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.

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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.”

And:

“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. 

Update:

A correction has now been appended to the article. 

Weds art thurs correction

Weds art thurs amended

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

On the afternoon of March 12th 2013 terrorist organisations including the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad launched a heavy barrage of missile and mortar attacks on towns and villages in southern Israel. Of over sixty missiles fired from the Gaza Strip within the first few hours (some from urban areas as can be seen in this video), at least eight landed in populated areas and several others were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system. 

A couple of hours after the attacks began a report appeared on the BBC News website under the title “Gaza militants fire rocket barrage at southern Israel“. Weds missile attacks

The report opens with more use of the euphemistic term “militants” to describe terrorists deliberately targeting civilians with military-grade weapons and – perhaps through force of habit – it is liberally peppered with the standard BBC caveat “Israel says”, despite the fact that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad was both quick and eager to take responsibility for the missile fire. Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade also put out statements, including one claiming four missile attacks on Sderot.

“Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip have fired more than 30 rockets at southern Israel, Israeli officials say.

An Israeli military spokesman said eight hit urban civilian areas and that a number of others were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system.

It was the heaviest barrage since the November 2012 conflict in Gaza ended.

The military wing of Islamic Jihad said it had fired the rockets in retaliation for Tuesday’s killing of three of its militants in an Israeli air strike.”

Some BBC staff also amplified via Twitter the PIJ’s PR line according to which the dozens of indiscriminate attacks on Israeli civilians came in “response” to the incident the previous day in which a PIJ cell attacked a routine Israeli patrol engaged in searching for IEDs on the border with mortar fire and the IDF responded.

Weds missile attacks Abualouf tweet

Weds missile attacks Shuval tweet

 That faux linkage, along with other PIJ propaganda, was further promoted later on in the BBC’s report and audiences were encouraged to view the incident in terms of equivalent conflicting narratives.

“A statement by Islamic Jihad’s military wing, the al-Quds Brigades, said the barrage was its “initial response” to the “crimes of the Zionist enemy in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip”, the latest of which was the “assassination” of three of its members on Tuesday.

The Israeli military said it had targeted the militants after they fired mortars at its troops. The al-Quds Brigades said the Israeli soldiers had crossed into the Gaza Strip.”

However, a video  released by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad the previous day is described by the terrorist organization itself as showing the mortar attack on “the enemy forces” carried out by the three members of the PIJ’s Al Quds brigade on March 11th

Weds missile attacks PIJ vid frm 11 3

Clearly the BBC’s report is lacking in accuracy in that it leads readers to mistakenly believe that only the IDF “said” that mortars had been fired at Israeli soldiers, whereas in fact the PIJ itself had already admitted that it carried out such an attack and the IDF had also filmed them in the act.

Towards the end of the report we find the following statement:

“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.” [emphasis added]

Notably, similar statements (see below) made in other recent BBC reports were somewhat more cautiously phrased and no explanation is given for the change in the BBC’s tone.

Hamas denies that it has fired any rockets since a 2012 ceasefire agreement with Israel, with other militant groups in the Gaza Strip claiming responsibility.” [emphasis added]

The report closes with the following statement:

“However, an Israeli military statement said it held Hamas “responsible for all attacks emanating” from the coastal territory.”

The BBC fails to inform audiences that the terms of the November 2012 ceasefire included the clause:

“All Palestinian factions shall stop all hostilities from the Gaza Strip against Israel including rocket attacks and all attacks along the border.”

Seeing as Hamas – as the BBC frequently reminds its audiences – governs the Gaza Strip, it is clear that prevention of missile fire and all other types of terror attacks fall under its responsibility. Despite that above clause, a later version of the BBC’s report unquestioningly quoted a PIJ spokesman as saying the following:

“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].”

No clarification of the absurdity of that statement was provided to BBC audiences.

At the time of writing Israeli forces have begun counter-attacks on terror sites and installations in the Gaza Strip and we will update as necessary. 

BBC not sure people firing missiles at civilians are ‘militants’

On March 4th a short report appeared on the Middle East page of the BBC News website (and oddly also on its US & Canada page) under the headline “Two killed in Israeli air strike in northern Gaza Strip“. Gaza strike mon

The report states:

“Two Palestinians have been killed in an Israeli air strike in northern Gaza.

An Israeli military spokesman said its aircraft targeted “terrorists preparing to launch rockets” at civilian communities in southern Israel.

Palestinian medics said one man, Musaad al-Zaneen, died immediately after the raid on farmland near the town of Beit Hanoun while the second, Sharif Nasser, later died from his injuries.

There were conflicting reports about whether one or both had been militants.

Israeli media had earlier reported a failed rocket attack. The projectile apparently fell short of the border and landed in the Gaza Strip.”

The sources of those “conflicting reports” – used to justify the BBC’s absurd reluctance to classify two men caught in the act of firing a missile at civilians as “militants” – are not made clear to readers. 

However, the terrorist organisations themselves were on hand with claims which should clear up the BBC’s angst.

“Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) identified one of those killed, Musab Musa Za’anin, as a member of the group’s military wing, the al Quds Brigades. The second Palestinian killed in the strike was identified as Sharif Nasser, who was claimed by the Mujahideen Brigades as one of its fighters.”

Posters terrorists strike Gaza

Photo credit: The Long War Journal

That information has now been in the public domain for two days and yet this report had not been amended to clarify to BBC audiences that the two men killed were members of terrorist organisations rather than random “Palestinians”.

BBC promotes unverified claims from terror groups as news

On January 8th the BBC News website published a short report titled “Gaza explosion kills Palestinian militant” on its Middle East page.

Gaza explosion

In that 124 word report, ninety-two words are used to present assorted versions of the story of the death of Mohammed al Ijla (also Ijlah or Ejlla in other reports) put out by the spokesman for the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (to which al Ijla belonged as a member of the Al Quds Brigades) and the family.

Thirty-two words are used to present the statement made by the IDF clarifying that there was no Israeli activity in the area at the time. 

In other words, the BBC gives nearly three times more exposure to unsubstantiated conflicting claims made by two terrorist organisations and the family of a member of a terrorist militia than it does to a statement from an official body of a state.

As we have previously noted on these pages, the “medics and officials” cited by the BBC in this report do not have the most pristine record of reliability. It is therefore of considerable concern that the BBC continues to disseminate information provided by such sources without independent verification.

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No follow-up from BBC on Bat Yam bus bombing

Readers will no doubt remember the attempted bus bombing in Bat Yam on December 22nd in which disaster was narrowly averted due to alert passengers and prompt action on the part of the bus driver and the fact that it took the BBC News website twenty-three hours to report on that incident at the time. 

On January 2nd 2014 Israeli security forces announced the arrests of suspects in connection with that terror attack. The four main suspects are from the Bethlehem area and are members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, with one of them also being a member of the PA security forces. 

“The four Islamic Jihad operatives were named as Yosef Salamah, 22, Sahaha Tamari, 24, Hamadi Tamari, 21 and Sami Harimi, 20. Sahaha and Hamadi Tamari, brothers, have both served time in Israeli prisons, and Salamah is a Palestinian Authority police officer.”

The Jerusalem Post reports:

“The bomb was created by the Hamadi brothers and Yosef Salamah. They used 2 kg of improvised explosives, nails and screws and attached it to a cellular operating system for remote operation.

The bomb was delivered to Harimi, hidden inside in a black handbag. On the morning of December 22 Harimi traveled to the southern Hebron hills and illegally crossed over the border to Israel.

Harimi then got into the car of a Bedouin Israeli citizen and was driven, along with other men that had crossed with him, to Jaffa. After praying in a mosque, Harimi got on the Dan bus line 240, put the bomb in the center of the bus and got off the bus. A few minutes later he called the cellular device attached to the bomb to set it off.

During his interrogation Harimi, who was arrested in Bethlehem on December 26, stated his intention to commit a larger act of terror in the Tel Aviv area around the same time period. His arrest prevented him from doing so.

During the interrogation of Hamadi, police uncovered 20 kg of explosives near his home.”

To date, the BBC News website has not reported this development to the story it belatedly covered two weeks ago.

Also on the evening of January 2nd, the first missile attack from the Gaza Strip in 2014 (and the second of the week) was launched, hitting the Sdot Negev area. The Israeli air-force responded by targeting a terror infrastructure site and rocket launching sites. Earlier in the evening, a group of Gaza Strip residents approached the border fence and tried to damage it

“A group of suspects had approached a buffer zone near the fence from the Gaza side and were attempting to damage it, an IDF spokesperson told AFP, adding that after “numerous” warnings to desist, “soldiers then resorted to aiming fire at the individuals’ lower extremities,” and reported “one hit.”

A Hamas official later confirmed that a 16-year old male was wounded in the leg during the incident and had been hospitalized in moderate condition.”

That latest missile fire has also not been reported by BBC News, even though it is clearly aware of the incident. 

Tweet Abualouf

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BBC misleads again on Gaza’s coastal waters and airspace

On September 17th the BBC News website published an article on its Middle East page entitled “Palestinian killed during Israeli raid in West Bank“. Early versions of the article addressed the subject of an incident in Jenin during which Islam Tubasi – a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror organization – was shot and later died of his wounds. 

A later version of the article – the one currently available to visitors to the BBC News website – was extended to include unsubstantiated claims made by Tubasi’s family. The report also includes additional unrelated information regarding recent measures approved by the Israeli government, including the allocation of more permits to enable Palestinians from PA controlled areas to work in Israel.

However, the background information provided is highly misleading. The article states:

“The West Bank has been under Israeli military occupation since 1967″

Once again we see here an example of the BBC practice of arbitrarily commencing history in 1967. No mention is made of the attack by surrounding countries which resulted in Israel coming to be in control of Judea & Samaria or of the 1948 to 1967 Jordanian occupation of the area. Neither is the reader informed of the status of that area before the Jordanian occupation and the fact that it makes up part of the land intended for a Jewish homeland by the League of Nations. The fact that part of the area has been under the control of the Palestinian Authority for two decades is also ignored. 

The article goes on:

“Israeli forces withdrew from Gaza eight years ago although it maintains control of Gaza’s airspace and territorial waters and restricts movement across its shared border.

Israel says the restrictions are necessary security measures to prevent attacks by Palestinian militants.”

This misleading theme has been frequently promoted by the BBC in the past. The suggestion that Israel unilaterally “maintains control of Gaza’s airspace and territorial waters and restricts movement across its shared border ” – compounded by the sentence which follows it – leads audiences to mistakenly believe that the current status of airspace and waters surrounding Gaza is entirely dependent upon Israeli caprices. 

Under the terms of the Interim Agreement of the Oslo Accords – which were willingly signed by the Palestinian people’s representatives – Gaza’s coastal waters remained Israel’s responsibility. Readers will note that the document does not refer to Gaza’s “territorial waters” due to the fact that they do not border a recognised state  – and hence the BBC would do well to review the accuracy of its use of that term.

Likewise, the same Interim Agreements between Israel and the Palestinians state that:

“All aviation activity or use of the airspace by any aerial vehicle in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip shall require prior approval of Israel. It shall be subject to Israeli air traffic control including, inter alia, monitoring and regulation of air routes as well as relevant regulations and requirements to be implemented in accordance with the Israel Aeronautical Information Publication, the relevant parts of which will be issued after consultation with the Council.”

In other words, the Palestinian Authority – considered by the international community to represent the Palestinian people – agreed to Israeli control of Gaza’s coastal waters and airspace in 1995. No changes were made to those terms in subsequent agreements between Israel and the PA signed after Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005. 

Of course the progress of the process of which that Interim Agreement was part ground to a halt in 2000 when the Palestinian Authority elected to begin the second Intifada and hence the agreements signed at the time remain in force. Additionally, agreements relating to the Gaza Strip signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 2005 became academic when the PA lost control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 after the violent Hamas take-over there.

Regrettably, the BBC habitually refrains from informing its audiences with regard to Palestinian actions and choices which have resulted in the terms of the Interim Agreement lasting much longer than envisaged at the time, along with the fact that the current status quo is the product of agreements to which the Palestinians’ representatives were willing partners.

For the BBC to imply – as it so often does – that there is something amiss about the fact that Israel controls the coastal waters and airspace of the Gaza Strip is therefore in breach of its own editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality. 

BBC describes known terror finance man as ‘activist’

On August 20th 2013, at 09:26 GMT, the BBC News website published an article titled “Palestinian killed in Israeli raid in West Bank” on its Middle East page. 

The backbone of the BBC report appears to have been gleaned from the Reuters and AFP news agencies.

Jenin incident Reuters BBC

That fact prompts the question of how the BBC is able to check the accuracy of information provided by an agency’s local reporter or stringer before publishing an article online only hours after the incident took place. 

For example, the Reuters report – and the BBC article – states that the man killed was 20 years old. Reports from other sources place his age anywhere between 16 and 22. The Reuters report claims that “doctors at a Jenin hospital said Majed Lahlouh, 20, was killed with a bullet to his heart” and that claim is repeated by the BBC in the caption to the photograph illustrating its report. However, the Times of Israel reports that:

“Military sources were quoted as saying that the Palestinian casualty could have possibly resulted from shrapnel or from wounds inflicted to the lower part of his body.”

The BBC report ends:

“Army spokesman Lt Col Peter Lerner says the wanted man was taken into custody.

Israeli army radio said the man was believed to be an Islamic Jihad activist, Bassam Saadi.”

The BBC’s choice of the term “activist” gives audiences no insight into the type of pursuits engaged in by Bassam Saadi (also a-Saadi or al Saadi) – which, contrary to the impression readers might receive, are not limited to folding flyers or licking envelopes. 

Bassam Saadi is a senior figure in the Jenin branch of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad who has been imprisoned due to his involvement in terrorist activity in the past. Palestinian Authority documents seized during ‘Operation Defensive Shield’ in 2002 named Saadi as part of the PIJ’s terror financing network.

“A document uncovered by the IDF also explains the mechanism for financial disbursement within PIJ. According to the document, Ramadan Shallah, the PIJ secretary-general in Damascus, transferred funds to Bassam al-Saadi, a senior PIJ activist in Jenin in charge of finances, who then distributed the funds to active terrorists and to the families of terrorists killed or arrested.”

A letter sent by the then Israeli permanent representative to the UN, Dan Gillerman, in October 2003 – just a few days after the suicide bombing at the Maxim restaurant in Haifa in which 21 people were killed and over sixty injured – states:   

“Evidence of this wholesale state-support for terrorism is a matter of public knowledge. For example, it is a well-known fact that the Secretary-General of the Islamic Jihad, Ramadan Abdallah Shallah, is one of several terrorist leaders who operate freely in Damascus and receive immunity and support from the Assad regime. On a number of occasions, Mr. Shallah is known to have transferred funds amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars from Damascus to the individual accounts of Islamic Jihad operatives, such as Bassam al-Saadi, who is responsible for financing the Islamic Jihad branch in Jenin, which carried out Friday’s attack in Haifa.”

The BBC’s habitual use of euphemisms such as “activist” of course raises questions with regard to its level of commitment to its stated purpose of keeping audiences fully informed, as this latest example shows. 

Upcoming prisoner release – the details you won’t hear from the BBC

Below is a list of the 26 prisoners scheduled for early release from prison in Israel later this week as a ‘goodwill gesture’ intended to encourage the Palestinian negotiators to come to the table for talks as published by the Israel Prison Service last night and with added information. 

1. Kour Matwa Hamed Faiz (Fatah. Born 1964, resident of Judea & Samaria, arrested 1985) was sentenced to one life term for his part in  establishing an armed Fatah cell and for the murder of Menahem Dadon in 1983 and for another attempted murder.

Menahem Dadon from Netivot was 22 years old when he was murdered. He had been sent by his employer to purchase building materials in Gaza and whilst in the shop, was shot in the head at point-blank range. He left a pregnant wife and two daughters. 

2. Tsalah Ibrahim Ahmed Mugdad (Fatah. Born 1966, resident of Judea & Samaria, arrested 1993) was sentenced to 32 years imprisonment for the murder of Israel Tennenbaum and was due to be released on 13/6/2025.

Born in Poland in 1921, Israel Tennenbaum from Moshav Vered was a farmer who also worked as a security guard at a hotel in Netanya despite being 72 years old at the time of his death. In June 1993 Tsalah broke into the hotel and murdered Israel Tennenbaum by beating him over the head with a steel rod. He also stole a television from the hotel. 

3. Na’anish Naif Abdel Jafar Samir (Born 1967, resident of Judea & Samaria, arrested 1989) was sentenced to a life term for his part in the murder of 24 year-old reservist Binyamin Meisner in February 1989.

Na’anish was part of a group which lured Meisner into an ally in Nablus (Schem) in which they had pre-prepared a stockpile of rocks. Binyamin Meisner was killed by a blow to the head with a stone. 

4. Arshid A’Hamid Yusuf Yusuf (Fatah. Born 1968, resident of Judea & Samaria, arrested 1993) was sentenced to five life sentences after having been convicted of the murders of Nadal Rabu Jaab, Adnan Ayaad Dib, Mufid Canaan, Tawfik Jaradat and Ibrahim Said Ziad by stabbing. Arsheed was also indicted on several additional counts of attempted murder of others he also suspected of ‘collaboration’. 

5. Al-Haj Othman Amar Mustafa (Fatah. Born 1968, resident of Judea & Samaria, arrested 1989) was sentenced to a life sentence for his part in the murder of 48 year-old Frederick Steven Rosenfeld in June 1989.

Rosenfeld was hiking in the hills near Ariel when he came across a group of shepherds who stabbed him to death with his own knife and hid his body. 

6. Matslah Abdallah Salama (Hamas. Born 1969, resident of the Gaza Strip, arrested 1993) was sentenced to one life sentence for the murder of Reuven David in Petah Tikva in 1991.

Together with an accomplice, Matslah entered 59 year-old Iraqi-born Reuven David’s mini-market, tied him up, gagged him and then beat him to death, before escaping in the victim’s car. He left a wife, three children and several grandchildren. 

7. Abu-Musa Salam Ali Atia (Fatah. Born 1971, resident of the Gaza Strip, arrested 1994) was convicted of the murder of Isaac Rotenburg from Holon as part of an initiation rite for joining a terror organisation and sentenced to one life sentence.

Holocaust survivor Isaac Rotenberg was born in Poland. Most of his family was murdered in the Sobibor death camp, but Isaac managed to escape and joined the partisans. After the war he tried to make his way by ship to mandate Palestine, but was interred by the British and sent to a detention camp in Cyprus until 1947. After his release Isaac arrived in pre-state Israel and fought in the War of Independence. He continued his work as a plasterer even after pension age and in March 1994 was at his place of work in Petah Tikva when he was attacked by two Palestinian labourers with axes. He died, aged 67, two days later. 

8. Miklad Mahmoud Ziad Salah (Fatah. Born 1973, resident of the Gaza Strip, arrested 1993) was sentenced to one life sentence for the murder of 39 year-old Yehoshua Deutch in Kfar Yam, Gush Katif, in March 1993. In addition he fired shots at an army post and tried to murder a local resident.

Yehoshua Deutch grew flowers and it was in his greenhouse that he was stabbed in the heart by Miklad. 

9. Tsualha Bad Almajid Mahamad  (Fatah. Born 1973, resident of Judea & Samaria, arrested 1990) was sentenced to one life sentence for the murder – together with accomplices – of Baruch Heizler and the attempted murder of Betty Malka, Shai Cohen and Avishag Cohen in 1990 whilst he was still a minor.

Baruch Heizler – named after his grandfather who was killed by Jordanian shelling of the Old City of Jerusalem during the War of Independence – was 24 when he was stabbed to death whilst travelling on the number 66 bus in Ramat Gan after having missed the ride to his seminary. Three other passengers were injured in the same attack. 

10. Sha’at Aazat Shaba’an Aataf (Born 1964, resident of the Gaza Strip, arrested 1993) was sentenced to 29 years’ imprisonment after having been convicted of accessory to murder and was due to be released on 14/3/2022. Sha’at drove his accomplices to and from the scene of the murder of 51 year-old Simcha Levi in Khan Yunis in 1993.

Simcha Levi was born in Persia in 1942 and immigrated with her family to Israel in 1950, settling in Moshav Patish in the Negev. Simcha’s job was to drive Arab labourers to their place of work and on the day of her murder she picked up female labourers in Khan Yunis in the south Gaza Strip. Three terrorists disguised as women beat and stabbed her to death in her vehicle in a pre-planned attack. 

11. Abdel-Aal Sayid Ouda Yusef ( Born 1979, resident of the Gaza Strip, arrested in 1994) was sentenced to 22 years for, along with accomplices, throwing 2 grenades – which did not explode – at Border Police forces. On a different occasion, he placed a bomb next to a Border Police facility but the explosion did not cause damage. Also, he knew about the intention to harm a civilian and aided the process of his murder (Ian Sean Feinberg) by passing information to the perpetrators regarding the absence of soldiers in the area. Also, together with his cell, tortured a local resident suspected of collaboration. After he left the scene, the victim was murdered by his two accomplices. On a separate occasion, he intended to murder a local resident suspected of collaboration.  

Ian Sean Feinberg was born in South Africa and immigrated to Israel after finishing High School. Having qualified in law before his enlistment, he spent five years serving as a lawyer in the Gaza Strip and was later involved professionally with Palestinian economic development as a legal advisor. On April 18th 1993, during a business meeting in the Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City, terrorists burst into the room announcing that they had ‘come to kill the Jew’. They then murdered him with gunshots and an axe. Ian was 30 at the time of his death. He was survived by his wife and three children.

12. Barbach Faiz Rajab Madhat (PFLP. Born 1974, resident of the Gaza Strip, arrested in 1994) was sentenced to life imprisonment for, together with his accomplices, stabbing his employer (Moshe Becker) to death.

Moshe Becker was born in Poland in 1933 and immigrated to mandate Palestine in 1935. On January 21st 1994, Moshe arrived at his orchard in Rishon L’Tsion to see whether his employee had arrived. He was ambushed there by three terrorists, who had slept on site and waited for him. They attacked him, stabbed him to death with a knife and a pair of pruning shears, and fled. Moshe, 61 at the time of his death, was survived by his wife and four children.

13. Raai Ibrahim Salam Ali (Fatah. Born 1957, resident of the Gaza Strip, arrested 1994) was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder – using an axe – of 79 year-old Morris Aizenshtat who was sitting on a park bench in Kfar Saba reading a book at the time. 

14. Nashbat Jabar Yusef Mahmed (Born 1961, resident of the Gaza Strip, arrested in 1990) was sentenced to 25 years for taking part in a lynching of an IDF soldier, Amnon Pomerantz. He was due to be released on 20/9/2015.

Amnon Pomerantz was an electrical engineer and scientist and worked in research and development. On September 20th 1990, Amnon left his home in Havatzelet Hasharon for reserve duty in Gaza. Three hours later, he was brutally murdered by a gang of Palestinian rioters after he took a wrong turn on the way to his base and accidentally entered Al Burj Refugee Camp. After they threw rocks at him, they poured gasoline on his vehicle and ignited it with Amnon inside. It was noted that Nashbat did not express regret for his acts. Amnon was 46 at the time of his death. He was survived by his wife and three children.

15. Mortja Hasin Ghanam Samir (Hamas. Born in 1970, resident of the Gaza Strip, arrested 1993) was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his part in the abduction, interrogation, torture and murder of four local residents suspected of collaboration with the authorities – Samir Alsilawi, Khaled Malka, Nasser Akila, and Ali Al Zaabot. Also, he abducted local residents suspected of ‘moral crimes’ for interrogation. His release date was 28.10.2013.

16. Sualha Fazah Ahmed Husseini (Fatah. Born 1973, resident of Judea and Samaria, arrested 1990) was given a life sentence for stabbing  Baruch Heizler to death on a bus together with an accomplice and also attempting to murder three additional female passengers.

Baruch Heizler – named after his grandfather who was killed by Jordanian shelling of the Old City of Jerusalem during the War of Independence – was 24 when he was stabbed to death whilst travelling on the number 66 bus in Ramat Gan after having missed the ride to his seminary.  Betty Malka, Shai Cohen and Avishag Cohen were injured in the same attack. 

17. Ramahi Salah Abdallah Faraj (Fatah. Born in 1966, resident of the Gaza Strip, arrested 1992) was given a life term for killing Avraham Kinstler. Also, whilst in Israel without a permit, he broke into a car a stole a gun. While in prison, he tried to obtain a weapon for another prisoner in order to kidnap a soldier.

Avraham Kinstler was born in Polish Galicia in 1908 and immigrated to mandate Palestine with his wife in 1935. On July 7th 1992, Avraham – who had not retired – went to work in his orchard as usual. There he was ambushed by a terrorist and murdered with a farming implement.  Avraham was 84 years old at the time of his death. He was survived by three daughters and six grandchildren.

18. Abu-Sitta Ahmed Sayid Aladin (Fatah. Born 1970, resident of the Gaza Strip, arrested 1994) was sentenced to two life terms for killing David Dedi and Chaim Weitzman together with accomplices. (see below)

19. Abu-Sitta Taleb Mohammed Ayman (Fatah. Born 1971, resident of the Gaza Strip, arrested 1994) was given two life terms for breaking into an apartment in Ramle and murdering two people, David Dadi and Chaim Weitzman together with accomplices. Afterwards, they mutilated the bodies and cut off their ears as proof of the action. 

David Dadi was born in Tunis and immigrated to Israel as a child, settling in Ramla. On December 31st 1993, David, along with his acquaintance Chaim Weizman, was stabbed to death in his sleep in his flat in Ramla by labourers from Gaza who were working in a neighboring apartment. David was 43 at the time of his death.

Chaim Weizman was born in Morocco. His family immigrated to Israel in 1962 and settled in Ramla. On December 31st 1993 – aged 33 – he was stabbed to death in his sleep by terrorists whilst staying at the apartment of his friend David Dadi. He was survived by his son, parents and siblings. 

20. Mantsur Omar Abdel Hafiz Asmat (Born in 1976, resident of Judea and Samaria, arrested in 1993) was convicted of accessory to murder and sentenced to 22 years.  He found out during work about the intention of his colleagues to murder a civilian (Chaim Mizrahi) and during the murder, helped the murderers to overpower the victim and after his death, placed the body in the boot of his car.

Chaim Mizrachi grew up in Bat Yam and Holon, later moving to Beit El. On Friday, 29th October 1993, he went to buy eggs from an Arab-owned farm near his home, and was met by terrorists and fled in his vehicle after wounding him and stuffing him into the car’s trunk. The terrorists murdered Chaim, then burned and abandoned the vehicle north of Ramallah. Chaim was 30 at the time of his death, and was survived by his pregnant wife, his parents, his sisters, and his brother. Half a year after his murder, his daughter was born. 

21. Asakra Mahmad Ahmed Khaled (Fatah. Born 1972, resident of Judea & Samaria, arrested in 1991) was convicted of the murder of French national Annie Lei in April 1991 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

64 year-old Ms Lei was a tourist visiting Bethlehem and was eating in the restaurant where Asakra worked when he stabbed her to death.

22. Jandiya Yusef Raduan Nahad (Fatah. Born 1973, resident of the Gaza Strip, arrested in 1989) was sentenced to 25 and a half years’ imprisonment for his part – whilst still a minor – in the murder of 64 year-old Zalman Shlein with his release due on 13/1/2015.

Zalman Shlein was born in Poland and as a fifteen year-old boy was forced to escape Nazi persecution by leaving his home and family. He arrived in mandate Palestine in 1947 and settled in Gan Yavne where he married and raised his family, working as a building contractor. In July 1989 he was stabbed and beaten to death by Jandiya and another Arab labourer at a construction site. Jandiya later tried to escape from prison but was caught. 

23. Hamdiya Mahmoud Awad Muhammed (Fatah. Born 1972, resident of the Gaza Strip, arrested in 1989) was also convicted of the murder of Zalman Shlein and sentenced to 25 and a half years with his release scheduled for 13/1/2015. Like his accomplice, he also tried to escape from prison and was caught. 

24. Abdel-Nebi a’Wahab Gamal Jamil (Hamas. Born 1963, resident of Judea & Samaria, arrested in 1992) was sentenced to 21 years’ imprisonment having been convicted of accessory to murder and was due to be released on 14/12/2013. Abdel-Nebi drove the getaway vehicle after a terrorist shooting at the Machpelah Cave in Hebron in October 1992 in which reservist Shmuel Geresh was killed and Ronen Cohen was injured.

32 year-old Shmuel Geresh – the son of Holocaust survivors – left a wife and two children. 

25. Ziwad Muhammed Taher Taher (Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Born 1971, resident of Judea & Samaria, arrested 1993) was sentenced to 21 years in prison for his part (together with two others) in the fatal shooting of Avraham Cohen and was scheduled for release on 05/02/2014.

26. Tsabiach Abed Hamed Burhan was arrested in 2001 for the murder of four Palestinians – Jamil Mohammed, Naim Tsaviach, Ayisha Abdallah and Haradi Marwach. 

Omission of information in BBC report on Al Fawar incident

An article appearing on the Middle East page of the BBC News website on March 13th entitled “Funeral held for Palestinian shot by Israeli soldiers” omits information relevant to the context of the incident in which its subject, Mahmoud Titi, was killed. 

Mahmoud Titi

As is so often the case with BBC articles, the report begins with the last chronological event – Titi’s funeral.

“The funeral of a Palestinian man shot dead by Israeli soldiers has taken place in the West Bank.

Mahmoud Titi, 22, was killed during clashes in a refugee camp near Hebron on Tuesday, after soldiers entered the camp to make arrests.”

Only in the fifth paragraph do readers begin to get some idea of the circumstances surrounding Titi’s death.

“The Israeli military said its soldiers entered the al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of Hebron, after Palestinians threw a petrol bomb onto a road towards Israeli cars. Clashes then broke out, during which Mr Titi was killed, it added.

The military confirmed that live ammunition was used during the operation. Two other Palestinians were injured during the incident.”

The first sentence does not make sufficiently clear the fact that the soldiers who entered al Fawar did so whilst in pursuit of the throwers of petrol bombs at Israeli vehicles travelling on Route 60 near Beit Hagi at around 8:30 pm on March 12th 2013. 

The neutral choice of phrasing “clashes broke out” disguises the fact that the soldiers were attacked with rocks and petrol bombs in an incident initiated by rioters in the camp. The BBC report fails to mention that the vehicle in which the soldiers were travelling got stuck and that the rioters pelted it with rocks, smashing its bullet-proof windows and causing the soldiers to assess that their lives were in immediate danger. Only then was live ammunition used. 

Video footage uploaded to Youtube, apparently filmed by the rioters themselves, shows the incident.

The soldiers were evacuated by back-up. 

The BBC article also fails to mention that Mahmoud Titi (described as being between 22 and 25 years old in different reports) was, according to Palestinian sources, a known Hamas operative who had spent three years in prison in Israel and had been released from a Palestinian Authority prison just a few days before his death following his arrest by the PA security forces several weeks ago.  

The article also makes no mention of the statements made by Palestinian terror organisations in relation to Mahmoud Titi’s death. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad statement said that:

“The blood of the shahid Mahmoud Titi was not shed in vain. It will continue the Palestinian resistance and bring about the wished-for intifada and resistance to the occupation, which have no replacement. The Palestinian people in the [West] Bank must continue the clashes with the Israeli enemy.

Conflict with the Zionist occupation is the only option in order to gain our rights.”

The Hamas statement described Titi as:

“..a martyr who is a role model to all the Hamas youth to act against the occupation with the aim of releasing the Palestinian prisoners.”

 The BBC report states that:

“The BBC’s Jon Donnison in Jerusalem says there has been an increase in tension in the West Bank in recent weeks, with frequent clashes between Israeli soldiers and protesters angry at treatment of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.”

Of course the BBC has failed to report the majority of the rioting and terrorist incidents which have led to a significant rise in the violence. The month of February saw a 70% rise in the number of terror attacks in comparison with the preceding month, with 139 incidents recorded and three Israelis injured. 

However, Donnison’s assertion that the rise in violence can be attributed to anger “at treatment of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails” ignores both the organized political campaign behind those riots and the recent increased efforts by Hamas to establish terrorist cells in Palestinian Authority controlled areas.

The omission of crucial information results in a superficial presentation of this incident which distorts audience understanding of events and compromises the BBC’s obligations to both accuracy and impartiality.