On February 11th the BBC News website’s Middle East page carried an article titled “UN and Palestinian Authority appeal for $571m aid“. A significant proportion of the article is little more than a rehashed version of a press release put out the previous day by the Palestinian Authority and UN OCHA.
The BBC’s report tells readers that:
“The Palestinian Authority and the United Nations have made a joint call for funding to provide humanitarian assistance to 1.8 million Palestinians.
Most of the $571m (£395m) requested for this year will be spent on food aid.
One Palestinian official warned that any food shortage could see the already volatile situation in the Palestinian Territories “explode”. […]
The funding sought by the UN and Palestinian Authority will provide aid to roughly a third of the 4.75 million Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Almost $323m of the funding is sought to help the 1.6 million people who the UN has assessed as moderately to severely food insecure.
A further $112m is needed to provide shelter for vulnerable people, including 92,000 still displaced inside Gaza by the 50-day conflict between Palestinian militants and Israel in 2014.
Appealing to donors, UN Assistant Secretary-General Robert Piper warned that “the coping capacity of many Palestinian households is at the point of exhaustion”.”
Completely absent from this BBC report is any mention of Hamas’ appropriation of building materials imported into to the Gaza Strip and the connection between the diversion of construction materials to terrorism and the fact that thousands of people in the Gaza Strip still lack adequate shelter. That issue has of course been serially avoided by the BBC throughout the last year and a half and so audiences reading this report do not have the necessary background information to enable them to put this story into its correct context.
The report also avoids the topic of Hamas’ preference of spending millions of dollars on the reconstruction of cross-border tunnels rather than providing food and shelter for the population it controls. That again is a topic to which the BBC has avoided giving adequate coverage.
Likewise, the report makes no mention of the Palestinian Authority’s financial priorities which include giving grants and salaries to convicted terrorists from its general budget (supplied mostly by foreign donors) to the tune of millions of dollars a year.
“In 2013, the Palestinian Authority (PA) paid more than £60 million to those convicted of terror offences; of this, £9 million was paid as bonuses when terrorists were released. In February, the Palestinian Authority announced that this bonus pot would be increased to £27 million.”
However, this article does include the standard “Israel says” qualification concerning Palestinian terrorists killed during the recent wave of violence.
“A recent wave of violence between Palestinians and Israelis has led to some 190 deaths.
Twenty-nine Israelis have been killed in stabbing, shooting or car-ramming attacks by Palestinians or Israeli Arabs since October.
More than 160 Palestinians – mostly attackers, Israel says – have also been killed in that period.” [emphasis added]
It also includes by now no less predictable messaging – which is also to be found in the PLO’s guidance for foreign journalists – whilst continuing to avoid any serious reporting on the topic of incitement.
“The Palestinians blame the violence on frustration at the failure of peace talks to end Israeli occupation and perceived encroachment of a contested holy site.
Israel blames incitement by Palestinian leaders and social media.”
This BBC article is yet another example of ‘churnalism‘ – the uncritical amplification of a press release put out by interested parties – with a bit of embellishment in the form of standard mantra-like inserts seen in numerous previous reports. It obviously does not provide audiences with information concerning the many issues lying behind the press release’s subject matter and so does nothing to meet the BBC’s remit of enhancing audience understanding of this particular international issue.