On August 20th the BBC News website’s Middle East page published a tongue-in-cheek article under the headline “Hamas ‘seizes Israeli spy dolphin’ off Gaza“.
“Hamas claims to have captured a dolphin being used as an Israeli spy off the coast of Gaza, local media report.
The militant Palestinian Islamist group, which dominates Gaza, says the mammal was equipped with spying devices, including cameras, according to the newspaper Al-Quds (in Arabic).
It was apparently discovered by a naval unit of Hamas’s military wing and brought ashore.
No photographs of the alleged marine secret agent have been released.
Al-Quds said that the newest recruit was “stripped of its will” and turned into “a murderer” by the Israeli security services.
It shows the extent of Israel’s “anger” and “indignation” at the formation of Hamas’s naval combat unit, the paper reports.”
Apart from ignoring it, there is of course not much to do with such a silly story other than poke fun at it. However, the fact that the BBC clearly recognizes this latest Hamas claim for what it is and correctly places it within the context of the regional penchant for Israel-related animal conspiracy theories prompts a much more serious question.
So how does the BBC explain to its audiences – and more crucially, to itself – its obvious cognitive dissonance concerning the reliability of Hamas as a source of credible information? Why can the BBC see a fishy story about a marine mammal on a mission of espionage for what it is but fail to acknowledge the need to independently verify other claims and allegations produced by the same source?