More BBC News promotion of unproven rumour surrounding murdered teen

BBC television news coverage of the rioting in Shuafat and other districts in Jerusalem after the discovery of the body of Muhammed Abu Khdeir on July 2nd has included two reports from the same day (also promoted on the BBC News website) by the BBC’s Christian Fraser, who was apparently brought in from Paris to provide back up to the Jerusalem Bureau.

The first of those BBC television news reports appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “On ‘front line’ in East Jerusalem as Palestinians clash with police“. Fraser opens:Fraser filmed 1

“Well this is the front line in East Jerusalem. We’re on the Palestinian side. You can see; these young Palestinians are throwing rocks that are littered around the floor. If you just spin round here, Jimmy [cameraman], you’ll see that someone’s just delivered more rocks for this man to throw. Ahm…just up here they’ve built this barricade. In fact in the last few minutes they’ve maneuvered a skip in place to try and give themselves some protection. Because on the other side, on the roofs, there are snipers. There’s a line of Israeli soldiers who have been firing rubber bullets at the Palestinians and in fact media crews have been hit this morning – one Palestinian crew and also one photographer who strayed too close. The air is thick with the smell of burning plastic and over here, right on the front line, is the house of the young boy that went missing this morning. Seventeen years old. His mother Suha told me he disappeared on his way to the mosque, which is over here across the road.”

Fraser’s ‘David and Goliath’ pastiche focuses audience attentions on rock-throwing, failing to clarify that other methods of attack such as firebombs and IEDs were also used by the rioters and making no mention of Palestinians attacked by the rioters or the vandalism of the section of the light rail system serving Shuafat. His description of members of the Israeli security forces engaged in riot control as “snipers” is of course inaccurate and misleading – especially as they are obviously in full view of the camera. He continues with an interview with an unidentified woman.

CF: “I want to just get a feeling of the anger that there is in this Palestinian community. Can I just talk to you? Just come over here. Tell us a little bit about this region ‘cos we’re very close to….”

Woman: “Settlements.”

CF: “To settlements. To an Israeli settlement.”

The “settlements” which Fraser promotes after the woman’s cue are of course Jerusalem neighbourhoods such as Pisgat Ze’ev.

Woman: “Yeah, it’s very bad. All of these guys they are relatives and they are boiling. They can’t want to do…Imagine if this boy he’s Jewish and he’s killed. What can they do they Jewish with us?”

CF: “Hmm..”

Woman: “What they did in Hebron. What they did.”

Fraser then puts his own words into the woman’s mouth:

“As a mother, are you sad that children on both sides are dying in this conflict?”

Woman: “Ehh…it’s not fair but we are, but we are, we like peace, we love peace. But if you – somebody take your house, your land, your kids, what can…imagine what can you do with them. Imagine. This is our life. This everyday. This is our life. This is our life.”

Fraser has nothing to say about the woman’s defamatory portrayal of Israelis as stealers of land, houses and children. Instead, he closes with a description of events which does nothing to inform BBC audiences why a community which might be expected to help the police with their inquiries into the murder of a local boy is instead obliging security forces personnel to engage in full-time riot control.

CF: “As the lady says, this is the cycle of violence; this eye for an eye mentality that in this region can spill out of control.

The same woman interviewee was also featured in a second filmed report by Fraser broadcast later in the day on BBC television news programmes and posted on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Mother of kidnapped Palestinian: ‘My son wasn’t answering’” with a synopsis which, like many other BBC reports on the topic, irresponsibly promotes an unproven version of events.  

“Hundreds of Palestinians have clashed with Israeli police in east Jerusalem after a Palestinian teenager was found dead in a forest.

It is the thought the 17-year-old was kidnapped and murdered in a revenge attack for the deaths of three Israeli teenagers last month.”

Fraser also opens his report with the promotion of a completely unverified accusation.

CF: “Jerusalem forest, where Israeli police recovered this morning the remains of a body: a young man who’d been beaten and set alight. He was Muhammed Abu Khdeir – a seventeen year-old Palestinian schoolboy that neighbours say was kidnapped by Israeli settlers.”

Neither Fraser, nor the anonymous “neighbours”, nor indeed the police investigators currently dealing with the case have so far any proof that Israelis – let alone “settlers” – kidnapped the teenage boy. And yet the BBC has no qualms about broadcasting that speculative rumour to millions of viewers and readers around the world.

Unlike Fraser and his BBC crew, an Israeli journalist specializing in Arab affairs did go to enquire about the basis for those claims by “neighbours” that “settlers” had kidnapped the boy.

“Were they wearing kippot? I asked the family members; they answered that they weren’t. Did they have beards, tziziot [fringes]? No. What are settlers? I asked and came up against unclear answers. ‘They escaped to Jerusalem, so they’re settlers’ they answered at the end of the short interview….”

Fraser continues:

“His home is in East Jerusalem and it now marks a makeshift front line in the running battles with Israeli soldiers. Inside the house; the grieving relatives. Among them, Muhammed’s mother Suha who had the grim task of identifying her son in a police morgue.”

Mother: “They told me someone was kidnapped on the way to the mosque. I called his phone. I kept calling and calling. It was switched off. My son wasn’t answering.”

The BBC’s ‘style guide’ defines ‘Palestinian territories’ as follows, but Fraser seems to have concluded that certain neighbourhoods of Jerusalem which are not of course under the control of the PA, can also be described as such.

“Strictly speaking, the phrase ‘Palestinian Territories’ refers to the areas that fall under the administration of the Palestinian Authority (above). These are complicated to work out because of the division of the West Bank into three areas and because of the changes on the ground since the Intifada.”

CF: “The confrontations with soldiers are an everyday part of life in the Palestinian territories. They’ve seen it many times before. But there’s nothing normal in this: young men risking lives throwing stones in the direction of snipers.”

There’s that inaccurate description of riot control police as “snipers” yet again promoted to BBC audiences, along with a bizarre framing of the rioters as some sort of heroic figures “risking lives”. Next the unnamed woman from Fraser’s previous report makes a reappearance.Fraser filmed 2 Amil Peretz

Woman: “It’s bad. Our situation is very bad. It’s very bad. All of these guys they are relations and they are boiling.”

Fraser then goes on to make the very dubious claim that riot control police attacked the family’s house.

“The patience is wearing thin on all sides. Suddenly the house becomes the focus of a sustained Israeli assault. Stun grenades, rubber bullets, pandemonium. The relatives of the murdered boy take shelter.”

Fraser continues by making the unjustified and inaccurate implication that there may be some sort of difference in the way this incident is being handled because of the boy’s ethnicity.

“This is the cycle of violence; that eye-for-an-eye mentality that in this region can quickly spiral out of control. The Palestinian anger is underpinned by the feeling on their side that their lives are worth less, so it’s incumbent on the Israeli authorities that they condemn and pursue the perpetrator of this crime as they would had it been an Israeli child.”

He goes on to relate to the three boys kidnapped and murdered on June 12th, notably with the introduction of a caveat regarding the perpetrators despite – in that case – the evidence available.

CF: “Of course earlier in the week it was an Israeli child. Three of them: abducted and murdered – say Israel – by Hamas.”

Next comes an interview with an Israeli minister inaccurately named as “Amil Peretz” in the sub-titles.

CF: “But this cabinet minister told me he considers today’s murder every bit as abhorrent.”

Amir Peretz: “It shames our country and if it is proven to be Israelis who are responsible, then I would consider it a terrorist attack.”

Fraser concludes:

“A resumption of the peace talks then looks as distant as ever. There are ten standoffs continuing in East Jerusalem, in the West Bank. Mortars were fired today from the Gaza Strip. Tomorrow, it’s the funeral.”

If Christian Fraser or anyone else at the BBC has actual evidence to suggest that “Israeli settlers” were responsible for the murder of Muhammed Abu Khdeir, they should of course contact the Israeli police immediately. If they do not, then Fraser and others should clearly cease the propagation of speculation and rumour which has been evident in all BBC reporting on this topic since the first hours of the incident and start behaving like journalists from an organization committed to accurate and impartial reporting.

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BBC News promotes unverified speculation on motive for killing of Palestinian teen

10 comments on “More BBC News promotion of unproven rumour surrounding murdered teen

  1. “Fraser has nothing to say about the woman’s defamatory portrayal of Israelis as stealers of land, houses and children”

    Why would Fraser query the obvious? Since 1947 Israel has stolen vast amounts of Palestinian land and bulldozed or otherwise destroyed thousands of Palestinian homes. Just within the last 13 years Israelis have killed one Palestinian child every three days.:

    • First line from the ‘link’ you provided;
      “Official statistics from the Ministry of Information in Ramallah”

      Brian there is nothing like an unbiased credible source, and that is definitely nothing like one.

      • “there is nothing like an unbiased credible source, and that is definitely nothing like one.”
        Here’s another one then:

        B’Tselem collects a wide range of relevant statistics quite independently from the PA. Their Palestinian child deaths between 29/09/2000 and 31/04/2014 add up to 1384; over the 4993 days involved that makes about one death every 3.6 days. The period measured is longer than that quoted by the PA which may account for the slightly lower incidence but the similarity between the two figures is clear.

        • included in those stats are those that were killed during the second intifada and cast lead

          nothing worse then those who misuse stats to support their filthy lies

          vast majority of those “children” were active combatants

          see the kids throwing rocks….they arent children anymore ….they are terrorists and criminals

          • “included in those stats are those that were killed during the second intifada and cast lead”

            Errm, did you imagine that I didn’t know that? Is it OK to kiil children en masse during a largely unopposed imvasion (Cast Lead). Where else in the civilised world are children routinely shot dead when throwing stones? When was the last case of a Jewish settler stone throwing child (and there are many) being even arrested , never mind shot?

        • .
          Between 2000-04, 292 minors took part in terrorist activities

          Hakim Awad, 17, is a minor. Last March he and his 18-year-old cousin, Amjad, brutally murdered the Fogel family while they slept. No mercy was shown to three-month-old Hadas, her two brothers (aged four and 11) and their parents

          Ismail Tsabaj, 12, Azi Mostafa, 13, and Yousuf Basam, 14, were sent by Hamas on a mission chillingly similar to the one involving the Fogels, aiming to penetrate a Jewish home at night and slaughter a family in their beds.

          “most are accused of throwing stones at soldiers or settlers”
          Judah Shoham never reached the age of many of these minors, as he was killed by Palestinians throwing stones, aged just five months. Similarly, Jonathan Palmer never reached his second birthday; he was killed with his father when stones were hurled at their car last October.

    • In fact it was the Jordanians who forced the Arabs to move to Shuafat against their will, so if anything Arabs living there are illegal settlers.

      Jordanian era

      In mid-February, during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni, leader of Palestinian irregulars in the area, tried to persuade the residents of Shuafat to attack the neighbouring Jewish village of Neve Yaakov but the invitation was declined.[21][22] On 13 May the villagers were evacuated on orders from the Arab Legion. Shortly afterwards the Palmach captured Shuafat, destroying many of the buildings.[23] Shuafat was occupied by Jordan, which unilaterally annexed the West Bank in April 1950.
      Shuafat refugee camp

      In the wake of the 1948 war, the Red Cross accommodated Palestinian refugees in the depopulated and partly destroyed Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem.[24] This grew into the Muaska refugee camp managed by UNRWA, which housed refugees from 48 locations now in Israel.[25] Over time many poor non-refugees also settled in the camp.[25] Conditions became unsafe for habitation due to lack of maintenance and sanitation, but neither UNRWA nor the Jordanian government wanted the negative international response that would result if they demolished the old Jewish houses.[25]

      In 1964 a decision was made to move the refugees to a new camp constructed on mostly Jewish land near Shuafat.[25] Most of the refugees refused to move, since it would mean losing their livelihood, the market and the tourists, as well as reducing their access to the holy sites.[25] In the end, many of the refugees were moved to Shuafat by force during 1965 and 1966.[24][25]

      Fraser says, “Among them, Muhammed’s mother Suha who had the grim task of identifying her son in a police morgue.”

      That has to be a lie, because in another filmed interview with the father he is seen complaining that the Israeli police wouldn’t allow him to see the body as it was badly burnt.

    • there was no such thing as a Palestinin land. Not in 1947 and not later, even the partiion plan call for an arab state not a Palestinian one., Since 1947 arabs vowed to destroy any Jewish presence in Palestine and they did their utmost to achive that but failed again and again.
      YOu mean children who were killed by Hamas rockets falling short. or children who were sent with sucide belt to kill israelis?

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