BBC Trust ESC exploited for anti-Israel faux point scoring

h/t DA

The vast majority of the public naturally spends little – if any – time trudging through the bogs of fringe anti-Israel campaigning on the internet. Readers may therefore not be aware of the recent manipulation of a footnote added to a ruling by the BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee by one such professional activist. 

Our colleague Adam Levick of CiF Watch explains (see the full post here):

In 2005, following several years which saw a disturbing rise in antisemitic violence across Europe, the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) reached a definition of antisemitism.  

Later in the year, the Working Definition of Antisemitism was prominently referenced at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Cordoba Conference.  And, since then, many other bodies have advocated its usage. The one-page “Working Definition of Antisemitism” (below) evolved as a result of the efforts of a large number of European institutions and human rights experts. 

The stated goal of the Working Definition was to “provide a guide for identifying incidents, collecting data and supporting the implementation and enforcement of legislation dealing with antisemitism.”

Here it is:

Recently, a commentator who has expressed sympathy for antisemites, and routinely calls for the end of the Jewish state, used his platform at a site notable for endorsing terrorism and equating Zionism to Nazism, to falsely characterize the Working Definition of Antisemitism as “an abandoned draft text.”

Whilst it is narrowly true that the website of Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), the successor to the EUMC, doesn’t include the text of the Working Definition of Antisemitism – due to the fact that its mandate differs from EUMC – here are the facts:

  • The State Department report on Global Antisemitism in 2008 included the following:  The EUMC’s working definition provides a useful framework for identifying and understanding the problem and is adopted for the purposes of this report
  • The Working Definition of Antisemitism was cited by the US State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism in testimony given to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (in Helsinki) in 2011, and is currently endorsed on the State Department’s ‘Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism’ page.
  • The Working Definition of Antisemitism was endorsed by the London Declaration of the Inter Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism
  • An official document published by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) recommends the Working Definition of Antisemitism as a valuable hate crime data collection tool for law enforcement agencies, and for educators.

Though most manifestations of antisemitism included in the Working Definition shouldn’t even need to be pointed out (such as ‘calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion’), many who oppose it do so for the following reasons:

1) It defines as antisemitic the equating of Zionism with Nazism.

2) It defines as antisemitic calls for the end of the Jewish state.

It is of course no coincidence that this recent attack on the Working Definition was leveled by a commentator who continually promotes the second charge at a site which has endorsed the first.

Related articles:

Tenacity brings results in complaint about BBC Ward article

BBC’s Ward article amended


BBC coverage of prisoner release in pictures

The story of the recent release of another twenty-six Palestinians convicted of murdering Israeli (and Palestinian) civilians has of course two aspects to it: the Israeli aspect and the Palestinian one.

The imbalance in the BBC’s coverage of those two aspects is apparent not only in the word count and the language used in its various reports on the subject, but also in the images selected to illustrate those articles.

In the article appearing on October 28th on the BBC News website, two images were used.

Images 1

Images 2

In the article from October 29th one photograph was used.

Images 6

In the filmed report of October 30th all the footage was of celebrations in Ramallah.

Knell filmed pris

The written article from October 30th included the video clip of the filmed report as well as two additional images.

images 3

Images 4

Also in that article, one photograph taken at the October 28th demonstration against the prisoner release held outside Ofer prison (which was not covered at all by the BBC) was featured. 

Images 5 I

Not one image of any of the twenty-five victims of the murders committed by the twenty-six prisoners was shown by the BBC and yet again the faces of family members of the victims also remain unseen.  That is not because such photographs do not exist; it is an editorial decision.

Below are just some of the other pictures taken at the same demonstration by photographers from the same agency – Getty Images – as credited on the image the BBC did choose to use. 

G I 1

G I 2

G I 3

BBC coverage of prisoner release amplifies narrative of ‘political prisoners’

The BBC’s coverage of the release of twenty-six convicted Palestinian murderers on the night of October 29th – 30th includes a filmed report by Yolande Knell – broadcast on BBC news programmes – and a written article. Both those reports appeared on the BBC News website’s home page as well as on its Middle East page.

pris rel HP

pris rel mep

In her filmed report from Ramallah Knell says:

“There’s a big fanfare as the Palestinian president has welcomed back twenty-one Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails to the West Bank, along with their families here and many supporters. They’re among twenty-six Palestinians that have been released tonight; the other five were sent back home to the Gaza Strip. All of these men were convicted of killing Israelis before or just after the 1993 Oslo peace accords were signed and they’re seen here as political prisoners.” [emphasis added]

In fact, not “all” of the released prisoners were convicted of “killing Israelis”: Fatah member Tsabbag Mohammed was convicted of the torture and murder of three Palestinians, but as usual the BBC does not appear to be overly interested in the subject of violence directed at Palestinians by fellow Palestinians.  

As she once again repeats and amplifies the politically motivated Palestinian narrative of convicted murderers as “political prisoners”, Knell makes no attempt to inform her audiences why that claim is invalid by clarifying that these prisoners were imprisoned for violent crimes – not because of their political opinions – or that the Council of Europe’s  definition of political prisoners specifically excludes those convicted of terrorist acts from that category.

“Those deprived of their personal liberty for terrorist crimes shall not be considered political prisoners for having been prosecuted and sentenced for such crimes according to national legislation and the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Knell continues:

“Israel agreed to release a total of 104 long-term detainees in July as part of a deal with the Palestinians to get peace talks restarted and this is the second batch. But the decision to release these men has proved very unpopular with the Israeli public, who see them as terrorists and there have been large protests too against these releases, including protests by relatives of their victims.”

Ironically, just as Knell is informing audiences that Israelis “see” the murders of civilians by members of terrorist organisations as terrorists, the filmed footage shows a plethora of flags belonging to the PFLP – a terrorist organization proscribed by the US, Canada, the EU and Israel – in the welcoming crowd.  

Knell filmed pris

In the written article (titled “Israel frees new batch of 26 Palestinian inmates“) it is erroneously stated that:

“All but one of those released on Thursday were imprisoned for murders committed before the signing of the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords.”

In fact, two of the prisoners committed murders after the signing of the Oslo Accords on September 13th 1993: Amawi Halmi murdered 22 year-old Yigal Vaknin on September 24th 1993 and Shabir Hazam murdered 67 year-old Holocaust survivor Isaac Rotenberg with an axe in March 1994.

The report also repeats Knell’s promotion of the notion of terrorists as “political prisoners” and “heroes of the Palestinian cause”:

“The BBC’s Yolande Knell reports from the West Bank that those who have been freed are seen there as political prisoners and heroes of the Palestinian cause – but that the decision has been hugely unpopular with the Israeli public.”

Neither in the article itself nor in the ‘on the scene’ side box written by Knell is any analysis offered to audiences with regard to the Ramat Shlomopotential effects on the peace process of the public displays of glorification of terrorism by the Palestinian Authority. In contrast, the report implies that the announcement of the construction of apartments in the Jerusalem suburb of Ramat Shlomo (described in political terms by the BBC as a “settlement”) could endanger the future of talks and repeats its now habitual misrepresentation of the reason for the cessation of the last round of talks in 2010.

“Shortly after the prisoners were freed, Israeli media reported that the government had announced that it would build 1,500 new homes in the east Jerusalem settlement of Ramat Shlomo.

The move was seen as an effort to mollify government hardliners. Talks between Israel and the Palestinians were suspended in 2010 after an Israeli freeze on settlement construction expired.”

Notably, the BBC once again fails to inform its audiences that before that ten month-long building freeze expired, the Palestinians refused to come to the negotiating table for 90% of its duration. 

Throughout this report just one brief mention is made of the actual crimes committed by the men released.

“The longest serving prisoner, Isa Abed Rabbo, was convicted of murdering two students while they were hiking south of Jerusalem in October 1984.”

In the side box, Knell describes and quotes the murderer’s mother, whom she also promoted in one of her Tweets.

“A prisoner’s elderly mother, Amuna Abed Rabbo, had come from Bethlehem in a wheelchair wearing her traditional embroidered dress. “Thank God my son returned back to me before I die. I have all the happiness in the world,” she said.”

Knell Ramallah

Apparently in an attempt to present impartiality, Knell’s side box continues with a short second-hand quote from the wife of one of the murdered Israelis – although in this case BBC audiences learn no engaging details about her age, dress, medical condition or place of residence.

“Esther Caspi, the widow of an Israeli taxi driver murdered by a Palestinian man who was set free, told Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper: “We shouldn’t release prisoners who have committed murder because they will do it again.” “

An additional BBC article included in the coverage of this event is titled “Profiles: Palestinian prisoners released by Israel” produced by BBC Monitoring on October 29th.

article profiles pris

There, as was the case in a previous similarly themed article published in August, short profiles of a few (nine out of twenty-six) of what are bizarrely termed “the better known prisoners” are provided.

The article repeats the inaccurate claim that:

“All but one were imprisoned for murders committed before the signing of the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords. This is the second of four batches to be freed.”

Whilst the inclusion of references – albeit sparse and partial ones – to the crimes committed by the released prisoners is an improvement on previous BBC coverage of the subject of Palestinian prisoners, the lack of balance in coverage is still very apparent, with no BBC reporter on the spot to cover the demonstrations against the release and the reactions of the victims’ families. 

Oldie but baddie: unadulterated Palestinian propaganda on BBC News

As noted here recently, the BBC News website’s Middle East and Business pages currently offer visitors the opportunity to watch a filmed report (also broadcast on BBC television news) on the subject of “wealth disparity” in the Palestinian Authority controlled areas.

Among the other videos promoted beside that report is one dating from April 5th 2012 headed “How to make a profit from checkpoints”. 

PA economy report 2

The filmed report, which was also apparently featured on BBC television news programmes, was produced by BBC Arabic’s Ahmed Buden and narrated by Ghada Nassef.

Checkpoints al Masry

Nassef opens the report with the following context-free introduction:

“Military checkpoints are part of everyday life in the occupied territories. Long car queues are a familiar scene, except late at night. But along with the pain there is a bit of gain for some Palestinian entrepreneurs who have learned to turn this situation to their advantage.”

No explanation is provided to audiences as to why checkpoints are needed and of course no mention is made of the fact that they did not exist until Palestinian terrorism made their placement necessary. Neither does Nassef bother to inform viewers that the Kalandiya checkpoint specifically referred to in the report separates Israel from regions controlled by the Palestinian Authority under the terms of the Oslo Accords and thus is a point of crossing from areas controlled by different entities.

Nassef later claims:

“But weekly clashes between Palestinian youths and the Israeli army means the flow of supply and demand more often than not gets disrupted.”

In fact, the Kalandiya (Atarot) crossing is designated for pedestrian and vehicle crossing only – goods and supplies do not pass through that crossing, but through others in the area. Nassef fails to inform audiences that the “weekly clashes” she cites are entirely dependent upon the Palestinians organizing them: if there is no violent rioting, there are no “clashes”.

The report then interviews an anonymous ‘man in the street’ who says:

“The first problem is the occupation. They fire tear gas all the time.” [emphasis added]

That unchallenged statement is obviously untrue: crowd control means are only used when Palestinian initiated violent rioting necessitates their employment.

Nassef goes on:

“Experts see the activity as a desire by Palestinians to make ends meet, despite the occupation”

Her “expert” (singular, rather than the plural implied by Nassef) is Hany al Masry, introduced as representing the innocuous sounding ‘Palestine Media, Research and Studies Centre – Badael’. Al Masry is also a consultant for the Oxford Research Group, a member of Al Shabaka and director general of the think tank ‘Masarat’. In other words, he is a political activist rather than an economic expert – as is all too apparent in the unchallenged propaganda-laden diatribe for which the BBC provides a platform.

“This is the Palestinian people’s way to express their will to live, to break the barriers, to adapt to circumstances – no matter how tough they are. Palestinians can turn nastiness into beauty because if they don’t, they won’t be able to live on their own land. Occupation is hell and whoever lives in hell has to accommodate it.”

That, dear readers, is a report broadcast to millions by an organization which claims to adhere to editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality.

BBC promotion of the myth of a non-violent first Intifada

As can be seen in the list of twenty-six Palestinian prisoners convicted of violent acts and scheduled to be released in the framework of ‘confidence building’ measures which we recently published, fifteen of them carried out their acts during the time period between December 9th 1987 and the signing of the Oslo Accords in September 1993 – considered by many observers to be the extent of the first Intifada. Seven of those prisoners were found guilty of murders carried out by shooting. 

That small sample is indicative of the broader picture.

“The intifada uprising that started in 1987 was, from the start, far more violent than commonly reported. Televised images of youths with rocks defined the violence for many, but during the first four years of the uprising, more than 3,600 Molotov cocktail attacks, 100 hand grenade attacks and 600 assaults with guns or explosives were reported by the Israel Defense Forces.”

Now consider the statement below which comes from an article written in December 2000 (over two months into the second Intifada) by the former BBC Online Middle East Editor Tarik Kafala – now head of BBC Arabic – which is still available on the BBC website. Kafala art 1

“When the 1987 intifada broke out in the Jebalia refugee camp in Gaza, it spread like wild fire to all areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It lasted, with varying levels of intensity, until 1993.

It came as a complete surprise to both the Israelis and the PLO, at the time in exile in Tunisia.

It also kept the Israeli occupation army at full stretch. Youths confronted the soldiers with stones and petrol bombs – but unlike the current violence, the demonstrators were at no stage armed with guns.” [emphasis added]

Beyond the blatantly political use of the phrase “Israel occupation army” which is obviously inappropriate for an organization which professes to adhere to standards of impartiality, Kafala clearly intentionally misleads audiences by inaccurately stating – very insistently, one notes – that those involved in perpetrating the violence of the first Intifada were “at no stage armed with guns”.

Adopting the Palestinian narrative of “resistance”, Kafala goes on to state:

“Much of the Palestinian resistance was non-violent. It included demonstrations, strikes, boycotting Israeli goods and the civil administration in the occupied territories, and the creation of independent schools and alternative social and political institutions.”

In addition to between 160 – 185 Israelis killed (depending on the time frame chosen) and thousands more wounded by that “non-violent resistance”, the first Intifada also of course saw the murders of around a thousand Palestinians by vigilantes accusing them of being ‘collaborators’ or ‘immoral’, but Kafala is apparently not interested in informing his audience about that aspect of the first Intifada.

The promotion of the myth of a non-violent first Intifada is of course by no means limited to the BBC: the same myth is promoted by both anti-Israel activists and lazy journalists. They, however, are not bound by editorial guidelines of accuracy and impartiality.

Despite clearly breaching BBC editorial guidelines, this article has remained on the BBC website for nearly thirteen years. It is time for that to be rectified.






The Tripod: CAMERA Links in 3 Languages – October 25th -28th edition

Among the Turmoil, Israel Can Be a Model For Stability
Our CAMERA Supported group at the University of Minnesota, Students Supporting Israel, publishes a letter to the editor in their campus paper educating their campus about Israel’s democracy. (in Focus) Tripod logo

‘Mail & Guardian’ parrots description of Marwan Barghouti as a “political prisoner”
What term would you likely use to characterized an imprisoned Palestinian terrorist, who was convicted for his leading role in scores of deadly terror attacks against innocent Israelis? Well, if you’re the (South African) ‘Mail & Guardian’ you’d describe such a violent terrorist as a “political prisoner”. (CiF Watch)

Author Asks “Will We Ever Be Forgiven for the Holocaust?”
Prize-winning author Howard Jacobson took on anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in this year’s Jerusalem Address at the B’Nai Brith World Center in Jerusalem. (Snapshots)

Rihanna, Haaretz and Palestine
Did Rihanna sing about Palestine in her Israeli concert? Only in Ha’aretz. (Presspectiva)

Missing: The Facts
Why did Amnesty International Israel not mention the facts about UNHRC anti-Israel bias in his op-ed? (Presspectiva)

NYT’s Rudoren Apologizes to Sara Netanyahu
The New York Times corrects a report which erroneously states that Sara Netanyahu faced harsh public criticism for the way in which she educates her children. Bureau chief Jodi Rudoren sends an apology letter. (Snapshots)

Life Sentences Lost in Ha’aretz Translation
In the latest “Ha’aretz, Lost in Translation,” Palestinian prisoners who participated in murder get their life sentences drastically reduced thanks to Ha’aretz translators. (Snapshots)

A potpourri of errors
The Mexican newspaper El Universal misinformed its readers about the “Rihanna affair”. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Where’s the coverage?
A bomb hurled at an Israeli school bus is not deemed newsworthy for Spanish media. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Why report well when you can do some harm to Israel?
The Spanish state owned Radio Television Corporation managed to overshadow Israel’s goodwill gestures in releasing Palestinian prisoners. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Middle East headlines in the Spanish speaking press
The Latin-American press focuses on the Israel-Gaza tension and on the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

NYT: Telling Readers How to Think About Israel
CAMERA Op-Ed in Times of Israel explains the latest ploy by The New York Times to influence readers against Israel. (CAMERA)




Another missile attack on Israeli civilians ignored by the BBC

Early on the morning of Monday October 28th, residents in south west Israel were awoken by the sound of the air-raid siren warning them of incoming missiles from the Gaza Strip. 

One missile was intercepted by the Iron Dome defence system above the city of Ashkelon – home to some 120,000 residents – and a second one fell in the Hof Ashkelon area, luckily causing no injuries.

In response to the missile fire, the Israeli Airforce targeted two launching sites in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

Once again, BBC audiences were not informed of these latest attacks on Israeli civilians.

Related posts:

BBC continues to ignore non-fatal terror attacks

Missiles fired into Israel not news for the BBC

Patchy BBC reporting on security incidents compromises context and accuracy

BBC has ‘few details’ of upcoming release of terrorists: here is what it could not find

On October 28th the BBC News website ran an article on its Middle East page titled “Israel to free next 26 Palestinian prisoners under deal“. 


The article opens:

“The Israeli government has approved the release of another 26 Palestinian prisoners as part of a US-brokered deal for the resumption of peace talks.

They will be the second round of prisoners to be freed since August.

The prisoners were all convicted of murders committed prior to the 1993 Oslo accords between Israel and the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation).”

The latter statement is inaccurate – as can be seen below, one of the murders was committed eleven days after the signing of the Oslo Accords and another six months later in March 1994. 

The article promotes the Palestinian narrative of terrorists as “heroes of the Palestinian cause” as was advanced by the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Yolande Knell at the time of the previous prisoner release.

“The 26 Palestinian inmates previously released by Israel had also been convicted of murder or attempted murder.

They were taken by bus in the early hours of 14 August to the Beitunia checkpoint in the West Bank and the Erez crossing with Gaza.

Correspondents said they were mobbed by relatives, friends and well-wishers, who see them as heroes of the Palestinian cause.”

The report goes on to promote another erroneous BBC mantra:

“Peace talks broke down in 2010 amid disagreement over the issue of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”

In fact, talks halted in September 2010 when the Palestinian negotiators refused to continue them after having refused to come to the table for 90% of the duration of a building freeze. 

At the bottom of the report readers are once again encouraged to be sceptical about whether the recent murders of Israeli citizens are actually acts of terror.

“A number of Israelis have also been killed and a nine-year-old Israeli girl stabbed in the past two months in what Israel characterises as “terror attacks” in the West Bank.”

The BBC also states:

“Few details have been published about the second phase of releases.”

In fact, on October 27th the Israeli Prison Service published a list of those scheduled for release and the local media has of course covered the subject extensively. 

With the notable exception of one article, the BBC largely ignored the subject of the crimes committed by the last group of prisoners released in August. Below is a list of those scheduled for release on October 29th.

Nasser Mohammed:  born in 1965, a member of Hamas and a resident of Judea & Samaria. Arrested in 1985 and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Aharon Avidar.

Karaja Rafaa: born in 1962, a resident of Judea & Samaria.  Arrested in 1985 and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Aharon Avidar.

Aharon (Roni) Avidar was born in Jerusalem and was a computer programmer. He was 29 years old when, in February 1985, he was shot by terrorists whilst on reserve duty guarding a government office in Al Bireh, near Ramallah. Roni was survived by his wife and daughter – his infant son had died some three months before he was murdered. 

Tsabbag Mohamed:  born 1974, a member of Fatah and a resident of Judea & Samaria was arrested in 1991 and sentenced to life imprisonment. Whilst a minor, he tortured and brutally murdered three local residents (Hassan Katbia, Lutfi Sa’adi and one other person) suspected of collaboration.

Shabbir Hazam: born 1974, a member of Fatah and a resident of the Gaza Strip was arrested in 1994 and sentenced to life imprisonment. As an initiation into a terror organization, together with an accomplice released in the previous round, he murdered a work colleague – Isaac Rotenberg from Holon – with an axe. 

Holocaust survivor Isaac Rotenberg was born in Poland. Most of his family was murdered in the Sobibor death camp, but Isaac managed to escape and joined the partisans. After the war he tried to make his way by ship to mandate Palestine, but was interred by the British and sent to a detention camp in Cyprus until 1947. After his release Isaac arrived in pre-state Israel and fought in the War of Independence. He continued his work as a plasterer even after pension age and in March 1994 was at his place of work in Petah Tikva when he was attacked by two Palestinian labourers with axes. He died, aged 67, two days later. 

Amawi Halmi: born 1968, a member of Hamas and a resident of the Gaza Strip was arrested in 1993 and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Yigal Vaknin.

 22-year-old tractor operator Yigal Vaknin was stabbed to death in an orchard at his place of work in Moshav Batzra on September 24th 1993 (the eve of Yom Kippur), eleven days after the signing of the Oslo accords, when Halmi and an accomplice lured him with a request for help. Yigal, who grew up in Dimona, was survived by his parents and eight brothers and sisters.

Damouni Ahmed: born 1970, a member of Hamas and a resident of the Gaza Strip, was arrested in 1990 and sentenced to life imprisonment for his part in the lynching of reservist Amnon Pomerantz.

Amnon Pomerantz was an electrical engineer and scientist and worked in research and development. On September 20th 1990, Amnon left his home in Havatzelet Hasharon for reserve duty in Gaza. Three hours later, he was brutally murdered by a gang of Palestinian rioters after he took a wrong turn on the way to his base and accidentally entered Al Burj Refugee Camp. After they threw rocks at him, they poured gasoline on his vehicle and ignited it with Amnon inside. Amnon was 46 at the time of his death. He was survived by his wife and three children.

Matsalha Yusuf: born 1966, a member of Hamas and a resident of the Gaza Strip, was arrested in 1993 and sentenced to two life sentences for his part in the murders of Yigal Vaknin (see above) and Reuven David. During his imprisonment, together with an accomplice, he caused grievous bodily harm to a prisoner suspected of collaboration with the authorities.

Reuven David was born in Iraq and was the owner of a mini-market in Petah Tikva. In May 1991, together with an accomplice who was released in the previous round, Matslaha entered 59 year-old David’s shop, tied him up, gagged him and then beat him to death, before escaping in the victim’s car. Reuven David left a wife, three children and several grandchildren. 

Abu Dahila Sharif: born 1955, a member of Fatah and a resident of Judea & Samaria, was arrested in 1992 for the murder of Avi Osher and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Avi Osher, aged 40 from Moshav Beka’ot in the Jordan Rift Valley was an agricultural instructor who also managed the date grove at Moshav Mesu’a. In June 1991 Avi was stabbed to death in that date grove by Abu Dahila, with whom he had worked for 15 years. Avi was survived by his wife Eilat and their two children. 

Gnimat Mustafa and Gnimat Ziad: both born 1962, both residents of Judea & Samaria and members of Fatah, were arrested in 1985 and each sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders of two Israeli civilians – Meir Ben Yair (33) and Michal Cohen (32) who were sitting in a car in Messu’a forest, near Beit Shemesh.

חזרה ל->Tsalah Razak: born 1963, a member of Fatah and a resident of Judea & Samaria was arrested in 1993 and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Guy Fridman. In addition, he threw firebombs at Israeli vehicles.

In December 1990 nineteen year-old Guy Fridman was killed and two other soldiers were injured in Bethlehem when bombs exploded in an ambush. He was survived by his parents and two brothers. 

Shakir Al Afu: born 1964, a member of Fatah and a resident of Judea & Samaria, arrested in 1986 and sentenced to life imprisonment for his part in the murder of Shaltiel Akiva.

On the eve of Pessach 1985, Sgt. Shaltiel Akiva, aged 21, arrived home from Lebanon to spend the holiday with his family in Rosh HaAiyn. However, he was immediately called back to his base in Samaria. On April 6th he set out to visit his family but en route was kidnapped and strangled to death by a terrorist cell. His body was found two days later near Beit Ariyeh. He was survived by his parents and five siblings. 

Haga Mouid: born 1966, a member of Fatah and a resident of Judea & Samaria was arrested in 1992 and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Yosef Shirazi.

Yosef Shirazi (62) was born in Baghdad and immigrated to Israel in 1950. He resided in Eilat where he had just begun working as a security guard for the Hebrew Unversity’s marine biology research centre when he was shot at close range by members of a terror cell who had swum from Aqaba in Jordan to Eilat with the intention of carrying out a terror attack.  

Mukbal Najah: born 1966, a member of Fatah and a resident of Judea & Samaria, was arrested in 1990 and sentenced to 38 years imprisonment for the murder – together with an accomplice – of Ya’akov Shalom. He was due for release in July 2028.

Ya’akov Shalom was born in Jerusalem in 1949 where he studied law after his military service. In later years he opened a restaurant in Ein Kerem and it was in the flat above the restaurant that he was stabbed to death in May 1990 by two of his employees. 

Yusef Hazaa: born in 1967 and a resident of Judea & Samaria, arrested in 1985 and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders of two civilians

In July 1985, whilst a minor and together with an accomplice, he murdered two Israeli teachers from a school in Afula on a preparatory hike in a JNF forest on the Gilboa mountains. 35 year-old father of five Yosef Elihau was shot at close range and 19 year-old National Service volunteer Leah Almakayis was strangled.

Abed Alhaj Rahman: born in 1972, a resident of Judea & Samaria, arrested in 1992 and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Genia Friedman and attempted murder.

Genia Friedman immigrated to Israel from the Ukraine in 1991. She was 41 years old when, in February 1992, she was stabbed to death on a main street in Kfar Saba, where she lived. The terrorist also stabbed and injured her father and two other people. 

Abdel Aziz Ahmed: born 1973, a resident of Judea & Samaria, arrested in 1993 and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Motti Bitton. He planned, initiated and carried out the attack in October 1992 which led to the death of 32 year-old father of three Motti Bitton from Ganim and the injury of his wife, Mali Bitton whilst they were shopping in convenience store along the road from Jenin to Jezreel Junction.

Abu Hanana Usama: born 1974, a member of Fatah and a resident of Judea & Samaria. Arrested in 1992 and sentenced to life imprisonment for his part in the murder of Motti Bitton (see above) and the injury of his wife by throwing an explosive device at her.

Turkeman Mohamed: born 1973, a member of Fatah and a resident of Judea & Samaria. Arrested in 1992 and sentenced to life imprisonment for shooting and killing Motti Bitton (see above) and shooting and injuring the deceased’s wife who got out of her vehicle to help her husband. 

Issa Abed Rabbo: born 1962, a member of Fatah and a resident of Judea & Samaria (Deheishe). Arrested in 1984 and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of two hikers.

Revital Seri (22) and Ron Levy (23) were both students at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In October 1984 they were hiking near the Cremisan monastery when they were attacked by Abed Rabbo (whose mother was honored by Mahmoud Abbas earlier this year), tied up and shot to death at close range with a stolen weapon. 

Aashur Mohamed:  born 1960, resident of Judea & Samaria, arrested in 1985 and sentenced to 30 years imprisonment (scheduled release date May 2017) for murder and grievous bodily harm.

Together with two accomplices, he shot 33 year-old taxi driver David Caspi in the head whilst he was driving them through the neighbourhood of Shuafat and then dumped his body by the side of the road. David Caspi left a wife and two daughters.

While in prison he was involved in the assault and injury of another prisoner. 

Amar Massoud: born 1974, a member of the PFLP and a resident of the Gaza Strip. Arrested in 1993 and sentenced to three life terms for the murder of Ian Feinberg (with accomplices) and for the kidnapping, interrogation and murder of three civilians suspected of being collaborators. 

Ian Sean Feinberg was born in South Africa and immigrated to Israel after finishing High School. Having qualified in law before his enlistment, he spent five years serving as a lawyer in the Gaza Strip and was later involved professionally with Palestinian economic development as a legal advisor. On April 18th 1993, during a business meeting in the Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City, terrorists burst into the room announcing that they had ‘come to kill the Jew’. They then murdered him with gunshots and an axe. Ian was 30 at the time of his death. He was survived by his wife and three children.

Al Azrak Khaled: born 1966, a member of Fatah and a resident of Judea & Samaria. Arrested in 1991 and sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and attempted murder. He took part in the planting of a bomb in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem in May 1990 which led to the death of one civilian and injured nine others. Additionally, he took part in another attempted bomb attack in the Mahane Yehuda market and planned the planting of a bomb in the Carmel market.

Shimon Cohen, who was 71 years old when he was killed in the terror attack on Mahane Yehuda market, was a sixth generation Jerusalemite who was born in the Old City in 1920. After his retirement from the family’s fish stall in the same market, he used to visit friends there frequently. 

Beni- Hassan Othman: born 1966, resident of Judea & Samaria, member of Fatah. Arrested in 1985 and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders of Yosef Eliyahu and Leah Almakayis (see above).

Samarin Asrar: born 1969, a member of Fatah and a resident of Judea & Samaria. Arrested in 1992 and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Tzvi Klein and for attempted murder.

Kara’an Musa: born 1969, a member of Fatah and a resident of Judea & Samaria. Arrested in 1992 for his part in the murder of Tzvi Klein and sentenced to 28 years in prison. Scheduled release date: August 2020.

Tzvi Klein was born in 1947 in Czechoslovakia. A mathematician and an educator, he made his home in Ofra, teaching and also active at the pedagogic centre of the Binyamin council. On the first day of Hannuka 1991, he was travelling from Jerusalem to Ofra when shots were fired at his vehicle. Tzvi was fatally injured in the head, a passenger was also injured and his daughter who was also travelling with him was unharmed. 44 years old at the time of his death, Tzvi was survived by his wife and three children. 

The information above is all available in the public domain, so why the BBC has “few details” to report to its audiences is something of a mystery. 

Related articles:

Upcoming prisoner release – the details you won’t hear from the BBC

The facts behind the BBC myth of “Palestinian political prisoners”


BBC report on PA financial crisis focuses on ‘wealth disparity’

Among the filmed reports offered to readers of the BBC News website’s Middle East page on October 26th 2013 was an item from its business section titled “Palestinian Authority second worst for wealth disparity” by Ola Naguib

PA economy report 1

In its attempt to explain the Palestinian Authority’s current – and seemingly evergreen – budget deficit, the report does briefly touch on the subject of salaries and benefits paid to members of the inactive Palestinian Legislative Council but fails to sufficiently clarify to viewers that in addition, an estimated 60,000 PA employees (some 40% of the total) reside in the Gaza Strip where the PA not functioned for over six years. The report also makes no mention of serious allegations of corruption which are far from new – but were recently highlighted by European auditors – or of the fact that some 6% of the PA budget is spent on salaries for imprisoned terrorists, including those affiliated with Hamas

The subject of the terminally ailing finances of the Palestinian Authority is certainly one which would probably be of considerable interest to BBC audiences – especially those in the donor countries supporting the PA. However, there is far more to the subject of the PA budget deficit than “wealth disparity”, as some in depth, accurate and impartial reporting would reveal. 

BBC continues to ignore non-fatal terror attacks

On the morning of Friday, October 25th a vehicle transporting pupils from Mevo Dotan in northern Samaria to school was attacked with an improvised explosive device. Fortunately, neither the driver nor the young passengers were injured. IDF forces searched the area for the perpetrators of the attack. 

On the evening of Saturday, October 26th a bus and a car travelling in the al Fawar area south of Hebron were attacked by stone-throwers. Eight Israelis and one Palestinian girl were injured in the attacks.

In the early afternoon of October 27th two mortars fired from the Gaza Strip hit the Eshkol region of the western Negev, fortunately falling in open areas with no injuries caused.

Like the vast majority of attacks against Israeli civilians, none of these examples of recent attacks was reported by the BBC, which tends only to relate to incidents in which there are fatalities or to Israeli actions resulting from those attacks. 

Terror, of course, is not just about specific incidents of damage, death and injury – its main purpose is the ‘drip drip’ intimidation of the broader civilian population with the knowledge that it could happen to them too – at any time and in any place – and the use of that fear to force political concessions from governments ultimately steered by public opinion.

Whilst many informed observers currently do not seem to regard the recent upsurge in violence as heralding an imminent third intifada, the fact remains that by downplaying – or completely ignoring – the daily acts of violence directed at Israeli civilians, the BBC neglects to provide vital context which is crucial for audience understanding of the situation as a whole and specifically, Israeli counter-terrorism measures aimed at containing the violent incidents targeting civilians. 

But the failure to accurately report the overall picture does not only sell short the BBC’s obligation to provide audiences with a “global understanding of international issues“; it also affects the standard of BBC reporting and adherence to its own editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality. 

As we saw in the lead up to last year’s ‘Operation Pillar of Cloud’, the fact that the BBC had consistently ignored the majority of the preceding missile fire and other attacks (putting no reporter on the ground in towns and cities such as Ashkelon and Netivot until Israel responded to six weeks of paralysing missile attacks) meant that – with BBC audiences oblivious of the context – it was then able to erroneously claim that the violence began with Israel’s targeting of Ahmed Jabari and to make the bizarre assertion that the operation was part of the incumbent Israeli government’s election campaign.  

It is the same lack of presentation of the context of the ‘drip drip’ of ongoing intimidation by terror which creates an environment in which BBC presenters can embarrass themselves – and the organization they represent – by making crass statements about the numbers of Israeli casualties, as was the case with Mishal Husain last year.

Clearly, an organisation as experienced in news reporting as the BBC can do better – both for its audiences and for its own reputation – if it so wishes.