BBC both amplifies and conceals PA incitement in report on Jerusalem attack

On October 30th the BBC News website’s Middle East page published a report relating to the attempted murder of Rabbi Yehuda Glick which had taken place in central Jerusalem some four hours previously. The article – originally titled “Jewish activist Yehuda Glick shot and hurt in Jerusalem” – has been amended numerous times since its initial publication but its first two versions included the following caption to its main photograph:

“Mr Glick was photographed attending a conference shortly before the shooting about Israeli access to what it calls Temple Mount” [emphasis added]

Glick art main

Later on in the report readers were told:

“He was active in a push by Jews to pray at a sensitive Jerusalem holy site.

Mr Glick had just attended a conference at the Menachem Begin Heritage Centre which had discussed Jewish claims to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound which is venerated by Jews as the Temple Mount.”

And:

“The Al-Aqsa compound is also revered by Muslims – it is widely seen as Islam’s third holiest site – and is one of the most contentious areas of the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

In other words, visitors to the BBC News website who read either of the first two versions of the article were not informed that Temple Mount (known as such not only by Israelis and long before the BBC’s obviously preferred title ‘Al-Aqsa compound’ came into existence) is the holiest site for Jews due to its being the location of the First and Second Temples. The failure to clarify that fact and the BBC’s use of the inaccurate phrase “Jewish claims to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound” obviously misleads readers. Neither were audiences adequately informed why it is that non-Muslims (not just Jews) are currently not allowed to pray at the site or why, for example, a Christian wearing a crucifix would not be permitted to visit.

“The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf (endowments), a Jordanian-funded and administered Islamic trust and charitable organization, manages the site and generally restricts non-Muslims from entering the Dome of the Rock shrine and al-Aqsa Mosque, a practice it started in 2000. The Waqf does not allow non-Muslim religious symbols to be worn on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.”

In the third version of the report the following amendment was made:

“Yehuda Glick is a well-known campaigner for greater Jewish rights to pray at the site known to Jews as the Temple Mount, and to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif.

He had just attended a conference where delegates discussed Jewish claims to the compound, the holiest site in Judaism, which also contains the al-Aqsa Mosque – the third holiest site in Islam.”

All versions of the BBC report mislead readers by inaccurately stating:

“Israel argues that it tolerates free prayer to all at the site, but Palestinians claim it is unilaterally taking steps to allow larger numbers of Jewish worshippers.”

Interestingly, a very similarly worded statement appeared in an AP report on October 18th.

In the fourth version of the article was it clarified that:

“Jews are allowed on to the compound but are forbidden from praying or performing religious rites there.”

The report’s fifth version stated:

“The site is administered by an Islamic body called the Waqf, while Israeli police are in charge of security.

Jews are allowed on to the compound but are forbidden from praying or performing religious rites there under Israeli law.”

One might have thought that all BBC staff would be capable of writing about such a prominent issue accurately, thus avoiding the omission of such a crucial part of the story as the significance of Temple Mount in the Jewish religion and hence avoiding the situation whereby the accuracy of information received by a reader depends upon the time at which he or she accessed a BBC report. Obviously – as we have seen before – that is not the case.

Some four hours after the article’s original publication it was updated (with advertisement on Twitter) to include the following statement:Glick BBC tweet

“Israeli police have since told the BBC that a suspect was located at a house in Jerusalem, and shot dead after an exchange of fire.”

From the third version onwards the report was retitled “Jerusalem: Glick suspect killed in Israel police shoot-out“.

In the report’s fourth version readers were finally informed that Mua’taz Hijazi from Abu Tor was a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, who had previously spent 11 years in prison, but not that the PIJ subsequently issued a statement reading:

“The released prisoner Muataz Hijazi who was killed in an exchange of fire in Silwan is our activist. The attempted assassination of Glick is translation into deeds of the Palestinian feeling of vengeance in reaction to what is happening in Jerusalem.”

The appearance of several ‘martyrdom posters’ with the Fatah logo (Mahmoud Abbas’ party, of course) was likewise ignored, along with the Fatah statement “[w]e proudly mourn hero martyr. Shahid in Jerusalem son of Palestine. And the son of Fatah Moataz Ibrahim Hijazi”.

Glick Fatah poster

BBC audiences were also not informed in any of the versions of the report that Yehuda Glick had received numerous threats in the past.

The headline of the seventh version of this BBC report was changed to “Jerusalem holy site closure ‘declaration of war’ – Abbas“, meaning that within less than half a day, the article’s focus had shifted from the attempted murder of Yehuda Glick, through the shooting of his would-be assassin, to unqualified amplification of the ridiculous – yet dangerous – notion that the temporary closure of Temple Mount in order to reduce tension and the likelihood of violence is an intentional “attack” on the entire Muslim world. With no effort made to clarify to readers why the complex had been closed, that version of the report informed them that:Glick BBC tweet 2 declaration

“A spokesman for Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has described the closure of a disputed Jerusalem holy site as a “declaration of war”.

Nabil Abu Rudeina said the Palestinian Authority would take legal action over the move, which came amid tension over the shooting of a Jewish activist. […]

Palestinians hold the Israeli government responsible for a “dangerous act”, Mr Abbas was quoted as saying by Mr Rudeina, in remarks carried by AFP news agency.

“This dangerous Israeli escalation is a declaration of war on the Palestinian people and its sacred places and on the Arab and Islamic nation,” Mr Rudeina added.”

However, no attempt was made in either this version or any other of the report’s various incarnations to place its subject matter – and the PA president’s latest propaganda – in the context of recent incitement from the highest levels of the Palestinian Authority. As PMW has reported, a video of part of a speech made by Abbas on October 17th was broadcast nineteen times in three days by official PA television.

The day after that speech Abbas made another to the Fatah Revolutionary Council in which he dehumanized Jews visiting Temple Mount by referring to them as a “herd of cattle” and accusing them of “desecrating our holy sites”.  On October 27th the prime minister of the Palestinian Unity Government Rami Hamdallah visited Temple Mount, using the opportunity to accuse Jews of “Judaizing” Jerusalem.

““Jerusalem is a redline, and so is the Aksa Mosque,” Hamdallah told reporters. “We will go to all international institutions and Islamic and Arab countries to request that they stand against Israeli violations in Jerusalem.”

Hamdallah accused Israel of working toward Judaizing Jerusalem and the Aksa Mosque.

“We came here to say that Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian state and an important part of the national program,” he said.”

With the PA’s employment of the issue of Temple Mount being used to escalate its incitement to new heights, it is obviously essential that BBC audiences be made aware of the highly significant contribution of that factor to the current violence if they are to fully comprehend current and future events. This article, however, makes no attempt to meet the BBC’s obligation to build “understanding” of the issue.

Related articles:

BBC News skirts opportunity to fully inform audiences on PA and Fatah incitement

Accuracy failure in Yolande Knell’s BBC report on Pope’s visit to Jerusalem holy sites

BBC omits vital background information in Temple Mount rioting story  

BBC recycles an AP inaccuracy

On October 28th an article appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Egypt ‘plans buffer’ in Sinai against Gaza smugglers“.  The report appears to be based at least in part on an Associated Press article of the same date.Egypt buffer zone art

The BBC article informs readers that:

“Egyptian media accuses Gaza’s Hamas administration of aiding militants in Sinai. Hamas denies the charge.”

The AP report states:

“Egyptian media meanwhile has accused Gaza’s Hamas rulers for meddling in Egypt’s affairs, with some suggesting that the Islamic militant group is supporting fighters inside Egypt since the military overthrew Egypt’s elected President, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, last year.

Hamas officials meanwhile deny any interference and criticize Egypt for imposing stricter border crossing rules since then.”

However, as noted here in a previous post, the accusations did not come from “Egyptian media”, but from a senior Egyptian official speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat.

“Maj. Gen. Sameeh Beshadi, who was formerly in charge of security in the North Sinai governorate where the attacks took place, said there was “no doubt that Palestinian elements had taken part in the attacks,” which killed at least 30 soldiers, according to security and medical officials.

He said the assailants had entered Sinai via the tunnels linking the region with the Palestinian territories, and that the assailants had prepared the booby-trapped vehicle which Egyptian authorities say was used to carry out one of the attacks while inside Egyptian territory. [...]

“All the big terrorist operations which have taken place in North Sinai in the last few years involved well-trained Palestinian elements, including the attack on the military helicopter at the beginning of this year,” Beshadi said, referring to an attack which took place mid-January in the Kharouba area in North Sinai and which killed five soldiers.”

Clearly that AP claim was not properly fact-checked before it was recycled by the BBC.

The BBC report informs readers that:

“Tunnels linking the Gaza Strip and Sinai have also played a vital role in the economy of the Palestinian territory, which has been struggling to cope with an economic blockade imposed by Israel in its confrontation with Hamas.”

The caption to the photograph illustrating the article states:

“Goods smuggled through tunnels under the border with Egypt are a mainstay of Gaza’s economy”

In fact, as has been noted here on previous occasions, the construction of smuggling tunnels along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt began in 1994 – long before the introduction of border restrictions by Israel in response to Hamas terrorism. From the very beginning those tunnels were used to smuggle weapons and terror operatives into the Gaza Strip in addition to drugs and contraband: hence, rather than being a product of the partial blockade, they are actually one of its causes.

Obviously, without accurate presentation of the issues of the smuggling tunnels and their role in Palestinian involvement in the terrorism prevalent in northern Sinai (a topic the BBC has scrupulously avoided to date), BBC audiences will be incapable of reaching a proper understanding of Egypt’s policies. 

 

 

BBC continues to describe terror in Jerusalem as a ‘car attack’ and terrorist as ‘driver’

Both the headline and the text of the original version of the BBC News website’s October 26th report on the death of a second victim of last week’s terror attack in Jerusalem continued the corporation’s earlier bizarre presentation of the incident as a “car attack”.

Pigua art 26 10

Likewise, the article continued to use the word terror exclusively in the context of quotes from Israeli officials.

“Officials say they are treating it as a “terrorist attack” and that the suspect had previously served a sentence in an Israeli prison “for terrorism”.”

The terrorist was described as a “driver”. [all emphasis added]

“A three-month-old girl was killed and seven injured when a Palestinian driver ran his car into a tram station.

The driver died after being shot by police as he attempted to flee.[…]

On Sunday evening clashes ensued between Palestinians and Israeli police in East Jerusalem after a “symbolic funeral” for the deceased Palestinian driver, Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi.”

Some fourteen hours after the article’s initial publication it was amended but the headline still describes the incident as a “car attack”, the terrorist is described both as an “attacker” and a “driver” and the one reference to terror is still in quotation marks.Pigua art 26 10 amended

“An Ecuadorean woman who was injured in a Palestinian attack in Jerusalem on Wednesday in which a three-month-old baby girl was also killed has died.

They were among a group of people hit when the attacker ran his car into pedestrians at a tram station.

The 21-year-old driver was shot dead by police as he attempted to flee the scene on foot. […]

Ms Mosquera and Haya Zissel Braun were killed in what police say was a “terrorist attack”.”

Relating to a separate incident, both versions of the article inaccurately describe Orwah Hammad as having been shot by “Israeli police” – rather than an army unit as was actually the case. 

Both versions of the article close:

“East Jerusalem has experienced months of unrest since a Palestinian teenager was abducted and burned to death in early July, two days after the discovery of the bodies of three Israeli teenagers who were abducted and killed in the occupied West Bank in mid-June.

The killings set off an escalating cycle of violence, leading to a 50-day conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip that claimed more than 2,000 lives.”

Rioting and attacks by Palestinians since June 12th have not been confined to “East Jerusalem” and have in fact been more prevalent in Judea & Samaria.Silwad graph

Notably, no attempt is made to clarify to readers that the kidnapping and murders of the three Israeli teenagers was carried out by a Hamas cell in Hebron with funding from the Gaza Strip.

As we have seen before, the BBC is intent upon promoting the myth of a “cycle of violence” and the erroneous notion that the summer conflict between Israel and Hamas was caused by the four murders. In order to do so, it erases from audience view the hundreds of missiles launched at civilian targets in Israel between June 12th and the commencement of Operation Protective Edge on July 8th. It was of course that intense missile fire which was the reason for the military operation, with the later discovery of dozens of cross-border tunnels prompting the subsequent ground operation. The military operation could have been avoided had Hamas elected to take advantage of the ample opportunities it was given to stop the missile fire before July 8th, but the terrorist organisation chose not to do so – for reasons not by any means exclusively connected to Israel.

It is high time that the BBC ceased to promote this inaccurate version of events in which Hamas’ instigation of the hostilities is concealed from audiences.  

 

 

 

BBC playing wingman for Qatar’s damage control in the UK?

The lead article on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on October 27th (also appearing on the site’s main homepage) was headlined “Qatar officials dismiss IS funding claims“. Coincidentally or not, the report appeared just hours before the Emir of Qatar is due to arrive in the UK for a three-day official visit aimed at “enhancing bi-lateral relations” between the two countries.Qatar art on HP

BBC audiences are reassured in the report’s opening sentences that:

“Senior officials from Qatar have strongly denied claims the country is supporting terrorist groups in Syria such as Islamic State.

They told the BBC that Qatar had only provided support to moderate militants, in co-ordination with the CIA and other Western and Arab intelligence agencies.

Strict financial controls had been put in place, they added.”

So that’s alright then. Or maybe not….

The article goes on to state:

“In the past, wealthy individuals in the emirate are believed to have made donations and the government gave money and weapons to hardline Islamist groups in Syria. Doha is also believed to have links to the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate.

But officials, including Qatar’s director of Intelligence, told the BBC the country had nothing to hide over its support for groups in Syria fighting President Assad’s regime.

The BBC’s Frank Gardner said the officials conceded that there had been constant shifts in allegiances in Syria’s civil war and some people previously considered moderate had later joined hard line Islamist militias.

They said since Qatar’s intelligence agency had taken over responsibility for its Syria policy in 2012, the new financial controls had been brought in and a number of suspect financiers had been arrested.”

So is the BBC trying to tell us that the Al Qaeda-linked Al Nusra Front with its known (not “believed” as the BBC claims) links to Qatar should be viewed as one of the groups of “moderate militants” which Qatar says it supports rather than as a terrorist organisation? Notably Frank Gardner did not find it necessary to inform readers that the UN, US, UK, Australia and Turkey have all designated the Al Nusra Front. 

Clearly readers of this report are being herded towards the belief that lax Qatari regulation which gives a green light to terror financing is now a thing of the past. However, the US obviously does not believe that is the case, as the WSJ reported just four days before the publication of this BBC report.

“The U.S. said Qatar and Kuwait aren’t doing enough to block the financing activities of the extremist group Islamic State, exposing a sore point in a coalition formed to fight the militants. […]

But Qatar and Kuwait are still “permissive jurisdictions for terrorist financing,” said David Cohen , Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. […]

In the Gulf region, Kuwait has set up a financial intelligence unit, and Qatar has passed a law regulating charities blamed for funneling cash to extremists. Kuwait arrested one of its citizens on the list as he returned from Qatar in August, as well as at least two other financiers, Kuwaiti officials have said.

But Mr. Cohen said the countries are still enabling financiers designated by U.S. and United Nations sanctions.”

And as the Telegraph reported at the beginning of this month:

“An al-Qaeda financier jailed for his role in funding the mastermind behind 9/11 is once again raising money for Islamist terrorists after being freed by the Qatari authorities, The Telegraph can disclose.

Khalifa Muhammad Turki al-Subaiy – a Qatari citizen who was said to have provided ‘financial support’ for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – was jailed for terrorist offences in 2008 but released after only six months.

He is now accused of funding Islamist terrorists fighting in Syria and Iraq.”

Of course the very pertinent issue of Qatar’s financing of radical Islamists in the Middle East is by no means limited to Syria and Iraq or to the activities of individuals.Qatar art

“Few outsiders have noticed, but radical Islamists now control Libya’s capital. These militias stormed Tripoli last month, forcing the official government to flee and hastening the country’s collapse into a failed state.

Moreover, the new overlords of Tripoli are allies of Ansar al-Sharia, a brutal jihadist movement suspected of killing America’s then ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and of trying to murder his British counterpart, Sir Dominic Asquith.

Barely three years after Britain helped to free Libya from Col Gaddafi’s tyranny, anti-Western radicals hold sway. How could Britain’s goal of a stable and friendly Libya have been thwarted so completely?

Step forward a fabulously wealthy Gulf state that owns an array of London landmarks and claims to be one of our best friends in the Middle East.

Qatar, the owner of Harrods, has dispatched cargo planes laden with weapons to the victorious Islamist coalition, styling itself “Libya Dawn”.”

And as readers are no doubt aware, Hamas (designated by the US and the EU, among others) is also on the list of Qatari protégés, with Fatah apparently also now angling for Qatari cash.

Whilst Qatari officials may well be delighted by this latest BBC-supplied opportunity to amplify their denials of funding of the West’s current bête noire – ISIS – the emirate’s policy driven approach to the funding of Islamist extremists should be seen in the context of a statement made by the country’s Emir during an interview with CNN last month.

“We don’t fund extremists,” the Emir told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday. “If you talk about certain movements, especially in Syria and Iraq, we all consider them terrorist movement.”

“I know that in America and some countries they look at some movements as terrorist movements. … But there are differences. There are differences that some countries and some people that any group which comes from Islamic background are terrorists. And we don’t accept that.”

Qatar’s selective and opportunistic approach to defining terrorism – and hence what constitutes terror financing – should of course also be viewed in the context of its financial relations with the West.

“… it is vital to remember Qatar’s role as a provider of natural gas to Europe, and its investments in both Europe and the U.S. Qatar sits on 26 trillion cubic meters of natural gas—the world’s third largest reserve. It has a sovereign wealth fund of $85 billion. And European countries are currently seeking private investment as they emerge out of austerity into growth.

The Qataris have money to spend, and have already invested heavily. They own, for example, London’s tallest skyscraper, the Shard, and London’s most exclusive shop, Harrods. This is a friendship which the British and other Europeans naturally wish to preserve. If this means permitting Qatar to play the outsize role it seeks in Mideast diplomacy, there are few signs of objection from the Europeans. If it includes championing an organization the European Union considers a terrorist group, at least one aligned against Israel, this doesn’t seem to present too much of a problem either.

Among Western European countries, the notion that the appropriate response to terror groups is dialogue, or at least keeping the possibility of dialogue open, is prevalent. Thus the Qatari desire to promote Hamas is easy to accept.”

It seems that the self-styled “standard-setter for international journalism” is quite happy to go along with Qatar’s attempts at damage control intended to mitigate the growing political pressure on the Emir’s British hosts by failing to fully inform BBC audiences on the topic of Qatari funding of Hamas, Jabhat al Nusra and other terrorist organisations or the activities of individuals with links to the Qatari regime.   

 

Laconic BBC reporting on Egypt’s closure of Rafah crossing

October 25th saw the appearance of a report titled “President Sisi says jihadists threaten Egypt’s existence” on the BBC News website’s Middle East page. The article opens as follows:Sinai attacks art

“Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi says the country is facing a threat to its existence from jihadists after the military suffered the biggest loss of life in decades in attacks in Sinai.

At least 31 soldiers were killed in two attacks on Friday, the deadliest a bomb blast near the town of El-Arish.

A three-month state of emergency has been declared in parts of the Sinai Peninsula and Egypt’s Rafah crossing into the Gaza Strip was closed.

There will be three days of mourning.

In a live TV address, Mr Sisi said a huge plot was being waged against Egypt “by external forces”.

“This is meant to break up Egypt and the Egyptians …. Egypt is fighting a war of existence.” “

One particularly remarkable aspect of this report is the laconic presentation of the Egyptian decision to indefinitely close the Rafah border crossing into the Gaza Strip, which continues in the filmed report from Orla Guerin embedded into the article. Describing the new security measures, Guerin tells BBC audiences:

“Now there will be various security restrictions including a curfew and the closure of Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip – the crossing at Rafah – but that crossing is often closed for long periods at a time.”

Can we imagine a similar tone being adopted in BBC coverage if Israel decided to close the Erez or Kerem Shalom crossings indefinitely?

Another interesting point about this article is that whilst it notes President Sisi’s remarks about “external forces” – or “foreign hands” as much of the regional media translated his remarks – it has not been updated to include the comments made by an official in the Egyptian Interior Ministry:

“Maj. Gen. Sameeh Beshadi, who was formerly in charge of security in the North Sinai governorate where the attacks took place, said there was “no doubt that Palestinian elements had taken part in the attacks,” which killed at least 30 soldiers, according to security and medical officials.

He said the assailants had entered Sinai via the tunnels linking the region with the Palestinian territories, and that the assailants had prepared the booby-trapped vehicle which Egyptian authorities say was used to carry out one of the attacks while inside Egyptian territory. [...]

“All the big terrorist operations which have taken place in North Sinai in the last few years involved well-trained Palestinian elements, including the attack on the military helicopter at the beginning of this year,” Beshadi said, referring to an attack which took place mid-January in the Kharouba area in North Sinai and which killed five soldiers.”

And:

“According to a report in the Egyptian al-Ahram cited by Israel Radio, which quotes an anonymous [Egyptian] intelligence official, the perpetrators of the attack Friday infiltrated the peninsula via a tunnel leading from the Gaza Strip. The same source added that although the Egyptian army destroyed over 1,500 tunnels that ran between Gaza and Sinai, some have been rebuilt and were being used to smuggle weapons, funds and manpower.”

This is precisely the sort of background information which has been consistently omitted from BBC portrayals of the border restrictions imposed by Egypt and Israel on the Gaza Strip both before the recent conflict and especially since July of this year when the corporation self-conscripted to context-free and inaccurate promotion of Hamas’ demands to lift those restrictions. 

 

BBC presents property purchased by Jews as ‘settlements’

On October 25th the BBC News website’s Middle East page ran an article titled “US urges probe after teenager shot dead in West Bank“. Apparently based at least in part on a report appearing in Ha’aretz, the article informs readers that:Silwad art

“The US state department has called for a “speedy and transparent investigation” into the death of a Palestinian-American teenager killed by Israeli soldiers on Friday.

Police said that Orwa Hammad, 14, was about to throw a petrol bomb near Ramallah in the West Bank. […]

A relative identified the teenager as Orwa Abd al-Wahhab Hammad, who was born in New Orleans and came to the West Bank when he was six, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.”

Other media reports (quoting Palestinian media outlets and Palestinian officials) have described the youth as being sixteen or seventeen years old.

With regard to the circumstances of the incident, in addition describing its location as “near Ramallah”, the BBC informs its audiences that:

“He [Hammad] was reported to have been shot in the head during clashes between IDF soldiers and stone-throwing protesters.

Some of the protesters were seen making and throwing Molotov cocktails.

An IDF spokesman initially told Reuters that forces “managed to prevent an attack when they encountered a Palestinian man hurling a Molotov cocktail at them on the main road. They opened fire and confirmed a hit.” “

In the caption to one of the photographs used to illustrate the report, readers are also told that:

“Molotov cocktails and stones were thrown at Israeli jeeps and soldiers in Silwad, near Ramallah”

So where did the incident occur and what actually happened? Channel 10 News reported as follows:

“According to an announcement by the IDF Spokesman, at around 19:00 hours a unit of the parachute regiment engaged in operational activity between the village of Silwad and Route 60 in the Ramallah area identified a Palestinian throwing petrol bombs in the direction of the road upon which Israeli vehicles were travelling.”

Walla reported:

“A Palestinian youth was killed yesterday (Friday) by fire from an IDF unit which was in an ambush in the village of Silwad, north-east of Ramallah, after the unit identified him throwing a petrol bomb at Route 60 and opened fire.”

The Jerusalem Post reported:

“A Palestinian was shot dead by IDF troops outside the village of Silwad in the West Bank on Friday evening, after he threw a Molotov cocktail at traffic on highway 60, the IDF Spokesperson’s Department said.

The IDF said that the soldiers were on patrol in the area and had set up an ambush overlooking the stretch of highway when they saw the assailant throw the bottle.

They said that the soldiers opened fire “in order to neutralize the threat to the lives of civilians driving on the highway.” “

In other words, the incident did not take place “near Ramallah” as stated by the BBC, but some fifteen and a half kilometers away outside Silwad on a main highway used by both Israeli and Palestinian motorists. Additionally, it is likely that civilian motorists were the target of Hammad’s petrol bomb rather than – as suggested by the BBC – IDF forces, with the BBC’s claim that Hammad was shot “during clashes between IDF soldiers and stone-throwing protesters” not being supported by other media reports.Silwad map

Like the US State Department, the BBC is apparently not overly interested in investigating why a US citizen was throwing petrol bombs at motorists on a main highway.

Notably too, this report misleads readers with the following statement, which appears both as a caption to an illustrative photo and in the body of the report:

“Tensions have been high since the end of the 50-day conflict in Gaza.” 

Later on, a seemingly contradictory statement is presented:

“Although a fragile ceasefire has been holding since the end of the 50-day conflict between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza, incidents of violence have continued sporadically throughout the West Bank and near holy sites in Jerusalem.”

Of course the ceasefire which brought this summer’s conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip (not exclusively “in Gaza” as described by the BBC) between Israel and Hamas (not “Palestinians” as the BBC claims) has absolutely no bearing on the rioting and violent attacks carried out in other areas.

Whilst on the one hand the BBC informs audiences that tensions “have been high” since the ceasefire came into effect, on the other hand it claims that violent incidents have been ‘sporadic': i.e. “occurring at irregular intervals; having no pattern or order in time“.

So what are the facts behind those two BBC statements?

In fact, according to data collected by the ISA, violent attacks by Palestinians in Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem peaked during July and have since returned to the levels seen prior to Operation Protective Edge. However, it is difficult to see how they can be accurately described as having “continued sporadically” seeing as their occurrence (usually not reported by the BBC) is a daily event.

Silwad graph

But the really interesting part of this BBC report is its shoehorning of the topic of ‘settlements’ into its ‘contextualisation’ of Palestinian terror. Despite there being no confirmation of the motives of Orwah Hammad as he lobbed petrol bombs at passing cars, one of the images used to illustrate the report is presented with the following tendentious caption:

“Palestinians were protesting against the expansion of a Jewish settlement in the West Bank”

Silwad art pic

Relating to the terror attack in Jerusalem on October 22nd, the article later informs readers that:

“Wednesday’s car attack was carried out by a Palestinian man from Silwan in East Jerusalem, where tensions are high among Palestinians who are angry over Jewish settlements in the area.”

Oddly, some might say, the BBC appears to believe that “tensions” and ‘anger’ felt by those who oppose people of a certain ethnicity living in a certain place are a factor which can be used to ‘explain’ both petrol bomb attacks on motorists and the deliberate murder of a three month-old baby.

But are there in fact “Jewish settlements” in the Silwan (Kfar Shiloach) neighbourhood of Jerusalem? Well, not according to the BBC’s own definition of ‘settlements':

“Settlements are residential areas built by the Israeli government in the territories occupied by Israel following the June 1967 war. They are illegal under international law – that is the position of the UN Security Council. Israel rejects this assertion. ” [emphasis added]

What there is in that neighbourhood of Jerusalem is existing housing purchased and inhabited by some 90 Jewish families (roughly 500 people out of a population of over 50,000). Hence we see that the BBC is herding audiences towards a very dubious narrative which encourages them to view the purchase of property in certain areas of a city by people of a specific faith and ethnicity as “illegal” and undesirable. One has to wonder whether the BBC’s ‘progressive’ approach would extend to encouraging its audiences to view neighbourhoods of mixed religion, ethnicity (and perhaps colour or sexual orientation) in any other city in such a light.

But of course that anachronistic BBC narrative does not appear by chance: it is also the narrative of the Palestinian Authority, the president of which recently introduced new punishments (unreported by the BBC) for those who sell property to Jewish Israelis.

“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday issued an order that would toughen punishment for Palestinians involved in real estate deals with “hostile countries” and their citizens.

Abbas’s decision came following reports that Palestinians have sold houses in Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood to Jews. […]

In his order, Abbas decided to amend the Palestinian penal code so that it would include hard labor in addition to life imprisonment for Palestinians who sell, rent out or serve as mediators in real estate transactions with “hostile countries” and their citizens.

In 2010, a PA court reaffirmed that the sale of Palestinian land to Israelis is punishable by death. Although the death sentence has not been officially executed, several Palestinians have been murdered in east Jerusalem and the West Bank over the past four decades after being accused of involvement in property transactions with Jews. ” 

Whilst BBC licence fee payers got a hefty dose of PA propaganda in this article, they have clearly not been provided with the accurate, impartial or comprehensive reporting to which the BBC is committed.

BBC News skirts opportunity to fully inform audiences on PA and Fatah incitement

The morning after the October 22nd terror attack in Jerusalem in which a three month-old baby was killed and eight other people injured, the BBC News website replaced its highly unsatisfactory report on the incident with another article titled “Israel’s Netanyahu accuses Abbas over Jerusalem car attack“.

Although the unnecessary inverted commas around the word attack seen in the previous article’s various headlines did not appear in this one, the description of a “car attack” of course still fails to adequately inform audiences that this was an act of terror and indeed the BBC refrains from categorizing the incident as such itself.

 “A spokesman said the incident was being treated as a “terrorist attack”.”

For some reason the BBC found it necessary to ensure that before readers had reached the end of the first six paragraphs of the article, they had been informed no fewer than three times that the terrorist was shot by the Israeli security forces: once in the caption to the photograph illustrating the report and twice in its text.

Pigua second art

As has often been documented here, the BBC consistently avoids reporting on the issue of Palestinian incitement from all factions and so this report may appear to make a welcome change to that previous policy. The topic of the article’s headline is presented thus:

“Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu has accused the Palestinian president of incitement, after an attack which killed a baby girl in Jerusalem.

Mr Netanyahu said Mahmoud Abbas had provided encouragement for incidents such as the killing of the three-month-old by a Palestinian driver.” […]

In a statement, Prime Minister Netanyahu accused the Palestinian unity government, backed by Mr Abbas’ Fatah party and Hamas, of fuelling such attacks.

“This is the way in which Abu Mazen’s [Mahmoud Abbas] partners in government operate, the same Abu Mazen who just days ago incited to harm Jews in Jerusalem,” he said.

Mr Netanyahu was alluding to comments by Mr Abbas in which he said Jewish “settlers” should be barred “by any means” from entering a disputed holy compound in Jerusalem known to Jews as the Temple Mount and Muslims as Haram al-Sharif. He described Jews visiting the site as a “herds of cattle”.

Mr Abbas was speaking after a series of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police on the compound.”

However, as Khaled Abu Toameh has documented, Abbas’ incitement has extended beyond those comments as they are reported by the BBC.

“A few days before the terrorist attack in Jerusalem, Abbas strongly denounced Jews who visit the Temple Mount as a “herd of cattle.”

Abbas told Fatah activists from Jerusalem who visited him in his office that they must make an effort to stop Jewish “settlers,” “by all means,” from “desecrating our holy sites.”

Abbas added:

“We must prevent them from entering the Noble Sanctuary by all means. This is our Al-Aqsa. Al-Aqsa is a red line: Israel must be aware that the ongoing raids and attacks on Al-Aqsa will cause a volcanic explosion in the area that will reach Israel. Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the State of Palestine, and without it, there will be no state.”

Abbas and his Palestinian Authority have been exploiting the visits by Jews to the Temple Mount to incite Palestinians against Israel. They have been incorrectly denouncing these visits as “assaults” and “raids” on Islamic holy sites by Jewish “extremists”.”

The PA president has also recently used other issues to promote incitement:

“During the 50-day military confrontation between Israel and Hamas in July and August, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his senior officials in the West Bank made it a daily practice to incite their people against Israel.

The anti-Israel campaign of incitement reached its peak with Abbas’s speech at the UN General Assembly last month, when he accused Israel of waging a “war of genocide” in the Gaza Strip. Abbas made no reference to Hamas’s crimes against both Israelis and Palestinians.”

“Forty-eight hours before the Jerusalem attack, Abbas intensified his rhetorical assault on Israel by announcing that any Palestinian who is involved in property transactions with “hostile countries” (Israel) would be punished by life imprisonment with hard labor.

Abbas’s announcement came in response to reports that Palestinians had sold homes to Jewish families in Silwan — the Jerusalem neighborhood where al-Shalodi lived. By threatening to punish Palestinians for selling property to Jews, Abbas was sending a message that this is an awful crime that should not pass without a Palestinian response.”

Rather than clarifying to BBC audiences the scale and intensity of the incitement promoted by the Palestinian Authority president it so frequently describes as “moderate“, the BBC elects to present the issue in terms of “accusations” by the Israeli prime minister. The fact that Abbas’ party Fatah published a ‘martyrdom poster’ praising the terrorist on its Facebook page and that Abbas’ advisor described him as “a heroic martyr” has not been reported to BBC audiences.

Image credit: PMW

Image credit: PMW

Whilst the BBC has one the one hand frequently promoted the erroneous notion that the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas was a result of the lack of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians and on the other sympathetically amplified the PA’s assorted unilateral moves to achieve international recognition of statehood whilst avoiding negotiations, the corporation consistently fails to provide audiences with information on the very relevant issues of the incitement and glorification of terrorism propagated by Palestinian leaders of all factions. Unfortunately, this report does little to correct those omissions or to begin to provide BBC audiences with the information necessary to enable their understanding of the part played by those factors in encouraging terrorism and making any negotiated peace agreement increasingly unlikely.

BBC WS ‘Newshour’ provides a platform for UNRWA’s political campaigning

As has been noted here previously, the BBC’s coverage of the recent Cairo donor conference aimed at securing funding for reconstruction in the Gaza Strip was quite extensive with the scene set by Yolande Knell on October 11th and a very partial representation of the topic appearing on the BBC News website on October 12th.

In addition to that, radio audiences heard a long item on the October 12th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ (available here from 00:50 to 09:30) which recycled a previously aired item by Yolande Knell as well as including contributions from Orla Guerin in Cairo and the partisan UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness.Newshour 12 10 14

In that programme presenter James Menendez twice states that “Hamas controls Gaza” whilst – confusingly for listeners – Orla Guerin describes a “fragile unity government which is supposed to be in place”. No effort is made to properly clarify the situation for audiences.

Neither is any effort made to inform listeners that the reason Israel imposes border restrictions on the Gaza Strip is the years of terrorism against Israeli civilians perpetrated by Hamas and other terrorist organisations based there and so listeners hear the following context-free statements from Guerin.

“…but the Israeli blockade of Gaza remains in place. Now that is a blockade by air, land and sea. It is Israel which decides which trucks and how many and carrying what goods are allowed in and out of Gaza. There are serious concerns being expressed by aid agencies about whether or not Israel will allow enough construction materials in. A temporary mechanism has been agreed and that will involve monitoring by the United Nations but they are literally almost at the level of counting the grains of sand going in and out of Gaza and there are serious fears that the volume of cement and construction materials that would be required will simply not be allowed in. Israel of course views cement as a dual-use item and it has been used by Hamas to build tunnels right out of Gaza under the ground into Israeli territory, so cement is particularly carefully monitored.”

The BBC has shown no interest to date in carrying out any serious reporting on the topic of Hamas’ misappropriation of the building supplies previously allowed into the Gaza Strip or the related – and very serious – subject of the accountability of the aid agencies and international bodies which were supposed to be supervising and guaranteeing the construction projects for which those materials were intended. With funds supplied, among others, by tax-payers in the West now scheduled for the reconstruction of housing in the Gaza Strip, those tax-payers might actually have been interested to hear how this latest “temporary mechanism” intended to prevent building supplies being used for the purposes of terror (which would of course eventually result in yet more conflict and further destruction of structures their taxes have paid for) is actually any different – and more efficient – than the previous failed one.

Audiences would also of course have benefited from information on the topic of why their governments are prepared to commit vast amounts of money to the reconstruction of a territory in which the government which supposedly runs it is unable to compete with terrorist-run militias funded and backed by foreign governments such as Iran and Qatar and why no demand has been made to disarm those terrorist organisations in order to prevent further hostilities and destruction.

But as Menendez’s final interview in this programme shows, its aim is not to provide BBC audiences with accurate and impartial information which would enable them to reach a comprehensive understanding of this particular “international issue“, but to promote the agenda of those supporting the Hamas campaign to lift border restrictions. One of the major players in that long-standing campaign is of course the highly politicized UNRWA and its spokesman Chris Gunness (who, readers may recall, was instrumental in the BBC’s revision of an article concerning casualty figures in the Gaza Strip) is given a three and a half minute long unchallenged platform for that purpose.

Gunness: “But let’s be clear: this mechanism is not a substitute for lifting the blockade. There is little point in reconstructing Gaza if the world refuses to allow Gaza to trade. Otherwise we’re gonna have people in lovely new houses but completely aid-dependent, which is why we say the blockade must be lifted, Gaza must be allowed to trade, to export, and the natural export markets of Gaza is…are…the West Bank and that’s what we need to see first of all.”

Menendez makes no attempt to point out to audiences that – contrary to the impression they will have received from Gunness, exports do leave the Gaza Strip. He also makes no attempt to challenge the following over-vehement protestations from Gunness.

“Well I have to be honest here and say that UNRWA has been taking materials – building materials – into Gaza for years and there is no evidence whatsoever that one grain of sand that UNRWA has taken into Gaza has ever been stolen or expropriated by any organization, least of all the militant organization. So we have a proven track record and I can speak for UNRWA and certainly we are able to get building materials into Gaza and for it not to be subverted or taken by any group and certainly not any militant group.”

Menedez does not raise the question of how an organization which could not prevent its aid being stolen or missiles being stored in and fired from its schools by terrorists is in a position to guarantee anything. He passes up on the opportunity to ask Gunness why sacks of UNRWA materials were discovered inside tunnels during the recent conflict.

Since July augmented context-free amplification of Hamas’ demands to lift border restrictions imposed by Egypt and Israel in response to the activities of that terror organisation and others has been all too evident in BBC reporting. The promotion of UNRWA’s political campaigning on that issue is also by no means new for the BBC. As we see in this edition of ‘Newshour’, that editorial policy continues. 

 

 

BBC Complaints: ‘it was hard for journalists in Gaza to see rockets being fired’

A few days ago we discussed part of a response received by a reader from the BBC Complaints department.Blindfold

Another section of that same response reads as follows:

“…we did raise your concerns with the relevant editorial staff at BBC News who covered the recent conflict in Gaza. They explained that there are number of reasons why BBC News has not shown images or footage of Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants firing rockets. The main reason is that militant groups keep the location of launch sites secret. It was very hard for journalists in Gaza to get to see rockets being fired out, however, during Orla Guerin’s report for the News at Ten on 12 August we reported on allegations that Hamas and other militants put Palestinian civilian lives at risk by operating from residential areas, as well as launching rockets near schools and hospitals. During the aforementioned report Orla Guerin explained that: “During this conflict Palestinian militants have kept a low profile, avoiding the cameras, but we know that at times they have operated from civilian areas.”

The report went on to show an area of ground used by Hamas to launch rockets. It was clearly shown that the site was in very close proximity to apartments inhabited by civilians. The same piece went on to show footage from Indian television, purportedly showing Hamas firing from a residential area near the hotel where the Indian crew were staying.”

The above-mentioned report by Orla Guerin is this one. The BBC Complaints representative notably refrains from pointing out that just prior to the quoted section, Orla Guerin misled BBC audiences by inferring that Hamas’ use of civilian areas as launch sites for missiles is not evidence of its use of human shields.

“While there are growing allegations against Israel, it claims civilians here have been used by militants as human shields but so far there’s been no evidence of that.”

The relevant section of that one report cited by BBC Complaints as showing that the BBC did report on “allegations that Hamas and other militants put Palestinian civilian lives at risk by operating from residential areas, as well as launching rockets near schools and hospitals” makes no mention of schools or hospitals. The specific section is just 44 seconds long and the report appeared thirty-six days into the conflict – by which time the BBC’s narrative was very well entrenched.

As we see, the BBC Complaints department promotes the claim that “militant groups keep the location of launch sites secret” and apparently believes it reasonable to claim that “it was very hard for journalists in Gaza to get to see rockets being fired out” despite the fact that 4,562 missiles were fired throughout the 50 day conflict – an average of over ninety a day.

Notably, the BBC is still obviously unwilling to openly discuss the topic of Hamas intimidation of journalists, although correspondents from other media outlets have been more frank in explaining why audiences worldwide saw so little footage of missiles being fired or terrorists in action, as one Israeli filmmaker described.

“I met today with a Spanish journalist who just came back from Gaza. We talked about the situation there. He was very friendly. I asked him how comes we never see on television channels reporting from Gaza any Hamas people, no gunmen, no rocket launcher, no policemen.. We only see civilians on these reports, mostly women and children. He answered me frankly : “it’s very simple, we did see Hamas people there launching rockets, they were close to our hotel, but if ever we dare pointing our camera on them they would simply shoot at us and kill us.”  “

Two days before Guerin’s report was aired, a Norwegian journalist reported:

“There are decent working conditions here, however several foreign journalists have been kicked out from Gaza because Hamas does not like what they have said or written. We have received clear directions that if we see Hamas launching or shooting rockets, we cannot record them. If we do then there will be serious consequences which can lead to expulsion from Gaza. Our fixers, the person that is translating and is helping us around with everything, will also be in grave trouble if we film soldiers from Hamas, especially if they are firing rockets. Apart from that it is fairly OK to work here.”

A CNN reporter stated on camera:

“…we’ve witnessed at least the firing of rockets from this vantage point here. We haven’t seen the actual launcher per-se, but you can see the flash, you can see that it was in between buildings, and you can the thunder as the rockets roar into the air, so clearly you can tell that this is being launched from a populated area.”

Despite these and many other examples, the BBC is still pretending in response to complaints from members of its funding public that the reason it did not report adequately on the actions of terrorists in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge is that – unlike the staff of other media organisations – its own numerous correspondents on the ground did not see anything to report.

It may of course well be that the BBC’s lack of coverage of missile launches and other terrorist activity in the Gaza Strip was motivated by concern for the personal safety of its correspondents on the ground at the time and its permanent local bureau staff. Whilst that would be perfectly understandable, that policy did however affect the credibility of BBC reporting and had a major effect on its adherence to BBC editorial guidelines concerning accuracy and impartiality, thus affecting the way in which audiences understood the story as a whole.

Such an obvious lack of transparency – and common or garden honesty – in dealing with complaints from the public as shown in the above response clearly compromises the BBC’s reputation in a very serious manner. 

Ambiguous BBC reporting on Jerusalem terror attack

On the evening of October 22nd the BBC News website reported on a terror attack which had taken place in Jerusalem a couple of hours previously.  

Abd al Rahman Shaloudi from Silwan ploughed the car he was driving into a group of people waiting at the light rail station at Ammunition Hill, injuring nine of them, including three month-old Haya Zissel Braun who later died from the injuries she sustained. Shaloudi – a member of a known Hamas-linked family who had previously been imprisoned for throwing petrol bombs at motorists – tried to escape the scene on foot and was shot by a member of the security forces, later dying of his wounds. Rioting subsequently took place in the neighbourhoods of Silwan and Issawiya, with at least one motorist injured by stone-throwers.

So what were BBC audiences told about the incident? On the BBC News website’s homepage it was initially presented in language suggesting an accident: “A car hits a group of pedestrians at a Jerusalem railway station, injuring at least nine”.

Pigua Jerusalem on main page

On the website’s Middle East page a similar impression was given.

Pigua Jerusalem on ME pge

The initial version of the BBC News website’s report was also headlined in a manner which made the incident look like a road traffic accident: “Nine hurt as car hits pedestrians at Jerusalem station”. That misleading impression continued in the body of the report with readers encountering the word terror only in the fourth paragraph.

Pigua Jerusalem

The second version of the report (published some two hours later) was presented on the website’s Middle East page under the heading “Jerusalem car ‘attack’ kills baby”.

Pigua Jerusalem on ME pge 2

The link led to the second version of the report – similarly ambiguously titled “Jerusalem car ‘attack’ kills baby at rail station”. Apparently the attack – presented in typical BBC ‘we’re not saying it actually was an attack’ inverted commas – was carried out by a car rather than a person. In the body of that report punctuation was also used to suggest to readers that there is room for doubt as to whether the incident was a terror attack. Three of the victims were described as “American” – the fact that they are also Israeli Jews is not mentioned. The incident was ‘contextualised’ for readers as being part of a “cycle of violence” and inaccurate BBC promotion of the causes of the summer conflict between Israel and Hamas continued with the hundreds of missile attacks on Israeli civilians which preceded the military operation once more erased from audience view. 

Pigua Jerusalem version 2

The report’s third version appeared some six hours after the publication of the initial report. By that time the identity of the victim was known and yet Haya Zissel Braun was not named in the BBC article. At that stage the name, Hamas connections and details of the previous convictions of the perpetrator were also known but the BBC elected to refrain from informing audiences of those details, instead promoting a slightly amended version of the ambiguous and interestingly punctuated statement from the previous version of the report.

“Officials say they are treating it as a “terrorist attack” and that the suspect had previously served time in an Israeli prison “for terrorism”.

Pigua Jerusalem version 3

On official BBC Twitter accounts similar use of punctuation was apparent.

Pigua tweet BBC World 2

Shaloudi’s known Hamas connections were presented exclusively in terms of Israeli claims.

Pigua tweet BBC News

Clearly the BBC’s deliberately ambiguous reporting of this incident fails to provide audiences with the full range of information available in relation to the perpetrator, the victims, the circumstances of the incident itself and the subsequent rioting, thus denying them the ability to reach an accurate understanding of this particular “international issue“.