Source of BBC’s ‘war crimes’ allegations lies about Palestinian victim of terror

As our CAMERA colleague Tamar Sternthal recently noted, a Palestinian victim of a terror attack which took place at Alon Shvut junction on November 18thShadi Arafa from Hebron – has been falsely described by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) as having been killed by Israeli forces.

PCHR Arafa

As readers may recall, the PCHR was one of the sources relied upon by UNOCHA for the compilation of casualty figures and civilian/combatant ratios in the Gaza Strip during the 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas. Those figures were unquestioningly quoted, promoted – and defended – by the BBC without any independent verification.

Moreover, the PCHR was the source of serious allegations concerning ‘war crimes’ which appeared in BBC content less than 24 hours after the beginning of the conflict and the organisation’s head was interviewed by the BBC on several occasions.

As has been noted here previously, the PCHR is one of several NGOs uncritically quoted and promoted by the BBC which is active in the lawfare campaign against Israel.

Of course the PCHR also promoted inaccurate claims concerning the cause of the death of Omar Masharawi in 2012.

“Readers no doubt recall the tragic incident in which the infant son of a BBC employee was killed in November 2012 by what the BBC – and the PCHR – claimed at the time was an Israeli airstrike.

“…an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a house… Two members of the family (a woman and a toddler) were killed: Hiba Aadel Fadel al-Masharawi, 19, and Omar Jihad al-Masharawi, 11 months.  Additionally, a child from the same family was wounded”.

A UN HRC report later determined that the deaths had been caused by a short-falling missile fired by one of the terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip.”

It remains to be seen whether this latest example of PCHR dishonesty will do anything to convince the BBC that it is not a reliable and unbiased source of information worthy of unchallenged promotion by a corporation committed to accurate and impartial reporting.



Another vehicular terror attack ignored by BBC News

Last Thursday afternoon – May 14th – four Israeli civilians aged between 16 and 25 were injured when a driver rammed a stolen vehicle into the bus stop near Alon Shvut in Gush Etzion at which they were waiting.

By the evening of the same day the driver had been arrested and it had become clear that the incident was a terror attack.No news

“The suspect was named by the Shin Bet security service as Muhammed Arfaaya, a 22-year-old resident of Hebron. […]

The Shin Bet said that Arfaaya was released from Israeli prison last year, after he served a sentence for carrying a weapon and throwing stones.

According to the Shin Bet, Arfaaya claimed nationalistic motives drove him to hurt the Israelis. The agency was also looking into whether the suspect was incited by calls on social networks to carry out attacks against Israelis.”

Like numerous other recent attacks, this incident was not reported by the BBC.

Related Articles:

BBC coverage of terrorism in Israel in April 2015

What percentage of Q1 2015 terror attacks against Israelis was reported by the BBC?

BBC News website coverage of November 10 terror attacks reveals editorial policies

In the early afternoon of November 10th an eighteen year-old Palestinian from Askar near Nablus (Schem), who had entered Israel illegally, attacked an Israeli soldier with a knife near a train station in Tel Aviv. Two civilians were also injured when they tried to prevent the attacker from stealing the soldier’s gun and the terrorist was arrested shortly afterwards. Several hours later Staff Sergeant Almog Shiloni, aged 20 from Modi’in, died from the multiple stab wounds he sustained in the attack. A spokesman for Hamas (partner to the PA unity government) in Qatar praised the attack, describing it as “part of a welcome plan that reflects the tenacity of our people to resist the occupation and move against the crimes [committed] in al-Aqsa and in Jerusalem”.Pigua TA BBC tweet

The BBC News website reported the incident using the headline “Israel: Palestinian held as Israeli soldier stabbed“. Promotion of that short report on Twitter included the perennial superfluous punctuation around the phrase terror attack and that same BBC editorial policy was also evident in the opening paragraph of the article.

“An Israeli soldier has been stabbed and critically wounded in what police said was a “terror attack” in Tel Aviv.”

A brief round-up of recent fatal terror attacks in Jerusalem appearing in the article – presumably intended to provide readers with context to the incident – likewise refrained from using the word terror.TA terror attack bbc report

“Last week a Palestinian militant killed a policeman and a Jewish teenager after ramming his van into pedestrians at a tram stop in Jerusalem.

A similar car attack by a Palestinian in the same area two weeks earlier killed a woman and a baby.”

As has been the case in all BBC reporting on the issue of the surge of terror attacks in Israel throughout the last few weeks, no mention was made in this article of their backdrop: the severe incitement from parties to the Palestinian unity government.

Later on the same afternoon, an additional terror attack took place near Alon Shvut in Gush Etzion. Twenty-six year-old Dalia Lemkus from Tekoa was stabbed to death and two additional civilians were injured when a terrorist from Hebron tried to run over pedestrians at a bus stop and then got out of his vehicle and carried out stabbing attacks. The terrorist – a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad – was shot by a security guard who arrived at the scene and the PIJ later claimed responsibility for the attack.

The BBC News website’s report on that attack (which replaced the above article) is currently titled “Israeli woman and soldier killed in two knife attacks” and amendments to it can be seen here.Pigua Alon Shvut art

At no point does the report clarify to readers that the attack was an act of terrorism or that the perpetrator was a member of a proscribed terrorist organization.

“An Israeli woman was later stabbed to death near the Alon Shvut Jewish settlement in the West Bank. The assailant was shot by a security guard. […]

The West Bank attack took place at the entrance to the Alon Shvut settlement.

The attacker tried to run over people in his car, hit a concrete barrier then got out of the vehicle, reports said.

He then stabbed the 26-year-old woman, named by Israeli media as Dalia Lamkus, along with two other Israelis at a bus stop. The two injured men were taken to hospital.

The attacker was shot several times by a security guard and was taken from the scene in a serious condition, emergency services said.”

In fact, the only mention of the word terror in a report about two separate terror attacks comes once again in the form of a quote from the Israeli police and with superfluous qualifying punctuation.

“Monday’s earlier incident in Tel Aviv took place at a busy train station and was described by police as a “terror attack”.”

Also notable is the fact that this BBC report – like many previous ones – steers audiences towards the adoption of a flawed narrative which completely erases the hundreds of missile attacks on Israeli civilians carried out by terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip which took place in the weeks preceding this summer’s conflict between Israel and Hamas.Pigua Alon Shvut on HP

“The attack took place close to where three Israeli students were abducted and killed by Palestinian militants in June, an incident which led to the revenge killing in Jerusalem of a Palestinian teenager by Jewish extremists.

Tensions then escalated into a 50-day conflict between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas in Gaza.”

The report closes with ‘context’ provided by the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly.Pigua Alon Shvut 2

“BBC Middle East correspondent Kevin Connolly says there has been no real pattern to the recent spate of attacks – the attackers appear to have acted suddenly, meaning there is no advance intelligence to forewarn the authorities.

In two other attacks in the past three weeks, Palestinian militants rammed vehicles into pedestrians in Jerusalem, killing four people. Both attackers were shot dead.

A Palestinian suspected of shooting and wounding a prominent right-wing activist, Rabbi Yehuda Glick, in Jerusalem at the end of last month was also shot dead in a gun battle with Israeli police.

Our correspondent says that many Israelis feel the security situation has been deteriorating, with the summer conflict in Gaza, the dispute over rights of prayer at a holy site in Jerusalem and continuing Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem all factors in a worsening atmosphere.”

Yet again we see the legal purchase of properties in specific geographical areas by people of a certain religion or ethnicity framed by the ‘progressive’ BBC as “settlement” and audiences encouraged to view that as an element of the context to recent violent attacks carried out by Palestinians.Pigua Alon Shvut BBC tweets 2

However, this article – like its predecessor and all other previous BBC reports in recent weeks – erases the very relevant issue of Palestinian incitement – both official and unofficial – from audience view – just like those hundreds of pre-Operation Protective Edge missiles have been erased from the BBC’s narrative.

For months now partners in the Palestinian unity government have been inciting violence and terror. The BBC has religiously ignored incitement and glorification of terrorism by the PA president, by his party Fatah, by PA institutions, by official PA media and by Abbas’ unity government partners Hamas.

“Let me say, loud and clear, to our people in the West Bank: Don’t you have cars? Don’t you have motorcycles? Don’t you have knives? Don’t you have clubs? Don’t you have bulldozers? Don’t you have trucks? Anyone who has a knife, a club, a weapon, or a car, yet does not use it to run over a Jew or a settler, and does not use it to kill dozens of Zionists, does not belong to Palestine.

Palestine says loud and clear: Real men are those who avenge the blood of Gaza. Real men are those who avenge the blood of the Gaza Strip. Real men will not sleep until they have avenged the blood of Gaza.

To our people within the Green Line [Israeli Arabs], we say: It is time for you to declare a new phase in this struggle. Political and social considerations are worthless. Blood and martyrdom are the only considerations that matter. The Palestinian people has no choice but to wage this battle in Gaza, in the West Bank, in Jerusalem, and in all the cities of occupied Palestine.” (Source – Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas, July 30th 2014.)

The BBC has an entire department devoted to the Arabic language. It could easily prepare a comprehensive backgrounder on the issue of Palestinian incitement in order to enhance audience understanding of the significance of that factor in the current surge in terror attacks against Israelis.

The fact that the BBC elects instead to omit any mention of that topic from its coverage speaks volumes (as does its avoidance of accurately defining terror attacks) about its supposed commitment to accuracy and impartiality and the political motivations behind editorial decisions.