BBC euphemisms hobble audience understanding of Iranian terror financing

The BBC News website’s coverage of the Iranian president’s visit to Europe late last month included two reports – “Rouhani in Europe: Italy covers nudes for Iran president“, January 26th and “Rouhani arrives in Paris as Iran drums up business with France“, January 27th – in which audiences were told that:Rouhani art 1

“Iran has been accused of funding militant groups, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

Obviously that choice of minimalist phrasing does not clarify to readers who has accused Iran of funding “militant groups” (the BBC standard euphemism for terrorist organisations) or whether or not there is any basis to those accusations. It also obfuscates the fact that at least one Iranian official has acknowledged that Iran provides support to Hizballah. 

A reader looking for more information might therefore have turned to the BBC’s profile of Iran which appears at the bottom of both reports. However, the only reference that topic to be found there is a no less coyly worded side box which fails to provide audiences with any relevant factual information.

insert Iran profile Hizballah

The BBC’s profile of Hizballah is equally uninformative on the issue of the financial and material backing received by that organization from Iran.

The US State Department defines Iran as one of the “State Sponsors of Terrorism” according to the following criterion.

“To designate a country as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, the Secretary of State must determine that the government of such country has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.”

The department’s report for 2014 (published in 2015) states:

“Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1984, Iran continued its terrorist-related activity in 2014, including support for Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, Lebanese Hizballah, and various groups in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. This year, Iran increased its assistance to Iraqi Shia militias, one of which is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), in response to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) incursion into Iraq, and has continued to support other militia groups in the region. Iran also attempted to smuggle weapons to Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza. While its main effort focused on supporting goals in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, Iran and its proxies also continued subtle efforts at growing influence elsewhere including in Africa, Asia, and, to a lesser extent, Latin America. Iran used the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) to implement foreign policy goals, provide cover for intelligence operations, and create instability in the Middle East. The IRGC-QF is the regime’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad.” […]

“Iran has historically provided weapons, training, and funding to Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups, including Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC). These Palestinian terrorist groups have been behind a number of deaths from attacks originating in Gaza and the West Bank. Although Hamas’s ties to Tehran have been strained due to the Syrian civil war, in a November 25 speech, Supreme Leader Khamenei highlighted Iran’s military support to “Palestinian brothers” in Gaza and called for the West Bank to be similarly armed. In December, Hamas Deputy Leader Moussa Abu Marzouk announced bilateral relations with Iran and Hamas were “back on track.”” […]

“Since the end of the 2006 Israeli-Hizballah conflict, Iran has also assisted in rearming Lebanese Hizballah, in direct violation of UNSCR 1701. General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the IRGC Aerospace Force stated in November that “The IRGC and Hezbollah are a single apparatus jointed together,” and Lebanese Hizballah Deputy Secretary General Naim Qassem boasted that Iran had provided his organization with missiles that had “pinpoint accuracy” in separate November public remarks. Iran has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in support of Lebanese Hizballah in Lebanon and has trained thousands of its fighters at camps in Iran. These trained fighters have used these skills in direct support of the Asad regime in Syria and, to a lesser extent, in support of operations against ISIL in Iraq. They have also continued to carry out attacks along the Lebanese border with Israel.”Rouhani art 2

Those looking to BBC profiles for information on the financing of Hamas or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad would find no reference to Iran.

One of the foremost experts on Hizballah financing, Matthew Levitt, has noted that:

“Iran is believed to fund Hezbollah to the tune of at least $100 million per year. Recently, Western diplomats and analysts in Lebanon estimated Hezbollah receives closer to $200 million a year from Iran. […]

Some of this financial support comes in the form of cash funds, while much is believed to come in the form of material goods such as weapons. Iranian cargo planes deliver sophisticated weaponry, from rockets to small arms, to Hezbollah in regular flights to Damascus from Tehran. These weapons are offloaded in Syria and trucked to Hezbollah camps in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. In the wake of the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Hezbollah reportedly received an additional $22 million from Iranian intelligence to support Palestinian terrorist groups and foment instability.”

More recently Mr Levitt has noted that:

“Iran has not changed its policies regarding the sponsorship of militants since late 2013, when nuclear talks began in earnest. “Iran continued to sponsor terrorist groups around the world, principally through its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF)…These groups included Lebanese Hizballah, several Iraqi Shia militant groups, Hamas, and Palestine Islamic Jihad,” according to the State Departments June 2015 report on terrorism. In addition, the State Department accused Iran of “prolonging the civil war in Syria, and worsening the human rights and refugee crisis there.” The report described Iran’s terror sponsorship as “undiminished.” It also noted that Iran increased training and funding for Iraqi militias in 2014, supplying them with advanced weaponry. Iran also “provided hundreds of millions of dollars” to Hezbollah and “trained thousands of [the group’s] fighters at camps in Iran.” The State Department concluded that it did not expect Iran’s behavior in Syria to change anytime soon, in part because “Iran views Syria as a crucial causeway in its weapons supply route” to the Shiite political party and militia Hezbollah, a key pillar in Tehran’s “resistance” front. Indeed, Iran continued to provide the Lebanese group with “training, weapons, and explosives, as well as political, diplomatic, monetary, and organizational aid.””

There is clearly ample information about Iran’s funding of terrorist organisations available in the public domain for the BBC to be able to fulfil its public purpose remit of building “a global understanding of international issues”. Instead the corporation chooses to sell its audiences short with euphemistic phrasing which fails to contribute to their knowledge of this pertinent issue.

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BBC News reframes Iranian arms shipment story, censors information

The terror group BBC audiences have never heard of

BBC’s Bowen plays dumb to weave tangled web

The news the BBC has to omit in order to keep up its narrative

Last month we noted the emergence of “The terror group BBC audiences have never heard of” in the Gaza Strip and that organisation’s statements concerning its intended expansion of operations.

“A Palestinian jihadi group with close ties to Iran claimed on Wednesday that it has expanded out of the Gaza Strip and is now operating in the West Bank and Jerusalem as well.

“We have an armed branch whose goal it is to wage war on the Israeli occupation everywhere,” Hisham Salim, founder of the Harakat al-Sabireen, told the Palestinian Ma’an news agency.

“Within this framework we have members in the West Bank and Jerusalem who will soon receive financial and military support from us,” he said.”

Recently the Palestinian Authority announced the arrest of members of that group.

photo credit: Times of Israel

photo credit: Times of Israel

“Palestinian Authority security forces have recently arrested five pro-Iranian operatives in Bethlehem planning to establish a foothold in the West Bank and carry out attacks against Israel, Israel Radio cited Palestinian security forces as saying. 

According to the sources, the five members of the ‘a-Sabrin’ organization had operated in the Gaza Strip over the past years before being arrested two weeks ago after leaving the coastal Palestinian enclave. 

The operatives working under Iranian orders had reportedly received funding in Gaza and were instructed to carry out terror attacks.”

To date there has been no BBC coverage of that story or of the earlier Israeli announcement concerning the apprehension of a Hizballah-run terror cell in Tulkarem.

Hizballah logo

Hizballah logo

“A terror cell based in Tulkarem in the West Bank and recruited and funded by Lebanon-based Hezbollah planned to carry out a shooting attack and suicide bombings against Israelis, but was stopped by a joint operation of the Shin Bet security service and the army, officials announced on Wednesday.

Jawad Nasrallah, son of Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, recruited the cell via social media, the Shin Bet said. […]

To assist the cell, Hezbollah gave it $5,000 so it could acquire weaponry and equipment for an attack. Two members of the cell acquired guns and were preparing to shoot IDF troops in the area, but were captured before the attack could be carried out.

In addition to the planned shooting attack, the terror cell also received orders about carrying out suicide bombings and collecting intelligence on IDF activities and positions.

The five-man cell was led by Mahmoud Zaghloul, 32, from Zita outside of Tulkarem, who was recruited directly by Jawad Nasrallah. It was an initiative of Hezbollah’s Unit 133, which is charged with setting up terror cells in Israel.”

These two stories join the growing list of similar ones (see for example here and here) concerning the apprehension of cells connected to established terrorist groups which have been completely ignored by the BBC.

However, at the same time as it elects not to report such stories, the BBC does continue to promote the “DIY unrest” narrative on the topic of Palestinian terrorism which it adopted over four months ago, repeatedly telling audiences (in a manner eerily similar to the dictates of the PLO’s guidance for foreign journalists) that the ongoing wave of attacks against Israelis is the result of “frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation”.

The BBC’s framing of this topic leads to the failure to meet its obligation to enhance audiences’ “awareness and understanding of international issues” by serially avoiding compromising its adopted narrative with any mention of terrorism which is not ‘grassroots’ but organised by groups such as Hamas and Hizballah out of motivations which go far beyond “frustration”. 

BBC News still promoting ‘cycle of violence’ myth

Following the sentencing of two of the three murderers of Mohammed Abu Khdeir by the Jerusalem District Court on February 4th the BBC News website produced an article titled “Mohammad Abu Khdair murder: Two Israelis jailed“.Abu Khdeir sentencing art

As has been the case in previous BBC reports concerning the same subject matter, the article materially misleads audiences with regard to the cause of the summer 2014 conflict between Israel and terrorist organisations in the Gaza strip.

“Abu Khdair was killed in apparent revenge for the murders of three Israeli teens in the West Bank.

The killings were part of an escalating cycle of violence, culminating in a war between Israel and militants in Gaza.”

Once again we see that the BBC promotes the notion of a “cycle of violence” whilst completely erasing from audience view the escalation in missile fire from the Gaza Strip which began immediately after the disappearance of the Israeli teenagers on June 12th and continued throughout the three weeks of search and rescue operations.

It was of course that incessant missile fire on Israeli civilians – which is repeatedly erased by the BBC in its portrayal of events – that was the reason for the military operation, with the later discovery of dozens of cross-border tunnels prompting the subsequent ground operation. The military operation could have been avoided had Hamas elected to take advantage of the ample opportunities it was given to stop the missile fire before July 8th 2014, but the terrorist organisation chose not to do so – for reasons by no means exclusively connected to Israel.

“A Hamas official, who did not give his name to Palestinian news agency Sawa, said overnight Friday-Saturday [July 4th /5th 2014] that “those who expect Hamas to stop the rocket fire [on Israel], should to turn [Palestinian Authority Prime Minister] Rami Hamdallah.”

The official was alluding to the fact that the salaries of 40,000 Hamas clerks in Gaza were still unpaid, which was reportedly a key Hamas demand since agreeing to a unity government deal in late April with the Palestinian Authority.”

The article closes with the following words:

“The case has been closely watched by Palestinians who often claim of prejudice in Israel’s justice system, the BBC’s Yolande Knell in Jerusalem reports.”

As readers may recall, the BBC’s past reports have included amplification of claims of a ‘two-tier’ justice system.

 “… it was interesting as well – and telling, I think – to see the mother of the Palestinian teenager who was killed saying Palestinians have no rights and I think that they feel that there’s one law for Israelis and one law for themselves and that they’re never going to be in a better place until they get independence, get their own state and that, I think, is the prevalent view among Palestinians.” (Jeremy Bowen, ‘Today’, BBC Radio 4, July 3rd 2014)

“But Palestinians at Muhammed’s funeral don’t trust Israeli justice. They want Israel to leave Palestinian towns and cities so that they can build a state and a justice system of their own.” (James Reynolds, BBC News, July 4th 2014)

Yet again, however, the BBC fails to clarify to its audiences in this report that the allegations of Israeli state discrimination it has promoted are unfounded. 

BBC News still downplaying Hamas terror

Last week the BBC News website covered the collapse of one of Hamas’ offensive tunnels with an article which sidestepped the real issues behind the story.

The day after that article was published Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh made the organisation’s intentions amply clear.tunnels

“Hamas “heroes” are tirelessly digging Gaza Strip tunnels designed for use in attacks on Israel, a senior official said Friday, as the terror group buried seven excavators killed this week when the tunnel they were working on collapsed due to heavy rains and floods.

Thousands turned out for the funerals in the Hamas-ruled Gaza, Army Radio reported, where Ismail Haniyeh vowed that the group is growing stronger and will use any measures to preparation for the next confrontation with Israel.

“Some believe that the calm, when the noise of the cannons fall silent, is intended for rest. But the [Izz ad-Din] al-Qassam Brigades continue with their campaign through preparation and training,” said Haniyeh, referring to the Hamas military wing. The resistance, he said, is permanently in a state of continuous preparation.

“East of Gaza City, heroes are digging through rock and building tunnels, and to the west they are experimenting with rockets every day. The resistance continues on its path of liberation of the land,” Haniyeh said during the funerals at the Great Omari Mosque in Gaza City.”

And as Khaled Abu Toameh has documented, Haniyeh is not the only Hamas official openly discussing the terror group’s intentions.

“Hamas makes no secret of the goal of its renovations. Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar readily admits that the tunnels are being rebuilt to target Israel.

Indeed, clarity seems to be the name of the game with Hamas. Senior Hamas official Khalil Al-Hayeh explained that his organization would continue to dig tunnels for use in future confrontations with Israel. “We have enough mujahideen [jihad warriors] to replace their brothers who were martyred [in the tunnel collapse],” he said during the funeral of the seven Hamas members.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh went a step further: the tunnels were not only designed to launch terror attacks against Israelis, but to “liberate all of Palestine.” In the words of Haniyeh, the tunnels are being dug not only to “defend the Gaza Strip, but to serve as a launching pad to reach all of Palestine.” […]

For Haniyeh, the tunnels are a “strategic weapon” in Hamas’s jihad to destroy Israel. Hamas’s military wing dug the tunnels around the Gaza Strip “to defend our people and liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem,” the Hamas leader stated.”

The BBC has of course not bothered to report those statements to its audiences and an additional tunnel collapse on February 2nd has likewise been ignored by the corporation’s journalists.

As we documented here last week, the head of COGAT recently made a statement about Hamas’ abuse of entry permits into Israel for Gazans.

“Attempts by Hamas to exploit entry permits given to Gazan residents by Israel are jeopardizing future crossings by Palestinians, Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, has warned.

In an interview to the Al-Quds Palestinian newspaper, Mordechai said Hamas will force Israel to consider completely close the crossings to the Strip if attempts to recruit Gazans for terrorist missions do not cease. […]

Hamas’s “cynical exploitation of Israeli entry permits is forcing Israel to think twice before it issues permits to Gazans.

This situation will eventually lead to the closure of the Strip and the complete cessation of travel by Gazans from the Strip,” Mordechai warned.”

A story clarifying one form of that abuse of humanitarian assistance has since come to light.ambulance Erez

“Israel police and Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency] arrested two Hamas operatives who had entered Israel from Gaza on forged medical documents. […]

After entering Israel, Mahmoud Matok, 31, along with his father, 51, escaped from hospital and traveled to Umm al-Fahm in northern Israel, where they were arrested. […]

The two confessed under interrogation to forging the medical records by using a relative’s medical condition as a pretext for their entry, with the younger Matok assuming the relative’s identity.  

According to Shin Bet, the two had paid NIS 7,000 for the forged documents, which stated that the younger Matok suffered from paralysis of the legs and required emergency medical attention in Israel.”

The BBC continues to refrain from reporting on that issue too.

BBC News promotes ‘one-state’ stepping stone and political messaging

Last week marked ten years since elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council were held and the resulting split between Hamas and Fatah began. The BBC did not produce any content relating to that anniversary, the subsequent decade long Palestinian political paralysis and its effects upon an issue much touted on BBC pages and airwaves – the peace process.

Writing at Newsweek, Jonathan Schanzer of the FDD outlines the contemporary significance of that ten year-old event.

“Ten years on, the intra-Palestinian conflict is a glaring blind spot among Western policymakers. The enmity between the two factions challenges longstanding assertions of a unified Palestinian national identity. The Palestinian battle for primacy also injects new complexities into the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The conflict, in fact, is now a three-way tug-of-war between Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, where any one move can impact the delicate balance between the three.

After a decade of failed reconciliation efforts and a collapsed unity government in 2015, the intra-Palestinian conflict now appears intractable. The Gaza Strip remains firmly in the hands of Hamas, while the Fatah faction clings to the West Bank with the help of Israeli security and intelligence. There are two separate Palestinian governments with their own bureaucracies, two sets of cadres of political elites, two distinct economies, and increasingly two different cultures.

Nevertheless, Washington continues to call for a single Palestinian state. It’s a call that echoes across most Western capitals, too. The overriding assumption is that deft diplomacy coupled with Israeli territorial concessions could pave the way for the Palestinian Authority, unpopular and corrupt as it may be, to regain the moral and military high ground from Hamas and somehow bring the Gaza Strip back under its jurisdiction. These plans remain vague, to say the least. […]

The near collapse of the post-colonial system since the Arab Spring has challenged almost all of our assumptions on how to bring order to the chaos of the Middle East. Yet, the perceived need to create a single Palestinian state spanning the West Bank and Gaza has endured. Ten years on, the Palestinians are still divided—both ideologically and territorially. It may be time to acknowledge that if they can’t peacefully resolve their own territorial conflict, they certainly are not likely to resolve the one with Israel.”

What the BBC did see fit to publish last week, however, was an article titled “Israel-Palestinian conflict: Is one homeland the solution?” which was promoted in the ‘features’ section of its website’s Middle East page for four consecutive days.Thrope article

“As support for a two-state solution to their conflict declines among Israelis and Palestinians, a different approach to finding a peaceful settlement is being proposed.

Called “Two States – One Homeland”, the group, led by Israeli journalist Meron Rapoport and Palestinian politician Awni Almashni, is advocating the creation of an Israeli-Palestinian confederation.

They say that their plan, now picking up public and official backing, can solve the difficult issues – Israeli settlements, the right of return for Palestinian refugees, and the fate of Jerusalem – that have scuttled past negotiations.”

The article’s over-enthusiastic portrayal of the supposed popularity of a scheme few in the region will have heard of includes only minimal coverage of opposition from “the Palestinian street” whilst totally ignoring the Hamas elephant in the room.

“The group has also encountered opposition. Its inaugural public conference last June was moved from the Palestinian city of Beit Jala to nearby Jerusalem after Palestinian supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement threatened to disrupt the gathering.”

The article also fails to clarify to readers that – at least according to an article written by Mr Almashni – the plan is merely a stepping stone on the route to something other than “two states”.

“A quick glance at these ideas shows that they meet all the demands of anyone who believes in the two-state solution – taking into account that the two states are fully independent and sovereign, and within in the 1967 borders. Nevertheless, maintaining freedom of crossing, movement, and residence – that is, an open border between the two states – leaves the door ajar for a single future [binational] state, once the trust and the relationship [between the two peoples] have developed.” […]

“Ultimately, this solution reflects the desire of all who support the traditional two-state solution – it includes all the principles of the two states, as well as the actualization of the right of return. It [also] constitutes a giant step towards a single state, if the two peoples want to reach it – because it strengthens what they share, and thus opens the way to this direction.” [emphasis added]

Not content with failing to present its subject matter accurately, the writer of the article, Samuel Thrope, also misrepresents other related subjects.

“The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this. UN General Assembly resolutions, meanwhile, endorse a Palestinian right of return.”

Regular consumers of BBC content are of course used to seeing the BBC frequently fail to meet its own editorial guidelines on impartiality by refraining from informing them of the existence of legal opinions which contradict its own adopted political stance on “the settlements”.

Now we see a new addition to the BBC’s repertoire of politically partisan messaging; promotion of the inaccurate claim that “a Palestinian right of return” is endorsed by the 1948 UN GA resolution 194 – which was opposed by Arab states at the time and in fact includes one clause pertaining to refugees in general but does not include the word “Palestinian” or guarantee an unconditional ‘right of return’.

As long as BBC reports continue to include unqualified promotion of Palestinian talking points, the corporation should not of course be surprised that its impartiality is so frequently called into question.  

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More Hamas news the BBC is not reporting

We have previously documented on these pages the fact that the BBC has refrained from providing its audiences with information concerning Hamas’ efforts to boost its terrorist infrastructure in Judea & Samaria and take the current wave of terror attacks against Israelis to a more violent level.

An additional facet to that story emerged recently when the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) made a rare statement. Erez 

“Attempts by Hamas to exploit entry permits given to Gazan residents by Israel are jeopardizing future crossings by Palestinians, Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, has warned.

In an interview to the Al-Quds Palestinian newspaper, Mordechai said Hamas will force Israel to consider completely close the crossings to the Strip if attempts to recruit Gazans for terrorist missions do not cease. […]

Hamas’s “cynical exploitation of Israeli entry permits is forcing Israel to think twice before it issues permits to Gazans.

This situation will eventually lead to the closure of the Strip and the complete cessation of travel by Gazans from the Strip,” Mordechai warned.

He cited a cancer patient from Gaza’s Khan Yunis area who traveled to Nablus for medical care after receiving an Israeli permit, and was asked by Hamas to gather intelligence for it. A resident of Gaza’s Shati refugee camp who trades in Israel was apprehended by security forces while trying to smuggle goods for Hamas, according to the COGAT head. […]

Hamas charges taxes on Palestinians who pass through the crossings, using the money to build up its offensive capabilities rather than for the welfare of Gazans, Mordechai added.”

Should Hamas’ actions indeed lead to a halt on Gazans travelling into Israel, we can be confident that the BBC will cover the human interest side of that story with great gusto. However, to date the corporation has made no attempt to ensure that if such a development occurs, audiences will be aware of its background story.

 

 

 

BBC News sidesteps the real issues in Hamas tunnel collapse story

The story of Hamas’ ongoing efforts to reconstruct the system of cross-border offensive tunnels which made it necessary for Israel to carry out a ground operation during the conflict of summer 2014 is one which has been severely under-reported by the BBC throughout the last year and a half.

That of course means that if in the future Israel has to act once again to protect its citizens living in communities near the border with the Gaza Strip, BBC audiences will be oblivious of the background to a story we can confidently predict that the corporation will cover extensively. 

An opportunity to redress that lack of serious reporting recently arose when reports emerged of the collapse of a tunnel due to severe weather conditions.

“At least six Palestinians have been reported killed in the collapse of a tunnel dug under the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Tuesday evening.

The incident occurred in the Al-Tuffah neighborhood of Gaza City.

According to Israel’s Channel 10 television, the six fatalities were all members of the Hamas terror group, as were the five others injured in the incident.”

Hamas later confirmed that information.

“Eight members of the Palestinian militant group Hamas were missing Wednesday after the collapse of a tunnel in the Gaza Strip caused by rain and flooding, a security source said. […]

“The resistance tunnel collapsed last night due to the weather and flooding,” the source said, adding that the tunnel belonged to Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the Gaza Strip.

“There were 11 resistance men inside. Three of them escaped in the first hour after the accident, but the security operation… continues to search for the eight others.”

Hamas’s armed wing, Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, later confirmed in a statement that one of its tunnels collapsed.

It said searches were continuing for the missing, without providing a number or further details.”

The BBC News website’s reporting of that story – in a January 28th article titled “Gaza: Hamas militants die in tunnel collapse” – focused readers’ attentions on factors other than the core issue of Hamas policies and actions which will inevitably lead to an additional round of conflict.tunnel collapse art

The article fails to adequately distinguish between the smuggling tunnels in the area of the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt and the offensive tunnels constructed under the border with Israel.

“Palestinian militants have used tunnels on Gaza’s borders with Israel and Egypt to launch attacks on Israel, transport weapons or smuggle goods.”

Despite the fact that the tunnel in this particular story has no connection to smuggling, a relatively large proportion of the article is devoted to that topic.

“Meanwhile, tunnels on the Egyptian border have been used to smuggle weapons into Gaza, as well as civilian goods.

The tunnels have played a vital role in the economy of Gaza, which has been under a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt in 2007.

The Egyptian military began flooding tunnels on its borders late last year, and says it has eliminated about 90% of them.”

Once again BBC audiences are steered towards the inaccurate impression that smuggling tunnels are a product of the “blockade” when in fact they pre-date the border restrictions. No effort is made to provide audiences with appropriate context concerning the fact that the restrictions imposed by Israel in 2007 came about because of Hamas’ terrorist activities.

Neither is any effort made to clarify the issue of how Hamas acquired the materials necessary for the rehabilitation of its network of offensive tunnels: an omission which is particularly glaring in light of the fact that the BBC has devoted considerable air-time and column space to the topic of the import of construction materials into the Gaza Strip since the end of the 2014 conflict.

“Israel destroyed dozens of tunnels during the 2014 Gaza conflict, but Hamas has been rebuilding them.”

The report embraces the ubiquitous BBC tradition of relating only to events which took place from 1967 onwards and thus fails to tell readers that the Gaza Strip was occupied by Egypt between 1948 and 1967.

“Israel occupied Gaza in the 1967 Middle East war and pulled its troops and settlers out in 2005.”

Readers are encouraged to believe that the Gaza Strip remains under ‘occupation’ and are not informed that arrangements concerning Gaza’s waters and airspace are defined by the Oslo Accords, to which the recognized representatives of the Palestinians are party.

“Israel considered this the end of the occupation, but it still exercises control over most of Gaza’s borders, waters and airspace. Egypt controls Gaza’s southern border.”

The BBC knows full well that this story is actually about a terrorist organization making preparations (at the expense of its own civilian population) for yet more armed aggression against Israeli civilians.

Shuval tweet tunnels 2

It continues, however, to refrain from reporting the real story – thus failing to meet its obligation to “build a global understanding of international issues” and laying the groundwork for more of its trademark pathos-rich, context-lite reporting from Gaza whilst ignoring the story of the people who live under the shadow of Hamas aggression.

Related Articles:

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Hamas man spills beans on appropriation of construction materials: BBC silent

Gaza Strip stories the BBC chooses not to report

BBC reporting on Palestinian domestic topics in general and human rights issues in particular (in both the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority controlled areas) is notoriously sparse. 

Extrajudicial executions carried out by Hamas in November 2012 got the grand total of 29 words of coverage from the BBC’s Middle East editor. In June 2013 and in May 2014 the corporation failed to report extrajudicial executions in the Gaza Strip. In the summer of 2014 it only reported executions which Hamas at the time wanted publicised. In May 2015, in two separate reports, the BBC’s Kevin Connolly found it appropriate to ‘contextualise’ an Amnesty International report on Hamas human rights abuses during 2014 by dragging Israel into the picture.

AI report Hamas Connolly

It therefore comes as no surprise to see that the BBC has ignored this story.

“A court in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Wednesday sentenced four Palestinians to death on charges of spying for Israel, a statement and court sources said.

The court said in a brief statement that a 23-year-old man from the Zeitoun area south of Gaza City had been sentenced to death on espionage charges. It did not provide his name.

Three other men who “fled from justice” were also found guilty in absentia, it said.

A court source told AFP the four were convicted on “charges of spying for the occupation”, including “surveillance” and providing information about cars and homes to help Israel plan alleged assassinations.”

As Khaled Abu Toameh has pointed out in the past:executions

“Under Palestinian Authority law, all death sentences must be approved by the president of the PA. But in 2005, PA President Mahmoud Abbas issued a moratorium on death sentences – a prohibition that did not stop Hamas from pursuing executions under the pretext that the PA president was no longer a legitimate leader since his term had expired in 2009.”

Another recent story ignored by the BBC relates to Hamas abuse of Gaza based journalists.

“Palestinian journalist Ayman al-Aloul frequently writes about the hardships of life in the Gaza Strip, and is one of the few voices willing to publicly criticize the rule of the Islamic Hamas movement.

But after nine days in jail, al-Aloul says he won’t be writing about politics anymore. He said a painful experience that included beatings and being forced to sit uncomfortably in a tiny chair has made him a “new man” and that he will now focus on less controversial topics like sports, food, literature and fashion.

“I’ve decided not to talk about the general situation anymore,” al-Aloul said in an interview at his home Tuesday, a day after he was released. “The experience I went through was very difficult.””

Readers may recall that in December 2015 the BBC World Service passed up on an opportunity to inform audiences about Hamas media censorship.

BBC News ignores Gaza missile attack again – in English

On the evening of January 24th a missile fired from the Gaza Strip once again sent residents of the Sha’ar HaNegev region of the western Negev running for cover. Fortunately, the projectile landed in a field belonging to one of the local communities and no injuries were caused. Several hours later the IDF responded with strikes on a Hamas training facility.BBC Arabic response missile fire 25 1

There was no coverage of that missile attack on the BBC’s English language website but – in line with a pattern seen frequently since the end of the 2014 conflict – the Israeli response was reported on the BBC Arabic website under the context-free headline “Two Israeli air strikes on Gaza“.

The same pattern was also seen earlier this month, meaning that since the beginning of 2016, the BBC’s record of reporting Gaza based terror groups’ missile attacks against Israeli civilians in the English language stands at 0% whilst its record of reporting Israeli responses to those attacks in the Arabic language stands at 100%.

 

Hebron news which does not fit into the BBC narrative

In late October 2015 the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell produced filmed and audio reports from Hebron, both of which made no attempt to inform BBC audiences about Hamas activity in that city but did provide an on PLO messaging portrayal of the numerous terror attacks there.Knell Hebron 30 10

“Basically on the ground here you get two starkly contrasting narratives. Speaking to the Israelis over there, they see all of this as hateful, senseless violence. But Palestinians here say that their anger stems from the political situation and their feelings of despair.”  

On January 7th the Israeli security services announced the apprehension of a Hamas cell made up of members from Jerusalem and Hebron.

“Members of the group, from Jerusalem and Hebron, had planned to use the corpses of their victim or victims in order to negotiate the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, similar to the motive behind the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenage boys in June 2014.

From the Shin Bet’s investigation of the Hamas operatives, the cell was in the “advanced planning stages” and had begun preparing the place where they would store the bodies of the kidnapped person or people.

“This case reconfirms that Hamas still aspires to carry out serious terror attacks, even now, in order to further egg on the recent wave of terror into a violent intifada,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.”

Three days later, on January 10th, the Israeli security services announced the arrest of another Hamas cell in Hebron.  

“The cell had purchased a variety of weapons, including an M-16 rifle, in order to carry out a terror attack on the Route 35 highway, which runs between Hebron and the coastal city of Ashkelon, the Shin Bet said in a statement.

“The thwarting of this terror cell, which was nearly prepared to carry out an attack, again demonstrates the never-ending attempts by Hamas operatives in Hebron to carry out severe terror acts,” the statement said.”

Both those Hamas cells were led by members of Hebron’s Qawasmeh clan (also spelt Kawasme).

“The cell announced Thursday included six people — three Israeli citizens living in Jerusalem, and three others from Hebron. They were led by Maher Qawasmeh, a 36-year-old from Hebron, who was previously imprisoned for two years for helping plan terror attacks for Hamas, the Shin Bet said.”

And:

“The head of the alleged terror cell, Mehmad Ali Qawasmeh, is the brother of one of the terrorists responsible for the abduction-killing of three Israeli teenagers in the summer of 2014, the Shin Bet said.

Qawasmeh is a member of the extended Qawasmeh family, a strong Hamas force within the city of Hebron. Another member of the family, Maher Qawasmeh, was arrested in December by the Shin Bet for leading another terror cell, which planned to kidnap and murder Israelis in order to negotiate the release of Palestinian prisoners, the security service said last week.”

Readers may recall that the BBC’s coverage of the Hebron-based group which kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teens in June 2014 was notable for its downplaying of the cell’s Hamas connections and that Jon Donnison went even further.

There has been no BBC coverage of the arrests of these latest two Hamas cells led by members of the Qawasmeh family. 

BBC audiences continue to remain grossly under informed about the topic of Hamas’ activities in Hebron and other Palestinian Authority controlled areas, its longstanding attempts to boost its terrorist infrastructure in those locations and its current efforts to take the ongoing wave of terrorism to a more violent level; not only – as noted by Avi Issacharoff – out of motivations connected to Israel.

“But should Hamas go through with its reported decision to renew suicide bombings and ramp up the number of shootings, all it may take is one especially devastating mass-casualty attack for the knife to be replaced by a Kalashnikov rifle or an explosive belt as the symbol of the struggle.

Hamas knows that only one successful suicide attack within the Green Line is all it’ll take to sever the last tattered remnants of the ties between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, including security coordination.

Such an attack will bring severe Israeli punitive steps against the authority, weakening it even more, while catapulting the already popular Hamas to a more prominent position in the West Bank.”

If the BBC is to fulfil its remit of building “understanding of international issues” then obviously it cannot continue to make do with explaining away the current wave of terrorism against Israelis by using a politically motivated narrative of Palestinian “despair” and “anger”. It also has an obligation to tell its audiences about the part played in organizing and inciting violence by terror organisations such as Hamas – and the potential consequences of those actions.  

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On and off the BBC radar: terrorism in Jerusalem and Hebron