Hamas denies firing missiles: BBC reports. Hamas claims missile fire: BBC silent

As readers are no doubt aware, terrorists in the Gaza Strip violated the ceasefire which was due to end at midnight on August 19th some eight and a half hours before it expired with missile fire at the city of Be’er Sheva. Around half an hour after that violation, Israel announced the renewal of strikes on terror infrastructure and targets in the Gaza Strip. By the time the truce’s designated expiry time arrived, around fifty missiles had been launched at civilian targets in Israel. So how did the BBC News website report those events?ceasefire break 19 8 article 1

About an hour after the first missiles had been fired an existing article on the BBC News website’s Middle East page – “Gaza ceasefire ‘extended by a day’ after Cairo talks” – was amended and the following information added:

“On Tuesday afternoon three rockets were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip, landing in open areas in Beersheba, an IDF spokesperson told the BBC.

No-one was injured in the attack, which was the first instance of rocket fire in several days.”

It was not made clear to BBC audiences that this missile fire was a violation of a ceasefire agreement, nor was it pointed out that Hamas had also breached several previous ceasefires.

Very shortly after that article was amended, a new one appeared on the BBC News website under the title “Israel PM orders new Gaza strikes following rocket fire”. Typically, readers were informed of the last occurrence first.

“Israel’s prime minister has ordered its military to launch strikes on the Gaza Strip following fresh rocket fire from militants there, officials say.

One Israeli official said “terror sites” would be targeted “in response to Hamas’ violation of the truce”. “

That report underwent considerable changes in the hours after its publication with its later ‘last-first’ headlines being “Israel launches Gaza strikes following rocket fire” and “Gaza conflict: Israel launches strikes after rocket fire” before eventually arriving at the ambiguous “Gaza conflict: Truce ends amid fresh fighting“.ceasefire break 19 8 headline

At no point does the article clarify to readers in the BBC’s own words that terrorists in the Gaza Strip violated the ceasefire. Earlier versions of the article include the following statements regarding the missile fire into Israel:

2nd, 3rd and 4th versions:

“There was no immediate claim of responsibility from any of the Palestinian factions in Gaza, which is dominated by the Islamist movement Hamas.”

5th, 6th and 7th versions:

“There was no immediate claim of responsibility from any of the Palestinian factions in Gaza, which is dominated by the Islamist movement Hamas. Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for the Islamist movement, told the BBC that it “had no idea or information about the firing of any rockets”.”

8th version:

“Hamas – the group that rules Gaza – denies firing the rockets.”End cf 19 8 art 2

From the ninth version onwards, the topic of responsibility for the missile fire disappears from the article completely. That fact is remarkable because around half an hour before the ninth version was published, Hamas did claim responsibility for the missile fire but – unlike its denials – that event was obviously not considered newsworthy by the BBC.

“11:42 P.M. Hamas’ military wing takes responsibility for the rocket fire on Israel and says it has launched a M75 missile as well, according the Palestinian Maan news agency.”

Now that does require some explaining.

Related Articles:

How the BBC made missile fire from the Gaza Strip almost disappear

Hamas terminology and propaganda in BBC’s ‘Hardtalk’ interview with Mads Gilbert

On August 18th the BBC’s ‘Hardtalk’ aired an interview with Mads Gilbert. The programme is promoted on multiple platforms: on BBC iPlayer for those in the UK or as a podcast or, for a limited period of time, on BBC World Service radio.  

This is not the first time that the BBC has provided amplification for claims made by Gilbert himself or other members of the medical profession working at Shifa hospital since the commencement of Operation Protective Edge – as was documented here.

It is obviously difficult to comprehend the rationale behind ‘Hardtalk’ producers’ thinking in terms of their evaluation of any contribution to audiences’ factual knowledge and understanding of the conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip which could possibly be made by the blatant propaganda of a long-time political activist such as Mads Gilbert.  But in addition to the fact that nevertheless the BBC elected to allow amplification of Gilbert’s plethora of inaccurate and misleading claims, it is no less interesting to note the points at which his extremist narrative dovetails with that of the BBC representative conducting the interview, Zeinab Badawi.

Badawi’s introduction includes the following inaccurate statement:

“Close on two thousand died – nearly all civilians – and thousands more were injured, many seriously.” [emphasis added]

Preliminary examination (as yet uncompleted) of the casualties in fact shows that 46% were terrorist operatives.

She allows Gilbert to mislead audiences with a dishonest portrayal of the reasons for the shortage of medical supplies in the Gaza Strip.

“And bear in mind that Shifa hospital, along with the rest of the healthcare system in Gaza is suffering severely from the 7 years of siege and blockade. They are lacking everything: drugs, equipment, modern machinery, even – you know – trolleys and respirators to treat the patients…”

Badawi also permits Gilbert to lie unhindered about the topic of non-payment of salaries to Hamas employees which is in fact the result of a dispute between Hamas and the Palestinian unity government.

“On top of that they [medical staff] have not had any normal salaries for the last year actually due to the dispute between…between the Israeli…you know….politics of not allowing the Palestinians to pay these so-called Hamas-employed staff in the healthcare system from 2006. So they are working for nothing. For the last three months they have not had their salaries and this is extremely demanding.”

She makes absolutely no effort to counter Gilbert’s distorted description of the situation in Gaza as exclusively attributable to Israel by informing them that Hamas was given every opportunity to avoid the conflict but chose not to do so.

“All this could have been avoided if the bombing had stopped and the siege had been lifted.”

On two separate occasions Badawi allows Gilbert to wriggle out of the issue of Hamas’ use of Shifa hospital – despite journalists (including Yolande Knell) having documented the presence of Hamas leaders in that civilian facility.

“I haven’t been in every corner of Shifa but I’ve been there for many years and I’ve never seen any militants – armed people – in Shifa.”

“I have not seen it with my own eyes. I have not seen armed militias in Shifa or in any other hospital.”

Badawi makes no attempt to correct the inaccurate and misleading impression given by Gilbert to audiences on the issue of proportionality in warfare.Hardtalk Gilbert WS

“There has so far been killed almost 1,900 Palestinians and three civilian Israelis. That says everything about the proportionality or the disproportionality of the use of weapons. It is not the Palestinians who are killing the Israelis. It is actually the Israelis who are killing the Palestinians by the thousands.”

Badawi fails to challenge Gilbert’s blatant lie about travel from the Gaza Strip:

“The point about Gaza is that nobody is allowed to leave…”

She likewise fails to correct his false claim that Israel broke the 2008 six-month lull. In fact it was Hamas which breached the agreement by both continuing to fire rockets and mortars throughout and with the construction of a cross-border tunnel aimed at kidnapping Israeli soldiers.

Not only does Badawi not challenge Gilbert’s inaccurate and misleading description of border restrictions implemented to curb the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip as a “siege”, but – like many of her colleagues before her – she adopts that Hamas terminology herself.  She also fails to adequately correct Gilbert’s inaccurate version of events, which of course entirely erases Hamas terrorism from the picture presented to audiences, as well as the violent Hamas coup of 2007.

Badawi: “Let me just pick up the siege first […] Gaza was free [in August 2005] – there are no Jews living there, there’s no occupation there, but what happened when the settlers left…”

Gilbert: “Who says there is no occupation? The Israeli government and army has full control of the land space, the airspace…”

Badawi: “But no siege, no siege. Picking up the point that you made: lift the siege – there was no siege originally.”

Gilbert: “It came in 2006.”

Badawi: “Fairly early on.”

Gilbert: “[….] and Hamas won the election. They tried to make a unified government. It was shot down. Then came the siege and it was, you know, increased and increased and increased as a collective punishment.”

Badawi: “Sure. But […] when the Jewish settlers did withdraw from Gaza and Gaza was left open there wasn’t a siege imposed straight away. Instantly it was very clear that the Palestinians in Gaza – or at least some of them: the militants – were not going to leave Israelis alone.”

Gilbert: ” […] It was still under full Israeli control with the airspace, with the sea, with the borders and with the electronic space. So the Palestinians in Gaza have never been unoccupied.”

Badawi: “No, the occupation remains. It was the siege I was pointing out.”

Gilbert: “Why did the siege come? The siege came as a collective punishment because they have elected [unintelligible].” [emphasis added]

At no point does Badawi clarify to audiences that Israeli control of Gaza’s coastal waters and airspace was agreed to by the representatives of the Palestinian people in 1995 when they signed the Interim Agreement and that no amendments were made to that status quo in the agreement signed by the PA and Israel after the 2005 withdrawal. Neither does she point out that – despite Gilbert’s inaccurate claim that the Gaza Strip is still occupied – the facts show otherwise.

Badawi’s vigorous promotion of statements made by Mahmoud Abbas in relation to missile fire from the Gaza Strip is not accompanied by the very relevant information that Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have actively engaged in missile fire throughout the recent conflict.

Even Gilbert’s most off the wall comments go unchallenged and uncorrected by Badawi.

“Anybody who opposes the grand plan of the Israeli political government today – political Zionism – will be stamped as a terrorist and will be sort of outlawed. The Palestinians have been under strict, hard, brutal Israeli rule and oppression for the last seventy years and they have the right to defend themselves.” [emphasis added]

“…I don’t support Hamas, I don’t support Fatah or any faction. I support the Palestinian people and their right to resist occupation like we [the Norwegians] did.” (Nazi analogy)

“[Palestinians say] …we don’t want to live as slaves in our own country.”

“In my view the [Hamas-Fatah] coalition government now was the pretext for the attack on Gaza. […] It had nothing to do with the rockets.”

“I think that with the power distribution in the world today poor people – not only in Palestine and in other parts of the global south – are suffering from a new colonial wave of oppression which is coming precisely from the United States and they support the Israeli colonial project…”

“Respect for international law – totally omitted by Israel. Respect for the UN charter – totally omitted by Israel. We need all of us to stand up against this degeneration of the international order I think.”

Whilst viewers and listeners may have gained some insight into the mindset of Mads Gilbert from this interview, they gleaned no factual information which would help them better understand the conflict and indeed were actively misled by Gilbert’s propaganda thanks to Zeinab Badawi’s failure for the most part to challenge his blatant inaccuracies. What this interview does provide, however, is yet another example of the BBC’s adoption of Hamas terminology in its willfully inaccurate misrepresentation of border restrictions aimed at combatting terrorism against Israeli civilians as a “siege”.

BBC’s Jon Donnison breaches editorial guidelines in straw-clutching Tweet

“Presenters, reporters and correspondents are the public face and voice of the BBC – they can have a significant impact on perceptions of whether due impartiality has been achieved.  Our audiences should not be able to tell from BBC output the personal prejudices of our journalists or news and current affairs presenters on matters of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or on ‘controversial subjects’ in any other area.  They may provide professional judgements, rooted in evidence, but may not express personal views in BBC output, including online, on such matters.”    

(Source: BBC Editorial Guidelines, section 4.4.13)

On August 18th the BBC’s Jon Donnison (now back in Sydney after his recent brief yet ignominious return to Middle East reporting) sent the following tweet:

Tweet Donnison Pappe

There is no doubt that BBC audiences can discern the precise nature of Donnison’s “personal prejudices” from his promotion of the video in that Tweet. There is also no doubt that they can determine the type of ideology which underlies his reporting and commentary on Israel and the common disregard for accuracy shared by Donnison and Pappe.

However, there is also another layer to the promotion of this video by Donnison to his 17.6 thousand followers a whole 22 days after it initially appeared. Perusal of the transcript of the video shows that Donnison makes a cameo appearance in its content.

“AMY GOODMAN [presenter]: Professor Pappé, over the weekend, BBC correspondent Jon Donnison reported on what was called an Israeli admission that Hamas was not responsible for the killing of the three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank in June. On Twitter, Donnison said Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told him the suspects who killed the three teenagers were a lone cell affiliated with Hamas but not operating under its leadership. What is the significance of this?”

As we know, Donnison’s politically motivated claims designed to exonerate Hamas and discredit Israeli operations in the Gaza Strip have since unraveled, but it would appear that Donnison is still trying to cling to any vestige of his reputation as a journalist and that he misguidedly believes that Pappe’s answer to that question somehow supports his fabricated story.Donnison

“ILAN PAPPÉ: It’s very significant, because this was, of course, known to the Israelis the moment they heard about this abduction and the killing of the three young settlers. It was very clear that Israel was looking for a pretext to try and launch both a military operation in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip in order to try and bring back the situation in Palestine to what it was during the failed peace process, with a sort of good domicile, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in a way that they could forget about it and continue with the colonization of the West Bank without the need to change anything in their attitude or policies. And the depression in the West Bank, the frustration, the anger, especially in May 2014, of the killing of five young Palestinians by the Israeli army, burst out in this local action, this local initiative, that had nothing to do with the strategy of the Hamas, that was willing to try and give Abu Mazen leeway to create a unity government and to try the new initiative—going to the United Nations, going to international bodies, in order to make Israel accountable for more than 46 years of colonization and occupation. So it really highlights the connection between a pretext and a policy and a strategy which has wreaked such carnage in Gaza today.”

However, whilst Jon Donnison continues to cut a pathetic figure by clutching at a straw tossed by one of the most extremist figures from the anti-Israel fringe, his politically motivated fairy-tale crumbles even more.

“Israel’s Shin Bet security service said Monday it thwarted a Hamas coup attempt in the West Bank aimed at toppling Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and starting a third intifada uprising

The Shin Bet said it arrested more than 90 Hamas operatives in May and June, confiscated dozens of weapons that had been smuggled into the West Bank, and seized more than $170,000 aimed at funding attacks. It produced photos of the confiscated weapons and cash and a flowchart of the Hamas operatives who had been questioned, and said they planned a series of massive attacks on Israeli targets, including the Temple Mount, in order to start a widespread conflagration. Indictments are expected to be filed against at least 70 of the suspects.

[PA president] Abbas said later Monday that the revelation was “a grave threat to the unity of the Palestinian people and its future”. “

Remarkably, at the time of writing the BBC has maintained total silence on the topic of this recently broken news.

Those wishing to complain about Jon Donnison’s obvious breach of BBC Editorial Guidelines on impartiality may find our guide useful and the BBC’s guidance on social media use is available here

 

 

 

Hundreds and thousands: BBC under-reports missile attacks on Israel yet again

In the weeks which preceded Operation Protective Edge attacks from the Gaza Strip escalated with 52 missiles fired during June 2014 and 237 missiles and dozens of mortars fired in the first week of July – eighty of them on July 7th alone. Since the commencement of the operation on July 8th 2014, terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip have fired over 3,500 missiles of various types at Israeli civilian targets. The Iron Dome missile defence system, which only targets projectiles analysed as set to land in populated areas, intercepted some 600 of those missiles at a 90% success rate. Missiles which evaded the Iron Dome and mortars (which the system is not designed to target, although it has had some success in that field too) account for around a hundred missile hits in Israeli civilian communities since July 8th. In the first week of the operation alone, 417 buildings and 228 vehicles were damaged by missiles. 

So how did the BBC News website present those facts (all readily available in the public domain) to audiences in its August 17th article titled “Gaza conflict: Peace talks resume in Cairo“? Remarkably, according to the BBC’s account, missiles fired from the Gaza Strip do not seem to land anywhere.Article 17 8 talks

“Israeli civilians have been forced to seek shelter from hundreds of rockets launched at Israel, though many missiles have been blocked by the Iron Dome defence system.”

The actual number of missiles fired is severely under-reported and presented in vague language even though the precise statistics are available. The consequences of those missiles are presented exclusively in terms of Israelis running for cover with no mention of what happens when they land and the fact that around a hundred of them have hit populated areas with destructive results to buildings, infrastructure, property and people. Whilst the Iron Dome system has indeed intercepted “many missiles” thus preventing much more loss of life, injury and damage, that does not – as the BBC’s wording implies – mitigate the effect of those missiles as weapons intended to terrorise Israel’s civilian population and paralyse normal life.

In the paragraph prior to that one, however, readers discovered that in contrast, Israeli weapons do hit the ground.

“Israeli air strikes and shell fire have sharply increased the hardship suffered by civilians in Gaza, with homes destroyed and a lack of water and medical supplies.”

No less interesting is the choice of wording used with regard to casualties: whilst Israelis “have died” – phrasing which does not imply cause – Palestinians are killed – a term which does indicate an outside cause of loss of life.

“Most of the more than 1,900 Palestinians killed are civilians, according to the United Nations.

On the Israeli side, 67 people, all but three of them soldiers, have died.”

Paragraph five of this report states:

“Israel started its offensive in response to militant attacks, including rocket fire, from Gaza.”

Later on, the report presents a different account of the cause of the conflict but with no information given concerning the efforts made by Israel to avoid the hostilities, meaning that audiences are left with no clear understanding of which party initiated them. Likewise, Hamas involvement in the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli civilians is still being airbrushed from the BBC’s version of events.

“The latest Gaza conflict began as tensions escalated over the arrests of Hamas-linked militants blamed by Israel for the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers.”

As has been the case throughout BBC coverage of the conflict, the dissolving of the Hamas government in Gaza after the establishment of the Palestinian unity government at the beginning of June and the resulting Palestinian Authority responsibility for attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip is ignored.

“Hamas, which controls Gaza, is demanding an end to the Israeli and Egyptian blockade of the territory.”

In that sentence in the body of the article and separately both in a sidebar of related articles and a similar extended menu at its foot, three links are provided to the inaccurate and inadequate backgrounder on the topic of border restrictions which the BBC produced on August 13th.

The article concludes:

“Israel occupied Gaza in 1967 and pulled its troops and settlers out in 2005.

However, it still exercises control over most of Gaza’s borders, water and air space, while Egypt controls Gaza’s southern border.”

Once again, no effort is made by the BBC to explain to audiences that Israeli control of the Gaza Strip’s coastal waters and airspace is in fact part of the Interim Agreement signed by the representatives of the Palestinian people, rather than some Israeli caprice. Likewise, the BBC has made no attempt whatsoever to clarify to audiences that according to the terms of existing agreements between Israel and the PA, there should be no paramilitary groups in the Gaza Strip.

“Except for the Palestinian Police and the Israeli military forces, no other armed forces shall be established or operate in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”

“Except for the arms, ammunition and equipment of the Palestinian Police described in Annex I, and those of the Israeli military forces, no organization, group or individual in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip shall manufacture, sell, acquire, possess, import or otherwise introduce into the West Bank or the Gaza Strip any firearms, ammunition, weapons, explosives, gunpowder or any related equipment, unless otherwise provided for in Annex I.”

That information is vital if audiences are to understand why the terms presented by Israel in ceasefire discussions include the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip and why it will not agree to lift the naval blockade and border restrictions for as long as Hamas and other terrorist organisations continue their efforts to import prohibited weapons into the territory. To date the BBC has failed to provide its audiences with that crucial context meaning that they are unable to build an accurate understanding of an international issue to which the BBC has devoted thousands of words.

Related Articles:

BBC reports over ten times fewer post-truce missile hits on Israel than actually occurred

 

 

 

 

BBC’s Kevin Connolly in Gaza: high on pathos and sunsets, low on accuracy and facts

The BBC Radio 4 version of ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ featured an item by the Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly in its August 16th edition which can be heard from around 06:56 here or as a podcast here. A very similar written version of Connolly’s report appeared in the ‘Features & Analysis’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page on August 17th under the title “Gaza: What does the future hold for the children?“.FOOC 16 8

Kevin Connolly is currently located in the Gaza Strip and, as the title of his report suggests, his last few days there seem to have understandably prompted him to worry about the children living in that territory.

“For children in Gaza, living through war must seem like an habitual part of life. Is it possible to imagine what the future may hold for them? […]

The children fizz with energy and curiosity, singing out their names across the gap between the buildings and demanding to know ours.

They quickly learn to wait until we are on air using the balcony’s portable satellite dish, before shouting across. They know that our desperate requests for quiet then have to be mimed, much to their amusement.

I find myself worrying what the future holds for them. […]

If you are a six-year-old in Gaza, you have already lived through three separate wars – the ugly and brutal confrontations with Israel which flared in 2008, 2012 and again this year. It is as though Gaza is a kind of junction box where the dysfunctional neural wiring of the Middle East fused a long time ago.”

Of course if you are a six year-old less than a mile away in Sderot you have also lived through those same three wars and if you are a thirteen year-old from any of the towns and villages surrounding the Gaza Strip, you have never known life without the constant missile fire from the Gaza Strip which – whenever the terrorist organisations there choose to escalate it – is the cause for the “brutal confrontations” which Kevin Connolly ambiguously describes as having “flared” without explaining why that is the case.

Interestingly though, since Connolly arrived in the BBC’s Jerusalem Bureau in June 2010, neither he nor any of his colleagues have been sufficiently worried about the children in Sderot to make the 90 minute drive down there and ponder their future. The last BBC correspondents to do anything of that sort were Nick Thorpe in 2006 and Tim Franks in 2008. Perhaps some insight into Kevin Connolly’s comprehension of the situation can be gleaned from this segment of his report:

“And yet, decisive victory seems to elude Israel, just as it eludes Hamas. The fighting will probably end in ways which are ambiguous and unsatisfactory, just as it has in the past.

That will be tough on the civilians of southern Israel, who will almost certainly find themselves running for their air-raid shelters again in future.

But it will be tougher still for those children on the roof next door. They have no air-raid shelters and very little chance of escaping to the wider world as long as Israel and Egypt maintain strict controls on all movement across Gaza’s borders.”

Connolly makes no effort to inform his listeners or readers that the reason Israeli children have air–raid shelters is because their country invests considerable resources in the protection of its citizens and the reason the children in Gaza do not have air-raid shelters is that Hamas invests considerable resources in acquiring missiles and using concrete to build cross-border attack tunnels rather than air-raid shelters. Like the rest of his colleagues he of course refrains from mentioning that those controls on Gaza’s borders with Israel are necessary precisely because of those Hamas policies.

So whilst Connolly tugs at listeners’ heart strings with his artistic descriptions of Gaza and its young residents, he manipulatively blocks any mention of the root cause of the picture he paints from audience view.Connolly FOOC written 17 8

He also returns to the BBC practice of trivialising terror attacks against Israeli civilians by promoting the jaded ‘homemade rockets’ theme.

“These confrontations are hopelessly asymmetrical. Many of Hamas’s rockets are out-of-date or home-made, compared with Israel’s powerful and sophisticated weapons.”

Likewise, Connolly fails to convey to listeners and readers the fact that it was Egypt’s belligerency which eventually resulted in the Gaza Strip coming under Israeli control in 1967, that Israel withdrew from that territory nine years ago and that Israel controls the coastal waters and air-space of the Gaza Strip because the representatives of the Palestinian people – the PA – signed agreements stipulating those conditions two decades ago.

“In the Six Day War of 1967 Israel came back and has occupied Gaza – or controlled life inside it – ever since.”

Obviously, if Connolly’s statement were accurate and Israel did control life inside the Gaza Strip, there would not have been thousands of missiles fired at Israeli civilians from that territory or cross-border attack tunnels dug over the years. Connolly is no less inaccurate when he tells audiences:

“At one point, Hamas appeared to be navigating the treacherous cross-currents of the Arab Spring effortlessly. It seemed able to count, at different points, on the support of Syria, Egypt and Iran – all powerful regional players.

Now, through a combination of misjudgement and misfortune, it can count on none of them.”

The great misfortune of the children of the Gaza Strip is of course that the place they live is under the control of a nihilistic terrorist organization which puts their welfare way down its list of priorities and the terrorisation and murder of Israeli children at the top. Had Kevin Connolly bothered to properly explain that crucial point to BBC audiences instead of making do with flowery clichés and trite descriptions of sunsets, he might actually have made a step towards doing what the BBC exists to do: informing its funding public not just what is going on in the world, but why. 

 

Orla Guerin’s parting shot breaches BBC editorial guidelines

“We apologize for this and would like to assure you that the matter has been raised with the relevant editorial staff at the BBC News Channel, who have been reminded of the need to clearly describe the ideology of such organizations in our coverage.”

According to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s Amena Saleem, the above words appeared in an email from the BBC in response to a PSC complaint to the effect that the organization to which an interviewee on BBC News belongs was not adequately described to viewers as stipulated in the BBC’s editorial guidelines and reaffirmed by the BBC ECU in October 2013. However, the BBC’s commitment to the need to “clearly describe the ideology” of organisations to which interviewees are linked obviously lacks consistency – as yet another recent example shows.

On August 13th Orla Guerin filed her parting shot just prior to her departure from the Gaza Strip. That filmed report for BBC television news programmes also appeared on the BBC News website under the title “Gaza conflict: Allegations of war crimes” and was promoted on Twitter by its producer Nicola Careem.

The bulk of Guerin’s report is based on a video put out by the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) last month which has of course not been authenticated by the BBC. Guerin opens with a euphemistic description of the ISM as “international activists” which of course in no way informs viewers of that organisation’s ideology: a particularly relevant topic seeing as Guerin’s claims are based on the ISM’s claims.

“This is one of many cases Palestinians want the UN to investigate. International activists searching for the dead and wounded during a brief ceasefire. In the green T-shirt a 22 year-old local man Salem Shemali – looking for relatives. A shot rings out – apparently from an Israeli sniper. Salem was hit but was still calling out, still alive. After two more shots he was dead.”

Guerin of course has no proof (for example, ballistic evidence) that whoever shot Shemali was “an Israeli sniper”, but she also has no qualms about amplifying the ISM’s allegations. The video was filmed in Shuja’iya on July 20th; a neighbourhood which, as readers no doubt recall, civilians had been advised to evacuate several days previously and which was the location of the entrances to cross-border tunnels and considerable Hamas infrastructure.  After hours of fierce fighting there, Hamas requested a short ceasefire via the Red Cross and medical teams and journalists – including the BBCmoved in.Guerin ISM report

Guerin goes on to interview Rina Andolini with the caption on screen reading “International Solidarity Movement”. Again, no effort is made to inform viewers what that organization is or of its close ties to Hamas.

Guerin: “British activist Rina Andolini is the woman in the video – an eye-witness to the killing.”

Andolini: “I mean I’ve never seen anyone pretty much just shot dead in front of me. Erm…and no reason, you know, no reason whatsoever. A young lad, just wanting to look for his family, clearly distressed, as anyone would be in that situation, you know. You go to find your family and you end up dead. Where’s the justice?”

Guerin continues with more amplification of unverified, context-free claims.

“In hospital we found Salem’s uncle Nasser who was injured a week later. He told us Israeli soldiers forced their way into his home and an officer shot him at close range. ‘His face was painted’ he says, ‘but I’d know him anywhere from his eyes’.”

Guerin then goes on to join the ranks of her Middle East Editor in the department of denial of Hamas’ use of human shields.

“While there are growing allegations against Israel, it claims civilians here have been used by militants as human shields but so far there’s been no evidence of that.”

What Guerin’s obviously inadequate understanding of the term human shields does include is not made apparent to viewers, but she then goes on to describe just such a case – although without expanding on the topic of how 20,000 Hamas terrorists firing well over 3,000 missiles managed to “avoid the cameras” for over a month.

“During this conflict Palestinian militants have kept a low profile, avoiding the cameras. But we know that at times they have operated from civilian areas. A rocket was fired from this waste ground about ten days ago. There was no ceasefire at the time. But you can see that just across the road there are people living in these apartments. These images were filmed by Indian TV just up the road. They appear to show militants firing rockets near their hotel.”

The footage which Guerin tells BBC audiences ‘appears’ to show missile fire from a residential area can be seen here. She continues:

“Hamas is accused of breaking international law by firing its rockets indiscriminately into Israel. Hamas says it’s fighting Israel’s occupation.”

Guerin makes no effort to inform viewers that Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip nine years ago or that what Hamas actually says it is fighting is Israel’s existence. She closes:

“Back in the rubble Salem’s mother is calling on Hamas to avenge her son who was about to graduate from college. The Israeli army told us it cannot verify any of the circumstances in the video but is reviewing the case. It says it does not target civilians in any circumstances.”

But by that time of course, Guerin’s amplification of this ISM story has left its impression on BBC viewers who, in contradiction of BBC editorial guidelines, are still none the wiser with regard to the ideologies of the organisation which made, broke and promoted the video. 

They have no idea, for example, that one of the people involved in producing and publicising the video upon which her report is based is Joe Catron of the ISM who was given equally opaque promotion on the BBC World Service on July 31st when he was interviewed about his role as a human shield at Gaza hospitals. They have no idea that one of Catron’s fellow human shields at Wafa hospital was the 32 year-old optical dispenser from the West Midlands Rina Andolini and that both Catron and Andolini have peviously lied to the media about Hamas’ use of that hospital. Viewers are also not told that Ms Andolini’s activities in the Gaza Strip include distributing aid funded by a British charity called Al-Fatiha Global (featured by the BBC in the past in connection to convoys to Syria) which is currently under investigation by the Charity Commission due to “serious concerns about the governance and financial management of the charity”.

And of course most importantly, as a result of all Guerin’s gross omissions viewers are unable to grasp that what she is actually doing in this report is promoting and amplifying the agenda of an organization which since the early days of the second Intifada has been providing financial, logistic and PR support to terrorist organisations which attack Israeli civilians. That information is obviously critical to viewers if they are to be able to put Guerin’s none too veiled accusations of Israeli ‘war crimes’ into objective perspective.

This report’s serious omissions, however, would suggest that neither Guerin nor her producer were keen to allow BBC audiences the privilege of making up their own minds.  

 

 

 

 

 

BBC amends article on DEC Gaza appeal concerns

On August 15th the BBC News website featured an article titled “Jewish Chronicle apologises after running Gaza appeal advert” on its UK page and also, curiously, on its Middle East page. JC art

“The Jewish Chronicle has apologised to readers who complained after it ran an advert for the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Gaza crisis appeal.

The weekly newspaper said running the advert was “meant as a purely humanitarian gesture”. […]

Writing on the JC website, editor Stephen Pollard said: “It is a critical part of our editorial independence that we do not allow advertisers to have any influence at all on the paper.” “

The BBC’s article once again cites casualty figures which it has not been independently verified and with no attempt made to advise readers with regard to the sources of those figures and the political agenda of the NGOs which contribute them.

“About 2,000 people have died since the fighting began last month.

Those killed include more than 1,900 Palestinians, mostly civilians, according to the United Nations. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers have been killed in the violence and three civilians in Israel have also died.”

The report concludes as follows:

“In a statement on the DEC’s website on Thursday, addressing the “tone of the debate over Gaza”, chief executive Saleh Saeed said: “The DEC’s launch of a public appeal in response to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza has been wrongly interpreted in some quarters as a political statement.

“It is nothing of the sort. Giving aid is not taking sides.” “

However despite quoting that statement, the article makes no attempt to inform readers that several of the organisations which make up the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) do indeed have a history of using their charitable status for anti-Israel political campaigning – among them Oxfam, Christian Aid, World Vision and Save the Children.

Moreover, the original version of the  BBC’s report failed to inform readers of concerns raised with regard to the destination of contributions made to the appeal in light of the fact that another DEC member organization – Islamic Relief – has known ties to Hamas, as Saleh Saeed is no doubt well aware seeing as he was employed by that charity until 2012.

The day after its original appearance the article was amended (without any notification to readers) to include the following:

“Meanwhile, Israel’s embassy in the UK issued a statement in which it said its own concern about the DEC appeal “stems from the fact that the list of charities on the DEC includes Islamic Relief Worldwide, which has been designated in Israel recently as an unlawful association, for providing support and funnelling [sic] funds to Hamas, a terror group designated in the UK.

“Surely this must raise cause for concern for the public donating money for children, when one of the donors has been officially declared to be using that money to support a recognized terror group,” it said.”

As that statement points out, in June 2014 Islamic Relief was banned from operating in Israel.

“Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon signed a decree on Thursday banning Islamic Relief Worldwide from operating in Israel.

Israel believes IRW, which markets itself as a charitable agency that solicits donations from all over the world, funnels cash to Hamas.

Ya’alon’s ban was decided upon after the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), the coordinator for government activities in the territories, and legal authorities provided incriminating information against IRW. 

The organization has representatives worldwide, including Australia, the United States, and Britain, where it is headquartered. Some of their local branches in Gaza, Judea, and Samaria are run by Hamas operatives.”

One of Hamas’ numerous charitable organisations operating in the Gaza Strip, for example, is Al Falah Benevolent Society which has been the recipient of funds from Islamic Relief in the past. Islamic Relief was one of the founding members of the ‘Union of Good’ – the Muslim Brotherhood’s financial support operation for Hamas founded shortly after the start of the second Intifada in 2000 and headed by Yousuf Qaradawi – which was designated by the US Department of the Treasury in 2008.

The amended version of the BBC’s report also includes a response from Islamic Relief:

“In response, Islamic Relief Worldwide said it “categorically denies any links with Hamas”.

It added: “Islamic Relief Worldwide is regulated in the UK by the Charity Commission and has rigorous internal control and compliance systems in place to ensure we uphold our humanitarian principles of impartiality, independence and neutrality.” “

Unfortunately, Charity Commission regulation is by no means a cast iron guarantee of the absence of ties to terrorist organisations and extremism – as the case of Interpal so miserably demonstrates

Despite the fact that it is difficult to see how the issue of “public confidence in the BBC’s impartiality” can possibly have changed since 2009, the BBC decided to promote this DEC appeal across its own platforms. Given also that UK tax payers will be contributing to it whether they see fit or not, members of the BBC’s funding public might be of the opinion that the political motivations and possible Hamas connections of some DEC member organisations would be an issue in which BBC journalists should be showing more of an interest. 

BBC airs inaccurate report by Yolande Knell on Gaza infrastructure

Viewers of BBC television news were recently treated to a long report by Yolande Knell on the topic of infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. The same report also appeared on the BBC News website on August 15th under the title “Yolande Knell meets Gazans working to restore utilities“. Unfortunately, viewers were unable to glean much factual information from a report replete with inaccuracies and omissions.Knell infrastructure Knell opens:

“Gaza took a pounding during recent Israeli airstrikes. This is the third conflict here in five years and it’s been the most deadly and destructive. Israel says it’s targeted militant sites, but civilian infrastructure’s not been spared.”

Accurate and impartial presentation of the topic would of course have demanded that at this point Knell clarify to viewers that Hamas and other terrorist organisations deliberately locate their terrorist facilities such as missile launchers and weapons stores in civilian residential areas, thereby increasing the likelihood of damage to both civilians themselves and the infrastructure serving them. Knell continues:

“Gaza’s only power plant was shelled two weeks ago, setting its fuel tanks on fire. The Israeli military says it’s investigating but the effects are clear.”

Whilst the investigation into that incident is still ongoing, what is clear – and has been since it occurred – is that the power plant was not intentionally targeted by Israeli forces. After a short interview with the power plant’s manager Knell tells viewers:

“The manager, Rafik Maliha, has been here since the electricity plant opened a decade ago. It was supposed to make use of the latest technology to meet rising demand. Instead, it’s faced constant challenges. It’s been caught up in previous fighting between Hamas which controls Gaza and the group’s sworn enemy Israel. Tight border restrictions limited fuel imports. Although power cuts were common in Gaza before, now they’re much worse.”

This is far from the first time that the BBC (and specifically Yolande Knell) has inaccurately told its audiences that Gaza’s electricity supply problems – which predate this conflict by a long time – are the result of Israeli border restrictions and it would appear that the BBC is beginning to believe its own spin. In fact – like the shortage of medical supplies which Yolande Knell and others have also inaccurately attributed to Israeli policy – the fuel shortage in the Gaza Strip is the product of disputes between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

“Though it may be hard to believe, 1.5 million Palestinians have lived without electricity throughout most of the day in 2013. For the past two weeks, residents of the Gaza Strip have endured a cycle of six hours of electricity followed by a 12-hour power outage. Last Wednesday, the power went out at 6:00 am and was finally restored only late that evening.

This current crisis is not the result of a tighter “Israeli siege” or anything of the sort; it is caused by disputes between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority over the price of fuel since the tunnels connecting Gaza and Egypt were shut down or destroyed.

Recent Egyptian military activity rendered out of commission hundreds of tunnels that once connected Sinai and Gaza and were used to import one million liters of fuel into Gaza each day. As a result, Hamas has no choice but to purchase fuel from Israel via the Palestinian Authority at prices similar to those found in the Israeli market, namely over seven shekels ($2) per liter of gasoline. That is a major problem for private car owners.

The more acute problem is that fuel is needed to operate the Gaza power plant that generates the majority of the local electricity. The Palestinian Authority purchases a liter of fuel for the power plant for approximately 4 shekels from Israeli gas companies and has tried to sell it to Hamas for almost double, including excise tax.

Hamas has rejected those prices outright and stopped purchasing fuel for its power plant. The dramatic consequence was that the power plant has shut down and the electricity supply has been completely disrupted. The PA refuses to waive the excise tax, a critical part of its own budget. And the residents of Gaza are the ones who suffer.”

Knell fails to inform viewers that throughout the entire recent conflict – and of course before it – fuel of various kinds has continued to enter the Gaza Strip via the Kerem Shalom crossing, including 4.44 million liters of fuel for Gaza’s power plant.

Knell’s report then returns to the Gaza power plant manager who gives BBC viewers the mistaken impression that Gaza’s entire electricity supply depends upon his establishment.

“It [the power plant] would to serve electricity for the civilian in Gaza almost 2 million people who are, I mean, suffer and when you are talking about electricity we are talking about water supply, water treatment plant, water sewage plant and we are talking about hospitals, we are talking about the schools. All aspects, all basic of our life requirements are not existing.”

In fact, of course, the Gaza Strip has two additional sources of power. Egypt supplies some 27 megawatts on a regular basis and recently increased that supply by a further 7 megawatts in light of the current power crisis in Gaza. In line with the terms of the Oslo Accords, Israel continues to supply the Gaza Strip with 120 megawatts and although several instances of power supply lines being damaged by terrorist missile fire occurred during Operation Protective Edge (unreported by the BBC), those lines were repaired by the Israel Electric Corporation.  Coincidentally, the debt owed to Israel’s electric company by the Gaza Strip stands at around 220 million shekels.

After an interview with members of a family in Beit Lahiya, Knell moves on to the topic of water and sewage. Despite her descriptions of damage caused during Israel’s ground operation, she fails to mention that Hamas refused a ceasefire two days before that operation commenced.

“Entire neighbourhoods of Gaza were reduced to rubble during the ground invasion by Israeli armed forces. In Shuja’iya in the east they said they destroyed tunnels used by Palestinian fighters. But they also damaged underground water and sewage systems. Already these were in a fragile state. The blockade of Gaza enforced by Israel and Egypt had made maintenance hard. Now there’s contamination and widespread water shortages.”

Like the electricity crisis, Gaza’s problems with water and sewage long predate the recent conflict. The responsibility for water and sewage in the Gaza Strip lies with the Palestinian Water Authority – established in 1995 as a result of the Oslo Accords – and so for almost two decades those utilities have been under Palestinian control. For the past seven years, of course, the Palestinian Authority has had no influence in the Gaza Strip and Hamas has done little in terms of maintenance of water and sewage systems, with piping for sewage projects even having been misappropriated for the purpose of manufacturing missiles. Knell continues:

“Across Gaza emergency efforts are underway to fix or just to patch up basic infrastructure, often in incredibly difficult circumstances. Here the workers are struggling to restore basic water supplies. They’ve got miles and miles of broken pipes. Hospitals are already seeing diseases spreading as more Gazans displaced by this conflict are forced to put up with dire living conditions. And here, the growing problems with Gaza’s infrastructure can be a matter of life and death. The machines in this intensive care unit are now relying mostly on generators which are meant to be used for back-up purposes only.”

Knell then interviews the director of Shifa hospital, but predictably refrains from popping down to that hospital’s basement to ask the Hamas leaders ensconced there for well over a month about their years of neglect of Gaza’s infrastructure, their short-sighted policy decisions which have left the civilian population without sufficient electricity supplies and their diversion of concrete, piping and other materials which could have been used to improve Gaza’s neglected utilities to terrorism.

Of course the real aim of Knell’s report is not to inform BBC viewers why Gaza’s infrastructure is so badly neglected. Her entire report is in fact yet another contribution to the BBC’s ongoing advocacy campaign for Hamas demands concerning the lifting of border restrictions – as can be seen in her conclusion.

“For years Gaza has struggled. But the latest conflict has left it on life support. A temporary truce is giving some breathing space. As Egyptian negotiators try to secure a longer term ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians, now the hope for the future is a deal that can address security concerns and open up Gaza’s borders so a full recovery can begin.”

An accurate and impartial report on this issue would have to include the provision of information to audiences as to why the demand to “open up Gaza’s borders” is precisely one of the “security concerns” which now need to be addressed. As is the case with all other BBC reports on this topic, weapons smuggling, the rearming of terrorist groups and well over a decade of terrorism from the Gaza Strip are not included on the menu. 

BBC News’ blockade backgrounder not fit for purpose

With disturbing frequency we have noted here during the past few weeks many examples of BBC reporting which are in fact part and parcel of the corporation’s ongoing advocacy campaign in support of Hamas’ demand to lift border restrictions and the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip.

In none of those reports were BBC audiences given a clear, accurate and factual picture of the nature of restrictions themselves and at no point has the BBC explained that what brought about, and sustains, that Israeli policy is terrorism against Israeli civilians emanating from the Gaza Strip.

On August 13th those repeated failures to accurately and impartially inform BBC audiences were further exacerbated by the appearance of an item on BBC television news and on the BBC News website purporting to provide background information on the topic.

With the Yezidi community currently under existential threat in Iraq and the death-toll in Syria continually passing ever more tragic milestones, the BBC’s description of border restrictions on the Gaza Strip as an element of the “Mid-East crisis” can only be interpreted as a reflection of its priorities and vision. “Mid-East crisis: The blockade of Gaza – in 60 seconds” was produced by Michael Hirst of the BBC News website and in that backgrounder viewers are presented with a series of captioned images.60 seconds blockade filmed

1. “Blockade strengthened after Hamas militants took over Gaza Strip in 2007″

Yet again the BBC fails to clarify that the June 2007 Hamas coup itself was not the prime reason for tightened border restrictions but the subsequent rise in terror attacks against Israeli civilians which caused the Israeli security cabinet to declare the Gaza Strip hostile territory in September 2007. Clearly audiences cannot hope to understand this issue fully as long as the BBC continues to erase the topic of Hamas terrorism from the picture.

2. “Israel controls border crossings…”

All governments of course have an obligation to provide security for their citizens and a border with a territory ruled by an internationally proscribed terrorist organization is clearly going to demand stringent control, but the BBC manages to make Israeli actions sound exceptional and unreasonable.

3. “…and enforces sea blockade”

The all-important context of weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip by sea is erased from the picture presented to BBC viewers.

4. “Egypt controls its crossing (Rafah)”

Again – it is Egypt’s right and responsibility to do so.

5. “Egypt’s leaders oppose Hamas”

Notably the crucial context of Gaza Strip-based terrorism in northern Sinai is not mentioned.

6. “Imports are controlled by Israel”

Only imports via Israel are controlled by Israel (not those coming through Egypt) and all imports are permitted with the exception of weapons and a specific list of dual-use goods which can be used for the purposes of terrorism.

7. “Sometimes only basic supplies are allowed in”

During times of hostilities such as the present, when the Kerem Shalom crossing is often attacked by terrorists and its staff thus endangered, entry of goods to the Gaza Strip may be limited to aid, medical supplies and basic goods, with non-essentials such as cars or washing machines given a lower priority. Normally the entry of goods is a function of demand from Gaza-based businesses.

8. “Building materials are severely restricted”

The only restricted items are those same dual-use goods which can be appropriated for terrorism purposes. Even they can be imported into the Gaza Strip if the construction project is guaranteed by an international body to be for civilian purposes only.

9. “UN says concrete and steel are vital for reconstruction”

Again, civilian projects guaranteed by an international body can import the necessary materials.

10. “Israel says Hamas uses them to build tunnels and bunkers”

One would think that the BBC would have seen enough evidence recently – including with its own journalists’ eyes – to make the use of the caveat “Israel says” superfluous to that statement. Remarkably, the BBC has shown no interest whatsoever in investigating the issue of the methods and route of appropriation of construction materials for the purpose of building those cross border attack tunnels or in reporting on the civilians projects which did not come into being in the Gaza Strip because of the commandeering of those materials. 

11. “Gaza exports are restricted”

There is no restriction whatsoever on exports abroad. Israel in fact helps farmers in the Gaza Strip to bring their produce to international standards and to export it, for example, to Europe.

12. “UN: one truck per day allowed out in 2013″

As the relevant monthly reports show, from February 2013 to December 2013 inclusive (the data for January 2013 is not available), a total of 560 truckloads of exports left the Gaza Strip in 334 days. Clearly that UN claim repeated by the BBC is inaccurate. Most of the exports from the Gaza Strip are agricultural and therefore seasonal in nature. Thus we see, for example, that in February 2013 a total of 109 truckloads of exports left the Gaza Strip.

13. “UN: 57% of Gaza households are ‘food insecure'”

That isolated statistic is of course of no use to BBC audiences and notably they are given no information regarding the political agenda of its supplier. Viewers have no way of comparing that figure with food insecurity in other parts of the world or with previous years before border restrictions had to be implemented because of Hamas’ policy of both itself engaging in terrorism and permitting other terrorist organisations to do so from territory it controls.

In summary, this backgrounder is doubly problematic in that it provides BBC audiences with inaccurate information on the one hand whilst failing completely to supply the vital context concerning the terrorism which is the cause of border restrictions and the naval blockade on the other.

As an attempt to meet the BBC’s obligation to provide audiences with information which will enable them to understand “international issues” it is neither use nor ornament. As part of the BBC’s continuing campaign to amplify and promote the current Hamas agenda, this backgrounder definitely fulfils its purpose. 

 

 

How the BBC made missile fire from the Gaza Strip almost disappear

The 72-hour ceasefire which came into effect on August 11th and was supposed to expire at midnight on August 13th was broken when missiles were fired from the Gaza Strip some two and a half hours before its end. Between 21:30 and 01:00 local time, eight missiles were fired at Israel, some of which were intercepted. The IDF responded with strikes on missile launching sites and weapons facilities. Whilst a Hamas spokesman denied that Hamas had fired the missiles, other terrorist factions in the Gaza Strip claimed responsibility.

“Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Hamas “denies there was any rocket fire at the occupation this evening”, referring to Israel.

The al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades [Fatah – Ed.] and the Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, have claimed responsibility for the first round of rocket fire.”

Despite the above, a new 120 hour truce came into effect at midnight on August 13th.

So how did the BBC News website report those events? The article which currently appears under the title “Israel and Palestinians begin tense five-day Gaza truce” with the date August 14th opens with typical ‘last-first’ reporting:Article 14 8 alleged

“Israel and the Palestinians have begun a fresh five-day ceasefire in Gaza, agreed at the end of a three-day truce.

As the ceasefire was announced, Israel launched air strikes in response to alleged rocket fire from Gaza.” [emphasis added]

Later on readers are informed that:

“Hamas, which controls Gaza and is involved in the Cairo talks, has denied its members launched rockets at Israel on Wednesday night.”

That sleight of hand – in which a denial from one terrorist organization is used to cast doubt on the fact that missiles were fired at all and thus question the validity of the Israeli response – is enabled by two factors. The first is the omission of any reporting of the claims of responsibility for the missile fire made by other terrorist factions in the Gaza Strip. The second is the failure to clarify to readers that not only is Hamas responsible for preventing all attacks during a ceasefire to which it agreed precisely because it “controls Gaza” as the BBC’s article points out, but it is clearly perfectly capable of doing so when it wishes, as shown by previous truces.

That article in fact began its numerous incarnations on the evening of August 13th and it is possible to track the progress of the evolving descriptions both of that evening’s missile fire and the subsequent Israeli response.

The second version of the article – titled “Israel, Palestinians ‘extend Gaza truce by five days'” – stated:

“Earlier, three rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel, Israel’s military said”.

Version three, with the same title, informed readers:

“Five rockets have meanwhile been fired from Gaza, Israel’s military says.

No casualties have been reported in Israel. Hamas militants have denied they fired the rockets.

However, an Israeli official said the Israeli military had been ordered to respond to the rocket fire.”

The fourth version of the report had its title changed to “Fresh strikes follow five-day Gaza truce extension”, making Israeli actions the focus, but with the reason for them disappeared from audience view in the headline.bbc head1

“Israel has launched air strikes on Gaza after being targeted by rocket fire, just as agreement had been reached on extending a truce by five days.

Israel’s military said it was targeting “terror sites” after at least five rockets were launched from Gaza.” […]

“Israel’s military said at least five rockets had been fired from Gaza on Wednesday evening.

No casualties were reported in Israel. Hamas militants have denied they fired the rockets.”

Version five ran under the headline “Israel and Palestinians begin tense five-day Gaza truce” and it was at that stage that the previous night’s missile fire (which the BBC obviously knew about because it had reported it earlier) was downgraded to “alleged”.

“As the ceasefire was announced, Israel launched air strikes in response to alleged rocket fire from Gaza.” […]

“Hamas, which controls Gaza and is involved in the Cairo talks, has denied its members launched rockets at Israel on Wednesday night.”

The article then presents a selectively partial quote, presumably designed to provide back up to the previous statement.

“Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner said on Twitter: “No need to jump to conclusions. I don’t know who launched 10pm (19:00GMT) rocket at Israel.”

Here is the original version of the Tweet sent by Lt Col Lerner in response to Al Jazeera journalist Nick Schifrin. As readers can see for themselves, the context of that conversation puts it in a different context than the way in which it is presented by the BBC.

Tweet peter lerner 13 8

Here is the earlier tweet to which Schifrin responded:

Tweet Peter Lerner 13 8 b

The relevant parts of the sixth and final version of the article are identical to those in the fifth version.

As we see, within a matter of hours, that article had evolved from reporting cases of missile launches from the Gaza Strip into turning them into “alleged” missile fire, with the denial issued by a terrorist organization presented as back up for that classification and claims of responsibility by other terrorists ignored, along with Hamas’ responsibility to enforce the ceasefire. The focus is instead placed on Israeli actions which are represented as a response to something which might not have actually happened.

In other words, what we witness in the evolvement of this report is a clear case of facts obviously known to the BBC being tailored to fit editorial policy.