Limits to BBC interest in Middle East historical sites

In recent weeks the BBC has produced several reports with an archaeological theme. In February the Jerusalem Bureau’s Yolande Knell did two reports on the subject of Israeli excavations of Herodion and more recently Raffi Berg wrote an article about a specific handful of sites included in Israel’s ongoing heritage investment project. 

The common denominator between those three reports is not however- as may perhaps first seem – the wish to inform BBC audiences about Middle East archaeology and the preservation of historic sites, but the advancement of a specific political narrative. And as we see from the story below, BBC interest in Middle Eastern archaeological sites which cannot be used for such a purpose has its limitations.

The Gaza-based journalist Abeer Ayyoub recently wrote in Al Monitor about the bulldozing by Hamas of part of the 3,000 year-old Anthedon Harbour in Gaza – chosen by UNESCO to be a candidate for the status of ‘World Heritage Site’. 

“Earlier last month, amid overwhelming criticism from public figures and nongovernmental organizations, the military wing of the Islamic movement of Hamas, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, bulldozed a part of the ancient Anthedon Harbor in northern Gaza along the Mediterranean Sea. The Brigades damaged the harbor in order to expand its military training zone, which was initially opened on the location in 2002…”

Hamas’ Deputy Minister for Tourism, Muhammad Khela, told Al Monitor:

“We can’t stand as an obstacle in the way of Palestinian resistance; we are all a part of a resistance project, yet we promise that the location will be limitedly used without harming it at all,”

Curiously, the BBC’s generously staffed Jerusalem Bureau has so far shown no interest whatsoever in reporting this story. So, whilst critical reports on Israeli projects to preserve important archaeological and historic sites are thick on the ground, the destruction of a prominent ancient archaeological treasure by a terrorist organization remains unreported.