The return of the BBC’s Jon Donnison and his tall Twitter tales

As readers may already be aware, one of the people recently ‘parachuted in’ by the BBC to provide back-up to its local staff since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge is former Gaza correspondent Jon Donnison.Donnison

Despite only having been here for a few days, Donnison has already managed to get himself in the news once again, as Eli Lake documented here.

“Over the weekend it appeared that an Israeli official conceded something very valuable to Hamas. A BBC reporter in Israel tweeted out comments from the spokesman for Israel’s national police who allegedly said Hamas was not behind the kidnapping and murder last month of three Israeli teens on the West Bank, an incident that was the spark for the current war in Gaza. […]

Donnison tweeted that [police spokesman] Rosenfeld told him that while the cell on the West Bank was operating alone, it was affiliated with Hamas. However, it did not receive direct orders from Hamas leadership. 

Those tweets became the basis for a widely shared blog post saying Israel now conceded that the kidnappers acted in a lone cell and Hamas had nothing to do with it. […]

But when reached by The Daily Beast on Sunday, Rosenfeld said that he had told Donnison what the Israeli government had been saying all along. “The kidnapping and murder of the teens was carried out by Hamas terrorists from the Hebron area,” he told The Daily Beast. “The security organizations are continuing to search for the murderers.”

Donnison on Saturday said he stood by his earlier tweets. ” 

BBC Watch also contacted police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld who told us the following in relation to Donnison’s claims:

“I said and confirmed what is known already, that the kidnapping and murder of the teens was carried out by Hamas terrorists from the Hebron area and the security organizations are continuing to search for the murderers.” 

Jon Donnison and his Twitter tales remain a liability to the BBC. 

Related Articles:

BBC’s Jon Donnison Tweets malicious fauxtography

BBC’s Jon Donnison Tweets unverified information again

 

Misleading BBC presentation of a ‘ceasefire’ and its ‘breaches’

On July 27th BBC television news programmes aired a report by Ian Pannell which also appeared on the BBC News website under the title “Hamas-declared ceasefire in Gaza stalls as conflict continues“.CF Pannell 27 7

Before we take a look at Pannell’s report, let’s remind ourselves of the timeline of events over the weekend.

On Saturday July 26th a 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire came into effect at 08:00 local time. Before that, nine missiles were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel between midnight and 08:00. Throughout the agreed twelve-hour period, Hamas showed that it is capable of holding its own fire and preventing other terrorist organisations from acting when it wants to do so. At around 18:20 on Saturday evening, Israel said it would be willing to extend the ceasefire for a further four hours until midnight on Saturday night. Despite media reports that Hamas had also agreed to a four-hour extension, missiles were fired at Israeli communities at 20:04, and at least four subsequent barrages followed throughout the evening, including on Tel Aviv. At around 21:30 a Hamas spokesman said that Hamas would not extend the ceasefire until midnight after all. Just before midnight, the Israeli cabinet said it would further extend the ceasefire until 20:00 on Sunday, July 27th.

At 05:00 on July 27th mortars were fired from the Gaza Strip at communities in the Hof Ashkelon area. Further attacks took place at around 05:57, 08:10, 08:11, 08:33, 09:08 and 09:34 – with targeted areas including the Sharon and Shfela regions of central Israel. Just after 10:00 Israel announced that it was resuming fire in response to the missile attacks. Further missile attacks from the Gaza Strip took place at around 12:52 and 13:45. At around 13:30 Hamas announced a 24-hour truce starting at 14:00. Missiles were fired at approximately 14:19, 15:30, 16:18 (a woman was injured in that attack in a direct hit on her home while she slept), 16:42, 16:51, 17:22 and continued into the evening. From the morning of July 27th until 19:00, over 50 missiles were fired.

Ian Pannell’s report was filmed at around 10:00 on the morning of July 27th according to his account. In other words, at least seven missile attacks had been launched from the Gaza Strip by the time his camera began rolling. So let’s take a look at how he presented the situation to BBC audiences.

“Today was supposed to be quiet in Gaza. Israel extended its ceasefire, but Hamas did not. This was filmed by the Israeli military. They say it shows rockets being fired from a school across the border into Israel. “

Pannell then interviews Hamas spokesman Ehab Abu Ghossein.

IP: “What is the benefit to the Palestinian people of Hamas breaking the truce and then having massive Israeli airfire?”

EaG: “We’re looking for a total agreement and a full agreement that will end the killing and lift the siege totally and get our freedom.”

With a curious choice of words, Pannell goes on:

“This was Israel’s response. Well, it’s just gone ten o’clock in the morning…ahm…we were told that Israel was adhering to the ceasefire and that we were OK to travel on this area but we’re hearing a fairly constant barrage of artillery incoming. We’re seeing smoke rising in a number of different locations. There. There. Israel has declared its ceasefire over, but many residents were simply unaware.”

As noted above, Israel announced at around 10:00 that it would no longer hold fire due to the numerous missile attacks throughout the morning. Pannell, however, has nothing informative to say about those attacks meaning that BBC audiences remain ignorant of the circumstances behind Israel’s announcement that it would resume fire.

The rest of Pannell’s report is devoted to context-free accounts from local residents.

“The young mother said she was running away with her children because her house had been hit.”

“And while we talked to another resident, more shells were landing.”

The possibility that the Israeli fire might be directed at locations from which missiles were fired at Israel is not raised by Pannell, who also shows audiences footage of a context-free medical evacuation.

“An emergency team has been called out. People have been injured. Four people have been wounded. They said they’d been working on their farm. All of them had shrapnel wounds.”

As has been the case for the last three weeks, BBC camera crews apparently did not capture any of that abundant missile fire from the Gaza Strip on tape.

Pannell’s report was also featured in a written report titled “Hamas-declared ceasefire in Gaza stalls as conflict continues” which appeared on the BBC News website on the evening of July 27th. That article opens with the following interesting portrayal: [emphasis added]CF written 27 7

“A 24-hour ceasefire announced by Hamas in Gaza appears to be stalling, with both Palestinian militants and Israel continuing their offensives.

Hamas fired more rockets into Israel, accusing it of failing to abide by the ceasefire.

Israel rejected the truce, PM Benjamin Netanyahu saying: “Israel will do what it must do to defend its people”.”

In other words, the BBC presents Hamas missile fire during a truce it had declared unilaterally as a response to Israeli fire during a truce to which it had not agreed.

The article’s fifth paragraph contains this interesting piece of information:

“The Gaza health ministry on Sunday revised the number of dead down by 30 after some relatives found missing family members.”

In other words, from that we seem to be able to conclude that the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry – which of course has been quoted numerous times a day by the BBC since the beginning of hostilities – does not overly trouble itself with definite identification of casualties before it announces the numbers – and civilian status – of dead.

That article does not provide readers with any independent BBC reporting of the missile fire on the morning of July 27th which caused Israel to resume activities, but presents it solely in the form of an Israeli claim.   

“However, the Israeli military announced on Sunday morning it had decided to resume its air, ground and naval raids on Gaza in response to “incessant rocket fire” from Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since seizing power there in 2007.”

“Dozens of Hamas rockets were fired into Israel on Sunday, with some intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile shield, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).”

The article also includes a filmed report by Orla Guerin which was shown on BBC television news on July 27th and also appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Rockets lands in Israel after ceasefire stalls“. The synopsis to that report as it appears on the website again promotes the misleading notion that Israel broke the Hamas-declared unilateral ceasefire to which Israel did not agree.CF Guerin 27 7

“Hamas fired more rockets into Israel, accusing it of failing to abide by the ceasefire.”

Guerin opens her report with footage from the direct hit on the house in the Sha’ar HaNegev district in which a woman was injured, saying in her perennially dramatic tone:

“Mid-afternoon in Israel. A message from Hamas. A rocket landed one hour into a ceasefire it had announced. The home-owner was moderately wounded.

And here; Israel’s response. The government insists it’s pounding Gaza to stop the rockets and to destroy a network of tunnels that can be used to launch attacks.”

Of course some of those tunnels have already been used to launch attacks, but Guerin does not inform her viewers of that.

“Well, Israeli troops remain in position here close to the Gaza border and they’re still in position on the other side. In recent days the defence minister has said the ground operation could be broadened significantly. Twenty days on, by Israeli standards, the army has already suffered heavy losses and we’re just hearing the sound now of outgoing fire.

The justice minister Tsipi Livni was at the bedside of one of the wounded troops. We’re not allowed to show his face. Israel has lost 43 soldiers but it has killed hundreds of Palestinian civilians.”

After that context-free statement based on figures provided by the Hamas health ministry but not independently verified by the BBC to date, Guerin goes on to ask Israel’s minister of justice one of her trademark ‘impartially’ vitriolic questions – clearly more intended at broadcasting her own inaccurate statement than actually getting any information which might be informative to viewers from her interviewee.CF Guerin densely

“How can Israel try to justify raining missiles down on one of the most densely populated areas on earth?”

Tsipi Livni responds:

“Well, we’ve tried to stop more than once. Just yesterday we took a decision – the Israeli government – to have a humanitarian ceasefire when Hamas said no, so….”

Guerin continues:

“She wouldn’t comment further but internationally, the questions keep coming about the huge number of innocent victims.”

Again – Guerin has no independently verified facts regarding the number of uninvolved civilians or the number of terrorist combatants. Likewise, she has no independently verified information regarding the number of casualties who were actually killed by misfired or short-falling missiles fired by terrorist organisations. She goes on:

“On a hill overlooking Gaza Israelis come to watch the warfare. For some – a spectator sport. For others – a painful vista.”

That flippant interpretation by Guerin shows that she – predictably – joins the ranks of those foreign journalists who prefer to advance their own knee-jerk theories rather than actually trying to understand what they are seeing.

Guerin closes by misleading viewers with the implication that Hamas’ terrorism against Israeli civilians has something to do with the fact that a Palestinian state has not yet been established.

“Ceasefires may come and go but there’s no Palestinian state on the horizon.”

Bear in mind that Guerin – reporting as she is from Israel – is supposed to be giving BBC audiences the Israeli side of this story. Clearly that is not what she was trying to do in this report.  

Two BBC programmes claim criticism of Israel brings accusations of antisemitism

h/t: DL, Amie

One annoying aspect of being an Israeli, or a person with family in Israel, at a time like this is having to listen to pundits (who it is quite safe to assume have never had to grab their children and rush to a bomb-shelter within seconds because of missile fire from terrorists) sitting safely in a studio thousands of miles away and pontificating about the rights and wrongs of a conflict upon which they apparently believe they are qualified to comment because they have read about it in the papers or watched it on television.Any Questions

This last weekend the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Any Questions?’ had on its panel the former (2000 – 2004) BBC director general Greg Dyke, former LibDem MP Susan Kramer, Harper’s Bazaar editor Justine Picardie and MEP Dan Hannan. In the section of the programme which related to the current hostilities (available here from around 33:13 or here on iPlayer), listeners heard the editor of a fashion magazine opine that life in Gaza “is like living in a big prison”. They also heard a British MEP describe the Gaza Strip as a “sealed concentration camp almost” and then add “I should say sealed refugee camp”. Most interestingly though, they got to hear the following remarks from the man who headed the BBC during most of the second Intifada before resigning his position in the wake of the Hutton Report.

Greg Dyke: “I have to say, I do find the Israeli response massively over the top. [applause] I look at…and I look at what’s been happening this week with horror. I also….the problem is, if you criticize Israel you are – by certain sections of the Jewish community around the world – immediately accused of being antisemitic – which I am not in any way. And we have got to overcome…and you have to look at why is the American response always so limited; why do the Americans actually….because they’re scared of the Jewish community and the Jewish vote in America. We somehow have got to separate the concept of antisemitism…and supporting an Israeli government that I think is not supportable or doing things that are not justifiable. [applause]“

Presenter Jonathan Dimbleby then says:

“Greg, as you will know, historically the BBC has come under great external pressure from the interest groups in this – very severe. At the moment the criticism seems to be coming principally not from the Israelis for the BBC coverage but from those who think that the Palestinians and those who live in Palestine are not being fairly, adequately represented with enough background information to form a clear judgement. Yet…is the BBC eternally locked in that or does the BBC have something to answer for?”

Dyke: “It’s incredibly difficult. I mean I was director general of the BBC for four years in a period of conflict. There was no doubt there was more pressure on me from the Israelis than any other state anywhere in the world. To the extent that in the end I stood up and said look I’m sorry – you cannot be the judge of impartiality. You are so one-sided in this you have got to leave it to us to be the judge of impartiality but we have got to be impartial and we have got to try to be impartial. I do find – I have to say – this week I have found every time the BB…eh…BBC news talks about Israel and then militant Palestinians, I find that a difficult…if I’d been director general this time, I’d be saying hang on – this is…is this not judgemental? We call one bunch a government and the other bunch we call militant Palestinians and the word militant implies somehow illegitimate.”

So, apparently the man who was at the helm whilst the BBC spread the lethal narratives of the ‘Jenin massacre’ that never was and the Al Dura story is more concerned about the risk of implying via terminology that a person who indiscriminately fires military grade missiles at civilians is “illegitimate” than he is with those acts themselves. One can only wonder if that ‘gem’ crops up in the Balen Report of 2004 which the BBC has spent ten years and hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money avoiding publishing.

Another programme broadcast by the BBC this last weekend was the July 27th edition of BBC World Service radio’s ‘Weekend’ – available here for a limited period of time. It is worth listening to the programme in full in order to hear the context-free descriptions of the Gaza Strip from Chris Morris and Ian Pannell, including further promotion of Hamas’ pre-ceasefire demand to “lift the economic blockade” – described as a “smart demand” by Morris.WS Weekend

That programme also has two guests: one a woman in Paris called Vaiju Naravane – a novelist and former European bureau chief for the India’s Hindu newspaper, which apparently qualifies her to discuss the issue of this conflict although the fact that she describes Israeli towns and villages in Judea & Samaria as “colonies” is probably sufficient clue as to her political orientations. Right at the end of the programme she is given a platform to promote the following notions.

“Oh I think it’s a huge challenge [covering the story in the Gaza Strip]. I mean this is bigger than anything we faced in the Balkans in the 1990s for instance. […] and we’re not talking also about the essentials of the problem. I mean when France was occupied during the Second World War there were people who were planting bombs and there were people who were undertaking terrorist acts in order to get rid of the Germans from here and they were hailed as heroes. Now the same thing is not being applied to Hamas. I have no sympathies for Hamas because I think they’re extremists and all that. But at the same time you cannot in any moral sense have the kind of occupation – the way in which these people – this 1.4 million population is living in 140 square meters [sic] of territory without any kind of access and this is going on year after year after year and Israel’s demand seems to me to be submit, don’t do anything, don’t hit back and we’ll be OK with you but we will not remove the blockades, we will not remove the restrictions we place on your life. Now what sort of an argument is that?”

The other guest on that programme was Robert Fox – formerly a BBC defence correspondent and currently an occasional BBC contributor. Notably, Fox came up with the same claim promoted by Greg Dyke the day before.

“One of the difficulties that I’m having is that every time you criticize Israel… somebody of my position who’s been at the game for 47 years….ah, but you’re being antisemitic. That is a confusion of language. It’s a monstrosity… [..] This is a debate. There is an argument on all sides because what the criticism of Israel…what Israel is doing – and it’s a fundamental of international law – it is disproportion.”

So there we go: two ‘cultured’ BBC radio programmes in one weekend – both of which include promotion of the notion that it is not possible to criticize Israel without being accused of antisemitism – with one of the speakers making his own none-too-veiled insinuations based on the ‘Jewish power’ trope and another who – through her claim that Hamas is like the French Resistance and her comparison of Israel’s non-existent occupation of Gaza with that of Germany in France in WWII  – using a Nazi analogy.

Could it get more surreal than that?  

 

 

 

Unhindered promotion of PSC speaker’s propaganda by BBC News

The next time the opaquely funded, Hamas supporting, Palestine Solidarity Campaign complains about supposed BBC bias in favour of Israel (and let’s face it – that won’t take long), it may be worth reminding them of an item which appeared on BBC television news on July 26th and was also promoted on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “London rally will ‘boost morale of Palestinians in Gaza’“.PSC demo London al Helou

In that report on a rally held on the same date in London (at which antisemitic imagery and messaging were in open use, although there is no reporting on that in this item), presenter Keith Doyle interviewed Yousef al Helou – currently a Reuters Journalist Fellow at Oxford University. Doyle made no effort whatsoever to counter the inaccuracies, falsehoods and propaganda spouted by al Helou, who claims not to be a Hamas supporter but all the same seems to have no qualms about doing a speaking tour for the PSC which does support and enable that terrorist organisation.

Doyle: “This is one of a number of protests and rallies taking place throughout the UK. Organisers estimate around 15 thousand people are taking part in this protest outside the Israeli Embassy. It’s just moving off now but one of those people who is here at this protest is Yousef al Helou. You’re a journalist from Gaza; your family are there – have you been in touch with them?”

Al Helou: “Yes I am. I was born in Gaza. I grew up in Gaza which is known to be the world’s largest open-air prison. I’m in touch with my family and of course I’m very worried about them. I’m stressed out. I’m exhausted. I couldn’t sleep for the past three weeks trying just to stay awake. I didn’t want to hear bad news about my family. My house has sustained damage as a result of an Israeli airstrike. I’ve lost 12 members of my extended family. I live in the eastern part of Gaza where a Shuja’iya quarter was entirely flattened. The situation is miserable, very dangerous. There are no red lines. Hospitals were attacked, paramedics, journalists, mosques, churches, cemeteries. The ICRC is trying its best to work. People are outraged from the silence of the international community and they want to see of course an [unintelligible] court.”

Doyle; “Can a rally like this – can this do anything to help?”

Al Helou: “At least it will boost the morale of the Palestinians inside Gaza. They know now that they are not alone. ‘Cos the Palestinian cause is a just cause; it’s a universal issue.”

Doyle: “But it does take two sides to make peace and rockets are still going into Israeli territory.”

Al Helou: “Israel decided to wage this war on Gaza without any evidence that Hamas has killed the three Jewish settlers. And the people of Gaza have suffered enough. Three wars in less than six years. My seven years old daughter now she’s experiencing the third war in her age. People of course on both sides want peace but who has started the aggression? It was Israel.”

Doyle: “Well certainly the people here – feelings are running very high at this rally here this afternoon. As you can see behind me it’s just moving on now. By the time those talks get underway in Paris this rally will be passing Downing Street.”

That barrage of uncorrected falsehoods and context-free distortions was brought to millions in the UK  – at a time when antisemitic attacks are on the rise in the UK – by the media organization which claims to adhere to standards of accuracy and impartiality. 

 

 

 

What Beit Hanoun tells us about BBC impartiality

Here is a Tweet from one of those impartial BBC journalists currently reporting from the Gaza Strip: Tweet Chris Morris Beit Hanoun So, did the IDF actually say that “people didn’t die” in Beit Hanoun last Thursday as Morris facetiously claims? No. What the IDF investigation into the incident at the UNRWA school in which sixteen people were killed did reveal is that during a battle between IDF soldiers and terrorists located in the area, an IDF mortar did land in the schoolyard, but that yard was empty at the time. Ha’aretz has further details:

“The IDF released the findings of its investigation into the incident on Sunday morning. According to the inquiry, Palestinian militants opened fire from the area of the school, shooting mortars and antitank missiles at Israeli forces. In response, the investigation reveals, the IDF decided to return fire with mortars.

According to the army, whose inquiry included investigations of the ground forces and video footage of the incident, “one of the mortars fell in the school’s courtyard whilst it was empty of people.” “

An official statement adds:

“It has been established that Hamas rockets landed in the area and may have hit the UN facility. The investigation of the incident has revealed that Hamas terrorists fired anti-tank missiles at IDF soldiers from the area of the UN school. The IDF responded with mortar fire, and one of the rounds fell in the school’s courtyard, which was empty at the time. This was the only IDF fire that hit the school compound. These findings disprove the claim, made by various parties, that IDF fire caused casualties on the school grounds. Israel regrets all civilian casualties, but they are the direct result of Hamas’ decision to use Palestinian civilians as human shields.” [emphasis added]

In light of these findings BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis would of course do well to address the topic of her hastily reached conclusion that “You hit it. You killed them.” – which was broadcast to millions of viewers in the UK on July 24th.Maitlis Likewise, the editors of the filmed report by Yolande Knell which was shown to television audiences and promoted on the BBC News website on July 24th might like to reconsider the wisdom of the inclusion – before the circumstances of the incident were clear – of footage of a woman saying:

“The Israelis hit us in our homes and they hit us at the school”

That same footage of the same woman also appeared in a filmed report by Ian Pannell from the same date which was promoted on the BBC News website and shown on BBC television news. Both Pannell’s report and the ‘Newsnight’ interview by Emily Maitlis appear in a written report published on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on July 24th. Listeners to an edition of BBC World Service radio’s ‘Newsday’ heard the presenter saying:

“For the fourth time in as many days a UN facility there found itself in the eye of the storm; hit by what the Palestinians say was an Israeli shell.”

If readers are perhaps anticipating that this incident will prompt the BBC to reconsider its current policy of refraining from anything approaching robust reporting on the issue of the use of the local civilian population as human shields – which is precisely what a terrorist who fires anti-tank missiles at Israeli soldiers from the vicinity of a UN school is doing – then they may be in for some disappointment. That same ‘Newsday’ programme includes parts of Stephen Sackur’s recent interview with Khaled Masha’al. In addition, amplification is given to the following denial by Masha’al of Hamas’ use of human shields.GAZA MOI

“This is wrong information. Hamas does not give orders to people to stay inside their home. Hamas encourages people to stand fast and let the Palestinians show their steadfastness. This is the will of the people. Go to Gaza and see the people in hospitals and see the areas destroyed. These people are determined to preserve their land. You should not put the blame on the victims. The blame should go to the Israeli that has committed this massacre. We have several hundred Palestinians killed – most of them civilians – whereas Hamas is focusing on killing Israeli soldiers who came to Gaza to attack Palestinians. This is the ethical difference between the Palestinian resistance and the Israeli aggression.”

One presumes that the BBC must be aware of the ample filmed and written evidence of Hamas’ spokesmen and Ministry of the Interior telling civilians in the Gaza Strip not to leave their homes. Nevertheless, its journalists not only fail to report adequately on the issue itself and even promote denial of it, but also amplify Masha’al’s obviously inaccurate claims. In that ‘Newsnight’ interview on July 24th, Emily Maitlis asked Mark Regev:

“If, after the fog of war has passed, this does turn out to be the fault of Israel, will you pause? Will you reset your rules of engagement tonight?”

We might well ask Emily Maitlis, her editors and numerous other BBC correspondents, editors and producers a very similar question.

Update:

Here is the IDF video footage showing the empty school yard at the time of the errant mortar strike. 

 

BBC reports on Qalandiya rioting omit live fire by Fatah terror group, whitewash Fatah terrorist

On July 25th and 26th the BBC put out a number of reports concerning the rioting in Jerusalem and Palestinian Authority controlled areas of Judea & Samaria.

The first report to go out on BBC television news was produced by BBC Arabic’s Nawal Assad and it also appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on July 25th under the title “Palestinians killed in West Bank Gaza solidarity march“. Reporting from Qalandiya, Assad told viewers:Rioting Qalandiya Assad

“This is definitely the biggest demonstration I have seen in any city or town in the West Bank since the war in Gaza. Those young people had reached the Israeli checkpoint and they are engaging in clashes with them and they are heeding the call of a group of young people. One of them is the child of a prominent Palestinian leader called Marwan Barghouti who is serving a lifetime imprisonment sentence in Israeli jails. It is too early to say this is the beginning of a third Intifada but the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas had definitely called for one two days ago.”

Assad failed to inform viewers that Marwan Barghouti is a convicted Fatah terrorist and one of the leaders of both the first and second Intifadas. He was in fact sentenced to five terms of life imprisonment after having been found guilty of involvement in terror attacks in which five people were murdered and an additional 40 years imprisonment for attempted murder. Barghouti has on numerous occasions called for a third Intifada but Assad fails to mention that significant point.

Neither does she – nor any other of the BBC journalists reporting on this topic – make any mention of the calls from the Hamas leadership for violence.

“Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip and abroad are calling on Palestinians in the West Bank to start a Third Intifada.

Qatar-based Hamas spokesman Husham Badran, responding to the reports of clashes between thousands of Palestinians and police at the Qalandiya checkpoint, says the timing is right to rise up, Israel Radio reports.

“This is your opportunity,” he says to West Bank Palestinians.

Hamas official Izat a-Rishk calls, on Twitter, for a revolution against the enemy, adding that the blood of Gazans ignites the West Bank.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri says the events at Qalandiya prove that the Palestinians are one people and that Gaza cannot be isolated.”

Also on July 25th, the BBC News website published a written report under the same title of “Palestinians killed in West Bank Gaza solidarity march“. That article includes an equally tepid description of Marwan Barghouti from Nawal Assad.Rioting Qalandiya written

“The demonstration was called for by a group of youths on Facebook, among them the son of the popular imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has urged Palestinians to expand the protests, and leaders in the West Bank have called for a “day of anger” on Friday.”

The same report states:

“At least two Palestinians have been killed and 200 wounded in the West Bank during protests against Israel’s campaign in Gaza, officials say.

About 10,000 protesters marched from Ramallah towards East Jerusalem, where they were met by Israeli forces. […]

Palestinian leaders in the West Bank have called for a “day of anger” on Friday, one of the last days of Ramadan.

The protest at Qalandia, outside Ramallah, saw Israeli border police use “riot control measures” and live fire. Protesters also used live ammunition, Israel said.” [emphasis added]

The Israeli police did indeed report the use of live fire by rioters but in fact, not just “Israel said” that its security personnel had been shot at: Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade has clearly stated on more than one occasion that its members used live fire at the riot in Qalandiya. That fact has not been reported by the BBC at all.

The BBC report goes on:

“Large protests were also reported in Jerusalem on Thursday evening, after Israeli police prevented men under 50 from visiting the al-Aqsa mosque.

At least 20 protesters were arrested after they threw rocks at police, Israeli police said.”

The report fails to adequately clarify that the age restriction on males entering the most sensitive site in Jerusalem was part of measures to prevent violence.

“Security forces in the capital received reinforcement in the Old City on Thursday night in light of concerns that violent demonstrations would erupt on the occasion of Laylat Al-Qadr (Night of Destiny) celebrations, which marks the day the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.”

Concurrently, calls for a “Day of Rage” (not a “Day of Anger” as written in some BBC reports) on Friday July 25th also came from assorted Palestinian sources.

That same theme of supposed Israeli interference with freedom of worship – whilst failing to adequately clarify the context of incitement to violence from Palestinian leaders of various factions – also appeared in a July 26th filmed report by Orla Guerin; ‘parachuted in’ from Cairo. Guerin’s report also appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Clashes as diplomatic efforts continue to secure Gaza truce“.Rioting Guerin rep

“In Jerusalem’s Old City, open-air prayers under the watchful eye of Israeli troops. Young Palestinian men were blocked from reaching the city’s most important mosque which is often a flash point. Israel’s struggling to contain the fury over the killings in Gaza.

Well, prayers are just coming to a close here. There is a very heavy Israeli security presence in the area. They’re determined to stop these Palestinian worshippers from coming any closer. This is the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and for Palestinians it’s been a bloody month. There’s a great deal of anger on the streets.” [emphasis added]

Whilst it is entirely predictable that the BBC would frame these riots as a reaction to the Hamas-initiated hostilities in the Gaza Strip, the fact is of course that calls for a third Intifada and incitement to violence have been going on for quite some time now. As we have noted here previously on numerous occasions, the BBC has consistently failed to report incitement coming from Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and has likewise been silent on the topic of that organisation’s missile fire from the Gaza Strip during the recent hostilities and on Fatah incitement during the searches for the three kidnapped and murdered Israeli teenagers last month.

The whitewashing of convicted Fatah terrorist Marwan Barghouti and the failure to inform BBC audiences that a Fatah terrorist organization used live fire against Israeli security personnel is therefore entirely consistent with the BBC’s track record. 

BBC News backgrounder downgrades Hamas’ terror designation

Here is another one of those filmed BBC backgrounder reports – presumably intended to provide BBC audiences with information and context which it might be more difficult to give in reports from the field. This one – produced by BBC News’ diplomatic correspondent James Robbins – appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Gaza: What are the obstacles to peace?” in addition to being aired on BBC television news programmes.Robbins filmed 24 7

One of several notable features of that report is the editorial decision to insert a particular portion of footage from Khaled Masha’al’s recent press conference in Qatar in which he says:

“In this battle between us and Israel they are the executioners, the occupiers, the settlers and we are the true owners of the land.”

The best Robbins can come up with after that vitriol is:

“Israel rejects that…”

Later on, Robbins purports to explain the item’s main topic to viewers.

“So what are the main obstacles to peace – either a ceasefire or something more permanent? Well on the Hamas side, the leadership demands an end to Israel’s blockade of the territory. Gaza is effectively sealed off at sea and overland, including by Egypt – increasingly hostile to Hamas. Israel says the blockade is vital to stop Hamas getting materials to build new weapons.”

Yet again we see BBC amplification of Hamas’ pre-condition for a ceasefire without proper clarification to BBC audiences regarding the Hamas terrorism which brought about the introduction of restrictions by both Israel and Egypt in the first place. We also see a highly inadequate portrayal of the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip. Robbins goes on to present half a story with regard to Hamas’ founding principles, deftly avoiding any mention of the violent practical manifestations of Hamas’ refusal to recognise Israel.

“But a fundamental obstacle is that Hamas refuses to recognise Israel’s right to exist.”

He then makes an unsourced claim which this writer at least has not heard made by the Israeli government in the format in which it is presented here.

“On the other side, Israel says it wants to destroy Hamas’ entire rocket arsenal.”

Notably, the topic of Hamas’ cross-border attack tunnels – the neutralization of which is the main objective of the current ground operation – does not get a mention at all. Robbins then comes up with the following curious statement:

“Israel calls Hamas a terrorist organization – not an elected government – and doesn’t accept that negotiations involving Hamas will ever deliver a long-term peace for Israel and Palestinians.”

The interestingly punctuated visual on the screen as Robbins makes that statement says:

Hamas “a terrorist organisation”

This is not the first time we have seen Hamas’ terror designation being misrepresented in BBC reports during the current round of conflict, although it has much more frequently simply been ignored altogether, meaning that audiences are not made aware of the basic fact that these hostilities are actually between a country and a terrorist organisation.

Hamas is of course defined as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, the European Union, Canada and Japan – as the BBC’s own profile of Hamas clearly states. In addition, Jordan and Egypt have banned Hamas and Australia designates Hamas’ Izz al Din Al Qassam Brigades as a terrorist organization, as do New Zealand and the United Kingdom.  

But no less bizarre is Robbins’ suggestion that Hamas should be seen as an “elected government” – not least because no PLC elections have taken place in over eight and a half years and the term of the PLC legislature elected in 2006 with a Hamas majority expired in 2010.

Clearly this latest backgrounder contributes little if anything to BBC audiences’ “understanding of international issues“. 

What do BBC journalists think you should be reading?

Among the recommended reading on the current hostilities in Israel and the Gaza Strip which BBC employees have recently promoted to their followers on social media is an article by Jeremy Bowen in the New Statesman.

Tweet Ghattas Bowen art

In that article Bowen makes no attempt whatsoever to adhere to those famous BBC values of accuracy and impartiality. Moreover, he further amplifies the line he already began promoting whilst on the ground in the Gaza Strip, claiming that he saw “no evidence” of Hamas’ use of the local population as human shields.

“I was back in London for my son’s 11th birthday party by the time all those people were killed in Shejaiya. But my impression of Hamas is different from Netanyahu’s. I saw no evidence during my week in Gaza of Israel’s accusation that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields. I saw men from Hamas on street corners, keeping an eye on what was happening. They were local people and everyone knew them, even the young boys. Raji Sourani, the director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza, told me that Hamas, whatever you think of it, is part of the Palestinian DNA.

I met Sourani first when he was condemning abuses by Yasser Arafat’s men. He has taken an equally tough stance on Hamas. Now he says Israel is violating the laws of war by ignoring its legal duty to treat Palestinian civilians as protected non-combatants.”

Bowen refrains from informing readers that Raji Sourani is far from the impartial human rights campaigner he portrays, but in fact one of those currently leading the lawfare campaign against Israel. Bowen, it is all too apparent, has elected to lend his own clout to that campaign.

“Hamas, human rights groups say, also violates the laws of war by firing missiles at civilians. […]

But it is wrong to suggest that Israeli civilians near Gaza suffer as much as Palestinians. It is much, much worse in Gaza.”

It is of course worth remembering that those words – and in particular that ‘scorecard’ of suffering – were written by the man ultimately responsible for the accuracy, impartiality and tone of the BBC’s reporting on the Middle East. 

Another article which proved popular with BBC employees was written by Channel 4’s Jon Snow. 

Tweet Swift Snow art

Snow – who incidentally supports a ‘charity’ banned in Israel because of its ties to Hamas – makes little effort to put up any kind of show of journalistic impartiality either and he too appoints himself as judge and chief awarder of points in the league tables of suffering invented by Western journalists.

“I could see the young Israeli IDF guards peering at me through the steel room’s bullet-proof glass. They were the same women who, from another glass window, had barked commands at me though a very public address system.

“Feet apart!” they said. “Turn! No, not that way – the other!” Then, in the next of five steel security rooms I passed through – each with a red or green light to tell me to stop or go – a male security guard up in the same complex above me shouted “Take your shirt off – right off. Now throw it on the floor… Pick it up, now ring it like it was wet” (it was wet, soaked in sweat).

From entering the steel complex until I reach the final steel clearing room where I held the baby, I was never spoken to face to face, nor did I see another human beyond those who barked the commands through the bullet-proof windows high above me. […]

I feel guilty in leaving, and for the first time in my reporting life, scarred, deeply scarred by what I have seen, some of it too terrible to put on the screen.

It is accentuated by suddenly being within sumptuously appointed Israel. Accentuated by the absolute absence of anything that indicates that this bloody war rages a few miles away. […]

In and out of an Israeli transit hotel for a few hours in Ashkelon, an hour from the steel crossing-point from Gaza, there were three half-hearted air raid warnings. Some people run, but most just get on with what they are doing.

They are relatively safe today because Israel is the most heavily fortified country on earth. The brilliant Israeli-invented, American-financed shield is all but fool-proof; the border fortifications, the intelligence, beyond anything else anywhere.”

Perhaps predictably, Snow closes by promoting the cringingly uninformed claim that Israel’s battle against a terrorist organization trying to destroy it (a fact he somehow neglects to mention) is in fact the cause of conflict the world over.

“This is humankind’s most grievous cancer, for its cells infect conflicts in every corner of the world.”

BBC licence fee payers might reasonably wonder what chance they have of getting anything approaching the accurate and impartial reporting they are promised if these are examples of the type of vitriolic polemics the corporation’s employees read and recommend. They might, however, have already ceased to wonder why so many UK media reports  fail to address the topic of the responsibility of terrorist organisations for the suffering of the people of Gaza. 

Half a picture, half a story: how the BBC compromises its own impartiality in Gaza

As was noted in this recent post, an article by Yolande Knell titled “Gaza: Hamas seeks to emerge stronger” appeared in the ‘Features & Analysis’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page on July 24th. The article includes the following interesting passages:Crossings Knell written

“Israel says its military offensive in Gaza targets militants from the Palestinian movement, Hamas. Yet for the most part the Islamist fighters remain shadowy figures during this latest conflict.

In northern Gaza last week, heavy exchanges of gunfire with advancing Israeli ground troops suggested the presence of militants nearby.

However, it was only during Sunday’s bloody scenes in Shejaiya, north-east of Gaza City, that journalists saw masked men hurrying down the streets and talking furtively into walkie-talkies on street corners. […]

There have been occasional televised statements by the former Hamas Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, but most of the Islamist group’s officials have gone to ground during this conflict. Their houses tend to be empty when they are targeted by Israeli air strikes.

The only place where we have been able to approach Hamas spokesmen is at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City where they make periodic appearances. […]

The large turnouts for funerals of local Hamas leaders killed in the latest conflict are a reminder of how the Islamist movement still commands wide respect in Gaza, which remains among the most socially conservative Palestinian areas.”

BBC television audiences have not seen any footage of those “large turnouts” at Hamas funerals which Knell has apparently witnessed and have not been provided with combatant casualty figures. Although interviews with Hamas spokesmen at Shifa hospital have been aired, audiences have not seen any real reporting of the fact that the Hamas leadership is in hiding in that hospital. Apart from a couple of brief mentions by Lyse Doucet of those “masked men hurrying down the streets and talking furtively into walkie-talkies on street corners”, BBC audiences have not seen any footage or read any accounts of the actions of Hamas terrorists.

They have not seen or been told anything of the fierce battles between terrorists and the IDF: no images of Hamas members firing RPGs, anti-tank missiles or mortars at Israeli troops have been aired. They have not seen footage of the launching of even one of more than 2,350 missiles which have been fired at Israeli civilians since July 8th or of the effects of the 10 to 15% of  missiles which fall short and land in the Gaza Strip itself. Neither have they seen any reporting on the topic Hamas’ use of child soldiers.

Yolande Knell would apparently have us believe that not one of the plethora of BBC reporters on the ground in the Gaza Strip in the last nineteen days has witnessed or recorded any of the above.

Now it may well be that foreign correspondents in Gaza – and the BBC among them – are being subjected to pressures which prevent them from reporting anything which does not fall into the category of Israeli military actions or dead and wounded Palestinian civilians. Certainly the social media accounts of some of those reporters would suggest that is the case. But if it is, audiences should obviously be informed for the sake of accuracy and impartiality that they are only receiving a partial picture of events and why that is the case – and that has so far not happened.

In an interesting article in Ha’aretz, former BBC journalist Stephen Games asks “[c]an the BBC really report from Gaza?” and refers to a BBC interview with Andrew Roy who readers may remember was recently to be found patting his organization on the back for its Middle East coverage.

“On another popular BBC radio programme, “Feedback”, which provides a platform for public comment, listeners are said to have complained in equal numbers that BBC coverage was biased either towards Israel or towards the Palestinians.

In response to such contradictory criticism, BBC executives stereotypically say that if they are being criticized from both sides, they must be getting the balance just about right. On this occasion the “Feedback” host, Roger Bolton, stepped back from this glib reply and tried to explore the alternative possibility that the BBC was getting it badly wrong, but this tack was instantly dismissed by his studio guest, the World Editor of BBC News, Andrew Roy.

Roy admitted that covering Gaza was difficult because reporters are at physical risk; but he went on to argue that the BBC was adept at navigating pressure by lobbyists on both sides to adapt its reporting to their liking. He also claimed that its authority came from its being one of the few international broadcasters with a permanent presence in Gaza and having a website to provide further context.

What Roy would not address, however, was Bolton’s suggestion that unlike reporters working in Israel, those in Gaza are hampered by lack of access and by the dangers, not so much to BBC staff, but to potential interviewees, of being targeted if they talk openly. Roy would only acknowledge the danger of working “under bombardment”, giving the impression that the threat to honest journalism came only from Israeli rockets, not from Hamas enforcers. 

It was not clear whether Roy refused to acknowledge the impossibility of carrying out normal investigative journalism under Hamas because he—personally or corporately—cannot see it, or because the BBC dare not tell the truth for fear of losing its ringside seat at one of the world’s worst trouble spots. 

What did emerge from the interview is the unintended damage caused by the BBC’s ostensible policy of even-handedness. Because it cannot be seen as editorialising, the BBC bends over backwards to maintain a policy of “show-don’t-tell”. Thus, the only truths about Gaza that BBC reporters can convey are those that a camera can point at. Never has a BBC reporter broken a story from Gaza, interviewed a Hamas commander about splits in the ranks, examined the Palestinian justice and detention system, exposed the climate of fear that Gazans are subject to, shown missile stockpiling or residential defensive positions, or challenged the brainwashing of children in schools.” 

The obvious result of censorship of vital parts of this story – be it the result of direct outside pressure or self-imposed – is of course that journalists deny their audiences information which is crucial to their being able to reach informed opinions on the topic. But such censorship also has another important effect; it turns journalists into one of the factors actively playing a part in a war which is not only being fought in the alleys of Shuja’iya and Beit Hanoun, but also on the internet, in print, on television, on radio and on social media.

Hamas and the other terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip know full well that they cannot compete with Israel militarily and hence, as ever, a no less important battle for public opinion around the world is taking place. If BBC journalists continue their current practice of refraining from properly reporting the part being played by Hamas in bringing about the tragic scenes they do film, photograph and report – or at least explaining to audiences why they cannot report the missing parts of the picture – then they clearly compromise their own impartiality by self-conscripting to one side of the battle for public opinion.  

BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis to Israeli spokesman: “You killed them”

On the afternoon of July 24th an UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun where many Palestinians were sheltering was hit by projectiles of origins as yet unknown. Some sixteen people were killed and many injured. It is not yet clear exactly what happened there and the incident is under investigation by the IDF. What is known, however, is that the vicinity of the school had been previously used by terrorists to fire missiles into Israel, apparently with some falling short. Because of that fact, the IDF had advised UNRWA to evacuate the civilians from that school and a four-hour humanitarian corridor had been agreed. Although UNWRA representatives claimed differently – at least one eyewitness seems to suggest that an evacuation was planned.Maitlis

“Sabah Kafarna, 35, had also been sheltering at the school. “At about 11.30 someone from the municipality came to tell us that we were going to be moved because it was too dangerous. But the buses didn’t come. That’s why [there were] so many people all outside when the shells landed,” she said.”

The New York Times reports:

“The Israeli military warned on Monday that the shelter should be evacuated. By Thursday, the United Nations had decided to withdraw its staff and to stop providing food.

Then, as the Palestinians gathered in the courtyard on Thursday, believing they were about to be bused elsewhere, blasts tore through the crowd, killing 16 people and sending scores of wounded, mostly women and children, streaming into local hospitals.”

It is also known that at the time of the incident, a battle was raging between terrorists and IDF soldiers operating in the area. Below is an IDF statement concerning the events.

“In the past few days, the area surrounding the UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun has turned into a battlefield, therefore prompting the IDF to insist those present to evacuate it. Furthermore, the IDF authorized a humanitarian time window for evacuation between 10:00-14:00 IDT earlier today.  Hamas prevented the civilians from leaving it and once again used their infrastructure and international symbols as human shields. In the course of the afternoon, several rockets launched by Hamas from within the Gaza Strip landed in the Beit Hanoun area. From initial inquiries done about the incident, during the intense fighting in the area, militants opened fire at IDF soldiers from the school area. In order to eliminate the threat posed to their lives, they responded with fire toward the origins of the shooting. The IDF is still reviewing the incident.

Furthermore, according to the COGAT Spokesman, the UNRWA claims that Israel prevented the safe evacuation of the school in Beit Hanoun are unfounded. It should be emphasized that during recent days, COGAT has been maintaining close contact with representatives of the UNRWA, the ICRC, and Palestinians in Beit Hanoun. COGAT made every possible effort to ensure the safety of local residents by evacuating them from the area, which has been marked by intense fighting and Hamas rocket launching towards Israel, including from the vicinity of such facilities. It should be further emphasized that following this contact, the humanitarian window was authorized.”

BBC Two ‘Newsnight’ presenter Emily Maitlis however did not need to wait until investigations had been completed in order to determine whether the UN facility was hit by an errant IDF shell, a shortfall terrorist missile, terrorist mortar fire aimed at IDF troops or any combination of the above. Interviewing Israeli spokesman Mark Regev just hours after the incident – and clearly completely misunderstanding the nature and intention of IDF warnings to evacuate because of fighting in the area – she emotionally charged Regev with the following:

“But you said you were going to hit it. You hit it. You killed them.”

Beyond Maitlis’ distinctly unprofessional demeanor throughout this interview, her repeated interruptions and her obvious urgency to promote her own version of events to audiences, one patronizing statement she makes is extremely revealing and actually captures the essence of much of the BBC’s reporting of the current hostilities in a nutshell.

“You have a very effective defence system. It’s called the Iron Dome. It stops you for the most part being hit. They [the people in Gaza] don’t and they’re paying the price with their dead children.”

An abridged version of this interview is also being promoted on the BBC News website in addition to the promotion of the full item on the ‘Newsnight’ Youtube channel. The head of the BBC’s Middle East Bureau described it thus in his Twitter promotion of the item:

Colebourn Maitlis int

Whether “strong” is an appropriate adjective for the performance of an interviewer obviously less interested in hearing about the actual circumstances of an event than in promoting her own already fixed – and frankly tediously parochial and uninformed  – narrative of events is clearly a matter of taste.