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Britons slam BBC over refusal to run Gaza ad

'The Beeb' stands by its decision not to air a fundraising appeal for victims of Israel's recent 22-day incursion into Gaza.

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Speaking out: Protesters staged a sit-in at BBC headquarters in London on Monday. They denounced the BBC's rejection of an appeal for Gaza victims.

Anthony Devlin/AP

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Britain's public service broadcaster, the BBC, is facing unprecedented criticism for refusing to broadcast an emergency fundraising appeal for people living in the Gaza Strip.

Long used to winning plaudits for the quality of its journalism, staff at the 97-year-old institution have become accustomed to allegations of left- or right-wing bias.

However, even many BBC journalists are furious at a decision by senior management not to air the appeal this week by an umbrella grouping of 13 charity organizations including the British Red Cross and Save the Children.

The appeal to help Palestinians facing homelessness and hunger following the Israeli onslaught in the Gaza Strip was broadcast Monday night by three rival broadcasters – Channel 4, ITV, and Five – although not by Sky News, which is owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

Mark Thompson, BBC's director general, said he could not permit the BBC to endanger its impartiality by appearing to endorse an appeal for the victims on one side of a complicated conflict.

"For us to broadcast such a thing would in my view be out of keeping with our strict duty to be impartial," he told one of the BBC's radio channels.

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