BBC Hamas ‘Exposé’ Obscured Israel’s Genocide

With tens of thousands of Palestinians slaughtered, Panorama chose to hand the microphone over to the very military doing the killing, writes Jonathan Cook.

BBC broadcasting house in London. (Edwardx, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

By Jonathan Cook

Israel was put on trial for committing genocide in Gaza last month by the judges of the International Court of Justice.

So far Western governments have not only done nothing to intervene but are actively assisting in that slaughter. They have supplied arms and turned a blind eye to Israel’s denial of humanitarian aid.

The people of Gaza are slowly being starved to death.

But it was at this moment, as the world watches in horror, that the BBC’s chief news investigation programme, Panorama, chose not to scrutinise that massacre of tens of thousands of Palestinians but to hand the microphone over to the very military doing the killing.

This week it aired a programme titled “Hamas’s Secret Financial Empire” headed by reporter John Ware.

It leant heavily on Israel’s military spokesman, on documents that had almost certainly been supplied by Israeli military intelligence, on video footage from the Israeli military and an Israeli survivor of the Hamas attack of Oct. 7.

Ware and Panorama have worked together before, most notably on a special hour-long edition that doubtless equally delighted Israel.

Broadcast shortly before the 2019 general election, the programme served as little more than a hatchet job on Jeremy Corbyn, claiming that the then Labour leader had allowed anti-Semitism to run rampant in his party.

Serial failures in the programme were exposed, including by me at the time.

Quotes and interviews had been edited misleadingly, including one that implied an anti-Semitic incident had happened inside the Labour Party when it had not.

Basic fact-checking had not been carried out, which led to the complete misrepresentation of a key incident the programme wrongly claimed as anti-Semitic.

Jeremy Corbyn, the former U.K. Labour leader, third from left at front of the Ceasefire Now march in London, Nov. 11, 2023. (Steve Eason, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

The programme concealed the identities of those claiming to have suffered anti-Semitism in Labour, when most were in fact members of a highly partisan, pro-Israel group openly committed to ousting Corbyn as leader for his pro-Palestinian views. One had trained with the Israeli army.

Another unnamed, tearful interviewee, Ella Rose, had previously worked for the Israeli embassy, though the audience was not told. The programme also did not refer to the fact that she had admitted to being a confidante of an Israeli undercover agent, Shai Masot, who was later exposed trying to bring down a British government minister for his critical views of Israel — views far less critical than Corbyn’s.

Preposterous Premise

One might have assumed that, given this disastrous outing for Panorama by Ware and his producers, they would have been considered by the BBC as a very unwise pick indeed to follow up with an investigation into another issue so close to Israel’s heart. But such an assumption would be wrong.

Much as the Corbyn “investigation” presented a distorted picture of what was taking place in Labour, the latest Panorama “investigation” completely obscured the reality of what is taking place in Gaza.

Not least, the audience would have been barely aware that Israel is currently under investigation by the World Court after its panel of 17 judges accepted that Israel is plausibly committing genocide in Gaza.

The ICJ in The Hague during South Africa’s genocide case against Israel, Jan. 26. (ICJ)

The Panorama narrative, following the BBC’s usual script, suggested instead that this was simply another round of fighting in a long-standing “conflict” in which, the programme limply conceded, both sides are suffering.

The only non-official interviewed was an Israeli survivor of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, a young woman present at the Nova festival. She felt betrayed that “people only look at the side of Hamas. We are invisible to them.”

Bizarrely, the BBC team took this patently preposterous view as the programme’s central premise. It was, said Ware, Hamas’s nefarious goal to “project itself as a resistance movement and Israel as a terrorist state”.

The BBC seemed to have forgotten that it was also the World Court, not just Hamas, seriously considering the idea that the Israeli military is flagrantly acting outside the laws of war. If, in the eyes of the BBC, a campaign of genocide does not constitute state terrorism — or worse — one has to wonder what does.

Former Foreign Office official Sir John Jenkins was given centre stage by Panorama to claim that Hamas, not the prolonged slaughter of children in Gaza, was fomenting the “delegitimisation of Israel”.

All of this served as the prelude to the programme’s efforts to delegitimise Hamas and any of its activities in creating a network of tunnels to resist Israel’s occupation and siege at a time when Western capitals are more actively than ever assisting Israel in destroying Gaza.

If Israel posed no real threat to the people of Gaza, as the programme implied throughout, then Hamas apparently did not need to fortify the enclave to defend it from an Israeli attack. Its money could have been better used for the benefit of ordinary Palestinians.

Elephant in Room

Israeli ground attack in the Gaza Strip on Nov. 1, 2023. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

The elephant in the room was genocide. Ware and the BBC had to keep treating Israel’s slaughter of at least 30,000 Palestinians over the past four months as an aberration – a reaction to the unprecedented events of Oct. 7 – rather than as an intensification of Israel’s well-documented abuse of the Palestinian people spanning over decades.

The reference to Hamas’ “secret” financial empire was meant to sound sinister. But, as the programme-makers struggled to hide, there is nothing secret about Hamas’ funding.

After all, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally approved the flow of money to Hamas, wishing to keep the group just strong enough to ensure it could prevent the more compliant Palestinian Authority (PA), based in the West Bank, from re-establishing itself in Gaza.

Netanyahu’s goal — one he never concealed — was to keep the two rival Palestinian groups permanently feuding, the two territories split, and thereby undermine the case for any kind of Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank.

Ware informed us that Hamas’ “financial empire” derived from various funding sources: directly from Iran and Qatar, but also from humanitarian aid provided by international donors. The programme concluded that these donors were effectively “subsidising Hamas’ war machine” by easing the economic burden on Hamas in providing — in so far as was possible given Israel’s siege — essentials such as food, water and power to Gaza’s civilians.

Predictably, Ware’s argument echoed one of the main claims made by Israel in its current campaign to intensify the genocide in Gaza by destroying the United Nations’ refugee body, UNRWA. The relief agency is the last lifeline to a population of 2.3 million people brought to the point of starvation by Israel’s blockade of humanitarian aid.

Israeli officials have consistently implied that the Palestinian population of Gaza may justifiably be starved to death as the price to be paid to avoid any risk that some of that aid ends up in the hands of Hamas fighters. Such a denial of assistance is not only patently immoral but constitutes a war crime.

If journalists are ever brought to The Hague accused of complicity in the current genocide, there should surely be a place reserved in the dock for Ware and his BBC team for breathing credibility into this monstrous argument.

Context Stripped Out

Panorama’s central narrative was that Hamas had used parts of its revenues to build a network of resistance fortifications such as tunnels — money that, as Ware and his interviewees kept stressing, could have been spent on building schools and homes to aid the people of Gaza.

Ware omitted to mention, of course, that, more often than not, schools and homes actually needed rebuilding, not building, because Israel blew them up every few years with its bombs.

Palestinians collect their belongings from under the rubble of a residential tower, which witnesses said was destroyed by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on Aug. 24, 2014. (UN Photo/Shareef Sarhan)

Again, all too predictably, the programme stripped out obvious context.

Hamas chose to build these fortifications, such as its extensive network of tunnels, because Israel is an offensive, occupying power that enjoys absolute control over Gaza’s borders, as well as its airspace and sea. Israel can bomb and invade Gaza any time it chooses. It can drag people off to “arrest” them — or take them hostage, as we would call it were the roles reversed.

Not only can it do those things, it did and does them regularly. And with complete impunity.

Pretending that Hamas had no reason to build a tunnel network, as Panorama does, is to rewrite history — to excise Israel’s decades of crimes against the Palestinians and their legitimate desire to struggle against that oppression.

It is to unthinkingly regurgitate Israel’s claim that these are simply “terror tunnels” rather than a way for Hamas to survive as a resistance organisation, as it is fully entitled to do under international law.

Hamas made it a priority to build a tunnel network to resist a violent, occupying army. Given limited resources and room to manoeuvre — after all, Gaza is a tiny territory and one of the most overcrowded places on the planet — Hamas had little choice but to move underground to avoid Israel’s sophisticated surveillance technology where it could build an arsenal of largely improvised, homegrown weapons.

Its historic popularity among ordinary Palestinians — at least compared to the supine, endlessly complicit PA in the West Bank — derives precisely from its refusal to submit to Israeli control. Panorama forgot to mention this too.

By contrast, and confounding Panorama’s thesis, the PA’s exclusive reliance on international diplomacy has won no tangible concessions from Israel — unless winning a reprieve from genocide, at least until this point, is considered such a concession.

Also inconveniently for Panorama, the PA’s standing with the Palestinian public continues to be dismal.

Proof of ‘Wickedness’

Hamas election campaign event in the Palestinian West Bank city of Ramallah in 2007. (Hoheit, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Bizarrely, Ware was equally troubled by the fact that Hamas raised import taxes on the limited goods that Israel did allow into Gaza.

That is all the stranger given that the programme’s implicit — and entirely bogus — assumption is that Gaza is not under a belligerent Israeli occupation. Hamas, it therefore suggested, should have behaved more like a normal country.

But raising taxes on the import of goods is precisely what normal countries do. Why would Ware expect Hamas to behave differently?

And why would it be strange or sinister for it to use some of those revenues to build Gaza’s defences, as best it could, against an aggressive occupier?

Does Britain not also spend the money it raises from taxes to buy weapons and “subsidise its war machine?” And it does so, even though the U.K. is not under belligerent occupation and is unlikely to be invaded any time soon.

In dramatic fashion, Ware declared ominously: “We have obtained documents that Israeli intelligence say are from inside Hamas and shine a light on how it makes some of its millions.”

It is hard not to conclude that those words mean Panorama was fed those documents by the Israeli intelligence services. Nonetheless, with utter credulity, the programme treated the papers as though they were infallible proof of Hamas’ wickedness.

What they actually showed, assuming they are real, is that Hamas had gained a modest income stream from investments in Middle Eastern companies and ventures. Should Hamas not make investments to raise income, as countries and funds do around the world? And if not, why?

Moving money out of Gaza and investing it overseas seems eminently sensible given that Israel has so regularly laid waste to the enclave — and is doing so once again and on an unprecedented scale.

In similar credulous fashion, Ware accepted unquestioningly the claim that Hamas’ leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, was known to “hate Jews.” On what basis? Because a former Israeli security officer who proudly admitted that years ago he interrogated Sinwar for “between 150 and 180 hours” said so. Interrogation of Palestinians by Israel typically includes lengthy periods of torture.

Misused Public Funds

All of this was depressingly familiar. The BBC and Panorama rarely dig into issues that might reflect badly on Israel and risk a backlash of criticism, including from the British government. That toothlessness when a genocide is unfolding in Gaza is especially egregious.

But the BBC is not just overlooking that horrifying crime but using its resources — funds provided by British taxpayers — to actively obscure Israel’s campaign of genocide and implicitly rationalise it as warranted.

A programme whose thesis is that Hamas misused public funds for nefarious purposes is, paradoxically, doing the very thing it condemns. It has misused British taxes to make an entirely bogus case that provides cover for the slaughter and maiming of many tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians.

Jonathan Cook is an award-winning British journalist. He was based in Nazareth, Israel, for 20 years. He returned to the U.K. in 2021.He is the author of three books on the Israel-Palestine conflict: Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish State (2006), Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (2008) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (2008).

If you appreciate his articles, please consider offering your financial support

This article is from the author’s blog, Jonathan  

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

15 comments for “BBC Hamas ‘Exposé’ Obscured Israel’s Genocide

  1. Common Sense
    February 26, 2024 at 11:58

    Mass murder of entirely helpless and innocent children, women and men by the thousands is okay with the very most “western” administrations individuals.

    And the mass murderers running free, relentlessly continuing mass murder on a daily basis.

    This all appears to me like a severely criminal syndicate.

    They all must be put on trial!

  2. jamie
    February 25, 2024 at 05:35

    What is both disconcerting and eyeopening is that the organization accusing UNWRA of ties with Hamas is UN watchdog, basically an organization founded and run by Jewish prominent people (Chairman Moses, Executive director Neurer, Founder Abram). It is eyeopener because it shows how difficult it is to solve problems when political interest dominate such “western” organizations.
    If humanity has to evolve, there must be some “cleansing” to do, or dismantle current international organization in favor of new one with a multi-polar view in their culture.
    That is the real war going on, along with the economic one
    What US and Israel have done in Gaza can’t be undone, and won’t be forgotten

  3. David
    February 25, 2024 at 00:39

    What really gets me in this situation is that no-one can answer the question: what should the Palestinians do?

    Yes, the attack on October 7 was atrocious, killing civilians and taking hostages is inexcusable.

    Ok, so what should the Palestinians have done instead?

    They have lobbied for decades, the PLO recognised Israel, they signed the Oslo Accords, they have asked for a 2 state solution, etc.

    The response has been the expansion of Israeli settlements in what was supposed to be the places where a Palestinian state could exist, the continual harassment of Palestinians in the occupied territories and periodic bombing and destruction of Palestinian housing.

    In short, the Palestinians have tried the supposed conventional way to forward their case, and they have been roundly ignored and their situation has worsened over the decades.

    So, what strategy should the Palestinians have followed to gain their freedom given that negotiation, lobbying etc have not made any difference at all?

  4. Martin
    February 24, 2024 at 05:46

    These people are aware they are bad. Are they being blackmailed?

  5. Jack Lomax
    February 24, 2024 at 02:34

    So the BBC (Bullshit moreBullshit and Crap) junior arm of the western propaganda maçhine has negative view of its superior’s main enemy the Palestinians. Why in heaven’s name would a zionist owned and run arm of that Machine be allowed to broadcast anything but the propaganda of its controllers?It and the Bank of England were two of the English Zionist Jews first English tools of control -financial and mind control.

  6. Paula
    February 23, 2024 at 20:22

    Off topic only slightly. We are under siege here in USA as well. So much to do about so much. This genocide started me asking why the collective west would support such an atrocity. I am finding out that I have lived under an illusion of democracy for over 50 years.

    Surveillance under the excuse of the border invasion is well on its way: hxxps://

  7. YesXorNo
    February 23, 2024 at 17:43

    May it be that this is also a destined-to-fail psychological preparation or Israel’s imminent response to the ICJ? That’ll be happening on Monday, by my math.

    An other wonderful report, Mr. Cook.

    Thank you.

  8. Lois Gagnon
    February 23, 2024 at 17:06

    I think Caitlin Johnstone was right when she declared there is one war waged by the US imperium that includes all its vassals, against disobedience. It explains perfectly the one sided pronouncements and reporting of compromised “news” outlets. No one is allowed to resist total domination. Most of the world has seen through the ruse. Time for the domestic audience to get a clue.

    • JonnyJames
      February 25, 2024 at 12:22

      Yes, but I think the UK is a partner in crime, not a vassal like Germany, Australia, Canada, Japan, etc. It was the British who enabled the establishment of Israel in the first place. One could say that the UK is following a long tradition of foreign policy and the US is now the senior partner in crime.

  9. Julia
    February 23, 2024 at 16:46

    John Ware is a disgrace and you flatter him by describing him as a ‘reporter’. As to ‘One might have assumed that, given this disastrous outing for Panorama [the original programme]’ – it was far from disastrous for the so called ‘whistle blowers’ featured in that programme, who were rewarded by Keir Starmer to the tune of £600,000 a few months into his leadership of the Labour Party. Funded by members who Starmer lied to during his leadership campaign.

    This is not the time to list all Starmer’s treachery, but in his own words he is an ‘unapologetic Zionist’ and his behaviour this week regarding a ceasefire motion proposed by the SNP must surely be the last straw for any right thinking person still a member of the Labour Party.


    As to the BBC and Panorama, that once fine institution and programme is now sadly nothing more than a propaganda arm of the UK ‘Government’ – and I do use the term very loosely – and Tory Party.

  10. Valerie
    February 23, 2024 at 16:28

    We should expect nothing less from the “british bullshit corporation”.

  11. JonnyJames
    February 23, 2024 at 16:22

    The BBC became a bit of a joke for me before, and after the war on Iraq. One could “forgive” them for repeating a raft of lies by the Blair “New Labour” govt. but they failed to use any sort of critical thinking and acted as sycophantic cheerleaders for war. (Just like the US mass media).

    The proverbial straw for me was when I was in the UK, I regularly watched the 6 o’clock news on BBC1. In a segment about Venezuela, the guest speaker from Chatham House (an authoritarian “think tank”) said that Hugo Chavez was a brutal communist dictator, or some such thing. This, despite Chavez having won landslide elections that were praised by The Carter Center and the UN as being some of the most free and fair elections in the world. I waited for the anchorperson to set the record straight, but he went right along and said nothing.

    To be fair, it’s not just the BBC, it is nearly the entire western mass media that distort, omit, or even repeat outright falsehoods about Palestine, Hamas, Gaza, Israel etc.

    Since the BBC is financed by the British population through TV licenses, it would be fair to hold them accountable via review and oversight from an authoritative body of independent journalists, citizens, academic experts, etc. I know that isn’t likely, but possible if enough people demanded it.

    • Valerie
      February 24, 2024 at 16:58

      “To be fair, it’s not just the BBC, it is nearly the entire western mass media that distort, omit, or even repeat outright falsehoods about Palestine, Hamas, Gaza, Israel etc.”

      “Since the BBC is financed by the British population through TV licenses, it would be fair to hold them accountable via review and oversight from an authoritative body of independent journalists, citizens, academic experts, etc. I know that isn’t likely, but possible if enough people demanded it.”

      I am proud to say i was one of the 2% of the whole of the British Isles who did not have a TV.
      And i only learned that from the licence authorities knocking on my door (on the 19th floor) asking to see my licence for a TV. That was in 1979. The revenue they acquire is substantial when you multiply the fees by millions of households (minus 2%) So yes, they should be held accountable via review from an independent body. But who will demand it? Not the hoi polloi watching the “british bullshit corporation” (and other bullshit news outlets) propagandized to their graves.

      • JonnyJames
        February 25, 2024 at 12:35

        Thanks Valerie, I wish that there were more like you to boycott the TV licenses and boycott the British Bullshit Corp and boycott the MassMedia. I have not watched TV in years, and I refuse to pay for “cable TV” in the US. I refuse to pay to be subjected to psy-ops, indoctrination, and outright “brainwashing” while bombarded with corporate advertising.

        (Bullshit is originally a yank term, but I think it is the most fitting to describe the BBC – if the shoe fits…)

  12. Arch Stanton
    February 23, 2024 at 15:15

    I regularly have to correct misplaced assertions made by my foreign born friends & acquaintances about their perception of the British Bullsh*t Corporation being universes admired for their ‘neutrality’ in its coverage of world events, nothing can be further from the truth, it’s nothing but a mouthpiece of the US-Zionist led empire.

    I’m surprised they didn’t screen Schindlers List straight after the programme, oh wait, they screened it a few weeks ago.

    I want to stop paying the license fee, just need to persuade my significant other though!

Comments are closed.