BBC (sort of) gets round to telling audiences about Hamas tunnels

In recent days we have observed here on several occasions that the BBC has failed to provide its audiences with crucial information regarding the networks of tunnels constructed by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, including the cross-border attack tunnels which are the main aim – and cause – of the current ground operation stage of Operation Protective Edge. Clearly, audiences cannot understand the rationale behind the operation if they are not provided with comprehensive information on the topic of those tunnels.

On July 21st the BBC apparently finally came to a similar conclusion and produced a filmed item which was promoted on the BBC News website’s Middle East page using some interesting and revealing punctuation: “Gaza ‘terror tunnels’ in 60 secs”.

Tunnels vid on HP

It would seem, therefore, that the BBC is not entirely convinced that the purpose of cross-border tunnels, which have in the last week been used on multiple occasions by heavily armed Hamas terrorists to infiltrate Israeli territory with the intention of killing and/or kidnapping people from nearby civilian farming communities, is terror. The synopsis to that item as it appears on the BBC News website suggests that the BBC is also not entirely convinced of the necessity to deal with those tunnels. [emphasis added]

“Israel sent ground troops into Gaza on Thursday, saying the ground operation is necessary to target Hamas’ network of tunnels.

It has stated the tunnels pose a threat of terrorist attacks against the Israeli population.

Israel said it had killed more than 170 militants since Thursday night, when it launched the offensive.

Air strikes are also continuing, with the Palestinian death toll reportedly nearing 600, the majority of them civilians.

The BBC looks at Israel Defense Forces footage from the operation.”

The video itself – bizarrely (considering that over 700 people were killed in Syria in just two days last week) titled “Middle East crisis: Israel releases ‘Gaza tunnel footage’” – is presented in a no less begrudging vein.

tunnels vid 1

“Israel says tunnels like this are being used by militants to infiltrate its territory”.

The BBC knows full well that numerous infiltrations have taken place in recent days and has even (briefly) reported some of them, so clearly the use of the term “Israel says” here is nothing less than ridiculous.

tunnels vid 2

“This Israel Defense Forces footage shows suspected Hamas fighters in bushes, firing on Israeli troops”.

The BBC’s use of the word “suspected” is equally ridiculous considering that Hamas took responsibility for the incident.

“Hamas’ armed wing the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades said it had carried out “an operation behind enemy lines in response to the massacre in Shejaiya [Shaja’iya]” “

Notably, no attempt is made to inform viewers that the real target of those Hamas terrorists shown in the footage was the civilian population of Kibbutz Nir Am.

Twenty-four seconds into a one minute video report supposedly explaining the issue of tunnels to BBC audiences, the subject is changed.

tunnel vid 3

The BBC once again fails to inform audiences of the ratio of combatants to civilians among casualties in Gaza and – as has been the policy since the start of its reporting from the Gaza Strip – fails to exhibit transparency regarding the sources of its information.

tunnel vid 4

“Israel says it has been forced to send troops into Gaza to find and destroy tunnels like this one”

No attempt is made to properly explain to audiences the technical reasons behind the need for a ground operation in order to put the tunnels out of use and audiences are not accurately informed of the scale of the problem.

The BBC may think it has ticked a box with this sixty-second video report but it is clearly nowhere near adequate. 


24 comments on “BBC (sort of) gets round to telling audiences about Hamas tunnels

  1. What else could they be except terror tunnels into Israel intended to help kill or kidnap Israelis? Maybe the corrupt BBC might like to try and convince £149.50 per annum licence fee payers of another use, e.g. smuggling or mining tunnels?

  2. They are quite clear about the dimensions and purpose of the tunnels today.

    I noticed this criticism earlier and havent been very impressed with it. No, they havent detailed them, but I have had no trouble reading between the lines that the tunnels were extensive and what their purpose was.

  3. The assertion that the audience cannot understand what is going on without a detailed account of the tunnels is a bit condescending; the framework assertion that Israeli troops went in on the ground to deal with them is enough to understand that they must be pretty impressive.

  4. I am I naïve here in waiting patiently for a massive law suit filed against the BBC? How are they getting away with this disgusting antiSemitc incitement?

  5. I’ve been searching the New York Times. Their profile of coverage of the tunnels is not that different, though there are a couple of much earlier articles reporting on their existence. Most of the coverage is in the last few days in response to this offensive, as with the BBC. I do not see dramatically detailed coverage of the tunnels contrasting with the BBC coverage which you are claiming is biased,

    I find it increasing hard not to characterize this web site as the base for an incredibly biased attack on an essential neutral and well-intentioned news agency which is simply trying to do its job. And I’m Jewish and generally pro-Israel 🙂

    • Well yes, I would guess if you compare Britain’s most anti_Israel biased broadcaster and the USA’s most anti-Israel biased newspaper, it should be little to no surprise that their coverage is quite similar. Well done that man.

        • Well. I think that says more about you than anything else you wasted your day with yesterday.No day job, Randall?

  6. How is it the life of Syrians are so cheap whilst the BBC alternately gloats and grieves over very single Palestinian casualty. No Jews, no news?

  7. Your addition of emphasis to language from the BBC web site to suggest that the BBC is expressing doubt of the purpose of the tunnels or the need to dismantle them is seriously misleading — I would say deliberately disingenuous. You know as well as I do (and perhaps think that your readers do not) that this is simply telling the reader where the assertion comes from. This is standard journalistic practice.

    Here is an article from the New York Times. Nowhere do the authors of this article make any assertions about the tunnels not quoted from Israeli sources. Like the BBC, they include expressions of horror from the other side and what you might read as implicit criticism of civilian casualties,

    • So Randall, did you notice the most glaring inaccuracy /distortion of truth by omission, in the NY T article you linked to? I’ll give you a clue – its in the paragraph just below the photo of the Grieving Gazan Relatives.

      • The use of the adverb “uncharacteristically”? I thought that odd. But I rather suspect he said it and they quoted it. I think what he meant is that people should really clear out of the whole area, and that that is not what he would usually say (because strikes would be carefully localized).

        • Wrong paragraph. It would appear you can’t recognise a massive distortion of the truth in relation to Israel when you see one….which may go a long way to explain your whole ‘field day’ of yesterday. I’ll be kind and help you try again. The paragraph I’m referring to starts “Israel did not…”

  8. I agfee with Geary’s remark completely! There is no need to talk about gender balance to demonstrate that the IDF is being very very restrained. Just compare the casualty numbers with those in almost any other contemporary conflict. But it must be noted that the BBC is not at all distinctive in not commenting on this.

    • I don’t agree with all the overtones of Geary’s remark (and yes, I can hear all of them). What I agree with is that casualties (on either side) in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are treated with loving attention while thousands or tens of thousands can die in other places with minimal comment. There are reasons for this. They do not always have much to do with actual anti-Semitism in my opinion (and certainly this is not a factor in BBC or NYT coverage). Exactly the same (often quite unfair) focus is often applied to any military action by a Western power (such as the United States in Iraq or Afghanistan). Western journalists hold Western military men to ridiculous standards.

  9. I think you have very selective hearing. And try to have a discussion without being abusive.
    You should spend more time watching to Al Jezera Britain ie; Channel 4 News. Tonight’s broadcast from Gaza was a honey !

    • Are you saying that I am being abusive? I am not; I am being critical, and supporting my criticism with examples. I am afraid I probably would not have the stomach for al-Jazeera coverage; that would actually no doubt be gruesomely slanted. But the BBC coverage is not. It is just coverage.

      • F Y I, I haven’t actually seen any Al Jazeera coverage of the current Gaza conflict, but in 2012 I watched quite bit of their English Language coverage of that episode of the conflict, I flicked between different broadcasters to see the differences) and I actually found Al J. somewhat more informed, balanced & measured in their coverage than I found the BBC reporters’ broadcasts from within Gaza.

    • It’s only taken them 6 days, while the whole focus of the ground offensive throughout that period has been on these tunnels, for the BBC to come up with that …better late than never though, eh? And these people purport to keep their British audience (who are compulsorily charged for the ‘service’…..or lack of it) informed and able to understand world events through their output.

  10. Pingback: Some BBC bright spots and the remarkable reaction of a presenter confronted with reality | BBC Watch

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