BBC News website coverage of November 10 terror attacks reveals editorial policies

In the early afternoon of November 10th an eighteen year-old Palestinian from Askar near Nablus (Schem), who had entered Israel illegally, attacked an Israeli soldier with a knife near a train station in Tel Aviv. Two civilians were also injured when they tried to prevent the attacker from stealing the soldier’s gun and the terrorist was arrested shortly afterwards. Several hours later Staff Sergeant Almog Shiloni, aged 20 from Modi’in, died from the multiple stab wounds he sustained in the attack. A spokesman for Hamas (partner to the PA unity government) in Qatar praised the attack, describing it as “part of a welcome plan that reflects the tenacity of our people to resist the occupation and move against the crimes [committed] in al-Aqsa and in Jerusalem”.Pigua TA BBC tweet

The BBC News website reported the incident using the headline “Israel: Palestinian held as Israeli soldier stabbed“. Promotion of that short report on Twitter included the perennial superfluous punctuation around the phrase terror attack and that same BBC editorial policy was also evident in the opening paragraph of the article.

“An Israeli soldier has been stabbed and critically wounded in what police said was a “terror attack” in Tel Aviv.”

A brief round-up of recent fatal terror attacks in Jerusalem appearing in the article – presumably intended to provide readers with context to the incident – likewise refrained from using the word terror.TA terror attack bbc report

“Last week a Palestinian militant killed a policeman and a Jewish teenager after ramming his van into pedestrians at a tram stop in Jerusalem.

A similar car attack by a Palestinian in the same area two weeks earlier killed a woman and a baby.”

As has been the case in all BBC reporting on the issue of the surge of terror attacks in Israel throughout the last few weeks, no mention was made in this article of their backdrop: the severe incitement from parties to the Palestinian unity government.

Later on the same afternoon, an additional terror attack took place near Alon Shvut in Gush Etzion. Twenty-six year-old Dalia Lemkus from Tekoa was stabbed to death and two additional civilians were injured when a terrorist from Hebron tried to run over pedestrians at a bus stop and then got out of his vehicle and carried out stabbing attacks. The terrorist – a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad – was shot by a security guard who arrived at the scene and the PIJ later claimed responsibility for the attack.

The BBC News website’s report on that attack (which replaced the above article) is currently titled “Israeli woman and soldier killed in two knife attacks” and amendments to it can be seen here.Pigua Alon Shvut art

At no point does the report clarify to readers that the attack was an act of terrorism or that the perpetrator was a member of a proscribed terrorist organization.

“An Israeli woman was later stabbed to death near the Alon Shvut Jewish settlement in the West Bank. The assailant was shot by a security guard. […]

The West Bank attack took place at the entrance to the Alon Shvut settlement.

The attacker tried to run over people in his car, hit a concrete barrier then got out of the vehicle, reports said.

He then stabbed the 26-year-old woman, named by Israeli media as Dalia Lamkus, along with two other Israelis at a bus stop. The two injured men were taken to hospital.

The attacker was shot several times by a security guard and was taken from the scene in a serious condition, emergency services said.”

In fact, the only mention of the word terror in a report about two separate terror attacks comes once again in the form of a quote from the Israeli police and with superfluous qualifying punctuation.

“Monday’s earlier incident in Tel Aviv took place at a busy train station and was described by police as a “terror attack”.”

Also notable is the fact that this BBC report – like many previous ones – steers audiences towards the adoption of a flawed narrative which completely erases the hundreds of missile attacks on Israeli civilians carried out by terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip which took place in the weeks preceding this summer’s conflict between Israel and Hamas.Pigua Alon Shvut on HP

“The attack took place close to where three Israeli students were abducted and killed by Palestinian militants in June, an incident which led to the revenge killing in Jerusalem of a Palestinian teenager by Jewish extremists.

Tensions then escalated into a 50-day conflict between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas in Gaza.”

The report closes with ‘context’ provided by the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly.Pigua Alon Shvut 2

“BBC Middle East correspondent Kevin Connolly says there has been no real pattern to the recent spate of attacks – the attackers appear to have acted suddenly, meaning there is no advance intelligence to forewarn the authorities.

In two other attacks in the past three weeks, Palestinian militants rammed vehicles into pedestrians in Jerusalem, killing four people. Both attackers were shot dead.

A Palestinian suspected of shooting and wounding a prominent right-wing activist, Rabbi Yehuda Glick, in Jerusalem at the end of last month was also shot dead in a gun battle with Israeli police.

Our correspondent says that many Israelis feel the security situation has been deteriorating, with the summer conflict in Gaza, the dispute over rights of prayer at a holy site in Jerusalem and continuing Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem all factors in a worsening atmosphere.”

Yet again we see the legal purchase of properties in specific geographical areas by people of a certain religion or ethnicity framed by the ‘progressive’ BBC as “settlement” and audiences encouraged to view that as an element of the context to recent violent attacks carried out by Palestinians.Pigua Alon Shvut BBC tweets 2

However, this article – like its predecessor and all other previous BBC reports in recent weeks – erases the very relevant issue of Palestinian incitement – both official and unofficial – from audience view – just like those hundreds of pre-Operation Protective Edge missiles have been erased from the BBC’s narrative.

For months now partners in the Palestinian unity government have been inciting violence and terror. The BBC has religiously ignored incitement and glorification of terrorism by the PA president, by his party Fatah, by PA institutions, by official PA media and by Abbas’ unity government partners Hamas.

“Let me say, loud and clear, to our people in the West Bank: Don’t you have cars? Don’t you have motorcycles? Don’t you have knives? Don’t you have clubs? Don’t you have bulldozers? Don’t you have trucks? Anyone who has a knife, a club, a weapon, or a car, yet does not use it to run over a Jew or a settler, and does not use it to kill dozens of Zionists, does not belong to Palestine.

Palestine says loud and clear: Real men are those who avenge the blood of Gaza. Real men are those who avenge the blood of the Gaza Strip. Real men will not sleep until they have avenged the blood of Gaza.

To our people within the Green Line [Israeli Arabs], we say: It is time for you to declare a new phase in this struggle. Political and social considerations are worthless. Blood and martyrdom are the only considerations that matter. The Palestinian people has no choice but to wage this battle in Gaza, in the West Bank, in Jerusalem, and in all the cities of occupied Palestine.” (Source - Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas, July 30th 2014.)

The BBC has an entire department devoted to the Arabic language. It could easily prepare a comprehensive backgrounder on the issue of Palestinian incitement in order to enhance audience understanding of the significance of that factor in the current surge in terror attacks against Israelis.

The fact that the BBC elects instead to omit any mention of that topic from its coverage speaks volumes (as does its avoidance of accurately defining terror attacks) about its supposed commitment to accuracy and impartiality and the political motivations behind editorial decisions.

Terror in Tel Aviv: scare quotes at the BBC.

Here is the BBC’s report on the terrorist bombing of a number 142 Dan bus in central Tel Aviv on Wednesday lunchtime, November 21st:

A deliberate terrorist attack is termed a ‘Bomb blast’ – in ‘well, that’s what they’re telling us’ inverted commas.  

The article continues:

“There has been an explosion on a bus in Israel’s commercial capital Tel Aviv, police say, amid continuing exchanges between Israel and militants in Gaza.

There are at least 10 injuries in what police called a “terrorist attack”.”

Further down, the liberal sprinkling of scare quotes continues:

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Ofir Gendelman said on his Twitter account that the explosion was caused by a bomb and that it was “terrorist attack”.

Emergency services say five of the wounded in the bus explosion are in a serious or moderate condition.

An Israeli who witnessed the explosion told Army Radio the bus was “completely charred”.

Israel’s Haaretz newspaper said the blast occurred on the corner of Shaul Hamelech and Henrietta Szold.

It said the injured were being taken to Ichilov hospital and that roadblocks had been set up in the area to search for a suspected bomber.

The attack took place on the eighth day of exchanges between Israel and militants in Gaza.

Some 139 Palestinians and five Israelis have been killed.

Celebratory gunfire reportedly rang out in Gaza City when local radio relayed news of the bus attack.”

Before we are tempted to attribute the generous use of so much unnecessary punctuation to BBC caution until the picture is fully clear, we should perhaps compare and contrast with its reporting of the strike on the antennae of two office blocks in Gaza City earlier this week. 

What the above report does not include is reports on Twitter by its correspondents on the ground in Gaza that Hamas immediately took responsibility for the attack. 

The BBC’s Paul Danahar appeared to be trying to suggest that the target of the attack was of a military nature, which makes an interesting contrast to some of his tweets earlier in the week. 

(By the way, here is a recent event in Gaza which the plethora of BBC reporters on the ground there appears to have decided not to report, apart from a brief 29 words in this item.)

Update: 

The BBC now has footage of the aftermath of the attack up on its website – also broadcast on BBC News.

Note the wording of the report’s synopsis as it appears on the website: [emphasis added]

“At least 10 people have been injured in an explosion on a bus in Israel’s commercial capital, Tel Aviv, in what one Israeli official described as a “terrorist attack”. “