BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – January 2016

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during January 2016 shows that throughout the month a total of 169 incidents took place: 126 in Judea & Samaria, 39 in Jerusalem, one inside the ‘green line’ and 3 incidents in the Gaza Strip: two missile attacks and one attack with an IED.  

The agency recorded 136 attacks with petrol bombs, nine shooting attacks, 12 attacks using explosive devices and 9 stabbing attacks.

Five Israeli civilians were killed during January – two stabbing attacks and three in shooting attacks. 28 people (18 civilians and 10 members of the security forces) were wounded: 14 in shooting attacks, 8 in stabbing attacks and six in attacks with petrol bombs.

The missile attack from the Gaza strip on January 1st was not reported by the BBC in English but the later Israeli response was reported by BBC Arabic. The same pattern was seen on January 24th when an additional missile attack was ignored by the BBC’s English language services but the Israeli response was reported in Arabic. The IED attack was also not reported.

BBC News coverage of the fatal terror attack in Tel Aviv on January 1st in which three civilians were killed was remarkable for its promotion of irrelevant speculation. Two of the victims of that attack – Alon Bakal and Shimon Ruimi – were named in a follow-up report which appeared the next day. The third victim – Amin Shaaban – was only named a week later in a subsequent report.

The BBC News website’s reporting of the January 17th terror attack in Otniel in which Dafna Meir was murdered focused on politicised descriptions of the victim’s place of residence. An additional incident which took place on that day was mentioned in the same article.

The stabbing attack in Beit Horon on January 25th in which Shlomit Krigman was murdered and an additional woman wounded was only covered on the BBC News website the following day and the victim was not named.

In addition to those attacks, the BBC News website reported on six additional attacks throughout the month. Three incidents of attempted stabbings on January 7th and 9th were reported on the BBC News website. A stabbing attack in Tekoa on January 18th was reported, as was an attempted stabbing at Anatot on January 23rd.  A shooting attack near Ramallah on January 31st in which three soldiers were wounded only received coverage the following day.

Among the attacks which did not receive any coverage were a shooting attack in Hebron and a stabbing attack in Jerusalem on January 3rd, a stabbing attack in Gush Etzion on January 5th, a stabbing attack in Givat Zeev on January 27th and a stabbing attack in Jerusalem on January 30th.

In conclusion, the BBC News website reported ten – i.e.  5.9% – of the 169 terror attacks which took place during January 2016. 100% of the Israeli fatalities were reported although only four of the five victims were named. None of the terror attacks originating in the Gaza Strip were covered in English.

table Jan 16

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BBC World News’ GMT promotes spurious linkage and smear

In any country – including Britain – one can find extremist groups with a racist and/or discriminatory agenda. It is however highly doubtful that the BBC would broadcast a report in which a leader of the BNP or the EDL claimed to have the support of the whole of the British people without that statement being challenged or qualified.

On February 9th a filmed report by freelancer Camilla Schick appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the headline “Jerusalem Jewish group on anti-Arab patrol“. The report is about the fringe group ‘Lehava’ and it opens with statements from an unidentified interviewee. Later on Schick speaks to a woman who identifies herself as part of a counter group called ‘Speaking in the Square’ and asks her whether Lehava is “mainstream Israeli”.Lehava filmed

Woman: “Not mainstream Israeli…ahm….”

Schick: “But a significant minority.”

Woman: “A minority.”

That exchange does not of course clarify to BBC audiences that Lehava is a small fringe group with very limited following. Later on in the report Schick interviews the group’s leader and the misleading impressions already received by viewers are further compounded.

Schick: “Do you think that your views represent a large section of Israeli society?”

Gopstein: “We are the majority. Most of the nation are with us.”

Schick: “So you would argue that because it’s Jewish law that only Jews can marry Jews, that actually a majority of people in Israel believe in what you do?”

Gopstein: “We do what all the people here think.”

Schick presents no challenge to Gopstein’s delusional and patently inaccurate claims; evidently preferring to leave audiences with the false impression that his group’s extremist ideologies and agenda are supported by “a majority of people in Israel”. She makes no effort to inform audiences of the criticism of the group from the public and politicians alike (even though the BBC has reported on such condemnations in the past) or of the legal and police action taken against its activists.   

Although Lehava was established in 2009, the synopsis to the version of this report appearing on the BBC News website clearly attempts to create linkage between that group’s activities and the current wave of terror attacks against Israelis.

“As tensions between Israelis and Palestinians remain high amid spiralling violence, relations between the two communities have become more strained.

Each side views the other with suspicion and hostility, a mood often visible on the streets.

In Jerusalem, an ultra-nationalist Jewish group called Lehava has been organising patrols aimed at stopping Jewish Israelis from even talking to Arabs.

Lehava says it wants to protect Jewish identity – but Left-leaning Israelis monitoring it have condemned Lehava as racist and violent.”

This filmed report is actually just part of an item which appeared on the BBC World News programme GMT. Presenter Lucy Hockings’ very similar introduction to the film also promoted the notion of linkage between the activities of Lehava and the current wave of violence whilst promoting the notion of equivalence.

Hockings: “We take you now though to Israel where tensions between Israelis and Palestinians remain high and relations between the two communities are becoming even more strained. In Jerusalem an ultra-nationalist Jewish group called Lehava has been organizing patrols aimed at stopping Jewish Israelis from even talking to Arabs. Lehava says it wants to protect Jewish identity but Left-leaning Israelis monitoring it have condemned them as racist and violent. Camilla Schick has more.”

After the airing of the clip, Hockings interviewed a member of Lehava named Eli Rakov. During the conversation, viewers again saw an attempt to link Lehava to the current violence in the form of a sub-title reading “Israeli Palestinian tensions: relations between 2 communities becoming more strained”.

Hockings closed that interview with a question which again implies that the current wave of violence can be linked to the activities of Lehava.

“But can I ask you – if you have now got weddings taking place under police protection because your group is there chanting things like ‘death to Arabs’; there is this feeling even that you are creating a climate in which dialogue is offensive and racist – how do you think there can ever be peace in your country?”

In addition to the fact that the placement of Schick’s filmed report as a stand-alone item on the BBC News website clearly misleads BBC audiences by promoting the inaccurate impression that Lehava’s extremist agenda has support from the wider Israeli public, there is an additional aspect to both versions of this report which is worthy of note.

As abhorrent and offensive as Lehava’s agenda and activities are, they are by no means new and have little if any connection to the current wave of terrorism in Israel which – not for the first time – is misleadingly represented by the BBC in equivalent terms such as “tensions between Israelis and Palestinians” and “strained” relations “between two communities”.

Given that the BBC has for five months studiously avoided producing any serious reporting on the issue of the incitement and glorification of terrorism from official Palestinian sources which underpins the ongoing wave of violence and often includes racist themes, it is particularly remarkable that it now chooses to showcase and inflate a fringe Israeli group in order to promote the notion that it is that group’s offensive and racist dialogue which is the barrier to “peace in your country”.  

BBC mum on Zionist Union party’s shift on two state solution

BBC coverage of the March 2015 general election in Israel featured no small amount of messaging along the following lines:

“Voters know that the Zionist Union – the name chosen for the alliance between Yitzhak Herzog’s Labour Party and Tzipi Livni’s movement Hatnuah – would approach the prospect of talking to the Palestinians about a “land-for-peace” deal with more enthusiasm than Mr Netanyahu.” (source report discussed here)

“Everyone knows, of course, that the Israeli right, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, is at best sceptical about the prospect of a peace deal with the Palestinians, while the left under Yitzhak Herzog is much keener on the kind of constructive engagement that would keep the White House and the State Department happy.”

“A Herzog-led government might have been a more comfortable partner for the US State Department and for European governments interested in reviving talks.”

“Mr Netanyahu had vowed not to allow the creation of a Palestinian state, while Zionist Union expressed support for a two-state solution and promised to repair relations with Palestinians and the international community.” (source reports discussed here)

Given that portrayal of Yitzhak Herzog and his party as ‘the peace option’ less than a year ago, one might have thought that Herzog’s recent statements concerning the prospects of a two state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict would have been of interest to the BBC.Herzog  

“Issac Herzog, leader of the opposition and chairman of the center-left Zionist Union party, said Wednesday that the two-state solution is not a realistic option in the near future.

“I don’t see a possibility at the moment of implementing the two-state solution,” he told Army Radio. “I want to yearn for it, I want to move toward it, I want negotiations, I sign on to it and I am obligated to it, but I don’t see the possibility of doing it right now.” […]

In a move that many considered a sharp turn to the right for the leader of the Zionist Union — a party comprising the stalwart center-left Labor and Tzipi Livni’s dovish Hatnua — Herzog said he saw the need “to complete the security barrier around all of the settlement blocs.””

Herzog’s party has since endorsed his views but to date BBC audiences have yet to be informed of this significant change of approach from the Israeli centre-Left and why it came about.  

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BBC Monitoring digs up the dirt with cleaners non-story

In the financial year 2013-14, BBC Monitoring ceased to enjoy funding from sources such as the UK government’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Ministry of Defence and since then it has been funded by the licence fee payer. Members of the British public therefore clearly have an interest in knowing how that department uses their money.

Stating that “our unique capabilities are highly valued”, BBC Monitoring claims to “deliver the news you need, when you need it” to subscribers and to provide “deep local insight” and “hard to reach information that is often undetected”. The department also provides material for BBC programmes and content for the BBC News website.

One example of such content appeared in the website’s ‘News From Elsewhere’ section on February 8th under the headline “Anger as Israel company ‘prices staff by ethnicity’” and with an illustrative photograph which obviously has no connection to the article’s subject matter but indicates that BBC Monitoring’s “deep local insight” does not include the knowledge that Israelis do not have brass letter boxes.BBC monitoring cleaner story

The “hard to reach information” which forms the basis of that article was sourced from two English language Israeli media organisations and no particularly “unique capabilities” are required to access their sites online. Additional links to a Hebrew language news website and the Facebook account of the Israeli journalist/blogger Tal Schneider who first promoted the story are provided.

The article relates to a flyer ‘collected’ by an acquaintance of Schneider which advertises cleaning services. In spite of BBC Monitoring’s use of the word “company” in its headline and its opening paragraph, as Ha’aretz pointed out: “the leaflet indicated no company name but only gave the phone number for someone called Irena”.

BBC audiences are told that:

“A flyer for a cleaning company in Tel Aviv has sparked anger and soul-searching after pricing its staff on the basis of their ethnicity, it seems.

Israeli journalist and political blogger Tal Schneider posted a photograph of the leaflet to her Facebook account with the statement “Blatant racism permeates Israel, pricing workers by race”…”

As distasteful as it may be, one flyer from an unknown source obviously does not support the hyperbolic sweeping allegation that “blatant racism permeates Israel”. Nevertheless, BBC Monitoring used licence fee funding to compile and promote this non-story – which actually provides more “deep local insight” into the BBC practice of swooping on any opportunity to promote a story of this genre than anything else. 

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Sunday’ misleads on Western Wall and the Waqf

When the Israeli government approved plans for a new mixed gender prayer area at the Western Wall and the end of January the BBC produced two accurate reports on that story.

A written article which appeared on the BBC News website under the title “Liberal Jews to get prayer site at Jerusalem’s Western Wall” correctly informed readers that:

“The Western Wall is a remnant of the retaining wall of the mount on which the Holy Temples once stood, and is one of the most sacred sites in Judaism. Every year, millions of Jews from all over the world visit the wall to pray.”

In a filmed report for BBC television news which also appeared on the website under the headline “New prayer space approved at Jerusalem’s Western Wall“, Jonathan Josephs accurately described the Western Wall as “the holiest site at which they [Jews] can pray”.Sunday 7 2 R4

However, when the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Sunday’ covered the same story on February 7th (from 00:53 here), a decline in the standard of reporting was evident. Presenter Edward Stourton introduced the item by telling listeners that:

“The Israeli government’s decision to approve a new area by Jerusalem’s Western Wall where men and women can pray together will mean some big physical changes at Judaism’s holiest site.”

The Western Wall is of course not “Judaism’s holiest site” – Temple Mount holds that title – and it is difficult to understand why that inaccuracy is repeatedly found in BBC content, especially in a programme which purports to focus on “religious issues”.

Later on, while discussing the story with journalist Judy Maltz, Stourton materially misled listeners by inaccurately claiming that the Waqf has authority over the Western Wall.

“There is also of course opposition from outside – isn’t there – from the Palestinians and from the Muslim authorities responsible for the area.” [emphasis added]

As the Times of Israel explains:

“While the Jordanian-run Waqf governs the top of the Temple Mount […] Israel maintains control over access to the site as well as areas below the Mount, as part of a status quo agreement in place since 1967. Israel does not allow Jews to pray atop the mount.”

 Stourton’s statement is not merely inaccurate: its significance also lies in the fact that for some time now Palestinian officials have been promoting the politically motivated falsehood that the Western Wall is a Muslim site as a Ha’aretz report from 2010 shows.

“The United States on Tuesday condemned claims by a senior Palestinian official that the Western Wall of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount holds no significance for Jews.

Al-Mutawakil Taha, the Palestinian Authority’ deputy minister of information, had said Wednesday that the wall, regarded as Judaism’s holiest site, was part of an Islamic waqf, or religious endowment, and that only “Islamic tolerance” allowed Jews to pray there. […]

“We strongly condemn these comments and fully reject them as factually incorrect, insensitive and highly provocative,” a U.S. State Department spokesman said.

“We have repeatedly raised with the Palestinian Authority leadership the need to consistently combat all forms of de-legitimization of Israel including denying historic Jewish connections to the land.””

Last year the Palestinian Authority unsuccessfully attempted to have UNESCO declare the Western Wall part of al Aqsa Mosque. Whilst the BBC did not report that story at the time, it would appear that at least one of its journalists has chosen to adopt and promote the Waqf’s highly incendiary narrative regardless of the BBC’s commitment to accuracy and impartiality.

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Anti-Israel BBC interviewee runs foul of UK bank’s ‘risk appetite’

Last month the Jewish Chronicle reported that a British bank had informed an anti-Israel campaigning group of its decision to terminate services.

Anti-Israel rally, London, UK, 17/10/2015

Anti-Israel rally, London, UK, 17/10/2015

“An anti-Israel group has accused the Co-operative Bank of “institutional bullying and racism” after it was told its bank account would be closed.

Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA) was informed last month that its account with the Co-op would be closed after a 60-day notice period.”

As the JC also reported, the same bank previously terminated its business with other anti-Israel campaigning groups, including the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

“In those cases, the Co-op said the decision was due to its own “risk appetite” and had followed due diligence checks.

FOA chair Ismail Patel, who was a leading supporter of blood libel cleric Sheikh Raed Salah, said: “There is no legitimate way for the Co-operative Bank to justify its actions.”

An article in the Independent quoted a spokesperson for the bank as saying that:

“…it carries out due diligence checks on all of its customers, especially those operating in high risk environments, to make sure the funds do not inadvertently fund “illegal or other proscribed activities”.

“Unfortunately, after quite extensive research, the charities involved did not meet our requirements or, in our view, allow us to fulfil our obligations,” the spokesperson said.” 

The JC noted that:

“Mr Patel regularly appears in the British media to attack Israel, and in 2009 [2010 – Ed.] was a passenger on the Mavi Marmara ship which was involved in the Gaza flotilla incident.”Ismail Patel

The BBC is one of the British media organisations to have hosted Ismail Patel on its national (for example here and here) and local platforms (for example here, here, here and here). The corporation has also promoted campaigns and demonstrations organised by Mr Patel’s group and has used contributions from another organisation with which Mr Patel is associated. Together with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of Al Aqsa has pressured the BBC on the topic of its coverage of Israel’s capital city.

It of course remains to be seen whether or not the BBC has a ‘risk appetite’ of its own concerning the appearances of representatives of Hamas-supporting groups such as Friends of Al Aqsa and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign on BBC platforms.  

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BBC backgrounders on Sunni-Shia divide downplay religiosity

Last month’s flare-up of tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia prompted many Western media organisations, including the BBC, to provide their audiences with material ostensibly explaining the background to the story.Sunni Shia 1

In an article headlined “Iran and Saudi Arabia’s great rivalry explained” which appeared on the BBC News website on January 4th, readers were told that:

“Iran and Saudi Arabia are on opposing sides of a more than 1,000-year old argument at the heart of Islam – between Sunnis and Shia.

After the death of the Prophet Muhammad, his followers split over who was his rightful heir.

It is important not to overstate the division. Sunnis and Shia share fundamental beliefs, and have co-existed for centuries – the animosity between Iran and Saudi Arabia is better understood in terms of a power struggle in the Middle East and beyond.”

On January 5th a filmed report shown on BBC television was posted on the BBC News website under the title “Saudi Arabia and Iran – The tension explained“. Viewers of that report were told that:Sunni Shia 2

“It’s not really about religion. […] It’s not a clash of religious narrative.”

Instead, viewers were told, “the geo-political, the political and the economic elements definitely play a role here”.

Of course there is nothing novel about the phenomenon of Western commentators preferring to avoid the quagmire issue of the religious dimensions of Middle Eastern conflicts and instead opting to frame them in terms of narratives more familiar to their audiences.

It is, after all, that practice which leads to the presentation of terrorism with Middle Eastern roots against Western targets as being ‘grievance-based’ and it is the same framing which facilitates the portrayal of religiously affiliated terrorist groups in the Middle East such as Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad or Hizballah as “militants” engaged in “resistance” against a geo-political status quo.

But is especially noticeable that in this case the BBC has elected to downplay the religious aspects of a clash between two states which are theocracies: countries in which the separation between state policy and religion is non-existent.

In the filmed report BBC audiences were told that:

“In a sense there has been a cold war going on between the two – what many pundits call a war by proxy. They are in effect fighting each other through groups that they’re supporting in Syria and Yemen in particular.”

Of course those proxies are inevitably tied to their sponsors by ideology which is primarily based on religious identity.

As many Middle East experts have been documenting for quite some time, one of the side-effects of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ has been a rise in Sunni-Shia rivalry and tensions. In 2013 the late Professor Barry Rubin noted the appearance of a paper published by a Muslim Brotherhood linked organization in Britain which identified Iran as “the greatest threat” and concluded “We no longer have any choice but to defend ourselves against Iran,” which holds “a sectarian, ethnic, Persian agenda.”

Also in 2013, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center noted that “the escalating anti-Shi’ite rhetoric from Sunni clerics belonging to different schools of thought reflects an agreement that the Shi’a is the enemy of the moment—one that is more pressing than the West and Israel.”

“A major force driving the schism is the escalating anti-Shi’ite rhetoric from Sunni clerics who belong to different schools of thought. Of particular note is a speech given on May 31, 2013 by Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, considered by many the current spiritual leader of the Sunni world, in which he said he regretted the many years he had spent on attempts at Sunni-Shi’ite rapprochement. He said that Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi clerics were right to consider Shi’ites as infidels, and adopted their terminology when talking about the Shi’a (“Hezbollah is the Party of Satan”).”

Rhetoric of a similar stripe is no less apparent on the other side of the divide, as documented by Phillip Smyth in his 2014 paper “The Shiite Jihad in Syria and its Regional Effects“.

“Following Assad’s lead, Iran and its proxies have since fall 2012 engaged in an extensive media campaign casting the Syrian rebels, whatever their actual beliefs, as takfiris, or Muslims who accuse other Muslims of apostasy. In turn, when a takfiri accuses other Muslims of apostasy, this marks those “apostates” for death. In Shiite usage, the term is often synonymous with the extremist Sunni Wahhabis, who have historically predominated in Saudi Arabia.

Through the early propagation of the inaccurate view that all Syria’s rebels embrace radical Sunni ideology, Iran and its Shiite proxies have effectively stirred visceral support among their coreligionists. The message especially struck those who feel oppressed in their various cultural and national contexts. “

The BBC’s downplaying of the religious aspects of the latest chapter in the long-standing power struggle between Sunni and Shia and the attempt to portray the issue primarily in terms of “geo-political, political and economic elements” clearly does not enhance the corporation’s funding public’s “awareness and understanding” of the background to this important story.

Has the BBC opted out of ISIS terrorist’s Gaza convoy links story?

The investigation by the Washington Post and Buzzfeed which revealed the identity of a British member of an ISIS execution cell which murdered journalists, aid workers and others has naturally raised keen interest in most of the UK media. Among the many outlets which have reported the story are the Telegraph, the Independent, the Mirror, the Daily Mail and the Sun.

The reports include information about Alexanda Kotey’s participation in the 2009 ‘aid convoy’ to the Gaza Strip organised by former MP George Galloway’s ‘Viva Palestina’ group. The Washington Post writes:

“Kotey left Britain in 2009, when he traveled to the Gaza Strip on an aid convoy of 110 vehicles organized by George Galloway, then a member of British Parliament. Nine volunteers on the Viva Palestina mission were arrested under the United Kingdom’s Terrorism Act the day before departure. Galloway, a controversial figure in Britain for his radical views, described the arrests as an effort to “smear and intimidate the Muslim community.””

The Daily Mail reports:

“Mr Galloway told ITV news he does not remember meeting Kotey. His spokesman Ron McKay said: ‘There were 500 people on that convoy and George can’t ever remember laying eyes on this guy. It’s possible he was there but George doesn’t remember meeting him.’ 

He said there was a vetting procedure for those who applied to be on the convoy but he had never heard Kotey’s name before.”

This is not the first time that the ‘Viva Palestina’ “vetting procedure” has been shown to be unreliable and, courtesy of Harry’s Place, it can be seen that Kotey’s name appeared on its list of participants in that particular convoy.

Kotey on VP list

At the time of writing the BBC News website does not carry any coverage of this story on its international, national or local pages. However, seeing as George Galloway is a regular guest on BBC programmes, we can surely anticipate that it will not be long until a BBC journalist quizzes him on the topic of the criteria he laid down for his organisation’s “vetting procedure”, what exactly it was intended to check and the question of whether the organisation he headed exercised due diligence. After all, it would surely be in the public interest to hear the answers to such pertinent questions from a man who now aspires to run Britain’s largest city. 

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BBC euphemisms hobble audience understanding of Iranian terror financing

The BBC News website’s coverage of the Iranian president’s visit to Europe late last month included two reports – “Rouhani in Europe: Italy covers nudes for Iran president“, January 26th and “Rouhani arrives in Paris as Iran drums up business with France“, January 27th – in which audiences were told that:Rouhani art 1

“Iran has been accused of funding militant groups, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

Obviously that choice of minimalist phrasing does not clarify to readers who has accused Iran of funding “militant groups” (the BBC standard euphemism for terrorist organisations) or whether or not there is any basis to those accusations. It also obfuscates the fact that at least one Iranian official has acknowledged that Iran provides support to Hizballah. 

A reader looking for more information might therefore have turned to the BBC’s profile of Iran which appears at the bottom of both reports. However, the only reference that topic to be found there is a no less coyly worded side box which fails to provide audiences with any relevant factual information.

insert Iran profile Hizballah

The BBC’s profile of Hizballah is equally uninformative on the issue of the financial and material backing received by that organization from Iran.

The US State Department defines Iran as one of the “State Sponsors of Terrorism” according to the following criterion.

“To designate a country as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, the Secretary of State must determine that the government of such country has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.”

The department’s report for 2014 (published in 2015) states:

“Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1984, Iran continued its terrorist-related activity in 2014, including support for Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, Lebanese Hizballah, and various groups in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. This year, Iran increased its assistance to Iraqi Shia militias, one of which is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), in response to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) incursion into Iraq, and has continued to support other militia groups in the region. Iran also attempted to smuggle weapons to Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza. While its main effort focused on supporting goals in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, Iran and its proxies also continued subtle efforts at growing influence elsewhere including in Africa, Asia, and, to a lesser extent, Latin America. Iran used the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) to implement foreign policy goals, provide cover for intelligence operations, and create instability in the Middle East. The IRGC-QF is the regime’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad.” […]

“Iran has historically provided weapons, training, and funding to Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups, including Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC). These Palestinian terrorist groups have been behind a number of deaths from attacks originating in Gaza and the West Bank. Although Hamas’s ties to Tehran have been strained due to the Syrian civil war, in a November 25 speech, Supreme Leader Khamenei highlighted Iran’s military support to “Palestinian brothers” in Gaza and called for the West Bank to be similarly armed. In December, Hamas Deputy Leader Moussa Abu Marzouk announced bilateral relations with Iran and Hamas were “back on track.”” […]

“Since the end of the 2006 Israeli-Hizballah conflict, Iran has also assisted in rearming Lebanese Hizballah, in direct violation of UNSCR 1701. General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the IRGC Aerospace Force stated in November that “The IRGC and Hezbollah are a single apparatus jointed together,” and Lebanese Hizballah Deputy Secretary General Naim Qassem boasted that Iran had provided his organization with missiles that had “pinpoint accuracy” in separate November public remarks. Iran has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in support of Lebanese Hizballah in Lebanon and has trained thousands of its fighters at camps in Iran. These trained fighters have used these skills in direct support of the Asad regime in Syria and, to a lesser extent, in support of operations against ISIL in Iraq. They have also continued to carry out attacks along the Lebanese border with Israel.”Rouhani art 2

Those looking to BBC profiles for information on the financing of Hamas or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad would find no reference to Iran.

One of the foremost experts on Hizballah financing, Matthew Levitt, has noted that:

“Iran is believed to fund Hezbollah to the tune of at least $100 million per year. Recently, Western diplomats and analysts in Lebanon estimated Hezbollah receives closer to $200 million a year from Iran. […]

Some of this financial support comes in the form of cash funds, while much is believed to come in the form of material goods such as weapons. Iranian cargo planes deliver sophisticated weaponry, from rockets to small arms, to Hezbollah in regular flights to Damascus from Tehran. These weapons are offloaded in Syria and trucked to Hezbollah camps in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. In the wake of the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Hezbollah reportedly received an additional $22 million from Iranian intelligence to support Palestinian terrorist groups and foment instability.”

More recently Mr Levitt has noted that:

“Iran has not changed its policies regarding the sponsorship of militants since late 2013, when nuclear talks began in earnest. “Iran continued to sponsor terrorist groups around the world, principally through its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF)…These groups included Lebanese Hizballah, several Iraqi Shia militant groups, Hamas, and Palestine Islamic Jihad,” according to the State Departments June 2015 report on terrorism. In addition, the State Department accused Iran of “prolonging the civil war in Syria, and worsening the human rights and refugee crisis there.” The report described Iran’s terror sponsorship as “undiminished.” It also noted that Iran increased training and funding for Iraqi militias in 2014, supplying them with advanced weaponry. Iran also “provided hundreds of millions of dollars” to Hezbollah and “trained thousands of [the group’s] fighters at camps in Iran.” The State Department concluded that it did not expect Iran’s behavior in Syria to change anytime soon, in part because “Iran views Syria as a crucial causeway in its weapons supply route” to the Shiite political party and militia Hezbollah, a key pillar in Tehran’s “resistance” front. Indeed, Iran continued to provide the Lebanese group with “training, weapons, and explosives, as well as political, diplomatic, monetary, and organizational aid.””

There is clearly ample information about Iran’s funding of terrorist organisations available in the public domain for the BBC to be able to fulfil its public purpose remit of building “a global understanding of international issues”. Instead the corporation chooses to sell its audiences short with euphemistic phrasing which fails to contribute to their knowledge of this pertinent issue.

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Last month we noted the emergence of “The terror group BBC audiences have never heard of” in the Gaza Strip and that organisation’s statements concerning its intended expansion of operations.

“A Palestinian jihadi group with close ties to Iran claimed on Wednesday that it has expanded out of the Gaza Strip and is now operating in the West Bank and Jerusalem as well.

“We have an armed branch whose goal it is to wage war on the Israeli occupation everywhere,” Hisham Salim, founder of the Harakat al-Sabireen, told the Palestinian Ma’an news agency.

“Within this framework we have members in the West Bank and Jerusalem who will soon receive financial and military support from us,” he said.”

Recently the Palestinian Authority announced the arrest of members of that group.

photo credit: Times of Israel

photo credit: Times of Israel

“Palestinian Authority security forces have recently arrested five pro-Iranian operatives in Bethlehem planning to establish a foothold in the West Bank and carry out attacks against Israel, Israel Radio cited Palestinian security forces as saying. 

According to the sources, the five members of the ‘a-Sabrin’ organization had operated in the Gaza Strip over the past years before being arrested two weeks ago after leaving the coastal Palestinian enclave. 

The operatives working under Iranian orders had reportedly received funding in Gaza and were instructed to carry out terror attacks.”

To date there has been no BBC coverage of that story or of the earlier Israeli announcement concerning the apprehension of a Hizballah-run terror cell in Tulkarem.

Hizballah logo

Hizballah logo

“A terror cell based in Tulkarem in the West Bank and recruited and funded by Lebanon-based Hezbollah planned to carry out a shooting attack and suicide bombings against Israelis, but was stopped by a joint operation of the Shin Bet security service and the army, officials announced on Wednesday.

Jawad Nasrallah, son of Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, recruited the cell via social media, the Shin Bet said. […]

To assist the cell, Hezbollah gave it $5,000 so it could acquire weaponry and equipment for an attack. Two members of the cell acquired guns and were preparing to shoot IDF troops in the area, but were captured before the attack could be carried out.

In addition to the planned shooting attack, the terror cell also received orders about carrying out suicide bombings and collecting intelligence on IDF activities and positions.

The five-man cell was led by Mahmoud Zaghloul, 32, from Zita outside of Tulkarem, who was recruited directly by Jawad Nasrallah. It was an initiative of Hezbollah’s Unit 133, which is charged with setting up terror cells in Israel.”

These two stories join the growing list of similar ones (see for example here and here) concerning the apprehension of cells connected to established terrorist groups which have been completely ignored by the BBC.

However, at the same time as it elects not to report such stories, the BBC does continue to promote the “DIY unrest” narrative on the topic of Palestinian terrorism which it adopted over four months ago, repeatedly telling audiences (in a manner eerily similar to the dictates of the PLO’s guidance for foreign journalists) that the ongoing wave of attacks against Israelis is the result of “frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation”.

The BBC’s framing of this topic leads to the failure to meet its obligation to enhance audiences’ “awareness and understanding of international issues” by serially avoiding compromising its adopted narrative with any mention of terrorism which is not ‘grassroots’ but organised by groups such as Hamas and Hizballah out of motivations which go far beyond “frustration”.