BBC under fire for mistranslating Arabic interview of released Palestinian prisoner

On Monday, November 27, the BBC admitted clip had inaccurate subtitles due to editing error and releases longer version with Hamas mention.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has come under fire for mistranslating an Arabic interview with one of the Palestinian prisoners released by Israel on Friday, November 24, as part of the humanitarian ceasefire agreement.

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During live BBC coverage of the prisoner exchange between Hamas and Israel, released prisoner Sara Abdullah from Nablus, who was sentenced to 8 years in prison, criticized Israel for the inhumane conditions in which prisoners were being held – “they have us imprisoned for a month. As winter came, they cut off the electricity. We almost died from the cold weather.”

She then said, “they sprayed us with pepper spray and left us to die inside the prison”.

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BBC video showed her saying in Arabic with English subtitles as, “No one helped us. Only Hamas cared. Those who felt our suffering, I thank them very much and we love them very much.”

Taking to X, Respond Crisis Translation said, “She never mentioned Hamas or a word like it.”

“This egregious mistranslation is not just a language error; it is a racist fabrication that fans the flames of the war.”

The organization has urged the BBC to rectify a mistake that it claims exacerbated the ongoing Palestinian genocide in Gaza.

“Mistranslations such as these – intentional or not – are exacerbating the ongoing genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.”

Soon after, BBC removed the clip. Backlash followed on social media with concerns that the original clip did not include any of the quoted references.

On Monday, November 27, the BBC admitted the clip had inaccurate subtitles due to editing errors and released a longer version with Hamas mentioned.

“The video posted on Saturday at 14:48 GMT originally carried inaccurate subtitles due to an error in the editing process. The page has now been updated to a longer version posted here – t.ly/ci3y2 – which does include reference to Hamas,” BBC respond to Respond Crisis Translation’s X thread.

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