Mainstreaming anti-Israel rhetoric on the BBC World Service

In addition to the ‘Gaza Special’ broadcast on May 19th on the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Business Daily’, the edition of the show ‘Business Matters’ aired on the same station on the same day also devoted most of its content to the same subject matter.

In the introduction to that programme, however, listeners across the globe were treated to an interesting and revealing glimpse into the ‘BBC world view’ of the Gaza Strip. 

Presenter Roger Hearing tells listeners:

“We’ll also be […] hearing exactly how you get into one of the most restricted zones in the world. […]

But first let me describe where we are. The Gaza Strip is roughly a rectangular area of land slightly more than twice the size of Washington DC. It’s sandy, flat and runs along the Mediterranean coast between Israel and Egypt. These 360 square kilometers contain almost two million people so it’s one of the most densely populated places on the planet: more than five thousand people per square kilometer.”cities population density

This is of course far from the first time that the BBC has promoted the notion that the Gaza Strip is “one of the most densely populated places on the planet” and, as has been noted here before:

“As we know, there are many other cities in the world with a higher population density than Gaza City (6,708/km2) and other places in the world with higher population densities than the Gaza Strip as a whole (4,750.71/km2 in 2012). Interestingly, the BBC profiles for those places (Macau, Monaco, Singapore, Hong Kong) do not cite population density as a factor inevitably leading to social or economic problems.” 

Hearing continues:

“One more statistic: three-quarters of the people here are under 25 and the vast majority of these people can never leave. Why is that? Well the answer lies in the controversial and complicated politics of Gaza. Now it is technically not a state but an entity. Let me give you a necessarily abbreviated history. Back in 1948 when Israel became a state Palestinian refugees crowded into camps here. Then, it was run by Egypt until Israel occupied it in 1967.”

Note how Hearing’s “history” ignores the Gaza Strip’s status as part of the territory assigned by the League of Nations for the creation of the Jewish national home. Note too the absence of any mention of the fact that the Palestinian refugees were created because the nascent Israeli state was attacked by its Arab neighbours in 1948 and the euphemistic reference to the Gaza Strip being “run” – rather than occupied – by Egypt.

Hearing goes on to present a partial portrayal of Hamas’ terrorist designation and a whitewashed account of the violent Hamas coup which resulted in the expulsion of the internationally recognized representatives of the Palestinian people from the enclave.

“Israel finally pulled out in 2005, leaving it to the control of the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas –regarded by Israel, the European Union and the United States as a terrorist organization – took over in 2007 and they’ve run Gaza ever since.”

He then misrepresents the reasons for the closure of the Israeli and Egyptian borders with the Gaza Strip, eliminating from the picture all mention of Hamas terrorism in either country.

“And since Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel, Israel closed down the borders. For a while the border with Egypt was open but that’s been shut now under the new Egyptian government.”

In fact, as has been noted here before:

“The violent Hamas take-over of Gaza took place between June 5th and 15th 2007 and the Palestinian Authority – the internationally recognized representative of the Palestinian people – was forcefully ejected from power. Following that event, both Egypt 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 – the Israeli government declared Gaza to be ‘hostile territory’.”

That misrepresentation of events prepares the ground for Hearing to continue with a blatantly inaccurate portrayal of what came first – Hamas terrorism or the blockade.

“And now: the most controversial part of all this. Hamas fighters fired rockets into Israel and staged raids across the border in what Palestinians say is a response to the terrible conditions they’re in as a result of the blockade.”

He goes on to say:

“Israel has launched drone strikes and bombings and conducted full-scale military offensives into Gaza as well as tightening the partial blockade – they say – in response to the Hamas rockets.”

Actually, the blockade has been relaxed since 2010. Making no effort to inform listeners of the Gaza Strip civilian/combatant casualty ratio, Hearing continues:  

“The most recent war last summer was the most destructive. More than two thousand Palestinians – many of them children – died and 66 Israeli soldiers and 6 civilians were killed. Large areas of the Gaza Strip were reduced to rubble.”

In fact, that latter claim was shown to be inaccurate in post-conflict analysis carried out a full ten months ago.

“We find 8,952 of the 12,433 total points (72%) are within a 3 KM buffer abutting the border with Israel. The main objective of Operation Protective Edge was to find and destroy dozens of terror tunnels dug from Gaza into Israel.

That the most intensive damage was caused to the area where the tunnels naturally originated is thus perfectly understandable. Furthermore, of the 4,441 destroyed structures, 3,481 of them (78%) are within the 3 KM buffer, as are 2,531 of 3,303 (77%) of the lowest intensity damage (simple craters), which are mostly strikes on rocket launchers and tunnels.

Most of the attacks are grouped around certain neighborhoods or villages, such as Shuja’iyya, Johur ad-Dik, Sureij, and Khuza’a. These were probably the result of the ground operations that took place in dense urban areas also within the 3 KM buffer that housed multiple tunnel entrances and shafts, as well as launch sites for mortars and rockets.”

Amazingly, after that blatantly political and repeatedly inaccurate portrayal, Hearing states:

“In this programme we’re going to try and park the politics and look at how an economy under these circumstances functions at all.”

And to add insult to injury, he goes on to make use of one of the most jaded clichés in the rich lexicon of politically motivated anti-Israel rhetoric.Business Matters 19 5 Hearing intro

“One of the reasons Gaza’s often described as the largest open-air prison in the world is the difficulty of getting across the border with Israel.”

That same rhetoric is also used in the programme’s synopsis on the BBC website.

“How does the economy work in what some have described as the world’s biggest prison? Presenter Roger Hearing is live from the seafront in the Gaza Strip at the start of a week of coverage from Israel and the Palestinian territories.”

As we see, the BBC World Service has now extinguished any daylight that remained between itself and numerous assorted Hamas-supporting campaigning groups which employ the “world’s largest open-air prison” canard. And as Hearing’s jaundiced portrayal of the Gaza Strip shows, the problem with the broadcaster supposedly committed to accuracy and impartiality obviously does not by any means stop there. 

Another Gaza Strip missile attack goes unreported by the BBC – in English

On the evening of Tuesday, May 26th, a missile fired from the Gaza Strip exploded near Gan Yavne – fortunately without causing any physical injuries. Several hours later, Israel responded to the attack by carrying out airstrikes on four terror infrastructure sites in the southern Gaza Strip.

This latest attack is the fifth since the ceasefire came into effect at the end of August 2014. Like the previous missile attack from the Gaza Strip a month ago and the one before that in December and indeed the one before that in October, this incident received no coverage on the BBC News website either on Tuesday evening or on Wednesday morning.

ME HP 27 5 15a

We can however ascertain that the BBC was aware of the fact that a missile attack had taken place because on the morning of May 27th a report on the Israeli response to it appeared on the BBC Arabic website under the interestingly phrased headline “Israeli warplanes launched a series of attacks on military positions of the Palestinian resistance factions in the Gaza Strip”.BBC Arabic report missile attack 26 5

In typical ‘last-first’ BBC style, that report focuses on the effect rather than the cause, with mention of the attack itself relegated to paragraphs 11 to 13 of the 15 paragraph report. No less remarkable is the BBC’s adoption and amplification of the public relations language of the terrorist organisations which portray themselves as “resistance factions”.

This is not the first time (see related articles below) since the end of the conflict last August in which we have seen Israeli responses to Palestinian violations of the ceasefire agreement reported in Arabic but not in English.

Of course the BBC cannot claim to be fulfilling its public purpose of building “a global understanding of international issues” when it serially ignores the attacks which are the precursor to the next round of conflict between Israel and terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip.

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BBC Business accuracy fail on Gaza tomato exports

Last week two journalists from the BBC World Service’s business department – Roger Hearing and Marie Keyworth – presented a series of reports from the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Authority controlled areas and Israel. Those reports were aired on two BBC World Service radio shows: ‘Business Matters’ and ‘Business Daily’.

With both those shows being specialist programmes, listeners may have expected to receive some factual information about the relevant background factors affecting what Keyworth’s report of May 19th billed “Gaza’s Broken Economy“.Business Daily 19 5 Keyworth  

The ‘Business Daily’ version of Keyworth’s report was introduced by presenter Manuela Saragosa as follows:

“After the conflict with Israel in the middle of last year international donors pledged three and a half billion dollars to fund the reconstruction of Gaza’s economy. But last month a group of 46 international aid agencies warned that reconstruction and recovery have barely begun. Much of the aid money has yet to come through. So how do ordinary Gazans survive? What economy is there to speak of?”

This of course is far from the first time that the BBC has reported on the failure of donors to come up with the contributions pledged at the Cairo donor conference last October but once again we see that no serious exploration of the background to that story takes place and audiences hence lack the information they need in order to be able to understand the contribution of Hamas-PA infighting to the present situation.

Whilst Marie Keyworth’s report (also aired on ‘Business Matters’) is high on emotion and pathos, again listeners were not provided with the objective facts and background information necessary for proper understanding of the anecdotes they heard. Business Matters 19 5 15

Thus, when Keyworth interviewed the son of a blacksmith who once used to make a much better living working in Israel, listeners heard the following context-free explanation:

“He has been working in Israel like for 25 years and then intifada number two happened – 2000 – he, all of them, stopped going to Israel so he was stuck in Gaza doing whatever he could do.”

The second Intifada did not just ‘happen’ of course; it was planned, initiated and executed by representatives and leaders of the same Palestinians who, as a result of that terror war, lost the ability to support their families by means of higher paying work in Israel.

A similar lack of context was evident when the owner of a mini-market was heard telling Keyworth that:

“We get the goods in the shop through merchants. We used to get them through the tunnels but now they have to import them through the borders when they are open. Most of the things we used to get from the tunnels were cheap but now they are unavailable. It’s getting more expensive but on whose expense? It’s me; the citizen of course.”

No effort was made by Kenworth to inform listeners that Egypt’s closure of the smuggling tunnels in the Rafah region was prompted by the use of those same tunnels for the purpose of terrorism. Likewise, audiences were not told that there are no limitations on the import of foodstuffs via the Kerem Shalom crossing or that the crossing is open most of the time (excepting weekends, holidays and occasionally due to security incidents) meaning that promotion of the notion that imports can only enter Gaza “when they are open” fosters a misleading impression.

Listeners heard a similarly context-free and misleading statement concerning “borders” in a segment of the programme recorded in a market.

MK: “So these tomatoes have been grown in Gaza?”

Interviewee: “Yeah, yeah, but the borders are closed – we can’t export them – so they give them back to the market and that’s that makes it a little cheaper for us.”

In contrast to the inaccurate impression given to listeners, agricultural produce is of course exported from the Gaza Strip. In addition to the existing exports to Europe and elsewhere, farmers in Gaza also now send produce to PA controlled areas and Israel.

So if a reduction in the price of tomatoes in the markets of Gaza is not because “the borders are closed”, what did bring it about?

In April 2015 – a month before this BBC report was made – the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza announced that it was temporarily stopping the export of tomatoes from the Gaza Strip due to their high price there.

“The Ministry told the agency Anatolia news that “as soon as market supply increases and prices stabilise, exports will be resumed.”

According to official data, the Gaza Strip has shipped some 250 tonnes of tomatoes to Israel since last month. The Ministry of Agriculture reported that the Gaza Strip produces nearly 70 thousand tonnes of tomatoes per year.”

Clearly the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture does not believe that “the borders are closed” to exports and it is obvious that no fact-checking was carried out by the BBC before this report was broadcast and hence listeners were materially misled.

BBC audiences have heard variations of these emotive descriptions of the Gaza economy on assorted BBC platforms on countless occasions in the past. It is however particularly disappointing to see the BBC’s business department producing the same kind of inaccurate and context-free repetition of that standard theme. Any report really aimed at informing audiences about the facts behind the story could not pass up on objective presentation and meaningful analysis of the contribution of Hamas’ terrorism to the real causes of the economic situation in the Gaza Strip. 

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Wind in the sails of Jibril Rajoub’s anti-Israel campaign from BBC WS WHYS

In addition to the context-free promotion of Jibril Rajoub’s latest sports related assault on Israel’s legitimacy recently seen on the BBC News website, listeners to the BBC World Service radio programme ‘World Have Your Say’ were also treated to a dose of unhindered propaganda from the head of the Palestinian Football Association on May 21st.WHYS Rajoub tweet

The item can be heard from around the 40 minute mark in a podcast here or here from 43:48.

With no intervention from presenter Chloe Tilley, the segment opens with almost two full minutes of a diatribe from Rajoub which is replete with distortions and falsehoods, including accusations of “humiliations” and “racism”. When Tilley does finally interject, it is to ask Rajoub whether he thinks FIFA understands “those pressures on Palestinian teams, on players, on fans?” and once again Rajoub uses the opportunity to promote the inaccurate notion that the underlying issue is Israeli “racism”.

Listeners also hear a contribution from a partly identified football fan from Dubai who, in addition to promoting his own context-free, cherry picked claims, states – with no challenge from Tilley – that it is hard to be a fan or a player “in the context of the occupation and the apartheid”.WHYS Rajoub prog

Also notable is Tilley’s failure to insist on a proper answer from Rajoub concerning a point raised by the one Israeli contributor to the programme and her presentation of the issue with the use of the phrasing “naming a fencing competition after – in his words – a terrorist”.  

Towards the end of the segment listeners hear another rant from Rajoub:

“The Israelis are violating. The Israelis are bullying. The Israelis are behaving like the bully of the neighbourhood. The Israelis are humiliating.”

Throughout almost ten minutes of airtime devoted to this topic listeners did not get to hear the official Israeli view of this story and at no point did Chloe Tilley attempt to make audiences aware of the all-important context of issues concerning Palestinian football players with links to terrorist organisations.

What listeners did however take away from this embarrassingly superficial and uninformative item were unchallenged labels such as “racism” and “apartheid” – another brick in the wall of BBC enabled delegitimisation of Israel.

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20% of BBC’s reporting on car attack in Jerusalem is amplification of anonymous hearsay

As has been noted here previously, despite the marked increase in the number of vehicular terror attacks against Israelis seen in recent months, the BBC refrained from reporting the incidents which took place on May 14th, April 25th and April 15th.

On May 20th yet another attack took place in Jerusalem.

“Two Border Police officers were lightly injured in Jerusalem on Wednesday when a Palestinian man veered off the road and hit them with an SUV in what police said was a deliberate attack.

The driver was shot by police and critically wounded after he tried to back up and run over the injured officers again, police said. He was administered first aid at the scene but died shortly thereafter.” [emphasis added]

Ynet reported:

“The driver had been traveling from the direction of the Augusta Victoria area, when he spotted the group of Border Police, who were conducting security checks.  He appears to have veered off the road towards the group in order to carry out the attack.

 An initial investigation shows that the driver identified the group of police officers and tried to run them over. After the attack, he tried to “confirm the kill” by reversing back over the wounded officers. He was then shot by police.” [emphasis added]

The perpetrator is apparently affiliated with Hamas.

Whilst not producing a stand-alone report on the incident, the BBC did include a couple of paragraphs right at the end of an article on another topic (which will be discussed separately).

car attack a Tur

Contrary to the inaccurate impression given in the BBC’s account of the incident the perpetrator was not shot “after he swerved his vehicle” but after he ran the police officers over. Likewise, as can be seen from the reports above and others, the police officers were not “slightly” injured, but lightly to moderately – as described by the Jerusalem Post:

“According to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, the attack took place shortly before 10 a.m. when Amran Abu Dhein, 41, of Jebl Mukaber in southeastern Jerusalem, rammed his car into a female and two male officers, who sustained light-to-moderate injuries to their legs and hips.”

No less notable than the above inaccuracies is the dubious editorial decision to use over 20% of the word count of this brief report to amplify anonymous hearsay claiming that “the driver had tried to swerve to avoid hitting pedestrians” – despite the existence of testimonies indicating that he had actually tried to run them over a second time. 

 

Another vehicular terror attack ignored by BBC News

Last Thursday afternoon – May 14th – four Israeli civilians aged between 16 and 25 were injured when a driver rammed a stolen vehicle into the bus stop near Alon Shvut in Gush Etzion at which they were waiting.

By the evening of the same day the driver had been arrested and it had become clear that the incident was a terror attack.No news

“The suspect was named by the Shin Bet security service as Muhammed Arfaaya, a 22-year-old resident of Hebron. […]

The Shin Bet said that Arfaaya was released from Israeli prison last year, after he served a sentence for carrying a weapon and throwing stones.

According to the Shin Bet, Arfaaya claimed nationalistic motives drove him to hurt the Israelis. The agency was also looking into whether the suspect was incited by calls on social networks to carry out attacks against Israelis.”

Like numerous other recent attacks, this incident was not reported by the BBC.

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BBC WS radio’s partisan portrayal of ‘The Church of the Nativity siege’

As readers may be aware, a production by the ‘Freedom Theatre of Palestine’ is currently on tour in the UK.

“The theater company, based in the West Bank town of Jenin, structured the play around the April 2002 siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The company, whose mission is “generating cultural resistance,” is bringing the play to the United Kingdom in May and is set to perform in a number of locales with large Jewish communities. According to the theater’s website, “The Siege” is supported by the EU, the British Council and the Roddick Foundation.

It will open in Manchester at Salford’s Lowry Theatre on May 13 and 14, and will then tour Britain, with performances at London’s Battersea Arts Centre and major stages in Leeds, Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow, as well as some smaller venues.”

Not surprisingly, the play has received rave reviews from the ISM (International Solidarity Movement) which at the time had members acting as voluntary human shields for the wanted terrorists inside the church. The ISM also provides some insight into the aims behind both the production itself and its British tour.

“At the Freedom Theatre, Cultural Resistance is their way of defying the occupation. Ahmed Jamil Tobassi, one of the actors from the show, explained that among many other things, theatre creates a context that can support other forms of resistance. It revives stories, gives people a way of expressing themselves and ultimately frees the mind. The idea of cultural resistance is to work alongside other forms of resistance, not against. Yet “if you cannot start by deconstructing the occupation within yourself, how are you going to be able to free the country from the bigger, external occupation?” argues Jonatan Stanczak, managing director of the Theatre.

During the months of May and June, this play will be touring the United Kingdom, a country the theatre group has not yet been too. It is also as a message for the British to take responsibility for their prominent role in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and the ongoing occupation.”

Coincidentally, or not, the BBC World Service chose to revisit the story of the 2002 events at the Church of the Nativity in two recent radio programmes.Siege Witness

The May 12th edition of ‘Witness‘, presented by Louise Hidalgo, was devoted to accounts from a Franciscan priest and an American photographer who were both present at the time. Among the many notable features of the programme (not least the chosen illustrative image) is the lack of essential context in Hidalgo’s inserts of ‘background’.

“Today we go back to May 2002 and one of the most dramatic sieges of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For 38 days a group of Palestinian gunmen and civilians and nuns and monks have been holed up inside one of Christianity’s most holy sites – the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem – surrounded by the Israeli army.” […]

“The stand-off had begun in early April when Israeli tanks had entered Bethlehem as part of a series of raids across the West Bank. As the Israeli army moved into the town, local civilians and Palestinian militants fled into Manger Square. When troops opened fire there, many of them ran into the church to seek sanctuary.”

What Hidalgo describes as “a series of raids” was in fact Operation Defensive Shield. She makes no mention of the fact that by the time that operation began, the second Intifada had been underway for a year and a half and around 300 Israelis had already been murdered in terror attacks. Neither does Hidalgo clarify that the catalyst for the operation was the terror attack on the Park Hotel in Netanya on Pesach Eve, in which thirty civilians were murdered and 140 injured. As far as BBC audiences are concerned, the Israeli army simply woke up one morning and decided to carry out “raids”.

Contrary to the impression given by Hidalgo’s account, the Israeli army was not the only side to open fire before the wanted terrorists broke into the Church of the Nativity by shooting off the door lock. As the Guardian reported at the time:

“Witnesses described desperate close quarter fighting in the old part of Bethlehem, a warren of narrow alleys and stone streets behind Manger Square, as Israeli forces went from house to house and entered religious buildings searching for Palestinian fighters.

Outgunned, the Palestinians fought desperately to keep Israeli troops out of Manger Square itself. Palestinian gunmen have frequently used the area around the Church of the Nativity as a refuge, with the expectation that Israel would try to avoid fighting near it.”

Neither does Hidalgo inform listeners of the existence of accounts which suggest that the terrorists’ use of the holy site was pre-planned and tactically motivated.

“As confirmed by a senior Tanzim commander, Abdullah Abu-Hadid, “The idea was to enter the church in order to create international pressure on Israel….We knew beforehand that there was two years’ worth of food for 50 monks. Oil, beans, rice, olives. Good bathrooms and the largest wells in old Bethlehem. You didn’t need electricity because there were candles. In the yard they planted vegetables. Everything was there.””

And:

“The conspiracy was to make a siege and put all the fighters inside the church so Israel would make the siege. People from the Palestinian Authority collaborated with this conspiracy,” said Eiman Abu Eita, Fatah’s representative in the Bethlehem satellite town of Beit Sahour who at the time of the siege was Beit Sahour’s al-Aqsa Brigades chief.”

Remarkably, at no point throughout this whole programme are listeners told that the people described variously as “gunmen”, “militants” or merely “men” were in fact wanted terrorists. That coy approach to an essential part of the story is reinforced in the account given by photographer Carolyn Cole.

“I do remember when the men were saying goodbye to the leaders of the Al Aqsa Martyr Brigade who was going into exile in Cyprus – Ibrahim Abayat – and I had taken a portrait of him earlier in the week. I didn’t really know his background. I had no idea why he was the most wanted man in the church but there was a group of them who left the church first and so all the other men were gathering around them. They made a line and everyone was hugging as those men left.”

Despite having had thirteen years to find out about Abayat’s “background”, Cole and her host Hidalgo refrain from telling BBC audiences the facts.

“Abayat was born in 1973, and is a resident of the city of Bethlehem. He is head of the Fatah Tanzim terrorist organization in the city.

After the death of Atef Abayat, Ibrahim took over as the Bethlehem commander of the Tanzim. In this capacity, he was involved in dispatching and executing dozens of shooting and bombing attacks, which resulted in the death and injury of scores of Israelis. Abayat also orchestrated and participated in the shooting and mortar attacks on the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo and on the Bethlehem bypass roads.

Aside from the shooting and mortar attacks, Ibrahim Abayat was also involved in the following murderous terrorist attacks:

20 September 2001 – A shooting attack on an Israeli vehicle near the community of Tekoa, in which Sarit Amrani was killed.

16 July 2001 – The detonation of an explosive charge on the Beit Safafa -Talpiot bridge, Jerusalem.

15 January 2002 – The abduction and murder of Avi Boaz, a US citizen residing in Israel. Boaz was stopped at a Palestinian roadblock near Beit Sahour. There he was abducted by Abayat’s operatives, who took him to Bethlehem, and upon Abayat’s instructions, shot him to death.

18 February 2002 – The detonation of a car bomb at the Zaim checkpoint, resulting in the death of an Israeli policeman.

25 February 2002 – A shooting attack at an Israeli vehicle close to the Tekoa junction. Avraham Fisch and Aharon Gorov of Nokdim were killed in the attack, and Tamar Lipschitz, in an advanced stage of pregnancy, was wounded in the attack.

2 March 2002 – A shooting attack at a vehicle on the ‘Tunnel Route’ south of Jerusalem. Devorah Friedman was killed in the attack.

June 14, 2002 – Involvement in the planning and execution of the terrorist murder of Israeli intelligence officer, Yehuda Edri.

In addition, incriminating evidence has been found linking him to an attempt to detonate an explosive charge, in the Jerusalem suburb of Tzur Haddassah, on 31 January 2002. The explosive charge was discovered and neutralized by Israeli police sappers.”

According to some accounts from the time, Abayat also murdered Palestinians.

“Residents also said that Mr. Ja’ara and another top leader, Ibrahim Abayat, took nine Muslims whom they suspected of collaborating with Israel into an apartment near Manger Square and fatally shot them.
The executions took place shortly before the April 2 gunbattle between Israeli troops and Palestinian fighters that sent more than 200 Palestinians fleeing into the church, where they remained for 39 days.
Abayat, in a phone interview from inside the church while the siege was under way, said he was personally responsible for the killings.
He said there was no need for a trial because “it was a well-known fact that these people were linked to Israel.””

No less euphemistic is the programme’s presentation of the terrorist supporting ISM with which Cole entered the church and which she was apparently covering at the time.

Hidalgo: “Then one day, photographer Carolyn Cole had the kind of break that journalists can only dream of. It was late afternoon, she was standing at the barricade when she spotted a group of foreign protesters sneaking around the side of the church.” […]

“The protesters had coordinated by mobile phone with some of the Palestinians inside.”

Interestingly, Hidalgo makes no attempt to clarify what those so-called “foreign protesters” were actually doing in a war zone but the ISM’s press release from the time does supply some of the missing background.

“BETHLEHEM (May 2, 2002) – Ten members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) entered the besieged Church of Nativity at about 5:45 pm, walking past Israeli occupation soldiers. A further thirteen persons, working as decoys were arrested by the Israeli soldiers. All those inside are determined to remain until the Israelis lift their siege on the city of Bethlehem.

The ISM conceived of an intricate plan to move past Israeli soldiers outside the Church in several separate but coordinated groups carrying placards denouncing the ongoing Israeli occupation. In a move orchestrated with contacts within, two ISM teams were able to reach the Church and enter its main door before Israeli soldiers could respond. Every member carried with them food and other critical supplies badly needed by the Palestinians holed up inside. The Israeli army has denied the Palestinians, besieged since April 1, 2002, sufficient amounts of food.

This constitutes the latest in a series of success by the ISM to defy the Israeli occupation and to demonstrate to the world that the international community takes a firm stance against the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. In light of the failure for the international community, namely the United States and the United Nations to act to help protect the Palestinian people and secure their universal rights, the ISM has had to operate on its own. Prior to this, the ISM has twice circumvented Israeli occupation forces to place activists inside of President Arafat’s compound in Ramallah.”

Hidalgo’s context-free, romanticized presentation of events was broadcast yet again to BBC World Service listeners in the May 16th edition of ‘The History Hour’ and also promoted as a podcast. There it was introduced by presenter Max Pearson as follows:Siege History Hour

“But we begin in that hotbed of historical drama; the Middle East. Ever since the creation of Israel after the Second World War – carved out of land previously inhabited by the Palestinians – there’s been tension between Jews and Arabs. This tension is frequently expressed in violence; sometimes in war. And the holy shrines of three great religions – Judaism, Islam and Christianity – have not escaped unscathed. So it was in May 2002 when one of the most dramatic sieges of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unfolded in Bethlehem.” [emphasis added]

Pearson makes no attempt to explain to listeners what “have not escaped unscathed” meant in this particular case.

“The 39 day standoff in Bethlehem ended yesterday when 13 of the militiamen camped in the church were flown to Cyprus on their way to exile in Europe. Another 26 militiamen were released into the Gaza Strip, where they fired assault rifles in the air to acknowledge cheers from crowds lining the streets. Seventy-three Palestinian policemen and civilians were set free.

Israeli bomb experts swept the church at the request of the priests and found 40 explosive devices, several booby-trapped and hidden in corners and behind cupboards, the army said. The sappers neutralised 25 devices and an American bomb squad with sniffer dogs disarmed the rest, according to a military source.

In their joy over having control over the shrine again, Greek and Franciscan priests conducted a service, and bells rang for several minutes.

When Israeli troops later withdrew from Bethlehem, hundreds of residents who had been trapped in their houses by curfew during much of the standoff entered the church. Many lit candles near the birth grotto.

”This is the place where Jesus was born. I can’t believe this is the house of God, just look at it,” 18-year-old Sandy Shaheen, a Bethlehem Christian, said crying.

The shrine reeked of urine and dirty dishes, blankets, cigarette butts and a mass of other garbage lay about. But the building was largely unscathed by the standoff.”

Despite the lack of important background information and context and regardless of the absence of any input on this story from the Israeli side, the BBC chose to present this clearly partisan anecdotal version of events as ‘history’. That would be bad enough at any time, but in a month in which BBC audiences in the UK will likely be hearing a lot about the Jenin Freedom Theatre’s agitprop, it is all the more striking that the organisation tasked with building “a global understanding of international issues” has elected to put politics before the provision of accurate and impartial information.

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PA honours for murderers ignored by the BBC

As regular readers will be aware, the topic of the Palestinian Authority’s glorification of terrorism is one which remains – along with incitement and the funding of convicted terrorists – consistently unreported by the BBC.No news

It therefore came as no surprise to see that the BBC’s regional correspondents avoided the following story altogether.

On May 9th the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reported that:

“Director of PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs [and PA Parliament Member] Issa Karake…  [visited the] families of prisoners sentenced to life, together with a delegation of the commission.[…] Karake awarded plaques of honor to the prisoners’ families.”

The three prisoners whose families were officially honoured are serving sentences for their part in the October 2000 lynching of two Israeli reservists – Vadim Nurzhitz and Yossi Avrahami – in Ramallah.

As has been noted here in the past, a number of inaccurate BBC reports on that incident are still available on the BBC News website.

Whilst the BBC on the one hand devotes considerable amounts of airtime and column space to the topic of the ‘peace process’, on the other hand it systematically avoids informing its audiences about such examples of the Palestinian Authority’s glorification of terrorism, despite their being a crucial part of the story it claims to tell.

 

Hamas news you won’t hear from the BBC

Last November the BBC News website reported on the arrest of Hamas operatives in Palestinian Authority controlled areas but missed out a significant part of the story.No news

“As readers may have heard, the Israeli Security Agency announced on November 27th that it had arrested some 30 Hamas operatives, including some foreign nationals, located throughout Judea & Samaria. The Hebrew announcement is available here and it notes the role of the Turkey-based Hamas official Saleh al Arouri in organizing and financing this latest terror network to be uncovered.

“As with the previous network, the man behind the terrorist grouping was Saleh al-Arouri, a Hamas leader who was deported from the West Bank to Turkey in 2010, the sources said.

Arouri, they said, built up and funded the network, and has effectively established a Hamas command post in Turkey which is leading terror efforts in the West Bank. Arouri is reportedly aided by dozens of operatives, some of whom were deported by Israel in the wake of the Gilad Shalit prisoner deal in 2011.”

As was the case when a previous network was discovered in August of this year (see here and here), BBC coverage of this story fails to adequately inform audiences of the fact that Hamas’ operations in territory under the control of the Palestinian Authority are being run from a NATO member country.”

On May 6th the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center published a report which again notes Hamas’ activities in Turkey whilst highlighting the terror group’s recruitment activity in Malaysia – as exposed in the indictment of a Hebron resident.

“On February 13, 2015, Wasim Rashad Umran Qawasmeh, from Hebron, was detained at the Allenby Bridge when he returned from his studies in Malaysia via Jordan. On March 18, 2015, he was indicted by the Ofer Judea Military Court. According to the indictment he was recruited by Hamas during his studies at the International Islamic University Malaysia.” […]

“In July 2014 Sharif Abu Shamala (a Hamas activist in the Islamic University student association) proposed to Wasim Qawasmeh that he participate in a Hamas management and command course in Turkey. Qawasmeh agreed and in August 2014 he flew from Malaysia to Turkey and participated in the course, which lasted a week. Hamas financed his stay in Turkey. One of the lectures was given by Muhammad Nizal, a senior Hamas figure responsible the organization’s foreign affairs.” […]

“Hamas’ external military-terrorist headquarters is located in Turkey. Saleh Muhammad Suleiman al-Arouri, one of the founders of Hamas military-terrorist wing in Judea and Samaria, is in charge. The IDF security services’ interrogations of terrorist operatives clearly indicate the main role played by Turkey in directing Hamas terrorism. The Turkish headquarters gave the course attended by Wasim Qawasmeh.”

Another interesting Hamas connection to Malaysia is outlined in the same report.

“On the night of July 20, 2014, during Operation Protective Edge, an IDF force in the region of Qarara (Khan Yunis) detained a Hamas terrorist operative from an Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades elite unit. Interrogation revealed that he had been recruited to Hamas’ military-terrorist wing in 2007. After three years he and nine other Hamas terrorist operatives from various battalions were sent to Malaysia to train in the use of hang gliders.  

They trained in Malaysia for a week in preparation for using hang gliders to infiltrate Israel to carry out an attack. Upon his return to the Gaza Strip they were called for additional training in the Gaza Strip. They were all warned to keep their activities secret and not to mention hang gliders. Later 2014 he underwent more training in the Gaza Strip along with the other terrorist operatives who had trained in Malaysia.”

Read the whole report here.

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BBC coverage of terrorism in Israel in April 2015

Throughout the month of April the BBC produced one report on the topic of terror attacks in Israel:

April 8th: “Palestinian killed after stabbing two Israeli soldiers” – discussed here.Pigua 8 4 report final

In addition to reporting on the incident of that day at the Sinjil junction in which two soldiers were stabbed, the article also makes a brief reference to an incident (not reported by the BBC at the time) which took place on April 2nd near Oranit in which one soldier was stabbed.

In other words, as far as BBC audiences are aware, two separate non-fatal stabbing attacks on three members of the Israeli security forces took place throughout the month of April.

The Israel Security Agency’s monthly report for April 2015 shows that the total number of attacks during that month was one hundred and twenty-one. 82 attacks took place in Judea & Samaria and 38 in Jerusalem along with one incident of missile fire from the Gaza Strip. One person was killed and nine injured in three stabbing attacks and two attacks using vehicles. In addition, seven attacks were carried out using explosive devices and 108 attacks with petrol bombs.

A terror attack in Jerusalem’s French Hill neighbourhood on April 15th in which one person was killed and another seriously injured was not reported by the BBC.

A missile attack from the Gaza Strip on April 23rd did not receive any BBC coverage.

A stabbing incident in Hebron and a car attack in Jerusalem on April 25th were also not reported.

In other words, BBC audiences were informed of less than 2% of the total number of attacks which took place during April and the corporation’s coverage did not include the fatal attack on civilians which took place at a location less than a twenty-minute drive from the BBC’s offices in Jerusalem.  

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