Missile attack on Ashdod gets fifteen words of BBC coverage

Late on the evening of September 29th around a quarter of a million people in Israel’s fifth largest city, Ashdod, and surrounding areas had to scramble for cover in their safe rooms and air raid shelters as sirens warned them of an incoming missile from the Gaza Strip.

Fortunately, the Iron Dome defence system was able to intercept the Grad missile and no injuries were reported. The attack was claimed by the Gaza Strip based Salafist Jihadist group ‘Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade’ which has also taken responsibility for some of the previous missile attacks on Israeli civilians in recent months. Several hours later, Israel responded to that attack with four strikes on Hamas terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.

BBC correspondents in the region were aware of the incident.

missile 29 9 tweet Shuval

missile 29 9 tweet Rushdi

However, visitors to the BBC News website’s Middle East page on the morning of September 30th did not find any stand-alone reporting concerning that missile attack on sleeping Israeli civilians in a major city well over 20 miles away from the Gaza Strip.

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The only mention of the attack comes right at the end of an article on another topic altogether  – “Palestinian flag to be raised at United Nations” – where, in typical ‘last-first reporting’ style, readers are told that:

“Early on Wednesday, Israel carried out a series of air strikes on Gaza, hours after the Israeli Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted a rocket from the enclave.”BBC Arabic 30 9 hp

Visitors to the BBC Arabic website on the morning of September 30th found a headline informing them exclusively of the Israeli response.

Whilst he article itself – “Israel launches raids on several military sites for “Hamas” in Gaza Strip” –  does use the ‘last-first reporting’ technique to inform readers that the Israeli strikes came “in response to a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip”, much of its word count is devoted to description of the locations targeted in Israel’s response.

Civilians in southern Israel have been subjected to three separate incidents of missile attacks from the Gaza Strip throughout the month of September 2015. The BBC’s record on reporting those attacks and the additional ones which have taken place since the end of the summer 2014 hostilities is summarised below.

September 16th 2014 – mortar 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 in English.

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.

July 16th 2015 – missile fire at the Ashkelon area – not reported by the BBC in English.

August 7th 2015 – missile fire at the Kissufim area – not covered by the BBC’s English language services, but Israeli response reported by BBC Arabic.

August 27th 2015 – missile fire at the Eshkol area – not reported by BBC News in English, but Israeli response covered by BBC Arabic.

September 18th 2015 – missile fire on Sderot and Ashkelon – 19 words of reporting in a BBC News article on a different topic. Israeli response reported by BBC Arabic.

September 21st 2015 – missile fire at the Hof Ashkelon area – not reported by BBC News.

September 29th 2015 – missile fire at Ashdod – 15 words of coverage in an article on another topic. Israeli response covered by BBC Arabic.

Clearly BBC audiences are not being provided with the full range of information necessary for them to “[b]uild a global understanding of international issues” and remarkably, not one BBC correspondent has found the time or inclination to venture down to southern Israel during the past year to report on the views and experiences of the civilians living under the constant threat of missile attacks by terrorists located in the Gaza Strip. 

Update: Later amendment to the BBC News website article which originally included fifteen words of coverage of the Grad missile attack on Ashdod September 29th removed that information.  





More uncritical amplification of a HRW report from BBC News

On September 22nd an article appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Egypt ‘demolishes thousands of homes’ for Sinai buffer zone“. That article is in fact yet another piece of ‘churnalism‘, with almost its entire content being devoted to amplification of a report by one of the BBC’s most frequently quoted and promoted political NGOs – Human Rights Watch (HRW).HRW report Rafah

Despite the fact that the HRW report is based on information gathered from selected media reports, anonymous witnesses and unidentified ‘activists’, the BBC uncritically repeated its claims, with variations of the phrase “HRW says” appearing seven times throughout the article and no attempt made to provide readers with further relevant background material. Thus, for example, readers were steered towards the view that no justification exists for Egypt’s actions on its border with the Gaza Strip.

“The [Egyptian] military aims to eventually clear an area of about 79 sq km (30 sq miles) along the Gaza border, including all of the town of Rafah, which has a population of about 78,000 people, HRW says.

The government says the operation will allow the military to close smuggling tunnels it alleges are used by jihadists to receive weapons, fighters and logistical help from Palestinian militants in Gaza.

But HRW said little or no evidence had been offered to support this justification, citing statements from Egyptian and Israeli officials that suggested weapons were more likely to have been obtained from Libya or captured from the Egyptian military.”

Were the BBC’s own record of reporting on the subject of collaboration between the Sinai based Salafists and elements within the Gaza Strip less dismal, it would of course have been able to provide readers with background information crucial to their being able to put that HRW claim into context. As the Times of Israel reported in January 2015:

“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: the goal is to cut the jihadis off from their Gaza supply route. On Monday Egyptian media reported on a jihadist cell that enjoyed considerable 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-meter passage.”

As has been the case on many past occasions, the BBC makes no effort to inform readers of this article of HRW’s political agenda – despite the need to do so being clearly stated in the corporation’s editorial guidelines on impartiality.

That recurrent omission is all the more remarkable in light of the fact that in earlier this year, HRW (once again) took up the BBC’s case at the United Nations periodic review of Rwanda.

“The HRW’s Submission for the Universal Periodic Review March 2015 contains the following recommendations for Rwanda: […]

Allow the BBC Kinyarwanda service to resume its broadcasts in Rwanda.”

Public impressions of BBC impartiality and independence will of course not be enhanced by the appearance of articles uncritically amplifying content produced by a political NGO which just happens to have used its UN platform to promote the BBC’s interests.

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BBC fails to meet its remit in article about Rafah tunnels

Celeb wedding makes front page BBC news but terror doesn’t

Throughout the past week Israeli citizens have continued to be plagued by terror attacks. On September 21st a missile fired from the Gaza Strip exploded in the Hof Ashkelon region.

‘“The rocket landed in the center of the greenhouse, and damaged the crops and equipment. It was a great miracle, because employees usually come during these hours to work,” Eran Dotan, the greenhouse owner, told the Hebrew-language news website Ynet. He said it is the second time that a rocket fired from Gaza has struck his greenhouses.’

On the same morning an IDF soldier was injured near Joseph’s Tomb.

“Dozens of Palestinians threw stones and Molotov cocktails, and rolled burning tires downhill at the soldiers, inflicting light to moderate injuries on the soldier.

The soldiers were guarding Jewish worshipers who came to pray at the tomb, believed to contain the remains of the biblical patriarch Joseph.”

Israeli motorists continued to be targeted in stoning attacks and firebomb attacks.

“On Route 443 northwest of Jerusalem, Palestinians threw stones at passing motorists, damaging three cars.

Stones were also thrown at Israeli drivers on Route 60 near the Beit Anun intersection near Hebron, in the southern West Bank.

Egged bus No. 149 was pelted with rocks and paint between Hizma and Anatot north of Jerusalem, but no injuries or physical damage to the bus were reported.”

On September 24th a Palestinian man carrying explosives was apprehended in the Jordan Valley, firebombs were thrown at the community of Psagot and several cases of arson were reported.

“Fire caused damage to the balcony and garden of a home in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Tor overnight on Wednesday. An investigation by the fire department found that it was caused by a Molotov cocktail thrown at the adjacent building.

A brush fire also broke out near Moshe Dayan Boulevard in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze’ev. The fire was suspected to have been deliberately started.

Another brush fire started near Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo, south of the city, and was also suspected of being arson. And there was a fire started on Kassuto Street, in Bayit Vagan, down the road from a synagogue, Ynet reported.”

On September 24th it was reported that sulfuric acid bound for the Gaza Strip had been intercepted after passing through the Nitzana crossing.

“The acrid smell of the shipment, which was recorded officially as 30 tons of paint thinner, aroused the suspicion of Shin Bet and customs officials at the Nitzana border crossing with Egypt. At least half of the shipment, it turned out, was sulfuric acid.

Sulfuric acid is banned from import to the Gaza Strip through Israel. It is a key component in producing explosives such as nitroglycerin and TNT.

According to Channel 2, the quantities seized were sufficient to produce three tons of explosives.”

None of the above was reported on the BBC News website. The only terror-related incident (although not defined as such to BBC audiences) which did receive coverage during the same week involved a Palestinian woman who was shot after trying to stab a soldier in Hebron.

On the other hand, visitors to the BBC News website on September 25th did find a vacuous written report about Bar Rafaeli’s wedding on the site’s main homepage, on its ‘World’ page and on its Middle East page.  In addition, a filmed report on the same topic appeared on the website’s Middle East and ‘Video’ pages. 

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Yes – a supermodel’s nuptials really were deemed more newsworthy by the self-styled “standard-setter of international journalism” than missile attacks, stoning attacks and firebomb attacks on civilians or attempts to smuggle bomb-making materials into a terrorist-run enclave.

Related Articles:

Two missile attacks on southern Israel get nineteen words of coverage from BBC News

How many firebomb attacks on a Jewish home does it take for the UK media to notice?  (UK Media Watch) 



BBC fails to meet its remit in article about Rafah tunnels

One of the public purposes defined in the BBC’s Charter is titled “Bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK” and under that remit the BBC pledges to “[b]uild a global understanding of international issues”.

Clearly audience understanding of international issues can only be achieved if they are told the whole story and a recent article provides a prime example of how BBC reporting can fall short of that pledge.

On September 18th a short article appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the headline “Egypt ‘starts flooding Gaza tunnels’“. Readers are told that: [all emphasis added]Rafah tunnels art

“The Egyptian military has begun flooding tunnels used by Palestinian militants and smugglers under the border with Gaza, reports say.

It is the latest move by Egypt to destroy the tunnels, part of an offensive against insurgents. […]

Scores of Egyptian soldiers and civilians have been killed in an insurgency which has intensified, especially in the Sinai, since the overthrow of Egypt’s Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.”

So on the one hand, BBC audiences learn that Egypt is conducting “an offensive against insurgents” which includes the destruction of underground tunnels situated along its border with the Gaza Strip. On the other hand, readers are also told that the tunnels were used “by Palestinian militants and smugglers” – but no effort is made to clarify how or why those tunnels play a part in Egyptian efforts to combat that Islamist insurgency.  

Further, one aspect of the tunnels which has nothing to do with Egypt’s offensive in Sinai is highlighted. The caption to the main image illustrating the article reads: [emphasis added]

“Tunnels have been used for smuggling weapons between Gaza and Sinai, but have also been a lifeline for civilians“.

And in the body of the report readers find the following:

“The tunnels, which emerge in the Sinai Peninsula, have played a vital role in the economy of Gaza, which has been under a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt in 2007 as a measure against the territory’s Islamist Hamas rulers.”

Clearly that portrayal’s omission of the crucial factor of terrorism from the Gaza Strip – the real reason for the measures introduced by Israel in September 2007 – actively prevents audiences from building an understanding of the issue – as does the unqualified amplification of Hamas propaganda.

“Hamas has accused Egypt of collaborating with Israel to try to further isolate Gaza.”

This article represents just one more link in a long chain of BBC failure (see related articles below) to provide its audiences with a comprehensive picture of the connections between elements in the Gaza Strip and the Islamist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula. Hence, whilst BBC audiences may now know that Egypt is flooding tunnels in Rafah, they still have no idea why.  

Related Articles:

More selective BBC reporting on Middle East Jihadists

BBC recycles an AP inaccuracy

BBC erases Gaza Strip Salafist-Jihadists from its map

BBC’s Knell amplifies Hamas propaganda, downplays its terror designation

No BBC reporting on latest power crisis in the Gaza Strip

The past few days have seen a number of demonstrations in the Gaza Strip over power shortages exacerbated by a technical fault which shut down the electricity supply from Egypt. The Times of Israel reports that residents have been suffering power outages for up to twenty hours at a time.

“Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in Rafah, Khan Yunis and in refugee camps in the central Strip, calling for a resolution to the energy crisis.

Gaza residents have been enduring electricity shortages for years, but the situation intensified last week when power lines from Egypt went down, with the Egyptians citing “technical problems.”

There is also a shortage in the supply of fuel for the lone power station in Gaza, due to a dispute between the Palestinian Authority administration in the West Bank and Gaza rulers Hamas.

On Monday, Gaza protesters burned pictures of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. Activists from Abbas’s Fatah party have accused the Hamas military wing of provocation during the protests.

The Gaza Strip currently only produces some 28 percent of the electricity it consumes. Out of 212 megawatts used by Gazans, 60 are produced in the territory, 120 are produced in Israel and 32 in Egypt.”

There has been no BBC coverage of this latest power crisis or the demonstrations. As readers may recall, the BBC also showed no interest in reporting the shut down of the Gaza power plant in July of this year, despite the fact that the facility featured heavily in BBC reporting both during and after last summer’s conflict between Israel and Hamas.  

The BBC reporting on the subject of the Gaza Strip’s power supply has repeatedly misinformed audiences with regard to the source of the chronic crisis. For example in August 2014 Yolande Knell produced a report in which she inaccurately told viewers that:tankers Kerem Shalom

“Tight border restrictions limited fuel imports. Although power cuts were common in Gaza before, now they’re much worse.”

As recently as July 2015 the BBC News website promoted a filmed report on the topic of the Gaza power plant with a synopsis which inaccurately told audiences that:

“The blockade of Gaza has long made maintenance and importing parts very difficult. It also limits fuel imports.”

Perhaps then it is little wonder that a story which contradicts the BBC’s inaccurate, politicised narrative of a power shortage in the Gaza Strip due to Israeli-imposed limits on fuel imports (which do not in fact exist) is of no interest to the self-styled “standard-setter for international journalism”.

BBC News coverage of terrorism – August 2015

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks during August 2015 (Hebrew – here) shows that throughout the month a total of 171 incidents took place: 117 in Judea & Samaria, 51 in Jerusalem and three incidents of missile fire from the Gaza Strip.

The agency recorded 136 attacks with petrol bombs, five stabbings, four shooting attacks, one vehicular attack and 22 attacks using explosive devices. Twelve Israelis were wounded in those attacks – four civilians and eight members of the security forces.

The three incidents of missile fire from the Gaza Strip were not reported by BBC News but the Israeli response to the August 7th attack did receive coverage on the BBC Arabic website and the same pattern of Arabic only coverage was also seen on August 27th.

The firebomb attack on a civilian vehicle travelling near Beit Hanina junction on August 3rd in which two people were injured did not receive any BBC coverage.

A vehicular attack near Shilo on August 6th in which three soldiers were injured received no coverage in English but was reported on the BBC Arabic website.

 Five separate stabbing incidents resulting in injuries to one civilian and four soldiers were all ignored by BBC News. There was no BBC coverage of an attack with an IED near Beit Jala on August 19th in which a soldier was wounded and a drive-by shooting attack near Kedumim on August 30th in which a civilian was injured was likewise disregarded.

To sum up, visitors to the BBC News English language website did not receive any information whatsoever about any of the 171 terror attacks which took place during August.

Table terror Aug 15Since the beginning of the year BBC News has reported just 0.81% of the terror attacks which have actually taken place. Its record on coverage of Israeli fatalities stands at 0% whilst 100% of Palestinian fatalities have been reported.

As has been noted here before, the BBC Trust’s definition of the corporation’s public purpose remit titled ‘Global Outlook’ states:

“BBC viewers, listeners and users can rely on the BBC to provide internationally respected news services to audiences around the world and they can expect the BBC to keep them in touch with what is going on in the world, giving insight into the way people live in other countries.”

Clearly that pledge is not being met with regard to terrorism against Israelis and the knock-on effect of that omission is that audiences are unable to comprehend the context to the Israeli counter-terrorism measures such as border restrictions, the anti-terrorist fence or checkpoints which do feature extensively and regularly in BBC content.

Related Articles:

BBC News coverage of terrorism – July 2015

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – June 2015 & Q2 2015


No BBC coverage of Gaza border shooting incident

Early on the evening of September 2nd a house in the Western Negev agricultural community of Netiv Ha’Asara was hit by bullets fired from the Gaza Strip and two children had a very lucky escape.Netiv Haasara

“One of the bullets shattered the window of a home in the Kibbutz Netiv Ha’asara and hit a television while two children, aged 6 and 9, were watching it.

The other hit a wall in the home just north of the Strip.

Their mother and a baby were also at home at the time. No injuries were reported.

Initial reports indicated the two bullets were stray sniper bullets that originated from a Hamas training camp on the other side of the border, the IDF said.”

Later that night the IDF responded with strikes on the source of the gunfire, which has for several months been a concern for residents of Netiv Ha’Asara.

The BBC did not report on that incident despite clearly being aware that it had taken place.

Netiv haasara incident Abualouf tweet

Similarly, missile fire claimed by Salafists in the Gaza Strip early on the morning of September 1st and an additional incident later the same day did not receive BBC coverage. In both cases the missiles fell short and there were reports that the second missile attack caused injuries to civilians in the Gaza Strip when one of the missiles fell on a house.

Related Articles:

BBC News coverage of terrorism – July 2015

A Polish reporter’s account of the human shields the BBC refused to see

Last year the BBC Complaints department responded to complaints concerning the lack of BBC coverage of terrorist missile fire from the Gaza Strip by claiming that “it was very hard for journalists in Gaza to get to see rockets being fired out” and by citing a filmed report by Orla Guerin from August 12th 2014 as support for the claim that it did in fact report “on allegations that Hamas and other militants put Palestinian civilian lives at risk by operating from residential areas, as well as launching rockets near schools and hospitals”.BBC Trust

Earlier this year the BBC Trust’s ESC produced a decidedly tortured and self-contradicting verdict rejecting complaints from members of the public about a statement made by Orla Guerin in that same filmed report from Gaza in which she said that there was “no evidence” to support the claim that civilians in the Gaza Strip were being used as human shields.

The Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz recently published an article by Polish Radio’s foreign correspondent Wojciech Cegielski in which he recounts some of his own experiences whilst in the Gaza Strip last summer.

“Yes, Israel bombed Palestinian houses in Gaza. But Hamas is also to blame for its cruel and selfish game against its own people. I do not have hard evidence, but for me, spending a month in the middle of this hell, it was obvious that they were breaking international rules of war and worst of all, were not afraid to use their own citizens as living shields.

The first incident happened late in the evening. I was in the bathroom when I’ve heard a loud rocket noise and my Spanish colleague, a journalist who was renting a flat with me near the Gaza beach, started to scream. He wanted to light a cigarette and came to one of the open windows. The moment he was using his lighter, he saw a fireball in front of his eyes and lost his hearing.

From what our neighbors told us later, a man drove up in a pickup to our tiny street. He placed a rocket launcher outside and fired. But the rocket failed to go upwards and flew along the street at ground level for a long time before destroying a building. It was a miracle that nobody was hurt or killed.

When we calmed down, we started to analyze the situation. It became obvious that the man or his supervisor wanted the Israel Defense Forces to destroy civilian houses, which our tiny street was full of. Whoever it was, Hamas, Iz al-Din al-Qassam or others, they knew that the IDF can strike back at the same place from which the rocket was fired. Fortunately for us, the rocket missed its target in Israel.

The second story happened in the middle of the day. I was sitting with other journalists in a cafe outside one of the hotels near the beach. During wartime, these hotels are occupied by foreign press and some NGOs. Every hotel is full and in its cafes many journalists spend their time discussing, writing, editing stories or just recharging the phones. Suddenly I saw a man firing a rocket from between the hotels. It was obvious that we journalists became a target. If the IDF would strike back, we all would be dead. What would Hamas do? It would not be surprising to hear about the “cruel Zionist regime killing innocent and free press.”

For me, provoking is also creating living shields.”

Mr Cegielski’s testimony joins the many others provided by foreign reporters who were working in the Gaza Strip at the same time as unprecedented numbers of BBC journalists. Curiously, the BBC would have us believe that its own staff somehow failed to witness what so many others have already described and it continues to clutch at a definition of human shields which does not stand up to scrutiny.

BBC yet again ignores Gaza missile fire – in English

Late on the night of August 26th/27th a missile fired from the Gaza Strip landed in the Eshkol region of the Western Negev. The IDF responded by targeting a Hamas weapons manufacturing facility in the central Gaza Strip. There was no coverage of the attack on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on the morning of August 27th.

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This was the second case of missile fire from Gaza hitting Israeli territory since the beginning of this month (at least two additional launches fell short). The prior attack was also ignored by BBC News but – like many of the previous incidents over the past year – the Israeli response to that attack on August 7th did receive Arabic language coverage.BBC Arabic report response missile 26 8

So too was the case with latest incident: whilst there was no English language coverage of the Wednesday night attack despite the BBC clearly being aware that it took place, on the morning of August 27th an article appeared on the BBC Arabic website with a last-first headline which leads with the Israeli response.

The BBC’s record of reporting missile fire from the Gaza Strip since the end of last summer’s conflict can be seen below. Not one of the missiles hitting Israeli territory was reported in English at the time the incident happened. On one occasion the Israeli response to missile attacks was reported in English and on six other occasions it was reported in Arabic.

September 16th 2014 – mortar 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 in English.

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.

July 16th 2015 – missile fire at the Ashkelon areanot reported by the BBC in English.

August 7th 2015 – missile fire at the Kissufim area – not covered by the BBC’s English language services, but Israeli response reported by BBC Arabic.

August 27th 2015 – missile fire at the Eshkol area – not reported by BBC News in English, but Israeli response covered by BBC Arabic.missile 26 8 Rushdi tweet

This now well-established pattern of omission of timely reporting of missile attacks in English, whilst covering the Israeli responses to those attacks in Arabic, is clearly not conducive to meeting the BBC’s pledge to audiences that it will “keep them in touch with what is going on in the world”. 






BBC’s Hamas ‘spy dolphin’ story raises a serious question

On August 20th the BBC News website’s Middle East page published a tongue-in-cheek article under the headline “Hamas ‘seizes Israeli spy dolphin’ off Gaza“.Dolphin story

“Hamas claims to have captured a dolphin being used as an Israeli spy off the coast of Gaza, local media report.

The militant Palestinian Islamist group, which dominates Gaza, says the mammal was equipped with spying devices, including cameras, according to the newspaper Al-Quds (in Arabic).

It was apparently discovered by a naval unit of Hamas’s military wing and brought ashore.

No photographs of the alleged marine secret agent have been released.

Al-Quds said that the newest recruit was “stripped of its will” and turned into “a murderer” by the Israeli security services.

It shows the extent of Israel’s “anger” and “indignation” at the formation of Hamas’s naval combat unit, the paper reports.”

Apart from ignoring it, there is of course not much to do with such a silly story other than poke fun at it. However, the fact that the BBC clearly recognizes this latest Hamas claim for what it is and correctly places it within the context of the regional penchant for Israel-related animal conspiracy theories prompts a much more serious question.

Only a year ago the BBC was uncritically quoting civilian casualty figures supplied by the same terrorist organization which now wants us to believe that it has captured a well-equipped spy dolphin. 

So how does the BBC explain to its audiences – and more crucially, to itself – its obvious cognitive dissonance concerning the reliability of Hamas as a source of credible information? Why can the BBC see a fishy story about a marine mammal on a mission of espionage for what it is but fail to acknowledge the need to independently verify other claims and allegations produced by the same source? 

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BBC Complaints defends its use of Hamas supplied casualty figures