Correction secured to inaccurate BBC News website claim about Gaza attacks

As noted here last week, on December 9th the BBC News website produced the corporation’s first English language report of the year on the topic of missiles fired from the Gaza Strip – despite numerous other attacks having taken place throughout 2017.

Readers of that report were told that:

“Israeli-Palestinian tensions have risen since President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”

After more attacks took place, the BBC News website produced another report on the same topic on December 14th – “Israel hits Hamas targets in Gaza after rocket fire” – in which readers were similarly informed that:

“There has been an escalation of hostilities since President Donald Trump gave US recognition to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel a week ago.”

Relating to incidents which took place the previous evening, the article opened:

“Israel has carried out fresh air strikes in the Gaza strip on what it said were military facilities belonging to the Islamist group Hamas.

The Israeli military said its aircraft had targeted training camps and weapons storage compounds.

The strikes happened after four rockets were fired from Gaza towards Israeli territory.”

Later on readers learned that:

“One rocket landed in a field in southern Israel, one reportedly fell short, landing inside the Gaza strip, while two were intercepted.”

However, BBC audiences were not told that the missile that fell short reportedly hit a school in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip – which was fortunately empty at the time.

“Earlier on Wednesday night, four rockets were fired from Gaza at southern Israel. Two of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, a third struck an open field and the fourth fell short of the border and hit a school in the Gaza Strip, according to Israeli officials.

The rocket that fell short destroyed an empty classroom in Beit Hanoun’s Ghazi al-Shawa public school, according to the IDF.”

On December 15th yet another rocket fired by terror groups in the Gaza Strip fell short, also reportedly hitting a structure in Beit Hanoun.

“A rocket was fired at Israel from Gaza on Friday evening, yet hit a residential building in the Gazan town of Beit Hanoun, the Israeli army’s coordinator of government activities in the territories said. […]

According to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the house was significantly damaged. In a Facebook post in Arabic COGAT said that “once again terror organizations launch rockets at Gaza residents themselves.”

Despite the BBC being one of the few media outlets to have a permanent presence in the Gaza Strip, no mention of that shortfall missile appeared in the BBC News website’s December 15th report titled “Jerusalem: Palestinians killed in fresh clashes with Israel“.

In the first two versions of that report, readers were told that:

BBC Watch contacted the BBC News website, pointing out that the projectiles launched from the Gaza Strip throughout the past ten days were not “mortars”. The report was subsequently amended and that paragraph now reads as follows:

Remarkably, despite the recent uptick in missile fire from the Gaza Strip the BBC has not sent any of its Jerusalem-based correspondents to report from the Israeli communities affected by those attacks. As we see – and not for the first time – the corporation also continues to ignore residents of the Gaza Strip who fall victim to shortfall rockets fired by terror groups in the territory.

Related Articles:

For the first time this year, BBC reports Gaza rocket attacks on Israeli civilians

Why doesn’t the BBC tell audiences about Gaza’s shortfall missiles?

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BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – November 2017

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during November 2017 shows that throughout the month a total of 84 incidents took place: fifty-three in Judea & Samaria, twenty-nine in Jerusalem, one within the ‘green line’ and one in the Gaza Strip/Sinai sector.

In Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem the agency recorded 72 attacks with petrol bombs, six attacks using explosive devices, one shooting attack, one vehicular attack and two arson attacks. A fatal stabbing attack took place in Arad and there was one incident of multiple mortar fire from the Gaza Strip.

During November one soldier was murdered in the stabbing attack in Arad and two civilians were wounded in the vehicular attack at Gush Etzion Junction.

As noted here at the time, the BBC News website did not produce any reporting on that vehicular attack. The stabbing attack in Arad on November 30th in which Sgt Ron Yitzhak Kukia was murdered was covered the next day in a BBC report that also mentioned the mortar fire from the Gaza Strip. None of the additional incidents that took place during November received any BBC News website coverage.

Throughout the first eleven months of 2017 the BBC News website has reported 0.79% of the total terror attacks that took place and 88% of the resulting fatalities.

Related Articles:

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – October 2017

BBC inaccurately paraphrases Israeli officials

BBC News goes from not reporting car rammings as terror to not reporting at all

 

The BBC, violence and promotion of linkage – part one

As recently noted here, the fact that the BBC was able to promote the notion of linkage between last Friday’s rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip and the announcement concerning Jerusalem made by the US president two days beforehand meant that visitors to the BBC News website saw some modest coverage of that particular incident – in stark contrast to the numerous other incidents that the corporation chose to completely avoid reporting earlier in the year.

The same was true of some BBC radio stations. The December 9th edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Today’, for example, included an item (from 52:08 here) introduced by Justin Webb as follows: [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Webb: “Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to allow plans for the US embassy to move there from Tel Aviv have enraged Palestinians and caused disquiet – to put it mildly – among America’s allies and the wider international community. In a statement issued after a UN Security Council meeting, Britain and other European countries called the move ‘unhelpful’. The Trump administration is hitting back at the UN – that they believe is biased against Israel – and at all those who’ve complained at this decision, telling them in effect ‘hold on, nothing’s working at the moment to bring peace – let’s try something new’.”

Webb then introduced “Tom Bateman our correspondent who’s been monitoring developments yesterday and indeed overnight” and Bateman opened his report with the last event to have taken place rather than the first.

Bateman: “Ah well overnight there were Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. Now the Israeli military says it targeted Hamas military sites including weapons manufacturing sites and also a training facility. And in the last 30 minutes or so Gaza’s Shifa hospital has said that they’ve found the bodies of two people under the rubble of one of those sites.”

Failing to clarify to listeners that the “two people” concerned were Hamas operatives, Bateman went on to give an account that included elements which BBC audiences could have found for themselves on Israeli English language news sites.

Bateman: “Now this comes after the Israeli military said three rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip. Now we knew about two of those last night because one had been intercepted by the Israelis. Another didn’t reach Israeli territory. But a third it seems landed in the southern Israeli town of Sderot. It’s unclear whether it actually exploded – there are conflicting reports about that – but the Israeli press is showing pictures online of a damaged car and one resident is said to have heard an explosion; said that her windows were shaking after what she said was an explosion. But all of this after those clashes across the West Bank yesterday and Israeli troops using live fire on people who got near to the border fence in Gaza where one man was killed.”

Later on in the same programme (from 01:03:59 here) that theme of linkage between the US announcement and ‘inevitable’ violence (of the kind that actually has been a regular occurrence throughout the long decades in which the US kept its embassy in Tel Aviv) was promoted in a news bulletin. Listeners were told that:

“Violence has intensified between Israel and Gaza after President Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”

And:

“Israel has launched further airstrikes against Hamas military positions in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel. At least four Palestinians have been killed and many more injured in violence in the West Bank and Gaza since President Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday. Arab League foreign ministers will meet in Cairo today to discuss their response. Tom Bateman reports from Jerusalem.”

Listeners then heard a similar report to Bateman’s earlier one.

BBC World Service radio audiences also heard similar linkage promoted on December 9th in an edition of ‘The Newsroom’. Presenter Jackie Leonard introduced a lead item (from 00:07 here) that began with the sound of gunfire.

Leonard: “The sounds of further clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters in the occupied West Bank this morning. It follows Friday’s ‘day of rage’ against President Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Israel said it had launched airstrikes against Hamas military positions in retaliation for Palestinian rocket attacks. […] Here’s our Arab affairs editor Sebastian Usher.”

Usher – who apparently confused the Arabic term for Jerusalem with the name of the mosque on Temple Mount – misled listeners with the inaccurate claim that Israel’s response to the missile attacks on Friday evening was directed at launch sites rather than at Hamas facilities.

Usher: “As expected there was the announced ‘day of rage’ in the Palestinian territories against the decision by President Trump and that was also across a number of Arab countries. That sparked clashes with the Israeli police. Two people were killed in those clashes. Since then there’ve been several attempts, as forces in Gaza have done in the past, at firing rockets into Israel. Several of these were fired. They didn’t cause any casualties but the Israelis have responded – as they do – and they targeted what they said were bases where the rockets were being fired from and we know that two militants have died in Gaza from that. So four people so far as far as we know have died in one way and another from the violence. A large number of others have been wounded. Funerals are being held. Those are potentially new flashpoints. There are peaceful prayers with a large mass of people at the moment in Jerusalem itself in the Old City at Al Quds. Really everyone is just waiting to see how this now develops. It wasn’t as violent as some might have expected on Friday. Whether this now builds, whether the casualties build and this becomes similar to the intifadas that we’ve seen before is really very much an open question.”

However, the framing of Palestinian violence, rioting and missile attacks as being caused by the US president’s announcement concerning Jerusalem – rather than by the choices made by those throwing rocks and firebombs, launching missiles or stabbing a security guard at a bus station – was not the only type of linkage promoted in these two programmes, as will be seen in part two of this post.

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For the first time this year, BBC reports Gaza rocket attacks on Israeli civilians

For the first time this year, BBC reports Gaza rocket attacks on Israeli civilians

As regular readers know, the BBC’s English language services did not report any of the fourteen separate incidents of missile attacks by terrorist groups located either in the Gaza Strip or the Sinai Peninsula that took place between January and November 2017. Multiple mortar attacks on an IDF position that were launched from the Gaza Strip by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad on November 30th were mentioned in a BBC report on another topic.

On December 7th three missiles were launched from the Gaza Strip.

“Two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip fell inside the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and did not reach Israeli territory, but set off rocket sirens in the Hof Ashkelon and Sha’ar HaNegev regional councils, as well as the city of Sdreot. 

A Jihadist Salafi group in Gaza called the Al-Tawheed Brigades […] claimed responsibility for the first two launches. […]

A third rocket, of unconfirmed origins, was fired toward Israel and landed in Israeli territory in an open area, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit confirmed. Since the rocket did not approach an urban center it did not set off rocket sirens in the Negev communities near the Gaza Strip.”

Israel later responded to those attacks – which were not reported by the BBC.

On the evening of December 8th three more attacks took place. One projectile was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system, one – initially thought to have fallen short – was later located in the Sdot Negev district and one hit the town of Sderot.

“”There was an immense explosion. I heard glass shattering and then car alarms. The walls of my house shook. I didn’t dare leave the shelter. Now the entire street’s closed off and police and bomb squad technicians are everywhere. Ambulances are parked in front of my house and paramedics are looking for anyone who might have been hurt,” said a local Sderot woman.”

The following day an additional rocket was discovered in the yard of a kindergarten in Sderot which was fortunately empty at the time. 

Israel responded to those attacks with strikes on Hamas facilities in the Gaza Strip in which two members of Hamas’ Izz a din al Qassam brigades were killed.

On the morning of December 9th the BBC News website ran an article titled “Israel strikes Gaza Hamas sites after rocket attacks” on its main home page, its ‘World’ page and its ‘Middle East page’. The article once again opened with inaccurate paraphrasing of statements from Israeli officials. [emphasis added]

“Israel says it has targeted sites in Gaza belonging to militant group Hamas in retaliation for rocket strikes.

Israel’s military said it hit weapons sites early on Saturday. Two people were killed, a Gaza hospital said, bringing the deaths in Israeli strikes and gunfire over the past day to four.

Three rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza late on Friday.

Israeli-Palestinian tensions have risen since President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”

The report did not clarify that the two people killed were Hamas operatives and readers saw no reporting from the town of Sderot other than the statement “[n]o casualties were reported” that appeared later in the article.

The rest of the report related to additional incidents of Palestinian violence and demonstrations further afield, with now standard BBC messaging on “settlements” in Jerusalem and “international law” promoted towards its end. Readers also found a recycled euphemistic statement according to which:

“The last round of talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2014”

Visitors to the BBC Arabic website also found a report on the Israeli response to Friday’s missile attacks.

Given that the BBC’s English language services elected to completely ignore numerous separate incidents of missile attacks from the Gaza Strip earlier in the year, the question that inevitably arises is why the attacks on December 8th were treated differently.

It is of course difficult to avoid the conclusion that the novel display of BBC interest in this particular round of attacks from Gaza is linked to the fact that it can be framed as being connected to – or indeed ‘fallout’ from – the US president’s announcement concerning Jerusalem. The fact that the BBC refrained from informing its English-speaking audiences of all previous attacks this year obviously reinforces that erroneous narrative. 

(The table relates only to missiles that landed in Israeli territory and does not include shortfalls, interceptions or failed attacks)

 

 

BBC inaccurately paraphrases Israeli officials

An article published on the BBC News website on December 1st related to two incidents that had taken place the previous day.

At around 9:30 p.m. on November 30th a young man was stabbed to death at a bus stop in the town of Arad. The victim was later identified as IDF soldier Sgt Ron Yitzhak Kukia from Tel Aviv, aged 19, and the incident – which is still under investigation – is being treated as a terror attack.  

Over twelve hours after the incident occurred the BBC News website produced a report titled “Israeli soldier stabbed to death in ‘terror attack’” in which, for reasons unknown, it decided to anglicise his middle name.

“A soldier has been stabbed to death in southern Israel in what police say was a suspected terror attack.

Sgt Ron Isaac Kukia, 19, was killed at a bus stop in the city of Arad on Thursday night. Security forces are searching for at least one attacker.”

Readers also found statements that have been recycled using different numbers on numerous occasions throughout the last two years. Although the information is readily available, the BBC did not cite the actual number of Israelis murdered in terror attacks since September 2015 – fifty-four – but made do with an approximation.

“Some 50 Israelis and five foreign nationals have been killed since late 2015 in a series of gun, knife, and car-ramming attacks, predominantly by Palestinians or Israeli Arabs.

Around 300 Palestinians have also been killed in that period. Most were assailants, Israel says, while others were killed in clashes with troops.”

Notably, the BBC continues to use the “Israel says” formula in that statement and – despite having had over two years to do so – has apparently not bothered to independently confirm how many of the Palestinians killed during that time were in the process of carrying out terror attacks.

The second incident mentioned in the report was portrayed in a manner that suggested some sort of connection between the two events even though no such linkage has been established.

“Israel also struck the Gaza Strip in retaliation for mortar fire. […]

Thursday night’s attack [in Arad] came hours after Israeli tank-fire and air strikes struck militant positions inside the Gaza Strip in response to mortar fire across the border into Israel.

At least 10 mortars landed, without causing casualties. Three Palestinians were lightly hurt by an air strike south of Gaza City, Palestinian sources in Gaza said.

Israel said it targeted sites belonging to the militant Islamist movements Hamas and Islamic Jihad. An Israeli military spokesman indicated that Islamic Jihad was suspected of being behind the mortar fire, though no group has said it was responsible.

The mortar attacks came one month after 12 Islamic Jihad militants were killed when the Israeli military destroyed a tunnel they had dug under the border into Israel.

Islamic Jihad threatened at the time to take revenge for the deaths.”

In fact twelve mortars were fired on the afternoon of November 30th at an IDF post near the border with the north-eastern Gaza Strip. Interestingly, readers were not informed that – as reported in the Israeli media – army spokespersons indicated that the IDF knew – rather than “suspected” – that the PIJ carried out the mortar attacks.

“The army spokesperson said the attack was carried out by the Islamic Jihad terror group. “We know who conducted the attack, we even know them by name,” Conricus said.”

Predictably, the BBC’s report did not provide readers with any information concerning the effects of the PIJ attacks on civilians in the area.

“Security officials issued instructions to cease train operations between Ashkelon and Sderot, and farmers were ordered to vacate fields located around the Gaza region. In addition, all work on the Gaza border fence was suspended and IDF forces were ordered to leave the area.

One of the farmers evacuated from the area recounted the fire exchange.

“Five workers were working in the orchard in a plantation near the border. Suddenly there was a series of explosions, one after the other. We dropped to the ground and put our hands on our head. We thought we were being shot at,” he recalled.

“The explosions lasted about five minutes. The moment they ended we picked up our tools and bolted. We were really scared. It was all very jolting.””

The BBC’s claim that “Israel said it targeted sites belonging to the militant Islamist movements Hamas and Islamic Jihad” is obviously inaccurate. In fact the IDF announced that it had targeted “six terrorist military positions in Gaza” and “military posts belonging to terror organisations”.

As we see, the corporation not only refrains itself from using accurate terminology to describe the terror groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and their operatives, but even puts inaccurate wording into the mouths of Israeli officials.

Related Articles:

BBC News report on Gaza tunnel equivocal about its purpose

Palestinian Islamic Jihad clarifies what the BBC did not

 

 

 

Gaza’s electricity crisis continues but BBC reporting does not

When the long-running electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip was exacerbated by the Palestinian Authority’s decision to cut payments for electricity supplied to the territory in April of this year, BBC audiences saw coverage of that topic (albeit often lacking accurate background and context) on a variety of BBC platforms:

More BBC disinformation on Gaza power crisis

BBC News parrots inaccurate claim from a politicised UN agency

BBC’s Knell reports on Gaza power crisis – without the usual distractions

BBC’s Knell promotes more Hamas messaging on Qatar crisis

BBC WS ‘Newsday’ listeners get warped view of Gaza electricity crisis

BBC’s Knell paints a partial picture of Gaza woes

BBC Travel yet again dishes up political narrative in a food item

BBC WS ‘big prison’ framing of Gaza Strip misleads audiences – part one

After Hamas and Fatah announced their latest ‘reconciliation’ in mid-September, BBC coverage of the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip suddenly waned and no further reporting on the topic has since appeared.

However, if BBC audiences perhaps assumed that reason for that dramatic drop in coverage is that the Hamas-Fatah ‘unity deal’ (which was reported profusely and  enthusiastically by the BBC) has solved the long-standing crisis, they would be mistaken – as the Times of Israel reports.

“Salah Bardawil, a high-ranking Hamas official, summed up that Hamas had tried to get the sanctions imposed on Gaza by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas lifted, and the border crossings opened, so that Hamas could proceed with the reconciliation process, but had not succeeded. […]

It is actually quite remarkable that even now, more than a month after the original reconciliation document was signed in Cairo, the PA still has not lifted those sanctions — the same sanctions that make it difficult to supply electricity to the Gaza Strip, that sent thousands of former PA officials into early retirement, and that prevent the transfer of payments for medical treatment and the purchase of medications for Gaza’s residents. […]

The average Gazan has felt no alleviation of hardship since the agreement was signed. True, Hamas’s roadblock (known as the 4/4) at the Erez border crossing has been dismantled, and Hamas’s security services no longer interrogate and inspect anyone leaving or entering the Gaza Strip there. Hamas has also stopped collecting taxes and customs fees at the Kerem Shalom crossing, which is now staffed by unarmed PA police officers.

But Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, reported this week that Hamas officials have instead summoned several hundred merchants and demanded that they pay taxes directly to Hamas on merchandise entering the Gaza Strip since the reconciliation deal was signed.

In other words, Hamas is not carrying out the provisions of the agreement all that carefully either. Residential buildings are given only five hours of electricity per day, followed by a 12-hour break. The frequent power outages are preventing the sewage treatment plants from operating, and sewage is flowing at full strength into the Mediterranean Sea, making trips to the beach an unpleasantly smelly affair.”

Remarkably though, the BBC now seems to have lost interest in the subject of the plight of Gaza residents struggling to make do with a few hours of electricity a day – despite having extensively covered that story for six months.

 

Gaza terror smuggling again not newsworthy for the BBC

Earlier this month BBC One viewers heard Andrew Marr portray Israeli counter-terrorism measures along the border with the Gaza Strip as follows (at 05:45 here) during an interview with the Israeli prime minister:

Marr: “Now what is also clear, however, is that your policy for Gaza is not working: the policy of having a kind of cordon around Gaza, restricting what can come in and out – a kind of blockade of Gaza – has actually increased the power of Hamas in Gaza and mobilised the population behind Gaza because of the appalling human rights situation inside Gaza. This policy is simply not working.”

As has been noted here on many occasions, the BBC’s portrayal of that topic is usually at best superficial and at worst misleading and politically motivated. In the past audiences have seen or heard restrictions on the movement of people and very specific materials in and out of the Gaza Strip inaccurately described as “collective punishment” or a “siege”.

“Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade around Gaza aimed at preventing attacks by militants there, though the measure has been condemned by rights groups as a form of collective punishment.” BBC News website, February 13th 2017.

“…the stifling border closures the Israeli government says are for security, the people here say are for collective punishment.” BBC World Service radio, February 1st 2017.

“One of the reasons Gaza’s often described as the largest open-air prison in the world is the difficulty of getting across the border with Israel.” BBC World Service radio, May 19th 2015.

However, beyond the ‘Israel says’ mantra, BBC audiences rarely hear about the reasons why restrictions placed on the border with the Gaza Strip are necessary because Hamas terrorism is consistently ignored, downplayed or erased – with the result being that BBC audiences are therefore ill-equipped to put portrayals such as the one by Marr into their appropriate context. 

Another story which would help BBC audiences understand the real reasons for counter-terrorism measures, including restrictions on the entry of weapons and dual purpose goods into the Gaza Strip, recently came to light.

“An Israeli laboratory at the Kerem Shalom Gaza crossing recently thwarted an attempted smuggling of several tons of explosive substances that were headed for terror groups in the strip.

The lab, which was recently established at the crossing at the behest of the Land Crossings Authority in the Ministry of Defense, was called into action after a truck arrived at the area that was carrying what was said to be a large load of car oils.

Guards conducting the security checks grew suspicious of the truck’s content, and transferred specific oil types to the lab for further investigation, where it transpired that the oils were not intended for car engines, but were rather dangerous substances intended for the production of large quantities of explosive devices.”

The BBC – which is of course committed to helping its funding public understand “the world around them” – has so far ignored this story, thereby passing up yet another opportunity to help its audiences understand why Israel’s counter-terrorism measures are necessary – even as it continues to focus their attentions on the “appalling human rights situation inside Gaza”.

Related Articles:

Documenting the BBC’s continuing silence on Gaza smuggling

BBC waives another chance to explain why Gaza’s naval blockade exists

BBC News passes up chance to explain why Israeli counter-terrorism measures exist

BBC ignores another story explaining the need for Gaza border restrictions

 

Revisiting a five year-old BBC story

Five years ago this week the BBC was very busy promoting a story about the tragic death of the son of one of its employees in the Gaza Strip.

As readers may recall:

“On the evening of November 14th 2012, soon after the incident had happened, BBC Arabic in Gaza broke the story when it interviewed Jihad Masharawi as he held his son’s body. That film footage was used the next day in a report by Jon Donnison which appeared on BBC television news and can be seen here

On the same evening, BBC employees began Tweeting about the event, including for example the BBC’s correspondent in Washington who sent the following Tweet – retweeted by others 3,441 times:

On the day after the incident – November 15th – the [then] head of the BBC Jerusalem Bureau and chair of the Foreign Press Association, Paul Danahar, arrived in the Gaza Strip and visited the Masharawi house from where he began sending a series of Tweets which – less than 24 hours after the event and with no credible professional investigation having been carried out – unequivocally determined that the incident had been the result of an Israeli attack.

As BBC Watch documented […] Danahar gave permission for the photographs he had Tweeted to be used by Max Fisher at the Washington Post. Other media outlets which ran with the story on the same day – some directly citing the BBC as their source and all unquestioningly giving an Israeli attack as the cause of the infant’s death – included the Guardian, the Huffington Post , the Daily Mail, the Sun and many more. The story was of course also picked up by a plethora of anti-Israel blogs and websites. 

On November 24th 2012, the BBC ran Jon Donnison’s now infamous version of the story on its ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ programme on Radio 4, and also later on the World Service. A written version of that same report was placed on the BBC News website […] 

Within less than two weeks, the BBC had ensured that an unverified story based purely upon evidence-free speculations by its own journalists had made its way round the entire world.”

Four months later, in March 2013, a report issued by the UN HRC stated its investigation had found that Omar Masharawi’s tragic death had in fact been caused by “a Palestinian rocket that fell short”. 

The corporation’s first response to that finding came five days after the UN report was issued when the BBC News website published a ‘damage control’ article by Jon Donnison which did nothing to address the real problem underlying the story: the fact that the BBC knowingly published and extensively promoted a story for which it had absolutely no proven evidence, purely because it fit in with its chosen political narrative.

Six days after the publication of the UN report, the BBC added footnotes to two of its original reports – both of which are still available online.

However, some of the media outlets that amplified the BBC’s original story blaming Israel for the infant’s death failed to subsequently add clarification and so some reports  – for example from the Guardian, the Huffington Post and the Sun – still remain online in their original form.

Obviously no footnote can erase that inaccurate BBC story from the internet or from the memories of the countless people who read it or heard it at the time. Significantly, however, the BBC has never offered its funding public a satisfactory explanation as to why that unverified story was not only allowed to run but deliberately given exceptionally extensive coverage and how the editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality to which the BBC professes to adhere were so egregiously breached. 

Related Articles:

After effects: BBC accuracy failure used to promote hate

After effects 2 : BBC accuracy failure again used to promote hatred

After effects 3: BBC accuracy failure still being used against Israel

Uncritical amplification of NGO allegations on BBC One

For some years now we have been documenting the BBC’s ‘quote and promote’ editorial policy regarding NGOs. The overwhelming majority of the NGOs given a platform in the BBC’s coverage of Israel come from one side of the political spectrum and some of them are even involved in lawfare campaigns against Israel.

However, the BBC serially fails to meet its own editorial guidelines on impartiality which stipulate that the “particular viewpoint” of contributors should be clarified and audiences hence remain unaware of the fact that the information they are receiving is not only consistently unbalanced but often politically motivated.

Another example of unquestioning BBC amplification of politicised messaging put out by campaigning NGOs was seen in the November 5th edition of BBC One’s ‘The Andrew Marr Show’ during an interview (available here) with the Israeli prime minister.

In his introduction to the interview, Marr inaccurately presented the Balfour Declaration as a personal document from its signatory rather than one stating the position of the British government of the time. [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Marr: “Now in 1917 the British foreign secretary Arthur Balfour wrote a letter announcing his conversion to the idea that the Jewish people should have a national home in Israel. This Balfour Declaration is regarded as one of the founding documents of the modern State of Israel and to celebrate its centenary, Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come to London where he’s been in talks with Theresa May. To some he is the arch-defender of the Jewish people. To others he’s a bellicose hardliner dedicated to expanding the very settlements seen by the Palestinian Arabs as their obstacle to peace and he joins me now. Welcome Prime Minister.”

Netanyahu: “The good part was shorter than the bad part.”

Marr: “Well let me turn to the bad part: the second bit of Balfour Declaration which does say that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine. Can you really say that that has been held to by your government?”

After Netanyahu explained that Israel’s Arab citizens do have civic and religious rights, Marr went on to present context-free allegation as fact:

Marr: “In Israel and in the occupied territories there are pretty gross human rights abuses. Human Rights Watch – let me read you this – ‘whether it’s a child imprisoned by a military court or shot unjustifiably or a house demolished for lack of an elusive permit or checkpoints where only settlers are allowed to pass, few Palestinians have escaped serious rights abuses during the 50 year occupation’. And again, Amnesty International say much the same thing – ‘Israeli forces unlawfully killed Palestinian civilians including children in both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories and detained thousands of Palestinians who opposed Israel’s continuing military occupation, holding hundreds in administrative detention. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees remained rife and committed with impunity’. That is not in the spirit of the Balfour Declaration.”

Leaving aside Marr’s attempt to promote the ridiculously contrived notion that part of the text of a statement produced by the British government a century ago is the litmus test for the policies and actions of modern-day Israel, as we see while presenting unquestioned allegations from two NGOs as ‘fact’, he completely failed to inform viewers of the political agenda that lies behind such tendentious claims from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

Later on in the interview viewers saw additional examples of the failure to adhere to BBC’s professed editorial values of accuracy and impartiality when – referring to the district of Judea – Marr told his guest that “this is Palestinian territory”. When Netanyahu spoke of the extra-judicial execution of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip by Hamas, Marr interrupted with the jibe “you’ve shot a lot of people there too”.

The BBC’s long-standing policy of uncritical amplification of politically motivated allegations against Israel from agenda-driven NGOs such as HRW and AI clearly does not serve its declared purpose of providing “impartial news and information” aimed at enhancing audience understanding of the complex topic of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Related Articles:

Promoted and quoted: the BBC’s preferred Middle East NGOs

Promoted and quoted: the BBC’s preferred NGO contributors in 2014

Promoted and quoted: the BBC’s preferred NGO contributors in 2015

Promoted and quoted: the BBC’s preferred NGO contributors in 2016

BBC bases rejection of complaint on word of anti-Israel NGOs

 

 

No BBC News follow-up to PIJ tunnel story

On October 30th the BBC News website reported the story of the controlled detonation by Israel of a Palestinian Islamic Jihad tunnel running from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Since then, however, audiences have seen no follow-up reporting on what is still an ongoing story – despite BBC journalists in the region being aware of developments.

On November 5th Israel announced that it had found the bodies of five PIJ operatives inside the tunnel.  

“Israel has recovered the bodies of five Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists that were buried when the army destroyed a Gazan attack tunnel that crossed into Israeli territory last week, the IDF announced on Sunday. […]

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad responded to the announcement, saying that Israel “will not be able to bargain over our fighters.”

“Our battle is open and shall not end. The freedom tunnel is not the only tunnel owned by the Islamic Jihad. It has many tunnels and many options,” warned  Ahmad al-Mudalal, a senior member of the group. […]

The five recovered by Israel were apparently diggers who had been working inside the tunnel at the time of the strike. They were found inside Israeli territory, on the Israeli side of the security fence, the army said.”

On November 11th Israel put out a warning to the PIJ.

“In an Arabic video message, an Israeli general on Saturday publicly warned the Palestinian Islamic Jihad to abandon plans to carry out a retaliatory attack in response to Israel destroying the terrorist group’s attack tunnel that crossed from Gaza into Israel last month.

Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, who runs the Defense Ministry’s chief liaison office with the Palestinians, recorded a YouTube video in which he addressed the terror group’s leaders in Syria, warning that Israel knew of their plans and was prepared to respond to them.

“We are aware of the plot that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad is planning against Israel,” Mordechai said in Arabic. “

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad responded by describing the video warning as “threats” and “a declaration of war”, saying it had the “right to respond to the crime of aggression on the resistance tunnel”.

A BBC producer working in Israel also described the Israeli warning as a ‘threat’ on Twitter.

As the same BBC employee is aware, on November 13th the IDF arrested a senior PIJ operative in a village near Jenin.

“The Shin Bet security service confirmed that Tariq Qa’adan was picked up by the Israel Defense Forces in Arrabeh, southwest of Jenin, in the northern West Bank.

Qa’adan serves as a senior officer in the Gaza-based terror group’s West Bank wing, the Shin Bet said.”

On November 14th it was announced that the Iron Dome missile defence system had been deployed in central Israel.

“An Iron Dome missile defense battery was deployed in the Dan region — made up of Tel Aviv and the surrounding suburbs — it was revealed on Tuesday, a day after the military said it had stationed several interceptors in central Israel to protect against a possible rocket attack.

The battery is one of several measures taken by the army to raise its alert level and response capabilities amid heightened tensions with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization since the army demolished the terrorist group’s border-crossing attack tunnel last month.

Also on Tuesday, the army closed off a number of tourist attractions near the Gaza border, out of concerns that the terrorist group may carry out a sniper attack on visitors.”

As has so often been the case in the past, should the situation escalate and Israel be forced to respond to an attack by the PIJ terror group, the BBC’s audiences will lack the background information necessary for understanding of the context to any such action.  

Related Articles:

BBC News report on Gaza tunnel equivocal about its purpose

Palestinian Islamic Jihad clarifies what the BBC did not