Rocket attack on Be’er Sheva home ignored by BBC

At 03:38 on the morning of October 17th sirens warning of incoming missiles sounded in the southern Israeli town of Be’er Sheva and surrounding areas. Minutes later a direct hit on a house in Be’er Sheva was identified. Fortunately, the mother had managed to get her three sleeping children to their safe room before the Grad rocket hit their home. They and several other civilians were taken to hospital. 

At 05:30 it became clear that an additional rocket had been fired from the Gaza Strip at the same time towards the Tel Aviv area but had landed in the sea. The IDF responded to the attacks with strikes on terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. Later in the morning sirens also sounded in the districts closer to the border with the Gaza Strip and school was cancelled for the day.

As reported by the Times of Israel and others:

“The rocket used in the attack [on Be’er Sheva] was not the standard Grad variety, but an improved version with a larger warhead, which caused a large amount of damage to the building hit.

The explosion ripped off the front of the building and caused significant damage to the internal rooms and the roof.”

And:

““There are only two organizations in Gaza that have this caliber of rocket: Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” said IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus. “It’s not hard to narrow down who’s behind it.””

Although locally based BBC staff were well aware of the missile attack on Be’er Sheva and the escalation it represents, well over twenty-four hours later visitors to the BBC News website and/or the BBC Arabic website have seen no reporting whatsoever on this story.

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BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – September 2018

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during September 2018 shows that throughout the month a total of 204 incidents took place: 70 in Judea & Samaria, 10 in Jerusalem and 124 in the Gaza Strip sector.

In Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem the agency recorded 61 attacks with petrol bombs, eight attacks using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), seven arson attacks, one shooting attack and three stabbing attacks.

Incidents recorded in the Gaza Strip sector included 66 attacks with petrol bombs, 35 attacks using IEDs and twenty-three grenade attacks. There were no cases of rocket or mortar fire during September.

One civilian was murdered and one member of the security forces was wounded in attacks that took place during September. The BBC News website did not produce any coverage at the time of the fatal stabbing in Gush Etzion on September 16th but mentioned it a week later in a subsequent report.

The ‘Great Return March’ violent rioting along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip – including the incident in which a soldier was injured in a grenade attack along on September 21st – was not the topic of any dedicated BBC News website news reports throughout the month.

In summary, visitors to the BBC News website saw very belated coverage of just one (0.49%) of the 204 terror incidents which took place during September.

Since the beginning of 2018 the BBC has reported 19.9% of the terror attacks that have actually taken place and 88.9% of the resulting fatalities.

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BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – August 2018

Omissions in the BBC Jerusalem correspondent’s story of ‘fanaticism’

Back in July the BBC published a number of items on different platforms which clearly communicated to audiences what they should think about the Nation State law passed by the Knesset that month after seven years of deliberation.

BBC News website framing of Israeli legislation

How BBC radio programmes misled by adding one letter and a plural

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BBC producer breaches editorial guidelines on impartiality yet again

Two months later the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Tom Bateman returned to that topic in two reports – mixing in a partially told, unrelated story from an Israeli town with a name he could not be bothered to learn to pronounce properly.

On September 19th viewers of the BBC Two programme ‘Newsnight‘ saw a filmed report by Bateman.

On September 22nd listeners to ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ on BBC Radio 4 heard an audio version (from 06:24 here) of the same report which was introduced by presenter Kate Adie at the beginning of the programme as follows: [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Adie: “Today we’re in Israel on the hunt for the finest falafel while hearing what Arab and Jewish Israelis think of the controversial new law which characterises the country as principally a Jewish state.”

Adie’s introduction to the item itself included overt signposting.

Adie: “In July Israel’s parliament – the Knesset – narrowly voted in favour of a new Nation State law. It promotes Israel’s Jewish character and has been celebrated by religious nationalists, among other supporters, and not just within Israel itself but in the USA and Europe. It’s also sparked condemnation at home and internationally. Among its harshest critics have been the country’s nearly 2 million Arab-Israeli citizens who say it underlines their second class status, as Tom Bateman’s been finding out.”

Bateman’s report began in a falafel shop in Afula and listeners were told that he has “set out to gauge reactions to one of Israel’s most controversial new laws” before Bateman introduced his linkage of a local story to his main agenda.

Bateman: “My lunch companion wants to tell me about that. This is the world’s only Jewish state says Ilan Vaknin, a local lawyer turned mayoral candidate. Israel is surrounded by Arab nations and needs protecting, he asserts. He supports the new Nation State law. The legislation is an emblem for the Israeli Right, championed by Benjamin Netanyahu – a prime minister with an eye on elections next year, trying not to be outflanked by more hardline nationalists in his coalition.”

Bateman went on to give a particular view of the legislation.

Bateman: “The single-page law is stacked with symbols of Jewish sovereignty. It states that Jews have the unique right to national self-determination in Israel. That what it calls Jewish settlement is a national value. That Hebrew is the state’s official language – a statement seen as downgrading Arabic. But what of the central complaint from the law’s many critics, I ask, that it shreds Israel’s founding pledge of equality for all the inhabitants regardless of their religion or race?”

Given that account, uninformed listeners could of course be forgiven for reaching the conclusion that Jewish self-determination in Israel is an innovation that first appeared in the Nation State law. What Bateman refers to as “Israel’s founding pledge” is of course the Declaration of Independence which does indeed pledge “equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex” but also – he refrains from clarifying – clearly defines Israel as “a Jewish state”.

Bateman continued:

Bateman: “Ilan Vaknin says that the Jewish people in Israel must safeguard their land. There has certainly been a struggle among the people of Afula. When 48 Arab-Israeli families tried to buy plots of land on the edge of this Jewish majority town, there were protests by Jewish residents. Mr Vaknin acted for those who wanted to stop the sales. He claimed the Arab families had illegally coordinated bids. The courts ultimately threw out much of that argument and most of the sales went ahead. Many such land disputes elsewhere have not always gone the way of Arab citizens. Afula’s story seemed to echo a desire in the Nation State law to assert Jewish identity.”

Presuming to tell audiences what Israel “is supposed to stand for”, in his filmed report Bateman described the same story thus:

Bateman: “An empty space to be filled – but by whom? There has been a struggle among the people of Afula. What should this town in northern Israel look like? Who should live here? From whose past should it seek its character? Afula isn’t a story of troops and teargas filling the foreign news but a less visible confrontation between Jews and Arabs that goes to the heart of what the State of Israel is supposed to stand for. Ilan Vaknin wants to be the mayor. The lawyer told me how he tried to stop the sale of land to nearly 50 Arab families in this majority Jewish town. The dispute, which started well before the row over Israel’s new Nation State law, provides an example of the tensions that led to the law’s drafting and why its supporters think Israel’s Jewish character needs protecting. […] He [Vaknin] fought the sale of this land to Arab-Israeli families, saying they illegally coordinated bids But, after two years, Israel’s High Court allowed most of the sales to go ahead.”

The only Israeli politician mentioned by Bateman in these two reports is the current prime minister and so BBC audiences could be forgiven for concluding that it was he who proposed the Nation State law. In fact, the legislation was originally proposed in 2011 by Avi Dichter – who was at the time a member of the Kadima party – together with 39 other MKs. In contrast to the impression given by Bateman, the Afula building plots story began in late 2015.

While some of those who demonstrated against the sale of plots to 48 families from Arab villages in the district may have had racist motives, there are relevant parts of the story that Bateman did not bother to tell BBC audiences – not least the fact that the full complement of tenders in the proposed new neighbourhood was won by Arab applicants.

“The protesters claimed that the winning tender applicants may have coordinated their bids to ensure the neighborhood is populated mainly by Arab residents. They also charged that the tenders were poorly publicized within the city, and only announced in two local newspapers.

Many of the protesters have previously expressed their opposition to having an all-Arab neighborhood in the city.

The tender was run by the Israel Land Administration, which accepted bids on almost 50 plots for homes in a planned community next to the Afula Illit neighborhood. The results, published last month, showed that none of the plots had been won by current residents of Afula and all had been awarded to residents of Arab villages in the area.”

In April 2016 the Nazareth District Court revoked the tenders.

“Court president Justice Avraham Avraham said in his decision that the 48 Arab families violated housing tender rules by coordinating their bids on several of the 50 lots for homes in a planned neighborhood next to the Afula Illit neighborhood in an effort to fix prices for the homes.

“The coordination between bidders severely damages the principle of equality,” Avraham said in his decision. “The bidders joined forces to coordinate their proposed prices in an effort to unfairly divide the market among themselves.””

In August 2017 the High Court found that while a bidding group which had won ten of the 27 available plots had indeed coordinated bids, the other applicants had not. The court ruled that, rather than cancelling all the tenders as the Nazareth court had ruled, only the tenders of those shown to have coordinated bids would be cancelled.

While those parts of the story are missing from Bateman’s account, he did make sure to tell his radio audience of statements made by another interviewee – Ghayadad Zoabi.    

Bateman: “She says when Jewish protests took place against families like hers buying plots in Afula the sense of division felt overwhelming. She worries for her children who she fears have harder days to come. As long as the Right-wing controls Israel, she claims, it is heading for fanaticism. She believes the Nation State law sends a message to people like her that they are citizens second to Jews.”

And that of course is the agenda behind Bateman’s sudden interest in a local story that the BBC has ignored for nearly three years. Despite the fact that Arab-Israelis won tenders organised by a government agency and the 63% of bidders who were shown not to have coordinated bids had their tenders upheld in Israel’s High Court, The BBC’s Jerusalem correspondent still has a tale of “fanaticism” to tell about just one of the 22% of the world’s countries – including the UK – that have a religion enshrined in their constitution or basic law.  

 

 

 

BBC silent on Gaza crossing closure

Back in May the BBC failed to adequately report on three separate incidents of severe vandalism at the Kerem Shalom crossing carried out by Palestinian rioters – on the instruction of Hamas – on May 4th, May 11th and May 14th.

BBC WS audiences get distorted account of Kerem Shalom closure

On September 4th a large number of Palestinians rioted at the Erez Crossing.

“According to the IDF Spokesperson Unit, hundreds of people participated in the riots, reportedly hurling rocks at the crossing which resulted in severe damage to the infrastructure. The IDF said they responded with tear gas and live fire.”

According to AFP:

“The Palestinians were protesting against an announcement by Washington on Friday that it would cease all funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) which helps some three million needy refugees.”

The following day it was announced that the Erez Crossing – the only transit route for pedestrians and patients seeking medical care outside the Gaza Strip – would have to be closed for repairs.

“Israel announced the temporary closure of its sole pedestrian crossing with the Gaza Strip on Wednesday after the border terminal was damaged during clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinians. […]

“As a result, the crossing has been closed until the repairing of the damage caused as a result of the riot is completed,” the army said in a statement.

It did not indicate when the repairs would be completed.

The army added that the closure does not include humanitarian cases, which it said would be approved on a case-by-case basis.”

The BBC, however, did not find the fact that violent Palestinian rioters deliberately trashed facilities serving Gaza Strip residents in the least bit newsworthy.

With BBC audiences being repeatedly steered towards the inaccurate belief that all the economic and humanitarian problems in the Gaza Strip are attributable to Israeli counter-terrorism measures, it is significant that once again the corporation has shown no interest in reporting a story which conflicts its chosen narrative

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BBC News website coverage of May 14 Gaza rioting

 

 

 

 

BBC audiences again get news from a political NGO

As is usually the case in BBC News website reports that come under the category of ethically selective interest in Israeli planning permits’, the prime source quoted and promoted in the August 22nd article headlined “Israel advances plans for 1,000 new West Bank settler homes” was a political NGO. The report opened:

“Israel has advanced plans to build more than 1,000 new homes in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Final approval for construction was given for 382 homes, while the others cleared an earlier planning stage.”

Readers were then provided with a link to the website of the political NGO ‘Peace Now’.

“Anti-settlement watchdog Peace Now said most would be built in communities that were likely to be evacuated as part of any peace deal with the Palestinians.”

A click on that link shows that the irrelevant claim which the BBC chose to promote is based on the ‘Geneva Initiative’ which has gone nowhere since its conception fifteen years ago. The BBC did not bother to inform readers of additional past proposals under which that claim would not necessarily be accurate and, as ever, the fact that in the past Israel evacuated communities in 1982 as part of the terms of the peace agreement with Egypt and evacuated all Israeli citizens from the Gaza Strip and from four communities in northern Samaria in 2005 was ignored by the anonymous writer of this report.

Readers were also told that:

“Peace Now reported that 370 of the homes given initial approval would be built in the settlement of Adam, where an Israeli civilian was stabbed to death and two others wounded by a Palestinian last month.

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman had promised to build 400 units there in response to the attack.”

Once again BBC audiences were not told that the “400 units” concerned are part of already existing planning that was in the process before the Minister of Defence made his statement.

In addition to the messaging from ‘Peace Now’, readers found statements from a variety of sources promoting the political narrative that Israeli communities are a barrier to peace.

“But a left-wing Israeli party, Meretz, warned that the decision was like “sticking a finger in the eye” of any possible peace process.

There was no immediate response from the Palestinian Authority to the announcement, but it has previously said settlement construction threatens peace and undermines the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. […]

Donald Trump said earlier this year that the settlements “complicate” the peace process and urged Israel to be “careful” over the issue.

His predecessor Barack Obama said they were incompatible with a two-state solution and did not veto a 2016 UN Security Council resolution declaring they had “no legal validity and constitute[d] a flagrant violation under international law”.”

Altogether, those amplified statements made up 50% of the report’s word-count. In contrast, readers saw 23 words presenting what might be categorised as a contrasting view.

“The main body representing Jewish settlers – the Yesha Council – expressed disappointment that plans for “so few” homes were approved on Wednesday.”

As is inevitably the case in BBC News website reporting on the topic of construction in the neighbourhoods and communities it terms ‘settlements‘, audiences found the standard BBC insert on ‘international law’ which makes no attempt to inform them of legal views on the topic that fall outside the corporation’s chosen political narrative.

“The settlements are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.

More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem – land the Palestinians claim for a future state.

There are also some 100 outposts – small settlements built without the Israeli government’s authorisation – across the West Bank.”

The BBC’s editorial guidelines on ‘controversial subjects’ state:

“When dealing with ‘controversial subjects’, we must ensure a wide range of significant views and perspectives are given due weight and prominence, particularly when the controversy is active.  Opinion should be clearly distinguished from fact.”

The BBC’s audiences are however serially denied the “wide range of significant views and perspectives” which would broaden their understanding of this issue because the BBC has instead elected to promote a specific narrative.

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BBC News one-sided reporting of Ahed Tamimi story persists

Early on the morning of July 29th the BBC News website published an article billed “Palestinian viral slap video teen freed” on its main homepage as well as on its ‘World’ and ‘Middle East’ pages. The framing of the story was reinforced using two items of previously published related content offered to audiences under the headings “Was slap terrorism?” (discussed here) and “Spotlight on slap video teen” (discussed here).

The same messaging was further reinforced in the report’s original headline – “Ahed Tamimi: Israel frees Palestinian viral slap video teen” – which was later amended to read “Ahed Tamimi, Palestinian viral slap video teenager, freed in Israel“.

Clearly the intention was to lead BBC audiences towards the understanding that this story is about a “Palestinian teen” who had been in prison because of a filmed “slap” even before they had read one word of the report.  That same framing was evident in the vast majority of the large number of reports on this story produced by the BBC between December 2017 and March 2018 (see ‘related articles’ below).

The latest article opens in the same style:

“A Palestinian teenager who was filmed assaulting an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank has been freed after eight months in jail.

Video showing Ahed Tamimi slapping and kicking the soldier outside her home in Nabi Saleh last year went viral.”

Only in the article’s seventh paragraph were readers told that there is actually more to the story than a “slap”.

“Sixteen at the time, she was originally charged with 12 counts of assault, incitement, interference with soldiers and stone throwing.

In March, she agreed to plead guilty to four of the charges, including incitement and assault.”

However, once again BBC audiences were not informed in this report that the charge of incitement to which Ahed Tamimi pleaded guilty relates to the fact that in the same video produced and distributed by her mother in which she was filmed assaulting soldiers, she also made a public call for violence.

“Whether it is stabbings or suicide bombings or throwing stones, everyone must do his part and we must unite in order for our message to be heard that we want to liberate Palestine”

Readers were also told that:

“Ahed Tamimi told a pre-trial hearing that she had lashed out at the soldiers because she had seen them shoot her 15-year-old cousin Mohammed in the head with a rubber bullet that same day.

The Israeli military said it had dispatched the soldiers to the Tamimis’ home, where Palestinian youths had been throwing stones at troops sent to quell violent protests.

It also later contested the cause of Mohammed’s head injury, saying last month that the boy had told interrogators he sustained it from falling off a bike.”

That link leads to a Times of Israel report from February 2018 – not “last month” as this article claims. Apparently in the haste to get this article out, the BBC’s copy/paste from one of its own reports published in March went awry.

As has been the case in many of the BBC’s previous reports on this story, readers found promotion of the Tamimi brand:

“For Palestinians, she became a symbol of resistance to Israeli occupation, but many Israelis see her as a publicity-seeking troublemaker. […]

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.

Her face has appeared on street murals and posters, while an online petition organised by her father calling for her release gathered 1.7m signatures.”

However, they were not informed that violent rioting has been taking place weekly in Nabi Saleh since December 2009, that Ahed Tamimi’s father Bassem is the main organiser of those Friday riots or that, together with other family members, he and his brother Bilal run a ‘news agency’ called ‘Tamimi Press’ which produces and distributes footage and images from those weekly riots, often featuring children from the Tamimi clan such as Ahed.

Between December 19th 2017 and March 22nd 2018 the BBC produced at least fourteen reports on this story but only in one of those – aired on a domestic BBC radio station – were audiences been provided with any information concerning the background to the charge of incitement against Ahed Tamimi. The BBC’s treatment of this story – including this latest report – has overwhelmingly diverted audience attention away from the main charge of incitement against Ahed Tamimi and propagated the deliberately misleading notion that she was arrested, tried and imprisoned for a “slap”.

That deliberate repeated framing of the story indicates that the corporation which is committed to providing its audiences with “accurate and impartial news […] of the highest editorial standards” has in this case chosen to abandon impartiality and accuracy – and instead lend its voice and outreach to one-sided promotion of a blatantly political campaign. 

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Jeremy Bowen’s Tamimi PR continues on BBC World Service radio

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The BBC’s partisan coverage of the Ahed Tamimi case continues

 

 

BBC’s dual standards on terror attacks continue

On the evening of July 26th a terror attack took place in the community of Geva Binyamin (Adam), north of Jerusalem.

“The regional council spokesman said the terrorist climbed over Adam’s security fence. He then walked deeper into the settlement, crossing a playground area, where he encountered the 31-year-old resident, and stabbed him repeatedly in the upper torso. A second resident, the 58-year-old, came out of a nearby home and was also stabbed. A third resident, hearing the disturbance, went outside and, realizing that an attack was occurring, shot the Palestinian terrorist three times, killing him.”

Doctors were unable to save the life of the first victim, who was later named as Yotam Ovadia – a father of two young children.

Early on the morning of July 27th the BBC News website published a report titled “Israeli stabbed to death by Palestinian in West Bank attack” on its Middle East page.

As is inevitably the case in BBC reporting on terror attacks against Israelis (but not when reporting attacks in the UK or Europe), the BBC refrained from describing the attack as terrorism, with the only reference to terror coming in a direct quote from an Israeli official.

“An Israeli civilian has been stabbed to death in a settlement near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

The 31-year-old victim was taken to hospital where he died of his injuries, a hospital spokesman said.

Two other Israelis were wounded in the attack in Adam on Thursday. One, aged 50, is in a critical condition and the other suffered minor injuries.

The Israeli army says the attacker was shot and killed, reportedly by a civilian who was passing by.

It says troops will be sent to nearby Kubar village, where the 17-year-old Palestinian attacker is reported to have lived.

“The terrorist infiltrated the community of Adam, north of Jerusalem, and stabbed three civilians,” the army said in a statement. “Troops arrived at the scene and are searching the area.””

The BBC did not bother to update its article after the victim’s identity was made public.

Readers were also given the following piece of context-free information:

“Palestinian militant group Hamas said the attack was an act of heroism and revenge for three fighters who were killed in Gaza on Wednesday.”

The BBC however had not reported that previous incident, meaning that audiences were unaware of the fact that it began when:

“Soldiers patrolling the southern part of the Gaza Strip border came under fire Wednesday evening from a sniper within the Hamas-controlled territory, according to the IDF.

The Israeli military later said an officer was moderately wounded by the sniper fire. It said he was taken to Soroka Medical Center in the southern city of Beersheba for treatment.”

Neither do BBC audiences know that Hamas used a group of children to draw the patrol to the area.

“According to the IDF, the sniper fire came as a group of IDF soldiers arrived at a part of the fence that saw a group of 20 minors rioting on the other side. The minors were used as a decoy by the sniper to fire on the soldiers. […]

Military sources told Army Radio late Wednesday…that Hamas had encouraged the demonstration by young Gazans at the fence, drawing an IDF patrol, and then its snipers opened fire on the soldiers.”

Israel responded to the incident with strikes on Hamas military installations in which the members of the terror organisation described by the BBC as “three fighters” were killed. BBC audiences have also not been informed that during the same incident, terrorists in the Gaza Strip launched nine rockets at Israeli civilian communities.

The latter part of the report was given over to what was clearly intended to be background information. Despite the number of terror attacks having declined over the past year, the BBC told its audiences that:

“There has been a wave of stabbings, shootings and car-rammings of Israelis predominantly by Palestinians or Israeli Arabs since late 2015.

Dozens of Israelis have been killed in nearly three years of mainly lone-wolf attacks.

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

As we see, “in nearly three years” the BBC has still not bothered to independently confirm that information itself.

An old mantra was once again recycled:

“Israel says Palestinian incitement has fuelled the attacks. The Palestinian leadership has blamed frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation.”

It is worth remembering that since the surge in terror attacks began in late 2015, the BBC has consistently failed to provide its audiences with any serious reporting on the topic of incitement and glorification of terrorism by Palestinian officials. Readers are hence unable to judge for themselves whether or not what “Israel says” is accurate.

Likewise, it is noteworthy that the portrayal of terrorism as being attributable to “frustration rooted in decades of occupation” conforms to a guidance document for members of the international media put out by the PLO in November 2015.

The report closed with the BBC’s standard one-sided presentation of ‘international law’:

“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.”

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

In recent weeks we have been documenting the BBC’s coverage – or lack of it – of the arson attacks on farmland, woodland and nature reserves adjacent to the Gaza Strip.

BBC News yawns at ‘Great Return March’ arson incidents

BBC News makes a story disappear by changing photo captions

BBC News finally mentions Gaza arson attacks – in just sixteen words

Comparing BBC coverage of fires in England and Israel

After three months, BBC News website notices Gaza arson attacks

As was noted on several occasions during that time:

“Since they began in April, not one BBC Jerusalem bureau reporter has found the time to travel to the border district to report on how the attacks are affecting the people living there.”

Apparently somebody at the BBC also noticed that fact because on July 12th a filmed report by Erica Chernofsky appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the headline “How kites and balloons became militant weapons“.

Although the arson attacks had been going on for three months by the time this video appeared, they were described as a “new threat” in its synopsis. [emphasis added]

“Israelis living close to the border with Gaza face a new threat from Palestinian militants – ‘fire kites’ and balloons.”

In just over half of the two-minute twenty-seven second video viewers hear from Yael Raz Lachiani – spokesperson for Kibbutz Nahal Oz. In the rest they are told by the BBC that:

“Palestinian militants in Gaza are using some unusual weapons to attack Israel. These rudimentary weapons have caused more than 500 fires in the area. The balloons are often made from condoms because of their durability.”

At that point viewers see footage of such a balloon being filled with some sort of gas.

They are not told that the gas is helium and that it is intended to be used for medical purposes – notably MRI machines – or that last month Israel announced that it would “be more critical in assessing the requests made by hospitals and medical facilities in the Gaza Strip to ensure that the gas was being used for the correct purposes and not for arson balloons”.

The video goes on:

More than 6,000 acres of land have been destroyed by the fires.”

In fact, over a week before this video was published the figure was already over 7,400 acres.

“In Nahal Oz, some 250 acres of wheat fields have been scorched. The damage is estimated to be about $2m (£1.5m). The attacks began amid a period of violence along the border which saw about 120 Palestinians killed.”

No context concerning the pre-planned nature of that “period of violence”, the part played by terror groups in initiating, facilitating and financing it or the fact that over 80% of those “120 Palestinians” were linked to terror factions was provided to viewers, who were then told that:

“The Israeli army has developed drone technology to down the kites but it doesn’t catch them all.”

So finally, after three months of arson attacks, members of the BBC’s audience who happened to visit its website may now have seen one minute and twenty seconds of comment from one resident of the area bordering the Gaza Strip.

 

 

Comparing BBC coverage of fires in England and Israel

Readers may recall that last month we documented the BBC News website’s first ‘reporting’ on the arson attacks upon agricultural land and nature reserves adjacent to the Gaza Strip which have been going on since April.

BBC News finally mentions Gaza arson attacks – in just sixteen words

“…sharp-eyed visitors to the BBC News website’s Middle East page on June 7th may have noticed that a photograph captioned “Flaming kites sent from Gaza during the protests have burnt 2,250 acres of land in Israel” was included in a report titled “Israel blames Iran for Gaza border violence“.”

The only additional reference to that terrorism that visitors to the BBC News website have seen since then came in a report published on June 20th in which readers were initially told that:

“The military said Iron Dome missile defence system intercepted seven rockets fired by militants. Kites carrying containers of burning fuel were also sent into Israel, the military said.” [emphasis added]

Several hours later the following information was added to the report:

photo credit: KKL

“The escalation came hours after Israel bombed three sites in retaliation for the launching of incendiary kites and balloons over the Gaza border.

Israeli officials say the crude devices have sparked more than 450 fires in recent weeks, burning 2,800 hectares of land and causing $2m (£1.5m) of damage.

Palestinians began launching kites and balloons carrying containers of burning fuel and explosive devices during mass protests at which Gaza health officials say more than 120 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since 30 March.”

In other words, BBC News website users have seen no dedicated coverage whatsoever of the countless Hamas organised daily arson attacks that have destroyed thousands of acres of agricultural land, crops, nature reserves and woodland – as well as wildlife – in southern Israel throughout the past three months.

Since they began in April, not one BBC Jerusalem bureau reporter has found the time to travel to the border district to report on how the attacks are affecting the people living there.

In contrast, a series of wildfires in the United Kingdom which broke out in late June have been given their own tag – “England Moor fires” – on the BBC News website. There, BBC News website users can find dozens of written and filmed reports on the topic, including interviews with the local people affected by the fires, aerial footage of the devastation and reports on the fires’ effects on health, environment and wildlife.

While obviously the UK fires are a domestic story which would naturally be covered by Britain’s national broadcaster in depth, one would have thought that the corporation could have mustered at least one item of serious reporting on the issue of fires in southern Israel caused not by exceptionally hot weather, negligent picnickers or arson but by three months of deliberate non-stop terrorism.  

BBC R4 ‘Today’ listeners sold short by Knell’s portrayal of Jerusalem

The BBC’s domestic coverage of the Duke of Cambridge’s visit to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority controlled territories continued on June 26th with no fewer than three items aired on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

In addition to reports from the corporation’s royal correspondent Jonny Dymond at 0:12:30 and during the news bulletin at 2:08:38, listeners also heard a report by the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell at 1:20:40.

During that report Knell – like Jeremy Bowen in the previous day’s programme – brought up the topic of the objection of an Israeli minister to the wording of the itinerary put out by the Royal Household.

[emphasis in italics in the original]

1:22:26 Knell: “On his solo trip the prince will watch Jewish and Arab Israeli children playing football. But political differences here aren’t always so easy to overcome. Israeli politicians are criticising his schedule for presenting Jerusalem’s Old City as part of the occupied Palestinian territories.”

Obviously if the BBC’s domestic audiences are to understand the reason for the objection to that description of the Old City of Jerusalem as ‘occupied Palestinian territory’ they would need to be told of the inclusion of Jerusalem in the territory assigned by the League of Nations to the creation of a Jewish homeland. They would also need to be informed of the belligerent British-backed Jordanian invasion and subsequent ethnic cleansing of Jews who had lived in Jerusalem for generations from districts including the Old City in 1948, together with the destruction of synagogues and cemeteries, as well as the fact that the 1949 Armistice Agreement between Israel and Jordan specifically stated that the ceasefire lines were not borders.

However in typical BBC style, Yolande Knell erased all the history prior to June 1967 from her simplistic account:

Knell: “Israel captured the east of the city in the 1967 war and later annexed it in a move that’s not internationally recognised. It sees all the city as its capital but Palestinians want East Jerusalem as their capital.”

Knell then went on to provide listeners with an overtly partisan view of the issue from the PLO’s Hanan Ashrawi:

Knell: “Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi says the Palace is using the right descriptions.”

Ashrawi: “The only country that has violated international law openly and admitted Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is the US…is Trump. And the UK has not changed its position. It still considers Jerusalem as occupied territory. You cannot expect the royal visit to come and become complicit in land theft and the illegal annexation of Jerusalem.”

Not only did Knell not bother to challenge Ashrawi’s inaccurate and deliberately provocative claim of “land theft” or to clarify that her selected contributor’s claims concerning “international law” are a matter of opinion, she did not even make the effort to inform Radio 4 listeners that – as she doubtless knows, because their embassies are located in the same Jerusalem complex as the BBC’s own offices – in addition to the United States, Guatemala and Paraguay have also recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. 

Instead, Knell simply changed the subject and moved on with her report.

While it is standard BBC practice to avoid informing audiences of the history and status of Jerusalem before June 1967 – including the internationally unrecognised 19 year-long Jordanian occupation of parts of the city – obviously that practice does not contribute to meeting the BBC’s public purpose obligation to provide its funding public with “accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming of the highest editorial standards so that all audiences can engage fully with issues across the UK and the world”.

Related Articles:

Reviewing the BBC’s presentation of Jerusalem history

BBC R4’s ‘Today’ forces Brexit and Gaza into royal visit report

BBC News website adopts selective history in royal visit article