The BBC’s portrayal of the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip has long been marred by inaccurate representation of the date of its introduction, unnecessarily qualified framing of its purpose using the “Israel says” formula and a lack of information about Hamas’ efforts to smuggle weapons and materials for the purpose of terrorism by sea. On occasion, BBC reports have even amplified the tendentious claim that the naval blockade is a form of “collective punishment”.
However, when stories that show why the naval blockade is necessary have come to light, the BBC has refrained from reporting them and that policy was again evident when another such story recently emerged.
“A Hamas operative picked up by the Israeli Navy last month is suspected of attempting to smuggle explosive materials from Egypt into the Gaza Strip, the Shin Bet security service announced on Tuesday after a gag order on the case was lifted.
Khamis Jihad Said Ara’ishi, 24, was arrested on August 25 after his ship “deviated from the approved sailing area,” the Shin Bet said.
Israeli naval forces patrolling off the coast of the Gaza Strip called for his vessel to stop. When it didn’t, the sailors opened fire, wounding Ara’ishi.
During the arrest, the Israeli forces were fired upon from the shore, though none of them were injured, the IDF said.
Ara’ishi was taken to the Ashdod port and then to an Israeli hospital to receive medical care and to be questioned, while his boat was allowed to return to Gaza.
According to the Shin Bet, 24-year-old Ara’ishi told interrogators he had been involved in a number of smuggling efforts since 2012 that brought materials into the Strip for the purpose of manufacturing weapons for Hamas.”
With yet another would-be-blockade-busting ‘flotilla’ perhaps currently en route (and repeat passenger Mairead Maguire no doubt ready to give media interviews), this story obviously presented a good opportunity for the BBC to clarify to its audiences why the naval blockade which such publicity stunts seek to breach is still necessary.
Likewise, another story about a recently thwarted attempt to smuggle equipment (this time vehicles) to Hamas, which could have helped explain to BBC audiences why the restrictions on the entry of dual-use goods and weapons into the Gaza Strip are necessary, was once again ignored by the BBC’s journalists in the region.