BBC misleads on Gaza athletes travel

On August 15th a filmed report produced by Mike Lanchin for the BBC World Service radio history programme ‘Witness appeared in the ‘Features’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Gaza’s history-making female runner“.

“In 2004, the 800m runner Sanaa Abu Bkheet became the first athlete from the Gaza Strip to represent Palestine at the Olympic Games.

She led the Palestinian delegation at the opening ceremony, the first time a woman had carried the Palestinian flag at an Olympics.

Sanaa, who still lives in the Gaza Strip, tells Witness about overcoming poverty and prejudice on her journey to the biggest sporting stage in the world.”

In that film viewers heard a voice-over translation of Abu Bkheet saying:

“I’m still training but because of the siege I cannot go outside the Gaza Strip. I cannot compete in international races.”

This of course is far from the first time that BBC audiences have seen amplification of that inaccurate Hamas-approved terminology to describe counter-terrorism measures which in no way meet the definition of the term ‘siege’:

“a military operation in which enemy forces surround a town or building, cutting off essential supplies, with the aim of compelling those inside to surrender”

Viewers also heard Abu Bkheet say:

“For the past four years no athlete from Gaza has been able to take part in any event outside. A short while ago there was an invitation to go to Jerusalem and Ramallah for events but we were all denied travel permits.”

Seeing as the date of the recording of this video is unclear, it is impossible to identify the events for which Abu Bkheet claims she was denied travel permits and fact-check that claim. However, even the foreign funded political NGO ‘Gisha‘ states in a document (p. 12) updated in September 2017 that:

“Gaza Strip residents who are members of national and local sports teams may enter Israel to travel to Judaea and Samaria and abroad, for the purpose of official team activities. Entry is also approved for members of the Olympic Committee and the Palestinian Football Association.”

While issues have arisen in the past when applications for travel permits were not submitted in time, there is certainly no blanket ban on travel for athletes (or coaches) as viewers of this report are led to believe. Notably, the BBC did not offer its audiences any context concerning the reasons behind the need for counter-terrorism measures such as permits to enter Israel for residents of an enclave run by a terrorist organisation.

According to the International Association of Athletics Federations another runner from the Gaza Strip – Mohammed Abu Khousatook part in events in France in 2014, in Qatar in 2016 and in Tunisia in 2017, among others. Abu Khousa also participated in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

Even a grossly one-sided AP report from April of this year acknowledged that a delegation of athletes from the Gaza Strip attended – albeit belatedly – the 2018 Arab Junior Athletics Championships held in Jordan.

As those two small examples show, the BBC promoted claim that “no athlete from Gaza has been able to take part in any event outside” since 2014 is clearly inaccurate and misleading.

 

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Over a third of BBC website’s Corbyn wreath laying report allocated to denials

A report which appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘UK Politics’ page on the afternoon of August 13th was initially headlined “Jeremy Corbyn pressed over ‘terror memorial’ claims”. Roughly two hours later the word terror was dropped from the headline, which was amended to read “Jeremy Corbyn ‘wreath laying’ attacked by Israeli PM“. The report was also posted on the website’s ‘Middle East’ page.

As noted on these pages last September, for decades BBC News has refrained from describing the members of the PLO faction that perpetrated the Munich Olympics massacre as terrorists. Surprisingly, the word terror was used in this report’s opening line:

“Israel’s PM has criticised Jeremy Corbyn over his presence at a ceremony said to have honoured the perpetrators of the 1972 Munich terror attack.”

However, the report later returned to form: [emphasis added]

“The questions were in response to a Daily Mail front page featuring photographs it said showed the Labour leader near memorials to members of the militant Black September group behind the 1972 attack.

Eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage by the Palestinian group at the 1972 summer games in Munich.”

Sixty-nine of the 778 words used in the report described the Israeli prime minister’s tweet criticising Corbyn’s participation in a 2014 event in Tunisia commemorating members of the ‘Black September’ terrorist faction responsible for the brutal murders of Israeli citizens. Forty-nine words were used to give readers background on the Munich Olympics attack itself and a further fifty-seven words related to the Daily Mail article published three days earlier which once again brought a story that first emerged in 2017 into the spotlight.

Amplification of the denials of Corbyn and the Labour Party concerning that event accounted for 35% of the article’s total word count and a further 77 words – including Labour Party denials – related to a previous event in 2013. 

Readers were told that:

“Benjamin Netanyahu said Mr Corbyn deserved “unequivocal condemnation” for laying a wreath on the grave of one of those behind the atrocity.

Mr Corbyn said Mr Netanyahu’s claims about his “actions… are false”.

The Labour leader said he had attended the event in Tunis in 2014 as part of a wider event about the search for peace.”

BBC audiences were not however informed that the “wider event about the search for peace” – subsequently also described as “a conference” – was titled the “International Conference on Monitoring the Palestinian Political and Legal Situation in the Light of Israeli Aggression” or that – as also reported by the Daily Mail – its participants included a senior Hamas official featured in past BBC content.

“At the event in Tunisia, top Hamas leader Oussama Hamdan presented a ‘four point vision to fight against Israel’ and praised the group’s ‘great success on the military and national levels’, adding that the violence was ‘magnificent’.

He had just given an interview to Lebanese media in which he said that the anti-Semitic myth that Jews drank Christian blood was ‘not a figment of imagination or something taken from a film. It is a fact.’

Othman Jerandi, a former Tunisian foreign minister, also gave a speech at the conference and stated: ‘ISIS and Israel are the same thing’.

Other delegates included activist Zaher Al-Birawi, who is close to the leadership of Hamas; and lawyer Sabagh al-Mukhtar, who appeared as an expert witness to support extremist cleric Abu Hamza before he was deported from Britain.”

Birawi is of course the UK-based activist involved in the organisation of both the recent failed ‘flotilla’ and the ‘Great Return March’ violent rioting that has been taking place along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip for the past four and a half months. Birawi was also previously the director of the Hamas-linked ‘Palestinian Return Centre’ which has in the past donated to Jeremy Corbyn.   

Together with Corbyn at the wreath-laying ceremony linked to that ‘conference’ was a member of the PFLP terror group and a Fatah official who has appeared in BBC content.

Despite Corbyn having subsequently made statements that contradict the claim from “Labour’s press team”, readers of this report were told that:  

“On Sunday Labour’s press team said: “The Munich widows are being misled. Jeremy did not honour those responsible for the Munich killings.””

In an insert of ‘analysis’ from the BBC’s political correspondent Tom Barton readers found amplification of Corbyn’s ‘whataboutery’ – with no mention made of the fact that a significant proportion of those killed during the violent rioting and attacks were linked to terror factions – as well as amplification of a baseless but unattributed allegation.

“In his reply, Jeremy Corbyn described the Israeli Prime Minister’s accusations as false. But he also took the opportunity to say that the killing of Palestinian protesters in Gaza by Israeli forces deserves “unequivocal condemnation”. His supporters say the purpose of Benjamin Netanyahu’s message is to shut down that sort of criticism of Israel’s actions.”

In contrast to the 269 words used to report denials from Corbyn and the Labour Party, statements made by “critics” were afforded 108 words.

The BBC’s report stated that in relation to his presence at the wreath-laying ceremony, Corbyn said:

“I was there because I wanted to see a fitting memorial to everyone who has died in every terrorist incident everywhere because we have to end it.”

Readers were later told that:

“In a tweet, Labour said he and other Parliamentarians had been honouring victims of the 1985 Israeli bombings.”

As noted at the Times of Israel, the context to those statements – which the BBC did not bother to provide – is the fact that what audiences saw described as “Israeli bombings” was the response to another brutal Palestinian terror attack.

“The “terrorist incident” he was apparently referring to was an Israeli air force strike on the PLO headquarters in 1985 in response to the hijacking of an Israeli yacht and the execution of three Israeli passengers.

PLO leader Yasser Arafat escaped unharmed although several of his bodyguards and several civilians were killed in the strike, which completely destroyed the headquarters.”

Remarkably, the BBC had no ‘analysis’ to offer its audiences on the topic of the leader of a British political party – and potential prime minister – who apparently thinks that a counter-terrorism operation against the headquarters of a terrorist organisation which had claimed the brutal murders of three civilians was a “terrorist incident”. 

Related Articles:

Reviewing the language used in BBC reports on the Munich Olympics Massacre

 

More amendments made to BBC’s online Gaza rocket attacks report

Around five hours after the BBC News website had rephrased a problematic headline to a report concerning missile attacks launched from the Gaza Strip which it had published two hours earlier, the article was amended once again.

Version 2

The inaccurate claim that violence had broken out “after militants shot at an IDF vehicle in Gaza on Wednesday” – which by that time had been online for over seven hours – was revised:

On Wednesday afternoon, the IDF said militants had fired shots at civilians constructing an underground barrier along the border fence, damaging a vehicle. In response, a tank targeted a Hamas post in northern Gaza, it added.”

Some five hours after that, the report was updated again to include further developments.

Providing BBC audiences with a link to the Hamas affiliated Shehab news agency and once again failing to clarify that “Gaza health officials” are actually part of the same terror organisation that had launched some 180 missiles at Israeli civilians in the 24 hours before this update, the amended report informed readers that:

“The calm only lasted a few hours, however, before a long-range Grad rocket landed in an open area on the outskirts of the southern Israeli city of Beersheba – setting off sirens there for the first time since the last Gaza war in 2014.

Shortly afterwards, an Israeli air strike hit a multi-storey cultural building in Gaza City, reducing it to rubble and injuring 18 people, Gaza health officials said.

There was no immediate confirmation from the IDF, but Israeli media said the building was believed to have served as a Hamas headquarters.”

Nearly two hours before the BBC News website made that amendment to its report, the Times of Israel had already reported IDF statements concerning the building’s purpose.

“The Israeli Air Force on Thursday evening flattened a five-story building in the northern Gaza Strip that served as a headquarters for the Hamas terrorist group’s internal security service, the army said.

The Israel Defense Forces said the strike on the building in the northern Gaza Strip, which also served as a cultural center in the coastal enclave, was in response to “rocket fire by the Hamas terror group against the city of Beersheba earlier in the day.” […]

The building targeted by the Israeli strike in Gaza City was known as the Said al-Mishal Cultural Center. The building contained the second-largest theater in the Strip and was home to an office for Egyptians living in coastal enclave.

However, the IDF said the building was also used by Hamas’s internal security service, which “is the operational arm of the political leadership of the Hamas terror group.”

The military said the building contained offices used by the security service.

“Some of the members of the internal security unit are also operatives of Hamas’s military wing,” the IDF said.”

IDF spokespersons also Tweeted information in Hebrew and in English.  

However, according to the version of events which the BBC News website is apparently happy to have remain online as “historical records“, the building was a “cultural building” which unspecified second-hand sources claimed was “believed” to also function as “a Hamas headquarters”.

Apparently the BBC thinks that passes for the “accurate and impartial news…of the highest editorial standards” which it is committed to providing to its funding public.

Related Articles:

Inaccuracy, reverse chronology and lack of context in BBC reporting on Gaza missile attacks

BBC Radio 4 news bulletins mislead UK audiences on Gaza rocket attacks

BBC’s sanitisation of deliberate Gaza border violence continues

 

Inaccuracy, reverse chronology and lack of context in BBC reporting on Gaza missile attacks

On the afternoon of August 8th terrorists in the Gaza Strip shot at civilian construction vehicles working on the Israeli side of the border.

“Shots were fired from the Gaza Strip at a number of civilian construction vehicles just outside the Palestinian enclave on Wednesday afternoon […]

In response, an Israeli tank shelled a Hamas observation post in the northern Gaza Strip, the army said. […]

The engineering vehicles that were fired upon are being used to build an underground barrier around the Gaza Strip, which is meant to counter Hamas’s network of border-crossing attack tunnels.

“Terrorists shot at civilian vehicles that were being used in the effort to construct the barrier around the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip. One vehicle was hit,” the Israel Defense Forces said.”

Just after 7:30 p.m. terror factions in the Gaza Strip began firing rockets and mortars at Israeli civilian communities near the border, two of which hit Sderot, causing shrapnel injuries to two residents. By 10:30 p.m. 36 projectiles had been launched, four of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system. More residential buildings were hit overnight, as well as factories, in attacks claimed by Hamas and supported by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The attacks continued throughout the night and by 6 a.m. the next day, over 150 projectiles had been launched, 25 of which were intercepted, with five civilians injured – one seriously – and some 14 others treated for shock. In response, the IDF conducted air strikes on terrorist sites in the Gaza Strip. The Hamas-run health ministry reported that three people had been killed – one a Hamas operative – and six injured in those strikes. At the time of writing, the attacks against Israeli civilians continue.

Over twelve hours after those missile attacks against Israeli civilians had begun, the BBC News website published a report titled “Israeli air strikes ‘kill woman and toddler'” on its main homepage, its ‘World’ page and its ‘Middle East’ page.

BBC News website homepage 9/8/18

Version 1

Following public objections to that context-free headline, two hours later the report’s title was changed to read “Gaza air strikes ‘kill woman and child’ after rockets hit Israel“.

Version 2

Despite the change of headline, the report still presented the story to readers in reverse chronological order, while failing to clarify that “Gaza health ministry officials” in fact means the terror organisation launching the attacks on Israeli civilians and portraying over 150 missiles as “dozens”. [emphasis added]

“Three Palestinians are reported to have been killed in a series of Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip, after militants there fired dozens of rockets into southern Israel.

Gaza health ministry officials said a pregnant woman and her daughter, aged one, were killed in the Jafarawi area.

A Hamas militant also died in the north, health officials said.”

Notably, the BBC was unable to give its audiences a similarly detailed portrayal of the injuries sustained by people on the other side of the border.

“Israeli media said several civilians were hurt by rocket fire in Sderot and other towns near the Gaza border.”

BBC audiences were told that:

“The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said the violence broke out after militants shot at an IDF vehicle in Gaza on Wednesday.”

As BBC Watch pointed out to the BBC on Twitter, that sentence alone includes three inaccuracies.

The article’s last four paragraphs were copy/pasted from a report published two days earlier on the BBC News website and once again BBC audiences saw a tightly framed portrayal of the ‘Great Return March’ publicity stunt which whitewashes its violence and downplays the role of terror factions in its organisation and execution.

Related Articles:

BBC’s sanitisation of deliberate Gaza border violence continues

BBC News ignores brewing Red Sea tensions

Back in late June we highlighted a report by the INSS on the topic of the Red Sea.

“Although the threat posed by pirates in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait has declined in recent years as a result of international action, a new threat to freedom of navigation has emerged there due to the war in Yemen, which assumed a distinctively regional character with the onset of the Saudi campaign against the Houthis in 2015. The Iranian-supported Houthi rebels have mined areas along the coast of Yemen, used explosive boats and anti-ship missiles to attack primarily American and Saudi military maritime vessels, and on at least one occasion (in April 2018) struck a Saudi oil tanker. […]

The Red Sea arena possesses considerable economic importance. The Bab el-Mandeb Strait is 29 kilometers wide and constitutes a maritime chokepoint and strategic link between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean.  A significant volume of the world’s maritime traffic passes through the Strait, including a daily average of some five million barrels of oil. The Suez Canal constitutes an important source of income for Egypt, as does the port of Aqaba for Jordan and the port of Jeddah for Saudi Arabia (its most important port). It is also the route of passage to the port of Eilat.”

On July 25th another attack on Saudi Arabian ships in the Bab el-Mandeb strait took place and Saudi Arabia subsequently temporarily halted oil exports via that route.

“Saudi Arabia said on Thursday it was suspending oil shipments through the Red Sea’s Bab al-Mandeb strait, one of the world’s most important tanker routes, after Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis attacked two ships in the waterway. […]

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said the Houthis attacked two Saudi oil tankers in the Red Sea on Wednesday, one of which sustained minimal damage.

“Saudi Arabia is temporarily halting all oil shipments through Bab al-Mandeb strait immediately until the situation becomes clearer and the maritime transit through Bab al-Mandeb is safe,” he said. […]

Saudi crude exports through Bab al-Mandeb are estimated at around 500,000-700,000 barrels per day (bpd), according to analysts and Reuters data. Most Gulf oil exports that transit the Suez Canal and SUMED Pipeline pass through the strait.”

Ha’aretz reported that the incident was “attracting a great deal of attention among intelligence organizations in the region and from the oil industry”.

“The tanker, the Arsan, was flying a Saudi flag and transporting some 2 million barrels of oil to Egypt. It was struck by missiles near the port of Hodeida in Yemen where Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been attacking the Houthis for the past few months. According to the Washington Institute the tankers were hit by a rocket fired from a fast-attack vessel or a ground-to-sea missile fired from Yemen, possibly a C-802, which Iran supplies to the rebels. The Houthis claimed responsibility for the attack and the Saudis announced that they were suspending tanker shipments in the Red Sea until the situation was sorted out and marine traffic was safe again.”

Despite an extensive search on the BBC News website – including its Saudi Arabia and Yemen pages and its business section – we have not been able to find any BBC reporting whatsoever on that incident.

The following day – July 26th – the BBC News website published an article headlined “Iran general warns Trump war would ‘destroy all you possess’” in which readers were told that:

“An Iranian special forces commander has warned President Donald Trump if the US attacks Iran it “will destroy all that you possess”.

Major General Qassem Soleimani vowed that if Mr Trump started a war, the Islamic Republic would end it, Iranian news agency Tasnim reported.

It follows Mr Trump’s all-caps-lock tweet warning Iran’s president to “never, ever” threaten the US. […]

Maj Gen Soleimani – who leads the Quds Force of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards – was quoted on Thursday as saying: “As a soldier, it is my duty to respond to your threats. […]

“We are near you, where you can’t even imagine. Come. We are ready.

“If you begin the war, we will end the war. You know that this war will destroy all that you possess.”

The BBC did not inform its readers that Soleimani’s threats included – as reported by the Guardian and others – a specific mention of the Red Sea.

“The senior Iranian military commander Qassem Suleimani has hit back at Donald Trump’s tweeted threats against Tehran in colourful language, likening him to a gambler and a cabaret owner, and saying Iran would be the one to “end” any war between their two countries. […]

“The Red Sea which was secure is no longer secure for the presence of American [military] … The Quds force and I are your match. We don’t go to sleep at night before thinking about you,” added Suleimani, according to the Tasnim news agency. […]

Suleimani’s warning to the US about the Red Sea comes on the same day Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional rival, suspended oil exports through the strategic shipping lane of Bab al-Mandeb due to missile attacks on two oil tankers by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels off the Yemen coast.”

Clearly any Iranian threats concerning the potential disruption of international shipping in the Red Sea are of considerable significance – and not only for countries in the region such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel

Moreover, MEMRI reports that:

“On August 6, 2018, the Iranian news agency Fars published statements by Gen. Naser Sha’bani, a top official of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), in which he noted that the regime of the Islamic Revolution had ordered the pro-Iran Ansar Allah (Houthi) militia in Yemen to attack two Saudi tankers, and that it had carried out those orders. […]

It should be emphasized that the quote about the order to attack the tankers was deleted from the Fars website after the statements were published. MEMRI has in its possession a copy of the original prior to the deletion.”

To date, however, the BBC’s funding public has seen no reporting whatsoever on this story.

 

BBC’s sanitisation of deliberate Gaza border violence continues

On August 7th the BBC News website published an article titled “Israeli tank fire kills two Hamas militants in Gaza” on its Middle East page. The report relates to an incident which took place earlier in the day when IDF soldiers on patrol in the northern sector of the Border between Israel and the Gaza Strip identified gunfire from the Beit Lahiya area. Hamas later claimed that the snipers were taking part in a drill held by the terror group near the border fence.

The BBC’s report on the incident opened as follows:

“The Israeli military has struck a Hamas border post in northern Gaza with a tank shell, killing two members of the Palestinian group’s military wing.

The military said the tank responded to shots fired at soldiers from the post.

But Hamas said its fighters were taking part in a live-fire exercise and that Israel would pay for their deaths.”

The last four paragraphs of that 14 paragraph report presented audiences with the BBC’s now standard narrative concerning events along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip since the end of March, including concealment of the fact that the violent provocations have been deliberately staged by Palestinian terror groups as part of a propaganda campaign.  

“In the past four months, there has been an upsurge in violence along the Gaza-Israel border.

More than 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces – most during weekly protests at which thousands of Palestinians have expressed their support for the declared right of Palestinian refugees to return to their ancestral homes in what is now Israel.

Human rights groups have accused Israeli troops of using excessive force at the protests. Israel has said they only opened fire in self-defence or on people trying to infiltrate its territory.

One Israeli soldier has been shot dead by a Palestinian sniper during the same period, while incendiary devices attached to balloons and kites launched by Palestinians have sparked hundreds of fires in southern Israel, burning some 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) of forest and farmland.”

As we see, the BBC once again promotes Hamas-sourced casualty figures while failing to clarify that the terror group is one of the factions involved in the organisation, financing and facilitation of what are yet again blandly described as “weekly protests”.

Readers are not told that those ‘Great Return March’ events have been characterised by violent rioting which has included hundreds of petrol bomb attacks, IED attacks, grenade attacks and shooting attacks as well as infiltration attempts. The BBC likewise refrains from clarifying that the “upsurge in violence” has also included hundreds of rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian terror factions against Israeli civilians.

While amplifying the “declared right of Palestinian refugees to return to their ancestral homes in what is now Israel”, the BBC did not bother to inform its audiences that the intention of the Palestinian demand for ‘right of return’ is to bring about the end of the Jewish state.

For over four months the BBC has been presenting its audiences with a tightly framed portrayal of the ‘Great Return March’ publicity stunt which whitewashes its violence and downplays the role of terror factions in its organisation and execution.

Four years ago the BBC’s Director of Editorial Policy and Standards wrote that:

“Our online news is far more accessible today than the newspaper archives of libraries. But in principle there is no difference between them: both are historical records. Fundamentally it is in the public interest to retain them intact.”

As was noted here at the time:

“That, of course, is true only so long as those “historical records” are correct. It is not, however, in the public interest to have historical records which are misleading, inaccurate or politically biased – especially from an organisation which enjoys the public’s trust – and funding.”

Sadly, it is bland and materially misleading portrayals of the weekly violence deliberately organised for propaganda purposes by terror factions in the Gaza Strip such as the one above which the BBC is ensuring will become “historical records”.

 

 

 

BBC double standards in reporting social media incitement evident again

As we have seen in the past BBC reporting on social media incitement to violence and/or glorification of terrorism differs depending on location.

Reviewing BBC reporting on social media incitement in Europe and Israel

In April of this year the BBC News website’s domestic pages reported the sentencing of a Salford man previously found guilty of “encouragement of terrorism”.

“Muslim convert Adam Wyatt, 48, admitted disseminating a terrorist publication that said “Britain must atone for its sins in Palestine” and posting on social media that jihad was an obligation for all Muslims.”

The following month the website reported the sentencing of a man from Sunderland who had previously pleaded guilty to similar offences.

“A shopkeeper who tweeted support for Islamic State (IS) and called for “death to Shias” has been jailed for four-and-a-half years.

Mohammed Zahir Khan, of Nora Street, Sunderland, had admitted encouraging terrorism, dissemination of a terror publication and stirring up religious hatred.”

Unsurprisingly, the BBC did not send a reporter to interview either of those men before they were sentenced. Neither did it promote the notion that they were put on trial because of their identity to millions of audience members or portray either of their cases as being about “free speech”.

However, when an Israeli-Arab woman was sentenced to five months in prison after having been convicted of incitement to violence in her poems and social media posts, the BBC News website amplified her claims of political persecution in a July 31st report titled “Dareen Tatour: Israeli Arab poet sentenced for incitement“.

“An Israeli Arab poet has been jailed for inciting violence and supporting a group banned as a terrorist organisation based on her online posts. […]

The BBC’s Yolande Knell in Jerusalem says the poet’s case has become a cause celebre for free speech advocates and has drawn attention to a recent rise in Israeli arrests – of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank – accused of incitement or planning attacks online. […]

Following her sentencing, Tatour said that she was not surprised by the verdict.

“I expected prison and that’s what happened. I didn’t expect justice. The prosecution was political to begin with because I’m Palestinian, because it’s about free speech and I’m imprisoned because I’m Palestinian”, she told Israel’s Haaretz newspaper.”

The BBC’s report also provides readers with two links to Tatour’s ‘poem’ – one a written version and the other a video.

On the same day the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ aired a pre-recorded translated interview with Tatour by Tim Franks (from 30:04 here). The story was similarly portrayed by presenter James Menendez as being about ‘free speech’. [emphasis in bold added, emphasis in italics in the original]

Menendez: “To a case now that’s become a cause celebre for free speech advocates in Israel and beyond. Dareen Tatour is an Arab-Israeli poet living near Nazareth. In October 2015 she was arrested and subsequently charged with inciting violence and supporting a terrorist organisation. That’s because of her social media posts including one in which she read a poem called ‘Resist, my people, resist’ accompanied by footage of Palestinian protesters throwing stones at Israeli police. At that time tension was running high in Israel after a series of stabbing attacks by Palestinians. Well today, more than two and a half years on, Dareen Tatour has been sentenced for her crimes. The sentence was five months in prison. She’s already spent 3 months in prison and was then placed under house arrest. Well that prompted writers from around the world, including Alice Walker and Naomi Klein, to call for her release. Well on Monday Dareen spoke to Newshour’s Tim Franks who asked her first how she was feeling ahead of sentencing.”

During that interview BBC audiences around the world heard Tatour state that she does not think “there is any fairness in the Israeli justice system” and claim that she was being sentenced “only because I’m Palestinian. This is a political sentence”.

Listeners also heard her claim that she writes “about 70 years of occupation” with no effort made by Franks to explain to listeners what that phrase actually means. Similarly unchallenged was Tatour’s claim that she speaks about “the Israeli Zionist crimes against innocent people”.

When Franks raised the issue of one of her posts praising the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, she claimed that the “accusation is only based on a news story that I shared which mentions the Islamic Jihad” and “all I did was share the article”.

Haaretz however reported that her post said:

“Allah Akbar and Baruch Hashem, Islamic Jihad declared intifada throughout the whole West Bank and expansion to all Palestine. We should begin inside the Green Line” 

Franks then provided Tatour with the cue for her claim that she is “against all forms of violence” before asking her about her use of the word ‘shahid’ – martyr – while giving listeners the cumbersome explanation that:

“It is the word that is used to describe people who – Palestinian militants – who have lost their lives involved in militant activity”

Listeners then heard Tatour claim that “the word shahid that I use means victim” and twice state that “every martyr in Palestine is a victim”. She also made the false claim – unchallenged by Franks – that:

“More than a thousand people died in the last Gaza war – most of them children.”

Following that interview, James Menedez interviewed former Israeli MK Danny Ayalon, asking him first:

Menedez: “What is Israel doing locking up poets?”

As we see, while the BBC produces factual, judgement free reporting on people convicted of “encouragement of terrorism” in the UK, a similar story in Israel gets entirely different treatment. And so, the BBC’s double standards on terrorism persist.

 

 

 

BBC News still promoting false balance on Syrian regime chemical weapons

On August 5th the BBC News website published a report titled “Syrian conflict: Government scientist killed in blast” on its Middle East page.

Readers of the BBC’s report on that story were told that: [emphasis added]

“The head of a suspected chemical weapons’ research centre in Syria has been killed in a car bombing, pro-government and opposition media report.

Aziz Asber was the head of a facility belonging to the government’s Syrian Scientific Research Centre.

Western intelligence agents have said the organisation is linked to a Syrian chemical weapons programme.

A rebel group said it carried out the attack, but there has been speculation that others could be involved.”

That link leads to a BBC report dating from May 2017 in which audiences were informed that:

“Syria’s government is continuing to make chemical weapons in violation of a 2013 deal to eliminate them, a Western intelligence agency has told the BBC. […]

The intelligence document obtained by the BBC says Syria’s chemical weapons are manufactured at three sites – Masyaf, in Hama province, and at Dummar and Barzeh, both just outside Damascus. All three are branches of the Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC), a government agency, it adds.”

In June of this year the BBC’s Diplomatic correspondent reported that the OPCW (the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons):

“…found sufficient evidence to determine that the Syrian Arab Armed Forces (President Bashar al-Assad’s troops) were responsible for three chemical weapons attacks in 2014 and 2015, and that the Syrian regime was responsible for the Sarin nerve agent attack in April 2017 in Khan Shaykhun.”

Nevertheless, towards the end of this latest report BBC audiences were once again told that: [emphasis added]

Syria has denied owning or using chemical weapons, but the US and the Syrian opposition accuse the government of carrying out a chemical attack on former opposition stronghold Douma near Damascus that reportedly killed 40 people in April this year.”

It is clearly evident that the Assad regime did not destroy its “entire chemical arsenal” as mandated by UN Security Council resolution 2118 in 2013 and hence does in fact ‘own’ chemical weapons. It is also a fact that the OPCW has determined that the Syrian government’s forces have used chemical weapons on at least four occasions other than the one in Douma in April 2018.

Nevertheless, BBC audiences continue to see false balance in the form of the repeated promotion of inadequately challenged Syrian propaganda that is presumably intended to tick the BBC’s ‘impartiality’ box. In addition to being downright ridiculous, that editorial policy clearly undermines the BBC’s purpose of providing the public with accurate and impartial reporting that enhances its understanding of this issue.

Related Articles:

Why does the BBC describe the Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack as ‘suspected’?

Are BBC audiences getting the full picture on Syria’s chemical weapons?

BBC News amplification of unchallenged Assad propaganda persists

Despite evidence, the BBC won’t let go of Assad propaganda

BBC News website tones down Assad regime propaganda

 

 

 

 

BBC News website misleads on construction plans

As documented here last week, early on the morning of July 27th a report concerning a terror attack that had taken place the previous evening in the community of Geva Binyamin (Adam) was published on the BBC News website’s Middle East page.

Middle East page 27/7/18

On the evening (local time) of the same day, a follow-up report was published but by the next morning it no longer appeared on the website’s Middle East page, although the first report was left standing.

Middle East page 28/7/18

That follow-up report – titled “Israeli defence minister calls for West Bank settlement expansion” – was, like the earlier article, bizarrely tagged “Gaza border clashes” even though the location of the incident that is its subject matter is nowhere near the ‘Gaza border’.

Readers of that follow-up report were told that:

“Israel’s defence minister says the best way to stop more attacks on Israeli citizens in the occupied West Bank is to expand its settlements.

Avigdor Lieberman announced 400 new homes would be built in Adam, near Ramallah, where a Palestinian fatally stabbed an Israeli man on Thursday. […]

The West Bank settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this. […]

The Israeli army also said it is “reinforcing the defence” in the settlement of Adam, but Mr Lieberman suggested a longer-term strategy was needed.

“The best answer to terror is a settlement expansion in the West Bank,” he tweeted [in Hebrew].”

So did – and can, as this report clearly leads readers to believe – Israel’s defence minister at the drop of a hat order the construction of 400 “new” residential units in Geva Binyamin (Adam) in response to the terror attack that took place the previous evening? As explained at the Times of Israel – the answer to that question is no.

“Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Friday announced that he had directed his ministry to advance plans for the construction of 400 new homes in the West Bank settlement of Adam, in response to the deadly terror attack that took place there overnight. […]

The 400 homes would be part of an already existing plan which will add 1,000 houses in the settlement, 150 of which are already under construction.

Liberman’s directive likely means the plan will be prioritized by the Civil Administration, the Defense Ministry body that convenes once every three months to approve West Bank construction.

The plan still requires several approvals by planning authorities before ground can be broken — a process that sometimes can take years.” [emphasis added]

As we have seen in the past, BBC audiences often receive misleading impressions about the scale of construction in Judea & Samaria and parts of Jerusalem because the BBC covers – often repeatedly – announcements of building plans, planning approvals and issues of tenders, regardless of whether they actually come to fruition.

In this report we have yet another example of the BBC presenting residential units that are part of an existing plan as though they were an announcement of “new” building.

Related Articles:

BBC practice of repeat reporting of Israeli planning permits continues

The BBC’s inaccurate and misleading representation of Israeli building – part two

 

 

BBC News describes something it failed to report last week as ‘rare’

On the afternoon of August 2nd a report appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the superfluously punctuated headline “Israel ‘thwarts IS attack’ on Golan Heights“.

That unnecessary qualification continued in the report’s opening sentences: [emphasis added]

Israel says it has killed seven suspected Islamic State (IS) militants who it says had crossed inside Israeli lines on the Golan Heights.

The Israeli military said it launched an air strike near a ceasefire line separating Israeli and Syrian sides of a demilitarised zone.”

The BBC’s report also failed to give readers a clear picture of where the incident took place:

“Israel said the group was around 200m (656ft) from an Israeli fence in the zone, delineated by Israel and Syria in 1974.”

As Ynet and other local media outlets reported:

“The incident began around 10:30pm on Wednesday, when the terrorists were spotted around 200 meters from the border fence, just north of the Israel-Syria-Jordan border. […]

“Assad’s forces are currently in the final stages of recapturing of the Syrian Golan and are operating in the south of the Golan against ISIS-linked groups, and as a result of that we see ISIS fighters dispersed throughout the area near the border, as they flee the areas occupied by Assad,” IDF Spokesperson Ronen Manelis said.”

BBC audiences were however given the impression that the fighting in the area is over:

“Syrian rebel fighters and government forces have clashed in the area, though President Bashar al-Assad has regained control of late.”

Readers of the BBC’s report were also told that:

“It is a rare attack by Israel on militants in the area, recently retaken by Syrian forces from IS and rebels.”

Israel of course responds to incidents that take place along that border and so the ‘rarity’ of Israeli actions depends on events initiated by others. The BBC itself reported an incident in November 2016 (albeit belatedly) when Israel responded to ISIS gunfire at a group of IDF soldiers.

The last of those ‘rare attacks’ took place nine days before this report was published, following a cross-border incident involving the same ISIS militia.

“Two rockets from Syria apparently landed in the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel Wednesday […]

 “We heard a whistling,” one local recalled. “And then a second whistling. And then we saw [one of the missiles] falling into the water, maybe 50 meters from the beach.”

The projectiles were believed to have been fired from the southern part of the Syrian Golan Heights, where the regime of Bashar Assad has been completing its campaign against the last rebel villages remaining in the area.

Military sources said late Wednesday they inclined to believe that the projectiles were fired by Islamic State jihadists at Syrian regime forces […]

Incoming rocket sirens blared across the Israeli Golan Heights, sending residents of the area scrambling to bomb shelters.”

The IDF later targeted the ISIS rocket launcher.

“Israeli defense officials believe ISIS launched the grad rockets at Israel as a provocation, in an effort to make Israel attack the Syrian army in retaliation. These assessments are based on the fact Assad’s army was attacking ISIS from the north and east, and so any fire to the west would have to be intentional. “

Seeing as the BBC completely ignored that attack at the time it is perhaps unsurprising that it now classifies the latest Israeli response as “rare”.

The BBC’s report closes:

“The BBC’s Middle East correspondent, Tom Bateman, who is in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, says that despite the infiltration, Israel sees Iranian forces loyal to President Assad as the biggest threat from inside Syria.

Israel says it will not allow Iran – Israel’s arch-foe – to strengthen its military presence in Syria – something Israel considers a direct threat.

Although Israel is not directly involved in the Syrian conflict, it has increasingly carried air strikes against Iranian assets and military personnel in Syria.”

Bateman did not bother to clarify to readers why Israel should consider Iranian entrenchment in Syria “a direct threat” or that Israeli strikes in Syria have for the most part been directed at Iranian weapons transfers –in breach of UN Security Council resolution 1701 – to its proxy terrorist group Hizballah.  

Related Articles:

Twenty-nine hours later – BBC News reports Golan cross-border attack