The BBC’s monochrome framing of Gaza’s chronic utilities crisis

Last month the BBC aired reports from the Gaza Strip presented by Radio 4’s Mishal Husain which included multiple references to issues concerning water, electricity and sewage.

As was noted here at the time:

“…listeners heard that “more than 90% of the population don’t have access to safe drinking water” and that “the desalination system in Gaza has broken down” because of “electricity”. No effort was made to clarify the full background to those statements or to explain that – as the BBC knows – the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip (and resulting problems with water and sewage) has nothing to do with “the blockade”.”

The portrayal of those issues focused mainly on framing them as being primarily attributable to Israel’s counter-terrorism measures while no effort was made to explain the role of Hamas terrorism in bringing about those measures. The effects of Hamas’ financial prioritisation of terrorism over civilian welfare, its chronic mismanagement of services and utilities and infrastructure and the influence of the Hamas-Fatah split on the situation in the Gaza Strip were not adequately explained in the BBC’s reporting.

Like other BBC reporters before her, Mishal Husain did not bother to clarify that the “shortage of clean water” in the Gaza Strip is the result of years of over-pumping.

“The coastal aquifer, which is located under the coastal plain of Israel and the Gaza Strip, is the only source of natural water in Gaza. Due to rapid population growth, which in the last decade increased from nearly 1.5 million in 2007 to more than 2 million today, the demand for water in the Gaza Strip has surged. The increased water needs alongside the scarcity of alternative sources of water have led to the extreme over use of the aquifer. While the renewable extraction rate for Gaza’s underground aquifer is about 60 million cubic meters of rain water annually, Palestinians in Gaza have been drawing an estimated 200 million cubic meters a year for over a decade, leading to the infiltration of sea-water into the aquifer, and therefore raising the levels of salinity far beyond WHO health regulations.”

Neither were BBC audiences informed of the effects of Hamas’ failure to address the issue of sewage treatment.

“Gaza’s groundwater has also been extensively contaminated by sewage. The discharge of untreated sewage generated by the two million inhabitants into shallow ponds – which eventually percolates into the aquifer – has caused alarming levels of Nitrate (NO3).”

The chronic electricity shortage in the Gaza Strip, which was exacerbated in 2017 by the Palestinian Authority’s dispute with Hamas, also contributed to the problem.

“Wastewater plants are not fully operating, resulting in more than 100,000 cubic meters of raw or poorly treated sewage being discharged into the sea on a daily basis.”

Notably BBC audiences have heard nothing whatsoever about the health and environmental hazards created by the increased draining of sewage from neighbourhoods in the northern Gaza Strip since summer 2017 into a stream which crosses into Israeli territory. That practice continues and an additional hazard has emerged.

“Due to the dire economic situation in Gaza, the wastewater plant cannot undergo the needed treatments, prompting Palestinians living in the northern neighborhoods of the Strip—Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia—to drain sewage into Nahal Hanun, which crosses Israel and empties into the sea, polluting the groundwater in the process.

In order to stop wastewater flow and reduce the environmental damage, the [Israeli] Water Authority has recently set up a pumping station near the Erez border crossing, which effectively made Israel responsible for water purification of the northern Gaza Strip. Before the Israeli intervention, the moshavim and kibbutzim near the border—Netiv HaAsara, Erez, Yad Mordechai, and Zikim—suffered from a continuous onslaught of mosquitoes and flies. […]

As well as that, massive piles of trash have accumulated in the area bordering the Eshkol Regional Council after three giant landfills were set up along the border fence, leaving the locals to cope with a putrid and toxic smell being carried by the wind across the border. 

The landfills are derelict as dry and wet waste gets mixed up and subsequently burned, increasing the environmental impact.”

BBC reporting on the subject of shortages of water and electricity in the Gaza Strip and the related issue of inadequate sewage treatment nevertheless continues to adhere to the type of framing seen in an edition of ‘Hardtalk’ aired on multiple BBC platforms in November 2018 in which presenter Stephen Sackur told the Israeli minister being interviewed: [emphasis added]

“…you’re saying that Israel’s besieging tactics in Gaza – the fact that Gaza doesn’t really have power supplies that work, it doesn’t have clean water, it has a jobless rate of 60% or more – you’re saying all of this isn’t tough enough; that Israel should be hammering Gaza harder. Is that it?”

Although BBC audiences have long been steered towards the inaccurate view that (as also claimed by Hamas) all the economic and humanitarian problems in the Gaza Strip are attributable to Israeli counter-terrorism measures, while the roles of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in creating and exacerbating the crisis are downplayed or airbrushed from the story, that framing clearly does not meet the BBC’s obligation to provide its funding public with “accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming of the highest editorial standards”. 

Related Articles:

BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ Gaza Strip special – part one

BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ Gaza Strip special – part two

BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ Gaza Strip special – part three

BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ Gaza Strip special – part four

BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ Gaza Strip special – part five

Mishal Husain does ‘life in Gaza’ for BBC One TV

 

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A context-free ‘Today’ report from the BBC’s Paul Adams in Gaza

Many thanks to all those who wrote in to alert us to an item aired in the July 25th edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme Today. That report by Paul Adams – currently a BBC diplomatic correspondent and formerly twice based in Jerusalem – was introduced by presenter Mishal Husain (from 0:47:15 here) with multiple inaccuracies.

Husain: “Israel has partially reopened the Kerem Shalom crossing point into the Gaza Strip allowing fuel to enter the territory for the first time in two weeks. The crossing was closed earlier this month after incendiary kites were flown across the border setting fire to agricultural land inside Israel.”

Firstly, the Kerem Shalom crossing was not “closed” – and therefore also not “reopened”. As the BBC News website reported on July 17th, restrictions were placed on the types of goods allowed through:

“No fuel will enter through Kerem Shalom until Sunday, but food and medicine deliveries will still be permitted.” [emphasis added]

The restriction on fuel and gas imports was lifted at noon on July 24th after having been in force since July 17th: in other words for seven and a half days. Husain’s claim that fuel had entered the territory “for the first time in two weeks” is hence inaccurate. Listeners were not told that the restrictions were introduced not only after “incendiary kites were flown across the border” by parties Husain refrains from identifying but also after terror factions in the Gaza Strip had launched over 200 rockets and mortars at Israeli civilians two days beforehand.

Husain continued with an equally context-free portrayal of the violent rioting – pre-planned, financed and facilitated by Gaza terror factions – that has been taking place since the end of March:

Husain: “The UN says the lack of fuel has affected Gaza’s only power plant and hospitals, where hundreds of Palestinians are still being treated after being shot by Israeli soldiers during the protests of recent weeks.

Mishal Husain of course did not bother to inform listeners of the fact that Hamas has been exploiting diesel fuel imported via Egypt and intended for “Gaza’s only power plant” to boost its own coffers and for terror purposes. She went on:

Husain: “But as our diplomatic correspondent Paul Adams reports, health workers are worried about something much more long-term: the deteriorating mental condition of nearly 2 million Gazans.”

With the background to the report having thus been framed as related to Israel’s counter-terrorism measures, Adams commenced by telling a two month-old story.

Adams: “On the busy streets of Gaza a man sets fire to himself. The crowd gathers and the flames are doused. The man is bundled into a taxi. He makes it to hospital but dies two days later. What drove musical newly married Fathi Harb to take his own life? The man in the online videos dressed as a clown or singing to promote a coffee brand. His grandfather Said tries to make sense of Fathi’s death. Like everyone in Gaza he struggled to make a living but his wife Doha was about to give birth to their first child. The baby, Wattan, was born two days after Fathi died.”

Voiceover Grandfather: “No-one knows why he did it but the boy asked himself what kind of life are we living So I think of the same question. Every Palestinian asks himself the same question.”

Adams did not inform listeners that – as reported by some journalists at the time – Fathi Harb was “heard cursing the government” as he set himself on fire. Other media outlets noted that his family had been affected by the Palestinian Authority’s cutting of salaries to employees in the Gaza Strip.

In Paul Adams’ account, however, there is no room for any mention whatsoever of Hamas or the Fatah dominated Palestinian Authority.

Adams: “Suicide is a terrible sin in Islam and yet Fathi Harb chose to do it out in the street in front of dozens of people. He was clearly desperate and so it seems are more and more people here. Gaza’s boiling border has been in and out of the news since March but UN staff have been worried about Gaza’s young men for months.”

Following Adams’ promotion of that false linkage between the economic situation and the ‘Great Return March’ agitprop, listeners heard from “a UN health worker who claimed “more cases” since the beginning of the year. Adams commented that:

Adams: “It seems as though particularly educated young people are especially vulnerable to this kind of suicidal thought.”

The UN health worker gave a reply which conveniently fits in with Adams’ framing of the story, claiming that such people are “open to the world and the same time they cannot see the world.”

Adams continued:

Adams: “And it’s not just suicide. Domestic abuse is another alarming trend. At a UN clinic local women are discussing stress management. With unemployed, depressed husbands and angry, restive children Gaza’s women are under strain.”

After listeners had heard from one of those women, Adams went on, again studiously avoiding any mention of uncomfortable subjects such as Hamas’ use of water and sewage pipes to make rockets or Mahmoud Abbas’ deliberate exacerbation of the Gaza power crisis last year.

Adams: “Gaza has been crumbling for decades. War and economic isolation have taken their toll. There’s no proper drinking water. Electricity comes on for just 3 hours a day – sometimes in the middle of the night.”

Adams then introduced another interviewee:

Adams: “David Hutton runs the UN community mental health programme in Gaza.”

Hutton – who told listeners that “anybody who lives under these conditions” would “have an erosion of coping skills” – actually works for UNRWA and unsurprisingly had nothing to say about Hamas’ responsibility for what he described as “the chronic stress that people live with”. Adams went on:

Adams: “The youngest need help too. ‘Save the Children’ runs a youth centre at Beit Hanoun at the northern end of the Gaza Strip, close to the Israeli border. Encouraged by an instructor, girls in their early teen years play games, sing and forget themselves. But there are haunted faces here too, hanging back, uncertain, troubled.”

Adams did not bother to ask whether those “haunted faces” might be linked to the fact that four years ago, children living in Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia were witness to the firing of 69.4% of the 3,356 missiles fired at civilian targets in Israel by terrorists in the Gaza Strip between July 8th and August 5th 2014.

Adams closed his report with a quote from the NGO which typically avoids mentioning the effects of Palestinian terrorists’ rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli children:

Adams: “‘Save the Children’ say 95% of Gaza’s children experience psychological distress: yet another Palestinian generation growing up with the corrosive effects of a conflict apparently without end.”

As we see, Paul Adams managed to get through his entire report without mentioning the words Hamas and terrorism even once. Obviously such blatantly context-free reporting – along with Mishal Husain’s inaccurate claims -not only contributes nothing at all to the BBC’s public purpose of helping its audiences “engage fully with issues” but actively hinders that process.

 

Correction secured to inaccurate BBC News website claim about Gaza attacks

As noted here last week, on December 9th the BBC News website produced the corporation’s first English language report of the year on the topic of missiles fired from the Gaza Strip – despite numerous other attacks having taken place throughout 2017.

Readers of that report were told that:

“Israeli-Palestinian tensions have risen since President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”

After more attacks took place, the BBC News website produced another report on the same topic on December 14th – “Israel hits Hamas targets in Gaza after rocket fire” – in which readers were similarly informed that:

“There has been an escalation of hostilities since President Donald Trump gave US recognition to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel a week ago.”

Relating to incidents which took place the previous evening, the article opened:

“Israel has carried out fresh air strikes in the Gaza strip on what it said were military facilities belonging to the Islamist group Hamas.

The Israeli military said its aircraft had targeted training camps and weapons storage compounds.

The strikes happened after four rockets were fired from Gaza towards Israeli territory.”

Later on readers learned that:

“One rocket landed in a field in southern Israel, one reportedly fell short, landing inside the Gaza strip, while two were intercepted.”

However, BBC audiences were not told that the missile that fell short reportedly hit a school in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip – which was fortunately empty at the time.

“Earlier on Wednesday night, four rockets were fired from Gaza at southern Israel. Two of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, a third struck an open field and the fourth fell short of the border and hit a school in the Gaza Strip, according to Israeli officials.

The rocket that fell short destroyed an empty classroom in Beit Hanoun’s Ghazi al-Shawa public school, according to the IDF.”

On December 15th yet another rocket fired by terror groups in the Gaza Strip fell short, also reportedly hitting a structure in Beit Hanoun.

“A rocket was fired at Israel from Gaza on Friday evening, yet hit a residential building in the Gazan town of Beit Hanoun, the Israeli army’s coordinator of government activities in the territories said. […]

According to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the house was significantly damaged. In a Facebook post in Arabic COGAT said that “once again terror organizations launch rockets at Gaza residents themselves.”

Despite the BBC being one of the few media outlets to have a permanent presence in the Gaza Strip, no mention of that shortfall missile appeared in the BBC News website’s December 15th report titled “Jerusalem: Palestinians killed in fresh clashes with Israel“.

In the first two versions of that report, readers were told that:

BBC Watch contacted the BBC News website, pointing out that the projectiles launched from the Gaza Strip throughout the past ten days were not “mortars”. The report was subsequently amended and that paragraph now reads as follows:

Remarkably, despite the recent uptick in missile fire from the Gaza Strip the BBC has not sent any of its Jerusalem-based correspondents to report from the Israeli communities affected by those attacks. As we see – and not for the first time – the corporation also continues to ignore residents of the Gaza Strip who fall victim to shortfall rockets fired by terror groups in the territory.

Related Articles:

For the first time this year, BBC reports Gaza rocket attacks on Israeli civilians

Why doesn’t the BBC tell audiences about Gaza’s shortfall missiles?

BBC ignores two more missile attacks from Gaza

Early on the morning of July 23rd a missile was fired from the Beit Hanoun region in the Gaza Strip towards Israel. While the missile was originally thought to have exploded in mid-air, its remnants were later found in Israeli territory.

“The IDF said Sunday that a rocket fired by Palestinians from the Gaza Strip at the Ashkelon coast overnight had landed in an open area of the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council. […]

There were no injuries or damage as a result of the incident, the army said in a statement.”

Less than 24 hours later, an additional missile hit the Eshkol district and Israel later responded.

“A rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip early Monday morning and landed near the Gaza border fence in Israel’s southern Eshkol region.

The Israel Defense Forces said that there were no reported injuries or damages. Moreover, the “red alert” alarm that usually sounds fifteen seconds in advance of an incoming rocket before it lands, did not go off, which the IDF explained was a result of its heading towards an unpopulated area.

Nevertheless, the IDF conducted a search of the area shortly after the rocket landed. A little while later, an IDF tank fired on a Hamas position located in the southern Gaza Strip.”

Neither of those attacks received any coverage from the BBC.

Since the beginning of this year twelve separate incidents of missile fire from either the Gaza Strip or the Sinai Peninsula have taken place. The BBC’s English language services have not informed audiences of any of those attacks.

Related Articles:

BBC’s silence on missile attacks from Gaza Strip continues 

Lyse Doucet’s promotion of her BBC Two ‘Children of the Gaza War’ programme

Promotion for Lyse Doucet’s programme ‘Children of the Gaza War’ – timed to be broadcast on the anniversary of the beginning of Operation Protective Edge on July 8th – has been appearing, inter alia, on the BBC News website and on social media.

Doucet tweet children 1

Doucet tweet children 2

Doucet tweet children 3

Doucet tweet children 4

Doucet tweet children 5

From the second of those Tweets from Lyse Doucet we learn that whilst the BBC was filming in southern Israel on July 16th 2014 it caught an incoming missile alert and the resulting scramble of two children to their home’s fortified safe room on camera. Insofar as we are aware, that footage was not shown to BBC audiences at the time.

Visitors to the BBC News website on July 5th found a filmed report by Doucet titled “Battle scars: Gaza children living with war’s legacy” and two days later a written report by Doucet also appeared in the ‘Features’ section of the website’s Middle East page under the headline  “The children scarred by war“.Doucet art 7 7 Gaza

Of the 1,086 words making up that article, two hundred and thirty-six can be categorized as background information. The Israeli children’s side of the story is told in two hundred and sixty words and five hundred and ninety words are devoted to the stories of Palestinian children. One can only hope that the upcoming programme itself will show better balance.

Among the notable aspects of Doucet’s written report is a curious focus on why her first interviewee was where he was when disaster struck.

“A week after the fighting began, Syed’s life was shattered on the day the 12-year-old, his 11-year-old brother Mohamed, and their six cousins went to Gaza’s beach to play football.

It was the natural playground for young boys from a family of fishermen which has lived off the sea for generations.

“We didn’t know that beach was dangerous,” says Syed – his eyes still, round, sad pools, as he remembers 16 July, one of the most harrowing days of the war.” [emphasis added]

Doucet makes no effort to inform readers that – as noted in the MAG report on the incident – the location was known to be a Hamas site and that prior events made the fact that it was dangerous clear.

“From the factual findings collected by MPCID investigators, it arose that the incident took place in an area that had long been known as a compound belonging to Hamas’s Naval Police and Naval Force (naval commandos), and which was utilized exclusively by militants. The compound in question spans the length of the breakwater of the Gaza City seashore, closed off by a fence and clearly separated from the beach serving the civilian population. It further arose in the course of the investigation (including from the affidavits provided to the MPCID by Palestinian witnesses), that the compound was known to the residents of the Gaza Strip as a compound which was used exclusively by Hamas’s Naval Police. The IDF carried out a number of attacks on the compound in the days prior to the incident. In the course of one such attack, which took place on the day prior to the incident (15 July 2014), a container located inside the compound, which was used to store military supplies, was attacked.”

Doucet even casts doubt on the nature of the site through her use of punctuation in the following sentence:

“An Israeli investigation said its air force mistook the children for Hamas fighters when a pilot fired twice at a “compound” next to the beach.”

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

In a video clip embedded into the article, Doucet tells audiences that the apartment she visits together with a girl called Samar “lies next to the main crossing with Israel”. That information would suggest that the area is in Beit Hanoun but Doucet makes no effort to inform viewers of the highly relevant context of the terrorist activity which took place in that district.

“Of the 3,356 missiles fired at civilian targets in Israel by terrorists in the Gaza Strip between July 8th and August 5th 2014, 69.4% were fired from the northern part of the territory with the towns of Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun being major centres of missile fire, cross border tunnels and other terrorist activity.”

Without revealing the source of her claim, Doucet tells readers that:

“By the end of the 51-day conflict, 551 Gazan children had lost their lives.”

Throughout the past year, the BBC has repeatedly quoted and promoted casualty figures sourced from Hamas agencies and/or UN bodies relying on information from Hamas agencies and sympathisers. No independent BBC verification of the figures or of civilian/combatant casualty ratios has been made available to the public. Hence, BBC audiences cannot know whether or not the number quoted by Doucet includes child combatants, terrorists presented with false ages or even those killed by short-falling missiles fired by terrorist organisations such as the children killed in Shati on July 28th 2014.

Doucet’s article also includes promotion – including a link – of a very one-sided and context-free report from the political NGO ‘Save the Children’ which relates almost exclusively to children in the Gaza Strip and manages to avoid all use of the words terrorism or Hamas.

“A report released this week by Save the Children, A Living Nightmare, says the vast majority of children in the hardest-hit area still experience nightmares and bed wetting.”

The most remarkable part of Doucet’s article, however, is the following paragraph:

“Israel says its 2014 campaign, Operation Protective Edge, was launched to stop rocket attacks from Gaza and destroy a vast network of tunnels, some of which extended into Israeli communities. Hamas, which controls most of Gaza, said it was fighting against Israeli air strikes and incursions, and trying to ease severe restrictions on its crossings with both Israel and Egypt.”Doucet filmed 5 7

The BBC knows full well that Operation Protective Edge commenced after hundreds of missiles were fired by terrorist groups at civilian targets in Israel in the preceding weeks and following considerable efforts to persuade Hamas to stop those attacks. It also knows that thousands more rockets and mortars were fired during the period between July 8th and August 26th and what was the aim of the cross-border tunnels constructed by Hamas. It therefore has no justification for presenting that information with the qualifier “Israel says”.

Likewise, the BBC knows perfectly well that Israeli airstrikes were responses to missile fire on Israeli civilians and that the ground operation was necessary in order to decommission the cross-border tunnels. It also knows – even though it does not tell its audiences – that the border restrictions are the result of a decade and a half of terrorism by Hamas and other terror groups located in the Gaza Strip.

Doucet’s equivocal presentation of the background to Operation Protective Edge therefore does not represent an effort to meet editorial standards of impartiality but an active attempt to promote misleading ambiguity regarding the causes of the conflict.

One can only hope that a higher standard of journalism will be evident in the programme to be aired to UK audiences tonight on BBC Two and to viewers elsewhere this coming Saturday on BBC World News television.  

 

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part two

In part one of this post we documented BBC News website coverage of the first ten days of Operation Protective Edge. Part two relates to the next ten days: July 18th to 27th 2014 inclusive.

Content on the website included written news reports and written ‘Features and Analysis’ articles as well as filmed items presented as stand-alone reports and additionally often embedded into the written articles. Those filmed items also appeared on BBC television news programmes and hence give us an idea of what worldwide audiences were being shown and to what extent the BBC lived up to its claims of “equal coverage” of the two sides to the conflict.

A small amount of content which appeared on the BBC News website at the time has since become unavailable, but below are the vast majority of the reports offered to the website’s visitors. We are not including here the many reports concerning demonstrations relating to the conflict in Europe and elsewhere which appeared on the Middle East page: that topic will be covered separately.

July 18th:Chart Jul 18

Written:

Israel starts Gaza ground offensive

Israel ready to widen Gaza ground offensive – PM  (discussed here)

Gaza conflict: UN says number of displaced almost doubles   (discussed here)

Features:

Gaza-Israel: ‘We don’t want civilians to die’

What drove Hamas to take on Israel?  Dr Jeroen Gunning

Gaza: What does Israel’s ground offensive aim to achieve?  Jonathan Marcus

Hospital on Gaza conflict’s front line  Paul Adams (discussed here)

Filmed:

Gaza-Israel conflict: Journalists evacuated from Gaza hotel  Lyse Doucet in Gaza

Gaza City resident: ‘Continuous bombing’  Gaza

Gaza conflict: UN says number of displaced almost doubles  Lyse Doucet in Gaza & Quentin Sommerville in Israel (discussed here)

With Israel’s ground operation having commenced late the previous night following the terrorist infiltration via cross-border tunnel near Kibbutz Sufa (scantily covered by the BBC), much of the BBC’s coverage on that day related to that topic, but with a notable lack of information on the subject of the tunnels themselves. 

July 19th:Chart Jul 19

Written:

Gaza conflict: Obama warns Israel amid rising death toll   (discussed here)

Gaza conflict: Casualties mount amid fresh violence   (discussed here)

July 20th: (discussion here)

Live page:

As it happened: Gaza conflict intensifies

Written:

Gaza shelling by Israel leads to deadliest day of conflict  (discussed here)Chart Jul 20

Features:

In pictures: Gaza conflict intensifies

Filmed:

Hamas ‘defiant’ as Gaza casualty toll rises   Lyse Doucet in Gaza (discussed here)

Gaza crisis: 87 Gazans and 13 Israeli soldiers killed Lyse Doucet in Gaza

Gaza shelling by Israel leads to deadliest day of conflict  Yolande Knell in Gaza

Gaza crisis: 13 Israeli soldiers and 87 Gazans killed  Chris Morris in Israel (discussed here)

Gaza-Israel conflict: ‘Families are on the run again’  Lyse Doucet in Gaza

With fierce fighting having commenced in the neighbourhood of Shuja’iya the night before, the BBC focused its attentions on that topic on July 20th. Themes which appeared early on in the extensive reporting included the vigorous promotion of second-hand claims of a ‘massacre’, the failure to film or adequately inform audiences of the presence and actions of terrorists in that district and the failure to distinguish between civilian and combatant casualties. As was the case in previous reporting, the topic of Hamas’ use of human shields was ignored and the prior warnings issued to residents of Shuja’iya to evacuate the neighbourhood played down. 

July 21st: (discussion here)Chart Jul 21

Written:

Gaza crisis: 13 Israeli soldiers, scores of Gazans killed

Gaza crisis: UN calls for ceasefire as deaths pass 500

Features:

Gaza crisis: Shejaiya assault defines grimmest day  Lyse Doucet

Filmed:

Ron Prosor: ‘Only by demilitarising Hamas can we move on’  interview Israeli Ambassador to the UN

Gaza crisis: Israeli soldiers’ funerals take place  John Simpson in Israel

Middle East crisis: BBC on deserted streets of Sha’af  Paul Adams in Gaza

Gaza conflict: Five dead at hospital hit by Israeli strike  Lyse Doucet in Gaza

Middle East crisis: Israel releases ‘Gaza tunnel footage’  (discussed here)

Clashes go on as Israel holds funerals for the dead  John Simpson in Israel (discussed here)

Gaza crisis: Kerry Israel air strike remarks caught on mic

‘Israel united’ on Gaza offensive to eliminate militants’ tunnels  Quentin Sommerville in Israel

Coverage of the fighting in Shuja’iya continued in the same vein as the previous day and with continued promotion of unverified Hamas-supplied casualty figures which failed to distinguish between civilians and combatants. It is worth noting that to date, BBC audiences have not yet been provided with a comprehensive picture of the circumstances of the fighting in Shuja’iya. Three days after the commencement of the ground operation, the BBC produced a very unsatisfactory filmed ‘guide’ to the topic of cross-border tunnels. 

July 22nd:Chart Jul 22

Written:

Gaza conflict: Five dead at hospital hit by Israeli strike

Gaza conflict: Diplomats push for ceasefire

Gaza conflict: UN chief Ban urges end to fighting

US and European airlines suspend Israel flights

Features:

Gaza: How Hamas tunnel network grew  Dr Eado Hecht

Filmed:

Gaza-Israel: John Kerry and Sameh Shoukry hold news briefing

Gaza: Why is Rafah crossing so important?  Lyse Doucet in Gaza (discussed here)

Airlines halt flights into Israel   Samira Hussain in New York

Gaza-Israel: Casualties mount as violence continues  Paul Adams in Gaza

Relatives mourn Israeli soldier deaths as clashes go on  Quentin Sommerville in Israel

Why is Middle East truce so hard to broker?   Frank Gardner (discussed here)

John Kerry in Egypt in push for Gaza-Israel ceasefire

$47m in aid to Gaza “to alleviate the immediate humanitarian crisis”  Kerry

Notable on this day was the appearance of the first real effort to inform audiences with regard to cross-border tunnels; some four days after the ground operation their use prompted began. Also notable was the continued amplification of Hamas’ pre-ceasefire demands concerning the lifting of border restrictions and the misrepresentation of those restrictions, along with their inaccurate description as a “siege”: a theme which flourished in subsequent BBC coverage.

July 23rd:Chart Jul 23

Written:

Gaza conflict: Abbas backs Hamas ceasefire demands  (discussed here)

UN’s Navi Pillay warns of Israel Gaza ‘war crimes’

Features:

Why Israelis are rallying behind latest Gaza campaign  Gil Hoffman

What is it like to be blind in Gaza and Israel?  Emma Tracey

Filmed:

Middle East crisis: Normal life on hold in Gaza  Yolande Knell in Gaza (discussed here)

Red Cross van attacked by civilians in Gaza   Paul Adams in Gaza

UN human rights boss: Israeli action ‘could be war crimes’  Navi Pillay

Middle East crisis: Israel holds funerals for soldiers  Quentin Sommerville in Israel

Middle East crisis: Airlines suspend flights to Ben Gurion, Israel

#BBCtrending: Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies

Along with renewed promotion of the notion of ‘war crimes’, reporting on this day continued with promotion of Hamas’ pre-ceasefire demands, misrepresentation of the border restrictions imposed by Egypt and Israel and continued amplification of unverified casualty figures.  

July 24th:Chart Jul 24

Written:

Hamas says Gaza blockade must end before ceasefire (discussed here)

UN: Gaza humanitarian situation ‘dire’

Gaza UN school shelter hit, ‘killing 13’

Europe lifts ban on flights to Tel Aviv airport

Features:

Gaza: Hamas seeks to emerge stronger   Yolande Knell (discussed here)

Filmed:

Gaza conflict: Rescue mission to reach Gaza wounded Lyse Doucet in Gaza

Save the Children: Gaza shelter attack ‘shocking’

Gaza’s hospitals struggle with civilians  Ian Pannell in Gaza

Middle East crisis: Gaza UN school shelter hit, ‘killing 13’  Yolande Knell in Gaza

Middle East crisis: Gaza family on living in warzone   Yolande Knell in Gaza

Israel ‘knew building was UN shelter’ – UNRWA  Chris Gunness

Middle East crisis: UN criticism ‘a travesty’ – Netanyahu

Gaza: What are the obstacles to peace?  James Robbins (discussed here)

BBC exclusive interview with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal   (discussed here)

Much of the day’s coverage was devoted to the incident in Beit Hanoun which the BBC immediately promoted as an Israeli ‘attack’ on a UN school, revealing much about its own impartiality. Also notable was James Robbins’ ‘backgrounder’ which provided one example among many of BBC content which downplayed or erased Hamas’ terror designation.

July 25th:Chart Jul 25

Written:

Palestinians killed in West Bank Gaza solidarity march  (discussed here)

Gaza conflict: Israel rejects truce ‘as it stands’

Features:

Israeli and Palestinian women on Gaza conflict

#BBCtrending: Sexy selfies in support of IDF

Filmed:

Gaza-Israel crisis: UNRWA ‘not informed’ before shelter attack  Chris Morris in Gaza

Middle East crisis: Israeli government on Gaza shelter deaths  Mark Regev (full interview discussed here)

Gaza-Israel: ‘You can hear the bombs and missiles’ – Israeli family  Bethany Bell in Israel

Palestinians killed in West Bank Gaza solidarity march  Nawal Assad in Qalandiya (discussed here)

Gaza baby rescued from mother killed by Israeli airstrike Ian Pannell in Gaza

Ban Ki-moon and John Kerry news briefing in Cairo

Gaza and Israel brace for ‘day of anger’  Jon Donnison in Jerusalem

Coverage of the Beit Hanoun incident continued, along with problematic reporting on riots in PA-controlled areas.

July 26th:Chart Jul 26

Written:

Gaza conflict: 12-hour truce as deaths top 900

Hamas fires rockets into Israel after Gaza truce bid

Features:

Gaza crisis: Toll of operations in Gaza (later amended and date changed to September 1st)

Filmed:

Clashes as diplomatic efforts continue to secure Gaza truce Orla Guerin in Jerusalem (discussed here)

Mark Regev: Israel ‘wants peace and quiet’

Gaza truce: ‘Smell of destruction’ in the air  Chris Morris in Gaza

Israel and Hamas agree 12-hour truce  Chris Morris in Gaza

Israel-Gaza conflict: Bodies recovered amid ceasefire  Ian Pannell in Gaza

Philip Hammond on ceasefire: ‘Stop the loss of life’    UK Foreign Secretary

 July 27th:Chart Jul 27

Written:

Israel rejects Gaza school shelter attack blame

Israel resumes Gaza offensive after Hamas rockets

Hamas announces new 24-hour Gaza ceasefire with Israel

Hamas-declared ceasefire in Gaza stalls as conflict continues (discussed here)

Features:

No place to hide for children of war in Gaza and Syria  Lyse Doucet

Filmed:

Gaza conflict: Dubai’s huge humanitarian aid mission  Mark Lobel

Israeli military: Hamas ceasefire ‘an opportunity perhaps’   Peter Lerner

Hamas announces new 24-hour Gaza ceasefire with Israel  Osama Hamdan

Hamas-declared ceasefire in Gaza stalls as conflict continues  Ian Pannell in Gaza (discussed here)

Rockets lands in Israel after ceasefire stalls  Orla Guerin in Israel (discussed here)

Middle East: Ed Miliband on Israel and Gaza violence

Prominent on this day was misleading coverage of the ceasefire and Hamas’ violations of that agreement.

Between July 18th and July 27th the predominant type of content presented to visitors to the BBC News website’s Middle East page was written news reports and a live page on the topic of the fighting in Shuja’iya was introduced for the first time on July 20th.

Foreign-based Hamas spokesmen were interviewed on just two occasions (in contrast with five interviews or footage from press conferences with Israelis) meaning that the focus of BBC reporting remained on the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. The majority of footage of interviews or press conferences with others (not Israelis or Palestinians) focused on the diplomatic efforts of the US Secretary of State, with two additional ones from UN representatives Navi Pillay and Chris Gunness and two with British politicians.

The total number of filmed reports describing the situation in Gaza during those ten days of the conflict was once again more than double the number of filmed reports describing the situation in Israel and continued to focus on emotive coverage of the effects of the conflict on the civilian population. Three additional filmed reports related to the topic of violent rioting in PA-controlled areas and Jerusalem.

Chart 18 to 27 Jul

By July 27th, visitors to the BBC News website had seen twenty-four filmed reports depicting the situation in Israel compared to fifty-three filmed reports depicting the situation in the Gaza Strip.

Chart 8 to 27 Jul

Themes which dominated initial BBC coverage of the conflict such as the promotion of the notion of ‘war crimes’ and attacks on civilians carried out by Israel continued, as did the failure to report adequately on Hamas’ use of human shields and the amplification of unverified casualty figures. The theme of border restrictions became more prominent, together with misrepresentation of the reasons for those restrictions and promotion of the inaccurate notion of a ‘siege’ on Gaza. 

Related Articles:

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part one

 

 

 

 

BBC’s Jon Donnison on Hamas message in Beit Hanoun

Of the 3,356 missiles fired at civilian targets in Israel by terrorists in the Gaza Strip between July 8th and August 5th 2014, 69.4% were fired from the northern part of the territory with the towns of Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun being major centres of missile fire, cross border tunnels and other terrorist activity.

Beit Hanoun

Click to enlarge

But viewers of Jon Donnison’s filmed report (heavily promoted on his Twitter feed) of August 5th – which, in addition to being broadcast on BBC television news, appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Gaza truce holds as residents return to destroyed homes” – would never have known that even one missile was fired from Beit Hanoun or that fierce battles took place there when Israeli soldiers went in to decommission cross-border attack tunnels and missile launchers, with terrorists using the local houses as sniper positions. Donnison Beit Hanoun 

Donnison opens:

“Ahmed is 80. He’s survived half a dozen wars in Gaza and a lifetime of struggle. He’s just returned to find his family home destroyed – for the third time. Mohammed is one of 34 grandchildren. He’s salvaging what he can from the rubble of what is his fourth war. He’s only fourteen. This was Ahmed’s bedroom; a room with a view. A mile away in the dust you can see the Israeli tanks withdrawing. Ahmed was a head teacher. He taught history. He’s no Hamas supporter but says this war did not start a month ago with rockets and airstrikes. It’s about Israel’s decades-long military occupation and land.”

Israel has of course not occupied the Gaza Strip for nine years and the major towns and cities in Judea & Samaria have been under PA control for nearly two decades, but Donnison sees no need to spoil the narrative by informing BBC audiences of the facts.

Ahmed: “We want this returned to us now. Gaza Strip and the West Bank.”

Donnison: “Will you stay?”

Ahmed: “Yes I will stay. I will stay and all my family will stay here. Where shall we go?”

Of the 3,356 missiles launched by terrorist organisations at Israel during the past four weeks, four hundred and seventy-five landed inside the Gaza Strip. Many residential homes were booby-trapped by the terrorists, to the extent that when the IDF informed the residents of Beit Hanoun that they could return to their homes, that message also came with a warning to beware of explosives still in place.

“The area around a school in Beit Hanoun had booby-trapped houses. Every house was suspicious. One soldier returned fire at a sniper in a window – and the whole house exploded in on its inhabitants. This has happened with several buildings.”

Jon Donnison, however, knows without any shadow of a doubt what caused the damage he films extensively in Beit Hanoun.map Beit Hanoun

“Israeli bombs also destroyed the family business – a chicken farm. The coops are gone. The birds are dead. Ahmed and his son Khalil also grow fruit and vegetables. But Israel’s blockade of Gaza, which Hamas wants lifted as part of a ceasefire deal, killed their trade. The blockade is not just about what comes into Gaza – it’s about what goes out.”

Khalil: “We send it to Israel, sell it to Israel, to Israel to the European market but when they close the border, everything down.”

Donnison: “But the blockade is not just about goods and business; it’s about people. Khalil has three teenage children. None of them have ever left Gaza. None of them have ever met an Israeli.”

Donnison makes no attempt whatsoever to inform audiences that the restrictions on the entry of dual-use goods into the Gaza Strip are aimed at curbing the type of terrorist activity which brought about the border restrictions in the first place. He intentionally misrepresents the topic of agricultural (and other) exports from the Gaza Strip: in 2012/13 for example, over 842 tons of agricultural produce was exported from Gaza via Israel, along with 12.2 million flowers.

Donnison closes:

“And this tiny stretch of land, which has seen so much destruction, is less than a third the size of London. Palestinians feel trapped in a cycle of death, destruction and rebuilding. This will not be the last war but once again, Gaza has been crippled. The healing will take years. Some will never recover.”

Clearly Jon Donnison remains on Hamas PR campaign message, promoting context-free images and descriptions of damage and civilian suffering without even a whiff of a mention of terrorist activity in Beit Hanoun. His promotion of a non-existent “military occupation” of the Gaza Strip and of the notion of farmers unable to export their agricultural produce because of a “blockade” he fails to explain also conforms perfectly with the Hamas narrative currently being vigorously promoted. The fact that there is no truth to those notions obviously does not disturb Jon Donnison – or his employers – in the least. 

This is what it looks like when the BBC waives its fourth estate role

The volume of Israel and Gaza Strip-related content appearing on the BBC News website’s Middle East page over the past few weeks has been so high that readers might have had difficulty keeping up with all the content published. One interesting item which may have slipped under the radar is titled “Gaza conflict: Disputed deadly incidents” and it appeared on July 31st.BBC disputed

In that article the BBC has collected two incidents (to date) which it describes as “disputed” with the introduction reading:

“Since the start of the Israel-Gaza conflict, there have been a series of deadly incidents for which each side has blamed the other. UN facilities serving as shelters are among the sites hit.

Here are some of the cases so far, where responsibility has been disputed.”

The first of the BBC’s “disputed” events is the explosion in the Shati area of Gaza on July 28th in which a missile fired by terrorists hit a playground killing ten people including eight children. As readers no doubt recall, soon after the incident took place the IDF stated that it had not been operating in the area at the time and publicized aerial photographs showing the trajectories of that missile and three others fired at the same time as recorded by IDF radars and sensors.

The BBC’s presentation of that incident, however, places data gathered from sophisticated tracking equipment on a par with the unverified verbal claims of assorted bodies all ultimately run by a proscribed terrorist organization.

“Gaza’s police, Civil Defence Directorate and health officials say Israeli air strikes caused the explosions. According to Al-Jazeera, Hamas denied it had fired any rockets from the area and said it was “categorically an Israeli air strike”. Hamas said it had collected shrapnel from the scene consistent with Israeli munitions, the channel’s website reported.

In a text message quoted by AP news agency, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri described the incident as a “war crime” for which “the occupation” would pay the price.”

The second incident described by the BBC as “disputed” occurred on July 24th at a UN school in Beit Hanoun. Palestinian terrorists fired anti-tank missiles at IDF forces operating in the area from the vicinity of the school. The IDF returned fire and one errant mortar landed in the schoolyard, but filmed documentation showed that the schoolyard was empty at the time.

In this case too, the BBC presents audiences with a view which puts unproven claims made by a representative of a body run by a proscribed terrorist organization on a par with filmed evidence.

“Officials say the school was struck by three Israeli tank shells. Saed al-Saoudi, a commander of the Civil Defence in Gaza, told AP: “All the testimonies of the wounded, witnesses, paramedics and doctors confirm that the Israeli shells are the cause of this massacre.” “

It should of course be the aim of BBC journalists to cut through the propaganda of a terrorist organisation with a self-declared interest in promoting a public relations campaign based entirely on the inflation of civilian casualty numbers, in order to enable audiences to form a clear, fact-based understanding of events. Unfortunately for its audiences, the BBC has in far too many cases over the past few weeks elected instead to take the approach of presenting Hamas’ assorted unproven claims as plausible without making any effort to independently verify those assertions.

Moreover, the BBC has consistently refrained from providing BBC audiences with factual, comprehensive information on the use of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip as human shields and its presentation of these two clear examples of that practice as “disputed” further compounds that failure and actively hinders the ability of members of the audience to reach informed, fact-based opinions.

The BBC’s uncreative presentation of these two incidents in terms of “each side has blamed the other” may go a long way towards pandering to domestic fashionable relativism but it certainly does not do the job for which the BBC exists. But beyond the issue of the failure to meet its own public purpose remit, this article – like much other BBC reporting coming out of the Gaza Strip in the last few weeks – raises a very simple, yet troubling, wider question about BBC journalism.

If a Western government deliberately endangered civilians by placing military assets in residential areas on the premise that enemy forces would be less likely to strike back, the BBC would – one hopes – see it as its fourth estate duty to expose that practice. If a Western government launched missiles which fell short and killed children playing in a park, or drew fire by firing anti-tank missiles from the vicinity of a school, the damning headlines would – one assumes – soon follow.

The people of the Gaza Strip, who of course have no free press of their own, have not however seen any criticism – or even documentation – of their abuse by the terrorist organisations which hold them hostage from the Western journalists located there.

This article is what it looks like when the BBC chooses to waive its fourth estate role. 

BBC presentation of the August 1st ceasefire breakdown – part two: BBC television news

In this post we will look at the way in which the breakdown of the August 1st humanitarian ceasefire – breached after 90 minutes by Hamas terrorists who staged an attack on IDF soldiers decommissioning a cross-border tunnel near Rafah – was presented to viewers of BBC television news.

For the timeline of events see part one of this post.

Early on the morning of August 1st – before the humanitarian ceasefire had been breached – viewers of BBC television news saw a report by Jon Brain titled “Israel and Hamas 72-hour truce begins” in its website version. Brain opened that report with more of the BBC’s context-free presentation of casualty figures it has not independently verified.Truce filmed 1

“Released by the Israeli military, this video footage apparently shows an air strike being aborted because Palestinian children were seen moving around on the ground. But many other children have not been so fortunate; victims of a conflict which has now claimed more than fourteen hundred Palestinian lives and displaced tens of thousands of people. Sixty-three Israelis – nearly all of them soldiers – have also died.” [emphasis added]

As we see, the policy of not informing audiences that a proportion of the Palestinian casualties are terrorists and not clarifying that the source of casualty figures is either Hamas itself or politically motivated organisations continues. Later on, Brain comes up with this curious statement:

“For its part, Israel has insisted it won’t end its military operation until tunnels built by Hamas have been destroyed. It claims they’re a direct threat to Israeli security.” [emphasis added]

Apparently the BBC believes it may be possible to have a different interpretation of underground cross-border tunnels constructed by a proscribed terrorist organization which infiltrate the territory of a sovereign country. Brain also informs viewers that:

“Previous ceasefires have been broken within hours.”

Significantly, he does not however inform them that those breaches of previous ceasefires were all carried out by Hamas.

Later on, after the ceasefire had been breached by Hamas, filmed BBC report by Martin Patience was shown to television audiences -“Israel to resume Gaza operation as truce with Hamas crumbles“. As was the case in one of the written reports which appeared on the BBC News website, Patience promotes the notion that:Truce filmed 2

“People here always knew that it [the ceasefire] was going to be shaky, that – yes – there would be violations.”

He continues:

“I think there is surprise, though, that it’s crumbled after just four and a half hours and it seems to have been triggered by that very serious incident down in Rafah. The latest we have from Palestinians are that at least four Palestinian…ah….Palestinians have been killed by Israeli tank fire as you were saying David.”

Did Patience almost slip up there and say “at least four Palestinian militants”?

He adds:

“Israel says that one of its kibbutz [sic] in the southern part of the country had been attacked and it was responding to fire.”

Still later in the day, viewers of BBC television news saw a report by Nick Childs. The synopsis to that report as it appears on the BBC News website under the title “Gaza ceasefire collapses: What fate for talks?” reads:Truce filmed 3

“Palestinian sources said at least 30 people had been killed in an Israeli attack in Gaza on Friday, just hours after a ceasefire was called. A senior Israeli official said Hamas had breached the ceasefire and Israel’s response would be “crushing”.”

The report itself makes no attempt to inform audiences why the humanitarian ceasefire collapsed.

On the evening of August 1st viewers saw a report by Jon Donnison, which appears under the inaccurate and misleading title “Gaza militants ‘seize Israeli soldier’ as ceasefire ends” on the BBC News website. The actions of the Hamas terrorists were in fact what ended the ceasefire: they did not – as this title suggests – occur at the end of the ceasefire. 

Donnison’s report begins in a maternity ward, with a doctor interviewed saying:

“We hope, we hope that Israeli they respect the ceasefire and Palestinian because we have to take a risk for this massacre and this disaster in the Gaza Strip.”

Donnison then moves on to Beit Hanoun, failing to inform audiences that the area has been a major location of missile fire into Israel or to raise the very realistic possibility that some of the damage to buildings his cameraman films extensively may have been the result of the terrorists’ practice of booby-trapping houses: a subject which the BBC has not touched at all in any of its coverage. He goes on to address the topic of the breached humanitarian ceasefire, notably presenting events in an inaccurate order which misleads viewers.Truce filmed 4

“But the ceasefire was over almost as soon as it had started. More Israeli airstrikes and Palestinian rockets. At least fifty Palestinians were killed today; many more were wounded. And then, from Rafah in the south of Gaza, the news that could see this conflict escalate still further. An Israeli soldier suspected to have been captured alive by Hamas fighters after they crossed the border through a tunnel. Israel says one fighter detonated a suicide belt as he emerged from underground. Two soldiers were killed and 23 year-old Hadar Goldin was dragged back into Gaza.”

Contrary to Donnison’s statements, the incident in which 2nd Lt. Goldin was abducted was the event which breached the ceasefire and it took place before any “Israeli airstrikes”. It also took place near Rafah – not, as Donnison claims, on the Israeli side of the border.

Equally inaccurate is Donnison’s later claim that Gilad Shalit was abducted “in Gaza”. That incident did take place on the Israeli side of the border.

“Hamas will see this as a huge result. It took more than five years for Israel to free the last soldier captured in Gaza, Gilad Shalit.”

Another filmed report shown to viewers of BBC television news was produced by Ian Pannell. It also appears on the BBC News website under the title “Palestinians return to gutted homes during brief ceasefire“.Truce filmed 5

Like his colleague Jon Donnison, Pannell fails to provide viewers with the information necessary to provide context to the scenes of damaged buildings shown in his report.

“…but today Gaza woke to news of a ceasefire. The guns fell silent and families cautiously walked back to their homes. This is what they found. Whole neighbourhoods gutted. Israel says it’s self-defence against a terrorist threat. [….]

The houses lie close to the border. Israel says militants built tunnels under the area. But for those who live here, it feels like collective punishment.” [emphasis added]

Pannell’s description of the collapse of the ceasefire starts out accurately from a chronological point of view, but notably he fails to identify the party which initiated the violence, promotes some Hamas propaganda and fails to inform viewers how many of those killed in Rafah were terrorists.

“It lasted just a few hours. After two Israeli soldiers were killed and an officer captured, the ceasefire was over; both sides accusing the other of breaking the truce. More than fifty people were killed in the town of Rafah.”

Perhaps surprisingly, the most accurate timeline of events in any of the filmed reports shown to BBC television news viewers came from Orla Guerin. Her report of August 1st – also inaccurately and misleadingly titled “Israeli soldier ‘captured’ by militants as ceasefire ends” in the version appearing on the BBC News website – opens:Truce filmed 6

“[…] The ceasefire was supposed to last three days. It didn’t last three hours. At half past nine 23 year-old Hadar Goldin was captured in Gaza. The soldier was taken by militants who emerged from a tunnel.”

Getting both the chronology of events and their location right – in contrast to many of her colleagues – Guerin later states:

“Soon after the latest abduction shells rained down in Rafah where the soldier was taken.”

However, Guerin repeats the same inaccuracy which appeared in Jon Donnison’s report regarding the location of the abduction of Gilad Shalit in 2006.

“It took Israel five long years to secure the release of Gilad Shalit – the last soldier taken in Gaza…”

Still later in the report, Guerin visits Kibbutz Kfar Aza and for the first time, BBC audiences hear – albeit very briefly – that not just people in Gaza have been displaced from their homes during this conflict, but Israeli residents of communities near the border too. In contrast to the ample reporting on the topic of displaced persons in the Gaza Strip, the subject of displaced Israelis has not been covered at all by the BBC.

A report by Jon Brain from the morning of August 2nd (“Gaza conflict: Hamas denies holding Israeli soldier“) seems to start promisingly when it presents the abduction and the later fire on Rafah in the correct chronological order. However, that report soon descends into promotion of Hamas propaganda, including an interview with Hamas’ Fawzi Barhoum.Truce filmed 7

“Each side is blaming the other for breaking the truce.”

“However, Hamas claims it has no information about the missing soldier and blames Israel for the renewed violence.”

Barhoum: “The Israeli enemy is the one that breached the truce when Israeli Special Forces entered the eastern side of Rafah. The Palestinian resistance clashed with them and this was our right to defend ourselves.”

Significantly, neither Brain nor any other BBC journalist reporting on this issue bothered to clarify to audiences that the Israeli soldiers who were attacked were in the process of decommissioning one of Hamas’ attack tunnels at the time – in line with the terms of the ceasefire.

As we see from this selection of filmed reports shown to viewers of BBC television news, the majority of them – like the BBC News website’s written reports discussed in the previous post – come nowhere near to informing audiences clearly, accurately and impartially of the event which breached the humanitarian ceasefire of August 1st. That failure is exacerbated by the amplification of Hamas propaganda which only serves to further prevent audiences from properly understanding why this latest ceasefire failed. 

What Beit Hanoun tells us about BBC impartiality

Here is a Tweet from one of those impartial BBC journalists currently reporting from the Gaza Strip: Tweet Chris Morris Beit Hanoun So, did the IDF actually say that “people didn’t die” in Beit Hanoun last Thursday as Morris facetiously claims? No. What the IDF investigation into the incident at the UNRWA school in which sixteen people were killed did reveal is that during a battle between IDF soldiers and terrorists located in the area, an IDF mortar did land in the schoolyard, but that yard was empty at the time. Ha’aretz has further details:

“The IDF released the findings of its investigation into the incident on Sunday morning. According to the inquiry, Palestinian militants opened fire from the area of the school, shooting mortars and antitank missiles at Israeli forces. In response, the investigation reveals, the IDF decided to return fire with mortars.

According to the army, whose inquiry included investigations of the ground forces and video footage of the incident, “one of the mortars fell in the school’s courtyard whilst it was empty of people.” “

An official statement adds:

“It has been established that Hamas rockets landed in the area and may have hit the UN facility. The investigation of the incident has revealed that Hamas terrorists fired anti-tank missiles at IDF soldiers from the area of the UN school. The IDF responded with mortar fire, and one of the rounds fell in the school’s courtyard, which was empty at the time. This was the only IDF fire that hit the school compound. These findings disprove the claim, made by various parties, that IDF fire caused casualties on the school grounds. Israel regrets all civilian casualties, but they are the direct result of Hamas’ decision to use Palestinian civilians as human shields.” [emphasis added]

In light of these findings BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis would of course do well to address the topic of her hastily reached conclusion that “You hit it. You killed them.” – which was broadcast to millions of viewers in the UK on July 24th.Maitlis Likewise, the editors of the filmed report by Yolande Knell which was shown to television audiences and promoted on the BBC News website on July 24th might like to reconsider the wisdom of the inclusion – before the circumstances of the incident were clear – of footage of a woman saying:

“The Israelis hit us in our homes and they hit us at the school”

That same footage of the same woman also appeared in a filmed report by Ian Pannell from the same date which was promoted on the BBC News website and shown on BBC television news. Both Pannell’s report and the ‘Newsnight’ interview by Emily Maitlis appear in a written report published on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on July 24th. Listeners to an edition of BBC World Service radio’s ‘Newsday’ heard the presenter saying:

“For the fourth time in as many days a UN facility there found itself in the eye of the storm; hit by what the Palestinians say was an Israeli shell.”

If readers are perhaps anticipating that this incident will prompt the BBC to reconsider its current policy of refraining from anything approaching robust reporting on the issue of the use of the local civilian population as human shields – which is precisely what a terrorist who fires anti-tank missiles at Israeli soldiers from the vicinity of a UN school is doing – then they may be in for some disappointment. That same ‘Newsday’ programme includes parts of Stephen Sackur’s recent interview with Khaled Masha’al. In addition, amplification is given to the following denial by Masha’al of Hamas’ use of human shields.GAZA MOI

“This is wrong information. Hamas does not give orders to people to stay inside their home. Hamas encourages people to stand fast and let the Palestinians show their steadfastness. This is the will of the people. Go to Gaza and see the people in hospitals and see the areas destroyed. These people are determined to preserve their land. You should not put the blame on the victims. The blame should go to the Israeli that has committed this massacre. We have several hundred Palestinians killed – most of them civilians – whereas Hamas is focusing on killing Israeli soldiers who came to Gaza to attack Palestinians. This is the ethical difference between the Palestinian resistance and the Israeli aggression.”

One presumes that the BBC must be aware of the ample filmed and written evidence of Hamas’ spokesmen and Ministry of the Interior telling civilians in the Gaza Strip not to leave their homes. Nevertheless, its journalists not only fail to report adequately on the issue itself and even promote denial of it, but also amplify Masha’al’s obviously inaccurate claims. In that ‘Newsnight’ interview on July 24th, Emily Maitlis asked Mark Regev:

“If, after the fog of war has passed, this does turn out to be the fault of Israel, will you pause? Will you reset your rules of engagement tonight?”

We might well ask Emily Maitlis, her editors and numerous other BBC correspondents, editors and producers a very similar question.

Update:

Here is the IDF video footage showing the empty school yard at the time of the errant mortar strike.