BBC’s Knell reports on Gaza power crisis – without the usual distractions

On several occasions in the past we have documented the BBC’s repeated misrepresentation of the perennial electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip as being connected to Israeli counter-terrorism measures. [emphasis added]

“The manager, Rafik Maliha, has been here since the electricity plant opened a decade ago. It was supposed to make use of the latest technology to meet rising demand. Instead, it’s faced constant challenges. It’s been caught up in previous fighting between Hamas which controls Gaza and the group’s sworn enemy Israel. Tight border restrictions limited fuel imports. Although power cuts were common in Gaza before, now they’re much worse.” (August 15th 2014 – link to source)

“More than 10 years ago, Israel destroyed a large part of the power plant located in central Gaza after the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by Hamas militants.

Since then, power shortages have had an impact on almost every aspect of life in Gaza.” (January 14th 2017 – link to source)

“Gaza’s everyday problems don’t stop though with unreliable electricity; the rest of the infrastructure is shot. A lot of recent war damage lies unreconstructed. The economy is lifeless, unemployment sky-high. So whose fault is it? People here wave their arms in many directions. The Israelis first, for the stifling border closures the Israeli government says are for security, the people here say are for collective punishment.” (February 1st 2017 – link to source)

“Power cuts in Gaza typically last 8 to 12 hours a day – sometimes longer. […]

There are strict controls on the movement of goods and people going in and out of Gaza.” (April 18th 2017 – link to source)

“Gaza’s electricity supply has been also affected by restrictions on the import of goods imposed by Israel as part of a land, sea and air blockade that is now in its 10th year. (April 27th 2017 – link to source)

However, on May 18th an article by Yolande Knell that appeared in the ‘features’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page demonstrated that the BBC is entirely aware of the fact that the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip is not caused by Israeli counter-terrorism measures at all, but by internal Palestinian disputes.

Readers of that report – titled “Gaza residents left in the dark amid Palestinian power struggle” – were informed that:

“Behind the crisis is an escalating political power struggle between the Islamist group, Hamas, and the Palestinian Authority (PA), dominated by the rival Fatah movement. […]

Now, Mr Abbas’s West Bank-based government appears to be piling on financial pressure as it tries to reassert its authority over the Strip. […]

Gaza’s only power plant, which runs on diesel, was shut down last month after the PA scrapped a tax exemption, more than doubling the price of the fuel.

The plant had been producing about 60MW of power a day, about 30% of the energy normally available.

Now, the PA says it will no longer honour any invoices for an additional 125MW of electricity supplied by Israel.”

Yolande Knell also produced an audio report on the same topic which was broadcast on the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ on the same date. In that report (from 17:50 here) she told listeners that:

“Behind this power crisis is an internal power struggle between the main Palestinian factions. […]

Most recently the Palestinian Authority, headed by Mr Abbas, said it will no longer pay for electricity supplied by Israel to Gaza while Hamas remains in charge.”

Listeners also heard a UN official say:

“We have warned all sides that a political solution needs to be found to this crisis and the only reasonable political solution is to in fact work on returning Gaza to the control of the legitimate Palestinian authorities – the government.”

Particularly noteworthy is the fact that in neither of these reports did Knell promote the lazy, inaccurate but previously much touted notion that Israeli security measures are to blame for the crisis.

While that adherence to accurate journalism without misleading distractions is clearly welcome, it does of course highlight the question of why promotion of that misinformation has been standard practice in so much previous BBC reporting on this topic.

Related Articles:

BBC silent on latest Gaza power plant shut down

No BBC reporting on latest power crisis in the Gaza Strip

BBC News passes up the chance to set the record straight on Gaza shortages

The Gaza electricity stories the BBC reports – and the ones it doesn’t

No BBC coverage of energy sector agreements between Israel and the PA

BBC’s sketchy reporting on Gaza power crisis highlighted

Gaza Strip background the BBC does not provide

 

 

 

 

 

BBC stays mum on convicted terrorist’s success in PA election

As regular readers know only too well, the BBC shows little interest in reporting internal Palestinian affairs – including domestic politics – to its audiences. Back in September 2016 we discussed the little reporting which did appear on the BBC News website on the topic of the fraught Palestinian Authority municipal elections which were supposed to have taken place last year.

“One might have assumed that coverage of the first election in a decade in which the rival parties Hamas and Fatah were set to take part would have been considered essential for the enhancement of BBC audience understanding of Palestinian internal affairs – especially as elections for both the Palestinian Legislative Council and the PA president have not been held during that time.

The BBC apparently thought differently and so audiences have received no insight whatsoever into the background to the municipal elections or the type of campaigning material put out by the parties involved. Neither have they been informed of stories such as Fatah’s nomination of a convicted terrorist as a candidate or the ‘concealment’ of some female candidates.”

On May 13th those long postponed municipal elections were finally held in Palestinian Authority controlled areas and Reuters reported that:

“…about 800,000 Palestinians were expected to vote for representatives in 145 local councils in the West Bank, but not in the Gaza Strip.”

However, the elections were boycotted by Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and the PFLP and turnout was relatively low.

“The vote provided Palestinians a rare chance to cast ballots, after over a decade without presidential or legislative elections, and Saturday’s election was seen as a test for Abbas’ embattled and nepotism-tainted party.

The results across the West Bank indicated a weak showing by the ruling Fatah party, even though the rival Islamic Hamas terrorist movement stayed out of the race.

Electoral commission chief Hanna Nasser said 393,572 ballots were cast — “nearly 50 percent of voters.” […]

Turnout was far lower in large cities than in surrounding communities, with the lowest in Nablus, the main city in the northern West Bank, where it was less than 21%. In Nablus, Fatah won 11 of 15 seats, but only after forming an alliance with Islamist candidates.

Ramallah, the Palestinian political capital, saw turnout of less than 40%.”

In Hebron the Fatah nominated convicted terrorist mentioned above was apparently elected as mayor.

“Tayseer Abu Sneineh, the convicted murderer of six Israelis, was reportedly elected mayor of the West Bank city of Hebron on Saturday as head of the Fatah Party list.

Abu Sneineh was one of four Palestinians behind the murder of six Israeli yeshiva students in 1980.

The students, included two American citizens and a Canadian national, were part of a group that had danced from the Cave of the Patriarchs to Beit Hadassah in Hebron when Abu Sneineh and his terror cell opened fire. The six students were killed and 16 others were wounded.

The Palestinians were convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison but were later released in various prisoner exchanges Israel carried out throughout the 1980s. Tayseer Abu Sneineh was released in a prisoner swap in 1983.”

Unsurprisingly, that terror attack has been glorified by Fatah in the past.

Equally unsurprisingly, the BBC – which consistently downplays or ignores Fatah and PA glorification of terrorism – has to date produced no reporting on this story.

 

BBC’s Knell tells audiences that convicted terrorists are ‘political prisoners’

When some mostly Fatah-linked Palestinians serving sentences in Israeli prisons began a hunger strike on April 17th, the BBC produced three reports on that story on consecutive days. As was noted here at the time:

“…in all three of the reports, readers find (not for the first time) amplification of the PLO’s narrative concerning Palestinian prisoners – as promoted, for example, in a PLO ‘media brief’ from June 2015. [emphasis added]

Report 1: “Palestinians regard the detainees as political prisoners. Many have been convicted of attacks against Israelis and other offences.”

Report 2: “Palestinians say the detainees are political prisoners, while Israel describes them as “terrorists”” (photo caption)

                  “Palestinians regard the detainees as political prisoners. Many have been convicted of attacks against Israelis and other offences.”

Report 3: “Palestinians regard the detainees as political prisoners. Many have been convicted of attacks against Israelis.”

The idea that people who have been convicted of perpetrating acts of terrorism are ‘political prisoners’ is rejected in Europe and we certainly do not see the BBC promoting the notion that people imprisoned in the UK for terror related offences may be defined in such terms.”

On May 2nd the BBC went one step further. Apparently not content with the above uncritical and unqualified amplification of the partisan narrative of the PLO, Jerusalem bureau correspondent Yolande Knell dispensed with the nicety “Palestinians regard”, electing to describe convicted terrorists as “political prisoners” in her (and hence the BBC’s) own words.

Knell’s audio report was broadcast to Radio 4 audiences in the programme ‘The World Tonight’ (from 39:09 here) and an almost identical version of the report was broadcast to BBC World Service audiences in the programme ‘Newshour’ (from 38:11 here).

After listeners heard the sound of chanting, Knell began her report as follows: [emphasis added]

Knell: “Chants of support for Palestinian political prisoners in Israel jails who’ve been refusing food for two weeks in a protest about conditions. As President Abbas prepares to meet President Trump, tensions are rising back home, leading to renewed clashes with Israeli soldiers. In Ramallah I meet Fadwa Barghouti. Her husband Marwan – a popular figure in the president’s Fatah faction – is serving five life sentences for murder in Israel and is leading the hunger strike. She says Palestinians care deeply for the prisoners.”

With Fadwa Barghouti speaking in Arabic in the background, Knell then told listeners:

Knell:”The whole Palestinian people’s been subjected to imprisonment, she tells me. Every Palestinian home knows what it means to have a prisoner, knows suffering and injured pride.”

Of course very many Israeli homes know suffering too: the suffering of having had a loved one murdered by Palestinian terrorists in attacks such as those directed by Fadwa Barghouti’s husband. In her typical style Yolande Knell, however, erased that terrorism and its victims from her pathos-rich yet obviously biased portrayal of terrorists on hunger strike (albeit in waning numbers – which Knell neglected to mention) as “political prisoners”. She continued:

Knell: “Earlier there was another rally in Gaza where Palestinians burnt posters of their president. Here the anger is driven by the damaging internal split between Fatah and its Islamist rival Hamas – which controls Gaza – as well as the moribund peace process.”

Knell provided no evidence to back her bizarre claim that the demonstrations in Gaza on May 2nd were motivated by “the moribund peace process”. She went on:

Knell: “At Birzeit University politics professor George Giacaman now sees Mr Abbas in a tricky position in Washington. He thinks he’ll come under pressure to return to peace talks with Israel without a deal to stop Jewish settlement growth on land the Palestinians want for their future state. That would be very hard to sell to the public.”

Making no effort to inform BBC audiences that the existing agreements between Israel and the Palestinians – the Oslo Accords – do not place any limitations of construction in Israeli communities in Area C but do state that the final status of that area is to be determined in negotiations and its portrayal as “Palestinian land” therefore amplifies a partisan position, Knell allowed her interviewee to promote the myth of “new settlements”: a notion she and her editors know perfectly well is false. [emphasis added]

Giacaman: “The Palestinian side has insisted throughout the past years that before negotiation starts, there has to be a hold to the settlement process. You have to keep in mind that this occupation of Palestinian land spearheaded by the establishment of new settlements in the West Bank undermines any political process, including of course the two-state solution.”

Listeners then heard a recording from the press conference at the meeting between the Israeli prime minister and the US president earlier in the year.

Trump: “As far as settlements, I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit. We’ll work something out but I would like to see a deal be made. I think a deal will be made.”

Knell next recycled the ‘policy shift’ theme the BBC has been pushing since mid-February even though it was quickly refuted by US officials.

Knell: “President Trump speaking to Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in February. Israel had announced plans for several thousand new settler homes during his first month in office with relatively little criticism. And the new US leader appeared ready to break with long-established American foreign policy backing the creation of a Palestinian state as the only way to end the Middle East conflict.”

Trump: “So I’m looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one. I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two but, honestly, if Bibi and if the Palestinians…if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like best.”

Knell: “Palestinians don’t expect the meeting between Mr Abbas and Mr Trump to be so friendly. But the Palestinian president has tried to strengthen his hand by meeting the leaders of Washington’s close Arab allies Egypt and Jordan on his way to the White House. So could the US be about to broker another round of peace talks?”

Giacaman: “I doubt if anything would come of it. I don’t think President Abbas has anything new to offer and I doubt Mr Trump is in a position to give the Israeli-Palestinian issue all his concentrations. The exposure to American public opinion and to the American leadership; this will help a lot because they are the only people in the world who can influence the Palestinians, Israelis to go to peace.”

Knell closed her report:

Knell: “Recently Palestinians have seen their cause overshadowed by other regional concerns. Their leaders now hope that the unpredictable approach of Mr Trump could work in their favour. Their official line is that he offers a rare chance for peace.”

Knell’s portrayal of the chances of renewal of negotiations of course airbrushed very pertinent context such as the increasingly acrimonious rift between the PA and Hamas and the related fact that the long since unelected Mahmoud Abbas cannot even set foot in the Gaza Strip, let alone claim to represent all the Palestinians.  

However, Knell’s aim in this report was obviously not to provide domestic and foreign BBC audiences with a realistic, accurate and impartial report on the story but to promote PLO talking points – primarily the false claim that imprisoned terrorists are “political prisoners”.

Related Articles:

BBC’s Yolande Knell ditches any semblance of impartiality

BBC coverage of new Hamas document – part three: BBC Radio 4

BBC coverage of new Hamas document – part two: World Service radio

BBC News promotes PLO narrative in copious coverage of prisoners’ strike

BBC fails to provide crucial background in reports on Fatah prisoners’ strike

Identifying the BBC’s anonymous “mother of a Palestinian inmate”

Inaccuracies and omissions in BBC News reporting on Abbas White House visit

Resources:

How to complain to the BBC

 

 

 

BBC News portrays political NGOs as ‘human rights activists’

On April 25th an article billed “Israel PM snubs German foreign minister” appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page with the sub-heading “Sigmar Gabriel had refused to call off talks with Israeli human rights activists”.

The report itself – headlined “Israel’s Netanyahu scraps talks with German minister over rights groups” – opens with a description of the NGOs concerned in the same terms.

“Israel’s prime minister has cancelled talks with Germany’s foreign minister after he refused to call off a meeting with Israeli human rights activists.

Sigmar Gabriel had been due to meet Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

Mr Netanyahu had warned he would not see Mr Gabriel if he met the groups Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem.”

The fact that the BBC chose to describe those two political NGOs as “human rights activists” should not be surprising: after all, both ‘B’tselem‘ and ‘Breaking the Silence‘ are among the campaigning NGOs (overwhelmingly from one end only of the political spectrum) that are routinely quoted and promoted in BBC content.

However, in breach of its own editorial guidelines on impartiality, the BBC has a longstanding policy of consistently refraining from adequately informing its audiences with regard to the foreign funding, agenda and “particular viewpoint” of the NGOs it promotes in Israel-related content – including ‘B’tselem‘ and ‘Breaking the Silence‘.

In this particular report readers are told that:

“Breaking the Silence, a group of former soldiers, gathers anonymous testimony from within the military about alleged abuses of Palestinians by the army.

Israeli authorities have accused it of making unreliable accusations.”

They are not however informed that a significant proportion of those ‘testimonies’ have been shown by persons completely independent of the “Israeli authorities” to be false, exaggerated or unverifiable.

With regard to B’tselem, the BBC’s report states:

“B’Tselem is one of Israel’s leading human rights groups and has come under similar criticism.”

Readers are not told that B’tselem was one of the sources of dubious casualty figures (also used by the BBC) during the 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas or that it engages in ‘lawfare‘ campaigns intended to delegitimise Israel – the one country it openly admits to wanting to see “punished” by the international community.

Both ‘B’tselem’ and ‘Breaking the Silence’ are generously foreign funded campaigning NGOs with a clear and specific political agenda. The BBC’s anodyne portrayal of those groups as ‘human rights activists’ is a barrier to audience understanding of this story.

Related Articles:

Investigative report highlights BBC’s NGO impartiality fail

The context of the BBC’s promotion of ‘Breaking the Silence’

BBC News producer breaches impartiality guidelines on social media

Continuing documentation of the BBC’s B’Tselem map binge

BBC News portrayal of Israeli law airbrushes political NGOs

 

 

 

Follow up on a Gaza story ignored by the BBC

Back in February we noted that – despite its practice of extensively amplifying UNRWA messaging – the BBC had chosen not to cover the story of an employee of that UN agency who was suspended after he was allegedly elected to the Hamas political bureau.

“On February 23rd the ITIC published a report concerning the election of the chairman of the Hamas-controlled UNRWA staff union to the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip.

“One of the newly-elected members is Dr. Suhail Ahmed Hassan al-Hindi, who holds a PhD from Cairo University (his thesis dealt with improving the conditions of Palestinians teachers under the Israeli “occupation”). Since 2012 he has been the chairman of the UNRWA staff union in the Gaza Strip, controlled by Hamas. […] In addition to his role as union chairman, he is also the principal of the Palestine Boys’ Elementary School, an UNRWA school for refugee children.”

Both Hamas and al Hindi denied that he had been elected to the Hamas political bureau despite reports in the Palestinian media and UNRWA’s Chris Gunness issued a statement saying that the organisation “has neither uncovered nor received evidence to contradict the staff member’s denial that he was elected to political office”.

On February 26th the head of COGAT commented on the issue and on the same day, al Hindi was suspended by UNRWA.”

A similar story that emerged the following month was likewise ignored by the BBC.

On April 22nd it emerged that al Hindi is no longer employed by UNRWA.

“The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees said Saturday a Gaza staffer suspected of having been elected to Hamas’s leadership no longer works for the agency.

Agency spokesman Chris Gunness said that Suhail al-Hindi was no longer employed by the UN Relief and Works Agency. He declined to say whether al-Hindi had quit or was fired, saying the agency doesn’t “discuss the terms of departure of individual staff members.””

However, the ITIC – quoting Hamas linked sources – reported that al Hindi was presented by UNRWA with the choice of resignation (together with preservation of his social benefits) or dismissal. The ITIC also noted that it is unclear whether al Hindi’s resignation applies both to his position as chairman of the UNRWA staff union and his concurrent post as the principal of an UNRWA school.

Given that, according to UNRWA figures, the UK was the agency’s third most generous donor in 2015, members of the British public would no doubt have been interested to see some serious investigative reporting from their national broadcaster on the issue of alleged links between the UN agency they help fund and the terror organisation that is proscribed by the British government.

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q1 2017 – part two

As noted in part one of this post, between January 1st and March 31st 2017, ninety-one reports relating to Israel and/or the Palestinians appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page, some of which were cross posted from other sections of the site and seven of which were carried over from 2016. 12.09% of those reports covered stories relating to security/terrorism.

The remaining 87.91% of those articles can be grouped into a number of categories. (The dates in brackets represent the period of time in which each report was available to visitors to the website’s Middle East page.)

Five reports (5.49% of the total) related to historical subject matter:

‘Anne Frank link’ unearthed at Sobibor camp (16/1/17 to 17/1/17)

‘Yolocaust’: How should you behave at a Holocaust memorial? (20/1/17 to 29/1/17)

New Dead Sea Scrolls cave discovered (9/2/17 to 12/2/17)

British WWI alcohol stash unearthed in Israel (22/3/317 to 23/3/17)

Holy Sepulchre Church: Discovery at ‘Jesus’s tomb’ in Jerusalem (22/3/17 to 26/3/17)

Middle East page, 13/2/17

Four reports (4.4%) can be categorised as miscellaneous:

Hilarion Capucci: Arms-smuggling archbishop dies aged 94 (2/1/17 to 4/1/17)

Peru asks Trump to consider deporting ex-President Alejandro Toledo (13/2/17)

Jordan releases soldier who shot Israeli schoolgirls (12/3/17 to 13/3/17) discussed here

Israel: Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine ‘killed by own men’ (21/3/17 to 23/3/17) discussed here

One report related to the US administration:

Pro-settlement hardliner Friedman confirmed as US envoy to Israel (23/3/17 to 26/3/17) discussed here

35 reports (38.46%) related to Israeli diplomatic/international relations and/or political aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict:

Israel and the Palestinians: Can settlement issue be solved? (29/12/16 to 3/1/17 – date stamp later changed) discussed here and here

Trump and the Middle East: an impossible disengagement?  Jonathan Marcus (30/12/16 to 7/1/17)

Obama and the Middle East – too little, too late? Paul Adams (29/12/16 to 7/1/17)

Five issues which shaped the Middle East in 2016 Jeremy Bowen (31/12/16 to 8/1/17)

Downing Street criticises US comments on Israel (30/12/16 to 2/1/17)

Israel’s ambassador sorry over ‘take down’ Sir Alan Duncan comment (8/1/17 to 9/1/17) discussed here

Can Paris summit save fading two-state solution? Yolande Knell (14/1/17 to 20/1/17) discussed here

Mahmoud Abbas: US embassy move to Jerusalem would hurt peace (14/1/17 to 16/1/17) discussed here and here

Israel-Palestinian conflict: Summit warns against unilateral actions (15/1/17 to 17/1/17) discussed here

Why aren’t the Israelis and Palestinians talking? (14/1/17 to 22/1/17) discussed here

Obama fears moment ‘may be passing’ for two-state solution (19/1/17 to 20/1/17)

Israel approves settlement homes following Trump inauguration (22/1/17 to 24/1/17) discussed here

UN condemns Israel’s West Bank settlement plans (25/1/17 to 27/1/17) discussed here

Netanyahu: Iran missile test must not go unanswered (31/1/17 to 1/2/17) 

New Israel settlements ‘may not be helpful’ to peace, says US (3/2/17 to 6/2/17) discussed here

What will the Trump presidency mean for Israel?  Jonathan Marcus (3/2/17 to 8/2/17)

Benjamin Netanyahu discusses Iran threat with Theresa May (6/2/17 to 8/2/17)

Is a new Middle East war on Israel’s horizon? Jonathan Marcus (8/2/17 to 14/2/17) discussed here

Trump urges Israel to ‘act reasonably’ on settlements (10/2/17 to 12/2/17)

Do Trump and Netanyahu see eye to eye? Barbara Plett Usher (14/2/17 to 20/2/17)

Israel-Palestinian conflict: Two-state solution not only option, US says (15/2/17) discussed here

Trump relaxes US policy on Middle East two-state solution (15/2/17 to 16/2/17) discussed here

Trump and Netanyahu – in 90 seconds (15/2/17 to 16/2/17)

Trump: ‘Mideast peace up to them’ (15/2/17 to 16/2/17)

PJ Crowley: Trump unveils a subtle but vital shift in US policy (16/2/17 to 24/2/17) discussed here

Israel-Palestinian conflict: US ‘thinking outside box’ (16/2/17 to 19/2/17)

Israel and the Palestinians: What are alternatives to a two-state solution? Colin Shindler (17/2/17 to 24/2/17)

Israeli PM criticises UN ‘hypocrisy’ on historic Australia visit (22/2/17) discussed here

Australian ex-PM Kevin Rudd berates Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu (23/2/17 to 25/2/17) discussed here

Banksy decorates West Bank hotel with views of Israel’s wall (3/3/17 to 6/3/17) discussed here

Banksy hotel, The Walled Off, opens in Bethlehem  3/3/17 to 7/3/17) discussed here

Putin and Netanyahu: A complex diplomatic dance  Jonathan Marcus (9/3/17 to 20/3/17)

UK pro-Palestinian activist deported from Israel (13/3/17 to 14/3/17) discussed here

UN’s Rima Khalaf quits over report accusing Israel of apartheid (17/3/17 to 20/3/17) discussed here

Israel approves first new West Bank settlement in 20 years  (30/3/17 to 3/4/17 – date stamp changed) discussed here

Four reports (4.4%) related to Palestinian affairs:

Gaza electricity crisis: Hamas breaks up protest (13/1/17 to 14/1/17) discussed here

Angry protests in Gaza over crippling power shortages Rushdi Abu Alouf (14/1/17 to 21/1/17) discussed here

Hamas hardliner Yehiya Sinwar elected as Gaza leader (13/2/17 to 16/2/17) discussed here

Trump Middle East: Palestinian leader invited to White House (10/3/17 to 13/3/17) discussed here

The thirty-one reports (34.07% of the total) concerning Israeli affairs can be divided into sub categories including:

a) reports relating to legal and/or criminal issues:

Israel’s Netanyahu denies wrongdoing ahead of investigation (30/12/16 to 2/1/17)

Israeli police question PM Netanyahu in corruption probe (2/1/17 to 4/1/17)

Israeli soldier Elor Azaria convicted over Hebron death (4/1/17) discussed here

Israeli PM Netanyahu backs pardon for manslaughter soldier (4/1/17 to 5/1/17)

Israel police arrest two over threats to judges in Elor Azaria case (5/1/17 to 6/1/17)

Israel PM Netanyahu questioned again in corruption probe (5/1/17 to 8/1/17)

Israel bribery inquiry: ‘Audiotape’ adds to pressure on PM Netanyahu (8/1/17 to 9/1/17)

Israeli soldier gets 18 months for killing wounded Palestinian attacker (21/2/17 to 22/2/17) discussed here

Israeli policeman filmed beating Palestinian driver (23/3/17 to 26/3/17)

Video of Israeli policeman hitting Palestinian driver draws anger (23/3/17 to 24/3/17)

Israel holds 19-year-old over threats against Jewish centres (23/3/17 to 26/3/17) discussed here

b) society:

Israel’s Mossad spy agency on the hunt for women agents (5/1/17 to 7/1/17)

The female soldiers serving in Israel’s army (11/2/17 to 14/2/17)

Israeli army sets sights on recruits with autism (1/3/17 to 8/3/17)

c) domestic news/politics:

 Israeli policeman and Bedouin killed during clashes over demolitions (18/1/17 to 19/1/17) discussed here

Israel ‘to take in 100 Syrian orphans’ (26/1/17 to 27/1/17) discussed here

Israel approves 3,000 new settler homes as Amona evacuation begins (1/2/17) discussed here

Amona settlers dragged from homes by Israeli police (1/2/17 to 3/2/17)

Israeli police move in on unauthorised Amona outpost (1/2/17 to 2/2/17)

Israel police evict settlers from unauthorised Amona outpost (2/2/17)

Amona: Israel police clear last protesters from settler outpost (2/2/17 to 3/2/17)

Israel passes controversial law on West Bank settlements (6/2/17 to 8/2/17 – date stamp changed)

Rights groups challenge Israel settlements law in court (8/2/17 to 10/2/17)

Jesus miracle church in Israel reopens after arson attack (12/2/17 to 14/2/17)

Israel’s Netanyahu criticised over 2014 Gaza war preparations (28/2/17 to 2/3/17) discussed here

Israel marijuana: Users to face fine rather than criminal charge  (5/3/17 to 7/3/17)

Israel Arafat street sign dropped after Netanyahu anger (6/3/17 to 7/3/17) discussed here

Israeli Arab anger as parliament backs ‘muezzin bill’ (8/3/17 to 10/3/17) discussed here

Israeli nurse dies after being set alight by patient (14/3/17 to 17/3/17)

Netanyahu denies claim he was ejected from convoy by wife (14/3/17 to 16/3/17)

d) technology:

Intel buys driverless car technology firm Mobileye (13/3/17 to 15/3/17)

As was the case throughout 2016 (see ‘related articles’ below) Israeli domestic affairs once again received considerably greater coverage (34.07%) than did Palestinian affairs (4.4%) in the first quarter of 2017. Remarkably, 16.48% of the headlines of the 91 reports published included the name Netanyahu while Mahmoud Abbas’ name was present in just one headline. 

Related Articles:

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q4 2016 – part two (includes links to previous reports)

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q1 2017 – part one

 

 

 

 

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q1 2017 – part one

Between January 1st and March 31st 2017, a total of ninety-one reports with content relating to Israel and/or the Palestinians appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page. Seven of those reports were carried over from December 2016.

Some of the reports were produced by other departments (e.g. BBC Business) or appeared on other pages of the website (e.g. ‘Europe’ or ‘US & Canada’) but were also posted on the Middle East page.

Although the Israeli security services recorded 321 terror attacks during the first quarter of 2017 (see ‘related articles’ below), just one of those attacks received coverage on the BBC News website.

(The dates in brackets represent the period of time in which a report was available to visitors to the website’s Middle East page.)

Jerusalem lorry attack: Four Israeli soldiers killed (8/1/17 to 9/1/17) 

Jerusalem attack: Uncle of the lorry driver speaks out (8/1/17 to 12/1/17)

Jerusalem attack eyewitness: ‘I saw the truck hitting the soldiers’ (8/1/17 to 17/1/17) 

Jerusalem lorry attack: ‘I fired until my magazine was empty’ (9/1/17 to 18/1/17) 

Netanyahu: ‘We will overcome terror attacks’ (8/1/17) 

Jerusalem lorry attacker ‘was IS supporter’ (9/1/17 to 10/1/17)

One article (carried over from December) related to a terror warning issued by the Israeli security services:

Israel warns of New Year terror threat in India (30/12/16 to 1/1/17) discussed here

Two articles related to Hamas:

Israel will no longer return bodies of Palestinian Hamas militants (1/1/17 to 2/1/17) discussed here

Israeli soldiers ‘caught in Hamas online honey trap’ (12/1/17 to 13/1/17)

Two articles related to Syria:

Syria accuses Israel of bombardment (13/1/17 to 15/1/17) discussed here

Israel’s Arrow anti-missile system ‘in first hit’ (17/3/17 to 20/3/17) discussed here

In all, 12.09% of the BBC News website’s reports in Q1 covered stories relating to security/terrorism. The additional topics found in the BBC’s coverage of Israel and the Palestinians during the first quarter of 2017 will be discussed in part two of this post.

Related Articles:

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – January 2017

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – February 2017

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – March 2017

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q4 2016 – part two (includes links to previous reports) 

Revisiting a 2014 story ignored by the BBC – and why it matters

Back in December 2014 we noted the absence of any BBC coverage of a serious terror attack.

Photo credit: Jerusalem Post

“…at around 18:30 local time on December 25th – a father and his eleven year-old daughter who were driving home near Ma’ale Shomron in Samaria were attacked with a petrol bomb which set their vehicle on fire.

“The girl suffered third degree burns over the majority of her body and face and was placed in an induced coma.

Professor Zeev Rotstein, director of the Sheba Medical Center, said that she suffered life threatening burns to her torso, head, arms and legs, and that “we will do everything in order to save her life.””

The little girl who was badly burned in that attack, Ayala Shapira, is now thirteen years old and recently, as reported by Ynet, together with her mother she travelled to the European parliament to tell her story.

‘”All of a sudden I saw a ball of fire coming from above. It shattered the window—I don’t remember if it was the windshield or the car window—and landed between dad and me,” she recounts. “Within seconds, my entire field of view was filled with flames. All I could see was yellow and orange. But I didn’t feel any pain. Later, it was explained to me that the adrenaline neutralized the pain. I didn’t feel anything; I was just thinking with cold logic what I had to do to get out of the car.

“I unbuckled my seat belt. It took a while. I tried to open it with my left hand but I couldn’t, because it was already burned. So I used my right hand and that’s how it, too, got burned. After that I tried to open the locked door and it didn’t work.”

“The doctors who treated me said I wasn’t in the car for more than 10 seconds, but it’s amazing to me to think of how many thoughts went through my mind in those 10 seconds. I was asking myself how I was going to get out of the car if its locking mechanism was melting.”

“My dad came out of his side to call for help, but he didn’t turn off the engine. When he saw I couldn’t get out, he came back to the car, turned off the engine, and only then did I manage to get out. By myself.” […]

“Dad and I realized it was too dangerous to stay there, because if there were terrorists on the hill, what was going to stop them from coming down and killing us? We walked for 800 meters, until we got home.” […]

Ayala’s mother, Ruth, continues the story:

“When they got home, I told Avner [Ayala’s father] ‘Your shirt is on fire,’ and he said, ‘Forget that, take care of Ayla.’ I brought her into the house and she looked terrible. She didn’t have any eyebrows or eyelashes, she was bleeding from just about everywhere—from her nose, mouth, ears and eyes. Her shirt was all holes, and under the holes I saw burned flesh. Part of her hair was burned down to the scalp.” […]

“I led her to the shower, with clothes on, and sprayed water on her. Her clothes fell apart and fell off. And she was crying out that she was in pain.” […]

A neighbor who serves as an army medic came into the house, took one look at Ayla, and told Ruth: “We’re not waiting for the ambulance, we’re heading out to meet it.”

During her first week in intensive care, Ayla was sedated. […] 

“We didn’t realize the full severity of the situation right away,” Ruth says, “and I’m glad we didn’t. We were told ’30 percent burns, very deep’ and about 12 weeks in the hospital. What I didn’t realize was that only after those 12 weeks can the rehabilitation process begin. […] During her time in the ICU, Ayla underwent four skin graft operations, and then she was transferred to the Department of Pediatrics for two more months, where she underwent another operation. […]

After two months at the Department of Pediatrics, she started a five-month rehabilitation process. […]

Six months ago, Ayla had another operation on her left hand, whose movements were impaired because of the scarring that caused her skin to shrink. “I couldn’t move my thumb,” she says, showing me how her movements have improved. “I had skin shrinking in my right hand as well. Do you think I need surgery?” she asks her mother.

“That’s up to you,” the mother responds.

“I think I’ll give it a pass,” Ayla contemplates aloud. “I’ll settle for the operation on my ears. You see?” she sweeps her hair away. “I suffered from gangrene; parts of the ear fell off.”‘

Ayala still has to wear a pressure mask and will do so for an unknown period of time.

‘”Until the scars stop growing,” Ayla says. “There is no timetable for that, it happens at a different rate for each person. We’ll know that it happened when the scars are no longer pink. At first, my entire face was red. The scars covered large areas. I can see it improving. I have a scar under my lower lip that’s pulling it down. Over my upper lip I had a scar that drained the color from it.”‘

Ayala’s story is one of hundreds of which BBC audiences have no knowledge because non-fatal terror attacks – however devastating for the victims and their families – are for the most part not reported by the BBC and certainly do not receive any follow-up coverage. During 2016, for example, the BBC News website reported all the terror attacks against Israelis that resulted in fatalities, but those attacks were a small proportion of the total number of incidents and audiences were not provided with the crucial context of the scale of attacks as a whole.

Untold stories such as that of Ayala Shapira are no less important than the fatal attacks which do make BBC headlines in helping audiences to understand Israel’s policies, counter-terrorism measures and the concerns of the Israeli people. The fact that such stories are ignored also means that when Israel is obliged to respond to rising terrorism, audiences and BBC journalists alike are unable to put events into their appropriate context and thus arrive at uninformed and inaccurate conclusions.

Any media organisation genuinely committed to fully informing its audiences would make efforts to periodically report that essential context. 

Related Articles:

Another terror attack on Israelis ignored by BBC News

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – December 2016 and year summary

 

BBC News silence on PA terror rewards continues

As has been noted here before, the issue of the Palestinian Authority’s payment of salaries to convicted terrorists is a topic which is serially excluded from the view of BBC audiences.

That subject is obviously of interest to governments and tax payers alike in the many countries that donate aid to the Palestinian Authority – including of course the BBC’s funding British public. Familiarity with the issue is also key to understanding of both the eternal PA budget deficit and the background to Palestinian terrorism.  

The Palestinian National Fund (PNF) – which was established in 1964 as part of the PLO and is now controlled by the Palestinian Authority – was blacklisted by Israel’s Minister of Defence last week.

“Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, today (Thursday, 16 March 2017), pursuant to his authority under Article 3 of the 2016 Fight Against Terrorism Law, declared the “Palestinian National Fund” (hereinafter “the fund”) to be a terrorist organization. 

The decision to declare the fund a terrorist organization stems from its continuing and ongoing activity in providing massive support for elements responsible for committing severe acts of terrorism against Israel. 

The fund serves – inter alia – as a significant financial pipeline for tens of millions of shekels that are transferred on a monthly basis to security prisoners held in Israel for committing acts of terrorism and to members of their families. In effect, the longer the sentence, the greater the payments to the prisoner and his family. 

The fund also supports family members of terrorists who were wounded and killed while perpetrating acts of terrorism against Israel. 

The fund has a vital role in the financial support for Palestinian terrorist operatives imprisoned in Israel, and it is used as the most significant route for transferring funds. 

The fund is headed by Ramzi Elias Yousef Khouri, a senior PLO official who is close to senior Palestinian Authority leaders. 

As of today, all necessary actions will be taken in Israel and overseas in order to seize and confiscate property and assets designated for, or belonging to, the fund.”

The PNF is – to put it mildly – not the most transparently run body.

“The Palestinian National Fund was founded in 1964 by members of the PLO in order to serve as the body which will manage the Palestinian people’s funds. The person who headed the fund was unofficially considered the Palestinian finance minister. The fund’s sources of funding were defined as taxes collected from PLO members (about 5 percent of the salaries of PLO members in the Gulf), donations from businesspeople, donations from Arab and other states, from organizations, and more.

Over the years, tens of billions of dollars were transferred to the fund’s coffer (it is estimated that some $30 billion passed through the fund’s accounts by early 2000). The Arab states’ annual financial aid to the PLO reached some $300 million since the mid 1960s.

Over the years, the fund also received different grants in light of the organization’s political stance. After the occupation of Kuwait in 1990, for example, Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein gave the Palestinian fund a “gift” worth $150 million to thank the PLO for its support of his policy. This is only one example of many.

The Palestinian fund has not only maintained its status since the PA was established after the Oslo Agreements in 1993, but it seems it has also increased its influence. One could say that since the PA’s establishment, the Amman-based National Fund has turned into a sort of secret coffer of the two PA chairmen, Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas. The control of the fund and the billions it manages have given the two leaders huge political power. […]

According to PLO regulations, the Palestinian National Fund should be run by a special council, and its chairman should be one of the members of the organization’s Executive Committee. In practice, however, the fund has not had a chairman for 15 years now, against regulations. About a decade ago, Abbas decided, as the PLO chairman, to appoint Ramzi Khoury, who served as Arafat’s bureau chief, as the fund’s CEO.

This means that Abbas basically controls the fund’s money, and that he knows of and approves the flow of funds to finance anti-Israel activity and propaganda.”

As readers may be aware, until a few years ago the monthly payments to convicted terrorists were made directly by the Palestinian Authority itself. However, in August 2014 changes were ostensibly made to the system.

“In 2014, the PA announced that in order to continue receiving more than a billion dollars in financial support annually, it was acceding to US and European donor countries’ demands that the PA stop paying salaries to terrorist prisoners. The PA claimed the money for prisoners salaries would no longer be paid by the PA but instead by the PLO.”

Nevertheless, as Palestinian Media Watch has documented:

“In 2015, after the PA had assured Western donors it was no longer paying the salaries, and after it had closed the Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs, it suddenly transferred more than double what it had transferred to the PLO in previous years. The additional amount transferred by the PA to the PLO in 2015 was almost identical to the budget the PA Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs used to have. This extra money the PLO received from the PA in 2015 matches the amount the PLO now needed to pay the salaries of terrorist prisoners.
The payments may be made by the PLO, but the money is still PA money.”

The role of the newly blacklisted Palestinian National Fund is explained as follows by PMW:

“…PMW has uncovered PA Ministry of Finance documents that indicate a money trail, showing the transfer of money from the PA to the Palestinian National Fund (PNF), the body that funds the PLO, in the amount needed to pay the salaries to terrorist prisoners […]

In 2015, after the Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs was closed, the PA raised its annual transfer to the PLO via the Palestinian National Fund by 481 million shekels ($128 million):

2014 transfer – 294 million shekels

2015 transfer – 775 million shekels    

The additional 481 million shekels the PLO received from the PA in 2015 was the amount it needed to fund the PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, undertaking the responsibilities of the Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs. The transfer of 481 million is virtually identical to the budget of the Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs in 2014 (442 million), plus 10% yearly growth due to rising prisoners salaries. According to PA law, the salaries of terrorist prisoners rise the longer they are in prison.

This route – money transfers from the PA to the PNF and then to the PLO – is the way the PA is transferring money to the PLO in order to continue funding salaries to terrorist prisoners, and to keep their payments hidden from donor countries.”

If a president (particularly one with an expired mandate) in any other location in the world had control over a shadowy fund that, among other things, facilitated the provision of rewards – and incentives – for terrorism, one can be pretty sure that the BBC’s journalistic curiosity would be piqued. However in the case of Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, the BBC remains typically dumb.

Related Articles:

No BBC reporting of Abbas-PFLP row

PA’s salaries for terrorists in the news again – but not at the BBC

 

 

MK’s plea bargain resignation not newsworthy for BBC

Late last December we noted that the BBC had ignored the story of the arrest of a member of the Knesset from the Balad party on suspicion of smuggling cellphones to convicted terrorists.

The MK – Basel Ghattas – has now resigned from the Knesset.

“MK Basel Ghattas, accused of exploiting his position to smuggle cellphones to convicted Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons, resigned from the Knesset Sunday as part of a plea deal that will see him face two years in prison.

Prosecutors on Friday filed an indictment in the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court against the Joint (Arab) List lawmaker, formally charging him with smuggling phones into prison, smuggling documents and breach of trust.

The charges came a day after Ghattas signed a deal with the state in which he will resign from the Knesset and serve two years. In return he avoided more serious charges of aiding the enemy and being an accomplice to terror. […]

Ghattas was under criminal investigation after being caught on prison surveillance video passing envelopes to Palestinian security prisoners in January [sic – actually December].

Police said that the MK exploited his position as a member of Knesset — who cannot be subjected to a body search — during a visit to Ketziot Prison in southern Israel last year, where he met with Walid Daka, a Palestinian prisoner serving a 37-year sentence for the 1984 abduction and murder of 19-year-old IDF soldier Moshe Tamam. The MK also met with Basel Ben Sulieman Bezre, who is serving a 15-year sentence on a terror conviction.”

In the past the BBC has given its audiences incomplete and partisan portrayals of stories concerning Balad MKs and terrorism – see here and here.  

Despite its usual interest in the workings of the Israeli Knesset and its having produced no fewer than four articles in ten days (see here, here, here and here) on a different police investigation concerning an Israeli politician during the same period of time, on Basel Ghattas’ indictment and resignation the corporation has chosen to stay mum.

Related Articles:

BBC WS ‘Newshour’ promotion of Haneen Zoabi omits crucial information

Was BBC News presentation of a new Israeli law balanced and accurate?

BBC News silent on arrest of Israeli MK