Friday 1 December 2023

Platforms of peaceful protest - no easy travel for the people of Gaza

Grand Central, NYC
Alongside the multiple millions marching across the world in support of Gaza, some of the most effective spectacles have been the protest and ‘die-in’ actions at train stations and other travel hubs. 

Some of the public may reasonably ask, “why here”? And the answer is very simple. 

It’s not actually about creating disruption or inconvenience to the public.  

It’s to invite people of good conscience to stop for a moment, to take a minute from their own travels, and reflect upon the trapped people in Gaza and the inhuman constraints on their basic ability to travel. 

Oslo Station
Many such demonstrations have now been held across major international cities, from New York's Grand Central to London's Liverpool Street, from Oslo Station to Edinburgh Waverley, from Manchester Piccadilly to Glasgow Queen Street. A similar display of solidarity has been staged inside the Europa Bus Station, Belfast.  

How easy it is for us to go to a train station, a bus station, an airport, a port, to do all the normal travel things that people do. Yet that right to travel and return, a fundamental human right, has been denied to the people of Gaza since 2006 under Israel’s brutal and illegal siege. 

Just think what that must be like, to be caged in a concentration camp, to grow up knowing that you may never get the chance to leave, to visit family, to have a holiday, to wander the earth and enjoy the same basic life experiences as others. 

What kind of regime could impose such wicked restrictions on an entire population?

And now, under Israel’s genocidal plan, the only direction of travel for Gazans is into the Sinai wilderness, to live in tent cities, 2.4 million people banished from their land, refugees again, back on the ‘Nakba road’, bombed to oblivion as they go. 

The known statistics (almost certainly underestimated) are truly staggering: over 15,000 people slaughtered in 7 weeks, almost half of them children, the greatest concentration of state-directed killing in modern times. Over 36,000 have been injured. Many more will die from lack of medical attention. Thousands more lives lie ruined. 1.7 million people are now completely displaced. 70 journalists have also been murdered by the regime.

Crammed into southern Gaza - the torture countdown to the end of Israel's 'humanitarian pause' now passed - the mass murder has started again, with over 175  more souls wiped out on the first day. The media make cursory note of the numbers, the 'normalisation' of mass victims - what's another 175 when set against the many thousands. Astounding levels of killing, all shrouded in criminal silence from the US/UK/EU, the regime's most complicit backers.  

Might moral-minded travellers take a moment from their own daily commute to stop and think what all this must be like - to try and comprehend the scale of such cruelty, the savage treatment of an entire people? 

Edinburgh Waverley

When travelling back to their comfortable homes and humble abodes at night, might they think about the apocalyptic scenes across Gaza: the scorched landscape of pulverised homes, refugee camps, UN schools, hospitals, mosques, churches and playgrounds, all reduced to rubble, so many children still lying under it. 

The scale of it all leaves many simply lost for words. The massacre of entire families in apartment blocks. In the West Bank too, the open slaying of small children in the street. Scenes of incomprehensible barbarism and suffering. The sheer wickedness of what we're seeing before our eyes is hard to even process. We can but echo those plaintive words from the heart of darkness: "the horror, the horror." 

For far-right religious zealot Bezalel Smotrich, party to Netanyahu's sordid coalition, Western countries should accept Gazan families 'wishing to relocate': "I welcome the initiative of the voluntary emigration of Gaza Arabs to countries around the world," he asserts.

Whatever the pain and carnage, whatever the historic loss of life, whatever this latest threat of mass ethnic cleansing, whatever the genocide, the people of Gaza will never heed this fascistic call to travel. They will never be forced into exile by their oppressor regime. There will be a return. Palestine will never die.  

These gatherings at stations are a statement of support for the caged, the bombed, the suffering of Gaza.

May homeward passengers on Western platforms with return tickets come to understand the existential fear Gazans have of never being able to return to their own homes, their streets, their land again.

Manchester Piccadilly

Let us show our concern, our empathy, our love for the trapped and heroic people of Gaza, for the occupied, brutalised and movement-restricted people of the West Bank, and for all Palestinians living under this ruthless apartheid system. 

Let us stand, and sit, and recite moving Gaza Monologues at train stations and anywhere else we have a ready platform to be the voice of the oppressed, calling-out this horror regime. 

Let us work to ensure that, from the ruins, a renewed Gaza will some day rise, where liberated people will be able to stand, like anyone else, at a train station - as they once did, long ago - and partake in the normal travels of life. 

And as we express our solidarity at these locations, let us follow them in their own ultimate direction of travel, towards their real destination, a land of justice and equality for all, where, from river to sea, safe to travel, safe to raise the children, safe from genocidal fear, Palestinians will all one day be truly free.

Thursday 23 November 2023

BBC headline claim on October 7 deaths is clear disinformation and a dangerous deception - Part 3

Further exchange with BBC (previous correspondence here and here). 


Enquiry now raised to Stage 2 level for consideration by the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit (ECU). 

From the BBC

22 November 2023 

Dear Mr Hilley,

Ref: CAS-7679120-B1Y1G2-1

Thank you for getting in touch again about BBC News.

The BBC’s Editorial Guidelines refer to due accuracy and due impartiality, which is to say the accuracy and impartiality must be adequate and appropriate to the output, taking account of the subject and nature of the content, the likely audience expectation and any signposting that may influence.

What other media outlets report is a matter for them, but we will monitor developments about the killings as the story unfolds.


This concludes Stage 1 of our complaints process. That means we can’t correspond with you further here. If you remain unhappy, you can now contact the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit (ECU). The ECU is Stage 2 of the BBC’s complaints process. You’ll need to explain why you think there’s a potential breach of standards, or if the issue is significant and should still be investigated. Please do so within 20 working days of this reply.

Full details of how we handle complaints are available at

How to contact the ECU:

We’ve provided a unique link for you in this email. This will open up further information about how to submit your complaint. You’ll be asked for the case reference number we’ve provided in this reply. Once you’ve used the link and submitted your complaint, the link will no longer work.

This is your link to contact the ECU if you wish: 

Click Here


Best wishes,

Sean Moss

Assistant Editor

News Editorial Standards 


To the Executive Complaints Unit (ECU)

23 November 2023

Ref: CAS-7679120-B1Y1G2-1

The BBC have reported, without any apparent challenge, both of Israel’s claims that Hamas killed 1400/1200 people on and around 7 October. 

Two initial questions arise here. Aren’t both these numbers too precisely rounded, and therefore  suspect? And why take Israel’s claims alone without corroborating evidence?

The more specific point of my enquiry concerns the people who were not killed by Hamas on and around 7 October. It’s about the people killed by Israeli forces. 

Strong, available evidence indicates that Israeli forces killed a significant number of Israelis on and around 7 October. 

That key information is not stated in the repeated BBC headline that “Hamas killed 1400/1200 people”. 

Further to my previous references, please see this well-informed article, drawing together all the main sources and evidence, to date.

Whatever one thinks about what happened on those days, the claim that Hamas alone killed 1400/1200 Israelis has not been verified, and therefore cannot be justified as a BBC headline/statement. 

The BBC has clearly been reproducing a crucial untruth in publishing and broadcasting this unverified claim. 

I have written in my previous correspondence with the BBC about the key implications of this in terms of fostering public perceptions of the 7 October events, and, most crucially, what Israel has gone on to do in Gaza. 

In all such senses the BBC has a responsibility to convey clear and accurate information. This headline claim is clear disinformation. 

I wish the ECU to consider why the BBC decided to use, and continues to use, the wording “Hamas killed 1400/1200 people”. 

I wish the ECU to consider my request that the BBC withdraw this headline/statement with immediate effect. 

I wish the ECU to consider my request that the BBC issue a prominent statement conceding their culpability in producing and repeating this misleading headline, and issue a properly informed replacement headline/statement.

Sunday 19 November 2023

BBC headline claim on October 7 deaths is clear disinformation and a dangerous deception - Part 2

Further exchange with BBC

(Initial complaint here)

Friday, 17 November 2023

Reference CAS-7679120-B1Y1G2

Dear Mr Hilley

Thank you for contacting us about the BBC News website.

We note your concerns regarding our recent coverage of the current situation in the Middle East.

I can assure you that BBC News always aims for the highest standards of accuracy and impartiality when reporting, and we do aim to report accurate, impartial and comprehensive coverage likely to be of interest to our readers.

The bullet points within our live reporting pages aim to summarise some of the main aspects of our coverage - with more detailed information being provided across our articles:

BBC News has provided our global audiences with coverage and first-hand testimony of the atrocities committed by Hamas, and the suffering in Gaza. We have made clear the devastating human cost to civilians living in Israel and Gaza, and the unprecedented nature of what has happened. The huge loss of civilian life on both sides makes this a shocking and difficult story to cover. 

Our correspondents have been to the scenes of attacks, massacres and potential war crimes; and reported on the harrowing scenes they have witnessed. 

We have reported on the atrocities committed by Hamas in their assault on Israel and have heard many accounts from survivors of these attacks and family members of the victims, reflecting the trauma they are suffering. 

On the ground in Gaza our teams have reported on the rising death toll from Israeli air strikes and the unfolding humanitarian crisis, as first-hand testimony of the atrocities committed by Hamas, and the suffering in Gaza. water supplies are cut and thousands try to move out of the way of danger.

We have reflected statements from the UN and NGOs. We have interviewed representatives of the Israeli government, Hamas and UK government ministers and asked whether international law is being adhered to.

BBC News has also examined the history and complexities of the Israel-Palestinian conflict and analysed the potential consequences of the war for the wider region. Our reporting has included opinions from all sides, the region and the wider world. 

We have previously covered the escalation in tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, and the reasons for it.

Careful consideration has been given to all aspects of our coverage to ensure that we report on developments accurately and with due impartiality in line with the BBC Editorial Guidelines, which are publicly available.

We know that our audiences turn to us for clarity and to help them separate fact from fake. We know that trust is earned and we do not take that for granted. 

BBC News Chief Executive Deborah Turness has published a blog which addresses some of the concerns about our coverage:

We do value your feedback about this. All complaints are sent to senior management and we’ve included your points in our overnight report. These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the company and ensures that your concerns have been seen by the right people quickly. This helps inform their decisions about current and future content.

Many thanks again for getting in touch.

Kind regards,

Darren Loughlin 

BBC Complaints Team 


Sunday, 19 November 2023

Reference CAS-7679120-B1Y1G2

Dear Darren Loughlin 

Thank you for responding to my complaint, however belatedly. 

As expected, this is a typical piece of BBC obfuscation, littered with loaded and imbalanced language. 

You write:

“On the ground in Gaza our teams have reported on the rising death toll from Israeli air strikes and the unfolding humanitarian crisis, as first-hand testimony of the atrocities committed by Hamas, and the suffering in Gaza.”

Why is one simply “Israeli air strikes”, and the other “atrocities committed by Hamas”? Why not also use “atrocities” to describe what Israel has done in Gaza? Where is the equivalence of language? 

Why are the BBC still saying "Hamas killed 1200 people" (the now reduced figure) when there is strong and mounting evidence to contest this claim?

For example:

“It’s almost six weeks since Hamas went into Southern Israel and killed 1200 Israelis”. 

(Victoria Derbyshire, Newsnight, 16 November 2023.)

Some other BBC captions now appear more circumspect: 

“Israel began striking Gaza after Hamas's 7 October attacks, in which 1,200 people were killed and more than 200 taken hostage”

This appears to leave the question of the killing more 'open-ended', but still lacking any indication that Israeli forces were also responsible. 

And after over 6 weeks of slaughter in Gaza, any such amended wording comes far too late for helping to halt the killing spree which BBC statements like these have helped to drive.   

There is now clear evidence that Israeli forces killed an unspecified number of its own people during the 7 October events. 

This has been further confirmed in witness statements carried by Haaretz and other Israeli media.

Where are the BBC's own investigative reports on this?

Please see also:

Do the BBC dispute this evidence? If so, please state why. If not, then they have a clear obligation to report such evidence, and to remove any false and misleading headlines or annotations.   

I need a full and open reply to my initial enquiry.  Having failed to address these substantive points, I wish to have my case elevated to a higher stage for further examination. 

Kind regards 

John Hilley