Terrorists and rockets disappear in BBC news reports

h/t AB

When the BBC News website reported the November 11th incident east of Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip in which an Israeli Special Forces officer was killed and another wounded in an exchange of fire that also left six Hamas members and one PRC operative dead, it correctly noted that following the incident, seventeen rockets had been launched from the Gaza Strip at Israeli civilian communities.

However, several other BBC reports have erased those rocket attacks and/or the fact that all the Palestinians killed in the incident were members of terror groups.

Listeners to the BBC World Service radio programme ‘World Update’ on November 12th were informed in a news bulletin (from 24:47 here) that: [emphasis in bold added]

“Israeli Special Forces have carried out a raid on the Gaza Strip. An Israeli officer, a Hamas military commander and another six Palestinians were killed during the operation.” [emphasis added]

No mention was made at all of the subsequent launch of 17 missiles at Israeli civilian targets by Gaza Strip based terrorists.

In a news bulletin aired in the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on the same day (from 01:04:30 here), listeners were told that:

“An Israeli army officer and seven Palestinians including a militant commander have been killed in the Gaza Strip during what was reported to have been an intelligence gathering operation by Israeli Special Forces It led to heavy Israeli air strikes and the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel. Here’s our Middle East correspondent Tom Bateman.”

Bateman likewise told listeners that “among the seven Palestinians killed was a local commander of Hamas’ armed wing” and failed to note the rocket fire.

The same story was the lead item in the November 12th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ and listeners were told by presenter Razia Iqbal (from 00:11 here) that:

Iqbal: “On Sunday a covert Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip resulted in the deaths of seven Palestinians including one Hamas commander and one Israeli soldier – a Lieutenant Colonel. The subsequent firing of rockets into Israel from Gaza threatens to upend an uneasy peace [sic].”

Later on in the item, while talking to Hamas’ Ghazi Hamad, Iqbal remarked:

Iqbal: “But there was also a big significant loss on your side. Apart from the six other people who were killed, a senior Hamas commander, Nur Baraka.”

Iqbal also subsequently failed to challenge her Hamas interviewee’s claim that “they [Israel] killed seven civilians yesterday”.

As we have already seen, in the November 12th edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘The World Tonight’ presenter Ritula Shah likewise portrayed terror operatives as “Palestinians” and erased the subsequent rocket fire from audience view.

Shah: “An undercover operation that went awry and left seven Palestinians and an Israeli officer dead has sparked an escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip.”

The 17 rocket attacks were also omitted from a BBC News website report published on November 13th and from another BBC News website article that appeared on November 14th with early versions stating:

“The latest violence began after an Israeli special forces undercover operation in Gaza was exposed on Sunday, triggering clashes that left seven Palestinian militants and one Israeli soldier dead.”

There is no doubt whatsoever that the BBC knows full well that all seven of those killed near Khan Younis on November 11th were operatives in terror factions and that it is well aware that Gaza Strip based terrorists subsequently fired seventeen missiles at civilian targets in Israel.

There can hence be no justification whatsoever for the repeated withholding of that relevant information from BBC audiences on various platforms.

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False equivalence in BBC News report on Gaza rocket attacks

On the morning of November 13th the BBC News website published another report about the flare-up of violence which had begun the previous afternoon.

Originally headlined “Heavy Gaza-Israel fire traded overnight” and later re-titled “Israel-Gaza: Deadly fire traded across border“, the report underwent numerous amendments in the ten hours following its initial publication.

The use of the word “traded” – i.e. exchanged – in both those headlines obviously suggests equivalence between the actions of the two sides, as do the report’s carefully ‘balanced’ opening lines.

“Eight people have been killed in a flare-up of violence between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza.

More than 460 rockets have been fired into Israel by militants since Monday night, while Israeli aircraft have hit 160 militant targets in response.

Seven Palestinians, several of them militants, died in the strikes on Gaza, while a Palestinian civilian was killed in a rocket attack in southern Israel.” [emphasis added]

However, this story is not about comparable actions. It is actually about an attack – unprecedented in scale – which Hamas and other terror organisations chose to launch against Israeli civilians in southern Israel. The response of Israel to that attack was not equivalent as implied by the BBC: the response struck exclusively military – not civilian – targets after advance warnings were given.

So how was that story portrayed in the report itself?

The report makes use of four photographs: two from Israel and two from the Gaza Strip. The first narrow-angle image photographed in Israel is captioned “Buildings in the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon were hit by rockets fired from Gaza”.

The original caption to that photograph however reads: [emphasis added]

“An Israeli man [apparently a property tax inspector – Ed.] inspects a house damaged by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon, on November 13, 2018″

In other words, the BBC chose to relabel a house as “buildings”.

The second picture photographed in Israel is captioned “Schools have been ordered to close in Israeli border communities as a precaution” and does not show any of the damage inflicted on homes and businesses on November 12th/13th.

The first of the two photographs taken in the Gaza Strip is a wide-angle shot captioned “Israeli aircraft struck the Hamas interior security headquarters in Gaza City”.

The second photograph likewise shows the result an Israeli strike and its caption tells BBC audiences that “Israel carried out air strikes when Sunday night’s firefight erupted”

In other words, readers of this report saw twice as many photographs of damage in the Gaza Strip than that in Israel and the one image which does show the results of terrorists’ rocket attack to the exterior of a house leads BBC audiences to believe that such damage occurred in one location – Ashkelon.

Civilian homes, businesses and a pre-school were also destroyed or damaged by direct hits in Netivot, Sderot and kibbutzim in Eshkol, Sha’ar HaNegev and Hof Ashkelon but that information does not appear anywhere in the BBC’s account of events in Israel. The fact that what the BBC described as “Sunday night’s violence” included the launching of 17 rockets from the Gaza Strip was erased from audience view and the BBC refrained from identifying the perpetrators of Monday’s attacks, while under-reporting the number of Israelis who needed medical care after they took place.

“After a brief lull following Sunday night’s violence, a barrage of rockets and mortars was launched towards Israel late on Monday, which Israeli medics said killed one person and injured 28.

A bus, which had reportedly been carrying troops, was hit by an anti-tank missile in the Shaar Hanegev region, seriously wounding a male soldier.

Overnight, a man was killed when a block of flats in Ashkelon was hit by a rocket. He was later identified as a Palestinian from the occupied West Bank who had been working in Israel.

Eight other people were injured in the attack, including two women who the Israeli ambulance service said were in a serious condition.” [emphasis added]

In contrast, the BBC’s portrayal of events in the Gaza Strip left readers in no doubt as to who had launched attacks. The account was not given in the BBC’s own words but paraphrased Israeli army statements and it gave details of three targets while failing to report that advance warning of the strikes was given and euphemistically describing members of terrorist organisations as “militants”.

“In response, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) carried out what it called a wide-scale attack against military targets belonging to the Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups.

It said they included Hamas’s military intelligence headquarters in northern Gaza and “a unique vessel” in a harbour in the south of the territory.

The building housing Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV was also bombed after being evacuated. The IDF said the outlet “contributes to Hamas’s military actions”.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said seven people were killed and 26 others injured in the strikes. At least four of the dead were militants; two are said to have been farmers in northern Gaza.” [emphasis added]

The BBC’s report included ‘analysis’ from Jerusalem bureau correspondent Tom Bateman reporting – readers were told – from “southern Israel”. Notably, Bateman’s reporting did not include any interviews with Israeli civilians affected by the heaviest ever barrage of rocket attacks launched by Gaza Strip terrorists and so BBC audiences went away with the mistaken impression that just one block of flats in Ashkelon was damaged in these attacks.

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Sloppy BBC News report omits rocket hits on Israeli homes

About an hour and a half after terrorists in the Gaza Strip had begun a barrage of attacks on civilian targets in Israel on the afternoon of November 12th the BBC News website published an article titled “Israel-Gaza violence erupts after covert op killings“.

The report has since been amended numerous times but its headline has not been changed and its opening paragraph remains basically the same:

Version 1: “Violence has flared between Israel and Gaza, a day after seven militants and an Israeli soldier were killed amid an undercover Israeli operation in Gaza.”

Version 13: “Violence has flared between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, a day after seven militants and an Israeli soldier were killed during an undercover Israeli operation in Gaza.”

The “militants” – actually all members of armed terror groups – were not killed “during an undercover Israeli operation” but after that mission had been exposed. Hence the suggestion to audiences that “killings” took place during a “covert op” is inaccurate and misleading.

By the time the first version of this article was published between 80 and 100 rockets and mortars had been fired from the Gaza Strip at Israeli civilian communities. The BBC described that publicly known information as follows:

“Scores of rockets were launched at Israel…”

In version 13 of the report – published on the morning of November 13th – readers were told that:

“Militants fired 300 rockets and mortars at Israel. One hit a bus, seriously injuring a soldier nearby.”

By the time that version saw light the official figure was 370 missiles. Since the previous evening it had been known that the attack on the bus, which opened the barrage of attacks, was not carried out using a rocket or a mortar: Hamas had already put out a statement announcing that the attack was carried out using a Kornet guided anti-tank missile.

Readers then saw a qualified representation of the Israeli response to the hundreds of attacks:

“Israel responded with more than 70 strikes on what it said were targets belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.” [emphasis added]

The report went on:

“Three Palestinians, two of them reportedly militants, were killed.” [emphasis added]

Twelve hours before this version of the report was published it was already known that:

“At least three Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire in the retaliatory attacks and three others were wounded, the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said. The Gaza health ministry identified the dead as Muhammed al-Tatri, 27, Muhammed Oudeh, 22, and Hamad al-Nahal, 23. The military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror group claimed two of the dead as its members.”

Readers had to go right down to the article’s 33rd paragraph to discover that the BBC was in fact aware of that information and so the use of the word “reportedly” was entirely superfluous.

The article went on:

“Meanwhile, Israeli medics said 10 people in Israel were injured.

Israeli media later reported that a man was killed after a house was hit by a rocket in the Israeli city of Ashkelon.”

Hours before this version of the report appeared the Israeli ambulance service had already announced that it had treated 53 injured people and further injuries and one fatality were sustained in a further attack on Ashkelon several hours before the BBC published this article.

The BBC’s report continued with a section titled “What happened on Sunday?” in which readers were once again given an account of the incident near Absan al Kabira, east of Khan Younis, that is mostly sourced from the terror group Hamas.

That was followed by a section titled “Why did Israel kill the commander?” and another titled “What has happened since Sunday’s operation?” in which the BBC refrained from telling readers in its own words of the previous barrage of rocket attacks.

The Israeli military said that immediately after the clashes, 17 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel, three of which were shot down.” [emphasis added]

The article went on to inaccurately claim that the November 12th attacks had taken place throughout the day, rather than from 16:30 onward.

Throughout Monday, some 300 rockets and mortars were launched towards Israel, dozens of which were intercepted while many landed in open spaces, according to the Israeli military.” [emphasis added]

Remarkably, BBC audiences saw no reporting on the numerous direct missile hits on homes and businesses in places such as Sderot, Ashkelon and Netivot and no comment from any of the people affected by the unprecedented barrage of attacks. No images of the damage sustained to the homes of Israeli civilians appeared in this report.

The report ended with a section titled “Why are Israel and Hamas enemies?” that was recycled from a previous report and in which BBC audiences once again saw the violent rioting, terror attacks and infiltrations which have been taking place along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip for more than seven months whitewashed as “protests”.

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PA torture case still being ignored by the BBC

As regular readers may recall, the BBC has been ignoring an unusual story unfolding in Israeli courts for well over a year.

BBC News ignores an unusual legal story from Israel

Story of PA torture continues to be side-lined by BBC

“In a landmark ruling, the Jerusalem District ordered the Palestinian Authority to pay compensation of 13.2 million shekels (approximately $3.5 million) to dozens of suspected collaborators with Israel who were systematically tortured while incarcerated in PA jails.

Hadashot news reported Thursday the plaintiffs hope that Israel will be able to collect the compensation from the Palestinian Authority, and that if not, it could be raised by offsetting tax revenues collected by Israel on the PA’s behalf.”

The story took another turn when – as reported by the Jerusalem Post:

“The PA [Palestinian Authority] has appealed all of the District Court’s decisions to the [Israeli] Supreme Court and asked that the lower court’s decisions be frozen until the appeal is decided. […]

Hoping to deter the court, the PA warned that having to pay the damages, and possibly much larger future damages, might cause the PA to collapse. (The NIS 14 million related only to false imprisonment. That sum could pale compared to the damages the District Court might later issue for the full torture liability.)”

However:

“In a blockbuster ruling the Supreme Court on Wednesday effectively endorsed two judgements totalling close to NIS 14 million against the Palestinian Authority for falsely jailing 51 Palestinians. […]

Justice Yosef Elron’s rejection of the PA appeal means the PA is now obligated under Israeli law to pay the 51 Palestinians without delay – though there are still questions on how the plaintiffs can realistically collect. […]

Notably, the court said if Palestinians were cooperating with Israel to thwart terrorist attacks on Israelis, the PA is also obligated to assist in such efforts under the Oslo Accords. Accordingly, the court said the PA could not treat such Palestinians as criminals, much less torture them. […]

The case is likely to cause significant diplomatic and legal complications between Israel and the PA, especially about whether and how the PA would pay damages.”

The Palestinian Authority of course spends far more annually on financial rewards to terrorists and their families than the sum awarded in compensation to the plaintiffs in this case.

Despite having published a report pertaining to Palestinian torture just last month, the BBC nevertheless continues to ignore this unusual legal story.

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BBC News website sources report on Gaza incident from Hamas

Some three hours after an incident took place in the southern Gaza Strip on the evening of November 11th a report appeared on the BBC News website’s main homepage, ‘World’ and ‘Middle East’ pages under the headline “Israelis ‘kill Hamas commander’ in Gaza exchange of fire”. Several versions later, the report was re-titled “Israelis kill Hamas commander in undercover Gaza raid”.

Early Version

By the time that second headline was written, the IDF had clarified that the mission was not a “raid” but an intelligence-gathering operation.

Still later – some 14 hours after the incident occurred – the report was again re-titledEight killed in covert Israeli action in Gaza“.

Readers of the report’s earlier versions were told that:

“Seven Palestinians, including a local Hamas commander, have been killed during an Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials say.”

And:

“Hamas officials and medics said seven Palestinians were killed, four of them militants.”

In fact – as had been reported by the Times of Israel and others by the time that version of the report was published – more than four of the dead were Hamas operatives.

“According to Hamas’s military wing, the Qassam Brigades commander Nour Baraka was killed along with six other Hamas members by Israeli special forces who drove a “civilian vehicle” three kilometers into Gaza from the border.”

The BBC’s Arabic language report on the same subject also clarified that point:

“Hamas said 7 of its members were killed and 7 wounded in the Israeli shelling.”

The later versions of the BBC News website report revised that statement:

“Six of the Palestinians killed belonged to Hamas – the militant Islamist group which controls the Gaza Strip – and the seventh was a member of the militant Popular Resistance Committees, AFP news agency cited Palestinian officials as saying.”

AFP actually described its information as coming from “Gazan security sources” – in other words, Hamas.

The BBC News website report’s earlier versions stated:

Early Version

“Sirens later sounded in communities across southern Israel and rockets were fired from Gaza, without causing harm.

The Israeli military later said 17 rockets had been fired and three were shot down. It was not clear if the rockets had caused any damage.” [emphasis added]

That first sentence remained in later versions of the report.

In fact sirens were not sounded “across southern Israel” but in areas close to the Israel-Gaza Strip border. By the time the earlier version of the report was published it was known that:

“Following the clashes, at least 17 projectiles were fired at southern Israel as of 05:05 a.m Monday, three of which were shot down by the Iron Dome air defense system, the army said with no immediate reports of casualties.

Light damage was caused to a number of greenhouses in the Eshkol region, locals said.”

Readers were not informed in any versions of the BBC’s report that flight paths to Ben Gurion airport had to be changed due to the rocket fire or that schools, colleges and train stations in the affected area had to be closed. 

The BBC’s earlier account of what happened during the incident was attributed mainly to Hamas:

Later Version

“Seven Palestinians, including a local Hamas commander, have been killed during an Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials say.

An Israeli soldier was also killed and another wounded, the Israeli military said, in an ensuing firefight. […]

A spokesman for Hamas, the militant Islamist group that dominates Gaza, described the incident as a “cowardly Israeli attack”.

Hamas officials and medics said seven Palestinians were killed, four of them militants. The senior Hamas member killed was named as Sheikh Nur Barakeh, a commander of the Izzedine al-Qassam brigades, the group’s military wing, in Khan Younis, in the south of the territory.

Hamas said Israeli special forces fired from a car around 3km (2 miles) inside the Gaza Strip.

An exchange of fire then broke out, with witnesses reporting tank shelling and explosions from Israeli air strikes in the area.”

That account obviously gives BBC audiences the mistaken impression that the “seven Palestinians” were killed before “an ensuing firefight” rather than during the exchange of fire. Readers were not told that the Hamas commander Barakeh was reported to be involved with Hamas’ tunnel programme.

Later Version

Later versions of the report (9 and 10) included a sub-section titled “What happened?” which quoted “Palestinian sources” and “Palestinian officials” without clarifying that the source was again Hamas.

The final part of all versions of the BBC’s report continued the corporation’s deliberately euphemistic editorial policy of portraying the violent rioting, terror attacks and infiltrations along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip as “protests”.

“More than 200 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by Israeli forces since the end of March – most during weekly protests along the border at which thousands have expressed their support for the declared right of Palestinian refugees to return to their ancestral homes in what is now Israel.”

Notably, BBC audiences have not been informed to date of the relevant and related issue of last week’s transfer of $15 million in cash from Qatar to Hamas.

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – October 2018

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during October 2018 shows that throughout the month a total of 330 incidents took place: 95 in Judea & Samaria, 14 in Jerusalem and 221 in the Gaza Strip sector.

In Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem the agency recorded 80 attacks with petrol bombs, 15 attacks using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), eight arson attacks, two shooting attacks and four stabbing attacks.

Incidents recorded in the Gaza Strip sector included 141 attacks with petrol bombs, 39 attacks using IEDs and twenty-five grenade attacks. Sixteen separate incidents of rocket or mortar fire – a total of forty-six launches – took place during October.

The murder of two Israeli civilians and the wounding of another in a terror attack at the Barkan industrial park on October 7th was reported on the BBC News website well over 24 hours later – with the words ‘terrorist’ and ‘terrorism’ used, as usual, only in quotes from Israeli officials.

A member of the security forces and a civilian were wounded in a stabbing attack on October 11th which did not receive any BBC coverage.

Visitors to the BBC News website saw no coverage of missile attacks on October 17th and October 24th. A barrage of attacks on October 26th/ 27th was similarly ignored at the time and only briefly mentioned in a later report.

Original version

The ‘Great Return March’ violent rioting along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip was the topic of one BBC Trending report published on the BBC News website in which audiences were told nothing of grenade and IED attacks which took place.

“Demonstrators burnt tyres and threw stones at Israeli forces, who responded with tear gas and live fire. Gaza’s health ministry said 32 Palestinians were wounded.” [emphasis added]

Another article that was first published on October 28th (and discussed here) presented an IED attack as an Israeli claim.

In short, visitors to the BBC News website during October saw belated coverage of one fatal terror attack and one out of three separate incidents of rocket attacks as well as qualified reporting of one IED attack: i.e. 4.5% of the 330 terror incidents which took place.

Since the beginning of 2018 the BBC has reported 17.6% of the terror attacks that have actually taken place and 90.9% of the resulting fatalities.

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How did the BBC’s Yolande Knell frame Israeli visits to Gulf states?

Two very similar reports from BBC Jerusalem correspondent Yolande Knell have recently appeared on different platforms.

A written report titled “Israel-Arab ties warm up after long deep freeze” was published in the ‘Features’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page on November 6th with a synopsis telling BBC audiences that:

“An Israeli charm offensive is making once unlikely friends in the Arab world, worrying Palestinians.”

On the same day listeners to two editions of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ heard an audio report from Knell – from 08:37 here and from 14:07 here. In both cases it was introduced (by presenters Razia Iqbal and Rebecca Kesby) thus: [emphasis in italics in the original]

“Israel leaders often describe their country as being in a tough neighbourhood but recently there have been some extraordinary signs of friendliness with Arab states. Israel’s prime minister was in Oman, two of his ministers then went to the United Arab Emirates and today another is back in Muscat. And that’s despite the fact that Oman and the UAE – like most Arab countries – have no official diplomatic relations with Israel. The Palestinians are worried about what these new alliances – bound up in common fears about Iran’s regional ambitions and backed by the White House – will mean for their nationalist cause. Our Middle East correspondent Yolande Knell reports.”

Knell’s framing of this story – which places the Palestinian reaction to events unrelated directly to them at the focus of her reports – is obviously noteworthy. Under the sub-heading “Palestinians wary” readers of the written report were told that:

“However, Palestinians are alarmed by the new alliances, developing as President Trump promises to present his “Deal of the Century” plan to end their conflict with Israel.

They fear his administration is looking to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and others to pressure them into accepting a peace agreement that does not meet their long-standing demands.

“This kind of attempt to normalise Israel within the region, without Israel normalising its relationship with Palestine and remaining as an occupying power, is counterproductive and dangerous,” says Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) official.

She suggests the latest developments threaten the legitimacy of the Arab Peace Initiative – which the 22 members of the Arab League signed up to in 2002.

It offers Israel normal diplomatic relations with Arab states only in exchange for its full withdrawal from Arab lands it captured and occupied in the 1967 Middle East War.”

Knell made no effort to explain to her readers why an initiative launched over 16 years ago has to this day made no progress or why they should take Hanan Ashrawi’s word that it is at all relevant.

Ashrawi was also featured in Knell’s audio report, but with no mention of her PLO position.

Knell: “Here in the occupied West Bank Palestinian leaders are alarmed by this regional shift taking place as President Trump promises to present his ‘deal of the century’ to end their conflict with Israel. They cut off ties with the US last year, saying it wasn’t an honest peace broker and they fear the White House is looking to its powerful Arab allies, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to pressure them into a peace agreement that falls well short of their long-standing demands. Hanan Ashrawi is a senior Palestinian official.”

Ashrawi: “I think this is part of an overall strategy by the Americans to try to get normalisation with the Arab world before Israel withdraws from the occupied territories: what we call the outside-in approach.”

Knell did not bother to inform listeners that under the terms of the Oslo Accords – signed by the body which Ashrawi represents – the issue of borders is supposed to be resolved in final status negotiations between the two parties.

Another aspect of Knell’s framing of this story is her promotion of a theory allegedly advanced by unidentified “analysts” which was portrayed in the written report as follows:

“Analysts suggest the pivotal role ascribed to Saudi Arabia in reviving the peace process has been thrown into doubt by the shocking murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

However, in another remarkable move, comments by Mr Netanyahu on Friday seemed to show tacit support for the powerful Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who has been accused of having a role in Khashoggi’s death – something the kingdom has denied.

He said Mr Khashoggi’s killing was “horrendous” but should not be allowed to lead to upheaval in Saudi Arabia “because the larger problem is Iran.””

In the audio report listeners heard the following self-contradicting statements from Knell:

Knell: “But there’s been a set-back to the warming of Saudi and Israeli ties: the international outcry over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at his country’s consulate in Turkey. The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman – known as MBS – has had his reputation badly damaged by the scandal, although he denies involvement. Remarkably, one international leader giving him tacit support is Mr Netanyahu.” [emphasis added]

Recording Netanyahu: “What happened in the Istanbul consulate was horrendous and it should be duly dealt with. Yet at the same time I say that it’s very important for the stability of the world – of the region and of the world – that Saudi Arabia remain stable.”

Listeners were not informed that – despite Knell’s claim of “international outcry” – just one day before her report was aired, seventy-five country delegates to the UN Human Right Council had heaped praise on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

Another interesting aspect of Knell’s reporting is its downplaying of what some analysts see as the prime motivation behind improved relations between Israel and Gulf states. Readers of the written report found a tepid portrayal of Iranian regional actions and policies which, notably, whitewashed its financial support for Hamas from the picture.

“The main reason is a shared concern over Iran. Israel, like many Gulf Arab countries, worries about Iran’s ambitions and sees it as a destabilising force in the Middle East.

Tehran has been directly involved in conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and supports rebels fighting in Yemen and militant groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”

In the audio report listeners were told that: [emphasis added]

Knell: “Meetings between Israeli and Gulf Arab officials have long taken place in secret but now they’re happening openly, despite a lack of progress on peace with the Palestinians. The main reason is the shared concern about Iran…”

Knell ended both her reports with more clear messaging to BBC audiences that a story concerning diplomatic relations between Israel and Gulf states is actually about Palestinians.

Written:

“All these signs of a regional shift are popular with ordinary Israelis and even Mr Netanyahu’s political rivals have praised his advances in the Gulf.

However, the Arab public – for whom the Palestinian issue remains very emotional – will be far harder to win over without a peace agreement.

So for now, Arab states are unlikely to fully embrace Israel. Instead we should expect more previously unthinkable invitations, gestures of recognition and warm handshakes.”

Audio:

“Such signs of new relations are very popular with ordinary Israelis although the Arab public – still very sensitive to the Palestinian issue – will be much harder to win over without a peace agreement.”

While BBC audiences obviously got a generous dose of PLO (and Hamas) messaging in both Knell’s reports, the question of how that contributes to their understanding of this story is clearly debatable.

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BBC continues to deny audiences relevant Jerusalem background information

On November 2nd the BBC News website published its latest report on the proposed relocation of a foreign embassy to Jerusalem – “Israel’s Netanyahu welcomes Brazil Jerusalem embassy vow“.

“Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has welcomed a decision by Brazil’s president-elect to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Mr Netanyahu praised it as “historic, [and] correct”. Palestinians called the move “provocative and illegal”.

Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right politician, expressed strong support for Israel during his election campaign.

Jerusalem’s status is one of the most contentious issues between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel considers the whole of Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as the capital of a hoped-for Palestinian state.”

As was the case in an article published last month, a problematic backgrounder video by Yolande Knell dating from December 2017 was promoted in this latest report. Later on readers found a typical BBC ‘nothing worth mentioning happened before 1967’ portrayal of the story’s background:

“The status of Jerusalem goes to the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel regards Jerusalem as its “eternal and undivided” capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem – occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war – as the capital of a future state.”

Obviously if the BBC’s audiences are to understand why Israel regards united Jerusalem as its capital they would need to be told of the inclusion of the city’s 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, since the BBC began covering stories relating to the relocation of foreign embassies to Jerusalem in late 2016 and particularly since the US announcement concerning its embassy in December 2017, that background information has been serially denied to audiences.

Readers of this report also found the BBC’s usual partisan framing of ‘international law’ and ‘settlements’ with no mention of the fact that some of the Jerusalem neighbourhoods it chooses to define as such were inhabited by Jews until the Jordanian occupation.

“Since 1967, Israel has built a dozen settlements, home to about 200,000 Jews, in East Jerusalem. These are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.”

While there is nothing new about the BBC’s failure to provide its audiences with the full range of information necessary for their understanding of the background to these stories concerning the relocation of foreign embassies to Jerusalem, the fact that it adopts that editorial policy – committed as it is to “due impartiality” under BBC editorial guidelines and even as it repeatedly tells audiences that “Jerusalem’s status is one of the most contentious issues between Israel and the Palestinians” – is truly remarkable.

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More context-free BBC portrayal of Gaza construction imports

Since the end of the summer 2014 conflict between Israel and terror groups including Hamas, the BBC has repeatedly told its audiences of “tight border restrictions” affecting the import of construction materials into the Gaza Strip.

“And there are no new building materials that are coming in. Israel has long imposed tight border restrictions on Gaza, saying they’re needed for security and since the ceasefire nothing’s changed. Aid agencies say a rethink is urgently needed. There would still be a housing crisis even if Israel fully opened its one commercial crossing.” [emphasis added] Yolande Knell, BBC News, September 2014

“…but the Israeli blockade of Gaza remains in place. Now that is a blockade by air, land and sea. It is Israel which decides which trucks and how many and carrying what goods are allowed in and out of Gaza. There are serious concerns being expressed by aid agencies about whether or not Israel will allow enough construction materials in. A temporary mechanism has been agreed and that will involve monitoring by the United Nations but they are literally almost at the level of counting the grains of sand going in and out of Gaza and there are serious fears that the volume of cement and construction materials that would be required will simply not be allowed in. Israel of course views cement as a dual-use item and it has been used by Hamas to build tunnels right out of Gaza under the ground into Israeli territory, so cement is particularly carefully monitored.” Orla Guerin, BBC World Service radio, October 2014

“Donors have pledged more than $5bn but Israel strictly regulates the import of building materials and equipment into the Palestinian territory. They say that militants could use the equipment to carry out attacks.” Yolande Knell, BBC News, December 2014

“Israel and Egypt maintain tight border restrictions on the coastal enclave, which have severely hampered reconstruction efforts. They say these are needed for security.” [emphasis added] Yolande Knell, BBC News, July 2015

As has been noted here on numerous occasions, millions of tons of construction materials have in fact been transported into the Gaza Strip since the summer of 2014.

However, the BBC has shown considerably less interest in informing its audiences of important factors which have affected the pace of repair and reconstruction in the Gaza Strip such as the failure of many donors to meet their pledges, the black market in building supplies, the lack of Palestinian Authority cooperation and Hamas’ theft and misappropriation of building materials for the purpose of terror – not least cross-border attack tunnels.

On November 2nd the BBC World Service put out a filmed report concerning a building material developed by a Gaza civil engineer which was also promoted on the BBC News website’s ‘World’ and ‘Middle East’ pages.

Titled “What is ‘Green Cake’ and why did this woman invent it?“, the report by Richard Kenny informed BBC audiences that “[a] young Palestinian entrepreneur, Majd Mashharawi, has redesigned the plain old concrete block to help Gaza rebuild its infrastructure”.

Viewers were told that “[w]ars with Israel have led to widespread destruction” and that the concrete blocks conventionally used for building:

“…are usually made from cement, sand and gravel (or aggregate). But all that has to come from Israel which tightly restricts imports on security grounds.”

In other words, the only information provided to BBC audiences regarding the background to this story refrained from informing them of any of the factors affecting repair and reconstruction in the Gaza Strip which are not connected to Israel and failed to clarify that the supervision of imports of dual-use goods – rather than “imports” in general – had to be put in place as part of counter-terrorism measures.

Had BBC audiences been informed of the complete story behind the topic of building in the Gaza Strip over the past four years, they may have been able to fill in the gaps in this film for themselves. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.

Related Articles:

How Hamas put a tax on building materials the BBC told audiences don’t exist

Even the Guardian goes where the BBC refuses to tread

Hamas man spills beans on appropriation of construction materials: BBC silent

BBC News ignores yet another story about Hamas appropriation of construction materials

A side to the Gaza reconstruction story the BBC isn’t telling

Some context to the BBC’s ‘reporter in the Gaza rubble’ features

BBC ignores Hamas theft of construction materials yet again

 

 

A politicised BBC report on a new train line

On November 1st an unattributed filmed report titled “On board the new Jerusalem-Tel Aviv fast train” appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page with the following synopsis:

“It’s been a long time coming, but Israeli commuters are finally able to board double-decker high-speed trains on a new link from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.

Construction has been plagued by engineering and planning challenges, and the last section of the line is still not open. The route has also angered some Palestinians, as part of the track runs in tunnels under the occupied West Bank.

Transport Minister Yisrael Katz hopes it will eventually whisk passengers from secular, liberal Tel Aviv to a “Donald Trump Station” next to the Western Wall, one of Judaism’s holiest sites.”

Roughly halfway into the film, its focus changes from the subject of the new train line itself to politicised messaging.

“But Palestinians in this village in the occupied West Bank are angry. A tunnel runs under part of the area but many Palestinians don’t have permits to enter Israel, so can’t use the train.”

Issa Odeh al-Jamel, Beit Surik resident:

“This train passes through Beit Surik land and we are not even allowed to use it. This is itself is a catastrophe for us.”

“Palestinians say Israel is illegally using occupied territory.”

The village of Beit Surik is located in Area B and its residents are Palestinian Authority citizens. The land under which – rather than “through” – the railway tunnel runs is located in Area C which, under the terms of the Oslo Accords, is under Israeli control – including planning. Of course the BBC did not bother to clarify to audiences that it was the Palestinian Authority instigated Second Intifada which made permits necessary for residents of PA controlled areas. Neither were viewers told that there are no stops near Beit Surik or anywhere else along the line running from Jerusalem to Ben Gurion airport.

The film continues:

“Villagers fear they may lose access to some of their land.”

Muhammed Abdul Razik, Beit Surik resident:

“We don’t have enough information about the route of the train. It definitely passes under the lands of the village of Beit Surik but whether it is above the land or under the land, it is the same problem. For us the damage is the same. I am sure we will not have the freedom to work on our lands.”

Seeing as that tunnel – Tunnel 3 – was completed over four years ago, the claim that the route is not clear is an obvious red herring which the BBC chose nevertheless to include in its report. The BBC provides no evidence to support the specious claim that the existence of the tunnel will have any effect on access to farming land.

The film goes on to tell BBC audiences that:

“The Israeli Transport Ministry has not commented. The full route is not open yet. […] And next, Transport Minister Yisrael Katz wants to tunnel underneath Jerusalem’s historic, politically sensitive Old City. He wants to build “Donald Trump Station” near the Western Wall after the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem. More controversy is likely.”

While there are indeed plans to extend the train line from its current final stop in Jerusalem towards the city centre and the Old City, those plans – including the route – are still under Planning Committee discussion and so the BBC’s suggestion that construction will take place “underneath Jerusalem’s historic, politically sensitive Old City” is at best premature.

As we see just over half of the BBC’s anonymous report on this new train line is devoted to amplification of politicised messaging. Coincidentally or not, that messaging just happens to align with that put out by Saeb Erekat and the PLO when the train line was opened.