Missile attack on Ashdod gets fifteen words of BBC coverage

Late on the evening of September 29th around a quarter of a million people in Israel’s fifth largest city, Ashdod, and surrounding areas had to scramble for cover in their safe rooms and air raid shelters as sirens warned them of an incoming missile from the Gaza Strip.

Fortunately, the Iron Dome defence system was able to intercept the Grad missile and no injuries were reported. The attack was claimed by the Gaza Strip based Salafist Jihadist group ‘Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade’ which has also taken responsibility for some of the previous missile attacks on Israeli civilians in recent months. Several hours later, Israel responded to that attack with four strikes on Hamas terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.

BBC correspondents in the region were aware of the incident.

missile 29 9 tweet Shuval

missile 29 9 tweet Rushdi

However, visitors to the BBC News website’s Middle East page on the morning of September 30th did not find any stand-alone reporting concerning that missile attack on sleeping Israeli civilians in a major city well over 20 miles away from the Gaza Strip.

ME HP 30 9 15a

The only mention of the attack comes right at the end of an article on another topic altogether  – “Palestinian flag to be raised at United Nations” – where, in typical ‘last-first reporting’ style, readers are told that:

“Early on Wednesday, Israel carried out a series of air strikes on Gaza, hours after the Israeli Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted a rocket from the enclave.”BBC Arabic 30 9 hp

Visitors to the BBC Arabic website on the morning of September 30th found a headline informing them exclusively of the Israeli response.

Whilst he article itself – “Israel launches raids on several military sites for “Hamas” in Gaza Strip” –  does use the ‘last-first reporting’ technique to inform readers that the Israeli strikes came “in response to a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip”, much of its word count is devoted to description of the locations targeted in Israel’s response.

Civilians in southern Israel have been subjected to three separate incidents of missile attacks from the Gaza Strip throughout the month of September 2015. The BBC’s record on reporting those attacks and the additional ones which have taken place since the end of the summer 2014 hostilities is summarised below.

September 16th 2014 – mortar 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 in English.

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.

July 16th 2015 – missile fire at the Ashkelon area – not reported by the BBC in English.

August 7th 2015 – missile fire at the Kissufim area – not covered by the BBC’s English language services, but Israeli response reported by BBC Arabic.

August 27th 2015 – missile fire at the Eshkol area – not reported by BBC News in English, but Israeli response covered by BBC Arabic.

September 18th 2015 – missile fire on Sderot and Ashkelon – 19 words of reporting in a BBC News article on a different topic. Israeli response reported by BBC Arabic.

September 21st 2015 – missile fire at the Hof Ashkelon area – not reported by BBC News.

September 29th 2015 – missile fire at Ashdod – 15 words of coverage in an article on another topic. Israeli response covered by BBC Arabic.

Clearly BBC audiences are not being provided with the full range of information necessary for them to “[b]uild a global understanding of international issues” and remarkably, not one BBC correspondent has found the time or inclination to venture down to southern Israel during the past year to report on the views and experiences of the civilians living under the constant threat of missile attacks by terrorists located in the Gaza Strip. 

Update: Later amendment to the BBC News website article which originally included fifteen words of coverage of the Grad missile attack on Ashdod September 29th removed that information.  





No BBC coverage of Gaza border shooting incident

Early on the evening of September 2nd a house in the Western Negev agricultural community of Netiv Ha’Asara was hit by bullets fired from the Gaza Strip and two children had a very lucky escape.Netiv Haasara

“One of the bullets shattered the window of a home in the Kibbutz Netiv Ha’asara and hit a television while two children, aged 6 and 9, were watching it.

The other hit a wall in the home just north of the Strip.

Their mother and a baby were also at home at the time. No injuries were reported.

Initial reports indicated the two bullets were stray sniper bullets that originated from a Hamas training camp on the other side of the border, the IDF said.”

Later that night the IDF responded with strikes on the source of the gunfire, which has for several months been a concern for residents of Netiv Ha’Asara.

The BBC did not report on that incident despite clearly being aware that it had taken place.

Netiv haasara incident Abualouf tweet

Similarly, missile fire claimed by Salafists in the Gaza Strip early on the morning of September 1st and an additional incident later the same day did not receive BBC coverage. In both cases the missiles fell short and there were reports that the second missile attack caused injuries to civilians in the Gaza Strip when one of the missiles fell on a house.

Related Articles:

BBC News coverage of terrorism – July 2015

BBC yet again ignores Gaza missile fire – in English

Late on the night of August 26th/27th a missile fired from the Gaza Strip landed in the Eshkol region of the Western Negev. The IDF responded by targeting a Hamas weapons manufacturing facility in the central Gaza Strip. There was no coverage of the attack on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on the morning of August 27th.

ME HP 27 8 15a

This was the second case of missile fire from Gaza hitting Israeli territory since the beginning of this month (at least two additional launches fell short). The prior attack was also ignored by BBC News but – like many of the previous incidents over the past year – the Israeli response to that attack on August 7th did receive Arabic language coverage.BBC Arabic report response missile 26 8

So too was the case with latest incident: whilst there was no English language coverage of the Wednesday night attack despite the BBC clearly being aware that it took place, on the morning of August 27th an article appeared on the BBC Arabic website with a last-first headline which leads with the Israeli response.

The BBC’s record of reporting missile fire from the Gaza Strip since the end of last summer’s conflict can be seen below. Not one of the missiles hitting Israeli territory was reported in English at the time the incident happened. On one occasion the Israeli response to missile attacks was reported in English and on six other occasions it was reported in Arabic.

September 16th 2014 – mortar 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 in English.

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.

July 16th 2015 – missile fire at the Ashkelon areanot reported by the BBC in English.

August 7th 2015 – missile fire at the Kissufim area – not covered by the BBC’s English language services, but Israeli response reported by BBC Arabic.

August 27th 2015 – missile fire at the Eshkol area – not reported by BBC News in English, but Israeli response covered by BBC Arabic.missile 26 8 Rushdi tweet

This now well-established pattern of omission of timely reporting of missile attacks in English, whilst covering the Israeli responses to those attacks in Arabic, is clearly not conducive to meeting the BBC’s pledge to audiences that it will “keep them in touch with what is going on in the world”. 






No BBC coverage of Abbas’ PLO resignation

Even for an organization which serially avoids serious coverage of internal Palestinian affairs, the BBC’s failure to report on a recent story coming out of Ramallah is remarkable – especially as it is obviously aware of events.

Abbas resig PLO Rushdi tweet

As readers are no doubt aware, eighty year-old Mahmoud Abbas presides over three bodies: he is president of the Fatah party, president of the Palestinian Authority (although his elected mandate expired long ago) and chair of the executive committee of the PLO. According to reports disputed by some, Abbas resigned from that latter post on August 22nd, together with several other committee members. What prompted that apparent move is explained in an article by Khaled Abu Toameh:

“Palestinian political analyst Hani al-Masri said that, if true, the resignations are merely an attempt to “reengineer” the PLO and its institutions after more than 20 years of “negligence.”

The entire move, he said, was simply made to replace some members of the Executive Committee.

“These are not real resignations,” Masri explained.

“Those who reportedly submitted their resignations have no intention to leave. They just want to use the resignations to call for an extraordinary meeting of the Palestinian National Council in accordance with Article 14 of the Palestinian Basic Law.””

The Palestinian National Council – the PLO’s legislative body and highest authority – has not held a regular session since 1996. Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are of course not members of the PLO but the former had been slated to join that body according to the ill-fated Hamas-Fatah ‘unity agreement’ of 2014. Khaled Abu Toameh again:

“Hamas responded to the reports [of the resignations]by describing what happened in Ramallah as a “play,” calling the move “invalid,” because it did not take into consideration efforts to achieve reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.

Musa Abu Marzook, a senior Hamas official, said the purported resignations were designed to pave the way for allowing Abbas to have exclusive control over the decision- making process.”

Ghaith al-Omari has more about the broader significance of this story the BBC apparently did not find any interest in covering.


BBC’s Sinai Hamas kidnapping story tells a partial tale

On August 20th BBC correspondents in the Middle East tweeted the following news:

Sinai kidnapping Abualouf

Sinai kidnapping Sommerville

As was stated in the report which appeared later the same day on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Hamas members seized from bus near Egypt-Gaza border“, those “4 Palestinians” later turned out to members of Hamas but the BBC did not clarify that they belong to its Izzadin al Qassam Brigades.

“Masked gunmen have seized four members of the Palestinian Islamic group Hamas from a bus travelling to Cairo from the Gaza Strip, officials have said. […]

The driver was assaulted and the Hamas members captured after their identity documents were checked.”

The incident took place during a rare three-day opening of the Rafah crossing by Egypt. The border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip has been mostly closed for the last two years and the last time it was opened was during Ramadan in June 2015. Nevertheless, the photograph used to illustrate this article is laconically captioned “Egypt occasionally opens the Rafah border crossing with Gaza”.Sinai kidnapping main

Whilst not stating so outright, like the above tweets this report clearly steers readers towards the impression that the four Hamas men travelling on the Cairo airport bound bus were abducted by members of the ISIS affiliate ‘Sinai Province’ which operates in Sinai.

“The road from the Rafah border crossing runs through northern Sinai. The most active militant group in the area is an affiliate of the so-called Islamic State.”

However, as the Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh reports, Hamas appears to believe otherwise.

“Initial reports claimed that the four – members of Hamas’s Izzadin Kassam armed wing – were kidnapped by an extremist Islamist group affiliated with Islamic State.

Sources close to Hamas, however, accused the Egyptian authorities of kidnapping the men, who were among 50 Palestinian passengers who left the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing.

The sources claimed that one of Egypt’s security apparatuses was behind the abduction and held its government fully responsible for their safety.

They said that the four Palestinians were kidnapped about 200 meters from the Egyptian side of the Rafah terminal.”

Whether this incident turns out to indeed be an operation by the Egyptian security services or an attempt by Sinai-based Jihadists to pressure Hamas due to its recent crackdown on Salafists in the Gaza Strip remains to be seen. Clearly though, BBC audiences cannot be said to have been provided with the full range and depth of information they require to understand this developing story when the corporation continues to employ unhelpful statements such as this one:

“Egypt has previously accused Hamas of supporting militants in the Sinai desert, who seek to topple the Cairo government. Hamas has denied that allegation.”

Whilst the issue of the Gaza branch of Hamas’ relations with Sinai-based Jihadists is clearly an important component of this story, it continues to be seriously under-reported by the BBC.

Related Articles:

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

BBC’s Knell amplifies Hamas propaganda, downplays its terror designation

More selective BBC reporting on Middle East Jihadists

Laconic BBC reporting on Egypt’s closure of Rafah crossing



BBC inaccurately promotes Banksy propaganda as a ‘documentary’

The Oxford dictionary defines a documentary as:

“A film or television or radio programme that provides a factual report on a particular subject.”

The key word in that definition is of course ‘factual’: defined as “concerned with what is actually the case”.

So, when the BBC describes something as a documentary, it is in fact telling its audience that the information in that film is true and endorsing its content as fact.Banksy report website

A filmed report which appeared on the BBC News website (as well as on BBC television news programmes) on February 26th was accompanied by a synopsis which opens:

“One of the most famous graffiti artists in the world, Banksy, has turned his attention to the streets and walls of the Gaza Strip for a new documentary.”

On its Youtube channel, BBC News presented the same report under the following title:

“Gaza: Banksy artwork for a new documentary – BBC News”

However, that short video is not a documentary at all, but a puerile exercise in propaganda which propagates existing clichés and politically motivated allegations about the Gaza Strip which are not based in fact.

banksy vid 1

banksy vid 2

Banksy vid 3

(footage from Qalandiya checkpoint – not the Gaza Strip)

banksy vid 4

banksy vid 5

The BBC’s own filmed report on the topic – by Rushdi Abualouf – also promotes inaccurate clichés such as the notion of a “siege” on the Gaza Strip and “occupation” which has not existed there for almost a decade.

“I think, yes, it’s clear that the watchtower means the siege and means occupation.”

The BBC was far from the only media organization to provide PR for Banksy’s propaganda stunt, as our colleagues at CAMERA have documented. However, other media outlets are not bound by editorial guidelines which state, inter alia:

“We must not knowingly and materially mislead our audiences with our content.”

By presenting a piece of agitprop as a “documentary” the BBC has, however, done exactly that. 

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

At around 11 a.m. on December 24th a sniper in the Gaza Strip opened fire at IDF troops on the Israeli side of the border fence near Kissufim and a soldier from the Bedouin Desert Reconnaissance Battalion sustained severe chest injuries.

IDF forces responded to the attack.

“Palestinians said that the commander of Hamas’s surveillance unit in the area was killed in the IDF response, Israel Radio reported. Hamas fighters were abandoning positions across the Strip, the report said.

Medical sources said Tayseer al-Ismary, 33, died after being hit by a bullet fired by the IDF, while Hamas sources confirmed he was a member of the movement’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.”

Despite BBC staff being aware of this latest breach of the August ceasefire agreement by Palestinian terrorists, it was not reported on the BBC News website either on December 24th or 25th.

Kissufim attack Shuval tweet

The story did, however, appear on BBC Arabic television and on the BBC Arabic website where Rushdi Abualouf’s filmed report was presented under the obviously problematic ‘last-first’ title “Palestinian shot dead by Israeli army near Khan Younis”.

Kissufim attack BBC Arabic report


BBC’s Gaza correspondent tells WS listeners civilian kibbutz is ‘military outpost’

Listeners to the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Outside Source’ on July 2nd heard presenter Ros Atkins speaking to the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly and the BBC Gaza office’s Rushdi Abualouf about the murder of Muhammed Abu Khdeir from Shuafat. That segment of the programme is available here.OS logo

Connolly begins by continuing the BBC’s across the board promotion of the incident to audiences as having been perpetrated by Israeli Jews, even though no proof of that speculation has so far come to light, oddly defining it as “sectarian”. Listeners will also gain some insight into the interesting way in which Connolly – and presumably his colleagues – have interpreted the Israeli prime minister’s condemnation of the murder.

Connolly: “We know very little [unintelligible] person about Muhammed Abu Khdeir yet and that’s one of the tragedies of this kind of sectarian murder of course – if that’s what it turns out to be – that he wasn’t killed because of who he was; merely as a matter of his ethnic identity. As I say, the real fear here is that this is a sectarian tit-for-tat killing. This is all still evolving – the Israeli police aren’t saying that clearly yet – but when you look at the statement from Benjamin Netanyahu, which I would think we would translate that as being a despicable murder, it’s very, very strong language from Benjamin Netanyahu. He was challenged by the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to come out and condemn it and has done so in the strongest possible terms, so I think the fact that Netanyahu was talking in those terms shows you that Israelis as well as Palestinians assume this to be a sectarian killing and Benjamin Netanyahu, who has already made it known that he’s calling on the country’s security minister Yitzhak Aharonovich to catch the killers of this Palestinian teenager, that is all to do with what you quoted Netanyahu saying there; that the view of the Israeli government of course is that this is a law-based state and that means everybody has to observe the law. So Muhammed Abu Khdeir; as I say we will know about the young man – his personality, his life – perhaps after his funeral. But for the moment the tragedy – his death – is surrounded in this kind of fog of sectarian hatred.”

Connolly then goes on to provide listeners with an interesting view of his understanding of why the residents of a neighbourhood of Jerusalem are rioting against the very security forces investigating the youth’s murder and trying to uncover the facts about the case.

“Well it’s inevitable when you have a large-scale police operation like this – as you’re going to have after an abduction or a murder; a big police inquiry – that is going to raise tensions in an Arab area of East Jerusalem like Shuafat or Beit Hanina. They’re right beside each other, I should say. So, the police operations will be resented by the Palestinians because of course in East Jerusalem – an Arab area annexed by Israel as Yolande said after it was captured in the war of 1967 – Israeli operations there will always be resented by Palestinians. The potential is always there for those kind of clashes between the Israeli police on the other as the investigation gets underway. But behind those  public order disturbances, which naturally attract our attention, a murder inquiry is underway and I would say there’ll be huge political pressure on the Israeli police to catch quickly the killers of Muhammed Abu Khdeir to demonstrate to the Palestinian people, to demonstrate to the wider world, that Israel takes his killing as seriously as it took the killing of those three teenagers whose abduction dominated the headlines here for three weeks.”

Atkins then moves on to speak with Rushdi Abualouf, who promotes a number of inaccurate points to listeners.

“Let’s bring in the BBC’s Rushdi Abualouf live with us from Gaza City. Well Rushdi, we spoke yesterday on ‘Outside Source’. You described air strikes. What’s happened in the 24 jours since?

Abualouf: “There was only one more airstrike on Gaza, targeting a place where militants did launch…eh…three more rockets toward the south of Israel. It’s been more, like, relatively quiet since the big…eh…wave of airstrikes – like 34 airstrikes is been targeting Hamas institutions in the Gaza Strip got hit shortly after the discovering of the three bodies – the three Israeli teenager bodies in the West Bank.”

Abualouf is clearly trying to promote the notion of linkage between the discovery of the bodies of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel and Gil-ad Sha’ar on June 30th and the airstrikes carried out in the early hours of July 1st. However, that is not the case: those airstrikes came in response to the firing of over eighteen missiles at Israeli civilian communities in southern Israel by terrorists in the Gaza Strip. Abualouf then goes on to promote another falsehood.

“This morning the militants fired a couple of mortars towards one of the Israeli military outpost close to the border between Gaza and Israel and people are expecting Israel might, like, do more strikes tonight if the rockets from Gaza continue to fall in the south of Israel.”

In the incident Abualouf describes, nine mortars – not “a couple” – were fired at Kibbutz Kerem Shalom – a civilian agricultural community in the Eshkol region: not a “military outpost” as Abualouf inaccurately informs BBC audiences.

Atkins then asks Abualouf about the reaction to the murder of Muhammed Abu Khdeir in the Gaza Strip.

Abualouf: “”There was some sense of anger. We have talked to the people in Gaza about the incident. Some of them calling for revenge. Some of the militant group issued a statement, like, condemning and calling for revenge and they…in the past we have seen, like, militants from Gaza responding and firing rockets when something like this happening even in the West Bank or in East Jerusalem because they believe that they should fight to get the whole..the historical Palestine – which now called Israel – in their hands. The people do not believe in the peace process or the ’67 border. They normally insist to fire rockets when there is something happening any part in the Palestinian territory or East Jerusalem.”

There is of course no such thing as a “’67 border” – only Armistice lines from 1949 which, as we have clarified here on numerous occasions, are specifically stated not to be borders.

No effort was made by Atkins to correct that inaccurate statement by Rushdi Abualouf or any of the other misleading and inaccurate information he provided to BBC audiences. 



Context-free Tweet from BBC’s Gaza correspondent

Here is a Tweet sent by the BBC’s Gaza correspondent Rushdi Abualouf on the night of June 11th.

Abualouf tweet 11 6

The context of that Tweet – which Abualouf did not bother to provide to his followers – is that the man killed was involved in terror attacks against Israeli civilians.

Mohamed Awwar (also spelt in some reports Alaawor, Alarur or Awaer) was a member of a Salafist Jihadist terror cell which was responsible for the April 21st missile attacks on Sderot among others. He was also employed as a Hamas policeman and at his funeral, both Hamas and Global Jihad flags were used to wrap the body.

Hamas & Salafist flags funeral

Below is the ‘martydom’ poster produced by the PRC’s Al Nasser Salah al Deen Brigades.

Poster Alarur

A photograph of Awwar was also promoted on a Fatah Facebook account.

Fatah FB

At around 9 a.m. on the same day – June 11th – a missile fired from the Gaza Strip landed in the Eshkol region. Yet again, that incident was not reported by the BBC despite the fact that the new PA unity government is – as of June 2nd – now responsible under existing agreements for the prevention of terror attacks from the Gaza Strip. 

BBC’s Abualouf promotes Hamas “fishermen” PR line

Here is a Tweet sent by the BBC Gaza office’s Rushdi Abualouf on March 26th.

Tweet Abualouf fishermen

However, beyond the unqualified amplification of a statement made by a Hamas spokesman, Abualouf’s Twitter followers were not informed of the actual facts behind this story.

“Israeli naval troops in the Mediterranean Sea opened fire in the early hours of Wednesday morning on suspected Palestinian smugglers travelling in two boats from Sinai to the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians said that four people on the boats had been wounded. […]

The incident occurred at around 3 am, several hundred meters from the Gaza coastline.  

Soldiers from a nearby naval base were patrolling the area when they noticed two small boats making their way back from the Sinai coast to southern Gaza. The IDF is still unclear as to what the boats were carrying, but the secondary explosions have raised suspicions that the two vessels were carrying weapons.”

During the incident, the naval forces also came under fire from gunmen situated near Rafah:

“As the Navy was escorting the boats in question back to the Gaza shore, gunmen on the coast opened fire on the Israeli forces.”

Another similar incident took place later on the same day.

As has previously been documented here:

“Under the terms of the Oslo Accords – willingly signed by the representatives of the Palestinian people – Gaza’s coastal waters remained under Israeli responsibility. The agreements divide those waters into three different zones named K,L and M.

“Subject to the provisions of this paragraph, Zones K and M will be closed areas, in which navigation will be restricted to activity of the Israel Navy.”

Zone L was designated for “fishing, recreation and economic activities”, subject to specific provisions, including the following:

“As part of Israel’s responsibilities for safety and security within the three Maritime Activity Zones, Israel Navy vessels may sail throughout these zones, as necessary and without limitations, and may take any measures necessary against vessels suspected of being used for terrorist activities or for smuggling arms, ammunition, drugs, goods, or for any other illegal activity. The Palestinian Police will be notified of such actions, and the ensuing procedures will be coordinated through the MC.” [Emphasis added]

Following the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the November 15th 2005 agreement signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (Agreed documents on movement and access from and to Gaza) made no change to the above provisions.” 

In other words, Israeli counter-smuggling measures along the Gaza Strip coast are within the terms of an agreement signed with the internationally recognised representative of the Palestinian people – the Palestinian Authority.

Rather than being mere “fishing boats” as reported by Hamas and the BBC’s Gaza correspondent, the vessels involved in this incident appear to have been engaged in smuggling – likely as an alternative to smuggling via the cross-border tunnels in Rafah which have been rendered inoperative by the Egyptian army in recent months.

Given that the closure of those smuggling tunnels has resulted in financial crisis for Hamas with, by its own admission, 40% of its revenue (other observers put the figure much higher) previously having come from taxes imposed on goods smuggled through those tunnels, it would hardly be unexpected to see the development of an alternative sea route. It would also not be surprising to see a Hamas spokesman promoting the public relations line of smugglers caught in the act as innocent “fishermen” for Western consumption.

It should, however, be unacceptable for a BBC employee to unquestioningly amplify the PR of a terrorist organization with a vested interest in smuggling operations involving both taxable goods and weapons.