The corporation will now call the group a ‘proscribed terrorist organisation’ by the UK Government or others.
BBC News has faced huge criticism over its refusal to describe Hamas fighters as terrorists, even though the Home Office classifies the group as a ‘terrorist organisation’. The broadcaster, which has cited its editorial guidelines as the reason for refusing to use the word terrorist, had previously been calling the fighters ‘militants’. It also described the slaughter of Israeli civilians as a ‘militant’ attack.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis had accused the BBC of trying to ‘wilfully mislead’, while a string of politicians attacked the BBC over its choice of words.
But a statement by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, after it met BBC director-general Tim Davie and other bosses yesterday, revealed the BBC had stopped using the word ‘militants’. It said: ‘The BBC confirmed it was committed to continued dialogue. It also confirmed it is no longer BBC practice to call Hamas militants.
Instead, the BBC describes the group as a proscribed terrorist organisation by the UK Government or others, or simply as Hamas.’
The new measure stops short of the BBC describing Hamas fighters as terrorists in its own words.
The Board of Deputies, the biggest Jewish community organisation in the UK, said the ‘BBC was left in no doubt as to the strength of feeling in the Jewish community’. Mr Davie said: ‘The BBC is committed to continuing dialogue through this period.’ Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl said: ‘We emphasised our outrage at the refusal of the BBC to describe Hamas’s barbaric actions as terrorism and the damaging, false report of the rocket which killed innocent civilians. We will both continue dialogue as well as pursuing legal avenues.’
Explaining the decision to drop the term ‘militant’, a spokesman for the BBC said: ‘What the BBC does not do is use the word terrorist without attributing it, nor do we ban words.
‘We also confirmed that for some days we had not been using ‘militant’ as a default description for Hamas, as we have been finding this a less accurate description as the situation evolves.’