BBC unusually passes up on amplifying HRW’s latest report

One of the political NGOs most frequently quoted and promoted in BBC Middle East coverage – even on issues in which it is not involved and despite the fact that it engages in lawfare against Israel  – is Human Rights Watch (HRW). In particular, the BBC tends to put out rapid amplification of the content of reports produced by HRW, no matter how dubious their methodology. Examples from the last two years alone include:No news

BBC shoehorns partisan political NGO into report on policeman’s promotion

Predictable BBC amplification for latest HRW anti-Israel report

More uncritical amplification of a HRW report from BBC News

BBC News does its convincing impression of HRW PR department yet again

More BBC promotion and amplification of lawfare NGO

BBC audiences again fobbed off with HRW press release presented as ‘news’

HRW recently released another one of its reports which was summed up by AP as follows:

“Human Rights Watch said both the Western-backed Palestinian Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank and its rival, the ruling Islamic militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip, are “arresting, abusing, and criminally charging journalists and activists who express peaceful criticism of the authorities.” […]

HRW said that in the West Bank, Palestinian forces arrested activists and musicians who “ridiculed Palestinian security forces” and “accused the government of corruption” in statements posted on Facebook or stated in graffiti and rap songs.

In Gaza, the rights group said an activist who criticized Hamas for “failing to protect a man with a mental disability” was detained and intimidated by the group, as was a journalist who “posted a photograph of a woman looking for food in a garbage bin.”

The New York-based rights group said that in the incidents of abuse, “activists and journalists said that security officers beat or kicked them, deprived them of sleep and proper food, hosed them with cold and then hot water, and made them maintain uncomfortable positions for long hours.””

It is worth noting for the record that, in contrast to its usual practice and despite its record of campaigning on the issue of safety of journalists, the BBC has to date not produced an article amplifying this latest HRW report.

Related Articles:

Reviewing BBC News coverage of internal Palestinian affairs

 

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Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q1 2016 – part two

As noted in part one of this post, between January 1st and March 31st 2016, seventy-four reports relating to Israel and/or the Palestinians appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page, some of which were cross posted from other sections of the site. 35% of those reports covered stories relating to security/terrorism which were current at the time.website

The remaining 65% of those articles can be divided into a number of categories. (The dates in brackets represent the period of time in which each report was available to visitors to the website’s Middle East page.)

Six reports related to historical topics.

Switzerland ‘made secret deal with PLO’ after bomb attacks (22/1/16 to 23/1/16) (discussed here)

Israel releases Nazi Eichmann’s execution plea papers (27/1/16 to 29/1/16)

Albert Einstein: the man who predicted gravitational waves (12/2/16 to 16/2/16)

Last Treblinka death camp survivor Samuel Willenberg dies (21/2/16 to 22/2/16)

Auschwitz survivor is world’s oldest man – Guinness World Records (11/3/16 to 12/3/16)

Israeli hiker finds ‘second of kind’ Roman coin (14/3/16 to 16/3/16) 

Four reports can be categorised as miscellaneous:

Reporter stabbed while testing protective vest (7/1/16 to 8/1/16)

Israeli TV reporter stabbed demonstrating ‘knife-proof’ vest (7/1/16) (discussed here)

Starlings form spectacular ‘dancing clouds’ over Israel. (12/1/16 to 14/1/16)

AirMule military drone set to dodge trees in tests (14/1/16 to 15/1/16)

Twelve reports related to Israeli diplomatic/international relations and/or political aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Israel apologises to Singapore for flag ‘misuse’ (31/12/15 to 1/1/16) (discussed here)

Israel’s Netanyahu: Swedish FM’s remarks ‘outrageous’ (15/1/16 to 18/1/16) (discussed here)

Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom under fire – again (20/1/16 to 25/1/16) (discussed here)

Netanyahu says UN chief Ban Ki-moon ‘encouraging terror’ (27/1/16 to 28/1/16) (discussed here)

Netanyahu: ‘United Nations encouraging terrorism’ (27/1/16) (discussed here)

Israeli defence minister accuses Turkey of buying IS oil (27/1/16 to 28/1/16)

US and UK ‘hacked into Israeli drones and planes’ (29/1/16 to 31/1/16)

Israel-Palestinian conflict: Is one homeland the solution? (29/1/16 to 1/2/16) (discussed here)

Lebanon returns Israeli vulture cleared of spying (30/1/16 to 1/2/16) (discussed here)

Israel’s Netanyahu rejects US ‘surprise’ at Obama talks cancellation (8/3/16 to 9/3/16)

Israel rejects database of settlement-linked firms (25/3/16 to 26/3/16) (discussed here)

Israel backs down in Brazil diplomat stand-off  (28/3/16 to 29/3/16)

Six reports related to Palestinian affairs.

Christmas in Bethlehem: Hopes and fears for the future (24/12/15 to 3/1/16) (discussed here)

Gaza medics back striking English junior doctors (13/1/16 to 16/1/16) (discussed here)

Gaza: Hamas militants die in tunnel collapse (28/1/16 to 29/1/16) (discussed here)

UN and Palestinian Authority appeal for $571m aid (11/2/16 to 12/2/16) (discussed here)

Palestinian Mohammed al-Qiq ending marathon hunger strike (26/2/16 to 29/2/16) (discussed here)

Palestinian refugee camp teacher wins $1m global prize (14/3/16 to 15/3/16) (discussed here)

Twenty articles concerned Israel related issues – mostly domestic – and they can be divided into sub categories including:

a) the health of the former Israeli president:

Israel’s Shimon Peres treated after minor heart attack  (14/1/16 to 15/1/16)

Israel’s Shimon Peres hospitalised with chest pains  (24/1/16 to 25/1/16)

b) stories relating to legal and/or criminal issues:

Israelis charged over Eritrean migrant beating (13/1/16 to 14/1/16)

Auschwitz price-fixing claims: Israel police arrest nine (19/1/16)

Israel court extends ex-PM Ehud Olmert’s jail term by a month (10/2/16 to 11/2/16)

Sara Netanyahu: Israeli PM’s wife mistreated staff, court says (10/2/16 to 12/2/16)

Ehud Olmert jail term: Israel ex-PM begins sentence for bribery (15/2/16 to 16/2/16)

Israel’s Cellebrite linked to FBI’s iPhone hack attempt (23/3/16 to 24/3/16)

Israel’s Mediterranean gas deal struck down by top court (27/3/16 to 28/3/16) (discussed here)

Israeli soldier ‘faces manslaughter’ for killing wounded attacker (31/3/16 to 1/4/16)

c) immigration:

Western Europe Jewish migration to Israel at ‘all-time high’ (14/1/16 to 15/1/16)

Yemeni Jews brought to Israel in secret mission (21/3/16 to 23/3/16) (discussed here)

d) social issues

Israeli-Palestinian love story becomes a bestseller (8/1/16 to 10/1/16) (discussed here)

Israeli veganism takes root in land of milk and honey (25/1/16 to 31/1/16)

Liberal Jews to get prayer site at Jerusalem’s Western Wall (31/1/16 to 1/2/16)

New prayer space approved at Jerusalem’s Western Wall (1/2/16 to 4/2/16)

Israel’s unwanted African migrants (3/2/16 to 5/2/16) (discussed here)

Anger as Israel company ‘prices staff by ethnicity’ (8/2/16 to 11/2/16) (discussed here)

Jerusalem Jewish group on anti-Arab patrol (9/2/16 to 10/2/16) (discussed here)

School which breaks down barriers in Jerusalem (10/3/16 to 14/3/16) discussed here)

Israeli affairs were the subject of 27% of Israel/Palestinian related articles appearing on the BBC News website’s Middle East page during the first quarter of 2016 and a proportion of those reports portrayed Israel as a society which discriminates against African migrants, foreign workers and Arabs. In contrast, just over 8% of the content related to Palestinian affairs but none of the reports addressed legal or social issues within Palestinian society.

Graph website Q1

 

 

 

BBC WS showcases ahistorical political art unchallenged

The August 28th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘The Cultural Frontline’ included an interview (from 07:04 here) with British street artist Joy Gilleard. A specific edited segment of that interview was also separately promoted on Twitter. WS St Pauls clip 

“Street artist CBLOXX was commissioned to paint a mural for London’s St Paul’s Cathedral and she decided to paint the Virgin Mary as a Palestinian refugee. Little did she know it would end up being sent to the Queen.”

During the interview listeners heard Gilleard talking about the background to the painting:

“Some of the topics that I’m painting about are quite specific. So the very first one that I did was in St Paul’s Cathedral and they wanted me to do a painting of the Virgin Mary. So I decided that it would be a good idea to go and paint a Palestinian woman as the Virgin Mary – a refugee. It was just to show a different angle on something and it just seemed like a really nice link to the fact that there’s so many people fleeing Palestine, Syria…”

Given the fact that portrayal of Jesus as a Palestinian is one of the tactics long employed by anti-Israel campaigners attempting to negate and erase Jewish history, one might have thought that the programme’s presenter Sahar Zand would have taken the trouble to make listeners aware of the ahistorical politics behind the portrayal of the Virgin Mary as a Palestinian – if only for the sake of editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality.

However, the representative of a media organisation which earlier this year spent a significant amount of airtime discussing the alleged cultural appropriation of a pop star’s hair style, stayed silent.  

 

BBC’s 2014 claim of an attack on a UN school shown to be inaccurate

On August 3rd 2014 the BBC told its audiences that Israeli forces had attacked a UN school in Rafah.

Tweet breaking UN school

Tweet w news UN school

BBC correspondent Martin Patience produced a filmed report titled “Gaza crisis: Chaos after deadly strike ‘at UN school’” in which he informed viewers that Israel was serially attacking UN schools.Patience 3 8 Rafah

“Eye witnesses say that it was an Israeli airstrike. It struck at the entrance of this UN school in the southern town of Rafah. Now it’s believed children are among the dead. We also understand that at least thirty others have been injured. Ah…now this is the third deadly attack on a United Nations school since this conflict began. Just last week Israel faced international condemnation after an attack on a UN school left at least 17 dead.” [emphasis added]

In an article which appeared on the BBC News website on the same day, quotes from UN officials were given amplification.

“UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described the attack as a “moral outrage and a criminal act”.”

“In a strongly worded statement, Mr Ban called for those responsible for the “gross violation of international humanitarian law” to be held accountable.”

“Robert Turner, director of operations for the UN Palestinian refugee agency in Gaza, said: “The locations of all of these installations have been passed to the Israeli military multiple times.

“They know where these shelters are. How this continues to happen, I have no idea.””

An edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ broadcast on August 3rd 2014 is also available online. Two years on, listeners can still hear presenter Rebecca Kesby’s inaccurate allegations: [emphasis added]Newshour 3 8

RK: “Well the UN seems pretty convinced that it was an Israeli shell that hit their school. Robert Turner has been saying that it’s now the third such facility of theirs that your forces have hit. He’s very cross. He says that the UN keeps telling the Israeli forces the precise location of all their facilities where people are going to take shelter and they keep being hit.”

RK: “People listening to this will be very cross to hear this again – just three days after another attack on a UN school which provoked widespread condemnation around the world. You talk about surgical strikes and precision bombing but the evidence is very different.”

“On the question of the UN-run school that was hit in Rafah this morning: when will you know if it was your rocket that killed those ten people and injured those 30 others?”

“Excuse me, sir, but you’re telling Palestinians to evacuate from their homes and seek shelter. They seek shelter at UN schools. You then bomb the schools. Whether it’s near the school or not, it’s not safe for them there, is it?”

The Military Attorney General recently published the results of the investigation into that incident (section 7 here). [emphasis added]

“In media reports, as well as in the complaints and reports of NGOs and international organizations, it was alleged, that on August 3, 2014, at around 10:45, a number of civilians were killed and others injured, as the result of an IDF aerial strike in proximity to a Rafah school run by UNRWA. The number of fatalities varies from report to report, and ranges from seven to fifteen fatalities. According to the main allegation arising in the aforementioned complaints and reports, the strike took place a few meters from the gate of the school, which was at that time serving as a shelter for civilians who had evacuated their homes, at the exact moment when the gate was open, and was aimed at a motorbike that was passing through the area and its riders. The incident was subsequently referred to the FFA Mechanism for examination.

The factual findings, collated by the FFA Mechanism and presented to the MAG, indicate that the school was designated as a “sensitive site” on the relevant operational systems of the IDF. In accordance with the IDF’s operational instructions, any military operation to be conducted in the vicinity of such sites requires the adoption of special precautions. The fact that the school was serving at the time as a shelter for civilians who had evacuated from their homes was also noted on the relevant systems.

It was further found, that on 3 August 2014, the IDF observed three people riding on a motorbike, who were identified, on the basis of up-to-date intelligence information, as military operatives. From the moment that the decision to strike the operatives was made, the IDF carried out aerial surveillance on the motorbike’s path, and surveyed a wide radius of the estimated continued route of the motorbike, in order to minimize the potential for harm to civilians on the route or in proximity thereto. The final destination of the military operatives was not known to the operational authorities. The strike on the military operatives was planned for execution by means of a precise munition, with a reduced explosive load, in a way that would allow for the strike’s objective to be achieved, whilst minimizing the potential for harm to civilians or passing vehicles.

It was further found, that a period of time after the munition had been fired, and mere seconds before it reached its target, the motorbike entered a traffic circle with a number of different exits, and left it via one of them. The FFA Mechanism’s findings indicate that with the means that were at their disposal, and under the visibility conditions prevailing at that time, the operational authorities were not able to discern in real-time the group of civilians that were outside the school, in proximity to the route along which the aforementioned motorbike was travelling. It was further found that, in any case, at the moment upon which the motorbike exited the traffic circle and started to travel along the road bordering the wall which surrounded the school, it was no longer possible to divert the munition which had been fired at the motorbike.

The strike on the motorbike riders occurred immediately after the motorbike passed by the gate of the school. As mentioned above, it is alleged that as a result of the strike between seven and fifteen people in the vicinity of the school’s gate were killed (as indicated above, the number of fatalities varies from report to report). According to the findings of the FFA Mechanism, three military operatives were among the fatalities.

After reviewing the factual findings and the material collated by the FFA Mechanism, the MAG found that the targeting process in question accorded with Israeli domestic law and international law requirements.

The decision to strike was taken by the competent authorities, and the object of the attack was lawful – military operatives. The attack complied with the principle of proportionality, as at the time the decision to attack was taken it was considered that the collateral damage expected to arise as a result of the attack would not be excessive in relation to the military advantage anticipated to result from it (essentially, it was considered in real-time that the strike would only harm the military operatives targeted). This assessment was not unreasonable under the circumstances, in light of the fact that aerial surveillance of the routes which the motorbike was predicted to take, which had commenced when the decision to strike was taken, had not shown any civilian presence on those routes.

Moreover, the attack was carried out in conjunction with various precautionary measures, such as the selection of the munition used to carry out the strike, which aimed to mitigate the risk to civilians and passing vehicles. It was also found that under the circumstances, the operational authorities had not foreseen that the strike on the motorbike would take place in the vicinity of the school, and that, in any case, at the time at which it became clear that the strike would occur in proximity to the school, they did not have the capacity to prevent the strike from taking place in that location. The fact that, in practice, civilians who were uninvolved in the hostilities were harmed, is a tragic and regrettable result, but does not affect the legality of the attack ex post facto.”

Obviously footnotes need to be added to the relevant reports still available online in order to clarify to members of the public that the claim that the UN school was attacked is inaccurate.

Likewise, a similar clarification needs to be added to the BBC News website article titled “Gaza conflict: Disputed deadly incidents” which is also still available online and in which audiences are told that:

“Locals have told the BBC there were no militants in or near the school.”

Since the end of the conflict between Israel and terror groups in the Gaza Strip two years ago, investigations into several of the incidents reported by the BBC have shown (see related articles below) that audiences were at the time given inaccurate and misleading information.

To the best of our knowledge, none of the specious reports which still remain available online (and form part of what the BBC terms ‘historical record’) have been amended to inform the general public of the outcome of investigations into the incidents and to correct inaccurate and misleading information included in their content.  The failure to take such necessary steps risks the waste of publicly funded resources on complaints relating to those reports due to the fact that the BBC’s editorial guidelines state that if content is still available online, it may legitimately be the subject of editorial complaints.

Related Articles:

BBC’s Martin Patience tells TV audiences that Israel attacks UN schools

BBC claims that Israel targeted a centre for the disabled in Gaza shown to be inaccurate

BBC reports on Wafa hospital shown to be inaccurate

Clarifications required for BBC reports on Shati incident

Revisiting BBC reporting on July 2014 Shuja’iya market incident

BBC News passes up on the chance to correct Gaza misinformation

A BBC story from August 2014 still in need of clarification

Revisiting the BBC’s claims about a 2014 story from Rafah

Revisiting the BBC’s 2014 reports on Gaza’s power plant

Revisiting the BBC’s claims about a 2014 story from Rafah

On July 21st 2014 the BBC News website published an article titled “Gaza crisis: UN calls for ceasefire as deaths pass 500” in which readers learned that:

“Overnight air strikes in southern Gaza kill more than 30 members of two families in Khan Younis and Rafah, local officials say”.

On the same date the website also produced a photographic feature titled “Gaza crisis: Fear and funerals” which included two images relating to the family in Rafah which the BBC again described as having been killed by Israeli fire.

Siyam family 1

Siyam family 2

That incident was the subject of a subsequent investigation and the Military Attorney General recently published its findings (section 3 here). [emphasis added]

“In media reports, as well as in a complaint and in reports of NGOs and international organizations, it was alleged that on 21 July 2014, 12 members of the Siyam family were killed as the result of an IDF aerial attack in Rafah. According to the principal allegation raised by the abovementioned complaint and reports, members of the Siyam family left their residence and went into the street after the family home was damaged as the result of an aerial strike on an adjoining building. It was alleged, that at the time that the family was evacuating their residence, and while they were in the road, aerial fire was carried out against a number of the family members, resulting in their deaths. The different sources were not consistent as regards the various details relating to the event, or in regards to the type of munition alleged to have struck the family members. The incident was subsequently referred to the FFA Mechanism for examination.

The factual findings and the material collated by the FFA Mechanism and presented to the MAG indicate that no attack – aerial or otherwise – that could have resulted in a strike on the family as alleged was carried out by IDF forces in the area in question and on the relevant date. The FFA Mechanism also ruled out the possibility that the types of munition described in a number of the reports had been utilized.

Nonetheless, it was found that at the relevant time, and in close proximity to the Siyam family’s residence, terror organizations in the Gaza Strip fired a series of mortars, aimed at the territory of the State of Israel. A number of these launches were “failed launches”, wherein the mortar shells that were aimed at Israeli territory, fell within the territory of the Gaza Strip. Images showing the points of impact of the munitions that struck the Siyam family and the surroundings of their residence, which were provided to Israel by one of the organizations and transferred to the FFA Mechanism for examination, also indicate that the strike in question was not caused as the result of an aerial attack as alleged in the majority of the reports. The FFA Mechanism and the MAG Corps made representations to the legal representative of the organization which had claimed that the strike on the Siyam family had been caused by IDF munitions, in order for them to present evidence that would support such an allegation. These representations did not receive a response.

After reviewing the factual findings and the material collated by the FFA Mechanism, the MAG found, that contrary to the allegations, it could be concluded, with reasonable certainty, that the members of the Siyam family were not harmed as a result of IDF activity. As such, and in the absence of a reasonable suspicion of criminal misconduct, the MAG ordered the case to be closed, without opening a criminal investigation.”

The two BBC reports inaccurately stating that members of the Siyam family were killed by an Israeli strike remain accessible online and are therefore potentially the subject of editorial complaints according to BBC editorial guidelines.

“However long ago our online content was first published, if it’s still available, editorial complaints may legitimately be made regarding it.”

Clearly clarifications need to be appended to both the reports concerned in order to avoid any further misleading of audiences with inaccurate information and the potential waste of resources on handling avoidable complaints.

This incident once again highlights the fact that the BBC’s standard portrayal of casualty figures in the Gaza Strip during the 2014 conflict does not adequately clarify to audiences that some of the civilian casualties were caused by the actions of Palestinian terrorist organisations. 

BBC’s ME bureau chief flags up Hamas treatment of journalists

On August 22nd the BBC’s Middle East bureau chief put out this Tweet:

Colebourn tweet

The link leads to the following statement from the Foreign Press Association (FPA):

FPA stmt

Readers may recall that two years ago, during the conflict between Israel and terror groups in the Gaza Strip, the FPA found it necessary to put out an even more strongly worded statement concerning Hamas’ treatment of foreign journalists at the time.

FPA statement Hamas Aug 14

Back then, however, BBC audiences were not informed – even via Twitter – of restrictions placed on journalists by the terror group.

Related Articles:

Mapping changes in the BBC’s disclosure of restrictions on journalists

Revisiting the BBC’s 2014 reports on Gaza’s power plant

Readers may recall that on July 29th 2014 the BBC devoted considerable coverage to the story of an explosion at a power plant in the Gaza Strip.

““Power plant destroyed” screamed the sub-heading in a BBC News website report on July 29th 2014.Power plant written

That article was among numerous items produced by the BBC on the same day which included content relating to what the BBC immediately concluded was an Israeli strike on Gaza’s power station. BBC journalists extensively promoted that version of the story despite the fact that Israeli sources had stated that the power plant was not deliberately targeted.

Viewers of BBC television news programmes (along with visitors to the website) saw reports by Chris MorrisIan Pannell and Martin Patience and Chris Morris. They heard statements such as the following one from Ian Pannell:

“Israel wants to weaken Hamas any way it can, which includes hitting Gaza’s only power station – adding to the misery of those who live here.”Power plant Morris and Patience 2

Listeners to BBC World Service radio’s ‘Newshour‘ on July 29th heard Chris Morris make the following baseless allegation:

“And it is Gaza’s only power plant so there are electricity cuts in Gaza City, there could be problems with water supply because many of the area’s water pumps also rely on that power plant. So if that was a deliberate Israeli attempt to cause economic pain – which is certainly how most Palestinians will see it – then it could be fairly successful.” [emphasis added]

Just over two weeks later, both television viewers and visitors to the BBC News website were again reminded of the story in filmed and written reports by Yolande Knell.”

A year later, the claims of deliberate targeting of the power plant were shown to be false but no effort was made to correct the misleading impressions and inaccurate information in those reports which still remain available online.

The Military Attorney General has now published the result of investigations into the July 29th 2014 incident and previous ones at that power plant (section 4 here).

“In media reports, in IDF operational reports, and in the reports of international and non-governmental organizations, it was alleged that over the course of the period from 22 – 29 July 2014, the Gaza Strip’s power plant facilities, located in Nusseirat, were struck a number of times, as a result of IDF operations (the different sources refer to different events, and the allegations and figures contained therein are not consistent). It was further alleged, that as a result of the strike on the power plant on 29 July 2014, the plant ceased to function for a significant amount of time. Subsequently, the incident was referred to the FFA Mechanism for examination.

The factual findings, collated by the FFA Mechanism, and presented to the MAG, indicated that the power plant in Nusseirat was designated as a “sensitive site” on the relevant operational systems of the IDF. In accordance with the IDF’s operational instructions, any military operation to be conducted in the vicinity of such sites requires the adoption of special precautions. The findings further indicated that, in the course of the military activity taking place in the area, the power plant was struck four times over the course of the period from 22-29 July 2014 (the difficulty in specifying the precise dates of the strikes results from differences between the various reports, which provide different dates for the same strikes).

In regard to the first three incidents of damage to the power plant, it was found that the damage did not occur as the result of any direct or intentional attack, aerial or otherwise, by IDF forces. The FFA Mechanism could not rule out the possibility that the power plant facilities may have been damaged by shrapnel, or artillery fire that went off course during the combat. This, in light of the considerable military activity that took place in the vicinity of the plant, between IDF forces and squads affiliated with terror organizations. As well as in light of the fact that terror organizations located a large number of terror assets adjacent to the power plant – at times at a distance of mere tens of meters (such assets included launching pits in which rockets and mortars were stored, medium range rocket launchers, the openings of combat tunnels, weapons caches and more). Evidence has also been obtained which indicates that a portion of the damage may have been caused as the result of rocket fire by Palestinian terror organizations. […]

As regards the fourth incident of damage, which occurred on 29 July 2014, the FFA Mechanism found that on the day of the incident, an IDF armored force operating in the area identified a squad of terror operatives, bearing anti-tank weaponry (“anti-tank squad”). The anti-tank squad was identified while it was close to what would later turn out to be the fuel tanks of the power plant. In light of the imminent threat posed by the squad to the armored force, the force fired, in a measured and direct manner, at the anti-tank squad, using the most precise munition the force had at its disposal. It appears, that as a result of this fire, one of the power plant’s fuel tanks was damaged (the power plant itself was not hit).It was further found, that the IDF force which carried out the fire, did not make the connection between the facilities, in proximity to which it identified the anti-tank squad, and the power plant, and was not aware that the structures in question contained flammable material.

After reviewing the factual findings and the material collated by the FFA Mechanism in regard to this incident, the MAG found that the targeting process carried out with regard to the anti-tank squad accorded with Israeli domestic law and international law requirements.

The fire which was carried out by the IDF force over the course of the incident was aimed at a military object – an anti-tank squad of the terror organizations, which posed an immediate threat to the force. The attack on the squad complied with the principle of proportionality, as at the time the decision to attack was taken, it was considered that the collateral damage expected to arise as a result of the attack would not be excessive in relation to the military advantage anticipated from it. This estimation was not unreasonable under the circumstances, when taking into consideration the immediacy of the threat posed to the force by the anti-tank squad, and in light of the fact that the force was not aware of the nature of the facilities in proximity to which they identified the squad.” [emphasis added]

Nevertheless, members of the public can still find BBC material online which inaccurately portrays the July 29th 2014 incident as a deliberate strike on that power plant. Clearly the appropriate clarifications need to be urgently added to those reports.

Related Articles:

The BBC and the ‘destroyed’ Gaza power plant

BBC claims about 2014 Gaza power plant incident shown to be false

BBC News passes up on an unusual Middle East story

Eighteen months have passed since the BBC last reported on the topic of the sick and wounded Syrians receiving medical care in Israel and so its audiences may not be aware of the fact that the provision of that humanitarian aid continues.

One of the patients arriving at the border earlier this year presented a particular challenge to the medical teams.

“The girl arrived at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa in recent weeks with very serious wounds that she received after finding herself caught in a firefight between rival militias […]

Some two weeks after she arrived at the hospital, after her wounds had nearly healed, Rambam doctors discovered the young girl had cancer.

They refused to release her, insisting that they could not let her cancer go untreated. […]

And so a search began for a bone marrow donor, a search that led to a relative living in a Middle Eastern country designated an “enemy state” under Israeli law, a designation that prevented the relative from entering Israel.

It was at this point that Israel’s security services stepped in, mounting a secret operation in the enemy country that helped smuggle the relative out of that country and into Israel.”

Rambam

Photo credit: Rambam hospital

The treatment was successful and this week the little girl was discharged from hospital.

“Rambam Health Care Campus has treated 140 Syrian civilians, men, women and children over the past three years. However, the departure, yesterday, of a six-year-old girl, “B”, was especially emotional for everyone.  Wearing a white dress, white shoes, and a little silver crown, “B” was the guest of honor at a farewell party held by an entire department, where Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Druze stood together with tears in their eyes, surrounding her with love and concern for the future that awaits her. […]

After all the parting messages, some of which were painstakingly read in Arabic by Jewish doctors and nurses, the mother asked to read her own thank you wishes. In a small voice, she said “I would lie if I said that I expected the kind of humanity I discovered here. I am grateful for your care and sensitivity; may God protect you. And we will always remember what you did for us.””

To date, BBC audiences have not been told this unusual story.

Weekend long read

1) With the British government having this week announced that it will not fund ‘World Vision International’ until its investigation into alleged diversion of funds to Hamas is complete, readers may find a background article on the organisation by CAMERA’s Dexter Van Zile useful. “Five Things You Need to Know About World Vision” is available here.Weekend Read

2) An interesting post about the Israeli perspective of the civil war in Syria is found at the IDF blog.

“In 2011, the population of the Syrian Golan numbered 1.2 million. The Syrian side of the border was fully functional with its farms, UN bases, towns and forests. […]

As of 2016, the population of the Syrian Golan is a mere 750,000 – 63% of its pre-war residents. 50,000 Syrians from the Golan alone have been killed, and the rest have fled inland or to other countries. Those who remain live in dire circumstances. Because of the fighting, they have little access to medical care, public works, food, and other basic necessities.”

3) Following on from this week’s rare BBC coverage of an internal Palestinian story, Khaled Abu Toameh provides some related background and context.

“Palestinians refer to Nablus as the “Mountain of Fire” — a reference to the countless armed attacks carried out against Israelis by residents of the city since 1967. Current events in Nablus, however, have shown how easily fire burns the arsonist. The Palestinian Authority is now paying the price for harboring, funding and inciting gang members and militiamen who until recently were hailed by many Palestinians as “heroes” and “resistance fighters.” Unsurprisingly, most of these “outlaws” and “criminals” (as the PA describes them) are affiliated in one way or another with Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction.

Nablus, the so-called Mountain of Fire, is now threatening to turn into a volcano that is set to erupt in the face of Abbas and his PA government.”

Read the whole article at the Gatestone Institute.

4) Matthew Levitt has written a very interesting essay titled “Hezbollah’s Pivot Toward the Gulf”.

“Hezbollah’s status in the wider Sunni Arab world has dropped precipitously since its height a decade ago after the 2006 Lebanon War. In the wake of that conflict, Hezbollah rode a wave of popular support across the region. A decade later, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has labeled Hezbollah a terrorist group and the Gulf States have cracked down on Hezbollah supporters and financiers within their borders. The Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have issued statements condemning Hezbollah as well, leading to a war of words between the group and Gulf officials. In January 2016, the Saudi government released a report on Iranian-sponsored terrorism that focused heavily on Hezbollah, spanning the group’s militant activities from the 1980s to the present.

But increasingly tense relations—and the larger regional context of a proxy war between Iran, Hezbollah’s patron and sponsor, and the Gulf States led by Saudi Arabia—may now be moving this schism from words to actions, threatening more overt violence between Hezbollah and its Shi`a allies and the Gulf States and their Sunni partners.”

Read the whole essay here.

 

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q1 2016 – part one

Between January 1st and March 31st 2016, seventy-four reports relating to Israel and/or the Palestinians appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page. Some of those reports were produced by other departments (e.g. BBC Technology, BBC Monitoring) or appeared on other pages of the website (e.g. ‘Europe’) but were also posted on the Middle East page.

27% of those articles related to the wave of terror attacks against Israelis which began in the autumn of 2015 and continued during the first quarter of 2016, albeit with lower intensity. As readers can see for themselves, not one of those headlines made use of the term ‘terror’ and that editorial policy is similarly apparent in the reports themselves. 

(The dates in brackets represent the period of time in which each report was available to visitors to the website’s Middle East page.)

 Tel Aviv shooting: Two dead, Israeli police say (1/1/16 to 2/1/16) (discussed here)

 Tel Aviv attack: Footage emerges of gunman (1/1/16 to 3/1/16) (discussed here)

 Tel Aviv shooting: Netanyahu warns Israeli Arabs (2/1/16 to 4/1/16)

 Four Palestinian attackers killed by Israeli troops (8/1/16 to 9/1/16) (discussed here)

 Tel Aviv shooting suspect killed in northern Israel (8/1/16 to 9/1/16) (discussed here)

 Israel: Soldiers shoot dead two Palestinians attackers (9/1/16 to 11/1/16) (discussed here)

 Israeli woman stabbed to death in Otniel settlement house (17/1/16 to 18/1/16) (discussed here)Dafna Meir murder BBC headline

 Israeli woman stabbed in West Bank settlement (18/1/16 to 19/1/16) (discussed here)

Palestinian workers banned from West Bank settlements (19/1/16 to 20/1/16) (discussed here)

West Bank girl shot dead after trying to stab guard (23/1/16 to 24/1/16)

Israeli woman dies of wounds after West Bank stabbing attack (26/1/16) (discussed here)

Israel restricts entry to Ramallah after shooting attack (1/2/16 to 2/2/16) (discussed here)

Israel lifts restrictions on entry to Ramallah (2/2/16 to 3/2/16)

Jerusalem attack: Israeli border guard dies after shooting (3/2/16 to 5/2/16) (discussed here)

 Five Palestinians killed ‘after attacking Israelis’ (14/2/16 to 15/2/16) (discussed here)

Israeli man stabbed to death in West Bank supermarket (18/2/16 to 19/2/16) (discussed here)

Israeli soldier shot dead by ‘friendly fire’ in West Bank attack (24/2/16 to 25/2/16) (discussed here)

Palestinian kills US tourist in Israel (8/3/16 to 9/3/16) (discussed here)

Biden criticises failure to denounce Palestinian attacks (9/3/16 to 11/3/16) (discussed here)

Israeli soldier ‘shot wounded Palestinian attacker dead’ (24/3/16 to 25/3/16)

Two articles related to court cases concerning terror attacks by Israelis.

Israelis charged over fatal West Bank family arson attack (3/1/16 to 5/1/16) (discussed here)

Mohammad Abu Khdair murder: Two Israelis jailed (4/2/16 to 7/2/16) (discussed here)

Two reports covered attacks on Israelis abroad.

 Gunmen open fire on tourist coach at Cairo hotel (7/1/16 to 8/1/16)

 Turkey blames Islamic State for Istanbul bombing (20/3/16 to 21/3/16) (discussed here)

Two reports covered additional security issues.

Hezbollah bomb attack targets Israeli border patrol (4/1/16 to 5/1/16) (discussed here)

Israel on alert for attacks by Islamic State fighters in Sinai (29/3/16 to 31/3/16) (discussed here)

In all, 35% of the first quarter reports covered stories relating to security/terrorism which were current at the time. The additional topics found in the BBC’s coverage of Israel and the Palestinians during the first quarter of 2016 will be discussed in part two of this post.

Related Articles:

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – March 2016

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – February 2016

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – January 2016