BBC News passes up the chance to set the record straight on Gaza shortages

On countless past occasions BBC audiences have been mistakenly led to believe that chronic shortages of medical supplies and electricity in the Gaza Strip are the result of Israeli restrictions on the entry of goods into the territory.

In fact, both those chronic shortages are rooted in disputes between the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip. Regarding medical supplies:

“The long-standing shortage of medicines and medical supplies in Gaza emanates primarily from a dysfunctional relationship between the Palestinian Ministries of Health in Gaza and Ramallah.

The conflicts between the two offices have resulted not only in a shortage of medicines and supplies, but also in restricted access to medical treatment for patients outside of Gaza.

The healthcare system in Gaza is marked by a shortage of 400-500 varieties of medical equipment and an average shortage of 33% of desired types of drugs at any given time.

The situation is further exacerbated by the fact that medical suppliers are often reluctant to sell supplies to Gaza due to issues of non-payment.”

Regarding the electricity supply:

“The Palestinian Authority purchases a liter of fuel for the power plant for approximately 4 shekels from Israeli gas companies and has tried to sell it to Hamas for almost double, including excise tax.

Hamas has rejected those prices outright and stopped purchasing fuel for its power plant. The dramatic consequence was that the power plant has shut down and the electricity supply has been completely disrupted. The PA refuses to waive the excise tax, a critical part of its own budget.” 

The topics of medical supplies and electricity both appeared again in a recent BBC filmed report made for television programmes which was also promoted on the BBC News website on November 20th under the title “Life as a cancer nurse in Gaza’s main hospital“. The synopsis to that report reads as follows:Gaza nurse report

“At the age of 27, Azza Jadalla has already lived through six wars – three in the past seven years alone. She is a cancer nurse in Gaza’s main hospital, Al-Shifa. Every day she deals with fall-out of the on-going conflict between Israel and Gaza’s ruling party, Hamas.

Living in a place with a failing economy means she faces daily electricity and supply shortages at work.

“Sometime we go for two or three months without pay,” she says. “But this doesn’t make me want to do my job any less, because it’s not the patient’s fault.”

Despite her dedication and due to shortages in Gaza, there is often only so much Ms Jadalla can do for her patients. For one patient Abdul (name has been changed), who is suffering from leukaemia, the only option for further treatment is outside Gaza.”

In the report itself, viewers are told that:

“Here in Gaza all kinds of supplies – cannulas, syringes – are very rare.”


“And the electricity keeps going on and off. We have to restart the monitors.”

With BBC audiences having been inaccurately informed many times in the past that such shortages are the result of the restrictions on the entry of dual-use goods which could also be appropriated for the purposes of terrorism and with the synopsis to this report clearly suggesting a ‘connection’ between “fall-out of the on-going conflict between Israel and Gaza’s ruling party, Hamas” and “shortages at work”, it would not be surprising to find that viewers would once again go away with a misleading impression about the root causes of those shortages.

This report presented the BBC with an ideal opportunity to finally tell audiences the truth about the reasons behind the chronic shortages of medical supplies and electricity in the Gaza Strip. Notably, the corporation chose to pass up on that opportunity. 

Smuggling of rocket fuel to Gaza thwarted: BBC yawns and ignores

In the summer of 2014, as conflict between Israel and terrorist groups based in the Gaza Strip raged, the BBC self-conscripted to promotion and amplification of the campaign run by Hamas and assorted sympathetic NGOs against Israel’s policies concerning its border with the Gaza Strip. As a result BBC audiences saw the adoption of Hamas terminology, repeated omission of relevant context concerning the fact that border restrictions came about due to Hamas’ terror activities (rather than the other way round) and were provided with inaccurate and misleading information concerning the types of goods subject to limitations on import.tankers Kerem Shalom

In the fifteen months since that conflict came to an end the BBC has repeatedly promoted the inaccurate notion that the slow pace of reconstruction in the Gaza Strip is attributable to border restrictions imposed by Israel. The topic of the potential appropriation of construction materials for purposes of terrorism has been presented in the qualified terms of “Israel says” but no objective, serious reporting on that topic has been evident.

Moreover, the BBC has refrained from reporting cases in which the appropriation of construction materials for the purpose of rebuilding Hamas’ terror infrastructure have come to light and thwarted attempts to smuggle other problematic materials into the Gaza Strip (such as sulfuric acid) have been likewise ignored.

It therefore comes as no surprise to find that the recent seizure by Israeli authorities of a chemical used to make rocket fuel under the guise of ‘soybean oil’ destined for the Gaza Strip has not been reported by BBC News.

“Heading for Gaza, a Palestinian truck arrived at the Tarkumya crossing to transfer “soybean oil” from Hebron. The substance was sent for laboratory tests after arousing the suspicion of security guards and the David Unit inspectors. These further examinations revealed that the trucks contained a substance called TDI, which is a key component for rocket fuel used by Gaza-based terrorist organizations such as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. The 450 liters of material were seized, and the individuals were brought in for questioning.”

Via COGAT we also learn that:

“The David Unit of the Civil Administration works to prevent smuggling of all contrabands and pollutants, having confiscated around 280 trucks with life-threatening materials and substances since its 2014 foundation.”

If the BBC is to meet its obligation to provide audiences with information which will enhance their “awareness and understanding” of the subject of Gaza Strip border restrictions it clearly cannot continue to employ its current policy of avoidance of reporting such stories, coupled with factual misrepresentation of the restrictions and their aims and omission of any serious coverage of the topic of rehabilitation of terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.

BBC News continues to conceal PA’s glorification of terrorism

An article which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on November 12th had its original title amended from “Israelis in disguise snatch Palestinian in hospital raid” to “Israelis shoot dead Palestinian in Hebron hospital raid” before it was finally headlined “Israelis in disguise raid Hebron hospital, seizing suspect“.Shalaldeh arrest

The incident reported in that article took place when IDF Special Forces arrested 20 year-old Azzam Shalaldeh who was wounded whilst carrying out a terror attack in Gush Etzion on October 25th.

“The Israeli’s car was pelted with stones at the entrance to the settlement of Metzad. He was hit in the head, causing him to pull over and leave his vehicle. He was then stabbed by a Palestinian man.

The Israeli opened fire at the terrorist and wounded him, but the terrorist managed to flee the scene, likely towards the nearby village of Si’ir.”

The BBC article tells readers that:

“Mr Shalaldeh is alleged to have stabbed and wounded an Israeli on 25 October before escaping after being shot by the victim.

Palestinian officials said Mr Shalaldeh’s 27-year-old cousin, Abdallah Azzam Shalaldeh, was shot and killed in Azzam Shalaldeh’s hospital room.

Israel’s Shin Bet security agency said he was shot after attacking the Israeli forces. Azzam Shalaldeh’s brother Bilal, who was also in the room at the time, said Abdallah Azzam Shalaldeh was shot without warning when he emerged from a bathroom.

Shin Bet said Azzam Shalaldeh belonged to “a family of Hamas militants”, AFP news agency reported.”

It is of course highly unlikely that the Israel Security Agency used the term “militants” to describe the proscribed terror group Hamas and several other media organisations – including Sky News and CNN reported the same statement as having described “a family of Hamas operatives”.

The BBC did not clarify in its report that the Shaladeh family’s version of events supports that given by the ISA – thus leaving readers with a confusing impression which clearly does not contribute to meeting the corporation’s remit of building “understanding” of international issues.

“The Shalaldeh family, that came to collect Abdullah’s body, claimed Israel had executed him, but admitted that he tried to fight the soldiers after realizing they were trying to arrest his cousin.” [emphasis added]

According to the BBC report:

“The Israeli military operates an undercover unit colloquially known as Duvdevan, which sometimes mingle undetected with Palestinians during riots before snatching suspects.” [emphasis added]

The unit’s official name is Duvdevan and that title is not, as stated by the BBC, an informal appellation.

The ‘context’ provided to readers of the BBC’s report inaccurately states that ten – rather than twelve – Israelis had been murdered in the recent wave of terror as of November 12th:

“Ten Israelis and dozens of Palestinians have been killed in recent unrest.

Many of the Palestinian fatalities were attackers in near-daily stabbings of Israelis, shot by their victims or security forces.

The surge in violence began in September when tensions at a flashpoint holy site in Jerusalem revered by Jews and Muslims boiled over, amid rumours that Israel planned to relax long-standing rules to strengthen Jewish rights at the complex.

Israel has repeatedly denied such claims.”

As we see, the BBC not only continues to avoid telling audiences in its own words that such rumours are baseless, but also continues to refrain from informing them on the topic of the Palestinian Authority’s role in promoting the incitement which underpins the wave of violence and its subsequent glorification of terrorism through acts such as erecting monuments to and naming streets after terrorists.



BBC News ignores yet another story about Hamas appropriation of construction materials

Since the conclusion of the hostilities between terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip and Israel in the summer of 2014, the BBC has devoted considerable coverage to the topic of the slow pace of reconstruction in Gaza. As has been noted here before, that coverage has not included the provision of information to BBC audiences on the very relevant issue of Hamas appropriation of construction materials for the purpose of rehabilitation of its terrorist infrastructure and any references to that topic have been presented using the caveat “Israel says”.anniversary Knell written

Israeli officials recently announced the indictment of a Gaza Strip resident in a case related to that issue.

“A Gazan has been indicted for diverting building materials meant for reconstruction in the Strip directly to Hamas’s armed wing, the Shin Bet said on Wednesday.

The suspect, named by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) as 36-year-old Tamer Ahmed Muhammad Barim of Bani Suheila, was arrested trying to enter Israel at the Erez crossing on the northern Gaza border on August 31. His arrest remained under a gag order until Wednesday. […]

The Shin Bet said that Barim managed to circumvent UN inspectors who supervise imports to the Strip, allowing him to divert hundreds of tons of building materials provided by foreign donors for the rehabilitation of civilian infrastructure damaged during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014.”

There has been no BBC reporting on this subject to date.

This, of course, is not an isolated case.anniversary Knell audio

“In some cases, Hamas buys the cement meant for the civilian population; in others, it seizes and confiscates it by violent means. For example, the questioning of Gaza-based merchant Khaled Lubad indicated that out of every 100 sacks of cement (meant to reconstruct an average house in the Gaza Strip), Hamas transfers only 5 or 6 to civilians. The rest is confiscated and used for Hamas’s needs.

This is also true for wood and boards that serve as tunnel lining. An example of this may be seen in the questioning of Hassan Shurafi and Sami Shkhaibar, who were involved in the smuggling of wooden boards for several companies in the Gaza Strip, including The Arabian Company for Wood, El Aashi, and Hamed Group. The questioned operatives said that some of the people involved in the smuggling were aware that the wood was intended for military Hamas activity, including tunnel lining.

Furthermore, we have recently received reports on Hamas’s violent seizure of such materials, including raids by Hamas operatives on wood warehouses in the Gaza Strip. The contents of the warehouses were confiscated and sent to Hamas tunnels.

Up-to-date information also indicates that Hamas raided iron warehouses in the Gaza Strip, seizing tons of iron and iron frames from merchants and companies. The iron and its products are used by Hamas’s manufacturing apparatus, among others, for building tunnels and posts, as well as for manufacturing rockets and launchers.anniversary Knell filmed

Once again, the questioning of merchants and smugglers, such as Hassan Shurafi and Naji Zaaroub, indicated that the people involved knew that the raw materials were meant for Hamas’s military wing. Some of the questioned operatives confessed that the raw materials, including iron plates weighing 5-6 tons, were transferred directly to Hamas. Thus Hamas seizes iron that is brought into the Gaza Strip, allotting only a small part of it to reconstruction and appropriating the rest for its needs.”

Obviously Hamas’ appropriation of construction materials not only adversely affects the civilian population of the Gaza Strip now facing a second winter in unsatisfactory conditions but will also have bearing on future events in the region. But when the BBC begins to report those events, its audiences will lack the background information necessary for them to understand how and why they came about because of the ongoing policy of omission of any serious coverage of that topic.

BBC ‘world view’ of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations laid out by Jeremy Bowen

Using the dramatic heading “The night hope died”, the BBC News website published an article by Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen in the ‘Features’ section of its Middle East page on November 4th which invited audiences to ponder the question “Did Rabin assassination kill the best chance for peace?“.Bowen Rabin on ME pge

As readers of the article would soon see, the question posed in that headline is a rhetorical one: Bowen’s take away messaging leaves audiences in no doubt as to which side in the Arab-Israeli conflict killed off “hope” and “peace”. But in order to deliver that take-away messaging, Bowen has to make some rather important components of the story disappear from view.

Bowen’s own approach to the topic is evident in his opening statements:

“My view is that Rabin’s assassination, 20 years ago today, was one of the most successful political killings of the 20th Century; his assassin, Yigal Amir, wanted to destroy the Israel-Palestinian Oslo peace accords by shooting dead the only Israeli leader who had a chance of making it work.”

Later on he adds:

“Of course it is impossible to map out with certainty an alternative future for Israelis and Palestinians had Rabin lived.

The Oslo peace process had a slow death, but I believe it contracted its fatal illness on 4 November 1995 when Yigal Amir shot Yitzhak Rabin in the back.”


“There was a chance of peace with the Palestinians when Rabin was alive. He was forging an unlikely understanding with Yasser Arafat, his detested old enemy. […]

But between them, Rabin and Arafat might have seized the chance to make history.”

Addressing the same topic at the Times of Israel, David Horovitz writes:

“…the sorry fact is that Yasser Arafat — whom Clinton said so trusted Rabin, and was even “a little intimidated by him” — wasn’t sufficiently trusting, or intimidated, or committed to peacemaking, as to put a halt to Palestinian terrorism even as they were all shaking hands on the various interim deals. As Dalia Rabin noted starkly in my recent interview with her, “The waves of terror hit the peace process, undoubtedly… (and) I have the feeling that (Rabin) wouldn’t have let it continue. There would have been a stage where he would have decided: We’re in a phased process. Let’s evaluate what we have achieved and what the price has been. He wouldn’t have stopped Oslo, but he would have done what Oslo enabled him to do: to look at it as a process and assess whether it was working.”

Eitan Haber, Rabin’s closest aide whom I interviewed two years ago, also sounded rather less than convinced, giving me a series of somewhat ambiguous answers, including this bleak sentence: “I didn’t believe for a second that Arafat was a partner and I’m not at all sure that Rabin believed he was.””

A caption to a photograph illustrating Bowen’s article tells BBC audiences that “Israel shifted to the right after Rabin, with the election of Benjamin Netanyahu” but the article fails to clarify that at the election after that, Israel elected the Labour party’s Ehud Barak as prime minister after he ran on a manifesto which included withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon and negotiations with the Palestinians or that a decade after Rabin’s death, Israel under Ariel Sharon disengaged from the Gaza Strip.

Regarding the 1996 general election, Bowen speculates:Bowen Rabin main

“But when Israel woke, the final votes had given victory to Mr Netanyahu and the right. Yitzhak Rabin would most likely have beaten Mr Netanyahu. The future would have been different.”

David Horovitz points out that:

“…Netanyahu was carried to victory, by a nailbiting 29,457 votes, by those very same waves of terrorism — specifically four suicide bombings in February and March 1996 that persuaded a narrow majority of Israelis, however much they mourned for Rabin and for a country that could produce his killer, that the Oslo path, the Arafat path, was a bloody disaster.”

However, the obviously very relevant topic of Palestinian terrorism – which killed more Israelis after the Oslo Accords were signed than in the years prior to the agreement – only gets a walk-on part in Bowen’s overall portrayal.

“Among the Palestinians, militants in Hamas had already started a suicide bomb campaign. They would have nothing to do with Oslo, saying it was surrender and that there could be no territorial compromise with an Israeli state they believed should not exist. […]

Shimon Peres was sworn in as prime minister after the assassination. Instead of calling a snap election to capitalise on a surge in the polls he decided to see out the government’s term. A succession of blunders followed, and so did an intensification of the Hamas suicide bombings.”

Hamas was not of course the only terrorist organization carrying out terror attacks during that period but Bowen erases the acts of terror perpetrated by other groups and – more crucially – those carried out by terrorists affiliated with Arafat’s Fatah party.  Thus he avoids the issue of Arafat’s failure to tackle terrorism from within his own ranks as well as by other groups and –strikingly – entirely erases the Palestinian Authority initiated second Intifada from his account of how ‘peace died’.

Bowen also claims that:

“Rabin himself had not stated publicly that he supported the idea of a Palestinian state, though his closest aides said after his death that he knew it would be part of a final settlement.”

Over at the Tablet, Yair Rosenberg reminds us that Rabin’s vision – as presented to the Knesset a month before his death – was distinctly at odds with Bowen’s speculations.

Bowen’s take-away message to BBC audiences is abundantly clear: peace and hope died together with Rabin because the Israeli right killed both. In order to get that political message across, Bowen has to erase from view the agreements signed between Israel and the PLO after November 1995, the second Intifada, the Gaza disengagement and the peace offers made by Barak in 2000 and Olmert in 2008.

Predictably, Bowen’s distorted presentation of this topic patronizingly affords no agency or responsibility to the Palestinian side whilst firmly placing the onus of blame for the failure of negotiations to deliver at one door only.

Readers familiar with the identical messaging appearing in day-to-day BBC coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict in general and the peace process in particular will at least have gained some insight into that messaging’s roots in this article.

Palestinian Authority news BBC audiences will not get from Yolande Knell

As we know, the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell recently produced filmed and audio reports from Hebron which, like the rest of the BBC’s coverage of the ongoing wave of terror attacks in Israel, made no effort to inform audiences of the role played by the Palestinian Authority in inciting such attacks and its related glorification of terrorism.

In recent days the Palestinian Authority has held state funerals with military honours for terrorists killed whilst carrying out attacks on Israelis. Palestinian Authority officials were present at the funerals of five terrorists in Hebron on October 31st.

Photo: Maan

Photo: Maan

According to Channel 10’s veteran Arab affairs correspondent Zvi Yehezkeli, this is the first time that terrorists have been given military funerals by the PA and the order to do so came directly from the president, Mahmoud Abbas. Yehezkeli adds that although the PA officially bans the flying of Hamas flags in Hebron, such flags were permitted at the recent funerals there.

Channel 10 also reports that Mahmoud Abbas has ordered financial grants to be paid to the families of the terrorists killed whilst carrying out recent attacks.

The BBC refrained from covering any and all aspects of those recent funerals, meaning that BBC audiences remain uninformed with regard to the PA’s glorification of terrorism as well as its incitement and are therefore deprived of vital information necessary for them to understand this particular “international issue” – information which the public purpose remits as defined in the BBC’s charter oblige it to provide.


No BBC News follow up on Temple Mount ‘tensions’ story

On October 24th BBC News told visitors to its website’s Middle East page that “Israel and Jordan strike deal on Jerusalem holy site“.Jordan TM report

“Israel and Jordan have agreed on moves aimed at reducing tensions surrounding a prominent holy site in Jerusalem, US Secretary of State John Kerry says.

Issues relating to the complex have been at the centre of fresh violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

Mr Kerry was speaking after talks in Jordan, the formal custodian of what is known to Jews as the Temple Mount and as Haram al-Sharif to Muslims.

He said Israel had renewed a pledge to maintain existing rules there. […]

The steps he announced include round-the-clock video monitoring and Israel’s agreement to reaffirm Jordan’s historic role as custodian of the religious complex.”

Given that the BBC has over the past few weeks devoted considerable air time and column space to amplification of the assorted libels and conspiracy theories concerning Temple Mount – described in this article as “issues” – it is noticeable that there was no follow-up reporting from the corporation concerning Palestinian reactions to the agreements described by John Kerry.

““This is a despicable attempt by Netanyahu, with American collusion, to entrench the Zionist control of Al-Aqsa Mosque by granting the occupation the right to authorize and prohibit Muslims to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque,” read a Hamas statement issued on Saturday.

Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas, said that Kerry’s statement was merely a “pathetic” attempt to “beautify the Zionist Judaizing project and rescue Netanyahu from the crisis he is in as a result of his racist, extremist policy.””

The Palestinian Authority did not waste much time either in informing the public of its view of the initiative to reduce tensions.

“Less than 24 hours after US Secretary of State John Kerry lauded the idea of placing round-the-clock surveillance cameras on Temple Mount as a means of ensuring calm at the holy site, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki on Sunday called the idea “a trap.”

Speaking to Palestinian radio on Sunday, Maliki warned that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assurances Saturday that Muslims would be allowed to pray on Temple Mount while non-Muslims would only be allowed to visit the site were not credible.”

The Jerusalem Post adds:

“Malki’s office said Kerry had previously fallen victim to what it called Netanyahu’s “lies and deception”.
“Netanyahu is seeking to change the status quo at al-Aksa Mosque, which has been in effect since 1967,” a statement from the office said.
It also criticized the Jordan-Israel deal for excluding any role for the Palestinians at the Temple Mount. “The Palestinians and their leadership must be a major part in any arrangements to ensure and defend the historic status of al-Aksa Mosque,” the statement said.”

Malki’s remarks drew criticism from several Jordanian sources.

The Jerusalem Post also reports that:

“The Jordanian controlled Wakf Department in Jerusalem held an emergency meeting on Tuesday to discuss the latest tensions at the Temple Mount. At the end of the meeting, the department issued a statement in which it emphasized that the Aksa Mosque and its entire compound, including the “Al-Buraq Wall” (Western Wall), belong only to Muslims. It also rejected Israeli ‘attempts” to apply Israeli sovereignty and laws to the holy site.”

Like the recent failed PA initiated attempt to have UNESCO declare the Western Wall part of the al Aqsa Mosque, the subsequent UNESCO resolution declaring Rachel’s Tomb and the Tomb of the Patriarchs to be ‘Muslim sites’ and  the remarks negating Jewish history made by the PA-appointed Grand Mufti of Jerusalem,  that Waqf statement has not received any BBC coverage.

Obviously the BBC does not consider such initiatives and statements relevant to audience understanding of “tensions” relating to holy sites.

BBC WS ‘Newshour’ amplifies Israel delegitimising lawfare campaign

A photography exhibition currently on display in London was the subject of an article appearing in the BBC News website’s ‘culture’ section on October 7th. The same exhibition was also the topic of an item (available from 15:42 here) broadcast in the October 18th edition of BBC World Service radio’s ‘Newshour’.Newshour logo

Here is how presenter James Coomarasamy framed the report’s subject matter in his introduction: [emphasis added]

“Now, getting to the truth of the ultimate crime of murder – whether that of an individual or genocide – is a painstaking job. Photographs are integral to the evidence gathering process. They’re used in courtrooms around the world as an essential tool for justice. Now, ‘Burden of Proof’ is the name of a new exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery here in London and it charts the changing history of the form, from photographs of a crime scene in the 19th century to the graphic reconstruction of a recent bomb attack on Gaza.”

And indeed, tucked in between depictions of Victorian-era murder scenes, victims of Stalinist purges and the Holocaust and Joseph Mengele’s skull, is the following exchange (from 19:08) between Coomarasamy and the venue’s Head of Exhibitions Clare Grafik.

Commentary: [sound of explosions] “This is the bombing of the Tannur neighbourhood: the deadliest attack of the first of August 2014. [sound of screaming]

Coomarasamy: “This is the ‘Gaza Book of Destruction’; we’ve got video and this is a graphic reconstruction of what would have been there.”

Grafik: “What it shows is how ‘Forensic Architecture’ use digital technology to reconstruct a bombing. What they’ve done is they’ve taken footage of the bombing and they’ve frozen literally a few seconds in time around that bombing and have picked it apart with satellite imagery, with architectural software, to try to reconstruct what happened.”

JC: “And this is being done, I see, in collaboration with Amnesty International. What’s the goal of this reconstruction?”

CG: “To try and prove that certain strengths of bomb were used in this attack that were originally denied.”

JC: “So we now have moving images trying to make sense of how people died?”

CG: “Yes – essentially – and also how those moving images become increasingly subservient to software and data.”

Coomarasamy did not tell listeners is that the incident portrayed in this exhibit took place during the 51-day conflict between Israel and terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014 or that the Tannur neighbourhood is located in Rafah and that the August 1st 2014 counter-offensive there took place because Hamas had broken a ceasefire by kidnapping Lt Hadar Goldin. Neither did Coomarasamy clarify that of the 41 Gazans killed in that particular counter-offensive in Rafah, 12 have been identified as terrorists and 13 as civilians, with the rest categorized as undetermined, but “of fighting age”.

Coomarasamy also refrained from informing audiences that Amnesty International’s campaign of ‘lawfare’ against Israel includes the use of this incident and he likewise made no effort to explain what the organization called ‘Forensic Architecture’ is and who is behind it or that it also partnered Amnesty International in the production of an app called ‘the Gaza Platform’ which reproduces and promotes one-sided and inaccurate information put out by two of AI’s lawfare partners – Al Mezan and the PCHR.

So, whilst failing to make any effort to provide BBC audiences worldwide with either the context or insight into the political motivations behind the exhibit to which he gave amplification, Coomarasamy did propagate the notion that Israeli actions during a military campaign brought about by terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians should be lumped into the same “ultimate crime” category as criminal murders, political murders and genocide.

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BBC amplification of Amnesty’s lawfare agenda again compromises impartiality


BBC backgrounder manipulates audience perceptions of wave of terror in Israel

Those visiting the BBC News website’s Middle East page may have come across an article currently going under the title “Is Palestinian-Israeli violence being driven by social media?” which was actually first published on October 13th and has undergone numerous changes since then.backgrounder

The article, which purports to function as a backgrounder on the topic of the current wave of terror in Israel and has hence been promoted via links in several other reports, currently opens as follows:

“Violence between Israel and the Palestinians is once again spiralling, with casualties mounting by the day.

Here are some key questions and answers about what is going on.”

The question posed in its headline is addressed in a relatively small section of the report (fewer than 200 words) which actually does little to inform readers of the scale and significance of the role of incitement spread via social media in fueling the current wave of terror, of the kind of content appearing on such platforms or of the use of social media by official Palestinian groups other than Hamas – including Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party

“While there is no clear evidence that the attacks have been centrally organised, some Palestinians have taken to social media to champion them.

Posts praising and encouraging attacks on Israelis have emerged on YouTube and Facebook, while Twitter hashtags including “Jerusalem Intifada” or “Intifada of the Knives” are gaining traction among Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin has described the inflammatory use of social media as “Osama Bin Laden meets [Facebook founder] Mark Zuckerberg”.

A staged online video in the name of Hamas, the militant group which dominates Gaza, which portrayed an Arab bystander stabbing two “Jews” for bullying Arab children and called for a new intifada, was removed from Hamas’ YouTube channel after Israel’s foreign ministry complained that it glorified violence.

Many of the attacks and aftermath have been filmed on mobile phones and CCTV, getting quickly uploaded and shared. Israeli officials have expressed fear that images of assailants being shot could fuel anger and inspire further attacks.

Experts have also noticed a marked increase in anti-Arab rhetoric on Israeli social media sites, according to Israel’s Haaretz newspaper. It says the use of inciteful language among Israelis on the internet soared in the wake of the first stabbing attacks.”

The article purports to inform readers on the subject of “What is happening between Israelis and Palestinians?” and a photograph appearing under that sub-heading – which shows one of the fatalities from the October 13th terror attack on a bus in Jerusalem being removed from the scene – promotes a theme seen in much other BBC content:

“Israelis have been targeted in a growing number of apparent lone-wolf attacks”

Notably, one of the terrorists who carried out that attack was lauded by Hamas on social media.

The BBC’s account of “what is happening” of course does not include the use of the word terror.

“There has been a wave of stabbings and some gun attacks on Israelis by Palestinians since early October, and one apparent revenge stabbing by an Israeli.

The attacks, some of which have been fatal, have struck in Jerusalem, across Israel and in the occupied West Bank.

Israel has tightened security and clashed with rioting Palestinians, leading to deaths on the Palestinian side.

There has also been associated violence in the border area inside the neighbouring Gaza Strip.”

Embedded under the sub-heading “What’s behind the latest unrest?” is the previously published problematic backgrounder on Temple Mount by Yolande Knell. Readers are told that:

“Violence between the two communities has spiralled since clashes erupted at a flashpoint Jerusalem holy site in mid-September.

It was fuelled by rumours among Palestinians that Israel was attempting to alter in favour of Jews a delicate long-standing religious arrangement governing the site. Israel repeatedly dismissed the rumours as incitement.”

No mention is made of the fact that the intention of the violent rioting on Temple Mount “in mid-September” was to prevent Jews from visiting during a holiday – as was similarly the case previously on Tisha B’Av and later at Succot. The article then goes on to mislead readers by stating that stabbing attacks against Israelis “began” on October 3rd when in fact sixteen such attacks had already taken place in the first eight months of 2015.  

“Soon afterwards, two Israelis travelling with their four children were shot dead by Palestinians in the West Bank. Two days later the stabbing attacks began.

Both Israel and the Palestinian authorities have accused one another of doing nothing to protect each other’s communities.

Israel says the Palestinian leadership is inciting attacks, and that the attackers are driven not by political frustration but by a radical religious ideology which opposes Israel’s very existence.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has blamed “acts of aggression” by the Israeli authorities and Jewish settlers for the latest violence.”

As has been the case in all BBC coverage of this wave of terror, this backgrounder fails to tell readers in its own words that there is no basis to the conspiracy theories concerning a change in the status quo on Temple Mount and also neglects to inform them on the issue of Mahmoud Abbas’ incitement promoting that theme.

The article’s next sub-heading asks the rhetorical question “But isn’t there more to it than that?” and that section is illustrated using a photograph captioned:

“The war which followed Israel’s creation left generations of Palestinian refugees”.

Naturally, no effort is made to explain exactly why “generations” of Palestinian refugees inherit that title even whilst living under PA or Hamas rule or why those in Arab countries have been deliberately kept in that status. As usual, Jewish refugees from Arab lands do not get a mention in this article.

Readers are then told that the answer to the subheading’s question lies in “narratives” – with the BBC’s portrayal of the Palestinian narrative erasing the religious themes seen in the incitement fueling the current wave of terror from audience view and its paraphrasing of Israel’s position failing to inform readers of the legal basis for Israel’s existence. 

“Yes. Much more. The current violence stems from decades of unresolved conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. At its most basic, it is a fight over land and national rights.

There are rival and seemingly incompatible historical narratives. The Palestinian position is that Israel was created on their land in 1948, turning many into refugees, and further occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, in the 1967 Middle East war. They say any hoped-for future Palestinian state is being undermined by Israeli settlement-building in the occupied territories. The settlements are seen as illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

Added to this is Israel’s expansion in East Jerusalem, where the proportion of Jewish Israeli inhabitants has swelled compared to the number of Palestinian residents, and where Palestinian districts suffer from poor infrastructure and services.

Israel’s counter-position is that its right to exist is incontestable and that the Palestinian refugee problem is the result of wars forced on it by Arab neighbours. It says the Palestinian leadership – despite officially recognising Israel – have not proven they are willing to accept its permanence nor give up violence to achieve their aims.

Peace talks aimed at ending the conflict by creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel have repeatedly collapsed over the years and many on both sides have lost faith in the process.”

One paragraph in that account is particularly notable. Readers are told that “in East Jerusalem […] the proportion of Jewish Israeli inhabitants has swelled compared to the number of Palestinian residents”.

Quite how the BBC compares a “proportion” of Jews to a “number” of Palestinians is unclear but notably, no mention is made of the fact that all Jews living in what the corporation defines as “East Jerusalem” – which as we know, includes the Jewish Quarter of the Old City – were forcibly displaced by the Jordanian invasion in 1948. Hence, if even one Jew went to live in “East Jerusalem” after the Six Day War, the proportion of Jews living there would have risen.

But do the available statistics actually back up the BBC’s implication that there are more Jews than Palestinians in “East Jerusalem” either proportionally or in terms of actual numbers and that their proportion of the population in that area is ‘swelling’?

According to the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, in 2003 a total of 403,263 Jerusalemites lived in areas the BBC defines as “East Jerusalem” including 173,500 Jews (some in neighbourhoods which did not exist before 1967, some in those which existed before 1948 such as Neve Ya’akov and the Jewish Quarter)  and 224,028 Muslim and Christian Arabs.  In other words, in 2003 Jews made up 43.02% of those living in “East Jerusalem”.

Ten years later, in 2013, the number of Jerusalemites living in the areas the BBC defines as “East Jerusalem” had risen to 509,440 and included 197,250 Jews (a rise of 23,750) and 305,470 Muslim and Christian Arabs (a rise of 81,442). In other words, Jews made up 38.7% of those living in “East Jerusalem” in 2013.

So in fact, contrary to the BBC’s claim that “in East Jerusalem […] the proportion of Jewish Israeli inhabitants has swelled compared to the number of Palestinian residents”, the actual number of Arab residents in those parts of the city rose more than the number of Jews and the percentage of Jews making up the total population of “East Jerusalem” fell during the decade 2003 – 2013.

Had the BBC confined itself to stating that the number of Jews living in what it terms “East Jerusalem” has risen since 1967, that claim would of course have been accurate – although sadly lacking in historic context. The claim as it stands, however, is inaccurate and misleading.

This backgrounder falls short of meeting its declared aim of providing “answers about what is going on” because it adheres to the selective framing of the story adopted by the BBC from the beginning of its coverage of the current wave of terror.

Any backgrounder genuinely seeking to provide information which would help audiences understand this topic could not ignore the issue of Palestinian Authority incitement and glorification of terrorism, would not obscure the religiously themed – and frequently racist – nature of that incitement and would not herd readers towards a view which obscures those uncomfortable issues by means of ‘contextualisation’ of the current wave of terrorism as “a fight over land and national rights”.

An article intended to mould readers’ perception of the story and advance a wider political narrative would, however, do exactly that. 

BBC News tells audiences Israeli fears of terror attacks are ‘paranoia’

During the first three weeks of October 2015, ten Israelis were killed and 112 wounded – eleven of them seriously – in forty stabbing attacks, four shootings and five vehicular attacks which took place throughout the country.

On October 23rd, however, BBC News told its audiences that Israelis are suffering from either a collective psychosis ‘characterised by delusions of persecution’ or ‘unjustified suspicion and mistrust of other people’ – depending on which definition of the word paranoia BBC editors intended their headline to communicate.

Paranoia Connolly

Either way, it is obviously extremely hard to believe that if British citizens had been subjected to such a wave of terror attacks, the BBC would characterize their mood as unjustified or disconnected from reality by using the term ‘paranoia’. And it is of course equally unlikely that after over fifty attacks on British citizens in three weeks, the BBC would still be avoiding the use of the word ‘terror’ – as it continues to do in its current coverage of Israel.

In that article – which appeared in the ‘Features’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page – the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly promotes the notion of equivalence between the distress of Israeli Jerusalemites who have seen at least sixteen terror attacks resulting in five fatalities in their city in the last three weeks with that of Palestinians who, according to his account, are inconvenienced by roadblocks and suspicious looks.

“But at times of rising tensions and rising casualty figures like this, the two populations that normally lead parallel lives share something very profound in common.

They are united by their fears for the dangers their families might face and by the deep urge that’s within all of us to keep our children safe.”

In the section of his report devoted to the neighbourhood of Issawiya, Connolly writes:

“Even in better times there is deep resentment in Issawiyah at the practical outworking of the occupation – Palestinians in villages like this pay the same local taxes as Israelis in West Jerusalem but strongly feel they don’t receive the same services.

They point to the condition of the roads and pavements and the absence of recreational facilities.

“There are Jewish districts where they have parks for their dogs,” one man told me, “And here we don’t even have a park for our kids.””

He of course refrains from informing readers that residents of Issawiya were at the forefront of opposition to the creation of a national park on their doorstep.

Although he describes the inconvenience of roadblocks implemented to try to deal with terrorism, Connolly does not provide audiences with relevant context, failing to clarify that a very significant proportion of the perpetrators of attacks during the first three weeks of October came from Arab neighbourhoods in Jerusalem.

“There is an Israeli checkpoint at the main entrance to the village. The local people say that if anyone throws stones at the soldiers who man it, they close the road and force commuters returning from Jerusalem to wait in their cars for anything up to an hour.”

Connolly tells readers that:

“Fear for the safety of children does unite the two communities, although the fears are different.

Israelis worry their children might be the victims of a politically-motivated street attack – Palestinians fear the readiness with which Israeli police and soldiers resort to lethal force, especially if they live in a part of the West Bank where it is easy to get caught up in street protests.” [emphasis added]

Those “street protests” are of course more accurately described as organised violent rioting and Connolly’s apparent belief that Palestinian parents lack the agency required to prevent their offspring from participating in such activities is quite remarkable.

Connolly closes his article with promotion of a dominant – yet inaccurate – theme seen in much BBC coverage in recent weeks.

“…the fears and anxieties triggered in this latest round of violence here are individual and deeply personal just as the attacks appear to have been spontaneous. […]

But the random nature of the violence and its lack of an apparent link to any known organisation is going to make any kind of diplomatic or political intervention here even harder than usual.”

Yet again the BBC conceals the incitement from assorted Palestinian factions which has fueled this wave of terrorism – and the known links of some of the perpetrators to terrorist groups – from audience view.

In addition to his written report, Kevin Connolly also produced a similar audio one which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme on October 24th. The item (available here from 01:49:43) opens with the following introduction from host James Naughtie.

“As if he didn’t have enough on his plate, the American Secretary of State John Kerry has begun a round of diplomacy trying to reduce tension in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories where an upsurge of violence has left about 60 people dead in the last few weeks. Most of the dead are Palestinians. Some have died in the familiar violent clashes with the Israeli security forces in the West Bank but some of the deaths have occurred when individual Palestinians not known to be members of militant groups have made stabbing attacks on Israelis and then been shot by the police or the army. It’s a new kind of attack and its left people in both communities anxious and frightened.”

Could audiences determine from that introduction that one-sixth of those casualties are Israelis murdered in terror attacks? Would they understand that those killed whilst engaged in violent rioting include some 17 people from the Gaza Strip and that the border fence there has been breached by such rioters on several occasions? Would they also comprehend that Naughtie’s portrayal of “some” Palestinians shot whilst carrying out terror attacks (and not only stabbings, as he inaccurately states) actually means that they number around half of the Palestinian fatalities and that a similar number of terrorists have been caught alive?

One doubts very much that Radio 4 listeners went away with an accurate perception of events from that introduction and in addition, they were certainly misled by the inaccurate claim that such terror attacks are “a new kind”. Moreover, with the BBC having failed to provide its audiences with an accurate picture of Palestinian terrorism during the nine months preceding October 2015, listeners would have no way of knowing that Naughtie’s claim is inaccurate.

As in his written article, in that audio report Kevin Connolly promotes the notion of equivalence between victims of terror and their attackers, fails to provide context when describing the inconvenience caused by roadblocks and erases the all-important issue of incitement by portraying the attacks as “random and spontaneous”.

“We think of Jerusalem as a place of division – and so it is – but in times of rising tension and rising casualty figures, there is something that unites its two peoples: the grinding daily fear about how you keep your family safe.”

“On the way into the outlying Palestinian village of Issawiyeh there’s an Israeli checkpoint – an irritation for local people arriving home from their daily work in Israeli West Jerusalem.”

“The US Secretary of State John Kerry is working on all of this now, trying to calm fears. But what can politicians do when attacks are random and spontaneous and fears so personal and so deeply felt?”

Kevin Connolly apparently believes the narrative of equivalence he promotes in these two reports. He is obviously comfortable with promoting the idea that a pensioner murdered in a shooting attack on a city bus, a 59 year-old deliberately run over and then hacked to death with a meat-cleaver and a young father stabbed to death whilst walking with his family are just the same as the people who decided to carry out those attacks and were shot by security forces rushing to the scene.

He is also clearly at ease with promoting the myth that attacks on Jews for no other reason than the fact that they are Jews which are praised and glorified by Hamas and PA officials alike are “spontaneous” and “random”. And, as we see in these two reports, he has no qualms about promoting the narrative that the emotions of people who are experiencing “not a very nice feeling” and traffic inconveniences are the same as those of people who fear that they may be targeted by a terrorist simply because of who they are after seeing over 50 such terror attacks in a matter of a few weeks.

Whilst Connolly’s adopted narrative may serve to provide space-filling material for assorted BBC platforms and advance a political agenda, it certainly does nothing to contribute to meeting the BBC’s obligation to enhance audience understanding of this particular “international issue”.