BBC editorial guidelines breached in report on Hebron incident

On September 23rd a Tweet sent from the BBC News account suggested that the most important thing audiences needed to know about a woman who tried to stab an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint in Hebron was that she was a “student”.

Hebron incident BBC World tweet

That Tweet linked to an article which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the headline “Clashes after funeral of Palestinian shot in West Bank” and opened with interesting use of a revealing adjective:Hebron incident art

“There have been clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli forces in the West Bank after the funeral of a woman shot at a checkpoint on Tuesday.

The youths threw stones at the troops in the divided city of Hebron, who fired stun grenades and tear gas.” [emphasis added]

Readers are not informed that the arrangements in Hebron, whereby Israel controls Area H2 and the PA controls Area H1, are the result of the 1997 Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron, signed by the representatives of the Palestinians within the framework of the Oslo Accords.

One hundred and thirteen words of this 487 word article are given over to the IDF’s account of the incident.

“The Israeli military said Hadeel al-Hashlamun, an 18-year-old student, was killed after she pulled out a knife and attempted to stab a soldier. […]

The Israeli military said that Ms Hashlamun was walking through a checkpoint dividing the Israeli- and Palestinian-controlled parts of Hebron on Tuesday when a metal detector went off.

“Forces called for her to halt, which she ignored, and she continued moving while also pulling out a knife,” a statement said.

“At this point, forces fired at the ground, then at her lower extremities in attempts to stop her advancement. The perpetrator continued and at this point, recognising a clear and present danger to their safety, the forces fired toward her.””

Double that word count – 226 words – is devoted to promotion of a contradictory account of the incident and statements from the attacker’s family. Readers are told that:

“Photographs of the incident published by Palestinian activists show a veiled woman believed to be Ms Hashlamun standing in front of two soldiers who are aiming their rifles at her.”

The article includes a photograph similar to the above description which is credited to ‘Youth Against Settlements’ but – not for the first time and in breach of its own editorial guidelines on impartiality – the BBC refrains from informing audiences of the political agenda of that group and its “activists”.

Notably, despite its generous amplification of the messaging of ‘Youth Against Settlements’ (which included claims that she was not carrying a knife) the BBC did not find it appropriate to show readers another available photograph showing the knife carried by the attacker.

Hebron incident ABD tweet

Earlier on in the report readers are accurately informed that:

“Ms Hashlamun’s death came shortly after that of another Palestinian, who the Israeli military said was killed when a bomb he was trying to throw at soldiers blew up in a village near Hebron.”

Notably however, the BBC refrains from informing readers that the man – Dia al Talahmeh – was a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and that misinformation concerning that incident was also promoted by Palestinian sources, with false claims that he had been shot by Israeli forces circulating widely.

It is worth recalling that the opaquely funded group ‘Youth Against Settlements’, which is actually the source of the narrative amplified in this report, has previously been given BBC platforms (see related articles) from which to promote the claim that last summer’s search and rescue operation in Hebron following the kidnappings and murders of three Israeli teenagers was “a kind of revenge against the Palestinian civilians” and the notion that “Israeli society is getting more aggressive and extreme”.

As long as the BBC continues to promote messaging from political NGOs without informing audiences of their underlying agenda as its editorial guidelines demand, it cannot of course meet its remit of enhancing audience understanding of international issues.

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BBC News zig-zags again on Palestinian Islamic Jihad detainee

As readers may recall, BBC News has a record of providing audiences with conflicting and confusing information concerning the Palestinian Islamic Jihad affiliation of administrative detainee Mohammed Allan.

On August 14th 2015, Allan was described asan alleged activist for the Islamic Jihad militant group” in an article appearing on the BBC News website. [all emphasis added]

On August 19th an article appearing on the same platform described Allan as “a lawyer and member of the militant group Islamic Jihad” and early versions of another report published on the same date used the same wording. A later version of that same article was however amended to read “an alleged member of the militant group Islamic Jihad”.

On August 20th BBC audiences were told that:

“Islamic Jihad had previously threatened reprisals should one of its activists in Israeli detention, Mohammed Allan, die of a hunger strike…”

On September 16th, following his release from hospital, Allan was rearrested. The BBC News website’s report on the topic – titled “Israel re-arrests hunger striker Mohammed Allan” – tells readers that:Allan PIJ rearrest

“Mr Allan, an alleged member of the militant group Islamic Jihad, began refusing food in protest at being held indefinitely under a controversial policy of administrative detention.”


“The Israeli justice ministry has alleged that Mr Allan is involved in “grave terrorism”. It says “classified information” warrants keeping him detained.

Mr Allan denies the allegations and any involvement with Islamic Jihad.”

As noted here previously, BBC Watch has been advised by official sources that:

“He [Allan] is a Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative. He was first arrested in 2006 after recruiting a suicide bomber. He was tried and served a sentence of 35 months. 

He was arrested in administrative detention in 2014 following substantial and grave intelligence that he was in contact with PIJ operatives that intended in carrying out severe attacks. On July 20 2015 the Supreme Court confirmed and approved his detention.”

How embarrassing for the BBC that not only can it not provide its audiences with consistently accurate information but it cannot even be consistent in getting the story wrong.

No BBC follow up on PIJ cell it promoted as ‘civilians’

As readers no doubt recall, on August 21st the BBC promoted a claim aired on Syrian state TV according to which the people killed in an Israeli strike on members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad cell which fired four missiles into Israel the previous day were “five civilians”.

On August 23rd Israel’s Channel 10 News reported that the five men were members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Syria and residents of the Al Wafdin refugee camp north-east of Damascus. The report named the men as Mohammed Taysir Shehadeh, Yousuf Fathi al Hatib, Abdo Hishan, Mohammed Hishan and Jiat Abu Aishe, adding:

“On Syrian state television it was claimed that the vehicle targeted by the IDF was a civilian vehicle belonging to residents of the Quneitra district. However a check of the vehicle’s licence plate, number 494882, indicates that it belongs to the Damascus district which is known to host the headquarters of the Islamic Jihad and the headquarters of Iran’s liason with the Syrian intelligence.”

Despite having promoted the PIJ’s denial of involvement in last week’s missile fire on Israeli civilian targets and subsequently having also amplified the claim regarding “civilians” made on Syrian state TV, the BBC has to date shown no sign of having carried out any further investigation into this story in order to present its audiences with accurate information which would improve their understanding of the story.

More than a third of BBC report on ISIS destruction of Christian site is about Israel

h/t: MR

BBC audiences might reasonably expect an article carrying the headline “Islamic State in Syria demolishes ancient Mar Elian monastery” to inform them about the wanton destruction of a 1,500 year-old historic religious building. However, a significant proportion of the report appearing under that title on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on August 21st actually dealt with another topic altogether; curiously described as “a separate development”.Mar Elian art

The article has undergone numerous changes since its initial appearance which can be viewed here. All four versions, however, devote over a third of their word count to the topic of an Israeli strike on the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists responsible for the missile attacks on the Upper Galilee region on August 20th.

The original article devoted 36.8% of its word count to that “separate development”, the second version 48.4%, the third version 47.3% and in the version currently available, 34% of the article is not about the destruction of the Mar Elian monastery.

Under the sub-heading “Golan strikes”, the latest version (which is currently illustrated using the same image twice) informs audiences:

“In a separate development, at least five people have died in an Israeli strike on a Syrian-held section of the Golan Heights.

Israel has carried out a series of raid [sic] in the area, which lies in south-western Syria, after rockets fired from Syria struck its territory on Thursday. The rockets set fire to scrubland but did not cause any casualties.”

The number of missiles launched in that cross-border attack is not specified and the fact that there are numerous rural communities in the area in which they landed is not clarified. No effort is made to explain to audiences the wider significance of a missile attack on Israeli civilian targets launched from a section of territory still under the control of the Iranian-backed Syrian regime which, in theory at least, lies within a demilitarised zone supposedly administered by the UN. The report continues with downplaying of the PIJ’s Iranian backing.

“Israel’s military has accused Palestinian militants from the Islamic Jihad group of firing the rockets, who Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran had given “sponsorship and instruction” to [sic].

While the Israelis said five or six militants were killed, a Syrian army source, quoted on Syrian state TV, said the strike killed five civilians.

One Syrian soldier was earlier reported killed in an Israeli strike on military positions in the Syrian-held section of the Golan Heights.

Israel seized most of the Golan Heights from Syria in the closing stages of the 1967 Six-Day War.”

In other words, BBC audiences are encouraged to view a statement aired on Syrian regime-controlled media as being equally plausible to the one concerning Friday’s strike put out by official Israeli sources.

Interestingly, the BBC chooses not to communicate to its audiences the information on this topic put out by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights which is quoted in relation to the subject matter of the earlier part of the article.

“The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the country’s war, said the five dead were members of pro-government National Defense Forces. It did not elaborate.”

The Lebanese media organization Al Mayadeen – known to be close to another Iranian proxy, Hizballah – reported that “three of the people killed in the strike were Palestinian” and one Syrian.

In addition to being bizarrely placed in an article about another topic altogether, the information provided to BBC audiences on this subject once again fails to adequately enhance their understanding of current developments on the Israel-Syria border. 


Superficial and inaccurate BBC reporting on cross-border incident in northern Israel

At around 5:30 pm on the afternoon of August 20th, four missiles fired from Syria hit areas on the lower flanks of the Golan Heights and in the Galilee Panhandle. Several hours later an article appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page with the typical ‘last-first’ reporting style title “Israel fires missiles into Syria after rocket attack“.

Like all BBC News content, that article’s aim was to “[b]uild a global understanding of international issues” and to inform by means of the provision of “reliable and unbiased information of relevance, range and depth” whilst adhering to standards of accuracy and impartiality. But were those criteria met?Irua Galil Eliyon

The main photograph used to illustrate the report is captioned:

“Rockets fired into Israel caused brushfires after hitting open areas near Galilee” [emphasis added]

Two of the missiles landed in the Upper Galilee district – not “near” it – and we know that the BBC is aware of that because it later quotes an IDF statement.

“A statement released by the Israeli military said the rockets that hit the upper Galilee region….”

The article opens:

“An Israeli aircraft has fired missiles at a building in Syria’s Golan Heights in response to a rocket strike on an Israeli village, according to reports.”

There were four missile strikes – not one as suggested by that phrasing – and the projectiles landed in more than one location. Later on readers are again told that:

“Earlier rockets landed near a village in northern Israel.”

Obviously the main story here is an unprovoked missile attack on civilian targets across an international border. The wider significance of that incident and the effects of the attack on the people it targeted receive no coverage in this BBC report, which devotes almost three times more wording to the topic of the Israeli response than to the missile attack itself.

The bulk of the 318-word article, however, is devoted to the subject of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s denial of involvement via a spokesman over 250 kms away in the Gaza Strip.

“Israeli officials blamed the rocket strike on the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad, which denied the claim.

A statement released by the Israeli military said the rockets that hit the upper Galilee region “were launched from the Syrian Golan Heights… by Islamic Jihad, sponsored by Iran”.

The statement went on to say that Israel “holds the Syrian government responsible for attacks emanating from Syria”.

Islamic Jihad had previously threatened reprisals should one of its activists in Israeli detention, Mohammed Allan, die of a hunger strike, but Mr Allan called off his fast on Wednesday after an Israeli court suspended his detention.

Mr Allan is believed to have suffered brain damage after going 65 days without food.” [emphasis added]

The inclusion of the description of Mohammed Allan as “one of its activists” is particularly notable given that the BBC has previously told audiences in two reports (including the link provided) that his affiliation with the terror organization is only “alleged”. The article continues with amplification of PIJ propaganda and a remarkable insinuation:

“Islamic Jihad’s leaders are based in the Syrian capital. Dawoud Shehab, a spokesman for the group who is based in Gaza, denied it had fired on Israel.

“Israel is trying to divert attention from the defeat that it suffered in the face of the determination of the hero prisoner, Mohammed Allan,” Shehab told Reuters.

Islamic Jihad has publicly acknowledged receiving support from Iran, a connection Israel has sought to highlight as it campaigns against the proposed US deal with Iran.” [emphasis added]

In other words, readers are encouraged to view Israeli army statements on this incident as being influenced or dictated by the Israeli government’s stance on the P5+1 (not “US” as stated here) deal with Iran known as the JCPOA.

It is not clarified to readers that the cross-border attack was launched from one of the few areas along the Syrian border with Israel that are still held by the Assad regime – which is of course heavily dependent upon Iran and its proxies at present – and the obviously relevant context of prior Iranian and Iranian-backed activity along that border is absent from this report.

Towards the end of the article readers find more evidence of the BBC’s geographically challenged reporting, tortured phrasing and predictable whitewashing of an internationally recognized terror organization.

“The stretch of border involved in the exchange has been largely quiet since the 2006 war between Israel and the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah.”

A “border” was obviously not “involved in the exchange”: borders do not fire missiles at civilians. Neither is it clear to which border the BBC refers – the Israel-Lebanon border as implied by its reference to the 2006 war or the Israel-Syria border across which these latest missiles were actually fired but where there was no fighting during the 2006 war.

The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘guerilla’ as follows:

“A member of a small independent group taking part in irregular fighting, typically against larger regular forces.”

Hizballah does not confine its activities to attacks on the Israeli military and it is certainly not independent – as evidenced by its Iranian patronage.

The article closes with the following statement:

“Israel captured the western Golan in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it, a move not recognised internationally.”

The context of why that war began and the obviously relevant history of the pre-1967 Syrian attacks on Israeli villages in the Galilee Panhandle and elsewhere which made it necessary for Israel to take the Golan Heights are not included in that partisan account.

So did readers of this article really get the “reliable and unbiased information of relevance, range and depth” which would enhance their understanding of this incident and its wider implications? Hardly – and as long as the BBC continues to whitewash Iranian backed terrorist organisations and the ideology underpinning them, that will remain the case.

BBC News zig-zags on PIJ affiliated detainee

As previously noted here, an article which appeared on the BBC News website on August 14th described Mohamed Allan as “an alleged activist for the Islamic Jihad militant group” [emphasis added].

A follow-up article published on the BBC News website on August 19th under the title “Mohammed Allan: Palestinian hunger striker may be freed” included this passage:Allan PIJ art 1

“Mr Allan, a lawyer and member of the militant group Islamic Jihad, lost consciousness and was placed on a respirator on Friday after his lungs stopped working and he had seizures.” [emphasis added]

Whilst it would have been more informative for audiences had the Palestinian Islamic Jihad been described in more accurate terms as an Iranian backed terror organisation, at least the BBC appeared to have amended its previous inaccuracy.

Some seven hours later, that article was replaced by another one – this time titled “Israel suspends Palestinian hunger striker’s detention“. The first two versions of that article used the following terminology:

“Mr Allan, a lawyer and member of the militant group Islamic Jihad, began refusing food in June in protest at his indefinite administrative detention.”


Mohammed Allan, a lawyer and member of the militant group Islamic Jihad, began refusing food in June in protest at his indefinite administrative detention.”

Curiously however, the third version of the report reverted to the inaccurate language used in the August 14th article:Allan PIJ Ad Det suspended

“Mohammed Allan, an alleged member of the militant group Islamic Jihad, began refusing food in June in protest at his indefinite administrative detention.” [emphasis added]

The following statements were also added:

“The Israeli justice ministry has alleged that Mr Allan is involved in “grave terrorism”. It says that “classified information” warrants keeping him detained.

Mr Allan denies the allegations and any involvement with Islamic Jihad.”

BBC Watch has been advised by official sources that:

“He [Allan] is a Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative. He was first arrested in 2006 after recruiting a suicide bomber. He was tried and served a sentence of 35 months. 

He was arrested in administrative detention in 2014 following substantial and grave intelligence that he was in contact with PIJ operatives that intended in carrying out severe attacks. On July 20 2015 the Supreme Court confirmed and approved his detention.”

Both these August 19th BBC reports concerning Mohammed Allan include the following superficial description of the process of administrative detention, which is of course used in many countries around the world, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, the United States and Australia.

“Mr Allan began the hunger strike on 16 June in protest against his incarceration since November 2014 under what Israel calls administrative detention.

The system allows a military court to order suspects to be detained indefinitely, subject to renewal every six months by the court, without charge or trial.”

Clearly that portrayal does not adequately inform BBC audiences of the very specific circumstances in which the procedure is used or the safeguards in place.

“…a Military Commander (namely, a high-ranking IDF officer with specific authority) may order the administrative detention of a person if there are reasonable grounds to consider that taking such a measure is necessary for imperative reasons of security.

Such an order must rely on credible, current and reliable information, as detailed as possible, showing that the person poses a specific and concrete threat of a substantial nature to the security of the West Bank or its population.

Administrative detention is used solely as a preventive measure and only as a last resort, and cannot be employed where criminal prosecution is possible or less restrictive administrative procedures would adequately contend with the security risk posed by the individual.

The procedure for issuing orders for administrative detention includes several safeguards against both abuse and arbitrariness:

First, prior to the issue of a detention order, an independent military prosecutor provides a legal review through conducting an assessment of the order that is legally binding on the Military Commander.

Second, once a detention order has been issued, it is subject to a multi-layered system of judicial review by the Military Courts in the West Bank. Detainees wishing to challenge detention orders may also file a petition with Israel’s Supreme Court sitting as the High Court of Justice. Detainees have the right to legal counsel of their choice throughout this process.

Administrative detention orders mostly rely on sensitive and classified information gained from intelligence sources. Due to its confidential nature, this information cannot be disclosed in full to the detainee or their attorney so as not to endanger the safety of the source or frustrate future intelligence gathering abilities. In these cases, detainees are provided with the general reasons for their detention.

Administrative detention may be ordered for a period of no more than six months. Following this period, a renewed detention order may only be issued on the basis of an updated assessment of the threat posed by the person, which establishes that continued detention is required to confront the threat posed by that person. Any renewed detention order is subject to the same avenues of review and appeal as an initial order.”

The earlier article also includes the following statement:

“Mr Allan’s hunger strike has continued despite Israel’s parliament passing a law last month, which doctors strongly opposed, that would allow the authorities to force-feed detainees to keep them alive.”

The link provided is to a BBC report from July 30th titled “Israel passes law allowing force-feeding of prisoners” in which the term “force-feeding” is used an additional three times. The accepted meaning of that term obviously implies to readers that detainees would be “force-fed” food by means of an orogastric or nasogastric tube. As the MFA explains, that is not the case.

“While the amendment‘s goal is to save lives, attempts are currently being made to misrepresent it. Opponents to the law are attempting to portray it as being equivalent to forced feeding through a feeding tube administered without pain killing measures. This is not the case. The life-saving treatments available under the law include regular medical procedures such as the intravenous administration of total parenteral nutrition (TPN), widely used for patients – including children – who cannot consume a diet in the regular manner. 

Previously existing legislation also gives physicians the right to consider other necessary medical procedures, such as performing blood and urine tests and dispensing medications and salts. 

Any treatment or test must be done in a manner consistent with a doctor’s ethical obligations, including the proper use of pain management methods. The law does not instruct doctors what to do – any treatment is subject to the medical and ethical judgement of the treating physician. What it does do is give the medical community the authority to save the lives of hunger strikers. A similar authority traditionally exists in the case of individuals who want to commit suicide or who suffer from diseases such as anorexia, and who reach a life-threatening condition.”

Clearly the BBC’s framing of this topic does not meet its obligation to report fully, accurately and impartially.


BBC claims prisoner’s terror group affiliations ‘alleged’

An article which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on August 14th under the title “Palestinian detainee on hunger strike unconscious” opens as follows:PIJ Allan

“A Palestinian held without charge by Israel has lost consciousness after nearly two months on hunger strike in protest at his detention.

Mohammed Allan, an alleged activist for the Islamic Jihad militant group, was on a respirator and was being given fluids, an Israeli hospital said.” [emphasis added]

Apparently the BBC has not seen the following at the Qatari site ‘Al Araby Al Jadeed’:

“Naser Allan says Israel arrested his son, Mohammed, in November 2014 and placed him under administrative detention for two six-month periods. He says his son was imprisoned from 2006-2009 for affiliation with the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad.”

Neither, it seems, has it noticed the following at MEMO:

“Palestinian resistance faction Islamic Jihad warned on Friday that it would end the ceasefire between Palestinian factions and Israel if its member Mohammed Allan dies, Quds Press reported.”

Likewise, the demonstrations organised by the PIJ in support of Allan appear to have escaped the BBC’s attention, as has Hamas’ opposition to the PIJ’s threats of violence.

Toning down Islamic Jihad terror BBC style

Among the headlines appearing on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on July 12th and 13th was one reading “Palestinian hunger striker freed”. That link led to an article similarly headlined “Israel frees Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan“.Adnan art

Uninformed readers may of course by now have concluded that the most important thing they need to know about Adnan is that he was a “hunger striker” but of course that is only a sideline to the story.

In the body of the article Adnan is described as follows:

“Khader Adnan, 37, an Islamic Jihad activist, had been held for more than a year without charge under the Israeli “administrative detention” policy.” [emphasis added]

Readers are not informed anywhere in this report that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad is an Iranian funded terrorist organization which is designated by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Israel. Neither are they told that the PIJ is dedicated to the violent destruction of Israel and the establishment of an Islamic Palestinian state in its place – despite the fact that the BBC has been aware of that agenda at least since 2001 and documented PIJ terrorism during the second Intifada.

Likewise, no information is provided to inform BBC audiences what the description “activist” actually means. Does Khader Adnan organize coffee mornings or petitions on behalf of the PIJ? Does he paint placards, fold flyers or write letters to the editor? Here is just one example of Khader Adnan’s ‘activism’:

All that, is of course very relevant context which, had it not been omitted, would have aided BBC audiences’ understanding of why Khader Adnan has – as the article states – “been arrested a number of times by Israel”.

The article also tells readers that:

“The hunger strike had left him [Adnan] in critical condition. He ended it on 28 June following a deal with Israel securing his release.

Gaza-based Islamic Jihad had threatened violence if he died.”

Readers are not told that the intended targets of that vague sounding “violence” were – as reported by the NYT – Israeli civilians.

“It [PIJ] threatened to fire rockets at Israel from Gaza, in violation of a truce that ended the war last summer, if Mr. Adnan was not released.”

However, as was the case in the BBC’s previous article on the same topic from June 29th, readers were informed that:

“Under “administrative detention” Israel can hold suspects indefinitely for renewable six-month periods. The controversial measure has been criticised by human rights groups.”

Those “human rights groups” are not identified and their possible political agenda is not revealed, meaning that the BBC deprives readers of the ability to judge for themselves whether or not the description of administrative detention as “controversial” is indeed warranted. Apparently the intention is for audiences to take that description of a procedure used by other Western countries (including the UK) at face value.

Another notable aspect of this article is that it links to a previous BBC report from June 30th 2014 concerning the discovery of the bodies of the three Israeli teenagers kidnapped and murdered by members of a Hamas cell in Hebron. Readers following that link are informed that:

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas was responsible, a claim the Palestinian militant group has denied. […]

Israel’s Shin Bet security service earlier said the main suspects in the case were two men named Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisheh and that they were “Hamas operatives”.”

At the time that article was written Hamas had not yet admitted its role in that terror attack but that information has long been available and hence there is no reason nearly a year later for the BBC to link to an outdated and inaccurate article which has not been amended to clarify the facts.

Related Articles:

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BBC reveals the ‘secret’ detention which wasn’t

BBC describes known terror finance man as ‘activist’

Politicised BBC report on hunger strikers omits crucial information

How did the BBC report the truce that wasn’t?

On the afternoon of Thursday, March 13th, an article appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the heading “Gaza militants say truce renewed”.

Truce art on hp

Despite the fact that throughout the afternoon and evening terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip continued their missile attacks on Truce art p1Israeli civilian targets, the article – titled “Gaza militants Islamic Jihad say truce renewed” – remained in situ and was not updated to reflect the realities on the ground. The report stated:

“On Thursday, at least two more rockets struck Israel, after which Israel attacked seven “terror sites” in Gaza. Three Palestinians were reported hurt.”

In fact, some seventeen missiles were fired at Israeli civilians throughout Thursday (most of them after the supposed truce took effect) in addition to over sixty-five the day before. 

Notably, the BBC continues to insist upon using the euphemistic term “militants” to describe paramilitary groups deliberately targeting of civilians with military grade weapons and its description of the sites targeted in Israeli responses to that missile fire is presented in scare quotes, suggesting to audiences that there is room for doubt as to whether the sites concerned were actually connected with terrorism.

Clearly both those BBC practices do not contribute to accurate audience understanding of the events taking place and the absurdity of what can only be regarded as a policy decision to downplay terrorism is rendered even more apparent by the fact that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s concurrent PR campaign has included video evidence of indiscriminate attacks on civilians and of what it claims is a new underground missile launching system used to perpetrate those attacks. 

Truce PIJ launcher

Like the two BBC reports before it on the same topic, this article continues to uncritically amplify PIJ and Hamas propaganda concerning the reason for this latest round of missile attacks. The issue is presented to BBC audiences as one of ‘conflicting claims’ – despite the fact that video evidence of the PIJ’s mortar attack on a routine Israeli patrol along the border on March 11th produced by the PIJ itself has been available for days.

“Islamic Jihad said it fired the rockets in retaliation for Tuesday’s killing of three of its militants in an earlier Israeli air strike. Israel says it attacked the militants immediately after they launched mortars at Israeli soldiers.” […]

“Hamas did not take part in firing the rockets but accused Israel of provoking the attacks by Islamic Jihad.

AP quoted Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri as saying Israel bore “full responsibility” for the escalation.”

That BBC policy too is rendered absurd by the fact that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Secretary General spoke openly from Tehran about the PIJ’s real aims as the attacks were ongoing.

The article ends with a description of remarks made by the president of the Palestinian Authority.

“The president of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and a rival of Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas, condemned the violence.

Speaking during a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday, Mr Abbas said: “Yesterday rockets were launched from Gaza and Israeli responded.

“We condemn the aggression and all forms of military escalation, including the rockets.” “

The BBC fails to inform audiences that the day before those particular remarks were made in the presence of the British prime minister, Abbas issued a statement on the subject in which he condemned only the Israeli reaction to the terror attacks and not the attacks themselves. Likewise, no mention is made of the fact that the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades – connected to the Fatah movement which Abbas also heads – claimed responsibility for several of the missile attacks in recent days. Truce art 2

At some point the BBC News website apparently realised that its “truce renewed” article did not accurately reflect the situation and the above report was removed and replaced in the early hours of March 14th with one titled “Gaza militants and Israel exchange strikes despite ‘truce’“.

That report includes the same uncritical repetition of PIJ and Hamas propaganda as its predecessor and also uses punctuation to suggest to readers that the sites targeted by Israel might not in fact be terrorist infrastructure.

“The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said about 60 rockets hit Israel on Wednesday.

It said eight more rockets struck Israel on Thursday, after which Israel attacked seven “terror sites” in Gaza.”

Both the above reports include filmed footage from March 13th (which also appeared separately on the BBC News website) of the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Quentin Sommerville explaining the situation to BBC television news audiences. 

In that report audiences were informed through the use of a qualifying idiom that they could decide for themselves whether or not one of the Israeli towns under missile attack was a “target”: Sommerville filmed

“If you just look down here – this is the town of Sderot. This is…ah…the target – if you like – for many of those rockets.” [emphasis added]

The BBC’s reporting of three days of missile attacks on Israeli civilians has been notable for the fact that it has failed to provide adequate background information which would enable audiences to properly comprehend the context of this latest escalation. The subject of Hamas’ weakened domestic and regional stature and the resulting power struggles has been ignored. PIJ and Hamas propaganda has been amplified without question and terrorism systematically downplayed. 

Notably too – despite the fact that a BBC correspondent stood on a hill meters away from the town of Sderot – the voices of thousands of Israeli civilians whose lives have been blighted by missile attacks perpetrated by terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip for well over a decade have, once more, not been heard by BBC audiences.

Related Articles:

BBC News amplifies Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s PR line on attacks against Israeli civilians

BBC can’t tell its Hamas from its Islamic Jihad?

BBC can’t tell its Hamas from its Islamic Jihad?

“Israeli planes bombard Gaza targets” was the lead headline on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on the morning of March 13th,with no trace to be found of the previous day’s article on the subject of the barrage of missile attacks against civilians in southern Israel begun by terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip on March 12th and at the time of writing, still ongoing

Weds HP Thurs am

That link leads to a somewhat confused report going under the title “Israeli planes hit Gaza in response to rocket strikes“. Weds art thurs am response orig

Among the introductory paragraphs to the original version of the report readers found the following statement:

“Militants fired more than 30 rockets into southern Israel, officials say.”

Later on in the report, a different number was presented.

“An Israeli army statement late on Wednesday said that the remains of 60 rockets had so far been found.”

Yes – sixty is definitely “more than 30”, but readers skimming the report’s opening lines during the first eight hours or so of its appearance on the website would have received a misleading impression of the scale of the terrorists’ attacks from the inclusion of that first statement. Appropriately, the number in that sentence was changed to sixty in the updated version of the article. 

At two points in the original version of the report the subject of the closure of crossings into the Gaza Strip was raised.

“Israel is also reported to have closed border crossings with the Gaza Strip.”


“The Voice of Israel said on Wednesday that the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) had closed border crossings in response to the rocket attacks.”

In fact, whilst the Kerem Shalom crossing was indeed closed, the Erez crossing remained open for humanitarian cases.

Weds tweet IDF crossings

The earlier version of the report stated:

“It [Israeli radio] cited Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon as saying that Israel held Hamas responsible for the escalation inWeds BBC art hamas statement violence and warned it would “pay a heavy price”.

But Hamas released an equally belligerent statement.

“Our mujahideen responded to the Zionist aggression by firing tens of rockets,” it said.

Speaking to the BBC, the group’s spokesman added: “The rockets fired today came in response to the occupation aggression against us and does not mean the collapse of the ceasefire agreement [with Israel].” “

The version appearing after amendments were made some eight hours later states:

“But Hamas accused Israel of provoking the attacks.

“Our mujahedeen responded to the Zionist aggression by firing tens of rockets,” it said.

Speaking to the BBC, the group’s spokesman added: “The rockets fired today came in response to the occupation aggression against us and does not mean the collapse of the ceasefire agreement [with Israel].” “

Unless the BBC has obtained an exclusive Hamas admission of “firing tens of rockets” unreported by any other media organization, it would seem that it has actually mixed up Hamas with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. That impression is supported by the fact that the previous day, the BBC used the same quote, but attributed it to the PIJ.

“Israeli warplanes responded by targeting Islamic Jihad positions.

The group said its attacks were in retaliation for Tuesday’s killing of three of its militants in an earlier Israeli air strike.

“Our Mujahideen responded to the Zionist aggression by firing tens of rockets,” they said in a statement.

Speaking to the BBC, the group’s spokesman added “The rocket fired today came in response to the occupation aggression against us and does not mean the collapse of the ceasefire agreement [with Israel].” ” [BBC News, 12/3/13, “Gaza militants fire rocket barrage at southern Israel“]

Like its predecessor, this report provides no background information for readers wanting to understand the context of this latest massive attack carried out by the PIJ and additional terrorist organisations. No mention is made of Hamas’ weakened stature resulting from political changes in Egypt and that country’s campaign against terrorist organisations in the northern Sinai, which has drastically reduced Hamas revenues from the smuggling tunnels. The power struggles in the Gaza Strip between Hamas and other elements including the Iranian-backed PIJ are not explained to audiences and neither are they reminded that the PIJ was by all accounts the intended recipient of the Iranian shipment of missiles, mortars and bullets seized last week aboard the Klos-C or of Hamas’ recent rapprochement with the Iranian regime.

Instead, this report continues in the vein of its predecessor by amplifying the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s flimsy propaganda, according to which the barrage of dozens of terror attacks with military-grade missiles on the civilian populations of towns and villages in southern Israel is a “response” to the IDF’s targeting of three paramilitary terrorists who launched a mortar attack on soldiers carrying out routine work near the border fence on March 11th.

Also in common with the previous report, this one too downplays Hamas’ responsibility under the terms of the November 2012 ceasefire agreement  to prevent missile fire and other terror attacks from the Gaza Strip – and its proven ability to do so when it so wishes.

“Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad and other groups have sporadically fired rockets and mortars at Israel since the 2012 conflict ended, while the Hamas movement that governs Gaza has refrained from doing so.”

The unsourced claim that Hamas has “refrained” from carrying out missile attacks since November 2012 is of course contradicted by the assertion higher up that Hamas issued a statement saying “Our mujahideen responded to the Zionist aggression by firing tens of rockets” and further supports the impression that the BBC has inaccurately attributed that quote.

The report ends by stating:

“Israel pulled its troops and settlers out of the Gaza Strip, now run by Hamas, in 2005. But it maintains a naval and air blockade and restricts the overland movement of people and goods across their shared border.”

No mention is made of Hamas’ terror designation, of the violent circumstances under which it came to “run” the Gaza Strip or of the fact that Israel’s naval blockade and border restrictions came about because of – and after – increased missile fire from the territory in the wake of the Hamas coup which ousted the internationally recognised representatives of the Palestinian people. 

Violent incidents such as the one initiated by terrorists in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday afternoon are confusing. The public is swamped by a plethora of often conflicting media reports produced under rapidly changing circumstances in which the facts are not always clear. The BBC claims to be “the standard-setter for international journalism” and professes to help audiences “remain informed about world events” and to enhance their “awareness and understanding” of those events.

Beyond the factual inaccuracies and conflicting information appearing in the BBC’s two reports so far on this latest round of terror attacks from the Gaza Strip, audiences will also remain none the wiser as to the event’s context and background dynamics because it has elected to refrain from providing information of any worth concerning the bigger picture in favour of the unquestioned repetition of propaganda put out by an internationally recognized terrorist organization. 


A correction has now been appended to the article. 

Weds art thurs correction

Weds art thurs amended