Multiple inaccuracies in Kevin Connolly’s filmed BBC report on death of Ziad Abu Ein

On December 10th the BBC produced several reports concerning the death of PA official Ziad Abu Ein after an altercation with Israeli security forces near Turmus Aya.

One of those reports was a filmed item by the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly which appeared on BBC television news programmes as well as on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Palestinian minister dies during West Bank protest“. In fact, Abu Ein was not a “Palestinian minister” at the time of his death; his title (since September 2013) was head of the PLO’s ‘Commission Against the Separation Wall and Settlements’. Previously Abu Ein had held the position of deputy minister for prisoners’ affairs. The synopsis to that report amplifies assorted unverified rumours concerning the cause of his death:Abu Ein filmed Connolly

“A Palestinian minister has died after a confrontation with Israeli troops at a protest in the West Bank.

Palestinian medics told the BBC Ziad Abu Ein had died from complications related to tear gas exposure.

But several witnesses said the minister had been hit and shoved by soldiers. One said he had been hit in the chest by a tear-gas canister fired by them.”

The report opens with Kevin Connolly informing viewers that:

“The Palestinian protesters came to Turmus Aya in the occupied West Bank because they believe Israel has earmarked this land for its own future development. It’s near an existing Jewish settlement. The demonstrators came to plant olive trees: a way of saying the land is theirs.”

In fact, the protesters – who were organized by the councils of adjacent villages – arrived at the specific location at the particular juncture because on that day the political NGO Yesh Din, together with the same local councils, presented a petition to the Supreme Court demanding the eviction of the nearby outpost Adei Ad – as stated by the organisation’s lawyer Shlomi Zacharia in the interview here (Hebrew, from 7:24). Connolly continues:

“Israel’s security forces were waiting for them. The clashes were nothing new in this bitterly contested place. Israeli troops used tear gas as the confrontation developed. Ziad Abu Ein appeared, breathless, before the cameras to condemn Israel.”

Viewers then see footage of Abu Ein speaking to the media with a voiceover translation of his words:

“They are assaulting us. This is the terrorism of the occupation. This is a terrorist army, practices terrorism against the Palestinian people. Nobody threw a stone and nobody fought back.”

The BBC News website also saw fit to publish a separate filmed item under the title “They’re assaulting us – Palestinian minister Ziad Abu Ein” with a synopsis also amplifying unverified rumour.Abu Ein filmed 2

“There are conflicting reports about his death – medics told the BBC he died from complications related to exposure to tear gas, but several witnesses said the minister had been hit and shoved by soldiers.”

Returning to Connolly’s report, he then tells viewers:

“Then, Mr Abu Ein – a veteran Palestinian official – emerged at the centre of the angry scenes. Apparently grabbed by the throat at one point by an Israeli border police officer, he fell to the ground and was treated at the scene. But minutes after these images were captured, he had died on his way to hospital.”

Connolly’s chronology of events is in fact inaccurate. Reporter Roy Sharon from Channel 10 was at the scene and standing by Abu Ein at the time of the altercation. According to Sharon, who also filmed the events (see here from 8:25 and here from 3:16 – Hebrew), the security forces used tear gas in response to an attempt by the protesters to approach the outpost (not mentioned by Connolly), the altercation between Abu Ein and the Border Police officers took place about 15 minutes after the tear gas had been used and the interview given by Abu Ein to the media took place after his provocation of the security forces – not before as Connolly claims. Some four minutes later Abu Ein sat down on a rock feeling unwell, an Israeli paramedic approached him to offer help and roughly five minutes after that an ambulance arrived to transport him to hospital. Sky News correspondent Tom Rayner who was also at the scene tweeted:

Abu Ein Rayner tweet

A subsequent autopsy showed that Ziad Abu Ein died of a heart attack.

“The deceased suffered from heart disease, and there was evidence that plaque buildup were clogging more than 80% of his blood vessels, as well as signs that he had suffered heart attacks in the past.”

Connolly’s report goes on to show an interview with Hanan Ashrawi who, despite not having been present at the scene as far as is known, states:

“Ziad was guilty of nothing more than planting olive trees where Israel would uproot trees, was guilty of nothing more than ensuring that we remain on the land where Israel was trying to expel people.”

Despite seeing fit to amplify Ashrawi’s baseless propaganda, Connolly did not find it necessary to inform BBC audiences that Ziad Abu Ein was a convicted terrorist responsible for the deaths of two Israeli boys and the wounding of thirty others in a bomb attack on the market in Tiberias in 1979. Neither were audiences informed that when the terrorist leader Marwan Barghouti was arrested by Israeli forces in 2002, he was hiding in Abu Ein’s house.

Connolly closes:

“As news of Ziad Abu Ein’s death spread the Palestinian Authority declared three days of mourning. It hasn’t said how it will respond politically but Mr Abu Ein’s death will further escalate the tension that’s been steadily rising here. Israel says it’s sorry for his death, is investigating and has offered to help with the autopsy. But Palestinian anger runs deep.”Abu Ein Davies Tweet

In fact, shortly after the incident Jibril Rajoub stated that the PA would halt security coordination with Israel – although such a move does not appear to have been implemented so far.

One thing, however, is certain: inaccurate reporting of the kind seen in Connolly’s report and on from BBC employees on social media can only add to the already incendiary cocktail of rumour and propaganda surrounding Abu Ein’s death and hence contribute to a potentially dangerous escalation of tensions.  

13 comments on “Multiple inaccuracies in Kevin Connolly’s filmed BBC report on death of Ziad Abu Ein

  1. The BBC refuses to recognise Palestinian terrorism not only as terrorism but also as Jihadism.

    There’s just a token mention here furthering the lie that there is a “historic Palestine”:
    What is jihadism?

    Some, like al-Qaeda, want to re-establish the caliphate that once stretched from Spain and North Africa to China and India. Its leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has vowed to “liberate all occupied Muslim lands and reject each and every international treaty, agreement and resolution which gives the infidels the right to seize Muslim lands”, including historic Palestine, Chechnya and Kashmir.

    No mention at all of Palestinian/Jihadist terrorism in Israel:
    Jihadism: Tracking a month of deadly attacks

    The Palestinians themselves have no problem in calling themselves Jihadists:

    • There’s also this:

      A poem, also found on the UNRWA human rights website, said this:

      Palestine should know I adore madness
      Jaffa, I should know I’ll come back to it
      Let him know it’s the crazy sons of Zion
      With their thought of raping Palestine

      The land of Canaan will be only to those who love her
      Those who are occupied by people who do not
      The land of Isra and Mi’raj cradle of the prophets
      The land of jihad and martyrdom

      • I noticed the omission of Israelis killed in their data too. Even though in one of the related articles of this thread the BBC writes
        In recent weeks, 10 Israelis and an Ecuadorean have been killed by Palestinians in a series of attacks.
        Clearly the BBC thinks the Israelis deserve it.

        What’s curious too is on the link given to how the data was gathered, they state this:
        ….We programmed news alerts and searched the BBC Monitoring system for “terrorist”, “insurgent” and “jihadist” incidents wherever they may have happened…

        Since we’ve all noted, and I’ve recorded here, how the BBC avoid where possible to use the word terrorist in relation to these attacks, preferring the term ‘militants’, searching for words like terrorist, insurgent, and jihadist won’t reveal much from their ‘system’. Unless they have a more honest way of recording it for themselves.

        They also state:
        In an attempt to produce the most accurate figure possible the research has encompassed civilian, jihadist and other fighters or military deaths presented as one single unit. It is difficult to differentiate, even for those monitoring events
        on the ground, between a civilian and someone who was acting as a combatant when an attack happened.

        Funny how they don’t qualify this when giving figures of Gazan civilians supposedly killed by Israel. The BBC seem quite happy to quote whatever figure their Hamas masters tell them, despite what common sense would dictate.

        Finally this:
        …However, no other organisation or individual has attempted to quantify this phenomenon before and so whilst the research is limited to November these figures will offer a unique insight…

        I know of the Religion of Peace website, Jihad Watch for another, and no doubt many others recording these attacks. The BBC wants to present itself as the first of its kind.

        Even when reporting ‘truth’ for a change – they lie.

        • ….We programmed news alerts and searched the BBC Monitoring system for “terrorist”, “insurgent” and “jihadist” incidents wherever they may have happened…


          An image comes to mind of Admiral Nelson holding a telescope to his blind eye… “I see no ships!”

  2. My take on the way the BBC has covered this story is that this ‘minister’ was either ‘shot, f*cked, powder burned or snakebit’, anything and everything the Palestinians claim exceot what was already rumoured, and now confirmed – that he had a heart attack

    The very fact that each accusation was different, yet he died in front of a crowd. suggests something fishy. But since each version implicates the Israeli troops for murdering him, it’s a minor detail for the BBC.
    Let’s have a little analysis of their article:
    The first picture shows an Israeli soldier in front of Abu Ein with the caption Photographs appeared to show Ziad Abu Ein (left) being held by the throat by an Israeli soldier
    \then why didn’t the BBC use one, unless they hoped that the hand near his throat might be mistaken for the soldier’s.

    Let’s see the other theories that the BBC have no problem producing as fact

    A Palestinian minister has died after a confrontation with Israeli troops at a protest in the West Bank. Palestinian medics told the BBC that Ziad Abu Ein died from complications related to tear gas exposure.But several witnesses said the minister had been hit and shoved by soldiers. One said he had been hit in the chest by a tear-gas canister fired by them.

    So in 4 lines we have 4 different versions of what happened to him – except heart attack. BBC news at its finest.

    Kevin Connolly says there are conflicting reports about what happened

    Stating the bloody obvious! They actually have a film segment here with a warning of graphic images. So after everything that the BBC has reported so far there would surely be a segment showing Israeli soldiers doing something to him – perhaps I missed it. They’re probably hoping that few will actually watch the video and just assume that what is claimed is actually there.

    Leading Palestinian activist Mahmoud Aloul, who was also at the protest, told the Associated Press news agency that the soldiers had fired tear gas and had beaten some of the activists with rifle butts. At one point, Mr Abu Ein was hit by a tear gas canister, Mr Aloul said. The Reuters photographer said he had seen Mr Abu Ein being struck by a hand on the neck during an altercation with two soldiers. An AFP news agency photographer said the minister had been hit in the chest.

    No doubt in a day or two they’ll work out something that makes sense.

    A few more lines later we get this

    There are reports that he had a health condition that may have contributed to his death.

    Look how far down the article we come before we read this. But the BBC are quick to show that this is unimportant with the following

    The BBC’s Kevin Connolly in Jerusalem says Palestinians are likely to see the exact cause of death as a secondary issue, and it will serve to sharpen tensions.

    Now back to attack mode against Israel

    ‘Cruel death’
    Condemning “the brutal assault” on Mr Abu Ein as a “barbaric act”, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas promised to take unspecified measures and declared three days of mourning. One senior Palestinian official said the Palestinian Authority would halt security co-ordination with Israel. Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), said that she was “outraged” by the minister’s death. “It’s extremely sad that a colleague and an old friend has been killed in such a cruel way” she said. “Ziad was guilty of nothing more than planting olive trees where Israel would uproot trees.”


    Mr Abu Ein once received the death sentence, commuted to life imprisonment, from a court in Israel for a 1979 bombing that killed two Israeli teenagers.He was released in 1985 as part of a prisoner exchange that saw the release of three Israeli soldiers captured in Lebanon.

    Any wonder his heart might have attacked him? I think many at the BBC will go the same way.

  3. I have made a complaint about the follow-up article about Ein’s funeral, which embeds the video analysed above, and captions the clip about his interview thus:

    “Before he collapsed, Ziad Abu Ein (left) said he had been assaulted by Israeli soldiers”

    This is a blatant distortion of his words. Ein constantly said “they are assualting US”, and at no time refers to any assault on himself personally. That difference is crucial, as the former wording (they are assaulting “me”) sounds like he was giving (in advance) evidence as to the cause of his death, which he clearly wasn’t.

    I await the BBC’s response … (ha ha)!

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