A reminder of the chronology of the BBC’s Omar Masharawi story

As media outlets return to work after the weekend, the news (reported here last week) that a recent UN HRC report determined that the BBC’s much promoted version of the tragic death of Omar Masharawi on November 14th 2012 was the result of a missile fired by Palestinian terrorists rather than an Israeli air-strike – as claimed by the BBC – is gaining traction

The Washington Free Beacon has had it confirmed by a UN official that the incident described in the report indeed referred to that in which Omar Masharawi – son of the BBC employee Jihad Masharawi – was killed. 

For clarity’s sake, it is worth revisiting the chronology of the spread of the story.

On the evening of November 14th 2012, soon after the incident had happened, BBC Arabic in Gaza broke the story when it interviewed Jihad Masharawi as he held his son’s body. That film footage was used the next day in a report by Jon Donnison which appeared on BBC television news and can be seen here

On the same evening, BBC employees began Tweeting about the event, including for example the BBC’s correspondent in Washington who sent the following Tweet – retweeted by others 3,441 times:

Paul Adams twitter Masharawi

On the day after the incident – November 15th – the head of the BBC Jerusalem Bureau and chair of the Foreign Press Association, Paul Danahar, arrived in the Gaza Strip and visited the Masharawi house from where he began sending a series of Tweets which – less than 24 hours after the event and with no credible professional investigation having been carried out – unequivocally determined that the incident had been the result of an Israeli attack.

Danahar tweets Masharawi

As BBC Watch documented last November, Danahar gave permission for the photographs he had Tweeted to be used by Max Fisher at the Washington Post. Other media outlets which ran with the story on the same day – some directly citing the BBC as their source and all unquestioningly giving an Israeli attack as the cause of the infant’s death – included the Guardian, the Huffington Post , the Daily Mail, the Sun and many more. The story was of course also picked up by a plethora of anti-Israel blogs and websites. 

On November 24th 2012, the BBC ran Jon Donnison’s now infamous version of the story on its ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ programme on Radio 4, and also later on the World Service. A written version of that same report was placed on the BBC News website and at the time of writing is still there. 

Within less than two weeks, the BBC had ensured that an unverified story based purely upon evidence-free speculations by its own journalists had made its way round the entire world.

The fact that a story which in no way met the standards of accuracy laid down in the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines managed to get past the BBC’s entire system of checks and balances including the Jerusalem Bureau editor, the Middle East Editor, the Head of News, the website Editor- together with no small number of producers along the way – indicates the existence of an organisational culture which clearly renders the BBC incapable of self-regulation. 

 

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24 comments on “A reminder of the chronology of the BBC’s Omar Masharawi story

  1. oh dear. donnison’s fight back has begun !

    he has just put up possibly the most weasel worded story in the history of journalism ! – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21749527

    the bbc is never wrong. donnison is never wrong. the bbc’s mantra is never apologise, never give in. the bbc is always right, even when they are wrong.

    this will run and run.

    • It’s an interesting piece, Jimbob, and provides insight into its author.
      Donnison seems defensive. He’s quite clearly become involved – and it shows.

    • From your Donnison link:

      “Now, though, the United Nations says the house may have been hit by a Palestinian rocket that fell short.

      “This is despite the fact that the Israeli military had reported no rockets being fired out of Gaza so soon after the start of the conflict.”

      So if the rocket fell short, that means it would not have been fired out of Gaza, duh. Not only is Donnison biased to the hilt, he is also an idiot.

      Where does the BBC find these “journalists?”

    • Donnison has new proof:
      He (Jihad Masharawi) said nobody from the United Nations had spoken to him, and said Palestinian militant groups would usually apologise to the family if they had been responsible,” the BBC’s Jon Donnison quoted al-Mishrawi as saying on Thursday.
      Case closed.

      • It’s all in their headline US Disputes Deadly Gaza Strike.

        The UN report in fact confirms that in all probability the deaths were not caused by an “Israeli strike” but by a misfired terrorist rocket.

        How dare the UN “dispute” what the BBC and their Hamas minders want us to believe!

        This goes well beyond bad journalism, it’s a clear case of bias and the BBC promoting the Palestinian “narrative”.

    • And notice how the politically-motivated metamorphosis of the forename Jihad (as the BBC used to style him) into the less in-your-face Jehad continues …

  2. The BBC needs to be banned from Israel. Every single journalist needs to be deported and barred from ever entering Israel.

  3. I guess it must be jobs for pals/relatives, word of mouth, keep it in the family kind of deal. How else is it possible that practically every BBC journalist employed to cover the Middle East comes with the cemented attitude of sympathy for the Palestinians and thinly-veiled hostility towards the Israelis?

    Whether its Alan Johnston, Jeremy Bowen, Jon Leyne, Barbara Plett, Jim Muir, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, Paul Adams, Alan Little, Katya Adler, Hugh Sykes, Nick Thorpe, Orla Guerin or any other member of the motley crew “reporting” on the Israeli-Arab conflict, there’s little difference between them. One can write their scripts for them since it’s obvious in advance what spin they’ll put on their stories and they even sound the same as they spew out their bias.

    The only thing to do about it is to expose them mercilessly – and this is why this is such a valuable and important site.

    • Editors have the final say. Anti-Israel bigotry is part of the BBC’s DNA. It’s institutional. There is no chance a reporter could break ranks and tell the truth, they simply wouldn’t be published and then they’d be ‘moved’ to another area of the world.

      Plus, it’s the popular thing to do at the moment, be anti-Israel.

  4. I agree with Joe – Israel should refuse to cooperate with the BBC – it is an organization which simply lies, and has become institutionally antisemitic.

    Jimbob’s link shows a BBC which really can’t help itself – again using the favourite tactic of running casualty tallies – which utterly ignores context, intent, and civil defence preparedness (ie the Israelis spend hours at a time in shelters, whilct Hamas hasn’t built a single shelter with its billions in aid).

    Most offensive – the BBC thinks eveyone is a moron.

    • Israel did refuse cooperation for a while after that real hatchet job, ‘Israel’s Secret Weapon’, portrayed Mordechai Vananu as some kind of hero for his treason. It was available last time I looked, probably on YouTube, and is interesting to watch as an example of how low the BBC is prepared to go in its hostility against the Jewish state.

  5. It would be the best if BBCWatch just simply deleted (Swedish) neo-Nazis who post their odious Holocaust-Der Stürmer-style garbage here. Thanks!

  6. “The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said its conclusions were based on a visit to the site a month after the attack.”

    “month after attack” – Donnision attempting to denigrate the UN investigation

    “At the time, human rights groups blamed the deaths on an Israeli air strike.”

    which human rights group ? – a source would be good and usual journalistic practice.

    “The Israeli military says it never denied carrying out the strike because it was not clear what had happened.”

    A smear . How is the IDF meant to know where every rocket goes ?

    “The UN says 33 other Palestinian children died in Israeli attacks during the conflict.”

    relevance to this article ???

    “A photo of BBC video editor Jehad Mashhrawi cradling the corpse of his baby son Omar became one of the iconic images of November’s short war”

    it’s Jihad, not Jehad!!!

    Omar was killed, along with an aunt and an uncle, after a missile hit the family home in Gaza City.

    “It happened only an hour after Israel launched its operation with the killing of Hamas’s military commander.”

    relevance ? or what are you saying Donnison – that Hamas cannot lauch rockets in less than 1 hour ??

    “The family, and human rights groups, said that the house was hit in an Israeli attack. ”

    and they know this because of what forensic expertise ???

    “The Israeli military made no comment at the time of the incident but never denied carrying out the strike. ”

    So if the IDF make no comment on the 9/11 attacks and don’t deny that they did it then they are guilty of that also ???
    “Privately, military officials briefed journalists that they had been targeting a militant who was in the building. ”

    source ????

    “Now, though, the United Nations says the house may have been hit by a Palestinian rocket that fell short. ”

    it’s more than “may”, it’s highly likely.

    “This is despite the fact that the Israeli military had reported no rockets being fired out of Gaza so soon after the start of the conflict. ”

    source ??? but this is consistent with the friendly fire anaylsis – the rocket did not make it out of gaza – it fell short, inside Gaza.

    “However, the UN said it could not “unequivocally conclude” it was a misfired Palestinian rocket. ”
    – you are not going to get 99% proof

    “A UN official said it was also possible the house was hit by a secondary explosion after an Israeli air strike on Palestinian weapons stores.”

    source ?? – is this in the report ???

    “Jehad Mashhrawi dismissed the UN findings as “rubbish”.”

    sp. Jihad !
    “He said nobody from the United Nations had spoken to him, and said Palestinian militant groups would usually apologise to the family if they had been responsible. ”

    that’s okay then , we’ll just believe everything Jihad says then !
    “The UN report concluded that at least 169 Palestinians were killed by Israeli attacks during the offensive. It said more than 100 were civilians, including 33 children and 13 women. The report said six Israelis were killed by Palestinians attacks, including four civilians.

  7. sorry – cut off…….

    “The UN report concluded that at least 169 Palestinians were killed by Israeli attacks during the offensive. It said more than 100 were civilians, including 33 children and 13 women. The report said six Israelis were killed by Palestinians attacks, including four civilians.”

    and the point of this paragraph is what exactly ????

    • That’s just in case people have forgotten the casualty figures displayed behind their broadcasters during each and every news report given at the time, Jimbob. A visual image – along with many others – designed to seep into the consciousness in a way words do not. Images included the fully kitted-out IDF soldier and the young Palestinian lad armed with something hand-held and useless in these circumstances (i.e. stick/stone/knife) and quite probably photographed at some other time. Images are powerful; no matter what the broadcaster is saying and which might even be construed as “fair” – visually, you’re supposed to be taking in a story of power against the powerless.

      I’ve yet to see the BBC design its reports on other far worse conflicts in this manner. Why am I not surprised, though?

  8. Pingback: BBC appoints Jon Donnison as ‘Shin Gimmel’ of Masharawi story | BBC Watch

  9. “Questioned [sic] asked here is: if #israel can kill a man riding on a moving motorbike (as they did last month) how did Jihad’s son get killed”

    Even Israel’s care & accuracy is held against it. Because it does amazingly well, It is required to achieve perfection. Correspondents’ words, on the other hand, are a different story. Presenting uncertainties as fact? That’s just the Fog of Journalism.

  10. Pingback: BBC Appoints Jon Donnison as ‘Shin Gimmel’ of Masharawi Story

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