BBC News belatedly reports fatal terror attack, ignores praise from Abbas’ Fatah

At around 5pm on January 25th, two terrorists armed with knives and IEDs infiltrated the village of Beit Horon, situated just off Highway 443.

“Two terrorists stabbed two women and planted home-made bombs outside a grocery store at the settlement of Beit Horon on Monday afternoon. A security guard shot and killed both of the attackers.

 Security forces found three home-made bombs in the vicinity of the store, apparently planted there by the terrorists, and a bomb squad was called to the scene to neutralize them.

According to Motti Shalem, who worked at the grocery store at the time of the attack, “the two terrorists came from the direction of the fence, and must’ve breached it and got in. Then they stabbed a woman on the sidewalk, and another at the parking lot, and then tried to enter the store. Me and another guy pushed them back with a supermarket cart, and then they ran, and were shot by the security guard.””

Medical staff were unable to save the more seriously wounded woman, 23 year-old Shlomit Krigman, who died several hours later.Beit Horon art

The first reporting in English of that terror attack appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page some 19 hours after it took place in a January 26th article titled “Israeli woman dies of wounds after West Bank stabbing attack“. The story was however covered on the day it happened in Arabic.

“An Israeli woman has died of wounds she suffered in a stabbing attack by two Palestinians in a West Bank settlement on Monday, a Jerusalem hospital says.

Another woman was wounded before a guard shot dead both assailants.

The attack, which happened outside a shop in Beit Horon, was the third inside a settlement in eight days.”

The report continues the ongoing policy of qualifying information given as background to the story.

“Since October, 28 Israelis have been killed in stabbing, shooting or car-ramming attacks by Palestinians or Israeli Arabs.

More than 155 Palestinians – mostly attackers, Israel says – have also been killed in that period.” [emphasis added]

As ever, the words ‘terror’, ‘terrorists’ or ‘terrorism’ do not appear at all throughout the article and the incident’s perpetrators are described as “assailants” and “attackers”.

Although the information was available by the time this report was published, the victim is not named, no personalizing details are given and her photograph does not appear.

Another piece of information which was in the public domain by the time the BBC got round to reporting this incident was the ‘martyrdom poster’ for one of the two terrorists produced by the Fatah movement – which is of course headed by the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas.

KAT tweet Fatah Beit Horon terrorist

Whilst the BBC ignored that aspect of the story, in a link offered together with this article (worded “What is driving the violence?”)  it did promote a very problematic article originally published last October.Beit Horon attack on ME pge

Recently, Fatah’s armed wing claimed responsibility for a drive-by shooting attack (unreported by the BBC) which took place near Dolev on January 24thDuring questioning, the terrorist arrested on suspicion of the murder of Dafna Meir in Otniel on January 17th told investigators that he was influenced by content appearing on Palestinian Authority television.

As readers will no doubt be aware, in recent months the BBC News website has repeatedly supplied its readers with ‘context’ along the following lines (for example here, here and here):

“Israel says Palestinian incitement has fuelled the attacks. The Palestinian leadership has blamed frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation.”

Whilst promoting that mantra, BBC News has for the past four months studiously avoided any serious reporting on the topic of incitement in general and that produced by the “Palestinian leadership” in particular.

The result of that passive-aggressive editorial policy is that the BBC does not merely fail to meet its defined public purpose of enhancing audiences’ understanding of international issues by failing to provide them with available, relevant information: it is in fact actively preventing that legally binding remit from being fulfilled. 

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BBC News amplifies Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s PR line on attacks against Israeli civilians

On the afternoon of March 12th 2013 terrorist organisations including the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad launched a heavy barrage of missile and mortar attacks on towns and villages in southern Israel. Of over sixty missiles fired from the Gaza Strip within the first few hours (some from urban areas as can be seen in this video), at least eight landed in populated areas and several others were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system. 

A couple of hours after the attacks began a report appeared on the BBC News website under the title “Gaza militants fire rocket barrage at southern Israel“. Weds missile attacks

The report opens with more use of the euphemistic term “militants” to describe terrorists deliberately targeting civilians with military-grade weapons and – perhaps through force of habit – it is liberally peppered with the standard BBC caveat “Israel says”, despite the fact that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad was both quick and eager to take responsibility for the missile fire. Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade also put out statements, including one claiming four missile attacks on Sderot.

“Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip have fired more than 30 rockets at southern Israel, Israeli officials say.

An Israeli military spokesman said eight hit urban civilian areas and that a number of others were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system.

It was the heaviest barrage since the November 2012 conflict in Gaza ended.

The military wing of Islamic Jihad said it had fired the rockets in retaliation for Tuesday’s killing of three of its militants in an Israeli air strike.”

Some BBC staff also amplified via Twitter the PIJ’s PR line according to which the dozens of indiscriminate attacks on Israeli civilians came in “response” to the incident the previous day in which a PIJ cell attacked a routine Israeli patrol engaged in searching for IEDs on the border with mortar fire and the IDF responded.

Weds missile attacks Abualouf tweet

Weds missile attacks Shuval tweet

 That faux linkage, along with other PIJ propaganda, was further promoted later on in the BBC’s report and audiences were encouraged to view the incident in terms of equivalent conflicting narratives.

“A statement by Islamic Jihad’s military wing, the al-Quds Brigades, said the barrage was its “initial response” to the “crimes of the Zionist enemy in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip”, the latest of which was the “assassination” of three of its members on Tuesday.

The Israeli military said it had targeted the militants after they fired mortars at its troops. The al-Quds Brigades said the Israeli soldiers had crossed into the Gaza Strip.”

However, a video  released by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad the previous day is described by the terrorist organization itself as showing the mortar attack on “the enemy forces” carried out by the three members of the PIJ’s Al Quds brigade on March 11th

Weds missile attacks PIJ vid frm 11 3

Clearly the BBC’s report is lacking in accuracy in that it leads readers to mistakenly believe that only the IDF “said” that mortars had been fired at Israeli soldiers, whereas in fact the PIJ itself had already admitted that it carried out such an attack and the IDF had also filmed them in the act.

Towards the end of the report we find the following statement:

“Islamic Jihad and other groups have sporadically fired rockets and mortars at Israel since the 2012 conflict ended, while the Hamas movement that governs Gaza has refrained from doing so.” [emphasis added]

Notably, similar statements (see below) made in other recent BBC reports were somewhat more cautiously phrased and no explanation is given for the change in the BBC’s tone.

Hamas denies that it has fired any rockets since a 2012 ceasefire agreement with Israel, with other militant groups in the Gaza Strip claiming responsibility.” [emphasis added]

The report closes with the following statement:

“However, an Israeli military statement said it held Hamas “responsible for all attacks emanating” from the coastal territory.”

The BBC fails to inform audiences that the terms of the November 2012 ceasefire included the clause:

“All Palestinian factions shall stop all hostilities from the Gaza Strip against Israel including rocket attacks and all attacks along the border.”

Seeing as Hamas – as the BBC frequently reminds its audiences – governs the Gaza Strip, it is clear that prevention of missile fire and all other types of terror attacks fall under its responsibility. Despite that above clause, a later version of the BBC’s report unquestioningly quoted a PIJ spokesman as saying the following:

“The rocket fired today came in response to the occupation aggression against us and does not mean the collapse of the ceasefire agreement [with Israel].”

No clarification of the absurdity of that statement was provided to BBC audiences.

At the time of writing Israeli forces have begun counter-attacks on terror sites and installations in the Gaza Strip and we will update as necessary. 

BBC consistently under-reports Palestinian Authority news

It takes about thirty-five minutes to drive from the BBC’s offices in Jerusalem to Ramallah, but despite the proximity, BBC reporting of news from the Palestinian Authority controlled areas is noticeably sparse – at least when that news has nothing to do with Israel. 

Thus, no BBC report has appeared on the subject of the recent Palestinian Authority crackdown on Palestinian journalists and bloggers as reported by Khaled Abu Toameh

“Scores of journalists staged a protest outside the headquarters of the Palestinian government in Ramallah in protest against the arrest and assault on some of their colleagues by Palestinian security forces.

The journalists called for an end to the persecution of Palestinian journalists and held banners that asked, “Where is freedom of the media?” and, “No to repression and incarceration of journalists.”

The protest, which was almost completely ignored by Western media outlets operating in the West Bank, came after two incidents in which Palestinian security officers arrested journalists. […]

Hours after the Ramallah protest, Palestinian security officers raided the home of another journalist and blogger, Esmat Abdel Khalek, and confiscated documents and a laptop.

Abdel Khalek, who teaches journalism at a West Bank university, was arrested last year on suspicion of posting critical comments on her Facebook account about the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas.

No reason was given for the latest raid on her home in Ramallah, although Palestinian journalists said that it could be linked to her ongoing criticism of the Palestinian Authority leadership.”

Similarly, BBC audiences remain entirely unaware of recent shooting attacks against political figures in Ramallah. 

“Unidentified gunmen in Ramallah opened fire Tuesday morning at the car of Sufian Abu Zaida, a senior Fatah official.

Abu Zaida, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, was not in the car when the attack took place, shortly before 7 a.m. At least 20 bullets hit the vehicle.

It was the second incident of its kind in Ramallah in the past few weeks.

A similar attack in the city targeted the car of another senior Fatah official, Majed Abu Shamaleh. Abu Shamaleh, an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was not hurt.

The shooting attacks are believed to be connected to internal squabbling in Fatah.”

Likewise, there was no BBC coverage of last weekend’s military parade held by Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Qalandiya (25 minutes from the BBC offices) and no ‘analysis’ of the implications on the Middle East peace process of a recent video put out by that same organization – which the BBC itself has described as having “close links” to the same Fatah party which makes up the largest faction in the PLO – currently conducting talks with Israel – and both headed by the president of the Palestinian Authority. 

Related articles:

BBC stays mum on new PA restrictions on foreign journalists

BBC ‘tidies up’ Fatah celebrations

BBC’s ostrich approach to terror in Judea & Samaria continues

Obviously, BBC audiences cannot hope to gain “awareness and understanding of international issues” or to “remain informed about world events” (as promised on the packagingif the BBC’s reporting systematically ignores certain aspects of the news in a particular region.  

It is difficult to imagine a situation in which the BBC would ignore a story about counter-terrorism forces in the UK arresting a terrorist who had shot at hikers but – having also ignored the initial shooting incident – the BBC apparently saw no reason to inform audiences that a member of the PFLP was arrested last week and admitted having carried out the attack.

“The IDF and Shin Bet uncovered a terror cell operating in Hebron and Nablus, Israel Radio reported Thursday.

According to the report, one of the members of the cell, which belonged to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, admitted that he had carried out a shooting attack on an Israeli vehicle near Wadi Qelt.

In his interrogation, the suspected terrorist said he was in contact with organization activists in Jordan and claimed they had been in contact with Hezbollah.”

Likewise, the BBC would most likely not elect to ignore the arrest of suspects in a shooting attack which had resulted in the death of a family member of a British government minster two years earlier – particularly if they were members of a foreign security force. 

And of course the seizure of a cache of illegal weapons would probably make prominent BBC headlines – especially if those arrested in connection with the incident were members of a supposedly defunct militia belonging to a member organization of a body with which the British government had signed agreements.

“Israeli forces on Thursday detained three Al-Aqsa Brigades members in the northern West Bank district of Nablus as they searched for weapons, locals said. 

An Al-Aqsa Brigades source said forces detained Samer Ayran, 33, Ghassan Abed al-Haq, 20, and Alam al-Qarm, 35, a Fatah secretary, in the Jabal al-Shamali area in Nablus City.”

Back at the end of April the BBC tried to persuade its audiences that attacks on Israeli civilians in Judea & Samaria were “rare” – later revising the claim to “fatal attacks” after complaints from the public. The presentation of such a deliberately misleading narrative is enabled by the BBC’s systematic failure to report non-fatal violent attacks taking place in the district and related counter-terrorism activity.

Not only are BBC audiences left in the dark as regards the incidents themselves, but the promotion by omission of that inaccurate and misleading narrative severely hampers their ability to understand wider issues such as the lack of progress in peace negotiations.