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November 14, 2018 11:14 am

Why Is the BBC Still Ignoring Palestinian Torture?

avatar by Hadar Sela

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Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas addressing the U.N. General Assembly on September 27, 2018. Photo: UN Photo/Cia Pak

As regular readers may recall, the BBC has been ignoring an unusual story unfolding in Israeli courts for well over a year: “BBC News ignores an unusual legal story from Israel,” “Story of PA torture continues to be side-lined by BBC.”

As we previously noted,

In a landmark ruling, the Jerusalem District ordered the Palestinian Authority to pay compensation of 13.2 million shekels (approximately $3.5 million) to dozens of suspected collaborators with Israel who were systematically tortured while incarcerated in [Palestinian Authority (PA)] jails.

Hadashot news reported Thursday the plaintiffs hope that Israel will be able to collect the compensation from the Palestinian Authority, and that if not, it could be raised by offsetting tax revenues collected by Israel on the PA’s behalf.

The story took another turn when, as reported by the Jerusalem Post:

The PA has appealed all of the District Court’s decisions to the [Israeli] Supreme Court and asked that the lower court’s decisions be frozen until the appeal is decided. …

Hoping to deter the court, the PA warned that having to pay the damages, and possibly much larger future damages, might cause the PA to collapse. (The NIS 14 million related only to false imprisonment. That sum could pale compared to the damages the District Court might later issue for the full torture liability.)

However:

In a blockbuster ruling the Supreme Court on Wednesday effectively endorsed two judgments totaling close to NIS 14 million against the Palestinian Authority for falsely jailing 51 Palestinians. …

Justice Yosef Elron’s rejection of the PA appeal means the PA is now obligated under Israeli law to pay the 51 Palestinians without delay — though there are still questions on how the plaintiffs can realistically collect. …

Notably, the court said if Palestinians were cooperating with Israel to thwart terrorist attacks on Israelis, the PA is also obligated to assist in such efforts under the Oslo Accords. Accordingly, the court said the PA could not treat such Palestinians as criminals, much less torture them. …

The case is likely to cause significant diplomatic and legal complications between Israel and the PA, especially about whether and how the PA would pay damages.

The Palestinian Authority of course spends far more annually on financial rewards to terrorists and their families than the sum awarded in compensation to the plaintiffs in this case.

Despite having published a report pertaining to Palestinian torture just last month, the BBC nevertheless continues to ignore this unusual legal story. It seems sadly in line with the rest of the BBC‘s coverage of Israel and the Palestinians.

Hadar Sela is the Managing Editor of BBC Watch, an affiliate of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

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