BBC Complaints: ‘it was hard for journalists in Gaza to see rockets being fired’

A few days ago we discussed part of a response received by a reader from the BBC Complaints department.Blindfold

Another section of that same response reads as follows:

“…we did raise your concerns with the relevant editorial staff at BBC News who covered the recent conflict in Gaza. They explained that there are number of reasons why BBC News has not shown images or footage of Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants firing rockets. The main reason is that militant groups keep the location of launch sites secret. It was very hard for journalists in Gaza to get to see rockets being fired out, however, during Orla Guerin’s report for the News at Ten on 12 August we reported on allegations that Hamas and other militants put Palestinian civilian lives at risk by operating from residential areas, as well as launching rockets near schools and hospitals. During the aforementioned report Orla Guerin explained that: “During this conflict Palestinian militants have kept a low profile, avoiding the cameras, but we know that at times they have operated from civilian areas.”

The report went on to show an area of ground used by Hamas to launch rockets. It was clearly shown that the site was in very close proximity to apartments inhabited by civilians. The same piece went on to show footage from Indian television, purportedly showing Hamas firing from a residential area near the hotel where the Indian crew were staying.”

The above-mentioned report by Orla Guerin is this one. The BBC Complaints representative notably refrains from pointing out that just prior to the quoted section, Orla Guerin misled BBC audiences by inferring that Hamas’ use of civilian areas as launch sites for missiles is not evidence of its use of human shields.

“While there are growing allegations against Israel, it claims civilians here have been used by militants as human shields but so far there’s been no evidence of that.”

The relevant section of that one report cited by BBC Complaints as showing that the BBC did report on “allegations that Hamas and other militants put Palestinian civilian lives at risk by operating from residential areas, as well as launching rockets near schools and hospitals” makes no mention of schools or hospitals. The specific section is just 44 seconds long and the report appeared thirty-six days into the conflict – by which time the BBC’s narrative was very well entrenched.

As we see, the BBC Complaints department promotes the claim that “militant groups keep the location of launch sites secret” and apparently believes it reasonable to claim that “it was very hard for journalists in Gaza to get to see rockets being fired out” despite the fact that 4,562 missiles were fired throughout the 50 day conflict – an average of over ninety a day.

Notably, the BBC is still obviously unwilling to openly discuss the topic of Hamas intimidation of journalists, although correspondents from other media outlets have been more frank in explaining why audiences worldwide saw so little footage of missiles being fired or terrorists in action, as one Israeli filmmaker described.

“I met today with a Spanish journalist who just came back from Gaza. We talked about the situation there. He was very friendly. I asked him how comes we never see on television channels reporting from Gaza any Hamas people, no gunmen, no rocket launcher, no policemen.. We only see civilians on these reports, mostly women and children. He answered me frankly : “it’s very simple, we did see Hamas people there launching rockets, they were close to our hotel, but if ever we dare pointing our camera on them they would simply shoot at us and kill us.”  “

Two days before Guerin’s report was aired, a Norwegian journalist reported:

“There are decent working conditions here, however several foreign journalists have been kicked out from Gaza because Hamas does not like what they have said or written. We have received clear directions that if we see Hamas launching or shooting rockets, we cannot record them. If we do then there will be serious consequences which can lead to expulsion from Gaza. Our fixers, the person that is translating and is helping us around with everything, will also be in grave trouble if we film soldiers from Hamas, especially if they are firing rockets. Apart from that it is fairly OK to work here.”

A CNN reporter stated on camera:

“…we’ve witnessed at least the firing of rockets from this vantage point here. We haven’t seen the actual launcher per-se, but you can see the flash, you can see that it was in between buildings, and you can the thunder as the rockets roar into the air, so clearly you can tell that this is being launched from a populated area.”

Despite these and many other examples, the BBC is still pretending in response to complaints from members of its funding public that the reason it did not report adequately on the actions of terrorists in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge is that – unlike the staff of other media organisations – its own numerous correspondents on the ground did not see anything to report.

It may of course well be that the BBC’s lack of coverage of missile launches and other terrorist activity in the Gaza Strip was motivated by concern for the personal safety of its correspondents on the ground at the time and its permanent local bureau staff. Whilst that would be perfectly understandable, that policy did however affect the credibility of BBC reporting and had a major effect on its adherence to BBC editorial guidelines concerning accuracy and impartiality, thus affecting the way in which audiences understood the story as a whole.

Such an obvious lack of transparency – and common or garden honesty – in dealing with complaints from the public as shown in the above response clearly compromises the BBC’s reputation in a very serious manner. 

BBC misleads audiences regarding cause of Operation Protective Edge

On September 23rd the BBC News website’s Middle East page published an article titled “Israel kills Palestinians suspected of teenagers’ murders“. The original version of the report read as follows.

Qawasme shootout art

The article was subsequently amended twice but all its versions continue to promote the notion that the seven weeks of hostilities in Israel and the Gaza Strip were caused by the kidnappings and murders of three Israeli teenagers on June 12th.

The final version of the report informs readers that:

“The abduction of the teenagers was a trigger of the recent conflict in Gaza.[…]

Israel launched a crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank following the abduction, detaining hundreds of members.

Then on 2 July, a Palestinian teenager from East Jerusalem was abducted and burned alive in an apparent revenge attack two days after the bodies of the Israeli teenagers were found. One Jewish man and two youths have been charged with the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdair, 16.

The killings set off an escalating cycle of violence, leading to a 50-day conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip that claimed more than 2,000 lives.”

As can be seen, the sequence of events presented to audiences by the BBC completely erases the fact that “the recent conflict” did not only take place “in Gaza” but also in Israel, with thousands of residents of the southern part of the country forced to leave their homes during that time.

Even more misleading is the fact that the BBC has completely airbrushed from audience view the hundreds of missiles launched at civilian targets in Israel between June 12th and the commencement of Operation Protective Edge on July 8th. It was of course that incessant missile fire which was the reason for the military operation, with the later discovery of dozens of cross-border tunnels prompting the subsequent ground operation. The military operation could have been avoided had Hamas elected to take advantage of the ample opportunities it was given to stop the missile fire before July 8th, but the terrorist organisation chose not to do so – for reasons not by any means exclusively connected to Israel.

“A Hamas official, who did not give his name to Palestinian news agency Sawa, said overnight Friday-Saturday [July 4th/5th – Ed.] that “those who expect Hamas to stop the rocket fire [on Israel], should to turn [Palestinian Authority Prime Minister] Rami Hamdallah.”

The official was alluding to the fact that the salaries of 40,000 Hamas clerks in Gaza were still unpaid, which was reportedly a key Hamas demand since agreeing to a unity government deal in late April with the Palestinian Authority.”

There is unfortunately nothing novel about this article’s promotion of the erroneous notion of an irresistible “cycle of violence” and its failure to inform BBC audiences that the events of this summer could have been prevented had Hamas so chosen.

Another point worthy of remark in this report is the fact that the penny seems to have finally dropped with regard to Hamas’ involvement in the kidnappings and murders of the three Israeli teenagers.

“The militant Islamist group Hamas initially denied being behind the killings but later on its political leader Khaled Meshaal said members had carried them out.

“Hamas praises the role martyrs Abu Aisha and Qawasmeh played in chasing down Israeli settlers and we stress that their assassination will not weaken the resistance,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.”

That belated epiphany means that the BBC should now ensure that all its previously published content promoting the notion that Hamas was not responsible for the murders (material which of course remains accessible to the general public online) is amended to include a footnote informing audiences that the BBC’s claims were inaccurate. An organization truly committed to editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality would also carry out a review of the role played by Jon Donnison in promoting politically motivated inaccurate information which deliberately misled audiences with regard to Hamas’ involvement in the kidnappings and murders. 

 

 

BBC’s ‘reporter in the rubble’ theme gets its own feature

On September 15th a big feature titled “Gaza: Life amid the rubble” by Yolande Knell and no fewer than eight additional contributors appeared on the BBC News website’s main homepage and on its Middle East page, with the item being heavily promoted on various BBC Twitter accounts.

Knell feature on ME HP

Knell feature on HP

Almost two months on – and long after clarification of the circumstances of the battles in Shuja’iya – the BBC continues to misrepresent the events as partially as it did at the time, promoting many of the same themes which were evident in its initial reporting from the district.Knell Shuja'iya pt 1

The feature – which includes text, video and photographs – opens:

“More than 400,000 of Gaza’s residents were displaced by Israel’s recent 50-day military operation. Some 18,000 homes were also destroyed and many more were damaged. One of the worst affected neighbourhoods was Shejaiya, near the eastern border, where the Israeli military says it targeted Palestinian militants and their tunnels.”

Note how this conflict has been turned into “Israel’s recent 50-day military operation” with all mention of the missile attacks on the civilian population of Israel – which not only sparked the conflict but persisted until its final minutes – erased from the picture presented to BBC audiences. Notably, another article appearing on the BBC News website the previous day similarly referred to “Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in July” – suggesting that such framing is not coincidental.

As has been the case in all of its reporting from the Gaza Strip since July 8th, the BBC continues in this item to conceal from audience view the issue of buildings deliberately booby-trapped by Hamas and other terrorist organisations or those hit by missiles misfired by terrorists or destroyed as a result of their being used to store explosives. BBC audiences are hence led towards the mistaken belief that every single structure damaged or destroyed in the Gaza Strip during the seven weeks of conflict was the result of Israeli actions.

Once again, the BBC fails to adequately inform audiences of the true scale of Hamas operations in Shuja’iya, opting instead for its usual “Israel says” formulation. The fact is of course that the only reason fighting – and the resulting damage – occurred in Shuja’iya was because Hamas had turned it into a neighbourhood replete with military targets, including entrances to some ten cross-border attack tunnels, ammunition and weapons stores, missile launching sites and command and control centres.

Shujaiya comparative map

Knell’s feature continues:

“The crowded eastern district of Shejaiya in the Gaza Strip saw one of the bloodiest days of the recent conflict. Israel told the 80,000 residents to leave before it targeted the area. However, many did not believe the assault would be so serious and remained in their homes.”

Indeed, Israel did advise the residents of Shuja’iya to leave their homes four days before the operation there commenced and even delayed it in order to give people additional opportunity to relocate. This BBC report, however, deliberately misrepresents the reason why some residents failed to heed that advice, claiming that “many did not believe the assault would be so serious” and thereby concealing from BBC audiences the fact that Hamas ordered civilians to stay put. This deliberate distortion of the facts dovetails with the BBC’s policy – evident throughout coverage of the conflict – of downplaying and even denying Hamas’ use of human shields.

The feature goes on:

“On the night of Saturday 19 July, Shejaiya was pounded with heavy artillery, mortars and air strikes sending up columns of thick, black smoke. Within 24 hours, dozens of Palestinians and at least 13 Israeli soldiers were killed.

From early on Sunday morning there were chaotic scenes as thousands of local people tried to flee. They headed to Gaza City, searching for shelter at United Nations’ schools and at the main Shifa hospital, which was overwhelmed with casualties.

Battles erupted between Israeli troops and Hamas militants in the streets. Israel’s officials say the residential neighbourhood contained a fortified network of tunnels used for attacks and to produce and store rockets. The Palestinian government has described the killing of civilians as a “heinous massacre”.”

Details of the events in Shuja’iya on the night of July 19th and the day of July 20th have been in the public domain for many weeks now and so there is no excuse whatsoever for the BBC’s above incoherent account which misrepresents the sequence of events, downplays Hamas’ actions and yet again misleadingly presents the crucial issue of Hamas’ deliberate location of military assets in the Shuja’iya district in terms of “Israel says”.

Knell’s report goes on to show a graphic illustrating the locations of the houses of the four people later interviewed.

Knell Shuja'iya graphic

What that graphic of course does not show is the context of Hamas activity such as missile launching or the locations of the entrances to any of the cross-border tunnels found in the same area. Of the four houses showcased on that graphic, one is described as belonging to a “Grandmother” who, readers are later told, “lost one of her sons, Ismail, in the latest conflict”.

The photographs accompanying the section on the Grandmother include one of what the BBC describes as “a poster in his memory”. As sharp-eyed readers will be able to see, that poster includes the logo of Hamas’ Izz a Din Al Qassam Brigades, which could go a long way towards explaining what Ismail was doing “on the top floor of their four-storey building” and why “it came under heavy bombardment”, although Yolande Knell does not trouble her readers with such inconvenient details which would distract them from her story.

Knell art martyrdom poster

Readers are also told:

“Now the battered district stands as a reminder of the ferocity of the latest fighting and Gaza’s unsolved political problems. Locals, like the four featured below, long to rebuild their homes but are unable to do so while tight border restrictions imposed by Israel and Egypt remain in place. Israel says these are for security reasons. It is worried militants will use construction supplies to rebuild tunnels and it currently allows very limited imports for international projects.”

As was noted here only recently:

“If there is one thing which should have become perfectly clear to foreign journalists since the beginning of July it is that the entry of building supplies into the Gaza Strip – which was increased in recent years due to intense pressure from assorted international bodies and aid agencies – was abused by Hamas to construct cross-border attack tunnels rather than for the advancement of projects which would have improved the lives of the people of Gaza.

However, not only has the BBC shown no interest whatsoever in discussing Hamas’ misappropriation of those building supplies or the very serious subject of the accountability of the aid agencies and international bodies which were supposed to be supervising and guaranteeing the construction projects for which those materials were destined; it continues to present the issue in terms of “Israel says”.”

Rather than investing the work of the nine BBC staff members it took to produce this feature in an in-depth investigation of how considerable sums of European tax-payers’ money has been misappropriated by Hamas over the years, the BBC has instead produced a feature designed solely to feed BBC audiences with yet more out of context images of rubble and damage in the Gaza Strip and to continue the campaign being promoted by the BBC in general – and Yolande Knell in particular – with regard to the border restrictions made necessary by the very terrorism which also brought about those images. 

Related Articles:

BBC omits vital context in reporting from Shuja’iya

Themes in BBC reporting on events in Shuja’iya

BBC’s Reynolds in Shuja’iya: still no reporting on what really happened

BBC’s Knell continues the Gaza border restrictions PR campaign

Reporter in the rubble: what is missing from BBC presentation of structural damage in Gaza?

 

How BBC News transformed the PUG into a Cheshire Cat

One very notable feature in the BBC’s coverage of the recent conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip was the fact that the Palestinian Unity Government (PUG) suddenly disappeared from the corporation’s reporting rather like the Cheshire Cat in the Alice in Wonderland story. Concurrently, the roles played by Fatah and the Palestinian Authority in the run-up to the hostilities and throughout them were heavily censored in BBC reports.Cat

As readers no doubt recall, the weeks preceding Operation Protective Edge saw generous, enthusiastic and yet very superficial coverage of the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal which was announced on April 23rd 2014 – see examples here, here and here.  

On June 2nd the Palestinian Unity Government was sworn in and the previous Hamas government in the Gaza Strip stepped down. Again, BBC coverage was positive yet simplistic and it notably refrained from informing audiences of the significance of the failure to disarm Hamas as part of the reconciliation deal. 

Ten days later on June 12th three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered in Gush Etzion by what we now know to be a Hamas financed terror cell from Hebron. The BBC’s coverage of the search and rescue operations between the kidnappings and the discovery of the boys’ bodies on June 30th completely ignored the aspect of Hamas calls to the local population to instigate rioting to hamper the operations as well as the many inflammatory statements made by Hamas, Fatah and the PA in support of the kidnappings.

BBC reporting on the escalation in missile fire from the Gaza Strip beginning on June 12th was patchy and what reporting there was failed to clarify to BBC audiences that the Gaza Strip was by then under the control of the PA unity government meaning that the PA’s existing agreements with Israel (with which the PA had assured the world the unity government would comply) were being breached.

After the commencement of Operation Protective Edge on July 8th the BBC erased the existence of the Palestinian Unity Government entirely from its reporting on the Gaza Strip, instead using the standard formulation “Hamas, which controls Gaza” – see examples here, here and here. Notably, not one BBC report out of the hundreds produced during the seven weeks of conflict informed BBC audiences that Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades had taken part in missile fire from the Gaza Strip at Israeli civilian targets and had also claimed responsibility for the use of live fire during rioting in Qalandiya. 

Another topic which did not get any BBC coverage at all was the August 18th discovery of a planned Hamas coup against the Palestinian Authority. In addition, there has been no BBC follow-up regarding claims that Hamas attacked and in some cases killed members of Fatah during the conflict under the pretense of ‘collaboration’. Since the August 26th ceasefire came into effect the Palestinian Authority’s security agencies have arrested dozens of Hamas supporters and assorted public accusations have been flying in both directions.

But remarkably, after weeks of hiatus, the Palestinian Unity Government suddenly made a reappearance in BBC content in a September 7th report on the BBC News website titled “Abbas warns Hamas on unity deal“. In that article BBC audiences are told:Abbas PUG

“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has warned Hamas it must change the way it operates in Gaza if it wants to continue in a unity government.

Mr Abbas criticised the “shadow government of 27 deputy ministers” running Gaza, insisting that there must be “one regime”. […]

Hamas, which controls Gaza, and Fatah – Mr Abbas’s faction that dominates the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority – had been embroiled in years of bitter rivalry until signing a reconciliation deal in April.

Hamas’s government officially stepped down when the unity cabinet took office in Ramallah on 2 June, but it remains in de facto control of Gaza.

Much of the unity agreement has yet to be put into effect.”

Three months earlier on June 4th the BBC News website had reported that:

“US Secretary of State John Kerry has rejected Israeli criticism of his recognition of the new Palestinian government formed by Fatah and Hamas.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that he was “deeply troubled” by the decision.

But during a visit to Lebanon, Mr Kerry noted the ministers were independent technocrats and insisted that they would be watched “very closely”.” […]

“We are going to be watching it very closely, as we have said from day one, to make absolutely ensure that it upholds each of those things that it has talked about, that it doesn’t cross the line.”

Both the UN and EU have welcomed the new government, on the basis of the assurances that it will abide by its commitments of recognition of Israel, non-violence and adherence to previous agreements.”

And:

“Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said his cabinet was committed to all previous agreements with Israel and would continue “programmes of peace” aimed at establishing an independent Palestinian state.”

Obviously the PUG’s commitments to “all previous agreements with Israel” have not been met during the three months of its existence and the above statements from the US Secretary of State, the UN, the EU and PUG PM Rami Hamdallah turned out to be worthless platitudes. Any serious news organization would be looking for answers from the people who voiced those commitments and engaging in a serious examination of the performance of the Palestinian Unity Government – as well as the actions of Fatah and the PA during recent weeks – rather than making the PUG intermittently appear and disappear from the picture presented to audiences according to whatever particular political message it chooses to promote at the time. 

 

CBBC’s ‘Newsround’ once again misleads 6 to 12 year-olds about Israel

On August 27th the CBBC website’s ‘Newsround’ section (which is aimed at children between the ages of six and twelve) updated a page titled “Guide: Why are Israel and the Palestinians fighting over Gaza?“.CBBC

The page itself is not new; it was originally created in November 2012 and was the subject of a complaint and a ruling by the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit  in June 2013. Nevertheless, the item still includes many problematic statements – not least in its title.

Neither the most recent conflict of July/August 2014 nor the one before it in November 2012 was rooted in a dispute “over Gaza”. The idiom ‘to fight over’ means “to fight a battle that decides who gets […] something”. Israel does not – as that title incorrectly suggests – want Gaza. Both those conflicts, like the one before them, began because of escalated attacks on Israel’s civilian population.  Neither was either conflict fought against “the Palestinians” but against Hamas and other terrorist organisations based in and acting from the Gaza Strip which perpetrate the attacks on Israeli communities. That same inaccuracy is repeated in the guide’s opening sentence.

“Israelis and Arabs have been fighting over Gaza on and off, for decades. It’s part of the wider Arab Israeli conflict.”

The item continues with an inaccurate description of events leading to the establishment of the State of Israel, erasing from view the Mandate for Palestine which preceded by 25 years the point in time bizarrely chosen by the BBC as the commencement of the story.

“After World War II and the Holocaust in which six million Jewish people were killed, more Jewish people wanted their own country.

They were given a large part of Palestine, which they considered their traditional home but the Arabs who already lived there and in neighbouring countries felt that was unfair and didn’t accept the new country.”

An inaccurate and highly sanitized representation of the fact that the nascent Israeli state was attacked by five Arab countries along with assorted irregulars and volunteers hours after it had declared independence conceals from readers which parties initiated the war and the fact that hostilities had actually begun six months beforehand. The fact that the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria are both areas designated as part of the Jewish homeland under the terms of the Mandate for Palestine is not made clear and neither is the very relevant issue of the lack of international recognition of Jordan’s occupation and subsequent annexation of Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem.

“In 1948, the two sides went to war. When it ended, Gaza was controlled by Egypt and another area, the West Bank, by Jordan. They contained thousands of Palestinians who fled what was now the new Jewish home, Israel.”

Equally lacking is the guide’s description of the Six Day War and the failure to explain which parties initiated that conflict and what was their aim.

“But then, in 1967, after another war, Israel occupied these Palestinian areas and Israeli troops stayed there for years. Israelis hoped they might exchange the land they won for Arab countries recognising Israel’s right to exist and an end to the fighting.”

The wording of the next paragraph leads children to mistakenly believe that Hamas’ control of the Gaza Strip came about through elections rather than a violent coup in which it ousted the Palestinian Authority and euphemises Hamas’ aim of bringing about the end of the Jewish state.

“Israel finally left Gaza in 2005 but soon after, a group called Hamas won elections and took control there. Much of the world calls Hamas a terrorist organisation. It refuses to recognise Israel as a country and wants Palestinians to be able to return to their old home – and will use violence to achieve its aims.”

Neither are readers informed of the fact that it was Hamas’ decision to escalate terrorism against Israeli civilians which made the implementation of border restrictions necessary.  

“Since then, Israel has held Gaza under a blockade, which means it controls its borders and limits who can get in and out.”

Children are also mistakenly led to believe that power cuts in the Gaza Strip are connected to border restrictions whilst in fact the real reason is the dispute between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. Likewise, they are inaccurately informed that exports abroad are restricted and that “not many goods get into or out of Gaza” when in fact the only limits are on weapons and dual-purpose items which can be misappropriated for terrorism.

“Israel controls its coastline and all the entry and exit crossings into Israel. There is another crossing point into Egypt. There is no working airport. Because access is so restricted, not many goods get into or out of Gaza. Food is allowed in, but aid agencies say families are not eating as much meat or fresh vegetables and fruit as they used to. There are often power cuts.

Large numbers of people are unemployed because businesses can get very few of their products out of Gaza to sell, and people don’t have much money to buy things.”

The item fails to clarify to readers the differences between Palestinian refugees and those from any other country or that their exceptional hereditary refugee status is in fact the result of the decision by the Arab league countries to refuse to grant them equal status in the countries in which most of them were born. Jewish refugees from Arab lands do not appear in the picture presented by CBBC. 

“During the 1948 and 1967 wars hundreds of thousands of Palestinians left, or were forced out of, their homes and moved to neighbouring countries to become refugees.

More than 4.6 million Palestinians are refugees and their descendants, many living in camps in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. They get help from the United Nations.”

Children are then informed that Israelis living under missile attack for almost a decade and a half have got used to it.

“Though the Palestinians don’t have an army, rockets are regularly fired from Gaza into Israel. Israelis living in border towns are used to having to take shelter and adapting their lives to deal with the rockets.”

The item continues with misrepresentation of casualty figures from three rounds of conflict.

“In the years since Israel withdrew its troops in 2005, Gaza has seen several Israeli offensives. Israel says these were aimed at putting a stop to rocket fire.

In 2008, Israel sent soldiers into Gaza. An estimated 1,300 people, many of them civilians, were killed in Gaza before a ceasefire was declared; 13 Israeli soldiers also died.”

Around 700 of the Gaza Strip casualties in Operation Cast Lead were terrorists and three of the 13 Israeli casualties inaccurately described by the BBC as all being soldiers were in fact civilians.

“In 2012, at least 167 Palestinians and six Israelis were killed during an Israeli operation. After eight days a ceasefire was declared with both sides promising to stop attacks.”

Around sixty percent of the Palestinian casualties in Operation Pillar of Defence were terrorists.

“Most recently in July 2014, authorities said over 2,200 people were killed – most of them Palestinians – and many more injured, during 50 days of violence. A ceasefire was agreed between Israel and Hamas on 26 August.”

Whilst the data for casualties in Operation Protective Edge is as yet incomplete, 46% of the names examined so far have been shown to be terrorists.

The item closes with whitewashing of the PA decision to scupper the Oslo peace process, presenting the failure to reach a negotiated agreement as a matter dependent solely upon Israeli agreement.

“Other countries, particularly America, have worked hard to settle the fighting between the Arabs and Israelis but so far nothing has worked. Many people want Gaza and the West Bank to be turned into a new country – Palestine. Israel won’t agree to this unless it feels safe – and Hamas accepts its right to exist. The other sticking points are what will happen to Israelis who’ve settled in the West Bank, who will run Jerusalem and what will happen to the Palestinian refugees.”

This is unfortunately not the first time that an inaccurate presentation of Israel-related issues has been promoted by ‘Newsround’ to young children. There is of course a vast and crucial difference between “simplification appropriate for an item intended for children” (as cited in the ECU ruling on this item from June 2013) and the presentation of inaccurate and misleading information.

Incidents such as the recent bout of conflict often prompt increased pondering of the topic of why so many educated people in Western countries exhibit a disturbing lack of factual knowledge with regard to Israel. With CBBC apparently reaching 34% of six to twelve year-olds weekly in the UK and its website having a million unique browsers a month, items such as this inaccurate and misleading ‘Newsround’ guide are clearly aiding to perpetuate that situation whilst failing young audience members and their licence fee-paying parents by neglecting  the BBC’s obligation to promote “understanding of international issues”. 

BBC News absolves Hamas of truce violation, amplifies its propaganda – and refrains from naming its victim

Normally based in Dubai, Middle East business correspondent Mark Lobel appears to be the latest BBC reporter to have been ‘parachuted in’ to provide backup to the Jerusalem Bureau team covering events in Israel and the Gaza Strip.Mark Lobel Nahal Oz

On August 22nd, Lobel produced a report for BBC television news which was also promoted on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the oddly punctuated title “Israeli child ‘killed by rocket fired from Gaza’“. Whether those inverted commas were intended to convey to audiences that the BBC is not sure that four year-old Daniel Tragerman was killed or not convinced that the mortar (rather than rocket) which caused his death was actually fired from the Gaza Strip is unclear. However – as was the case in the BBC News website’s written article purportedly relating to the same incident – Mark Lobel presented his entire report without mentioning Daniel’s name.

“The Israeli prime minister has come out and offered his condolences..eh…to the family of a four year-old boy who was…ehm…was announced killed by one of these mortar…eh…rounds. What had happened is that since Israel…eh…assassinated three senior Hamas military leaders in the early hours of Thursday morning, there’ve been a flurry of rockets and mortars flying over the border. Eighty – over eighty – since midnight last night and several of these mortars all landed on a kibbutz several…ehm…meters away from the border with Gaza and medics said that a four year-old boy was playing inside his living room and got hit in the head and…eh…was killed.”

Lobel’s claim that missile and mortar fire is a result of the strike in which three Hamas terrorists were killed on August 21st of course misleads viewers by concealing the fact that terrorists in the Gaza Strip had already breached a ceasefire two days prior to that event, with particularly heavy targeting of civilian communities near the border. Lobel continues by further confusing audiences with a claim that the break-down of talks in Cairo preceded the renewed fighting. In fact it was the breach of the ceasefire by Gaza Strip-based terrorists which led to the termination of negotiations.Sommerville filmed 23 8

“And…erm…you know this is all a sign that the fighting on both sides is continuing to pick up since those failed peace talks which were being brokered by Egypt fell through. And..err…since midnight last night on the other side…err…the Israelis have launched over thirty…eh….strikes from the air at Gaza and we’ve got reports from within Gaza that four people have died since midnight.”

The following day – August 23rd – BBC television news audiences viewed a report by Quentin Sommerville (titled “Israel continues air strikes on Gaza targets” in its website version) which likewise failed to name Daniel Tragerman and misled them with regard to the reason for the end of the ceasefire on August 19th.

“This was the aftermath of an earlier Hamas mortar attack. It killed an Israeli child; the fourth civilian to die there since the conflict began. Israel promised it would escalate its campaign in Gaza as a result. After a lull of the ceasefire which ended on Tuesday, the violence and the casualties have been steadily increasing here.”

The ceasefire of course did not simply ‘end’ – it was violated by Palestinian terrorists.

Also on August 23rd a written article appeared on the BBC News website under the headline “Gaza conflict: Mahmoud Abbas urges fresh talks in Egypt“. In that report audiences were once again misled with regard to the reason for the ceasefire’s end.

“A previous Egyptian-brokered truce collapsed on Tuesday.”

In the article’s fourteenth paragraph readers were again informed of the incident in Nahal Oz without any mention of Daniel Tragerman’s name.

“On Friday, a four-year-old Israeli boy was killed in a village near the Gaza border, prompting Israel to warn it would “intensify” its operations.”

Moreover, the very next paragraph of that report consists of amplification of obviously false Hamas propaganda without any qualifying comment from the BBC.

“In an interview with Yahoo News, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal rejected the charge that his organisation targets Israeli civilians.

“We try most of the time to aim at military targets and Israeli bases,” Mr Meshaal said. “But we admit that we have a problem. We do not have the weapons available to our enemy… so aiming is difficult.” “

That same propaganda from the leader of a terrorist organization proscribed by numerous countries precisely because of its history of killing Israeli civilians was again amplified in an article appearing on the BBC News website on August 24th. The title of that report also included bizarre punctuation which implied to audiences that the launching of mortars at a border crossing might perhaps not be seen by the BBC as an attack: “Gaza conflict: Erez crossing ‘attacked’ amid Israel raids“.Erez crossing art

The article’s entire representation of the subject matter outlined in its headline is as follows:

“Israel says it has closed the Erez crossing after it came under rocket fire from Gaza, wounding four people.

The crossing is used by aid workers, journalists and Palestinians with Israeli permits to enter or leave Gaza.”

No mention is made of the fact that the people wounded in the attack – two of them seriously – were Arab-Israeli taxi drivers who had been waiting to transport patients from the Gaza Strip to hospitals in Israel.

“Hussein Abu-Einam, an eyewitness on the scene, told Army Radio: “The [drivers] sat in a shed and waited for the passengers and their relatives who were leaving Gaza for Israeli hospitals Ichilov and Tel Hashomer. Then seven shells fell — just one after the other. We didn’t have time to flee; it was a matter of a second.”

Eli Bean, head of Magen David Adom, said the paramedics who were dispatched to the crossing were forced to treat the victims under fire.

“During treatment, we were forced to deal with a number of sirens and mortar explosions fired at us. The mortar shells fell very close to those who were injured,” he said.

Up to 11 mortar and rocket rounds landed near the crossing, the army said.”

Once again, a revisionist version of the breakdown of the ceasefire on August 19th is presented in this report.

“Hostilities between the two sides resumed on Tuesday after a temporary truce, scuppering efforts by Egyptian negotiators to achieve a long-term ceasefire deal.”

And yet again – this time in the sixteenth paragraph – Daniel Tragerman goes unnamed.

“Israel had announced it would “intensify” its offensive after a four-year-old Israeli boy was killed in a village near the Gaza border.”

So too was the case in a filmed report by Alpa Patel which appeared on BBC television news as well as on the BBC News website on August 24th under the inaccurate headline “Gaza residences targeted in Israel air strikes“: the target of that strike was in fact a Hamas command and control centre.Alpa Patel report 24 8

“It followed the killing of a four year-old Israeli boy on Friday in this village near the Gaza border. Israel warned it would intensify its operations as a result. He becomes one of 68 Israelis killed in recent weeks – most of the dead are soldiers. On the Palestinian side more than two thousand have been killed – the majority are civilians.”

As we see, these five items appearing on BBC News platforms over the weekend of August 22nd to 24th all continue what is now evidently the BBC policy of concealing from audiences the reason for the breakdown of the last ceasefire on August 19th and the resulting renewal of hostilities. Not unrelatedly, Khaled Masha’al’s ridiculous claim that Hamas does not target Israeli civilians (contradicted of course on numerous occasions by his less media-savvy accomplices) is amplified unquestioningly by a news organization supposedly committed to bringing its funding public accurate and impartial news. In contrast, the BBC cannot be bothered to name a four year-old victim of the policies of the terrorist organisation whose propaganda it chooses to unquestioningly amplify. 

 

BBC World News’ Dani Sinha to Israeli minister: ‘why are you killing innocent people?’

We have previously documented here some of the BBC News website’s efforts to distort chronology with regard to the events which brought an end to the ceasefire which was supposed to expire at midnight on August 19th but was violated by terrorists in the Gaza Strip some eight and a half hours beforehand. Those efforts are not however confined to the website.

Below is an interview with Israel’s Minister of the Economy on BBC World News on August 20th. Presenter Dani Sinha gave a taste of things to come in the following Tweet.

Tweet Dani Sinha

Of note are Sinha’s jaw-droppingly ignorant questions and her promotion of Hamas terminology.

“Why did you choose this particular time then, or this particular moment, to end the ceasefire? After all, there have been other occasions when Hamas have fired rockets.”

Even after having been told that it was Hamas which violated the truce, she continues to promote her own revisionist version of events.

“Some will though question the timing of course when you ended the ceasefire – or indeed whether you say Hamas ended this ceasefire – because of course it does coincide with your strike – the Israeli airstrike – on a top Hamas commander.”

In actual fact, the strike on the Al Dalou house took place at 21:59: six and a half hours after the truce had been violated by the firing of three missiles at the Be’er Sheva district and also after at least four additional barrages of missile and mortar fire at Netivot, Hof Ashkelon and communities near the Gaza Strip border.

Sinha’s next ‘question’ is as follows:

“Let’s talk about the people though who are being killed because whatever way you look at this there are an unequal number of casualties. More than two thousand Palestinians killed; mostly civilians. That’s against 66 Israelis; mostly military. Well the figures just don’t add up. Why are you killing innocent people?”

We next see what happens when a journalist with no military understanding tries to pretend otherwise.

“When the ceasefire actually started though, you said that you’d destroyed all you needed to destroy regarding the tunnels. Does this mean that your operation has now failed?”

“Why did the talks then fail in Cairo? Your delegation have now gone home.”

And then a bit of promotion of inaccurate Hamas terminology: 

“Hamas want you to lift the siege. I mean why is it so difficult for Israel to do that if it will bring about peace?”

Apparently the BBC does not think that audiences have had enough of the “news presenter aggressively promoting her own political agenda regardless of the facts” party trick.  

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BBC report on “Israeli boy’s death” totals a sentence and a half, fails to name victim

An article titled “Gaza conflict: Israeli boy’s death ‘will intensify ops” appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on the evening of August 22nd. The BBC’s report allots a sentence and a half to the subject matter of the story as presented in its headline.Article 22 8 Daniel T

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said military operations will “intensify” after an Israeli boy was killed by fire from Gaza.

The four-year-old died in a mortar attack on a southern Israeli village near the Gaza border.”

The caption to the photograph used to illustrate the article states:

“Mr Netanyahu sent his condolences to the boy’s family and accused Hamas of firing the rocket that killed him”.

The BBC’s report is time-stamped 20:11 GMT. By that time the name of Daniel Tregerman – the four and a half year-old victim of a mortar attack by terrorists firing from the vicinity of a school in the Gaza Strip – had already been made public.  

Notably, despite particularly heavy fire on the Israeli communities close to the border with the Gaza Strip in recent days, no BBC correspondent has filed a report from that region or anywhere else in southern Israel.

BBC sticks to inaccurate narrative despite Hamas claim of June kidnappings

A couple of days ago we noted here that the BBC had refrained from making any mention of the news that a planned ‘Gaza June ’07’ style coup against the PA has been prevented. That observation still stands. 

“Israel’s Shin Bet security service said Monday it thwarted a Hamas coup attempt in the West Bank aimed at toppling Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and starting a third intifada uprising

The Shin Bet said it arrested more than 90 Hamas operatives in May and June, confiscated dozens of weapons that had been smuggled into the West Bank, and seized more than $170,000 aimed at funding attacks. It produced photos of the confiscated weapons and cash and a flowchart of the Hamas operatives who had been questioned, and said they planned a series of massive attacks on Israeli targets, including the Temple Mount, in order to start a widespread conflagration. Indictments are expected to be filed against at least 70 of the suspects.”

The leading architect of that planned coup was Hamas’ Saleh al Arouri who resides in Turkey.

“The infrastructure for the operation was exposed in May, along with the identity of its leader, Hamas operations officer Saleh al-Arouri, who remains in Turkey, according to the Shin Bet.

Ynet was told that in recent months there was an active movement of Hamas activists arriving to Hebron from abroad. These operatives were known to security forces to be loyal to al-Arouri.

The operatives were assisted by Jordanian couriers, who transferred $600,000 – $50,000 in each border run. The funds were moved through Turkey and Jordan and were intended to purchase vehicles and safe-houses.

The Shin Bet confiscated the cash, as well as 24 M-16 rifles (not of Israeli manufacture), six handguns, and seven missile launchers, magazines, and loads of ammunition.”

Two days after that news broke Saleh al Arouri was in the spotlight again when he spoke at a conference in Istanbul. In his speech Arouri stated that Hamas’ Izz al Din al Qassam Brigades carried out the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers Naftali Frankel, Gilad Sha’ar and Eyal Yifrach on June 12th.

A longer video of al Arouri’s speech – as broadcast on Al Jazeera – can be seen here courtesy of MEMRI.

“Our goal was to ignite an intifada in the West Bank and Jerusalem as well as within the 1948 borders [Israel]. The activity of the people has broadened to include all the occupied land, reaching its peak in the heroic operation, carried out by the Al-Qassam Brigades, in which three settlers were captured in Hebron. There has been a lot of confusion regarding this operation. Some said that this was a conspiracy of the occupation [Israel]. That’s not true. Your brothers in the Al-Qassam Brigades carried out this operation to support their imprisoned brothers who were on hunger strike.”

Al Arouri’s admission of course ties in with the information divulged earlier by Hussam Kawasme after his arrest in July. It also puts Jon Donnison’s recent campaign to exonerate Hamas of any responsibility for the kidnappings and murders (see here, here and here) into its correct context. 

But Donnision’s thinly disguised politically motivated ‘journavism’ is not the only issue highlighted by Saleh al Arouri’s statement. For weeks the BBC has been promoting a version of events which goes along these lines: [emphasis added]

“Israel accused Hamas of responsibility for the disappearance of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach and launched a crackdown on the group in the occupied West Bank, detaining hundreds of members despite Hamas denying any involvement.

Then on 2 July, a Palestinian teenager from East Jerusalem was abducted and burned alive in an apparent revenge attack two days after the bodies of the Israeli teenagers were found. The killings set off an escalating cycle of violence and led to the current conflict in Gaza.”

The fact is, of course, that the escalation in missile fire from the Gaza Strip began immediately after the disappearance of the Israeli teenagers on June 12th and continued throughout the three weeks of search and rescue operations. In the week preceding Operation Protective Edge, Hamas was given ample opportunity to curb its own missile fire and that of other factions, but elected not to do so.  In other words, the BBC’s much-touted “cycle of violence” is a myth: the “current conflict in Gaza” began because Hamas chose not to stop its cause – missile attacks on Israeli civilians.

Albeit usually in a somewhat more subtle manner than that adopted by Jon Donnison, the BBC has consistently pushed the line that Hamas involvement in the kidnappings and murders of the three Israeli teenagers was nothing more than an Israeli claim and remarkably even after the arrest of Hussam Kawasme it still promoted that notion.

“Israeli officials have said Marwan Qawasmeh and Mr Abu Aisha are known Hamas operatives, but the group has denied any involvement. Some have argued that the Qawasmeh clan might have acted on its own.”

In other words, BBC audiences have, for well over two months now, been fed an inaccurate version of events according to which it was Israel’s supposedly unwarranted claim of Hamas involvement in the kidnappings and murders of three of its citizens that, having prompted “increased tensions”, led to a “cycle of violence” which culminated in the current conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip. 

Saleh al Arouri’s Istanbul speech and the exposure of Hamas’ planned coup against the PA show the poverty of that BBC ‘analysis’ which lays the blame for the current violence at Israel’s door. It is of course high time that BBC audiences were provided with the full picture of events but remarkably, the corporation has so far failed to inform them of the latest important developments and currently shows no sign of deviating from its existing inaccurate narrative.  

 

Hamas denies firing missiles: BBC reports. Hamas claims missile fire: BBC silent

As readers are no doubt aware, terrorists in the Gaza Strip violated the ceasefire which was due to end at midnight on August 19th some eight and a half hours before it expired with missile fire at the city of Be’er Sheva. Around half an hour after that violation, Israel announced the renewal of strikes on terror infrastructure and targets in the Gaza Strip. By the time the truce’s designated expiry time arrived, around fifty missiles had been launched at civilian targets in Israel. So how did the BBC News website report those events?ceasefire break 19 8 article 1

About an hour after the first missiles had been fired an existing article on the BBC News website’s Middle East page – “Gaza ceasefire ‘extended by a day’ after Cairo talks” – was amended and the following information added:

“On Tuesday afternoon three rockets were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip, landing in open areas in Beersheba, an IDF spokesperson told the BBC.

No-one was injured in the attack, which was the first instance of rocket fire in several days.”

It was not made clear to BBC audiences that this missile fire was a violation of a ceasefire agreement, nor was it pointed out that Hamas had also breached several previous ceasefires.

Very shortly after that article was amended, a new one appeared on the BBC News website under the title “Israel PM orders new Gaza strikes following rocket fire”. Typically, readers were informed of the last occurrence first.

“Israel’s prime minister has ordered its military to launch strikes on the Gaza Strip following fresh rocket fire from militants there, officials say.

One Israeli official said “terror sites” would be targeted “in response to Hamas’ violation of the truce”. “

That report underwent considerable changes in the hours after its publication with its later ‘last-first’ headlines being “Israel launches Gaza strikes following rocket fire” and “Gaza conflict: Israel launches strikes after rocket fire” before eventually arriving at the ambiguous “Gaza conflict: Truce ends amid fresh fighting“.ceasefire break 19 8 headline

At no point does the article clarify to readers in the BBC’s own words that terrorists in the Gaza Strip violated the ceasefire. Earlier versions of the article include the following statements regarding the missile fire into Israel:

2nd, 3rd and 4th versions:

“There was no immediate claim of responsibility from any of the Palestinian factions in Gaza, which is dominated by the Islamist movement Hamas.”

5th, 6th and 7th versions:

“There was no immediate claim of responsibility from any of the Palestinian factions in Gaza, which is dominated by the Islamist movement Hamas. Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for the Islamist movement, told the BBC that it “had no idea or information about the firing of any rockets”.”

8th version:

“Hamas – the group that rules Gaza – denies firing the rockets.”End cf 19 8 art 2

From the ninth version onwards, the topic of responsibility for the missile fire disappears from the article completely. That fact is remarkable because around half an hour before the ninth version was published, Hamas did claim responsibility for the missile fire but – unlike its denials – that event was obviously not considered newsworthy by the BBC.

“11:42 P.M. Hamas’ military wing takes responsibility for the rocket fire on Israel and says it has launched a M75 missile as well, according the Palestinian Maan news agency.”

Now that does require some explaining.

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