On March 17th an article appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the headline “Israel’s Arrow anti-missile system ‘in first hit’“. The article opens with a ‘last-first’ summary of the story:
“Israel has shot down a Syrian missile using its most advanced anti-missile system for the first time, Israeli media say.
A surface-to-air missile (SAM) was intercepted using the Arrow system, designed to stop long-range ballistic missiles, reports say.
The SAMs were fired at Israeli jets which had just raided sites in Syria.”
The article goes on:
“In a rare admission, the Israeli military said its aircraft had attacked several targets in Syria before Syria launched the missiles.”
However, only in the report’s seventh paragraph do BBC audiences find out what those “several targets” actually were.
An insert of analysis from the BBC’s defence correspondent tells readers that:
“It is rare for Israel to admit to air strikes in Syria though there have been reports of at least four similar raids against Hezbollah weapons shipments since the start of December last year. […]
It’s a signal perhaps to all concerned that if weapons supplies to Hezbollah continue, then Israel is ready to escalate its air campaign.”
In the body of the article readers find the following:
“Air strikes, said to have been carried out by Israel, have hit sites in Syria on numerous occasions, reportedly targeting weapons shipments for Lebanon’s Shia militant movement Hezbollah.” [emphasis added]
As is inevitably the case in content relating to such stories, the BBC refrains from giving an accurate description of Hizballah as a terror organisation and no background information concerning the suppliers of these “weapons shipments” is provided. Also as usual, this article fails to provide BBC audiences with the very relevant context concerning UN Security Council resolution 1701’s requirement of “disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon” and its ban on “sales or supply of arms and related material” to Hizballah or any other Lebanese militia.
The same omissions were evident in coverage of the story on the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ on March 17th (from 30:04 here), with presenter Julian Marshall describing the terror organisation Hizballah as “militants in Lebanon”.