After a slow start the BBC News website has, since June 14th, produced an article a day on the subject of the extensive search for three Israeli teenagers kidnapped last Thursday night (see ‘related articles’ below for the first four reports).
On June 18th the website’s fifth article on the topic appeared under the heading “Israel holds ex-Palestinian prisoners in teenagers hunt“.
Continuing a theme promoted in the previous report, the article opens with a description of the kidnapped youths as “missing”, despite the fact that one of them managed to make a phone call reporting the abduction – a point which the BBC has so far failed to report in any of its articles on the topic.
“Israeli troops have arrested another 65 Palestinians, including 51 freed in a 2011 prisoner swap, as they search for three missing teenagers.
The total number of people detained since the Jewish seminary students went missing last Thursday is now 240.” [emphasis added]
Moreover, the report continues:
“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the arrests in the West Bank had sent an “important message” and dealt a substantial blow to Hamas.
He has accused the group of abducting the students, but not provided proof.” [emphasis added]
Like its predecessors, this report juxtaposes statements made by Israeli officials during an ongoing operation with those made by leaders of an internationally designated terrorist organization.
“Hamas has dismissed the allegation that it is involved as “stupid”.”
“Many of those held were arrested during raids on houses in the northern West Bank city of Nablus and Hebron, in the south, near where Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaar, who are both 16, and 19-year-old Eyal Yifrach went missing as they hitchhiked their way home.”
“Troops raided institutions that provide civilian support for Hamas, including its radio station, al-Aqsa, which has offices in Ramallah and Hebron. Computers and documents were seized.”
The report goes on to amplify a baseless claim made by Qadoura Fares, providing no background information to BBC audiences concerning the terms of the 2011 prisoner release deal, including the provisos for re-arrest.
“Palestinians accused Israel of reneging on the prisoner-swap deal.
“What Israel is doing has nothing to do with security, but is a policy of revenge,” said Qadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, which assists Palestinians in Israeli jails.”
June 19th saw the appearance of a sixth report on the topic titled “Missing Israeli teenagers: Jenin clashes follow arrests“.
In that report too, the teenagers have been downgraded from kidnapped to “missing” and, seeing as this is the third consecutive report to do so, it must be assumed that this is now BBC editorial policy. Once again, no mention is made of the fact that one of the boys managed to report the kidnapping by phone.
“Israel’s military says its soldiers have exchanged gunfire with Palestinians during raids in the West Bank in the hunt for three missing teenagers. […]
Clashes erupted after 30 Palestinians were arrested in the investigation over the missing Jewish seminary students.” [emphasis added]
Likewise, the report once again promotes the notion of equivalence between intelligence-based Israeli statements and the denials of a designated terror organization.
“The total number of Palestinians detained in the search is now 280.
Israel says 200 of these were “operatives” of Hamas, who Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused of abducting the students.
Hamas has dismissed the allegation that it is involved as “stupid”.”
The article then goes on to mislead audiences with inaccurate information on another topic.
“No group has claimed to have taken the students, who disappeared last Thursday.”
In fact, as previously noted here, there have been three separate claims of responsibility, including one by Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, although their credibility has not been established. In addition – and unreported by the BBC – Hamas’ Salah Bardawil stated on June 19th that what he termed “the Palestinian resistance” had carried out the kidnappings.
The report again misleads audiences with an inaccurate description of the site of the kidnapping (Alon Shvut junction) as being “near” Hebron even though the two locations are some 27 kms apart. It also once again fails to identify Hebron as a centre of Hamas activity.
“Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaar, who are both 16, and 19-year-old Eyal Yifrach went missing at a junction near the city of Hebron as they hitchhiked their way home.”
Towards the end of the report, audiences are presented with selected quotes from two recent statements by the PA president.
“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in a statement, has criticised Israel for using the teenagers’ disappearance “a pretext to impose tough punishment against our people and besiege them” in violation of international humanitarian law.
Mr Abbas said on Wednesday that the Palestinian Authority was co-ordinating efforts with Israel in the search, comments that drew sharp condemnation from Hamas, which said the remarks were “unjustified” and “harmful” to the Palestinian reconciliation deal between it and Mr Abbas’s Fatah faction.”
That second paragraph relates to a statement made by Abbas whilst in Saudi Arabia (also mentioned in the report from the previous day). The statement referred to in the first paragraph came the following day and – possibly in light of reactions from assorted Palestinian factions to the previous one – its full text shows rather more than mere ‘criticism’ as the BBC would have readers believe.
Yet again, neither of these articles informs BBC audiences of the vast amounts of explosives and weapons uncovered by the IDF during the operation to find the three abducted youths or of the Palestinian celebrations of various descriptions in reaction to the kidnappings.
Also absent from either of these reports is news of the ongoing missile fire from the Gaza Strip targeting civilian communities in southern Israel. On the night of June 18th one of those missiles hit a home in an agricultural community near the border, fortunately causing no injuries.