On October 28th an article appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Egypt ‘plans buffer’ in Sinai against Gaza smugglers“. The report appears to be based at least in part on an Associated Press article of the same date.
The BBC article informs readers that:
“Egyptian media accuses Gaza’s Hamas administration of aiding militants in Sinai. Hamas denies the charge.”
The AP report states:
“Egyptian media meanwhile has accused Gaza’s Hamas rulers for meddling in Egypt’s affairs, with some suggesting that the Islamic militant group is supporting fighters inside Egypt since the military overthrew Egypt’s elected President, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, last year.
Hamas officials meanwhile deny any interference and criticize Egypt for imposing stricter border crossing rules since then.”
“Maj. Gen. Sameeh Beshadi, who was formerly in charge of security in the North Sinai governorate where the attacks took place, said there was “no doubt that Palestinian elements had taken part in the attacks,” which killed at least 30 soldiers, according to security and medical officials.
He said the assailants had entered Sinai via the tunnels linking the region with the Palestinian territories, and that the assailants had prepared the booby-trapped vehicle which Egyptian authorities say was used to carry out one of the attacks while inside Egyptian territory. […]
“All the big terrorist operations which have taken place in North Sinai in the last few years involved well-trained Palestinian elements, including the attack on the military helicopter at the beginning of this year,” Beshadi said, referring to an attack which took place mid-January in the Kharouba area in North Sinai and which killed five soldiers.”
Clearly that AP claim was not properly fact-checked before it was recycled by the BBC.
The BBC report informs readers that:
“Tunnels linking the Gaza Strip and Sinai have also played a vital role in the economy of the Palestinian territory, which has been struggling to cope with an economic blockade imposed by Israel in its confrontation with Hamas.”
The caption to the photograph illustrating the article states:
“Goods smuggled through tunnels under the border with Egypt are a mainstay of Gaza’s economy”
In fact, as has been noted here on previous occasions, the construction of smuggling tunnels along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt began in 1994 – long before the introduction of border restrictions by Israel in response to Hamas terrorism. From the very beginning those tunnels were used to smuggle weapons and terror operatives into the Gaza Strip in addition to drugs and contraband: hence, rather than being a product of the partial blockade, they are actually one of its causes.
Obviously, without accurate presentation of the issues of the smuggling tunnels and their role in Palestinian involvement in the terrorism prevalent in northern Sinai (a topic the BBC has scrupulously avoided to date), BBC audiences will be incapable of reaching a proper understanding of Egypt’s policies.