Last month we noted that a report published on the BBC News website closed with the following paragraph:
“Hezbollah and Israel fought a war in 2006 in which more than 1,125 Lebanese, most of them civilians, and 159 Israelis, including 43 civilians, were killed.” [emphasis added]
Similar statements had previously appeared in two BBC News website reports relating to Operation Northern Shield:
BBC News omits crucial background from report on IDF operation December 4th 2018
More lazy BBC reporting on Hizballah’s tunnels December 19th 2018
While the Lebanese authorities did not differentiate between civilians and combatants during the 2006 war, Lebanese officials did report even before the conflict was over that some 500 of the dead were Hizballah personnel and UN officials gave similar figures while Israeli estimates stand at around 600 (of whom 450 were identified with certainty: see page 55 here).
In August 2006 the BBC News website acknowledged that “there are no reliable figures” for the number of Hizballah combatants killed in the war that had just ended at the time.
BBC Watch submitted a complaint concerning the BBC’s repeated promotion of that narrative portraying Lebanese casualties during the 2006 war as “mostly civilians” despite there being no evidence of its having been able to independently verify that claim.
A week after the complaint was submitted we received a response from BBC Complaints stating that the issue would take more time to address.
On February 7th we received a response from the BBC News website which presented links to statements supporting its claim from sources such as the Lebanese government, the Lebanese Higher Relief Council, the political NGO Human Rights Watch and two news agencies.
The BBC News website concluded its reply as follows:
“However after considering your point further we have since amended all three of these articles so as to attribute these figures to the Lebanese government.
We have also added an update note at the bottom of each article outlining these changes.”
The December 4th article now reads:
“Tensions are high between Israel and Hezbollah, which fought a month-long war in 2006.
More than 1,189 Lebanese, most of them civilians, the Lebanese government says, and some 40 Israeli civilians were killed in that conflict.”
The December 19th article now reads:
“Tensions are high between the Iran-backed Shia Islamist group and Israel, which fought a month-long war in 2006.
More than 1,189 Lebanese, most of them civilians, the Lebanese government says, and 159 Israelis, including 43 civilians, were killed in that conflict.”
The January 17th article now reads:
“Hezbollah and Israel fought a war in 2006 in which more than 1,189 Lebanese, most of them civilians, the Lebanese government says, and 159 Israelis, including 43 civilians, were killed.”
The footnote added to all three reports reads as follows: