What are the dominant themes appearing in BBC filmed reports from the Gaza Strip?

As Operation Protective Edge progresses, the BBC is increasingly putting the focus of its reporting on the subject of casualties in the Gaza Strip. Notably – although the figures quoted by the BBC come exclusively from Palestinian sources and primarily from the Hamas-run Palestinian Ministry of Health – reports have not taken the trouble to clarify to BBC audiences that neither the figures themselves nor the ratio of civilians to combatants has been independently verified by the BBC.Op PE Bowen 2 11 7

Since the entry of the first BBC foreign correspondent into the Gaza Strip on July 8th, viewers of BBC television news and visitors to the BBC News website have seen the following filmed reports among others.

July 8th:  

  • Promotion of the inaccurate claim that the shortage of medical supplies in the Gaza Strip is the result of Israeli policy from Yolande Knell.

July 9th:

July 10th:

  • A report by Yolande Knell in which she amplifies claims made on Hamas-run local TV stations without informing audiences that they have not been independently verified by the BBC.

“…People really are extremely afraid. They’re just watching the local television news which is telling about the number of people killed here in Gaza since Tuesday morning mounting up, saying that most of those are civilians.” [emphasis added]

In the same report, Knell also amplifies an inaccurate claim of ‘collective punishment’ from what she describes as “human rights groups”, but fails to provide audiences with the names of those organisations so that they can verify the relevance and accuracy of such claims for themselves. In addition, she once more fails to inform audiences that the “homes” targeted also served as centres for terrorist activity.

“Israel has been following a policy of targeting the homes it says belong to militants here in Gaza. Because this is a very densely crowded place that often means that because residential areas are targeted, whole families are targeted and you have what’s been described by some human rights groups as collective punishment, but also just other civilians not involved in militant activity getting caught up in this.”

  • A filmed report by Kevin Connolly, the synopsis of which also quotes Hamas officials without informing readers that the information has not been independently verified by the BBC and does not differentiate between civilians and combatants.

“Palestinian officials in the Gaza Strip say 78 people have been killed in Israeli attacks from the air and the sea this week.”

To his credit, Connolly mentions in that report some of the methods used by Israel to avoid civilian casualties (others include aborting missions and leafleting operational areas).

“Israel says its air-force tries hard to avoid civilian casualties. Before houses are bombed, warnings are telephoned to people inside and a dummy missile is fired before the real one: a so-called ‘knock on the roof’.”

He goes on:

“It doesn’t always work. Israel today called the death of eight civilians in a house in Khan Younis on Tuesday a tragedy, saying the victims had gone back inside too soon after the warning.”

Disappointingly, Connolly fails to inform viewers that Hamas has instructed the local population to ignore warnings from the IDF, encouraging them to act as human shields.

“They didn’t warn us. […] It was the first time they hit a house without any warning.”

Sommerville adds:

“The Israeli military usually gives advance notice of an attack. If they did here, the Haj family didn’t receive it.”

Again, no effort is made to inform BBC audiences of Hamas’ calls to civilians not to heed Israeli warnings or of the significant fact that in this particular case, that instruction was issued using the Palestinian National Authority logo due to the establishment of the PUG at the beginning of June.

GAZA MOI

July 11th:

“The deaths of two Palestinians in an Israeli air-raid on a camp in central Gaza has brought the total number of people killed in the conflict to 100 in just four days. Overnight another five people were killed when a three-storey house in the southern town of Rafah was flattened. Militants have fired more rockets at Tel Aviv in the last few hours. No Israelis have so far been killed since the conflict began.”

  • A filmed report using amateur footage, the synopsis to which as it appears on the BBC News website does not clarify that the source of the information given is Hamas or that the BBC has not independently verified it and does not make any distinction between civilian and combatant casualties.

“More than 100 people have died in the Israeli air strikes on Gaza, Palestinian sources say.”

  • A filmed report by Jeremy Bowen, who arrived in the Gaza Strip on the morning of the same day. The synopsis to the version of that report appearing on the BBC News website’s Middle East page once again fails to distinguish between civilian and combatant casualties and neglects to inform audiences that the figures have not been independently verified by the BBC.

“More than 100 people have died in the Israeli air strikes in the territory, Palestinian sources say.”

Failing to point out that the Gaza Health Ministry is run by Hamas and that the BBC has not verified its claims independently, Bowen informs viewers:

“More than half of over 100 people killed in Gaza by Israeli raids were women and children according to the Health Ministry.”

  • In a separate but similar report from the same date titled “Gaza crisis: Death toll from Israeli strikes ‘hits 100′”, Bowen repeats the above claim, once again failing to inform viewers that the figures come from Hamas and have not been independently verified by the BBC.

“More than half of over 100 people killed in Gaza by Israeli raids so far this week were women and children, according to the Health Ministry.”

He adds:

“The UN Human Rights Commissioner says there’s serious doubt Israel is complying with the laws of war that protect civilians.”

Notably, Bowen’s paraphrasing of Navi Pillay’s statement does not include the part of it which conflicts with Bowen’s claim that more than half the casualties in the Gaza Strip are women and children. Bowen also fails to inform viewers that the UN Commissioner also noted Hamas’ failure to comply with the laws of war that protect civilians, both by its indiscriminate targeting of Israeli civilians in missile attacks and its storage of weapons and firing of missiles from residential areas in the Gaza Strip.

“Ms. Pillay warned in particular that attacks must not be directed against civilians or civilian objects, nor should military assets be located in densely populated areas or attacks be launched from such areas.”

As we see from the examples of reports above, the BBC’s main themes in its reporting from the Gaza Strip so far have been as follows:

Promotion and amplification of false claims of targeting civilians and collective punishment made by politically motivated interested parties.

Promotion of unverified casualty figures from Hamas sources with a failure to distinguish between civilians and combatants.

Portrayal of Israeli strikes on houses without adequate clarification of the practice of use of residential buildings as command centres and weapons storage facilities by terrorist organisations.

Failure to adequately inform BBC audiences concerning the use of civilians as human shields by Hamas and other terrorist organisations, including both the failure to report Hamas calls to the public to ignore Israeli warnings intended to reduce the risk of civilian casualties and the failure to report on the storage and firing of missiles from residential areas.

Failure to inform BBC audiences of factors contributing to the number of casualties such as secondary explosions due to the storage of explosives in houses or public buildings located in residential neighbourhoods and short-falling missiles.

Inference of failure on Israel’s part to conform to laws of war protecting civilians without adequate information on the topic of those laws being provided and with no clarification to audiences concerning obvious breaches of the same laws by terrorist organisations based in the Gaza Strip, including the one which is party to the PA unity government. 

 

 

 

 

James Reynolds tells BBC viewers about Hamas’ ‘crudely made rockets’

A filmed report by James Reynolds dating from July 7th which appeared on BBC television news broadcasts was also promoted on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Israeli air strikes on Gaza kill nine Palestinian militants“.Reynolds Gaza report filmed

In the synopsis to that item as it appears on the website, no mention is made of the cause of Israeli airstrikes on terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip: the firing of hundreds of missiles at Israeli civilian targets by Palestinian terrorists. However, the synopsis does promote the inaccurate notion that “tensions” in the area are related to the murder of Muhammed Abu Khdeir, when in fact the surge in missile attacks from the Gaza Strip began four weeks ago.

“Nine Palestinian militants have been killed in a series of Israeli air raids on the Gaza Strip.

The armed wing of the Palestinian militant group Hamas says six of its fighters died in a single strike near Rafah in the south.

Three others died in separate Israeli air strikes in response to at least 20 rocket attacks from Gaza.

Tensions in the region are high following the murder of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdair.”

Reynolds opens his report:

“Overnight, Israel’s air-force struck targets in Gaza: the piece of land ruled by the Palestinian armed movement Hamas.”

In addition to the absence of any mention of the fact that Hamas is a designated terrorist organization and the euphemistic description of it as an “armed movement”, it is also notable that Reynolds inaccurately tells BBC audiences that the Gaza Strip is “ruled by” Hamas when in fact, since June 2nd 2014, it is officially under the authority of the Palestinian unity government which is a product of the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah. Notably, that aspect of the current Gaza Strip story is being consistently erased from public view by the BBC.

Reynolds goes on with that old BBC favourite “Israel says”, which of course translates as ‘we’re not going to confirm that’.

“Israel says it went after rocket launcher sites and warehouses. Israel’s airstrikes killed a number of armed men from Hamas and other groups. This was the deadliest attack on Gaza since 2012.”

In fact, some of those terrorists (rather than “armed men” as Reynolds euphemistically calls them) were killed because they were handling their own explosives in a cross-border tunnel at the time of their death.

“The IDF targeted a Hamas tunnel early Monday morning, preventing an imminent terror threat to Israeli citizens. Hamas terrorists built the tunnel, which extends from Gaza into Israel, in order to execute complex attacks against civilians and IDF soldiers.

At the time of the strike, terrorists inside the tunnel were working with explosives, causing a massive blast that killed seven Hamas operatives. The terrorists likely planned to use the explosives to carry out an attack against Israel.”

Reynolds continues:

“This morning a rocket fired by Hamas landed in the Israeli village of Nirim next to Gaza. In recent days Hamas has fired several dozen of its own crudely made rockets across the border.”

Reynolds’ description of the missiles fired as “crudely made” is obviously attempt to portray them to BBC audiences as ineffective and to downplay the danger they present. Some of Hamas’ approximately 10,000 strong missile arsenal is indeed locally produced: the M75, for example, with its 60 kg warhead and 75 km range, was responsible for the deaths of three people in the apartment shown in the picture below in 2012.

K Malachi 2012

The report then cuts to a brief two-sentence interview with the Israeli spokesman Mark Regev:

“We are acting to protect our people. We are targeting the terrorists in Gaza – those firing the rockets – and Hamas has to understand: this must stop.”

Reynolds goes on to promote a deft reversal of the actual situation, prompting audiences to mistakenly believe that Hamas is responding to Israeli actions rather than – as is actually the case – the opposite.

“Israel’s strikes on Gaza have prompted Hamas to promise further attacks of its own.”

He continues, downplaying the gravity of the fact that over a million people have had their lives paralysed by missile attacks from terrorist organisations for four weeks and describing organized violent rioting as ‘protest’.

“Fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza has been a regular part of this conflict. But what may worry Israel more is the atmosphere here in Jerusalem and in nearby areas. Palestinians who live under Israeli rule have protested and they’ve fought against the police.”

The report then cuts to footage of Saeb Erekat.

“This morning the Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat took diplomats to see the village of Nabi Samuel. It’s surrounded by Jewish settlements built on land the Palestinians want for a state.”

Not for the first time we see BBC reporters making inaccurate use of the words “surrounded” and “settlements” in the same sentence. Below is a map of Nabi Samuel with Israeli residential areas marked in blue and Palestinian ones in green. As readers can see for themselves, “surrounded by Jewish settlements” is an inaccurate portrayal. 

Nabi Samuel

 

Erekat then says:

“What we are witnessing of this wave of escalation is a systematic approach by the Israeli government to throw us in the path of bloodshed, violence, counter-violence, chaos which we have seen in 2002.”

Erekat’s reference to 2002 is of course intended to mean Operation Defensive Shield, which was preceded and brought about by eighteen months of Palestinian terrorism initiated by the Palestinian Authority which Erekat ‘neglects’ to mention and Reynolds fails to clarify to audiences. Neither does Reynolds inform viewers that had the PA not elected to start the second Intifada terror war against Israel, negotiations could have continued and the PA could have got the land it ‘wants’ for its state. Notably, the BBC did not take the opportunity to ask Erekat what the Palestinian unity government (bound, according to its own prime minister, to existing agreements with Israel) is doing to stop Hamas missile fire on Israeli civilians from a territory which has been under its authority since June 2nd.

Reynolds closes by again promoting the notion of organized violent rioting as “protests”, erasing the political motivations which lie behind it from audience view and instead advancing a patronizing theory of “anger”.

“In the north of Israel, Arabs who have Israeli citizenship have clashed with the police. These protests are more unusual. They’re a sign of increasing anger in this conflict.”

As readers have no doubt noticed, the BBC’s sporadic and incomplete coverage of the last four weeks of missile attacks on Israeli civilians has not included much effort to convey to BBC audiences what it is like for those one million residents located close to the Gaza Strip to live under ever-escalating terror attacks for weeks on end. To date, since this latest round of augmented attacks began, BBC audiences have seen just one brief one-liner interview with one man in one report - and James Reynolds did nothing to correct that imbalance in this piece. 

 

 

 

 

BBC’s Bowen builds framing on Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme

Last week we noted an item which appeared in the July 3rd edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme and one of several additional items of interest from the same broadcast was a conversation between presenter John Humphrys and the BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen which is available at around 1:09:12 here for a limited period of time.Today 3 7

Given that Bowen is the ‘gatekeeper’ of the BBC’s Middle East reporting, it is useful to note the nature of the opinions and beliefs he holds which, in turn, shape the BBC ‘world view’ promoted to millions of viewers, listeners and readers around the world.

John Humphrys: “Tensions between Palestinians and Israelis are dangerously high. Earlier in the week the bodies of three Israeli teenagers were found in the West Bank. The Israelis say they were murdered by Hamas. Yesterday a Palestinian teenager was kidnapped and murdered and the Palestinians blame Israel. I’ve been talking to our Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen about the wider implications of this latest outbreak of violence between the two sides.”

Jeremy Bowen: “First of all, I’m talking to you sitting in Baghdad and you look across the region and the region is boiling and in the last few years one of the relatively quieter areas has been the front between Israelis and Palestinians, but I think that while it’s been a bit out of the headlines, all the old issues have been there and I think it’s also not immune to the kinds of anger that you can see elsewhere in the region. So right around the area you see all this trouble and I’m not surprised that things have started to come to a head again between the Israelis and the Palestinians as well.”

If readers can get past the risible notion that Israel has been “out of the headlines” at any time as far as the BBC is concerned, they will note that Bowen’s ‘one size fits all’ description of the Middle East of course erases from audience view the issue of the Sunni-Shia dispute which currently fuels so much of the conflict in the region, but does not have a role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

JH: “The Jerusalem Post is writing this morning about the murder of the teenagers obviously and it says this: ‘it’s another reminder that swathes of Palestinian society continue to be irreconcilably committed to Israel’s destruction’. Is it the case that it’s not just terrorist organisations such as Hamas that are bent on Israel’s destruction, but the Palestinian people generally are irreconcilably opposed to the existence of Israel?”

JB: “No, I don’t think that’s the case. I think the vast majority of Palestinians are absolutely reconciled to the existence of Israel. What they’re not reconciled to is the continuing occupation of land taken in 1967, the growth of settlements. You know you’ve heard all this many times before and it was interesting as well – and telling, I think – to see the mother of the Palestinian teenager who was killed saying Palestinians have no rights and I think that they feel that there’s one law for Israelis and one law for themselves and that they’re never going to be in a better place until they get independence, get their own state and that, I think, is the prevalent view among Palestinians.”

Those who saw the two filmed reports produced by James Reynolds on July 4th – the day after this programme was broadcast – will note the remarkable similarity of messaging and promotion of the inaccurate notion of a ‘two-tier’ justice system.  Bowen continues:

“And of course there are some who would like to eliminate the Israeli state – I’ve spoken to them – but the vast majority I think are prepared to live alongside it as an equal.”

So let’s take a look at what the Palestinians themselves said in a poll commissioned by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy which was published a week before Bowen made the above statements.

WINEP 1

As we see above, the majority of Palestinians (60.3%) think that their goal over the next five years is “reclaiming all of historic Palestine from the river [Jordan] to the sea [Mediterranean]“. That of course means the elimination of Israel. A further 10.1% favour a “one-state solution” – which also means the elimination of Israel as the Jewish state. Only 27.3% favour making a two-state solution their goal and only 27.2 – 31.6% see a two-state solution as final, with the majority regarding it as a ‘stepping stone’ towards future elimination of Israel.

WINEP 2

Jeremy Bowen’s received wisdom apparently does not ‘do’ updates.

Humphrys then asks:

“Living alongside people is one thing. Are there any other forces beyond Hamas who would weigh into this now; would take advantage or are likely to take advantage of this situation and spread the terror threat wider? Because it’s not that long ago, is it, that we in this country were terrified of Palestinian terrorism because it was beginning to affect us directly?”

Airbrushing from audience view the PA-instigated second Intifada and the fact that in the last PLC elections “mainstream” Palestinian political parties failed to beat Hamas, Bowen replies:

“Yes, certainly back in the 70s people were very concerned about that but the mainstream Palestinians have been engaged in various kinds of attempts at peace processes for more than twenty years now. Hamas themselves have talked about a long-term truce. While not recognizing Israel’s existence – and also saying it should go – they’ve also talked about a long-term truce. One thing that is interesting is that in recent years the Palestinians have not been swept up in the Jihadist current in the way that other Arabs have. Perhaps that will change – who knows.”

Whether or not Bowen really does not understand the tactical basis of and motivation for the often-touted proposal of a Hudna – or “truce” – is unclear, but he is certainly not going out of his way to inform listeners of the real significance and meaning of that proposal.

Likewise, Bowen’s airbrushing of the rising number and influence of Salafist Jihadist groups is distinctly odd considering that, whilst its reporting on the topic is by no means comprehensive (see here and here for example), other BBC reporters have written about the emergence of such groups both in the PA controlled regions of Judea & Samaria and in the Gaza Strip.  

Particularly in light of the template BBC reporting on the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers which included across the board eradication of any mention of Palestinian public and official celebration of the deed, it is notable that Bowen elects to end his item as follows:

“I think as well you’ve got to look at the calls for vengeance coming from the other side. Senior Israelis have called rabbis and so on to tone it down because it is heating people up after the huge anger of course following the death of those three teenagers. The head for example of Bnei Akiva, which is the largest religious Zionist youth movement, called for vengeance and that’s been criticized by Israelis. So the fact is that there are hot-heads on both sides and there are people who aren’t reconciled to the other side on both sides and that’s one of the factors that makes it an incendiary and difficult situation. And certainly if you talk to Palestinians, many of them speak about a third Intifada – a third uprising – and I have spoken to Palestinians who believe only in non-violent resistance who’ve said to me it’s only a matter of time before it happens and if it happens, it’ll come because it’ll be sparked by something. Now I don’t know if this’ll be the case on this particular occasion but what we’re seeing I think is a very good barometer – an indication – of the tension that’s there, actually on both sides as well.”

Radio 4 listeners are unlikely to be informed that – despite his later apologies – the head of Bnei Akiva is unlikely to remain in his position as a consequence of his remarks, with an emergency meeting on the issue already scheduled.

Notable too is Bowen’s promotion of the notion that a third Intifada will be “sparked by something”. As readers well know, it has been consistent BBC policy to inaccurately claim that the second Intifada was “sparked” by Ariel Sharon’s visit to Temple Mount in September 2000 and to deny the preplanned nature of that event, despite the ample documentation available.

It is therefore worth noting the manner in which the currently ongoing rioting in Jerusalem, the Triangle area, northern Israel and elsewhere is being portrayed by the BBC as ‘protests’ and ‘demonstrations’ caused by a spontaneous outburst of apparently irresistible anger after the murder of Muhammed Abu Khdeir last week.

That, of course, is far from the entire picture but as we see from this interview with Jeremy Bowen, the framing is already being put in place. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BBC’s ‘Newsnight’ facilitates Barghouti claim of ‘international law’ as excuse for murders of teens

On the evening of June 30th, as news broke of the discovery of the bodies of the three kidnapped and murdered Israeli teenagers Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel and Gil-ad Sha’ar, one interviewee the BBC deemed appropriate for the circumstances was – once again – Mustafa Barghouti.

The BBC Two ‘Newsnight’ interview with Barghouti was also promoted on the BBC News website under the title “‘Israel responsible for deaths’ – Dr Mustafa Barghouti“.Barghouti Newsnight interview

Relatively unhindered by ‘Newsnight’ presenter Laura Kuenssberg, Barghouti was given a platform for amplification of the notion of people as ‘illegal settlers’ and ‘international law’ as an excuse for murder.

Barghouti: “First of all I think the main person who’s responsible for the tragic death that happened is Mr Netanyahu himself. He sent these boys as illegal settlers to an illegal settlement and he’s also responsible for the tragic death of more than ten Palestinians so far who were killed by his army, including three children. And I don’t think that….”

Kuenssberg makes no attempt to correct the number of Palestinians who have been killed during the search and rescue operation or to clarify to BBC audiences that in the majority of cases, they were involved in violent and life-threatening rioting aimed at hindering that operation at the time. Likewise, she fails to challenge the odious notion of people as “illegal” or to point out to viewers that in fact, two of the three murdered teenagers did not live in what the BBC would term ‘settlements’. In breach of BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality, Kuenssberg also fails to inform audiences that Barghouti’s particular non-professional interpretation of “international law” is far from the only one available.

Kuenssberg: “So you’re suggesting these young boys…you’re suggesting these teenagers had it coming, are you? Because they were somewhere geographically?

Barghouti: “They should not have been in illegal settlements which are considered illegal by international law and a violation of international law. That’s what all countries in the world are saying. And Mr Netanyahu should have protected them and not sending them to these places. He is now….”

Again – no clarification comes from Kuenssberg on Barghouti’s presentation of one particular interpretation of ‘international law’ and no attempt is made to inform audiences that the specific area under discussion is under Israeli control (Area C) because the Palestinians signed treaties defining it as such. Moreover, Kuenssberg fails to challenge Barghouti’s repeated ridiculous suggestion that the murdered youths had been “sent” by the Israeli prime minister.

Kuenssberg: “But Mr Netanyahu…”

Barghouti: “He is now retaliating and he wants to retaliate without even bringing a single proof that any Palestinian was responsible for their death. This is very strange…

Kuenssberg fails to challenge that inaccurate statement from Barghouti too, avoiding the obvious question of why a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council – committed under the terms of the Oslo Agreements to the prevention of terror – is promoting the notion that the youths were not victims of a Palestinian terror attack.

Kuenssberg: “But are you not suggesting…are you not suggesting Dr Barghouti then, that any settler is fair game? President [sic] Netanyahu didn’t kill these people himself.

That, of course, is exactly what Barghouti is suggesting, along with the notion that Israelis are themselves to blame for terror attacks against them, but he is allowed to end the interview with more political propaganda.

Barghouti: “No – I – I don’t like anybody to be killed but I am saying that no security or real peace will be available either to Palestinians or Israelis unless the Israeli military occupation is ended.”

This is at least the second time in the past two weeks that the BBC has provided a platform for Barghouti’s exploitation of the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers as an opportunity to promote his political propaganda. Since the beginning of this year, Barghouti has been wheeled out by the BBC on at least six separate occasions to provide interviews on topics ranging from the death of Ariel Sharon to the Palestinian unity government and each time, regardless of the topic, those interviews promote the exact same jaded inculcations.

One question which must therefore be asked is why exactly did the ‘Newsnight’ editorial team – which, based on past BBC experience, should have been able to predict exactly what Barghouti was going to say – think that this was an appropriate occasion for the repetition of standard ‘one size fits all’ political propaganda which provides no new information or insight to audiences on the topic supposedly being addressed: the kidnappings and murders of three Israelis by terrorists.

Another question is why editors at the BBC News website saw fit to provide further amplification of Barghouti’s inadequately challenged falsehoods and distortions. 

BBC ignores attack on journalists in Hebron

Over the past few months and weeks BBC audiences have been presented with extensive coverage on all BBC outlets of the trial and sentencing of three Al Jazeera journalists in an Egyptian court – including on the BBC News website’s Middle East page. A BBC-led campaign on the issue has also been promoted heavily, including by BBC employees on social media.

Greste story on ME pge

In April of this year the BBC Media Centre published a “Joint statement issued at the BBC’s Safety of Journalists Symposium” which included these words:

“In too many countries journalists are facing serious intimidation and violence, which in turns leads to disturbing patterns of censorship and self-censorship. We stand against these abuses and today we call on the governments concerned to investigate each one of those crimes promptly and effectively so as to bring those responsible to justice.”

All the more curious, therefore, is the fact that BBC News has completely ignored a story from June 20th involving the attack by members of the Palestinian Authority’s security forces on CNN journalists covering a pro-Hamas demonstration in Hebron.

Related Articles:

Where’s the BBC coverage? Journalists beaten up in Beitunia

BBC World News’ Maryam Moshiri amplifies PA spin

The political spin promoted by the Palestinian Authority after the kidnapping of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel and Gil-ad Sha’ar on June 12th, and the subsequent launch of the search for the abducted teenagers throughout Judea & Samaria, included in its early days two very specific claims.BBC WN

One of those claims, made the day after the abductions on June 13th, was that the Palestinian unity government could not be held responsible for a kidnapping which took place in Area C.

“Adnan Dmeiri said the PA was not responsible for the safety of settlers [sic] and had no way to prevent the possible kidnapping of the teenagers. […]

Dmeiri was quoted as saying that the PA had no information about the missing settlers [sic], noting that Gush Etzion, the settlement [sic] from which the teenagers are believed to have disappeared, “is under Israeli security control.” “

The other inaccurate claim – made by the PUG spokesman Ehab Bessaiso on June 15th and later repeated by other PA officials – was that the Israeli searches for three missing youths constitute “collective punishment” of the Palestinian population.

“Bessaiso also said that the detention of 80 people across the West Bank and the bombing of Gaza overnight constitute “collective punishment against the entire Palestinian people,” and called upon the “international community and all international human rights organizations to protect the Palestinian people against the Israeli escalation.” “

Interestingly, both those examples of misleading PA spin were amplified in a BBC World News broadcast on June 15th.

Interviewing former Ambassador Dr Dore Gold, presenter Maryam Moshiri said:

“We’re talking about three teenagers who’ve been abducted. We’re talking about the Israelis blaming the Palestinians, or at least passing some of the blame onto their door. How can the blame be there if the teenagers went missing in Israeli-controlled territory?”

Later on, Moshiri said:

“They [the PA] deny that. They say that the detention of eighty people across the West Bank is a collective punishment against the entire Palestinian people. I mean, they have a point, don’t they?”

And still later, Moshiri came up with the following bizarre statement-cum-question:

“But Dore Gold, you talk about any response necessary – what is that response going to take the shape of? I mean, you know, you’ve deployed your Iron Dome missile defence system near Gaza. Why have you done that? Are we going to see further military action now?

As readers will see in the video below, Dr Gold provided robust responses to Moshiri’s baseless assertions, but nevertheless it is of considerable interest that the statements and questions of a BBC World news presenter dove-tail so seamlessly with the PA propaganda messaging put out in the day or so beforehand.

 

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme continues template coverage of teens’ abduction

The June 24th edition of the BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme included an item concerning the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers on June 12th which again adheres to the editorial template currently in use by the BBC to frame coverage of that topic.

Presented by James Naughtie, the item can be heard from 02:37:14 here for a limited period of time.Today prog 24 6

That editorial template is composed of:

  • Ambiguous presentation of the kidnappings and lack of presentation of the context of dozens of previous attempts and plots to kidnap Israeli soldiers and civilians.
  • Eradication of any mention of both public and official Palestinian praise for the kidnappings.
  • Patchy mention of concurrent missile attacks from the Gaza Strip solely in the framework of reporting on Israeli responses to those attacks.
  • Eradication of any mention of caches of weapons and explosives discovered during the search.
  • Emphasis on the notion of the search as ‘punishment’ of the Palestinians.
  • Portrayal of the search for the teenagers as escalating tensions, rather than the kidnapping itself.
  • Implication that the search for the kidnap victims will bring about the collapse of the PUG, rather than the kidnappings’ perpetration by a party to the Palestinian unity deal.

James Naughtie introduces the item – which conforms to all of the above points – as follows: [all emphasis in bold added]

“The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has given his support to people who’re trying to establish the whereabouts of three Israeli teenagers who’ve been missing for three days after apparently – for several days actually; there are three of them – after apparently being kidnapped. The incident’s caused great tension on the West Bank. The Israeli armed forces say they have detained 361 people since the students went missing on June the twelfth. The mother of one of them, Rachel Frenkel, is in Geneva. She’s appealing for international support in her efforts to find her son and his friends. A few minutes ago I spoke to her and she recalled what happened to them.”

Rachel Frenkel: “They were on their way back from school and that was already twelve days ago. My son texted me; he’s on his way home. And then they never showed up. Over the night we discovered that this is…that they’re missing, that this is serious and ever since, everybody’s trying to find them.”

JN: “What do you believe happened to them?”

RF: “They were obviously kidnapped. The government thinks it’s done by Hamas. And we’re waiting for any sign of life, any….We had no contact with them whatsoever.”

JN: “And you want people to rally round, really, to try to help the search for these three teenagers and perhaps to put pressure on those who may have taken them.”

RF: “Yeah well, this is not a political issue at all; this is on the humanitarian level. They are three kids; three boys on their way home from school. Their parents are waiting for them; their siblings are waiting for them. We have no idea where they are and we just want anybody who has anything to do with….in any way… that they can help. We came here to Geneva to try to speak to officials and to speak in the assembly of human rights. We could use any help we can…”

Notably, Naughtie makes no mention of the abundant examples of Palestinian public and official praise for the kidnappings on the streets or in both social and mainstream media before he goes on to say:

JN: “Now, clearly there will be people…ahm…on both sides of the divide, in a divided country, who will share your horror on this…ahm…including Palestinians.”

RF: “Surely. We got many supporting messages from Palestinians – they’re horrified by this story. Abu Mazen himself condemned it. This is not a political issue: children should be kept out of this game. There’s no reason to use children as tools in any struggle. 

Rachel Frenkel speaking at the UN in Geneva, June 24th

Rachel Frenkel speaking at the UN in Geneva, June 24th

JN: “You believe they were kidnapped by Hamas. Has that organisation said anything about this case?”

RF: “No they haven’t.”

JN: “They’ve said nothing?”

RF: “No.”

In fact, James Naughtie should have been able to tell Rachel Frenkel that whilst she was travelling to Geneva on the evening before this interview, Hamas’ Khaled Masha’al was doing an interview of his own with Al Jazeera, in which he said of the kidnappings:

““No one claimed responsibility so far. I can neither confirm [Hamas's responsibility] nor deny it,” Mashaal said, quickly adding that the circumstances of the kidnapping were more important than the perpetrators.

“Blessed be the hands that captured them,” Mashaal said. “This is a Palestinian duty, the responsibility of the Palestinian people. Our prisoners must be freed; not Hamas’s prisoners — the prisoners of the Palestinian people.””

That statement joins others made by Hamas officials, including the one made on June 19th by Salah Bardawil in which he stated that “the Palestinian resistance” had carried out the kidnappings. Naughtie goes on:

JN: “Whereas Mr Abbas – Abu Mazen as you call him – has said something.”

RF: “Yes, sure; he condemned it.”

JN: “Ahm…what is your hope now?”

RF: “Well we have every reason to believe they’re alive. This definitely looks like a kidnapping; an abduction that was meant to keep them alive. And we have no counter-indication that anything happened to them. So they’re just being hidden and kept and not… You know; just the time that the kidnappers are waiting is just…it’s just excruciating suffering. We just hope to get them back – sound and safe and healthy – and our problem should just be getting them back in life.”

JN: “Rachel Frankel: the mother of one of those teenagers apparently kidnapped on June the twelfth.”

Notably, throughout that entire interview, Naughtie never asks Rachel Frenkel her son’s name or any other personal details about her, her family or the other abducted youths. He goes on to inform listeners that it is the search efforts which are causing “tension” – not the kidnappings themselves – and fails to inform listeners that the vast majority of the “people” arrested are members of Hamas.

“We can go to our correspondent Yolande Knell. I mentioned, Yolande, in introducing Rachel Frenkel there, the tension on the West Bank – there is always tension – but this episode has really been something that has ratcheted it up. I mean I mentioned that the Israeli armed forces say that they have detained 361 people in the last few days.”

Knell responds by throwing in a gratuitous mention of “Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank” and once again uses her pet “sworn enemy” phrase which steers audiences towards a mistaken view of Israel’s operations against Hamas as motivated by emotion – rather than by the legal obligation to defend its citizens from terrorist activity, as in fact the case.

Yolande Knell: “That’s right and overnight this huge military operation continued the search for the missing teenagers. It’s now in its twelfth day. They were studying at Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank when they went missing. Ahm…now, the Israeli military has made clear that its operation has two objectives. First; to find these three Israelis but second; to also target the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas – its sworn enemy – in the West Bank. Hamas hasn’t said it was behind the teenagers’ disappearance but the Israeli prime minister has said there’s unequivocal proof that it’s responsible.”

She then goes on to promote once again the falsehood of “punishment” of the Palestinians.

“And really there’s a lot of resentment on the Palestinian side. Palestinians say that the search goes beyond just finding the missing teenagers or even targeting Hamas: that all kinds of offices and businesses have been raided that have no Hamas connection. More than one and a half thousand premises have been searched and it’s putting a lot of political pressure on the Palestinians. We’ve also seen four Palestinians killed in the past week by Israeli soldiers as there have been clashes as they’ve gone about their raids.”

Naughtie then interjects, adding his shoulder to the promotion of the notion of Israeli actions as the cause of tensions, rather than the kidnappings themselves, and in contrast, notably neither he nor Knell appear to have any interest in informing listeners about the current mood on the Israeli street. Notably too, Naughtie fails to inform audiences that the kidnappings themselves are an act of political violence.

The mothers of Naftali, Gil-ad and Eyal, Geneva, June 24th

The mothers of Naftali, Gil-ad and Eyal, Geneva, June 24th

JN: “It’s interesting because Rachel Frenkel said several times in the course of my conversation with her about half an hour ago that she did not regard this as a political issue; she doesn’t want it to turn into a political issue, but the truth of it is that in the circumstances that pertain there, it’s bound to become that and the minute the Israeli military crank up their operations as you’ve just described, naturally on the Palestinian side there is outrage – even among some people who might feel passionately that these young people should be found and brought safely home.”

YK: “Yes, that’s right. I mean there are huge political implications for all of this. It’s putting a lot of pressure on the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He has condemned what he called the kidnapping of the teenagers and he said that his security forces were cooperating with the search for them. He’s since criticised what he’s described as Israeli aggression, but really you can see that he’s lost a lot of support over his stance on all of this. There have even been protests by Palestinians against the Palestinian security forces because of the security coordination – that’s been quite an unusual development.

And all of this is threatening to break the new Palestinian unity government. It’s only just been set up as part of the reconciliation deal between Mr Abbas’ secular Fatah movement and Hamas: the two main Palestinian factions. This government’s made up of technocrats and it’s supposed to pave the way for new elections. Israel’s opposed it from the start because it sees Hamas as a terrorist group and that now…this new government….it’s very unclear whether it will really be able to get to work.”

As has been the case in all BBC coverage of the Palestinian unity government, Knell fails to inform audiences of its obligation under the terms of existing agreements to take action against just such instances of terrorist acts, instead promoting the notion that it will be Israel’s fault if the PUG collapses. She also neglects yet again to accurately define Hamas’ terrorist designation or to inform audiences of inflammatory (if not downright delusional) statements made by that “technocrat” government’s foreign minister – a man with prior links to the PFLP.

“Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki claimed on Sunday that Israel may have staged the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers 10 days ago to deflect international criticism from it, arguing that the Jewish state had no proof that Hamas was behind the abduction.”

Clearly this across the board template reporting of the kidnapping of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel and Gil-ad Sha’ar is shaped by a particular political viewpoint which erases uncomfortable facts and distorts others. It is certainly doing nothing to enable the BBC to fulfil its purpose of building “a global understanding of international issues”. 

 

 

 

Two more misleading BBC News reports on search for kidnapped teens

After a slow start the BBC News website has, since June 14th, produced an article a day on the subject of the extensive search for three Israeli teenagers kidnapped last Thursday night (see ‘related articles’ below for the first four reports).

On June 18th the website’s fifth article on the topic appeared under the heading “Israel holds ex-Palestinian prisoners in teenagers hunt“.kidnapping art 5

Continuing a theme promoted in the previous report, the article opens with a description of the kidnapped youths as “missing”, despite the fact that one of them managed to make a phone call reporting the abduction – a point which the BBC has so far failed to report in any of its articles on the topic.

“Israeli troops have arrested another 65 Palestinians, including 51 freed in a 2011 prisoner swap, as they search for three missing teenagers.

The total number of people detained since the Jewish seminary students went missing last Thursday is now 240.” [emphasis added]

Moreover, the report continues:

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the arrests in the West Bank had sent an “important message” and dealt a substantial blow to Hamas.

He has accused the group of abducting the students, but not provided proof.” [emphasis added]

Like its predecessors, this report juxtaposes statements made by Israeli officials during an ongoing operation with those made by leaders of an internationally designated terrorist organization.

“Hamas has dismissed the allegation that it is involved as “stupid”.”

Also like previous reports, this one reports inaccurately on the location of the kidnapping as being “near” Hebron.map Alon Shvut

“Many of those held were arrested during raids on houses in the northern West Bank city of Nablus and Hebron, in the south, near where Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaar, who are both 16, and 19-year-old Eyal Yifrach went missing as they hitchhiked their way home.”

Notably, the article describes Hamas’ Al Aqsa radio station as a “civilian” institution, despite the fact that the Al Aqsa media operations are controlled by senior Hamas operative Fathi Hamad.

“Troops raided institutions that provide civilian support for Hamas, including its radio station, al-Aqsa, which has offices in Ramallah and Hebron. Computers and documents were seized.”

The report goes on to amplify a baseless claim made by Qadoura Fares, providing no background information to BBC audiences concerning the terms of the 2011 prisoner release deal, including the provisos for re-arrest.

“Palestinians accused Israel of reneging on the prisoner-swap deal.

“What Israel is doing has nothing to do with security, but is a policy of revenge,” said Qadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, which assists Palestinians in Israeli jails.”

June 19th saw the appearance of a sixth report on the topic titled “Missing Israeli teenagers: Jenin clashes follow arrests“.

In that report too, the teenagers have been downgraded from kidnapped to “missing” and, seeing as this is the third consecutive report to do so, it must be assumed that this is now BBC editorial policy. Once again, no mention is made of the fact that one of the boys managed to report the kidnapping by phone.

“Israel’s military says its soldiers have exchanged gunfire with Palestinians during raids in the West Bank in the hunt for three missing teenagers. […]

Clashes erupted after 30 Palestinians were arrested in the investigation over the missing Jewish seminary students.” [emphasis added]

Likewise, the report once again promotes the notion of equivalence between intelligence-based Israeli statements and the denials of a designated terror organization.kidnapping art 6

“The total number of Palestinians detained in the search is now 280.

Israel says 200 of these were “operatives” of Hamas, who Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused of abducting the students.

Hamas has dismissed the allegation that it is involved as “stupid”.”

The article then goes on to mislead audiences with inaccurate information on another topic.

“No group has claimed to have taken the students, who disappeared last Thursday.”

In fact, as previously noted here, there have been three separate claims of responsibility, including one by Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, although their credibility has not been established. In addition – and unreported by the BBC – Hamas’ Salah Bardawil stated on June 19th that what he termed “the Palestinian resistance” had carried out the kidnappings.

The report again misleads audiences with an inaccurate description of the site of the kidnapping (Alon Shvut junction) as being “near” Hebron even though the two locations are some 27 kms apart. It also once again fails to identify Hebron as a centre of Hamas activity.

“Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaar, who are both 16, and 19-year-old Eyal Yifrach went missing at a junction near the city of Hebron as they hitchhiked their way home.”

Towards the end of the report, audiences are presented with selected quotes from two recent statements by the PA president.

“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in a statement, has criticised Israel for using the teenagers’ disappearance “a pretext to impose tough punishment against our people and besiege them” in violation of international humanitarian law.

Mr Abbas said on Wednesday that the Palestinian Authority was co-ordinating efforts with Israel in the search, comments that drew sharp condemnation from Hamas, which said the remarks were “unjustified” and “harmful” to the Palestinian reconciliation deal between it and Mr Abbas’s Fatah faction.”

That second paragraph relates to a statement made by Abbas whilst in Saudi Arabia (also mentioned in the report from the previous day). The statement referred to in the first paragraph came the following day and – possibly in light of reactions from assorted Palestinian factions to the previous one – its full text shows rather more than mere ‘criticism’ as the BBC would have readers believe.

Yet again, neither of these articles informs BBC audiences of the vast amounts of explosives and weapons uncovered by the IDF during the operation to find the three abducted youths or of the Palestinian celebrations of various descriptions in reaction to the kidnappings.

Also absent from either of these reports is news of the ongoing missile fire from the Gaza Strip targeting civilian communities in southern Israel. On the night of June 18th one of those missiles hit a home in an agricultural community near the border, fortunately causing no injuries.

Related Articles:

BBC News website ignores search for missing Israeli teens

Don’t mention the baklava: BBC reports on kidnapping of Israeli teens

Still no BBC reporting on Palestinian celebrations of kidnappings

A fourth BBC report on kidnapping refrains from reporting Palestinian celebrations

BBC’s Hadya Alalawi promotes myth of Israeli restrictions on medical supplies to PA

June 18th saw the appearance on the BBC News website of a filmed report by Hadya Alalawi titled “West Bank’s prosthesis factory struggles with funding“. The synopsis of the report reads as follows: [emphasis added]Prosthesis factory

“The West Bank’s only factory making prosthetic limbs says it’s struggling to provide treatment for its Palestinian patients.

According to the World Health Organisation, Israeli controls on the import of medical supplies to the West Bank, and restrictions on the movement of patients and health workers, mean many Palestinians have difficulty accessing health services.

Israel says the restrictions are necessary security measures.

Now the Kolaykelah factory says it needs to be subsidised by the Palestinian government if it is to meet the rising cost of medical materials.

Hadya Alalawi reports.”

So where did that unreferenced statement concerning the WHO come from? Well, coincidentally or not, the Wikipedia page titled ‘Healthcare in the Palestinian Territories’ states, inter alia:

“A 2012 study commissioned by the World Health Organization identifies the Israeli Military’s blockades of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a major health challenge.”

There is, of course, no “blockade” on PA-controlled areas of Judea & Samaria and restrictions on entry of dual-purpose items into the Gaza Strip do not include medical supplies.

The reference cited to support that claim is a report titled “Barriers to the access to health services in the occupied Palestinian territory: a cohort study” which appeared in late 2012. At least two of the authors of that report are currently involved in political campaigning via NGOs: Jenny Oskarsson of Norwegian People’s Aid and Tony Laurance of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

So is the BBC’s claim that “Israeli controls on the import of medical supplies to the West Bank ….mean many Palestinians have difficulty accessing health services ” (which of course implies that the supplies are inadequate) an accurate one? Well, no. BBC Watch contacted the relevant Israeli authorities and was informed that all medication, based on international standards, is approved.

The Health Department of the Civil Administration (HDCA) also facilitates training for Palestinian medical staff and coordinates the transfer of Palestinians to Israeli hospitals for medical treatment. Access to treatment in Israel does have to be approved due to instances in the past in which such visits were exploited for terrorism – an issue which apparently is of little interest to both the BBC and the WHO.

Here are some recent statistics which demonstrate the inaccuracy of the politicised claims made in the synopsis to this BBC report:

  • In 2013, 225,410 medical related permits were issued, 100,145 for patients, 121,967 for family members accompanying patients, and 3,298 for visiting patients receiving treatment in Israel.
  • In 2013 the number of emergency medical evacuations rose, with Israel providing 2,207 evacuations by ambulance (up from 600 in 2012) and 11 medical evacuations by helicopter (up from 10 in 2012).
  • COGAT also arranged for the overseas treatment of five Palestinians whose medical needs were unable to be met in Israel.
  • The number of Palestinian children from the West Bank who received medical treatment in Israel in 2013 stood at 40,000, an increase from the previous year’s 21,270.
  • COGAT spent more than a million NIS to provide various treatments for dozens of Palestinian children hailing from families unable to afford the necessary medical bills.
  • In 2013, 2,314 Palestinian doctors, nurses, and other medical health care professionals attended the 159 courses, conventions, and programs that Israel hosted.
  • COGAT participates in a special program for training physicians, nurses and technicians at Israeli hospitals, for the sake of operating hospitals in Judea and Samaria, and improves the Palestinian health system. Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital trains 60 Palestinian interns who are replaced every year.

In the filmed report itself, Hadya Alalawi states:

“Many of the recipients [of prosthetic limbs] were wounded in the conflict with Israel.”

The report then cuts to the factory’s director who says:

“The main reason behind building this factory was the occupation because a lot of people were injured as a result.”

Whilst that statement may be intended as PR to contribute to the factory’s fundraising efforts, like this report’s synopsis it does not meet the standards of accuracy and impartiality set out in BBC editorial guidelines. The fact is that it is not “the occupation” which has resulted in injuries, but rather the Palestinian decision to engage in terrorism and violence and that point should of course have been made clear to BBC audiences, along with an accurate, impartial and unpoliticised account of the coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on healthcare.  

A football story the BBC is not reporting

With the World Cup underway, there is understandably plenty of football-related content currently appearing on the BBC News website – including its Middle East page.

football on ME page

But even when a major international tournament is not in progress, the BBC has in the past shown interest in Palestinian footballers (see related articles below) – at least when the stories could be used to promote a specific narrative about Israel.

Here, however, is one recent story which the BBC has refrained from reporting to its audiences.

“The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) on Wednesday announced that it had provided the IDF’s legal division with evidence to indict a Palestinian soccer player for meetings with a Hamas terrorist in Qatar, which he covered up as part of his team’s soccer tour.

The statement said that Samah Fares Muhamed Marava, 22, and Kalkilya resident, left Israel with his team on their soccer tour on April 15.

The Shin Bet said that while in Qatar, Marava met with Talal Ibrahim Abd al-Rahman Sarim, part of Hamas’ military wing, who was previously sentenced to life in prison in Israel, but released and deported as part of the Schalit prisoner exchange. […]

During Marava’s meeting with Talal Sarim, said the statement, Marava received money, a cellphone and written messages that Talal Sarim asked him to bring to Hamas operatives in Kalkilya. This was later confirmed by Muad Sarim who was arrested on May 21.”

The issue of terror financing and support does not seem to be one about which the Palestinian team’s coach is particularly bothered.

“The head coach of the Palestinian national team, Jamal Mahmoud, said he was not aware of a meeting between Maraabeh and Hamas members during the team’s time in Qatar. “If he did talk to a member of Hamas, it was his own individual decision,” Mahmoud said.”

Now; how come the well-staffed BBC Jerusalem Bureau missed that one?

Related Articles:

BBC yet again conceals terror connections of Palestinian ‘footballers’

BBC’s Jon Donnison on football and politics