Victim of Golan Heights terror attack unnamed in BBC News report

On the afternoon of June 22nd the BBC News website published a report on its Middle East page under the rather clumsy title “Israeli teen ‘killed by Syria firing’ in Golan Heights“.Golan incident main

The report states:

“A 15-year-old boy has been killed in the occupied Golan Heights by firing from Syria, Israel says.

Officials say he was with his father in a truck which took a “direct hit”.

The father and another contract worker are reported to have been injured. They were was [sic] carrying out maintenance work on the border fence,

It is unclear whether Syrian rebels or government forces were behind the incident, but Israel responded with tank shelling into Syria.

The exchange took place in the Tel Hazeka area, near the Quneitra crossing, the Israeli defence ministry said.”

Although details of the event were released for publication around half an hour after this BBC report was published, it has so far not been updated to include the victim’s name or correct age. In fact, Mohammed Karakra was thirteen years old; not 15 as initially reported and he had accompanied his father to work on the first day of his summer holidays from school. Mohammed’s father – from the village of ‘Arrabe in the Galilee – is part of a team of contractors working on the border fence in the Golan Heights on behalf of the Ministry of Defence.  He was seriously injured and is currently hospitalized in Haifa. Two other workers were also injured in the cross-border terror attack which took place at around 11 a.m. near Tel Hezeka, in the vicinity of the community of Alonei HaBashan.

Mohammed Karakra photo credit: alarab.net

Mohammed Karakra
photo credit: alarab.net

The BBC report continues:

“It is the first time an Israeli has been killed by firing from Syria in the Golan Heights since the Syrian conflict began in 2011.

Israeli military spokesman, Lt Col Peter Lerner, told AP news agency the firing from Syria was “clearly intentional” but it was unclear whether it was the result of mortar fire, a roadside bomb or shelling.”

The Israeli media reports that it is now believed that an anti-tank missile was fired at Mohammed’s father’s vehicle. Whilst the vicinity on the other side of the border where the incident took place is currently controlled by anti-regime forces, it is not yet known which of numerous organisations operating in the area – which include Hizballah – is responsible for the attack.

The BBC article then goes on to present readers with its standard insert to any report relating to the Golan Heights.

“The Golan Heights, a rocky plateau in south-western Syria, was seized by Israel from Syria in the closing stages of the 1967 Middle East War.

The two countries remain technically in a state of war, and UN observers are deployed to monitor a 70km-long (44-mile) demilitarised zone.”

Of course the BBC has done little to keep audiences informed of changes to UNDOF’s operations in recent months or of the full scale of cross-border incidents in the area. 

BBC’s ‘Newsnight’ moves Syria; editor ‘too tired’ to notice

Here is a map which appeared on TV screens throughout the UK during the June 12th edition of BBC Two’s ‘Newsnight‘.

Newsnight map

Now of course the BBC regularly tells its funding public how committed it is to rigorous standards of accuracy, but apparently those standards become somewhat more flaccid when the editor is feeling a tad dozy on the job.

Katz tweet

On the bright side; Ian Katz is the editor of a TV show – not a neurosurgeon or a pilot.   

 

 

Reader complaint prompts correction to BBC portrayal of Israel’s stance on Syria intervention

h/t JD

Late last August, when the US president’s ‘red lines’ on chemical weapons use by Bashar al Assad’s forces seemed to be about to lead to military intervention in Syria, the BBC News website produced a backgrounder titled “Syria crisis: Where key countries stand”.

As we noted here at the time, that article misrepresented Israel’s stance on the issue of military intervention in Syria, with the text of the original version reading as follows:

August Syria art orig

That text was subsequently amended, but inaccuracies remained:

Syria art version 2

The original article also included a misleading map which presented Israel as one of the countries “for” intervention in Syria.

Syria art map

A complaint regarding that map was made by Mr Joe Davidoff in September 2013 on the grounds that it misrepresented Israel’s stance. The reply Mr Davidoff received from the BBC News website’s Middle East desk informed him that:

“We have reviewed the item in question and agree that the map did not accurately reflect the various countries’ positions on military intervention in Syria. We have now replaced the map with a photograph.”

And indeed, that erroneous map no longer appears in the article as it currently stands on the BBC News website, with the entry for Israel having been amended yet again to read as follows:

Syria article current version

However, no footnote is appended to this article to clarify that an amendment has been made or that its previous versions “did not accurately reflect” Israel’s stance on the issue and the continuing lack of a dedicated corrections page on the BBC News website obviously means that audience members who read the original version of the report have no way of knowing that the information provided in it was misleading.

One must of course wonder how that original misleading portrayal of Israel’s stance on the topic of military intervention in Syria made it through the BBC editorial process in the first place, considering that only two weeks after the initial publication and following Mr Davidoff’s complaint, it was deemed inaccurate. 

 

Newsnight introduction of Asim Qureshi again breaches BBC editorial guidelines

Earlier this month we noted yet more breaches of the BBC editorial guidelines which require interviewees and guests on BBC programmes to be adequately introduced so that audiences can determine “when contributors are associated with a particular viewpoint”.  

We also noted that in October of last year, the BBC’s Editorial Standard’s Committee stated that it had reminded BBC News producers of “the importance of clearly summarising the standpoint of any interviewee where it is relevant and not immediately clear from their position or the title of their organization”.

That earlier post related to two occasions on which Asim Qureshi of ‘Cage’ had been inadequately introduced to audiences before being interviewed on the issue of British Muslims travelling to Syria to fight with insurgent groups.

The same subject came under discussion on the May 20th edition of BBC Two’s ‘Newsnight’ under the heading “Why shouldn’t British Muslims fight in Syria?” and the programme can be seen by readers in the UK for a limited period of time here. The specific segment can also be viewed here.

Asim Qureshi was again one of the guests invited by ‘Newsnight’ to discuss the topic and once more presenter Jeremy Paxman’s introduction of him did nothing to fully and appropriately inform audiences of Qureshi’s “standpoint” on this subject.

“We’re also joined by Asim Qureshi from the campaign group Cage which works on behalf of those accused of terrorist offences.”

Notably, Jeremy Paxman’s introduction of the item itself included a comparison between British Muslims fighting with Al Qaeda-linked groups in Syria and British Jews who enlist with the IDF.

“Let’s take first off this comparison there that was raised at the end of that report. People from this country went and fought in the Spanish civil war and many people felt rather fondly and proudly towards them. People from this country have gone off and fought with, for example, the Israel Defence Forces. In what respect is this particular offence of going to Syria an acute matter which deserves being sent to jail for?”

Of course Paxman neglects to clarify that British-born IDF soldiers would have to have either permanent or temporary residency status in Israel before joining the army of that sovereign country.

In light of Paxman’s inadequate introduction of Qureshi and his organization, it is particularly relevant that Qureshi’s misleading and inaccurate claim – at 02:15 in the video version above – goes uncorrected and unchallenged.

“But I think the vast majority…well I think there isn’t really a single voice here in the UK at least that’s encouraging them to go there.”

Here is Asim Qureshi himself speaking at a rally in London in 2012 alongside Shakeel Begg and other known Islamists, delivering  what some might consider to be a fairly “encouraging” message.

“Every time you stick on BBC you see what’s going on in Syria, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Kashmir, in Palestine. And what: you think you’re seeing all of that stuff, that knowledge is coming to you and that Allah will not hold you accountable for it? […]

This should be the beginning; the reason why we’ve gathered here today is to say to ourselves that we need to do more. We need to gather together and do something about the situation. […]

We’ve got brothers here who’ve turned up in vans. They’ve turned up in order to give you the opportunity to help through your wealth, through your bodies, through anything that you can.” [emphasis added]

And can it really be that both Asim Qureshi and Jeremy Paxman just forgot to mention the activities of that other frequent BBC guest Anjem Choudary?

 

 

 

 

 

Off the BBC radar: an Israeli paramedic on the Syrian border

Since it became known about fifteen months ago that Israel is providing medical care to injured Syrians in a field hospital in the Golan Heights and in civilian hospitals throughout the north, the BBC has covered that story twice – see here and here – with both reports focusing on the patients.

Now, via Elder of Ziyon, we can hear the side of that story as told by IDF paramedic Staff Sgt. Noga Erez who was recently honoured by Israel’s President at the traditional Independence Day awards for outstanding soldiers.

Related Articles:

BBC throws mud over repatriation of Syrians

BBC Arabic reports on Syrian patients in Israeli hospitals – but not in Arabic

At last: an accurate and impartial BBC report on Syrian patients in Israel

Northern exposure: what the BBC isn’t reporting about the Israel-Syria border

Another example of inadequate BBC adherence to impartiality guidelines

Readers no doubt recall that last October the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit recommitted to BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality which state:

“We should not automatically assume that contributors from other organisations (such as academics, journalists, researchers and representatives of charities) are unbiased and we may need to make it clear to the audience when contributors are associated with a particular viewpoint, if it is not apparent from their contribution or from the context in which their contribution is made.”

Specifically regarding BBC News, the ECU stated:

“The production team have been reminded of the importance of clearly summarising the standpoint of any interviewee where it is relevant and not immediately clear from their position or the title of their organisation.”

In the video below – filmed in London in 2006 at a Hizb-ut-Tahrir rally– the speaker makes his “standpoint” very clear.

“We embrace the mercy. We embrace every single thing that is set upon us and we deal with it because we have no fear. So when we see the example of our brothers and sisters fighting in Chechnya, Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan then we know where the example lies. When we see Hezbollah defeating the armies of Israel, we know what the solution is and where the victory lies. We know that it is incumbent upon all of us to support the jihad of our brothers and sisters in these countries when they are facing the oppression of the west.”

The speaker is Asim Qureshi of the organization formerly known as ‘Cageprisoners‘ and recently revamped as ‘Cage’, which was founded by Moazzam Begg who currently awaits trial in the UK on terrorism charges.

Here is how the BBC’s Huw Edwards introduced Qureshi and his organisation on BBC News recently:

 “…Asim Qureshi, who’s research director of ‘Cage’ and that is a charity that campaigns for those detained on terrorism charges.”

Here is how Qureshi and his group were introduced by James Menendez on the BBC World Service programme ‘Newshour’:

“…Asim Qureshi who’s research director for the human rights group ‘Cage’ that has a particular focus on the war on terror.”

In both these interviews the subject under discussion was an initiative by the British police to prevent British Muslims from going to fight in Syria.

 It was therefore obviously necessary for representatives of an organization which claims to be committed to “clearly summarising the standpoint of any interviewee where it is relevant”, to make it clear to audiences in the introductions that Mr Qureshi – in his own words – sees it as “incumbent…to support the jihad” of insurgents in Iraq or terrorists in Gaza, Lebanon or Kabul whom he regards as “an example”.

That, however, did not happen.

Related Articles:

Cageprisoners, Rowntree Trust and “Jews did 9/11”   (CiF Watch) 

 

 

Round-up of BBC coverage of security incidents – April 2014

With security incidents usually accounting for a significant proportion of the BBC’s coverage of Israel, it is interesting to take a look at which events are deemed newsworthy and which not. Throughout the month of April 2014, security took something of a back seat to BBC News website coverage of the Israel-PLO talks. 

In the northern sector a mortar fired from Syria – apparently errant fire – landed in the Golan Heights on April 7th. That incident was not covered by the BBC.

In the central sector a total of eighty-seven attacks took place throughout April in Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem, with the vast majority (73) being fire-bomb attacks. Two additional fire-bombings occurred within the ‘green line’. On April 14th a fatal incident took place when Baruch Mizrachi was killed by a sniper on Route 35 and two others injured. That incident was initially ignored by the BBC and when – well over a day later – it finally was covered, a grand total of thirty-four words were used to describe the incident in an article relating to another topic. Later versions of the report did not greatly improve on the initial coverage.

Other incidents ignored by the BBC – along with the above mentioned fire-bombing attacks – include the announcement of the arrest of six lawyers  from Jerusalem suspected of working for Hamas, the thwarting of a stabbing attack in Ma’ale Adumim and the prevention of another planned attack at Tapuach Junction.

In the southern sector on the evening of April 3rd air-raid sirens sounded three times in the Sderot area with four missile launches later identified. Earlier on the same day, Israeli forces patrolling the northern section of the border with the Gaza Strip came under sniper fire, with an armoured vehicle sustaining damage as a result.

Sderot train station

Sderot train station

 

On April 4th three missiles hit the Hof Ashkelon area and the IDF later responded.  On the evening of April 5th another missile landed south of Ashkelon, on April 6th a mortar fired from the Gaza Strip landed near a kibbutz in the Sha’ar HaNegev area and later the IDF again responded.

On April 7th an IED attack against Israeli forces patrolling the border fence with the Gaza Strip was prevented. On the afternoon of April 9th sirens sounded again in the Hof Ashkelon area, with the missile falling short. Later in the evening of the same day, a mortar shell hit a kibbutz in the Sha’ar HaNegev region. On April 10th IDF forces patrolling the border came under mortar fire from attackers in the Gaza Strip and a similar incident of mortar fire on an Israeli patrol also took place on April 14th, with a mortar also having been fired the previous day and sirens having sounded.

In the early hours of April 16th another round of missiles was fired from the Gaza Strip at sleeping Israeli civilians. On the evening of April 20th an IED was activated against Israeli soldiers and April 21st an RPG was fired at an army patrol. On the same morning a barrage of missiles was fired at the Sha’ar HaNegev area and the IDF later responded. As was noted here at the time, neither that incident – nor any of the prior ones mentioned above – was reported by the BBC.

On April 23rd a counter-terrorism strike was carried out by Israel near Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip and three missiles were launched at the Hof Ashkelon and Sha’ar HaNegev areas.

The BBC finally mentioned the April 21st missile attacks in an April 23rd article on the BBC News website concerning the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal, but failed to note the three attacks from the same day.  

“Shortly after Wednesday’s reconciliation deal was announced, five people were injured in an Israeli air strike in northern Gaza, Palestinian medics said.

Israel said it had targeted militants preparing to fire rockets. On Monday, seven rockets were launched from the territory into southern Israel.”

On April 24th another mortar was fired at an Israeli patrol in the southern part of the border area, two IEDs were discovered and an additional one was detonated near soldiers in a failed attack.

Western Negev, looking towards Gaza Strip

Western Negev, looking towards Gaza Strip

 

As the Jerusalem Post’s Yaakov Lappin has noted:

“…figures for rocket attacks for 2014 confirm what residents of the South have been feeling for months, that a major upsurge in projectile attacks has occurred this year.

More than 100 rockets, most of them fired by Islamic Jihad in heavy salvos in March, were launched at Israel since the start of this year. In 2013, during the same period, from January to April 24, nine rocket attacks were reported.”

BBC audiences, however, remain oblivious of the fact that missile attacks from the Gaza Strip have risen over ten-fold in comparison with the same period of time last year, primarily because – as we see yet again this month in which almost 70% of the total missile attacks from the Gaza Strip were ignored – the vast majority of incidents receive no BBC coverage at all and those few which are reported frequently tend to be mentioned by the way in articles on other topics. 

As for any in-depth BBC reporting on how the constant missile attacks affect the lives of Israeli civilians living in districts surrounding the Gaza Strip, nothing even vaguely related to that topic has been published on the BBC News website since Operation Pillar of Cloud in November 2012.  

Related Articles:

A round-up of BBC reporting of security incidents in March 2014

90% of missile attacks from Gaza Strip in February ignored by the BBC

75% of January terror activity on Israel’s southern borders ignored by BBC

Review of the BBC’s reporting of security incidents in Judea & Samaria in January

80% of December missile attacks from Gaza Strip ignored by BBC

One hundred and sixteen stories the BBC chose not to tell

BBC misleads in article on refugees in Lebanon

On April 3rd the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) announced that the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon had passed the one million mark. That news apparently prompted the appearance on the same day of two items on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on the topic of Syrian refugees in Lebanon by Julia Macfarlane – one filmed and one written – both of which focus on Syrians now living in Sabra and Shatila. Macfarlane art

Perhaps a function of the choice of location, Macfarlane’s otherwise informative written report ends with a statement likely to mislead BBC audiences.

“As the conflict rages on though, many Syrians living with Palestinian refugees – whose community has now been in Lebanon for more than 60 years – fear they could share the same fate in years to come.”

Of course the reason there are still Palestinian refugees in Sabra, Shatila and the other ten refugee camps in Lebanon is that the Lebanese government adheres to Arab League policy dating from 1959 according to which:

“Arab states will reject the giving of citizenship to applicants of Palestinian origin in order to prevent their integration into the host countries.”

Hence, for well over six decades those refugees have been deliberately kept in that artificial status for purely political reasons, suffering severe discrimination throughout the entire time.

The fears of Syrian refugees with regard to being forced to remain in Lebanon for an extended period of time in refugee status are undoubtedly well-founded. According to the UNHCR:

“Lebanon has not signed the 1951 Refugee Convention, although it has signed most other human rights treaties relevant to the protection of refugees. Constitutionally, the latter take precedence over domestic law but this is rarely observed by the courts, and there is no domestic legislation or administrative practice to address the specific needs of refugees and asylum-seekers.”

However, the political motivations and strategies of the Arab League which have kept Palestinian refugees in that status for so many years do not apply to Syria and refugees under the care of the UNHCR are not entitled to the same hereditary refugee status as those under the authority of the designated agency for Palestinian refugees – UNRWA – and so the two cases are not, as Macfarlane suggests, in any way comparable.  

 

 

BBC reporting on Golan Heights attack passes up on providing crucial background

On the afternoon of March 18th Israeli soldiers patrolling the northern part of the border with Syria in the Golan Heights noticed something suspicious near the fence which marks the western (‘Alpha’) side of the demilitarised zone, adjacent to an area of the border currently controlled by the Syrian army. After they got out of their vehicle to investigate, an explosive device was detonated, injuring four soldiers: one lightly, two moderately and one very seriously. Israel responded with artillery fire towards Syrian army positions.

Several hours later a report appeared on the Middle East page of the BBC News website under the title “Israeli soldiers wounded by bomb blast in Golan Heights“. The incident itself is described in three short paragraphs phrased to suggest to readers that the information has not been confirmed by the BBC. IED Golan Tues 1

“Four Israeli soldiers have been hurt by a bomb blast near the demilitarised zone between the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and Syria, Israel says.

The device was detonated as the troops approached the frontier on foot after identifying “suspicious activity”, an Israeli military spokesperson said.

Israeli artillery subsequently fired on Syrian military positions in the area.”

The only reference to the severity of the injuries sustained by the soldiers comes in the caption to the photograph chosen to illustrate the article.

“The Israeli military said one of the soldiers was seriously wounded by the explosion”.

The report goes on to mention (partially) two previous recent incidents among several ignored by the BBC at the time.

“Two weeks ago, Israeli troops shot two “Hezbollah-affiliated terrorists” attempting to plant an explosive device near the fence demarcating the demilitarised zone, the Israeli military said.

And on Friday, an explosive device was detonated near soldiers patrolling the nearby border with Lebanon. No casualties were reported after the incident in the Mount Dov area, which Israel blamed on Hezbollah.”

The article’s next four paragraphs repeat versions of information appearing in the profile of the Golan Heights which appears on the BBC News website’s Middle East page and – despite being last updated in May 2013 – still erroneously refers to “the pre-1967 border” instead of 1949 Armistice lines. [emphasis added]

“The Golan Heights, a rocky plateau in south-western Syria, has a political and strategic significance that belies its size.

Israel seized the region from Syria in the closing stages of the 1967 Middle East War, and thwarted a Syrian attempt to retake it in 1973.

The two countries remain technically in a state of war, and UN observers are deployed to monitor the 70km-long (44-mile) demilitarised zone.

Since the uprising began in Syria three years ago, both government forces and rebel fighters have repeatedly crossed into the buffer zone, and there have been several exchanges of fire with Israeli troops.”

The report fails to make clear to readers that all of those “exchanges of fire” took place after cross-border attacks – intentional or not – from the Syrian side of the fence. It also fails to clarify sufficiently to readers that the presence of armed Syrian military forces inside the demilitarised zone contravenes the ceasefire agreement of 1974. Additionally, BBC audiences are not informed that the demilitarised zone is now only partially monitored by UNDOF or that the routine weapons inspections that body is supposed to carry out (to ensure that both Israel and Syria adhere to the permitted quotas specified in the ceasefire agreement) are no longer being carried out by UNDOF on the Syrian side.

Early in the morning of March 19th Israel responded to the previous day’s attack with strikes on Syrian military facilities on the eastern side of the Golan Heights. Here is how that event was presented by one official BBC Twitter account:

tweet bbc world response

And here by another:

tweet bbc me english response

An article titled “Israel attacks Syrian army sites in Golan Heights clash” appeared on the Middle East page of the BBC News website on March 19th. The caption to the photograph chosen to illustrate the article states: Golan incident response report

“The Golan Heights, a rocky plateau in south-western Syria, has great political and strategic significance”. [emphasis added]

Earlier versions of the article opened:

“Israel says it has attacked several Syrian military sites in retaliation for a bombing that wounded four of its troops in the occupied Golan Heights.

Israel’s military said its targets included a Syrian army headquarters, a training facility and artillery units.”

Readers of the report’s initial versions were not provided with any updated information regarding the wounded soldiers (one of whom, at the time of writing, remains in a critical condition) and most of the information given was recycled from the previous day’s report in the form of a link.

“It comes after four Israeli soldiers were hurt in an explosion on Tuesday. […]

Israel said four of its soldiers were injured as they approached the demilitarized zone after identifying “suspicious activity” on Tuesday.”

In the report’s third and fourth versions (which appeared some two hours and four hours respectively after the original) the above was replaced by the following statement:

“On Tuesday, the four Israeli soldiers were wounded, one of them seriously, when an explosive device was detonated as they approached the fence demarcating the demilitarised zone.”

In the report’s two earlier versions, once again audiences were encouraged to see prior cross-border incidents in terms of equivalence rather than them being accurately described as Israeli responses to attacks from the Syrian side.

“Syrian and Israeli forces have traded fire a number of times over the ceasefire line in the Golan Heights since the uprising in Syria began.” [emphasis added]

The third and fourth versions of the report included the following:

“The Israeli air force has conducted several attacks on Syria since the uprising began three years ago.

Those air strikes are believed to have prevented the transfer of stockpiles of rockets from the Syrian government to Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia Islamist movement that supports President Bashar al-Assad.”

Of course Israel has not given any official notification of having carried out those strikes, but yet again it appears that in this case – despite editorial guidelines on accuracy - the BBC is in no need of confirmation before turning its correspondents’ conjecture into ‘fact’. 

This report too includes general background material based on the BBC’s less than accurate Golan Heights profile. [emphasis added]

“The Golan Heights, a rocky plateau in south-western Syria, has a political and strategic significance that belies its size.

Israel seized the region from Syria in the closing stages of the 1967 Middle East War, and thwarted a Syrian attempt to retake it in 1973.

The two countries remain technically in a state of war, and UN observers are deployed to monitor the 70km-long (44-mile) demilitarised zone.”

Once again, the BBC failed in all versions of this report to adequately clarify to audiences the current situation regarding the demilitarised zone, the decline in UNDOF supervision and the presence there of armed Syrian forces in violation of the ceasefire agreement. 

The article’s fourth version (which had its title changed to “Israeli air strikes in Golan ‘kill Syrian soldier'”) included Syrian state media notification of military casualties resulting from the Wednesday morning strike and uncritically quoted a bizarre official statement from a regime which has killed hundreds of thousands of its own citizens over the last three years. Golan response art vers 4

“But the Syrian General Command of the Army and Armed Forces was quoted as saying the air strikes were an attempt to “divert attention from the successive victories” of its troops against rebel forces, particularly the recapture of the town of Yabroud, north of Damascus, over the weekend.

It also warned Israel that “such aggressive acts would jeopardise the region’s security and stability, and make it vulnerable to all options”.”

That version of the article also included the following outlandish assumption from the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly:

“The choice of targets demonstrates that Israel is clearly blaming Syrian government forces, and not rebel fighters or units of Hezbollah, for the attack on its patrol, our correspondent says.”

In fact, whilst it has yet to be established which organisation carried out the attack, the Israeli minister of defence made it clear that “Israel viewed Syrian President Bashar Assad as the person responsible for what happens in his country”.

Earlier versions of the report  included the following:

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the border with Syria has been recently “filling up” with jihadist fighters hostile to Israel and militants from the Lebanese Shia Islamist movement, Hezbollah.”

No attempt was made to provide BBC audiences with further background information on the topic of the different armed elements to be found on the Syrian side of the border.

The article ends by again mentioning the previously unreported incidents of March 4th in which an attempt was made to plant an IED in the same area and last Friday’s attack at Har Dov. It is not made clear that Tuesday’s attack took place along a stretch of the frontier controlled by Assad’s forces, in contrast to much of the rest of the border which is held by opposition militias of one description or another. 

The BBC’s coverage of incidents in the Golan Heights over the past year or so has been patchy at best.  Hence, with audiences already lacking much of the context to this latest incident, proper provision of factual information relevant to the story’s background would have enhanced readers’ understanding of events. Unfortunately however, the opportunity to inform audiences on the current state of affairs along the border and of the reasons for the growing ineffectiveness of the demilitarised zone in preventing attacks such as the one which took place on Tuesday – and any future ones – was passed up by the BBC.

Northern exposure: what the BBC isn’t reporting about the Israel-Syria border

As was noted here recently, two errant mortars fired from Syria exploded in the Golan Heights on the afternoon of February 18th. A few days later a bout of particularly heavy fighting took place south of Quneitra – which, unlike other areas proximate to the border, is still held by Assad’s troops – with the latter apparently retaking two villages from the anti-regime forces.  On March 1st the IDF found the remains of two Katyusha rockets in the northern Golan, which appear to have been fired from Syria. 

On the night of March 4th another attempt was made to place an improvised explosive device on the northern section of the border fence between Israel and Syria. Israeli forces responded with live fire. 

On the morning of March 7th Israeli Air Force jets had to be scrambled several times as Syrian aircraft came very close to the border during their attacks on an opposition-held village just beyond the ceasefire lines.

Like many other incidents which have taken place in the Golan Heights since the Syrian civil war began, none of the above was reported by the BBC, despite their staff clearly being aware of at least some of the events. 

Tweet Shuval Golan 18 Feb

Meanwhile, the flow of wounded Syrians arriving at the border to seek Israeli medical care continues. BBC Watch recently went to meet one of the doctors working at the field hospital established by the IDF in the Golan Heights to provide ‘first stop’ care for the wounded. Captain Dr S. noted that the types of injuries her team is treating – mostly gunshot wounds and injuries from explosions – are ones which are rarely seen in Israel these days and hence her generation of young doctors had little practical experience in dealing with such cases before the field hospital was set up. She also noted that the wounded Syrians arrive in a state of extreme fear seeing as they are, after all, coming to a country which they have been educated to regard as an enemy. Hence, she and her team deliberately avoid speaking Hebrew in the presence of the patients so as to try to reduce at least one stress factor, and instead converse with them in English and Arabic. 

Patients with more complex injuries are transported to one of several civilian hospitals in the north of Israel. Here is the director general of the Western Galilee hospital in Nahariya, Dr. Massad Barhoum, talking at the recent AIPAC conference about his institution’s work in helping Syrian patients.