BBC terms bus bomb planner claimed as a member by 2 terror groups ‘militant’

On October 22nd 2013 a report titled “Wanted Palestinian militant killed in West Bank raid” appeared on the Middle East page of the BBC News website. The article has undergone some changes since its initial publication. 

Assi Bil'in

Assi Bil'in v 2

Relating to the death of Palestinian Islamic Jihad member Mohammad Assi who was killed during a firefight with Israeli soldiers on the morning of the same day, the article’s title and opening paragraph both use the BBC’s standard euphemistic description of members of Palestinian terrorist organizations.

“A Palestinian militant has been shot dead by Israeli troops in the West Bank, the Israeli army has said.” [emphasis added]

The rest of the report is reasonable, describing the incident itself and the reason behind the attempt to arrest Assi.

“Mohammad Assi, a member of Islamic Jihad, was killed during a gunfight near the village of Bilin, army spokesman Lt Col Peter Lerner said.

Assi reportedly exchanged fire for several hours with the soldiers from a cave after escaping an arrest raid.

He was suspected of planning a bomb attack on a bus in Tel Aviv on 21 November 2012 that injured 29 people.”

A spelling mistake appears at the end of the seventh paragraph.

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However, two later developments have not been added to the BBC report.

In addition to the PIJ statement claiming Assi as one of its members, Hamas also claimed him as a member of its ‘al Qassam’ brigades on its website.

Hamas also released a statement claiming responsibility for the November 21st 2102 terror attack on a bus in Tel Aviv.  

So here’s a question: how many internationally recognized terror organisations have to claim a person as one of their members before the BBC will stop euphemistically describing him as a “militant”? 

BBC showcases convicted anti-Israel activist in context-free illustration

On July 31st 2013 an article by Bethany Bell titled “Scepticism all round amid renewed Mid-East peace talks” appeared in the ‘Features & Analysis’ section on the Middle East Page of the BBC News website. 

F and A Bell article hp

Bell’s article is of little interest, being nothing more than a collection of ‘he said, she said’ beachcombed from other media outlets and hearsay, and with the usual BBC euphemisms used to describe a terrorist organization.

“Many Palestinians are deeply sceptical about the prospects for peace, both in the West Bank, where President Mahmoud Abbas is in power, and in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the Islamist group Hamas.” [emphasis added]

To her credit, however, Bell does at least mention the Hamas Charter:

“Under its charter, Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel. It has repeatedly condemned efforts for peace.”

But what really stands out about this article is the choice of photograph used to illustrate it. 

bell article abu rahma

That picture is over five and a half years old, having been taken in December 2007 in Bil’in.

Source pic abu rahma

The person on the right is prominent anti-Israel campaigner Adib (also spelt Adeeb) Abu Rahma (also spelt Rahmeh) who has played a lead role (literally) in the weekly violent demonstrations in Bil’in and appears extensively in the film ‘Five Broken Cameras’. Abu Rahma’s deliberate, and sometimes violent, provocation of Israeli soldiers guarding the fence at Bil’in is extremely well documented.  

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In 2009/10 Abu Rahma – a taxi driver and father of nine who is a member of Bil’in’s ‘Fence Committee’ – spent 18 months in detention after having been convicted of incitement to violence and disturbing the public order, among other things. Ironically, filmed footage of Abu Rahma’s actions – shot by the co-director of ‘Five Broken Cameras’, Emad Burnat – was instrumental in his conviction.

The BBC, however, does not trouble its audiences with the all-important background to this picture: it presents it out of context as a representation of ‘the conflict’, when in fact it is an illustration of Palestinian provocation through amateur dramatics.

But of course what readers are supposed to take away after viewing this BBC-selected image is the simplistic impression of unarmed Palestinian civilians up against armed Israeli soldiers: an impression of an imbalanced conflict. And that is the overall narrative which the BBC promotes in words and by omission, as well as through the use of selected images.