Tepid BBC reporting on discovery of Hamas cross-border tunnel

As regular readers will be aware, since the end of the summer 2014 conflict between Israel and terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip, the BBC has consistently under-reported the topic of Hamas’ efforts to rebuild the network of cross-border attack tunnels destroyed during that conflict and has avoided carrying out any serious reporting on the subject of the terrorist organisation’s misappropriation for that purpose of construction materials intended for the rebuilding and repair of civilian dwellings. 

On April 18th, however, a story broke that even the BBC could not ignore.

“Security forces discovered a “terror tunnel” inside Israeli territory coming out of the southern Gaza Strip just over a week and a half ago, the Israel Defense Forces revealed on Monday morning.[…]

The tunnel was located approximately 100 feet (30 to 40 meters) below ground and extended “tens of meters into Israel.” It had been fortified with concrete slabs and featured electrical lines and a rail system, IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said.”

So did BBC News use this opportunity to bring its audiences worldwide up to speed on the topic of Hamas’ rehabilitation of its attack tunnel network and the related diversion of construction materials and funds away from projects which could improve the welfare of civilians in the Gaza Strip? Were audiences told what the intention behind that tunnel and others is and did the BBC finally get round to sending a journalist to talk to the Israeli civilians living adjacent to the border with the Gaza Strip  who are under threat from such cross-border tunnels?

The bizarre focus of the BBC’s report on the subject was reflected in its interestingly punctuated headline: “Israeli troops uncover ‘new’ tunnel leading from Gaza“. In the body of the article readers were told that:Hamas tunnel art

“Hamas, which dominates Gaza, said Israel had found an “old” tunnel.”

And later on:

“He [the IDF Spokesman] said the construction was new, lined with concrete, and fitted with an electricity supply, ventilation and rail tracks, but did not have an exit.

However, Hamas claimed that the Israeli military had announced “the finding of an old tunnel in order to gain continued US support for its anti-tunnels project”. […]

The Hamas-affiliated website, al-Majd, reported that the tunnel had been used two years ago.”

After all that, readers were left to make up their own minds on the decidedly unimportant question of whether the tunnel is “old” or “new”.

The far more pertinent subject of Hamas’ long known efforts to rehabilitate the tunnels received minimalist treatment in the article:

“Following the war, the Israeli military said it was developing technology aimed at countering efforts by Hamas to rebuild its tunnel network.”

On the topic of the misappropriation of construction materials the article mentioned a story the BBC ignored at the time, using the “Israel says” formula but avoiding informing audiences on that subject in its own words.

“Earlier this month, Israel suspended deliveries of cement for private projects in Gaza, saying Hamas was diverting the material for its own purposes in violation of a UN-backed agreement following the 2014 war.”

The BBC similarly avoided informing readers on the topic of the cost of the tunnels in its own words:

“”The ugly truth is that Hamas continues to invest millions of dollars to build tunnels of terror and death,” spokesman Lt Col Peter Lerner said.”

With regard to the intended purpose of the tunnel, the article again uses the “Israel says” formula – although the IDF statement paraphrased by the BBC did not of course use the term “militant group” to describe Hamas and the words “against southern Israeli communities” were chopped off the end of the sentence.

“A [IDF] statement said the tunnel had been constructed by the Palestinian militant group Hamas “in order to infiltrate Israel and execute terror attacks”.”

The BBC’s article did not include any comment from the residents of the communities near the border with the Gaza Strip who have for months reported hearing noises they suspected were connected to Hamas’ underground digging.

Additionally, the report once again amplified problematic casualty figures supplied by a compromised UN body and its affiliated political NGOs.

“The conflict left at least 2,251 Palestinians dead – including more than 1,462 civilians, according to the UN – and 11,231 injured. Some 18,000 homes in Gaza were also destroyed or badly damaged.”

Yet again we see that the BBC is not committed to reporting the story of Hamas’ cross-border attack tunnels in a manner which is conducive to meeting its remit of enhancing audience “awareness and understanding of international issues” and enabling them to understand Israeli counter-terrorism measures.

Related Articles:

BBC News continues to sideline the Hamas tunnels story

BBC News still downplaying Hamas terror

BBC News sidesteps the real issues in Hamas tunnel collapse story

Examining Lyse Doucet’s claim that she reported new Hamas tunnels on BBC

More enablement of Hamas propaganda from BBC’s ME editor

Hamas man spills beans on appropriation of construction materials: BBC silent

In which BBC Radio 4 tries to explain Zionism without the history

The April 10th edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Sunday’ included an item (from 25:21 here) described in the synopsis as follows:R4 Sunday Zionism

“In the on-going anti-Semitism row in the Labour party, one issue being raised is about how the term Zionism is used and whether there is confusion about the term. Jonathan Freedland writes for the Guardian and the Jewish Chronicle – he gives his analysis.”

Freedland begins as follows:

“It’s been used probably in the way that we understand it now since the middle or late 19th century where it referred to the movement of Jewish nationalism – the Jewish yearning for self-determination – that felt itself to be alongside other almost romantic nationalist movements of the same period.”

He then continues with an explanation of the term itself which refrains from informing listeners that – far from being “abstract” – the word Zion is a synonym for Jerusalem which appears over a hundred times in the Hebrew bible.

“The word itself was…it was the obvious one because the biblical liturgical term the Jews will have used in synagogues around the world, even this weekend, was Zion – meaning the abstract Jewish homeland.”

Host Edward Stourton then comes in:

“At the time all sorts of ideas were kicked around – as I recall – of a Jewish homeland in bits of Africa, bits of Latin America. But Zionism came, did it not, to symbolise or to mean quite specifically a Jewish homeland in what we now call Israel.”

Had listeners been accurately informed of the real meaning of the word Zion and of the significance of the topic of the ingathering of the exiles to the place that word describes in Jewish prayer and tradition, they would obviously have been better equipped to understand that point.

Freedland responds:

“That’s right. So I think probably historians would want to call early movements Jewish nationalist movements. If you were a Zionist rather than just any old Jewish nationalist it meant you saw the Jewish homeland as being in Palestine.”

Significantly, neither Freedland nor Stourton make any effort to inform listeners why Jews see their homeland as being in the place Freedland elects to call “Palestine” no fewer than three times during this item but which most Jews would call Eretz Israel – the Land of Israel. Audiences hear absolutely nothing about the Jewish nation’s history in that location, the connection of Jewish traditions and festivals to its land and seasons or the significance of specific sites and landmarks in Jewish religious practices such as the direction of prayer or the mention of Jerusalem at the Pessah Seder and in the Jewish marriage ceremony.

Thus, the portrayal presented by Freedland and Stourton steers listeners towards the inaccurate impression that Zionists just happened to haphazardly prefer that location (which, as noted above, is repeatedly referred to as “Palestine” – crucially without any clarification of what that meant in the 19th century) to the additional options available.

Freedland then goes on to introduce a borrowed device that he has used on several occasions in past articles.

“Now I think probably if you’re using it you’re referring to it to mean one is no more or no less than somebody who supports the existence of a Jewish home in Palestine. Where that home is, what its exact borders are, are arguments within Zionism if you like and the best description I’ve heard is by the Israeli novelist Amos Oz who says that Zionism is a family name. You need a modifier – a first name – in front of it to know what kind of Zionist someone is. Because you could have a moderate, liberal Zionist; you can have a socialist Zionist, religious Zionist. Those people will all have arguments about what shape and size and content this Jewish state in Palestine should be but that there should be a home at all – that makes you a Zionist.”

Stourton later goes on to say:

“But just to confuse things further, you referred earlier to religious Zionists which I take to mean for example settlers who believe that land was given to them by God – and that despite the fact that originally most Zionists were secular.”

That stereotype of course conceals the fact that over a third of the people the BBC terms “settlers” are not religious.

Freedland continues, managing to ignore the immigrants from Yemen during the First Aliyah, religious Zionists such as Rabbi Shmuel Mohilever and Rabbi Jacob Reines and the fact that by the time the Second World War broke out there had been five waves of immigration to Israel spread over 57 years.

“The very first modern political Zionists were if anything anti-religious because the religion had taught until the mid-nineteenth century that the return to Zion was something that was the work of God alone and if anything, it was an act of usurpation for the Jews to take themselves.  The experience of the Second World War – and of course the Holocaust – if you like converts the Jewish world to Zionism because Zionism is seen to have – very glumly – to have won the argument because it’s been saying it’s impossible for Jews to live permanently as a minority around the world; we need a place of our own. And therefore the Jewish world shifts. But Jewish religion doesn’t shift entirely. To this day ultra-orthodox Jewish religious communities often stand against Israel and Zionism but there was this shift and it did even happen among religious Jews who suddenly got their heads around the idea that they could – rather than waiting for God’s will – they could give God’s will a nudge if you like.”

Remarkably, a significant portion of this item is devoted to Freedland’s own preferences concerning the term he has supposedly been brought in to explain to BBC audiences.


“And it’s partly why I tend to almost never use the word now myself because it’s so misunderstood that it’s actually become almost functionally useless as a word. People think it means you support what the Israeli government did yesterday. That’s a complete misunderstanding of the term.”


“And if you want to avoid getting embroiled in the sort of conversation we’ve just had, don’t use the word I suppose.”


“Unless they’re speaking really about this historical, philosophical argument I think it’s not a useful word and it can sometimes have a rather ugly connotation and that’s because Zionism has become in part a kind of bridging code word that enables people to get from attacking or criticizing Israel to hinting at a wider global Jewish force that sometimes is a bit shadowy and sinister and that is the traditional anti-Semitic idea of a global Jewish conspiracy. Ah…and therefore it’s just…it’s a word that carries so much baggage it’s almost collapsing under the strain.”

In his introduction to this item Edward Stourton told listeners that the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews had:

 “…complained that the word Zionist was being treated as if it were some kind of term of abuse by certain circles on the far-Left.”

Stourton then went on to ask “So what does it mean?” and we might therefore reasonably conclude that the aim of the item was to provide listeners with an answer to that question, thereby to enhance their understanding of the above statement from the President of the Board of Deputies and to enable them to be better informed with regard to the various stories concerning the British Labour party and antisemitism such as the one recounted by Stourton at the beginning of his introduction.

Effective explanation of any term hinges upon the provision of an accurate definition and in this case an appreciation of the rich background to the term Zionism is obviously crucial to understanding. The absence of accurate representation of the historic context of the millennia-old bond between Jews and Israel in this item prevented its aim from being met.  

Inaccurate synopsis to BBC report amended

As was documented here a few days ago, the synopsis to a filmed report which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on April 15th inaccurately described its subject matter as follows:

“The real life story of the Palestinian doctor who lost his children in Israeli air-strikes has been turned into a play.” [emphasis added]

Following contact from BBC Watch that synopsis was amended and it now opens:

“The real life story of the Palestinian doctor who lost his children when Israeli shells fell on his home in Gaza, has been turned into a play.”

obrien report

BBC rejects complaint concerning inaccurate claim about Israeli airport security

As readers may recall, on March 22nd the BBC News website published an article by Home Affairs correspondent Tom Symonds in which it was inaccurately claimed that the level of security checks at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv are dependent upon the colour of the traveller’s skin.Brussels airport security art

Symonds wrote:

“Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, often cited as the world’s most secure, relies on profiling. Passengers are closely watched and intensively questioned about who they are and where they are going.

It works because it allows a more fluid and less predictable line of security.”

However, Symonds then went on to tell his readers:

“But it is a technique often criticised as “politically incorrect” because those without white faces, travelling to and from “non-western” countries, face more scrutiny. [emphasis added]

Symonds provided no evidence to support his inaccurate allegation of racial profiling according to skin colour.  One example contradicting that allegation was given by a former director of security at Ben Gurion airport in an article from 2010. 

“Israeli aviation security manages to create a reasonable balance between detection technology and human interaction. While at American airports we deploy people to support technology, in Tel Aviv technology is deployed to support people. Does it work? Ask Anne Marie Murphy, a young Irishwoman who, in 1986, nearly boarded a plane while carrying an explosive device without her knowledge. Her terrorist boyfriend, who was supposed to be on a separate flight, had given her a bag with a concealed bomb. When a profiler began to ask her a standard set of questions, it became clear that she was an anomaly (she had no accommodations lined up, among other issues). The device, which was cleverly hidden, would not have been detected during a pat-down, or even by an X-ray scanner. But the profiler, who was not distracted by her ethnicity, religion, gender, or her obvious pregnancy, saved Murphy and hundreds of other passengers—simply by taking her aside and talking to her.”

BBC Watch submitted a complaint concerning that inaccuracy. The BBC Complaints department’s response fails to address the issue raised in that complaint and the article has not been corrected.

Response airport complaint

BBC Watch will of course be pursuing the issue further.

BBC News reports Jerusalem bus bomb without using the word terror

On the afternoon of April 18th an explosion occurred on a public bus in Jerusalem injuring 21 people. Within a couple of hours the police and security services had established the cause of the incident.

“Police and rescue officials confirmed 21 people were hurt when the number 12 city bus exploded on Moshe Baram Street in the Talpiot neighborhood of the capital at about 5:45 p.m., setting the bus on fire.

A second intercity bus nearby and a car were also burned in the blast.

Jerusalem police chief Yoram Halevy told the media the blast was caused by an explosive device placed on the bus, putting an end to hours of speculation over whether the blast was terror related or a technical malfunction.

“When a bomb explodes on a bus, it is a terror attack,” he said, adding it was unclear if the bomber had been on the bus at the time of the blast.”

pigua bus Jlem 18 4

Version 4

Reporting on the incident began to appear on the BBC News website shortly after it took place and early reports correctly noted that “[a]n Israeli police spokesman said it was investigating the incident, the cause of which was not immediately clear”.

As more information was made public, later reports informed BBC audiences that:

“A police statement said bomb disposal experts had determined that a device exploded in the back half of the bus.”


“A police spokesman told Israeli Channel 2 television that investigators were still trying to determine who had planted the bomb.”

However, none of the amendments made to the article currently going under the title “Jerusalem bus bombing injures 21” clarified that the authorities had confirmed that the incident was a terror attack and the word terror does not appear at all in any of the report’s six versions.

Version 6

Version 6

Moreover, later versions of the article included commentary from Yolande Knell in which the perpetrators of numerous terror attacks on Israeli public buses during the second Intifada were described using the euphemistic term “militants”.

“For many, images from the scene here will bring back worrying memories of the bomb attacks by Palestinian militants that last took place in this city more than a decade ago.”

Knell appears to have forgotten that a British citizen was murdered in a terror attack at a Jerusalem bus stop in 2011 and that bomb attacks on buses have occurred in other Israeli cities far more recently than “more than a decade ago”.

Similarly, readers of the final version of the BBC’s report were informed that:

“Palestinian militant group Hamas, which carried out a wave of bus bombings in the city in the early 2000s, praised Monday’s blast, calling it “a natural reaction to Israeli crimes”.”

They were not however told that additional terror groups likewise lauded the attack – as did the PA president’s Fatah party.

“Hamas welcomed the attack in Jerusalem as a “natural response to the crimes of occupation,” but it did not claim responsibility.

Islamic Jihad welcomes the attack as “proof of the failure of security coordination” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said it “welcomes the operation as a positive and important development of the intifada.” “

It is of course difficult to imagine that had twenty-one people been injured by a bomb placed on a London bus, the BBC would have avoided using the word ‘terror’ in its reporting of the incident. But as we have known for quite some time, the corporation defends the double standards seen in its reporting of terrorism by claiming that attacks against Israelis are “very different” from those against civilians elsewhere (whilst refusing to clarify the rationale behind that claim) and it does not consider those double standards to be “a significant issue of general importance that might justify further investigation”.

Related Articles:

Radio 4 gives insight into BBC avoidance of the use of the term ‘terror’ in Israel

BBC Complaints: terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tunisia are “very different”

The BBC, terrorism and ‘consistency’

More evidence of BBC News double standards on use of the word terror

BBC News website does ‘one man’s terrorist’

BBC ‘moral debate’ contributor promotes conspiracy theory

In relation to this story, the Jewish Chronicle informs us that:

“A representative of a controversial UK Muslim group has described an initiative led by Jewish society heads at campuses across the UK as indicative of the “Zio lobby”.

In a Facebook status posted on Saturday, Raza Nadim, spokesman for the London-based Muslim Public Affairs Council, which purports to “focus on non-violent jihad”, hit out against the “power of the Zio lobby”.

Mr Nadim’s rant on social media came after heads of every active Jewish society (JSoc) across the country called on Malia Bouattia, who is campaigning to be the next NUS president, to clarify previous comments she made about Israel. Signatories also questioned why she appeared to take issue with large JSocs, referring to a 2011 article she co-wrote which described Birmingham University as a “Zionist outpost in British higher education,” adding: “It also has the largest JSoc in the country, whose leadership is dominated by Zionist activists.”

The open letter to NUS Black Students’ Officer Ms Bouattia, which was published on Wednesday, also asked whether she welcomed an endorsement for her presidential candidacy by Mr Nadim, given that MPACUK has been banned from university campuses by the NUS.”Raza Nadim

Those familiar with the record of MPACUK are unlikely to be surprised by Raza Nadim’s employment of the pejorative term ‘Zio’, his conspiracy theory concerning a powerful Jewish lobby or his support for the NUS candidate who two months ago appeared at an ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ event but in 2014 opposed NUS condemnation of ISIS on the grounds that it was ‘Islamophobic’.

It is however worth reminding ourselves of the fact that this is a man the BBC saw fit to invite to participate in a “moral, ethical and religious debate” programme just over a couple of months ago.

Had the BBC addressed its own issues concerning ‘Jewish lobby’ conspiracy theories, that lack of discernment (and additional examples of the BBC’s showcasing of Nadim as the ‘British Muslim voice’– especially on its Asian Network) might perhaps have been avoided.

Related Articles:

Why BDS activist Malia Bouattia couldn’t answer Jon Snow’s question on Israel boycott (UK Media Watch)

BBC continues to mainstream extremist group

BBC promotes the Livingstone formulation – again

April 13th saw the subject of an initiative designed to tackle the issue of antisemitism in the British Labour party feature quite prominently on BBC platforms. The BBC’s political correspondent Ross Hawkins reported the story on that day’s edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme (from 01:13:16 here) and the ‘UK politics’ section of the BBC News website’s UK page included an article by Hawkins titled “Labour activists seek rule change to ban anti-Semitic members“.

Ross Hawkins also produced a second article that day which appeared in the same ‘UK politics’ section under the headline “Labour’s problem with anti-Semitism” and portrayed the issue as being in essence a conflict between those who support the party leader Jeremy Corbyn and those who do not.Hawkins art Labour

“That is highly unlikely to be the end of this story, though, because it goes to the heart of a poisonous atmosphere in parts of the Labour movement.

Jeremy Corbyn’s critics – who are many and vociferous – put the blame at his door. […]

On the other side, his supporters remind us of those condemnations of anti-Semitism and the decision to launch an inquiry, and point out this is not a new problem.”

Readers are then told:

“Lost in the fury about a member suspended then readmitted after anti-Semitic comments only to become vice-chair of her local party, was the fact those decisions were made not under Mr Corbyn, but his predecessor Ed Miliband.”

BBC audiences have heard that claim made before but while Vicki Kirby may indeed have been brought back into the fold before Corbyn was elected leader, her elevation to the post of branch vice-chair does appear to have taken place on his watch.

Towards the end of his article, Hawkins tells readers that:

“For some fighting Mr Corbyn’s corner, this issue is serious and real, but is also being used as a stick to beat him by his internal political enemies.

There are those who have long seen allegations of anti-Semitism as attempts to silence legitimate criticism of Israel – on which different wings of the Labour movement take passionately opposing views.” [emphasis added]

Only a few weeks earlier the BBC’s Radio 4 audiences had heard a similar – unchallenged – promotion of the Livingstone Formulation from an interviewee on one of its programmes. The fact that we now we find none other than the BBC’s politics correspondent unquestioningly amplifying a device used by anti-Israel activists obviously raises concerns regarding the BBC’s ability to report this story accurately and impartially.

Related Articles:

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ and ‘alleged’ antisemitic Tweets

BBC News website buries Oxford University Labour Club story

Mainstreaming the Livingstone Formulation on BBC Radio 4


Context erased from BBC report concerning 2009 Gaza incident

On April 15th a filmed report made by Jane O’Brien and Bill McKenna for BBC World News and BBC News US was promoted on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the headline “Palestinian doctor turns personal tragedy into dramatic play“. The synopsis tells BBC audiences that:Jane Obrien report

“The real life story of the Palestinian doctor who lost his children in Israeli air-strikes has been turned into a play.” [emphasis added]

In fact, the tragic incident in which Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish’s three daughters and niece were killed in 2009 was not the result of air-strikes at all – as the subsequent investigation showed and as the BBC itself has previously reported.

“The IDF concluded Wednesday that Israeli tank shells caused the deaths of four Palestinian girls, including three daughters of Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, when his house was accidentally attacked on January 16, during Operation Cast Lead. Following the investigation, the army confirmed that two shells had hit the building. […] The IDF said that a Golani Brigade force was operating near Beit Lahiya when it came under sniper and mortar fire in an area laden with explosives. After determining that the source of the fire was in a building adjacent to Abuelaish’s home, the force returned fire. While the IDF was shooting, suspicious figures were identified in the top floors of the doctor’s house, and the troops believed the figures were directing the Hamas sniper and mortar fire, the army said. Upon assessing the situation in the field while under heavy fire, the commander of the force gave the order to open fire on the suspicious figures, and it was from this fire that his three daughters were killed, said the IDF. Once the soldiers realized that civilians, and not Hamas gunmen, were in the house they ceased fire immediately, continued the army.”

However, neither the synopsis nor the report itself provides any indication to audiences that the incident took place during a period of conflict brought about by Palestinian terrorism, with Jane O’Brien telling viewers that the play:

“…chronicles his childhood in a Palestinian refugee camp, his determination to become a doctor, the death of his wife to leukemia and a few months later his three daughters – killed when Israeli missiles hit the family home in Gaza.”

That essential context is also absent from the rest of the report, in which thousands of missile attacks against Israeli civilians by terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip are erased entirely from the one-sided picture of passive Palestinian suffering it portrays.

O’Brien: “Do you think that the Palestinian conflict has become forgotten?”

Abuelaish: “It’s not forgotten. Of course there are priorities but as long as there is a child who is suffering and Palestinian people who are alive, the conflict is alive. But when are we going to solve it? That’s the problem – and the suffering; to relieve the suffering of the Palestinian people.”

Among the obligations set out by the BBC’s public purposes remit is the commitment to “[b]uild a global understanding of international issues”. Clearly context-free reporting such as that displayed in this item not only does nothing to contribute to fulfilling that remit, but actively hinders the BBC’s supposed aim.


The synopsis appearing on the BBC News website has now been amended.

The missing chapter in the BBC’s coverage of the Red Sea islands story

The BBC’s coverage of the Egyptian move to hand over the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabian control has been rather superficial. Announced during a visit by the Saudi king to Egypt, the move was not mentioned in an April 8th BBC report on that visit.

On April 10th the BBC News website published an article devoted entirely to the topic of online reactions to the agreement – “Saudi-Egyptian deal on Red Sea islands sparks anger” – and that was followed on April 13th by an article titled “Egypt’s Sisi hits out at ‘evil conspirators’ amid islands furore“.

There, readers found unchallenged amplification of the following statement:

“Mr Sisi said that Saudi Arabia had asked Egypt in 1950 to protect the two islands, situated at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba, from Israel.”

In fact, the two islands were occupied by Egypt in 1949 – with Saudi consent – in order to enable Egypt to impose a blockade on shipping bound for the Israeli port of Eilat.

Remarkably, in none of its coverage has the BBC informed its audiences that additional parties also have a stake in this story – as the Times of Israel’s Raphael Ahern explains:map Tiran

According to article V of the peace treaty between Jerusalem and Cairo, the Strait of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba are considered international waterways “open to all nations for unimpeded and non-suspendable freedom of navigation and overflight.” Both countries pledged to “respect each other’s right to navigation and overflight for access to either country” through the strait and the gulf.”

So how did the handing over of the two islands to a third party not bound by the terms of that peace treaty go down in Israel? Ahern has some interesting answers to that question.

“Given that the islands are in a strategically crucial location for Israel, it was significant that officials in Jerusalem were quick to assert that they were unperturbed about the deal.

Riyadh gave Jerusalem written assurances that it intends to respect Israel’s rights to free passage through the Strait of Tiran, a crucial lifeline to Israel’s only Red Sea port in Eilat, officials said. Equally noteworthy is the fact that the deal was only struck after an agreement was reached between all four major stakeholders — Cairo, Riyadh, Washington, and Jerusalem.

“We reached an agreement between the four parties – the Saudis, the Egyptians, Israel and the United States – to transfer the responsibility for the islands, on condition that the Saudis fill in the Egyptians’ shoes in the military appendix of the [1979 Israel-Egypt] peace agreement,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told reporters Tuesday.”

The BBC, however, apparently found that significant development much less newsworthy than the Twitter and Facebook comments of anonymous Egyptians and Saudis. 

An upcoming event for UK based readers

UK Lawyers for Israel and NGO Monitor will be holding a joint event in Northwest London on Sunday, May 15th at 8 pm titled “The BDS campaign against Israel – how it works, how it uses or misuses the law, and how it is financed“.events

Participation in the event is free of charge but places are limited so those interested in attending what promises to be a highly interesting and informative event should register at caroline.kendal@uklfi.com stating the title of the event.