This week there has been a lot of discussion about Israel and the Palestinians following Israel’s military operation in Jenin. Israel had every right under international law to deal with terrorists organisations that threaten their civilian population and have over the past year killed dozens of Israeli civilians, including women and children.

Sadly, misinformation has spread even, it seems, from the mouths of BBC presenters. You may have heard of the incident where a BBC presenter said “Israel is happy to kill children” (you can read more about that story here), but this article covers a different story relating to the BBC where a Diplomatic Correspondent appeared to suggest that attacks by Palestinian terrorists against Israeli civilians were because those civilians are part of “the occupation”. Which at the very least is problematic.

The incident in question took place on the 3 July 2023 episode of World At One on BBC Radio 4. Presenter Sarah Montague covers the story of Israel’s military operation in Jenin. She interviews a commander in the IDF who defends Israel’s cause and then interviews the Palestinian envoy to the UK, Husam Zomlot who makes some outrageous claims. He tries to claim that Israel is attempting to wipe out Jenin, he refuses to call terrorism by its name and instead gives their actions legitimacy. However, Zomlot is not the issue for this article.

The incident where a BBC Correspondent may have justified terror attacks against civilians occurred when Paul Adams, BBC’s Diplomatic Correspondent, was asked by the host Sarah Montague to “shed some light” on the situation after the two conflicting arguments from the Israeli and Palestinian diplomats.

Adams’ response started off positively, saying: “Let’s be clear, this clearly is a military operation aimed very specifically at a group of… mostly very young gunmen who are completely outside the control of the Palestinian Authority. Whatever Mr Zomlot might want to say, these gunmen, these Jenin brigades, they’re not under the control of the Palestinian Authority and they are responsible for carrying out operations which have targeted Israeli civilians.”

Good start, Adams points out that Israel is conducting a military operation (despite Zomlot’s lies and hysteria to the contrary) against terrorists. These terrorists threaten Israel’s civilian population and have carried out numerous attacks. Therefore, Israel, under international law, has the right to deal with this direct threat to its citizens in a military operation against them. Adams also rightly said the PA has no control over the Jenin camp.

However, Adams then explains how the Israeli military put out an infographic highlighting where the terror attacks against Israeli civilians have taken place in recent months. The infographic shows that most of the attacks against Israelis happen within Judea and Samaria (West Bank).

He says Palestinian terror attacks are “overwhelmingly in the West Bank.” Then he says the problematic line: “What these people [terrorists] are targeting is ‘The Occupation’, and that includes the Israeli army, but it also of course includes Jewish settlements. And that’s why Israeli civilians living in contravention of international law, in settlements, are often targeted by these gunmen,” Adams says.

Is he saying what we think he is saying?

Adams is seemingly justifying Palestinian terror attacks against Israeli civilians living in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) because they are ‘The Occupation’ and because they are allegedly living there “in contravention of international law”.

If this is what Adams is saying, then this is WRONG.

According to International Law, civilians are NOT a justifiable target. Regardless if they are civilians living in places that are deemed illegal or not and regardless of whether they belong to an alleged “occupying power”.

Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court expressly deals with “War Crimes” and states that targeting civilians is a war crime, regardless of whether they are part of an occupying force (which Israel is not).

Article 8 states the following acts are war crimes:

i. Intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities;

Let’s break down some of these attacks against Israeli civilians in Judea and Samaria since the beginning of the year that Adams was referring to.

On 7 April 2023, three members of the Dee family, a mother and two of her children, were gunned down by Palestinian terrorists as they drove their car on Highway 57, just outside Hamra, a so-called ‘West Bank settlement’.

The BBC should note this was not targeting the so-called “Occupation”, this was a war crime.

On 10 February 2023, a Palestinian terrorist rammed his car into Israeli civilians at a bus stop in Jerusalem’s Ramot neighbourhood killing three people, including a 6-year-old and 8-year-old brothers. Here are their pictures so you can see what the BBC defined as, “targeting… the occupation.”

This attack occurred in what the BBC would classify as ‘East Jerusalem’ and, therefore, part of the so-called ‘Occupied West Bank’.

We could go on with numerous more attacks, but we think you get the picture. These attacks against Israeli civilians are war crimes carried out by Palestinian terrorists.

That’s not according to us, that’s according to the Rome Statute, which is a treaty of the International Criminal Court, an organ of the United Nations, that has been adopted by 123 countries including the United Kingdom.

There is no justification for these attacks. There is no equivalence for these attacks and the military operation Israel conducted in Jenin this week. There is also no comparison with civilians being killed accidentally in a war zone to civilians being killed on purpose because they are the chosen targets of terrorists.

The BBC often uses international law and what the UN says as excuses for its reporting. They won’t call PIJ terrorists because the UN doesn’t call them that, despite the UK itself defining them as terrorists. However, they have repeatedly failed to actually say what the United Nations own resolutions and international law says on this issue.

Israel is fighting terror, the terrorists are murdering Israeli civilians; it should not be hard for the BBC to understand right from wrong. We hope Adams is not implying that civilians are “the occupation” and are therefore allowed to be targeted by terrorists. But the way he worded it is at the very least problematic, and may even point to a wider issue with the BBC and the wider international community because they are seemingly willing to bend the rules of international law against Israel and in favour of the Palestinians.

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