On May 7th 2013 an article entitled “Syria crisis: UN peacekeepers seized on Golan Heights” appeared in the Middle East section of the BBC News website, relating to the latest case of kidnapping of members of the UNDOF force from the area of Position 86 – located in the buffer zone between Israel and Syria.
The article opens:
“Four Filipino UN peacekeepers have been abducted by armed men while patrolling in the demilitarised area between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.”
Only later does the reader discover that these “armed men” are actually part of the opposition forces in Syria.
“A Syrian rebel group, the Martyrs of Yarmouk, published a photo purportedly showing the four men and said they were being held for their own safety.”
As was the case in the BBC’s reporting of the previous kidnapping incident in March, no explanation is given to readers regarding the Jihadist ideology of the kidnappers. And once again, whilst the BBC does report on the abduction of UN troops, it fails to report on preceding cross-border incidents, making do with the following statement:
“UN officials told the AFP news agency that there had been increased military activity by Syrian government and rebel forces in the demilitarised zone, and the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed there had been recent heavy fighting.”
During that heavy fighting in the region of the village of Jamla, mortar shells were fired across the border, landing near Ramat Magshimim, on two occasions on the afternoon of May 6th and also on the morning of May 7th. Fortunately, no injuries or damage were sustained. The BBC did not see fit to report either of those incidents, not even as an addition to its later report on the abduction.
With the Philippines now reportedly considering pulling its troops out of UNDOF as a result of this second kidnapping, developments along the border between Israel and Syria require accurate and comprehensive reporting if BBC audiences are to comprehend any future events in a more realistic manner than the BBC’s coverage of incidents preceding Operation Pillar of Cloud along Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip facilitated.