The British Broadcasting Corporation published a headline this weekend about an attack that claimed the life of a female Israeli police officer—focusing instead on the three dead assailants and not on their victims, which included two civilians caught in the crossfire. In the attack, two assailants shot at police with guns while the third stabbed 23-year-old police officer Hadas Malka to death.
In the aftermath of the attack, BBC World titled the article, as well as the related tweet “Three Palestinians killed after deadly stabbing in Jerusalem.” It gave the false impression that the three slain assailants were the victims of Israeli state violence. Following widespread criticism, BBC retracted the headline and replaced it with one less narrative-driven. It also admitted that the headline inappropriately ignored the Israeli victim.
“We accept that our original headline did not appropriately reflect the nature of the events and subsequently changed it,” reads the BBC statement. “Whilst there was no intention to mislead our audiences, we regret any offense caused.”
The broadcaster has since changed the title to “Israeli policewoman stabbed to death in Jerusalem.”
The headline sparked furor on social media, where many condemned the British news service of perpetuating a false narrative that wrongly identified the assailants as victims. Numerous media figures, including Donald Trump Jr., condemned the poor wording of the headline.
“You mean after they stabbed a female Israeli police officer to death… right? This is as close to being misleading as possible,” Trump Jr. wrote. “Need a new term for this nonsense. Sort of the opposite of victim blaming. How about Culprit Coddling? Maybe Criminal Cozying? Thoughts???”
The Times of Israel reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the country’s Foreign Ministry to issue a strong protest to the BBC, which it did via the Israeli embassy in London.
Following the BBC’s admission, Israeli Foreign Ministry Director General Yuval Rotem took the broadcaster to task on social media, warning BBC viewers to be wary of their news coverage.