Two security incidents took place in Jerusalem on August 4th. The first was an attack on a bus and a pedestrian by means of a method with which the city is sadly familiar.
“A tractor driven by a Palestinian man rammed into a bus in central Jerusalem early Monday afternoon, close to the “seam” between the western and eastern parts of the city.
A male pedestrian, later named as Avraham Walz, 29, was run over by the tractor as it headed toward the bus and was killed. The tractor driver, identified as East Jerusalem resident Muhammed Naif El-Ja’abis, 23, turned the bus over onto its side during the attack, making several efforts to do so before he succeeded. The bus driver as well as five others were lightly hurt.
Police said the attack, which took place at the end of Shmuel Hanavi Street, near the Olive Tree Hotel, was nationalistically motivated.
A police officer and Prisons Service official who realized what was happening ran up to the tractor and fired a volley of shots at the terrorist as he sat in the cab and killed him, Jerusalem police chief Yossi Pariente said. […]
The attacker worked at a building site nearby, Pariente said. He said three of those lightly injured were on the bus. He said the quick action of those who shot the attacker “averted a much more serious incident.””
A few hours later a soldier in uniform waiting at a bus stop was shot and seriously injured by a gunman who escaped on a motorcycle.
“The shooting took place on Hanadiv Street, which separates the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz from the Hebrew University. The soldier, 20, was rushed to the nearby Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus, where he was listed in serious condition. […]
Jerusalem police chief Yossi Pariente said the soldier was “shot at close range by a man dressed in black,” adding that the shooting was, with “very, very high likelihood,” a terror attack.”
The BBC News website’s coverage of these two incidents began in an August 4th article titled “Gaza conflict: Israeli partial ceasefire slows violence“. The report’s later version includes the following statements:
“In Jerusalem, Israeli police said a Palestinian construction vehicle driver was shot dead after an attack on a bus that killed an Israeli passer-by.
Israeli media later said one person – reportedly a soldier – had been seriously injured in a suspected drive-by shooting in Jerusalem’s Mt Scopus area.”
“In Jerusalem, a construction vehicle driven by a man, identified by police as a Palestinian from east Jerusalem, overturned a bus in an ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood.
A passer-by was killed and several people were injured before police shot dead the driver.”
The article is illustrated with the following photograph (among others), vaguely captioned:
“One Israeli passerby and the Palestinian driver of an excavator were killed in Jerusalem”
An additional article appearing later the same day under the title “Gaza conflict: Israel ‘to pursue campaign’ as truce ends” states:
“Two attacks on Israelis were reported in Jerusalem and Israel said militant rocket fire from Gaza had continued. […]
Meanwhile in Jerusalem, a construction vehicle driven by a man, identified by police as a Palestinian from east Jerusalem, overturned a bus in an ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood.
A passer-by was killed and several people were injured before police shot dead the driver.
Later one person – reportedly a soldier – was seriously injured in a suspected drive-by shooting in Jerusalem’s Mt Scopus area.”
That report includes the following photograph, confusingly captioned:
“An attack on a bus in Jerusalem left an Israeli and a Palestinian dead”
The first incident was also reported on BBC television news on August 4th by Bethany Bell. The synopsis of that report as it appears on the BBC News website (“Gaza-Israel: Attacks on both sides of border despite ceasefire“) reads:
“Meanwhile, Israeli police said that someone driving a digger overturned a bus in an ultra-orthodox neighbourhood near East Jerusalem. They said that police opened fire and shot the driver.”
Why it was deemed relevant by the BBC to identify the religious persuasions of the residents of the neighbourhood in which the incident took place is unclear.
Presenter: “We’re also getting reports that there’s been an attack on a bus in Jerusalem just in the last hour: that it was rammed into by a bulldozer. What more do you have on that?”
Bell: “Well the Israeli police say that… erm…someone driving a digger overturned a bus…err…near East Jerusalem. Emm…they say the police opened fire and shot the driver to prevent this incident from continuing and Israeli media are reporting that…emm…at least one person has died in this incident. We don’t have confirmation of that yet…err…but…emm…the police say they are treating this as what they call a terror attack at the moment. They say they’re looking into the identity of the driver.” [emphasis added]
A filmed report on the first incident by James Reynolds appeared on BBC television news as well as on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the interestingly worded and punctuated title “Israel: Suspected ‘attack’ on bus with digger in Jerusalem“. The synopsis to that August 4th report reads:
“A construction vehicle has been driven into a bus in west Jerusalem killing a passer-by, in what Israeli police are calling an “attack” which may have been “politically motivated”.
The driver of the digger, identified by police as a Palestinian from east Jerusalem, was shot by police and died at the wheel of the vehicle.
Alongside the one Israeli passer-by who died, several more were injured when the digger hit the bus.”
Reynolds’ account includes an interesting lesson on the BBC version of Jerusalem geography:
“I’m on the edge of Israeli West Jerusalem and a little earlier today a man, we’re told, stole a digger and he drove it towards this main road. You can see the digger – the 2011 yellow Hyundai. As he drove it he toppled over this bus – the 291. Let’s come and have a look here. The police have subsequently tilted it up again. The police at this stage say that they realized that there was an attack going on so the police who were nearby congregated around this excavator or digger. Come and have a look over here. And they shot dead the driver. Just have a look through here; you’ll see the broken glass. Well the driver was killed and the Israeli police say that they believe that this was possibly a politically motivated attack. That’s certainly what the Mayor of Jerusalem has said as well. We know that one Israeli civilian was killed in this attack and three others were wounded. And just to show you where we are in Jerusalem; this is the edges of Israeli West Jerusalem but just over there, beyond the second set of traffic lights, is where Arab East Jerusalem begins. The entire city is administered by Israel itself. A lot of the attention of the conflict has been focused of course on Gaza but right now today, Israel is looking at what happened here.”
The basis for Reynolds’ claim that the digger was “stolen” is not clear: according to numerous local media reports, the attacker worked at a nearby construction site.
“Ja’abis left the construction site in the digger and after travelling some 50 meters hit the bus, said a member of the Israel Police. Three people were lightly hurt when the bus was attacked. He attacked the pedestrian several dozen meters from the bus.”
“The assailant, Naif Jabis of Jabek Mukaber, drove his vehicle out of a construction site, hit a 25-year-old passerby, then turned toward a nearby square, and after several meters used the digger’s arm to flip over the bus.”
The Israeli police of course did not say that the attack was “politically motivated” as Reynolds claims: they said nationalistically motivated – i.e. a terror attack. Reynolds refrains from informing audiences that the attack was later praised by Hamas officials both in the Gaza Strip and in Qatar (though not claimed) and that the perpetrator was known to the police. He also refrains from telling audiences that just days ago Hamas spokesman and frequent BBC interviewee Fawzi Barhoum called for such attacks.
“Do you not have cars, motorcycles, knives, clubs, diggers and trucks? If you do and do not hit Jews or settlers, and do not kill dozen of Zionists – then you are not Palestinian.”
A report appearing on the BBC News website early on the morning of August 5th under the title “Gaza conflict: Israel and Hamas ‘agree ceasefire’” informs readers:
“And in Jerusalem, a construction vehicle driven by a man, identified by police as a Palestinian from east Jerusalem, overturned a bus in an ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood.
A passer-by was killed and several people were injured before police shot dead the driver.
Later a soldier was seriously injured in a suspected drive-by shooting in Jerusalem’s Mt Scopus area.”
The report includes the following photograph, inaccurately captioned:
“At the same time Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem were burying a man killed in the city on Monday by a Palestinian man who had stolen a bus” [emphasis added]
The same article also includes a video clip of James Reynolds’ above report, again promoting the unsubstantiated notion of a stolen digger.
“James Reynolds reports from Jerusalem after Israeli police shoot a man who allegedly attacked a bus with a stolen digger” [emphasis added]
An additional report appearing on the BBC News website on August 5th under the title “Israeli troops ‘withdraw from Gaza’” has no written account of the attacks but originally included the same photograph as above with the same inaccurate caption describing a ‘stolen bus’. That photograph has now been removed.
So as we see, apart from Bethany Bell’s second-hand reference (“what they call a terror attack”), BBC audiences have not been informed that two terror attacks took place in Jerusalem on August 4th and some BBC reports even cast doubt on whether an attack took place at all. Additionally, BBC coverage includes unsubstantiated reports of a “stolen” digger along with inaccurate reports of a “stolen” bus and James Reynolds misleads audiences by misquoting the Israeli police as having described the attack as “politically motivated”. The context of previous similar attacks is erased, as is Hamas praise for the latest one.
One can only wonder what these reports would have looked like were the BBC not committed to editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality.
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