestinian group Hamas, Israeli bombardment and blockade of the Gaza Strip has continued, with over 1 million people – almost half the total population of Gaza – having been displaced, according to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

Gaza is experiencing a dire humanitarian crisis with no electricity, while water, food, fuel, and medical supplies are running out, as civilians flee to the south following Israeli warning to evacuate northern areas.

The fighting began when Hamas on Oct. 7 initiated Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, a multi-pronged surprise attack including a barrage of rocket launches and infiltrations into Israel via land, sea, and air. It said the incursion was in retaliation for the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and increased settler violence.

The Israeli military then launched Operation Swords of Iron against Hamas targets within the Gaza Strip.

The number of Palestinians killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza has risen to 2,750, including 750 children.

In Israel, 1,300 have been killed.

Lineker’s tweet

Earlier in March, the BBC was also embroiled in an impartiality controversy and that time over BBC sports presenter Gary Lineker’s criticism of the government’s asylum policy.

The dispute emerged after the Match of the Day presenter posted on X comparing the language of the policy to that used by Nazi Germany.

In response to Interior Minister Suella Braverman’s video message about stopping migrant boats, he tweeted: “Good heavens, this is beyond awful.”

Lineker dismissed Braverman’s claim that there was an influx of migrants to the UK, noting that the country takes far fewer refugees than other major European countries.

“This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in the language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s,” he wrote on X.

Lineker’s comments were widely criticized and praised by various segments of society. However, the BBC’s “impartiality rules” took the issue to a new level because the broadcaster was funded by a license fee paid by UK households.

BBC impartiality, license fees

Impartiality, which is a key point in the ongoing controversy, is among the principles that are listed on the BBC’s editorial guidelines.

“The BBC is committed to achieving due impartiality in all its output. This commitment is fundamental to our reputation, our values and the trust of audiences,” it says.

The public also pays the license fee for BBC shows and services, including TV, radio, the BBC website, podcasts, iPlayer, and apps.

Last year, the fee raised a total of £3.8 billion (over $4.5 billion), according to official data.

“In exchange for license fee money, the BBC is committed to providing public service broadcasting. According to its Royal Charter, this means its mission is “to act in the public interest” by providing “impartial, high-quality and distinctive” content, which will “inform, educate and entertain” everyone who pays the licence fee,” according to the BBC.