BBC’s Chris Morris misquotes the Israeli prime minister

On July 20th yet another of the BBC correspondents who have been ‘parachuted in’ to provide backing to the regular team made a filmed report for BBC television news. Europe correspondent Chris Morris’ report also appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Gaza crisis: 13 Israeli soldiers and 87 Gazans killed” and there the synopsis promotes unsourced casualty figures –  with no evidence of independent verification by the BBC – which once again fail to make any distinction between civilian and terrorist combatant casualties.Chris Morris 20 7

“Gaza suffered the highest death toll since the offensive began, with at least 87 people reported killed on Sunday – 67 of them in one area.”

Morris says:

“Well those thirteen soldiers were killed in several incidents overnight in and around Shuja’iya. I think it shows that they ran into fierce resistance from Hamas fighters in that district. And to put it into contact [sic], losing thirteen soldiers in one day that’s more than Israel lost in a three-week military campaign the last time it went into Gaza on the ground in 2008/2009. So it will be a big shock that number to Israeli society.

Of course it’s considerably less though than the number of Palestinian civilians who’ve been killed in the same 24 hour period. The Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu speaking in an interview with BBC Arabic said he regretted every single BBC casualty. But he sometimes seems to tailor his message to the specific audiences. In one interview with American television he accused Palestinians of using telegenically dead civilians for propaganda purposes.”

So what is Morris implying here? Well, he suggests first of all that the Israeli prime minister’s expression of regret for civilian casualties during his interview with BBC Arabic is not sincere since – according to Morris – his statements are “tailored” to the audience at the time. Morris than goes on to misrepresent what PM Netanyahu said in an interview with Fox News – as readers can see for themselves here. What was actually said is this:

“When you take a surgical operation you can’t guarantee when your soldiers are being fired from Hamas homes – that is Hamas is targeting people from private homes – and you hit them back, of course some people are going to be hurt. That’s totally different from deliberately targeting them. And you know what? The forces that went into Shuja’iya – this place where there are tunnels in homes; we have to clear out the homes – Hamas puts the civilians – the Palestinian civilians – there. We go out to ferret out rocketeers and anti-tank rocket fire. Hamas puts civilians there. We asked these civilians – before we went in – we said please leave. We text them, we call them on cellphones, we drop leaflets. We told them where to go. And those who left were safe. Now those who didn’t leave – you know why they didn’t leave? Because Hamas told them to be there. Because Hamas – while we try to avoid Palestinian civilian dead – Hamas wants Palestinian civilian dead – the more the better – so it can give you telegenic fodder. So this is the cruelest, most grotesque war that I’ve ever seen. I mean not only does Hamas target civilians – ours – and hides behind their civilians – theirs – it actually wants to pile up as many civilian deaths as possible.” [emphasis added]

Clearly then Morris’ claim that PM Netanyahu “accused Palestinians of using telegenically dead civilians for propaganda purposes” is inaccurate. In fact, Netanyahu said that Hamas – not Palestinians in general – has an interest in creating high numbers of civilian casualties for propaganda purposes. But like the rest of his colleagues, Chris Morris does not seem to be interested in informing BBC audiences about the reality of Hamas’ use of human shields

Of course contrary to Morris’ insinuation, that statement does not in any way contradict Netanyahu’s expression of regret for civilian casualties.

And what of Morris’ claim that PM Netanyahu “seems to tailor his message to the specific audiences” and the ensuing implication of the insincerity of the message?  Well apparently Morris was not listening closely enough to that July 20th interview with BBC Arabic. Here is the relevant excerpt from the transcript of that interview – which as readers will see is actually very similar both in content and in style to the one given to a US TV station.

“PM: I regret and the people of Israel regret any civilian casualty, even one. We target the rocketeers. We target Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists. In this particular area, it’s a stronghold, it’s a terrorist stronghold. They manufacture the rockets there; they store the rockets there; they fire the rockets there – over a hundred rockets have been fired from this area to the cities of Israel. They also dig terror tunnels, attack tunnels under the homes, where they store the rockets. They build attack tunnels that penetrate into Israel’s side and kill Israeli civilians. They try to get into kindergartens, into schools, kibbutzim, and murder people and kidnap people like Gilad Shalit. This is what we face, so we want to go in there and clean it up so that we are safe, yet in the course of doing that, we have to go into densely civilian, civilian populated areas. We ask the population: Leave. We ask them again and again. We call them up. We text them messages. We give leaflets. We ask them to leave. Hamas says – and some of them do leave. Hamas says: Don’t leave. We forbid you to leave. So Hamas is using these people, these civilians, as a human shield to protect its missiles. They don’t care about the people of Gaza. They want the people of Gaza to die. They want them to die telegenically so they can use them to protect themselves while they’re underground. They’re underground. Their leader, Khaled Mashal, is roaming around the Gulf States in five-star hotels. They don’t care about the people of Gaza. So I want to use this opportunity and speak to the people of Gaza: Heed the warnings of the IDF or the Israeli army; leave your homes to the places where you’re told to go. Leave. Don’t stay there because Hamas wants you to die and you shouldn’t die for Hamas. They don’t care about you but we want you to be safe.” [emphasis added]

So much for BBC accuracy and impartiality.   

 

 

 

BBC’s Simpson admires Hamas engineering ‘feat’ and ignores its intended victims

A filmed report for BBC television news from July 21st – supposedly one of the BBC’s never abundant but now increasingly rare ‘Israeli point of view’ pieces – was presented by John Simpson and it appears on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Clashes go on as Israel holds funerals for the dead“. Simpson, we are told in the synopsis, “sent this report from Sderot on Israel’s border with Gaza”.Simpson Sderot 21 7

Kibbutz Nir Am – which was the target of the attempted terrorist infiltration addressed at the beginning of Simpson’s report –  is within easy walking distance of Sderot but nevertheless, Simpson apparently saw nothing newsworthy in going to talk to any of the people there who have been living under the terror of missiles for well over a decade and who now face the new threat of underground terrorist infiltrations – literally in their own  backyard.

Simpson opens his report with a statement which provides a good example of what happens when journalists are ‘parachuted in’ to Israel to provide extra manpower in times of a major event. No-one with even the slightest awareness of what preceded the current escalation and life in the Israeli communities surrounding the Gaza Strip during the past decade could possibly talk in terms of a “quiet landscape”.

JS: “Beneath this quiet landscape between Gaza and Israel, Hamas has been working away for months – sometimes years – digging tunnels. At six this morning an Israeli team watched from hiding as Hamas infiltrators dug their way to the surface and opened fire. But they didn’t stand a chance. At least ten members of the Hamas team were killed.”

Simpson makes no attempt to inform viewers of what the aim of that infiltration was, ridiculously downplaying its lethal intention with his flippant “they didn’t stand a chance” quip. Having apparently decided that the intended civilian victims of that infiltration are of no interest, he goes on to admire Hamas’ engineering skills, but fails to inform audiences of the schools, housing and hospitals Hamas fails to construct for its population instead or of where the materials and money for these “feats” comes from.

“These tunnels are impressive: a real feat of engineering. The BBC was allowed to film inside this one recently after it was discovered. The Israelis afterwards make sure the tunnels can’t be used again.

A few hours after this morning’s operation against the Hamas infiltrators, a top government minister came to congratulate the soldiers who’d carried it out. Tsipi Livni is the most dovish member of the Israeli cabinet; plainly worried about the casualties on both sides.”

In a remarkable display of the worth of that famous BBC commitment to ‘impartiality’, Simpson then says to Livni:

“I have to say it to you in these terms: are you going to carry on killing civilians – including women and children in quite large numbers – until you get what you want?”

Livni: “We are not looking for civilians to kill. We are trying to avoid this. And if you think that we want to send our soldiers – our children – to Shuja’iya or all these places in which they’re being killed, you are mistaken.”

Simpson continues with more downplaying of the effects and results of Hamas terror, invoking that frequent media theme of ‘not enough dead Israelis to count’.

“This is one reason why casualties on the two sides are so out of proportion. Israel has developed the world’s most effective anti-missile defence. The Iron Dome system’s abilities to knock Hamas missiles out of the sky has been a remarkable achievement for Israel during this crisis. The success rate is quite phenomenal. Even so, there are missiles which get through. One of those landed close by here this morning. But the family had taken shelter and scarcely any damage was done. They take it all stoically.”

Woman: “We’re here to stay, you know, it’s our home.”

Simpson quickly returns to his real agenda:

“As she spoke, death and destruction were raining down in Gaza only twenty miles away, but a different world.”

Death and destruction also rained down on the al Wadj family from a Bedouin village near Dimona on July 19th. Thirty-two year-old Ouda al Wadj was killed and his wife, his sister, his four year-old son and three month-old daughter were injured. Little Aya al Wadj is still in hospital in Be’er Sheva recovering from the shrapnel injuries to her head caused by the missile fired from the Gaza Strip. No BBC team has covered that story.

Simpson closes with a perfunctory nod to supposed BBC impartiality by saying:

“All the same, there are funerals of soldiers every day here now. Thirteen killed yesterday, seven more today. Here they were burying Moshe Malko – an Israeli of Ethiopian origin. The scale of Israeli and Palestinian deaths may be utterly different but Israel is paying a heavy price as well.”

For well over a decade the Western media – BBC included – has ignored the story of the people who live in the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip and the children who have grown up under the threat of constant missile attacks. From time to time, when the situation escalates, reporters are ‘parachuted in’ and the world gets a brief view the story as they chose to frame it.

In John Simpson’s case that means downplaying the thousands of missile attacks carried out by terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip, erasing the all-important topic of Hamas’ use of the people of Gaza as human shields and failing to enable BBC audiences to hear the voices of the Israelis now facing the threat of underground terror attacks.

Dana Bar-On is from Nir Am – the kibbutz which on July 21st had a very lucky escape from the terror attack which Simpson fails to adequately report in this item. Here is a five-minute glimpse of how she and her family – and thousands of other residents of the same area – live.

 

 

BBC (sort of) gets round to telling audiences about Hamas tunnels

In recent days we have observed here on several occasions that the BBC has failed to provide its audiences with crucial information regarding the networks of tunnels constructed by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, including the cross-border attack tunnels which are the main aim – and cause – of the current ground operation stage of Operation Protective Edge. Clearly, audiences cannot understand the rationale behind the operation if they are not provided with comprehensive information on the topic of those tunnels.

On July 21st the BBC apparently finally came to a similar conclusion and produced a filmed item which was promoted on the BBC News website’s Middle East page using some interesting and revealing punctuation: “Gaza ‘terror tunnels’ in 60 secs”.

Tunnels vid on HP

It would seem, therefore, that the BBC is not entirely convinced that the purpose of cross-border tunnels, which have in the last week been used on multiple occasions by heavily armed Hamas terrorists to infiltrate Israeli territory with the intention of killing and/or kidnapping people from nearby civilian farming communities, is terror. The synopsis to that item as it appears on the BBC News website suggests that the BBC is also not entirely convinced of the necessity to deal with those tunnels. [emphasis added]

“Israel sent ground troops into Gaza on Thursday, saying the ground operation is necessary to target Hamas’ network of tunnels.

It has stated the tunnels pose a threat of terrorist attacks against the Israeli population.

Israel said it had killed more than 170 militants since Thursday night, when it launched the offensive.

Air strikes are also continuing, with the Palestinian death toll reportedly nearing 600, the majority of them civilians.

The BBC looks at Israel Defense Forces footage from the operation.”

The video itself – bizarrely (considering that over 700 people were killed in Syria in just two days last week) titled “Middle East crisis: Israel releases ‘Gaza tunnel footage’” – is presented in a no less begrudging vein.

tunnels vid 1

“Israel says tunnels like this are being used by militants to infiltrate its territory”.

The BBC knows full well that numerous infiltrations have taken place in recent days and has even (briefly) reported some of them, so clearly the use of the term “Israel says” here is nothing less than ridiculous.

tunnels vid 2

“This Israel Defense Forces footage shows suspected Hamas fighters in bushes, firing on Israeli troops”.

The BBC’s use of the word “suspected” is equally ridiculous considering that Hamas took responsibility for the incident.

“Hamas’ armed wing the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades said it had carried out “an operation behind enemy lines in response to the massacre in Shejaiya [Shaja'iya]” “

Notably, no attempt is made to inform viewers that the real target of those Hamas terrorists shown in the footage was the civilian population of Kibbutz Nir Am.

Twenty-four seconds into a one minute video report supposedly explaining the issue of tunnels to BBC audiences, the subject is changed.

tunnel vid 3

The BBC once again fails to inform audiences of the ratio of combatants to civilians among casualties in Gaza and – as has been the policy since the start of its reporting from the Gaza Strip – fails to exhibit transparency regarding the sources of its information.

tunnel vid 4

“Israel says it has been forced to send troops into Gaza to find and destroy tunnels like this one”

No attempt is made to properly explain to audiences the technical reasons behind the need for a ground operation in order to put the tunnels out of use and audiences are not accurately informed of the scale of the problem.

The BBC may think it has ticked a box with this sixty-second video report but it is clearly nowhere near adequate. 

 

Themes in BBC reporting on events in Shuja’iya

The fierce fighting between the IDF and Hamas terrorists in the Gaza City neighbourhood of Shuja’iya on July 20th was the subject of a considerable number of BBC reports across various platforms. In this post we will look at some of the themes those reports promote.Shujaiya missile launches

“Massacre”

Whilst all BBC journalists avoided direct use of the word ‘massacre’ themselves, they repeatedly promoted that inaccurate and of course emotive description when it could be attributed to a third party. [all emphasis added]

On July 20th the BBC News website opened a ‘live’ page titled “As it happened: Gaza conflict intensifies“. That page opens:

“Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the conflict in Gaza. Sunday has seen the heaviest bombardment of Gaza since the Israeli offensive began. The Palestinian leadership has condemned as a massacre the killing of at least 60 people in one neighbourhood of Gaza, Shejaiya.”

A written report which also appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on July 20th titled “Gaza shelling by Israel leads to deadliest day of conflict” states in its second paragraph:

“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the deaths in the Shejaiya district east of Gaza City were a “massacre”. Witnesses spoke of bodies lying in the streets.”

An audio report from July 20th by Lyse Doucet includes a doctor from Shifa hospital talking about “this massacre”.

The synopsis of a July 20th filmed report by Yolande Knell for BBC television news which also appears on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Gaza shelling by Israel leads to deadliest day of conflict” states:

“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas described the deaths in the Shejaiya district east of Gaza City as a “massacre”.”

Another written report from July 21st – titled “Gaza crisis: 13 Israeli soldiers, scores of Gazans killed” also states:

“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the deaths in the Shejaiya district east of Gaza City were a “massacre”.”

An article from July 21st titled “Gaza crisis: UN calls for ceasefire as deaths pass 500” states:

“More than 60 Palestinians alone were killed during heavy shelling in Shejaiya, in what Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called “a massacre”.”

In a July 21st radio interview with the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newsday’, a doctor from Shifa hospital is heard talking about “the massacre at Shuja’iya”.

No terrorists

Whilst frequent and ample description is given of IDF “shelling”, “bombardment” and “pounding”, any sort of information at all on the terrorists which the IDF was fighting in the Shuja’iya neighbourhood is extremely rare and any reporting on what those terrorists were doing or what sort of weapons they used is even rarer. That of course means that the overall impression given to BBC audiences – inaccurately and misleadingly – is that the IDF was attacking civilians when in fact those civilians were caught up in a battle between the Israeli army and Hamas’ heavily armed militia.

In a radio report by Paul Adams from July 20th the sound of shooting is accompanied by the following vague description by Adams:

“And there’s suddenly gunfire coming from several locations. Someone certainly isn’t observing this ceasefire.”

In a filmed report by Lyse Doucet which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Gaza crisis: 87 Gazans and 13 Israeli soldiers killed” as well as being broadcast on BBC television news on July 20th, the only thing she has to say about the terrorists fighting a fierce battle in the area is:Doucet filmed 20 7 keeping watch

“We saw militants on these streets keeping watch”

And:

“Israeli soldiers have met fierce resistance here.”

In a July 20th filmed report for BBC television news which also appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Gaza shelling by Israel leads to deadliest day of conflict“, Yolande Knell made do with the following vague and brief description:

“There were some rockets that were fired near there and the fighting broke out again according to one of my colleagues who was at the scene”.

In a written report by Lyse Doucet from July 21st which appeared on the BBC News website under the title “Gaza crisis: Shejaiya assault defines grimmest day” she writes:

“In Shejaiya we saw Hamas spotters taking up positions on empty streets, talking into telephones and walkie-talkies as they maintained a lookout.

Colleagues who arrived later in the day saw gunmen with black balaclavas and concealed weapons moving through the neighbourhood. And journalists and medics got caught in crossfire when a two-hour humanitarian truce was shattered in minutes.”

And:

“For many days now, Israel’s Operation Protective Edge had almost seemed to be a ghost war. In areas we were able to reach, Hamas fighters had only been visible by the rockets they fired, and through defiant messages on their TV and radio networks.”

Notably, no mention is made of the terrorists’ use of weapons beyond guns – such as RPGs and anti-tank missiles. Neither is any mention made of the practice of booby trapping houses or of secondary explosions resulting from strikes on buildings in which weapons and/or explosives are stored. Thus, BBC audiences are mistakenly led to believe that all civilian casualties in Shuja’iya are exclusively attributable to IDF fire, although the likelihood of that being the case is extremely low. And as for the Hamas terrorists? Well they just talk on the phone and wander around in balaclavas according to the BBC. 

No terrorist casualties

None of the numerous BBC reports makes any attempt whatsoever to determine how many of the casualties in Shuja’iya were Hamas combatants. In all the reports general figures are given and as has been the practice in the past, BBC audiences are not adequately informed of the fact that those figures come from Hamas sources or of the additional fact that the BBC has not independently verified those numbers.

Those omissions are particularly relevant in light of the instructions issued by the Hamas Ministry of the Interior, from which it is clear that there is an organized Hamas campaign to inflate the numbers of civilian casualties and conceal the number of dead combatants in order to influence public opinion abroad.

“Anyone killed or martyred is to be called a civilian from Gaza or Palestine, before we talk about his status in jihad or his military rank. Don’t forget to always add ‘innocent civilian’ or ‘innocent citizen’ in your description of those killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza.”

Whether by accident, by design or by coercion, the BBC seems to be following the Hamas instructions closely, but of course it is actually the job of BBC journalists to cut through a terrorist organisation’s propaganda and bring the real picture to audiences. With regard to the all-important topic of combatant casualties, the BBC has come nowhere near to meeting that objective.

Some examples of typical reporting on casualties in Shuja’iya include:

“At least 87 Gazans were reported killed on Sunday – 60 of them in the district of Shejaiya alone.” (synopsis to report by Lyse Doucet, July 20th)

“Over 500 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed since the Israeli offensive began two weeks ago, Gaza’s health ministry says.” (BBC News website, July 21st)

“Gaza has suffered the highest death toll since Israel’s offensive began, with at least 87 people reported killed on Sunday – 67 of them in one area.” (synopsis to report by Yolande Knell, July 20th)

“Gaza has come under the most intense shelling since the launch of Israel’s offensive 13 days ago, with more than 50 people reported killed in one district. The deaths occurred at Shejaiya, east of Gaza City, Palestinian medics said.” (synopsis to report by Lyse Doucet, July 20th)

“Gaza’s list of the dead crossed 500 and keeps climbing, according to figures from the health ministry here. The UN says the vast majority are civilians; many are children.” (Lyse Doucet, July 21st)

We have of course addressed the topic of the sources of UN OCHA supplied casualty figures here previously and in addition, a UNICEF information officer informed BBC Watch that its own figures – collected independently – include anyone up to the age of eighteen in the category of children. Notably, according to the latest UNICEF figures from July 21st, the number of male casualties under 18 was well over double the number of female casualties.

Downplaying prior warning

As is well known, Israel gave the residents of Shuja’iya prior warning of the necessity to evacuate the neighbourhood four days before the operation and even delayed it in order to give them more time to organize their move. That fact is not mentioned in the vast majority of the reports on the subsequent events and the concurrent fact that Hamas instructed the residents to stay put and act as human shields is not conveyed to BBC audiences at all.

Leaflet distributed in Shuja'iya on July 16th

Leaflet distributed in Shuja’iya on July 16th

Lyse Doucet writes:

“Israel said it repeatedly warned residents to leave the area.

“We asked them to leave again and again,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told BBC Arabic TV.

“We called them up, we texted, and we sent them messages. But Hamas said ‘don’t leave’,” – a reference to allegations that Hamas is using civilians as “human shields.”

“Warning?” said Anas, a 20-year-old university student with a mop of curly black hair who stood on a street corner. “They don’t warn us, they kill us.”

Whenever we ask Gazans that question, they reply: “Where do we go?” “

The fierce fighting between the IDF and Hamas terrorists on July 20th in Shuja’iya undoubtedly included many tragic scenes which were the result of civilians who had been advised to evacuate being caught in the crossfire – and it is upon those scenes which BBC reporting has exclusively focused. Whilst that may make for ‘compelling’ television or ‘powerful’ radio, it does not necessarily give BBC audiences the background and context which they need in order to be able to understand the entire picture of what happened there and why. The BBC’s reporters currently on the ground in Gaza have so far failed to provide audiences with many if not most of the vital parts of that picture. 

 

 

 

 

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

As was noted here a few days ago, on July 15th the BBC’s Yolande Knell (perhaps inadvertently) documented the use of the Shifa hospital in Gaza City as a hideout for the Hamas top brass. Other journalists have reported on that topic too and of course the bottom line is that staff and patients of a civilian medical facility (as well as visiting journalists) are being exploited by a terrorist organisation as human shields, with or without the consent of that hospital’s management.Shifa hospital

In addition to the fact that the BBC has failed to adequately clarify the issue of human shields in Shifa hospital (or anywhere else) to audiences – numerous items of BBC content have been produced in that hospital over the past two weeks – obviously with the approval of its management – and various doctors have been interviewed, quoted and presented to BBC audiences as credible witnesses of the situation in Gaza. Examples include:

A BBC television news filmed report by Yolande Knell from July 8th.

Two filmed reports by Jeremy Bowen for BBC television news on July 11th.

A BBC World Service radio report by Lyse Doucet on July 20th in which a doctor promoted the unchallenged notion of a “massacre” in Shuja’iya.

A BBC World Service ‘Newshour’ interview with Dr Belal Dabour on July 21st which also allows unhindered promotion of the notion of a “massacre” in Shuja’iya.

Perhaps rather surprisingly in the current circumstances, Dr Dabour seems to have quite a bit of spare time in which to talk to the BBC – see for example here and here.

Now of course BBC audiences hearing, reading or watching an interview with a doctor will naturally presume that they are being given an accurate, impartial, apolitical and professionally neutral view of the situation. In the Gaza Strip, however, that is not necessarily the case – as has been documented by the ‘Warped Mirror’ blog here and here. And it is particularly not the case in Shifa hospital where, on July 20th, a journalist with ABC witnessed the following reaction from ‘humanitarian’ staff to the false claim by Hamas that it had kidnapped an Israeli soldier.

Tweet Doctors Shifa

But it is not only local doctors in the Gaza Strip whose presentation of supposedly professional observations – in fact underpinned by political motives – are facilitated by the BBC. On July 20th the BBC reached what is unfortunately not a new low by promoting and quoting none other than the infamous Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert in inserts by Yolande Knell featured in two separate written articles – see here and here.

Knell Mads Gilbert

Readers may recall Gilbert’s propaganda efforts during Operation Cast Lead in 2008/9. Now the doctor who thinks the 9/11 terror attacks were justified is back in Shifa hospital, promoting the same political messaging to the media under the guise of a ‘medical opinion’ – remarkably and controversially, with recommendation from another source of ‘impartial’ information frequently promoted by the BBC – UNWRA.

BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality clearly state:

“We should not automatically assume that contributors from other organisations (such as academics, journalists, researchers and representatives of charities) are unbiased and we may need to make it clear to the audience when contributors are associated with a particular viewpoint, if it is not apparent from their contribution or from the context in which their contribution is made.”

So far, in nearly two weeks of reporting, we have not seen even one attempt by the BBC’s journalists in Gaza to adhere to those guidelines by alerting audiences to the Hamas connections and/or sympathy for terrorism of medical personnel they present to audiences as ‘credible’ sources.  

BBC’s Doucet promotes and amplifies Hamas “massacre” propaganda on WS radio

On the afternoon of July 20th the BBC promoted an item by Lyse Doucet included in its World Service’s ‘Newshour’ radio programme.

Tweet Doucet Newshour 20 7

That report – which is one of the most blatantly manipulative items the BBC has produced in the last two weeks – can be heard here. No context is provided, no background, no facts. The entire item is deliberately aimed purely at the level of emotion.

It is worth noting that according to other reports produced by the BBC, Shuja’iya is a neighbourhood with a population of 80,000. Doucet opens: [all emphasis in bold added]

“From midnight last night and throughout the night the soundtrack of Gaza was one of endless pounding and constant shelling and anyone who heard those sounds in the dark of night knew just how intense the military operations were and if you lived through that, that kind of intense bombardment, you were lucky enough to survive to tell the story this morning. And through most of today the shelling has continued. We spent hours there; we just returned and I’m going to share now an audio postcard from one of the neighbourhoods east of Gaza City that’s been under fire – Shuja’iya.

Now we’re in the rubble of the building that’s been shelled last night. The medics have rushed in. One…two…half a dozen medics in their…with their hands…they’re searching through the rubble. The sheets are ready, stretchers here and you can see body parts protruding…you can see the body parts protruding, buried under rocks and rubble, sand. And bits of torn cloth. This is a morning where the ambulances, the workers, are on the run. Another pulling…they’re pulling the material. See them pulling the material. My God. There’s a man emerging. The sound of shelling and the people are running. People are running everywhere you look. Bodies are being dug from the rubble. People are running and the sound of shelling, bombardment that went on through the night is continuing now in the day. Black clouds of smoke, white smoke as well, rising just beyond where we’re standing at the end of this street.

Everywhere you look on these streets people are trying to escape. Now coming down this road I can see two women. One young and the other with her an elderly woman with a long black coat, a white scarf and she’s holding as high as she can a piece of cloth – a white piece of cloth – a flag of surrender – as if that’s going to protect her. But she walks with dignity down this street.

This is the main hospital in Gaza and it’s absolutely packed and I’ve come in with Dr Hassan Hulaf [phonetic] who’s the…what’s happening here now on this cot? Oh there’s a little girl…”

Doctor: “Yeah…four years old girl…one of seven people the same family injured and this is her father.”

LD: “Aww…and what…her leg is bandaged, her hand is bandaged, but…and there’s blood. Where did she come from? From Shuja’iya?”

Doctor: “Tufah.”

LD: “Mmm? Tufah…also….in…she’s come from Tufah just next to Shuja’iya?”

Doctor: “Yes. One member killed also of the family and seven injured and this is one of them.”Newshour WS

LD: “I see [unintelligible] little girl nearby. It’s absolutely packed in here. The medics in their green clothes…blue clothes…and every bed is taken. Many of them are children. Looking…I’m looking down the corridors here….another – an older child. A boy…ah…his legs are all….his legs….two legs are bandaged. His feet are bloodied. He’s wearing sports clothes. He’s clenching his fists.”

Doctor: “His name is Izz al Abdul Karim [phonetic]. Also another member of the injured people in this massacre this morning.”

LD: “Have you had this many people coming yet in this escalation?”

Doctor: “Yes.”

LD: “Is this the biggest number of patients you’ve had since this started?”

Doctor: “That’s right. A big number of killed people. More than 40 people killed and around 200 were injured. So this is an example of the innocent childhood killed by the Israelis now intentionally. By the Israeli tanks without, you know, [unintelligible] bombardment of the civilian during night. This is attack from start of the Israeli aggression even before the offensive – ground offensive.”

Allowing unchallenged free rein – and amplification – to the Doctor’s baseless claim of a “massacre” carried out “intentionally”, Doucet makes absolutely no attempt to report accurately or impartially on the events in Shuja’iya. No effort is made to explain to audiences that the residents were advised to evacuate four days previously, that Hamas ordered them to stay to act as human shields or why military action was necessary there. No inquiry is made into the topic of how many of the dead and injured civilians were actually killed by terrorist fire and notably, the words ‘terrorists’ and ‘Hamas’ do not appear at all in this report. No mention is made of Hamas’ missile launchers, tunnels and weapons stores located in the neighbourhood: all that would detract of course from the gut-wrenching, emotional picture she so earnestly tries to paint.

Emotional reactions such as those the BBC’s chief international correspondent is deliberately trying to solicit in this item produce judgement. When audiences are prevented from seeing the whole picture in its proper context as they are in this item, such judgement is necessarily flawed and can even be dangerous. And that is how a lethal narrative is created.

Lyse Doucet and her colleagues know that very well. They – and we – have been there before.

Related Articles:

Myths and lethal narratives on the BBC website

Another lethal narrative on the BBC website

 

BBC omits vital context in reporting from Shuja’iya

Today, July 20th, there has been heavy fighting in the Gaza City neighbourhood of Shuja’iya. As was noted here yesterday in relation to a BBC article about that neighbourhood, its residents received notification via leaflets, telephone calls and announcements in the Arabic media that evacuation was advised four days previously on July 16and operations were even delayed in order to allow more civilians to organize their evacuation. 

With Hamas’ propaganda department already trying to persuade the world of a “massacre” of civilians in Shuja’iya, one can only hope that BBC correspondents on the ground will have the good sense to remember how their colleagues unquestioningly reported similar claims in Jenin twelve years ago without bothering to check facts first.

The reporting which has appeared on the BBC News website so far includes an evolving article now titled “Gaza shelling by Israel ‘most intense’, dozens reported killed“.  That report once again repeatedly cites casualty figures for which there is no evidence to suggest the BBC has independent verification and – as has been the case in all the BBC’s reporting so far – no effort is made to inform audiences of the sources of those figures and their questionable reliability.Shujaiya art

“Palestinian officials say that 395 people in Gaza have been killed since Israel launched its operation […]

Gaza has come under the most intense shelling since the launch of Israel’s offensive, with more than 40 people reported killed in one area overnight.

The deaths occurred in Shejaiya, east of Gaza City, Palestinian medics said. Eyewitnesses spoke of bodies lying in the streets. […]

But the death toll continued to rise at the weekend, with the number of Palestinians killed now 395 since the operation began, according to Palestinian health officials.

The majority of those killed are civilians, the UN says. […]

More than 40 people died in the north-eastern district of Shejaiya in a heavy bombardment overnight, the Palestinian medics said.”

As we see, yet again no effort is made by the BBC to distinguish between civilian and combatant casualties.

Much of this article is devoted to descriptions of fleeing civilians, as were Tweets posted by BBC correspondents on July 20th – see for example here, here, here, and here. If the BBC has made any attempt to determine whether those civilians did not evacuate the neighbourhood previously when warnings were originally given because of Hamas orders to stay put, those efforts are not apparent in this article, but of course BBC reporting from the Gaza Strip over the past thirteen days has systematically ignored the issue of the use of the local population as human shields by Hamas and other terrorist organisations.

“The BBC’s Yolande Knell, in Gaza City, says there have been scenes of panic with thousands of residents fleeing the area – on foot or piling into the backs of cars.”

“At the scene: Paul Adams in Shejaiya

When we arrived at the edge of the neighbourhood, Palestinians were still fleeing in their hundreds: carrying nothing but their children, some pausing to vent their anger in front of cameras.

They spoke of bodies lying in the street and the wreckage of buildings, including a mosque.

After a night of ferocious bombardment, they seem traumatised and stunned. For three days, Israel had warned them to leave their homes, but Shejaiya is home to 80,000 people. Most stayed put, not expecting the ferocity of last night’s bombardment.

One man, his eyes glassy, said his father had been killed. He didn’t know where other family members were or even if they were alive.

An elderly woman, in traditional Palestinian costume, raised her arms to the sky and asked how God could let this happen.

A handicapped girl winced as she was lifted into the back of a pickup truck.

And all the time, more and more civilians emerged from Shejaiya.”

However, explanations to BBC audiences as to why the IDF needs to operate in Shuja’iya were limited to a generalised photo caption reading “The Israeli military says the ground offensive has been expanded to destroy a Hamas tunnel network” and the following statements in the body of the text:

Leaflet distributed in Shuja'iya on July 16th

Leaflet distributed in Shuja’iya on July 16th

“The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) sent ground troops into Gaza on Thursday after 10 days of heavy air and naval barrages failed to stop rocket fire from Gaza.

Israel says the ground operation is necessary to target Hamas tunnel networks, which it says it could not do from the air alone.

Two Israeli soldiers were killed on Saturday during a gunfight with Palestinian militants who had used tunnels to cross into Israel to launch an attack, the IDF said.

Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, an IDF spokesman, said the ground offensive was being expanded “to restore security and stability to Israel’s residents and citizens”.”

No attempt is made to clarify to readers that as well as being a significant site of Hamas command centres, weapons storage, missile manufacturing facilities and the launch site of some 140 missiles fired at Israeli civilians since the beginning of the current operation alone, Shuja’iya neighbourhood also houses the entrance to some ten of the tunnels that the BBC has so far avoided adequately informing audiences about.

IDF field hospital Gaza

IDF field hospital on the Gaza border to open on the evening of July 20th

Notably too, the BBC is very coy about clarifying to readers that Hamas opened fire at Israeli troops in the vicinity of Wafa hospital in Shuja’iya during the two-hour humanitarian hiatus (later extended by one hour) it had requested.

“A few hours later, it agreed to a two-hour humanitarian truce in Shejaiya.

The ceasefire would last from 13:30 to 15:30 local time (10:30-12:30 GMT), an Israeli military spokesman said.

But a BBC team on the ground reported an exchange of fire less than an hour after the truce began.”

So whilst BBC audiences are provided with unverified casualty numbers and emotive reporting on the topic of fleeing civilians, they have not yet been provided with the all-important context of the reasons for the need for military action in Shuja’iya and they have still not been provided with an adequate overview of the topic of Hamas’ tunnel network,  the threat it poses to Israeli civilians and the reasons why the existence of those tunnels makes a ground operation necessary.

This article currently concludes with the following sentence:

“Hamas rejected an Egypt-brokered ceasefire last week, saying any deal with Israel must include an end to a blockade of Gaza.”

That conclusion fails to adequately clarify to BBC audiences that the suffering of civilians in the Gaza Strip could have been avoided in the first place or brought to an end almost a week ago, but that Hamas chose otherwise. 

 

Twenty-three seconds of BBC reporting on Gaza tunnels

Yesterday we noted here that the BBC has so far failed to provide audiences with anything even approaching a proper explanation of Hamas’ tunnel networks in the Gaza Strip and why those tunnels are the main reason behind the current ground operation phase of Operation Protective Shield.Doucet Hamas defiant filmed 19 7

After that post was published, we were reassured by the BBC’s Lyse Doucet in a Tweet which for some reason is now unavailable that her next report would be addressing that subject.

That report for BBC television news programmes also appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on the evening of July 19th under the title “Hamas ‘defiant’ as Gaza casualty toll rises“.

A grand total of twenty-three seconds of coverage of the subject of tunnels opens the report. [emphasis added]

Doucet: “This is what Israel says it’s targeting now: tunnels used by Hamas for cross-border raids. This Hamas video shows their men armed with rocket-propelled grenades. Israel says its ground operations have uncovered more than a dozen tunnels and thwarted two attempts at infiltration.”

The report then cuts to an image taken from another Hamas propaganda video, with Doucet saying:

“But Hamas is still sending a defiant message. They’re preparing for the long run.”

What form that “defiant message” actually takes is not clarified to BBC audiences by Doucet. Here is the video used in the BBC report which, as readers can see for themselves, includes a threat to send “youth” with hand grenades to attack Israeli soldiers.

Doucet Hamas defiant orig vid

Doucet then continues:

“And yet again civilians are on the front line, fleeing their homes under artillery and tank fire. Today at this UN shelter some families gave a new reason: IDF control. We’ve been told Israeli soldiers are now taking over homes close to the border. The army denies it.”

Doucet refrains from informing BBC audiences of the fact that the entrances to some of Hamas’ tunnels are often located in houses, which are sometimes booby-trapped – as shown in the video below.

Doucet goes on:

“The number in need keeps rising. At the UN’s warehouses in Gaza they’re struggling to keep up.”

Robert Turner, UNWRA Director: “We only had stock for about 35 thousand people. We’ve gone through 50 thousand today. Ah…we’ll start running out of supplies tomorrow.”

Doucet: “And what does that mean?”

Turner: “Well the first thing we’re gonna run out of is matresses…ahm….so people arriving at the schools are gonna be sleeping on the concrete.”

Notably, Doucet did not take the opportunity to ask UNWRA’s director about the circumstances surrounding the discovery of missiles in one of that organisation’s schools a couple of days previously; news of which the BBC buried in the eighth paragraph of one online article. Neither did she enquire to which “Gaza authorities” that UN organization handed over those missiles – a question particularly relevant in light of the fact that it has now been suggested that they were handed over to Hamas.  And the opportunity to ask about the possible use of other UN facilities by terrorists (as shown, for example, in this video from 2009 ) was also passed up by Lyse Doucet.

Doucet concludes:

“This crisis is concentrating minds around the world for an urgent ceasefire. The growing human cost of this war is pushing more mediators to come to this region. But as pressure grows for a ceasefire, both sides know that the time to achieve their military objectives is running out and so that means that for the moment, the humanitarian crisis may only get worse.”

No attempt is made by Doucet to remind viewers that not only were considerable efforts made by Israel to avoid this confrontation in the first place, but also that after it had already begun the opportunity for a ceasefire was rejected by Hamas, meaning that a conflict – and the resulting human cost – which could have ended five days ago continues at Hamas’ behest.

Genuinely impartial reporting on the current humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip would of course make that all-important point of context clear. 

 

 

 

 

 

About those Gaza Health Ministry casualty figures cited by the BBC…

Despite the plethora of BBC reporters currently on the ground in the Gaza Strip, BBC audiences have not been informed that at least four summary executions of ‘collaborators’ by Hamas have apparently taken place since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge and at least thirteen other people have been arrested.Question Mark

Likewise, BBC audiences have not been informed of reports of Hamas militiamen attacking and injuring Fatah supporters.

Seeing as almost every item of BBC content cites casualty figures provided directly or indirectly by the Hamas-run Ministry of Health in Gaza, perhaps next time Yolande Knell, Lyse Doucet or Paul Adams gives them a call to ask for updates, they could ask whether or not those statistics include people killed and injured by the terror organization whose figures they unquestioningly quote and promote.

And whilst they’re at it, they could also enquire with regard to the results of two separate analyses of casualties in the Gaza Strip (here and here) which both show that a disproportionate number of the casualties to date are males of combatant age. 

After all, BBC audiences have the right to know. 

BBC fails to adequately inform audiences on terrorist tunnels (and worse)

Quentin Sommerville’s filmed report for BBC television news late on July 17th (which also appears on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Israel starts Gaza ground offensive“) got off to a shaky start when he implausibly claimed that:

“Many people here in Tel Aviv probably haven’t even heard the news. The bars are very busy. This is the busiest night of the weekend – of the Israeli weekend, if you like – Thursday night.”

With the vast majority of Israelis having friends, relatives or neighbours serving in the regular army or among the reservists called up since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge – or both – and with Israelis being both notorious news junkies and famously technology savvy, it is highly unlikely that there was any basis to Sommerville’s claim that almost two hours after the ground operation began, “many people” had not “heard the news”.

But happily Sommerville’s report went on to improve as he rightly informed viewers:

Tunnel discovered in Gaza Strip 19/7/14. Photo: IDF

Tunnel discovered in Gaza Strip 19/7/14. Photo: IDF

“Now the Prime Minister’s office – Benjamin Netanyahu – has made it plain that there is a specific objective of this ground offensive – clearly this is a major escalation of…ah…this ten-day conflict – but that the specific objective is to target tunnels which militants from Gaza have been using to try and enter Israeli territory. A number – we believe thirteen – heavily armed gunmen tried to make it across into Israel to attack a kibbutz this morning at 4:30 a.m. We were down in that area south [sic] of the Gaza Strip this morning.”

However, despite the BBC obviously being aware of the main objective of the ground operation as shown in Sommerville’s report, audiences have so far not been properly informed about the topic of Hamas’ cross-border tunnels. There has so far been no ‘Features & Analysis’ article or no video report explanation of what these tunnels are, how they differ from the other types of tunnels in the Gaza Strip, how, by whom and with what they are built, why they present a threat to Israel and why they cannot be neutralized other than by means of a ground operation.

Clearly, if BBC audiences are to be properly and fully informed with regard to why a ground operation is currently underway, then the information above is imperative and BBC audiences might perhaps have expected to find it in an article by the BBC’s Jonathan Marcus which appeared in the ‘Features & Analysis’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page on July 18th under the title “Gaza: What does Israel’s ground offensive aim to achieve?“. However, no significant information is provided by Marcus in that article.

“In the first instance the decision to give the green light to a ground phase may have a relatively limited objective – to seek out and destroy tunnels constructed by Hamas and other groups which they hope to use as a means of infiltrating heavily armed fighters into Israel.

One such operation was thwarted in the early hours of Thursday morning. Some 13 Palestinian fighters emerged from a tunnel between Kerem Shalom and Kibbutz Sufa, east of the Gaza Strip, at around 04:00 (01:00 GMT). Israeli troops quickly intercepted the intruders who took casualties and were forced back into the tunnel.

Infiltration attempts – either via tunnels or by landings on the Israeli coast – have been a relatively new tactic from the Palestinians in this crisis and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made an explicit reference to the tunnels when he announced his decision to give a green light to a ground mission.” [emphasis added]

Of course in actual fact, Palestinian terrorists have been using cross-border tunnels for years.

As we noted here previously, the Hamas tunnel infiltration of July 17th near Kibbutz Sufa mentioned by Sommerville in the above report did not receive any stand-alone reporting from the BBC and was only briefly mentioned in written reports on the BBC News website on the same day.

Although much of the first day of the ground operation focused on locating tunnels, BBC reports from July 18th included only sparse information on that topic – for example here:

“Mr Netanyahu said the ground operation was targeting the Hamas tunnel network, which the Israel military could not do “only from the air”.”

And here:

“He [Netanyahu] said the military was targeting the Hamas tunnel network, which it could not do “only from the air”.” […]

“On Friday, the military announced it had arrested 13 militants and uncovered 10 tunnels since the start of the ground incursion.” […]

“Last night our forces began a ground operation to hit the terror tunnels crossing from Gaza into Israel’s territory,” Mr Netanyahu told a special cabinet session broadcast live on television on Friday.

“It is not possible to deal with the tunnels only from the air.” […]

“Palestinian militants have used tunnels to carry out attacks, some of which have been thwarted by the Israeli military.

On the morning of the ground offensive, the Israeli military intercepted 13 militants who had infiltrated Israel through a tunnel, and were believed to be planning to attack a nearby kibbutz.”

A report from July 19th states only:

Mr Netanyahu insisted that the ground operation was necessary to target a Hamas tunnel network, which the Israel military could not do “only from the air”.

On July 19th another tunnel infiltration took place in the Eshkol region. That incident received three sentences of coverage in paragraphs nine to twelve of an article of the same date titled “Gaza conflict: Casualties mount amid fresh violence” on the BBC News website’s Middle East page.

“The Israeli military said it killed a Palestinian militant after he infiltrated Israel through a tunnel from central Gaza.

The army said he was among several militants armed with machine-guns aiming to carry out a lethal attack on a nearby Israeli community.

An Israeli patrol repulsed the attack, forcing the militants back into Gaza but two Israeli soldiers were wounded in the incident, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said.”Op PE Doucet no tunnels

In a filmed report broadcast on BBC television news and promoted on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on July 18th under the title “Gaza conflict: UN says number of displaced almost doubles“, Lyse Doucet even went so far as to promote the notion that there are no tunnels.

Doucet: “Israel says its forces are searching for tunnels used by Palestinian militants for cross-border attacks.”

She then asks a group of local men:

“Is there…are there tunnels here used by Hamas? Is there infrastructure? Why is this area being targeted?”

Man: “There are no tunnels. There is nothing in our area here. That is just what they want to tell the other countries to justify this.”

BBC audiences’ understanding of this ground operation cannot be complete if they are not properly informed on the issue of cross-border offensive tunnels and tunnels used to store weapons. So far, the BBC has failed to meet its obligation to inform them adequately regarding that topic.

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BBC not sure cross-border tunnel intended for terror?