The BBC World Service’s idea of ‘context’ to rocket attacks on Israeli civilians

The lead item in the November 13th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme OS – formerly ‘Outside Source’ – was described in its synopsis thus:

“It’s the heaviest exchange of aerial fire between Israeli soldiers and Hamas militants since the full-blown conflict in 2014. The violence follows an Israeli special forces operation inside Gaza which went wrong late on Sunday, causing the deaths of Palestinian militants and an Israeli soldier. We hear from local people living in Gaza.”

Presenter Ben James told listeners (from 00:11 here): [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

James: “We’re your guide to the important stuff happening now and the story at the beginning of our news bulletin then is certainly the one we’re going to spend a great deal of time on on this edition of the programme – what’s been happening between Israel and Gaza in the last 24 hours. You’ll have heard in the bulletin: seven people killed in a flare-up of violence between Israel and Palestinian militants. A short time ago you were just hearing that Hamas said it would agree to an Egyptian brokered cease-fire as long as Israel does. […] Just to take you back, the escalation began when this undercover Israeli Special Forces operation inside Gaza was exposed on Sunday. Since then more than 400 rockets have been fired into Israel by militants. Israeli aircraft have hit 150 militant targets in response.”

After telling listeners what would come up later on in the item (but failing to note that the majority of those killed in the Gaza Strip were terrorists), James next introduced some patently one-sided ‘context’ to a story that is actually about terrorist organisations attacking Israeli civilians with military grade rockets and mortars.

James: “…we wanted to break down some of the facts around Gaza and what happens in this region to help put this story into some context. Here’s Orla Barry and Ben Davies from the ‘OS’ team.”

Listeners then heard (from 01:29) a contrived and simplistic quasi Q&A session, beginning with a theme long popular at the BBC.

Barry: “Where is Gaza?”

Davies: “Gaza or the Gaza Strip as it’s sometimes called is bounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Israel to the east and north and Egypt to the south. Although only 41 kms long and 10 kms wide, this strip of land has one of the highest population densities in the world – nearly 2 million people live there.”

As usual for the BBC, history begins in 1967, with no mention of how Egypt came to occupy the Gaza Strip or of the fact that it is included in the territory designated for the creation of the Jewish homeland by the League of Nations.

Barry: “What is its recent history?”

Davies: “Originally occupied by Egypt the territory was captured by Israel during the 1967 Middle East war. Israel withdrew its troops and around 7,000 settlers in 2005. Whilst Egypt controls the southern border, Israel controls the others and since 2007 the region has been governed by the Islamist group Hamas.”

Barry: “So who are Hamas?”

Davies: “Hamas are a Sunni Islamist organisation founded in 1987, born out of the First Intifada – a Palestinian uprising that saw over 5 years of violent conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. There is a key difference between them and the Palestinian Authority who control the West Bank – the other territory run by Palestinians on the west bank [sic] of the Jordan river. Hamas do not recognise the right of Israel to exist and furthermore they advocate the use of violence against it. Hamas is regarded either in whole or in part as a terrorist organisation by several countries – most notably Israel, the United States and the European Union. But not everyone agrees. Russia, China and Turkey are among countries who do not regard it as such.”

Those two last sentences are virtually identical to the Wikipedia entry for Hamas. Hamas of course does not just “advocate” the use of violence in its quest to eradicate the Jewish state – it actively engages in violence. Notably, BBC World Service listeners did not hear about Hamas’ Muslim Brotherhood links

Barry: “What are the roots of this latest conflict?”

Davies: “When Hamas took control of Gaza following regional elections in 2006 in which they ousted the then ruling Palestinian Authority, Israel and Egypt were quick to impose a blockade, restricting the movement of goods and people in and out. The blockade is ongoing. The Israeli government say [sic] that millions of its population live in daily fear of rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza – rockets they say are smuggled into the region through secret tunnels. Hamas accuses Israel of indiscriminate airstrikes and an ongoing occupation of their land. They say that the blockade is the central cause for the region’s high levels of poverty and deprivation.”

Hamas of course did not take “control of Gaza” as a result of the PLC elections in early 2006 but nearly 18 months later in a violent coup. In contrast to Davies’ inaccurate claim, the blockade was not introduced ‘quickly’ but following a sharp rise in terror attacks against Israelis after the Hamas coup – which he failed to mention.

Barry: “What is life in Gaza like then?”

Davies: “In 2017 the Gaza Strip had the highest unemployment rate in the World Bank’s development data base. It’s more than double the rate of the West Bank and youth unemployment is more than 60%. The growing poverty rate in the region has served only to fuel the anger of many of its residents.”

In other words, the “context” given to BBC audiences around the world in this “guide to the important stuff happening now” framed unprecedented rocket and mortar attacks against Israeli civilians as being rooted in poverty allegedly caused by a misrepresented blockade and an ‘occupation’ which ended over thirteen years ago. 


23 comments on “The BBC World Service’s idea of ‘context’ to rocket attacks on Israeli civilians

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  2. “an occupation which ended over thirteen years ago”:

    In November 2014, the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague expressed agreement with “the prevalent view within the international community” that “Israel remains an occupying power under international law, based on the scope and degree of control that it has retained over the territory of Gaza following the 2005 disengagement.”

  3. I am staggered. Why have you not mentioned the brilliant work of Israeli security/intelligence services in the establishment of Hamas.

    • Why stop there? just blame everything on Israel like all the Jew baiters do, nobody, not even you mentions the 500 rockets fired last week, purchased with aid money stolen from the Palestinian people by Hamas, rockets supplied by Iran, the main benefactor of world Islamic terrorism, why because the BBC is backed by Iran, nobody mentions the Palestinians going cap in hand and begging the UN for more money this week, why?because the reporters are anti-Israel.

      • Hamas is merely imitating the Jewish terrorists of the late 1940s but thank the Lord with far less murderous effect. They are using terrorism to try and gain their own state.
        In both cases it is an evil act.

        The establishment of hams was a brilliant move don’t you think

        you do provide evidence that Orwell was startlingly right when he wrote 1984

        • They have been offered their own state 5 times since 1948, they have refused it five times because they do not want their own state, Hamas only want the destruction of Israel by any means possible

          • They are already receiving hardware and financial assistance from Iran, what is to stop Hezbollah pitching in with their 200,000 rockets in Lebanon that are aimed at Israel? In 1948 5 Arab armies attempted to wipe out israel, they have has 70 years to organize themselves and despite their seeming differences, alliances are often forged at the drop of a hat under the banner of Islam.

          • your answer does not address my assertion at all.
            Israel has over 200 nukes. No country can destroy Israel

          • You are simply reaping what you have sown.

            Give them a reason for peace.

            If it were simply matyrtdom then they would be attempting to that in their 1000s.

          • Now you are sounding like the repetitive loonie left, they gave back Sinai, got a sort of peace treaty from the Egyptians for it, they gave back Gaza and in return got 15,000 rockets back, Hamas destroyed millions of dollars worth of technology, self suffient greenhouse and agricultural systems. Like I said you but you do not seem to be able to grasp, in the words of Crosby and Nash, they want it all.

          • They have nothing at present. They have never negotiated for that either.
            such a pity when Hamas originally won your government simply enabled the military wing of Hamas to win complete power over the real politik wing.

            you reap what you sow!

            your government and people seem to want armed conflict as much as they do. 1984.

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