BBC News coverage of incendiary attacks in two locations

Last year we documented how it took the BBC three months to get round to producing one short report about the arson attacks perpetrated by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip within the framework of the ‘Great Return March’ which resulted in the destruction of thousands of acres of nature reserves, woodland and farm land in nearby Israeli communities.

A two and a half minute BBC News video on a story ignored for three months

No additional reporting on that topic has been seen in the past eleven months even though the attacks have continued and even been ‘upgraded’ to include airborne explosive devices. The BBC of course continues to portray the activities of Gaza Strip residents along the border with Israel as “protests”.

The ITIC reports that:

“Since the ceasefire (May 6, 2019) that ended the most recent round of escalation, there has been a gradual increase in the launching of incendiary and IED balloons from the Gaza Strip. During the past two weeks it has become intensive and systematic, and caused scores of fires near the Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip border. […]

During the long span of arson terrorism attacks (more than a year), more than 2000 fires have been set in Israel (according to data from the Israel Fire and Rescue Services in the southern district and the Jewish National Fund (JNF)), burning approximately 8700 acres (JNF). Most of the fires broke out near the Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip, burning agricultural fields, natural forests and nature preserves. Arson terrorism also contributed to the disruption of daily life in the local Israeli communities and caused moral and psychological damage.”

Since that last round of escalation in early May BBC audiences have seen plenty of reporting concerning the Gaza Strip – including an interview with a Hamas spokesman – but no coverage of the increased arson attacks launched from that territory which have caused damage to crops.

photo credit: ITIC

However, visitors to the BBC News website on May 29th did learn about the deliberate burning of agricultural land in another location.

Titled “Syrian military ‘burning farmland in rebel-held north’”, the report informs readers that:

“Satellite images show large areas of farmland in opposition-held north-west Syria have been burnt as part of what activists allege is a campaign by the government to destroy vital food crops.

Civil defence workers say incendiary weapons have been fired repeatedly at fields in Idlib, Hama and Aleppo provinces in the past month. […]

The Syria Civil Defence – whose rescue workers are known as the White Helmets – accuses the government and its ally Russia of seeking to “burn all aspects of life” in the last region still held by the opposition after eight years of war.

In addition to bombing residential areas, it says, the Syrian and Russian militaries have targeted farmland with rockets and shells containing incendiary chemicals, causing “large pervasive fires which have destroyed all farm crops and deprived peasant farmers of their coming harvests”.

Satellite photographs taken at the start and end of last week by Maxar Technologies showed areas of scorched earth and plumes of smoke around the town of al-Habeet, in southern Idlib province, and neighbouring Kafr Nabouda, in northern Hama province.”

So if the deliberate burning of farmland in northern Syria is newsworthy – as it of course should be – why has the BBC not produced any reporting on similar events in southern Israel in the past eleven months?

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A ‘Great Return March’ story BBC audiences have not been told

 

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BBC’s Knell claims Gaza IED attackers ‘demonstrate against Israeli policies’

Listeners to BBC Radio 4’s ‘Six O’Clock News’ on Friday, March 22nd heard a report (from 16:53 here) concerning the UN Human Rights Council’s adoption earlier in the day of the report submitted by the commission of inquiry it set up last May. [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Newsreader: “The UN Human Rights Council has passed a resolution condemning what it calls Israel’s apparent use of unlawful and other excessive force after an inquiry into last year’s deadly protests at the Gaza border. The UK has expressed concern about anti-Israel bias and abstained from the vote. Health officials in Gaza say Israeli forces have killed two people and wounded 55 today in the latest demonstration. From Jerusalem, Yolande Knell reports.”

Audiences were not told that “health officials in Gaza” are in fact one and the same as the terrorist organisation which encourages thousands of people to riot at the border fence every week.

Knell: “Israel condemned this hard-hitting resolution, saying it was an absurd and hypocritical ritual of the council to single it out for criticism. While 23 countries voted in favour and eight against, the UK was among 15 to abstain. On Twitter the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt had earlier written ‘it cannot be right that Israel – the world’s only Jewish state – is the only nation the UN Human Rights Council dedicates an entire agenda item to’. The resolution followed a UN inquiry which said Israeli soldiers may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in killing 189 Palestinians and wounding over six thousand in Gaza protests last year. Israel says its military acts only to defend its civilians. Today, Gaza’s Hamas rulers – keen to distract from recent economic protests – again encouraged locals to demonstrate against Israeli policies.”

Apparently Yolande Knell has not sufficiently studied the Commission’s report (see page 104) as she cites the number – 189 – of Palestinians it claims were killed during the rioting rather than the number it claims were killed by Israeli forces.

As we see, throughout this news bulletin the year-long rioting that has included hundreds of petrol bomb attacks, IED attacks, grenade attacks and shooting attacks as well as infiltration attempts was euphemistically portrayed (in line with BBC editorial policy from day one) as “protests” and “demonstrations”.

Knell’s portrayal of the March 22 incidents as a demonstration “against Israeli policies” clearly does not give audiences a clear understanding of what actually happened on that day.

“Several thousand Palestinians were protesting along the Gaza Strip border on Friday, throwing explosive devices and rocks at soldiers who were responding with tear gas and occasional live fire. Palestinians said two people were killed.

Also Friday, a balloon carrying an incendiary device launched from Gaza set a blaze between homes in the nearby Israeli kibbutz of Nir Am. The fire was extinguished and there were no reports of injuries. Another blaze was started near Kibbutz Be’eri.

In riots along the barrier, Palestinians tried to destroy the border fence in several places, but were pushed back by the IDF. The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said two Palestinians, an 18-year-old and a 29-year-old, were killed by live fire and 55 wounded.”

For fifty-one weeks the BBC has been producing coverage of the ‘Great Return March’ rioting that has uniformly downplayed or erased the violent nature of the events and the role of terror groups in their organisation and execution has (until some recent but isolated clarification by Yolande Knell concerning Hamas’ involvement) been repeatedly ignored.

The BBC’s funding public has heard absolutely nothing about the airborne explosive devices employed in recent months or the night-time rioting organised by Hamas. Audiences have however heard and seen homogeneously uncritical promotion of the UNHRC commission’s report on a subject about which they have been serially under-informed.

That of course means that the BBC’s domestic audiences are – in contrast to the corporation’s public purpose obligations – not well placed to understand what their own foreign secretary means when he refers to “discrimination” and the intention of the UK to oppose Item 7 resolutions at the UNHRC.

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Disproportionate focus in BBC News report on UNHRC speech

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A ‘Great Return March’ story BBC audiences have not been told

 

A ‘Great Return March’ story BBC audiences have not been told

As readers may recall, last year it took the BBC three months to get round to producing a report concerning the arson attacks perpetrated by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip which resulted in the destruction of thousands of acres of nature reserves, woodland and farm land in nearby Israeli communities.

A two and a half minute BBC News video on a story ignored for three months

While the arson attacks using kites and balloons were somewhat less prevalent during the wet winter months, recent weeks have seen an increase in the use of an additional tactic: airborne explosive devices.

In early January:

“…a bomb was flown into Israel using a large cluster of balloons and a drone-like glider device, landing in a carrot field in the Sdot Negev region of southern Israel shortly before noon.”

In late February:

“An explosive device flown into Israel from the Gaza Strip detonated outside a home in the Eshkol region, causing damage but no injuries on Wednesday night, officials said.

The small bomb had been attached to a cluster of balloons and launched toward Israel from the coastal enclave on Wednesday as part of nightly riots along the Gaza border.”

On March 4th an airborne explosive device exploded between two homes in the Eshkol region and the following day saw two more attacks.

“Two explosive devices borne by clusters of balloons from the Gaza Strip detonated inside communities in southern Israel on Tuesday […]

On Tuesday afternoon, the first device exploded in an agricultural field in the Eshkol region. […]

Hours later, a second device was flown into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip, landing inside a community in the Sha’ar Hanegev region, the local government said.”

The next day also saw two attacks.

“Two explosive devices attached to bunches of balloons were launched from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday and detonated above a community in the southern Israeli Eshkol region.”

An additional incident took place on March 9th .

Photo credit: Almog Boker, Channel 13

“Police sappers were called to the Israel-Gaza border area on Saturday after a cluster of balloons suspected of carrying an explosive device landed in Israeli territory.

Hebrew media reported that the balloons carried a warhead from an anti-tank missile.

The balloons were located in the Sdot Negev Regional Council. Police instructed hikers to keep away from the area as they carried out a controlled explosion.”

And on March 11th:

“Two suspicious packages attached to balloons, at least one of which was reportedly an explosive device, were found Monday at different locations in a southern community near the Gaza Strip.

Police sappers were called in to deal with the devices, which landed in areas of the Eshkol Regional Council.”

To date the BBC has not produced any reporting whatsoever on the topic of the airborne explosive devices launched from the Gaza Strip. We can however expect to continue to see BBC journalists giving audiences ignorant and inaccurate portrayals of the ‘Great Return March’ in which terrorism is downplayed or erased and its perpetrators presented as “innocent civilians”.