BBC’s Connolly omits context from reports on Gaza reconstruction, promotes Hamas-linked charity

The topic of the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip and the recent Cairo donor conference has been the focus of several items of BBC content over the last couple of weeks on a variety of platforms including the BBC News website (see here and here) and BBC World Service radio’s ‘Newshour‘.

In addition to the above, audiences could also read a report by Kevin Connolly published on October 16th under the title “Gaza reconstruction facing obstacles despite aid” which remained on the website’s Middle East page for five consecutive days.Connolly reconstruction art

BBC Radio 4’s ‘The World Tonight’ also promoted the same topic by means of an audio report by Kevin Connolly and saw fit to advertise the item separately on Twitter on October 23rd.

Connolly’s written report uses the same kind of context-free descriptions of damage seen in so many other BBC reports, with no effort made to inform audiences that the reason districts such as Shuja’iya were the focus of Israeli activity is that Hamas established infrastructure and placed military assets in such residential neighbourhoods.

“The level of damage in parts of Gaza is extraordinary – the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, called it “destruction beyond description”.

No-one who has seen at first hand the power of modern missiles and artillery shells could fail to be awed by the destructive forces they unleash.

Huge buildings fashioned from thousands of tonnes of concrete have been reduced to dense, shallow, uneven mounds of rubble, as though they had been sucked in on themselves.

In some places – such as Shejaiya and Johr El-Deek – the pattern is repeated from house to house and street to street.”

No less lacking in context – or less predictable – is Connolly’s description of the effects of the border restrictions imposed by Israel and Egypt, with no effort made to inform audiences that those restrictions exist because Hamas elected to pursue a policy of terrorism. Once again we see BBC portrayal of Palestinians as having no agency and no responsibility for their decisions.

“And of course there is a continuing problem with funding the Hamas-run ministries of Gaza. Public-sector salaries are hugely important in a place where the private-sector economy has had the life squeezed out of it by an Egyptian and (mainly) Israeli economic blockade.”

As equally unsurprising is Connolly’s promotion of another frequent, yet erroneous, BBC theme: the notion that the solution to the conflict between Israel and Hamas is resolvable via negotiations.

“However quickly and completely those donor nations cough up the cash, the truth is that without some sort of political progress between Israel and the Palestinians – of which there is absolutely no sign – there is no guarantee that anything rebuilt in Gaza this year or next year won’t simply be destroyed again in the next conflict.”

Notably, Connolly deviates from the BBC’s previous promotions (see for example here and here) of a UN administered ‘mechanism’ to prevent construction materials being misappropriated by Hamas for the purposes of terror but fails to adequately clarify to readers that Israeli “security concerns” are based on past experience which shows that materials which were imported into the Gaza Strip under international supervision were indeed diverted to the building of terrorist infrastructure, including the 32 cross-border tunnels decommissioned during Operation Protective Edge.

“Any material intended for the reconstruction of Gaza is going to end up passing through Israeli territory. […]

That also means of course that the entire responsibility for making sure that Hamas does not use the reconstruction effort to re-arm will fall to Israel. […]

Israel has two security concerns.

The first is simple enough. Every bag of concrete will have to be searched to make sure it does not have guns, ammunition or rocket parts hidden somewhere inside.

The second is slightly more subtle and involves what are called “dual-use” materials – in other words anything that could be used to build either houses or rocket silos, such as concrete or steel.

Israel is going to have to find a way to measure the amount that enters Gaza and then the amount that is visibly used in civilian construction – if there is a gap between the two figures, they will assume that Hamas is creaming off the difference to build bunkers and tunnels.”

Connolly’s audio report – titled “Rebuilding Gaza” – for Radio 4 promotes many of the same context-free themes as his written article. Like Yolande Knell before him, Connolly features English teacher Abdul Kareem al Ejlah from Shuja’iya, but fails to inform listeners that the vicinity of the teacher’s house was used to launch missiles or that entrances to cross-border tunnels were located nearby, instead opting for the following emotive description.Connolly World Tonight tweet  

“Abdul Kareem’s street looks like it’s been hit by an earthquake. Modern missiles like Israel’s suck the life out of multi-storey buildings, collapsing them into dense, unlivable mounds of rubble.”

Connolly goes on to promote a project situated on “farmland near Gaza’s border with Israel”.

“And a British charity – Human Appeal International – has built a kind of temporary village: prefabricated steel housing units.”

Connolly is obviously less interested in adhering to BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality by informing BBC audiences of the fact that Human Appeal International is one of several British charities which come under the umbrella of the Muslim Brotherhood’s fund-raising network for Hamas – the ‘Union of Good’ – chaired by Qatar-based Yusuf Qaradawi. As such, HAI is banned by Israel, has appeared on the US State Department’s list of charities linked to terrorism since 1996 and was cited by the FBI as a recipient of funds from the convicted Special Designated Terrorist Entity the Holy Land Foundation.

In 2005 Human Appeal International was one of two charities named on the charge sheet against Ahmad Salatna – a Hamas activist from Jenin who headed the Jenin Zakat Society and was convicted of providing some £6.2 million of funds originating in Europe to Hamas cells, suicide bombers and their families.

In his closing remarks Connolly says:

“The Middle East is full of refugees whose temporary miseries became more permanent and you sense that the same fate awaits these latest victims of violence.”

Of course the “more permanent” miseries of Palestinian refugees are the direct result of the intentional policies of Arab countries which have been using them as a political card for decades. Like those people, the currently homeless people in Gaza could also have their miseries relieved much more easily were Hamas to change its policies and abandon the terrorism which makes control of building materials into the Gaza Strip necessary.

Connolly, of course, exonerates Hamas from any responsibility for bringing about the conflict which caused thousands of people in the Gaza Strip to become homeless as well as for its role in delaying reconstruction. He fails to inform listeners that even before his report was broadcast Hamas was already boasting of renewed construction of cross-border tunnels or that – as documented by the NYT correspondent in Gaza – there appear to be building materials available for Hamas’ own projects such as its Al Aqsa TV building and its Interior Ministry building.

Notably too, despite its obviously extensive interest in the topic of reconstruction, the BBC has so far refrained from informing audiences that the mechanism of monitoring the entry of construction materials (made necessary by Hamas’ adherence to terror) so urgently needed by ordinary residents of the Gaza Strip hoping to repair their houses before the winter was one of the topics set to be discussed at talks in Cairo this week. Those talks were cancelled by Egypt after the terror attacks in northern Sinai and Egypt’s subsequent closure of its border with the Gaza Strip and claims of Palestinian involvement in the attacks.  







20 comments on “BBC’s Connolly omits context from reports on Gaza reconstruction, promotes Hamas-linked charity

          • Plenty of people thought the earth was flat.
            They were all wrong.
            The Jew-haters are scum, regardless of their number.
            Now piss off to Mondoweiss or whichever other sewer you climbed out of.

          • Leah, I am sorry that you nurse such hatred towards non-Jews, but I suppose it is better that your racist views are displayed as obviously as they are. It is an ugly beacon, but it helps the rest of us navigate around your obnoxiousness.

        • Leah didn’t mention anything at all that could possibly be construed as hatred of non-Jews. She spoke of Jew-haters (a.k.a antisemites) ONLY. The two are most definitely NOT the same. Either your powers of comprehension of your own mother tongue are sadly lacking, or you are attempting maliciously to attribute views to her which she has at no time expressed. What a good thing it is then that other people here CAN read English.
          Shouldn’t you be crawling back under your little bridge now? the Billy Goats Gruff may come passing you way!

          • Oh, Yorkie. It’s good that you got it out in the open too. Although in your case, it’s a fairly inconsequential addition to a compendium of vices and inadequacies which were already plain to see.

            I’m puzzled about one thing, though. What language is it that you guess is my mother tongue, and on what basis do you assess my proficiency therein?

            If I may make a suggestion (with some humility since English is not my first language): I direct you Ernest Gowers’ guidance on the splitting of infinitives, in “Complete Plain Words”. Look it up. Implement his advice, and maybe in some small way you won’t sound like such a nincompoop.

            Goat curry is one of my favourites.

          • Yes, that source is fine too, if you prefer. Now, apply their advice and rewrite “you are attempting maliciously to attribute views” as “you are maliciously attempting to attribute views” or “you are attempting to attribute views maliciously.” Either way, much less clumsy.

            Glad to be of service.

          • @Somewittyhandle. Duncan, perhaps you would like to remove the beam from your own eye before you point out the speck in mine: If you were to refer to a modern reference on English grammar, rather than something that was actually written in 1948, you would see that no-one pays any heed to split infinitives in all but the most formall writing any more – although I admit the wording of that sentence would have been slightly more elegant without it. (Unfortunately, although they are a boon for connectivity on the go, one of the pitfalls of writing using a small tablet is that it is harder than usual to write at an acceptable speed and still properly track one’s output, particularly as presbyopia sets in with advancing age.) On the other hand, writing accusations that don’t stand up to even the most elementary logical scrutiny, the use of offensive language to others, and attributing words and thoughts to people who have not expressed them, go well beyond matters of grammar, and are, and always will be, unacceptable under any circumstances.
            Your reference to my ‘compendium of vices and inadequacies’ is quite laughable, since you know nothing at all about me, whereas your ill-advised penchant for plastering your personal matters and musings all over the internet means DO know quite a bit about you. One assumes your blog contains only what you wish the world to see of you, but believe me, I am doing you a BIG favour now by advising you that the things you write there very often do NOT show you in anything like a good light. You come across generally as arrogant and narcissistic, with an overweening sense of your own superiority, but unfortunately so self-absorbed as to be rather boring.You are publicly and openly hostile there about your ex-wife – the mother of your two eldest children, and as I understand it, still the joint custodian of one of them -which is not only extremely unseemly and ungentlemanly, whatever the circumstances, but must also be rather difficult for these children, who presumably love you both, to see. They must find themselves in an a dilemma of inevitable disloyalty to one or other parent, however they might decide to react to such instances. You also show a marked lack of respect for MOST other people you choose to mention in your (public) blog, outside of your own family, e.g. your son’s teachers (which can’t make his school life any easier) and also your foreign business contacts (the episode about the Chinese toilet was most unedifying and quite unnecessary). And then, after all these examples of poor manners, poor judgement and general disregard for others, you come onto this blog, and as detailed above,you let yourself down even further, which flies even more in the face of your attempts in your own blog to portray yourself as some suave, eudite, intellectual type. And after all this, you STILL try to put yourself forward as somehow superior to the other readers here! Well, speaking for myself, I do not consider you to be in any way superior- but for the reasons I have detailed above, and crtainly NOT for the reasons you have tried so very hard to insinuate recently as being prevalent amonst the readers here. Yes, I can see exactly where you are trying to take that one, Duncan, but it’s simply not going to work with me: I can assure you right now, you are barking up completely the wrong tree here!

          • Yorkie, I confess that my first instinct when I saw your (very lengthy) comment was one of riposte. A number of things, at first glance, seem to demand this: it seems to me that this BBCWatch blog (with whose points I often disagree, but whose author undeniably puts in a lot of time, commitment, research, and energy, and so is really deserving of a great deal of respect) is not the appropriate place to go into a lengthy diatribe about your or my personal shortcomings, less still the deficiencies of my blog. This site is supposed to be about the BBC. My blog is about something else altogether, and is of no relevance here. It also struck me as a bit odd that you should consider it worthy of your time to spend so long reading and dissecting my personal blog, and that you should take such exception to its existence. It’s not unusual: there are millions of them out there on WordPress and other blogging sites. I wouldn’t really expect a stranger such as yourself to find anything of interest in mine, still less feel the need to give it the benefit of his critique. But if you did, I’d venture to suggest that the appropriate place for that would be on my actual blog, not here. Some of your observations puzzle me: I don’t think I’ve ever made reference to an ex-wife, hostile or otherwise. In any case, the blog is generally read only by a handful of members of a creative writing circle which emigrated from Xanga years ago, and is expressly fictional in content (at least 80% fictional, as is often the case with fiction), whether written in first or third person. Reported trips to China need not necessarily cause you alarm.

            However. Putting aside my initial knee-jerk, I suppose I do see your point. I have been rude to you previously (I did react defensively to your initial contact, where you referred to me as ‘Someshittytwaddle’) and we seem to have become embroiled in an ever-descending cycle since then. And, re-reading my part of the subsequent exchanges, I confess I do understand your criticisms. I apologise.

          • @somewittyhandle. I accept your apology,Duncan, since I do believe it was given sincerely. (It’s possible that means I’m just gullible, but I suppose time will tell!)
            Let’s just draw a line under the matter and start again, shall we?
            F.Y.I, I made reference to your blog earlier because, in providing a link directly to it from this blog via your personal Monika, I do believe you have effectively (and IMHO, rather unwisely) presented it here as ‘fair game’ in the event of any ad-hominem attacks perpetrated by yourself. You state it is ~80% fictional, but you’ve made it wide open to public view, and I saw nothing on it that points out its fictional nature…and actually, I’m afraid I’m still not really convinced by your claim of fiction! (Based loosely on the ‘General 80/20 rule’ (a.k.a. Pareto rule), I rather suspect that it’s more like 20% fiction and 80% fact!)
            But either way, you may want to reconsider including the direct link here in future.

        • Some of these folks are real charming. So far, by their telling, you’re an unhinged bigot, a cockroach, a low life form, a jew-hater, scum, and a sewer dweller. They got all that out of your five-word sentence on ‘context’. I’ll stay and watch the fun.

          • Ok, now you really picked up a freak. Now you got narcissistic, offensive, retarded, self-absorbed, boring, poor manners, disregard for others, disrespectful, unedifying (had to look that one up) unseemly (!), and ungentlemanly to add to the list. I guess that means they disagree – with whatever it was, darned if I even know.

  1. I appreciate it, Yorkie, and no, you are not gullible. I am quite sincere. Happy to start again.

    I do take the point about the blog being visible. I’m still not all that savvy with WordPress, and must try to figure out how to change the ‘privacy’ settings. Xanga was more of a ‘let it all hang out’ community, and nobody fussed about such things. However, the world has changed somewhat.

Comments are closed.