Romanticising violence on the BBC News website

On October 25th an article by Chris Bell titled “Gaza protest image likened to famous Delacroix painting” appeared on the BBC Trending blog and the ‘Middle East’ page of the BBC News website.

Readers were told that:

“It’s a picture which has spawned thousands of words online.

Captured by photojournalist Mustafa Hassona, a bare-chested Palestinian holding a large flag wields a sling over his head in Gaza on Monday.

It was snapped amid violent protests on a beach close to the border with Israel. Demonstrators burnt tyres and threw stones at Israeli forces, who responded with tear gas and live fire. Gaza’s health ministry said 32 Palestinians were wounded.” [emphasis added]

Readers did not discover until towards the end of the article that “Gaza’s health ministry” is run by the same terror group that organises and facilitates the violent rioting now in its seventh month.

Neither were they informed that in addition to burning tyres and throwing stones, the rioters on that beach on October 22nd engaged in additional activities which – had Bell bothered to mention them – would have helped audiences understand why the use of live fire was necessary.

“On October 22, 2018, the 13th mini-flotilla sailed towards Israel’s naval border. About 20 small boats set sail from the Beit Lahia shore. The mini-flotilla was accompanied by a demonstration on the beach, in which about 5,000 Gazans participated. During the demonstration rioters threw IEDs and hand grenades at IDF forces. Several rioters tried to approach the security fence but returned to the Gaza Strip. The ministry of health in the Gaza Strip reported that about twenty people had been injured in the demonstrations north of Beit Lahia.”

Later on in the article, readers saw more downplaying of the violent nature of the ‘Great Return March’ events:

“Palestinians in Gaza have been protesting weekly along the border with Israel since March. The protests, orchestrated by the territory’s militant Hamas rulers, are held in support of the declared right of Palestinian refugees to return to their ancestral homes in what is now Israel.”

BBC audiences were not informed that the intention of the demand for the so-called ‘right of return’ is the elimination of the Jewish state.

With regard to the photograph itself, readers were told that:

“The image has been shared widely, with many social media users likening it to Eugene Delacroix’s famous painting of the 1830 Paris uprising – Liberty Leading the People.”

While Delacroix’s painting portrayed French protesters rising up against their monarch, the subject of this photograph was not demonstrating against his own corrupt and inept rulers. Bell made no effort to explain to BBC audiences that the Gaza Strip has not been under Israeli control for over thirteen years and so the comparison made by “many social media users” is clearly redundant. Moreover, his narrative framing continued: 

“Where some saw biblical symbolism of a David versus Goliath struggle, others viewed the stylish image as glorification of violence.”

Nevertheless, as we see, the BBC did indeed consider it appropriate to provide amplification to the politically motivated romanticisation of an image of a person participating in violent rioting encouraged, organised and facilitated by a terror group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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”.

 

 

 

News from Hamas – via the BBC’s Gaza office

Here is a Tweet sent by the BBC’s correspondent in the Gaza Strip, Rushdi Abualouf, on January 13th.

Rushdi tweet IED 13 1

As can be seen from the wording of the Tweet, that version of the story came from Hamas sources and was obviously not verified before it was disseminated.

“One man was killed in the strike and three more were injured, according to Hamas, which claimed the attack came not from an aircraft, but from an Israel Navy ship.”

The incident received no further coverage from the BBC.

“The Israel Air Force attacked a terror cell in the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning, in a joint operation with the Shin Bet.

Members of the terror cell were planting explosives on the border fence, which they were planning on setting off near an IDF patrol.

The Palestinians reported one killed, 31-year-old Musa Za’aytar, and three others wounded in the attack, their condition currently unknown. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group affiliated with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah group, later identified the deceased as a member, saying he was targeted while planting explosives.”

Whilst the terror cell’s affiliations are not clear, as far as the BBC is concerned this Palestinian fatality will join the many others which are opaquely described as having come about “in clashes with Israeli forces”.

BBC News erases context in mention of Gaza fence incident

Inserted into the latter part of the BBC News website’s July 31st article concerning the terror attack in Duma are the following unrelated sentences:Beit Lahiya

“In another incident on Friday, officials in Gaza said Israeli troops shot dead one man and wounded another near the security fence that marks Israel’s border.

Israel confirmed soldiers had fired on the men but did not know their condition.”

The incident took place near Beit Lahiya and – contrary to the impression given in the BBC’s account – something happened before the soldiers opened fire.

“An Israeli military spokeswoman said several suspects approached the fence at two different points and did not heed calls by soldiers to stop. She said one group threw stones at the security fence and that soldiers fired warning shots in the air before firing at the “suspects’ lower extremities.””

Clearly that missing context is vital to proper audience understanding of the information provided.

BBC claims that Israel targeted a centre for the disabled in Gaza shown to be inaccurate

On July 12th 2014 the BBC produced four separate reports which included descriptions of an incident in which two women were killed in Bet Lahiya in what was described as an Israeli airstrike on a shelter for disabled people.

Israel and militants trade fire as Gaza toll rises” – BBC News website, July 12th.

“Israel hit a residential home for disabled people in Beit Lahiya, Palestinian officials said. Two female residents were killed and four other people seriously injured, they said. Israel did not comment.”

Israeli strike on disability shelter in Gaza’s Beit Lahiya” – Yolande Knell, BBC News website and BBC television news, July 12th.Knell Beit Lahiya 1

“We don’t know why Israel targeted this house; a shelter for the mentally and physically disabled. You can see where the missile came through the ceiling. There’s a big crater on the floor and all around; wheelchairs, a hospital gurney, burnt books. If you look outside the building you can see how the sides were simply sheared off – there’s rubble now everywhere. And there were four people here who were badly wounded, including the carer. Two women were killed. Israel gave a warning for the people to vacate the property but it just wasn’t enough time for people with disabilities to be able to leave.” [emphasis added]

Death toll rises in Gaza as air strikes and rockets continue” – Yolande Knell, BBC News website and BBC television news, July 12th.

“Meanwhile, in the north of the Gaza Strip, another body is discovered. This was a severely disabled woman; one of several residents at a shelter. Just after dawn it was hit by Israeli war planes. This crater is where the missile landed. Neighbours heard a big explosion.

Neighbour: We were very surprised this centre was hit. We expect the Israelis to bomb places linked to the militants. Here there were disabled people unable to move.

Two women were killed here. They’re among the rising number of Palestinian civilian casualties. Israel gave a warning for people to vacate the property but it just wasn’t enough time for people with disabilities to be able to leave.”

Israel-Gaza conflict: Home for disabled hit in Beit Lahiya” – Jeremy Bowen, BBC News website and BBC television news, July 12th.

“Suha’s brother Yussef waited for her to be prepared for her funeral. He took us to see her body. Yussuf rejected Israel’s claims that it tries hard not to kill civilians.

Yussuf: How many of the people killed so far are civilians? Even those they call terrorists – they are not terrorists; they are resistance and we are proud of them.” […]

“Belligerents are obliged under the laws of war to protect civilians. The UN has already asked whether Israel is working in the way that it should to fulfil those obligations. After the attack on the centre for the disabled, it is clear that the Israelis have some serious questions to answer.” [emphasis added]

As has been noted here previously, the Military Attorney General (MAG) began examining and investigatingKnell Beit Lahiya 2 incidents which took place during the summer conflict even before it had ended. The results of the investigation into the above incident in Beit Lahiya show that the centre for the disabled was not the target of that operation as stated in no uncertain terms in  the BBC’s various reports. [emphasis added]

“According to correspondence and reports from various NGOs, on 12 July 2014, two women were killed and four others injured as a result of an IDF aerial strike on a care centre for the mentally and physically disabled, belonging to the ‘Alambra Association’, in Beit Lehia. As a result, and in accordance with the MAG’s investigation policy, it was decided to refer the incident for examination by the FFAM [Fact Finding Assessment Mechanism – Ed.].

According to the factual findings and materials collated by the FFAM and presented to the MAG, the strike was directed at a weapons depot located inside the residential home of a senior Hamas commander, in a building comprising of four apartments. While the operating forces were aware of the existence of a kindergarten in the same building, close to the weapons depot, there was no information indicating the existence of a care center.

Prior to the attack a number of precautionary measures were undertaken in order to minimize potential civilian harm – including several attempts to telephone the residents of the building and the firing of two warning projectiles towards the structure (as part of the ‘knock on the roof’ procedure). No reaction was identified by the residents, and no presence of persons at the site was discerned prior to the attack. As an additional precaution, the attack was carried out late at night, in order to avoid any possible harm to children attending the kindergarten during the day.

The findings further indicated that at the time the attack was decided upon, the operational assessment concluded that, as none of the precautionary measures resulted in any response, no civilians were present and no civilians were expected to be harmed as a result of the attack.

In light of these factual findings, the MAG found that the targeting process followed in this case accorded with Israeli domestic law and international law requirements. The attack was directed against a military objective, while adhering to the requirements of the principle of proportionality, and the decision to attack was made by the authorities authorized to do so. Further, the MAG found that the attack was carried out after a number of precautions were undertaken intended to minimize the potential for civilian harm, and that the professional assessment at the time of the attack – that civilians would not be harmed as a result of the attack – was not unreasonable under the circumstances. Although seemingly civilians were harmed as a result of the attack, this is indeed a regrettable result, but it does not affect its legality post facto.Bowen Beit Lahiya

In light of the above, the MAG did not find that the actions of the IDF forces raised grounds for a reasonable suspicion of criminal misconduct. As a result, the MAG ordered the case to be closed, without opening a criminal investigation or ordering further action against those involved in the incident.”

It is of course highly unlikely that we will see the BBC going to the trouble to inform all the many members of its audiences across various platforms who were mistakenly led to believe that Israeli forces had deliberately attacked a home for the disabled that the real reason that building was targeted was because Hamas had placed a weapons store in the same building as a kindergarten and a centre for disabled people.

However, those four inaccurate reports remain on the BBC News website and now form part of the corporation’s “historical records”. As readers may recall, the BBC announced in June that its archive content is subject to editorial guidelines and may be the topic of complaints. One would therefore now expect to see clarifications attached to all the above reports – if only to prevent an unnecessary waste of public funding in dealing with any such complaints. 

 

 

BBC fails again to report Hamas order to civilians to act as human shields

A written report which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on July 13th under the title “Israel warns north Gaza civilians to evacuate ahead of strikes” opens with the following statement:

“Israel says it has warned residents in northern Gaza to evacuate as it prepares to launch fresh air strikes.”

In fact, Israel did not just ‘say’ it had warned residents to evacuate; it did warn them – by means of SMS and voice-mail messages, as well as with leaflets which – as other media organisations reported – were readily available in the public domain by the time the BBC published its article, including an English language translation.

warning IDF arabic

warning IDF english

A photograph illustrating the article also uses the ‘Israel said’ formula in its caption.

warning art pic

Readers have to continue until the report’s eighth paragraph in order to get a proper view of events.

“The military confirmed it had dropped leaflets over the city of Beit Lahiya on Sunday morning telling civilians to seek shelter.

“We do not wish to harm civilians in Gaza, but these civilians must know that remaining in close proximity to Hamas terrorists and infrastructures is extremely unsafe,” the IDF said.

By 10:30am local time (07:30am GMT), more than 4,000 Gaza residents had taken refuge at eight bases of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, spokesman Chris Gunness said.”

However, this BBC report only tells half the story. No mention is made of the fact that a Hamas spokesman and the Palestinian Interior Ministry ordered the residents to go back to their homes (the original MoI statement, together with its Palestinian National Authority logo, can be seen here).

“The Hamas Interior Ministry released a statement titled “Urgent call to the residents of the Gaza Strip” in which locals were told to ignore the calls and warnings made by Israel and the IDF. “To all of our people who have evacuated their homes – return to them immediately and do not leave the house.”

 “You must follow the directives of the Interior Ministry. This is psychological warfare, random messages to instill panic in people.””

A filmed report on the same story by Yolande Knell was also broadcast on BBC television news and promoted on the BBC News website under the title “Israel warns north Gaza civilians to evacuate ahead of strikes“. Knell tells viewers:warning Knell filmed

“This isn’t a family outing; it’s an exodus. Palestinians head away from their homes in northern Gaza and take their most prized belongings with them. Israel’s warning there’ll be a heavy bombardment of the border area where they live.

‘Look how many kids I have’ this man tells me ‘ We’re forced to leave. We’re not going to stay and be killed in our house’.

The Israelis broadcast their orders on TV and dropped leaflets. We’ve seen several Palestinian families like these clutching bags of their possessions and emergency supplies and heading south. The Israeli military has told them to evacuate their homes and there’s not much time left to get away. We find hundreds of Gazans coming inside a school for shelter. They’re exhausted and distressed.

Man: ‘I hope this will be end and we still alive and we go home and find our home as we left it’.”

Notably, Knell makes no effort to inform BBC audiences why those civilians were warned to leave the area. She fails to make any mention of the fact that the northern part of the Gaza Strip is used by terrorist organisations as a launching site for missiles. And she too refrains from informing viewers about the demand made by Hamas and the Palestinian Ministry of the Interior that those people to return to their homes and act as human shields for those terrorists.  

Clearly the deliberate omission of any mention of Hamas’ use of human shields in any of the BBC’s written and filmed reports means that audiences are being denied essential information necessary for them to form an informed opinion on this issue.