BBC pictorial portrayals of conflict in Israel and Gaza

On November 23rd 2012 an “In Pictures” photo essay entitled “Ceasefire” appeared on the homepage of the Middle East section of the BBC News website. 

The photo essay features thirteen photographs, of which nine depict Gaza and four are taken in Israel.

Four of the pictures from Gaza depict scenes of destruction of buildings, with interesting repeated – if transparent – use of bursts of colour against a largely grey background . One shows mourning women. Four other pictures depict Hamas leaders and operatives (finally available for photo-ops after eight days of being in hiding), with three of those pictures notably captioned as having been taken at funerals or mourning  events, thus adding a ‘human touch’. 

Of the pictures taken in Israel, none depict any kind of destruction or mourning.

One shows Israelis demonstrating against the ceasefire in Kiryat Malachi, where three people were killed as the result of a direct hit by a missile on an apartment block.

The remaining three pictures all have a military theme, with any civilians pictured looking relaxed and happy. Two of the three once again suggest a linkage between the Israeli army and religion. 

In the three photo essays we have covered here recently (see here and here), a total of 35 pictures supposedly documenting the conflict have been presented. Twenty of those pictures were taken in Gaza (and one in Hebron), with only two of those images showing Hamas terrorists, both at funerals. Fourteen of the 35 pictures were taken in Israel. 

Of the total 35 pictures, damage to homes, buildings or property was depicted in 12 of the pictures from the Gaza Strip and in four of the pictures from Israel. Images related to injury or death of civilians were depicted in seven of the photographs taken in Gaza, but in none of the photographs from Israel.

From the fourteen pictures taken in Israel, eleven show images of soldiers or other security forces. Four of those eleven pictures try to make a clear linkage between the Israeli army and the Jewish religion.  

If the BBC’s Picture Editor Phil Coomes would like to expand on the editorial decisions behind these photo essays, we would be very happy to publish his explanations here.