One to watch out for on BBC Two

It has been known for some time that the BBC’s chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet was in the process of making a programme about children caught up in last summer’s conflict between Israel and numerous terrorist organisations based in the Gaza Strip.Doucet doc

That programme will be broadcast this coming Wednesday, July 8th, at 21:00 on BBC Two. Revealingly titled “Children of the Gaza War” (as though nothing at all happened in Israel last summer) its synopsis reads as follows:

“Children in Gaza and across the border in Israel have lived through three major conflicts in six years. In the summer of 2014, more than 500 children were killed in a 51-day war, all but one of them Palestinian. Almost every child in Gaza lost a loved one. More than a third were left traumatised.

On the Israeli border, children lived in constant fear of rocket attacks and underground tunnels. Lyse Doucet follows the lives of children on both sides of the conflict in the midst of the war and through the months that followed, revealing how children born so close are growing further apart with each war.”

On the same day Doucet will be appearing at a promotional event hosted by Chatham House.

The Telegraph’s review of the programme can be found here.

Related Articles:

Will the BBC’s Doucet report on the real reasons for lost childhoods in Gaza?

Is a BBC documentary about Hamas’ child soldiers upcoming?

Lyse Doucet’s blatant political propaganda on BBC WS WHYS – part one

Lyse Doucet’s blatant political propaganda on BBC WS WHYS – part two

Will ex-BBC Gunness tell the Frontline Club how he got a BBC article rewritten?

On July 29th the Frontline Club in London will hold the event described below.

frontline club event 1

So who is scheduled to be on that “panel of journalists”? At the moment it appears to consist of two people.

frontline club event 2

Readers considering attending the event and seeking advance insight into what they might hear from the generously portrayed Mr Blumenthal can find information collated by our colleagues at UK Media Watch here and at CAMERA here. A particularly useful research paper on Blumenthal’s book ‘Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel’ by Petra Marquardt-Bigman can be found here.

Those participating in the event might of course take the opportunity to ask Chris Gunness about his apparent role in instigating the politically motivated rewrite of the August 8th 2014 BBC article titled “Caution needed with Gaza casualty figures“. Licence fee payers in the audience and further afield would, after all, probably be very interested to learn about the potential for outside influence on BBC editorial decisions. 

The event will also be available live on the Frontline Club’s Youtube channel.

Related Articles:

BBC College of Journalism “associations”

BBC News website corrects Gaza Strip naval blockade inaccuracy

Shortly after the appearance of a BBC Watch post pointing out that a June 29th BBC News website report inaccurately stated that the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip began two years earlier than is actually the case, the article was amended to include the correct date.

The article – then headlined “Israel intercepts Gaza-bound boat” but later retitled “Ex-Tunisian president on board diverted Gaza-bound boat” – originally told readers that:flotilla amended

“The Israeli Navy has intercepted a Gaza-bound vessel sailed by pro-Palestinian activists and diverted it to an Israeli port, the military says.

It says it acted in international waters to prevent the “intended breach of the maritime blockade” imposed since 2007 against the Hamas-run territory.”

The amended article now reads:

“Israel says it acted in international waters to prevent the “intended breach of the maritime blockade” imposed since 2009 against the Hamas-run territory.”

Changes to that article can be viewed here.

Unfortunately there is no footnote informing audiences of the change made and the continuing absence of a dedicated corrections page on the BBC News website means that readers who read the earlier version of the report remain unaware that the information they were given was inaccurate. Equally unfortunate is the fact that the amended version of the article still does not provide audiences with the background information necessary for their understanding of why the naval blockade was implemented.

Another report on the same topic appeared on the BBC Arabic website and it too misled audiences with an inaccurate date. At the time of writing, that article has not yet been corrected.  

 

BBC’s English and Arabic flotilla reports promote inaccurate information

The news that Israeli naval forces had intercepted – without incident – the lead boat in the latest Gaza Strip bound flotilla was apparently deemed so important that on June 29th a report on that story was promoted on the BBC News website’s homepage, on its World page and on its Middle East page.

flotilla on HP

flotilla on World pge

flotilla on ME pge

Unfortunately, the accuracy of some of the information included in that report – titled “Israel intercepts Gaza-bound boat” – was clearly less important.

Readers are told that:

“The Israeli Navy has intercepted a Gaza-bound vessel sailed by pro-Palestinian activists and diverted it to an Israeli port, the military says.

It says it acted in international waters to prevent the “intended breach of the maritime blockade” imposed since 2007 against the Hamas-run territory.”

However, as has been pointed out on these pages on numerous prior occasions, the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip was announced in January 2009 – not in 2007 as stated in this report and certainly not in 2006 – as claimed in another BBC report on the same topic posted on the BBC Arabic website.

flotilla BBC Arabic 2006

The Turkel Commission report includes a detailed background of the circumstances leading up to the declaration of the naval blockade (from page 32 here) and states:flotilla BBC Arabic

“In these circumstances, on January 3, 2009, during the operation Cast Lead, the Minister of Defense ordered a naval blockade off the coastline of the Gaza Strip up to a distance of 20 nautical miles from the coast. The significance of imposing a naval blockade according to the rules of international law is that it allows a party to an armed conflict to prevent entry into the prohibited area of any vessel that attempts to breach the blockade (even without it being established that the vessel is assisting terrorist activity). Consequently, a NOTMAR was published in the following terms: ‘All mariners are advised that as of 03 January 2009, 1700 UTC, Gaza maritime area is closed to all maritime traffic and is under blockade imposed by Israeli Navy until further notice. Maritime Gaza area is enclosed by the following coordinates […].”

In 2010 Professor Ruth Lapidoth noted that:

“In the treatment of the flotilla heading for Gaza, Israel has acted in compliance with international law because it has fulfilled all the conditions for a lawful blockade. In January 2009 Israel notified the relevant authorities of its blockade of Gaza – a lawful means of naval war. The existence of an armed conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza was well known and did not need a special declaration to that effect.”

The report of the UN SG’s Panel of Inquiry into the Mavi Marmara incident also notes on page 39 that:

“…the naval blockade was imposed more than a year later, in January 2009.”

Interestingly, at no point in these two BBC reports are readers informed that the UN panel found (page 44) the naval blockade to be legal and the relevant context of past cases of arms smuggling to the Gaza Strip by sea was not provided to readers, who were however told in the English version that:

“The activists said they wanted to draw attention to the blockade, which Israel says is a necessary security measure.” [emphasis added]

Another inaccuracy in this report (and in the Arabic version) is seen in the following statement:

“They said the vessel was carrying humanitarian aid, including medicine and solar panels.”

In fact, as blogger Elder of Ziyon pointed out over two weeks ago, the use of the plural term “panels” in that sentence is – according to a spokesperson for the flotilla organisers interviewed by Ma’an news agency – apparently superfluous.

“On board, the Marianne is carrying one solar panel to al-Shifa hospital and medical equipment for Wafa hospital, both in Gaza City. If everything goes as planned, activists will also leave the fishing trawler for Palestinian fishermen to use.

“The people in Gaza never have electricity all day long. Solar panels could be a sustainable solution for the power shortage,” Ighe said.” [emphasis added]

And, as our colleagues at Presspectiva have pointed out, Shifa hospital already has a working solar power system.

It would obviously have been helpful to readers of both the English language and Arabic language articles had they clarified the fact that there are no restrictions on the import of solar panels, medicines or any other kind of “humanitarian aid” into the Gaza Strip.

This of course is not the first time that audiences have been misled by BBC content with regard to the date of the implementation of the naval blockade or that the all-important context behind it has been omitted. 

BBC World Service promotion for Mads Gilbert’s new book

The June 17th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ – presented by James Coomarasamy – included an item (from 14:00 here) introduced as follows:Newshour Gilbert

“Last year’s conflict between Israel and Gaza lasted 51 days and claimed more than two thousand lives. Israel and Hamas continue to argue about who was responsible, over the number of casualties and over each other’s conflict during the war. But the impact on Gaza’s infrastructure was undeniably considerable. Its only power station was hit by an airstrike.”

That portrayal is of course inaccurate: the fuel tanks at the Gaza power plant (not the structure itself) were hit by errant tank shells (not by “an airstrike”) whilst the IDF tried to prevent an imminent attack by terrorists carrying anti-tank missiles. Additionally, the conflict was not “between Israel and Gaza” but between Israel and terrorist organisations based in the Gaza Strip and Coomarasamy’s bizarre and unsourced ‘they’re each as bad as the other’ claim that “Israel and Hamas continue to argue” actively hinders audience understanding of the facts behind the conflict.

All that, however, was merely the entrée to the real purpose of this item: licence fee funded promotion of a new book by the BBC’s long-time favourite medic-cum-terrorist supporter. Coomarasamy continues:

“One man who witnessed that war at close hand is a Norwegian doctor, Mads Gilbert. He returned to Gaza to work in al Shifa hospital as he’d done in three previous conflicts there. He documented his experiences – he’s collated them in a new book called ‘Night in Gaza’. So why did he think it was important to do that?”

Coomarasamy makes no effort to relieve listeners of the misleading impressions created by Gilbert’s inaccurate claim of a ‘siege’ on the Gaza Strip or to inform them that the descriptions they hear of a shortage of medical supplies actually have nothing to do with Israel.

Gilbert: “I had been in Gaza for two weeks in June to make a report for the UN about the situation in the healthcare system and basically the whole civilian sector in Gaza was down on its knees because of the siege and then on top of that came this horrific 51 days. Shifa was totally drained of supplies, drugs, equipment – everything you need to run a hospital.”

One of the issues regularly raised on these pages is the BBC’s frequent breaching of its own editorial guidelines on impartiality due to its failure to inform audiences of the “viewpoint” of interviewees. At one point during the item listeners hear Coomarasamy say to Gilbert:

“You are a medical doctor but you are an activist. You are a pro-Palestinian activist. Would you say that’s fair?”

Gilbert answers:

“Like many others I support the Palestinian people’s right to resist occupation and I think that’s part of my medical duty. Medicine and politics are Siamese twins – you can’t separate the one from the other.”

Unfortunately, rather than clarifying to audiences that the Gaza Strip has not been under occupation for a decade and instead of pursuing the subject of what Gilbert really means when he talks of a “right to resist” (in a recent interview with the Guardian, Gilbert stated that “[t]he right to resist implies also the right to resist with arms, if you’re occupied”), Coomarasamy gets into a futile academic discussion with Gilbert about medicine and politics before providing him with the opportunity to whitewash Hamas abuses.

JC: “What about…I mean have you tried to understand the point of view of Hamas and what they were doing in the hospital? Because if you look at the Amnesty International report from last month they very clearly say ‘Hamas forces used the abandoned areas of Shifa, including the outpatients clinic area, to detain, interrogate torture and otherwise ill-treat suspects even as other parts of the hospital continued to function as a medical centre’. And first of all, do you recognize that portrait?”

MG: “I don’t support Hamas. I don’t support Fatah. I don’t support any Palestinian faction. I support the Palestinian people.”

JC: “But do you recognize the Amnesty International characterization of what was happening in the hospital when you were there?”

MG: “Bear in mind that Amnesty was not allowed to enter Gaza. I am not saying that this is not taking place. I’m saying that where I worked it was a proper hospital. And yes, the Palestinian Authorities had their press conferences outside. I am allowed to work freely. I walk around wherever I want. I’m never controlled. I never have my pictures controlled. So from what I have seen in Shifa hospital and in the other Palestinian hospitals in Gaza, this is not the picture I recognize.”

Coomarasamy ends the interview there and, as has so often been the case in the past, BBC audiences have once again been fed Gilbert’s unhindered falsehoods and propaganda – as well as promotion of his book. Mads Gilbert is not a “pro-Palestinian” activist as claimed by Coomarasamy in his ostensible impartiality box-tick. Those who are truly pro-Palestinian (and perhaps especially those supposedly bound by a professional oath) would not whitewash Hamas’ torture of its political opponents, its exploitation of patients as human shields or its diversion of resources which could improve the lives of ordinary Palestinians for the purposes of terrorism. Sadly, the BBC continues to avoid telling Mads Gilbert as he really is.

Related Articles:

Guardian highlights doctor who supported 9/11 attacks  UK Media Watch

The reality behind the BBC’s promotion of information from medics in Gaza

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

BBC’s favourite Norwegian doctor given multiple platforms for medical agitprop

 

European court knocks the bottom out of BBC portrayal of Gaza Strip as ‘occupied’

Back in August 2014, the BBC’s Orla Guerin closed a filmed report from the Gaza Strip with the following words:Guerin filmed Hamas 5 8

“Fishermen were back on the water today, grasping at normal life. Palestinians are living and dying under Israel’s military occupation. Many now see Hamas as their only hope of escape.” [emphasis added]

As was pointed out here at the time:

“There is, of course, no Israeli “military occupation” of the Gaza Strip and has not been for nine years. The legal definition of military occupation is as follows:

“Art. 42. Territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army.
The occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised.”

As Col. (Ret.) Pnina Sharvit Baruch explains:

“In order for effective control to exist, the foreign army must be able to impose its will on the local population whenever it so chooses while the sovereign government is unable to exercise its authority in the territory due to the effective control of the foreign army. Even according to this more flexible approach, fulfilling “effective control” usually requires the occupier to have forces present on the ground or at least to have the ability to send, within a reasonable time, forces into the area to exercise the authority therein.””

Guerin’s claim is however not a one-off aberration: examples of portrayals of the Gaza Strip as being under ‘occupation’ despite the 2005 Israeli disengagement can be found in other BBC content still available on the internet – for example here and here.

Now Dr Marko Milanovic of the University of Nottingham School of Law brings us some interesting news:

“… the Grand Chamber of  the European Court of Human Rights [….] has (implicitly!) decided that Israel is not the occupying power in Gaza. How so, you ask?”

Dr Milanovic’s explanation can be found here

 

 

Revisiting BBC reporting of civilian deaths in Gaza on July 28th 2014 – yet again

As readers know, the BBC’s coverage of the recently released UN HRC report on last summer’s conflict (see here and here) has been superficial and uncritical, doing nothing to inform audiences of the political motivations behind the commission’s formation or of the political agendas of some of the report’s contributors.

Despite its unquestioning approach to the report’s contents, one aspect of its findings has been completely ignored by the BBC – even though it has bearing on some of the corporation’s own content still available on the internet.Shifa Shati Campbell tweet

On pages 128 and 129 the report states:

“In another incident, which occurred in the afternoon of 28 July on the first day of the Eid holiday, an explosive hit Swaidi street next to a children’s swing in the Al-Shati refugee camp in northern Gaza. Eleven children, between 5 and 14 years old, and two adults were killed and up to 45 people were injured, some seriously and many of them children. According to witnesses it was the Eid holiday and a temporary ceasefire had been declared so parents were outside in the street celebrating with their children. The street was also more crowded than usual because many people displaced during the conflict had moved to the Al-Shati camp seeking safety. Between 4 and 5 p.m. an explosive landed on the street between a food store and the children’s swing where children were playing.  The single explosion spread a large amount of shrapnel across the area. Three eyewitnesses told the commission that the explosion threw children’s bodies around and tore them to pieces.

The MAG [Military Attorney General] announced on 7 December 2014 that following a thorough review of the incident by the Fact-Finding Assessments Mechanism (FFAM),  “…such a strike by IDF forces could not be identified. However, Israel’s technical systems recorded in real-time the path of a salvo of missiles fired from within the Gaza Strip, seemingly by Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which landed in the medical clinics and in the Shati Refugee Camp at the time of the alleged incident…” Hamas publicly denied this allegation and the Chief of Police in Gaza told the commission that the bomb disposal team that went to the Al-Shati playground found that the remnants of the weapons were Israeli.

The commission received information from NGO’s who conducted field research and a UN source who collected information indicating that the explosion had been caused by a misfired Palestinian rocket. One of them inspected the site after the attack and concluded that the impact of the explosion on the ground could not have been caused by an Israeli missile or artillery shell; the NGO also indicated that eyewitnesses had reported seeing a rescue team go to the place just after the attack, whose members did not collect the wounded but cleared and collected the remnants of the weapons. In addition, two journalists who spoke to the commission also suggested the attacks had been caused by Palestinian rockets misfiring. One of them said that Hamas members had gone to the site immediately after the events and cleared away the debris. The other said he had been prevented by local authorities from going to the site of the attack.

The commission found there was credible information pointing to the conclusion that a misfired Palestinian rocket was the source of this explosion. Given the gravity of the case, in which 13 children were killed in a place crowded with civilians, and the allegations that local authorities may have attempted to hide evidence of the cause of the incident, all relevant Palestinian authorities should conduct a thorough investigation of the case to determine the origin and circumstances of the attack.”

Shortly after that incident occurred we noted here that, despite the information already available, multiple BBC reports portrayed the story in a manner which suggested that the circumstances were not clear and presented the Hamas version of events as a valid option.Shifa Sahti tweet 1

In August 2014 we noted that the BBC had produced another article in which, despite the information available, the Shati incident was defined as one of several “disputed deadly incidents”.

In December 2014 we noted the MAG report on the incident and the fact that all the inaccurate information was still available on the BBC website in its original form.

In March 2015 we noted that despite BBC coverage of an Amnesty International report which stated that “an independent munitions expert had concluded that a Palestinian rocket had exploded next to a supermarket in the al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City on 28 July, killing 13 civilians, 11 of them children aged between seven and 14″, none of the BBC reports from the time had been amended to clarify to audiences the actual circumstances of the incident.Pannell Shati report filmed 28 7

Now, in late June 2015, despite the fact that UN commission has reached conclusions identical to those publicized by MAG and Amnesty International and consistent with the information released by the IDF around an hour after the incident occurred, those inaccurate and misleading BBC reports still stand as they did when they were originally published nearly a year ago.

In June 2014 the BBC announced that “however long ago our online content was first published, if it’s still available, editorial complaints may legitimately be made regarding it”. Clearly the prospect of wasting publicly funded resources on dealing with unnecessary complaints concerning those reports has not prompted the corporation to amend them with the required notes of clarification. 

 

The BBC and the UN HRC report on last summer’s conflict – part two

In addition to the written article about the newly released UN HRC report which appeared on the BBC News website on June 22nd, the corporation produced two filmed reports for BBC television news programmes, both of which also appeared on the website.

The first report – dated June 22nd and titled “Gaza conflict: ‘War crimes by both sides’ says United Nations” – is by Lyse Doucet and – like the UN commission which revealingly titled its report as being about the “Gaza conflict” of 2014 – Doucet’s opening lines negate the fact that hostilities took place in Israel too.

“The war last summer was the third in Gaza in six years. This one was the most protracted, most punishing, between Israeli forces who attacked Gaza and Palestinian armed groups who fired rockets and dug tunnels into Israel.”

The fact that Hamas initiated the hostilities and that the fighting was protracted because time and time again Hamas refused the ceasefires offered on numerous occasions is obviously not deemed need to know information for BBC viewers. Doucet continues:

“Now an independent inquiry says both sides may have committed war crimes.”

As was the case in the BBC’s written report, Doucet makes no effort whatsoever to inform audiences of the inquiry’s ignominious beginnings or of the ensuing report’s many problematic aspects – not least its reliance on ‘evidence’ from anti-Israel activists and political NGOs engaged in lawfare against Israel. And so, with no critical analysis of the report’s value and validity offered to audiences, Doucet goes on to promote some cherry-picked quotes against a background graphic again featuring a literally one-sided picture.UN report Doucet filmed 22 6 main

“The purpose of this UN report was to gather testimony. It’s damning on both sides. On Israeli forces it says ‘impunity prevails across the board’. It also calls on Israel to break with its ‘lamentable track record of holding wrongdoers accountable’. And the attacks carried out by Palestinian militants were in its words ‘inherently indiscriminate’ and Palestinian authorities have also consistently failed to bring to justice those who violate international law.”

Doucet makes no effort to clarify to audiences that one of the report’s many shortcomings is its failure to acknowledge the fact that “Palestinian authorities” in the Gaza Strip are the exact same people carrying out the war crimes, targeting Israeli civilians and performing extra-judicial killings of political opponents.

After a clip showing the reaction of the Israeli prime minister, Doucet’s report shows Hamas’ Ghazi Hamad saying:

“I don’t know from where that they believe that Hamas focus on the civilians; that they target civilians. And I think they should blame Israel that they did not give them permission to enter Gaza and to make investigation in Gaza and to listen to people.”

Doucet makes no effort to inform viewers that Egypt too refused the commissioners entry to the Gaza Strip via its territory.

The impression audiences are intended to take away from this report is amply clear in Doucet’s closing remarks which dedicate ten words to a very sterile presentation of the Israeli side of the story and almost four times as many words to description of the Gazan side.

“Last summer Israelis lived with indiscriminate and constant rocket fire. And in Gaza we saw the huge price paid by civilians in the densely populated and impoverished territory. The report speaks of unprecedented devastation. Nearly one year on many Gazans still live in the rubble of their homes.”

Likewise, the links offered to visitors viewing this report on the BBC News website display a similar lack of impartiality.

UN report Doucet filmed 22 6 read more b

Audiences are offered the BBC’s uncritical and unchallenging written report on the same story, a BBC News report from May 2015 which amplified anonymous claims promoted by the inadequately presented political NGO ‘Breaking the Silence’ (a major contributor to the UN’s report), and another BBC News report from May 2015 which amplified a report by Amnesty International (also a significant contributor to the UN report) whilst ‘contextualising’ Hamas torture and execution. Most notably, audiences are also provided with a link to a seriously flawed ‘guide’ produced by CBBC (the BBC’s children’s department) which has still not been corrected since its publication last August.

The following day – June 23rd – viewers of BBC television news programmes saw another filmed report – this time by Yolande Knell and titled “Gaza conflict: War crimes on both sides, says UN” – which again included no critical analysis of the UN report whatsoever.UN report Knell filmed

Viewers found Knell using the standard ‘Israel says’ formula in her opening sentences – employed regularly by the BBC to communicate to audiences that it does not endorse the statements which follow.

“Over fifty days last summer the Gaza Strip was pummeled by Israeli airstrikes and shelling. Israel says it was targeting tunnels used by Palestinian militants and trying to stop them firing volleys of missiles at its towns and cities. Now a report commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council says it’s possible both sides committed war crimes. But Israel rejects the findings as biased. It says its actions in Gaza were meant to protect its civilians and its own inquiries found it acted lawfully.”

Like Doucet before her, Knell has nothing to tell viewers about why, when or how the report was commissioned or of the political agendas of some of the sources of the testimonies and information appearing in the report. Knell goes on to amplify the view of the terrorist organization which initiated the conflict:

“Today in Gaza the Hamas authorities said the report created a false equality between victims and their killers.

She goes on, failing to inform audiences of the political back story to the UN’s casualty figures which the BBC has been religiously quoting and promoting for almost a year.

“The war left widespread destruction across Gaza and some 2,200 Palestinians were killed. The UN says most were civilians but Israel disputes that. On the Israeli side 73 were killed – mostly soldiers.”

Knell then tells viewers that:

“The UN investigators weren’t able to come here to Gaza to see scenes like this for themselves and to meet the residents because Israel refused to cooperate with them.”

As was the case in the previous day’s written article and in Doucet’s filmed report, she fails to mention that Egypt also did not grant the commission entry – even though that fact is noted in the UN report.

“The commission repeatedly requested Israel to cooperate, including by granting it access to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Regrettably, Israel did not respond to these requests. Subsequently, the commission learned from a press release that no such cooperation would be forthcoming. The Government of Egypt, when requested to facilitate entry into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing, responded that it was not possible owing to the prevailing security situation.” (emphasis added.)

Knell then goes on to make the following opaque assertion:

“At the same time there’s been a lot of criticism over how Israel carried out its own inquiries into attacks that killed Palestinian civilians.”

How much is “a lot of criticism” and by whom it was levelled is not made clear to viewers. She continues:

“This was one of the most controversial incidents of the war. Four cousins aged 9 to 11 were killed by Israeli missiles while playing on the beach. The UN commissioners criticized the Israeli army’s inquiry which cleared the soldiers of any wrongdoing.”

Indeed they did, but Knell does not attempt to make any critical examination of whether or not that criticism was relevant or justified – hardly surprising perhaps when one considers that the BBC only recently elected to pass up the opportunity to correct the misleading impressions it too propagated regarding that same incident.

Knell closes by narrowing down audience attention to possible war crimes in one location alone:

“It’s calm now on the Gaza beachfront – almost a year on from the fierce fighting. But with further investigations underway, the bitter debate about whether war crimes were committed here is set to continue.” [emphasis added]

The BBC’s three reports on this topic have all been superficial, uncritical and unchallenging. Audiences have had no choice but to take the slivers of the report’s content selected by BBC journalists for amplification at face value and no attempt has been made to objectively inform them of the political background to the commission and its report. Likewise, no effort has been made to put the process and content of this report into its wider context of the effect it may have upon all Western armies fighting terrorists anywhere in the world. 

 

 

Yet again: Gaza missile attack ignored by BBC News but Israeli response reported in Arabic

At around 10 p.m. on the evening of June 23rd residents of Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip once again had to scramble for cover from incoming missile fire.

“The rocket landed in an open area near the Yad Mordechai Kibbutz just north of the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement. […]

There were no reports of injuries or damage directly after the alarms, which sounded in the communities of Zikim, Karmia, Netiv Ha’asara and Yad Mordechai just after 10 p.m., the IDF said.”

Several hours later Israel responded with a strike on the rocket launcher used in the attack.

Following the now established pattern, there was no reporting of the missile attack on the BBC News English language website but the Israeli response to it was reported on the BBC Arabic website.missile 23 6 BBC Arabic

In the months since the end of last summer’s conflict between Israel and Palestinian terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip the ceasefire has been broken on multiple occasions by missile fire – with none of those incidents having received dedicated coverage by the BBC in English at the time.

September 16th 2014mortar fire at the Eshkol region – not reported by BBC News but briefly mentioned in a later article on another topic.

October 31st 2014 – missile fire at the Eshkol region – not reported by BBC News.

December 19th 2014 – missile fire at the Eshkol region – not covered by BBC News at the time but Israeli response reported.

April 23rd 2015 – missile fire at Sha’ar HaNegev region – not reported by BBC News.

May 26th 2015 – missile fire at Gan Yavne area – not covered by BBC News but Israeli response reported by BBC Arabic.

June 3rd 2015 – missile fire at Sdot Negev region – not covered by BBC News but Israeli response reported by BBC Arabic

June 6th 2015 – missile fire at Hof Ashkelon area – not covered by BBC News but Israeli response reported by BBC Arabic. Later briefly mentioned in a June 10th report by Yolande Knell.

June 11th 2015 – missile fire (fell short in Gaza Strip) – later mentioned in a June 12th article by Yolande Knell.

June 23rd 2015 – missile fire at Yad Mordechai area – not covered by BBC News but Israeli response reported by BBC Arabic.

To sum up, five separate incidents of missile fire aimed at Israeli civilian communities in the last month have been covered as follows on the BBC News website (June 12th):

“Three rockets have since been fired at Israel and a group calling itself the Omar Brigades said via social media that it was responsible. On Thursday, a fourth rocket was launched but fell short inside Gaza.

While the missiles have not caused injuries, they have drawn Israeli air strikes in response – some targeting Hamas military sites – and endangered a 10-month-long ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.”

Like this on BBC television news (June 10th):

“In the past week, several rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza, endangering the 10-month-long ceasefire that ended last summer’s deadly war.”

And as follows (from 00:50) on BBC World Service radio (June 11th):

“In the past few days several rockets have been fired from Gaza towards Israel jeopardizing the ceasefire that ended last summer’s war.”

“…militants linked to IS fired several rockets at Israel. It holds Hamas responsible and hit back with airstrikes.”

The focus of all three of those reports was the threat posed to Hamas rule in Gaza by Salafist Jihadists and the danger to the ceasefire agreement.

Once again, the BBC has not produced any reporting whatsoever from the regions in Israel targeted by those missile strikes and audiences remain uninformed with regard to how people who have been terrorized by the constant threat of missile fire from assorted terrorist groups for over fourteen years and suffered fifty days of intense attacks less than a year ago are now coping with the deteriorating security situation.

If audiences are to be provided with the “understanding of international issues” laid out in the corporation’s public purpose remit, the BBC must obviously tell that side of the story too. The current curious practice of omission of timely reporting of missile attacks in English, whilst covering the Israeli responses to those attacks in Arabic, is clearly also not conducive to meeting the BBC’s obligations.

More BBC multiplatform mainstreaming of an anti-Israel trope

Obviously not content with the previous amplification of propaganda rhetoric used by anti-Israel campaigners on BBC World Service radio last month, the BBC recently decided to promote business reporter Roger Hearing’s mainstreaming of the same ‘open air prison’ trope on several of its other platforms too.Hearing ice cream Gaza written

The June 18th edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ includes a piece from Hearing introduced by presenter Kate Adie (from 22:27 here) as follows:

“It’s nearly a year now since Israeli forces launched air and ground attacks on Gaza in response – they said – to a series of rocket attacks launched from inside the Palestinian territory. More than two thousand people were killed in the conflict and many homes and business properties in Gaza were damaged or destroyed. Rebuilding started soon after a ceasefire was announced last August but progress has been slow. A blockade on the territory imposed by Israel has delayed the arrival of construction materials. Roger Hearing has been to see how one business has carried on despite the difficulties.” [emphasis added]

So, in addition to casting doubt on the reasons for the outbreak of hostilities on July 8th 2014 (almost a month of incessant attacks on civilians, with hundreds of missiles fired rather than “a series”), Adie also fails to distinguish between civilian and combatant casualties, refrains from noting Egypt’s closure of its border with the Gaza Strip and misleads audiences with the inaccurate claim that the slow pace of reconstruction in the Gaza Strip is because of Israeli restrictions on the import of dual use goods whilst making no effort to inform them of the terrorism which is the cause of those restrictions.

‘From Our Own Correspondent’ also has a BBC World Service radio version presented by Pascale Harter and Hearing’s report was featured in that programme’s June 20th edition too. Harter’s introduction to the item (from 17:55 here) was notably more accurate and impartial than the one heard by listeners to Radio 4.

“But right now, a glimpse of Gaza as you might not know it. It’s nearly a year since Israeli forces launched air and ground attacks there after weeks in which hundreds of rockets were fired into Israel from inside the Palestinian territory. More than two thousand people were killed in the conflict and many homes and business properties in Gaza were destroyed. It is a very difficult business environment but Roger Hearing finds one entrepreneur winning fame if not fortune.”

A written version of that audio report from Hearing was also promoted on the BBC News website’s Middle East and Magazine pages on June 21st and in addition that version of the report was translated into Arabic and promoted on the BBC Arabic website.

All four versions of the report include overly dramatic, context-free descriptions from Hearing.

“…despite the apocalyptic destruction in parts of the city from last year’s war, you do also see a lot of giggling, playing children among the ruins.”

All four versions also fail to inform audiences that, in addition to ice cream making equipment, the Rafah area smuggling tunnels have of course been used to import weapons into the Strip and that metal piping of assorted types is regularly used by terrorists to manufacture missiles.

“He proudly showed us the shiny Italian gelato machines installed in the back rooms of his cafe building. When he was trying to import them, it was hard to convince the Israelis apparently that there wasn’t some other, more threatening purpose for the tall chrome boxes with pipes and chutes and nozzles.

It’s likely at least some of the machines were hauled through the tunnels under the border with Egypt, until that smuggling operation was closed down a few months back. Now that’s a strange image: young men in pitch darkness, sweating to drag huge boxes through rickety holes in the sand, and all so that Gazans could eat fine ice cream.”

Whilst BBC audiences remain serially unaware of Hamas’ activities in Judea & Samaria and in Turkey, they do now at least know that Hamas officials in Gaza like ice cream.

“Very nice,” said Ghazi Hamed, the deputy foreign minister for Hamas. “Everyone here knows Kazem’s.”

All four of these reports conclude with the same canard promoted by Hearing a month earlier in one of his radio reports from the Gaza Strip.

“And I have to say – and this is one of the oddest things – from the decrepit heart of a half-destroyed city in a besieged and blockaded enclave, sometimes described as the biggest open air prison in the world, comes the best ice cream I have ever tasted.” [emphasis added]

The Gaza Strip is of course not “besieged” at all and those who inaccurately describe it as “the biggest open air prison in the world” do so out of clear political motivations. Thousands of people exit and enter the Gaza Strip every year – as anyone who follows the daily reports publicized by COGAT online and on social media will be aware.

But, electing to ignore the facts behind the deliberate misnomer which he has so vigorously promoted over the past few weeks, Roger Hearing continues to mainstream the baseless rhetoric of anti-Israel delegitimisation in a style more suited to the Hamas supporting Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s PR department than a media organization supposedly committed to accurate and impartial reporting. The BBC is undoubtedly capable of identifying the motives and agenda behind the promotion of the inaccurate notion of Gaza as an ‘open air prison’. The fact that it chooses to adopt, amplify and repeatedly mainstream such propaganda on multiple platforms tells audiences all they need to know about the BBC’s supposed ‘impartiality’.

Related Articles:

Mainstreaming anti-Israel rhetoric on the BBC World Service

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