BBC’s Ian Pannell does a convincing impression of Al Aqsa TV

“BBC News aspires to remain the standard-setter for international journalism…” [source]

On July 28th BBC television news audiences viewed some of that ‘standard setting’ journalism in the form of yet more unchallenged Hamas propaganda, this time facilitated by Ian Pannell. The item also appeared on the BBC News website under the title “Hamas: ‘We are getting killed but we won’t give up’“. Pannell’s ‘interview’ (and that term is used very loosely here) with Hamas spokesman Ehab al Ghossein begins with the latter saying:Pannell int Hamas spox

“This my relatives, my people. Maybe I’m gonna get killed in the next hour. So; whenever we stand in front of this Israeli occupation that…this army that has no ethics – they are just killing civilians, kids, and the world is watching – the only thing I have is to continue standing in front of it. To continue to resist in front of it. I’m looking for my freedom and I know that the price of freedom will be high so I…nobody can make me give up or hold the white flag without getting my freedom and this is the sense for all the Palestinians. We are paying, we are getting killed but we won’t give up.”

Does Pannell bother to point out to BBC audiences – and al Ghossein – that the Gaza Strip has not been under “Israeli occupation” for nine years? In light of that fact, does he dig deeper in order to give viewers some sort of insight as to how Hamas defines ‘occupation’ and which geographical areas its definition actually includes? Does he pick up on the glaring aberration of an internationally designated terrorist organization – which has targeted Israeli civilians with thousands of military grade missiles for fourteen years and sent dozens of suicide bombers to carry out carnage in Israeli cafes, shopping malls and buses – lecturing BBC viewers on “ethics”? The answer to all those questions is of course no. Instead, Pannell allows al Ghossein a platform from which to cynically commandeer the language of human rights, turning a violent, antisemitic terrorist organization into a popular movement for “freedom”.  

Pannell then tries to steer al Ghossein towards expatiation of Hamas’ pre-ceasefire demands – a theme we have seen being advanced repeatedly in BBC coverage in recent days.

“So let’s talk about those objectives. What are the key demands of Hamas? You say that you will abide by a humanitarian truce during Eid. The implication is you will resume the conflict after that until you get – what?”

EaG: “Well the problem is in the Israelis who are keeping to kill us. Not us. They started this war and they continue…”

Pannell interrupts, but not to clarify to audiences that al Ghossein’s version of events is inaccurate and untrue. Instead, Pannell is looking for advancement of his selected theme.

“But the objectives that would lead to the Palestinian factions and the Palestinian people saying enough…”

EaG: “Well…err…nobody will tell the Palestinians to stop defending themselves. The problem is the Israelis who are continuing to kill my people. And so I’m telling you…”

Pannell still hasn’t got what he came for.

“I’m just keen to know…yeah…what is it that you actually want now?”

Finally, al Ghossein responds to Pannell’s repeated prompts and the buzz words arrive.

EaG: “The solution is easy. We’re talking about two million people living in a big jail. 140 square miles with…err…no borders, with no products, with no electricity. There is no life. It’s a slow death since eight years. What we are looking for is lifting the siege, opening the borders and this is actually our rights. We shouldn’t get with all this blood. We should get it without anything but the problem is unfair international community that keep in silence since eight years in front of them.”

Predictably, Pannell makes no effort to ask his interviewee why – if it is so concerned about conditions in the Gaza Strip – Hamas initiated, carried out, allowed and facilitated the terrorism in the territory under its control which brought upon the population there the implementation of border restrictions by both Israel and Egypt in order to protect their own civilians. Neither does Pannell bother to enquire whether – in the event of the lifting of border restrictions – Hamas will rearm with the help of its foreign sponsors Iran and Qatar and continue to carry out terrorism against its neighbouring countries. He goes on:

“Are you any closer to achieving those aims now than you were one month ago?”

EaG: “Well we believe that we are going to get and achieve our goals. It’s not our goals as Hamas goals – no: it’s the Palestinian goals. And whatever happened we won’t change our stance. We look our freedom. If they kill all of us, all of us at all, we should get in the end our freedom. The only thing we have is dignity. We’re saving our dignity and looking for our freedom whatever surprise is continue to happen.”

As an aspiring “standard-setter for international journalism” the BBC should be deconstructing Hamas propaganda in order to help audiences cut through the terrorist organisation’s rhetoric and understand the real issues at stake, but audiences have not seen that happen at any time during the last three weeks. This lackluster performance by Ian Pannell in which he failed to challenge even one of al Ghossein’s falsehoods on the one hand and facilitated the portrayal of a terrorist organization as some sort of troop of benevolent human rights campaigners on the other, shows yet again that in its reporting from the Gaza Strip, the BBC’s ‘standards’ are much more in line with those of the propaganda spouting Al Aqsa TV run by its Hamas hosts. 

Misleading BBC presentation of a ‘ceasefire’ and its ‘breaches’

On July 27th BBC television news programmes aired a report by Ian Pannell which also appeared on the BBC News website under the title “Hamas-declared ceasefire in Gaza stalls as conflict continues“.CF Pannell 27 7

Before we take a look at Pannell’s report, let’s remind ourselves of the timeline of events over the weekend.

On Saturday July 26th a 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire came into effect at 08:00 local time. Before that, nine missiles were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel between midnight and 08:00. Throughout the agreed twelve-hour period, Hamas showed that it is capable of holding its own fire and preventing other terrorist organisations from acting when it wants to do so. At around 18:20 on Saturday evening, Israel said it would be willing to extend the ceasefire for a further four hours until midnight on Saturday night. Despite media reports that Hamas had also agreed to a four-hour extension, missiles were fired at Israeli communities at 20:04, and at least four subsequent barrages followed throughout the evening, including on Tel Aviv. At around 21:30 a Hamas spokesman said that Hamas would not extend the ceasefire until midnight after all. Just before midnight, the Israeli cabinet said it would further extend the ceasefire until 20:00 on Sunday, July 27th.

At 05:00 on July 27th mortars were fired from the Gaza Strip at communities in the Hof Ashkelon area. Further attacks took place at around 05:57, 08:10, 08:11, 08:33, 09:08 and 09:34 – with targeted areas including the Sharon and Shfela regions of central Israel. Just after 10:00 Israel announced that it was resuming fire in response to the missile attacks. Further missile attacks from the Gaza Strip took place at around 12:52 and 13:45. At around 13:30 Hamas announced a 24-hour truce starting at 14:00. Missiles were fired at approximately 14:19, 15:30, 16:18 (a woman was injured in that attack in a direct hit on her home while she slept), 16:42, 16:51, 17:22 and continued into the evening. From the morning of July 27th until 19:00, over 50 missiles were fired.

Ian Pannell’s report was filmed at around 10:00 on the morning of July 27th according to his account. In other words, at least seven missile attacks had been launched from the Gaza Strip by the time his camera began rolling. So let’s take a look at how he presented the situation to BBC audiences.

“Today was supposed to be quiet in Gaza. Israel extended its ceasefire, but Hamas did not. This was filmed by the Israeli military. They say it shows rockets being fired from a school across the border into Israel. “

Pannell then interviews Hamas spokesman Ehab Abu Ghossein.

IP: “What is the benefit to the Palestinian people of Hamas breaking the truce and then having massive Israeli airfire?”

EaG: “We’re looking for a total agreement and a full agreement that will end the killing and lift the siege totally and get our freedom.”

With a curious choice of words, Pannell goes on:

“This was Israel’s response. Well, it’s just gone ten o’clock in the morning…ahm…we were told that Israel was adhering to the ceasefire and that we were OK to travel on this area but we’re hearing a fairly constant barrage of artillery incoming. We’re seeing smoke rising in a number of different locations. There. There. Israel has declared its ceasefire over, but many residents were simply unaware.”

As noted above, Israel announced at around 10:00 that it would no longer hold fire due to the numerous missile attacks throughout the morning. Pannell, however, has nothing informative to say about those attacks meaning that BBC audiences remain ignorant of the circumstances behind Israel’s announcement that it would resume fire.

The rest of Pannell’s report is devoted to context-free accounts from local residents.

“The young mother said she was running away with her children because her house had been hit.”

“And while we talked to another resident, more shells were landing.”

The possibility that the Israeli fire might be directed at locations from which missiles were fired at Israel is not raised by Pannell, who also shows audiences footage of a context-free medical evacuation.

“An emergency team has been called out. People have been injured. Four people have been wounded. They said they’d been working on their farm. All of them had shrapnel wounds.”

As has been the case for the last three weeks, BBC camera crews apparently did not capture any of that abundant missile fire from the Gaza Strip on tape.

Pannell’s report was also featured in a written report titled “Hamas-declared ceasefire in Gaza stalls as conflict continues” which appeared on the BBC News website on the evening of July 27th. That article opens with the following interesting portrayal: [emphasis added]CF written 27 7

“A 24-hour ceasefire announced by Hamas in Gaza appears to be stalling, with both Palestinian militants and Israel continuing their offensives.

Hamas fired more rockets into Israel, accusing it of failing to abide by the ceasefire.

Israel rejected the truce, PM Benjamin Netanyahu saying: “Israel will do what it must do to defend its people”.”

In other words, the BBC presents Hamas missile fire during a truce it had declared unilaterally as a response to Israeli fire during a truce to which it had not agreed.

The article’s fifth paragraph contains this interesting piece of information:

“The Gaza health ministry on Sunday revised the number of dead down by 30 after some relatives found missing family members.”

In other words, from that we seem to be able to conclude that the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry – which of course has been quoted numerous times a day by the BBC since the beginning of hostilities – does not overly trouble itself with definite identification of casualties before it announces the numbers – and civilian status – of dead.

That article does not provide readers with any independent BBC reporting of the missile fire on the morning of July 27th which caused Israel to resume activities, but presents it solely in the form of an Israeli claim.   

“However, the Israeli military announced on Sunday morning it had decided to resume its air, ground and naval raids on Gaza in response to “incessant rocket fire” from Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since seizing power there in 2007.”

“Dozens of Hamas rockets were fired into Israel on Sunday, with some intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile shield, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).”

The article also includes a filmed report by Orla Guerin which was shown on BBC television news on July 27th and also appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Rockets lands in Israel after ceasefire stalls“. The synopsis to that report as it appears on the website again promotes the misleading notion that Israel broke the Hamas-declared unilateral ceasefire to which Israel did not agree.CF Guerin 27 7

“Hamas fired more rockets into Israel, accusing it of failing to abide by the ceasefire.”

Guerin opens her report with footage from the direct hit on the house in the Sha’ar HaNegev district in which a woman was injured, saying in her perennially dramatic tone:

“Mid-afternoon in Israel. A message from Hamas. A rocket landed one hour into a ceasefire it had announced. The home-owner was moderately wounded.

And here; Israel’s response. The government insists it’s pounding Gaza to stop the rockets and to destroy a network of tunnels that can be used to launch attacks.”

Of course some of those tunnels have already been used to launch attacks, but Guerin does not inform her viewers of that.

“Well, Israeli troops remain in position here close to the Gaza border and they’re still in position on the other side. In recent days the defence minister has said the ground operation could be broadened significantly. Twenty days on, by Israeli standards, the army has already suffered heavy losses and we’re just hearing the sound now of outgoing fire.

The justice minister Tsipi Livni was at the bedside of one of the wounded troops. We’re not allowed to show his face. Israel has lost 43 soldiers but it has killed hundreds of Palestinian civilians.”

After that context-free statement based on figures provided by the Hamas health ministry but not independently verified by the BBC to date, Guerin goes on to ask Israel’s minister of justice one of her trademark ‘impartially’ vitriolic questions – clearly more intended at broadcasting her own inaccurate statement than actually getting any information which might be informative to viewers from her interviewee.CF Guerin densely

“How can Israel try to justify raining missiles down on one of the most densely populated areas on earth?”

Tsipi Livni responds:

“Well, we’ve tried to stop more than once. Just yesterday we took a decision – the Israeli government – to have a humanitarian ceasefire when Hamas said no, so….”

Guerin continues:

“She wouldn’t comment further but internationally, the questions keep coming about the huge number of innocent victims.”

Again – Guerin has no independently verified facts regarding the number of uninvolved civilians or the number of terrorist combatants. Likewise, she has no independently verified information regarding the number of casualties who were actually killed by misfired or short-falling missiles fired by terrorist organisations. She goes on:

“On a hill overlooking Gaza Israelis come to watch the warfare. For some – a spectator sport. For others – a painful vista.”

That flippant interpretation by Guerin shows that she – predictably – joins the ranks of those foreign journalists who prefer to advance their own knee-jerk theories rather than actually trying to understand what they are seeing.

Guerin closes by misleading viewers with the implication that Hamas’ terrorism against Israeli civilians has something to do with the fact that a Palestinian state has not yet been established.

“Ceasefires may come and go but there’s no Palestinian state on the horizon.”

Bear in mind that Guerin – reporting as she is from Israel – is supposed to be giving BBC audiences the Israeli side of this story. Clearly that is not what she was trying to do in this report.  

Half a picture, half a story: how the BBC compromises its own impartiality in Gaza

As was noted in this recent post, an article by Yolande Knell titled “Gaza: Hamas seeks to emerge stronger” appeared in the ‘Features & Analysis’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page on July 24th. The article includes the following interesting passages:Crossings Knell written

“Israel says its military offensive in Gaza targets militants from the Palestinian movement, Hamas. Yet for the most part the Islamist fighters remain shadowy figures during this latest conflict.

In northern Gaza last week, heavy exchanges of gunfire with advancing Israeli ground troops suggested the presence of militants nearby.

However, it was only during Sunday’s bloody scenes in Shejaiya, north-east of Gaza City, that journalists saw masked men hurrying down the streets and talking furtively into walkie-talkies on street corners. […]

There have been occasional televised statements by the former Hamas Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, but most of the Islamist group’s officials have gone to ground during this conflict. Their houses tend to be empty when they are targeted by Israeli air strikes.

The only place where we have been able to approach Hamas spokesmen is at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City where they make periodic appearances. […]

The large turnouts for funerals of local Hamas leaders killed in the latest conflict are a reminder of how the Islamist movement still commands wide respect in Gaza, which remains among the most socially conservative Palestinian areas.”

BBC television audiences have not seen any footage of those “large turnouts” at Hamas funerals which Knell has apparently witnessed and have not been provided with combatant casualty figures. Although interviews with Hamas spokesmen at Shifa hospital have been aired, audiences have not seen any real reporting of the fact that the Hamas leadership is in hiding in that hospital. Apart from a couple of brief mentions by Lyse Doucet of those “masked men hurrying down the streets and talking furtively into walkie-talkies on street corners”, BBC audiences have not seen any footage or read any accounts of the actions of Hamas terrorists.

They have not seen or been told anything of the fierce battles between terrorists and the IDF: no images of Hamas members firing RPGs, anti-tank missiles or mortars at Israeli troops have been aired. They have not seen footage of the launching of even one of more than 2,350 missiles which have been fired at Israeli civilians since July 8th or of the effects of the 10 to 15% of  missiles which fall short and land in the Gaza Strip itself. Neither have they seen any reporting on the topic Hamas’ use of child soldiers.

Yolande Knell would apparently have us believe that not one of the plethora of BBC reporters on the ground in the Gaza Strip in the last nineteen days has witnessed or recorded any of the above.

Now it may well be that foreign correspondents in Gaza – and the BBC among them – are being subjected to pressures which prevent them from reporting anything which does not fall into the category of Israeli military actions or dead and wounded Palestinian civilians. Certainly the social media accounts of some of those reporters would suggest that is the case. But if it is, audiences should obviously be informed for the sake of accuracy and impartiality that they are only receiving a partial picture of events and why that is the case – and that has so far not happened.

In an interesting article in Ha’aretz, former BBC journalist Stephen Games asks “[c]an the BBC really report from Gaza?” and refers to a BBC interview with Andrew Roy who readers may remember was recently to be found patting his organization on the back for its Middle East coverage.

“On another popular BBC radio programme, “Feedback”, which provides a platform for public comment, listeners are said to have complained in equal numbers that BBC coverage was biased either towards Israel or towards the Palestinians.

In response to such contradictory criticism, BBC executives stereotypically say that if they are being criticized from both sides, they must be getting the balance just about right. On this occasion the “Feedback” host, Roger Bolton, stepped back from this glib reply and tried to explore the alternative possibility that the BBC was getting it badly wrong, but this tack was instantly dismissed by his studio guest, the World Editor of BBC News, Andrew Roy.

Roy admitted that covering Gaza was difficult because reporters are at physical risk; but he went on to argue that the BBC was adept at navigating pressure by lobbyists on both sides to adapt its reporting to their liking. He also claimed that its authority came from its being one of the few international broadcasters with a permanent presence in Gaza and having a website to provide further context.

What Roy would not address, however, was Bolton’s suggestion that unlike reporters working in Israel, those in Gaza are hampered by lack of access and by the dangers, not so much to BBC staff, but to potential interviewees, of being targeted if they talk openly. Roy would only acknowledge the danger of working “under bombardment”, giving the impression that the threat to honest journalism came only from Israeli rockets, not from Hamas enforcers. 

It was not clear whether Roy refused to acknowledge the impossibility of carrying out normal investigative journalism under Hamas because he—personally or corporately—cannot see it, or because the BBC dare not tell the truth for fear of losing its ringside seat at one of the world’s worst trouble spots. 

What did emerge from the interview is the unintended damage caused by the BBC’s ostensible policy of even-handedness. Because it cannot be seen as editorialising, the BBC bends over backwards to maintain a policy of “show-don’t-tell”. Thus, the only truths about Gaza that BBC reporters can convey are those that a camera can point at. Never has a BBC reporter broken a story from Gaza, interviewed a Hamas commander about splits in the ranks, examined the Palestinian justice and detention system, exposed the climate of fear that Gazans are subject to, shown missile stockpiling or residential defensive positions, or challenged the brainwashing of children in schools.” 

The obvious result of censorship of vital parts of this story – be it the result of direct outside pressure or self-imposed – is of course that journalists deny their audiences information which is crucial to their being able to reach informed opinions on the topic. But such censorship also has another important effect; it turns journalists into one of the factors actively playing a part in a war which is not only being fought in the alleys of Shuja’iya and Beit Hanoun, but also on the internet, in print, on television, on radio and on social media.

Hamas and the other terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip know full well that they cannot compete with Israel militarily and hence, as ever, a no less important battle for public opinion around the world is taking place. If BBC journalists continue their current practice of refraining from properly reporting the part being played by Hamas in bringing about the tragic scenes they do film, photograph and report – or at least explaining to audiences why they cannot report the missing parts of the picture – then they clearly compromise their own impartiality by self-conscripting to one side of the battle for public opinion.  

BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis to Israeli spokesman: “You killed them”

On the afternoon of July 24th an UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun where many Palestinians were sheltering was hit by projectiles of origins as yet unknown. Some sixteen people were killed and many injured. It is not yet clear exactly what happened there and the incident is under investigation by the IDF. What is known, however, is that the vicinity of the school had been previously used by terrorists to fire missiles into Israel, apparently with some falling short. Because of that fact, the IDF had advised UNRWA to evacuate the civilians from that school and a four-hour humanitarian corridor had been agreed. Although UNWRA representatives claimed differently – at least one eyewitness seems to suggest that an evacuation was planned.Maitlis

“Sabah Kafarna, 35, had also been sheltering at the school. “At about 11.30 someone from the municipality came to tell us that we were going to be moved because it was too dangerous. But the buses didn’t come. That’s why [there were] so many people all outside when the shells landed,” she said.”

The New York Times reports:

“The Israeli military warned on Monday that the shelter should be evacuated. By Thursday, the United Nations had decided to withdraw its staff and to stop providing food.

Then, as the Palestinians gathered in the courtyard on Thursday, believing they were about to be bused elsewhere, blasts tore through the crowd, killing 16 people and sending scores of wounded, mostly women and children, streaming into local hospitals.”

It is also known that at the time of the incident, a battle was raging between terrorists and IDF soldiers operating in the area. Below is an IDF statement concerning the events.

“In the past few days, the area surrounding the UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun has turned into a battlefield, therefore prompting the IDF to insist those present to evacuate it. Furthermore, the IDF authorized a humanitarian time window for evacuation between 10:00-14:00 IDT earlier today.  Hamas prevented the civilians from leaving it and once again used their infrastructure and international symbols as human shields. In the course of the afternoon, several rockets launched by Hamas from within the Gaza Strip landed in the Beit Hanoun area. From initial inquiries done about the incident, during the intense fighting in the area, militants opened fire at IDF soldiers from the school area. In order to eliminate the threat posed to their lives, they responded with fire toward the origins of the shooting. The IDF is still reviewing the incident.

Furthermore, according to the COGAT Spokesman, the UNRWA claims that Israel prevented the safe evacuation of the school in Beit Hanoun are unfounded. It should be emphasized that during recent days, COGAT has been maintaining close contact with representatives of the UNRWA, the ICRC, and Palestinians in Beit Hanoun. COGAT made every possible effort to ensure the safety of local residents by evacuating them from the area, which has been marked by intense fighting and Hamas rocket launching towards Israel, including from the vicinity of such facilities. It should be further emphasized that following this contact, the humanitarian window was authorized.”

BBC Two ‘Newsnight’ presenter Emily Maitlis however did not need to wait until investigations had been completed in order to determine whether the UN facility was hit by an errant IDF shell, a shortfall terrorist missile, terrorist mortar fire aimed at IDF troops or any combination of the above. Interviewing Israeli spokesman Mark Regev just hours after the incident – and clearly completely misunderstanding the nature and intention of IDF warnings to evacuate because of fighting in the area – she emotionally charged Regev with the following:

“But you said you were going to hit it. You hit it. You killed them.”

Beyond Maitlis’ distinctly unprofessional demeanor throughout this interview, her repeated interruptions and her obvious urgency to promote her own version of events to audiences, one patronizing statement she makes is extremely revealing and actually captures the essence of much of the BBC’s reporting of the current hostilities in a nutshell.

“You have a very effective defence system. It’s called the Iron Dome. It stops you for the most part being hit. They [the people in Gaza] don’t and they’re paying the price with their dead children.”

An abridged version of this interview is also being promoted on the BBC News website in addition to the promotion of the full item on the ‘Newsnight’ Youtube channel. The head of the BBC’s Middle East Bureau described it thus in his Twitter promotion of the item:

Colebourn Maitlis int

Whether “strong” is an appropriate adjective for the performance of an interviewer obviously less interested in hearing about the actual circumstances of an event than in promoting her own already fixed – and frankly tediously parochial and uninformed  – narrative of events is clearly a matter of taste.   

More BBC amplification of Hamas ‘siege’ propaganda

On July 24th the BBC News website’s Middle East page featured an excerpt from what it termed an “exclusive” ‘Hardtalk’ interview with Hamas’ Khaled Masha’al who of course resides very comfortably in Qatar.Hardtalk mashaal

If audiences were expecting the BBC’s representative Stephen Sackur to fulfil the corporation’s mission of cutting through Hamas slogans and propaganda in order to bring them accurate and impartial information which would help them reach informed opinions and enable them to “participate in the global debate on significant international issues“, they would have been sorely disappointed.

Stephen Sackur: “What would it take for Hamas to sign on to a ceasefire now?”

Khaled Masha’al: We want a ceasefire as soon as possible that’s parallel with the lifting of the siege on Gaza. This is the demand of the Gazan people. I call on the UN, the UK and the US to go to the Gazan people and ask them what they want. I can guarantee that will be the answer of the Gazan people.”

SS: “What the Americans seem to be working on is a two-stage deal where there will be a truce – where the guns, the rockets, will stop firing – and then there will be a serious negotiation about how to boost the Gazan economy, how to ease the blockade on Gaza and to give the people of Gaza a better life. Are you prepared to accept a two-stage solution to this?”

KM: “Regardless of the mechanisms, what is important to me is there should be a genuine guarantee to lift the siege on Gaza. These promises have been made in the past but nothing was done. Gaza is part of the Palestinian land. We have 1.8 million people. They need to live without a blockade. We want an airport. We want a port. We want to open up to the world. We don’t want to be controlled by a border crossing that makes Gaza the biggest prison in the world. People cannot go for medical treatment or to work. Why are the people of Gaza being punished with a slow death in the world’s biggest prison? This is a crime. We want a halt in the aggression and the end of the siege. We are eager that the bloodshed should end in Gaza.”

SS: “You talk of resistance. How can any idea of resistance justify putting rockets in a school building?”

“KM: “Frankly speaking this is a lie. Let Israel show where the rocket launchers are in Gaza.”

SS: “In respect, this is not something that has come from Israel. This is the UN relief and Works Agency which has said that up to 20 rockets were deposited in a school building inside Gaza. They are furious. The Secretary General of the United Nations has expressed his outrage. He said those responsible are turning schools into potential military targets and endangering the lives of innocent children.”

KM: “This is not true. Rocket launchers in Gaza belong to the resistance. They are underground and Israel is unable to reach them. This is why it pretends they are in civilian areas. Israel is hitting hospitals, mosques, towers and buildings. It committed a massacre in Shuja’iyeh, Tufah district. There is a new massacre in Khuza’a, east of Khan Yunis, that the world has witnessed this morning. This is butchery in Gaza and the world is sitting idle and it blames Hamas.”

Now obviously Khaled Masha’al is lying (unhindered) through his teeth in every single answer here and – difficult as it must be to interview a compulsive liar so disconnected from reality – if the BBC is not going to challenge Masha’al’s blatant falsehoods and cut through his propaganda, then the obvious question must be what journalistic value does such an interview have in the first place?

Questions Stephen Sackur could and should have asked Masha’al in order to provide BBC audiences with some insight into this issue include:

If Israel and Egypt lift the blockade and ease border restrictions, will Hamas rearm itself with missiles and weapons imported from Iran, Libya and elsewhere as it has done in the past? Will it import concrete and other materials in order to reconstruct its attack tunnel network currently being destroyed by the IDF? Will foreign aid money for the rehabilitation of Gaza be commandeered for reconstruction of terrorist infrastructure? 

If Hamas is so worried about the effects of the blockade on the people of Gaza, why did it not stop carrying out acts of terrorism itself and facilitating terrorism by other groups which are the reason for the implementation and continuation of the blockade and border restrictions?

Why did Hamas breach the ceasefire agreement of November 2012 and why did it initiate this current escalation?

If you, Khaled Masha’al, reach a ceasefire agreement with Israel, can you ensure that Mohammed Deif will honour it and do you – based as you are in Qatar – actually have any control over Hamas’ armed militia?

Why should Israel open its borders and allow people from Gaza to work in Israel given the history of terror attacks and suicide bombings carried out by workers from Gaza in the past?

Are you eager to stop the bloodshed in Israel as well as in Gaza? Will you stop all acts of terror against Israelis for good?

Sackur, however, failed to present anything approaching a robust challenge to Masha’al’s blatant lies. Hence, this interview joins the previous items of BBC content in the category of one-sided, context-free promotion and amplification of Hamas’ demands.

Related Articles:

‘Hardtalk’ presenter gets reality check from Khaled Masha’al

BBC’s Simpson admires Hamas engineering ‘feat’ and ignores its intended victims

A filmed report for BBC television news from July 21st – supposedly one of the BBC’s never abundant but now increasingly rare ‘Israeli point of view’ pieces – was presented by John Simpson and it appears on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Clashes go on as Israel holds funerals for the dead“. Simpson, we are told in the synopsis, “sent this report from Sderot on Israel’s border with Gaza”.Simpson Sderot 21 7

Kibbutz Nir Am – which was the target of the attempted terrorist infiltration addressed at the beginning of Simpson’s report –  is within easy walking distance of Sderot but nevertheless, Simpson apparently saw nothing newsworthy in going to talk to any of the people there who have been living under the terror of missiles for well over a decade and who now face the new threat of underground terrorist infiltrations – literally in their own  backyard.

Simpson opens his report with a statement which provides a good example of what happens when journalists are ‘parachuted in’ to Israel to provide extra manpower in times of a major event. No-one with even the slightest awareness of what preceded the current escalation and life in the Israeli communities surrounding the Gaza Strip during the past decade could possibly talk in terms of a “quiet landscape”.

JS: “Beneath this quiet landscape between Gaza and Israel, Hamas has been working away for months – sometimes years – digging tunnels. At six this morning an Israeli team watched from hiding as Hamas infiltrators dug their way to the surface and opened fire. But they didn’t stand a chance. At least ten members of the Hamas team were killed.”

Simpson makes no attempt to inform viewers of what the aim of that infiltration was, ridiculously downplaying its lethal intention with his flippant “they didn’t stand a chance” quip. Having apparently decided that the intended civilian victims of that infiltration are of no interest, he goes on to admire Hamas’ engineering skills, but fails to inform audiences of the schools, housing and hospitals Hamas fails to construct for its population instead or of where the materials and money for these “feats” comes from.

“These tunnels are impressive: a real feat of engineering. The BBC was allowed to film inside this one recently after it was discovered. The Israelis afterwards make sure the tunnels can’t be used again.

A few hours after this morning’s operation against the Hamas infiltrators, a top government minister came to congratulate the soldiers who’d carried it out. Tsipi Livni is the most dovish member of the Israeli cabinet; plainly worried about the casualties on both sides.”

In a remarkable display of the worth of that famous BBC commitment to ‘impartiality’, Simpson then says to Livni:

“I have to say it to you in these terms: are you going to carry on killing civilians – including women and children in quite large numbers – until you get what you want?”

Livni: “We are not looking for civilians to kill. We are trying to avoid this. And if you think that we want to send our soldiers – our children – to Shuja’iya or all these places in which they’re being killed, you are mistaken.”

Simpson continues with more downplaying of the effects and results of Hamas terror, invoking that frequent media theme of ‘not enough dead Israelis to count’.

“This is one reason why casualties on the two sides are so out of proportion. Israel has developed the world’s most effective anti-missile defence. The Iron Dome system’s abilities to knock Hamas missiles out of the sky has been a remarkable achievement for Israel during this crisis. The success rate is quite phenomenal. Even so, there are missiles which get through. One of those landed close by here this morning. But the family had taken shelter and scarcely any damage was done. They take it all stoically.”

Woman: “We’re here to stay, you know, it’s our home.”

Simpson quickly returns to his real agenda:

“As she spoke, death and destruction were raining down in Gaza only twenty miles away, but a different world.”

Death and destruction also rained down on the al Wadj family from a Bedouin village near Dimona on July 19th. Thirty-two year-old Ouda al Wadj was killed and his wife, his sister, his four year-old son and three month-old daughter were injured. Little Aya al Wadj is still in hospital in Be’er Sheva recovering from the shrapnel injuries to her head caused by the missile fired from the Gaza Strip. No BBC team has covered that story.

Simpson closes with a perfunctory nod to supposed BBC impartiality by saying:

“All the same, there are funerals of soldiers every day here now. Thirteen killed yesterday, seven more today. Here they were burying Moshe Malko – an Israeli of Ethiopian origin. The scale of Israeli and Palestinian deaths may be utterly different but Israel is paying a heavy price as well.”

For well over a decade the Western media – BBC included – has ignored the story of the people who live in the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip and the children who have grown up under the threat of constant missile attacks. From time to time, when the situation escalates, reporters are ‘parachuted in’ and the world gets a brief view the story as they chose to frame it.

In John Simpson’s case that means downplaying the thousands of missile attacks carried out by terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip, erasing the all-important topic of Hamas’ use of the people of Gaza as human shields and failing to enable BBC audiences to hear the voices of the Israelis now facing the threat of underground terror attacks.

Dana Bar-On is from Nir Am – the kibbutz which on July 21st had a very lucky escape from the terror attack which Simpson fails to adequately report in this item. Here is a five-minute glimpse of how she and her family – and thousands of other residents of the same area – live.

 

 

BBC’s Paul Adams amplifies Nazi analogy in coverage of Gaza ground op

One of several BBC journalists ‘parachuted in’ to the region recently in order to cover Operation Protective Shield is Paul Adams – usually based in London as a World Affairs correspondent.OP PE Adams vers 1

On July 18th the BBC News website published an article by Adams initially titled “Gaza casualties mount amid Israeli ground campaign” but later renamed “Hospital on Gaza conflict’s front line”. In his fourth paragraph Adams adheres to what has been standard BBC practice since the beginning of its reporting on this operation: the quotation and promotion of figures supplied by the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza without any qualifying statement regarding the fact that they have not been independently verified by the BBC and with no attempt made to distinguish between civilian and combatant casualty figures.

“But a new phase of operations inevitably brought a new wave of casualties – more than 20 dead, according to Gaza’s ministry of health. Among them at least three more children.”

Depending on the time at which Adams wrote those words, he should of course have pointed out to BBC audiences that at least fourteen terrorists were among the casualties on the first day of Israel’s ground operation.

A considerable proportion of Adams’ report relates to the Wafa rehabilitation hospital in the Shuja’iyeh neighbourhood of Gaza City which, incidentally, also accommodated members of the International Solidarity Movement with the staff’s knowledge and consent, although Adams refrains from mentioning that fact. 

“I found the patients and staff from the Wafa rehabilitation hospital sheltering in a Gaza City clinic.

The Wafa has been hit repeatedly in the past week. It’s close to the border and very close to some of the latest Israeli military activity.

Basman al-Ashi, the hospital’s executive director, said everything seemed quiet on Thursday night, until shelling intensified in the hours before troops entered the Gaza Strip.

With artillery rounds hitting the hospital once more, Basman decided to evacuate everyone.”

Leaflet distributed in Gaza Strip 16/7/14

Leaflet distributed in Gaza Strip 16/7/14

In fact, the hospital’s staff were directly alerted to the need to evacuate the premises by the IDF on the evening of July 15th –47 hours before the ground operation commenced – even according to B’Tselem.  General warnings were also issued to residents of that neighbourhood and others on the morning of July 16th. Contrary to the impression which readers receive from Adams’ report, the actual reason for the evacuation warning was the presence of terrorist infrastructure located near to the hospital.

Perhaps unwittingly, Adams provides evidence of the practice of locating weapons stores and missile launchers in the vicinity of medical facilities and other civilian structures when he goes on to write:

“As he recalled the scene, surrounded by his evacuated patients, two deafening salvoes of rockets took off from somewhere very close by – rockets fired by fighters from Hamas or one of the other armed factions.” [emphasis added]

No attempt is of course made by Adams to clarify to BBC audiences the legal significance of the practice he witnessed and he later goes on to deliberately mislead audiences by writing:

“Israel says rockets have been fired from Basman al-Ashi’s hospital, a charge his staff deny completely.”

Significantly, he does not ask the hospital’s director about the actual situation – i.e. that areas near the hospital have been used for the purposes of terrorism.

Adams does, however, take the opportunity to promote and amplify the hospital director’s use of a Nazi analogy.Op pe Adams vers 2

“Basman’s eyes closed for a moment in weary resignation, but opened wide in defiance when I suggested the actions of Hamas might simply make matters worse.

“It’s a very natural response for the Palestinians to respond, to defend themselves,” he insisted.

Israel, he said, had made “a concentration camp of 1.8 million people”.

“No air. No land. No sea. You’re trying to tell the people what? I’m putting you in prison and I want you to obey, eat, sleep and that’s it. We’re human.” ” [emphasis added]

One of the definitions of antisemitism according to the EUMC working definition is:

“Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

Even if that is what an executive director of a Gaza hospital with close links to the ISM actually said, there is no justification and no excuse for the BBC’s amplification and propagation of Nazi analogies.

It would have been helpful to BBC audiences’ understanding of the reality of the situation had Adams bothered to explain to readers that – contrary to al Ashi’s inaccurate claim – Israeli policy concerning the Gaza Strip is the result of the terrorism perpetrated by Hamas and other groups rather than the other way round. However, it is perfectly clear that Paul Adams did not set out in this article to provide BBC audiences with accurate and impartial information which really would enhance their “understanding of international issues“.   

What didn’t make BBC headlines and why did mortar attacks disappear?

An article from July 17th which now appears on the BBC News website’s Middle East under the title “Israel-Gaza ceasefire deal denied” includes the following statements:OP PE ceasefire denied 17 7

“A five-hour humanitarian ceasefire took place on Thursday but hostilities quickly resumed after it ended. […]

The humanitarian truce took place between 10:00 and 15:00 local time on Thursday.

It was requested by the UN and other international organisations to provide emergency relief and distribute water, food and hygiene kits.

Gazans used the truce to stock up on supplies. They queued outside banks and there were traffic jams.

Both sides reported violations of the temporary truce.”

Whether the BBC has independently verified the claim of IDF fire made on a television station run by Hamas before amplifying it is not made clear to audiences. However, what is interesting is that the final version of this report makes no proper mention of what is known:  that some two hours into the agreed temporary ceasefire, three mortars were fired at the Eshkol region.

That the BBC is aware of that incident is shown by the fact that earlier versions of this same article were titled “Gaza mortars ‘disrupt ceasefire’ – Israel Defense Forces” and “Gaza mortars ‘hit Israel during ceasefire’ – IDF”. By the article’s seventh version, information relating to that mortar fire had disappeared from the report.

Also on July 17th a major incident took place when a group of thirteen terrorists infiltrated Israel via a cross-border tunnel located near Kibbutz Sufa.

“The Israeli army thwarted a large-scale infiltration attempt along the Gaza border, during which 13 armed Palestinians emerged from a tunnel on the Israeli side of the border at dawn Thursday, an army spokesperson said. […]

The gunmen, he said, emerged from the tunnel early Thursday some 250 meters inside Israel. Lying flat on the ground, in an open area two kilometers from Kibbutz Sufa in the Eshkol region, the 13 armed men were spotted by what Lerner termed “different sensors.”

Realizing that they had been discovered, they attempted to run back underground but were struck by Israeli aircraft. Lerner said some had been hit but he could not state how many.

Israeli military sources said the gunmen evidently planned to attack the kibbutz, killing and possibly kidnapping civilians.”

That serious incident received no separate coverage on the BBC News website. Readers of the above article had to proceed to its twenty-ninth paragraph before they were very briefly informed that:

“The Israeli military also said it had thwarted the infiltration into Israel by 13 Hamas gunmen via a tunnel from southern Gaza towards the southern Israeli kibbutz of Sufa on Thursday morning.”

In another article from the same day titled “Gaza ceasefire between Hamas and Israel begins” that same one sentence appeared in the fourteenth paragraph, together with some additional information.

“The Israeli military also said it had thwarted the infiltration into Israel by 13 Hamas gunmen via a tunnel from southern Gaza towards the southern Israeli kibbutz of Sufa on Thursday morning.
Army spokesman Lt Col Peter Lerner said the gunmen were 250 metres (820ft) inside Israel when they were intercepted by Israeli aircraft. He said at least one militant was believed killed and that the others escaped back into Gaza.”

A report titled “Israel starts Gaza ground offensive” which is now dated July 18th but was actually first published on July 17th informs readers in its nineteenth paragraph that:

“Israel said the initial phase [of the ground operation] was aimed at targeting tunnels Hamas has dug under the border with Israel to use in attacks.

On Wednesday [sic] 13 militants infiltrated into Israel through a tunnel aiming to attack a kibbutz, Israeli officials said. The Israeli military said it killed at least one of the militants, while the others retreated through the tunnel.”

No attempt was made in any of these reports to put the subject of building materials used by Hamas to construct cross-border tunnels for terror purposes into its appropriate context with relation to the restrictions on imports of certain building materials – a frequent topic of BBC reports.

Another major event which took place on July 17th was the announcement by UNRWA that twenty missiles had been found in one of its schools in the Gaza Strip. No separate report on that subject appeared on the BBC News website.

In the first article that was laconically reported in the eighth paragraph.

“On Thursday, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees said it had found 20 rockets hidden in one of its vacant schools in Gaza and “strongly condemned” whichever group had placed them there.”

The information did not appear in either of the other two reports published on the BBC News website on July 17th, although ironically the second article does state:

“Israel accuses Hamas of hiding its military infrastructure within the civilian population.”

With the BBC having severely downplayed – and even denied – the use of the local civilian population as human shields by Hamas and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip, the lack of any attempt to put the discovery of missiles in a UN-run school into its proper context is especially remarkable.

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Superficial reporting from the BBC’s James Reynolds in Ashkelon

As has so often been the case in past rounds of conflict and also during ‘quieter‘ times, the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon has been under particularly heavy attack during Operation Protective Edge. Since the beginning of the operation on July 8th and as of the evening of July 16th, 102 missiles have been fired at Ashkelon alone. 64 were intercepted, 14 fell in open areas and 6 hit the city.

On July 16th BBC television news broadcast a report by James Reynolds from that battered city which was also promoted on the BBC News website under the somewhat ambitious title (considering that the city has some 120,000 residents) “Gaza-Israel conflict: BBC assesses the mood in Ashkelon“.

Distinctly less ambitious were the BBC’s efforts to meet standards of accuracy in that report’s synopsis as it appears on the website.

Reynolds 16 7 Ashkelon Beit Ariye

Thirty-seven year-old father of three Dror Hanin was actually killed near the Erez crossing whilst he was handing out food parcels to soldiers. He was a resident of the town of Beit Aryeh, which is about 90 kms away.

Three days before James Reynolds filmed this report in Ashkelon a teenager was badly wounded by missile shrapnel during one of the dozens of attacks on the city over the past ten days. Yarin Levy is hospitalized in the ICU at Barzilai Hospital in his city where, due to the missile fire from the Gaza Strip, premature babies had to be evacuated to a protected area already on the first day of the operation and the accident and emergency department was similarly evacuated on the day of Reynolds’ visit. Also on that day, one of the nineteen missiles targeting Ashkelon hit a house in the city, with a teenage girl narrowly escaping serious injury and the clinic belonging to her mother – a pediatrician sometimes practicing at home  – fortunately empty at the time.

In contrast to recent filmed BBC reports produced by Reynolds’ colleagues in the Gaza Strip, however, there were no images of a child in an intensive care hospital bed, of distraught relatives, of ruined houses or of people sifting through rubble in this report. Instead, Reynolds chose to represent the situation in Ashkelon by showing viewers a shopping mall.

He opens:

“I’m in the Israeli city of Ashkelon and Gaza is just a few miles to the south of there on the horizon.  And so far today there’ve been three rocket warnings from Gaza. Israelis have heard sirens blare across the city. They stop whatever they’re doing and they go to find shelter.”

“Rocket warnings from Gaza”? Not rocket attacks from Gaza?

He continues:

“But for the moment here they’ve decided to carry on with their lives. Now I want to show you inside this shopping centre. Have a look there at the security guard. Shalom. In all Israeli shopping centres there’s a security guard because for years the threat here was from suicide bombers. Now the threat is from rockets and if you look in here you’ll see it’s pretty empty. People here say it’s much emptier than normal but they’re continuing to follow news of the conflict from Gaza.”

So on the one hand Reynolds tells BBC audiences that the people of Ashkelon have “decided to carry on with their lives” but on the other hand the shopping mall is “pretty empty” and “much emptier than normal”. And whilst people are apparently following “news of the conflict from Gaza”, one assumes that they are also following news of the attacks on the rest of Israel which go unmentioned by Reynolds.

Reynolds then interviews three people – none of whom is a native English speaker, but nevertheless, the interviews are conducted in English rather than Hebrew with voice-over. Reynolds’ first question to the first interviewee again indicates just how Gaza-centric BBC coverage is.

“How is the offensive into Gaza affecting your life?”

Surely a more appropriate and relevant question would have been ‘how are the missile attacks from the Gaza Strip affecting your life? Notably, the message given by the first two interviewees (at least after editing) is that people get used to missile attacks.

Reynolds: “Are you scared now?”

Man: “Now less…because I got used to it.”

Woman: “I’m not afraid – I get used to that..”

Reynolds concludes:

“Israelis here in Ashkelon await word from their government about the future of the ground offensive into Gaza. Some ministers have called for a ground operation. The decision one way or another will be made by the entire security cabinet.”

Did BBC audiences really learn anything about “the mood” in Ashkelon or get a sense of the realities of life under missile fire in one of Israel’s most attacked cities where even premature babies in hospital have to be moved to air-raid shelters? Hardly. But the really revealing thing about this report is the way in which it contrasts so sharply with the emotional reports produced by Reynolds’ colleagues in the Gaza Strip.  

BBC’s Knell dumbs down the Gaza Strip economic situation (spoiler: it’s Israel’s fault)

A filmed report by Yolande Knell from July 15th which was promoted on the BBC News website under the title “‘Essentials, not luxuries’ being bought in Gaza” as well as being broadcast on BBC television news provides an interesting example of how the framing of a story can actively prevent audiences from properly understanding an issue.Knell 15 7 market Gaza

Knell reports from a market in Gaza City.

“This is how most of the shops look all around Gaza City. They’re completely closed up because of the ongoing fighting. But the main market here is still open and this is the busiest time of the day, although business has really been down over the past week. Abu Ahab has had a stall here in the market for the past five years. He’s selling dates, which are really popular at this time during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Abu Ahab – how is business?”

Stallholder: “The situation this year is different because of the war. Those who come here shopping come only for the essentials – not for the luxuries. Instead of taking [a] kilo of dates they take half a kilo. Why? Because some people haven’t been paid, because of the blockade and there is a war at the same time. People have no money. The war is terrifying them. They are selling their possessions so they can buy food for Ramadan.”

Knell: “Already, the economic situation in Gaza is very tough because of the tight border restrictions imposed by Israel and Egypt. That means there’s very little industry and there’s high unemployment. Recently – to make matters worse – there’s been no money to pay the Hamas government employees and that dispute has led to banks being closed and a shortage of cash for everyone.”

As we see, audiences are encouraged to believe that the difficult economic situation in the Gaza Strip is primarily – if not exclusively – attributable not to the ineptitude of the Hamas government which ruled it for the last seven years and not to that organisation’s decision to divert resources into terrorism rather than building a sustainable economy and a healthy civil society, but to Israeli and Egyptian policies enacted in order to cope with that terrorism.

This, of course, is the topsy-turvy line which Knell has been pushing for some time now – as we have documented here in the past (see examples here, here and here). The phrase “tight border restrictions” is frequently used by Knell and other BBC employees without any adequate explanation of what that actually means.

In fact the only restrictions in place are those prohibiting the import of weapons (as, one imagines, is the case at most international borders) and dual-use goods which can be used for military purposes to the Gaza Strip. Even those dual-use goods can be imported into the Gaza Strip with special co-ordination and on condition that their use is supervised. All other goods can enter the Gaza Strip from Israel freely.

Notably, neither Knell nor any other BBC journalist has in the ten days since the conflict began seen fit to inform audiences that humanitarian aid has continued to be supplied to the Gaza Strip throughout the entire time.

But Knell’s final sentence is particularly interesting – especially because of what it does not tell viewers.

“Recently – to make matters worse – there’s been no money to pay the Hamas government employees and that dispute has led to banks being closed and a shortage of cash for everyone.”

Banks in the Gaza Strip were indeed closed for six days at the beginning of June but Knell neglects to inform audiences why and the BBC did not report on the topic at the time.

“Banks in the Gaza Strip reopened Wednesday, after being closed for six days following a cash-run on the banks by Palestinian civil servants demanding unpaid salaries, Palestinian media reported.

The payment crisis sparked a severe public dispute between Fatah and Hamas, just days after the establishment of the new technocratic unity government. Hamas claimed that the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas should pay the salaries, while the PA rejected the demand. […]

Jihad al-Wazir, head of the Palestinian Monetary Authority, the Palestinians’ central bank, said “All automatic telling machines at bank branches in the Gaza Strip are working again today.” 

Hamas forces withdrew from outside banks, where they had been preventing the use of ATMs. [….]

Hamas demanded Thursday that the Palestinian Authority take employees of the disbanded Gaza government onto its payroll, after the PA’s Gaza-based staff received their salaries but their Hamas counterparts went empty-handed.

After scuffles broke out at ATMs, Hamas security forces closed the banks.”

So in other words, the banks were closed because the Hamas private militia closed them because the Palestinian unity government to which it is party and which it agreed would rule the Gaza Strip instead of Hamas wouldn’t do what Hamas wanted.

Now doesn’t that sound rather different to the version of the story Yolande Knell is telling BBC audiences? But the really important part of Knell’s omissions in this report and others in relation to the current situation is that one of the conditions presented by Hamas for a ceasefire to end the current round of conflict is that the PA pay these people (some of whom are employees of Hamas’ Izz ad Din al Qassam Brigades) anyway. So far, the BBC has failed completely to inform BBC audiences of any of Hamas’ demands which are not related to Israel.

Another interesting point to note is that whilst the BBC took a distinctly ‘best thing since sliced bread’ approach to the Hamas-Fatah unity deal at the time, since the upsurge in hostilities it has been remarkably reticent about clarifying to BBC audiences the significance of the fact that officially, the Palestinian Authority is in charge of the Gaza Strip – from which well over a thousand missiles have been fired at Israeli civilians in just over a week – in clear breach of existing agreements between the PA and Israel.

“…Hamas has officially renounced its responsibility for governing Gaza, while the Palestinian unity government has already begun the process of taking over the administration of Gaza. Over a week ago (July 5/6), a senior Hamas official, Ahmad Yousef, was “asked about increased rocket fire on Israel in recent weeks” in an interview with Palestinian news agency Ma’an. His answer: “From a political point of view, (Prime Minister) Rami Hamdallah is responsible and he can give orders to security services to intervene. Hamas is not ruling the Gaza Strip and so it’s not responsible for protecting borders”.”

Now of course all that is a lot more of a headache to explain to BBC audiences than ‘(some) people in Gaza are poor because of Israeli and Egyptian border restrictions’, but if the BBC is to meet its obligation to “[b]uild a global understanding of international issues”, it is going to have to stop dumbing down its reporting and start providing them with the entire picture instead of inaccurate politically motivated sound-bites.

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