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

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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. 

Jon Donnison’s breach of BBC editorial standards unravels

Several days ago we noted here the part played by the BBC’s Jon Donnison in the creation of a story published in the NY Magazine in late July, according to which Hamas was not involved in the kidnappings and murders of the Israeli teenagers Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Sha’ar and Naftali Frankel on June 12th.Donnison

Donnison claimed on Twitter that an Israeli police spokesman had told him that whilst the Hebron-based cell which carried out the kidnappings and murders was affiliated with Hamas, it was operating alone and did not receive direct orders from Hamas leadership. Donnison’s claims became the one of the bases for a widely circulated article saying Israel now conceded that the kidnappers acted alone and Hamas had nothing to do with it.

BBC Watch (along with others) contacted police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld who told us the following in relation to Donnison’s claims:

“I said and confirmed what is known already, that the kidnapping and murder of the teens was carried out by Hamas terrorists from the Hebron area and the security organizations are continuing to search for the murderers.” 

Donnison responded by saying he stood by his earlier Tweets.

Donnison tweets police spox

What was the point of the NY Magazine article in which Donnison played a lead role and of Donnison’s own Tweets on the topic? The aim was to ‘prove’ that Operation Protective Edge was not justified, and that was achieved by promoting false linkage between the kidnappings and the operation, suggesting that the latter was Israel’s reaction to the former and even that Israel has used the kidnappings as an excuse to act in the Gaza Strip. In fact the operation began after weeks of serious escalation in missile fire from the Gaza Strip and the ground operation as a result of Hamas’ use of cross-border attack tunnels.

But if Donnison and others could show that Hamas in Gaza had no link to the kidnappings they falsely touted as the reason for the operation, then they could present Israel’s actions as unjustified and Hamas as the wronged victim acting in self-defence against unwarranted Israeli aggression.

That theory – as shown here by Professor William Jacobson – gained significant traction in certain circles.

On August 5th the following information was released into the public domain. [translation BBC Watch]

“Today (Tuesday) it was permitted to publish that in the case of the kidnapping and murders of the three youths Gilad Sha’ar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Frankel, Hussam Kawasme was arrested on July 11th at the home of a relation in Anata. He obtained the funding to carry out the terror attack from Hamas members in the Gaza Strip. He was arrested by the Yamam [counter-terrorism] unit in light of information from the ISA.

With the discovery of the bodies, Hussam Kawasme left his house, hid and intended to disappear to Jordan using forged papers, with the help of his family. During his interrogation he admitted that he operated as the leader of the terrorism and kidnapping operations [carried out by] Marwan Kawasme and Ama’ar Abu Aiysha who have not yet been caught. In that role, Hussam secured funding for the terror attack from Hamas members in the Gaza Strip and admitted that he purchased weapons, which he passed on to Marwan Kawasme.”

 Hussam Kawasme has yet to be charged and stand trial and it can be assumed that during that process more information about the case will come to light.

But as far as the BBC is concerned, what should matter about this story is that – using the BBC’s reputation for reliability as back-wind – one of its employees misrepresented statements provided to him because he is a BBC correspondent in order to promote a politically motivated version of events designed to influence public opinion on the topic of Israel’s actions.

That, of course, is activism – not journalism – and the BBC clearly needs to respond appropriately to this latest breach of its editorial standards by Jon Donnison.

But will it do so? Its own report on the arrest of Hussam Kawasme (“Palestinian arrested over murder of Israeli teenagers” – August 6th – BBC News website) states:

The killings set off an escalating cycle of violence and led to a conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip that has so far claimed more than 1,900 lives.

The report concludes:

“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.”

Jon Donnison’s flouting of supposed BBC standards of impartiality is obviously not an isolated problem. 

BBC presentation of the August 1st ceasefire breakdown – part two: BBC television news

In this post we will look at the way in which the breakdown of the August 1st humanitarian ceasefire – breached after 90 minutes by Hamas terrorists who staged an attack on IDF soldiers decommissioning a cross-border tunnel near Rafah – was presented to viewers of BBC television news.

For the timeline of events see part one of this post.

Early on the morning of August 1st – before the humanitarian ceasefire had been breached – viewers of BBC television news saw a report by Jon Brain titled “Israel and Hamas 72-hour truce begins” in its website version. Brain opened that report with more of the BBC’s context-free presentation of casualty figures it has not independently verified.Truce filmed 1

“Released by the Israeli military, this video footage apparently shows an air strike being aborted because Palestinian children were seen moving around on the ground. But many other children have not been so fortunate; victims of a conflict which has now claimed more than fourteen hundred Palestinian lives and displaced tens of thousands of people. Sixty-three Israelis – nearly all of them soldiers – have also died.” [emphasis added]

As we see, the policy of not informing audiences that a proportion of the Palestinian casualties are terrorists and not clarifying that the source of casualty figures is either Hamas itself or politically motivated organisations continues. Later on, Brain comes up with this curious statement:

“For its part, Israel has insisted it won’t end its military operation until tunnels built by Hamas have been destroyed. It claims they’re a direct threat to Israeli security.” [emphasis added]

Apparently the BBC believes it may be possible to have a different interpretation of underground cross-border tunnels constructed by a proscribed terrorist organization which infiltrate the territory of a sovereign country. Brain also informs viewers that:

“Previous ceasefires have been broken within hours.”

Significantly, he does not however inform them that those breaches of previous ceasefires were all carried out by Hamas.

Later on, after the ceasefire had been breached by Hamas, filmed BBC report by Martin Patience was shown to television audiences -“Israel to resume Gaza operation as truce with Hamas crumbles“. As was the case in one of the written reports which appeared on the BBC News website, Patience promotes the notion that:Truce filmed 2

“People here always knew that it [the ceasefire] was going to be shaky, that – yes – there would be violations.”

He continues:

“I think there is surprise, though, that it’s crumbled after just four and a half hours and it seems to have been triggered by that very serious incident down in Rafah. The latest we have from Palestinians are that at least four Palestinian…ah….Palestinians have been killed by Israeli tank fire as you were saying David.”

Did Patience almost slip up there and say “at least four Palestinian militants”?

He adds:

“Israel says that one of its kibbutz [sic] in the southern part of the country had been attacked and it was responding to fire.”

Still later in the day, viewers of BBC television news saw a report by Nick Childs. The synopsis to that report as it appears on the BBC News website under the title “Gaza ceasefire collapses: What fate for talks?” reads:Truce filmed 3

“Palestinian sources said at least 30 people had been killed in an Israeli attack in Gaza on Friday, just hours after a ceasefire was called. A senior Israeli official said Hamas had breached the ceasefire and Israel’s response would be “crushing”.”

The report itself makes no attempt to inform audiences why the humanitarian ceasefire collapsed.

On the evening of August 1st viewers saw a report by Jon Donnison, which appears under the inaccurate and misleading title “Gaza militants ‘seize Israeli soldier’ as ceasefire ends” on the BBC News website. The actions of the Hamas terrorists were in fact what ended the ceasefire: they did not – as this title suggests – occur at the end of the ceasefire. 

Donnison’s report begins in a maternity ward, with a doctor interviewed saying:

“We hope, we hope that Israeli they respect the ceasefire and Palestinian because we have to take a risk for this massacre and this disaster in the Gaza Strip.”

Donnison then moves on to Beit Hanoun, failing to inform audiences that the area has been a major location of missile fire into Israel or to raise the very realistic possibility that some of the damage to buildings his cameraman films extensively may have been the result of the terrorists’ practice of booby-trapping houses: a subject which the BBC has not touched at all in any of its coverage. He goes on to address the topic of the breached humanitarian ceasefire, notably presenting events in an inaccurate order which misleads viewers.Truce filmed 4

“But the ceasefire was over almost as soon as it had started. More Israeli airstrikes and Palestinian rockets. At least fifty Palestinians were killed today; many more were wounded. And then, from Rafah in the south of Gaza, the news that could see this conflict escalate still further. An Israeli soldier suspected to have been captured alive by Hamas fighters after they crossed the border through a tunnel. Israel says one fighter detonated a suicide belt as he emerged from underground. Two soldiers were killed and 23 year-old Hadar Goldin was dragged back into Gaza.”

Contrary to Donnison’s statements, the incident in which 2nd Lt. Goldin was abducted was the event which breached the ceasefire and it took place before any “Israeli airstrikes”. It also took place near Rafah – not, as Donnison claims, on the Israeli side of the border.

Equally inaccurate is Donnison’s later claim that Gilad Shalit was abducted “in Gaza”. That incident did take place on the Israeli side of the border.

“Hamas will see this as a huge result. It took more than five years for Israel to free the last soldier captured in Gaza, Gilad Shalit.”

Another filmed report shown to viewers of BBC television news was produced by Ian Pannell. It also appears on the BBC News website under the title “Palestinians return to gutted homes during brief ceasefire“.Truce filmed 5

Like his colleague Jon Donnison, Pannell fails to provide viewers with the information necessary to provide context to the scenes of damaged buildings shown in his report.

“…but today Gaza woke to news of a ceasefire. The guns fell silent and families cautiously walked back to their homes. This is what they found. Whole neighbourhoods gutted. Israel says it’s self-defence against a terrorist threat. [….]

The houses lie close to the border. Israel says militants built tunnels under the area. But for those who live here, it feels like collective punishment.” [emphasis added]

Pannell’s description of the collapse of the ceasefire starts out accurately from a chronological point of view, but notably he fails to identify the party which initiated the violence, promotes some Hamas propaganda and fails to inform viewers how many of those killed in Rafah were terrorists.

“It lasted just a few hours. After two Israeli soldiers were killed and an officer captured, the ceasefire was over; both sides accusing the other of breaking the truce. More than fifty people were killed in the town of Rafah.”

Perhaps surprisingly, the most accurate timeline of events in any of the filmed reports shown to BBC television news viewers came from Orla Guerin. Her report of August 1st – also inaccurately and misleadingly titled “Israeli soldier ‘captured’ by militants as ceasefire ends” in the version appearing on the BBC News website – opens:Truce filmed 6

“[…] The ceasefire was supposed to last three days. It didn’t last three hours. At half past nine 23 year-old Hadar Goldin was captured in Gaza. The soldier was taken by militants who emerged from a tunnel.”

Getting both the chronology of events and their location right – in contrast to many of her colleagues – Guerin later states:

“Soon after the latest abduction shells rained down in Rafah where the soldier was taken.”

However, Guerin repeats the same inaccuracy which appeared in Jon Donnison’s report regarding the location of the abduction of Gilad Shalit in 2006.

“It took Israel five long years to secure the release of Gilad Shalit – the last soldier taken in Gaza…”

Still later in the report, Guerin visits Kibbutz Kfar Aza and for the first time, BBC audiences hear – albeit very briefly – that not just people in Gaza have been displaced from their homes during this conflict, but Israeli residents of communities near the border too. In contrast to the ample reporting on the topic of displaced persons in the Gaza Strip, the subject of displaced Israelis has not been covered at all by the BBC.

A report by Jon Brain from the morning of August 2nd (“Gaza conflict: Hamas denies holding Israeli soldier“) seems to start promisingly when it presents the abduction and the later fire on Rafah in the correct chronological order. However, that report soon descends into promotion of Hamas propaganda, including an interview with Hamas’ Fawzi Barhoum.Truce filmed 7

“Each side is blaming the other for breaking the truce.”

“However, Hamas claims it has no information about the missing soldier and blames Israel for the renewed violence.”

Barhoum: “The Israeli enemy is the one that breached the truce when Israeli Special Forces entered the eastern side of Rafah. The Palestinian resistance clashed with them and this was our right to defend ourselves.”

Significantly, neither Brain nor any other BBC journalist reporting on this issue bothered to clarify to audiences that the Israeli soldiers who were attacked were in the process of decommissioning one of Hamas’ attack tunnels at the time – in line with the terms of the ceasefire.

As we see from this selection of filmed reports shown to viewers of BBC television news, the majority of them – like the BBC News website’s written reports discussed in the previous post – come nowhere near to informing audiences clearly, accurately and impartially of the event which breached the humanitarian ceasefire of August 1st. That failure is exacerbated by the amplification of Hamas propaganda which only serves to further prevent audiences from properly understanding why this latest ceasefire failed. 

BBC’s Jon Donnison misrepresents PFLP ‘fighter commander’ as charity worker

On Friday July 25th the BBC’s Jon Donnison reported from Jerusalem for BBC television news on the topic of the ‘Day of Rage’ called for by assorted Palestinian factions including Hamas on that date. The report also appeared on the BBC News website under the title “Gaza and Israel brace for ‘day of anger’“.Donnison 25 7 Jlem

In that report Donnison described the events of the night before at Qalandiya checkpoint.

“Now you mentioned those clashes in Ramallah overnight – ah…pretty bad. Ten thousand people demonstrating. They marched towards the Qalandiya checkpoint which separates Ramallah from…err… East Jerusalem. We had two Palestinians killed, more than 250 injured and 29 Israeli police officers also injured. So – as you say – a day of anger being called for and I think it could be a difficult day.”

Like all the other BBC journalists who reported on those violent riots in Qalandiya, Donnison failed to inform BBC audiences that the two Palestinians killed were shooting live ammunition at the police officers present at the time and that the shootings were claimed by Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

On July 29th Donnison produced another filmed report for BBC television news (which also appeared on the BBC News website under the title “West Bank Palestinians politically divided, but united in anger“. In that report too Donnison referred to the rioting in Qalandiya – which he insists of course on describing as “protests” and “clashes” – without informing BBC audiences of the live fire claimed – significantly – by a terrorist group affiliated with the PA’s dominant party.Donnison 29 7 Beit Ummar

“In clashes with the Israeli army more than ten West Bank Palestinians have been killed and hundreds injured since the war in Gaza began. At one protest well over ten thousand turned out. Just about every night for the past three weeks or so there have been clashes across the West Bank. Here at the Qalandiya checkpoint you can see the rocks thrown by Palestinian youths littering the streets as well as the tear gas canisters fired by the Israeli army.”

But that is not Donnison’s only serious omission in this report. At the beginning of the item he tells audiences the following story:

“Palestinian grief. Not in Gaza, but in the West Bank. Hashem Abu Maria was shot dead by Israeli soldiers last week as he demonstrated against Israel’s actions in Gaza. He was 47 years old, a father of three and worked for a children’s charity. By his graveside his wife Samira tells me Hashem gave his life trying to protect children.”

Donnison does not inform viewers of the location of the rioting during which Hashem Abu Maria was shot, but it happened in his home town of Beit Ummar – a place which might be familiar to some readers because of the not infrequent attacks on Israeli drivers there and the fact that the town’s residents seem to have a repeated habit of flying Nazi flags.

Donnison is equally vague about that “children’s charity” for which the pleasant-sounding Mr Abu Maria worked. In fact he was an employee of a political NGO with which many readers will also be familiar Defence for Children International – Palestine SectionThat NGO – frequently quoted and promoted by Western journalists – has links to other anti-Israel organisations including the Alternative Information Centre and the ISM – which has a permanent representative also connected to the extended Abu Maria family in Beit Ummar. But most notably, that “children’s charity” also has links to a terror organization – the PFLP – via one of its board members and also, it transpires, via none other than its former employee Hashem Abu Maria. Below is a screenshot of the PFLP’s Facebook announcement and here is an obituary on the PFLP website which describes Jon Donnison’s ‘charity worker’ as “fighter commander”.

PFLP Abu Maria

Below is footage filmed in Beit Ummar on July 25th – apparently after Hashem Abu Maria was killed – showing one of those “protests” as Donnison euphemistically describes them. The tower is an Israeli army position – note the PFLP flag.

Clearly BBC editorial standards of accuracy would demand that Jon Donnison tell audiences about the real nature of the so-called “children’s charity” for which Hashem Abu Maria worked and his membership of the PFLP. But just as obvious is the fact that Donnison’s lack of accuracy serves a higher goal: the sympathy-inducing presentation of Abu Maria as a family man and a ‘charity worker’ who “gave his life trying to protect children” would be somewhat less convincing to audiences if they knew he was a member of a terrorist organization.

Clearly too, Abu Maria as he is portrayed is intended to serve as signposting for audiences in Donnison’s overall representation of ‘protesting’ Palestinians killed by Israeli forces. Like his failure to inform viewers of the live fire at the Qalandiya riots, the aim of that selective portrayal is to direct audiences towards a specific understanding of events which does not include the entire picture. And that can only be interpreted as a deliberate breach of BBC guidelines on impartiality.

 

The return of the BBC’s Jon Donnison and his tall Twitter tales

As readers may already be aware, one of the people recently ‘parachuted in’ by the BBC to provide back-up to its local staff since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge is former Gaza correspondent Jon Donnison.Donnison

Despite only having been here for a few days, Donnison has already managed to get himself in the news once again, as Eli Lake documented here.

“Over the weekend it appeared that an Israeli official conceded something very valuable to Hamas. A BBC reporter in Israel tweeted out comments from the spokesman for Israel’s national police who allegedly said Hamas was not behind the kidnapping and murder last month of three Israeli teens on the West Bank, an incident that was the spark for the current war in Gaza. […]

Donnison tweeted that [police spokesman] Rosenfeld told him that while the cell on the West Bank was operating alone, it was affiliated with Hamas. However, it did not receive direct orders from Hamas leadership. 

Those tweets became the basis for a widely shared blog post saying Israel now conceded that the kidnappers acted in a lone cell and Hamas had nothing to do with it. […]

But when reached by The Daily Beast on Sunday, Rosenfeld said that he had told Donnison what the Israeli government had been saying all along. “The kidnapping and murder of the teens was carried out by Hamas terrorists from the Hebron area,” he told The Daily Beast. “The security organizations are continuing to search for the murderers.”

Donnison on Saturday said he stood by his earlier tweets. ” 

BBC Watch also contacted police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld who told us the following in relation to Donnison’s claims:

“I said and confirmed what is known already, that the kidnapping and murder of the teens was carried out by Hamas terrorists from the Hebron area and the security organizations are continuing to search for the murderers.” 

Jon Donnison and his Twitter tales remain a liability to the BBC. 

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BBC’s Jon Donnison Tweets malicious fauxtography

BBC’s Jon Donnison Tweets unverified information again