With security incidents usually accounting for a significant proportion of the BBC’s coverage of Israel, it is interesting to take a look at which events are deemed newsworthy and which not. Throughout the month of April 2014, security took something of a back seat to BBC News website coverage of the Israel-PLO talks.
In the northern sector a mortar fired from Syria – apparently errant fire – landed in the Golan Heights on April 7th. That incident was not covered by the BBC.
In the central sector a total of eighty-seven attacks took place throughout April in Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem, with the vast majority (73) being fire-bomb attacks. Two additional fire-bombings occurred within the ‘green line’. On April 14th a fatal incident took place when Baruch Mizrachi was killed by a sniper on Route 35 and two others injured. That incident was initially ignored by the BBC and when – well over a day later – it finally was covered, a grand total of thirty-four words were used to describe the incident in an article relating to another topic. Later versions of the report did not greatly improve on the initial coverage.
Other incidents ignored by the BBC – along with the above mentioned fire-bombing attacks – include the announcement of the arrest of six lawyers from Jerusalem suspected of working for Hamas, the thwarting of a stabbing attack in Ma’ale Adumim and the prevention of another planned attack at Tapuach Junction.
In the southern sector on the evening of April 3rd air-raid sirens sounded three times in the Sderot area with four missile launches later identified. Earlier on the same day, Israeli forces patrolling the northern section of the border with the Gaza Strip came under sniper fire, with an armoured vehicle sustaining damage as a result.
On April 4th three missiles hit the Hof Ashkelon area and the IDF later responded. On the evening of April 5th another missile landed south of Ashkelon, on April 6th a mortar fired from the Gaza Strip landed near a kibbutz in the Sha’ar HaNegev area and later the IDF again responded.
On April 7th an IED attack against Israeli forces patrolling the border fence with the Gaza Strip was prevented. On the afternoon of April 9th sirens sounded again in the Hof Ashkelon area, with the missile falling short. Later in the evening of the same day, a mortar shell hit a kibbutz in the Sha’ar HaNegev region. On April 10th IDF forces patrolling the border came under mortar fire from attackers in the Gaza Strip and a similar incident of mortar fire on an Israeli patrol also took place on April 14th, with a mortar also having been fired the previous day and sirens having sounded.
In the early hours of April 16th another round of missiles was fired from the Gaza Strip at sleeping Israeli civilians. On the evening of April 20th an IED was activated against Israeli soldiers and April 21st an RPG was fired at an army patrol. On the same morning a barrage of missiles was fired at the Sha’ar HaNegev area and the IDF later responded. As was noted here at the time, neither that incident – nor any of the prior ones mentioned above – was reported by the BBC.
On April 23rd a counter-terrorism strike was carried out by Israel near Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip and three missiles were launched at the Hof Ashkelon and Sha’ar HaNegev areas.
The BBC finally mentioned the April 21st missile attacks in an April 23rd article on the BBC News website concerning the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal, but failed to note the three attacks from the same day.
“Shortly after Wednesday’s reconciliation deal was announced, five people were injured in an Israeli air strike in northern Gaza, Palestinian medics said.
Israel said it had targeted militants preparing to fire rockets. On Monday, seven rockets were launched from the territory into southern Israel.”
On April 24th another mortar was fired at an Israeli patrol in the southern part of the border area, two IEDs were discovered and an additional one was detonated near soldiers in a failed attack.
As the Jerusalem Post’s Yaakov Lappin has noted:
“…figures for rocket attacks for 2014 confirm what residents of the South have been feeling for months, that a major upsurge in projectile attacks has occurred this year.
More than 100 rockets, most of them fired by Islamic Jihad in heavy salvos in March, were launched at Israel since the start of this year. In 2013, during the same period, from January to April 24, nine rocket attacks were reported.”
BBC audiences, however, remain oblivious of the fact that missile attacks from the Gaza Strip have risen over ten-fold in comparison with the same period of time last year, primarily because – as we see yet again this month in which almost 70% of the total missile attacks from the Gaza Strip were ignored – the vast majority of incidents receive no BBC coverage at all and those few which are reported frequently tend to be mentioned by the way in articles on other topics.
As for any in-depth BBC reporting on how the constant missile attacks affect the lives of Israeli civilians living in districts surrounding the Gaza Strip, nothing even vaguely related to that topic has been published on the BBC News website since Operation Pillar of Cloud in November 2012.