BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part two

In part one of this post we documented BBC News website coverage of the first ten days of Operation Protective Edge. Part two relates to the next ten days: July 18th to 27th 2014 inclusive.

Content on the website included written news reports and written ‘Features and Analysis’ articles as well as filmed items presented as stand-alone reports and additionally often embedded into the written articles. Those filmed items also appeared on BBC television news programmes and hence give us an idea of what worldwide audiences were being shown and to what extent the BBC lived up to its claims of “equal coverage” of the two sides to the conflict.

A small amount of content which appeared on the BBC News website at the time has since become unavailable, but below are the vast majority of the reports offered to the website’s visitors. We are not including here the many reports concerning demonstrations relating to the conflict in Europe and elsewhere which appeared on the Middle East page: that topic will be covered separately.

July 18th:Chart Jul 18

Written:

Israel starts Gaza ground offensive

Israel ready to widen Gaza ground offensive – PM  (discussed here)

Gaza conflict: UN says number of displaced almost doubles   (discussed here)

Features:

Gaza-Israel: ‘We don’t want civilians to die’

What drove Hamas to take on Israel?  Dr Jeroen Gunning

Gaza: What does Israel’s ground offensive aim to achieve?  Jonathan Marcus

Hospital on Gaza conflict’s front line  Paul Adams (discussed here)

Filmed:

Gaza-Israel conflict: Journalists evacuated from Gaza hotel  Lyse Doucet in Gaza

Gaza City resident: ‘Continuous bombing’  Gaza

Gaza conflict: UN says number of displaced almost doubles  Lyse Doucet in Gaza & Quentin Sommerville in Israel (discussed here)

With Israel’s ground operation having commenced late the previous night following the terrorist infiltration via cross-border tunnel near Kibbutz Sufa (scantily covered by the BBC), much of the BBC’s coverage on that day related to that topic, but with a notable lack of information on the subject of the tunnels themselves. 

July 19th:Chart Jul 19

Written:

Gaza conflict: Obama warns Israel amid rising death toll   (discussed here)

Gaza conflict: Casualties mount amid fresh violence   (discussed here)

July 20th: (discussion here)

Live page:

As it happened: Gaza conflict intensifies

Written:

Gaza shelling by Israel leads to deadliest day of conflict  (discussed here)Chart Jul 20

Features:

In pictures: Gaza conflict intensifies

Filmed:

Hamas ‘defiant’ as Gaza casualty toll rises   Lyse Doucet in Gaza (discussed here)

Gaza crisis: 87 Gazans and 13 Israeli soldiers killed Lyse Doucet in Gaza

Gaza shelling by Israel leads to deadliest day of conflict  Yolande Knell in Gaza

Gaza crisis: 13 Israeli soldiers and 87 Gazans killed  Chris Morris in Israel (discussed here)

Gaza-Israel conflict: ‘Families are on the run again’  Lyse Doucet in Gaza

With fierce fighting having commenced in the neighbourhood of Shuja’iya the night before, the BBC focused its attentions on that topic on July 20th. Themes which appeared early on in the extensive reporting included the vigorous promotion of second-hand claims of a ‘massacre’, the failure to film or adequately inform audiences of the presence and actions of terrorists in that district and the failure to distinguish between civilian and combatant casualties. As was the case in previous reporting, the topic of Hamas’ use of human shields was ignored and the prior warnings issued to residents of Shuja’iya to evacuate the neighbourhood played down. 

July 21st: (discussion here)Chart Jul 21

Written:

Gaza crisis: 13 Israeli soldiers, scores of Gazans killed

Gaza crisis: UN calls for ceasefire as deaths pass 500

Features:

Gaza crisis: Shejaiya assault defines grimmest day  Lyse Doucet

Filmed:

Ron Prosor: ‘Only by demilitarising Hamas can we move on’  interview Israeli Ambassador to the UN

Gaza crisis: Israeli soldiers’ funerals take place  John Simpson in Israel

Middle East crisis: BBC on deserted streets of Sha’af  Paul Adams in Gaza

Gaza conflict: Five dead at hospital hit by Israeli strike  Lyse Doucet in Gaza

Middle East crisis: Israel releases ‘Gaza tunnel footage’  (discussed here)

Clashes go on as Israel holds funerals for the dead  John Simpson in Israel (discussed here)

Gaza crisis: Kerry Israel air strike remarks caught on mic

‘Israel united’ on Gaza offensive to eliminate militants’ tunnels  Quentin Sommerville in Israel

Coverage of the fighting in Shuja’iya continued in the same vein as the previous day and with continued promotion of unverified Hamas-supplied casualty figures which failed to distinguish between civilians and combatants. It is worth noting that to date, BBC audiences have not yet been provided with a comprehensive picture of the circumstances of the fighting in Shuja’iya. Three days after the commencement of the ground operation, the BBC produced a very unsatisfactory filmed ‘guide’ to the topic of cross-border tunnels. 

July 22nd:Chart Jul 22

Written:

Gaza conflict: Five dead at hospital hit by Israeli strike

Gaza conflict: Diplomats push for ceasefire

Gaza conflict: UN chief Ban urges end to fighting

US and European airlines suspend Israel flights

Features:

Gaza: How Hamas tunnel network grew  Dr Eado Hecht

Filmed:

Gaza-Israel: John Kerry and Sameh Shoukry hold news briefing

Gaza: Why is Rafah crossing so important?  Lyse Doucet in Gaza (discussed here)

Airlines halt flights into Israel   Samira Hussain in New York

Gaza-Israel: Casualties mount as violence continues  Paul Adams in Gaza

Relatives mourn Israeli soldier deaths as clashes go on  Quentin Sommerville in Israel

Why is Middle East truce so hard to broker?   Frank Gardner (discussed here)

John Kerry in Egypt in push for Gaza-Israel ceasefire

$47m in aid to Gaza “to alleviate the immediate humanitarian crisis”  Kerry

Notable on this day was the appearance of the first real effort to inform audiences with regard to cross-border tunnels; some four days after the ground operation their use prompted began. Also notable was the continued amplification of Hamas’ pre-ceasefire demands concerning the lifting of border restrictions and the misrepresentation of those restrictions, along with their inaccurate description as a “siege”: a theme which flourished in subsequent BBC coverage.

July 23rd:Chart Jul 23

Written:

Gaza conflict: Abbas backs Hamas ceasefire demands  (discussed here)

UN’s Navi Pillay warns of Israel Gaza ‘war crimes’

Features:

Why Israelis are rallying behind latest Gaza campaign  Gil Hoffman

What is it like to be blind in Gaza and Israel?  Emma Tracey

Filmed:

Middle East crisis: Normal life on hold in Gaza  Yolande Knell in Gaza (discussed here)

Red Cross van attacked by civilians in Gaza   Paul Adams in Gaza

UN human rights boss: Israeli action ‘could be war crimes’  Navi Pillay

Middle East crisis: Israel holds funerals for soldiers  Quentin Sommerville in Israel

Middle East crisis: Airlines suspend flights to Ben Gurion, Israel

#BBCtrending: Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies

Along with renewed promotion of the notion of ‘war crimes’, reporting on this day continued with promotion of Hamas’ pre-ceasefire demands, misrepresentation of the border restrictions imposed by Egypt and Israel and continued amplification of unverified casualty figures.  

July 24th:Chart Jul 24

Written:

Hamas says Gaza blockade must end before ceasefire (discussed here)

UN: Gaza humanitarian situation ‘dire’

Gaza UN school shelter hit, ‘killing 13′

Europe lifts ban on flights to Tel Aviv airport

Features:

Gaza: Hamas seeks to emerge stronger   Yolande Knell (discussed here)

Filmed:

Gaza conflict: Rescue mission to reach Gaza wounded Lyse Doucet in Gaza

Save the Children: Gaza shelter attack ‘shocking’

Gaza’s hospitals struggle with civilians  Ian Pannell in Gaza

Middle East crisis: Gaza UN school shelter hit, ‘killing 13′  Yolande Knell in Gaza

Middle East crisis: Gaza family on living in warzone   Yolande Knell in Gaza

Israel ‘knew building was UN shelter’ – UNRWA  Chris Gunness

Middle East crisis: UN criticism ‘a travesty’ – Netanyahu

Gaza: What are the obstacles to peace?  James Robbins (discussed here)

BBC exclusive interview with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal   (discussed here)

Much of the day’s coverage was devoted to the incident in Beit Hanoun which the BBC immediately promoted as an Israeli ‘attack’ on a UN school, revealing much about its own impartiality. Also notable was James Robbins’ ‘backgrounder’ which provided one example among many of BBC content which downplayed or erased Hamas’ terror designation.

July 25th:Chart Jul 25

Written:

Palestinians killed in West Bank Gaza solidarity march  (discussed here)

Gaza conflict: Israel rejects truce ‘as it stands’

Features:

Israeli and Palestinian women on Gaza conflict

#BBCtrending: Sexy selfies in support of IDF

Filmed:

Gaza-Israel crisis: UNRWA ‘not informed’ before shelter attack  Chris Morris in Gaza

Middle East crisis: Israeli government on Gaza shelter deaths  Mark Regev (full interview discussed here)

Gaza-Israel: ‘You can hear the bombs and missiles’ – Israeli family  Bethany Bell in Israel

Palestinians killed in West Bank Gaza solidarity march  Nawal Assad in Qalandiya (discussed here)

Gaza baby rescued from mother killed by Israeli airstrike Ian Pannell in Gaza

Ban Ki-moon and John Kerry news briefing in Cairo

Gaza and Israel brace for ‘day of anger’  Jon Donnison in Jerusalem

Coverage of the Beit Hanoun incident continued, along with problematic reporting on riots in PA-controlled areas.

July 26th:Chart Jul 26

Written:

Gaza conflict: 12-hour truce as deaths top 900

Hamas fires rockets into Israel after Gaza truce bid

Features:

Gaza crisis: Toll of operations in Gaza (later amended and date changed to September 1st)

Filmed:

Clashes as diplomatic efforts continue to secure Gaza truce Orla Guerin in Jerusalem (discussed here)

Mark Regev: Israel ‘wants peace and quiet’

Gaza truce: ‘Smell of destruction’ in the air  Chris Morris in Gaza

Israel and Hamas agree 12-hour truce  Chris Morris in Gaza

Israel-Gaza conflict: Bodies recovered amid ceasefire  Ian Pannell in Gaza

Philip Hammond on ceasefire: ‘Stop the loss of life’    UK Foreign Secretary

 July 27th:Chart Jul 27

Written:

Israel rejects Gaza school shelter attack blame

Israel resumes Gaza offensive after Hamas rockets

Hamas announces new 24-hour Gaza ceasefire with Israel

Hamas-declared ceasefire in Gaza stalls as conflict continues (discussed here)

Features:

No place to hide for children of war in Gaza and Syria  Lyse Doucet

Filmed:

Gaza conflict: Dubai’s huge humanitarian aid mission  Mark Lobel

Israeli military: Hamas ceasefire ‘an opportunity perhaps’   Peter Lerner

Hamas announces new 24-hour Gaza ceasefire with Israel  Osama Hamdan

Hamas-declared ceasefire in Gaza stalls as conflict continues  Ian Pannell in Gaza (discussed here)

Rockets lands in Israel after ceasefire stalls  Orla Guerin in Israel (discussed here)

Middle East: Ed Miliband on Israel and Gaza violence

Prominent on this day was misleading coverage of the ceasefire and Hamas’ violations of that agreement.

Between July 18th and July 27th the predominant type of content presented to visitors to the BBC News website’s Middle East page was written news reports and a live page on the topic of the fighting in Shuja’iya was introduced for the first time on July 20th.

Foreign-based Hamas spokesmen were interviewed on just two occasions (in contrast with five interviews or footage from press conferences with Israelis) meaning that the focus of BBC reporting remained on the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. The majority of footage of interviews or press conferences with others (not Israelis or Palestinians) focused on the diplomatic efforts of the US Secretary of State, with two additional ones from UN representatives Navi Pillay and Chris Gunness and two with British politicians.

The total number of filmed reports describing the situation in Gaza during those ten days of the conflict was once again more than double the number of filmed reports describing the situation in Israel and continued to focus on emotive coverage of the effects of the conflict on the civilian population. Three additional filmed reports related to the topic of violent rioting in PA-controlled areas and Jerusalem.

Chart 18 to 27 Jul

By July 27th, visitors to the BBC News website had seen twenty-four filmed reports depicting the situation in Israel compared to fifty-three filmed reports depicting the situation in the Gaza Strip.

Chart 8 to 27 Jul

Themes which dominated initial BBC coverage of the conflict such as the promotion of the notion of ‘war crimes’ and attacks on civilians carried out by Israel continued, as did the failure to report adequately on Hamas’ use of human shields and the amplification of unverified casualty figures. The theme of border restrictions became more prominent, together with misrepresentation of the reasons for those restrictions and promotion of the inaccurate notion of a ‘siege’ on Gaza. 

Related Articles:

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part one

 

 

 

 

After effects 3: BBC accuracy failure still being used against Israel

On July 23rd 2014 a member of staff at the Guardian decided to use a certain photograph to illustrate that particular day’s letters page and, by way of a caption, added the following amended quote from one of the letters (ironically complaining about BBC impartiality) published on the same day.

‘For Palestinians, Israel’s attacks are an extension of military rule and collective punishment by a brutal apartheid state.’

With the subject of that sentence being “Israel’s attacks”, one might have expected that the image chosen would have some sort of connection to that topic. However, the photograph selected actually shows a Palestinian father holding the body of his infant son who was killed in November 2012 by a rocket misfired by one of the Palestinian terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip.

Guardian letters page

So why would that Guardian staffer believe that the picture showed the aftermath of “Israel’s attacks”? Well, like other members of the BBC’s audience, he or she was for months mistakenly led to believe by the BBC that Omar Masharawi was killed by an Israeli airstrike.

“The BBC used the story of Omar Masharawi to advance the narrative of Israel as a ruthless killer of innocent children. It did so in unusually gory detail which etched the story in audiences’ minds, but without checking the facts, and with no regard whatsoever for its obligations to accuracy and impartiality. BBC reporters and editors  – including Jon Donnison, Paul Danahar and the many others who distributed the story via Twitter – rushed to spread as far and wide as possible a story they could not validate, but which fit in with their own narrative.

It is impossible to undo the extensive damage done by the BBC with this story. No apology or correction can now erase it from the internet or from the memories of the countless people who read it or heard it.”

Clearly, twenty-one months on, what still remains in people’s memories is the BBC’s extensively promoted inaccurate story – not the subsequent belated correction.

Related Articles:

After effects: BBC accuracy failure used to promote hate

After effects 2 : BBC accuracy failure again used to promote hatred

 

 

 

‘Lowbrow’, ‘Highbrow’ and the BBC

On September 30th the business section of the BBC News website produced an article described on its main homepage as being about “lowbrow click-bait”.

Click bait article

BBC business reporter Will Smale’s article (titled “Taboola: The internet firm at the forefront of ‘click-bait’“) opens:

“You may not have heard of a company called Taboola, but what it does may annoy you greatly.

“Controversial slimming pill sweeps the UK”, “15 inconveniences of being a woman”, “Nine people you won’t actually believe exist”, “Danger! Don’t watch this with your wife” – if you’ve ever seen any of these headlines screaming out at you, then you’ll be familiar with the company’s work.

Taboola is one of the main providers of sponsored stories on news and gossip websites.

When you scroll to the bottom of the page, there are picture and caption links to three, six or eight external stories, typically under the headings “More stories from around the web” or “You may like”.

More often than not the captions hoping to tempt you to click on them are just a little lowbrow, and the photos accompanying them typically show celebrities or women in bikinis (or both).

Critics have described Taboola’s (and its rivals’) content as “spam”, “click-bait”, “degrading”, “representing a race to the bottom” and many other derogatory terms.”

Whilst the pejorative term ‘click-bait’ is usually employed to describe material aimed at generating online advertising revenue, the method behind it is of course the presentation of content under an enticing ‘bait’ headline which raises readers’ curiosity to a level which causes them to click on the link.

Philosophically minded readers might care to ponder the question of the difference, if any, between that type of “lowbrow” click-bait and a recent example (from the end of August) of the BBC’s own use of the fashionably ‘highbrow’ equivalent of a celeb in a bikini when the then ‘hot’ topic of Gaza was used to prompt readers of the BBC News website to click on an article about immigration in Australia.

Click bait Gaza art

And if the BBC is going to engage in ‘highbrow’ explanation of Latin terms, audiences might of course be more impressed were it to do so accurately before publication That error has since been corrected. 

Click bait art pic

BBC misleads audiences regarding cause of Operation Protective Edge

On September 23rd the BBC News website’s Middle East page published an article titled “Israel kills Palestinians suspected of teenagers’ murders“. The original version of the report read as follows.

Qawasme shootout art

The article was subsequently amended twice but all its versions continue to promote the notion that the seven weeks of hostilities in Israel and the Gaza Strip were caused by the kidnappings and murders of three Israeli teenagers on June 12th.

The final version of the report informs readers that:

“The abduction of the teenagers was a trigger of the recent conflict in Gaza.[…]

Israel launched a crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank following the abduction, detaining hundreds of members.

Then on 2 July, a Palestinian teenager from East Jerusalem was abducted and burned alive in an apparent revenge attack two days after the bodies of the Israeli teenagers were found. One Jewish man and two youths have been charged with the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdair, 16.

The killings set off an escalating cycle of violence, leading to a 50-day conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip that claimed more than 2,000 lives.”

As can be seen, the sequence of events presented to audiences by the BBC completely erases the fact that “the recent conflict” did not only take place “in Gaza” but also in Israel, with thousands of residents of the southern part of the country forced to leave their homes during that time.

Even more misleading is the fact that the BBC has completely airbrushed from audience view the hundreds of missiles launched at civilian targets in Israel between June 12th and the commencement of Operation Protective Edge on July 8th. It was of course that incessant missile fire which 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, but the terrorist organisation chose not to do so – for reasons not by any 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 – Ed.] 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.”

There is unfortunately nothing novel about this article’s promotion of the erroneous notion of an irresistible “cycle of violence” and its failure to inform BBC audiences that the events of this summer could have been prevented had Hamas so chosen.

Another point worthy of remark in this report is the fact that the penny seems to have finally dropped with regard to Hamas’ involvement in the kidnappings and murders of the three Israeli teenagers.

“The militant Islamist group Hamas initially denied being behind the killings but later on its political leader Khaled Meshaal said members had carried them out.

“Hamas praises the role martyrs Abu Aisha and Qawasmeh played in chasing down Israeli settlers and we stress that their assassination will not weaken the resistance,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.”

That belated epiphany means that the BBC should now ensure that all its previously published content promoting the notion that Hamas was not responsible for the murders (material which of course remains accessible to the general public online) is amended to include a footnote informing audiences that the BBC’s claims were inaccurate. An organization truly committed to editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality would also carry out a review of the role played by Jon Donnison in promoting politically motivated inaccurate information which deliberately misled audiences with regard to Hamas’ involvement in the kidnappings and murders. 

 

 

BBC News report on Palestinian rioter shot near Ramallah fails to provide context

On September 10th a short report appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Palestinian man shot dead in West Bank raid“.Jelazoun

“A Palestinian has been killed during an Israeli raid on a refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Palestinian medics said Issa Qatari, 22, was shot in the chest and died shortly before reaching hospital.

The Israeli military said its forces had clashed with dozens of protesters after entering the al-Amari camp on Wednesday to arrest a Hamas operative.

“A main instigator attempted to hurl an explosive device” at the troops, who opened fire in response, it added.

Witnesses in the camp gave a similar account of the incident.

Protesters “showered the invading forces with stones, and soldiers responded with live ammunition, injuring a number of other Palestinians”, one told the Maan news agency.

The Israeli military said the Hamas operative was arrested in the raid.”

The BBC’s “dozens of protesters” would have been more accurately described as rioters.

“An IDF unit sent to arrest a Hamas member in Ramallah encountered violent disturbances when approximately 50 Palestinians hurled rocks, firebombs, and burning tires, the army said. One of the rioters was seen throwing an explosive device at soldiers, according to the IDF Spokespersons Unit. Soldiers opened fire at the suspect, striking him. The man later died of gunshot wounds.”

What is missing from this report is of course the context necessary to enable BBC audiences to understand the background to the incident. There has been no BBC reporting of any of the recent violent rioting and attacks in Jerusalem and in Judea & Samaria. In fact, the last time visitors to the BBC News website were told anything about violence in those areas was on July 25th when Jon Donnison presented a very selective report on incidents in Qalandiya and elsewhere. BBC audiences are hence entirely unaware of the fact that the number of attacks in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem has – according to ISA reports – risen dramatically since the beginning of July with 507 attacks having taken place during that month compared to 100 the month before.

The chart below was compiled using the monthly statistics provided by the ISA but does not include separate representation of kidnappings, murders, stabbings or attacks using vehicles.

Chart jan 13 to jul 14

Of course there is nothing new about the BBC’s failure to report on security incidents, as we have frequently documented here in the past (see related articles below). However, that practice means that incidents such as the one reported in the above article are seen by BBC audiences in isolation, without the essential understanding of their backdrop.

Related Articles:

BBC silent on doubling of terror attacks since renewed ME talks

Review of the BBC’s reporting of security incidents in Judea & Samaria in January

A round-up of BBC reporting of security incidents in March 2014

Round-up of BBC coverage of security incidents – April 2014

100% of missile fire from Gaza Strip in May ignored by BBC

 

 

 

BBC’s Knell continues the Gaza border restrictions PR campaign

If there is one thing which should have become perfectly clear to foreign journalists since the beginning of July it is that the entry of building supplies into the Gaza Strip – which was increased in recent years due to intense pressure from assorted international bodies and aid agencies – was abused by Hamas to construct cross-border attack tunnels rather than for the advancement of projects which would have improved the lives of the people of Gaza.Knell drone report 5 9

However, not only has the BBC shown no interest whatsoever in discussing Hamas’ misappropriation of those building supplies or the very serious subject of the accountability of the aid agencies and international bodies which were supposed to be supervising and guaranteeing the construction projects for which those materials were destined; it continues to present the issue in terms of “Israel says”.

On September 5th Yolande Knell produced a report for BBC television news programmes which also appears on the BBC News website under the title “Gaza conflict: Drone footage reveals extent of damage“. On BBC television the presenter introduced the item thus:

“Now the conflict in Gaza has moved out of the headlines but thousands of Palestinians in the territory still face severe hardship. The UN estimates that around 17 thousand houses were destroyed in the conflict. But, a blockade is in place stopping companies from importing building supplies. Israel says it fears that militants would use the materials to rebuild tunnels which could be used for renewed cross-border attacks by militant fighters. Our Middle East correspondent Yolande Knell reports.” [emphasis added]

Knell’s report uses footage promoted on Twitter several days previously by the BBC’s Jon Donnison which shows the area of Shuja’iya where some of the most intense fighting took place and which – as we have noted here previously – is not representative of the situation in the Gaza Strip as a whole.

“The areas highlighted by the UN damage assessment report are compatible with the Israel Defense Forces briefings on the location of Hamas facilities, especially in the Shuja’iya area, which was the arena of the most intense battles. 

While Hamas concentrated its terror facilities – systematically and deliberately targeting Israeli civilians in densely populated urban areas in Gaza – the vast majority of these urban areas were undamaged. “

Shuja'iya map sites

Click to enlarge

Knell, however, refrains from putting the images she wants BBC audiences to see into their correct context.

“Destruction on an overwhelming scale. From above you get a new perspective on Shuja’iya – one of the areas worst affected by the latest Gaza conflict. Palestinian homes were bombed and battered by Israeli airstrikes and tank fire. Israeli troops fought militants here and targeted their tunnels. When the fighting stopped, residents returned to what remains.”

Knell’s second aim in this report is to continue promotion of the now long-running BBC campaign on the topic of border restrictions.

“Her grandson is a builder but with no steel or cement available, he can’t yet rebuild his own house.”

“Now people are coming back but you can see there’s very little reconstruction that’s going on.”

“And there are no new building materials that are coming in. Israel has long imposed tight border restrictions on Gaza, saying they’re needed for security and since the ceasefire nothing’s changed. Aid agencies say a rethink is urgently needed. There would still be a housing crisis even if Israel fully opened its one commercial crossing.” [emphasis added]

As has also been noted here previously, the Kerem Shalom crossing does not currently run at full capacity due to a lack of demand from the Palestinian side.

Knell closes her report by saying:

“While Gaza’s calm, there’s still no political solution to its underlying problems and Palestinians here are now feeling them more acutely than ever.”

What she refrains from clarifying to audiences is that a “political solution” which allows Hamas to import more weapons and to get its hands on supplies to build new tunnels will inevitably lead to yet another round of conflict in the Gaza Strip. It really is high time that Yolande Knell and her colleagues stopped their simplistic context-free PR campaigning on behalf of Hamas’ demand to ease border restrictions and began to fulfil their obligation to inform BBC audiences accurately and comprehensively of the real issues behind this story.

Related Articles:

Reporter in the rubble: what is missing from BBC presentation of structural damage in Gaza?

 

Reporter in the rubble: what is missing from BBC presentation of structural damage in Gaza?

Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge on July 8th BBC audiences have seen copious amounts of footage and images of damaged and destroyed buildings and infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.

Examples of televised reports include James Reynolds in Shuja’iya on August 6th, Jon Donnison in Beit Hanoun on August 5th, Orla Guerin in Khuza’a on August 11th and Chris Morris in Gaza City on July 29th. Listeners to BBC radio have heard dramatic descriptions such as this one by Kevin Connolly from Juhor-ad-Dik on Radio 4 and visitors to the BBC News website have seen illustrative photographs and graphics such as those below by the dozen and read statements such as:

“Approximately 16,800 housing units in Gaza had been destroyed, Mr Serry added, affecting some 100,000 Palestinians.” (“Gaza ceasefire ‘extended by a day’ after Cairo talks“, 19/8/14)

Damage photos 1

(source)

Damage photos 2

(source)

Damage photos 3

(source)

Damage photos 4

(source)

Damage photos 5

(source)

Damage photos 6

(source)

Absent from these BBC reports and the many others relating to the same topic, however, are two very important aspects of context: where and why.   

Most BBC audience members will have no reason to be familiar with the geography of the Gaza Strip. They will therefore be unable to judge to what extent the isolated images they are repeatedly shown by the BBC represent the picture in the whole of the Gaza Strip.Damge heat map

As we see above, the BBC obviously relies on UN OCHA as a source of information on the topic of damaged structures and that organization recently put out a series of maps titled “Gaza Crisis Atlas”. Analysis of those maps published at ‘Israellycool’ – see here and here – shows that the majority of damaged structures are concentrated in specific locations.

“Several patterns are discernible:

The attacks are in no way “random” or “indiscriminate”. One can clearly see the spatial distribution of the damage in several aspects. We find 8,952 of the 12,433 total points (72%) are within a 3 KM buffer abutting the border with Israel. The main objective of Operation Protective Edge was to find and destroy dozens of terror tunnels dug from Gaza into Israel.

That the most intensive damage was caused to the area where the tunnels naturally originated is thus perfectly understandable. Furthermore, of the 4,441 destroyed structures, 3,481 of them (78%) are within the 3 KM buffer, as are 2,531 of 3,303 (77%) of the lowest intensity damage (simple craters), which are mostly strikes on rocket launchers and tunnels.

Most of the attacks are grouped around certain neighborhoods or villages, such as Shuja’iyya, Johur ad-Dik, Sureij, and Khuza’a. These were probably the result of the ground operations that took place in dense urban areas also within the 3 KM buffer that housed multiple tunnel entrances and shafts, as well as launch sites for mortars and rockets.”

Of course another important type of context lacking from most BBC reports is why certain locations were targeted. Some examples of explanations can be seen in the video below.

So why is it that context which is so vital for BBC audiences’ understanding of what they are being shown by the BBC is subject to serial omission? Well, former AP correspondent Matti Friedman has some important insights to share on the topic of Western media coverage which may provide a clue.

“While global mania about Israeli actions has come to be taken for granted, it is actually the result of decisions made by individual human beings in positions of responsibility—in this case, journalists and editors. The world is not responding to events in this country, but rather to the description of these events by news organizations. […]

Most reporters in Gaza believe their job is to document violence directed by Israel at Palestinian civilians. That is the essence of the Israel story.”

Read the whole article here

 

BBC sticks to inaccurate narrative despite Hamas claim of June kidnappings

A couple of days ago we noted here that the BBC had refrained from making any mention of the news that a planned ‘Gaza June ’07’ style coup against the PA has been prevented. That observation still stands. 

“Israel’s Shin Bet security service said Monday it thwarted a Hamas coup attempt in the West Bank aimed at toppling Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and starting a third intifada uprising

The Shin Bet said it arrested more than 90 Hamas operatives in May and June, confiscated dozens of weapons that had been smuggled into the West Bank, and seized more than $170,000 aimed at funding attacks. It produced photos of the confiscated weapons and cash and a flowchart of the Hamas operatives who had been questioned, and said they planned a series of massive attacks on Israeli targets, including the Temple Mount, in order to start a widespread conflagration. Indictments are expected to be filed against at least 70 of the suspects.”

The leading architect of that planned coup was Hamas’ Saleh al Arouri who resides in Turkey.

“The infrastructure for the operation was exposed in May, along with the identity of its leader, Hamas operations officer Saleh al-Arouri, who remains in Turkey, according to the Shin Bet.

Ynet was told that in recent months there was an active movement of Hamas activists arriving to Hebron from abroad. These operatives were known to security forces to be loyal to al-Arouri.

The operatives were assisted by Jordanian couriers, who transferred $600,000 – $50,000 in each border run. The funds were moved through Turkey and Jordan and were intended to purchase vehicles and safe-houses.

The Shin Bet confiscated the cash, as well as 24 M-16 rifles (not of Israeli manufacture), six handguns, and seven missile launchers, magazines, and loads of ammunition.”

Two days after that news broke Saleh al Arouri was in the spotlight again when he spoke at a conference in Istanbul. In his speech Arouri stated that Hamas’ Izz al Din al Qassam Brigades carried out the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers Naftali Frankel, Gilad Sha’ar and Eyal Yifrach on June 12th.

A longer video of al Arouri’s speech – as broadcast on Al Jazeera – can be seen here courtesy of MEMRI.

“Our goal was to ignite an intifada in the West Bank and Jerusalem as well as within the 1948 borders [Israel]. The activity of the people has broadened to include all the occupied land, reaching its peak in the heroic operation, carried out by the Al-Qassam Brigades, in which three settlers were captured in Hebron. There has been a lot of confusion regarding this operation. Some said that this was a conspiracy of the occupation [Israel]. That’s not true. Your brothers in the Al-Qassam Brigades carried out this operation to support their imprisoned brothers who were on hunger strike.”

Al Arouri’s admission of course ties in with the information divulged earlier by Hussam Kawasme after his arrest in July. It also puts Jon Donnison’s recent campaign to exonerate Hamas of any responsibility for the kidnappings and murders (see here, here and here) into its correct context. 

But Donnision’s thinly disguised politically motivated ‘journavism’ is not the only issue highlighted by Saleh al Arouri’s statement. For weeks the BBC has been promoting a version of events which goes along these lines: [emphasis added]

“Israel accused Hamas of responsibility for the disappearance of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach and launched a crackdown on the group in the occupied West Bank, detaining hundreds of members despite Hamas denying any involvement.

Then on 2 July, a Palestinian teenager from East Jerusalem was abducted and burned alive in an apparent revenge attack two days after the bodies of the Israeli teenagers were found. The killings set off an escalating cycle of violence and led to the current conflict in Gaza.”

The fact is, of course, that the escalation in missile fire from the Gaza Strip began immediately after the disappearance of the Israeli teenagers on June 12th and continued throughout the three weeks of search and rescue operations. In the week preceding Operation Protective Edge, Hamas was given ample opportunity to curb its own missile fire and that of other factions, but elected not to do so.  In other words, the BBC’s much-touted “cycle of violence” is a myth: the “current conflict in Gaza” began because Hamas chose not to stop its cause – missile attacks on Israeli civilians.

Albeit usually in a somewhat more subtle manner than that adopted by Jon Donnison, the BBC has consistently pushed the line that Hamas involvement in the kidnappings and murders of the three Israeli teenagers was nothing more than an Israeli claim and remarkably even after the arrest of Hussam Kawasme it still promoted that notion.

“Israeli officials have said Marwan Qawasmeh and Mr Abu Aisha are known Hamas operatives, but the group has denied any involvement. Some have argued that the Qawasmeh clan might have acted on its own.”

In other words, BBC audiences have, for well over two months now, been fed an inaccurate version of events according to which it was Israel’s supposedly unwarranted claim of Hamas involvement in the kidnappings and murders of three of its citizens that, having prompted “increased tensions”, led to a “cycle of violence” which culminated in the current conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip. 

Saleh al Arouri’s Istanbul speech and the exposure of Hamas’ planned coup against the PA show the poverty of that BBC ‘analysis’ which lays the blame for the current violence at Israel’s door. It is of course high time that BBC audiences were provided with the full picture of events but remarkably, the corporation has so far failed to inform them of the latest important developments and currently shows no sign of deviating from its existing inaccurate narrative.  

 

BBC’s Jon Donnison breaches editorial guidelines in straw-clutching Tweet

“Presenters, reporters and correspondents are the public face and voice of the BBC – they can have a significant impact on perceptions of whether due impartiality has been achieved.  Our audiences should not be able to tell from BBC output the personal prejudices of our journalists or news and current affairs presenters on matters of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or on ‘controversial subjects’ in any other area.  They may provide professional judgements, rooted in evidence, but may not express personal views in BBC output, including online, on such matters.”    

(Source: BBC Editorial Guidelines, section 4.4.13)

On August 18th the BBC’s Jon Donnison (now back in Sydney after his recent brief yet ignominious return to Middle East reporting) sent the following tweet:

Tweet Donnison Pappe

There is no doubt that BBC audiences can discern the precise nature of Donnison’s “personal prejudices” from his promotion of the video in that Tweet. There is also no doubt that they can determine the type of ideology which underlies his reporting and commentary on Israel and the common disregard for accuracy shared by Donnison and Pappe.

However, there is also another layer to the promotion of this video by Donnison to his 17.6 thousand followers a whole 22 days after it initially appeared. Perusal of the transcript of the video shows that Donnison makes a cameo appearance in its content.

“AMY GOODMAN [presenter]: Professor Pappé, over the weekend, BBC correspondent Jon Donnison reported on what was called an Israeli admission that Hamas was not responsible for the killing of the three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank in June. On Twitter, Donnison said Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told him the suspects who killed the three teenagers were a lone cell affiliated with Hamas but not operating under its leadership. What is the significance of this?”

As we know, Donnison’s politically motivated claims designed to exonerate Hamas and discredit Israeli operations in the Gaza Strip have since unraveled, but it would appear that Donnison is still trying to cling to any vestige of his reputation as a journalist and that he misguidedly believes that Pappe’s answer to that question somehow supports his fabricated story.Donnison

“ILAN PAPPÉ: It’s very significant, because this was, of course, known to the Israelis the moment they heard about this abduction and the killing of the three young settlers. It was very clear that Israel was looking for a pretext to try and launch both a military operation in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip in order to try and bring back the situation in Palestine to what it was during the failed peace process, with a sort of good domicile, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in a way that they could forget about it and continue with the colonization of the West Bank without the need to change anything in their attitude or policies. And the depression in the West Bank, the frustration, the anger, especially in May 2014, of the killing of five young Palestinians by the Israeli army, burst out in this local action, this local initiative, that had nothing to do with the strategy of the Hamas, that was willing to try and give Abu Mazen leeway to create a unity government and to try the new initiative—going to the United Nations, going to international bodies, in order to make Israel accountable for more than 46 years of colonization and occupation. So it really highlights the connection between a pretext and a policy and a strategy which has wreaked such carnage in Gaza today.”

However, whilst Jon Donnison continues to cut a pathetic figure by clutching at a straw tossed by one of the most extremist figures from the anti-Israel fringe, his politically motivated fairy-tale crumbles even more.

“Israel’s Shin Bet security service said Monday it thwarted a Hamas coup attempt in the West Bank aimed at toppling Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and starting a third intifada uprising

The Shin Bet said it arrested more than 90 Hamas operatives in May and June, confiscated dozens of weapons that had been smuggled into the West Bank, and seized more than $170,000 aimed at funding attacks. It produced photos of the confiscated weapons and cash and a flowchart of the Hamas operatives who had been questioned, and said they planned a series of massive attacks on Israeli targets, including the Temple Mount, in order to start a widespread conflagration. Indictments are expected to be filed against at least 70 of the suspects.

[PA president] Abbas said later Monday that the revelation was “a grave threat to the unity of the Palestinian people and its future”. “

Remarkably, at the time of writing the BBC has maintained total silence on the topic of this recently broken news.

Those wishing to complain about Jon Donnison’s obvious breach of BBC Editorial Guidelines on impartiality may find our guide useful and the BBC’s guidance on social media use is available here

 

 

 

BBC’s Jon Donnison on Hamas message in Beit Hanoun

Of the 3,356 missiles fired at civilian targets in Israel by terrorists in the Gaza Strip between July 8th and August 5th 2014, 69.4% were fired from the northern part of the territory with the towns of Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun being major centres of missile fire, cross border tunnels and other terrorist activity.

Beit Hanoun

Click to enlarge

But viewers of Jon Donnison’s filmed report (heavily promoted on his Twitter feed) of August 5th – which, in addition to being broadcast on BBC television news, appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Gaza truce holds as residents return to destroyed homes” – would never have known that even one missile was fired from Beit Hanoun or that fierce battles took place there when Israeli soldiers went in to decommission cross-border attack tunnels and missile launchers, with terrorists using the local houses as sniper positions. Donnison Beit Hanoun 

Donnison opens:

“Ahmed is 80. He’s survived half a dozen wars in Gaza and a lifetime of struggle. He’s just returned to find his family home destroyed – for the third time. Mohammed is one of 34 grandchildren. He’s salvaging what he can from the rubble of what is his fourth war. He’s only fourteen. This was Ahmed’s bedroom; a room with a view. A mile away in the dust you can see the Israeli tanks withdrawing. Ahmed was a head teacher. He taught history. He’s no Hamas supporter but says this war did not start a month ago with rockets and airstrikes. It’s about Israel’s decades-long military occupation and land.”

Israel has of course not occupied the Gaza Strip for nine years and the major towns and cities in Judea & Samaria have been under PA control for nearly two decades, but Donnison sees no need to spoil the narrative by informing BBC audiences of the facts.

Ahmed: “We want this returned to us now. Gaza Strip and the West Bank.”

Donnison: “Will you stay?”

Ahmed: “Yes I will stay. I will stay and all my family will stay here. Where shall we go?”

Of the 3,356 missiles launched by terrorist organisations at Israel during the past four weeks, four hundred and seventy-five landed inside the Gaza Strip. Many residential homes were booby-trapped by the terrorists, to the extent that when the IDF informed the residents of Beit Hanoun that they could return to their homes, that message also came with a warning to beware of explosives still in place.

“The area around a school in Beit Hanoun had booby-trapped houses. Every house was suspicious. One soldier returned fire at a sniper in a window – and the whole house exploded in on its inhabitants. This has happened with several buildings.”

Jon Donnison, however, knows without any shadow of a doubt what caused the damage he films extensively in Beit Hanoun.map Beit Hanoun

“Israeli bombs also destroyed the family business – a chicken farm. The coops are gone. The birds are dead. Ahmed and his son Khalil also grow fruit and vegetables. But Israel’s blockade of Gaza, which Hamas wants lifted as part of a ceasefire deal, killed their trade. The blockade is not just about what comes into Gaza – it’s about what goes out.”

Khalil: “We send it to Israel, sell it to Israel, to Israel to the European market but when they close the border, everything down.”

Donnison: “But the blockade is not just about goods and business; it’s about people. Khalil has three teenage children. None of them have ever left Gaza. None of them have ever met an Israeli.”

Donnison makes no attempt whatsoever to inform audiences that the restrictions on the entry of dual-use goods into the Gaza Strip are aimed at curbing the type of terrorist activity which brought about the border restrictions in the first place. He intentionally misrepresents the topic of agricultural (and other) exports from the Gaza Strip: in 2012/13 for example, over 842 tons of agricultural produce was exported from Gaza via Israel, along with 12.2 million flowers.

Donnison closes:

“And this tiny stretch of land, which has seen so much destruction, is less than a third the size of London. Palestinians feel trapped in a cycle of death, destruction and rebuilding. This will not be the last war but once again, Gaza has been crippled. The healing will take years. Some will never recover.”

Clearly Jon Donnison remains on Hamas PR campaign message, promoting context-free images and descriptions of damage and civilian suffering without even a whiff of a mention of terrorist activity in Beit Hanoun. His promotion of a non-existent “military occupation” of the Gaza Strip and of the notion of farmers unable to export their agricultural produce because of a “blockade” he fails to explain also conforms perfectly with the Hamas narrative currently being vigorously promoted. The fact that there is no truth to those notions obviously does not disturb Jon Donnison – or his employers – in the least.