BBC repeats use of loaded punctuation in reporting terror attacks on Israelis

An article dated December 3rd and appearing in the Middle East section of the BBC News website under the title “Palestinian killed in West Bank” carries the following headline: “Palestinian ‘with axe’ killed by Israeli forces in West Bank”. 

axe story

The article relates to an incident which took place on December 3rd 2012 on Route 57 and claims that members of the Israeli Security Services were involved in a chase after a Palestinian man named Hatem Shadid.

“Reports say the man had been driving a car between the settlements of Shavei Shomron and Einav, raising the suspicions of the security personnel.

They began chasing him and his car collided with their own vehicle, which then overturned. The man is then said to have come towards them with the axe.”

No other news agency appears to be carrying that version of the story. Reuters described Shadid as having “rammed” the ISS vehicle. 

“The witnesses said that after the vehicles collided, Shadid approached the Israelis, who were already injured from the crash, hitting one in the head and the other in the shoulder with an object that he was carrying.

One of the Israelis then shot him dead, both sides said.”

The Huffington Post – using an AP item – quotes an eye witness:

“Palestinian truck driver Rafik Salem says the Palestinian car hit the jeep at high speed Monday before veering into an olive grove. He says an ax-wielding man emerged from the grove and attacked the Israelis.”

Ynet states that:

“The man’s car crashed head on into an army vehicle transporting a Shin Bet officer and other security personnel near the Palestinian village of Deir Sharaf in the West Bank. The jeep overturned upon impact, lightly injuring the passengers. The assailant then exited his car and stormed towards the troops with an ax while yelling “Allah Akbar,” managing to hurt two of the soldiers before being shot dead by the Shin Bet officer.”

The Jerusalem Post , quoting the Spokesman for the Israeli Police Force, describes the incident thus:

“The Shin Bet [Israeli Security Service] was carrying out security activity along the road when the Palestinian vehicle swerved from its lane and crashed head-on into them. 

The Palestinian driver then lunged at the security personnel with an axe while shouting “Allahu Akbar.” He injured two Israelis in the attack. A Shin Bet officer shot and killed the attacker.”

Another outstanding feature of this BBC article is the interesting use (yet again) of punctuation in the headline. Why exactly were those inverted commas inserted to surround the words ‘with axe’? The clear implication is that the BBC is not prepared to take reports that the man was wielding an axe as verified, thereby suggesting that perhaps this was not a terror attack.

So here, especially for the Editor of the BBC News website, is a picture of the axe used by Hatem Shabib. The image can be seen here at 08:59. 


Will the unnecessary punctuation now be removed? 

26 comments on “BBC repeats use of loaded punctuation in reporting terror attacks on Israelis

  1. Hi,

    I have now written 3 complaints to the BBC, following reports from BBC Watch apart from my own experiences of bias by them. My question to you is; do you also send these emails to the BBC?




    • If you get a brush off, which is inevitably the case initially, escalate the complaint to the Editorial Complaints Unit. If no joy with them, escalate it to the next level, the BBC Trust. It’s only at these higher levels that they take notice.

    • OMG! The BBC uses… horror… punctuation!

      Happily Hadar Sela is there and checking. Maybe she can call Netanyahu and inform him that the BBC uses punctuation in its stories?

  2. I wonder what excuse the BBC would give for still maintaining that ‘details are unclear’ as to what happened, when other media outlets are able to report clearly that the man rammed the security jeep first with his own vehicle, before attacking them with an axe.

    No doubt they would give some kind of mealy mouthed excuse that they believe makes them appear really concerned not to report anything that they couldn’t verify themselves. The only thing is that this in itself would show a clear bias, as they have no problem reporting unverified statistics, deaths, injuries, from Palestinian sources, when they are later found to be bogus.

    • One can see right away from the headline:
      Mortar attack on school outside Damascus ‘kills 29’,
      that it was the rebels that are probably responsible for these deaths and not the Syrian regime.

      Otherwise, like when Israel is responsible, we would have 28 children killed by Syrian troops to achieve the full effect.

    • @RZ; One or two instances of somewhat biased reporting from a media organisation may be considered trivial: When the bias is insidious, persistent and pervasive, and manifests across the whole of the massive, far reaching and multi-faceted organisation that is today’s BBC; when it occurs day in, day out, throughout the BBC’s various outputs, via various types of media; when the BBC is financed by, and supposedly accountable to, the public; when the BBC has a legal obligation to be impartial; when there is no legal way for the public to avoid paying to facilitate this propaganda, unless they are prepared to regress back to the early part of the last century and forgo television altogether; and when the BBC exports this propaganda around the world, to people who believe in error that it takes balance and impartiality seriously; then it becomes a very significant and serious matter indeed. Propaganda causes incitement. Incitement causes vitriol and violence, and often costs lives. For this reason, and because of the number of countries serviced by the BBC worldwide, I would give the BBC’s anti-Israel bias a higher level of importance (risk-rating) than anything recently investigated by Leveson – and that’s not to diminish in any way the seriousness of the behaviour of some of the British press.

      • That’s a nice reply indeed. Somebody also once remarked that fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate and hate leads to suffering. The British Bigotry Corporation is excellent at stoking unjustifiable fears that then lead to worldwide anger and hatred against Israel, thus, causing Israel to suffer. Except for the BBC’s excellent and non-political nature film unit in Bristol, the rest of the organisation should be shut down effective immediately.

        Long Live Israel!

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