A BBC journalist does his job

Although comparatively rare, it is always a pleasure to be able to note that a BBC journalist has reported accurately and impartially on a topic connected to Israel.Longman art

In among a long and interesting – but bleak – article titled “Gay community hit hard by Middle East turmoil” published in the Features & Analysis section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page on October 29th, James Longman wrote:

“One refuge in the region for some is Israel, one of the most progressive countries in the world for LGBT rights.

Same-sex relationships are protected by law, and the only annual gay pride march in the Middle East takes place in Tel Aviv – regarded as an international gay capital.

Since 1993 – well before the US and other Western countries – openly gay people have been allowed to serve in the military. Palestinians from conservative homes have also fled to Israel to avoid persecution.”

Would that such accurate and agenda-free reporting by a BBC journalist were not worthy of note.

BBC both amplifies and conceals PA incitement in report on Jerusalem attack

On October 30th the BBC News website’s Middle East page published a report relating to the attempted murder of Rabbi Yehuda Glick which had taken place in central Jerusalem some four hours previously. The article – originally titled “Jewish activist Yehuda Glick shot and hurt in Jerusalem” – has been amended numerous times since its initial publication but its first two versions included the following caption to its main photograph:

“Mr Glick was photographed attending a conference shortly before the shooting about Israeli access to what it calls Temple Mount” [emphasis added]

Glick art main

Later on in the report readers were told:

“He was active in a push by Jews to pray at a sensitive Jerusalem holy site.

Mr Glick had just attended a conference at the Menachem Begin Heritage Centre which had discussed Jewish claims to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound which is venerated by Jews as the Temple Mount.”

And:

“The Al-Aqsa compound is also revered by Muslims – it is widely seen as Islam’s third holiest site – and is one of the most contentious areas of the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

In other words, visitors to the BBC News website who read either of the first two versions of the article were not informed that Temple Mount (known as such not only by Israelis and long before the BBC’s obviously preferred title ‘Al-Aqsa compound’ came into existence) is the holiest site for Jews due to its being the location of the First and Second Temples. The failure to clarify that fact and the BBC’s use of the inaccurate phrase “Jewish claims to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound” obviously misleads readers. Neither were audiences adequately informed why it is that non-Muslims (not just Jews) are currently not allowed to pray at the site or why, for example, a Christian wearing a crucifix would not be permitted to visit.

“The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf (endowments), a Jordanian-funded and administered Islamic trust and charitable organization, manages the site and generally restricts non-Muslims from entering the Dome of the Rock shrine and al-Aqsa Mosque, a practice it started in 2000. The Waqf does not allow non-Muslim religious symbols to be worn on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.”

In the third version of the report the following amendment was made:

“Yehuda Glick is a well-known campaigner for greater Jewish rights to pray at the site known to Jews as the Temple Mount, and to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif.

He had just attended a conference where delegates discussed Jewish claims to the compound, the holiest site in Judaism, which also contains the al-Aqsa Mosque – the third holiest site in Islam.”

All versions of the BBC report mislead readers by inaccurately stating:

“Israel argues that it tolerates free prayer to all at the site, but Palestinians claim it is unilaterally taking steps to allow larger numbers of Jewish worshippers.”

Interestingly, a very similarly worded statement appeared in an AP report on October 18th.

In the fourth version of the article was it clarified that:

“Jews are allowed on to the compound but are forbidden from praying or performing religious rites there.”

The report’s fifth version stated:

“The site is administered by an Islamic body called the Waqf, while Israeli police are in charge of security.

Jews are allowed on to the compound but are forbidden from praying or performing religious rites there under Israeli law.”

One might have thought that all BBC staff would be capable of writing about such a prominent issue accurately, thus avoiding the omission of such a crucial part of the story as the significance of Temple Mount in the Jewish religion and hence avoiding the situation whereby the accuracy of information received by a reader depends upon the time at which he or she accessed a BBC report. Obviously – as we have seen before – that is not the case.

Some four hours after the article’s original publication it was updated (with advertisement on Twitter) to include the following statement:Glick BBC tweet

“Israeli police have since told the BBC that a suspect was located at a house in Jerusalem, and shot dead after an exchange of fire.”

From the third version onwards the report was retitled “Jerusalem: Glick suspect killed in Israel police shoot-out“.

In the report’s fourth version readers were finally informed that Mua’taz Hijazi from Abu Tor was a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, who had previously spent 11 years in prison, but not that the PIJ subsequently issued a statement reading:

“The released prisoner Muataz Hijazi who was killed in an exchange of fire in Silwan is our activist. The attempted assassination of Glick is translation into deeds of the Palestinian feeling of vengeance in reaction to what is happening in Jerusalem.”

The appearance of several ‘martyrdom posters’ with the Fatah logo (Mahmoud Abbas’ party, of course) was likewise ignored, along with the Fatah statement “[w]e proudly mourn hero martyr. Shahid in Jerusalem son of Palestine. And the son of Fatah Moataz Ibrahim Hijazi”.

Glick Fatah poster

BBC audiences were also not informed in any of the versions of the report that Yehuda Glick had received numerous threats in the past.

The headline of the seventh version of this BBC report was changed to “Jerusalem holy site closure ‘declaration of war’ – Abbas“, meaning that within less than half a day, the article’s focus had shifted from the attempted murder of Yehuda Glick, through the shooting of his would-be assassin, to unqualified amplification of the ridiculous – yet dangerous – notion that the temporary closure of Temple Mount in order to reduce tension and the likelihood of violence is an intentional “attack” on the entire Muslim world. With no effort made to clarify to readers why the complex had been closed, that version of the report informed them that:Glick BBC tweet 2 declaration

“A spokesman for Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has described the closure of a disputed Jerusalem holy site as a “declaration of war”.

Nabil Abu Rudeina said the Palestinian Authority would take legal action over the move, which came amid tension over the shooting of a Jewish activist. […]

Palestinians hold the Israeli government responsible for a “dangerous act”, Mr Abbas was quoted as saying by Mr Rudeina, in remarks carried by AFP news agency.

“This dangerous Israeli escalation is a declaration of war on the Palestinian people and its sacred places and on the Arab and Islamic nation,” Mr Rudeina added.”

However, no attempt was made in either this version or any other of the report’s various incarnations to place its subject matter – and the PA president’s latest propaganda – in the context of recent incitement from the highest levels of the Palestinian Authority. As PMW has reported, a video of part of a speech made by Abbas on October 17th was broadcast nineteen times in three days by official PA television.

The day after that speech Abbas made another to the Fatah Revolutionary Council in which he dehumanized Jews visiting Temple Mount by referring to them as a “herd of cattle” and accusing them of “desecrating our holy sites”.  On October 27th the prime minister of the Palestinian Unity Government Rami Hamdallah visited Temple Mount, using the opportunity to accuse Jews of “Judaizing” Jerusalem.

““Jerusalem is a redline, and so is the Aksa Mosque,” Hamdallah told reporters. “We will go to all international institutions and Islamic and Arab countries to request that they stand against Israeli violations in Jerusalem.”

Hamdallah accused Israel of working toward Judaizing Jerusalem and the Aksa Mosque.

“We came here to say that Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian state and an important part of the national program,” he said.”

With the PA’s employment of the issue of Temple Mount being used to escalate its incitement to new heights, it is obviously essential that BBC audiences be made aware of the highly significant contribution of that factor to the current violence if they are to fully comprehend current and future events. This article, however, makes no attempt to meet the BBC’s obligation to build “understanding” of the issue.

Related articles:

BBC News skirts opportunity to fully inform audiences on PA and Fatah incitement

Accuracy failure in Yolande Knell’s BBC report on Pope’s visit to Jerusalem holy sites

BBC omits vital background information in Temple Mount rioting story  

BBC recycles an AP inaccuracy

On October 28th an article appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Egypt ‘plans buffer’ in Sinai against Gaza smugglers“.  The report appears to be based at least in part on an Associated Press article of the same date.Egypt buffer zone art

The BBC article informs readers that:

“Egyptian media accuses Gaza’s Hamas administration of aiding militants in Sinai. Hamas denies the charge.”

The AP report states:

“Egyptian media meanwhile has accused Gaza’s Hamas rulers for meddling in Egypt’s affairs, with some suggesting that the Islamic militant group is supporting fighters inside Egypt since the military overthrew Egypt’s elected President, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, last year.

Hamas officials meanwhile deny any interference and criticize Egypt for imposing stricter border crossing rules since then.”

However, as noted here in a previous post, the accusations did not come from “Egyptian media”, but from a senior Egyptian official speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat.

“Maj. Gen. Sameeh Beshadi, who was formerly in charge of security in the North Sinai governorate where the attacks took place, said there was “no doubt that Palestinian elements had taken part in the attacks,” which killed at least 30 soldiers, according to security and medical officials.

He said the assailants had entered Sinai via the tunnels linking the region with the Palestinian territories, and that the assailants had prepared the booby-trapped vehicle which Egyptian authorities say was used to carry out one of the attacks while inside Egyptian territory. [...]

“All the big terrorist operations which have taken place in North Sinai in the last few years involved well-trained Palestinian elements, including the attack on the military helicopter at the beginning of this year,” Beshadi said, referring to an attack which took place mid-January in the Kharouba area in North Sinai and which killed five soldiers.”

Clearly that AP claim was not properly fact-checked before it was recycled by the BBC.

The BBC report informs readers that:

“Tunnels linking the Gaza Strip and Sinai have also played a vital role in the economy of the Palestinian territory, which has been struggling to cope with an economic blockade imposed by Israel in its confrontation with Hamas.”

The caption to the photograph illustrating the article states:

“Goods smuggled through tunnels under the border with Egypt are a mainstay of Gaza’s economy”

In fact, as has been noted here on previous occasions, the construction of smuggling tunnels along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt began in 1994 – long before the introduction of border restrictions by Israel in response to Hamas terrorism. From the very beginning those tunnels were used to smuggle weapons and terror operatives into the Gaza Strip in addition to drugs and contraband: hence, rather than being a product of the partial blockade, they are actually one of its causes.

Obviously, without accurate presentation of the issues of the smuggling tunnels and their role in Palestinian involvement in the terrorism prevalent in northern Sinai (a topic the BBC has scrupulously avoided to date), BBC audiences will be incapable of reaching a proper understanding of Egypt’s policies. 

 

 

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part three

In parts one and two of this post we documented BBC News website coverage of the first twenty days of Operation Protective Edge. Part three relates to the next ten days: July 28th to August 6th 2014 inclusive.

Content on the website included written news reports and written ‘Features and Analysis’ articles as well as filmed items presented as stand-alone reports and additionally often embedded into the written articles. Those filmed items also appeared on BBC television news programmes and hence give us an idea of what worldwide audiences were being shown and to what extent the BBC lived up to its claims of “equal coverage” of the two sides to the conflict.

A small amount of content which appeared on the BBC News website at the time has since become unavailable, but below are the vast majority of the reports offered to the website’s visitors. We are not including here the many reports concerning demonstrations relating to the conflict in Europe and elsewhere which appeared on the Middle East page: that topic will be covered separately.

July 28th:Chart Jul 28

Written:

Gaza crisis: UN calls for immediate ceasefire

Gaza: Uneasy calm after UN ceasefire call

Gaza in critical condition, says UN’s Ban Ki-moon   (discussed here)

Features:

US-Israel relations tested by Kerry shuttle diplomacy  Suzanne Kianpour

Filmed:

Israel tells UN ‘we are fighting terrorism’ Ron Prosor

Riyad Mansour: ‘We want to see fundamental changes’  Riyad Mansour

Gaza crisis: Lull in violence as Palestinians mark Eid  Martin Patience in Gaza

Gaza conflict: Uneasy calm after UN ceasefire call Martin Patience in Gaza

Gaza crisis: Kerry urges ‘humanitarian’ ceasefire  John Kerry

Middle East crisis: Children pay heavy price in Gaza  Ian Pannell in Gaza (discussed here)

Hamas: ‘We are getting killed but we won’t give up’  Ian Pannell interview with Ehab Al Ghossein  (discussed here)

Ten Israeli soldiers killed in attacks  Orla Guerin in Israel

Netanyahu: ‘We need to be prepared for a prolonged campaign’   PM Netanyahu

Deadly blasts hit Gaza and Israel after lull in violence  Chris Morris in Gaza

July 29th:Chart Jul 29

Written:

Gaza City and Israel’s Eshkol hit by deadly blasts  (discussed here)

Israel PM Netanyahu warns of ‘prolonged’ Gaza campaign  (discussed here)

Israel intensifies Gaza attacks after Netanyahu warning

Turkey PM Erdogan returns US Jewish award in Israel row

Features:

In pictures: Gaza hit again after ‘heaviest night’

Filmed:

Strike hits Gaza media building Gaza

Israeli air strike hits ‘Hamas media building’ in Gaza   Emily Thomas Gaza

West Bank Palestinians politically divided, but united in anger  Jon Donnison in Beit Ummar (discussed here)

Gaza’s power station ‘hit by Israeli shelling’  Chris Morris and Martin Patience in Gaza

Gaza bombardment kills at least 100   Ian Pannell in Gaza

Middle East crisis: Tel Aviv resident on living with conflict

Middle East crisis: Air strikes fill Gaza skyline with smoke  Matthew Amroliwala  Gaza

Gaza crisis: Inside militants’ tunnel  Orla Guerin in Israel

Middle East crisis: BBC at Gaza mosque ruins  Chris Morris in Gaza (edited Oct 7 – discussed here)

Middle East crisis: Israeli air strikes across Gaza  Chris Morris in Gaza

July 30th:Chart Jul 30

Written:

Gaza conflict: Hamas vows no Israel ceasefire

Gaza conflict: UN accuses Israel over Jabaliya attack

Gaza conflict: ‘Israeli market strike kills 17′

Features:

Conflicted UN struggles in global peace efforts   Nick Bryant

Filmed:

Gaza conflict: Is there hope for a ceasefire?  James Robbins (discussed here)

‘Gaza children killed as they slept’ in UN-run school  Chris Gunness UNRWA

Gaza: ‘Terrible scene’ in UN-run school hit by Israeli fire  Chris Morris in Gaza

Gaza crisis: Israel’s military strategy   Orla Guerin in Israel (discussed here)

Gaza conflict: ‘Israeli market strike kills 15′  Martin Patience in Gaza

Gaza conflict: UN accuses Israel over Jabaliya attack  Chris Morris in Gaza

Gaza school: ‘Israel does not target UN facilities’ says IDF  Lt Col Peter Lerner

July 31st:Chart Jul 31

Written:

Gaza conflict: Israel to investigate school shelling

Gaza conflict: Israel calls up 16,000 reserve soldiers

Israel ‘to destroy’ Hamas Gaza tunnels – Netanyahu

Israeli Iron Dome firms ‘infiltrated by Chinese hackers’

Features:

Gaza conflict: Disputed deadly incidents  later amended and date changed. (discussed here)

Gaza-Israel conflict: Is the fighting over?  later amended and date changed.

Filmed:

Gaza crisis: Families grieve UN school dead  Ian Pannell in Gaza

Mark Regev: ‘If we find that it was errant fire from Israel I’m sure we will apologise’  Mark Regev

Quarter of Gaza population displaced, says UN  Martin Patience in Gaza

Families forced to stay in Gaza’s shelled UN school  Martin Patience in Gaza

Gaza crisis: UN representatives give their views  Ron Prosor & Riyad Mansour

Israeli opposition leader backs action against Hamas  Yitzhak Hertzog

Gaza crisis: UN says Israel must protect civilians or cease fire  Pierre Krahenbuhl UNRWA

Gaza crisis: UN announces Israel and Hamas ceasefire  UN

Gaza displaced ‘near breaking point’ – UN  Ian Pannell in Gaza

Gaza crisis: Israel attacks ‘not accidental’, claims UN  Navi Pillay

Gaza crisis: Israel releases ‘aborted airstrike’ video  Orla Guerin in Israel (discussed here)

August 1st:Chart Aug 1

Written: (discussed here)

Gaza 72-hour humanitarian truce by Israel and Hamas begins

Israel to resume Gaza operation as truce with Hamas crumbles

Gaza militants ‘seize Israeli soldier’ as ceasefire ends

Live page:

As it happened: Israel soldier ‘captured’

Features:

In pictures: Israel-Hamas ceasefire collapses

Are captured soldiers Israel’s weak spot?   James Reynolds

Filmed: (discussed here)

John Kerry ‘Opportunity to find the solution’

‘Escalation’ warning by Israel after Gaza militants ‘seize Israeli soldier’  Mark Regev

Israel to resume Gaza operation as truce with Hamas crumbles  Martin Patience in Gaza

Israel and Hamas 72-hour truce begins   Jon Brain

Israeli soldier ‘captured’ by militants as ceasefire ends  Orla Guerin in Israel

Palestinians return to gutted homes during brief ceasefire  Ian Pannell in Gaza

Gaza militants ‘seize Israeli soldier’ as ceasefire ends  Jon Donnison in Gaza

Hamas blamed by Israel for breakdown of Gaza truce  Yigal Palmor

President Obama condemns kidnap of Israeli soldier

Gaza ceasefire collapses: What fate for talks?   Nick Childs

Gaza crisis: ‘There was never a ceasefire’ – Fatah spokesman  Hussam Zomlot

August 2nd:Chart Aug 2

Written:

Gaza conflict: Hamas denies holding Israeli soldier  (discussed here)

Gaza conflict: New exchanges amid Israeli soldier hunt

Gaza crisis: Israel ‘unlikely to go to talks in Egypt’

Israel PM Netanyahu: Gaza operation to go on

Israel attacks on Gaza ‘foolish’ and ‘disproportionate’ – Ashdown

Features:

Gaza: Mapping the human cost  (later updated and date changed)

Filmed:

Gaza conflict: Hamas denies holding Israeli soldier  Jon Brain  (discussed here)

Middle East crisis: Fresh Gaza strikes amid soldier hunt  Martin Patience in Gaza

Israeli forces continue search for soldier missing in Gaza  Bethany Bell in Israel

August 3rd:Chart Aug 3

Written:

Gaza conflict: Missing Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin ‘dead’  (discussed here)

Gaza crisis ‘intolerable’, says Philip Hammond  (discussed here)

Gaza crisis: Deadly strike ‘at UN school in Rafah’  (discussed here)

Gaza crisis: Rafah school strike ‘criminal’ – UN chief

Filmed:

Israel says missing soldier Hadar Goldin is dead   Jon Brain

Gaza conflict: Inside town bearing brunt of Israeli strikes  Ian Pannell in Gaza

Middle East crisis: UN warns of Gaza health disaster  Chris Gunness UNRWA

Gaza crisis: Chaos after deadly strike ‘at UN school’  Martin Patience in Gaza (discussed here)

Gaza crisis: BBC reports from Israeli staging post  James Reynolds in Israel

Gaza conflict: BBC assesses Israel’s military campaign  James Reynolds in Israel (discussed here)

Gaza crisis: Israel says no shells fell inside UN school  Mark Regev

August 4th:Chart Aug 4

Written:

Gaza conflict: Israeli partial ceasefire slows violence

UN right to speak out on Gaza strike, says Cameron

Gaza conflict: France condemns Israel ‘massacre’

Gaza conflict: Israel ‘to pursue campaign’ as truce ends

British national ‘killed in Gaza’

Features:

Gaza conflict: Contrasting views on targeting (discussed here)

In pictures: Faces from Gaza  Jon Donnison

Filmed:

Gaza crisis: Deadly strike at Rafah school  Orla Guerin in Gaza

Gaza-Israel: What Egyptians make of crisis in Gaza Strip  Mark Lowen

Gaza-Israel: Attacks on both sides of border despite ceasefire  Martin Patience in Gaza & Bethany Bell in Israel

Gaza conflict: Reports of strike on Gaza amid truce  Orla Guerin in Gaza

Gaza-Israel conflict: Reports of strike during Gaza ceasefire  Martin Patience in Gaza

Israel: Suspected ‘attack’ on bus with digger in Jerusalem  James Reynolds in Israel (discussed here)

August 5th:Chart Aug 5

Written:

Gaza conflict: Israel and Hamas ‘agree ceasefire’

Israel pulls troops out of Gaza

 Gaza conflict: Truce holding after Israel withdraws

Gaza-Israel video games cause controversy

Baroness Warsi quits as Foreign Office minister over Gaza

Live page:

As it happened: Israel withdraws troops as Gaza truce begins

Features:

Israel’s operation in Gaza may be over, but no victor emerges  Jonathan Marcus

Filmed:

Israel: Digger overturns bus in Jerusalem  James Reynolds in Israel

Gaza truce holds as residents return to destroyed homes  Jon Donnison in Gaza (discussed here)

Gaza-Israel: Palestinian National Initiative calls for end to ‘siege’  Mustafa Barghouti

Gaza: Egypt brokers truce as Israel withdraws troops  Martin Patience in Gaza & Bethany Bell in Israel

Israel Defense Forces ‘are out of Gaza’ – Lt Col Peter Lerner

Gaza conflict: Has the way Gazans view Hamas changed?  Orla Guerin in Gaza (discussed here)

Israel pulls troops out of Gaza  Jon Donnison in Gaza

August 6th:Chart Aug 6

Written:

Gaza conflict: Kerry urges broader Israel-Palestinian talks

Gaza: Israeli-Palestinian indirect talks begin in Cairo

Palestinian arrested over murder of Israeli teenagers

David Cameron faces fresh Gaza pressure

Megadeth and CeeLo Green cancel Israel concerts

Filmed:

Gaza conflict: Kerry says both sides must compromise

Gaza conflict: Is Israel’s mission accomplished?   James Robbins

Israeli PM Netanyahu news briefing

Gaza truce: Residents ‘homeless after fighting’  Orla Guerin in Gaza

Gaza crisis: Ceasefire holds on second day  Jon Donnison in Gaza

Gaza conflict: Views from the Israel Gaza border   Wyre Davies in Israel (text amended September 24th)

Between July 28th and August 6th inclusive, the predominant type of report appearing on the BBC News website’s Middle East page was written articles with a significant proportion of their headlines continuing to use the phrases “Gaza conflict” or “Gaza crisis” as though events were confined to the Gaza Strip. Notably, audiences saw increasing amounts of content relating to statements made by British politicians on the issue. Two live pages also appeared during this period of time and the majority of footage (five reports out of nine) of interviews or press conferences with others (not Israelis or Palestinians) focused on amplifying statements made by various UN officials with UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness being a frequent interviewee.

As was the case in the first twenty days of BBC coverage of the conflict, the total number of filmed reports describing the situation in Gaza promoted between July 28th and August 6th was once again more than double the number of filmed reports describing the situation in Israel and those reports continued to focus on emotive coverage of the effects of the conflict on the civilian population. Notably, the first on camera recognition of the fact that terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip were launching missiles into Israel from residential areas in the Gaza Strip came in an August 5th report – twenty-nine days after the conflict began.

Graph Jul 28 to Aug 6By August 6th, visitors to the BBC News website (and television audiences) had seen 36.5 filmed reports from reporters on the ground in Israel compared to 88.5 filmed reports made by journalists on the ground in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the conflict.

Graph Jul 8 to Aug 6

Themes dominant in BBC reporting during that period were the amplification of Hamas’ pre-ceasefire demand for the lifting of border restrictions and particularly remarkable was the BBC’s adoption of the inaccurate Hamas terminology used to describe those restrictions: ‘siege’. Another theme promoted was that of increased Hamas popularity in the Gaza Strip. The BBC’s policy of ignoring Hamas’ use of human shields continued and incidents such as the deaths of ten people in Shati on July 28th – caused by misfired terrorist missiles – were presented to BBC audiences as “disputed”. The incidents which took place at or near UN schools during this time period were misleadingly presented to audiences as “deliberate”, “criminal” and intentional strikes on civilians. Not for the first time – or the last – the fact that Hamas breached ceasefires was concealed or downplayed.

Related articles:

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part one

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part two

BBC WS ‘Newshour': a test case for BBC claims of ‘equal coverage’

 

 

BBC’s Connolly omits context from reports on Gaza reconstruction, promotes Hamas-linked charity

The topic of the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip and the recent Cairo donor conference has been the focus of several items of BBC content over the last couple of weeks on a variety of platforms including the BBC News website (see here and here) and BBC World Service radio’s ‘Newshour‘.

In addition to the above, audiences could also read a report by Kevin Connolly published on October 16th under the title “Gaza reconstruction facing obstacles despite aid” which remained on the website’s Middle East page for five consecutive days.Connolly reconstruction art

BBC Radio 4’s ‘The World Tonight’ also promoted the same topic by means of an audio report by Kevin Connolly and saw fit to advertise the item separately on Twitter on October 23rd.

Connolly’s written report uses the same kind of context-free descriptions of damage seen in so many other BBC reports, with no effort made to inform audiences that the reason districts such as Shuja’iya were the focus of Israeli activity is that Hamas established infrastructure and placed military assets in such residential neighbourhoods.

“The level of damage in parts of Gaza is extraordinary – the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, called it “destruction beyond description”.

No-one who has seen at first hand the power of modern missiles and artillery shells could fail to be awed by the destructive forces they unleash.

Huge buildings fashioned from thousands of tonnes of concrete have been reduced to dense, shallow, uneven mounds of rubble, as though they had been sucked in on themselves.

In some places – such as Shejaiya and Johr El-Deek – the pattern is repeated from house to house and street to street.”

No less lacking in context – or less predictable – is Connolly’s description of the effects of the border restrictions imposed by Israel and Egypt, with no effort made to inform audiences that those restrictions exist because Hamas elected to pursue a policy of terrorism. Once again we see BBC portrayal of Palestinians as having no agency and no responsibility for their decisions.

“And of course there is a continuing problem with funding the Hamas-run ministries of Gaza. Public-sector salaries are hugely important in a place where the private-sector economy has had the life squeezed out of it by an Egyptian and (mainly) Israeli economic blockade.”

As equally unsurprising is Connolly’s promotion of another frequent, yet erroneous, BBC theme: the notion that the solution to the conflict between Israel and Hamas is resolvable via negotiations.

“However quickly and completely those donor nations cough up the cash, the truth is that without some sort of political progress between Israel and the Palestinians – of which there is absolutely no sign – there is no guarantee that anything rebuilt in Gaza this year or next year won’t simply be destroyed again in the next conflict.”

Notably, Connolly deviates from the BBC’s previous promotions (see for example here and here) of a UN administered ‘mechanism’ to prevent construction materials being misappropriated by Hamas for the purposes of terror but fails to adequately clarify to readers that Israeli “security concerns” are based on past experience which shows that materials which were imported into the Gaza Strip under international supervision were indeed diverted to the building of terrorist infrastructure, including the 32 cross-border tunnels decommissioned during Operation Protective Edge.

“Any material intended for the reconstruction of Gaza is going to end up passing through Israeli territory. […]

That also means of course that the entire responsibility for making sure that Hamas does not use the reconstruction effort to re-arm will fall to Israel. [...]

Israel has two security concerns.

The first is simple enough. Every bag of concrete will have to be searched to make sure it does not have guns, ammunition or rocket parts hidden somewhere inside.

The second is slightly more subtle and involves what are called “dual-use” materials – in other words anything that could be used to build either houses or rocket silos, such as concrete or steel.

Israel is going to have to find a way to measure the amount that enters Gaza and then the amount that is visibly used in civilian construction – if there is a gap between the two figures, they will assume that Hamas is creaming off the difference to build bunkers and tunnels.”

Connolly’s audio report – titled “Rebuilding Gaza” – for Radio 4 promotes many of the same context-free themes as his written article. Like Yolande Knell before him, Connolly features English teacher Abdul Kareem al Ejlah from Shuja’iya, but fails to inform listeners that the vicinity of the teacher’s house was used to launch missiles or that entrances to cross-border tunnels were located nearby, instead opting for the following emotive description.Connolly World Tonight tweet  

“Abdul Kareem’s street looks like it’s been hit by an earthquake. Modern missiles like Israel’s suck the life out of multi-storey buildings, collapsing them into dense, unlivable mounds of rubble.”

Connolly goes on to promote a project situated on “farmland near Gaza’s border with Israel”.

“And a British charity – Human Appeal International – has built a kind of temporary village: prefabricated steel housing units.”

Connolly is obviously less interested in adhering to BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality by informing BBC audiences of the fact that Human Appeal International is one of several British charities which come under the umbrella of the Muslim Brotherhood’s fund-raising network for Hamas – the ‘Union of Good’ – chaired by Qatar-based Yusuf Qaradawi. As such, HAI is banned by Israel, has appeared on the US State Department’s list of charities linked to terrorism since 1996 and was cited by the FBI as a recipient of funds from the convicted Special Designated Terrorist Entity the Holy Land Foundation.

In 2005 Human Appeal International was one of two charities named on the charge sheet against Ahmad Salatna – a Hamas activist from Jenin who headed the Jenin Zakat Society and was convicted of providing some £6.2 million of funds originating in Europe to Hamas cells, suicide bombers and their families.

In his closing remarks Connolly says:

“The Middle East is full of refugees whose temporary miseries became more permanent and you sense that the same fate awaits these latest victims of violence.”

Of course the “more permanent” miseries of Palestinian refugees are the direct result of the intentional policies of Arab countries which have been using them as a political card for decades. Like those people, the currently homeless people in Gaza could also have their miseries relieved much more easily were Hamas to change its policies and abandon the terrorism which makes control of building materials into the Gaza Strip necessary.

Connolly, of course, exonerates Hamas from any responsibility for bringing about the conflict which caused thousands of people in the Gaza Strip to become homeless as well as for its role in delaying reconstruction. He fails to inform listeners that even before his report was broadcast Hamas was already boasting of renewed construction of cross-border tunnels or that – as documented by the NYT correspondent in Gaza – there appear to be building materials available for Hamas’ own projects such as its Al Aqsa TV building and its Interior Ministry building.

Notably too, despite its obviously extensive interest in the topic of reconstruction, the BBC has so far refrained from informing audiences that the mechanism of monitoring the entry of construction materials (made necessary by Hamas’ adherence to terror) so urgently needed by ordinary residents of the Gaza Strip hoping to repair their houses before the winter was one of the topics set to be discussed at talks in Cairo this week. Those talks were cancelled by Egypt after the terror attacks in northern Sinai and Egypt’s subsequent closure of its border with the Gaza Strip and claims of Palestinian involvement in the attacks.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping the (context free) Gaza fires burning on BBC World Service radio

The October 24th and 25th editions of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘The Fifth Floor’ (which describes itself as providing “a fresh look at the stories of the week with journalists from our 27 language sections”) ran under the heading “After the Ceasefire: the Cost of Reporting Gaza”. The item referred to in that title can be heard from around 1:02 here and its synopsis reads as follows:5th Floor prog

“For years he has been BBC Arabic’s man in Gaza, reporting and living through conflict and peace time. We last spoke to Shahdi Alkashif during the recent offensive, when rockets and mortars were raining down between Gaza and parts of Israel. More than 2,000 people died during that particular conflict. Shahdi told us that he had spent 27 nights sleeping on the floor of the BBC office, battling with a lack of electricity and food and water, and trying to make sure that his family were safe. The ceasefire has now been in place for two months and Shahdi talks about how his family and others in Gaza are living today and some of the difficulties of living in and reporting conflict.”

Where exactly is the mysterious place “between Gaza and parts of Israel” in which “rockets and mortars were raining down” is unclear, but presenter David Amanor uses the same peculiar phrase in his introduction.

DA: “Shahdi is BBC Arabic’s reporter in Gaza. He was there during the recent conflict when mortars and rockets were raining down between Gaza and Israel. He tells me about the impact on his own family. You might find some of his descriptions later on disturbing.”

Shahdi Alkashif: “In 2012 in the second war, Aya my daughter she asked me to promise her that this war will be the last war. And I did that actually. I did not expect that after two wars that there’s another war will happen. But I think that’s happen again in this war. She said you promise me that this will be the last war. And I…I did not, you know, I did not know what I should say. I mean you know that this is not easy. But at least we deal with it. I mean sometimes she need me to promise her that nothing will happen to her and I have to promise…”

DA: “You have to as a father…”

SA: “As a father. But you and me know this is difficult. And I moved my family three times from the area in the west of Gaza to the area in the south and to the north because all the areas was under bombing.”

DA: “You mean during this recent…during the recent conflict?”

SA: “Yes, yes.”

DA: “You moved three times?”

SA: “I moved from my house – a lot of tank shells fall around my house and I take them to my father house and the building beside him is bombed also so I take them after that to my brother house. So you’re moving your family all the time.”

DA: “What kind of effect has that – you know – those bombings, the mortars and the terror of it? Has it had an impact on people you know? Your family, of course, your daughter and…”

SA: “I mean Aya my daughter she’s…she’s sleeping under the stairs. The war is finished and she’s still sleeping under the stairs because she thought that this is the safer place in the world. I’m just talking about Aya but the others also they, you know, they feel that all of Gaza is not safe. I mean it’s not easy to ask them to go out to play now because they are all the time, you know, looking to the sky…”5th Floor tweet

DA: “Mmm…”

SA: “….which is not normal, I mean.”

DA: “And they know – I mean – there’s…there’s a mind on some of those instances like the children who were playing on the beach for example.”

SA: “And nobody can forget this, I mean…”

DA: “Right…”

SA: “The people still talking about the kids who’s killed near the beach.”

DA: “Was that one of the – coming back to you as a reporter, as a journalist – was that one of the most poignant, most significant moments in your reportage? The kids on the beach – or were there others?”

SA: “The kids on the beach and when the first time I…I entered to the El Shuja’iya neighbourhood in east of Gaza. It’s….the Israeli army bombed this area for more than three weeks and we get a chance to visit the area for just a couple of hours through the ceasefire and when I reach to the El Shuja’iya neighbourhood I discovered that I did not recognize it. It’s completely different. Dozens of houses is destroyed and when I go to the area inside – it’s called Amalsour [phonetic] – inside the Shuja’iya, I discovered that there is a lot of bodies that not, you know, evacuated yet and I step over the bodies of kids and I think nobody can, you know, deal with that picture. I mean, to see the bodies of kids without heads, without arms….and this is was I think the difficult moment that I saw within this war.”

DA: “These are the kind of things you have to see as a reporter…”

SA: “Yeah because you need to check the area. You need to see what exactly happened there. You hear sometimes about areas but you need to go there to see exactly and to ask what exactly happened. You are the witness because you are in that place and under this bad circumstances.”

DA: “Seeing these things; you have to witness them but what kind of witness does it…what kind of witness do you become? Do you just remain – try and remain – dispassionate? Do you become angry – an angry witness, a cold witness, a partial witness and a subjective witness? What effect does it have on you?”

SA: “Our challenge is to keep covering under our rules and I think this is why BBC – the people’s listening to the BBC – because the people trying to listen to the informations without emotions.”

The conversation between Amanor and Alkashif continues in much the same vein until the end of the item and – notably – the word Hamas still does not appear once.

Alkashif’s decidedly debatable claim that the BBC provides information “without emotions” is of course all the more jarring due to its appearance in an item which is all about manipulating the emotions of its listeners.

The entire item presents audiences with a subjective and inaccurate picture of a war waged by Israel on the civilian population of Gaza with the accent on children: Alkashif’s own children, the children on the beach, the dead children he saw in Shuja’iya. No attempt is made whatsoever to place Alkashif’s experiences in context: there are no terrorists in his war, the population of the Gaza Strip is entirely passive, Shuja’iya is just a residential neighbourhood rather than the site of Hamas assets and installations, buildings are just “bombed” for no apparent reason.

Two months after the ceasefire which brought the war to an end, it is blatantly obvious that the manipulation of public opinion by means of selective presentation of the conflict remains a priority for the BBC. 

 

BBC continues to describe terror in Jerusalem as a ‘car attack’ and terrorist as ‘driver’

Both the headline and the text of the original version of the BBC News website’s October 26th report on the death of a second victim of last week’s terror attack in Jerusalem continued the corporation’s earlier bizarre presentation of the incident as a “car attack”.

Pigua art 26 10

Likewise, the article continued to use the word terror exclusively in the context of quotes from Israeli officials.

“Officials say they are treating it as a “terrorist attack” and that the suspect had previously served a sentence in an Israeli prison “for terrorism”.”

The terrorist was described as a “driver”. [all emphasis added]

“A three-month-old girl was killed and seven injured when a Palestinian driver ran his car into a tram station.

The driver died after being shot by police as he attempted to flee.[…]

On Sunday evening clashes ensued between Palestinians and Israeli police in East Jerusalem after a “symbolic funeral” for the deceased Palestinian driver, Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi.”

Some fourteen hours after the article’s initial publication it was amended but the headline still describes the incident as a “car attack”, the terrorist is described both as an “attacker” and a “driver” and the one reference to terror is still in quotation marks.Pigua art 26 10 amended

“An Ecuadorean woman who was injured in a Palestinian attack in Jerusalem on Wednesday in which a three-month-old baby girl was also killed has died.

They were among a group of people hit when the attacker ran his car into pedestrians at a tram station.

The 21-year-old driver was shot dead by police as he attempted to flee the scene on foot. […]

Ms Mosquera and Haya Zissel Braun were killed in what police say was a “terrorist attack”.”

Relating to a separate incident, both versions of the article inaccurately describe Orwah Hammad as having been shot by “Israeli police” – rather than an army unit as was actually the case. 

Both versions of the article close:

“East Jerusalem has experienced months of unrest since a Palestinian teenager was abducted and burned to death in early July, two days after the discovery of the bodies of three Israeli teenagers who were abducted and killed in the occupied West Bank in mid-June.

The killings set off an escalating cycle of violence, leading to a 50-day conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip that claimed more than 2,000 lives.”

Rioting and attacks by Palestinians since June 12th have not been confined to “East Jerusalem” and have in fact been more prevalent in Judea & Samaria.Silwad graph

Notably, no attempt is made to clarify to readers that the kidnapping and murders of the three Israeli teenagers was carried out by a Hamas cell in Hebron with funding from the Gaza Strip.

As we have seen before, the BBC is intent upon promoting the myth of a “cycle of violence” and the erroneous notion that the summer conflict between Israel and Hamas was caused by the four murders. In order to do so, it erases from audience view the hundreds of missiles launched at civilian targets in Israel between June 12th and the commencement of Operation Protective Edge on July 8th. It was of course that intense missile fire which was the reason for the military operation, with the later discovery of dozens of cross-border tunnels prompting the subsequent ground operation. The military operation could have been avoided had Hamas elected to take advantage of the ample opportunities it was given to stop the missile fire before July 8th, but the terrorist organisation chose not to do so – for reasons not by any means exclusively connected to Israel.

It is high time that the BBC ceased to promote this inaccurate version of events in which Hamas’ instigation of the hostilities is concealed from audiences.  

 

 

 

BBC playing wingman for Qatar’s damage control in the UK?

The lead article on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on October 27th (also appearing on the site’s main homepage) was headlined “Qatar officials dismiss IS funding claims“. Coincidentally or not, the report appeared just hours before the Emir of Qatar is due to arrive in the UK for a three-day official visit aimed at “enhancing bi-lateral relations” between the two countries.Qatar art on HP

BBC audiences are reassured in the report’s opening sentences that:

“Senior officials from Qatar have strongly denied claims the country is supporting terrorist groups in Syria such as Islamic State.

They told the BBC that Qatar had only provided support to moderate militants, in co-ordination with the CIA and other Western and Arab intelligence agencies.

Strict financial controls had been put in place, they added.”

So that’s alright then. Or maybe not….

The article goes on to state:

“In the past, wealthy individuals in the emirate are believed to have made donations and the government gave money and weapons to hardline Islamist groups in Syria. Doha is also believed to have links to the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate.

But officials, including Qatar’s director of Intelligence, told the BBC the country had nothing to hide over its support for groups in Syria fighting President Assad’s regime.

The BBC’s Frank Gardner said the officials conceded that there had been constant shifts in allegiances in Syria’s civil war and some people previously considered moderate had later joined hard line Islamist militias.

They said since Qatar’s intelligence agency had taken over responsibility for its Syria policy in 2012, the new financial controls had been brought in and a number of suspect financiers had been arrested.”

So is the BBC trying to tell us that the Al Qaeda-linked Al Nusra Front with its known (not “believed” as the BBC claims) links to Qatar should be viewed as one of the groups of “moderate militants” which Qatar says it supports rather than as a terrorist organisation? Notably Frank Gardner did not find it necessary to inform readers that the UN, US, UK, Australia and Turkey have all designated the Al Nusra Front. 

Clearly readers of this report are being herded towards the belief that lax Qatari regulation which gives a green light to terror financing is now a thing of the past. However, the US obviously does not believe that is the case, as the WSJ reported just four days before the publication of this BBC report.

“The U.S. said Qatar and Kuwait aren’t doing enough to block the financing activities of the extremist group Islamic State, exposing a sore point in a coalition formed to fight the militants. […]

But Qatar and Kuwait are still “permissive jurisdictions for terrorist financing,” said David Cohen , Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. […]

In the Gulf region, Kuwait has set up a financial intelligence unit, and Qatar has passed a law regulating charities blamed for funneling cash to extremists. Kuwait arrested one of its citizens on the list as he returned from Qatar in August, as well as at least two other financiers, Kuwaiti officials have said.

But Mr. Cohen said the countries are still enabling financiers designated by U.S. and United Nations sanctions.”

And as the Telegraph reported at the beginning of this month:

“An al-Qaeda financier jailed for his role in funding the mastermind behind 9/11 is once again raising money for Islamist terrorists after being freed by the Qatari authorities, The Telegraph can disclose.

Khalifa Muhammad Turki al-Subaiy – a Qatari citizen who was said to have provided ‘financial support’ for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – was jailed for terrorist offences in 2008 but released after only six months.

He is now accused of funding Islamist terrorists fighting in Syria and Iraq.”

Of course the very pertinent issue of Qatar’s financing of radical Islamists in the Middle East is by no means limited to Syria and Iraq or to the activities of individuals.Qatar art

“Few outsiders have noticed, but radical Islamists now control Libya’s capital. These militias stormed Tripoli last month, forcing the official government to flee and hastening the country’s collapse into a failed state.

Moreover, the new overlords of Tripoli are allies of Ansar al-Sharia, a brutal jihadist movement suspected of killing America’s then ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and of trying to murder his British counterpart, Sir Dominic Asquith.

Barely three years after Britain helped to free Libya from Col Gaddafi’s tyranny, anti-Western radicals hold sway. How could Britain’s goal of a stable and friendly Libya have been thwarted so completely?

Step forward a fabulously wealthy Gulf state that owns an array of London landmarks and claims to be one of our best friends in the Middle East.

Qatar, the owner of Harrods, has dispatched cargo planes laden with weapons to the victorious Islamist coalition, styling itself “Libya Dawn”.”

And as readers are no doubt aware, Hamas (designated by the US and the EU, among others) is also on the list of Qatari protégés, with Fatah apparently also now angling for Qatari cash.

Whilst Qatari officials may well be delighted by this latest BBC-supplied opportunity to amplify their denials of funding of the West’s current bête noire – ISIS – the emirate’s policy driven approach to the funding of Islamist extremists should be seen in the context of a statement made by the country’s Emir during an interview with CNN last month.

“We don’t fund extremists,” the Emir told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday. “If you talk about certain movements, especially in Syria and Iraq, we all consider them terrorist movement.”

“I know that in America and some countries they look at some movements as terrorist movements. … But there are differences. There are differences that some countries and some people that any group which comes from Islamic background are terrorists. And we don’t accept that.”

Qatar’s selective and opportunistic approach to defining terrorism – and hence what constitutes terror financing – should of course also be viewed in the context of its financial relations with the West.

“… it is vital to remember Qatar’s role as a provider of natural gas to Europe, and its investments in both Europe and the U.S. Qatar sits on 26 trillion cubic meters of natural gas—the world’s third largest reserve. It has a sovereign wealth fund of $85 billion. And European countries are currently seeking private investment as they emerge out of austerity into growth.

The Qataris have money to spend, and have already invested heavily. They own, for example, London’s tallest skyscraper, the Shard, and London’s most exclusive shop, Harrods. This is a friendship which the British and other Europeans naturally wish to preserve. If this means permitting Qatar to play the outsize role it seeks in Mideast diplomacy, there are few signs of objection from the Europeans. If it includes championing an organization the European Union considers a terrorist group, at least one aligned against Israel, this doesn’t seem to present too much of a problem either.

Among Western European countries, the notion that the appropriate response to terror groups is dialogue, or at least keeping the possibility of dialogue open, is prevalent. Thus the Qatari desire to promote Hamas is easy to accept.”

It seems that the self-styled “standard-setter for international journalism” is quite happy to go along with Qatar’s attempts at damage control intended to mitigate the growing political pressure on the Emir’s British hosts by failing to fully inform BBC audiences on the topic of Qatari funding of Hamas, Jabhat al Nusra and other terrorist organisations or the activities of individuals with links to the Qatari regime.   

 

Laconic BBC reporting on Egypt’s closure of Rafah crossing

October 25th saw the appearance of a report titled “President Sisi says jihadists threaten Egypt’s existence” on the BBC News website’s Middle East page. The article opens as follows:Sinai attacks art

“Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi says the country is facing a threat to its existence from jihadists after the military suffered the biggest loss of life in decades in attacks in Sinai.

At least 31 soldiers were killed in two attacks on Friday, the deadliest a bomb blast near the town of El-Arish.

A three-month state of emergency has been declared in parts of the Sinai Peninsula and Egypt’s Rafah crossing into the Gaza Strip was closed.

There will be three days of mourning.

In a live TV address, Mr Sisi said a huge plot was being waged against Egypt “by external forces”.

“This is meant to break up Egypt and the Egyptians …. Egypt is fighting a war of existence.” “

One particularly remarkable aspect of this report is the laconic presentation of the Egyptian decision to indefinitely close the Rafah border crossing into the Gaza Strip, which continues in the filmed report from Orla Guerin embedded into the article. Describing the new security measures, Guerin tells BBC audiences:

“Now there will be various security restrictions including a curfew and the closure of Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip – the crossing at Rafah – but that crossing is often closed for long periods at a time.”

Can we imagine a similar tone being adopted in BBC coverage if Israel decided to close the Erez or Kerem Shalom crossings indefinitely?

Another interesting point about this article is that whilst it notes President Sisi’s remarks about “external forces” – or “foreign hands” as much of the regional media translated his remarks – it has not been updated to include the comments made by an official in the Egyptian Interior Ministry:

“Maj. Gen. Sameeh Beshadi, who was formerly in charge of security in the North Sinai governorate where the attacks took place, said there was “no doubt that Palestinian elements had taken part in the attacks,” which killed at least 30 soldiers, according to security and medical officials.

He said the assailants had entered Sinai via the tunnels linking the region with the Palestinian territories, and that the assailants had prepared the booby-trapped vehicle which Egyptian authorities say was used to carry out one of the attacks while inside Egyptian territory. [...]

“All the big terrorist operations which have taken place in North Sinai in the last few years involved well-trained Palestinian elements, including the attack on the military helicopter at the beginning of this year,” Beshadi said, referring to an attack which took place mid-January in the Kharouba area in North Sinai and which killed five soldiers.”

And:

“According to a report in the Egyptian al-Ahram cited by Israel Radio, which quotes an anonymous [Egyptian] intelligence official, the perpetrators of the attack Friday infiltrated the peninsula via a tunnel leading from the Gaza Strip. The same source added that although the Egyptian army destroyed over 1,500 tunnels that ran between Gaza and Sinai, some have been rebuilt and were being used to smuggle weapons, funds and manpower.”

This is precisely the sort of background information which has been consistently omitted from BBC portrayals of the border restrictions imposed by Egypt and Israel on the Gaza Strip both before the recent conflict and especially since July of this year when the corporation self-conscripted to context-free and inaccurate promotion of Hamas’ demands to lift those restrictions. 

 

BBC presents property purchased by Jews as ‘settlements’

On October 25th the BBC News website’s Middle East page ran an article titled “US urges probe after teenager shot dead in West Bank“. Apparently based at least in part on a report appearing in Ha’aretz, the article informs readers that:Silwad art

“The US state department has called for a “speedy and transparent investigation” into the death of a Palestinian-American teenager killed by Israeli soldiers on Friday.

Police said that Orwa Hammad, 14, was about to throw a petrol bomb near Ramallah in the West Bank. […]

A relative identified the teenager as Orwa Abd al-Wahhab Hammad, who was born in New Orleans and came to the West Bank when he was six, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.”

Other media reports (quoting Palestinian media outlets and Palestinian officials) have described the youth as being sixteen or seventeen years old.

With regard to the circumstances of the incident, in addition describing its location as “near Ramallah”, the BBC informs its audiences that:

“He [Hammad] was reported to have been shot in the head during clashes between IDF soldiers and stone-throwing protesters.

Some of the protesters were seen making and throwing Molotov cocktails.

An IDF spokesman initially told Reuters that forces “managed to prevent an attack when they encountered a Palestinian man hurling a Molotov cocktail at them on the main road. They opened fire and confirmed a hit.” “

In the caption to one of the photographs used to illustrate the report, readers are also told that:

“Molotov cocktails and stones were thrown at Israeli jeeps and soldiers in Silwad, near Ramallah”

So where did the incident occur and what actually happened? Channel 10 News reported as follows:

“According to an announcement by the IDF Spokesman, at around 19:00 hours a unit of the parachute regiment engaged in operational activity between the village of Silwad and Route 60 in the Ramallah area identified a Palestinian throwing petrol bombs in the direction of the road upon which Israeli vehicles were travelling.”

Walla reported:

“A Palestinian youth was killed yesterday (Friday) by fire from an IDF unit which was in an ambush in the village of Silwad, north-east of Ramallah, after the unit identified him throwing a petrol bomb at Route 60 and opened fire.”

The Jerusalem Post reported:

“A Palestinian was shot dead by IDF troops outside the village of Silwad in the West Bank on Friday evening, after he threw a Molotov cocktail at traffic on highway 60, the IDF Spokesperson’s Department said.

The IDF said that the soldiers were on patrol in the area and had set up an ambush overlooking the stretch of highway when they saw the assailant throw the bottle.

They said that the soldiers opened fire “in order to neutralize the threat to the lives of civilians driving on the highway.” “

In other words, the incident did not take place “near Ramallah” as stated by the BBC, but some fifteen and a half kilometers away outside Silwad on a main highway used by both Israeli and Palestinian motorists. Additionally, it is likely that civilian motorists were the target of Hammad’s petrol bomb rather than – as suggested by the BBC – IDF forces, with the BBC’s claim that Hammad was shot “during clashes between IDF soldiers and stone-throwing protesters” not being supported by other media reports.Silwad map

Like the US State Department, the BBC is apparently not overly interested in investigating why a US citizen was throwing petrol bombs at motorists on a main highway.

Notably too, this report misleads readers with the following statement, which appears both as a caption to an illustrative photo and in the body of the report:

“Tensions have been high since the end of the 50-day conflict in Gaza.” 

Later on, a seemingly contradictory statement is presented:

“Although a fragile ceasefire has been holding since the end of the 50-day conflict between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza, incidents of violence have continued sporadically throughout the West Bank and near holy sites in Jerusalem.”

Of course the ceasefire which brought this summer’s conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip (not exclusively “in Gaza” as described by the BBC) between Israel and Hamas (not “Palestinians” as the BBC claims) has absolutely no bearing on the rioting and violent attacks carried out in other areas.

Whilst on the one hand the BBC informs audiences that tensions “have been high” since the ceasefire came into effect, on the other hand it claims that violent incidents have been ‘sporadic': i.e. “occurring at irregular intervals; having no pattern or order in time“.

So what are the facts behind those two BBC statements?

In fact, according to data collected by the ISA, violent attacks by Palestinians in Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem peaked during July and have since returned to the levels seen prior to Operation Protective Edge. However, it is difficult to see how they can be accurately described as having “continued sporadically” seeing as their occurrence (usually not reported by the BBC) is a daily event.

Silwad graph

But the really interesting part of this BBC report is its shoehorning of the topic of ‘settlements’ into its ‘contextualisation’ of Palestinian terror. Despite there being no confirmation of the motives of Orwah Hammad as he lobbed petrol bombs at passing cars, one of the images used to illustrate the report is presented with the following tendentious caption:

“Palestinians were protesting against the expansion of a Jewish settlement in the West Bank”

Silwad art pic

Relating to the terror attack in Jerusalem on October 22nd, the article later informs readers that:

“Wednesday’s car attack was carried out by a Palestinian man from Silwan in East Jerusalem, where tensions are high among Palestinians who are angry over Jewish settlements in the area.”

Oddly, some might say, the BBC appears to believe that “tensions” and ‘anger’ felt by those who oppose people of a certain ethnicity living in a certain place are a factor which can be used to ‘explain’ both petrol bomb attacks on motorists and the deliberate murder of a three month-old baby.

But are there in fact “Jewish settlements” in the Silwan (Kfar Shiloach) neighbourhood of Jerusalem? Well, not according to the BBC’s own definition of ‘settlements':

“Settlements are residential areas built by the Israeli government in the territories occupied by Israel following the June 1967 war. They are illegal under international law – that is the position of the UN Security Council. Israel rejects this assertion. ” [emphasis added]

What there is in that neighbourhood of Jerusalem is existing housing purchased and inhabited by some 90 Jewish families (roughly 500 people out of a population of over 50,000). Hence we see that the BBC is herding audiences towards a very dubious narrative which encourages them to view the purchase of property in certain areas of a city by people of a specific faith and ethnicity as “illegal” and undesirable. One has to wonder whether the BBC’s ‘progressive’ approach would extend to encouraging its audiences to view neighbourhoods of mixed religion, ethnicity (and perhaps colour or sexual orientation) in any other city in such a light.

But of course that anachronistic BBC narrative does not appear by chance: it is also the narrative of the Palestinian Authority, the president of which recently introduced new punishments (unreported by the BBC) for those who sell property to Jewish Israelis.

“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday issued an order that would toughen punishment for Palestinians involved in real estate deals with “hostile countries” and their citizens.

Abbas’s decision came following reports that Palestinians have sold houses in Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood to Jews. […]

In his order, Abbas decided to amend the Palestinian penal code so that it would include hard labor in addition to life imprisonment for Palestinians who sell, rent out or serve as mediators in real estate transactions with “hostile countries” and their citizens.

In 2010, a PA court reaffirmed that the sale of Palestinian land to Israelis is punishable by death. Although the death sentence has not been officially executed, several Palestinians have been murdered in east Jerusalem and the West Bank over the past four decades after being accused of involvement in property transactions with Jews. ” 

Whilst BBC licence fee payers got a hefty dose of PA propaganda in this article, they have clearly not been provided with the accurate, impartial or comprehensive reporting to which the BBC is committed.