BBC coverage of recent rocket attacks on southern Israel

On Sunday, October 7th 2012, the IDF targeted two terrorists in the Gaza Strip who were in the advanced stages of planning another terror attack against Israelis. 

“In a joint IDF- ISA operation, IAF targeted Tala’at Halil Muhammad Jarbi (b. 1989), a Global Jihad operative from Rafah, and Abdullah Muhammad Hassan Maqawai (b. 1988), a member of the Ashora Council of the Martyrs of Jerusalem, a Gaza-based Global Jihad affiliate. For many years Tala’at was involved in extensive terrorist activity, targeting Israeli civilian and security forces, including rocket firing, weapon manufacturing, and other terrorist activities in the Gaza Strip. He was a senior operative involved in the planning and execution of an attack along the security fence on 18.6.12, during which an Israeli civilian was killed. He had also been planning an complex attack intended to take place along the Sinai border.”

The attack of June 18th 2012 referred to above resulted in the death of Saeed Phashpashe, aged 36 and the father of four, from Haifa. Despite that, the BBC’s report on October 7th referred to Tala’at Jarbi and Abdullah Maqawai as “Gaza militants” and “Palestinian militants”, cast doubts upon Tala’at Jarbi’s involvement in the June attack by using the well-worn phrase “Israel said” and made no mention of the attack in planning, despite quoting extensively from the IDF statement on the subject. 

Early on the morning of Monday October 8th – a holiday in Israel – civilian communities in the south of Israel underwent an intense barrage of some 55 mortar and rocket attacks from Gaza. Despite the deliberate targeting of civilians by two groups –Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad – defined as terror organisations by the British government and despite those two terror organisations having put out a joint statement regarding their cooperation in the rocket attacks, the BBC’s report of October 8th still referred to the perpetrators as “militants”.

The writer of the BBC report also appears to have doubts regarding the nature of the organisations to which Tala’at Jarbi and Abdullah Maqawi belonged, as can be seen in a rather curious use of quotation marks: 

“The Israeli military said it had targeted two members of “global jihadist” groups which were suspected of involvement in a cross-border attack from Egypt in June that left one Israeli dead.”

The BBC’s correspondent in Gaza, Jon Donnison, added some rather bizarre interpretations of his own to the article:

“The BBC’s Jon Donnison in Gaza City says it is unusual for Hamas to acknowledge involvement in attacks against Israel.

In the past it has tried to rein in rocket fire from smaller groups.

But Hamas is under pressure to be seen to be resisting Israel’s occupation from those in Gaza who believe the Islamist movement has compromised too much, our correspondent adds.”

Donnison fails to make clear that Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and therefore “resisting Israel’s occupation” by firing military hardware at civilian communities in the Negev constitutes a significantly more belligerent approach and an interpretation of the word ‘occupation’ which – according to Hamas doctrines – includes the whole of Israel. 

Donnison is perhaps not aware that a Hamas delegation headed by Mahmoud al Zahar  recently attended the ‘International Islamic Resistance Conference’ held in Iran, visited Hizballah in Lebanon and  took part in rallies organized by the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza. Donnison’s attempts to portray Hamas as the ‘responsible adult’ are, therefore, misleading at best. 

Mahmoud al Zahar seated front right at PIJ rally in Gaza

Strangely too, Jon Donnison does not yet have appeared to have absorbed the lessons of quoting unverified statements from ‘Palestinian medical sources’: 

“Later, Palestinian medical sources in Gaza told the BBC that an Israeli shell had landed east of Khan Younis, injuring five people, among them several children.”

If readers are scratching their heads at the BBC’s seemingly boundless ability to classify the architects and executors of terror attacks against Israeli civilians as ‘militants’ – even after 55 missile attacks in one morning – a clue to the ‘reasoning’ behind it comes in the form of its guidance for editors

“Terrorism is a difficult and emotive subject with significant political overtones and care is required in the use of language that carries value judgements.  We try to avoid the use of the term “terrorist” without attribution.”

 “The word “terrorist” itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding.”

Alternatively, some people may well think that the BBC is actually creating more barriers to its audience’s understanding of the Middle East by downplaying Islamist terror attacks on Israelis and prettying Hamas, in particular as that becomes even more confusing – as recently pointed out by ‘Honest Reporting‘ – when the word ‘terror’ is used by the BBC in certain circumstances.


29 comments on “BBC coverage of recent rocket attacks on southern Israel

  1. Great catch, Sharon. It’s not only that the BBC is liberal, it’s that they walk around believing that there are not other legitimate alternatives to their way of thinking – an extreme ideological myopia which necessarily informs their reports on the Middle East and all other issues.

  2. BBC Review Liberal Bias
    “Trust chairman Lord Patten launches new impartiality review into corporation’s coverage of religion, immigration and Europe”.

    Patten long ago showed himself to be a good friend to the Palestinian people and a man who had no time for Israel. For him to launch an ‘impartiality review’ is like making Syria a member of a human rights commission. Oh but wait a minute….

    • Just listen to Lord Patten wittering on about the bbc and Jimmy Saville and you can get the drift of it. Just a lot of wall paper sticking over the cracks. Nothing will change but hopefully more people will speak out criticising the bbc.

  3. Is this this the most dramatic earth shattering thing you were able to come up with ? Not the most auspicious start if I may be permitted to say.

    • Not everything has to be earth shattering to be significant. The constant drip, drip of slanted reporting that comes from the BBC virtually every week has done untold harm to peoples’ perception of Israel and we need to redress that.

    • this is enough to be getting on with !

      bias shining thru this bbc article by the use of the phrase ” But Hamas is under pressure to be seen to be resisting Israel’s occupation from those in Gaza”

      occupation !! of what !! Hamas occupies Gaza.

  4. The BBC cannot be faulted here. After all, they’re adhering to past UNGA resolutions that long ago legalized the murder of Jews by “militants”:

    United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/33/24 of 29 November 1978:
    “2. Reaffirms the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, particularly armed struggle;” (3)
    This justification for legitimate armed resistance has been specifically applied to the Palestinian struggle repeatedly.

    To quote General Assembly Resolution A/RES/3246 (XXIX) of 29 November 1974:
    3. Reaffirms the legitimacy of the peoples’ struggle for liberation form colonial and foreign domination and alien subjugation by all available means, including armed struggle; …
    7. Strongly condemns all Governments which do not recognize the right to self-determination and independence of peoples under colonial and foreign domination and alien subjugation, notably the peoples of Africa and the Palestinian people; (4)

    • Silly you, that UNGA resolution was made to support the just cause of the Kurds – a proud nation of about 30 million people who were stripped of their inalienable right to self determination and statehood. It is only by posing as if it was meant for the Jews that the UNGA could be tricked to vote for the resolution (after all, Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria would have immediately blocked that resolution had they figured out what was going on)…

  5. ‘if I may be permitted to say’

    It would appear you are, and have been.
    Thus allowing you to be judged on the calibre of your input thus far.

    Sadly, this is not always the case with certain media, who can offer a rather rigourous policy of moderation, often to the extent of censorship, whilst making claims as to the status of trust they enjoy or how commentary should be free. Usually by them about themselves. Hardly the most credible of means.

    Such also organisations seem uncomfortable when the spotlight they seem to feel they alone can shine turns back on them, and this often shows in the competence and coherence or continuity of their responses. Or lack of.

    Often they appear to rely on the services of empathetic tribal supporters, but these too often fail in blog discussions by failing to address the point and/or relying on insult or airy, vague dismissals.

    Luckily, these tend only to serve to make the points being made even stronger.

  6. Well I can only agree with you there. It is to the eternal credit of Adam and Richard M that they moderate very lightly indeed. Although the do both have a red line beginning with a H. o:))

  7. Slightly OT (what already!), but it occurs to me that the culture of suppression may well be endemic at the BBC. They suppressed any complaints about the activities of Jimmy Savile until after his death – they’ve also turned cartwheels to suppress publication of the Balen report.

    It’s not exactly what you call a transparent organisation, yet it ‘s being run with taxpayers’ money and should be entirely open to scrutiny.

  8. Re: BBC guidance for editors, specifically:

    “Terrorism is a difficult and emotive subject with significant political overtones and care is required in the use of language that carries value judgements. We try to avoid the use of the term “terrorist” without attribution.”

    How interesting. I was unable to watch the Panorama program ‘Price Tag’, aired a couple of weeks ago but noted the ‘program information’ on BBC Iplayer which read:

    “Their weapons are firebombs and spray cans, and they have been branded Jewish terrorists…”

    Clearly, the BBC’s own guidance can be ignored when required. It seems perfectly able to use the term ‘terrorist’ when it suits.

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  10. Terrorism only takes on its full meaning when it is directed against the writer – as in the case of Lara Logan in Tahrir Square in Egypt during their Arab Spring. She is now squarely in the conservative camp, having suffered terribly at the hands (and genitals) of Egyptian crowd. When the editors at BBC find their offices ablaze while they are still sitting at their desks, they will re-evaluate their positions rather quickly.

  11. The whole thing is a farce or rather a red herring.
    I’very glad the BBC is liberal on some things – gay rights, racial minorities and such.

    But it’s defintiely NOT liberal in the sense of taking on various points of view on some issues – it just follows a hard left-green line. On Israel, on the EU, on immigration, on environmenal issues especailly global warming, it simply spreads red-green propaganda.

  12. And how does the BBC pick their audiences? On the Flaghip “Question Time” & “Any Questions”, whatever lefties or greens spout is always greeted with huge applause whilst anyoe right-of-centre is ikely to get heckled, even though they represent 50% of the population.

  13. On the use of terminology: Yesterday Mehdi Hassan and Jonathan Freedland were discussing the EU Nobel Peace prize on Radio 4. Freedland pointed out that peace did not mean pacifict, giving as an example the “warrior” Arafat. As always Freedland bends over backwards to be neutral, but chooses not to use even militant, but warrior which has overtones of romantic heroism.

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