BBC silent on holiday terror attacks in southern Israel

On the morning of April 21st, as the last day of Pessah was being celebrated in Israel, missiles were fired from the Gaza Strip at communities in the vicinity of the border in several consecutive incidents.

In all, seven missiles landed inside Israeli territory, with two of them landing in Sderot but thankfully not causing any injuries and only light damage. The attacks were later claimed by the Yahya Ayyash Brigades.

In addition, on the same morning an RPG was fired at Israeli soldiers patrolling the border fence and the evening before had seen an improvised explosive device activated against another IDF patrol on the southern part of the border with the Gaza Strip.

Later in the day the Israeli Air Force responded by targeting terror-related sites in the Gaza Strip.

Here is how the Middle East page of the BBC News website looked in the late afternoon of Monday, April 21st.

Mon aft hp

Here is how it looked on the morning of Tuesday, April 22nd.

Tues morn hp

In other words, the firing of seven potentially lethal missiles in a matter of hours at civilians celebrating a holiday was deemed not newsworthy by the BBC.

 

 

A round-up of BBC reporting of security incidents in March 2014

Security incidents of one sort or another made up the subject matter of quite a substantial proportion of the BBC News website’s coverage of Israel throughout the month of March and so it is interesting to look at what was deemed newsworthy and what was not, as well as at the quality of those reports. 

Beginning in the north, as we noted here on March 13th, by that stage of the month the BBC had already ignored the discovery of two Katyusha rockets near Majdal Shams on March 1st and an attempt to plant an improvised explosive device on the Syrian-Israeli border on the night of March 4th/5th

Tel Fares from Ramtaniya

Tel Fares from Ramtaniya

 

On March 14th another IED was activated against an Israeli patrol in the HarDov area on the Israel-Lebanon border. That incident was not reported by the BBC until four days later when a brief mention of that attack and the one of March 4th/5th appeared in a report relating to a separate incident. Hizballah has since claimed responsibility for that attack, but that news has not been reported by the BBC to date.

On March 18th, on the Israel-Syria border, another IED was activated against an Israeli patrol. The BBC published a report titled “Israeli soldiers wounded by bomb blast in Golan Heights” which was later replaced by another eventually titled “Israeli air strikes in Golan ‘kill Syrian soldier’” after Israel responded to the attack.

On March 28th an attempted infiltration of the border between Israel and Syria took place near Kibbutz Ein Zivan, with the two armed men reportedly killed. That incident was not reported by the BBC. 

During the month of March the BBC elected to report on two incidents occurring in the central region: the March 10th incident at the Allenby Bridge border crossing (which is still under investigation) and the March 22nd incident in Jenin in which Israeli forces trying to arrest a wanted terrorism suspect were attacked and three terrorists killed in the resulting gun-battle.

Among the many other incidents in the same region which the BBC elected not to report were a stabbing attack carried out by a member of the PFLP near Petah Tikva on March 2nd, the arrest in Hebron of a Hamas operative wanted since 1998 and the arrest of a resident of Jabel Mukaber with ties to Hamas on charges of sabotaging gas pipelines in the capital with the intention of causing explosions. The man also admitted carrying out a terror attack with an axe in 2012.

Incidents in which rocks and firebombs were thrown at Israeli vehicles included that of March 20th when a bus carrying schoolchildren was attacked with a firebomb near Nablus. On March 23rd an Israeli soldier was seriously injured at Rachel’s Tomb when a concrete block was thrown at him. In all, 107 incidents were recorded in Judea & Samaria and three in Jerusalem during March, with the majority (95) involving firebombs. All of those incidents were ignored by the BBC, as is habitually the case. In fact, throughout the last nine months since the current round of talks between Israel and the PLO commenced, according to ISA statistics, 916 firebomb attacks have taken place in Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem. Only one of those attacks (in November 2013) has been reported by the BBC.

Attacks July 13 to March 14 incl

In the southern region the BBC used a report on an incident on March 1st in which a woman was shot near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip to once again promote a flawed report by Amnesty International. On March 4th a strike against two terrorists who were in the process of firing missiles at Israeli civilian communities was the subject of a problematic BBC report. Incidents of missile fire from the Gaza Strip on the night of March 6th did not receive any BBC coverage.

On March 11th a Palestinian Islamic Jihad cell fired a mortar at an Israeli army patrol on the Gaza Strip – Israel border and the IDF responded. Later that evening a missile fired from the Gaza Strip exploded near Sderot. Neither of those incidents received coverage until the evening of the next day when the BBC produced the first of four reports (see also here and here)  concerning the subsequent heavy barrage of missiles from the Gaza Strip was fired at civilian communities in Israel over a period of two days. All those BBC reports were hallmarked by their amplification of PIJ propaganda, their absolving of Hamas of any responsibility for the attacks and the fact that they failed to clarify that some of the attacks were carried out by additional terrorist factions including Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Despite having sent a correspondent to Sderot, the BBC refrained from informing audiences of the point of view of Israeli civilians under attack. 

Gaza from Zikkim beach

Gaza City from Zikkim beach

 

Subsequent incidents on March 17th and 18th and the discovery of two improvised explosive devices on the border on March 25th were not reported. The discovery on March 21st of another cross-border tunnel prompted a BBC report which amplified Hamas propaganda.

BBC coverage of the March 5th seizure of a ship transporting weapons destined for terrorists in the Gaza Strip from Iran via Sudan included a blatant ‘smoke and mirrors’ report, the use of inaccurate maps, amplification of Iranian propaganda and the failure to inform audiences of evidence of Iranian involvement in the shipment.

Clearly a considerable proportion of security events – especially those not resulting in casualties – continue to be ignored by the BBC. Throughout March that was once again particularly notable in the central regions of Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem with the number of incidents reported by the BBC confined to two, whilst a total of 110 violent attacks against Israeli civilians and security personnel actually took place. Clearly too, BBC audiences are not able to form fact-based opinions if such a large proportion of information is consistently withheld.

Related Articles:

90% of missile attacks from Gaza Strip in February ignored by the BBC

Review of the BBC’s reporting of security incidents in Judea & Samaria in January

One hundred and sixteen stories the BBC chose not to tell

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.”

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

Northern exposure: what the BBC isn’t reporting about the Israel-Syria border

As was noted here recently, two errant mortars fired from Syria exploded in the Golan Heights on the afternoon of February 18th. A few days later a bout of particularly heavy fighting took place south of Quneitra – which, unlike other areas proximate to the border, is still held by Assad’s troops – with the latter apparently retaking two villages from the anti-regime forces.  On March 1st the IDF found the remains of two Katyusha rockets in the northern Golan, which appear to have been fired from Syria. 

On the night of March 4th another attempt was made to place an improvised explosive device on the northern section of the border fence between Israel and Syria. Israeli forces responded with live fire. 

On the morning of March 7th Israeli Air Force jets had to be scrambled several times as Syrian aircraft came very close to the border during their attacks on an opposition-held village just beyond the ceasefire lines.

Like many other incidents which have taken place in the Golan Heights since the Syrian civil war began, none of the above was reported by the BBC, despite their staff clearly being aware of at least some of the events. 

Tweet Shuval Golan 18 Feb

Meanwhile, the flow of wounded Syrians arriving at the border to seek Israeli medical care continues. BBC Watch recently went to meet one of the doctors working at the field hospital established by the IDF in the Golan Heights to provide ‘first stop’ care for the wounded. Captain Dr S. noted that the types of injuries her team is treating – mostly gunshot wounds and injuries from explosions – are ones which are rarely seen in Israel these days and hence her generation of young doctors had little practical experience in dealing with such cases before the field hospital was set up. She also noted that the wounded Syrians arrive in a state of extreme fear seeing as they are, after all, coming to a country which they have been educated to regard as an enemy. Hence, she and her team deliberately avoid speaking Hebrew in the presence of the patients so as to try to reduce at least one stress factor, and instead converse with them in English and Arabic. 

Patients with more complex injuries are transported to one of several civilian hospitals in the north of Israel. Here is the director general of the Western Galilee hospital in Nahariya, Dr. Massad Barhoum, talking at the recent AIPAC conference about his institution’s work in helping Syrian patients. 

 

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 News reframes Iranian arms shipment story, censors information

On March 10th a BBC producer made his way to Eilat to cover the story of the weapons shipment seized aboard the Klos-C as it was shown to the media the day after its arrival in Israel’s southern port. 

Klos C tweet Shuval

The report on that topic which appeared on the Middle East page of the BBC News website later that evening is notable for the fact that instead of fully and accurately informing BBC audiences about the details of the weapons shipment itself, it frames the story in very different terms.

On the Middle East homepage the heading linking to the report read “Israel attacks ‘hypocrisy’ over Iran” and, still using the “Israel says” caveat, the subheading informed readers that:

“Prime Minister Netanyahu shows his anger at the West as he unveils a shipment of weapons Israel says were being sent from Iran to Gaza.” [emphasis added]

Klos C art on ME pge 10 3

The article itself is titled “Israel attacks ‘hypocrisy’ of international community on Iran” and it opens with repetitions of the Iranian and Hamas propaganda previously touted by the BBC in earlier reports. Klos C art 10 3

“Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused the international community of “hypocrisy” over Iran.

Mr Netanyahu spoke as the Israeli military unveiled what it alleged was a cache of Syrian-made weapons being sent by Iran to militants in the Gaza Strip.

He criticised EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who visited Tehran at the weekend, for her “smiles and handshakes” with Iran’s leaders.

Iran has dismissed as “failed lies” the accusation it was behind the shipment.

A spokesman for Hamas, the militant Palestinian Islamist movement that governs Gaza, has meanwhile said it is all a “silly joke”.” [emphasis added]

The factual information provided to reporters at the event was condensed by the BBC into two short paragraphs, the wording of which is quite remarkable when one considers that at least one BBC employee saw the forty 302 mm missiles, the 181 Iranian-manufactured 120 mm mortar shells and the 400,000 7.62 mm calibre bullets seized aboard the Klos-C with his own eyes.  

“Israel’s navy seized a Panamanian-flagged vessel, the Klos-C, in the Red Sea off Sudan last Wednesday, and said it was carrying dozens of M-302 rockets, which have a range of 150km to 200km (93-124 miles).

The weapons had been tracked for several months as they were flown from Damascus to Tehran and then taken to a port in southern Iran, it alleged. From there, it added, they were loaded on to the Klos-C, which sailed to Iraq, where containers of cement were added.”

Significantly, BBC audiences are kept entirely in the dark with regard to the information provided to the press which shows that the weapons shipment did indeed come from Iran. The fact that the shipment included Iranian-produced mortars is disappeared entirely from the BBC’s report. The fact that the weapons were concealed under bags of cement marked as being made in Iran and that the containers carrying the arms had unique seals used by the Iranian customs authorities is also not mentioned. 

Klos C customs seal

Reporters were also shown the Klos-C’s paperwork which indicates that 100 numbered containers – including those carrying the weapons – were loaded at the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas (click on the links to see the documents).

Klos C manifest Bandar Abbas

Klos C manifest Bandar Abbas 2

The ship then sailed to Umm Qasr in Iraq, where a further 50 containers were loaded.

Klos C loading Umm Qasr

The ship’s manifest was then altered manually to create the false impression that all 150 containers – including those carrying weapons – had been loaded in Iraq. 

Klos C forged manifest

The BBC, however, has elected to censor all that information and continues to encourage audiences to view the story in terms of competing Israeli and Iranian claims by means of unquestioned promotion of the latter’s propaganda and liberal use of phrases such as “Israel says” and “Israel alleged”.

The rest of the BBC report is devoted to remarks made by the Israeli prime minister at the press conference, with the curious inclusion of a video showing an interview with the EU’s Catherine Ashton during her recent visit to Iran and a link to a previous BBC report from Iran by Lyse Doucet. 

The fact that this BBC report conceals crucial information, and instead seeks to turn readers’ attentions to a version framing the Israeli prime minister’s remarks as the story’s focus, of course actively hinders BBC audiences’ ability to form their own fact-based opinions on the subject of Iran’s policy of arming and financing terrorist organisations in the Middle East and further afield and the implications of that in relation to the ongoing P5+1 negotiations on Iran’s nuclear programme. 

Sadly for BBC audiences however, there is nothing novel about that. Since this story first broke, the BBC’s coverage of it has been notable in that it has consistently tried to distract audiences’ attention from the actual issue of Iranian arms shipments to terrorist organisations by reframing the story to focus on the Gaza Strip, on Iranian denials of involvement and now on the Israeli prime minister’s “anger”. By repeatedly reframing the story and by deliberately omitting crucial information it had at its disposal, the BBC has clearly breached its own editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality and failed to meet its public purpose of building “a global understanding of international issues”. 

Related Articles:

BBC employs smoke and mirrors in report on Iranian weapons smuggling ship

Inaccurate map used to illustrate BBC reports on Klos-C weapons interception

BBC News website self-conscripts to ‘Mini Me’ role on Klos-C weapons interception

More BBC amplification of Iranian propaganda on Klos-C story

More BBC amplification of Iranian propaganda on Klos-C story

On March 8th an article currently running under the title “Catherine Ashton in landmark bridge-building trip to Iran” appeared in the Features & Analysis section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page. The subject matter of the report – which was written by the BBC’s chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet – is as expressed in its latest headline: a visit to Iran by the EU’s foreign affairs representative.

However, one of two photographs chosen to illustrate the article is this one below, which is accompanied by the following caption:

“Iran has rejected Israeli allegations that it was behind a shipment of Syrian-made rockets intended for Palestinian militants in Gaza”

Doucet art 8 3Doucet’s report does not at any point relate to the incident last week in which a ship sailing from Iran to Sudan was seized by Israeli naval forces in the Red Sea due to its carrying Syrian-made missiles destined for terror groups in the Gaza Strip. 

Doucet art main 8 3 vers 3Hence the gratuitous inclusion of this photograph and its context-free caption can only be seen as yet more promotion of Iranian propaganda on the part of the BBC. 

The terms of the BBC’s constitutional document commit the corporation to building “a global understanding of international issues” and enabling “individuals to participate in the global debate on significant international issues”. Although the BBC has shown no qualms about repeating and amplifying Iran’s propaganda on this topic, it has made no attempt whatsoever to justify that promotion with any sort of independently verified factual information which would support the notion that the Syrian-made missiles did not arrive in Tehran from Damascus and were not transported from there to the port of Bandar Abbas with the knowledge of the Iranian regime.

Instead, it seems that the BBC is of the opinion that all audiences need to know is that “Iran has rejected Israeli allegations” (with the use of that last word being highly significant). Whether or not there is any evidence to support that “rejection” is apparently deemed superfluous to audiences’ “understanding of international issues”, meaning that not only is their ability to participate in the “debate” on Iran’s long record of arming and financing terrorist organisations constrained, but so is their awareness of the fact that such an issue exists.  

Related Articles:

BBC News website self-conscripts to ‘Mini Me’ role on Klos-C weapons interception

BBC employs smoke and mirrors in report on Iranian weapons smuggling ship

Inaccurate map used to illustrate BBC reports on Klos-C weapons interception

BBC amplifies Iranian propaganda over Beirut embassy bombing

BBC Arabic’s Edgard Jallad promotes Iranian propaganda on BBC World News

BBC News website self-conscripts to ‘Mini Me’ role on Klos-C weapons interception

Consider this: on March 6th the foreign minister of Iran, Javad Zarif, put out the following chronologically challenged propaganda on Twitter.

KlosC tweet Zarif

Within hours of Zarif’s finger having hit the ‘Tweet’ button (a privilege of course not afforded to the vast majority of his countrymen), the BBC News website had published an article based on that ’140 characters or less’ agitprop under the none too subtle headline “Iran’s Zarif says Israel lying about Gaza rocket ship”  - and thrown in a bit more Hamas propaganda for good measure.

KlosC Zarif tweet art bbc

The article opens:

“Iran has rejected Israeli allegations that it was behind a shipment of Syrian-made rockets intended for Palestinian militants in Gaza.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif dismissed them as “failed lies”.

He claimed they were published “just in time” for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference, which took place earlier this week.”

Later on the report states:

“On Thursday, Mr Zarif rejected the allegations and questioned why they had surfaced just after the conference a pro-Israel US lobby group.

“An Iranian ship carrying arms for Gaza,” he wrote on Twitter. “Captured just in time for annual AIPAC anti-Iran campaign. Amazing Coincidence! Or same failed lies.”

A spokesman for Hamas, the militant Palestinian Islamist movement that governs Gaza, said they were a “silly joke”.”

The article then duplicates the statement made in the BBC’s previous reports on the subject of the seizure of Syrian-made weapons on a ship sailing from Iran to Sudan, which deliberately misleads BBC audiences by creating the impression that Iran’s well-documented funding and arming of numerous terrorist organisations is nothing more than an Israeli claim.

“Israel has long accused Iran of arming groups such as Hamas.”

The report also reproduces the previously touted notion of equivalence between the actions of terrorist organisations targeting civilians and the responses to those attacks by the armed forces of a sovereign country charged with defending its citizens.

“More than 60 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip have hit Israel since the start of last year, Israel says.

Hamas denies that it has fired any rockets since a 2012 ceasefire agreement with Israel, with other Gaza-based groups claiming responsibility. However, Israel says it hold Hamas responsible for any attacks from Gaza and has repeatedly launched deadly air strikes.”

Despite the ample readily available contradictory evidence, the article repeats the BBC’s frequent promotion of Iranian claims regarding the nature of its nuclear programme.

“At a news conference in Jakarta on Thursday, Mr Zarif insisted that Iran’s nuclear programme was solely for peaceful purposes.”

So just what was the point of this BBC report? No new information is provided to readers on the topic of the seizure of the missiles itself and the article’s sole purpose appears to be amplification of Javad Zarif’s straw-clutching propaganda along with a re-run of Hamas comments of the same genre and repetition of the same misleading ‘smoke and mirrors’ focus on the Gaza Strip which detracts audience attention from the real issue at hand – Iran’s long and continuing history of material support for terrorist organisations.

Considering that Iran was scheduled to receive a further $550 million in sanctions relief the day after the publication of this BBC report, this would have been a timely opportunity to inform audiences of the facts behind the extent of that country’s enabling of the internationally designated terrorist organisations which destabilize the Middle East. 

If members of the general public wish to immerse themselves in undiluted and unchallenged Iranian propaganda, they can of course do that via several official or semi-official Iranian media outlets. The remit of the BBC is not to be Press TV’s ‘Mini Me’, but to provide its audiences with the kind of accurate information which will enable them to distinguish between the propaganda of a repressive, theocratic, terror-enabling regime and the actual facts behind a story.  

Sadly, the BBC seems intent upon rendering itself irrelevant to discerning news seekers by repeatedly running interference for the Iranian regime with uncritical amplification of its propaganda – at least when that propaganda can somehow be linked to Israel. 

Related Articles:

BBC employs smoke and mirrors in report on Iranian weapons smuggling ship

Inaccurate map used to illustrate BBC reports on Klos-C weapons interception

BBC amplifies Iranian propaganda over Beirut embassy bombing

BBC Arabic’s Edgard Jallad promotes Iranian propaganda on BBC World News

Inaccurate map used to illustrate BBC reports on Klos-C weapons interception

On March 5th an article by the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus titled “Israel’s clandestine battle with weapons smugglers” appeared in the ‘Features & Analysis’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page. KlosC Marcus art

The article is obviously intended to provide audiences with background and context to the incident earlier on the same day in which Israeli naval forces seized a ship transporting Syrian-made missiles from Iran to Sudan, with their eventual destination being the Gaza Strip.

On the whole, the article is both accurate and informative but it is marred by one feature. As Jonathan Marcus correctly notes:

“In the March 2014 case – unusually – the Israelis say that the weaponry actually originated in Syria from where it was flown to Tehran.

It was then put on board the Klos-C at the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.

From there it went to Um Qasr in Iraq, before heading back out of the Gulf and round to the Red Sea where it was intercepted.

The Israelis say that it was due to dock in Port Sudan, from where the weapons would have moved overland through the Sinai Peninsula and ultimately into the Gaza Strip.”

However, the map inserted into the article does not accurately reflect the written information provided by Jonathan Marcus. Rather, it misleads readers by tracing an “intended route” for the ship which ends up in south Sinai, somewhere near Sharm el Sheikh.

KlosC BBC map

In fact, the vessel’s destination was Port Sudan.

KlosC IDF map destination

As is explained in this video:

“The ship is headed to Port Sudan but is stopped before reaching its destination. Israeli naval forces intercept the vessel and prevent the weapons from reaching the Gaza Strip. Without this initiative, the rockets would have been smuggled via land through the Sinai peninsula and into Gaza.”

KlosC route

The same inaccurate map – which oddly states that it is sourced from the IDF – also appears in the additional BBC article on the subject, discussed here

Related Articles:

BBC employs smoke and mirrors in report on Iranian weapons smuggling ship

IDF intercepts deadly Iranian arms shipment in Red Sea (J.E. Dyer)

Update: 

March 7th: The inaccurate map has now been removed from both the above BBC reports.