BBC smokescreen for terrorists’ use of human shields reaches new low

On the afternoon of July 28th, at around 17:00 local time, explosions took place near Shifa hospital and in the Shati area of Gaza CityShifa Sahti tweet 1 and around half an hour later, it was reported that ten people had been killed, including children. Along with Hamas spokesmen, many members of the international media in Gaza immediately jumped to – and promoted – the conclusion that the explosions were the result of Israeli airstrikes.

Just after 18:00 the IDF stated that it had not been operating in the area at the time and confirmed that both explosions were in fact missiles misfired by terrorists. Not long afterwards, an aerial photograph was made public showing the trajectory paths of four missiles launched simultaneously by terrorists from inside the Gaza Strip, as recorded by IDF radars and sensors. One of those missiles exploded near Shifa hospital, another exploded in the Shati area, a third landed at sea and the fourth was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system over Ashkelon.

Missiles Al-Shifa and Shati tatsa

Three reports which appeared on the BBC News website, however, all failed to tell audiences what really happened, electing instead to present them with a ‘he said/she said’ version of events.

A report dated July 28th and titled “Gaza in critical condition, says UN’s Ban Ki-moon” states:

“Shortly after he [Ban Ki-moon] spoke, there were reports of two explosions in Gaza City – one in a children’s playground and one near Gaza’s main hospital. [...]

Police and health officials said separate Israeli airstrikes had hit the compound of Gaza City’s main hospital and a nearby playground on Monday afternoon, causing casualties.

But a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces said both explosions were caused by misfired rockets that were launched from Gaza by “terrorists”.”

Another report titled “Gaza City and Israel’s Eshkol hit by deadly blasts” – now dated July 29th but which originally appeared on July 28th – states:

“Explosions in Gaza City reportedly killed 10 people, including children. […]

At least 10 people – eight of them children – were killed in Monday afternoon’s blasts in Gaza City, Palestinian health officials said.

Palestinian officials say the 10 were killed by Israeli missile strikes, but Israel says the explosions were caused by rockets misfired by “terrorists”.”

A third article dated July 29th and titled “Israel PM Netanyahu warns of ‘prolonged’ Gaza campaign” states:

“At least 10 people – eight of them children – were killed in blasts in Gaza City on Monday afternoon, Palestinian health officials said. It is unclear if they were killed by an Israeli attack or a misfiring militant rocket.”

In other words, the BBC would have audiences believe that it cannot possibly tell them which is more reliable: the evidence provided by a sophisticated system of radars and trackers which are part of a technologically advanced early warning system, or the unverified word of ‘health officials’ belonging to a terrorist organization which, if it did not fire the specific missiles itself, is collaborating with the terrorist organization that did.  

Notably, the BBC’s journalists on the ground apparently had no inclination to carry out their own investigations into the incident. 

On the evening of July 28th, some seven hours after the incident occurred and long after the above aerial photograph had been made public, viewers of BBC television news were nevertheless shown a filmed report by Ian Pannell which was aimed solely at whipping up emotions and did absolutely nothing to inform them of the real circumstances behind the tragic incident.Pannell Shati report filmed 28 7

That report was also promoted on the BBC News website under the title “Middle East crisis: Children pay heavy price in Gaza“.

“It was supposed to be a day of celebration in Gaza. But it ended with the blood of children. They’d been playing in the park, celebrating the Eid holiday. That’s when the rocket landed. At least ten were killed, eight of them children. Dozens more were injured. Ola [phonetic] is just four years old. She was out on the street when a rocket exploded. Her sister Bethaina [phonetic] was with her. ‘I was sitting in front of the house’, she says, ‘a rocket landed and it hit me and my sister’.

A hospital already overflowing with casualties was engulfed in chaos. Parents and relatives frantically searching for their children. The wards were full of them. Fourteen year-old Mohammed had shrapnel in his back. ‘We were playing in the street and they hit us’, he said. ‘They targeted us. Lots of children were killed.’ And next to him, four year-old Ola [phonetic]. Shrapnel cut into her small body. Israel has denied it was responsible for this.

Woman: “Then who fired it? I ran outside and found my daughters. If the Israelis didn’t do it, who did? Did my daughters launch the rocket?”

Marching up the hill to bury two small boys. They’d played together, they were killed together and now, they were going to be Shifa Shati Campbell tweetburied together. The boys’ father says his sons are martyrs who died for the resistance against Israel.

Today was supposed to be one of a ceasefire. The first day of Eid, the end of Ramadan, a holy festival, a time for celebration and for families to be together. Instead you have families going to the cemetery to bury their children. Gaza’s seen many bloody days. Few have been as painful as this one. The children here have paid heavily. The militants are under pressure but there’s little sign their support is ebbing. Days like this only harden hearts and compromise seems ever more remote.”

Pannell’s tabloid style report does nothing to inform BBC audiences of the real circumstances behind the deaths of those children, with the missiles misfired by terrorists not even getting a mention. If readers wonder why Pannell chose to feed his audiences fact-free emotion rather than providing them with insight into what really happened, then a clue might be found in a Tweet sent by an Italian journalist after he left the Gaza Strip.

Tweet Italian journo Shati

“The children here have paid heavily”, says Pannell and indeed they have. But until Western journalists start telling the truth about the way in which terrorists in the Gaza Strip launch missiles from residential areas, schools, hospitals and mosques; endangering the local population and turning them into human shields, then children in both Gaza and Israel will continue to pay a heavy price. Like the rest of the Western media though, Ian Pannell and his team will soon be safely moving on.

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What word is missing from BBC reporting on Gaza?

If we take a ‘zoom out’ look at BBC reporting since July 8th on the current hostilities in Israel and the Gaza Strip, one obviously very significant factor is its almost exclusive focus on the micro.

BBC audiences have seen, heard and read ample reporting at ground level, with the overriding emphasis being the portrayal of the effects of the conflict on civilians in the Gaza Strip and the majority of still and filmed images showing destroyed buildings, civilian casualties, hospitals and residents who have fled their homes.

However, as we have noted here previously, audiences have seen, read or heard very little indeed about the terrorist activities of Hamas and other organisations which initiated these hostilities. Apart from the occasional tepid interview with a Hamas spokesman and rare vague references to “gunfire” or “rockets fired”, BBC audiences could quite well reach the mistaken conclusion that this is a story exclusively about Israeli military strikes and civilians.Gardner filmed 22 7

But zooming out even further, we see that there is one word in particular which has been remarkably absent from all BBC reporting and that word is Iran. The issue of where many of those missiles currently being launched at Israeli civilian communities came from apparently fails to arouse the curiosity of BBC reporters, who have put great effort into promoting the theme of “homemade rockets“. The subject of Iranian training and financial support for Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad has been completely absent from the picture presented to BBC audiences, meaning that this conflict is being framed solely in terms of a powerful Israeli military assault on an impoverished and beleaguered Palestinian civilian population.

One rare occasion upon which the word Iran did make it into BBC coverage of Operation Protective Edge was seen in a backgrounder report produced by the BBC’s security correspondent Frank Gardner, aspects of which were previously discussed here. That July 22nd report purported to explain to BBC audiences “why is Middle East truce so hard to broker?” and in it Gardner informed them:

“Three years ago Hamas had more allies in the region. Now the whole political map has changed. Egypt has switched rulers from Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood to the secular Sisi. Syria and Iran were once big supporters of Hamas but relations have been strained by Hamas’ sympathy for the rebels in Syria. Qatar is now the sole big benefactor for Hamas, but Qatar is not an acceptable mediator for the Israelis.”

The graphic accompanying Gardner’s voice-over shows Iran being erased from the map of Hamas supporters under the title “Hamas isolated”, with the clear suggestion to viewers being that Hamas no longer enjoys Iranian support.

Gardner filmed 22 7 Iran erased graphic

But does Gardner’s backgrounder provide BBC audiences with an accurate view of the situation? One person who would probably disagree with this BBC analysis is Ahmad Jibril of the PFLP-GC who recently told Al Manar TV – run by Iran’s proxy in Lebanon Hizballah – the following.

“After 2008, hundreds of our young people left the Gaza Strip for Syria, Lebanon, and Tehran, to train and to learn how to improve these weapons,” Jibril said referring to Hamas’s missiles. […]

… Jibril described the route by which arms were smuggled from Syria to the blockaded Gaza Strip, explaining that the armed [arms] from Iran can’t be transferred by the Persian Gulf because it “is under surveillance.”

“We transferred [the missiles] from the airports in Damascus to Khartoum, from Khartoum to Port Sudan, and from there to the Sinai. From the Sinai, they were transferred via tunnels to the Gaza Strip,” the Palestinian faction leader explained. “The brothers in Hezbollah established cells of Bedouin and so on in the Sinai Desert. You could transfer the weapons to them, and they would get them into Gaza.” “

And it seems that the Iranians themselves might take umbrage at Gardner’s suggestion that Hamas no longer enjoys their support, with their deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian having told the same Hizballah TV station on July 27th that:

“Even under the worst conditions, Iran maintained good ties with Hamas. During the recent crisis, we were in direct contact and held consultations with Hamas, with Ismail Haniya, and with Hamas Political Bureau head Khaled Mash’al.

Two days ago, the Iranian foreign minister called Khaled Mash’al and talked with him for 20 minutes. This was a very important and productive conversation.

We regularly support Hamas and the Islamic Jihad and all factions of the Palestinian resistance.”

It seems too that Iranian intentions are not limited to the Gaza Strip.

“A former adviser to Iran’s defense minister said this week that Tehran would seek to arm Palestinians in the West Bank with “strategic weapons” including missiles to target Tel Aviv and Haifa. […]

“A new front must be opened from the West Bank, after it has been armed, especially with missiles,” Mousavi said in comments relayed by the Middle East Media Research Institute, “because we know very well that the distance between the West Bank and Tel Aviv, Haifa, and other areas is much shorter than the distance from Gaza. Therefore, simple means are required. There is no need for long-range missiles. Short-range missiles can change the entire picture in the occupied lands.” “

Those remarks should be viewed in conjunction with a comment (not reported by the BBC) made recently by Khaled Masha’al at a press conference in Qatar.

“Mashal said the Gaza-based group “would not accept an initiative that does not include lifting the blockade. Today Israel is worried about what happened at Ben Gurion Airport. Do you want a blockade in return for the blockade? Today the resistance in Gaza can blockade you, in the future it will from the West Bank.” ” [emphasis added]

The BBC’s failure to adequately inform audiences of the Iranian factor in this conflict (and also the Qatari one; an entire topic in itself) clearly means that it is falling short of its obligation to “[b]uild a global understanding of international issues”. But that failure also has an additional, more immediate effect.

The past few days have seen extensive BBC amplification of Hamas’ pre-ceasefire demand to remove border restrictions imposed by Egypt and Israel in response to the actions of terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip. Yet not one BBC journalist has made any real effort to place that demand within the crucial context of the rearming of terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip, the import of dual-use goods and building materials for the reconstruction of attack tunnels and the shared agenda of terrorist organisations such as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other actors in the wider region.

That’s one very serious ‘oversight’ for an organization which claims to set the standards for international journalism.  

BBC Radio 5 Live goes for the emotional jugular in context free promoted item

Last week BBC Radio 5 Live broadcast an interview with a doctor from ‘Medecins du Monde’ who inaccurately claimed that the shortage of medicines and disposables in Gaza Strip hospitals is attributable to Israeli policies.

“As you know we are under siege for a long time in Gaza and this affects the medical parts in Gaza and there is a lack of disposables and basic drugs needs in emergency. We need really, really action from the world for intervention to help people in Gaza.”

Despite that previous failure to adhere to BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality and despite the fact that Dr Hosam Abu Elwan’s claim was – like sadly too many of the claims made by medical staff in Gaza Strip at present – clearly political in motivation, on July 29th the same radio station saw fit to invite the doctor to speak again and his reportappearing on a dedicated webpage – was promoted on the Radio 5 Live official Twitter account.

R 5 live doctor 29 7

 

“I am Dr Hosam Abu Elwan from Nasser hospital south of Gaza. We see that is no clear ceasefire declaration. We are not sure if it’s valid or not but we see the number of wounded cases is decrease but the number of murders is increased because they was killed two, three or five days before and the number of murders is increased about 20 cases per day coming to hospital by…Unfortunately I want to speak that is bad situation in hospital because the murders dying before five days with offensive odours and I can’t describe the situation because it was very bad in hospital. The number of murders is increased at least 20 cases per day. There is no spaces in the hospital for this huge number. And we hope to be there is ceasefire declaration and for medical teams to evacuate their murders and dead body from their houses or from under destroyed houses.”

R 5 live doctor 29 7 web

The version of this ‘report’ promoted by BBC Radio 5 live on Twitter and on the dedicated webpage lacks all context and clearly plays exclusively on the emotions of listeners who cannot possibly discern from it whether the dead are civilians or combatants or in what circumstances – or by whom – they were killed.

The term ‘murder’ – used no fewer than five times in the 77 second-long report, twice on the webpage and twice in the Tweet – has a specific meaning in the English language which attributes intention and premeditation – as this programme’s UK listeners will know. As someone for whom English is not a first language, Dr Abu Elwan may perhaps not be aware of that nuance, but the editors of this item most definitely should be and hence their decision to air and promote such a recording as a raw, stand-alone item and to use the word ‘murder’ as part of their promotion clearly calls editorial standards of impartiality into question. 

BBC’s Jon Donnison misrepresents PFLP ‘fighter commander’ as charity worker

On Friday July 25th the BBC’s Jon Donnison reported from Jerusalem for BBC television news on the topic of the ‘Day of Rage’ called for by assorted Palestinian factions including Hamas on that date. The report also appeared on the BBC News website under the title “Gaza and Israel brace for ‘day of anger’“.Donnison 25 7 Jlem

In that report Donnison described the events of the night before at Qalandiya checkpoint.

“Now you mentioned those clashes in Ramallah overnight – ah…pretty bad. Ten thousand people demonstrating. They marched towards the Qalandiya checkpoint which separates Ramallah from…err… East Jerusalem. We had two Palestinians killed, more than 250 injured and 29 Israeli police officers also injured. So – as you say – a day of anger being called for and I think it could be a difficult day.”

Like all the other BBC journalists who reported on those violent riots in Qalandiya, Donnison failed to inform BBC audiences that the two Palestinians killed were shooting live ammunition at the police officers present at the time and that the shootings were claimed by Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

On July 29th Donnison produced another filmed report for BBC television news (which also appeared on the BBC News website under the title “West Bank Palestinians politically divided, but united in anger“. In that report too Donnison referred to the rioting in Qalandiya – which he insists of course on describing as “protests” and “clashes” – without informing BBC audiences of the live fire claimed – significantly – by a terrorist group affiliated with the PA’s dominant party.Donnison 29 7 Beit Ummar

“In clashes with the Israeli army more than ten West Bank Palestinians have been killed and hundreds injured since the war in Gaza began. At one protest well over ten thousand turned out. Just about every night for the past three weeks or so there have been clashes across the West Bank. Here at the Qalandiya checkpoint you can see the rocks thrown by Palestinian youths littering the streets as well as the tear gas canisters fired by the Israeli army.”

But that is not Donnison’s only serious omission in this report. At the beginning of the item he tells audiences the following story:

“Palestinian grief. Not in Gaza, but in the West Bank. Hashem Abu Maria was shot dead by Israeli soldiers last week as he demonstrated against Israel’s actions in Gaza. He was 47 years old, a father of three and worked for a children’s charity. By his graveside his wife Samira tells me Hashem gave his life trying to protect children.”

Donnison does not inform viewers of the location of the rioting during which Hashem Abu Maria was shot, but it happened in his home town of Beit Ummar – a place which might be familiar to some readers because of the not infrequent attacks on Israeli drivers there and the fact that the town’s residents seem to have a repeated habit of flying Nazi flags.

Donnison is equally vague about that “children’s charity” for which the pleasant-sounding Mr Abu Maria worked. In fact he was an employee of a political NGO with which many readers will also be familiar Defence for Children International – Palestine SectionThat NGO – frequently quoted and promoted by Western journalists – has links to other anti-Israel organisations including the Alternative Information Centre and the ISM – which has a permanent representative also connected to the extended Abu Maria family in Beit Ummar. But most notably, that “children’s charity” also has links to a terror organization – the PFLP – via one of its board members and also, it transpires, via none other than its former employee Hashem Abu Maria. Below is a screenshot of the PFLP’s Facebook announcement and here is an obituary on the PFLP website which describes Jon Donnison’s ‘charity worker’ as “fighter commander”.

PFLP Abu Maria

Below is footage filmed in Beit Ummar on July 25th – apparently after Hashem Abu Maria was killed – showing one of those “protests” as Donnison euphemistically describes them. The tower is an Israeli army position – note the PFLP flag.

Clearly BBC editorial standards of accuracy would demand that Jon Donnison tell audiences about the real nature of the so-called “children’s charity” for which Hashem Abu Maria worked and his membership of the PFLP. But just as obvious is the fact that Donnison’s lack of accuracy serves a higher goal: the sympathy-inducing presentation of Abu Maria as a family man and a ‘charity worker’ who “gave his life trying to protect children” would be somewhat less convincing to audiences if they knew he was a member of a terrorist organization.

Clearly too, Abu Maria as he is portrayed is intended to serve as signposting for audiences in Donnison’s overall representation of ‘protesting’ Palestinians killed by Israeli forces. Like his failure to inform viewers of the live fire at the Qalandiya riots, the aim of that selective portrayal is to direct audiences towards a specific understanding of events which does not include the entire picture. And that can only be interpreted as a deliberate breach of BBC guidelines on impartiality.

 

BBC’s Ian Pannell does a convincing impression of Al Aqsa TV

“BBC News aspires to remain the standard-setter for international journalism…” [source]

On July 28th BBC television news audiences viewed some of that ‘standard setting’ journalism in the form of yet more unchallenged Hamas propaganda, this time facilitated by Ian Pannell. The item also appeared on the BBC News website under the title “Hamas: ‘We are getting killed but we won’t give up’“. Pannell’s ‘interview’ (and that term is used very loosely here) with Hamas spokesman Ehab al Ghossein begins with the latter saying:Pannell int Hamas spox

“This my relatives, my people. Maybe I’m gonna get killed in the next hour. So; whenever we stand in front of this Israeli occupation that…this army that has no ethics – they are just killing civilians, kids, and the world is watching – the only thing I have is to continue standing in front of it. To continue to resist in front of it. I’m looking for my freedom and I know that the price of freedom will be high so I…nobody can make me give up or hold the white flag without getting my freedom and this is the sense for all the Palestinians. We are paying, we are getting killed but we won’t give up.”

Does Pannell bother to point out to BBC audiences – and al Ghossein – that the Gaza Strip has not been under “Israeli occupation” for nine years? In light of that fact, does he dig deeper in order to give viewers some sort of insight as to how Hamas defines ‘occupation’ and which geographical areas its definition actually includes? Does he pick up on the glaring aberration of an internationally designated terrorist organization – which has targeted Israeli civilians with thousands of military grade missiles for fourteen years and sent dozens of suicide bombers to carry out carnage in Israeli cafes, shopping malls and buses – lecturing BBC viewers on “ethics”? The answer to all those questions is of course no. Instead, Pannell allows al Ghossein a platform from which to cynically commandeer the language of human rights, turning a violent, antisemitic terrorist organization into a popular movement for “freedom”.  

Pannell then tries to steer al Ghossein towards expatiation of Hamas’ pre-ceasefire demands – a theme we have seen being advanced repeatedly in BBC coverage in recent days.

“So let’s talk about those objectives. What are the key demands of Hamas? You say that you will abide by a humanitarian truce during Eid. The implication is you will resume the conflict after that until you get – what?”

EaG: “Well the problem is in the Israelis who are keeping to kill us. Not us. They started this war and they continue…”

Pannell interrupts, but not to clarify to audiences that al Ghossein’s version of events is inaccurate and untrue. Instead, Pannell is looking for advancement of his selected theme.

“But the objectives that would lead to the Palestinian factions and the Palestinian people saying enough…”

EaG: “Well…err…nobody will tell the Palestinians to stop defending themselves. The problem is the Israelis who are continuing to kill my people. And so I’m telling you…”

Pannell still hasn’t got what he came for.

“I’m just keen to know…yeah…what is it that you actually want now?”

Finally, al Ghossein responds to Pannell’s repeated prompts and the buzz words arrive.

EaG: “The solution is easy. We’re talking about two million people living in a big jail. 140 square miles with…err…no borders, with no products, with no electricity. There is no life. It’s a slow death since eight years. What we are looking for is lifting the siege, opening the borders and this is actually our rights. We shouldn’t get with all this blood. We should get it without anything but the problem is unfair international community that keep in silence since eight years in front of them.”

Predictably, Pannell makes no effort to ask his interviewee why – if it is so concerned about conditions in the Gaza Strip – Hamas initiated, carried out, allowed and facilitated the terrorism in the territory under its control which brought upon the population there the implementation of border restrictions by both Israel and Egypt in order to protect their own civilians. Neither does Pannell bother to enquire whether – in the event of the lifting of border restrictions – Hamas will rearm with the help of its foreign sponsors Iran and Qatar and continue to carry out terrorism against its neighbouring countries. He goes on:

“Are you any closer to achieving those aims now than you were one month ago?”

EaG: “Well we believe that we are going to get and achieve our goals. It’s not our goals as Hamas goals – no: it’s the Palestinian goals. And whatever happened we won’t change our stance. We look our freedom. If they kill all of us, all of us at all, we should get in the end our freedom. The only thing we have is dignity. We’re saving our dignity and looking for our freedom whatever surprise is continue to happen.”

As an aspiring “standard-setter for international journalism” the BBC should be deconstructing Hamas propaganda in order to help audiences cut through the terrorist organisation’s rhetoric and understand the real issues at stake, but audiences have not seen that happen at any time during the last three weeks. This lackluster performance by Ian Pannell in which he failed to challenge even one of al Ghossein’s falsehoods on the one hand and facilitated the portrayal of a terrorist organization as some sort of troop of benevolent human rights campaigners on the other, shows yet again that in its reporting from the Gaza Strip, the BBC’s ‘standards’ are much more in line with those of the propaganda spouting Al Aqsa TV run by its Hamas hosts. 

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. 

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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.