CBC walks back false assertion that “Gaza is not occupied”

On April 5, 2023, a CBC Radio segment properly referred to Gaza as “occupied.” However, after pressure from the pro-Israel lobby group Honest Reporting Canada, the next day CBC issued an on-air ‘correction’ erroneously stating: “Last night, we made a reference to the Gaza Strip being ‘occupied.’ The territory is not occupied, but rather has its borders controlled by Israel and Egypt.” A similar text was also posted online, claiming that “Gaza is not occupied.”

CJPME responded to this false ‘correction’ by sending a letter to CBC arguing that they presented a statement of opinion as a statement of fact; Gaza is in fact considered “occupied territory” by the UN, human rights groups and the humanitarian sector, including Human Rights Watch and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Additionally, Michael Lynk, former UN Special Rapporteur, also sent a letter to CBC writing that, “Under international law, this degree of control exercised by Israel since 2005 is sufficient to conclude that Israel remains the occupying power over Gaza.”

As a result of CJPME’s complaint, on April 14, 2023, CBC walked back its on-air ‘correction’ by updating the text on its website to:

On April 5, 2023, CBC Radio referred to the Gaza Strip being occupied. While Israel continues to control most of the flow of people and goods into and out of the Gaza strip, which to some analysts constitutes a continued occupation, it ended its permanent military presence there in 2005. An on-air clarification was broadcast April 6, and this clarification note was published to specify that Israel doesn't consider Gaza to be occupied. This clarification note has since been updated to describe Gaza's status more precisely.

While this update includes a far more accurate description of Gaza’s legal status, several issues remain. CJPME sent a follow-up letter to CBC highlighting that the phrasing of “some analysts” significantly downplays the fact that this position is held by the international community. While this correction is an improvement to the original one, it still fails to correctly label Gaza as an occupied territory and Israel as an occupying power. CJPME is requesting that CBC update its language on Gaza to properly reflect international consensus and to align with CBC’s reporting on the status of the occupied West Bank.