The UK-based BBC apologized on Wednesday evening after its news anchor in an interview with former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that the Israel Defense Forces are "happy to kill children."
News presenter Anjana Gadgil made the comments on Tuesday evening during the discussion with Bennett about Israel’s operation in Jenin.
“The Israeli military are calling this a military operation, but we now know that young people are being killed, four of them under 18 – is that really what the military set out to do?” the BBC anchor asked.
“Quite the contrary,” Bennett responded. “All 11 people dead there are militants. The fact that there’s young terrorists that decide to hold arms is their responsibility. Over the past year, we’ve had over 50 Israelis murdered, in many cases by terrorists that were sent from Jenin - armed, trained and sent to murder Israelis.”
“Jenin has become an epicenter of terror, so unfortunately we had to enter this hornet’s nest of terror and neutralize the terrorists,” he added. “All the Palestinians that were killed are terrorists in this case.”
In an unusual response, Gadgil replied: “Terrorists, but children – the Israeli forces are happy to kill children.”
“If there’s a 17-year-old Palestinian that’s shooting at your family, what is he?” Bennett asked. “The UN has defined them as children,” the anchor replied.
The BBC issued the apology after it received "comments and complaints" about the interview, including from Jewish groups.
“Across the BBC’s platforms – including the BBC News channel – these events have been covered in an impartial and robust way. The United Nations raised the issue of the impact of the operation in Jenin on children and young people. While this was a legitimate subject to examine in the interview, we apologize that the language used in this line of questioning was not phrased well and was inappropriate,” said the BBC's statement, issued from the office of Director-General, Tim Davie.
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chairman of the European Jewish Association, in a letter to Davie said that an "assertion such as 'the Israeli forces are happy to kill children” cannot possibly meet the standards of journalistic probity that the BBC is world renowned for. This blatant untruth, heavily loaded with emotion, and sinisterly reminiscent of the blood libel that has plagued Jewish communities over millennia, was broadcast to a potential audience of millions and articulated by a BBC News Anchor Anjana Gadjil in an interview with former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett."
"Happy to kill children? What a disgusting accusation to make about a country whose armed forces go to enormous lengths to avoid civilian casualties. These children? They are 17- and 18-year-old armed terrorists out to kill Israeli soldiers and civilians! Sir, this cannot stand. Such a blatant lie is not befitting of journalism, much less the code of conduct of the BBC. We urge you to reprimand Anjana Gadjil and retract the assertion as soon as possible."
As of Wednesday evening Gadjil had closed her Twitter account.
First published: 20:33, 07.05.23