BBC’s Bateman shoehorns ‘occupation’ into Holocaust remembrance report

January 22nd saw the appearance of an article titled ‘Holocaust row bubbles as leaders gather in Israel’ in the ‘Features’ section of the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page.

Written by the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Tom Bateman, the article’s main theme is what he describes as “a row about the distortion of history by rival nationalist leaders in Europe”.

Referring to the Polish president, Bateman tells readers that:

“Mr Duda has said he will not attend this week’s Holocaust remembrance ceremony at Yad Vashem, the official memorial centre in Jerusalem. […]

Mr Duda complained that he has not been allowed to address the audience, whereas Mr Putin and other leaders will speak.”

He goes on to claim that what he again describes as “the row” over speaking arrangements at the Jerusalem event “has aggravated a bitter dispute between Russia and Poland – whose leaders have been armflexing over the war’s legacy”.

Bateman gives an overview of that Russian and Polish “armflexing” – which of course has been going on independently of the Jerusalem conference and which, as the BBC has itself reported, has its roots in a European Parliament resolution dating from last September.

He then moves on to the topic of the Polish legislation of 2018:

“Two years ago the Polish government made it illegal to say that the country was complicit in Nazi crimes during the Holocaust.

After an international outcry it later deleted parts of the law, but the controversy then engulfed Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He supported the partial u-turn by signing a joint statement with the Polish prime minister.

That move was condemned by Yad Vashem who said the statement contained “grave errors and deceptions” and harmed the “historical memory of the Holocaust”.

Mr Netanyahu defended his move saying he had consulted Yad Vashem’s chief historian.”

Bateman’s literal ‘bottom line’ to a story ostensibly about Russian and Polish polemics relating to World War Two and the Holocaust comes in a section sub-headed ‘Betrayal of the Holocaust’. There he manages to reframe the story by uncritically quoting a contributor whose highly relevant political opinions are not revealed to BBC audiences – in clear breach of BBC editorial guidelines relating to “Contributors’ Affiliations”.

“But among his [Netanyahu’s] critics was the Israeli historian Prof Zeev Sternhell, a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust in Poland who escaped the Warsaw Ghetto as a child with the help of two Polish families.

He accuses Mr Netanyahu of embracing ultra-nationalists in Europe because they provide a counterweight to the EU’s “liberal wing” of France and Germany who are critical of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories.

“In order to get that alliance working he’s ready to pay a heavy price… And the heavy price is a betrayal of the Holocaust,” he says.” [emphasis added]

Significantly, Bateman did not bother to remind readers of more recent events which can hardly be described as “embracing” the Polish stance.

Neither did he offer readers any contrasting view to the predictably controversial claim from Professor Sternhell that Israel’s prime minister is ‘betraying’ the Holocaust in order to counter criticism of “Israel’s occupation” and apparently neither did he offer the right of reply to that allegation. 

Related Articles:

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BBC News website omits key information in Polish Holocaust law report

 

A BBC journalist’s portrayal of an armed infiltration from the Gaza Strip

On the evening of January 21st an infiltration took place on the border with the Gaza Strip.

“IDF soldiers opened fire at a group infiltrating the border fence along the Gaza-Israel border on Tuesday, hitting three Palestinian suspects who used the inclement weather to hide in a wooded area near Kibbutz Kissufim.

The IDF reported that one of the terrorists hurled a grenade or an explosive charge at a force that surrounded the three.”

As local media reported, the IDF released video evidence of the infiltrator throwing the explosive device.

To date the BBC has not produced any reporting on that incident but the next morning the BBC’s Jerusalem correspondent Tom Bateman did put out three related Tweets in which he found it appropriate to focus on the age of the armed border infiltrators and unnecessarily qualify the facts of the incident using the well-worn “Israel says” formula.

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Media ignore, downplay infiltration of armed Gazans close to Israeli community  (CAMERA)

 

BBC audiences denied offshore gas news

In December the BBC News website told its readers that “[t]he Republic of Cyprus, Greece and Israel are…exploring for gas” but those getting their news from the BBC will be unaware of the fact that last week Israel began to supply gas to Egypt. 

“Israel has started pumping natural gas to Egypt from two massive offshore fields, marking a major milestone and a historic cooperation between the countries, according to a joint statement. […]

Jerusalem’s and Cairo’s energy ministries issued the rare joint statement on Wednesday morning, calling the move “an important development that will serve the economic interests of both sides.

“The step will both enable Israel to export some of its natural gas to the region via Egypt’s gas liquefaction plants, and promote Egypt’s status as a regional gas hub,” the statement said. […]

In the October deal, the partners in the Israeli fields signed a contract with the privately held Egyptian firm Dolphinus Holdings to transfer some 85 billion cubic meters (3 trillion cubic feet), to be supplied by both the Tamar and the Leviathan fields starting in 2020.

Signing the export permit in December, [energy minister] Steinitz said, “The export of gas to Egypt, from Leviathan and Tamar, is the most significant economic cooperation between Israel and Egypt since the signing of the peace treaty between the countries.””

Earlier this month gas from the Leviathan field began to be pumped to Jordan.

photo credit: Ministry of Energy

“An experimental supply of natural gas from the Leviathan gas field was pumped to Jordan from Israel by the Noble Energy Company on Wednesday, according to Jordan’s Petra national news agency.

The experimental pumping will continue for three months and will test the infrastructure prior to the flow of the actual commercial supply, according to Jordan’s National Electric Power Company (NEPCO). […]

Gas from the Tamar field has been pumped to Jordan for the past two years, so the new exports from Leviathan are not the first exports to Israel’s eastern neighbor. They will be on a much larger scale, however, since the Leviathan deal with Jordan is worth $10 billion, while the one concerning the Tamar field is worth about $500 million.

The first natural gas pipeline from Israel to Jordan was constructed in the Sodom area by the Dead Sea in 2017, aiming to supply gas from the Tamar reservoir to private customers in Jordan. A second pipeline in the Beit She’an area will supply gas from the Leviathan reservoir to NEPCO.”

Some in Jordan are however opposed to the deal.

“Earlier this month, Jordan’s National Electric Power Co., said gas pumping had started as part of a multi-billion-dollar deal with Texas-based Noble Energy aimed at lowering the cost of power in the energy-poor kingdom. […]

In a statement then, NEPCO said importing the gas from Israel was “the last option” after supplies of Egyptian gas came to an end after its pipeline was repeatedly targeted by Islamic State-affiliated militants in Sinai. NEPCO said Israel was “the only available source.”

At odds with the kingdom’s official policy, many Jordanians still see Israel as an enemy and often meet steps toward normalization with great public backlash. […]

Dozens of police Friday formed lines to prevent protesters from marching. The demonstrators chanted anti-Israel slogans and held banners reading, “The gas of the enemy is an occupation!” and “Down with the gas deal.”

The Jordanian flag-waving protesters also threatened to overthrow the government if it sticks by the gas deal.

Murad al-Adayleh, secretary-general of the Islamic Action Front Party, called on the government, “which has allowed the start of importing the gas,” to step down.

When the deal was signed in 2016, it was not reviewed by Jordan’s lower house of Parliament. Last year, that body issued a non-binding resolution against the agreement.”

Although the lower house of the Jordanian parliament once again made its position clear in a vote on January 19th, it is unclear whether or not the government will grant approval to the motion requesting a law banning Israeli gas imports to Jordan.

BBC audiences however remain completely unaware of developments in the Eastern Mediterranean energy sector.

 

Revisiting two BBC News website reports from July 2019

In early July 2019 the BBC News website published a report headlined “Clashes as Ethiopian Israelis protest over police shooting” which remained on its ‘Middle East’ page for two days. BBC audiences were told that: [emphasis added]

“Protesters have clashed with police across Israel following the funeral of a teenager of Ethiopian descent who was shot dead by an off-duty officer. […]

The killing of 18-year-old Solomon Tekah near Haifa on Sunday caused outrage among the Ethiopian community, with one member of the teenager’s family accusing the off-duty police officer of murder.

A police statement cited the officer as saying he had tried to intervene in a fight between two groups of youths. After he identified himself, the youths began throwing stones at him and he opened fire after “feeling that his life was in danger”, the statement added.

However, Israeli media cited witnesses as saying the officer was not attacked.”

A photo caption stated:

“The family of Solomon Tekah said the off-duty officer’s actions were disproportionate

The BBC also told its readers that:

“Tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews were brought to Israel in the 1980s and 1990s. They say they have faced systematic discrimination, racism and a lack of empathy for their hardships ever since. […]

“We’ll do whatever we can to make sure police will stop killing people because of their skin colour,” one protester told AFP news agency.”

A week later the BBC News website decided to publish a video also dated July 3rd in the ‘Watch/Listen’ section of its Middle East page. By the time that video was published separately on July 10th, a ballistics report had confirmed that “the officer fired at the ground and the bullet apparently ricocheted into Solomon Tekah” and the DNA of the deceased had been found on a rock recovered from the scene. Nevertheless, the BBC presented that video with a synopsis stating that:

“Israeli police used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse protests by Ethiopian Jews prompted by the funeral of a teenager who was shot dead by an off-duty policeman.”

Details of the investigation into the incident that sparked those violent protests in July were recently published by the Justice Ministry. As reported by Ha’aretz, the BBC’s second-hand quote from “witnesses” who claimed that “the officer was not attacked” was shown to be fabricated.

“The latest findings also reveal that two teenagers who initially said they had witnessed the incident later testified to department officials that they lied, and weren’t even in the area at the time. One said he had deliberately lied so the officer would be punished for Teka’s death. […]

The findings also suggest that some evidence had been fabricated. Two 14-year-old boys who claimed to have witnessed the shooting later turned out not to have been at the scene.

These so-called witnesses became instant internet stars on the day of the incident when they were videotaped claiming, in front of a large audience, that the officer had shot Teka in the chest for no good reason. The video clip was circulated on the web and cited as proof that “Israeli policemen murder under the auspices of the law,” as one person shouted in the footage.

But when the two youths were summoned for questioning, they said that they hadn’t been at the scene. One of them initially stuck to his story of seeing the shooting but later retracted it when questioned a second time, and said he had lied “to protect my friend” and so that “the officer would get what’s coming to him.”

The other youth told ministry investigators: “They dragged me there and I spoke under pressure. I said what my friend had told me, but I wasn’t there. I was at the gym.””

The BBC’s repeated claim that Teka was “shot dead by an off-duty policeman” was shown to be an incomplete portrayal of events.

“Teka died after the officer shot a bullet that ricocheted off the ground, during the altercation in a park in the Kiryat Haim neighborhood north of Haifa.

The details released by the ministry department in charge of investigating police misconduct attest that traces of DNA had been found in the park that support the officer’s account that he suffered bruises from stones Teka had thrown at him. Information on forensics tests indicate that sizable quantities of alcohol and hashish were found in Teka’s remains.”

Back in July 2019 we noted that the BBC had failed to produce any follow-up reporting to inform audiences of the findings of the early investigation into the incident. To date the BBC has likewise shown no interest in informing its audiences of the Justice Ministry’s latest findings. That of course means that the BBC’s “permanent public record” – the reports which remain available to the public online without any update – continue to promote partial and inaccurate information, including the allegation that the Israeli police kill people “because of their skin colour”.

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Reviewing BBC News website coverage of Palestinian affairs in 2019

Our monthly summaries of BBC News website coverage of Israel and the Palestinians show that throughout 2019 audiences saw eight and a half times more coverage of internal Israeli affairs than they did of internal Palestinian affairs. Four of the year’s twelve months (May, October, November and December) saw no reporting on Palestinian affairs whatsoever.

Throughout the year the BBC produced four reports concerning internal Palestinian politics. Audiences learned of the new Palestinian Authority prime minister three months after he had taken office and were not informed of the resignation of the previous government.

Five arrested after Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation raided (5/1/19) discussed here

Palestinian Authority removes staff from Gaza-Egypt crossing (7/1/19) discussed here

Anger at Palestinian ministers’ secret 67% pay rises (6/6/19) discussed here

Gaza explosions: ‘Suicide bombers’ kill three police officers (28/8/19)

The economic crises in PA controlled areas and the Gaza Strip were the topic of just two reports throughout the year:

US stops all aid to Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza Yolande Knell (1/2/19) discussed here

Gaza economic protests expose cracks in Hamas’s rule Yolande Knell (18/3/19) discussed here

BBC coverage of social affairs within Palestinian society during 2019 included two reports about sex education (one of which was removed without explanation) published in July:

Teaching Palestinians to talk about sex – removed (9/7/19) discussed here

Talking about sex no longer so taboo in the Arab world Shereen El Feki (17/7/19)

The same month BBC audiences saw a report about a singer which did not provide any substantial information on the issue of the challenges faced by LGBTQ Palestinians living under Hamas or Palestinian Authority rule. 

Meet Bashar Murad: The Palestinian singer blurring gender lines Newsbeat (14/7/19) discussed here

In September the BBC News website published two reports about the murder of a Palestinian woman.

Israa Ghrayeb: Murder charges for Palestinian ‘honour killing’ (12/9/19)

Israa Ghrayeb: Palestinian woman’s death prompts soul-searching Tom Bateman (16/9/19) discussed here

Issues the BBC chose to ignore in 2019 included the arrests of Palestinians by the PA in connection to property sales, protests against social security reforms, legal cases concerning the torture of Palestinian citizens, Palestinian Authority harassment of LGBTQ activists and hate speech in school text books.

As has often been observed here in the past, only very occasionally do BBC audiences see stand-alone reports concerning internal Palestinian affairs which are not framed within the context of ‘the conflict’ and do not have an Israel-related component. That editorial policy continued throughout 2019.

 

 

BBC News ignores Fatah Day rallies as usual

The BBC’s online profile of the Fatah movement – which has not been updated since 2011 – tells audiences that:

“Under Arafat’s leadership, the group originally promoted an armed struggle against Israel to create a Palestinian state. But it later recognised Israel’s right to exist, and its leaders have led Palestinian peace talks aimed at reaching a two-state solution.”

And:

“With international pressure mounting, Fatah – though notably not the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades – signed a declaration rejecting attacks on civilians in Israel and committing themselves to peace and co-existence.”

Earlier this week Fatah marked the 55th anniversary of its first terror attack against Israel with rallies in various towns including Ramallah, Bethlehem (which BBC audiences heard described as “a city of peace” just days before) and Gaza City.

“Around a dozen masked men led the march through Ramallah, firing several rounds of gunfire into the air. Some wore what appeared to be fake suicide vests, referring to the organization’s past terror activities against Israelis.

On Wednesday, another Fatah rally was held in Bethlehem, including posters with pictures of Marwan Barghouti, thought to be a popular Abbas rival within Fatah. Supporters also lofted pictures of Dalal Mughrabi, a Palestinian terrorist who took part in a 1978 terror attack in which 38 Israelis were killed.”

Bethlehem

As has been the case in past years, the BBC elected to ignore the fact that a party – headed by the Palestinian Authority president – which it claims rejected terror attacks and committed itself to “peace and co-existence” years ago still celebrates the anniversary of its first terror attack with military-style rallies and glorification of terrorists.

 

BBC News belatedly reports rocket fire for the first time in a month

Just after 9 p.m. on the evening of December 25th sirens warning of incoming missiles were sounded in Ashkelon and surrounding communities. One rocket launched from the Gaza Strip was intercepted by the Iron Dome.

“Palestinian terrorists fired a rocket toward the southern city of Ashkelon on Wednesday night as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was campaigning for the upcoming Likud leadership primary, prompting the premier to be rushed off stage to take cover for the second time in under four months.

The Israel Defense Forces said soldiers operating the Iron Dome missile defense system shot down the incoming rocket.”

The IDF later responded with strikes on Hamas infrastructure.

The first brief mention of that attack on the BBC News website came over fourteen hours later in a report relating to another topic – “Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu in party leadership challenge” – which appeared on the ‘Middle East’ page on December 26th.

“There was a moment of drama at a campaign rally in the southern city of Ashkelon on Wednesday night when Mr Netanyahu was ushered off stage by bodyguards after an air raid siren warning of rocket fire from Gaza sounded.

It was the second time Mr Netanyahu, who styles himself as the person who can best bring security to Israel, was forced to take cover during a campaign rally, following a similar incident in September.”

The article includes a 45-second video, also posted separately on the BBC News website titled “Gaza rocket sends Netanyahu to shelter during rally in Ashkelon”.

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was briefly taken to a shelter during a campaign rally after a rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip at the southern city of Ashkelon.

Mr Netanyahu, who is campaigning to remain as leader of the conservative Likud party, was escorted off a stage by bodyguards. He was taken to a shelter after sirens sounded, before resuming the event.

It was the second such incident since September.

No group in Gaza said it had launched the rocket, which was shot down by an Iron Dome air defence interceptor, according to the Israeli military.”

Readers may recall that the “incident in September” was the only one of five separate attacks that took place that month to be reported by the BBC.

In the month before this latest attack, six incidents of rocket and mortar fire from the Gaza Strip took place:

November 25th: one mortar fired at the Eshkol district.

November 26th: two rockets fired at Sderot and the Sha’ar HaNegev district.

November 29th: one rocket fired at the Eshkol district.

December 7th: three rockets fired at Sderot and the Sha’ar HaNegev district.

December 19th morning: one rocket fired at Sderot and the Sha’ar HaNegev district.

December 19th evening: one rocket fired at the Sha’ar HaNegev region.

Once again none of those incidents received any coverage whatsoever from the BBC, which repeatedly shows itself to have no interest in informing its audiences of the scale of repeated attacks against civilians in southern Israel (who since the beginning of this year alone have been targeted by over 1,300 rockets and mortars) but does wake up when a prominent politician has to evacuate to a shelter.

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BBC News ignores exposure of Palestinian terror cell

In early October we noted that the BBC had not produced any follow-up reporting concerning the arrest of three members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in connection with the terror attack near Dolev on August 23rd in which 17-year-old Rina Shnerb was murdered and her father and brother wounded.

BBC-promoted NGO’s terror links surface again

On December 18th the Israel Security Agency announced the related arrests of some fifty members of the PFLP terror organisation in Judea & Samaria.

“Israeli security forces in the West Bank have uncovered and dismantled a 50-person strong terrorist cell believed to behind a string of deadly attacks in the area including the deadly Dolev bombing which claimed the life of a teenage girl, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said Wednesday.

According to the Shin Bet investigation into the Dolev attack, the cell planned to carry out additional attacks in the near future.

As part of the investigation, approximately 50 Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine operatives, including senior members of the Palestinian terrorist group, were arrested and a large number of weapons were seized including M-16s, Kalashnikovs, Uzis, Galil automatic rifles, pistols with silencers, ammunition and fertilizers to build bombs, as well as walkie-talkies, telescopic devices and others were discovered by security officials.”

The Times of Israel adds:

“According to the security service, this large PFLP network of terrorist operatives was led by Walid Muhammad Hanatsheh, 50, who was arrested in October. […]

In addition to Hanatsheh, the Shin Bet said several other senior PFLP members were arrested in its raids, including Khalida Jarrar, 56, the head of the terror group’s operations in the West Bank; Abdel Raziq Faraj, 56, who oversaw Hanatsheh’s efforts and allegedly approved Arbid’s Dolev bombing; and Itaraf Hajaj, 43, who is responsible for PFLP’s activities in Ramallah and helped recruit operatives for the organization.

All three of them have served time in Israeli prisons on multiple occasions over their terrorist activities.”

Unsurprisingly, BBC audiences have to date heard nothing of those latest arrests either.

Khalida Jarrar. Photo credit: NGOM

Khalida Jarrar was previously the vice-chair of ‘Addameer’ – the political NGO which was described by the BBC in 2012 as an organisation “which works on behalf of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails”. As we noted in October, the leader of the terror cell which carried out the attack near Dolev, Samer Arbid, was employed (despite his past history of involvement in terror activity) as an accountant by ‘Addameer’ which is known for its links to the PFLP – a designated terror organisation in the US, the EU, Canada and Israel.

Nevertheless, in late August 2019 the BBC gave heavy promotion to a report which showcased ‘Addameer’.

Partisan report on detained Palestinian ‘children’ from BBC’s Gender and Identity correspondent

BBC World Service radio’s OS promotes narrative over fact

Addameer is however just one of several Palestinian NGOs with links to the PFLP, some of which have been directly or indirectly quoted and promoted by the BBC in its Middle East coverage – for example Al HaqDefence for Children International – Palestine and of course the PCHR, which received particularly extensive exposure during the 2014 conflict between Israel and terror organisations in the Gaza Strip and which was one of the sources behind the casualty figures amplified by the BBC at the time.

The BBC editorial guidelines that came into effect in mid-July include several ‘mandatory referrals’ relating to coverage of terrorists in the ‘War, Terror and Emergencies’ section. Those guidelines however do not relate to coverage of organisations which often portray themselves as ‘human rights advocates’ despite their links to terror groups. Clearly the BBC urgently needs to wake up to the fact that its uncritical promotion of some of those groups actually serves the agenda of terrorist organisations rather than the interests of its audience.  

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Face value: the BBC and Palestinian NGOs

BBC News continues to under-report Palestinian affairs

Back in August we noted that a story concerning a Palestinian Authority ban on the activities of a LGBTQ group had received just two minutes of airtime on one domestic BBC radio station.

Earlier this month local media reported an incident in a Palestinian Authority controlled area.

“A transgender Palestinian woman and two friends were assaulted and robbed Tuesday by a group of men from a West Bank refugee camp.

Sammy, who today lives in Jaffa, was in the West Bank to attend a doctor’s appointment in the village of Kafr ‘Aqab near Ramallah.

She and her companions were attacked by a group from Kalandia refugee camp, who kicked and punched them, and stole tens of thousands of shekels. They also completely destroyed the vehicle in which the thee were travelling.

Sammy, who is originally from Hebron, was thrown out by her family when they discovered her gender identity. Today she lives in Jaffa and receives regular aid from the LGBQT Center in Tel Aviv.”

Although that story was picked up by non-local media such as the UK’s Pink News, it was not reported by the BBC, which continues to under-report internal Palestinian affairs in general, including the treatment of the LGBTQ community.

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Disparity in BBC LGBTQ Middle East reporting

No BBC follow up on Palestinian police LGBTQ group ban story

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – November 2019

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during November 2019 shows that throughout the month a total of 745 incidents took place including 127 in Judea & Samaria, 32 in Jerusalem and inside the ‘green line’ and 586 in the Gaza Strip sector.

In Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem the agency recorded 123 attacks with petrol bombs, 23 attacks using pipe bombs, seven arson attacks, three shooting attacks, one grenade attack, one vehicular attack and one stone-throwing attack.

Incidents recorded in the Gaza Strip sector included two shooting attacks and five hundred and eighty-four incidents of rocket fire.

Eleven people were wounded in attacks during November – five of them civilians who were injured in rocket attacks on November 12th, 13th and 26th. Four members of the security forces (November 9th) and two civilians (November 17th) were injured in attacks using petrol bombs.

Rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip which took place on November 1st, November 25th, November 26th and November 29th did not receive any BBC News website coverage. The BBC did report that between November 12th and 14th “militants fired some 450 rockets towards Israel” and two additional attacks on November 16th were also mentioned.

None of the other incidents which took place throughout November received any coverage which means that the BBC News website reported 60.7% of the attacks which took place during November.

Since the beginning of 2019 the BBC News website has covered 33.4% of the attacks which have taken place and 72.7% of the terror related fatalities. In five of those eleven months, no reporting on terrorism was seen at all.

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BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – October 2019

BBC News ignores Gaza rocket attacks yet again

BBC News yawns at Gaza rocket fire yet again

BBC News avoids the word terror in report on strike on terrorist

BBC News website adheres zealously to editorial guidelines

BBC doublethink on display in report on rocket attacks

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