BBC defends reporter accused of ‘twisting’ story about death of Palestinian

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BBC defends reporter accused of ‘twisting’ story about death of Palestinian

Broadcaster said Tom Bateman's tweet 'clearly reflects' a statement put out by the IDF on the incident

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Tom Bateman's tweet about Muhammad Issa Abbas didn't include context according to critics such as actress Tracy-Ann Oberman
Tom Bateman's tweet about Muhammad Issa Abbas didn't include context according to critics such as actress Tracy-Ann Oberman

The BBC has defended a social media post made by its Middle East correspondent Tom Bateman, after he was accused of “twisting” the background behind the shooting of Palestinian man by Israeli troops.

On Thursday Bateman tweeted: “Israeli soldiers have shot dead a 26-year-old Palestinian man – Muhammad Issa Abbas, killed last night near al-Amari refugee camp.

“IDF says they fired on a gunman who’d shot at them from a car. Palestinian health ministry says he was shot in the back and died in hospital.”

A BBC spokesperson said the tweet “clearly reflects” a statement put out by the IDF on the incident – and added the corporation “reports impartiality and without fear or favour.”

Multiple reports from Israel told how Abbas was shot after he opened fire on Israeli troops on Wednesday at a refugee camp near to Ramallah.

The IDF said that troops had entered the city’s al-Bireh neighbourhood to arrest a number of Palestinians who had approached the nearby Israeli settlement of Psagot.

The Palestinian Health Ministry has reported that Abbas had been shot in the back near the al-Amari refugee camp in Ramallah.

Photographs subsequently emerged of Abbas surrounded by at least three large firearms.

After he was shot Hamas, with who Abbas is claimed to have been a member, posted tributes on social media describing him as a “martyr” after his death.

Michael Dickson, executive director of Stand With Us, tweeted a photograph of the dead Palestinian brandishing three large guns, and wrote:” Nothing to see here, just the BBC’s Middle East Correspondent @tombateman twisting the story to illicit sympathy for a terrorist.”

Television actress Tracy-Ann Oberman was amongst those to criticise Bateman’s tweet.

She posted a tweet saying:”Tom why didn’t you tell the WHOLE story?

“Is this official @BBCNews remit now ? Stoke hatred both domestic and internationally with click bait poorly filled out news ?”

The BBC’s Middle East Correspondent had previously attracted criticism over his reporting of the violent conflict between Israel and Hamas back in May, where he was accused of glossing over missile attacks into Israel, and focusing on the pounding of Gaza by Israeli troops.

He has also faced claims that his BBC World Service radio reports have favoured the Hamas narrative over that of Israel’s.

Asked about Bateman’s tweet a BBC spokesperson told Jewish News: “The tweet clearly reflects the statement from the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) that the troops fired on a gunman who had shot at them from a car. The BBC reports impartiality and without fear or favour”.

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