BBC won’t refer to Hamas as ‘terrorists’ after Cameron call

The BBC will not refer to Hamas as a ‘terrorist organisation’ after UK Foreign Minister David Cameron called on the media group to use the term when referring to the Palestinian Islamist movement.

The public broadcaster said on Monday it will only use to word ‘terrorist’ when quoting official sources in order to maintain its duty of objective reporting. 

“No one consuming BBC News can be left unaware of the horrific nature of Hamas’s acts,” the BBC told The Guardian.

“We’ve made our long-standing position on this matter very clear. We use the word ‘terrorist’ when it is attributed to others, such as the UK Government.”

It comes after Cameron urged the BBC to refer to Hamas as a “terrorist organisation” after the group confirmed last week the death of a British-Israeli man Nadav Popewell held hostage in Gaza in an Israeli airstrike.

“Like everyone else, I watched the video on Twitter, X, last night, put out by Hamas of Nadav answering a question as to who he was. And I watched that video and you just think, what callous people they are to do that, to play with the family’s emotions in that way,” Cameron told Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday.

“Maybe it’s a moment actually for the BBC to ask itself again, shall we describe these people as terrorists? They are terrorists.”

The UK government has proscribed Hamas’s political and armed wings as a ‘terrorist organisation‘ with MPs from the governing Conservative Party calling on the BBC to refer to the group this way in their reporting despite its commitment to impartial coverage of news.

Veteran BBC journalist John Simpson warned against the public broadcaster against buckling to government pressure.

“Terrorism is a loaded word, which people use about an outfit they disapprove of morally,” he said.

“It’s simply not the BBC’s job to tell people who to support and who to condemn – who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.”

The war on Gaza began after Hamas’s 7 October attacks on southern Israel, killing around 1,100 people, which followed months of brutal Israeli raids in the West Bank.

Since then, Israel has launched a bloody assault on the enclave, controlled by Hamas, killing over 35,000 people, mostly women and children.

Hamas won a general election in 2006, but the results were not recognised by the UK and other Western countries, resulting in clashes between Fatah and the Islamist movement.

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