Superficial BBC News reporting on southern Syria ceasefire

Anyone getting their news exclusively from the BBC will not be aware of the fact that heavy fighting has been taking place for some weeks in the Daraa district of south-western Syria. The BBC also did not report any of the numerous recent cases of spillover fire into Israel: ‘side effects’ of fighting between regime and opposition forces in the Quneitra area.

BBC audiences might therefore have been rather puzzled to find an article on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on July 7th titled “Syria crisis: US, Russia and Jordan agree ceasefire deal“.

“The US, Russia and Jordan have agreed to put in place a ceasefire across south-western Syria, which is due to begin on Sunday. […]

This agreement, which Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said would cover the regions of Daraa, Quneitra and Sweida, is reported to be the result of several months of undisclosed meetings between Russia and the US on Syria.”

A follow-up report appeared on the Middle East page on July 9th under the headline “Syria ceasefire: US and Russia-backed deal in effect“.

“A ceasefire brokered by the US and Russia has come into force in south-western Syria.

It was announced after Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin met for the first time at G20 talks on Friday. The truce is also backed by Jordan.

It is in force along a line agreed by Syrian government forces and rebels. […]

The ceasefire, which Russia has said covers the regions of Deraa, Quneitra and Sweida, was reported to result from months of undisclosed talks between Russian and US officials.”

Neither of those articles informs readers that – as the Jerusalem Post reported:

“… it was not clear how much the combatants – Syrian government forces and the main rebels in the southwest – were committed to this latest effort.”

While the second report does not clarify at all how that ceasefire is to be enforced, the earlier report includes the following ambiguous statement:

“Mr Lavrov said Russia and the USA would coordinate with Jordan to act “as guarantors of the observance of this [ceasefire] by all groups”.”

The Times of Israel reports that:

“There has been no official comment from Syria’s government on the announcement, and there was no mention of the ceasefire on state television’s noon news bulletin. […]

The truce is to be monitored through satellite and drone images as well as observers on the ground, a senior Jordanian official said Saturday, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss details with reporters. Syria ally Russia is to deploy military police in the area.”

Although at least one BBC journalist is aware of concerns raised by Israel relating to Russian enforcement of the ceasefire along its border, that issue is not mentioned in either article. Ha’aretz reports:

“…Israel wants the de-escalation zones in southern Syria to keep Iran, Hezbollah and other Shi’ite militias away from the Israeli and Jordanian borders. […]

One of Israel’s main concerns is how the cease-fire would be enforced in areas near the Israeli and Jordanian borders and who would be responsible for enforcing it. A senior Israeli official said Russia has proposed that its army handle the job in southern Syria. But Israel vehemently opposes this idea and has made that clear to the Americans, he said.”

Channel 10’s military analyst Alon Ben David notes:

“One must remember that the Russians in Syria are not separate from the Shia axis. The soldiers fight shoulder to shoulder with the Iranian support forces and even often with Hizballah.”

Ynet’s analyst Ron Ben Yishai points out that:

“The agreement does have a serious disadvantage from an Israeli perspective: It halts the advance of Iranian militias and Hezbollah, but fails to completely remove them from the area, as Israel likely demanded behind the scenes. This means that if and when the ceasefire is violated, the forces supported by Iran and Hezbollah would be able to continue their advance towards the Syrian-Jordanian border and the Syrian-Iraqi border, which will make it possible for them to create a strategic corridor to the Mediterranean Sea. Even worse is the fact that they would be able to advance and establish a stronghold in the Golan Heights.

Another disadvantage of the ceasefire deal is that the Assad army and the Russians, which both have an interest in keeping Assad and his people in power, will be responsible for the agreement’s implementation on the ground. If Assad stays in power in Syria, Iran and Hezbollah will stay there too. […]

The Syrian regime, Hezbollah and Iran have a totally different interest in a ceasefire: Assad and the Iranians have realized that they are incapable of conquering the city of Daraa on the Jordanian border and that the rebels—to ease the pressure on Daraa—are successfully attacking them near new Quneitra in the Golan Heights, where the spillovers that Israel responded [to] originated. The Syrian army is pressed in the Quneitra area. It’s failing to advance in Daraa despite help from Iran, Hezbollah and Russia, and therefore has no other choice but to agree to a ceasefire.

This is also why this ceasefire may not last very long. The moment the Syrian regime and the Iranians reach the conclusion they are strong enough to reoccupy Daraa and the border crossings between Syrian and Iraq, they will do it without any hesitation.”

Obviously there is a much broader story to tell than the one presented in these two superficial BBC News reports that cannot be said to meet the BBC’s mission of providing news “of the highest editorial standards so that all audiences can engage fully with issues across the UK and the world”.

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Yet again: Gaza missile attack ignored by BBC News but Israeli response reported in Arabic

At around 10 p.m. on the evening of June 23rd residents of Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip once again had to scramble for cover from incoming missile fire.

“The rocket landed in an open area near the Yad Mordechai Kibbutz just north of the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement. […]

There were no reports of injuries or damage directly after the alarms, which sounded in the communities of Zikim, Karmia, Netiv Ha’asara and Yad Mordechai just after 10 p.m., the IDF said.”

Several hours later Israel responded with a strike on the rocket launcher used in the attack.

Following the now established pattern, there was no reporting of the missile attack on the BBC News English language website but the Israeli response to it was reported on the BBC Arabic website.missile 23 6 BBC Arabic

In the months since the end of last summer’s conflict between Israel and Palestinian terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip the ceasefire has been broken on multiple occasions by missile fire – with none of those incidents having received dedicated coverage by the BBC in English at the time.

September 16th 2014mortar fire at the Eshkol region – not reported by BBC News but briefly mentioned in a later article on another topic.

October 31st 2014 – missile fire at the Eshkol region – not reported by BBC News.

December 19th 2014 – missile fire at the Eshkol region – not covered by BBC News at the time but Israeli response reported.

April 23rd 2015 – missile fire at Sha’ar HaNegev region – not reported by BBC News.

May 26th 2015 – missile fire at Gan Yavne area – not covered by BBC News but Israeli response reported by BBC Arabic.

June 3rd 2015 – missile fire at Sdot Negev region – not covered by BBC News but Israeli response reported by BBC Arabic

June 6th 2015 – missile fire at Hof Ashkelon area – not covered by BBC News but Israeli response reported by BBC Arabic. Later briefly mentioned in a June 10th report by Yolande Knell.

June 11th 2015 – missile fire (fell short in Gaza Strip) – later mentioned in a June 12th article by Yolande Knell.

June 23rd 2015 – missile fire at Yad Mordechai area – not covered by BBC News but Israeli response reported by BBC Arabic.

To sum up, five separate incidents of missile fire aimed at Israeli civilian communities in the last month have been covered as follows on the BBC News website (June 12th):

“Three rockets have since been fired at Israel and a group calling itself the Omar Brigades said via social media that it was responsible. On Thursday, a fourth rocket was launched but fell short inside Gaza.

While the missiles have not caused injuries, they have drawn Israeli air strikes in response – some targeting Hamas military sites – and endangered a 10-month-long ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.”

Like this on BBC television news (June 10th):

“In the past week, several rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza, endangering the 10-month-long ceasefire that ended last summer’s deadly war.”

And as follows (from 00:50) on BBC World Service radio (June 11th):

“In the past few days several rockets have been fired from Gaza towards Israel jeopardizing the ceasefire that ended last summer’s war.”

“…militants linked to IS fired several rockets at Israel. It holds Hamas responsible and hit back with airstrikes.”

The focus of all three of those reports was the threat posed to Hamas rule in Gaza by Salafist Jihadists and the danger to the ceasefire agreement.

Once again, the BBC has not produced any reporting whatsoever from the regions in Israel targeted by those missile strikes and audiences remain uninformed with regard to how people who have been terrorized by the constant threat of missile fire from assorted terrorist groups for over fourteen years and suffered fifty days of intense attacks less than a year ago are now coping with the deteriorating security situation.

If audiences are to be provided with the “understanding of international issues” laid out in the corporation’s public purpose remit, the BBC must obviously tell that side of the story too. The current curious practice of omission of timely reporting of missile attacks in English, whilst covering the Israeli responses to those attacks in Arabic, is clearly also not conducive to meeting the BBC’s obligations.

BBC presentation of truce fails to tell the real story

The real story behind the August 26th ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is of course the fact that Hamas could have accepted the same terms six weeks earlier and thereby prevented hundreds of deaths, thousands of injuries, extensive damage to buildings and infrastructure and unquantifiable suffering for the people of the Gaza Strip.

Hamas however refused to accept the Egyptian-offered terms at the time, insisting that there would be no ceasefire until its demands were met. The BBC – as we know – took it upon itself to extensively and energetically publicise and promote Hamas’ unrealistic demands concerning the lifting of border restrictions but consistently refrained from providing audiences with accurate information regarding the nature of the restrictions themselves and the reasons why they had to be imposed in the first place, thus denying them the ability to appreciate why that particular Hamas pre-condition to a ceasefire would not come about.

Six weeks and much avoidable civilian suffering on, Hamas jettisoned those preconditions and agreed to a truce without any of them having been met as Avi Issacharoff explains.

“Hamas’s defeat lies in the area it counts as most important. With all due respect to the international community, or to al-Jazeera which emerged as the Hamas propaganda arm, what interests Hamas is public opinion in Gaza and in the West Bank. Time and again its leaders — including military wing chief Muhammad Deif, of whom it is not clear what remains after the IDF airstrike that targeted his home — bragged and made promises to the Gaza public that this conflict would continue until the siege was lifted. And until the re-arrested prisoners from the Shalit deal were released. And until an airport was opened. In their enthusiasm for these causes, they cost hundreds of thousands of Palestinians their homes. Two thousand, one hundred and forty-four men, women and children who were killed in a war that they were assured by Hamas simply had to continue until those goals were achieved. The Hamas leadership swore that without a seaport (getting the Rafah border crossing reopened was not deemed a sufficient achievement because it is controlled by the Egyptians) the rockets would continue to fall on Sderot and Tel Aviv, Ashkelon and Netivot.

Hamas further promised that there would be no return to the understandings that ended Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012 or to the realities of recent years. Time after time, for almost 50 days, they rejected the Egyptian initiative, which included, almost clause for clause, the elements of the 2012 agreement.

And then, on Tuesday afternoon, when first word of the ceasefire began to emerge, it became clear that Hamas had capitulated, retreated with its tail between its legs, abandoned everything it had insisted upon. No seaport and no airport. No release of the Shalit prisoners who were re-arrested in June after the murders of the three Israeli teens. No lifting of the blockade.”

The significance was clear even to journalists at the New York Times:

“Hamas, the militant Islamist faction that dominates Gaza, declared victory even though it had abandoned most of its demands, ultimately accepting an Egyptian-brokered deal that differs little from one proffered on the battle’s seventh day. In effect, the deal put both sides back where they were at the end of eight days of fighting in 2012, with terms that called for easing but not lifting Israeli restrictions on travel, trade and fishing in Gaza.”

But have those important points been conveyed to BBC audiences in the corporation’s coverage of the August 26th ceasefire? The BBC News website’s main article on the subject ran under the headline “Gaza conflict: Israel and Palestinians agree long-term truce” and it was amended numerous times until its final version was reached. At no point is it made sufficiently clear to readers that the terms of the agreement are the same as those offered after the first week’s fighting or that Hamas abandoned its preconditions – including those still being promoted by the BBC in the sidebar of ‘related articles’ links. The only hint of the latter point comes in an insert of ‘analysis’ from Kevin Connolly.26 8 truce

“There have been small celebrations in the streets of Gaza City hailing a “victory” but the truth is that Hamas has not achieved the headline-making concessions it was demanding in return for a ceasefire agreement.

So, there is no deal on the opening of a sea terminal or an airport at this stage. How ordinary Palestinians view the deal probably depends on how quickly their tightly-controlled borders are opened and how wide.”

Whilst the article fails to clarify to readers that the suffering of residents of the Gaza Strip could have been dramatically and significantly reduced had it not taken Hamas six weeks to abandon its unrealistic demands, it does include amplification of the Hamas narrative.

“Hamas said the deal represented a “victory for the resistance”. “

“A spokesman for Hamas, which controls Gaza, said: “We are here today to declare the victory of the resistance, the victory of Gaza, with the help of God, and the steadfastness of our people and the noble resistance.” “

The article states:

“The announcement was greeted by celebratory gunfire on the streets of Gaza City.”

It fails to inform readers that a 19 year-old girl – Randa Nemer – was killed and 45 others injured by that “celebratory gunfire”.Sommerville 26 8 cf 1

The later version of the report briefly notes that two Israelis were killed around an hour before the ceasefire came into effect, but once again father of five Zevik Etzion and father of three Shachar Melamed of Kibbutz Nirim are not named.

“A last-minute volley of mortar shells from Gaza killed two Israeli civilians in Eshkol Regional Council, medics told the BBC.”

BBC television audiences saw two reports from Quentin Sommerville on the evening of August 26th. The earlier one – which also appeared on the BBC News website under the title “Gaza conflict: Israel and Palestinians agree new truce” – tells viewers nothing about the fact that Hamas abandoned its preconditions and settled for what it could have had six weeks earlier.

Moreover, in Sommerville’s second report of the evening (“Gaza conflict: Israel and Palestinians agree long-term truce“), which one can conclude was produced after more details of the terms of the ceasefire had come to light, he not only neglects to mention the above points but misleads audiences with regard to those terms.

“After fifty days of conflict – fifty days of loss – the streets of Gaza came alive tonight. It was a fight that cost two thousand lives but here they’re calling it a victory. There have been other ceasefires – eight in total – but it hasn’t brought people out onto the streets like this. They’re celebrating tonight because they believe that the fighting is over, that Israel’s blockade of Gaza has ended.” [emphasis added]

Later on in the report viewers are shown footage of Mahmoud Abbas saying that the agreement secured includes “providing Gaza with foodstuff and supplies”. No attempt is made to clarify to viewers that food, medicines and essential supplies have continued to enter the Gaza Strip via the Kerem Shalom crossing throughout the 50 days of conflict: 5,359 truckloads between July 8th and August 25th to be precise.Sommerville 26 8 cf 2

Against a background of footage of a missile hit on a kindergarten in Ashdod – which fortunately was empty at the time because the school year has not yet begun and the teacher preparing for the new term had left ten minutes earlier – Sommerville informs viewers of the obvious:

“Israel says that Hamas rockets have to stop if this truce is to work. This one landed today in a playground. No-one was hurt.”

Oddly, the fact that two members of Kibbutz Nirim were killed in a mortar attack earlier in the day is not mentioned.

On the afternoon of August 27th an article by Kevin Connolly appeared on the BBC News website under the title “Indecisive end to Gaza conflict“. There readers were informed that:

“Gaza does not function as a democracy so Hamas does not have to worry about immediate accountability to its own people, but many will question its judgement on two key points.

One is the decision to embark on a conflict when the agreement ending it only guarantees the restoration of the status quo that went before, together with commitments to discuss other grievances.

The other is the tactic of insisting on huge, headline-grabbing concessions (like the construction of a seaport in Gaza) in return for merely agreeing to enter talks.

It seems possible that that tactic made it harder to secure a ceasefire.”

Unfortunately, Connolly’s use of understatement and the fact that the BBC has throughout the past seven weeks consistently failed to adequately explain the important topic of the implementation of border restrictions and the naval blockade as a means of curbing the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip mean that many readers are likely to remain unclear as regards the fact that the same ceasefire could have been accepted by Hamas six weeks previously and the extent to which Hamas’ tactics have caused unnecessary suffering to the people of the Gaza Strip.  

 

 

 

BBC’s WHYS promotes Gaza interviewee with a penchant for antisemitic imagery

The BBC – its funding public is told – “aspires to remain the standard-setter for international journalism” and to ensure that its audiences “remain informed about world events”.WHYS main

Recently it has become apparent that BBC editors are of the opinion that those aspirations are served by providing audiences with commentary on current affairs from a teenager qualified with nothing more than a Twitter account.

Whilst it may be difficult to imagine that the BBC would deem commentary from such a source likely make any serious contribution to meeting its public purpose remit of informing audiences about British defence policy, in a certain part of the Middle East anything goes.

The August 26th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘World Have Your Say’ purported to discuss what it described as the “Gaza Truce” as though nothing at all has happened in neighbouring Israel during the past 50 days and more. Presenter Ben James hosted a number of interviewees during the programme (available here) including the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly, the Jerusalem Post’s Lahav Harkov, Shoshanna JaskollDr Bassel Abu Warda of Shifa hospital and Xavier Abu Eid of the PLO’s Negotiations Affairs Department.WHYS stand alone item

But James’ star guest – and the one to which the programmes editors elected to devote a stand-alone item on their website – was Farah Baker; a sixteen year-old girl from Gaza City who has during the last seven weeks been extensively courted and promoted by the international media (including BBC Radio One’s ‘Newsbeat’ programme aimed at younger audiences) due to her activity on Twitter.

One might assume that before a potential interviewee whose only qualification for talking about international affairs is that she Tweets personal views was put on air, producers would take a look at the relevant Twitter account in order to check out what they were actually amplifying and promoting. Farah Baker Tweets under the handle @Farah_Gazan and in her profile uses an offensive comparison of herself to Anne Frank.

Farah Baker profile

 That is not a one-off theme.

Farah Baker AF comp

But Farah Baker’s Holocaust analogies do not end there. Perusal of her timeline shows that she uses the hashtag #shujaia_holocaust and her Tweets and Retweets indicate that the teenager feted and promoted by the Western media is rather fond of antisemitic imagery.

Farah Baker 2

Farah Baker 3

Farah Baker rt 1

Farah Baker rt 2

That obviously was not the cause of any concern to Ben James or his producers and unfortunately, past experience shows that should not come as much of a surprise to the rest of us. We have previously documented here the appearance of Nazi analogies and defamation on the ‘World Have Your Say’ Facebook wall despite the supposed existence of a moderation policy set out in ‘House Rules’.

The August 26th programme also invited listeners to comment on the WHYS Facebook account and below are some of the comments which still appear there at the time of writing.

WHYS FB 1

 

WHYS FB 2

WHYS FB 3

WHYS FB 4

This, licence fee payers may be dismayed to learn, is apparently what the BBC believes is ‘standard-setting’ journalism.

BBC News absolves Hamas of truce violation, amplifies its propaganda – and refrains from naming its victim

Normally based in Dubai, Middle East business correspondent Mark Lobel appears to be the latest BBC reporter to have been ‘parachuted in’ to provide backup to the Jerusalem Bureau team covering events in Israel and the Gaza Strip.Mark Lobel Nahal Oz

On August 22nd, Lobel produced a report for BBC television news which was also promoted on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the oddly punctuated title “Israeli child ‘killed by rocket fired from Gaza’“. Whether those inverted commas were intended to convey to audiences that the BBC is not sure that four year-old Daniel Tragerman was killed or not convinced that the mortar (rather than rocket) which caused his death was actually fired from the Gaza Strip is unclear. However – as was the case in the BBC News website’s written article purportedly relating to the same incident – Mark Lobel presented his entire report without mentioning Daniel’s name.

“The Israeli prime minister has come out and offered his condolences..eh…to the family of a four year-old boy who was…ehm…was announced killed by one of these mortar…eh…rounds. What had happened is that since Israel…eh…assassinated three senior Hamas military leaders in the early hours of Thursday morning, there’ve been a flurry of rockets and mortars flying over the border. Eighty – over eighty – since midnight last night and several of these mortars all landed on a kibbutz several…ehm…meters away from the border with Gaza and medics said that a four year-old boy was playing inside his living room and got hit in the head and…eh…was killed.”

Lobel’s claim that missile and mortar fire is a result of the strike in which three Hamas terrorists were killed on August 21st of course misleads viewers by concealing the fact that terrorists in the Gaza Strip had already breached a ceasefire two days prior to that event, with particularly heavy targeting of civilian communities near the border. Lobel continues by further confusing audiences with a claim that the break-down of talks in Cairo preceded the renewed fighting. In fact it was the breach of the ceasefire by Gaza Strip-based terrorists which led to the termination of negotiations.Sommerville filmed 23 8

“And…erm…you know this is all a sign that the fighting on both sides is continuing to pick up since those failed peace talks which were being brokered by Egypt fell through. And..err…since midnight last night on the other side…err…the Israelis have launched over thirty…eh….strikes from the air at Gaza and we’ve got reports from within Gaza that four people have died since midnight.”

The following day – August 23rd – BBC television news audiences viewed a report by Quentin Sommerville (titled “Israel continues air strikes on Gaza targets” in its website version) which likewise failed to name Daniel Tragerman and misled them with regard to the reason for the end of the ceasefire on August 19th.

“This was the aftermath of an earlier Hamas mortar attack. It killed an Israeli child; the fourth civilian to die there since the conflict began. Israel promised it would escalate its campaign in Gaza as a result. After a lull of the ceasefire which ended on Tuesday, the violence and the casualties have been steadily increasing here.”

The ceasefire of course did not simply ‘end’ – it was violated by Palestinian terrorists.

Also on August 23rd a written article appeared on the BBC News website under the headline “Gaza conflict: Mahmoud Abbas urges fresh talks in Egypt“. In that report audiences were once again misled with regard to the reason for the ceasefire’s end.

“A previous Egyptian-brokered truce collapsed on Tuesday.”

In the article’s fourteenth paragraph readers were again informed of the incident in Nahal Oz without any mention of Daniel Tragerman’s name.

“On Friday, a four-year-old Israeli boy was killed in a village near the Gaza border, prompting Israel to warn it would “intensify” its operations.”

Moreover, the very next paragraph of that report consists of amplification of obviously false Hamas propaganda without any qualifying comment from the BBC.

“In an interview with Yahoo News, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal rejected the charge that his organisation targets Israeli civilians.

“We try most of the time to aim at military targets and Israeli bases,” Mr Meshaal said. “But we admit that we have a problem. We do not have the weapons available to our enemy… so aiming is difficult.” “

That same propaganda from the leader of a terrorist organization proscribed by numerous countries precisely because of its history of killing Israeli civilians was again amplified in an article appearing on the BBC News website on August 24th. The title of that report also included bizarre punctuation which implied to audiences that the launching of mortars at a border crossing might perhaps not be seen by the BBC as an attack: “Gaza conflict: Erez crossing ‘attacked’ amid Israel raids“.Erez crossing art

The article’s entire representation of the subject matter outlined in its headline is as follows:

“Israel says it has closed the Erez crossing after it came under rocket fire from Gaza, wounding four people.

The crossing is used by aid workers, journalists and Palestinians with Israeli permits to enter or leave Gaza.”

No mention is made of the fact that the people wounded in the attack – two of them seriously – were Arab-Israeli taxi drivers who had been waiting to transport patients from the Gaza Strip to hospitals in Israel.

“Hussein Abu-Einam, an eyewitness on the scene, told Army Radio: “The [drivers] sat in a shed and waited for the passengers and their relatives who were leaving Gaza for Israeli hospitals Ichilov and Tel Hashomer. Then seven shells fell — just one after the other. We didn’t have time to flee; it was a matter of a second.”

Eli Bean, head of Magen David Adom, said the paramedics who were dispatched to the crossing were forced to treat the victims under fire.

“During treatment, we were forced to deal with a number of sirens and mortar explosions fired at us. The mortar shells fell very close to those who were injured,” he said.

Up to 11 mortar and rocket rounds landed near the crossing, the army said.”

Once again, a revisionist version of the breakdown of the ceasefire on August 19th is presented in this report.

“Hostilities between the two sides resumed on Tuesday after a temporary truce, scuppering efforts by Egyptian negotiators to achieve a long-term ceasefire deal.”

And yet again – this time in the sixteenth paragraph – Daniel Tragerman goes unnamed.

“Israel had announced it would “intensify” its offensive after a four-year-old Israeli boy was killed in a village near the Gaza border.”

So too was the case in a filmed report by Alpa Patel which appeared on BBC television news as well as on the BBC News website on August 24th under the inaccurate headline “Gaza residences targeted in Israel air strikes“: the target of that strike was in fact a Hamas command and control centre.Alpa Patel report 24 8

“It followed the killing of a four year-old Israeli boy on Friday in this village near the Gaza border. Israel warned it would intensify its operations as a result. He becomes one of 68 Israelis killed in recent weeks – most of the dead are soldiers. On the Palestinian side more than two thousand have been killed – the majority are civilians.”

As we see, these five items appearing on BBC News platforms over the weekend of August 22nd to 24th all continue what is now evidently the BBC policy of concealing from audiences the reason for the breakdown of the last ceasefire on August 19th and the resulting renewal of hostilities. Not unrelatedly, Khaled Masha’al’s ridiculous claim that Hamas does not target Israeli civilians (contradicted of course on numerous occasions by his less media-savvy accomplices) is amplified unquestioningly by a news organization supposedly committed to bringing its funding public accurate and impartial news. In contrast, the BBC cannot be bothered to name a four year-old victim of the policies of the terrorist organisation whose propaganda it chooses to unquestioningly amplify. 

 

BBC World News’ Dani Sinha to Israeli minister: ‘why are you killing innocent people?’

We have previously documented here some of the BBC News website’s efforts to distort chronology with regard to the events which brought an end to the ceasefire which was supposed to expire at midnight on August 19th but was violated by terrorists in the Gaza Strip some eight and a half hours beforehand. Those efforts are not however confined to the website.

Below is an interview with Israel’s Minister of the Economy on BBC World News on August 20th. Presenter Dani Sinha gave a taste of things to come in the following Tweet.

Tweet Dani Sinha

Of note are Sinha’s jaw-droppingly ignorant questions and her promotion of Hamas terminology.

“Why did you choose this particular time then, or this particular moment, to end the ceasefire? After all, there have been other occasions when Hamas have fired rockets.”

Even after having been told that it was Hamas which violated the truce, she continues to promote her own revisionist version of events.

“Some will though question the timing of course when you ended the ceasefire – or indeed whether you say Hamas ended this ceasefire – because of course it does coincide with your strike – the Israeli airstrike – on a top Hamas commander.”

In actual fact, the strike on the Al Dalou house took place at 21:59: six and a half hours after the truce had been violated by the firing of three missiles at the Be’er Sheva district and also after at least four additional barrages of missile and mortar fire at Netivot, Hof Ashkelon and communities near the Gaza Strip border.

Sinha’s next ‘question’ is as follows:

“Let’s talk about the people though who are being killed because whatever way you look at this there are an unequal number of casualties. More than two thousand Palestinians killed; mostly civilians. That’s against 66 Israelis; mostly military. Well the figures just don’t add up. Why are you killing innocent people?”

We next see what happens when a journalist with no military understanding tries to pretend otherwise.

“When the ceasefire actually started though, you said that you’d destroyed all you needed to destroy regarding the tunnels. Does this mean that your operation has now failed?”

“Why did the talks then fail in Cairo? Your delegation have now gone home.”

And then a bit of promotion of inaccurate Hamas terminology: 

“Hamas want you to lift the siege. I mean why is it so difficult for Israel to do that if it will bring about peace?”

Apparently the BBC does not think that audiences have had enough of the “news presenter aggressively promoting her own political agenda regardless of the facts” party trick.  

Related Articles:

BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis to Israeli spokesman: “You killed them”

Not enough Israelis killed by “home-made contraptions” for BBC’s Mishal Husain

 

How the BBC News website made Hamas’ ceasefire violation disappear

On the afternoon of August 19th terrorists in the Gaza Strip violated a ceasefire agreement which had been due to expire some eight and a half hours later at midnight. The BBC News website’s reporting of that event at the time was documented in this article.

Since then, several additional reports have appeared on the BBC news website’s Middle East page and presentation of the events of the afternoon of August 19th has become increasingly divorced from reality.Deif article

In the report titled “Gaza conflict: Israel ‘targets Hamas leader Deif’” from August 20th, readers were told that: [emphasis added]

“At least 19 Palestinians have died since hostilities resumed on Tuesday, with both sides blaming each other for the collapse of the Cairo peace talks.”

An insert of ‘analysis’ by Kevin Connolly informs readers:

“Hamas blames Israel for the end of the ceasefire just as Israel blames Hamas…”

In paragraphs 21 to 24 inclusive readers discover that:

“The Israeli government accused Hamas of breaking the ceasefire by launching a salvo of rockets about eight hours before it was to have expired, and told its delegation in Cairo to return home shortly afterwards.

Palestinian negotiators blamed Israel for the failure of the indirect talks.

“Israel thwarted the contacts that could have brought peace,” said Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior member of the Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

However, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev rejected the accusation, saying rockets from Gaza were “a clear violation of the ceasefire” and “destroyed the premise upon which the talks were based.” “

The BBC knows full well that the ceasefire was violated by Palestinian terrorists; it reported the missile fire which broke the truce one hour after it happened and so has no need to present the sequence of events as third-party statements. And yet, rather than conveying to audiences what it knows, the BBC elects to present the issue as though it were open to interpretation.Shamala et al art

By August 21st BBC News website presentation of the subject had become even foggier. In a report titled “Gaza crisis: Israel kills three top Hamas commanders” readers were told: [emphasis added]

“Hostilities between the two sides resumed after talks on a long-term ceasefire deal collapsed on Tuesday.”

In fact, the accurate chronology of events shows that the missile fire by Gaza Strip-based terrorists at around 15:30 on August 19th was the reason for the collapse of the talks.

The article closes with the following euphemistic description of the truce violation:

“Gaza officials say a total of 54 Palestinians have been killed since the temporary ceasefire broke down.”  [emphasis added]

The August 21st article includes short profiles of the three terrorists killed.

Profiles Atar et al

Remarkably, no mention is made of the fact that Raed al Attar and Mohamed Abu Shamala were named by Egypt as suspects in the 2012 killing of sixteen Egyptian soldiers and that their extradition had been demanded. Neither are readers told that Attar’s name was also linked to the 2011 prison breaks in Egypt or that Attar was sentenced to death and Shamala to life imprisonment by the Palestinian Authority in 1999 for killing a policeman in Rafah.executions  

On August 22nd the BBC News website published a report relating to the topic of some of the summary executions carried out by Hamas in recent days  under the title “Gaza: Hamas says 18 suspected informants executed“. Notably, reported previous incidents of summary executions earlier on in the conflict had been ignored by the BBC and no interest is shown in this article in the topic of whether or not those executed had access to any kind of due legal process or the significance of those executions from the point of view of the fact that officially, the Gaza Strip has been under the control of the Palestinian unity government since the beginning of June.  

With regard to the August 19th breach of the ceasefire, readers are told in the caption to the main photograph illustrating that article that:

“Hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians resumed, scuppering efforts at a long-term ceasefire”

In the body of the report similar euphemistic terminology is employed:

“Hostilities between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza resumed on Tuesday, scuppering efforts in Cairo to achieve a long-term ceasefire deal.”

The BBC appears to be determined to erase any trace of Hamas responsibility for the breakdown of that ceasefire – and hence the Cairo talks – from the record by failing to report events accurately and factually. 

Hamas denies firing missiles: BBC reports. Hamas claims missile fire: BBC silent

As readers are no doubt aware, terrorists in the Gaza Strip violated the ceasefire which was due to end at midnight on August 19th some eight and a half hours before it expired with missile fire at the city of Be’er Sheva. Around half an hour after that violation, Israel announced the renewal of strikes on terror infrastructure and targets in the Gaza Strip. By the time the truce’s designated expiry time arrived, around fifty missiles had been launched at civilian targets in Israel. So how did the BBC News website report those events?ceasefire break 19 8 article 1

About an hour after the first missiles had been fired an existing article on the BBC News website’s Middle East page – “Gaza ceasefire ‘extended by a day’ after Cairo talks” – was amended and the following information added:

“On Tuesday afternoon three rockets were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip, landing in open areas in Beersheba, an IDF spokesperson told the BBC.

No-one was injured in the attack, which was the first instance of rocket fire in several days.”

It was not made clear to BBC audiences that this missile fire was a violation of a ceasefire agreement, nor was it pointed out that Hamas had also breached several previous ceasefires.

Very shortly after that article was amended, a new one appeared on the BBC News website under the title “Israel PM orders new Gaza strikes following rocket fire”. Typically, readers were informed of the last occurrence first.

“Israel’s prime minister has ordered its military to launch strikes on the Gaza Strip following fresh rocket fire from militants there, officials say.

One Israeli official said “terror sites” would be targeted “in response to Hamas’ violation of the truce”. “

That report underwent considerable changes in the hours after its publication with its later ‘last-first’ headlines being “Israel launches Gaza strikes following rocket fire” and “Gaza conflict: Israel launches strikes after rocket fire” before eventually arriving at the ambiguous “Gaza conflict: Truce ends amid fresh fighting“.ceasefire break 19 8 headline

At no point does the article clarify to readers in the BBC’s own words that terrorists in the Gaza Strip violated the ceasefire. Earlier versions of the article include the following statements regarding the missile fire into Israel:

2nd, 3rd and 4th versions:

“There was no immediate claim of responsibility from any of the Palestinian factions in Gaza, which is dominated by the Islamist movement Hamas.”

5th, 6th and 7th versions:

“There was no immediate claim of responsibility from any of the Palestinian factions in Gaza, which is dominated by the Islamist movement Hamas. Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for the Islamist movement, told the BBC that it “had no idea or information about the firing of any rockets”.”

8th version:

“Hamas – the group that rules Gaza – denies firing the rockets.”End cf 19 8 art 2

From the ninth version onwards, the topic of responsibility for the missile fire disappears from the article completely. That fact is remarkable because around half an hour before the ninth version was published, Hamas did claim responsibility for the missile fire but – unlike its denials – that event was obviously not considered newsworthy by the BBC.

“11:42 P.M. Hamas’ military wing takes responsibility for the rocket fire on Israel and says it has launched a M75 missile as well, according the Palestinian Maan news agency.”

Now that does require some explaining.

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How the BBC made missile fire from the Gaza Strip almost disappear

Hundreds and thousands: BBC under-reports missile attacks on Israel yet again

In the weeks which preceded Operation Protective Edge attacks from the Gaza Strip escalated with 52 missiles fired during June 2014 and 237 missiles and dozens of mortars fired in the first week of July – eighty of them on July 7th alone. Since the commencement of the operation on July 8th 2014, terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip have fired over 3,500 missiles of various types at Israeli civilian targets. The Iron Dome missile defence system, which only targets projectiles analysed as set to land in populated areas, intercepted some 600 of those missiles at a 90% success rate. Missiles which evaded the Iron Dome and mortars (which the system is not designed to target, although it has had some success in that field too) account for around a hundred missile hits in Israeli civilian communities since July 8th. In the first week of the operation alone, 417 buildings and 228 vehicles were damaged by missiles. 

So how did the BBC News website present those facts (all readily available in the public domain) to audiences in its August 17th article titled “Gaza conflict: Peace talks resume in Cairo“? Remarkably, according to the BBC’s account, missiles fired from the Gaza Strip do not seem to land anywhere.Article 17 8 talks

“Israeli civilians have been forced to seek shelter from hundreds of rockets launched at Israel, though many missiles have been blocked by the Iron Dome defence system.”

The actual number of missiles fired is severely under-reported and presented in vague language even though the precise statistics are available. The consequences of those missiles are presented exclusively in terms of Israelis running for cover with no mention of what happens when they land and the fact that around a hundred of them have hit populated areas with destructive results to buildings, infrastructure, property and people. Whilst the Iron Dome system has indeed intercepted “many missiles” thus preventing much more loss of life, injury and damage, that does not – as the BBC’s wording implies – mitigate the effect of those missiles as weapons intended to terrorise Israel’s civilian population and paralyse normal life.

In the paragraph prior to that one, however, readers discovered that in contrast, Israeli weapons do hit the ground.

“Israeli air strikes and shell fire have sharply increased the hardship suffered by civilians in Gaza, with homes destroyed and a lack of water and medical supplies.”

No less interesting is the choice of wording used with regard to casualties: whilst Israelis “have died” – phrasing which does not imply cause – Palestinians are killed – a term which does indicate an outside cause of loss of life.

“Most of the more than 1,900 Palestinians killed are civilians, according to the United Nations.

On the Israeli side, 67 people, all but three of them soldiers, have died.”

Paragraph five of this report states:

“Israel started its offensive in response to militant attacks, including rocket fire, from Gaza.”

Later on, the report presents a different account of the cause of the conflict but with no information given concerning the efforts made by Israel to avoid the hostilities, meaning that audiences are left with no clear understanding of which party initiated them. Likewise, Hamas involvement in the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli civilians is still being airbrushed from the BBC’s version of events.

“The latest Gaza conflict began as tensions escalated over the arrests of Hamas-linked militants blamed by Israel for the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers.”

As has been the case throughout BBC coverage of the conflict, the dissolving of the Hamas government in Gaza after the establishment of the Palestinian unity government at the beginning of June and the resulting Palestinian Authority responsibility for attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip is ignored.

“Hamas, which controls Gaza, is demanding an end to the Israeli and Egyptian blockade of the territory.”

In that sentence in the body of the article and separately both in a sidebar of related articles and a similar extended menu at its foot, three links are provided to the inaccurate and inadequate backgrounder on the topic of border restrictions which the BBC produced on August 13th.

The article concludes:

“Israel occupied Gaza in 1967 and pulled its troops and settlers out in 2005.

However, it still exercises control over most of Gaza’s borders, water and air space, while Egypt controls Gaza’s southern border.”

Once again, no effort is made by the BBC to explain to audiences that Israeli control of the Gaza Strip’s coastal waters and airspace is in fact part of the Interim Agreement signed by the representatives of the Palestinian people, rather than some Israeli caprice. Likewise, the BBC has made no attempt whatsoever to clarify to audiences that according to the terms of existing agreements between Israel and the PA, there should be no paramilitary groups in the Gaza Strip.

“Except for the Palestinian Police and the Israeli military forces, no other armed forces shall be established or operate in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”

“Except for the arms, ammunition and equipment of the Palestinian Police described in Annex I, and those of the Israeli military forces, no organization, group or individual in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip shall manufacture, sell, acquire, possess, import or otherwise introduce into the West Bank or the Gaza Strip any firearms, ammunition, weapons, explosives, gunpowder or any related equipment, unless otherwise provided for in Annex I.”

That information is vital if audiences are to understand why the terms presented by Israel in ceasefire discussions include the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip and why it will not agree to lift the naval blockade and border restrictions for as long as Hamas and other terrorist organisations continue their efforts to import prohibited weapons into the territory. To date the BBC has failed to provide its audiences with that crucial context meaning that they are unable to build an accurate understanding of an international issue to which the BBC has devoted thousands of words.

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BBC reports over ten times fewer post-truce missile hits on Israel than actually occurred

 

 

 

 

How the BBC made missile fire from the Gaza Strip almost disappear

The 72-hour ceasefire which came into effect on August 11th and was supposed to expire at midnight on August 13th was broken when missiles were fired from the Gaza Strip some two and a half hours before its end. Between 21:30 and 01:00 local time, eight missiles were fired at Israel, some of which were intercepted. The IDF responded with strikes on missile launching sites and weapons facilities. Whilst a Hamas spokesman denied that Hamas had fired the missiles, other terrorist factions in the Gaza Strip claimed responsibility.

“Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Hamas “denies there was any rocket fire at the occupation this evening”, referring to Israel.

The al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades [Fatah – Ed.] and the Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, have claimed responsibility for the first round of rocket fire.”

Despite the above, a new 120 hour truce came into effect at midnight on August 13th.

So how did the BBC News website report those events? The article which currently appears under the title “Israel and Palestinians begin tense five-day Gaza truce” with the date August 14th opens with typical ‘last-first’ reporting:Article 14 8 alleged

“Israel and the Palestinians have begun a fresh five-day ceasefire in Gaza, agreed at the end of a three-day truce.

As the ceasefire was announced, Israel launched air strikes in response to alleged rocket fire from Gaza.” [emphasis added]

Later on readers are informed that:

“Hamas, which controls Gaza and is involved in the Cairo talks, has denied its members launched rockets at Israel on Wednesday night.”

That sleight of hand – in which a denial from one terrorist organization is used to cast doubt on the fact that missiles were fired at all and thus question the validity of the Israeli response – is enabled by two factors. The first is the omission of any reporting of the claims of responsibility for the missile fire made by other terrorist factions in the Gaza Strip. The second is the failure to clarify to readers that not only is Hamas responsible for preventing all attacks during a ceasefire to which it agreed precisely because it “controls Gaza” as the BBC’s article points out, but it is clearly perfectly capable of doing so when it wishes, as shown by previous truces.

That article in fact began its numerous incarnations on the evening of August 13th and it is possible to track the progress of the evolving descriptions both of that evening’s missile fire and the subsequent Israeli response.

The second version of the article – titled “Israel, Palestinians ‘extend Gaza truce by five days'” – stated:

“Earlier, three rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel, Israel’s military said”.

Version three, with the same title, informed readers:

“Five rockets have meanwhile been fired from Gaza, Israel’s military says.

No casualties have been reported in Israel. Hamas militants have denied they fired the rockets.

However, an Israeli official said the Israeli military had been ordered to respond to the rocket fire.”

The fourth version of the report had its title changed to “Fresh strikes follow five-day Gaza truce extension”, making Israeli actions the focus, but with the reason for them disappeared from audience view in the headline.bbc head1

“Israel has launched air strikes on Gaza after being targeted by rocket fire, just as agreement had been reached on extending a truce by five days.

Israel’s military said it was targeting “terror sites” after at least five rockets were launched from Gaza.” […]

“Israel’s military said at least five rockets had been fired from Gaza on Wednesday evening.

No casualties were reported in Israel. Hamas militants have denied they fired the rockets.”

Version five ran under the headline “Israel and Palestinians begin tense five-day Gaza truce” and it was at that stage that the previous night’s missile fire (which the BBC obviously knew about because it had reported it earlier) was downgraded to “alleged”.

“As the ceasefire was announced, Israel launched air strikes in response to alleged rocket fire from Gaza.” […]

“Hamas, which controls Gaza and is involved in the Cairo talks, has denied its members launched rockets at Israel on Wednesday night.”

The article then presents a selectively partial quote, presumably designed to provide back up to the previous statement.

“Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner said on Twitter: “No need to jump to conclusions. I don’t know who launched 10pm (19:00GMT) rocket at Israel.”

Here is the original version of the Tweet sent by Lt Col Lerner in response to Al Jazeera journalist Nick Schifrin. As readers can see for themselves, the context of that conversation puts it in a different context than the way in which it is presented by the BBC.

Tweet peter lerner 13 8

Here is the earlier tweet to which Schifrin responded:

Tweet Peter Lerner 13 8 b

The relevant parts of the sixth and final version of the article are identical to those in the fifth version.

As we see, within a matter of hours, that article had evolved from reporting cases of missile launches from the Gaza Strip into turning them into “alleged” missile fire, with the denial issued by a terrorist organization presented as back up for that classification and claims of responsibility by other terrorists ignored, along with Hamas’ responsibility to enforce the ceasefire. The focus is instead placed on Israeli actions which are represented as a response to something which might not have actually happened.

In other words, what we witness in the evolvement of this report is a clear case of facts obviously known to the BBC being tailored to fit editorial policy.