Jews and Arabs
Around 7,000 pro-Palestine campaigners have called for the BBC to ban Anthony Reuben from reporting on Israel and Palestine. Twitter (@luigidegennar)

More than 7,000 pro-Palestine supporters have signed an open letter to the BBC demanding they ban the broadcaster's head of statistics from writing about Israel and Palestine on grounds of impartiality.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), which organised the large demonstrations against Israeli military action in the Middle East in London this summer, say Anthony Reuben's "impartiality and integrity on the subject of Palestine and Israel could not be guaranteed."

The dispute follows an article by Reuben published to the BBC website in August, which examined the number of Palestinian casualties. The piece urged other media outlets to exercise "caution" when examining the official figures – disseminated to the world by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) – claiming that there are "serious" problems with the numbers.

Reuben's analysis of the statistics purported to show a "disproportionate" number of civilian casualties, which led him to surmise the Israeli attacks on Palestine had been targeted and not "indiscriminate", as had been widely reported during the conflict of Operation Protective Edge.

Emotions were unsurprisingly high as the world reacted with horror to the 50-day conflict in the Middle East. The most recent figures published by the OHCHR show 2,158 Palestinian fatalities (1,479 of which were civilians) and 71 Israeli deaths (of which five civilians were killed).

Tensions have peaked, however, as a result of the PSC's call for a reporting ban on Reuben. They accuse the BBC of "spinning" the story in order to lessen sympathy for Palestine and lend credibility to the Israeli attacks.

The PSC point out in their letter, delivered to Broadcasting House in London, that Reuben has previously interned for "right-wing" Israeli newspaper, The Jerusalem Post: "The views which are apparent in that Israeli newspaper appear to have seeped into Reuben's reporting for the BBC", they claim.

Speaking to IBTimes UK on Thursday, a spokesperson for the BBC confirmed that they had received the letter and would be responding in due course.

Soon after the publication of Reuben's article, the BBC was forced to remove one of Reuben's most contentious sentences following widespread complaints from the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNWRA) and others.

The line read: "If the Israeli attacks had been 'indiscriminate', as the UN Human Rights Council says, it is hard to work out why they have killed so many more civilian men than women."

The BBC News team also added further expert comment to Reuben's piece following complaints, in what the PSC calls "an attempt to insert some balance into Reuben's previously one-sided" piece.

Academic Jana Krause was later quoted explaining that Palestinian men were more likely to be killed than women, not because they were fighters (as Reuben suggested) but because they left shelters to source food and water, and to care for abandoned homes.