No BBC report on latest missile attack from Gaza Strip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expanding on that latter topic, Y-Net reported:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No BBC reporting on last week’s fatal terror attack in Jerusalem

Israel’s Remembrance Day (Yom HaZikaron) commemorates not only those who fell defending the State of Israel, but also the civilian victims of war and terrorism. The most recent of those is twenty-five year-old Shalom Yochai Sherki who was killed when a Palestinian driver from Anata rammed his vehicle into a bus stop at French Hill in Jerusalem on April 15th.BBC News logo 2

“A Palestinian driver deliberately rammed his car into a Jerusalem bus stop this week and killed an Israeli man in a “horrible attack,” Israel Police chief Yohanan Danino said Saturday.[…]

He ruled out initial suggestions that it had been an accident.

Shalom Yohai Sherki, 25, and Shira Klein, 20, were seriously injured in the attack on the bus stop in East Jerusalem.

Sherki, the son of prominent rabbi Ouri Sherki who is well known in the city’s francophone community, died of his injuries on Thursday morning and was buried later that day.

The driver, Khaled Koutineh, a Palestinian from East Jerusalem, was also injured and arrested by the police.”

The second victim is still undergoing treatment in hospital and the perpetrator has since admitted that the attack was deliberate.

That terror attack joins the numerous others which were also not reported by the BBC.

Also on April 15th, the Israeli security forces announced the arrests of twenty-nine Hamas activists.

“Security forces arrested 29 suspected Hamas members in the West Bank city of Nablus overnight Tuesday, including some who have been imprisoned in Israel in the past.

Among those detained were senior members of the Palestinian terror group, the army said.

The operation, carried out by the Shin Bet security service, the IDF, and the Israel Police, came amid concern that the activists were preparing to carry out attacks against Israeli targets.

The suspects were to be questioned by the Shin Bet.

The army noted an increase in Hamas activity in the West Bank and said members of the group have been acting on the instructions and funding of its leaders abroad.”

The subject of the Hamas terror cells in Palestinian Authority administered areas which are controlled and funded by Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip and abroad – and threaten not only Israeli civilians but also the PA itself – is one which the BBC has largely managed to avoid in past months.  

Clearly BBC audiences’ understanding of events in both Israel and the PA controlled areas is not enhanced by the absence of any serious reporting on this topic.

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

Throughout the first quarter of 2015 the BBC News website reported on three separate terror attacks in Israel:

January 21st: Israel bus attack: Tel Aviv passengers stabbed (discussed here)

February 23rd: Jerusalem mayor overpowers attacker after man stabbed (discussed here)

March 6th: Jerusalem: Israeli police hit in Palestinian car attack and Jerusalem attack: Driver rams car into pedestrians (discussed here)BBC News logo 2

As far as BBC audiences are concerned, therefore, the number of terror attacks (although not specifically named as such) against Israelis during the first three months of 2015 totals three: one in Tel Aviv and two in Jerusalem. But is that an accurate representation of the situation?

The Israel Security Agency publishes a monthly summary of terror attacks and its reports for the first quarter of 2015 provide the following information:

January 2015: total number of attacks – 124. Of those: 105 in Judea & Samaria, 18 in Jerusalem.

February 2015: total number of attacks – 96. Of those: 84 in Judea & Samaria, 12 in Jerusalem.

March 2015: total number of attacks – 89. Of those: 58 in Judea & Samaria, 31 in Jerusalem.

The BBC’s above reports relate to two stabbing incidents and one vehicle attack. Two additional stabbings, nine small arms shootings, forty attacks using IEDs (including pipe bombs and improvised grenades) and 256 incidents of firebombing were not reported. Also noteworthy is the fact that whilst most of the attacks – almost 80% – took place in Judea & Samaria, that was not reflected in BBC coverage.

As we see, the total number of attacks during the first quarter of 2015 is 309, which means that the BBC reported less than 1% of the incidents which took place.

Clearly BBC audiences are still not being provided with the comprehensive picture of this subject necessary in order to meet the corporation’s remit of building “a global understanding of international issues”.

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A part of the Israeli story consistently ignored by the BBC

Another terror attack on Israelis ignored by BBC News

BBC News report on terror stabbing omits Hamas statement of support

On April 8th the BBC News website ran a report under the typically ‘last-first’ phrased headline “Palestinian killed after stabbing two Israeli soldiers“. Readers can gather that at least part of the information provided in the article was gleaned from the local media:Pigua 8 4 report final

“The soldiers were members of the Israeli military’s Home Front Command and had been sitting inside an ambulance placed on standby at the Sinjil junction during Passover, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.”

Hence it is notable that the paragraph below from the Ha’aretz report obviously read by the writer of this article was not deemed ‘need to know’ information for BBC audiences.

“Qatar-based Hamas spokesman Husam Bardan said that the group welcomed the stabbing attack, saying that it was a natural response to Israel’s policy of occupation. Bardan said that Israel only understands force and “the language of terror attacks.” He called on the Palestinian Authority to immediately cease security cooperation with Israel and to give freedom to opposition to the occupation in the West Bank.”

On the other hand, the writer of the BBC report did find it necessary to devote three of its thirteen paragraphs, along with the caption to its main illustrative photograph, to the response of an Israeli minister.

“An Israeli minister praised the wounded soldier for shooting rather than arresting the assailant”

“Outgoing Economy Minister Naftali Bennett of the nationalist Jewish Home party praised the actions of the wounded soldier.

“Our enemies have only one goal: to hurt as many Jews as they can. I congratulate the security forces who killed the terrorist. This must be the fate of anyone who hurts innocent Jews.”

“A serious incident must end this way and not with dreams of liberation from jail.””

The article’s final paragraph is devoted to partial description of an earlier incident which the BBC chose not to report at the time.

“Last Thursday, an Israeli soldier was stabbed by a Palestinian man during a security operation near the West Bank settlement of Oranit. The soldier suffered light wounds, while the assailant was arrested.”

Readers are not informed that the “security operation” was in fact the arrest of Palestinians trying to illegally traverse the anti-terrorist fence or that Hamas praised that attack too.

“The incident occurred when IDF Paratrooper forces approached the security fence in the area of Oranit, where a group of 6-8 Palestinian illegal aliens was attempting to cross into Israel through the fence. One of the Palestinians pounced on one of the soldiers and stabbed him. Security forces arrested the assailant, as well as the other Palestinians.

The Hamas terrorist group praised the stabbing attack in Shomron. A statement issued by the group said that the attack underscores the determination of the Palestinian people to continue its path of resistance, despite all the obstacles and difficulties.”

Having given multi-platform amplification just a week ago to Khaled Masha’al’s whitewashing of Hamas – including the claim that its activities are “certainly not terrorism” – it is sadly not surprising to see that the BBC decided to refrain from reporting his colleague’s praise and support for this incident and others. 

The BBC News website’s muddled geography confuses audiences

On April 7th a report appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Israel admits its fire killed Spanish UN peacekeeper“. Readers are told:UNIFIL art

“A Spanish soldier who was killed in Lebanon in January died as a result of Israeli fire, Israel’s military says.

Corporal Francisco Javier Soria Toledo was hit by Israeli artillery following a Hezbollah attack which killed two Israeli soldiers, according to a military statement.”

In fact, a senior IDF official had already confirmed that the UNIFIL soldier was accidentally killed by IDF fire back in January when the incident took place.

The BBC’s report continues:

“The 36-year-old UN peacekeeper was killed near the village of Ghajar, in the Shebaa Farms area, on 28 January.”

The uninformed reader would obviously take that sentence to mean that the Spanish soldier was killed in a district called the Shebaa Farms, near a village called Ghajar located in that area. Seeing as the Shebaa Farms area (Har Dov) is located on the Israeli side of the ‘Blue Line, the implication is therefore that the soldier was in Israel at the time of his death. In fact, although the soldier may have been “near the village of Ghajar” (his position was apparently around one kilometer to the north-east), he was actually on the Lebanese side of the border where all UNIFIL forces are stationed. 

In addition, the BBC’s suggestion that Ghajar is in the Shebaa Farms (Har Dov) area is in itself inaccurate: Ghajar is part of the Golan Heights and its residents are Alawites – originally Syrian and holding Israeli citizenship since 1981.

Ghajar map

Click to enlarge

Even the BBC’s own map of the region does not place Ghajar in the Shebaa Farms area but nevertheless, the latter half of this short report is devoted to the standard insert on the Shebaa Farms seen in previous BBC coverage of the January cross-border attack by Hizballah. As was the case then, that insert is superfluous seeing as the story has nothing to do with the topic of the Shebaa Farms/Har Dov dispute and the incidents which are its subject matter did not take place within that area.

Ghajar BBC map

Notably, a subject which is relevant to this report gets no mention whatsoever: at no point are readers informed that the task of the UNIFIL forces with which Corporal Francisco Javier Soria Toledo served is to monitor adherence to UN Resolution 1701, according to which Hizballah should have been disarmed years ago and should not be operating south of the Litani River. Had the UN made efforts to enforce that unanimous UNSC decision, the accidental death of the soldier could of course have been avoided.

Ghajar

Ghajar

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Jeremy Bowen exploits Radio 4 news bulletin for Hamas PR promotion

Listeners to the 8 a.m. news bulletin broadcast during the April 1st edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme heard items about the UK elections, zero hours contracts, a study concerning the drug Paracetamol, the P5+1 talks with Iran, the Nigerian presidential election, EU milk quotas, the death of a Getty heir and the hospitalization of singer Joni Mitchell.Today 1 4 15

In among those actual news stories they also heard an additional fabricated news item (from 02:06:35 here) which took up over a minute and a half of that ten-minute news segment.

News presenter: “The political leader of Hamas, Khaled Masha’al, has accused the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu of killing the peace process. He also condemned the activities of Jihadist groups which he said were against the teachings of Islam. Khaled Masha’al was speaking to our Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen.

Bowen: “Khaled Masha’al nearly died in 1997 in a bungled Israeli assassination attempt on the orders of Benjamin Netanyahu; then in his first term as prime minister. Now Mr Masha’al says the re-elected Israeli prime minister has killed the peace process and the chances of a negotiated two state solution.”

Masha’al [voice-over]: “Even in the eyes of the Americans and Europeans, Netanyahu is the most extreme leader and the one who likes to shed blood the most. That’s why we’re expecting difficult times with him. And it’s the responsibility of the international community to put a stop to his stubbornness and Israeli extremism.”

Bowen: “Mr Masha’al heads an organization that’s classified as a terrorist group by the United States and Britain among many others. But he seemed to be calibrating his comments to catch the prevailing mood of anger in the White House towards Mr Netanyahu after his sharp turn to the ultra-nationalist Israeli right in the last days of the election campaign. Mr Masha’al called for a sovereign independent Palestinian state and an end to the occupation of land captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war. So did the White House chief of staff earlier this week.”

Bowen’s embarrassingly puerile attempt to persuade listeners to Radio 4’s most widely heard and influential programme that the US Administration is on the same page as an internationally recognized terrorist organization of course depends on listeners being kept in the dark with regard to the fact that Hamas regards all of Israel as ‘occupied land’ – not just the areas previously occupied by Jordan and Egypt between 1948 and 1967 – and rejects Israel’s right to exist, thus making a two state solution unviable.

Perhaps the ‘Today’ editor would care to clarify both the editorial considerations behind the omission of that and other important context and the broader decision to misleadingly present Bowen’s transparent propaganda to Radio 4 listeners as ‘news’.

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BBC’s Bowen facilitates Hamas PR binge

 More enablement of Hamas propaganda from BBC’s ME editor

 

 

Knell’s follow up on Cremisan Valley marred by BBC mantras

BBC Jerusalem Bureau correspondent Yolande Knell has invested quite a bit of energy over the past three years into promoting the topic of the court case concerning the route of the anti-terrorist fence in the Cremisan Valley.  

Bethlehem nuns in West Bank barrier battle May 3rd 2012

BBC’s Knell promotes political church campaign supported by BBC funder  April 2013

BBC’s Yolande Knell erases Jewish history in campaigning article  January 2014

BBC’s Knell promotes undiluted Palestinian propaganda in coverage of Pope’s visit May 2014

The same topic has also appeared in other BBC content.

On April 3rd 2015 Knell reported on the Supreme Court decision given the previous day (according to which the Israeli authorities will have to find an alternative route for that particular section of the anti-terrorist fence) in an article titled “Israeli court rejects Cremisan Valley West Bank barrier“.Knell Cremisan

Despite Israel’s Supreme Court having accepted a petition presented by a non-Israeli municipality and tens of individuals who are not Israeli citizens in a case concerning the route of a structure described by the court as “one of the ways of dealing with the threats of terror and with the aim of preventing and avoiding the infiltration of terrorists into Israeli territory”, Yolande Knell chose to downplay that exceptional aspect of the story, instead opting to focus readers’ attentions on the standard BBC mantras relating to the anti-terrorist fence and ‘settlements’.

“Construction of the barrier began in 2002, during the second Palestinian intifada or uprising, following a wave of suicide bombings.

Israel said it was an essential security measure to prevent attacks.

However, Palestinians see it largely as a land grab because much of it was built inside the occupied West Bank.

Jewish settlements and additional land have been left on the Israeli side.

Settlements are seen as illegal under international law, although Israel disagrees.”

As has been noted here before with regard to that last sentence:

“Though that mantra has been repeated countless times over the years, it is not accompanied by a definitive cited source (because of course there isn’t one) and its claim is erroneously presented as being contested only by the government of Israel. In other words, the BBC’s standard formulation egregiously ignores the existence of legal opinions which contradict its own adopted narrative.”

The standard BBC insert on the topic of the anti-terrorist fence, which inevitably includes the phrase “Israel says” and inaccurate description of the structure as a “land grab”, is no more impartial.

“The systematic failure to present audiences with the readily available factual evidence which proves the anti-terrorist fence’s efficiency – rather than the subjective presentation of “Israel says” – is clearly a failure to distinguish “opinion from fact” and a major “omission of an important perspective”.  The fact that a standard formula has been employed for over a decade also represents a failure to adhere to the demand for “impartiality over time”, presenting the same jaded “land grab” theme over a long period of years in which no such thing has happened.”

Knell’s description of Gilo and Har Gilo is equally political:

“In the Cremisan Valley, Israel’s defence ministry argued it was seeking added protection for the settlements of Har Gilo and Gilo. Israelis view these as Jewish neighbourhoods of Jerusalem.”

As was the case in one of her previous articles on the subject, Knell refrains from informing audiences of the status of the land upon which Gilo was built, preferring to promote the standard Palestinian narrative of all Jerusalem neighbourhoods in areas occupied by Jordan during the War of Independence – including those on land owned by Jews before 1948 – as ‘settlements’. She also predictably avoids the topic of the terrorism directed at Gilo from nearby Beit Jala during the second Intifada.

At the beginning of her report Knell inaccurately informs readers that:

“Fifty-eight Christian families would have been cut off from their land.”

Those who bothered to read on discovered that was not the case:

“The Israeli authorities had said there would be access between the sites and for Palestinians trying to reach their land through gates operated by soldiers.”

Like the rest of Knell’s coverage of this story over a period of three years, this article passed up on the opportunity to provide BBC audiences with the comprehensive background necessary for audiences to understand both sides to the story in favour of the promotion of a specific political narrative.

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Senior BBC correspondent misleads audiences on Iran’s terror connections

On April 3rd an article titled “Iran nuclear deal: A result which buys time” by diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page.Marcus art Iran

Setting aside the analysis of the subject matter itself, the article includes inaccurate phrasing which misleads audiences. 

“If all goes well, the nuclear deal will reduce a key source of friction between Iran and the West.

There will still be many other areas of disagreement. Indeed, Iran remains the rising regional power and its influence in many Arab capitals ranging from Damascus and Baghdad to Beirut and Sanaa – let alone its human rights record and alleged support for terrorism – all suggest many other avenues for continuing tensions with Washington.” [emphasis added]

The word ‘alleged’ (meaning said, without proof, to have taken place) is of course completely superfluous in that sentence. Iran’s record of material, financial and ideological support for internationally recognized terrorist organisations such as Hizballah, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas is well documented.

When a senior BBC correspondent misleads audiences in such an obvious manner, the corporation’s funding public’s trust in its level of commitment to its defined public purpose of building “a global understanding of international issues” can only be undermined.

 

 

More enablement of Hamas propaganda from BBC’s ME editor

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

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

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

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

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

Bowen tells viewers that:

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

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

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

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

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

With regard to the cross-border tunnels specifically:

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

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

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

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

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

Bowen continues:

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

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

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

BBC’s Bowen facilitates Hamas PR binge

On the morning of April 1st the following headline was promoted on assorted BBC Twitter accounts. It was apparently not an April Fools’ Day joke.

Bowen Hamas tweet 1

Bowen Hamas tweet 2

Visitors to the BBC News website found both written and filmed versions of Jeremy Bowen’s embarrassingly unchallenging interview with Hamas’ Khaled Masha’al: “Hamas leader Meshaal warns of Israeli ‘extremism’ after elections” and “Hamas leader accuses Israel of killing peace process“. In the synopsis to the filmed version, audiences are told that:Bowen Hamas filmed

“Khaled Meshaal was speaking to the BBC’s Middle East Editor, Jeremy Bowen, in Doha, the capital of Qatar, where he lives in exile.” [emphasis added]

As has been noted here before, the accurate terminology is ‘self-imposed exile’.  

Bowen’s self-conscripted role as a vessel for the propagation of Hamas’ public relations campaign should of course be viewed within the context of his earlier orchestration of coverage of the recent election in Israel which focused on persuading BBC audiences that the Israeli electorate’s choice – and that alone – had killed off the peace process. Thus, in response to a question from Bowen which viewers of the filmed report do not hear, Masha’al replies:

“Even in the eyes of the Americans and Europeans, Netanyahu is the most extreme leader and the one who likes to shed blood the most. That’s why we’re expecting difficult times with him. And it’s the responsibility of the international community to put a stop to his stubbornness and Israeli extremism. We’re not looking for any escalation but we will defend ourselves.” [emphasis added]

Notably, the BBC did not edit out that highlighted statement.

Any serious journalist would of course have followed through on that latter sentence with questions on topics such as Hamas’ frequent missile testing and tunnel reconstruction since the end of last summer’s conflict, Masha’al’s slated visit to Tehran, his colleague Mahmoud al Zahar’s recent call for support from Hizballah and Iran and Hamas’ ongoing attempts to establish its terror infrastructure in PA controlled areas. Bowen predictably did not confront his interviewee with such tricky subjects, but moved on to a ‘question’ which provided the opportunity for Masha’al to mislead BBC audiences with regard to Hamas’ aims.

Bowen: “Do you think a two state solution is still possible between yourselves and the Israelis?

Masha’al: “Israel with its extremist leadership has killed the peace process, the two state solution and every opportunity for a political solution for the Palestinian cause. And if the West and the United States want to do something new, then they have to change the approach that they followed for years. The new approach should be pressuring Israel and not the Arabs and the Palestinians. We are not the ones who are responsible.”

Similarly, in the written version we find the BBC unquestioningly promoting this Hamas spin:

“Although Hamas has opposed years of on-off peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, Mr Meshaal said he and the group had agreed to accept the boundaries which existed before the 1967 Middle East war as the basis for those of a future Palestinian state.”

Of course the BBC has been pushing this theme for some time now, despite the fact that Masha’al made his position clear in a BBC interview in February 2013:

Stephen Sackur:  “But I just want to nail down what your current position is on the question of a two state solution to provide a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The Saudi newspaper Al Sharq reported just the other day that you are now prepared to accept a two state solution. You have told this, according to the newspaper, to King Abdullah and you’ve asked King Abdullah to…of Jordan…to relay this message to President Obama. Is that true?”

Masha’al: “This is not true.” 

Further, in January 2014:

“Hamas said it never gave Abbas or anyone else a mandate to agree to the two-state solution.
The Islamist group said that in 2006, all Palestinian factions agreed to the establishment of Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines and the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes inside Israel “without recognizing the Zionist entity or its legitimacy on the land of Palestine.” 
It added that “resistance in all shapes, first and foremost armed struggle, will remain the only effective way to achieve the goals of the Palestinian people and liberate their land.””

Bowen refrains from making any effort to deconstruct Masha’al’s Western-focused PR spin and goes on to provide him with the opportunity for more:

Bowen: “Now in some of the…ahh…statements put out by Mr Netanyahu and others in Israel they have associated the activities of Hamas with the activities of Jihadist groups like the group that calls itself Islamic State and also like Al Qaeda. They tend to put you all into the same category. What do you think of that? Do you think that’s a fair comment?”

Masha’al: “There is no Daesh [ISIS], no IS or Al Qaeda in Palestine. There are some lone wolves but they are isolated. We don’t allow such thoughts in Palestine. The Palestinian people are in a movement for national liberation. It is a just cause and it is certainly not terrorism – quite the opposite. The Palestinians have been the victims of Israeli terrorism for decades. I condemn any side that is practicing extremism and killing based on identity or affiliation.” [emphasis added]

Bowen makes no effort to question Masha’al on the topic of Hamas collaboration with Jihadist elements in the Sinai Peninsula and of course he refrains from asking him how that highlighted sentence fits in with statements in the Hamas charter and the propaganda disseminated in Hamas-run mosques and Hamas-run media.

Hamas cleric:  “Our belief about fighting you [Jews] is that we will exterminate you, until the last one, and we will not leave of you even one. For you are the usurpers of the land, foreigners, mercenaries of the present and of all times. Look at history, brothers: Wherever there were Jews, they spread corruption… (Quran): “They spread corruption in the land, and Allah does not like corrupters.” Their belief is destructive. Their belief fulfills the prophecy. Our belief is in obtaining our rights on our land, implementing Shari’ah (Islamic law) under Allah’s sky.”  [Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas), July 25, 2014]

Bowen’s subsequent questions enable Masha’al to expand on his whitewashing of Hamas ideology for Western audiences.

Bowen: Is there a sense in which…ahh….the activities of Muslim Brotherhood allies like yourselves in Hamas are being overshadowed by the growth of Jihadist groups – Islamic State, Al Qaeda and the like?”

Masha’al: “We are an active resistance with a just cause battling the occupier. We have a moderate ideology and an open mind. Others practice violence in the name of Jihad, which we condemn. And this is not Islam. [emphasis added]

Bowen: “There are plenty people in America, Britain, Israel, other places who would laugh when they heard you say that Hamas is a moderate organization. That’s not how they’d describe you.”

Masha’al: “The ones who are laughing at our logic today, they should laugh at Mandela and what the Vietnamese people have done and what De Gaulle did when he led the liberation war against the Nazi occupation in the Second World War. They should laugh at George Washington and the American Revolution. The people of the world have been liberated from occupiers and the Palestinian people are doing the same and so is Hamas.”

Bowen of course avoids asking Masha’al why Hamas continues to carry out terror attacks against Israeli civilians in southern Israel a decade after the last Israeli soldier left the Gaza Strip.

Additional Hamas propaganda promoted in the written report includes:Bowen Hamas written

“But to its supporters Hamas is seen as a legitimate resistance movement.

In an interview with BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen in Qatar, Mr Meshaal said attacks on Israel would continue “as long as there is occupation, aggression, war and killing”.

But he stressed that Hamas was “careful to respect international humanitarian law and to target only military targets”.” [emphasis added]

And:

“The Palestinians, he [Masha’al] asserted, had shown that they were “flexible, serious and keen to achieve a just and rightful peace”.

“But Israel killed the peace process,” he added, blaming Mr Netanyahu’s outgoing government, along with “extremist forces” in Israel, for the collapse of the US-brokered direct negotiations last year.”

No effort is made to point out to readers that Hamas was not party to those negotiations and expressed opposition to them or that their collapse was the result of the PA’s  decision to form a ‘unity government’ with Hamas.

A glimpse into the rationale behind these two alarmingly opaque puff pieces from Jeremy Bowen can be found in the insert of his ‘analysis’ in the written report:

“He [Masha’al] seemed to be calibrating his comments on the conflict with Israel to catch the prevailing mood of anger towards Mr Netanyahu in the White House, after his sharp turn to the ultra-nationalist Israeli Right in the last days of the election campaign.

Mr Meshaal called for a sovereign independent Palestinian state and an end to the occupation of land captured in the 1967 Middle East war. So did the White House chief of staff earlier this week.”

And of course Jeremy ‘I see no human shields’ Bowen just happened to be in Doha at this particular juncture in order to play matchmaker and enable the joining of those dots.

These two reports not only fail to meet the BBC’s commitment to “build a global understanding of international issues”, they actively sabotage that public purpose. They do, however, provide further indication why the corporation’s Middle East reporting consistently falls short of its professed standards of accuracy and impartiality and why it will continue to do so for as long as the helm of its Middle East reporting is steered by a man who long since self-conscripted to a particular political cause.

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