Will the BBC’s Jon Donnison ever learn?
For those not familiar with Twitter, the letters MT at the beginning mean ‘modified tweet’. In other words, Donnison took someone else’s Tweet and modified it before retweeting it to his own followers. In this case, the original Tweet came from the none too objective Reuters correspondent in Ramallah, Noah Browning, just seven minutes before Donnison’s retweet.
Of course neither Browning nor Donnison have produced any evidence to support their claim that Arafat Jaradat, who died suddenly on February 23rd in Meggido prison, was “in interrogation” at the time of his death. At present, the suspected cause of death is a cardiac arrest, but the full investigation into the incident has of course not yet been completed.
“Investigators have already started collecting testimonies from guards at the prison and those in contact with Jaradat before his death. Defense officials have offered Palestinian Authority officials to be involved in the autopsy, if one is conducted, and said they will be updated on the investigation.”
The so far uncorroborated rumour that Jaradat was “in interrogation” at the time of his death was promoted by the PA’s Minister for Prisoner Affairs:
” “Arafat Jaradat… was arrested a few days ago. He was killed during the investigation,” the Palestinian minister in charge of prisoner affairs Issa Qaraqaa told AFP.
“We demand the creation of an international commission of inquiry to probe the circumstances of his death,” Qaraqaa added.”
The Minister seems not to have coordinated his version of the story with representatives of other Palestinian groups:
“Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, denounced Israel and accused it of negligence. He said Jaradat died because he was not properly diagnosed and hospitalized. He called on the international community to intervene to prevent similar cases.”
Jaradat had been in detention for several days:
“Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, the Shin Bet, said in a statement to reporters that the 30-year-old Jaradat was arrested on Feb. 18 after residents in his West Bank village of Saeer said he was involved in a rock-throwing attack that injured an Israeli citizen. Jaradat admitted to the charge, as well to another West Bank rock-throwing incident last year, the Shin Bet said.”
Unsurprisingly, more rioting took place after the news of Jaradat’s death became public and the violence continued into Sunday, mainly in areas around Hebron and with attempts made to block roads. In recent weeks, there has been an orchestrated rise in the level of violence, with the self-inflicted hunger strikes by four Palestinian prisoners used as leverage. As veteran reporter and analyst Khaled Abu Toameh wrote recently:
“Although the Palestinian Authority probably does not want an all-out confrontation between Palestinians and Israelis at this stage, some Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah believe that a “mini-intifada” would serve the Palestinians’ interests, especially on the eve of Obama’s visit.
The officials hope that scenes of daily clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians in the West Bank will prompt Obama to exert pressure on the Israeli government to make far-reaching concessions to the Palestinian Authority.
This is why the Palestinian Authority leadership has been encouraging its constituents lately to wage a “popular intifada” against Israel, each time finding another excuse to initiate confrontations between Palestinians and Israel.”
Donnison’s latest irresponsible contribution (hallmarked, of course, with the stamp of BBC reliability) to the reservoir of unsubstantiated accusations and rumours which feed these violent confrontations shows that he has learned nothing from his previous trigger-happy Twitter blunder.
Some organisations committed to accuracy might see that as a liability.