BBC Under Fire for Not Labelling Hamas ‘Terrorists’

BBC Faces Criticism Over Neutrality.

BBC faces criticism over neutrality. Credit: William Barton/

THE BBC has faced strong criticism for its efforts to maintain impartiality in its reporting of the crisis in Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Following the recent devastating attacks on Israel resulting in over 1,000 casualties, the BBC has found itself at the centre of controversy. Nick Robinson, a prominent presenter of BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme, has stepped forward to address the broadcaster’s decision not to label Hamas as ‘terrorists.’

Robinson Defends BBC’s Stance

Robinson stated on the social media platform X: ‘No one watching the reporting of my BBC colleagues in Israel can have any doubt of the horror of what has happened. I understand entirely why some want the word ‘terrorism’ used. It is, though, the long-standing practice of BBC, ITV & Sky to report others using that language rather than using it ourselves.’

Robinson gave a valid reason for the decision: ‘We have brave colleagues reporting from Israel and Gaza and, indeed, many other war zones around the world who come under huge pressure to use labels to describe the “enemy” & whose safety depends on them being seen to be impartial.’

He concluded: ‘Whatever your view I hope you recognise that it is thanks to the reporting of my colleagues that so many know the full horror of the mass murders that have been carried out. The stories of the victims & those left behind are being told fully and bravely every day on BBC News.’

BBC Face Political Backlash

High-profile Conservative figures, including Defence Secretary Grant Shapps and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, have been vocal in their criticism of the BBC’s stance.

In response to this, John Simpson, a senior BBC foreign and world affairs correspondent, defended the broadcaster. Simpson remarked: ‘British politicians know perfectly well why the BBC avoids the word “terrorist,” and over the years plenty of them have privately agreed with it.

‘Calling someone a terrorist means you’re taking sides and ceasing to treat the situation with due impartiality. The BBC’s job is to place the facts before its audience and let them decide what they think, honestly and without ranting. That’s why, in Britain and throughout the world, nearly half a billion people watch, listen to and read us. There’s always someone who would like us to rant. Sorry, it’s not what we do.’

UK Government’s View On Hamas

On November 26, 2021, the UK Government officially announced: ‘The Islamist terrorist group Hamas has today become a proscribed terrorist organisation in the UK in its entirety, following Parliament’s approval of an Order which was laid in Parliament on Friday [November 19].

‘This means that members of Hamas or those who invite support for the group could be jailed for up to 14 years,’ it concluded.

Former BBC Journalist’s Opinion

However, former BBC journalist Jon Sopel criticised the broadcaster, suggesting that the editorial guidelines are outdated and inadvertently ‘sanitise’ the situation.

Rather than use words such as terrorist, The BBC prefer to use specific descriptors like ‘bomber’, ‘attacker’, or ‘militant’. The broadcaster reiterated that its duty is to maintain objectivity, enabling viewers to draw their own conclusions.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.