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.

 

 

 

At long last: a BBC report on previously ignored aspects of ME talks

Over the last nine months, the BBC News website’s coverage of the subject of the currently ongoing negotiations between Israel and the PLO under American tutelage has for the most part ignored the very significant issues of the rejectionist factions on the Rushdi Abualouf artPalestinian political spectrum and the question of the legitimacy and workability of any deal reached and signed by a Palestinian president whose term of office expired years ago.  

Obviously, understanding of such issues is crucial for BBC audiences if they are to be able to fully comprehend events and take part in informed discussion on the topic – as the BBC pledges they will be able to do in its Public Purposes outline.

Given that, it was especially good to see an effort finally being made to repair previous omission of coverage of those vital topics in an article by Rushdi Abualouf of the BBC’s Gaza office which appeared in the Features & Analysis section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page on March 17th under the title “Gaza’s Hamas government critical as Abbas meets Obama“.

The article could have been even further enhanced had it informed readers that “the war that followed Israel’s creation in 1948″ was the result of the decision by five Arab countries, along with assorted irregulars and foreign volunteers, to attack the nascent Jewish state. It could also have been considerably more frank and informative with regard to what Abualouf euphemistically terms as Hamas having “ousted forces loyal to Mr Abbas in Gaza and set up a rival government”. And of course the description of the PFLP as one of the Palestinian political scene’s “leftist movements” clearly breaches BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy by concealing that organisation’s terror designation by the US, Canada, Israel and the European Union.

But all in all, Abualouf makes a decent effort to provide some of the background information of which BBC audiences have been deprived for too long.  Let’s hope this is not just one long-awaited swallow. 

BBC News amplifies Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s PR line on attacks against Israeli civilians

On the afternoon of March 12th 2013 terrorist organisations including the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad launched a heavy barrage of missile and mortar attacks on towns and villages in southern Israel. Of over sixty missiles fired from the Gaza Strip within the first few hours (some from urban areas as can be seen in this video), at least eight landed in populated areas and several others were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system. 

A couple of hours after the attacks began a report appeared on the BBC News website under the title “Gaza militants fire rocket barrage at southern Israel“. Weds missile attacks

The report opens with more use of the euphemistic term “militants” to describe terrorists deliberately targeting civilians with military-grade weapons and – perhaps through force of habit – it is liberally peppered with the standard BBC caveat “Israel says”, despite the fact that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad was both quick and eager to take responsibility for the missile fire. Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade also put out statements, including one claiming four missile attacks on Sderot.

“Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip have fired more than 30 rockets at southern Israel, Israeli officials say.

An Israeli military spokesman said eight hit urban civilian areas and that a number of others were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system.

It was the heaviest barrage since the November 2012 conflict in Gaza ended.

The military wing of Islamic Jihad said it had fired the rockets in retaliation for Tuesday’s killing of three of its militants in an Israeli air strike.”

Some BBC staff also amplified via Twitter the PIJ’s PR line according to which the dozens of indiscriminate attacks on Israeli civilians came in “response” to the incident the previous day in which a PIJ cell attacked a routine Israeli patrol engaged in searching for IEDs on the border with mortar fire and the IDF responded.

Weds missile attacks Abualouf tweet

Weds missile attacks Shuval tweet

 That faux linkage, along with other PIJ propaganda, was further promoted later on in the BBC’s report and audiences were encouraged to view the incident in terms of equivalent conflicting narratives.

“A statement by Islamic Jihad’s military wing, the al-Quds Brigades, said the barrage was its “initial response” to the “crimes of the Zionist enemy in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip”, the latest of which was the “assassination” of three of its members on Tuesday.

The Israeli military said it had targeted the militants after they fired mortars at its troops. The al-Quds Brigades said the Israeli soldiers had crossed into the Gaza Strip.”

However, a video  released by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad the previous day is described by the terrorist organization itself as showing the mortar attack on “the enemy forces” carried out by the three members of the PIJ’s Al Quds brigade on March 11th

Weds missile attacks PIJ vid frm 11 3

Clearly the BBC’s report is lacking in accuracy in that it leads readers to mistakenly believe that only the IDF “said” that mortars had been fired at Israeli soldiers, whereas in fact the PIJ itself had already admitted that it carried out such an attack and the IDF had also filmed them in the act.

Towards the end of the report we find the following statement:

“Islamic Jihad and other groups have sporadically fired rockets and mortars at Israel since the 2012 conflict ended, while the Hamas movement that governs Gaza has refrained from doing so.” [emphasis added]

Notably, similar statements (see below) made in other recent BBC reports were somewhat more cautiously phrased and no explanation is given for the change in the BBC’s tone.

Hamas denies that it has fired any rockets since a 2012 ceasefire agreement with Israel, with other militant groups in the Gaza Strip claiming responsibility.” [emphasis added]

The report closes with the following statement:

“However, an Israeli military statement said it held Hamas “responsible for all attacks emanating” from the coastal territory.”

The BBC fails to inform audiences that the terms of the November 2012 ceasefire included the clause:

“All Palestinian factions shall stop all hostilities from the Gaza Strip against Israel including rocket attacks and all attacks along the border.”

Seeing as Hamas – as the BBC frequently reminds its audiences – governs the Gaza Strip, it is clear that prevention of missile fire and all other types of terror attacks fall under its responsibility. Despite that above clause, a later version of the BBC’s report unquestioningly quoted a PIJ spokesman as saying the following:

“The rocket fired today came in response to the occupation aggression against us and does not mean the collapse of the ceasefire agreement [with Israel].”

No clarification of the absurdity of that statement was provided to BBC audiences.

At the time of writing Israeli forces have begun counter-attacks on terror sites and installations in the Gaza Strip and we will update as necessary. 

BBC’s Gaza journalist Tweets PA propaganda story

Here’s a tweet sent by Rushdi Abualouf of the BBC’s Gaza office on February 12th:

Aboualouf tweet Gaza patients

Abualouf’s tweet relates to a story put out the same morning by the AFP news-agency – apparently via its team in the Gaza Strip. The backbone of the story (which can be seen here) relies on statements made by anonymous Palestinian Authority officials.

” “The Israelis have prevented 70 sick people who need to go to Israeli hospitals from crossing Erez because it said ‘State of Palestine’ on their transfer request,” said a senior Palestinian official at the Gaza district coordination office.

“It was only this week that they informed me personally that Israel refuses to deal with this document,” he told AFP.

“This is a political decision from the Israelis to exert pressure in the negotiations,” he charged, referring to US-led peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. [….]

A senior official from the Ramallah-based health ministry, who is in charge of external treatment requests, confirmed it was the first time since mid-December that patients had been refused a permit on the basis of the logo on the medical transfer request.

“The Israeli side informed us that following a decision from COGAT, they won’t give any permits to any patients with that logo,” he said.”

The AFP article did not include an Israeli response to the claims. 

So what is the real background to the story? Blogger Elder of Ziyon contacted COGAT to find out.

“For several months, the Palestinian Authority has been sending requests on the new letterhead. Every single time, COGAT rejected it, and each time they were resubmitted with the Palestinian Authority letterhead – and approved. This was not new, and the PA knows very well that this was the case.

As recently as Sunday, several patients whose requests were on the new stationery were rejected, and then the PA re-faxed the request the old way and they were approved.

Today’s story is a propaganda ambush. Some 50-70 patients (apparently non-life threatening) were submitted on the new stationery at once, an unusually high number. As has been the case for months, they were rejected. But this time the story was leaked to the media. (There was a Haaretz story about this in January with only one patient, but it didn’t get much coverage. Much better to use 50 or 70 if you want Reuters and AFP to take notice.)

Existing agreements are between Israel and the PA, not the fictitious “State of Palestine.” It is obvious that the PA is trying to embarrass Israel and will happily use Gaza patients as a means to do so. It is equally obvious that the “State of Palestine” is a final status issue, and that Israel cannot act otherwise without jeopardizing its negotiating position.

As usual, instead of dealing with Israel directly, the PLO is passive aggressively using the media to demonize (and weaken) Israel on its behalf. And, as usual, the media is happy to play its part in this charade.”

And that seems to include a certain BBC journalist in Gaza. 

The BBC’s guidelines on the use of social media (which includes Twitter) state:

“However, when someone clearly identifies their association with the BBC and/or discusses their work, they are expected to behave appropriately when on the Internet, and in ways that are consistent with the BBC’s editorial values and policies.” [emphasis added] Rushdi Abualouf Google plus pics 2

And:

“The BBC’s reputation for impartiality and objectivity is crucial. The public must be able to trust the integrity of BBC programmes and services. Our audiences need to be confident that the outside activities of our presenters, programme makers and other staff do not undermine the BBC’s impartiality or reputation and that editorial decisions are not perceived to be influenced by any commercial or personal interests.”

And:

“Even if they are not identified as a BBC staff member, editorial staff and staff in politically sensitive areas should not be seen to support any political party or cause.”  Rushdi Abualouf Google plus pics 1

And:

“Impartiality is a particular concern for those working in News and Current Affairs. Nothing should appear on their personal blogs or microblogs which undermines the integrity or impartiality of the BBC. “

The promotion of a half-story clearly intended solely to advance PA propaganda is obviously not in line with the criteria laid down in those guidelines.

By the way, the photographs on the right appear – with public viewing settings – on Rushdi Abualouf’s Google+ account. Those are of course Fatah flags and the pictures were taken on January 1st which – coincidentally or not – is ‘Fatah Day’: the anniversary of its first terror attack on Israel.  

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That renowned BBC accuracy and impartiality…

 

 

That renowned BBC accuracy and impartiality…

On November 19th this Tweet was sent by BBC Gaza office employee Rushdi Abualouf:

Tweet Abualouf explosion Gaza

However, no such “air raid” took place. The injuries cited by Abualouf – and one fatality - were caused by an accidental explosion and had nothing at all to do with Israel. 

maan explosions gaza 19 11

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Another thinly-veiled BBC accusation of war crimes

On November 10th the ‘Features & Analysis’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page included an article by Rushdi Abualouf about the Tamarod movement in the Gaza Strip.

Gaza Tamarod art 1

Part-way down the article, BBC audiences are told that:

“On Facebook, it [Tamarod] accuses the Hamas government of failing “to provide a decent life” by imposing heavy taxes on residents exhausted by Israel’s blockade that was tightened after it came to power.

Israel says its measures are for security reasons, while human rights groups have said it amounts to collective punishment.”

Gaza Tamarod art 2

In other words, Abualouf is claiming that what he terms “Israel’s blockade” was “tightened” after – and because – Hamas “came to power” in June 2007.

Of course Abualouf’s euphemistic language conceals the fact that Hamas’ hold on power actually came about as the result of a violent coup against the Palestinian Authority which included the deaths, injury and torture of hundreds of their fellow Palestinians.

Following that violent coup, both Egypt (which is completely airbrushed from Abualouf’s account) and Israel largely closed their borders with the Gaza Strip due to the fact that the body charged with joint security arrangements under the terms of the Oslo Accords – the Palestinian Authority – no longer exercised any control over the territory. Three months later – on September 19th 2007 – in light of the escalation of terrorist rocket attacks against Israeli civilians originating in the now Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip (which Abualouf also conveniently neglects to mention), the Israeli government declared Gaza to be ‘hostile territory’.

Abualouf then resorts to the standard BBC tactic of insinuation with his use of the phrase “Israel says its measures are for security reasons”, implying to readers that 3,000 rockets and mortars deliberately launched at Israeli civilians in the first year alone after the Hamas coup (and thousands more since) are perhaps not the real motive for Israel’s exercising of control over its border with a territory in the grip a terrorist organization.

Finally, Abualouf presents a thinly veiled insinuation of a war crime having been carried out by Israel by using third party characterisations of the partial blockade as ‘collective punishment’. Naturally, he refrains from naming the “human rights groups” he ostensibly cites or from informing BBC audiences of the political motivations behind those unproven accusations. 

This is not the first time that the BBC has published this insinuation using the buffer of third party claims: it also did so back in January of this year and our observations from the time are also relevant to this latest article from Abualouf.

“The fact that in this article a BBC writer repeats and propagates a politically motivated unfounded and unproven allegation of a very serious nature without the slightest bit of evidence is indication of a very grave impartiality failure indeed. “

Accuracy and impartiality failures in BBC report on incident in Kabatiya

On the morning of October 31st 2013 the BBC News website’s Middle East page carried a report titled “Palestinian killed in West Bank clashes“.

BBC article Qabatiya

The report – which is based entirely on claims made by Palestinian sources – leaves readers with the definite impression that Ahmed Tazaza was killed by Israeli forces during an operation in the town of Kabatiya (also Qabatiya), south of Jenin.

“A Palestinian has been shot dead during clashes after Israeli forces mounted an arrest raid in the northern West Bank, Palestinian sources say.

Medics said Ahmed Imad Tazaza, 22, was killed in the confrontation in Qabatiya. The Israeli military said it was looking into the reports.

Dozens of Palestinians had thrown rocks at the troops, who opened fire, Palestinian and Israeli sources said.

Several Palestinians have been killed in such clashes in recent weeks.”

However, as emerged later in the day, that version of events is in fact far from proven and yet despite that, the report remains intact on the BBC website.

HP Fri am

According to Ynet, Tazaza may have been killed in a criminal incident before Israeli forces arrived in Kabatiya.

“From checks carried out by the Palestinian security forces it emerges that Tazaza was taken to one of the medical centres in Jenin at about 4 a.m., critically wounded by gunfire. An hour later he was transferred to the government hospital in the town and there pronounced dead.

The IDF claims that the riots in the town [Kabatiya] only began at 5 a.m., at least an hour after Tazaza arrived at the medical centre.

Additional support for the possibility according to which the young man was not killed by IDF fire comes from his family’s statement that they refuse outright to agree to a post-mortem and their request to bring his funeral forward.” [translation: BBC Watch]

The Times of Israel reports:

“Tazata [Tazaza] had been injured and was already hospitalized at the time of the confrontation between Israeli troops and a group of Palestinian stone-throwers, during which he was reported by Palestinian media to have been killed, according to Israel Radio, which cited anonymous IDF sources.”

Channel 2 also reports that Tazaza was killed in a criminal incident.

BBC Watch contacted the IDF Spokesperson’s office and was informed that the incident is still under review and that during the IDF’s operation in Kabatiya, some fifty local residents engaged in violent rioting which included the targeting of soldiers with rocks and improvised explosive devices. Four of the rioters were arrested.

Both the accuracy and impartiality of this report were clearly compromised by the haste to publish unverified hearsay originating from particular sources and the obvious tendency to jump to conclusions based on the preconceived ideas of some BBC staff. 

Tweet Abualouf Kabatiya

The report is further compromised by the fact that as additional information emerged suggesting that the circumstances surrounding the incident may not be as clear-cut as the BBC’s report suggests, the article was not updated to reflect that fact.

Obviously, BBC News website editors need to urgently clarify and confirm the details of this story and to inform readers accordingly in a prominent correction. Inaccurate Tweets also need to be corrected in a clear manner. Editors may also care to amend the less than accurate map appearing in the report.

BBC map Qabatiya

Kabatiya

 

BBC’s ‘last-first’ reporting keeps audience attention focused on Israel

Readers of the BBC News website’s Middle East page were informed on June 24th 2013 that “Israel hits back after Gaza rockets”. 

HP 24 6

The link leads to a report with the same ‘last-first’ headline in which the chronological events of the story are reversed, the earlier version of which is shown below. 

Gaza missiles Sun night

That ‘last-first’ theme is repeated in the report’s opening paragraph:

“Israeli warplanes have attacked targets in the Gaza Strip after missiles were fired into southern Israel late on Sunday night.”

In both that and the subsequent paragraph, readers learn that rockets “were fired” by unnamed parties, but no details are provided about where they landed or what their targets were, as though the fact that “no damage or injury was reported” negates the necessity to inform BBC audiences that their targets were actually sleeping civilians in several communities including Ashkelon, Netivot, the Bedouin town of Rahat and in the regional councils Bnei Shimon and Lahavim. 

“At least six rockets were fired from northern Gaza, but no damage or injury was reported.”

Bnei Shimon r.c.

In the seventh of ten paragraphs the report notes that:

“Sirens blared in a number of areas of southern Israel and Israeli media said two of the missiles, thought to be Grad rockets, were intercepted by the Iron Dome system in the Ashkelon area.”

In contrast to the use of the vague term “were fired”, we find that Israeli actions are described in very different terms and their consequences are reported. [emphasis added] 

“Israeli warplanes have attacked targets in the Gaza Strip after missiles were fired into southern Israel late on Sunday night.”

“Hours later, Israeli aircraft hit three areas, a BBC reporter said.”

“Israeli planes launched an attack in the early hours of Monday. BBC reporter Rushdi Abualouf said they hit three targets belonging to both Hamas and Islamic Jihad and there were no reports of casualties.”

“The first strike targeted an Islamic Jihad training facility in Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip.

The other attacks were on security compounds for the Hamas-run government, our correspondent said.”

So, whilst missiles “were fired” from the Gaza Strip, only once (in paragraph six) are those actions described as an “attack” and readers are not told that they “hit” anything or “targeted” anyone.

Three paragraphs of the report are dedicated to speculations regarding the ‘reasons’ for the missile fire. It is not made clear to readers that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad is an Iranian-backed terrorist organization proscribed by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Canada and Israel. Instead, the BBC uses the misleading and euphemistic term “militant group”.  

“The reason for the flare-up is unclear but sources blame tension in Gaza after an Islamic Jihad leader was killed by Hamas police on Saturday.

Raed Qassim Jundeyeih, 32, died after he was shot during a gun battle involving police and members of his family. Unconfirmed reports said he was a commander of the militant group’s military wing, the Al-Quds brigades.

Islamic Jihad were believed to have been behind Sunday night’s rocket attack on Israel, which came after a period of relative calm.”

Having totally ignored the fact that less than only five days previously the residents of Ashkelon were also woken in the early hours of the morning by sirens warning of incoming missiles from the Gaza Strip, the BBC is able to promote the notion of “a period of relative calm”.

Some seven hours after the publication of that report an amended version was posted at the same URL in which the problematic aspects of the original version are repeated. 

missile attacks sun night version 2

Significantly, the BBC chooses not to trouble its audiences with the question of why the sleeping residents of Israeli towns should come under missile attack due to a confrontation between two terrorist organisations in a territory from which Israel disengaged eight years ago. 

“Islamic Jihad today suspended its contacts with Hamas after police opened fire yesterday on one of the commanders of the Al-Quds Brigades, Raed Jundiya, 38, inflicting serious injuries from which he died this morning,” AFP quoted a leader of the extremist group as saying.

“The murder of Raed Jundiya represents a major service to the Zionist enemy, provided completely free of charge, whether deliberately or not, because the martyr was, as everybody knows, on the top of the Zionists’ hit-list as he headed the Brigades’ rocket unit,” he said.”

Instead, in line with its prevailing narrative, the BBC focuses its audiences’ attentions on the Israeli response to those attacks on its civilians through the use of omission, language and ‘last-first’ reporting. 

Related articles:

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More ‘last-first’ BBC reporting from southern Israel and the Gaza Strip

BBC resumes ‘last-first’ reporting from Gaza area – and then changes tack