BBC pot calls the Russian media kettle black

h/t MW

In an article titled “Ukraine conflict: Is Russia stoking war or pushing peace?” published on the BBC News website’s Europe page on January 20th, Moscow correspondent Sarah Rainsford made the following observations:BBC logo

“For months, Moscow has accused a “fascist” government in Kiev of conducting a “punitive” operation – even genocide – against Russian speakers in Donetsk and Luhansk.

That message is hammered home daily by state-controlled television, which portrays patriotic rebel warriors alongside helpless civilians under attack by indiscriminate Ukrainian artillery. The fact that insurgents frequently fire from residential areas is never mentioned.”

The caption to a picture used to illustrate the article also informed audiences that:

“Russian state TV depicts rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk as warriors defending civilians”

Those observations may indeed be accurate and justified, but one does have to note the irony of the fact that the BBC finds it worth pointing out to audiences that the Russian state media’s failure to report that “insurgents frequently fire from residential areas” is one method used to influence the public’s perception of the hostilities in Ukraine. 

After all, it took the BBC itself no fewer than thirty-six days to get round to telling its audiences that “at times” terrorists in the Gaza Strip “have operated from civilian areas” in its coverage of last summer’s conflict between Hamas and Israel. And when members of the public complained about the corporation’s failure to report adequately on the issue of terrorist missile fire from residential areas, they were informed that “[i]t was very hard for journalists in Gaza to get to see rockets being fired out”.

If the BBC is serious about safeguarding its reputation as an accurate, impartial and independent reporter of news, it might care to examine how – and why – its own reporting of the conflict between Hamas and Israel was tailored to influence public opinion in ways apparently not all that different from those used by Russia’s non-independent media outlets. 

Confusing BBC audiences with unqualified agenda-based opinion

“The BBC will use the opportunity presented by its long-form documentary and current affairs output to explore a wide range of contemporary issues that can engage a variety of viewers across TV, radio and online. A key priority for the BBC will be to provide explanation and analysis of the complex issues that confront the UK and the world (such as the Middle East, global terrorism and climate change). The BBC will offer in-depth, multi-platform seasons as a means of engaging audiences in relevant big issues and helping them make sense of the world.” [emphasis added] (Source: BBC Public Purposes: Sustaining Citizenship and Civil Society)

The plethora of information available to anyone in our modern world at the click of a mouse is of course both a blessing and a curse with the challenge being to sort the factual wheat from the often agenda motivated chaff. The BBC clearly has an important role to play in helping its audiences distinguish between the fact and the fiction surrounding news and current affairs in order to enable them to reach informed opinions and indeed the BBC Trust states that:

“All BBC journalism will display the core values of independence, truth and accuracy, impartiality, fairness, and diversity of opinion.” 

In that laudable statement of intention, however, lies a pitfall. The diversity of opinion the BBC commits itself to reflecting may not always be compatible with the other core values to which it professes to adhere simply because people hold a wide range of opinions which are obviously not always rooted in fact.

If a BBC report tells audiences that some people are of the opinion that the earth is flat, the corporation’s commitment to truth and accuracy should surely also mean that it is obliged to inform them of the available facts contradicting that opinion. Or should the BBC refrain from amplifying opinions which may indeed be “diverse” but cannot be defended as being based on fact?

It is not difficult to find BBC reports in which non fact-based opinion is promoted without qualification. For example, we not long ago witnessed commentators expressing the ‘opinion’ that a Palestinian bus driver who committed suicide had been murdered by Israelis with little or no challenge from BBC interviewers and on January 8th the BBC News website found it appropriate to amplify the opinion expressed in an Iranian newspaper that the terror attacks in Paris were a joint ISIS-Israel operation.

On January 23rd another example came to light in an article by Owen Bennett-Jones appearing on the BBC News website’s Europe page under the title “Blasphemy, jihad and victimhood“.OBJ art

There, readers were told that:

” […] Blasphemy is the lead story now with political chat show hosts asking: “What is it? How come people take the issue so seriously?

And shouldn’t secular West European countries worry about racist or misogynist speech as much as blasphemy?”

Such discussions almost always develop into a row about power. Political Islamists and Western liberals often argue that Muslim sensitivities about public challenges to their faith and identity are informed by the fact that over time they have been colonised, invaded, tortured and falsely imprisoned by Westerners.

The US and Israel, they argue, are the subject of so much invective and even violence because, for all their talk of human rights, they hypocritically use their own strength to oppress Muslims, whether in Iraq or Gaza. Furthermore, it is argued, Muslims are singled out for abuse.”

There may indeed be people in this world who hold the opinion that they can ‘explain’ anti-Israel campaigning and violence against Israeli citizens by means of the false claim that Israel ‘oppresses’ Muslims in Gaza but that view is not rooted in truth and accuracy.

The trouble is that in his smörgåsbord presentation of the “diversity of opinion” on an issue which he makes no real effort to resolve, Owen Bennett-Jones does not make it clear to readers that there is no factual basis for that particular opinion. He avoids any explanation or analysis of the agendas of the “political Islamists” and “Western liberals” making that fictitious claim and thus – intentionally or not – he contributes to audiences’ further confusion.

Likewise, the additional reflection of ‘opinions’ from Bennett-Jones which follows that one does nothing to clarify to BBC audiences either the actual circumstances behind the incident concerned or the deliberate conflation of anti-racism with censorship inherent in that view.

“Thus, while the Charlie Hebdo management sacked a cartoonist for anti-Semitism, it did not hesitate to publish anti-Islamic cartoons.”

The admirable aspiration to provide “explanation and analysis of […] complex issues” and to help its funding public to “make sense of the world” cannot be achievable as long as the BBC promotes and amplifies agenda-based statements without the qualifications made necessary by its commitment to accurate and impartial journalism. The trouble is that many at the BBC obviously first need to clarify the difference between the fact-based and agenda-based to themselves. 

BBC News website reporting of Tel Aviv terror attack

As news broke of the terror attack on the number 40 Dan bus in Tel Aviv early on the morning of January 21st, the BBC News website grabbed its scare quotes and got to work.

All versions of the report titled “Israel bus attack: Tel Aviv passengers stabbed” opened in typical ‘last-first’ reporting style by informing audiences that a man had been shot by the police before informing them why and the same policy was seen on BBC social media. Inverted commas placed around the words terror attack in earlier versions of the report were removed from later editions.

Bus attack 21 1 a

Bus attack 21 1 b

Bus attack 21 1 c

The use of unnecessary punctuation continued, however, on the BBC News website’s Middle East homepage in a link to a filmed report on the same topic.

Bus attack 21 1 on HP 2

The first two versions of the report informed readers that “In November, an Israeli soldier was killed in a knife attack in Tel Aviv, while an Israeli woman was stabbed to death in the West Bank in a separate attack” without clarifying that those two incidents were both terror attacks.

Subsequent versions of the article noted that the terrorist came from Tulkarem, stating that “Tulkarem is a town in the occupied West Bank” whilst in fact it is located in Area A and, in accordance with the Oslo Accords, has been under PA control for two decades.

Later editions of the report also included contributions from the Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly.

“Israeli police say there has been a pattern established in recent months where individual Palestinians, without sophisticated weapons, have attacked civilians at random, the BBC’s Kevin Connolly in Jerusalem reports.

Late last year, a number of Israelis were killed in attacks by Palestinians using weapons including knives and even vehicles to run down pedestrians.

Four Israelis were killed in November after two Palestinians armed with a pistol and meat cleavers attacked a synagogue in West Jerusalem.”

In addition to the fact that it would have been more accurate and informative to cite the exact number of people murdered in October and November 2014 instead of “a number of Israelis”, the article originally inaccurately stated that four people were killed in the Har Nof Synagogue attack rather than five as was actually the case. That error was subsequently corrected. Notably, no mention is made of the affiliations of many of those “individual Palestinians” with assorted terrorist organisations.

The report then goes on to state:

“Our correspondent says the latest round of tensions began to increase last year, after the summer conflict in Gaza and disputes over access to religious sites in the old city of Jerusalem.

More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed in Gaza during the Israel-Gaza conflict, the majority of them civilians according to the UN.

Sixty-seven Israeli soldiers, and six civilians in Israel, were also killed.”

As we see, readers are not informed that “the summer conflict” took place in Israel as well as the Gaza Strip or that it began because terrorist organisations based there fired hundreds of missiles at Israeli civilians and constructed cross-border attack tunnels. In addition, the article continues the now well-established practice of quoting out of date civilian/combatant casualty ratios which the BBC has not independently verified. The BBC News website found it appropriate to illustrate this report about a terror attack in Tel Aviv with the image below.

Bus attack 21 1 pic Gaza

The BBC’s consistent practice of downplaying or ignoring Palestinian incitement and glorification of terrorism makes the phrasing of the following segment of this report particularly notable:

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas for the attack.

The attack was “the direct result of the poisonous incitement being disseminated by the Palestinian Authority against the Jews and their state”, he said.

The Israeli government frequently accuses Palestinian groups of inciting violence.

The government has been angered by Mr Abbas’ efforts to secure Palestinian membership of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and agreement to a unity government with militant group Hamas.

The Palestinians blame Israeli government policies, particularly the expansion of settlements, for the increase in violence, correspondents say.”

Audiences are not told who those anonymous “correspondents” are, but it is probably not too much of a gamble to assume that they include the same BBC employees who repeatedly promoted the notion that ‘settlements’ were the main reason for the terror attacks during October and November 2014. In fact, whilst this particular terrorist did not mention ‘settlements’ as a motivating factor for his actions, he did cite other factors, including “extremist Islamist television programs”.

Apparently refusing to connect the dots between “a unity government with militant group Hamas” and glorification of terrorism from “a senior Hamas official”, the writer of this report went on to inform audiences that:

“Izzat Risheq, a senior Hamas official, praised the stabbing attack.

Speaking from Qatar, he described it as “a natural response to the crimes of the occupation and terrorism against the Palestinian people”.”

Risheq was not the only Hamas official to condone the attack:

“The event was deemed a “natural response to Israeli terrorism,” by Hamas Spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri, who issued an official statement as events unfolded in Tel Aviv. 

The incident, the statement said, was a response to ongoing “Israeli crimes” against the Palestinian people. “

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum posted this status on Facebook, the Fatah Facebook account lauded the stabbings and some Palestinian media outlets also praised and celebrated the attack with a series of cartoons.

Throughout this report the language used by the BBC to describe the terrorist includes “suspect” (three times), “perpetrator” and “attacker”. The word terrorist is only used in quotes from Israeli sources. The continuing refusal to use accurate language to portray terror attacks in Israel must be assessed together with the BBC’s consistent avoidance of any serious reporting on Palestinian incitement and glorification of terrorism, its concurrent repeated promotion of subjectively selected factors (such as “expansion of settlements”) as ‘context’ for terror attacks against Israelis, and its transparent attempts to separate the ‘moderate’ Palestinian Authority from “militant” Hamas despite the existence of a unity government. Together, all those factors continue to obstruct audience understanding of this issue. 

 

On the BBC News ICC Q&A

On January 14th an article was published in the ‘Features & Analysis’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Will ICC membership help or hinder the Palestinians’ cause?“.  The writer of the piece is not identified but from its layout we can determine that it is intended to provide a guide to the topic in Q&A format.ICC Q&A

The article includes several points worthy of note.

1. Under the sub-heading “Why do the Palestinians want to join the ICC?” readers are informed that:

“Palestinian leaders say they are pursuing a new strategy to put pressure on Israel after decades of armed struggle and on-and-off peace talks failed to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They describe it as “internationalising” the issue.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signed the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty, and other international agreements after the UN Security Council rejected a Palestinian-drafted resolution demanding “a full and phased withdrawal of the Israeli occupying forces” within three years. President Abbas hopes bold actions will improve his standing with a deeply frustrated Palestinian public.”

As has been the case in all BBC reporting on the issue of the ICC membership bid (and the UN Security Council bid which went before it), no effort is made to inform audiences that such moves breach existing agreements signed by the Palestinians and witnessed and guaranteed by members of the international community.

2. Under the sub-heading “When will they become ICC members and what does it mean?” the article states:

“The Palestinians have asked it to exercise jurisdiction over any crimes committed in the occupied territories of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza from 13 June 2014. This covers events prior to and during last summer’s conflict between Israel and militants in Gaza.”

That, of course, is correct but notably the BBC refrains from pointing out to audiences that – as is also the case with the UN HRC’s Schabas commission – the ‘start date’ selected by the PA deliberately excludes the kidnappings and murders of three Israeli teenagers by a Hebron-based Hamas cell on June 12th 2014.

3. In the section titled “What legal action do the Palestinians want to take against Israel?” readers are informed that:

“The Palestinians believe some Israeli military actions in Gaza last July and August amounted to war crimes. During the 50-day conflict, more than 2,100 Palestinians were killed – most of them civilians, according to the UN – and tens of thousands of homes in Gaza were destroyed or badly damaged. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers and six civilians were killed.”

As we see, despite the existence of research carried out since the end of the hostilities which indicates that the statement “most of them civilians” may well be inaccurate, the BBC continues to promote out of date figures which it has not gone to the trouble of independently verifying during the last four and a half months.

4. In the same section audiences are told that:

“Action is also planned by the Palestinians against the expansion of Israel’s settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem – land it has occupied since the 1967 Middle East war. Article 8 of the Rome Statute says the unlawful deportation, transfer or confinement of protected persons – those living in territory which is under military occupation – constitute a war crime.”

Whilst it is correct to say that Palestinian actions concerning settlements would be based on Article 8 of the Rome Statute, the applicable clause would not be the one paraphrased in this paragraph – 8.2.(a).vii – but clause 8.2.(b). viii:

“The transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory.”

5. Also in this section, readers are provided with further reading by means of a link to a BBC report from December 9th which amplified claims made in a report by Amnesty International without informing BBC audiences of the NGO’s political agenda or its involvement in the lawfare campaign against Israel.

6. Under the sub-heading “Is there are risk for Palestinians?” [sic] readers are told:

“Yes. While the Palestinian Islamist movement, Hamas, officially supports joining the ICC, its leaders could face charges of ordering indiscriminate attacks against civilians when the ICC prosecutor considers the recent Gaza conflict. Militants from Hamas and other groups fired thousands of rockets and mortars at Israeli towns and cities. Israel, for its part, carried out hundreds of air strikes in Gaza and launched a ground offensive.”

Readers are not informed, however, that one of those “other groups” which indeed fired thousands of missiles at Israeli civilian targets was Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and hence Mahmoud Abbas could be personally open to complaints, both in his capacity as head of the Fatah movement as well as head of the Palestinian Authority with its unity government to which (at least at the time of writing) Hamas is party.

 

 

BBC yet again erases terrorist missile fire which led to summer conflict

On January 6th an article titled “Palestinian jailed for murder of Israeli teenagers” appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page. That report (changes to which can be seen here) on the sentencing of Hussam Kawasme (also spelt Qawasmeh) for his part in the kidnappings and murders of Gilad Sha’ar, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrah in June 2014 included several problematic features.Kawasme art

Despite the core story being about the sentencing of a member of an internationally recognised terrorist organization, nowhere in the BBC’s report is Hamas described as such. Instead, the BBC portrays Hamas as “the Islamist group dominant in Gaza”.

The report states:

“Hussam Qawasmeh, a member of Hamas, must also pay $63,000 (£41,000) in compensation to the victims’ families.”

According to the Jerusalem Post, however, the amount of compensation cited by the BBC is one-third of the actual sum.

“He was also ordered to pay NIS 250,000 to each of the victims’ families.”

Regarding Hussam Kawasme’s accomplices the BBC’s report states:

“Two other suspects were shot dead by Israeli forces in Hebron in September.”

And:

“The Israeli authorities launched a crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank following the abduction and quickly identified two of the group’s operatives, Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisha, as suspects. They managed to evade capture for several months before being killed.”

The caption to one of the photographs used to illustrate the article states:

“Suspects Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisha were killed in an Israeli raid in Hebron in September”

At no point does the report bother to inform readers that the two were killed during a shoot-out as they opened fire on security forces trying to arrest them.

The BBC report plays down Hamas involvement in the kidnappings and murders:

“The leader of Hamas, the Islamist group dominant in Gaza, said in an interview in August that a Hamas cell had killed the teenagers but had not acted on instructions from above.”

The article fails to adequately clarify that funding for the terror attack came from Hamas sources in the Gaza Strip or that high-ranking Hamas operative Saleh al Arouri admitted the organisation’s involvement in August 2014.

Yet again, this report promotes the BBC’s now standard but inaccurate account of the causes of Operation Protective Edge.

“The teenagers’ murders in June set off an escalating cycle of violence and led to a 50-day conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza.”

As we have unfortunately had occasion to note here several times before, the portrayal of events presented by the BBC completely erases the fact that the “conflict” did not only take place “in Gaza” but also in Israel, with thousands of residents of the southern part of the country forced to leave their homes during that time.

Equally misleading is the fact that the BBC has completely airbrushed from audience view the hundreds of missiles launched at civilian targets in Israel between the date of the kidnappings – June 12th – and the commencement of Operation Protective Edge on July 8th. It was of course that surge in missile fire which was the reason for Israel’s military action, 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.

The distortion of the factors which led to the summer 2014 conflict has over recent months become standard BBC practice. The version of events repeatedly promoted by the BBC is obviously not accurate due to its deliberate omission of the firing of hundreds of missiles at Israeli civilians and nor is it impartial as it clearly seeks to erase Hamas responsibility for igniting that conflict from audience awareness. It is high time the BBC got a grip on its serial misrepresentation of this topic.

Related Articles:

BBC misleads audiences regarding cause of Operation Protective Edge

BBC WS ‘Weekend’ presenter Paul Henley erases hundreds of terror attacks in 34 words

More selective BBC reporting on Middle East Jihadists

Regular visitors to the BBC News website’s Middle East page cannot have failed to notice that in the section titled “Special Reports” it offers audiences “background, features and analysis” on the topic of what it terms the “Islamic State Crisis”.special reports

As readers no doubt recall, a recent feature included in that section was devoted to the topic of mapping and tracking Jihadist violence.  One of the organisations included in that BBC report was Ansar Bayt al Maqdis which operates in the Sinai Peninsula and hence the lack of BBC coverage of recent reports coming out of Egypt concerning that group’s collaboration with elements in the Gaza Strip is notable.

“Egyptian intelligence has specific information on assistance that Sinai terrorists have been receiving from the Gaza Strip. Many activists trained in Gaza, and received arms there that they have been using against Egyptian forces.

That is the source of the urgency around creating the buffer zone [in Rafah – Ed]: the goal is to cut the jihadis off from their Gaza supply train. On Monday Egyptian media reported on a jihadist cell that enjoyed massive help from Hamas, and tried to infiltrate Sinai through tunnels. Most of the tunnels aren’t open, but occasionally smugglers on both sides of the border manage to build a new one. The Egyptian army recently uncovered a 1,700-meters-long passage. […]

Egyptian intelligence also located recently another smuggling route other than the tunnels — the sea. Though there is a fence stretching out to sea along the Sinai-Egypt border, smugglers in Zodiac boats have been bypassing it to reach the beaches on both sides.

Most of these boats are carrying components used to build rocket launchers, and explosive materials. The rockets themselves are also being assembled by the Sinai jihadis.”

On the other hand, there is nothing new about the BBC’s failure to join the dots linking Sinai-based Jihadists to elements in the Gaza Strip.

Similarly, the BBC has shown no interest to date in reporting the recently publicized apprehension of a terror cell with ideological links to ISIS in the Palestinian Authority controlled city of Hebron.

“Security forces have arrested a group of three men in the West Bank city of Hebron believed to be ideologically affiliated with the Islamic State terrorist group

The cell members were arrested in November 2014 by operatives of the Shin Bet security service and stand accused of launching an unsuccessful attack against IDF soldiers and conspiring to kidnap and kill civilians and military personnel in the West Bank, according to a press release issued Monday by the security apparatus.”

Jihadist extremism and violence is of course by no means limited to Syria and Iraq and in order to fulfil its remit of informing audiences of international affairs, the BBC’s coverage of that topic cannot neglect other geographical areas in the region.  

More Gaza casualties identified: BBC still mum

Last week the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre published a report (at present only in Hebrew) identifying fifty additional Palestinian casualties from Operation Protective Edge, all of whom belonged to terrorist organisations (mainly Hamas) and none of which appeared on the lists of names supplied by the Hamas health ministry and other Palestinian sources.BBC

The Jerusalem Post reports:

“A report released on Thursday said the newly identified combatant casualties belonged one of the following categories: some were terrorists left behind in Israel after being killed in fire fights with IDF units during the summer war; others were terrorists buried in tunnels or the ruins of buildings bombed by the IDF; and others were terrorists who died of their wounds in hospital and were not identified during hostilities.

“We believe that the 50 names identified by us represent a partial list and that there were many other terrorists whose names are not included in the various casualty lists,” the center added. […]

The attempt to censor the names “stem from Hamas’s policy of deliberate concealment, in order to serve the diplomatic, media, and legal campaigns against Israel,” Dr. Reuven Erlich, head of the Terrorism and Intelligence Center, told The Jerusalem Post.

He urged international bodies that cite Palestinian casualty lists to be wary, calling such lists “not serious”.”

The Centre has to date identified 1,165 of the names appearing on casualty lists supplied by various Palestinian sources, with 52% of those casualties identified as terror operatives and 48% as uninvolved civilians. Readers can view the previous reports (in English) below.

Part one , Part two, Part three, Part four, Part five, Part six, Part seven.

This latest report also notes that:

“Hamas, for its part, has not yet published a final and authorised list of the casualties from Operation Protective Edge…”

As we have unfortunately had cause to note here on several previous occasions, the BBC has also not carried out any follow-up work on this issue and continues to quote and promote increasingly problematic casualty figures and civilian combatant ratios which it has not independently verified. 

Update:

The report is now available in English here.

 

Even the Guardian goes where the BBC refuses to tread

On November 28th 2014 BBC World Service radio audiences were told by the corporation’s man in Gaza Shahdi Alkashif that Israel was not permitting the entry of building materials into the Gaza Strip.Kerem Shalom

On December 2nd 2014 another Gaza-based journalist snapped a photograph of cement being sold on the black market after having gone through the UN supervised mechanism designed to prevent exactly such a scenario.

On December 8th 2014 the BBC’s Yolande Knell produced two reports on the topic of building materials for the repair and reconstruction of structures damaged during the summer conflict, neither of which addressed the issue of black market trade in those materials  or the efficacy of the UN monitored mechanism designed to prevent them from being diverted from their intended use to the purposes of terrorism.

Both Knell’s reports used quotes from UN officials and UNRWA’s Robert Turner was provided with a platform from which to promote (once again) political messaging on the subject of the restrictions on the entry of dual use goods imposed by Israel.

Knell: “The huge sale of destruction means it’s taking longer than expected to assess the damage. UN officials also blame Palestinian politics for delays in reconstruction and say ultimately Israel needs to lift its tight border restrictions. Their efforts can only achieve so much.

Robert Turner: The mechanism is a significant step. It’s important to ensure that the families that were affected by the conflict can rebuild their homes. It’s not a replacement for the lifting of the blockade. If there’s going to be peace and security, if there’s going to be stable Gaza, then the blockade needs to be lifted.”

Since those reports – which clearly attributed the slow pace of reconstruction in the Gaza Strip primarily to factors linked to Israel – the BBC has not revisited the issue. However, on December 25th the Guardian’s Peter Beaumont published a report which includes the following observations.

“Amid mounting criticism of the pace of the rebuilding effort, the Guardian has established that a controversial UN-designed mechanism to control the supply of building materials – and prevent them falling into the hands of the militant group Hamas – has been widely corrupted. […]

The mechanism for allowing the entry of materials into Gaza – including the monitoring of the distribution and use of concrete – was designed by the UN special envoy Robert Serry to satisfy Israeli government concerns that cement should not be diverted to Hamas for military purposes, including tunnel building. […]

Under the scheme householders are assessed to see if they qualify for rebuilding materials, then registered and issued with a coupon allowing them to buy a specified amount of materials from warehouses monitored by a UN-administered inspection regime.

During a recent visit to cement warehouses in Gaza, however, the Guardian [saw] cement being resold a few feet outside the warehouse doors at up to four times the cost within minutes of being handed over to householders with coupons.”

Additionally, a report from YNet from December 28th notes that:

“Israel has proof that Hamas has purchased cement from more than 8,000 homeowners in Gaza who received the building material from the United Nations, in cooperation with Israel, in order to repair their homes.”

The BBC has shown no interest to date in investigating growing evidence of the failure of the UN mechanism to prevent building materials being diverted to Hamas or in informing audiences of the corruption bringing about that failure. Despite having given generous coverage to the topic of the Cairo donor conference back in October 2014, it has also refrained from investigating claims made in an AP report from December 22nd regarding the failure of funds pledged at that conference to arrive.

“International donors have so far failed to deliver billions of dollars in aid money that was promised to rebuild the war-battered Gaza Strip, a Palestinian official said Monday, saying the rift between rival Palestinian factions is deterring foreign governments from sending aid.

In the wake of a 50-day war between Israel and Palestinian militants over the summer, international donors promised $2.7 billion to help rebuild Gaza at a conference in Cairo in October. But Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed Mustafa said “not even one penny” has been received from major donors such as Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey.”

Although the last BBC report on the topic of construction materials appeared on December 8th, audiences continue to be shown images of damaged and destroyed buildings in the Gaza Strip in reports not always directly relating to rebuilding (see recent examples here and here). The picture emerging from the Guardian’s report, however, is that thousands of those structures could have been repaired already were building materials not being diverted to Hamas.

So far the BBC has shown no interest in reporting on why reconstruction in the Gaza Strip is really faltering. Instead, its audiences are left with an inaccurate picture of reconstruction hampered by Israeli policies. That narrative is promoted by the BBC together with officials from the UN: the very organization which is failing to adequately oversee and enforce the mechanism supposed to both ensure the repair of civilian housing and to ward off the onset of another conflict by preventing construction materials being diverted to the purposes of terrorism. 

BBC portrayal of PA’s failed UNSC bid

The BBC News website’s coverage of the UN Security Council’s rejection of a draft resolution proposed by Jordan on behalf of the PA on December 30th included a written report titled “UN Security Council rejects Palestinian resolution“.

That article was initially presented to visitors to the website’s Middle East page using the photograph below.

UNSC art on HP

The motivation behind the choice of that particular image to illustrate this specific story is of course cringingly transparent. BBC audiences are herded towards a view of the story in terms of the contrived symbolism apparent in the image: a small, weak, helpless, child-like Palestine pluckily stands up to a big, strong, armed Israel blocking its way. The image was later removed – perhaps due to concerns related to the BBC’s guidance on Stills Photographs and Images which includes the following:

UNSC written

“Care must be taken to ensure that […] images do not reinforce prejudicial perspectives or depict groups in stereotypical ways.”

The latter part of the later version of that article is devoted to a “media review” of the topic and – despite cryptically noting that “[t]he Hamas-run Filastin newspaper criticises Fatah’s handling of the resolution: “Fatah did not consult anyone””, the article again fails to inform BBC audiences of the fact that assorted Palestinian factions and figures publicly stated their opposition to the draft resolution even before its presentation.

Embedded in that article as well as appearing separately on the website’s Middle East page is a filmed report by the BBC’s Washington Correspondent Rajini Vaidyanathan which was also aired on BBC television news programmes.

That report opens with scenes described as follows in Vaidyanathan’s voiceover:

“The funeral of a Palestinian teenager who was killed by Israeli troops earlier this week. Mourners gathered to mark the loss of another life in a conflict which has claimed both Palestinians and Israelis. “UNSC filmed 31 12

Seventeen year-old Imam Jamil Dweikat was shot on December 29th near Tapuach Junction.

“An Israeli military spokeswoman told Ma’an that an Israeli military patrol was passing through the area when they “encountered a group of Palestinians hurling rocks at a main road, which endangered both civilians and vehicles.” 

“The forces called them to halt and fired warning shots, and when they didn’t comply they responded to the threat with direct fire which wounded one of the attackers.” 

She said that the military treated him on site but he later died of his wounds.”

That all important context was obviously not deemed ‘need to know’ information for BBC audiences by Rajini Vaidyanathan who goes on to tell viewers:

“Diplomacy has failed to end the violence. Palestinians put forward a resolution at the United Nations they believed was a path towards peace. In it they called for Israel to withdraw from areas it occupies, such as the West Bank, by 2017.” [emphasis added]

Those words are accompanied by the image below and once again BBC audiences are being mistakenly led to believe that the Gaza Strip is ‘occupied’.

UNSC filmed 31 12 b map

Notably too, we see that the PA’s unilateral move to circumvent negotiations is still being framed by the BBC as a ‘peace plan’ when it is of course anything but, and that it is attributed to “Palestinians”; a homogeneous title which fails to inform BBC audiences that the move was neither instigated nor supported by a consensus of opinion among Palestinian factions.  

Related Articles:

How did the BBC frame the PA’s UNSC move?

BBC’s portrayal of ‘Palestinian peace plan’ unravels

BBC’s end of year ‘In Pictures’ feature continues to promote unverified Gaza casualty stats

On December 29th the ‘In Pictures’ section of the BBC News website published a collection of nineteen photographs described as “our favourite pictures” which “sum up the past 12 months”.

The caption to the featured photograph below reads:

“A 50-day conflict in Gaza between Israel and militant groups led by Hamas left at least 2,189 Palestinians dead, including more than 1,486 civilians, according to the UN, and 11,000 injured. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers and six civilians were killed, with scores more wounded. Here, Palestinians carry a wounded boy who was rescued from under the rubble of a house which witnesses said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.”

In Pictures 2014

As we see, over four months since the end of the conflict and despite the existence of more up to date information showing that the civilian/combatant casualty ratio cited above is most likely inflated, the BBC has made no effort to update the information it provides to audiences and continues to quote the UN figures which were problematic from the onset. Neither is there any evidence to suggest that the BBC has independently verified the statistics it promotes in the weeks since the ceasefire came into effect.

The footnote added belatedly to the BBC article on casualty figures which was revised due to political pressure stated:

“We expect to return to this subject at a later date.”

That has not happened and the BBC’s continued blind promotion of unverified statistics is clearly not only an issue in terms of accuracy but, as time goes on and the BBC continues to stubbornly and inexplicably ignore later work done on this topic, it also obviously becomes a growing issue of impartiality.

Related Articles:

BBC Complaints defends its use of Hamas supplied casualty figures

BBC promotion of the inaccurate notion of exceptional civilian casualties in Gaza