‘Israeli forces are happy to kill children,’ BBC anchor tells ex-PM Bennett

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Former prime minister Naftali Bennett adresses the Israeli parliament during a “40 signatures debate” in the plenum hall of the Israeli parliament, on June 13, 2022. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)

A BBC anchor told former Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett that “Israeli forces are happy to kill children” in an interview where Bennett responded to criticism of the Israeli operation in Jenin. The BBC interview was conducted by host Anjana Gadgil and was posted to Bennett’s YouTube channel on Wednesday.

“The Israeli military are calling this a ‘military operation,’ but we now know that young people are being killed, four of them under eighteen. Is that really what the military set out to do? To kill people between the ages of 16 and 18?”

“Quite to the contrary,” Bennet replied. “Actually, all 11 people dead there are militants. The fact that there are young terrorists who decide to hold arms is their responsibility.” The former Israeli prime minister went on to explain that, of many of the terror attacks over the past year, events that have collectively ended several dozens of Israeli civilian lives, the perpetrators have come from, and we trained in, Jenin. “Jenin has become an epicenter of terror,” he says. “All the Palestinians that were killed were terrorists in this case.”

“Terrorists” or “children?” Bennett, BBC anchor vie over IDF actions in Jenin

“Terrorists, but children. The Israeli forces are happy to kill children,” Gadgil responded. After asking the BBC anchor how she would define an armed 17-year-old shooting at her family, she doubled down, citing the UN which has “defined [the militants] as children.”

After reiterating his question for the anchor, Gadgil insisted, “We’re not talking about that.” Bennett affirmed that that dynamic was precisely what the conversation was about.

YOUNG PALESTINIANS clash with Israeli soldiers in Jenin, earlier this year. (credit: WISAM HASHLAMOUN/FLASH90)
YOUNG PALESTINIANS clash with Israeli soldiers in Jenin, earlier this year. (credit: WISAM HASHLAMOUN/FLASH90)

“No Israeli mom wants to send their boy into Jenin. We do it because we’ve got no choice,” Bennett said. “This is asymmetric. We are not targeting civilians. They are only targeting civilians.”

Penultimately, Gadgil, who remarked that actions such as the ones Israel has taken in Jenin would only serve to escalate the conflict, asked how the conflict would come to an end.


“When they decide that they accept the Jewish State in the land of Israel, it’ll end,” Bennett stated.


In response to the interview, the Board of Deputies of British Jews released a scathing condemnation of Gadgil’s statements. 


“We are appalled by comments made by a BBC presenter during an interview with former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett,” the statement reads. “The comments made, including the charge that ‘Israeli forces are happy to kill children’ when discussing armed terrorists under the age of 18, is simply disgraceful. This is a clear breach of the Corporation’s own Editorial Guidelines, and we will be contacting the Director General personally to protest in the strongest possible terms.”


Additionally, the media watchdog HonestReporting has filed a formal complaint to the BBC against Gadgil.


“This goes beyond decent journalism, instead making an outrageous claim more akin to a blood libel and certainly not one that could possibly be backed up on a factual level,” wrote HonestReporting editorial director Simon Plosker in the complaint. “Instead, Gadgil projects her own bias and maliciously assumes the emotions of Israeli soldiers while falsely charging them as child killers. This outrageous piece of interviewing deserves to be investigated and appropriate action taken.”

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