Yet again: Gaza missile attack ignored by BBC News but Israeli response reported in Arabic

At around 10 p.m. on the evening of June 23rd residents of Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip once again had to scramble for cover from incoming missile fire.

“The rocket landed in an open area near the Yad Mordechai Kibbutz just north of the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement. […]

There were no reports of injuries or damage directly after the alarms, which sounded in the communities of Zikim, Karmia, Netiv Ha’asara and Yad Mordechai just after 10 p.m., the IDF said.”

Several hours later Israel responded with a strike on the rocket launcher used in the attack.

Following the now established pattern, there was no reporting of the missile attack on the BBC News English language website but the Israeli response to it was reported on the BBC Arabic website.missile 23 6 BBC Arabic

In the months since the end of last summer’s conflict between Israel and Palestinian terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip the ceasefire has been broken on multiple occasions by missile fire – with none of those incidents having received dedicated coverage by the BBC in English at the time.

September 16th 2014mortar fire at the Eshkol region – not reported by BBC News but briefly mentioned in a later article on another topic.

October 31st 2014 – missile fire at the Eshkol region – not reported by BBC News.

December 19th 2014 – missile fire at the Eshkol region – not covered by BBC News at the time but Israeli response reported.

April 23rd 2015 – missile fire at Sha’ar HaNegev region – not reported by BBC News.

May 26th 2015 – missile fire at Gan Yavne area – not covered by BBC News but Israeli response reported by BBC Arabic.

June 3rd 2015 – missile fire at Sdot Negev region – not covered by BBC News but Israeli response reported by BBC Arabic

June 6th 2015 – missile fire at Hof Ashkelon area – not covered by BBC News but Israeli response reported by BBC Arabic. Later briefly mentioned in a June 10th report by Yolande Knell.

June 11th 2015 – missile fire (fell short in Gaza Strip) – later mentioned in a June 12th article by Yolande Knell.

June 23rd 2015 – missile fire at Yad Mordechai area – not covered by BBC News but Israeli response reported by BBC Arabic.

To sum up, five separate incidents of missile fire aimed at Israeli civilian communities in the last month have been covered as follows on the BBC News website (June 12th):

“Three rockets have since been fired at Israel and a group calling itself the Omar Brigades said via social media that it was responsible. On Thursday, a fourth rocket was launched but fell short inside Gaza.

While the missiles have not caused injuries, they have drawn Israeli air strikes in response – some targeting Hamas military sites – and endangered a 10-month-long ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.”

Like this on BBC television news (June 10th):

“In the past week, several rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza, endangering the 10-month-long ceasefire that ended last summer’s deadly war.”

And as follows (from 00:50) on BBC World Service radio (June 11th):

“In the past few days several rockets have been fired from Gaza towards Israel jeopardizing the ceasefire that ended last summer’s war.”

“…militants linked to IS fired several rockets at Israel. It holds Hamas responsible and hit back with airstrikes.”

The focus of all three of those reports was the threat posed to Hamas rule in Gaza by Salafist Jihadists and the danger to the ceasefire agreement.

Once again, the BBC has not produced any reporting whatsoever from the regions in Israel targeted by those missile strikes and audiences remain uninformed with regard to how people who have been terrorized by the constant threat of missile fire from assorted terrorist groups for over fourteen years and suffered fifty days of intense attacks less than a year ago are now coping with the deteriorating security situation.

If audiences are to be provided with the “understanding of international issues” laid out in the corporation’s public purpose remit, the BBC must obviously tell that side of the story too. The current curious practice of omission of timely reporting of missile attacks in English, whilst covering the Israeli responses to those attacks in Arabic, is clearly also not conducive to meeting the BBC’s obligations.

BBC News gets round to mentioning some of the missile fire from the Gaza Strip

On June 10th BBC audiences finally received some information on the issue of the missile fire from the Gaza Strip previously ignored by the corporation’s English language services. A filmed report produced by Yolande Knell for BBC television news also appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Could Islamic State’s influence shatter Gaza ceasefire?“. The synopsis to that report reads:Knell Salafists 10 6 filmed

“In the past week, several rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza, endangering the 10-month-long ceasefire that ended last summer’s deadly war.

Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, holds Hamas responsible for any rockets coming from Gaza – but Islamist extremists, who claim allegiance with Islamic State, have claimed responsibility for firing them.”

The implication in both the headline and the synopsis is that the August 26th 2014 ceasefire – which reportedly includes the clause “All Palestinian factions in Gaza will stop all attacks against Israel by land, air or sea, and will stop the construction of tunnels from Gaza into Israel” – has been upheld throughout the last ten months.

That, of course, is not the case but with BBC audiences having received decidedly scant information on Hamas’ reconstruction of tunnels and building of additional infrastructure, its frequent test-firing of missiles, its recruitment drive and no fewer than seven separate incidents of missile fire over the past ten months, they are not in a position to appreciate that the ceasefire agreement has long been ‘endangered’.

Knell’s report opens with an interesting addition to the BBC lexicon. With Hamas having been previously portrayed as “conservative”, the term “ultra-conservative” is now apparently the terminology of choice to describe other groups along the same ideological scale.

“Gaza hasn’t begun to recover from last year’s devastating war with Israel and now its residents and the Hamas authorities are facing a new threat from within: ultra-conservative Jihadists who support the Islamic State group.”

Knell continues:

“Early this year the black flags of IS were on show at this protest against French cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed. Hamas allowed it to go ahead, wanting to show its own Islamist credentials. But recently there’ve been confrontations. Extremists have been emboldened by IS gains elsewhere in the region.”

In fact, the January 19th demonstration outside the French Cultural Centre in Gaza did not confine itself to harmless-sounding “protest against French cartoons” – as Reuters reported at the time.

“Today, we are telling France and world countries that while Islam orders us to respect all religions, it also orders us to punish and kill those who assault and offend Islam’s Prophet Mohammad,” said one of the protesters, Abu Abdallah al-Makdissi.[…]

Jihadist Salafis held aloft posters of the two gunmen who carried out the Charlie Hebdo attack and a third militant who killed four people two days later at a kosher supermarket in Paris. All three attackers were killed by police on Jan. 9.

“You have to await more heroes of Islam, you worshippers of the Cross,” the crowd chanted.”

In addition, Knell’s claim that confrontations between Hamas and Salafist Jihadists in the Gaza Strip are a recent phenomenon is misleading: such confrontations have been going on sporadically since 2009 and in 2012 her own colleague Jon Donnison reported on the issue. In late 2013 and early 2014, Knell herself produced reports on the subject of Gaza Jihadists going to fight in Syria.

Later on Knell tells viewers:

“Hamas blames IS for attacks on its security forces. They’ve made dozens of arrests and last week they raided the home of a prominent activist and shot him dead. Now tensions are running high in Gaza. Militants linked to Islamic State pledged revenge for what happened here and in the past week they fired rockets at Israel.”

Knell shows no interest in finding out how Gaza Strip Salafists managed to acquire military grade weaponry, but the Guardian’s Peter Beaumont whilst reporting on the same story came up with an interesting possibility.

“According to Abu Bilel – in claims that could not be independently verified – the rockets fired recently at Israel were originally Hamas rockets diverted by those sympathetic to the Salafists. The site of one rocket launch, say those familiar with it, was one used by Hamas during last summer’s war.

“We don’t have our own rockets,” he explained, adding that members of his group had also had “military training” from former members of Hamas who had defected.”

Neither does Knell clarify to viewers that the two incidents of missile fire on June 3rd and June 6th – neither of which was reported by the BBC in English at the time – were preceded by five additional incidents of missile fire (see ‘related articles’ below) on September 16th, October 31st, December 19th, April 23rd and May 26th.

She does however tell viewers that:

“Israel holds Hamas responsible and it’s hit back with airstrikes.”

Of course with Hamas having agreed to the August 26th ceasefire deal according to which “All Palestinian factions in Gaza will stop all attacks against Israel” [emphasis added], it is obvious that it – as the authority in charge of the Gaza Strip (as Knell told her viewers right at the beginning of her report) – is responsible for the prevention of attacks both by members of its own group and others.

As has been amply evident in the past, when Hamas wants to prevent missile fire it is capable of doing so. Yolande Knell, however, closes her report with the suggestion that the future of the ceasefire agreement is beyond Hamas’ control and responsibility.

“There are fears that IS could force a fragile ceasefire deal to collapse. […] At the moment Islamic State has relatively few followers here and yet its ability to provoke and pressure local leaders could be a worrying sign for the future.”

Perhaps the most notable aspect of Knell’s report though is the absence of any information whatsoever concerning the people at the receiving end of terror attacks prompted by infighting between two different Palestinian factions. The Salafist groups which claimed responsibility for the last two episodes of missile fire of course did not aim those projectiles “at Israel” as Knell claims, but at the residents of Israeli towns and villages who, as has so often been the case in the past, do not even get a mention in the BBC’s account of events.

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Missile from Gaza not news for the BBC but Israeli response gets headlines

No BBC report on latest missile attack from Gaza Strip

Another Gaza Strip missile attack goes unreported by the BBC – in English

BBC News ignores missile attack from Gaza but BBC Arabic reports response

The pattern continues: no coverage of Gaza missile attacks in English but BBC Arabic reports Israeli response  

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel in May 2015

Throughout the month of May the BBC News website’s reporting on terror incidents in Israel amounted to a brief mention (in an article on another subject) of an attack which took place in the A-Tur neighbourhood of Jerusalem on May 20th. Over twenty percent of the word-count in the two paragraphs devoted to the topic amplified inaccurate anonymous hearsay.

As far as BBC audiences are aware, therefore, that one vehicular attack against members of the security forces was the only incident to have taken place throughout the month of May.

The Israel Security Agency’s report for May 2015 (Hebrew) shows that the total number of attacks during that month was 152, with 91 of those attacks taking place in Judea & Samaria and 60 in Jerusalem. The majority of the attacks involved the throwing of petrol bombs and in addition there were two incidents of live fire and 16 incidents involving the use of IEDs. Six civilians and three members of the security forces were injured in three vehicular attacks and two stabbings. One incident of missile fire from the Gaza Strip was recorded.

Among the many incidents ignored by the BBC were:

May 3rd: an attempted stabbing near Yakir.

May 4th: an attempted stabbing in Jerusalem.

May 11th: a stabbing at Mishor Adumim Junction.

May 14th: a vehicular attack at the Alon Shvut junction.

May 24th: two stabbings in Jerusalem.

May 26th: missile fire from the Gaza Strip – although the Israeli response to that attack was reported by BBC Arabic.

In other words, BBC audiences were informed of 0.65% of the terror incidents which actually did take place in Israel during May 2015 and – despite six civilians having been wounded – there was no coverage whatsoever of attacks against civilians.

Since the beginning of the year the BBC has reported 1.03% of the terror attacks which have actually taken place.

table terror attacks reported

Related Articles:

BBC coverage of terrorism in Israel in April 2015

What percentage of Q1 2015 terror attacks against Israelis was reported by the BBC?

BBC claims attacks on Israelis in Judea & Samaria are “rare”

The pattern continues: no coverage of Gaza missile attacks in English but BBC Arabic reports Israeli response

For the third time in less than two weeks, missile attacks from the Gaza Strip aimed at Israeli civilians were not reported on the BBC’s English language website but the Israeli response to those terror attacks was covered on the corporation’s Arabic language site.

At around 9:30 p.m. on June 6th residents in the Ashkelon and Hof Ashkelon areas of southern Israel had to run for cover as air-raid sirens sounded a warning of incoming missile fire from the Gaza Strip. One projectile landed in a field in the Hof Ashkelon area, fortunately causing no injuries. Overnight Israel responded with strikes on terror infrastructure in the northern Gaza Strip’s Bet Lahia region and it was announced that the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings would not be opened on June 7th. In addition to the Iron Dome missile defence batteries already deployed two days earlier in southern Israel due to the recent rise in missile fire, a further unit was deployed near Rehovot.

As was the case after the previous attack three days earlier, the missile fire was claimed by a Salafist group in the Gaza Strip and Channel 10’s Hezi Simantov reported that a senior figure in the group told the paper ‘Al Quds’ that such attacks against Israel would continue as long as Hamas continues to hold members of the group under arrest and to ‘persecute’ Salafists in the Gaza Strip.

Whilst the BBC has made a habit of concealing the fact, last summer’s fifty-day conflict between Hamas and Israel also began with attacks by other, smaller, terrorist groups and Hamas’ decision to join in the missile fire was prompted by issues by no means exclusively related to Israel, such as the PA’s refusal to pay the salaries of Hamas employees and the closure of the Rafah border crossing by Egypt.

One might therefore have thought that the BBC would have shown some interest in reporting a second missile attack in three days – and the third in less than two weeks – not only because of the inevitable resulting rise in tensions between Israel and the Gaza Strip, but also (especially considering that only two months ago it enthusiastically promoted Khaled Masha’al’s claim that “There is no Daesh [ISIS], no IS or Al Qaeda in Palestine. There are some lone wolves but they are isolated. We don’t allow such thoughts in Palestine”) from the angle of the infighting within the Gaza Strip and Hamas’ failure to prevent other factions from breaching the ceasefire.

However, the BBC’s English language website once again carried no coverage whatsoever of this latest attack. On the other hand, the 1.7 million followers of the BBC Arabic Twitter account were told that “Israeli warplanes bombed the site of the Qassam Brigades in the northern Gaza Strip”.

BBC Arabic 7 june tweet

Visitors to the BBC Arabic website found the same context-free headline in an article which once again leads with the effect rather than the cause.

BBC Arabic 7 june art

As we see, a pattern has been established with regard to the reporting of missile fire from the Gaza Strip. Whilst audiences using the BBC’s English language website are not told of the attacks at all, readers of the BBC Arabic website get to hear first and foremost about the Israeli responses to such attacks.

However one wishes to describe this ongoing editorial policy, the appropriate title is certainly not accurate and impartial journalism.

Related Articles:

Another Gaza Strip missile attack goes unreported by the BBC – in English

BBC News ignores missile attack from Gaza but BBC Arabic reports response

Sniper attack on Gaza Strip border fails to make BBC news in English but reported in Arabic

Resources:

Contact and Complaints – BBC News online

Contact – BBC Arabic

 

 

 

BBC News ignores missile attack from Gaza but BBC Arabic reports response

On June 4th the 1.69 million people who follow the BBC Arabic Twitter account were sent the following (translated) context-free Tweet.

BBC Arabic 4 june tweet

The link contained in that Tweet leads to an article on the BBC Arabic website which similarly informs audiences of “Israeli raids on the Gaza Strip, no injuries” in its headline. Like the Tweet, that article is illustrated using a picture which has nothing to do with the events being reported and, according to a reverse image search, appears to have been photographed in August 2014.BBC Arabic 4 june art

Only in the article’s fifth paragraph (out of a total of eight) did readers discover that something actually occurred before the Israeli airforce’s actions took place.

“The Israeli army announced on Wednesday evening, three rockets fall in open areas Council  of settlements, “poet Negev” [Sdot Negev – Ed] , near Ashkelon, without final confirmation because of the failure to find remnants of the rocket.”

So what did actually happen on the night of June 3rd?

“Three rockets were shot at southern Israel from the Gaza Strip Wednesday night, police said, sending residents hurrying to bomb shelters for the second time in a little over a week.

The Israel Defense Forces said two rockets were fired from the Palestinian enclave and sirens were heard in Netivot and Ashkelon. Police later said three projectiles struck Israel.

The rockets landed in open areas in the Sdot Negev region bordering the northern Gaza Strip, according to media reports.”

Israel later responded to those missile attacks, which were claimed by a Salafist group.

“A radical Islamist Salafist group – the Omar Brigades – claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was in response to Hamas killing an Islamic State supporter.”

The BBC News website’s Middle East page had not carried any coverage of that June 2nd incident.

“A spokesman for the Interior Ministry in Gaza said Hamas forces shot Younis al-Honnor dead after he resisted arrest at his home, where he had illegally stockpiled munitions. Witnesses said there was a shoot-out at the site.”

So, as we see once more, the BBC is aware of missile attacks against Israeli civilians being launched from the Gaza Strip but fails to report them on its English language website. However, Israeli responses to those attacks are reported on the corporation’s Arabic language website, but in ‘last-first’ style which focuses audience attentions on effect rather than cause.

This is the sixth missile attack since the ceasefire came into effect at the end of August 2014 and users of the BBC News website have not been informed about any of those attacks at the time of their occurrence.

It is time for the BBC’s funding public to be told why that is the case.

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Another Gaza Strip missile attack goes unreported by the BBC – in English

Another Gaza Strip missile attack goes unreported by the BBC – in English

On the evening of Tuesday, May 26th, a missile fired from the Gaza Strip exploded near Gan Yavne – fortunately without causing any physical injuries. Several hours later, Israel responded to the attack by carrying out airstrikes on four terror infrastructure sites in the southern Gaza Strip.

This latest attack is the fifth since the ceasefire came into effect at the end of August 2014. Like the previous missile attack from the Gaza Strip a month ago and the one before that in December and indeed the one before that in October, this incident received no coverage on the BBC News website either on Tuesday evening or on Wednesday morning.

ME HP 27 5 15a

We can however ascertain that the BBC was aware of the fact that a missile attack had taken place because on the morning of May 27th a report on the Israeli response to it appeared on the BBC Arabic website under the interestingly phrased headline “Israeli warplanes launched a series of attacks on military positions of the Palestinian resistance factions in the Gaza Strip”.BBC Arabic report missile attack 26 5

In typical ‘last-first’ BBC style, that report focuses on the effect rather than the cause, with mention of the attack itself relegated to paragraphs 11 to 13 of the 15 paragraph report. No less remarkable is the BBC’s adoption and amplification of the public relations language of the terrorist organisations which portray themselves as “resistance factions”.

This is not the first time (see related articles below) since the end of the conflict last August in which we have seen Israeli responses to Palestinian violations of the ceasefire agreement reported in Arabic but not in English.

Of course the BBC cannot claim to be fulfilling its public purpose of building “a global understanding of international issues” when it serially ignores the attacks which are the precursor to the next round of conflict between Israel and terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip.

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BBC coverage of terrorism in Israel in April 2015

Throughout the month of April the BBC produced one report on the topic of terror attacks in Israel:

April 8th: “Palestinian killed after stabbing two Israeli soldiers” – discussed here.Pigua 8 4 report final

In addition to reporting on the incident of that day at the Sinjil junction in which two soldiers were stabbed, the article also makes a brief reference to an incident (not reported by the BBC at the time) which took place on April 2nd near Oranit in which one soldier was stabbed.

In other words, as far as BBC audiences are aware, two separate non-fatal stabbing attacks on three members of the Israeli security forces took place throughout the month of April.

The Israel Security Agency’s monthly report for April 2015 shows that the total number of attacks during that month was one hundred and twenty-one. 82 attacks took place in Judea & Samaria and 38 in Jerusalem along with one incident of missile fire from the Gaza Strip. One person was killed and nine injured in three stabbing attacks and two attacks using vehicles. In addition, seven attacks were carried out using explosive devices and 108 attacks with petrol bombs.

A terror attack in Jerusalem’s French Hill neighbourhood on April 15th in which one person was killed and another seriously injured was not reported by the BBC.

A missile attack from the Gaza Strip on April 23rd did not receive any BBC coverage.

A stabbing incident in Hebron and a car attack in Jerusalem on April 25th were also not reported.

In other words, BBC audiences were informed of less than 2% of the total number of attacks which took place during April and the corporation’s coverage did not include the fatal attack on civilians which took place at a location less than a twenty-minute drive from the BBC’s offices in Jerusalem.  

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No BBC report on latest missile attack from Gaza Strip

With the BBC having sent at least two of its Jerusalem Bureau staff to cover the story of migrants and refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean (Quentin Sommerville has been reporting from Libya and Yolande Knell from Sicily), coverage of events in Israel has been decidedly sparse over the past two weeks.No news

One significant incident – which did not even receive coverage in the form of an agency-based report on the BBC News website – occurred on the evening of April 23rd when a missile was fired from the Gaza Strip for the first time since December.

“Sirens went off sounded in the city of Sderot and in other Gaza-bordering communities just before 10 P.M. on Thursday, and residents of the area reported hearing several explosions shortly after. Security services are scouring the area in an attempt to locate the precise landing site.

“We heard the siren, grabbed our child and rushed to the safe room,” said Adi Betan Meiri, a resident of Sderot. “At first we thought it was a false alarm, probably because the rain had messed up the siren. Then we heard a loud explosion. The child was very scared, as were we. We closed the steel shutter which had been open for months.””

Fortunately, the missile did not land in a residential area.

“The projectile exploded harmlessly in an open, uninhabited area, the IDF said, adding that security forces were searching for its remnants.

In response, the IDF struck a terror target in northern Gaza to the earlier rocket attack, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said on Thursday shortly before midnight.

It was not immediately clear which organization launched the attack. The assessment within the army is that a small Gazan terror group, not Hamas, fired the rocket.”

Expanding on that latter topic, Y-Net reported:

“In recent days Hamas has executed a wave of arrests of Salafists in the Strip, following a series of explosions across Gaza. Hamas’ security forces have searched relentlessly for those responsible but the identity of the mastermind behind the attacks remains unclear.

 According to Salafi sources, 13 of their members were arrested, and it is possible the rocket fire on Israel tonight was intended to embarrass Hamas over the arrests.”

The BBC has also not reported on that recent wave of explosions in the Gaza Strip – including one near the UNRWA headquarters.

Readers may recall that at the beginning of April the BBC gave multi-platform promotion to Khaled Masha’al’s bizarre claim that there are no Jihadist groups in the Gaza Strip. Five days after that interview with Jeremy Bowen was broadcast, Hamas reportedly arrested an ISIS-linked Salafist.

“Gaza’s Hamas-run security services have arrested a radical Salafist sheikh, accusing him of membership in the Islamic State (IS) group, a security source said on Monday.

“Adnan Khader Mayat from the Bureij refugee camp (in central Gaza) was arrested as part of an investigation,” the source told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity and without giving further details.

Sources close to the Salafists said Mayat had been arrested on Sunday “by the Hamas government security services who fight mujahedeen who belong to the Salafist movement.””

Despite the fact that the BBC has a permanent office in the Gaza Strip, internal Palestinian affairs continue to be severely under-reported. That fact obviously not only detracts from audience understanding of Palestinian politics and society but also hampers their ability to comprehend Israeli responses to the attacks on its civilian population by assorted factions operating in the Gaza Strip.

That scenario is of course all too familiar. Between June 14th and July 8th 2014 (the beginning of Operation Protective Edge), two hundred and eighty-eight missiles hit Israeli territory. Not only did the BBC fail to adequately report on those attacks (which were mostly carried out by groups other than Hamas) at the time, but it has subsequently also managed to erase them from its accounts of the causes of last summer’s conflict.  

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More enablement of Hamas propaganda from BBC’s ME editor

In addition to the previously discussed written and filmed reports based around Jeremy Bowen’s recent interview with Hamas’ Khaled Masha’al in Doha published on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on April 1st, other filmed reports appeared on BBC television news programmes on that date.

In one report viewers yet again saw Masha’al being given a platform from which to promote the notion that his organisation is different from other Islamist groups operating in the region. Bowen’s failure to challenge the statement “There is no Daesh [ISIS], no IS or Al Qaeda in Palestine. There are some lone wolves but they are isolated. We don’t allow such thoughts in Palestine” should of course be assessed within the context of the fact that a BBC reporter was kidnapped by the Al Qaeda affiliated group Jaish al Islam in Gaza in 2007 and in light of the history of Hamas’ relations with that group and others.

“In a previous agreement between the two groups, Hamas had given Jaish al-Islam $5 million and more than a million Kalashnikov bullets in compensation for its freeing of BBC journalist Alan Johnston. Jaish al-Islam also received formal recognition from Hamas as a legitimate jihadi organization, and it was agreed that joint actions carried out in the past would not be revealed.”

Notable too is the fact that whilst Bowen clearly does not believe the oft-touted myth that all unrest in the Middle East is ultimately attributable to the Palestinian –Israeli conflict, he still gives Masha’al a platform for promotion of that ridiculous notion and others – including the claim that “we are the owners of the land”.

Another report seen by viewers of BBC television news programmes opens with aerial footage of Shuja’iya which has already been used in several BBC reports. No attempt is made to put that footage into its correct context, meaning that audiences are led to believe that it is representative of the situation in the whole of the Gaza Strip.

Bowen tells viewers that:

“Israel has walled and fenced Gaza so Hamas opened up another front – underground.”

He provides no background information concerning the reasons why Israel had to construct walls against snipers and fences against infiltrators and even goes on to promote the regularly used – and repeatedly disproved – Hamas propaganda line according to which it only attacks military targets.

“Hamas says the tunnels were part of an active defence aimed at military targets.”

Of course there are plenty of examples of Hamas officials stating that the terror organisation’s policy is to target Israeli civilians – including this one from Fawzi Barhoum.  

“We say to [Israeli Arabs], living in Haifa, Jaffa, Acre, Lod, Ramla, and the Negev: The rockets fired by the Al-Qassam Brigades will not hit you. We know those parts. We are familiar with the geography and with the history. Not a single Arab Palestinian child will be hit by one of our missiles. Our rockets are aimed at the Hebrews, the murderers, the Israelis, the criminals. […] We say to our people in Haifa: The missiles of Al-Qassam will not hit any Arab home. Rest assured, our missiles accurately target the homes of the Israelis and the Zionists.” [ Al-Aqsa TV, July 11, 2014] [emphasis added]

With regard to the cross-border tunnels specifically:

“On four separate occasions throughout the 2014 Gaza Conflict, Hamas militants emerged from covert tunnels onto Israeli territory, within the territory or in close proximity to Israeli residential communities:

  • On July 17, thirteen Hamas militants infiltrated into Israel through a tunnel that opened just 1.5 km from civilian homes in an Israeli community, Kibbutz Sufa. In light of the imminent danger, the residents of 12 nearby residential communities were instructed by the IDF to barricade themselves in their homes for up to five hours.
  • Two days later, on July 19, approximately 10 Hamas militants emerged from a tunnel opening 4.7 km from civilian homes in Kibbutz Be’eri armed with lethal weapons as well as tranquillizers and handcuffs for kidnapping Israelis. The residents of five residential communities near the border with Gaza were instructed by the IDF to barricade themselves in their homes in the hours surrounding the attack.
  • On July 21, approximately 12 Hamas militants infiltrated Israel via an underground tunnel that opened in the territory of Kibbutz Nir Am, just 1.3 km from civilian homes in the Kibbutz and 1.1 km from civilian homes in the town of Sderot, communities bordering Gaza. Militants disguised as IDF soldiers and armed with lethal weapons headed towards Nir Am. To ensure their protection, the IDF instructed the residents of all of the communities in the Otef Aza border region to barricade themselves in their homes for hours.
  • On July 28, nine Hamas militants infiltrated Israeli territory through a tunnel opening in the territory of Kibbutz Nahal Oz, just 2 km from civilian homes in the Kibbutz. The residents of the residential communities of Nahal Oz and Alumim were instructed by the IDF to barricade themselves in their homes in the hours surrounding the attack. Following the attack, three ready-to-use motorcycles and deadly weapons were found inside the tunnel, attesting to the militants’ ability to penetrate deep into Israeli territory and carry out attacks.”

In October 2014 the Hamas newspaper al Risalah interviewed a Hamas commander who said:

“The Al-Qassam Brigades use the tunnels for several military missions, such as: firing rockets on Israeli cities; firing massive barrages of hundreds of mortars on the settlements around the Gaza Strip, and carrying out quality operations behind enemy lines that have resulted in the killing and capture of soldiers and terrorized millions of Israelis…” [emphasis added]

Clearly – when addressing its domestic audience – even Hamas itself does not buy into Jeremy Bowen’s promotion of the notion of exclusively “military targets”.

Bowen continues:

“Israel calls them terror tunnels to back up rocket attacks which Amnesty International says showed a flagrant disregard for civilian lives.”

In fact, as the BBC reported on March 26th, Amnesty International said rather more than that: it described Hamas’ missile attacks as “unlawful attacks” which “amount to war crimes”. Bowen, however, conceals that information from viewers.

Predictably, these filmed reports from Bowen join the two previous ones on the same topic in not only failing to meet the BBC’s commitment to “build a global understanding of international issues”, but actively sabotaging that public purpose as defined in the BBC’s charter. 

Revisiting BBC reporting of civilian deaths in Gaza on July 28th 2014

On page 29 of its 2014 Antisemitic Incidents report the Community Security Trust provided the following information:

“Almost half the incidents recorded in those two months [July and August 2014 – Ed.] – 258, or 48 per cent of the 542 incidents recorded in July and August – made direct or indirect reference to the conflict in Israel and Gaza that began on 8 July 2014 and concluded on 26 August. There was also a daily correlation between the number of antisemitic incidents reported to CST during this period and specific events in the conflict in Israel and Gaza. […] On 28 July, a day when media reported an explosion at the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, CST recorded 22 antisemitic incidents in the UK.” [emphasis added]

With BBC content reaching the vast majority of the UK population and BBC One television news identified by the public as the UK’s most important source of news, the manner in which the BBC reported a story which prompted twenty-two antisemitic  incidents in that country is obviously of interest.Shifa Sahti tweet 1

Here at BBC Watch we have been tracking the BBC’s reporting of that particular story since it first emerged. On July 30th 2014 we noted that – despite information having been provided around an hour after the incidents at Shifa hospital and the Shati refugee camp occurred which showed that the cause of the civilian casualties was missiles fired by a terrorist organization – the BBC’s reporting of the story on July 28th and 29th promoted the Hamas version of the story according to which Israeli missile strikes caused the deaths of some eight children and several adults.Pannell Shati report filmed 28 7

Several days later we noted here that the BBC had produced a report on July 31st (updated on August 4th) titled “Gaza conflict: Disputed deadly incidents” which – despite the above-mentioned information – continued to encourage audiences to believe that Hamas’ version of the story was at least as credible as the information provided by Israel.

‘The BBC’s presentation of that incident, however, places data gathered from sophisticated tracking equipment on a par with the unverified verbal claims of assorted bodies all ultimately run by a proscribed terrorist organization.

“Gaza’s police, Civil Defence Directorate and health officials say Israeli air strikes caused the explosions. According to Al-Jazeera, Hamas denied it had fired any rockets from the area and said it was “categorically an Israeli air strike”. Hamas said it had collected shrapnel from the scene consistent with Israeli munitions, the channel’s website reported.

In a text message quoted by AP news agency, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri described the incident as a “war crime” for which “the occupation” would pay the price.”’Shifa Shati Campbell tweet

On August 12th 2014 we noted that – despite a visit by the BBC’s chief international correspondent to an IDF missile tracking unit – the article defining the July 28th incident as “disputed” still stood.

On December 12th 2014 we noted that the IDF Military Attorney General’s investigation into the July 28th incidents at Shifa hospital and Shati concluded that they were caused by missiles fired by a terrorist organization. Despite that, all the five reports suggesting to BBC audiences that it was reasonable to assume that the deaths of civilians – mostly children – had been caused by Israeli missiles were still available to visitors to the BBC News website with no correction added.  

On March 26th a report appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Amnesty: Hamas rocket attacks amounted to war crimes“.  The article includes the following:AI Shati report

“Amnesty said rocket fire had also endangered Palestinian civilians.

The group said an independent munitions expert had concluded that a Palestinian rocket had exploded next to a supermarket in the al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City on 28 July, killing 13 civilians, 11 of them children aged between seven and 14.”

As we know, the BBC sets great store by any report – accurate or not – produced by Amnesty International. Perhaps then the appearance of this one will at long last prompt the corporation to append clarifications to those five reports – all of which are still accessible in their original inaccurate and misleading form on the BBC News website. It is, after all, in the BBC’s interest to do so in light of the fact that – according to its own statement from June 2014:

“…however long ago our online content was first published, if it’s still available, editorial complaints may legitimately be made regarding it”

The corporation’s continued failure to add appropriate clarifications to those five BBC reports (and any others still available to the public) risks wasting licence fee payer-provided funding on dealing with unnecessary complaints. More seriously, it also continues to provide the agar for antisemitic incidents in Britain. 

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