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The BBC has removed several Middle East reporters from the air amid allegations that they posted support for Hamas in its terrorist attacks on Israel.
BBC News Arabic reporters — including those reporting out of Egypt and Lebanon — appeared to back Palestinians or criticize the Jewish state in posts they either tweeted or liked, the Financial Times reported.
One of the reporters liked a message that appeared to describe Hamas terrorists as “freedom fighters,” the outlet reported.
“We are urgently investigating this matter,” said a rep for the BBC, which is already under fire for refusing to refer to Hamas as terrorists.
“We take allegations of breaches of our editorial and social media guidelines with the utmost seriousness, and if and when we find breaches we will act, including taking disciplinary action.”
The FT report said six BBC journalists had been taken off the air, though they have not been formally suspended pending a probe.
However, a separate report in the Wrap put the number at seven, including a senior broadcast journalist and a freelancer.
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The alleged social media activity included the liking of a tweeted video of bodies and kidnapped people being loaded onto a vehicle with a caption reading “proud moment” and another saying Israelis “will live as a thief and a usurper,” the Wrap reported.
The outlet based it on a report by the watchdog Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis, or Camera, which identified the seven reportedly yanked from the air.
They were Mahmoud Sheleib, a senior broadcast journalist, freelancer Aya Hossam, correspondent Sally Nabil, Cairo-based Salma Khattab, Beirut-based religious affairs correspondent Sanaa Khouri, Beirut-based editor Nada Abdelsamad and Amr Fekry, a sports correspondent and pundit at BBC Arabic, according to the report.
The BBC has already faced scrutiny over its position on Hamas from politicians demanding changes to its editorial policy on referring to the terrorists as militants.
On Monday, Downing Street insisted that the word “terrorists” was appropriate given that Hamas’ unprecedented attack on Israel was the third-deadliest terrorist attack since the 1970s.
“A number of reporting organizations are accurately describing Hamas as a terrorist group. I think accuracy is important in all circumstances,” a UK government spokesperson said, according to the Financial Times.
The broadcaster has argued that as an editorially independent organization, its role is to report the news so the public can reach its own judgments.