Issue neglected by BBC is topic of Knesset bill

In January the BBC responded to a complaint concerning its selective coverage of a speech made by the Palestinian Authority president at a PLO meeting as follows:

“He gave a two-hour speech and we have selected what we believe to be the relevant sections as far as the topic in hand is concerned.

We don’t believe the rest of Mr Abbas’s comments are relevant, or reveal anything that was not previously known– our report contains a section entitled “Did he say anything new?”.

Out of his full speech, you have made a selection of comments that you felt were of note – we believe we have carried the most newsworthy and there will be many more from such a long presentation that will not get reported.” [emphasis added]

As was noted here at the time:

“Obviously the BBC does not believe that – even at a time when the topic of foreign donations to the Palestinians is in the news – its audiences needed to know that Abbas pledged to continue the PA’s policy of making payments to convicted terrorists – a subject that it serially under-reports.

“There is an important matter, and it is the issue of the payments to [the families of] the martyrs, to the families of the martyrs and the prisoners. We steadfastly refuse to stop these payments, and we will not allow anyone to infringe on the payments to the families of the martyrs, the wounded, and the prisoners. They are our sons, and we will keep paying them money.””

Along with other outlets the ITIC reports that:

“At its February 27, 2018, weekly meeting headed by Rami Hamdallah, the Palestinian national consensus government authorized the PA general budget for 2018. It stands at $5 billion, with an income of $3.8 billion. Mahmoud Abbas gave final authorization.”

Readers may be aware that around 7% of the PA’s annual budget is typically allotted to payments for terrorists and their families and that in 2017 – when the annual budget was $4.48 billion – the PA’s financial rewards for terrorism amounted to over $340 million.

A bill relating to those PA payments to terrorists recently passed its first reading in the Knesset.

“Fifty-two MKs supported the bill introduced by MK Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid) and a group of MKs, which would deduct welfare payments paid out by the Palestinian Authority to Palestinian prisoners and their relatives from tax revenues Israel transfers annually to the PA. Ten lawmakers voted against the legislation. 

During the debate which preceded the vote, MK Stern said ”In this law there is no coalition or opposition. In the current situation there is an incentive to engage in terror activities, and this postpones peace. Palestinians themselves have testified during interrogations that they continued to engage in terror in order to be imprisoned and receive more money. This law is meant not only to promote the safety of the citizens and residents of the State of Israel, but also to promote peace.””

The bill’s co-sponsor MK Avi Dichter noted that the PA’s 2018 budget would allocate even more money for terror rewards.

Should a version of that bill eventually become law, BBC audiences can expect, as in the past, to see reporting on the withholding of tax revenues to the PA. However audiences will be highly unlikely to understand the background to such reports seeing as the corporation serially avoids providing any serious reporting on the issue.

In one rare and brief mention of the topic last May, the BBC’s Middle East editor came up with a portrayal that is not only devoid of the word ‘terrorism’ but compares Israeli soldiers to convicted Palestinian terrorists.

“In his opening remarks, Mr Netanyahu said that if the bomber in Manchester was Palestinian, and his victims were Israelis, the Palestinian Authority would be paying a stipend to his family.

He was referring to a Palestinian Martyrs’ fund. It pays pensions to people it regards as victims of the occupation, including the families of individuals who have been killed attacking Israelis. There is also a fund to support Palestinians who have been imprisoned by Israel. The Palestinians have compared the payments to the salaries Israel pays to soldiers.”

The only other mention of the issue in BBC News website reporting over the last year came in the form of a paraphrased quote from the US ambassador to Israel in which the BBC replaced the word ‘terrorists’ with ‘militants’.

Obviously it is high time for BBC audiences to see some serious, accurate and impartial reporting on this topic.

Related Articles:

A BBC backgrounder claims ‘sketchy’ evidence of PA terror rewards

BBC News silence on PA terror rewards continues

PA’s salaries for terrorists in the news again – but not at the BBC







BBC reporter revealed to be member of secret anti-Israel Facebook group

The indefatigable David Collier has published a long two-part report about a secret Facebook Group called ‘Palestine Live’ that includes among its membership Holocaust deniers, antisemites and conspiracy theorists. 

Part one of the report can be found here and part two here.

The group was founded in 2013 by a London-based anti-Israel activist called Elleanne Green.

“The group is listed as ‘secret’. This means you cannot find it by using the Facebook search function and need to be invited or added by someone inside the group who has permissions to add new members. It changed from ‘Closed’ to ‘Secret’ in early November 2014.

Elleanne Green is an admin of the group, and the most prolific contributor. She is well-linked with other activists across the globe. Possessing an impressive networking skillset, Elleanne Green turned Palestine Live into one of the largest, and well-connected of the anti-Israel groups. Palestine Live contains high-placed representatives, from almost every anti-Israel activist organisation.

There are two other admins to the group. Tony Gratrex (added by Elleanne Green on 15 November 2013) and Carol Foster (added by Elleanne Green on 10 August 2015). Gratrex was at one time, an organiser of the Reading Branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Foster was co-chair of the Greater London Branch of the ‘Labour Representation Committee’ and was at the PSC 2016 AGM selling pamphlets such as ‘In defence of Trotskyism’ for ‘Socialist Fight’.

The aim of the group:

‘Created not so much for long and detailed discussion of words used and semantics but to gather together a group of good friends all of whom wholeheartedly support the people of Palestine in their struggle’

Among the members of that group are several people who have appeared on BBC programmes such as Avner Gvaryahu of ‘Breaking the Silence’, Rebecca Vilkommerson of JVP, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Tony Greenstein, Haim Bresheeth and Glyn Secker.

Additional members of the group featured in other BBC content include Deborah Fink, David Ward, Jenny Tonge and Richard Falk.

However the name of one member of that secret Facebook group where antisemitic material, Holocaust denial and anti-Israel propaganda is regularly posted may come as a surprise (see Pt 2, p. 175).

The item promoted by Green appears to be Knell’s April 23rd 2016 report from Gush Etzion.

Whether or not Yolande Knell’s editors know about her membership in a secret group of anti-Israel activists where discussions are rife with anti-Israel conspiracy theory, gross antisemitism and Holocaust denial is unclear. What is however once again very obvious is that Knell’s position as an ‘impartial’ BBC correspondent reporting from the corporation’s Jerusalem bureau is severely compromised. 

Related Articles:

BBC’s Yolande Knell ditches any semblance of impartiality


What do BBC audiences know about Abbas’ potential successor?

Back in October 2016 the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell produced an article on the topic of succession within the Palestinian Authority but since then the BBC has failed to report on subsequent related events such as violent clashes between supporters of Abbas and Dahlan, Abbas’ unanimous re-election as head of the Fatah party, the seventh Fatah party congress and the appointment of a new Fatah vice-chair in February 2017.

The Fatah Revolutionary Council recently held a three-day meeting in Ramallah and according to reports, the man appointed vice-chair last year has now been named as Mahmoud Abbas’ successor.

“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will be replaced by his deputy, Mahmoud al-Aloul, if he becomes unable to fulfill his duties, Fatah’s Central Committee decided in Ramallah on Saturday.

According to Palestinian media outlets, Fatah’s Central Committee decided that should Abbas, 82, were unable to continue in his role, al-Aloul will be appointed “acting president of Palestine for a period of three months until elections can be held.” […]

“The amendment to Palestinian law on the matter of transferring Abbas’ presidential authorities to his deputy Mahmoud al-Aloul, was made in light of rumors regarding Abba’s failing health,” one council official said.”

So what do BBC audiences know about the man apparently set to replace Mahmoud Abbas? The answer to that question is very little indeed. While BBC audiences saw no reporting on Aloul’s appointment to the position of vice-chair of Fatah in February 2017, in an article published seven months later he was described simply as “Fatah’s deputy leader”. In a BBC report from 2004 Aloul’s name is among those described as “prominent Palestinians” who signed what the BBC portrayed as an “appeal for calm” – even though the text concerned states:

“…we call upon our people, for the sake of our national interest and in order to bring an end to the occupation, to repress their rage and rise once again in a widespread popular intifada…”

A profile of Aloul compiled by the Washington Institute for Near East policy in 2015 includes the following:

“Following the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Mahmoud al-Aloul was arrested by the Israeli army for participating in organized violence against the army. Three years later, the army freed Aloul, deporting him to Jordan. He immediately joined other Fatah members and leaders in Jordan and was appointed to the “Committee for Deportees from the Homeland” and the “Western Sector,” the Fatah wing responsible for organizing militant activities in the Palestinian territories and Israel. However, in 1973, a little more than two years after his arrival, Jordanian authorities banished him and he relocated to Lebanon. There, he engaged more deeply in military activities and the Western Sector, serving as an assistant to Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad), a top advisor to Arafat and Fatah military leader, and leading a military brigade in both the Mount Sannine and Mount Lebanon areas in central Lebanon. After Israel occupied southern Lebanon in 1982, he commanded the “special forces” units in Tripoli (Lebanon) and the Beqa Valley responsible for capturing six Israeli soldiers in 1983 and facilitating a major prisoner swap between Israel and the Palestinians.

Shortly after the Palestinian leadership was expelled from Lebanon, Aloul moved to Tunis and remained Wazir’s special assistant but also began forming special forces units in different Arab states. When Wazir was assassinated in 1988, Aloul was promoted to the position of secretary-general of the occupied territories committee. After the Oslo Accords, Israel initially did not allow Aloul to return to the Palestinian territories because of his previous military activities, but did permit him to return in 1995. He was immediately appointed governor of Nablus and served until he was elected to the PLC and appointed labor minister in 2006. He was elected to the Fatah Central Committee in 2009 and currently serves as the commissioner of mobilization and organization.”

Photo credit: PMW. A photograph of Aloul with Arafat posted on Fatah’s Facebook account

As CAMERA’s Sean Durns has noted, the man to whom Aloul was “special assistant” was responsible for the murders of scores of people.

“…Abu Jihad oversaw the assassination of US diplomats in Khartoum, Sudan, in March 1973. Abu Jihad was also responsible for perpetrating and planning numerous terrorist attacks against Israelis, including the 1978 Coastal Road massacre, in which 38 civilians, including 11 children, were murdered.

In addition to his involvement in murdering no less than 124 Israelis, Abu Jihad also served as the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Fatah’s liaison with the Soviet Union, the Syrian Baathist party and the Muslim Brotherhood.”

An article published by the FDD after Aloul’s appointment as vice-chair of Fatah notes that:

“Within Fatah’s upper echelons, al-Aloul assumed the portfolio of mobilization and organization within the party, and in that role he has had an active presence. He is frequently spotted leading protests in the West Bank, and in November of last year, he gave a speech where he declared: “When we talk about our enemies, we talk about the [Israeli] occupation and the United States.””

However, given that the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s chronic under-reporting of internal Palestinian affairs persists, audiences remain unaware of the record of the man who could replace Abbas as president of the Palestinian Authority at any moment.

Related Articles:

BBC News ignores the story of the new Fatah vice-chair

Airbrushing terror: the BBC on Abu Jihad





Serial BBC failure to report rocket attacks comes home to roost

On the afternoon of February 17th an incident took place along the border fence with the Gaza Strip in the Khan Younis region.

“Four IDF soldiers were wounded when an explosive device was detonated on an IDF patrol along the Gaza Strip border on Saturday. Two of the soldiers were in a serious condition and two were moderately hurt, the army said. […]

The [IDF] spokesperson told reporters that the patrol stopped along the border to remove a flag that had been placed at the fence a day earlier during a protest, and that a device planted below the flag then detonated.”

Following that attack the IDF carried out strikes on Hamas military installations in the Gaza Strip. Residents of the Western Negev spent the night in air-raid shelters as alarms went off repeatedly and one house in the Sha’ar HaNegev district was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip – fortunately with no physical injury to the family of five. Further strikes on Hamas and PIJ targets took place after that attack and the following morning another incident took place when two Palestinians approaching the border fence in the southern sector were killed.

On the evening of February 17th the BBC News website published a report titled “Israel Gaza: Four Israeli soldiers injured in border blast” on its Middle East page. The incident that sparked the chain of events was described as follows:

“Four Israeli soldiers have been hurt, two of them seriously, in an explosion near the Israeli-Gaza border.

The army said a Palestinian flag was flying in the area, and when the troops approached they were hit by the blast.”


“No group has so far said it was behind Saturday’s explosion, which happened at 16:00 local time (14:00 GMT) east of the town of Khan Younis.

The army said the explosive device had been planted during a demonstration there on Friday and was attached to a flag.

The troops were approaching from the Israeli side when the device detonated.”

BBC audiences were not informed that the army also commented on Hamas’ involvement in that “demonstration” and others.

“The [explosive] device belonged to rogue organizations and not Islamic Jihad. Hamas is responsible for the incident because it brought protesters to these ‘spontaneous’ demonstrations during the past few weeks, which are then utilized for terror.”

Despite photographs of the damage caused to the house that took a direct hit on its roof being readily available in the Israeli media, the BBC’s report described that incident as follows:

“Israeli media also said a rocket from Gaza fell near a house in the south of the country on Saturday evening. There were no casualties.” [emphasis added]

Readers were told that:

“Correspondents say the border area has been generally quiet in the last few years but there has been an increase in violence since US President Donald Trump’s announcement in December recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”

The same statement (together with the claim that “a rocket from Gaza fell near a house”) appeared in an article titled “Israel Gaza: Air strikes follow bomb blast on Gaza border” which replaced the previous one on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on the morning of February 18th.

While the “correspondents” who made that statement were not identified, it is of course significant that throughout 2017 BBC journalists based in Jerusalem ignored the vast majority of missile attacks that were launched from the Gaza Strip and that two of the three attacks that were reported were attributed – as in this report – to ‘rising tensions’ following the US announcement recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In late 2014 and throughout 2015 the majority of attacks launched from the Gaza Strip were not reported in English and in 2016 the BBC ignored all but one attack. The four attacks in 2018 which took place before this latest one were similarly ignored.

It is hence unsurprising that BBC journalists describe the Gaza border area as “generally quiet” despite the fact that – as noted by the ITIC in a summary (Hebrew – see p. 42) of last year’s terror attacks – during 2017 there was a 50% rise in rocket fire against Israel compared to the previous year.

As has been noted here on several occasions in the past, the fact that the BBC routinely under-reports terrorism against Israel – including missile attacks – leads to audiences and BBC journalists alike being unable to put events into their appropriate context when Israel is obliged to respond.

Related Articles:

For the first time this year, BBC reports Gaza rocket attacks on Israeli civilians

Correction secured to inaccurate BBC News website claim about Gaza attacks

BBC News reverts to ignoring Gaza missile fire



BBC continues its campaigning with eleventh report on Ahed Tamimi

On February 13th the BBC News website published an article titled “Ahed Tamimi: Palestinian viral slap video teen goes on trial” which was presented to audiences together with two items of recycled ‘related reading’: a highly problematic filmed report by Jeremy Bowen dating from January 31st (also embedded in the report itself) and a written report by Yolande Knell from January 17th.

Readers were told that:

“A Palestinian teenage girl filmed slapping an Israeli soldier has gone on trial in an Israeli military court in a case which has split public opinion.

Ahed Tamimi, 17, is charged with 12 offences, including assaulting security forces and incitement to violence.

If convicted, she could face a lengthy jail term.”

However, as has been the case in the majority of the BBC’s copious past reporting on Ahed Tamimi’s arrest and indictment, this article too failed to provide readers with details of her call for violence on social media which is the basis of that incitement charge

Given the article’s title and introductory paragraphs, readers of its first version may have been surprised to find that it actually told them nothing at all about the trial itself. The report’s original text did not clarify that the trial was closed to journalists and the only reference to that was found in a photo caption saying that “the trial is being held behind closed doors”.

Later on the article was amended to reflect the judge’s decision:

“Journalists waiting to report on the trial were ordered to leave by the judge, on the grounds that the accused was being treated as a minor. Such cases are usually tried in private.

But in Ms Tamimi’s case, this went against the wishes of the family.”

Three paragraphs were devoted to a statement given to journalists by Tamimi’s lawyer. 

What BBC audiences did find in this eleventh report on Ahed Tamimi in less than two months was repetition of information seen in previous reports and further amplification of partisan messaging.

“For Palestinians, Ms Tamimi is a symbol of resistance to Israeli occupation, but many Israelis regard her as a violent troublemaker seeking publicity.”

“For Palestinians, Ahed Tamimi has become a national icon for what they see as acts of bravery in standing up to armed soldiers on occupied land.”

Readers also found uncritical amplification of messaging from a political NGO which has been campaigning on Tamimi’s behalf.

“Amnesty International has called for Ahed Tamimi’s release, accusing Israel of discriminatory treatment of Palestinian children.”

The BBC even promoted a link to Amnesty International’s relevant campaign webpage.

“Human rights groups say Ahed Tamimi’s case highlights what they say is Israel’s harsh treatment of Palestinian minors.

About 1,400 Palestinian minors have been prosecuted in special juvenile military courts over the past three years, the IDF says.

Civil rights groups are very critical of the Israeli system, saying it lacks fundamental protections and gives no guarantee of a fair trial.”

BBC editorial guidelines on “controversial subjects and linking” state:

“Where BBC online sites covering ‘controversial subjects’ offer links to external sites, we should ensure that the information on those external sites, taken together, represents a reasonable range of views about the subject.”

In addition to that link to Amnesty International’s campaign page the article also included a link to Ahed Tamimi’s mother’s Facebook account and two links to articles on Israeli news sites – neither of which provides the required “reasonable range of views” on the “Israeli system”.

While Amnesty International was presented as a “civil rights” group, no mention was made of the relevant issue of the NGO’s long record of anti-Israel campaigning and its previous sponsorship of a speaking tour in the US by Ahed Tamimi’s father. Readers were not provided with any alternative views of the allegations levelled in AI’s political campaign supporting Tamimi.

This non-event of an article once again makes it blatantly obvious that the supposedly ‘impartial’ BBC has elected to lend its voice and outreach to promotion of a blatantly political campaign.  


BBC jumbles cause and effect, amplifies disinformation in Iran drone story – part one

As readers are probably aware, an Iranian UAV infiltrated Israeli air-space early on the morning of February 10th, triggering a series of events that were initially reported on the BBC News website under the headline “Israeli jet downed by Syrian fire – army” – even though the investigation into the circumstances under which the crew had to evacuate their plane is still ongoing.

The BBC subsequently changed that headline to “Syria war: Israeli fighter jet crashes under Syria fire, military says” – once again erroneously suggesting that the events were linked to the civil war in Syria. In the sixth version of the report, the BBC added a qualification:

“It was not clear whether the F-16 jet was hit by anti-aircraft fire or went down for other reasons.”

The final version of the report was re-titled “Syria shoots down Israeli warplane as conflict escalates“.

In other words, the headlines of all thirteen versions of this report confused cause and effect by informing BBC audiences that the story was about an Israeli plane crashing rather than the infiltration of Israeli air-space by an Iranian drone.

In the final version of the BBC’s report the first reference to the first and second occurrences in that sequence of events – the UAV infiltration into Israel and its interception by an Israeli air force helicopter – came only in its third paragraph.

“The plane was hit during air strikes in response to an Iranian drone launch into Israeli territory, Israel says.

The drone was shot down.”

Later on readers were told that:

“The Israeli military says a “combat helicopter successfully intercepted an Iranian UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] that was launched from Syria and infiltrated Israel”.

It tweeted footage which it says shows the drone flying into Israeli territory before being hit.” [emphasis added]

However, the BBC – which, notably, recently took it upon itself to launch “a new scheme to help young people identify real news and filter out fake or false information” – had no qualms about amplifying Iranian disinformation.

“Meanwhile Iran and the Tehran-backed Hezbollah movement in Lebanon – which are allied with the Syrian government – dismissed reports that an Iranian drone had entered Israeli airspace as a “lie”.”

The third event to take place on the morning of February 10th was an IAF strike on the mobile command vehicle that launched and guided the Iranian UAV at the T4 airbase near Tadmor in central Syria. The BBC reported that event as follows:

The drone was shot down. Israel later launched further strikes in Syria. […]

In a further response, the IDF “targeted Iranian targets in Syria”, according to the military. The mission deep inside Syrian territory was successfully completed, it said.”

In other words, BBC audiences were not informed that the drone was launched from a Syrian airbase used by Iran’s Quds Force.

Syrian air defence systems attacked the planes carrying out that strike, leading to event number four – the evacuation of the plane that crashed near Harduf in the Galilee region and the sounding of air-raid sirens in communities in the Golan Heights. In other words, the headlines and initial paragraphs used in various versions of this BBC report all relate to the fourth event in the sequence rather than the first.

“An Israeli F-16 fighter jet has crashed after being hit by Syrian air defences during an offensive in Syria, the Israeli military says.

The two pilots parachuted to safety before the crash in northern Israel. It is believed to be the first time Israel has lost a jet in the Syrian conflict.[…]

After coming under Syrian anti-aircraft fire, the F-16’s two crew members ejected and were later taken to hospital. One of them was “severely injured as a result of an emergency evacuation”, the IDF said. […]

Alert sirens sounded in areas of northern Israel and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights because of Syrian anti-aircraft fire.

Residents reported hearing a number of explosions and heavy aerial activity in the area near Israel’s borders with Jordan and Syria.”

The BBC also chose (not for the first time) to amplify Syrian propaganda:

“Syrian state media quoted a military source as saying that the country’s air defences had opened fire in response to Israeli “aggression” against a military base on Saturday, hitting “more than one plane”.”

The fifth event in the chain was a number of strikes by the IAF on additional Syrian and Iranian military sites in Syria. Syrian anti-aircraft fire again triggered sirens in northern Israel. The BBC reported that event as follows:

“The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) say they hit aerial defence batteries and Iranian military sites in the latest strikes. […]

Israel launched its second wave of strikes in Syria. Eight of the Syrian targets belonged to the fourth Syrian division near Damascus, IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus said.

All the Israeli aircraft from this sortie returned safely.”

final version

Towards the end of the report – under the subheading “What is the Iranian presence in Syria?” – readers were provided with background information which failed to enhance their understanding of Iran’s use of Syrian territory as a launch pad for attacks against Israel (with Syrian cooperation) in recent years while conflating the role played by Iran and Hizballah in the Syrian civil war with their pre-existing hostility towards Israel.

“Iran is Israel’s arch-enemy, and Iranian troops have been fighting rebel groups since 2011.

Tehran has sent military advisers, volunteer militias and, reportedly, hundreds of fighters from its Quds Force, the overseas arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

It is also believed to have supplied thousands of tonnes of weaponry and munitions to help President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and the pro-Iranian Hezbollah, which is fighting on Syria’s side.

Tehran has faced accusations that it is seeking to establish not just an arc of influence but a logistical land supply line from Iran through to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

While subsequent analysis from Jonathan Marcus was more lucid, it conformed to the usual BBC policy of failing to clarify that Iran’s transfer of weapons to Hizballah in Lebanon breaches UN Security Council resolution 1701.

As we see the BBC’s reporting on this story focused primarily on the loss of an Israeli jet rather than on what caused that event – also the story’s main issue – the attempt by Iran to infiltrate Israel. Not only did the BBC choose to amplify Iranian and Syrian disinformation on the story but it also implied to audiences that there is room for doubt regarding the veracity of official Israeli accounts. 

That approach was also seen in additional BBC reporting – as we shall see in part two of this post.

Related Articles:

More soft focus BBC presentation of Hizballah

Iranian military activity in southern Syria under-reported by BBC

Superficial BBC News reporting on southern Syria ceasefire



BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – January 2018

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during January 2018 shows that throughout the month a total of 118 incidents took place: 91 in Judea & Samaria, twenty-two in Jerusalem and five in the Gaza Strip sector.

In Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem the agency recorded one hundred attacks with petrol bombs, nine attacks using improvised explosive devices, three shooting attacks and one vehicular attack. Also recorded were three separate incidents of missile fire from the Gaza Strip.

One civilian was murdered in a shooting attack near Havat Gilad on January 9th which was reported by the BBC. Three members of the security forces were wounded in attacks throughout the month: one in an IED attack on January 1st and two in a shooting attack on January 17th – neither of which was reported on the BBC News website. The missile attacks launched from the Gaza Strip likewise did not receive any BBC coverage.

In all, the BBC News website covered 0.85% of the terror attacks that occurred during January 2018.

Related Articles:

Gaza missile fire continues to be ignored by BBC News

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – December 2017 and year summary


Reviewing the BBC’s presentation of Jerusalem history

The US administration’s announcement of its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6th 2017 prompted an exceptionally large number of BBC reports on all its various platforms.

In six of the twenty-two written reports on the story (see here) that appeared on the BBC News website throughout December, no historical background was given at all. In eight of those articles audiences were given ‘background information’ on the city of Jerusalem that eliminated its history prior to June 1967 – for example:

Israel occupied the area in the 1967 Middle East war and regards the entire city as its indivisible capital. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, and according to 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, its final status is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.

Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognised internationally, and all countries, including Israel’s closest ally the US, maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv, Israel’s commercial capital.

Since 1967, Israel has built a dozen settlements, home to about 200,000 Jews, in East Jerusalem. These are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.” [emphasis added] BBC News website, 4/12/17


Israel occupied the east of the city in the 1967 Middle East war and regards the entire city as its indivisible capital.” [emphasis added] BBC News website, 22/12/17

Seven of the 22 articles made a cursory reference to the Jordanian occupation that existed before June 1967 but failed to clarify its context or even its duration:

Israel occupied the sector, previously occupied by Jordan, in the 1967 Middle East war and regards the entire city as its indivisible capital. [emphasis added] BBC News website, 5/12/17

One report mentioned Jordan but failed to explain that it occupied parts of Jerusalem between 1948 and 1967.

“Israel regards Jerusalem as its “eternal and undivided” capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem – occupied by Israel in the 1967 war – as the capital of a future Palestinian state. […]

Israel annexed the sector from Jordan after the 1967 Middle East war and regards the entire city as its indivisible capital.” [emphasis added] BBC News website, 6/12/17

Of the twelve filmed reports relating to the story which appeared on the BBC News website during December, only one – which, significantly, was presented as a backgrounder: “Yolande Knell explains why the city is so important” – gave any historical information. Knell told BBC audiences that:

“Most Israelis see Jerusalem as their “eternal, undivided capital”. Not long after the modern state of Israel was created in 1948, the Israeli parliament was set up in the west of the city. But it wasn’t until the 1967 war with neighbouring Arab countries that Israel captured east Jerusalem, including the Old City, and it later annexed it in a move that’s not recognised internationally.”

As we see, Knell’s ‘backgrounder’ made no mention whatsoever of Jordan’s nineteen-year occupation of parts of Jerusalem and the fact that the later Jordanian annexation was unrecognised by the international community.

Like all the BBC’s numerous reports, this ‘backgrounder’ too failed to note the inclusion of Jerusalem in the territory assigned by the League of Nations to the creation of a Jewish homeland. The belligerent British-backed Jordanian invasion and subsequent ethnic cleansing of Jews from districts including the Old City in 1948, together with the destruction of synagogues and cemeteries, was completely ignored, as was the fact that the 1949 Armistice Agreement between Israel and Jordan specifically stated that the ceasefire lines were not borders. Israel’s warning to Jordan not to participate in the Six Day War was also eliminated from all the BBC’s accounts of events.

A radio report by Yolande Knell aired on BBC Radio 4 on December 23rd likewise failed to inform BBC audiences of those significant factors.

“But what makes the status of the city so contentious is the part where we’re standing: East Jerusalem. It was captured by Israel in a war with its Arab neighbours fifty years ago and annexed. That move wasn’t internationally recognised…”

In response to a complaint from a member of the public about the lack of historical context in that programme, BBC Complaints claimed that:

“It is important to note that the aim of Yolande’s report was to offer insight to the listeners of the local reaction of Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In this five minute report it would not be possible to give the full context and history of the city of Jerusalem.

In relation to what Yolande said about the annexing of East Jerusalem by Israel, she said it was during “a war with it’s [sic] Arab neighbours 50 years ago”. […]

The BBC have [sic] of course explored the subject of the 1967 war in detail, for example in:

That link leads to a long article by Jeremy Bowen that appeared on the BBC News website in June 2017 and in which no attempt was made to explain Jerusalem’s pre-1948 history – including its Jewish majority – and the topic of Jordan’s occupation and subsequent unrecognised annexation of parts of the city was ignored.

There is of course nothing new about the BBC’s failure to provide its audiences with the full range of information that would enhance their understanding of the background to stories concerning Jerusalem.

But while that practice has been in evidence for years, the failure to provide even one accurate, impartial and comprehensive account of the relevant history of the city which was the topic of dozens of BBC reports on multiple platforms in one month alone is obviously remarkable.

Related Articles:

Multiple inaccuracies in BBC WS Jerusalem history backgrounder

Inaccuracy and omission in BBC backgrounder on Jerusalem


BBC misrepresents cabinet decision in report on Ariel terror attack

At around 2:30 p.m. on the afternoon of February 5th a terror attack took place near the town of Ariel.

“An Israeli man was killed on Monday afternoon after he was stabbed in the chest in a terror attack outside the West Bank settlement of Ariel, the army and medics said.

He was identified as Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal, 29, a father of four from the nearby settlement of Har Bracha.”

At the time of writing, the search for the terrorist continues.

“The terrorist, investigators found, is 19-year old Israeli-Arab resident of Jaffa Abed al-Karim Adel Assi, a son of an Israeli mother and Palestinian father from Nablus. […]

After he was stabbed, Ben Gal ran to a bus that stopped at a station nearby while al-Karim gave chase. Reaching the bus, the rabbi knocked on its door for help before immediately collapsing.

The terrorist then fled the scene. An off duty IDF officer who witnessed the attack then chased the assailant in his car and rammed him. 

Despite being hit, al-Karim was able to escape with the help of an unidentified driver who picked him up near the scene of the incident.”

Some three hours after the attack took place a report was published on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the headline “Israeli man stabbed to death at West Bank settlement“. The incident and its victim were described in 137 words in the article’s second version and in 117 words in its third version published the following day. [emphasis added]

“An Israeli man has been stabbed to death outside a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, in what Israeli police say was a terrorist attack.

The victim, Rabbi Itamar Ben Gal, was attacked at a bus stop near Ariel.

Israeli security forces are searching for the assailant, who they identified as a Palestinian man.

CCTV footage of Monday’s attack shows Rabbi Ben Gal, a 29-year-old father of four from the settlement of Har Bracha, waiting on a roadside when another man crosses the road and stabs him in the chest.

The Israeli military said a soldier had pursued the suspect in his vehicle and hit him after witnessing the incident, but that he managed to escape.”

The fourth paragraph of the article’s first and second versions implied linkage between the attack near Ariel and a different story.

“It [the attack] comes a day after Israel retroactively legalised an unauthorised settlement outpost in response to the killing of a resident last month.”

In the third version readers were told that:

“Israel retroactively legalised Havat Gilad, an unauthorised settlement, in response to the murder [of Rabbi Raziel Shevach].”

Both those statements are inaccurate and misleading: Havat Gilad was not “retroactively legalized” on February 4th as the BBC claims. Rather – as the Times of Israel reported: [emphasis added]

“The cabinet on Sunday voted unanimously to begin the process of legalizing the Havat Gilad outpost less than a month after the murder of resident Raziel Shevach.

The approved proposal declares the government’s intention to establish the hilltop community southeast of Nablus as a full-fledged settlement “on lands that are privately owned by Israelis or state lands.”

The proposal authorized Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to instruct relevant government bodies to examine the legal aspects of recognizing Havat Gilad as an official settlement. It also tasked the Finance Ministry with auditing the financial costs of establishing a new settlement. […]

However, the proposal’s language regarding the legal ownership of the land hinted at a significant hurdle that still remains ahead of the outpost’s legalization.”

The third version of the report includes an amendment relating to events that took place after its original publication.

“Israeli troops meanwhile have killed a Palestinian who they say shot dead a rabbi as he drove near Havat Gilad outpost in the West Bank last month.

Ahmad Jarrar was shot when security forces raided his hideout in al-Yamoun village near Jenin in the northern West Bank on Tuesday, Israeli media said.

Jarrar is suspected of killing Rabbi Raziel Shevach, a father of six, in a drive-by shooting on 9 January.”

As noted here previously, the BBC did not report the arrest of one member of that terror cell and the killing of another on January 18th.

Readers once again found statements that have been recycled using different numbers on numerous occasions for more than two years. Although the information is readily available, the BBC did not cite the actual number of Israelis murdered in terror attacks since September 2015 but made do with an approximation which is lower than the actual number of victims.

“The attack is the latest in a wave of stabbings, shootings and car-rammings against Israelis, predominantly by Palestinians or Israeli Arabs, since late 2015.

At least 52 Israelis and five foreign nationals have been killed.

Some 300 Palestinians – most of them assailants, Israel says – have also been killed in that period, according to AFP news agency. Others have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops.” [emphasis added]

Notably, the BBC continues to use the “Israel says” formula in that statement and – despite having had over two years to do so – has apparently not bothered to independently confirm how many of the Palestinians killed during that time were in the process of carrying out terror attacks.

While the terror attack which is ostensibly the subject matter of this report got 117 words of coverage in its third version, one hundred and eighteen words were devoted to the topic of ‘settlements’ – including the BBC’s standard portrayal of ‘international law’ which fails to inform audiences of the existence of additional legal opinions. Readers were not told that the Clinton Parameters of 2000 also proposed keeping the larger blocs of Israeli communities under Israeli control.

“Israel has previously said it intends to keep Ariel and some other large settlements blocs in any final peace agreement with the Palestinians. The Palestinians want all the settlements, built on land they claim for a future state, removed.

More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

There are also some 100 outposts – small settlements built without the government’s authorisation.

Last year, the Israeli parliament passed a law allowing for the retroactive legalisation of 55 of them, including in some circumstances those built on private Palestinian land, whose owners would be compensated.”

Clearly the BBC News website needs to amend its inaccurate portrayal of the February 4th cabinet decision concerning Havat Gilad and to inform audiences of the correction.

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Gaza missile fire continues to be ignored by BBC News

On the evening of February 1st a missile was fired from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory. The projectile was later located in open land in the Hof Ashkelon district. The following evening another missile hit the Sha’ar HaNegev region. The IDF responded in both cases with strikes on Hamas installations in the Gaza Strip.

The BBC did not produce any reporting on either of those incidents.

The corporation similarly ignored two incidents last month: on January 1st a missile launched from the Gaza Strip landed in the Eshkol district and on January 3rd three mortars were fired at the same area.

Last year the BBC failed to produce any English-language coverage of 86% of the attacks launched against Israel from the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula. The year before that, just one attack was reported. As we see, that editorial policy – which results in audiences and BBC journalists alike being unable fully understand events and their context when Israel is obliged to respond to rising terrorism – continues into 2018.

(The table relates only to missiles that landed in Israeli territory and does not include shortfalls, interceptions or failed attacks)

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BBC coverage of missile attacks in two ME locations