On January 6th an article titled “Palestinian jailed for murder of Israeli teenagers” appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page. That report (changes to which can be seen here) on the sentencing of Hussam Kawasme (also spelt Qawasmeh) for his part in the kidnappings and murders of Gilad Sha’ar, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrah in June 2014 included several problematic features.
Despite the core story being about the sentencing of a member of an internationally recognised terrorist organization, nowhere in the BBC’s report is Hamas described as such. Instead, the BBC portrays Hamas as “the Islamist group dominant in Gaza”.
The report states:
“Hussam Qawasmeh, a member of Hamas, must also pay $63,000 (£41,000) in compensation to the victims’ families.”
According to the Jerusalem Post, however, the amount of compensation cited by the BBC is one-third of the actual sum.
“He was also ordered to pay NIS 250,000 to each of the victims’ families.”
Regarding Hussam Kawasme’s accomplices the BBC’s report states:
“Two other suspects were shot dead by Israeli forces in Hebron in September.”
“The Israeli authorities launched a crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank following the abduction and quickly identified two of the group’s operatives, Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisha, as suspects. They managed to evade capture for several months before being killed.”
The caption to one of the photographs used to illustrate the article states:
“Suspects Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisha were killed in an Israeli raid in Hebron in September”
At no point does the report bother to inform readers that the two were killed during a shoot-out as they opened fire on security forces trying to arrest them.
The BBC report plays down Hamas involvement in the kidnappings and murders:
“The leader of Hamas, the Islamist group dominant in Gaza, said in an interview in August that a Hamas cell had killed the teenagers but had not acted on instructions from above.”
The article fails to adequately clarify that funding for the terror attack came from Hamas sources in the Gaza Strip or that high-ranking Hamas operative Saleh al Arouri admitted the organisation’s involvement in August 2014.
Yet again, this report promotes the BBC’s now standard but inaccurate account of the causes of Operation Protective Edge.
“The teenagers’ murders in June set off an escalating cycle of violence and led to a 50-day conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza.”
As we have unfortunately had occasion to note here several times before, the portrayal of events presented by the BBC completely erases the fact that the “conflict” did not only take place “in Gaza” but also in Israel, with thousands of residents of the southern part of the country forced to leave their homes during that time.
Equally misleading is the fact that the BBC has completely airbrushed from audience view the hundreds of missiles launched at civilian targets in Israel between the date of the kidnappings – June 12th – and the commencement of Operation Protective Edge on July 8th. It was of course that surge in missile fire which was the reason for Israel’s military action, with the later discovery of dozens of cross-border tunnels prompting the subsequent ground operation. The military operation could have been avoided had Hamas elected to take advantage of the ample opportunities it was given to stop the missile fire before July 8th, but the terrorist organisation chose not to do so – for reasons not by any means exclusively connected to Israel.
The distortion of the factors which led to the summer 2014 conflict has over recent months become standard BBC practice. The version of events repeatedly promoted by the BBC is obviously not accurate due to its deliberate omission of the firing of hundreds of missiles at Israeli civilians and nor is it impartial as it clearly seeks to erase Hamas responsibility for igniting that conflict from audience awareness. It is high time the BBC got a grip on its serial misrepresentation of this topic.