On the morning of May 5th the BBC News website published an article titled “Gaza conflict: Rocket barrage and Israeli strikes intensify” which replaced its previous report on the same story.
Most of the article’s ten versions include a sub-section titled “How does the flare-up in violence compare?” in which readers are told that:
“It is the one of the most surges [sic] in violence since the conflict of July and August 2014.
In that year, Israel launched a ground offensive on Gaza following the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers.”
That erroneous portrayal of the lead-up to Operation Protective Edge has been promoted by the BBC on numerous occasions in the past. It misleads audiences because the BBC has completely airbrushed from view the hundreds of missiles launched at civilian targets in Israel between the date of the kidnappings – June 12th 2014 – and the commencement of Operation Protective Edge on July 8th. It was of course that surge in missile fire which was the reason for Israel’s military action, with the later discovery of dozens of cross-border tunnels prompting the subsequent ground operation. The military operation could have been avoided had Hamas elected to take advantage of the ample opportunities it was given to stop the missile fire before July 8th, but the terrorist organisation chose not to do so.
The sub-section continues:
“The conflict resulted in the death of 67 Israeli soldiers. Hamas and its allies launched more than 4,500 rocket strikes that killed six civilians in Israel.
On the Palestinian side, 2,251 people, including 1,462 civilians, were killed in the seven-week conflict, according to the UN.”
That portrayal is also not new to BBC content. As has been noted here in the past the source of those Palestinian casualty figures attributed by the BBC to “the UN” is in fact the controversial report commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council more than a month before the conflict ended (originally headed by William Schabas) that was published in June 2015.
A close look at that report’s methodology shows that the Hamas-run “Ministry of Health in Gaza” is one source of the report’s data, together with the UNOCHA “Protection Cluster”. As has been noted here previously, that “Protection Cluster” includes political NGOs, some of which also have a financial relationship with UNOCHA.
As we see, nearly five years on from the 2014 conflict the BBC is still amplifying casualty figures and debatable civilian/combatant casualty ratios supplied by Hamas and NGOs involved in ‘lawfare’ campaigning against Israel that were funneled through a UN agency and subsequently promoted in a controversial and biased UNHRC report. Moreover, there is no evidence of the BBC having ever independently verified the civilian/combatant casualty ratios which it continues to promote.
The article continues: [emphasis added]
“Since then, Palestinian militants have continued to carry out sporadic strikes on Israel.
In a previous wave this year, in March, several rockets were fired into southern Israel, triggering raids on Gaza by the Israeli air force. No fatalities were reported on either side.
In early April a ceasefire was brokered by Egypt, but Hamas and allied militant groups later accused Israel of violating its terms.”
In 2018 there were 1,119 rocket and mortar shell hits in Israeli territory but the BBC failed to report 55% of the incidents it now portrays as “sporadic”. What the BBC describes as “several rockets” – i.e. “more than two but not many” – fired in March 2019 was in fact a barrage of over 60 projectiles and eight additional incidents took place during the same month.
As we see the ‘background’ provided to BBC audiences in this article fails to meet any reasonable definition of accurate and impartial reporting and problematic mantras from past years are simply recycled without adequate fact checking.