No, BBC has not pulled its editor Jeremy Bowen from Gaza over 'pro-Hamas comments'

By: Ishita Goel
November 23 2023

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No, BBC has not pulled its editor Jeremy Bowen from Gaza over 'pro-Hamas comments'

Social media posts claim that Middle East correspondent Jeremy Bowen was removed from Gaza for his article defending Hamas fighters. (Source: Facebook/X/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict Fake

Charlotte Morgan, senior head of communications for BBC News, told Logically Facts that the statement is false.

Claim ID 5a59f18f

What is the claim?

A purported image of an announcement by the BBC is circulating on social media with a claim that the news organization has removed journalist Jeremy Bowen from Gaza for making "pro-Hamas" statements. 

The alleged notice reads, "BBC has removed Jeremy Bowen from Gaza, its most experienced Middle East correspondent, for saying "He had not seen any evidence of Hamas using civilians as human shields." Israel complaint to BBC and said that this was pro-Hamas and BBC immediately pulled him out of Gaza (sic)."

The image was shared on social media with captions on X (formerly Twitter) and Facebook claiming," Renowned Middle Eastern reporter Jeremy Bowen gets the Corbyn treatment for telling the truth about Israel." Other links to the posts are here and here

Screenshots of the viral posts on X. (Source: X/Modified by Logically Facts)

What is the truth?

We found that the post has been viral since 2014 and recirculated in 2018 and 2021. However, no evidence to date supports the claim that the BBC ever made any such statement or removed Bowen from the Israel-Gaza region. Charlotte Morgan, senior head of communications for BBC News, told Logically Facts that the statement is false.

The circulation of the graphic

In response to the graphic going viral in 2014, the BBC published a report on August 4, 2014, headlined “#BBCtrending: Jeremy Bowen and the Twitter conspiracy.”

The report stated that the statement was fake, and there was no clarity on who created the image. They explained that the absence of Bowen from recent bulletins had led to conspiracy theories that he had been removed from the Middle East in response to a complaint from Israel. The BBC noted that the rumor had emerged after Bowen wrote an article for the New Statesman dated July 22, 2014, headlined, "Jeremy Bowen's Gaza notebook: I saw no evidence of Hamas using Palestinians as human shields.” 

At the time, responding to posts on X (then Twitter) questioning why he had stopped posting since July 22, Bowen replied that he was on holiday. Likewise, on August 4, the present Director of Journalism and Deputy CEO of BBCNews and then BBC's head of newsgathering Jonathan Munro wrote on X, "Nonsense that @BowenBBC left Gaza under Israeli pressure. After Syria, Iraq, Israel & Gaza he's on holiday." The BBC report stated that they released an official statement reiterating Munro’s words and added that Bowen would be back at regular work soon.

In February 2018, Bowen responded to an X user's post resharing the same graphic and wrote on X, "It's fake news. Someone has used BBC logo as part of a deception. The BBC has supported my reporting consistently and well for more than 30 years. It did not pull me out of Gaza against my will - or anywhere else for that matter." In 2021, when it went viral, it was debunked by fact-checking organizations like AFP.

Did Bowen stop reporting from Gaza?

There is no evidence that the BBC ever pulled Bowen out from Israel or Gaza over a complaint from Israel, as claimed in the viral post.

On the BBC website, we found several reports by Bowen from the Middle East, specifically Israel and Gaza. In September 2014, he wrote an article on Syria from Damascus. Further, in November 2014, he held a live Q&A session on the conflict in Syria. In May 2018, he reported on the situation in Gaza, and most recently, in November 2023, he was reporting from Israel-Gaza. A video dated November 21, 2023, on the BBC website, titled "Behind the stories On the Front Line: Jeremy Bowen," shows Bowen sharing what it's like reporting from inside Israel and Gaza. The BBC also recently published an article on November 8 that said, “The BBC's international editor Jeremy Bowen has traveled with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) into Gaza."

Screenshot of the BBC report by Bowen dated November 21, 2023. (Source: BBC News/Modified by Logically Facts)

There is also no evidence that Bowen has made any statement about Hamas fighters as claimed in the viral graphic recently or after his reports from the region were published.

Logically Facts has contacted Bowen for clarification as well. This story will be updated if and when we receive a response.

What has the BBC said?

On November 17, 2023, after the claim began recirculating, the BBC News Press Team reposted one of the posts and wrote, "This is complete rubbish (and was rubbish when it last circulated in 2014). Jeremy is currently reporting from London and will be back in the Middle East soon.” An X post by Bowen also confirmed that he is working from London, writing "I can confirm I’m working in London and will be back in Jerusalem soon."

Speaking to Logically Facts, the BBC added, "As we’ve said, it’s complete rubbish. Jeremy [will] be back in Jerusalem soon… it’s quite normal for the international editor to travel around and report from different places around the world.”

Further, Morgan noted there was no possibility of Bowen being removed from Gaza by BBC, as Bowen wasn't in Gaza and was reporting from Israel. She wrote, “He reported from an embed with the IDF into Gaza, but he wasn’t based there – so to claim Israel ‘complained to the BBC’ and we ‘removed’ him from Gaza – where he had gone *with* the IDF – doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

The verdict

Both BBC News and Bowen himself have been clarifying for years that this is a fake statement about Bowen and does not present a genuine action taken by the broadcaster. Bowen has been working with the BBC and has returned to Israel-Gaza several times since his report that social media users have used to make the viral claim.

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