Monday, August 3, 2015

A look at BBC reporting on Hamas youth camps

...BBC audiences’ understanding of the Middle East would of course have been enhanced considerably had Lyse Doucet elected to devote more than 52 seconds of coverage to the topic of Hamas’ organised paramilitary and theological indoctrination of children.

Hadar Sela..
BBC Watch..
03 August '15..

Readers may recall that last February we pondered the question “Is a BBC documentary about Hamas’ child soldiers upcoming?” after a Tweet from Lyse Doucet in which she noted that she was filming at a Hamas youth camp.

“Whether or not this is part of the documentary on children in the Gaza Strip about which Doucet was interviewed by the Guardian last September is not clear. It will however be interesting to see whether the opportunity is used to inform BBC audiences about Hamas’ use of child soldiers – including during the most recent conflict – and whether or not it will be clarified that one of the UN conventions signed by the Palestinian Authority in April 2014 was the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, according to which no soldier should be under the age of 18.”

Footage from that visit to a Hamas organized youth camp did appear in Lyse Doucet’s recent film titled “Children of the Gaza War” – for less than one minute. Doucet’s commentary during that segment was as follows:

“Some boys as young as Abdul Rahman [phonetic] take part in this first youth camp organized by Hamas’ military wing. It’s for men aged 15 to 21. Some are clearly younger and at the closing ceremony there’s younger still. For the outside world it’s hard to comprehend why parents would put children in situations like this. Hamas says the camps keep boys off the street and teach values and martial arts for defence. But the young also learn about weapons and hatred: it’s what Hamas calls a culture of resistance.”

Doucet’s categorisation of the camp’s participants as “men” is obviously questionable in relation to half its age range and the camp she attended was not the “first”. Seeing as the BBC is not averse to amplifying the Hamas narrative of ‘resistance’, one might perhaps have expected that Doucet would have seized this rare opportunity to expand on a subject usually avoided by the BBC in order to inform audiences more comprehensively about what that “culture of resistance” really means.

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