BBC’s Knell promotes Al Aqsa Mosque inaccuracy already corrected by NYT and Newsweek

September 16th saw the appearance of an article titled “Israeli PM Netanyahu vows stone-thrower crackdown” on the BBC News website’s homepage, ‘World’ page and Middle East page. The subject of that headline is an emergency meeting of government ministers and officials on the evening of September 15th following the death two days earlier of an Israeli man after his vehicle was attacked by Palestinian stone throwers in Jerusalem.stone throwers main art

Remarkably, the BBC’s minimalistic portrayal of the incident in which Alexander Levlovich was killed and two other people injured erases all mention of the attackers’ identity and fails to clarify that similar incidents have taken place in the past at the same location.

“The Israeli prime minister has vowed to “use all necessary means” to stop stone throwers after an Israeli man died in a car crash linked to such an attack. […]

Alexander Levlovitz died in a car accident apparently caused by a rock-throwing attack in Jerusalem. […]

Mr Levlovitz died and two passengers were reportedly injured after their car was pelted with stones on Monday. Police are investigating the incident.”

As regular readers are aware, the BBC refrained from reporting on any of the three previous Israeli fatalities caused by terror attacks since the beginning of this year. In this case, whilst Mr Levlovich’s death is reported, audiences are nevertheless left without the details and context which would enable them to understand the story properly.

Half of this article’s word count is devoted to another subject. [all emphasis added]

“Meanwhile, clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters continued for a third day in the city. […]

Separately, violence has again rocked the al-Aqsa mosque compound.

The compound – known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif – is the holiest site in Judaism, and contains the al-Aqsa Mosque – the third holiest site in Islam.

The compound is a source of religious and political tension between Israel and the Palestinians. It is a frequent flashpoint for violence.

On Tuesday, police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AP that police entered the Al-Aqsa mosque compound early in the morning to disperse protesters who had stayed inside the mosque overnight.”

One of the photographs illustrating the article is captioned:

“Police dispersed protesters in the streets around the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City on Tuesday”.

Stone throwers art pic

The BBC’s use of the term “protesters” is clearly inaccurate and misleading. It fails to clarify to readers that the organised rioters use violence both on Temple Mount and in the surrounding streets and – together with detached, neutral phrasing such as the description of Temple Mount as “a frequent flashpoint for violence” – does nothing to enhance audience understanding of the real background to this story.

Embedded into the head of this article is a filmed report by Yolande Knell which, in addition to being shown on television news programmes, also appeared as a stand-alone item on the BBC News website under the title “Netanyahu vows to stop stone-throwers after Al Aqsa clashes“. The synopsis to that report likewise fails to identify the perpetrators of the incident in which Alexander Levlovich was killed.Stone throwers Knell filmed

“On Monday an Israeli man died after his car was pelted with rocks.”

Yolande Knell does not even mention that incident in her report.

“Well what the Israeli prime minister has said after this emergency ministerial meeting – called at the end of the Jewish New Year’s holiday which has spread really over the last three days – he’s said that there will be much tougher fines for Palestinian minors who throw stones and also that they’re going to take a look at modifying the rules of engagement – as he called it – ah…for Israeli security forces who are dealing with Palestinian stone throwers.”

Apparently Yolande Knell does not know that the term rules of engagement is a standard way of describing the circumstances in which military forces engage in combat and not just a phrase used by the Israeli prime minister. She continues:

“And as you said this is really to do with the clashes that have taken place over the Jewish New Year’s holiday at the holy site you can see behind me: the Al Aqsa Mosque compound. Known to Muslims as Haram al Sharif – the Noble Sanctuary – this is the third holiest site in Islam and it’s believed that at that golden dome over there – the Dome of the Rock – that’s where the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven.

And then in the Al Aqsa Mosque here – which is just a bit closer to me – that’s where these clashes happened over the last three days. There were young Palestinian demonstrators who barricaded themselves inside the mosque. They were very worried about Israeli police bringing non-Muslim Jewish visitors – hundreds of them – to this site because of course for Jews this is Temple Mount and for Jews this is the holiest site in Judaism. Many people wanted to visit over the holidays.”

The Israeli police of course do not ‘bring’ visitors to Temple Mount but ensure their security during visits. Neglecting to mention the pipe bombs found at the site on September 13th, Knell goes on:

“Ahm…now Palestinians were throwing stones at the Israeli police, also fireworks. The Israeli police were responding with stun grenades and also with tear gas. They moved to the mosque – they say just to close the doors of it to stop people from coming out. The Palestinians say that actually they came inside the mosque; they intruded inside the mosque. And this has all really ratcheted up tensions, particularly with dramatic amateur footage circulated by both sides of what happened over this period.” [emphasis added]

The spokesman for the Israeli police has made it quite clear that the security forces did not enter the Al Aqsa Mosque (Newsweek has already corrected a similar error, as has the New York Times) and obviously it is Yolande Knell’s job to provide BBC audiences with a factual account of events rather than amplification of baseless – and dangerous – rumour.

As we see, Knell’s report is as unsatisfactory as the written article in that it fails to provide BBC audiences with the full range of background information needed to understand the organized and premeditated nature of the violence on Temple Mount and the underlying issues of official PA incitement and the groups of Islamist agitators paid to harass non-Muslim visitors to the site and provoke tensions with the Israeli authorities. As Ha’aretz reported in late 2014:

“A senior security official told Haaretz that the defense establishment has learned that the Mourabitoun guards receive a monthly salary of between 3,000 and 4,000 shekels ($776 – $1036). Some of the funds come from the Gulf States, through the occupied territories by way of couriers, and from there the money makes its way into East Jerusalem. Recently, the Shin Bet and Israel Police apprehended a courier at the Jordanian border in possession of 1 million shekels, meant for the Mourabitoun guards.”

This is not a story about ‘worried protesters’ and ‘clashes’ as Yolande Knell would have viewers believe. It actually involves much wider and more complex issues about which the BBC has consistently failed to inform its audiences, thus deliberately failing to enhance their understanding of this recurring story – as its public purpose remit demands.


A worldwide platform for incitement from BBC Arabic’s Nawal Assad

In addition to the written report discussed in a previous post, the rioting on Temple Mount on September 13th was also the subject of a radio report (available here from 26:35) broadcast on the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ on that day.AAM 13 9 Newshour

Presenter James Menendez introduced the item as follows:

“Now there have been clashes today in Jerusalem between Palestinian youths and the Israeli police. The violence broke out at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City – the scene of many confrontations in the past between Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Muslims. And that’s because this large complex is home to sites revered by both religions. [recorded sound] Well that’s the sound of stun grenades fired by the Israeli police as they moved into the compound, confronted – they say – by Palestinians who’d barricaded themselves inside, throwing stones and fire crackers. Well Nawal Assad is BBC Arabic’s correspondent in Jerusalem; so what exactly happened?”

Listeners then heard the following inaccurate and partisan account from Nawal Assad: [all emphasis in bold added]

“The clashes erupted this morning following the morning prayers in what Palestinian Muslims call Al Aqsa Mosque, which is their holiest place in the city and what Jews believe it to be the Temple Mount. Police clashed with these worshippers after the morning prayers because the police says that a group of Palestinian youths barricaded in the mosque against the orders of the Israeli police and the Israeli Ministry of Defence few days ago and the worshippers started throwing stones at the police and they responded by firing rubber bullets and tear gas at the mosque.”

As we see, in addition to downgrading history and archaeology to a matter of Jewish belief, Assad misrepresented the rioters as “worshippers” and avoided any mention of their premeditated plan to disrupt visits to the site on Rosh Hashana eve whilst at the same time concealing their amassing of pipe bombs and additional materials intended to be used as weapons in the mosque. She also failed to inform audiences fully regarding the recent banning of two groups of paid Islamist agitators (consistently unacknowledged by the BBC) at the site. Assad then continued with promotion of flagrant falsehoods.

“Palestinians say that more than 600 visitors entered the mosque following the morning prayers. Many of them are Jews led by the Israeli agriculture minister Uri Ariel who has been calling recently many Jews to visit that area and pray in the Muslim site because they believe that the Temple Mount lies beneath that mosque. So many Jews heeded these calls and participated in this visit this morning.”

With Assad having told listeners just moments earlier that “clashes erupted this morning following the morning prayers” listeners would have been highly likely to take her subsequent claim that “visitors entered the mosque following the morning prayers” to mean that those visits sparked the violence. Her claim that “600 visitors entered the mosque” is clearly inaccurate: non-Muslim visitors to Temple Mount do not go into Al Aqsa Mosque.

Assad failed to tell listeners that the Jews visiting the site on that particular day were beginning celebration of a major holiday, instead leading them to believe that the visitors were ‘heeding calls’ from an Israeli minister. She clearly does not know the difference between the site of the ancient Temple and Temple Mount and her claim that Jews believe that the Temple is located underneath Al Aqsa Mosque are inaccurate and misleading. Whilst Uri Ariel (who did happen to visit Temple Mount on that particular day) has advocated for equal prayer rights for members of all religions on Temple Mount, Assad’s portrayal of Temple Mount as an exclusively “Muslim site” and her failure to clarify that it is the holiest site in Judaism prevented listeners from understanding the issue correctly.

Menendez then asked:

“What is the situation when it comes to access at the moment? Perhaps you could just describe the site and when it is that each group can go – or can anyone go whenever they like?”

The geographically challenged Nawal Assad said:

“There is more than 140 dunams which is a massive area of land.”

Of course the entire Old City of Jerusalem is built on an area of less than one square kilometre and in fact Temple Mount measures 488 meters along its west side, 470 meters along its east side, 315 meters along its north side and 280 meters along its south side: hardly “a massive area of land”. Nawal Assad then gave unqualified amplification to a narrative which is as historically inaccurate as it is politically motivated:

“Palestinian Muslims consider all that compound to be the Al Aqsa Mosque.”

She continued:

“There are about twelve gates. All the twelve gates are manned by guards – Israeli guards and also guards paid actually by the Jordanian government who has the control of the Muslim sites in Jerusalem. Israel has the right to allow or not allow whoever they want to enter into that compound to do prayers. In recent years there has been [sic] rules about dividing the times between Muslims when they can go to pray [and] visitors – as tourists. Since 2013 there has been more visit of Jews who have been seen – and I have seen it myself – who enter from the entrance near the Wailing Wall into the vicinity of the compound and they do like symbolic prayers there. This has been aggravating the situation in the compound itself because Muslim worshippers are against it.”

Neither Assad nor Menendez bothered to inform listeners that non-Muslims are in fact forbidden from praying at the site which is just as significant to them as it is to Muslims and Assad went on to make yet another inaccurate claim.

“The Israeli government seems like it’s going towards a situation where there would be shared times of prayers in that area which Muslims consider it to be their third holiest mosque.”

In fact, the Israeli government has repeatedly stated that it has no intention of changing the status quo at the site.

Menedez then asked a question which clearly misled listeners by implying that the latest round of violence on Temple Mount is connected to the issue of equal prayer rights:

“And are Muslims in Jerusalem firmly against that or is there any appetite for some sort of system to avoid these clashes happening?”

Assad went on to amplify a dangerous and entirely baseless conspiracy theory:

“Muslims in Jerusalem are petrified that Israel plans to rebuild the Temple Mount which means that they will have to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque. Not just Muslims actually, I must say, because there has been [sic] calls from the Muslim-Christian Palestinian Council this morning condemning these visits.”

The item closed as follows:

Menendez: “What’s the situation now? Have things calmed down?”

Assad: “No. Tension is still mounting in that area. About 300 people were marching just about noon here in Jerusalem and they were again dispersed.”

As we see, in addition to failing to provide listeners with anything even approaching the real factual background to this story, Nawal Assad used this item to promote the kind of inaccuracies and conspiracy theories which can have extremely dangerous consequences. Given that this item was broadcast around the entire world, it is all the more egregious for a BBC reporter to be adding the corporation’s stamp of reliability to such inflammatory rumours.

Either Nawal Assad is incompetent or she is exploiting this topic for the amplification of content which can only be described as incitement. Whichever the case, the BBC World Service needs to urgently clarify to its listeners around the world that there is no truth in her claims of impending changes in the status quo on Temple Mount by the Israeli government and no basis for the conspiracy theory concerning the destruction of Al Aqsa Mosque which she so irresponsibly promotes.Nawal Assad

The BBC might also care to note that its reputation as an impartial broadcaster is not enhanced by its Arabic branch’s Jerusalem correspondent’s use of a profile picture including a keffiyah. 


BBC World Service – contact details

‘Newshour’ on Twitter

Nawal Assad on Twitter

James Menendez on Twitter


No BBC reporting on latest power crisis in the Gaza Strip

The past few days have seen a number of demonstrations in the Gaza Strip over power shortages exacerbated by a technical fault which shut down the electricity supply from Egypt. The Times of Israel reports that residents have been suffering power outages for up to twenty hours at a time.

“Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in Rafah, Khan Yunis and in refugee camps in the central Strip, calling for a resolution to the energy crisis.

Gaza residents have been enduring electricity shortages for years, but the situation intensified last week when power lines from Egypt went down, with the Egyptians citing “technical problems.”

There is also a shortage in the supply of fuel for the lone power station in Gaza, due to a dispute between the Palestinian Authority administration in the West Bank and Gaza rulers Hamas.

On Monday, Gaza protesters burned pictures of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. Activists from Abbas’s Fatah party have accused the Hamas military wing of provocation during the protests.

The Gaza Strip currently only produces some 28 percent of the electricity it consumes. Out of 212 megawatts used by Gazans, 60 are produced in the territory, 120 are produced in Israel and 32 in Egypt.”

There has been no BBC coverage of this latest power crisis or the demonstrations. As readers may recall, the BBC also showed no interest in reporting the shut down of the Gaza power plant in July of this year, despite the fact that the facility featured heavily in BBC reporting both during and after last summer’s conflict between Israel and Hamas.  

The BBC reporting on the subject of the Gaza Strip’s power supply has repeatedly misinformed audiences with regard to the source of the chronic crisis. For example in August 2014 Yolande Knell produced a report in which she inaccurately told viewers that:tankers Kerem Shalom

“Tight border restrictions limited fuel imports. Although power cuts were common in Gaza before, now they’re much worse.”

As recently as July 2015 the BBC News website promoted a filmed report on the topic of the Gaza power plant with a synopsis which inaccurately told audiences that:

“The blockade of Gaza has long made maintenance and importing parts very difficult. It also limits fuel imports.”

Perhaps then it is little wonder that a story which contradicts the BBC’s inaccurate, politicised narrative of a power shortage in the Gaza Strip due to Israeli-imposed limits on fuel imports (which do not in fact exist) is of no interest to the self-styled “standard-setter for international journalism”.

BBC article on Temple Mount riot notes ban on groups it previously failed to report exist

Readers no doubt recall that a couple of months ago the BBC produced some unsatisfactory reporting (see related articles below) on the topic of violent riots on Temple Mount which were instigated in order to disturb visitors to the site on Tisha B’Av. On the eve of Rosh HaShana (New Year), a similar incident took place at the same site and the BBC’s reporting showed little improvement.

The BBC News website published an article on its Middle East page on September 13th which was originally headlined “Clashes at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque” and currently goes under the title “Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque sees Israeli-Palestinian clashes“.AAM 13 9 final

The timeline of the events described in that BBC report was explained as follows by the Israeli police:

“During the night pipe bombs were seized in an apartment in east Jerusalem in a joint operation by the central [police] unit of the Jerusalem district and the Israel Security Agency. In addition, intelligence was received concerning masked individuals who barricaded themselves inside Al Aqsa Mosque during the night.

The barricaders collected stones and fireworks and put up barriers to prevent the closing of the entrance door to the mosque which included metal poles, planks, ropes and more, with their intention being to clash with the security forces and to disturb visits to Temple Mount. The Jerusalem police force prepared for entry to the [Temple] Mount area […]

The police force […] surprised the barricaders and entered the Temple Mount area this morning with the aim of enabling the commencement of visits to the site. Immediately with the entry of the forces the rioters ran away into the mosque and began throwing stones and [concrete] blocks at the policemen as well as firing fireworks directly at them. During the operation pipes suspected as being pipe bombs were seized and removed from the site by a police bomb disposal expert.

The security forces […], operating while rocks, fireworks and metal poles were being thrown at them, removed the barriers and gained control of the rioters. Visits to the [Temple] Mount area are now taking place as usual.”

In other words, this was yet another attempt (continuing, by the way for the third consecutive day at the time of writing) by violent rioters to disturb visits to Temple Mount on a Jewish holiday. So how did the BBC describe the incident?

The article has undergone numerous changes (viewable here) since its initial publication. Early versions clearly suggested to readers that the violence was the result of the entry of the police into the compound, with no mention made of the intentions of the rioters and their prior organisation of pipe bombs and other objects intended to be used as weapons.

AAM 13 9

The article’s second version included the following opaque statement:

“Tensions have been running high since Israel Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon last week banned two Muslim groups which confront Jewish visitors to the compound.”

That statement was slightly expanded in later versions:AAM 13 9 V2

“Tensions have been running high in the city since Israel Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon last week banned two Muslim groups which confront Jewish visitors to the compound.

Mr Yaalon said the groups were the main sources of tension and violence at the site and said banning them was necessary to public order.”

As has been noted here on numerous occasions, the BBC has consistently failed to report on the topic of the salaried agitators who harass non-Muslim visitors (not just Jewish ones, as claimed in this report) to Temple Mount. It is therefore highly unlikely that readers of that sentence would understand how those “Muslim groups” – the Murabitat and Murabitun – disturb public order or why they were recently outlawed.

All versions of the article fail to clarify to readers that Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism.

“Al-Aqsa is one of Islam’s holiest sites and is in the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif site also revered by Jews.”

Only in the third version of the report did BBC audiences begin to get any inkling of the background to the story.

“Officers had been searching for a number of Palestinians who were believed to have hidden explosive devices in East Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Post reported.                                                       The suspects had escaped to al-Aqsa mosque and barricaded themselves in, the newspaper said.”

Only in the fifth version of the report were audiences made aware (by means of second-hand quotes) of the context of the intention to disturb visits to the site.

“Police were quoted in the Israeli media as saying the Palestinian youths who had barricaded themselves into the mosque were planning disruption to prevent Jews visiting the site.

Security forces launched a surprise raid at around 06:45 (03:45 GMT) in the hope of opening the site as planned, Haaretz newspaper reports.

The police said in a statement that masked youths within the mosque “threw stones and fireworks” and that pipe bombs had been found.”

Of course those who read the report’s earlier versions were deprived of that context seeing as visitors to the BBC News website have no way of knowing that an article they have already read has been updated.

From version six of the article onwards it was deemed appropriate to give unqualified amplification to a statement which clearly detracts from audience understanding of this story rather than contributing to it.

“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned what he called an “attack by the occupier’s military and police against the al-Aqsa mosque and the aggression against the faithful who were there”.”

The real story here is the continued attempts by Palestinian agitators to disturb visits to a site of significance for members of three religions – particularly at the time of Jewish holidays. In this particular incident the storage of pipe bombs at a holy site clearly represents a serious escalation which is not adequately clarified to audiences in the BBC’s report. Notably too, the BBC passed up on the opportunity to correct its previous long-standing omission by beginning to report on the organised groups which hassle non-Muslim visitors to Temple Mount and the funding behind them. 

This story was also the subject of a radio report which will be discussed in a future post.

Related Articles:

BBC News twists Tisha B’Av Temple Mount incident with ‘last-first’ reporting

More misleading BBC reporting on Tisha B’Av Temple Mount rioting

BBC amendments to Tisha B’Av Temple Mount rioting report


A reminder concerning the BBC Trust consultation ahead of charter review

As readers may recall, in July the BBC Trust launched a public consultation.BBC Trust  

 “At the BBC Trust, our role is to represent licence fee payers, and we want to ensure that your views are taken into account by the Government as it considers what the BBC of the future should look like. This is an opportunity for you to join the debate and to help shape the BBC.”  

The closing date for that consultation is September 18th and anyone who wishes to take part but has not yet done so can find details here.  





BBC News’ migrant crisis coverage: Bowen embeds with Assad

BBC News coverage of what it terms the “Europe migrant crisis” has recently involved sending various members of staff to report from different countries including Libya, Jordan, Hungary and Turkey.

The person chosen to provide BBC audiences with the information which would supposedly help them understand the reasons behind the mass movement of people from Syria to Europe was the BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen and it is worth taking a look at some of his recent reports from Syria in order to determine whether or not audiences did in fact receive the full range of factual information concerning the situation in the country from which a large proportion of the migrants fled.Bowen tweets Mekdad presser

After having arrived in Damascus on September 2nd, Bowen produced a report from a press conference with the Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister in which he failed to present any challenge to Mekdad’s claim that “the Syrian army has never, ever attacked or initiated any attack against a city or against a village”. That and other regime propaganda was further amplified by Bowen on Twitter.

Bowen made two filmed reports for television news programmes, both of which were also promoted on the BBC News website. The September 8th report “Inside a hospital in Syrian leader Assad’s Latakia heartland” was obviously made with the consent and help of the Assad regime and in addition to being allowed to film in a government military hospital, Bowen produced footage from a camp for internally displaced persons in Latakia. At no point in that report were the regime’s attacks on its own population mentioned and viewers received no information concerning the Iranian regime’s patronage of Assad or the participation of Iranian and Hizballah forces in the conflict.Bowen tweet camp Latakia

Another September 8th filmed report by Bowen – “Syria: Snapshot of life inside Assad stronghold” – likewise failed to include any information about the role of Iran and its Lebanese proxy in the Syrian civil war. Bowen did however manage to shoehorn another Middle Eastern country into his report by telling viewers that Yarmouk, near Damascus, “was a Palestinian refugee camp for families who were forced out of Israel in another war” [emphasis added].  Bowen’s presentation of the manner in which Palestinians – the majority from Tsfat (Safed), Haifa and Tiberias – arrived in Syria is of course both simplistic and inaccurate.

In that report too viewers saw sympathetic footage from the displaced persons camp and the military hospital in Latakia. It is of course inconceivable that Bowen visited those sites, the regime held part of Yarmouk or the military funeral in an Alawite town which also features in some of his reporting, without considerable cooperation from the Syrian regime. Stating the obvious, Bowen tells viewers that:

“…the refugee crisis is created and driven by war…”

A subsequent brief statement shows that, despite his failure to challenge Faisal Mekdad’s propaganda several days earlier, Bowen is indeed aware of the reality:

“Syrian army attacks often create more refugees and so do attacks by Jihadists.”

However, the BBC’s Middle East editor failed to expand upon that topic in any of his reports and made no effort to inform audiences of the fact that more Syrian civilians have been killed by regime forces than by Jihadists of various stripes whilst scrupulously avoiding all mention of topics such as the use of chemical weapons and barrel bombs by the regime.Bowen tweet soldiers

Latakia again featured in an audio report by Bowen broadcast on the BBC World Service radio programme ‘World Update: Daily Commute’ on September 9th (from 03:06 here). Bowen described idyllic beach scenes before interviewing people who are clearly regime supporters. He then reported again from the same military hospital, and listeners heard more pro-regime comment.

Also on September 9th, a written report by Bowen appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Migrant crisis: How Middle East wars fuel the problem“. Once again Bowen inserted a context-free reference to Israel which is entirely irrelevant to the story he was supposedly telling.

“I walked through the ruins of Yarmouk, one of the most fiercely contested battlegrounds in Damascus, only a few miles from the centre of the city.

Yarmouk used to be a Palestinian refugee camp for families who had fled or been driven from their homes when Israel won its independence war in 1948.”

He later added:

“An unknown number of Palestinian civilians, in their thousands, are trapped there [Yarmouk] too.

UNRWA, the UN agency that looks after Palestinian refugees, has not been able visit them with relief supplies since March.”  

Bowen neglected to tell readers that Yarmouk was reclassified by the UN in June.Bowen tweet Syria mukharabat

Yet again Bowen’s tepid and generalised portrayal of the issue of migrants fleeing the war in Syria did nothing to inform BBC audiences of the role played by the Assad regime and its Iranian and Hizballah backers in creating and exacerbating the migrant crisis.

In fact, all the reports produced by Bowen during his recent visit to Syria are little more than amplification of one very specific side of the story and they exclusively reflect the interests of the regime with which he was obviously embedded.  It is therefore difficult to see how the BBC can claim that those reports contributed to providing its funding public with an accurate understanding of why so many Syrian civilians are leaving their country. 

More Hamas terror designations ignored by BBC News

For over a year now the BBC has consistently avoided telling its audiences about the senior Hamas member based (at least until recently) in Turkey who directs the terror group’s military operations in Judea & Samaria. As has been noted here before:No news

“Back in August 2014 the BBC managed to avoid telling its audiences about a thwarted coup against the Palestinian Authority engineered by Hamas’ Saleh al Arouri from his base in Turkey. In the same month, al Arouri’s public admission that Hamas had been behind the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers two months earlier was also not covered by the BBC.

In November 2014, when the ISA arrested some 30 Hamas operatives in Judea & Samaria, the BBC made only a veiled reference to “Hamas officials based in Turkey” despite the fact that al Arouri was named in the ISA’s report as the organiser and financer of the terror network.

When the BBC reported on the resumption of PA tax transfers in March 2015 it failed to inform audiences of related professional assessments of al Arouri’s role in attempts to increase terrorist activity in Judea & Samaria.

And when a report on Hamas recruitment in Malaysia – which involved sending recruits for training run by Hamas’ branch in Turkey – appeared in May 2015, the BBC ignored that story altogether.”

It comes therefore as little surprise to find that BBC News also apparently has no interest in reporting on the recent designation by the US Treasury  of both Saleh al Arouri and Mahir (Maher) Salah (a dual nationality British citizen) along with others.

“Al-Aruri is a Hamas political bureau member who funds and directs military operations in the West Bank and against Israel.  In the late 1990s, al-Aruri was a key Hamas recruiter and his authority over Hamas military activity extends back to at least the early 1990s, when he served as a commander in Hamas’s military wing.  In 2010, immediately after his release from a 10-year prison term, al-Aruri resumed his military activity for Hamas and reconnected with Hamas political figures. Since 2010, al-Aruri has also maintained longstanding relationships with SDGTs and Hamas political bureau officials Khalid Mishaal and Musa Abu Marzouk.  Since 2011, al-Aruri has maintained a working relationship with Saudi Arabia-based senior Hamas financial officer Mahir Salah, who is also being designated today.  In 2011, al-Aruri facilitated a transfer of funds in coordination with Mahir Salah for the families of convicted terrorists and deceased Hamas fighters. 

Since at least 2013, al-Aruri has overseen the distribution of Hamas finances and has been a key financier and financial facilitator for Hamas military cells planning attacks and fomenting unrest.  As of 2014, al-Aruri had authority over Hamas military personnel in the West Bank and was in charge of a Hamas initiative to destabilize the Palestinian Authority in preparation for a Hamas takeover.  He also financed and directed a Hamas cell in the West Bank that sought to instigate clashes between Israeli and Palestinian forces. 

In 2014, al-Aruri directed and financed Hamas military cells in the West Bank and Jordan and facilitated the transfer of hundreds of thousands of dollars to Hamas, including to the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, for the purchase of arms and storage facilities for weapons.     

In 2014, al-Aruri publicly praised and announced Hamas’s responsibility for the June 2014 terrorist attacks in which three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and killed in the West Bank.

As of early 2015, al-Aruri was responsible, along with other Hamas members, for money transfers for Hamas.”

Clearly, as long as the BBC continues to avoid telling audiences about Hamas’ infrastructure in Judea & Samaria (and its management from a NATO country) it cannot be said to be meeting its remit of enhancing “audiences’ awareness and understanding of international issues”. But the really interesting question is why the corporation has consistently buried this story for over a year.

Related Articles:

BBC covers US terror designations for Hamas and Hizballah operatives – but not in English

The return of the BBC’s Jon Donnison and his tall Twitter tales

Jon Donnison’s breach of BBC editorial standards unravels

BBC sticks to inaccurate narrative despite Hamas claim of June kidnappings



BBC’s Knell raises an opportunistic stink

On September 12th the ‘Magazine’ section of the BBC News website published an article by Yolande Knell titled “Who, What, Why: What is skunk water?“.Knell Skunk

The hook for Knell’s article is evident in the article’s opening paragraph.

“Police departments in the United States are reported to have bought a foul-smelling liquid developed in Israel to repel protesters. What is “skunk” and how is it used, asks Yolande Knell.”

However, only those 31 words and a further 39 towards the end of the article relate to the reported purchase of the riot control method by US police departments. The report’s remaining 627 words are employed by Knell for more of her signature political campaigning.

One of the article’s notable features is the language used by Knell to describe the circumstances in which the Israeli security forces use Skunk spray.

Having already informed audiences in the opening paragraph that the substance is used “to repel protesters“, the article also states: [all emphasis added]

“Invented by Israeli firm Odortec, skunk water was first used by the Israeli military against demonstrators in the occupied West Bank in 2008.” 


“In the West Bank village of Kafr Qaddum, skunk has been used to break up weekly rallies against Israel’s closure of a nearby road.”

“Protesters, demonstrators, rallies”:  none of Knell’s chosen terminology contributes to audience understanding of the fact that Skunk and other methods of crowd control are in fact used against violent rioters. The only hint concerning that comes in a quote from the IDF but Knell herself refrains from clarifying the issue to readers, leaving them with the mistaken impression that Skunk is used against people marching quietly with placards.

“A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) told the BBC that skunk is “an effective, non-lethal, riot dispersal means” that can reduce the risk of casualties.” 

Knell promotes statements from two political NGOs but – in breach of BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality – refrains from providing audiences with any information on the obviously relevant topic of their political agenda. The foreign funded NGO ACRI is quoted as follows:

“Israeli security forces have been accused of misusing the stinking liquid.

Last year police sprayed large quantities of it in East Jerusalem neighbourhoods, at a time of widespread unrest.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel complained that this was “disproportionate“, affecting the lives of tens of thousands of Palestinians.

It documented cases where homes, shops and schools were hit with the foul liquid long after rioters had left the area.” [emphasis added]

The local NGO most quoted and promoted by the BBC in its Israel-related content in 2014, B’Tselem, provides the video embedded in the article – and apparently the source of an unverified allegation – as well as a quote.

“In the West Bank village of Kafr Qaddum, skunk has been used to break up weekly rallies against Israel’s closure of a nearby road. The protest organiser claims his home has also been singled out.

“Several times they purposefully targeted my house,” says Murad Ishtewe. “Once the high pressure of the jet broke the window so the water came inside. All my furniture was ruined.”

The IDF said it was not aware of such an incident.

“For us it’s a complex picture,” says Sarit Michaeli of the Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem.

“The authorities ought to find non-lethal ways of maintaining law and order. The problem is the way Skunk is used. Very often it is a form of collective punishment for a whole area.”” [emphasis added]

The inclusion of the terms “disproportionate” and “collective punishment” – both of which have legal connotations not relevant to this story – is of course particularly notable given the BBC’s similar misuse of legal terminology during Operation Protective Edge, often whilst amplifying the agendas of political NGOs engaged in lawfare.

Knell also throws in inferences of racism:

“Many Palestinians view the offensive smell as a humiliation, as skunk is used almost exclusively against them. Exceptions are rare. One came in April this year, when it was sprayed (possibly diluted) at Ethiopian-Israelis protesting against what they saw as racially motivated police violence.”

She neglects to inform readers that the use of Skunk in Jerusalem on April 30th came about after the protest turned violent and does not disclose her source for the claim that in that case the solution was “possibly diluted”.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to find any Israel-related report by Yolande Knell which does not promote her embarrassingly transparent political agenda. Not infrequently her work (and that of other BBC journalists too) relies on contributions from a selected group of political NGOs, without any effort being made to duly inform BBC audiences of the agenda which lies behind their claims and statements. Yolande Knell clearly has no qualms about acting as a medium for foreign funded Israeli NGOs but that of course is not the same as accurate and impartial reporting of the news – which is, after all, what licence fee payers are entitled to receive.

Related Articles:

BBC’s Yolande Knell ditches any semblance of impartiality

BBC News compromises impartiality with link to website of political NGO

BBC News amplifies political NGO in inaccurately headlined report

BBC’s Knell flouts impartiality guidelines with failure to inform on Susiya interviewee’s day job


BBC News coverage of terrorism – August 2015

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks during August 2015 (Hebrew – here) shows that throughout the month a total of 171 incidents took place: 117 in Judea & Samaria, 51 in Jerusalem and three incidents of missile fire from the Gaza Strip.

The agency recorded 136 attacks with petrol bombs, five stabbings, four shooting attacks, one vehicular attack and 22 attacks using explosive devices. Twelve Israelis were wounded in those attacks – four civilians and eight members of the security forces.

The three incidents of missile fire from the Gaza Strip were not reported by BBC News but the Israeli response to the August 7th attack did receive coverage on the BBC Arabic website and the same pattern of Arabic only coverage was also seen on August 27th.

The firebomb attack on a civilian vehicle travelling near Beit Hanina junction on August 3rd in which two people were injured did not receive any BBC coverage.

A vehicular attack near Shilo on August 6th in which three soldiers were injured received no coverage in English but was reported on the BBC Arabic website.

 Five separate stabbing incidents resulting in injuries to one civilian and four soldiers were all ignored by BBC News. There was no BBC coverage of an attack with an IED near Beit Jala on August 19th in which a soldier was wounded and a drive-by shooting attack near Kedumim on August 30th in which a civilian was injured was likewise disregarded.

To sum up, visitors to the BBC News English language website did not receive any information whatsoever about any of the 171 terror attacks which took place during August.

Table terror Aug 15Since the beginning of the year BBC News has reported just 0.81% of the terror attacks which have actually taken place. Its record on coverage of Israeli fatalities stands at 0% whilst 100% of Palestinian fatalities have been reported.

As has been noted here before, the BBC Trust’s definition of the corporation’s public purpose remit titled ‘Global Outlook’ states:

“BBC viewers, listeners and users can rely on the BBC to provide internationally respected news services to audiences around the world and they can expect the BBC to keep them in touch with what is going on in the world, giving insight into the way people live in other countries.”

Clearly that pledge is not being met with regard to terrorism against Israelis and the knock-on effect of that omission is that audiences are unable to comprehend the context to the Israeli counter-terrorism measures such as border restrictions, the anti-terrorist fence or checkpoints which do feature extensively and regularly in BBC content.

Related Articles:

BBC News coverage of terrorism – July 2015

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – June 2015 & Q2 2015