BBC describes firebombing of checkpoint as “protests”

On April 4th 2013 the BBC News website ran an article on its Middle East page under the title “Palestinians shot dead by Israeli fire in West Bank“. The original article – published late the previous night – looked like this:

Tulkarem firebomb attacks

The next day, that article was replaced with this version:

Einav incident

As we see, the headline already hints at a tale of inactive Palestinians who are the victims of Israeli action. The report opens:

“Two Palestinian teenagers have been shot and killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Tulkarm after clashes between soldiers and youths.”

The phrasing of this sentence reinforces the impression given by the headline by leading with the statement that the young men were “shot and killed” before getting into the subject of why that happened. The sentence also includes two major inaccuracies.

The incident, which took place after dark on Wednesday April 3rd, did not occur in Tulkarem at all, but several miles to the east at a security checkpoint near the village of Einav (in Area C), not far from the PA-controlled Area A village of Anabta. The BBC’s description of the incident as “clashes between soldiers and youths” does not reflect the fact that the violence was initiated by the young men themselves when a group of Palestinians approached the security checkpoint and threw firebombs at the soldiers manning it. 


The report goes on to say:

“Palestinian medical and security officials told AFP news agency the first youth confirmed killed was Amer Nassar, believed to be aged 16. They named the second victim as his cousin, Naji Balbisi, 17.”

The majority of other reports on the incident state that Nasser was 17 years old and Balbisi was eighteen. Both were residents of Anabta. 

Only in the third paragraph are readers given some idea of the circumstances of the incident, and even then that information is provided in the reverse order of events.

“The Israeli military said its troops opened fire on Palestinians who threw firebombs at a guard post.”

In the seventh paragraph, readers finally find out what really happened: 

“The Israel Defense Forces said several Palestinians had attacked a guard post near the settlement of Einav on Wednesday and troops opened fire in response. It said the incident was under investigation.”

The report goes on to state: [emphasis added]

“The clashes late on Wednesday in Tulkarm, in the northern West Bank, came after a day of protests and a general strike across the territory.”


“The protests were sparked by the death from cancer of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, who was 64, on Tuesday.”

The words “clashes” and “protests” are inappropriate and inaccurate terminology when used to describe the pre-planned throwing of firebombs at human beings.

 By contrast, a similar incident three months ago in Northern Ireland in which members of the security forces were attacked with firebombs was described by the BBC in much less euphemistic language. [all emphasis added]

“Ten officers were injured when police were attacked by a crowd throwing petrol bombs and missiles in Belfast.”

Disorder broke out at about 18:30 GMT…” 

“The disturbances on Thursday…”

“Police said the crowd that attacked police was about 100 strong.”

“Some of the demonstrations have resulted in violence, including the attempted murder of a police officer in a petrol bomb attack in east Belfast on 10 December.”

The lack of continuity of language in describing two similar incidents in different countries is very revealing, both with regard to the descriptions of the actions themselves and the degree of activity/passivity ascribed to the attackers.

The BBC’s report once again promotes PA propaganda relating to the recent death of a Palestinian terrorist, without pointing out that the subsequent unnecessary riots are entirely the fruit of that incitement promoted by the PA.

“The protests were sparked by the death from cancer of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, who was 64, on Tuesday.

Palestinian officials claim that Israel did not provide adequate medical care and failed to release him after diagnosing that his illness was terminal.”

Likewise, BBC producer Jeannie Assad promoted hearsay surrounding the event on Twitter: 

Tweet 'Palestinian med sources'

The BBC’s attempt to frame the actions of the two young men from Anabta as being part of ‘protests’ at the death of Abu Hamdiyeh disingenuously conceals from the reading public the fact that riots and attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers – under some pretext or other – have been taking place on a regular basis in Judea and Samaria and the Jerusalem area for months. 

The whole-hearted adoption by the BBC of the Palestinian narrative – whereby ‘passive’ Palestinians are killed by ‘active’ Israeli troops whilst engaging in unavoidable ‘protests’ which sometimes lead to ‘clashes’ – is clearly displayed in this report. The shoe-horning into that narrative of an incident in which a group of youths – entirely at their own initiative and under cover of darkness – attacked members of the security forces with firebombs, with some of them then being shot by soldiers who assessed their own lives were in danger, provides yet another example of reporting which fails to meet BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality. 

9 comments on “BBC describes firebombing of checkpoint as “protests”

  1. “The BBC’s report once again promotes PA propaganda.” With beeboid twitterers like “BBC producer Jeannie Assad ” can BBC Watchers be surprised?

    Is Jeannie, perchance, related to Bashir or perhaps an Alawite taking some rest and recuperation from the horrendous Syrian civil war?

    Where does the BBC find these Isra-hate goons? Maybe among the ranks of the Alan Johnston-kidnapping Dogmush clan in Gaza, as the price paid for his release. No chance of new BBC boss Tony Hall giviing Jeannie the chop in his forthcoming round of cuts, Duvidl supposes.

  2. “Two Palestinian teenagers have been shot and killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Tulkarm after clashes between soldiers and youths.”

    “after”?!! So, the Israeli soldiers “killed” the “teenagers” only “after” the clashes? Not “during”, I suppose? Cold blooded child killers, these Israelis are.

  3. This is what I sent to BBC via their “Contact Us” page:


    I believe that your news item “Palestinians shot dead by Israeli fire in West Bank” (4 April 2013) is misleading in that it presents the reported event inversely and it attempts to present the Israeli side as a cold blooded murderers.

    Note for example, that the opening paragraph, not only reverses the sequence of events but also implies that the deceased were murdered in cold blood, because they were “killed…after clashes”. Surely, they were killed “during” the events, not “after”?

    There are other examples of biased reporting in this item, most obviously, the headline itself. It conveys only half of the story – concealing the other half, i.e., that there were violent clashes in which two were killed. This isn’t the “whole truth”.

    Below the headline there are clear attempts to minimise the presentation of the actual event’s time-line (it is clear that the event itself was initiated by the Palestinian Arabs, not by Israeli soldiers in a stationary post) as well as to minimise the severity of the attack by the Palestinian Arabs on the Israeli military (as we know well from Northern Ireland, firebombs are a dangerous weapon, especially against a stationary post).

    I would therefore ask the editor responsible for this item to address my concerns of biased reporting and presentation. And please don’t reply with the usual “we-received-protests-that-we-are-biased-in-favour-of-Israel-therefore-we-can’t-be-biased-against-it” nonsense, just address my queries above.


    Asher Pat

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