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BBC raps presenter for comment on Israeli child killings

25 June 2018 13:45

BBC has found its presenter Andrew Marr guilty of breaching editorial guidelines for commenting during his flagship Sunday morning program that Israel has killed “lots of Palestinian kids.”

The broadcaster issued the unprecedented ruling against one of its most senior personalities after a complaint was filed against Marr over his comment during a discussion about a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria during the April 8 edition of The Andrew Marr Show.

“And the Middle East is aflame again. I mean there’s lots of Palestinian kids being killed further south as well by Israeli forces,” the veteran presenter said, referring to clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Irked by Marr’s remark, anti-Semitism campaigner Jonathan Sacerdoti complained that Marr’s remarks were “incorrect” and “unrelated” to the topic of Syria.

“He stated there’s a lot of Palestinian kids being killed further south by Israeli forces,” Sacerdoti’s complaint said.

“This is completely incorrect and is made up. This was irrelevant to the conversation on Syria… and also actually completely false.”

The BBC producers had referred to the fact that five “younger people” had been killed between the beginning of the year and the date of the program and that several Palestinian children and younger people had been killed in the week following the broadcast, but the campaigner argued that later events could not be used to justify Marr’s remarks.

The mother (C) of Palestinian Ibrahim Abu Shaer, killed by Israeli forces near the fence between the Gaza Strip and the occupied territories, mourns during his funeral in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on March 31, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

The BBC’s head of executive complaints, Fraser Steel, took the side of Sacerdoti in a letter.

“In the absence of any evidence to support the reference to ‘lots’ of children being killed at the time of transmission, it seems to us to have risked misleading audiences on a material point,” he said.

“We therefore propose to uphold this part of your complaint.”

At least 130 Palestinians, including 14 children, have been killed by Israeli forces since the “March of Return” rallies began in the Gaza Strip on March 30. About 13,300 Palestinians have sustained injuries, of them 300 are currently in critical condition.

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