BBC Watch regularly documents the comparatively little coverage given by the BBC to internal Palestinian affairs and so it was interesting to note the appearance of a report headlined “Israa Ghrayeb: Murder charges for Palestinian ‘honour killing’” on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page between September 12th and 15th.
On September 16th an additional article relating to the same story appeared in the ‘features’ section of the same webpage under the headline “Israa Ghrayeb: Palestinian woman’s death prompts soul-searching”, where it remained for three days.
Written by the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Tom Bateman, the article opened with a gratuitous references to Israeli counter-terrorism measures and an editorialised – but context-free – reference to the anti-terrorist fence. [emphasis added]
“When a young woman was admitted to Al Hussein hospital with a fractured spine and bruises on her body and face, doctors began to treat yet another case of traumatic injury.
Everyone here was used to young patients arriving with devastating wounds.
The hospital is located close to the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, whose streets lead past packed suburban refugee camps to Israeli army checkpoints and the foreboding separation barrier – all frequent flashpoints for violence.”
Bateman’s reference to “flashpoints for violence” of course fails to inform readers that such violence is usually the outcome of Palestinian terrorism.
Seeing as the BBC’s Jerusalem bureau decided to produce a feature article on the under-reported topic of violence against Palestinian women, one would have expected some factual information concerning the broader legal and social background and indeed the final section of the article included some fairly generalised discussion of those topics – and a rare reference to the nineteen-year Jordanian occupation of Judea & Samaria.
“Campaigners blame a culture of impunity towards male perpetrators, bolstered by a penal code dating from the 1960s in the period that Jordan occupied the West Bank.
Some of its provisions create a loophole used by Palestinian courts to pardon or issue lenient sentences to men who commit violence against women when they plead they acted out of family honour.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) in 2011 amended the law with the aim of deterring the so-called “honour killings” excuse.
But a 2017 report by the United Nations said judges in most cases still resorted to articles 99 and 100 of the code, “whose application mitigates the penalty of killing, including if the victim comes from the same family of the perpetrator”.
It also said Palestinian women suffered “multiple sources of discrimination and violence” both in public and private.”
“”They suffer the violence of the Israeli occupation, whether directly or indirectly, but they also suffer from a system of violence emanating from the tradition and culture, with embedded patriarchal social norms,” the report added.”
In other words, even when producing an extremely rare feature article on the very serious issue of discrimination and violence suffered by women in Palestinian society, the BBC’s Tom Bateman could not resist promoting irrelevant politicised references to Israel.