BBC smokescreen for terrorists’ use of human shields reaches new low

On the afternoon of July 28th, at around 17:00 local time, explosions took place near Shifa hospital and in the Shati area of Gaza CityShifa Sahti tweet 1 and around half an hour later, it was reported that ten people had been killed, including children. Along with Hamas spokesmen, many members of the international media in Gaza immediately jumped to – and promoted – the conclusion that the explosions were the result of Israeli airstrikes.

Just after 18:00 the IDF stated that it had not been operating in the area at the time and confirmed that both explosions were in fact missiles misfired by terrorists. Not long afterwards, an aerial photograph was made public showing the trajectory paths of four missiles launched simultaneously by terrorists from inside the Gaza Strip, as recorded by IDF radars and sensors. One of those missiles exploded near Shifa hospital, another exploded in the Shati area, a third landed at sea and the fourth was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system over Ashkelon.

Missiles Al-Shifa and Shati tatsa

Three reports which appeared on the BBC News website, however, all failed to tell audiences what really happened, electing instead to present them with a ‘he said/she said’ version of events.

A report dated July 28th and titled “Gaza in critical condition, says UN’s Ban Ki-moon” states:

“Shortly after he [Ban Ki-moon] spoke, there were reports of two explosions in Gaza City – one in a children’s playground and one near Gaza’s main hospital. [...]

Police and health officials said separate Israeli airstrikes had hit the compound of Gaza City’s main hospital and a nearby playground on Monday afternoon, causing casualties.

But a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces said both explosions were caused by misfired rockets that were launched from Gaza by “terrorists”.”

Another report titled “Gaza City and Israel’s Eshkol hit by deadly blasts” – now dated July 29th but which originally appeared on July 28th – states:

“Explosions in Gaza City reportedly killed 10 people, including children. […]

At least 10 people – eight of them children – were killed in Monday afternoon’s blasts in Gaza City, Palestinian health officials said.

Palestinian officials say the 10 were killed by Israeli missile strikes, but Israel says the explosions were caused by rockets misfired by “terrorists”.”

A third article dated July 29th and titled “Israel PM Netanyahu warns of ‘prolonged’ Gaza campaign” states:

“At least 10 people – eight of them children – were killed in blasts in Gaza City on Monday afternoon, Palestinian health officials said. It is unclear if they were killed by an Israeli attack or a misfiring militant rocket.”

In other words, the BBC would have audiences believe that it cannot possibly tell them which is more reliable: the evidence provided by a sophisticated system of radars and trackers which are part of a technologically advanced early warning system, or the unverified word of ‘health officials’ belonging to a terrorist organization which, if it did not fire the specific missiles itself, is collaborating with the terrorist organization that did.  

Notably, the BBC’s journalists on the ground apparently had no inclination to carry out their own investigations into the incident. 

On the evening of July 28th, some seven hours after the incident occurred and long after the above aerial photograph had been made public, viewers of BBC television news were nevertheless shown a filmed report by Ian Pannell which was aimed solely at whipping up emotions and did absolutely nothing to inform them of the real circumstances behind the tragic incident.Pannell Shati report filmed 28 7

That report was also promoted on the BBC News website under the title “Middle East crisis: Children pay heavy price in Gaza“.

“It was supposed to be a day of celebration in Gaza. But it ended with the blood of children. They’d been playing in the park, celebrating the Eid holiday. That’s when the rocket landed. At least ten were killed, eight of them children. Dozens more were injured. Ola [phonetic] is just four years old. She was out on the street when a rocket exploded. Her sister Bethaina [phonetic] was with her. ‘I was sitting in front of the house’, she says, ‘a rocket landed and it hit me and my sister’.

A hospital already overflowing with casualties was engulfed in chaos. Parents and relatives frantically searching for their children. The wards were full of them. Fourteen year-old Mohammed had shrapnel in his back. ‘We were playing in the street and they hit us’, he said. ‘They targeted us. Lots of children were killed.’ And next to him, four year-old Ola [phonetic]. Shrapnel cut into her small body. Israel has denied it was responsible for this.

Woman: “Then who fired it? I ran outside and found my daughters. If the Israelis didn’t do it, who did? Did my daughters launch the rocket?”

Marching up the hill to bury two small boys. They’d played together, they were killed together and now, they were going to be Shifa Shati Campbell tweetburied together. The boys’ father says his sons are martyrs who died for the resistance against Israel.

Today was supposed to be one of a ceasefire. The first day of Eid, the end of Ramadan, a holy festival, a time for celebration and for families to be together. Instead you have families going to the cemetery to bury their children. Gaza’s seen many bloody days. Few have been as painful as this one. The children here have paid heavily. The militants are under pressure but there’s little sign their support is ebbing. Days like this only harden hearts and compromise seems ever more remote.”

Pannell’s tabloid style report does nothing to inform BBC audiences of the real circumstances behind the deaths of those children, with the missiles misfired by terrorists not even getting a mention. If readers wonder why Pannell chose to feed his audiences fact-free emotion rather than providing them with insight into what really happened, then a clue might be found in a Tweet sent by an Italian journalist after he left the Gaza Strip.

Tweet Italian journo Shati

“The children here have paid heavily”, says Pannell and indeed they have. But until Western journalists start telling the truth about the way in which terrorists in the Gaza Strip launch missiles from residential areas, schools, hospitals and mosques; endangering the local population and turning them into human shields, then children in both Gaza and Israel will continue to pay a heavy price. Like the rest of the Western media though, Ian Pannell and his team will soon be safely moving on.

Related Articles:

 WSJ Reporters Delete Twitter Posts Implicating Hamas  (CAMERA)

 

BBC Radio 5 Live goes for the emotional jugular in context free promoted item

Last week BBC Radio 5 Live broadcast an interview with a doctor from ‘Medecins du Monde’ who inaccurately claimed that the shortage of medicines and disposables in Gaza Strip hospitals is attributable to Israeli policies.

“As you know we are under siege for a long time in Gaza and this affects the medical parts in Gaza and there is a lack of disposables and basic drugs needs in emergency. We need really, really action from the world for intervention to help people in Gaza.”

Despite that previous failure to adhere to BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality and despite the fact that Dr Hosam Abu Elwan’s claim was – like sadly too many of the claims made by medical staff in Gaza Strip at present – clearly political in motivation, on July 29th the same radio station saw fit to invite the doctor to speak again and his reportappearing on a dedicated webpage – was promoted on the Radio 5 Live official Twitter account.

R 5 live doctor 29 7

 

“I am Dr Hosam Abu Elwan from Nasser hospital south of Gaza. We see that is no clear ceasefire declaration. We are not sure if it’s valid or not but we see the number of wounded cases is decrease but the number of murders is increased because they was killed two, three or five days before and the number of murders is increased about 20 cases per day coming to hospital by…Unfortunately I want to speak that is bad situation in hospital because the murders dying before five days with offensive odours and I can’t describe the situation because it was very bad in hospital. The number of murders is increased at least 20 cases per day. There is no spaces in the hospital for this huge number. And we hope to be there is ceasefire declaration and for medical teams to evacuate their murders and dead body from their houses or from under destroyed houses.”

R 5 live doctor 29 7 web

The version of this ‘report’ promoted by BBC Radio 5 live on Twitter and on the dedicated webpage lacks all context and clearly plays exclusively on the emotions of listeners who cannot possibly discern from it whether the dead are civilians or combatants or in what circumstances – or by whom – they were killed.

The term ‘murder’ – used no fewer than five times in the 77 second-long report, twice on the webpage and twice in the Tweet – has a specific meaning in the English language which attributes intention and premeditation – as this programme’s UK listeners will know. As someone for whom English is not a first language, Dr Abu Elwan may perhaps not be aware of that nuance, but the editors of this item most definitely should be and hence their decision to air and promote such a recording as a raw, stand-alone item and to use the word ‘murder’ as part of their promotion clearly calls editorial standards of impartiality into question. 

The return of the BBC’s Jon Donnison and his tall Twitter tales

As readers may already be aware, one of the people recently ‘parachuted in’ by the BBC to provide back-up to its local staff since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge is former Gaza correspondent Jon Donnison.Donnison

Despite only having been here for a few days, Donnison has already managed to get himself in the news once again, as Eli Lake documented here.

“Over the weekend it appeared that an Israeli official conceded something very valuable to Hamas. A BBC reporter in Israel tweeted out comments from the spokesman for Israel’s national police who allegedly said Hamas was not behind the kidnapping and murder last month of three Israeli teens on the West Bank, an incident that was the spark for the current war in Gaza. […]

Donnison tweeted that [police spokesman] Rosenfeld told him that while the cell on the West Bank was operating alone, it was affiliated with Hamas. However, it did not receive direct orders from Hamas leadership. 

Those tweets became the basis for a widely shared blog post saying Israel now conceded that the kidnappers acted in a lone cell and Hamas had nothing to do with it. […]

But when reached by The Daily Beast on Sunday, Rosenfeld said that he had told Donnison what the Israeli government had been saying all along. “The kidnapping and murder of the teens was carried out by Hamas terrorists from the Hebron area,” he told The Daily Beast. “The security organizations are continuing to search for the murderers.”

Donnison on Saturday said he stood by his earlier tweets. ” 

BBC Watch also contacted police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld who told us the following in relation to Donnison’s claims:

“I said and confirmed what is known already, that the kidnapping and murder of the teens was carried out by Hamas terrorists from the Hebron area and the security organizations are continuing to search for the murderers.” 

Jon Donnison and his Twitter tales remain a liability to the BBC. 

Related Articles:

BBC’s Jon Donnison Tweets malicious fauxtography

BBC’s Jon Donnison Tweets unverified information again

 

What Beit Hanoun tells us about BBC impartiality

Here is a Tweet from one of those impartial BBC journalists currently reporting from the Gaza Strip: Tweet Chris Morris Beit Hanoun So, did the IDF actually say that “people didn’t die” in Beit Hanoun last Thursday as Morris facetiously claims? No. What the IDF investigation into the incident at the UNRWA school in which sixteen people were killed did reveal is that during a battle between IDF soldiers and terrorists located in the area, an IDF mortar did land in the schoolyard, but that yard was empty at the time. Ha’aretz has further details:

“The IDF released the findings of its investigation into the incident on Sunday morning. According to the inquiry, Palestinian militants opened fire from the area of the school, shooting mortars and antitank missiles at Israeli forces. In response, the investigation reveals, the IDF decided to return fire with mortars.

According to the army, whose inquiry included investigations of the ground forces and video footage of the incident, “one of the mortars fell in the school’s courtyard whilst it was empty of people.” “

An official statement adds:

“It has been established that Hamas rockets landed in the area and may have hit the UN facility. The investigation of the incident has revealed that Hamas terrorists fired anti-tank missiles at IDF soldiers from the area of the UN school. The IDF responded with mortar fire, and one of the rounds fell in the school’s courtyard, which was empty at the time. This was the only IDF fire that hit the school compound. These findings disprove the claim, made by various parties, that IDF fire caused casualties on the school grounds. Israel regrets all civilian casualties, but they are the direct result of Hamas’ decision to use Palestinian civilians as human shields.” [emphasis added]

In light of these findings BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis would of course do well to address the topic of her hastily reached conclusion that “You hit it. You killed them.” – which was broadcast to millions of viewers in the UK on July 24th.Maitlis Likewise, the editors of the filmed report by Yolande Knell which was shown to television audiences and promoted on the BBC News website on July 24th might like to reconsider the wisdom of the inclusion – before the circumstances of the incident were clear – of footage of a woman saying:

“The Israelis hit us in our homes and they hit us at the school”

That same footage of the same woman also appeared in a filmed report by Ian Pannell from the same date which was promoted on the BBC News website and shown on BBC television news. Both Pannell’s report and the ‘Newsnight’ interview by Emily Maitlis appear in a written report published on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on July 24th. Listeners to an edition of BBC World Service radio’s ‘Newsday’ heard the presenter saying:

“For the fourth time in as many days a UN facility there found itself in the eye of the storm; hit by what the Palestinians say was an Israeli shell.”

If readers are perhaps anticipating that this incident will prompt the BBC to reconsider its current policy of refraining from anything approaching robust reporting on the issue of the use of the local civilian population as human shields – which is precisely what a terrorist who fires anti-tank missiles at Israeli soldiers from the vicinity of a UN school is doing – then they may be in for some disappointment. That same ‘Newsday’ programme includes parts of Stephen Sackur’s recent interview with Khaled Masha’al. In addition, amplification is given to the following denial by Masha’al of Hamas’ use of human shields.GAZA MOI

“This is wrong information. Hamas does not give orders to people to stay inside their home. Hamas encourages people to stand fast and let the Palestinians show their steadfastness. This is the will of the people. Go to Gaza and see the people in hospitals and see the areas destroyed. These people are determined to preserve their land. You should not put the blame on the victims. The blame should go to the Israeli that has committed this massacre. We have several hundred Palestinians killed – most of them civilians – whereas Hamas is focusing on killing Israeli soldiers who came to Gaza to attack Palestinians. This is the ethical difference between the Palestinian resistance and the Israeli aggression.”

One presumes that the BBC must be aware of the ample filmed and written evidence of Hamas’ spokesmen and Ministry of the Interior telling civilians in the Gaza Strip not to leave their homes. Nevertheless, its journalists not only fail to report adequately on the issue itself and even promote denial of it, but also amplify Masha’al’s obviously inaccurate claims. In that ‘Newsnight’ interview on July 24th, Emily Maitlis asked Mark Regev:

“If, after the fog of war has passed, this does turn out to be the fault of Israel, will you pause? Will you reset your rules of engagement tonight?”

We might well ask Emily Maitlis, her editors and numerous other BBC correspondents, editors and producers a very similar question.

Update:

Here is the IDF video footage showing the empty school yard at the time of the errant mortar strike. 

 

What do BBC journalists think you should be reading?

Among the recommended reading on the current hostilities in Israel and the Gaza Strip which BBC employees have recently promoted to their followers on social media is an article by Jeremy Bowen in the New Statesman.

Tweet Ghattas Bowen art

In that article Bowen makes no attempt whatsoever to adhere to those famous BBC values of accuracy and impartiality. Moreover, he further amplifies the line he already began promoting whilst on the ground in the Gaza Strip, claiming that he saw “no evidence” of Hamas’ use of the local population as human shields.

“I was back in London for my son’s 11th birthday party by the time all those people were killed in Shejaiya. But my impression of Hamas is different from Netanyahu’s. I saw no evidence during my week in Gaza of Israel’s accusation that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields. I saw men from Hamas on street corners, keeping an eye on what was happening. They were local people and everyone knew them, even the young boys. Raji Sourani, the director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza, told me that Hamas, whatever you think of it, is part of the Palestinian DNA.

I met Sourani first when he was condemning abuses by Yasser Arafat’s men. He has taken an equally tough stance on Hamas. Now he says Israel is violating the laws of war by ignoring its legal duty to treat Palestinian civilians as protected non-combatants.”

Bowen refrains from informing readers that Raji Sourani is far from the impartial human rights campaigner he portrays, but in fact one of those currently leading the lawfare campaign against Israel. Bowen, it is all too apparent, has elected to lend his own clout to that campaign.

“Hamas, human rights groups say, also violates the laws of war by firing missiles at civilians. […]

But it is wrong to suggest that Israeli civilians near Gaza suffer as much as Palestinians. It is much, much worse in Gaza.”

It is of course worth remembering that those words – and in particular that ‘scorecard’ of suffering – were written by the man ultimately responsible for the accuracy, impartiality and tone of the BBC’s reporting on the Middle East. 

Another article which proved popular with BBC employees was written by Channel 4’s Jon Snow. 

Tweet Swift Snow art

Snow – who incidentally supports a ‘charity’ banned in Israel because of its ties to Hamas – makes little effort to put up any kind of show of journalistic impartiality either and he too appoints himself as judge and chief awarder of points in the league tables of suffering invented by Western journalists.

“I could see the young Israeli IDF guards peering at me through the steel room’s bullet-proof glass. They were the same women who, from another glass window, had barked commands at me though a very public address system.

“Feet apart!” they said. “Turn! No, not that way – the other!” Then, in the next of five steel security rooms I passed through – each with a red or green light to tell me to stop or go – a male security guard up in the same complex above me shouted “Take your shirt off – right off. Now throw it on the floor… Pick it up, now ring it like it was wet” (it was wet, soaked in sweat).

From entering the steel complex until I reach the final steel clearing room where I held the baby, I was never spoken to face to face, nor did I see another human beyond those who barked the commands through the bullet-proof windows high above me. […]

I feel guilty in leaving, and for the first time in my reporting life, scarred, deeply scarred by what I have seen, some of it too terrible to put on the screen.

It is accentuated by suddenly being within sumptuously appointed Israel. Accentuated by the absolute absence of anything that indicates that this bloody war rages a few miles away. […]

In and out of an Israeli transit hotel for a few hours in Ashkelon, an hour from the steel crossing-point from Gaza, there were three half-hearted air raid warnings. Some people run, but most just get on with what they are doing.

They are relatively safe today because Israel is the most heavily fortified country on earth. The brilliant Israeli-invented, American-financed shield is all but fool-proof; the border fortifications, the intelligence, beyond anything else anywhere.”

Perhaps predictably, Snow closes by promoting the cringingly uninformed claim that Israel’s battle against a terrorist organization trying to destroy it (a fact he somehow neglects to mention) is in fact the cause of conflict the world over.

“This is humankind’s most grievous cancer, for its cells infect conflicts in every corner of the world.”

BBC licence fee payers might reasonably wonder what chance they have of getting anything approaching the accurate and impartial reporting they are promised if these are examples of the type of vitriolic polemics the corporation’s employees read and recommend. They might, however, have already ceased to wonder why so many UK media reports  fail to address the topic of the responsibility of terrorist organisations for the suffering of the people of Gaza. 

Another BBC social media guidance failure

Meet Naziru Mikailu. He works for the BBC World Service/ BBC Africa. And he likes to Tweet.

Tweet Naziru BBC

Tweet Naziru BBC 2

Tweet Naziru BBC 3

And there’s more here.

“You shouldn’t state your political preferences or say anything that compromises your impartiality. Don’t sound off about things in an openly partisan way. Don’t be seduced by the informality of social media into bringing the BBC into disrepute.”

Apparently he hasn’t read the BBC’s social media guidance

BBC News describing Hamas command & control centres as ‘houses’

As readers are no doubt aware, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge in the early hours of July 8th in an attempt to bring to a halt the barrages of missile fire against Israeli civilians by terrorists in the Gaza Strip which have been ongoing for almost a month and has severely intensified and widened over the last few days.

The BBC News website’s main and Middle East pages announced in their lead headlines on the morning of July 8th “Israel launches new strikes on Gaza” with mention of missile attacks on Israeli citizens relegated to the sub-header.

jul 8 hp am

A similar title was given to the main article on the topic – “Israel launches new air strikes on Gaza Strip“. The article (changes to which can be seen here) opens:

“Israel has carried out more air strikes on the Gaza Strip, following dozens of rockets fired by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.”

No time scale is given in that introduction and so BBC audiences have no idea over what period those “dozens of rockets” were fired. In fact, on the day before the operation commenced – July 7th –more than eighty-five missiles were fired from the Gaza Strip at civilian targets in Israel but the BBC’s tepid description of course gives readers no real appreciation of the intensity of the attacks or their range. In addition, the article neglects to mention that in addition to Hamas, other terrorist organisations have also taken responsibility for missile fire, including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and a Fatah-linked group. The report goes on:Gaza art 8 7 opPE

“At least 15 Palestinians, including two women and a child, were reportedly hurt in the strikes.

Hamas said it fired rockets to respond to “Zionist aggression”, after accusing Israel of killing five of its fighters.

Israel denied the claim. It says it has now begun an open-ended aerial operation to end rocket fire from Gaza.

Israel says the operation will be expanded in the coming days and that 1,500 reservists have been called up.

A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has told the BBC that Israel had the capacity to take its operation “up a notch” and warned that a ground incursion was “not off the table”. “

The five “fighters” to which the BBC refers in its amplification of Hamas propaganda were in fact among those killed whilst handling explosives in a cross-border tunnel in preparation for a terror attack. Oddly, that fact is noted later on in the article and so it is difficult to understand the editorial considerations behind the amplification of a Hamas statement the BBC obviously knows not to be accurate.

The article goes on to repeat a misleading theme which has been promoted in other BBC coverage too.

“Tension has spiked in recent days over the murders of three young Israelis and a Palestinian teenager.”

In fact, augmented missile attacks commenced some two and a half weeks before it was known that three Israeli teenagers and one Palestinian youth had been murdered and they are related to a series of factors unconnected to those murders; not least the balance of power between Hamas and Fatah.

Later versions of the article include the following statement from the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly:

“The sudden escalation has come just days after there was talk of a possible truce between Israel and Gaza with each side suggesting that calm would be answered with calm, our correspondent adds.”

Whilst Israel did indeed state that calm would be met with calm, Connolly’s representation of the Hamas reaction is inaccurate and misleading.

“Head of Hamas’s foreign relations Osama Hamdan said that his movement will not accept any ceasefire in light of the continued siege on Gaza.

He told al-Resalah Net in an interview published on Saturday that the Israeli siege on Gaza is an ongoing aggression that must be stopped.

Hamdan said that there were no regional attempts to reach a ceasefire between Palestinian resistance and Israeli occupation, saying that Egypt did not intervene so far to broker a new calm or to stabilize the old one.

He said that the ceaseless Israeli aggression on the occupied Palestinian land revealed hypocrisy of many parties that only viewed resistance as “terrorism”.

Hamdan described the continued security coordination between the PA and the occupation as a flagrant betrayal of national constants.

He pointed out that certain elements within the PA had supported the Israeli story about the recent events by holding the Palestinian resistance fully responsible for the escalation.”

Later on in this somewhat confused and repetitive article it is stated:

“Hamas said Israel targeted two houses and four training facilities used by the militants across Gaza.

Palestinian medics said 15 people were injured, including two women and a child, in the southern town of Khan Younis.

Hamas militants reportedly warned they would enlarge the radius of their targets if Israel continued with the air strikes.”

The theme of “houses” – or “homes” – was also amplified (albeit citing different numbers) in a BBC World Service tweet and in a filmed report from July 8th by the BBC’s Gaza correspondent Rushdi Abualouf which was aired on BBC television news as well as appearing on the BBC News website.

Tweet WS homes

Abualouf report 8 7

In his report Abualouf says:

“The spokesman of the Hamas-run interior ministry has said the number of airstrikes has risen into thirty targets. The airstrikes targeted, like, eh…military compound for Hamas and also they have hit five houses as the Hamas spokesman said.”

Reasonable viewers or readers would of course interpret those references to “houses” or “homes” as meaning just random civilian dwellings occupied by residents of the Gaza Strip. That, however, is not the case.

All those “houses” are in fact terror command and control centres used by the following known terrorists:

“Ei’ad Sakik, a Hamas terrorists in Gaza, involved in rocket terrorism against the State of Israel.

Abdullah Hshash, a Hamas terrorist in Rafah, involved in rocket terrorism against the State of Israel during the past few weeks and in the past as well.

Samer Abu Daka, a Hamas terrorist in Khan Yunis, involved in terrorist activity against the State of Israel.

Hassan Abdullah, a Hamas terrorist in Khan Yunis, involved in rocket terrorism against the State of Israel during the past few weeks.”

Despite that information being available in the public domain, the BBC elects to amplify misleading and inaccurate Hamas propaganda in its written and filmed reports and on social media.

One other remarkable fact about this article is its complete failure to inform readers of the highly significant fact that, as of June 2nd 2014, the Palestinian unity government is in charge in the Gaza Strip and of course that government is committed to all previous agreements signed with Israel – which include the disarming of terrorist organisations. 

Only one kind of incitement worth mentioning for BBC Trending

The July 5th edition of the BBC World Service programme ‘BBC Trending’, presented by Anne-Marie Tomchak, included a discussion with BBC Arabic’s Abdiraheem Saeed on the topic of social media use and recent events in Israel and the PA controlled areas. The programme is available here, with the item beginning at around 01:25.BBC Trending 5 7 14

An abridged, filmed version of the item also appeared on the BBC News website on July 7th under the title “#BBCtrending: Are #GazaUnderAttack images accurate?“.

The audio item begins with an interesting presentation of recent events.

Anne-Marie Tomchak: “This week the hashtag ‘GazaUnderAttack’ has been trending. It’s been used more than 231 thousand time in the past seven days. But the hashtag itself isn’t new. It’s reappeared on social media because of fresh tensions between Israel and the Palestinians. Now earlier this week the bodies of three kidnapped Israeli youths were found in the West Bank. Israel has blamed Hamas, but they’ve denied responsibility. And then later in the week a Palestinian teenager was abducted and killed in Jerusalem. The deaths have fuelled tensions and sparked new clashes on the ground and it’s all moving really fast. Abdiraheem – can you just give us a sense of what’s happening as of when we’re recording this programme on Friday?”

Abdiraheem Saeed: “Yeah, so things kind of started on Monday when the bodies of the three Israeli teenagers were found around Hebron and they went missing about two weeks and a half ago and since then the city of Hebron has been locked down. Israel accuses Hamas of being behind the attack and has since launched a number of air attacks on Gaza, partly because it says there has been rocket attacks coming in from Gaza on Israeli cities.”

AMT: “Right, so rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel and there’ve been Israeli airstrikes on Gaza and it’s those airstrikes on Gaza that are a part of the reason why this hashtag ‘GazaUnderAttack’ is trending.”

Let’s have a look at the messaging in this segment of the programme. Most notable is the misleading impression given to BBC audiences that “things kind of started on Monday”. In fact, a huge upsurge in the number of missile attacks by terrorist organisations from the Gaza Strip began immediately following the kidnappings of Gil-ad Sha’ar, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach on June 12th, but there had also been several attacks before that date, including on June 1st and 2nd, June 7th, June 8th and June 11th. Since June 12th, over 150 missiles have hit southern Israel, but despite that, Saeed still presents those attacks in terms of “Israel says” and without informing listeners of the numbers involved.

Another notable feature is the attempt to tie Israeli responses to missile fire to the discovery of the bodies of the three Israeli teenagers and the implication that they are some sort of ‘punishment’ for Hamas involvement in the kidnappings and murders. Likewise, the use of the broad terms “airstrikes on Gaza” and “air attacks on Gaza” fails to clarify that the strikes target specific terror-related facilities – not “Gaza” as a whole – and hence misleads listeners.  

Remarkably too, this item continues the line adopted by the BBC since it first began reporting on the kidnappings, according to which Hamas denials of involvement are amplified – despite the intelligence indicating otherwise – and no explanation is given as to why “Hebron has been locked down”: because the two main suspects who are still on the run originate from that city, which is one of Hamas’ main strongholds outside of the Gaza Strip.

The item then goes on to discuss the topic of the use of unrelated photographs to illustrate Tweets sent under that trending hashtag.

AMT: “We’ve been analysing a number of the images being shared on social media and we found that many of them aren’t from this week at all and some of them are from Syria and from other conflicts.”

That, of course, is an issue with which BBC journalists should already be familiar and of course it is not only inaccurately described images which mislead people on social media regarding events in the Gaza Strip – see ‘related articles’ below. 

The presenter then interviews an unnamed British teenager who is unperturbed by the fact that she posted old photographs on Twitter under the title ‘this is Gaza right now’, after which she remarks:

“That’s actually quite worrying – that someone who’s trying to get information out there and share it with their family and friends and possibly with more people, isn’t actually too bothered about the fact that some of these images are not what they seem to be.”

Abdiraheem Saeed’s answer once again promotes a misleading picture of broad airstrikes on the Gaza Strip:

“Yeah, so a lot of people are following the news and are aware of these aerial attacks. It’s a question of getting some photos and some faces to the casualties and those information are not always immediately available so a lot of people tend to recycle old photos, whether by intent or genuinely believing these were recent photos. So you’ve just got to find the right people to follow and double check the images that you see.”

AMT: “So what this young woman is saying is that the media isn’t reporting the reality of the situation and that’s why she has turned to social media.”

AS: “Yes. And that has been a popular sentiment on Twitter for people who thought the Palestinian perspective is not getting enough coverage in the media – it’s what they call the mainstream media – so they turn to what they see as an alternative – social media – to get those stories out.”

Towards the end of the item the presenter asks Saeed about other social platforms.

AS: “Yes. More recently since the bodies were found of the Israeli teenagers there were a number of calls on Twitter and Facebook and pages set up calling for revenge – to avenge the death of the Israeli teenagers – and selfies – and they’ve been called selfies of hate – of, you know, calling for revenge and also, you know, there were cases – some cases – of apparently where Israeli soldiers taking those kind of selfies.”

AMT: “Was that on a Facebook page?”

AS: “Yes.”

AMT: “Which has since been taken down.”

AS: “Yeah, it has been condemned as well by certain Israeli politicians but it’s something that has been going around on social media.”

Of course not only has that Facebook page been taken down, but the Israeli Ministry of Justice had already set up an ‘incitement hotline’ where citizens can report offensive social media postings two days before this BBC programme was aired and the army had already punished the soldiers involved in the case he mentioned. Saeed, however, refrains from informing BBC audiences of official Israeli reactions to the instances of incitement he describes. 

Interestingly – as we noted in a previous post relating to a BBC Trending report (to which Abdiraheem Saeed also contributed) on the use of social media during the recent events – BBC Trending did not appear to be interested in informing audiences about the use of social media in both official and unofficial Palestinian celebrations of the kidnappings of the three Israeli teenagers.  Likewise, this week’s ’round-up’ scrupulously avoids any mention of the many examples of incitement spread by parties to the PA unity government on social media, including the picture below, titled “we will burn the settlements” which appeared on Fatah’s Facebook page.

Fatah FB

What was it the BBC’s Andrew Roy said on July 5th?

“Well we try to look at the entirety of our coverage. We’re not minute counting. We are ensuring that across the whole thing we can look back on our coverage of this and say we did give fair balance to each side.”

Fair balance is not only achieved by means of what is reported: what is not reported is often no less critical in skewing that balance.

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BBC World Service promotes inaccurate information on Twitter

That renowned BBC accuracy and impartiality…

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Context-free Tweet from BBC’s Gaza correspondent

BBC World Service promotes inaccurate information on Twitter

On the morning of July 3rd 2014 the Hamas-linked Palestinian media agency Alray reported that ten people in the Gaza Strip had been injured after the Israeli air-force responded to ongoing intense missile fire launched by terrorist groups against Israeli civilians in communities in surrounding regions.

“Israeli warplanes raided several places in the Gaza Strip early Thursday injuring ten civilians, including an elderly and a young woman.

Spokesperson of Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qedra said in a statement that five citizens were injured after Israeli warplanes bombed a farmland in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza and three youngsters after bombing the site of “Safina” north-west of Gaza City.” 

The Kuwait News Agency reported likewise on ten injured people, as did  the Iranian regime’s Press TV and even the Hamas-supporting International Solidarity Movement.

The BBC News website also noted on the morning of July 3rd that:

 “Ashraf al-Qidra, from Gaza’s ministry of health, told the BBC that 10 Palestinians were injured in the air strikes and taken to hospital.”

The BBC World Service’s ‘Newsday’, however, elected to promote a different version of events to its 115 thousand followers on Twitter.

BBC WS Tweet airstrikes

Clearly the BBC World Service is in need of a swift reminder that editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality also apply to social media. Obviously too, a prominent and public correction needs to be made. 

Update: 

The BBC World Service Twitter account has now posted a correction to that Tweet.

BBC WS corrected tweet

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BBC ignores attack on journalists in Hebron

Over the past few months and weeks BBC audiences have been presented with extensive coverage on all BBC outlets of the trial and sentencing of three Al Jazeera journalists in an Egyptian court – including on the BBC News website’s Middle East page. A BBC-led campaign on the issue has also been promoted heavily, including by BBC employees on social media.

Greste story on ME pge

In April of this year the BBC Media Centre published a “Joint statement issued at the BBC’s Safety of Journalists Symposium” which included these words:

“In too many countries journalists are facing serious intimidation and violence, which in turns leads to disturbing patterns of censorship and self-censorship. We stand against these abuses and today we call on the governments concerned to investigate each one of those crimes promptly and effectively so as to bring those responsible to justice.”

All the more curious, therefore, is the fact that BBC News has completely ignored a story from June 20th involving the attack by members of the Palestinian Authority’s security forces on CNN journalists covering a pro-Hamas demonstration in Hebron.

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Where’s the BBC coverage? Journalists beaten up in Beitunia