Has the BBC opted out of ISIS terrorist’s Gaza convoy links story?

The investigation by the Washington Post and Buzzfeed which revealed the identity of a British member of an ISIS execution cell which murdered journalists, aid workers and others has naturally raised keen interest in most of the UK media. Among the many outlets which have reported the story are the Telegraph, the Independent, the Mirror, the Daily Mail and the Sun.

The reports include information about Alexanda Kotey’s participation in the 2009 ‘aid convoy’ to the Gaza Strip organised by former MP George Galloway’s ‘Viva Palestina’ group. The Washington Post writes:

“Kotey left Britain in 2009, when he traveled to the Gaza Strip on an aid convoy of 110 vehicles organized by George Galloway, then a member of British Parliament. Nine volunteers on the Viva Palestina mission were arrested under the United Kingdom’s Terrorism Act the day before departure. Galloway, a controversial figure in Britain for his radical views, described the arrests as an effort to “smear and intimidate the Muslim community.””

The Daily Mail reports:

“Mr Galloway told ITV news he does not remember meeting Kotey. His spokesman Ron McKay said: ‘There were 500 people on that convoy and George can’t ever remember laying eyes on this guy. It’s possible he was there but George doesn’t remember meeting him.’ 

He said there was a vetting procedure for those who applied to be on the convoy but he had never heard Kotey’s name before.”

This is not the first time that the ‘Viva Palestina’ “vetting procedure” has been shown to be unreliable and, courtesy of Harry’s Place, it can be seen that Kotey’s name appeared on its list of participants in that particular convoy.

Kotey on VP list

At the time of writing the BBC News website does not carry any coverage of this story on its international, national or local pages. However, seeing as George Galloway is a regular guest on BBC programmes, we can surely anticipate that it will not be long until a BBC journalist quizzes him on the topic of the criteria he laid down for his organisation’s “vetting procedure”, what exactly it was intended to check and the question of whether the organisation he headed exercised due diligence. After all, it would surely be in the public interest to hear the answers to such pertinent questions from a man who now aspires to run Britain’s largest city. 

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BBC News still promoting ‘cycle of violence’ myth

Following the sentencing of two of the three murderers of Mohammed Abu Khdeir by the Jerusalem District Court on February 4th the BBC News website produced an article titled “Mohammad Abu Khdair murder: Two Israelis jailed“.Abu Khdeir sentencing art

As has been the case in previous BBC reports concerning the same subject matter, the article materially misleads audiences with regard to the cause of the summer 2014 conflict between Israel and terrorist organisations in the Gaza strip.

“Abu Khdair was killed in apparent revenge for the murders of three Israeli teens in the West Bank.

The killings were part of an escalating cycle of violence, culminating in a war between Israel and militants in Gaza.”

Once again we see that the BBC promotes the notion of a “cycle of violence” whilst completely erasing from audience view the escalation in missile fire from the Gaza Strip which began immediately after the disappearance of the Israeli teenagers on June 12th and continued throughout the three weeks of search and rescue operations.

It was of course that incessant missile fire on Israeli civilians – which is repeatedly erased by the BBC in its portrayal of events – that 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 2014, but the terrorist organisation chose not to do so – for reasons by no means exclusively connected to Israel.

“A Hamas official, who did not give his name to Palestinian news agency Sawa, said overnight Friday-Saturday [July 4th /5th 2014] that “those who expect Hamas to stop the rocket fire [on Israel], should to turn [Palestinian Authority Prime Minister] Rami Hamdallah.”

The official was alluding to the fact that the salaries of 40,000 Hamas clerks in Gaza were still unpaid, which was reportedly a key Hamas demand since agreeing to a unity government deal in late April with the Palestinian Authority.”

The article closes with the following words:

“The case has been closely watched by Palestinians who often claim of prejudice in Israel’s justice system, the BBC’s Yolande Knell in Jerusalem reports.”

As readers may recall, the BBC’s past reports have included amplification of claims of a ‘two-tier’ justice system.

 “… it was interesting as well – and telling, I think – to see the mother of the Palestinian teenager who was killed saying Palestinians have no rights and I think that they feel that there’s one law for Israelis and one law for themselves and that they’re never going to be in a better place until they get independence, get their own state and that, I think, is the prevalent view among Palestinians.” (Jeremy Bowen, ‘Today’, BBC Radio 4, July 3rd 2014)

“But Palestinians at Muhammed’s funeral don’t trust Israeli justice. They want Israel to leave Palestinian towns and cities so that they can build a state and a justice system of their own.” (James Reynolds, BBC News, July 4th 2014)

Yet again, however, the BBC fails to clarify to its audiences in this report that the allegations of Israeli state discrimination it has promoted are unfounded. 

BBC News still downplaying Hamas terror

Last week the BBC News website covered the collapse of one of Hamas’ offensive tunnels with an article which sidestepped the real issues behind the story.

The day after that article was published Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh made the organisation’s intentions amply clear.tunnels

“Hamas “heroes” are tirelessly digging Gaza Strip tunnels designed for use in attacks on Israel, a senior official said Friday, as the terror group buried seven excavators killed this week when the tunnel they were working on collapsed due to heavy rains and floods.

Thousands turned out for the funerals in the Hamas-ruled Gaza, Army Radio reported, where Ismail Haniyeh vowed that the group is growing stronger and will use any measures to preparation for the next confrontation with Israel.

“Some believe that the calm, when the noise of the cannons fall silent, is intended for rest. But the [Izz ad-Din] al-Qassam Brigades continue with their campaign through preparation and training,” said Haniyeh, referring to the Hamas military wing. The resistance, he said, is permanently in a state of continuous preparation.

“East of Gaza City, heroes are digging through rock and building tunnels, and to the west they are experimenting with rockets every day. The resistance continues on its path of liberation of the land,” Haniyeh said during the funerals at the Great Omari Mosque in Gaza City.”

And as Khaled Abu Toameh has documented, Haniyeh is not the only Hamas official openly discussing the terror group’s intentions.

“Hamas makes no secret of the goal of its renovations. Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar readily admits that the tunnels are being rebuilt to target Israel.

Indeed, clarity seems to be the name of the game with Hamas. Senior Hamas official Khalil Al-Hayeh explained that his organization would continue to dig tunnels for use in future confrontations with Israel. “We have enough mujahideen [jihad warriors] to replace their brothers who were martyred [in the tunnel collapse],” he said during the funeral of the seven Hamas members.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh went a step further: the tunnels were not only designed to launch terror attacks against Israelis, but to “liberate all of Palestine.” In the words of Haniyeh, the tunnels are being dug not only to “defend the Gaza Strip, but to serve as a launching pad to reach all of Palestine.” […]

For Haniyeh, the tunnels are a “strategic weapon” in Hamas’s jihad to destroy Israel. Hamas’s military wing dug the tunnels around the Gaza Strip “to defend our people and liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem,” the Hamas leader stated.”

The BBC has of course not bothered to report those statements to its audiences and an additional tunnel collapse on February 2nd has likewise been ignored by the corporation’s journalists.

As we documented here last week, the head of COGAT recently made a statement about Hamas’ abuse of entry permits into Israel for Gazans.

“Attempts by Hamas to exploit entry permits given to Gazan residents by Israel are jeopardizing future crossings by Palestinians, Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, has warned.

In an interview to the Al-Quds Palestinian newspaper, Mordechai said Hamas will force Israel to consider completely close the crossings to the Strip if attempts to recruit Gazans for terrorist missions do not cease. […]

Hamas’s “cynical exploitation of Israeli entry permits is forcing Israel to think twice before it issues permits to Gazans.

This situation will eventually lead to the closure of the Strip and the complete cessation of travel by Gazans from the Strip,” Mordechai warned.”

A story clarifying one form of that abuse of humanitarian assistance has since come to light.ambulance Erez

“Israel police and Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency] arrested two Hamas operatives who had entered Israel from Gaza on forged medical documents. […]

After entering Israel, Mahmoud Matok, 31, along with his father, 51, escaped from hospital and traveled to Umm al-Fahm in northern Israel, where they were arrested. […]

The two confessed under interrogation to forging the medical records by using a relative’s medical condition as a pretext for their entry, with the younger Matok assuming the relative’s identity.  

According to Shin Bet, the two had paid NIS 7,000 for the forged documents, which stated that the younger Matok suffered from paralysis of the legs and required emergency medical attention in Israel.”

The BBC continues to refrain from reporting on that issue too.

More Hamas news the BBC is not reporting

We have previously documented on these pages the fact that the BBC has refrained from providing its audiences with information concerning Hamas’ efforts to boost its terrorist infrastructure in Judea & Samaria and take the current wave of terror attacks against Israelis to a more violent level.

An additional facet to that story emerged recently when the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) made a rare statement. Erez 

“Attempts by Hamas to exploit entry permits given to Gazan residents by Israel are jeopardizing future crossings by Palestinians, Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, has warned.

In an interview to the Al-Quds Palestinian newspaper, Mordechai said Hamas will force Israel to consider completely close the crossings to the Strip if attempts to recruit Gazans for terrorist missions do not cease. […]

Hamas’s “cynical exploitation of Israeli entry permits is forcing Israel to think twice before it issues permits to Gazans.

This situation will eventually lead to the closure of the Strip and the complete cessation of travel by Gazans from the Strip,” Mordechai warned.

He cited a cancer patient from Gaza’s Khan Yunis area who traveled to Nablus for medical care after receiving an Israeli permit, and was asked by Hamas to gather intelligence for it. A resident of Gaza’s Shati refugee camp who trades in Israel was apprehended by security forces while trying to smuggle goods for Hamas, according to the COGAT head. […]

Hamas charges taxes on Palestinians who pass through the crossings, using the money to build up its offensive capabilities rather than for the welfare of Gazans, Mordechai added.”

Should Hamas’ actions indeed lead to a halt on Gazans travelling into Israel, we can be confident that the BBC will cover the human interest side of that story with great gusto. However, to date the corporation has made no attempt to ensure that if such a development occurs, audiences will be aware of its background story.

 

 

 

BBC News sidesteps the real issues in Hamas tunnel collapse story

The story of Hamas’ ongoing efforts to reconstruct the system of cross-border offensive tunnels which made it necessary for Israel to carry out a ground operation during the conflict of summer 2014 is one which has been severely under-reported by the BBC throughout the last year and a half.

That of course means that if in the future Israel has to act once again to protect its citizens living in communities near the border with the Gaza Strip, BBC audiences will be oblivious of the background to a story we can confidently predict that the corporation will cover extensively. 

An opportunity to redress that lack of serious reporting recently arose when reports emerged of the collapse of a tunnel due to severe weather conditions.

“At least six Palestinians have been reported killed in the collapse of a tunnel dug under the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Tuesday evening.

The incident occurred in the Al-Tuffah neighborhood of Gaza City.

According to Israel’s Channel 10 television, the six fatalities were all members of the Hamas terror group, as were the five others injured in the incident.”

Hamas later confirmed that information.

“Eight members of the Palestinian militant group Hamas were missing Wednesday after the collapse of a tunnel in the Gaza Strip caused by rain and flooding, a security source said. […]

“The resistance tunnel collapsed last night due to the weather and flooding,” the source said, adding that the tunnel belonged to Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the Gaza Strip.

“There were 11 resistance men inside. Three of them escaped in the first hour after the accident, but the security operation… continues to search for the eight others.”

Hamas’s armed wing, Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, later confirmed in a statement that one of its tunnels collapsed.

It said searches were continuing for the missing, without providing a number or further details.”

The BBC News website’s reporting of that story – in a January 28th article titled “Gaza: Hamas militants die in tunnel collapse” – focused readers’ attentions on factors other than the core issue of Hamas policies and actions which will inevitably lead to an additional round of conflict.tunnel collapse art

The article fails to adequately distinguish between the smuggling tunnels in the area of the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt and the offensive tunnels constructed under the border with Israel.

“Palestinian militants have used tunnels on Gaza’s borders with Israel and Egypt to launch attacks on Israel, transport weapons or smuggle goods.”

Despite the fact that the tunnel in this particular story has no connection to smuggling, a relatively large proportion of the article is devoted to that topic.

“Meanwhile, tunnels on the Egyptian border have been used to smuggle weapons into Gaza, as well as civilian goods.

The tunnels have played a vital role in the economy of Gaza, which has been under a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt in 2007.

The Egyptian military began flooding tunnels on its borders late last year, and says it has eliminated about 90% of them.”

Once again BBC audiences are steered towards the inaccurate impression that smuggling tunnels are a product of the “blockade” when in fact they pre-date the border restrictions. No effort is made to provide audiences with appropriate context concerning the fact that the restrictions imposed by Israel in 2007 came about because of Hamas’ terrorist activities.

Neither is any effort made to clarify the issue of how Hamas acquired the materials necessary for the rehabilitation of its network of offensive tunnels: an omission which is particularly glaring in light of the fact that the BBC has devoted considerable air-time and column space to the topic of the import of construction materials into the Gaza Strip since the end of the 2014 conflict.

“Israel destroyed dozens of tunnels during the 2014 Gaza conflict, but Hamas has been rebuilding them.”

The report embraces the ubiquitous BBC tradition of relating only to events which took place from 1967 onwards and thus fails to tell readers that the Gaza Strip was occupied by Egypt between 1948 and 1967.

“Israel occupied Gaza in the 1967 Middle East war and pulled its troops and settlers out in 2005.”

Readers are encouraged to believe that the Gaza Strip remains under ‘occupation’ and are not informed that arrangements concerning Gaza’s waters and airspace are defined by the Oslo Accords, to which the recognized representatives of the Palestinians are party.

“Israel considered this the end of the occupation, but it still exercises control over most of Gaza’s borders, waters and airspace. Egypt controls Gaza’s southern border.”

The BBC knows full well that this story is actually about a terrorist organization making preparations (at the expense of its own civilian population) for yet more armed aggression against Israeli civilians.

Shuval tweet tunnels 2

It continues, however, to refrain from reporting the real story – thus failing to meet its obligation to “build a global understanding of international issues” and laying the groundwork for more of its trademark pathos-rich, context-lite reporting from Gaza whilst ignoring the story of the people who live under the shadow of Hamas aggression.

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The drip drip of politicised geography on BBC Two

Throughout this month BBC Two has been showing a series titled ‘Immortal Egypt’ presented by Egyptologist Professor Joann Fletcher of York University. The fourth and final episode opened with footage of Fletcher in Alexandria, telling audiences that:

“This is about as far north in Egypt as it’s possible to get because out there is the Mediterranean. To my west is Libya; to my east – Palestine and Arabia….”

Libya does indeed of course lie to the west of Egypt but to its east, Egypt has borders with the Gaza Strip and a country called Israel – which the BBC has apparently found fit to inaccurately rebrand as ‘Palestine’.

 

 

Gaza Strip stories the BBC chooses not to report

BBC reporting on Palestinian domestic topics in general and human rights issues in particular (in both the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority controlled areas) is notoriously sparse. 

Extrajudicial executions carried out by Hamas in November 2012 got the grand total of 29 words of coverage from the BBC’s Middle East editor. In June 2013 and in May 2014 the corporation failed to report extrajudicial executions in the Gaza Strip. In the summer of 2014 it only reported executions which Hamas at the time wanted publicised. In May 2015, in two separate reports, the BBC’s Kevin Connolly found it appropriate to ‘contextualise’ an Amnesty International report on Hamas human rights abuses during 2014 by dragging Israel into the picture.

AI report Hamas Connolly

It therefore comes as no surprise to see that the BBC has ignored this story.

“A court in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Wednesday sentenced four Palestinians to death on charges of spying for Israel, a statement and court sources said.

The court said in a brief statement that a 23-year-old man from the Zeitoun area south of Gaza City had been sentenced to death on espionage charges. It did not provide his name.

Three other men who “fled from justice” were also found guilty in absentia, it said.

A court source told AFP the four were convicted on “charges of spying for the occupation”, including “surveillance” and providing information about cars and homes to help Israel plan alleged assassinations.”

As Khaled Abu Toameh has pointed out in the past:executions

“Under Palestinian Authority law, all death sentences must be approved by the president of the PA. But in 2005, PA President Mahmoud Abbas issued a moratorium on death sentences – a prohibition that did not stop Hamas from pursuing executions under the pretext that the PA president was no longer a legitimate leader since his term had expired in 2009.”

Another recent story ignored by the BBC relates to Hamas abuse of Gaza based journalists.

“Palestinian journalist Ayman al-Aloul frequently writes about the hardships of life in the Gaza Strip, and is one of the few voices willing to publicly criticize the rule of the Islamic Hamas movement.

But after nine days in jail, al-Aloul says he won’t be writing about politics anymore. He said a painful experience that included beatings and being forced to sit uncomfortably in a tiny chair has made him a “new man” and that he will now focus on less controversial topics like sports, food, literature and fashion.

“I’ve decided not to talk about the general situation anymore,” al-Aloul said in an interview at his home Tuesday, a day after he was released. “The experience I went through was very difficult.””

Readers may recall that in December 2015 the BBC World Service passed up on an opportunity to inform audiences about Hamas media censorship.

BBC News ignores Gaza missile attack again – in English

On the evening of January 24th a missile fired from the Gaza Strip once again sent residents of the Sha’ar HaNegev region of the western Negev running for cover. Fortunately, the projectile landed in a field belonging to one of the local communities and no injuries were caused. Several hours later the IDF responded with strikes on a Hamas training facility.BBC Arabic response missile fire 25 1

There was no coverage of that missile attack on the BBC’s English language website but – in line with a pattern seen frequently since the end of the 2014 conflict – the Israeli response was reported on the BBC Arabic website under the context-free headline “Two Israeli air strikes on Gaza“.

The same pattern was also seen earlier this month, meaning that since the beginning of 2016, the BBC’s record of reporting Gaza based terror groups’ missile attacks against Israeli civilians in the English language stands at 0% whilst its record of reporting Israeli responses to those attacks in the Arabic language stands at 100%.

 

BBC Trending promotes terror supporting Gaza propagandist

On January 13th BBC Trending produced an article titled “Gaza medics back striking English junior doctors” which appeared on the BBC News website – including in the Middle East page’s ‘features’ section.Trending jr doctors

“When junior doctors in England went on strike, photographs of support spread on social media from celebrities, members of the public, their pets – and doctors from Gaza. […]

….images of three young men in white coats in a Middle Eastern hospital stood out.

They were posted on Twitter by Dr Mohammed Ziara, who told BBC Trending he was a recently graduated doctor from Gaza, who had completed his studies six months ago. […]

The 24-year-old says he now works for the Palestinian Ministry of Health as an internship junior doctor in Shifa Hospital, the main hospital in Gaza.”

Shifa Hospital is of course not just “the main hospital in Gaza”; like other medical institutions in the Gaza Strip it is exploited by Hamas for non-medical purposes which include acting as a hide-out for Hamas’ top brass during conflicts.  As has been documented here on numerous occasions in the past, medical staff at Shifa and other Gaza hospitals are not always as objective as may be presumed.

So who exactly is the “recently graduated doctor from Gaza” that BBC Trending found fit to promote? David Collier took a closer look at his social media activities.

“In fact, you cannot put this man’s name into Google without realising there is a little more to it than meets the eye. And then you ask yourself, ‘don’t BBC reporters do this as part of  basic guidelines’? Isn’t it obvious?

So you begin to look at other Tweets, almost all in English, and almost all clearly propaganda. And his name then appears quite frequently in news reports throughout 2015 on RT, Jewish News, in blogs, and other various outlets.”

Read the rest of that very revealing post here

 

The terror group BBC audiences have never heard of

As our colleagues at CAMERA documented back in October, there is a relatively new kid on the block of Gaza Strip terror and – given both the Sunni-Shiia proxy wars currently blighting the Middle East and the fact that the Iranian regime now has more cash to spare – its background and affiliations as reported by the invaluable Khaled Abu Toameh are of particular interest at this time.

photo credit: Times of Israel

photo credit: Times of Israel

“The new Iranian-backed Al-Sabireen was established in wake of tensions between Iran and its two former allies in the Gaza Strip: Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis four years ago, relations between Tehran and Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been strained. […]

Al-Sabireen, whose emblem is identical to that of another Iran proxy, Hezbollah, so far has about 400 followers in the Gaza Strip. Each one receives a monthly salary of $250-$300, while the senior officials of the group get at least $700.”

On October 20th 2015, one of Al Sabireen’s operatives was killed near al Bureij when the IDF targeted a sniper cell.

“A pro-Iranian armed group in the Gaza Strip says that the Palestinian man reported killed by IDF fire today was one of its operatives.

Harakat al-Sabireen, a splinter group which broke away from Islamic Jihad and has symbols similar to that of Hezbollah, issued a statement saying 27-year-old Ahmed Sharif al-Sarhi was a leader of one of its armed group, which was outlawed by Hamas earlier this year.”

The ITIC adds:

“On October 20, 2015, Ahmed Sharif al-Sarhi, aka Abu Bilal, 27, from Dir al Balah, was killed by IDF fire near the border security fence east of al-Bureij in the central Gaza Strip. According to a statement issued on his death by the Al-Sabirin network, he was killed by sniper fire when he and a squad of network operatives were on a surveillance mission. According to IDF sources he was a sniper, one of a squad situated near the border security fence.

Ahmed al-Sarhi was a senior operative in the Al-Sabirin network, which is affiliated with Hezbollah and Iran. He escaped two targeted killings on his house during Operation Cast Lead and Operation Protective Edge. He formerly belonged to the PIJ. Al-Sabirin and Fatah issued death notices for him. His funeral was held in Dir al-Balah, attended by supporters of Fatah, the PIJ, Hamas and the Al-Ahrar network in the Gaza Strip. His body was draped in the Palestinian flag.”

Here is how the BBC described that incident at the time: [emphasis added]art 20 10 15 Gaza

“A Palestinian man was also killed during clashes with Israeli troops near the Gaza border fence, medics said. […]

Palestinian medics in the Gaza Strip meanwhile said a Palestinian man was shot dead and three others wounded during clashes between protesters and Israeli troops east of the Bureij refugee camp.

The Israeli military said “terrorists in Gaza” had attempted to attack soldiers near the border fence. They were “identified and targeted”, and hits were confirmed, a statement added.”

Recently, Al Sabireen announced that it is widening its operations.

“A Palestinian jihadi group with close ties to Iran claimed on Wednesday that it has expanded out of the Gaza Strip and is now operating in the West Bank and Jerusalem as well.

“We have an armed branch whose goal it is to wage war on the Israeli occupation everywhere,” Hisham Salim, founder of the Harakat al-Sabireen, told the Palestinian Ma’an news agency.

“Within this framework we have members in the West Bank and Jerusalem who will soon receive financial and military support from us,” he said.”

Khaled Abu Toameh notes that:

“Al-Sabireen is also believed to have succeeded in recruiting scores of militiamen belonging to President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction in the Gaza Strip. These militiamen have gone to the Iranian-backed group mostly for financial considerations. This, of course, is bad news for Abbas, who is now watching as many of his former loyalists have come onto Iran’s payroll and are sharing its radical ideology.

Iran’s presence in the Gaza Strip – this time through Al-Sabireen – is bad news not only for Israel, but also for many Palestinians and Arabs in the region. The Egyptians, who have been waging a relentless war on Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip and Sinai, are already voicing concern over Iran’s new Palestinian proxy. The last thing Abbas, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah need is another Iranian terror group similar to Hezbollah in the Middle East.”

Members of the British public funding of one of the few Western media organizations to still maintain a permanent office in the Gaza Strip remain, however, oblivious to the existence of this terror group.