BBC’s Alkashif slips gratuitous Israel mentions into Gaza Greek god story

On February 21st an article titled “The Apollo of Gaza: One fisherman’s amazing catch” by BBC Arabic’s Shahdi Alkashif appeared in the ‘Features & Analysis’ section of the Middle East page of the BBC News website as well as in its ‘Magazine’ section. An audio version of the report appeared on the BBC World Service programme ‘The Fifth Floor and is also available as a podcast for a limited period of time. 

Gaza Apollo story

In that audio version Shahdi Alkashif tells listeners:

“Gaza’s still, you know, under siege. There is no airports, there is no port, there is no any border with Gaza. The people cannot move out of Gaza.”

Not only is no context provided to listeners as to why restrictions of movement to and from a territory ruled by a terrorist group are necessary, but clearly Alkashif’s claim that “the people cannot move out of Gaza” is highly inaccurate and misleading. In the week February 9th to 15th alone, 3,550 people used the Erez terminal to enter or exit the Gaza Strip. 

The written version opens:

“A statue thought to be an ancient bronze of Apollo, Greek God of poetry and love, has dropped off the radar after being found in the sea off Gaza last summer and surfacing briefly on eBay. It is 2,500 years old and priceless.

Jawdat Abu Ghurab used to be a builder but in 2007 Israel restricted the delivery of building materials to the Gaza strip, so he became a fisherman like his father.” 

Uninformed readers are left with the mistaken impression that one day in 2007 Israel simply decided to restrict “the delivery of building materials to the Gaza Strip”. No mention is made by Alkashif of the all-important context of the violent coup which resulted in the Hamas take-over of the Gaza Strip and the subsequent escalation in missile fire at Israeli civilian targets which caused the designation of the Gaza Strip as ‘hostile territory’ by the Israeli government. Neither does Alkashif bother to inform readers what kind of building materials are restricted and to which projects and under what conditions they are permitted, or why it is necessary to control the entry of dual-purpose materials into a territory ruled by an internationally designated terrorist organization which uses concrete and other building supplies to construct cross-border tunnels for the purpose of carrying out terrorist attacks.

Further on in the report Alkashif does state that “..the smugglers’ tunnels – dug to circumvent restrictions put in place by Israel and Egypt after the Islamist movement Hamas came to power in Gaza – have been out of action since they were closed by the Egyptian army last summer” but again insufficient background is given as to why such “restrictions” were necessary.

And what of Jawdat Abu Ghurab’s employment history? Well, that seems to be rather flexible. At the end of January an article on the exact same subject appeared in Bloomberg Business Week. In that report it is stated that he has been a fisherman since 2005.

“Ghurab, a fisherman, is 26, and has a wife and two sons. He left school at 13 and has been fishing since he was 17.”

And according to the same article, Ghurab’s CV also includes other activities:

“For a while Ghurab made money digging some of the smuggling tunnels under the Egyptian border and helped shuttle contraband—from washing machines to hives of Egyptian honeybees—but that money dried up when Egypt cracked down on trafficking.”

Later on in the article Alkashif states:

“After four hours they succeeded in getting the object out of the water. It was the statue of a naked man. They loaded it on to a cart and took it to Ghurab’s house.

“My wife covered her face when she saw him lying naked in the house. She begged me to cover it,” he says, laughing.”

A Reuters report on the same story which appeared in the Guardian on February 10th states however:

” “I felt it was something gifted to me by God,” Ghrab told Reuters. “My financial situation is very difficult and I am waiting for my reward.”

His mother was less happy when she saw the naked Apollo carried into the house, demanding that his private parts be covered. “My mother said: ‘What a disaster you have brought with you’ as she looked at the huge statue,” said Ghrab.”

Unlike Alkashif’s version of the story, other reports on the same subject – including that one from the Guardian, one in the Independent and one which appeared in the Jerusalem Post – have noted that experts are sceptical as to whether the statue was actually found in the sea.

” “It’s unique, said Jean-Michel de Tarragon, an historian with the French Biblical and Archaeological School of Jerusalem. […]

“It’s very, very rare to find a statue which is not in marble or in stone, but in metal,” he said, adding that the apparent pristine condition of the statue suggested it was uncovered on land and not in the sea, as claimed.

“The one of Gaza is very special and unique because for us, it has not been, at all, found in the sea… It has been found, we don’t know exactly the place, we have a guess you know, in the north of Gaza….But it has been found surely, in the sand,” he said, adding that there were no tell-tale signs of metal disfigurement or barnacles that one normally sees on items plucked from water.

De Tarragon says the claim the statue was found in the sea is probably just a convenient story told to avoid arguments over ownership, particularly if the treasure was found on someone else’s land.”

The Times of Israel quotes a Gaza-based archaeologist as saying:

“…the statue, with its green patina, was unlikely to have come from beneath the waves.

“It is 90 percent intact and was probably found on land,” he told AFP. “If it had spent time underwater, the bronze would be blackened.”

“It’s more likely that the statue was found in an ancient temple in the Gaza area. We need to search and find out,” he said.”

Whatever the truth behind the discovery of the statue and whatever the reasons behind the timing of the story’s sudden extensive promotion in the international media some six months after its initial discovery, one thing is certain: Shahdi Alkashif’s context-free introduction of Israeli ‘restrictions’ on the entry of building materials to the Gaza Strip into the story and his claim that “people cannot move out of Gaza” are both misleading and gratuitous and can only be seen as being politically motivated insertions.

31 comments on “BBC’s Alkashif slips gratuitous Israel mentions into Gaza Greek god story

  1. Then there are these little gems of information:

    “”After I saw the yellow colour at the head of the statue I thought it was made of gold, but one of my sons suggested cutting off the finger and taking it to the market to check.”

    Nice way to treat a priceless antiquity!

    “Ahmed Elburch, an official at the Hamas-run Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Gaza, says he last saw the statue in October. He was concerned about its condition, he says, as the colour appeared to be changing, and one of the eyes had been cut out.”

    All true to form, let’s just remember what happened to those hi-tec greenhouses Israel left in Gaza – torn to pieces, loaded onto donkey carts and sold for scrap.

    Hey, let’s give these people a state!

      • It’s that same sockpuppet/troll Leah, seeking attention again with it’s plethora of different names to give the impression that there is more than one “person” here that shares its opinions and blind Jew hatred.

        Let’s just ignore it and perhaps it will go away, eventually.

        • By the way Leah, it’s raining here at my “sunny villa in Spain” (really a quite small one bedroom apartment) and the roof leaks.

          I just passed some graffiti on the shutters of a closed down shop right next to a church. It reads, “Antisemita? Claro que sí!” and there’s a swastika drawn on it just so nobody has any doubts. It could have been sprayed on by our currently resident Troll Of The Thousand Names. 😉

          • Dear Bio,

            I know you have lots of time in your villa in Spain, but stop making websites from the mid-90’s in HTML 1.0 to support your daft cause.

            they’re quite frankly, rubbish.

            And independent sources? any?


          • There is no apostrophe in “mid-90s”.

            Ignorant, illiterate, dumb and racist. What a charming little waste of space you are.

          • fokusing on grammer ta win aaaguments?

            sounds like you may have lost already, my dear lady.

            Sad times!

          • “The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye.
            The more light you shine on it, the more it will contract.”
            – Oliver Wendell Holmes

          • Martin Luther King, Jr., Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, Bedouin-Muslim Ishmael Khaldi, Anti-apartheid journalist Benjamin Pogrund, etc not independent enough for you, cretin?

            By the way is HTML 4.01 Transitional

            So, who exactly is a bigot?

          • you’re still a bigot, and still have no idea where Israels borders are.

            Care to show me the official UN document?


    • We are talking about people who have been living in poverty ever since the blockade on Gaza was imposed by Israel in 2007. When you need to find food to feed your family and survive, you see gold where there is only worthless metal.

      • Or maybe they could stop waging a genocidal war against Israel, mmm?

        Just a thought.

        A simple one, but evidently still too tough for bigots like ‘Ariel’ to grasp.

        Why are Jew-haters so utterly and invariably thick?

  2. Doubt it, to be honest.

    In fact, BDS is growing – I’ll send you some photos of the crowds in London and Rome if you like – bet you don’t see a single Nazi there, just normal, informed members of the public. Just send me an email and I’ll send them over.

    I don’t think some idiots in Spain are going to dissuade the masses from understand that human rights trump your wish for 4.5 million people should be exterminated.

    you’re a coward. simple.

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