Damning report exposes pro Israel bias in media’s Gaza coverage

A damning new report lays bare significant pro-Israel biases in how the media portrays Israel’s war on occupied Gaza.

Produced by the Centre for Media Monitoring (CfMM), the exhaustive ‘Media Bias Gaza 2023-24’ study scrutinised over 176,000 television clips and 25,000 online news articles in the month after October 7.

The report reveals a widespread pro-Israel bias that marginalises Palestinian perspectives while providing an outsized platform for Israeli state narratives, which is often deployed to justify its war on occupied Gaza.

The analysis found that emotive language highlighting Israeli suffering occurred 11 times more frequently than for Palestinian casualties. Harsh terminology was readily used for attacks on Israelis, while more passive phrasing downplayed Palestinian deaths, often omitting Israel as the perpetrator.

“Palestinians simply die as some headlines would suggest,” says the report.

It says news coverage routinely framed Hamas’s attacks on southern Israel as “Ground Zero with guests or commentators who try and explain the 75-year-old occupation of Palestine being accused by some presenters and columnists as justifying the attacks.”

Most TV channels overwhelmingly promote “Israel’s right” to defend itself, overshadowing Palestinian rights by a ratio of 5 to 1. “This biased framing contributed to a distorted portrayal of the conflict, reinforcing narratives that prioritised Israeli perspectives over Palestinian voices,” says the report. 

These claims often fail to highlight that Israel is an occupying power “which continues land grabs and killings in the West Bank at the same time as it rains down bombs on Gaza,” adds the report. 

For example, out of over 98,500 mentions of Gaza on Broadcast TV channels, there were only 28 instances of the words “occupied Gaza” — with half of those on Al Jazeera English.

“Western media has been pro-Israel”

“Whilst the regurgitating of war propaganda designed to garner sympathy and de-humanise others has found a sympathetic ear from media outlets in the West, the evidence that we have gathered, shows unequivocally that the overall tone of coverage in the Western media has been pro-Israel,” says the report.

“This is also a conclusion drawn by journalists and staff at some media corporations who have accused their own outlets of among other things “journalistic malpractice.”

“Some observers have been less charitable and have accused media elites of being complicit in the killings of Palestinians and the failure to hold to account the Israeli aggression against Palestinians,” adds the report. 

Stark disparities emerged in whose perspectives were amplified. Israeli viewpoints outnumbered Palestinian voices by a factor of three on broadcast TV and two-to-one in online outlets.

A mere 24% of online articles mentioned “Palestine” or “Palestinian”, instead framing the conflict as an “Israel-Hamas war”.

“This skewed framing perpetuated a narrative that lacked crucial context,” the report stated, “and failed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the conflict.”

The findings suggest systemic biases favouring Israeli state narratives. Pro-Palestinian voices faced vilification, with allegations of anti-Semitism deployed to discredit support. The report says legitimate protests for a ceasefire by a cross-section of society were routinely smeared as “pro-Hamas” and violent by right-wing outlets.

“Pro-Palestinian voices face misrepresentation and vilification by media outlets, perpetuating harmful stereotypes, with allegations of antisemitism and terrorism weaponised to discredit legitimate advocacy efforts,” it said.  

More findings

The report pointed out other findings: 

  • It slammed outlets for uncritically amplifying Israeli military claims, some of which have subsequently proven to be false. The report says Israel has a history of “falsehoods even before this current war and as recent as denying responsibility for killing Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in May 2022.”
  • 361 TV news clips used the terms “beheaded” AND “babies”, with almost 50% on the two right-wing British channels Talk TV and GB News. Only 52 of the 361 showed any sufficient challenge, rebuttal or questioning of the claim.
  • The war has become a tool for mainstreaming Islamophobia, with many prominent media personalities regurgitating Islamophobic tropes.
  • Some media outlets and commentators positioned the conflict as being between Muslims and Jews, with opposition to Israel framed as anti-Semitic.

“While there has been a shocking rise in both anti-Semitic and Islamophobic hate crimes, the report tracks a hierarchy of racism when reporting on anti-Semitism and Islamophobia,” said CfMM in its press release.

According to Rizwana Hamid, CfMM’s Director, “As media organisations navigate this conflict’s complexities, upholding principles of fairness, accuracy and inclusivity by ensuring all perspectives are heard is imperative. The evidence shows UK coverage has overwhelmingly been pro-Israel.”

Lead author Faisal Hanif said: “In the main, Palestinians should be reported on as human beings with full unalienable rights as enjoyed by all peoples. This also necessitates how those rights have been curtailed in a forever war against them that has its origins many decades before October 7 2023.”

In a withering foreword, veteran reporter Peter Oborne highlighted “the counter-intuitive paradox that mainstream Israeli journalists have been more ready to tell the truth about the war in Gaza than their British equivalents.”


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