BBC News avoids the word terror in report on strike on terrorist

Some four hours after Israel had carried out a targeted strike on a house belonging to a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander in the Gaza Strip in the early morning of November 12th, the BBC News website published a short report headlined “Israel kills Baha Abu al-Ata, top Palestinian militant in Gaza”.

Readers discovered that although the Palestinian Islamic Jihad has been on the UK government’s list of proscribed terrorist organisations since 2001, the UK’s national broadcaster predictably preferred to use the unhelpful and euphemistic term “militant group”.

“Israel has killed one of the most senior commanders of a militant group in the Gaza Strip in an air strike.

Baha Abu Al-Ata, a leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), was killed along with his wife, when a missile hit their home, the group said.

Israel said Al-Ata was a “ticking bomb” who was planning “imminent terrorist attacks”.

A rocket barrage was fired at southern Israel from Gaza in the wake of the killing, which PIJ has vowed to avenge.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

PIJ, which is backed by Iran, is the second largest militant group in Gaza and has carried out many rocket attacks on Israel.”

Similar wording opened subsequent versions of the article.

Although the information was publicly available by the time the BBC published its report, it did not bother to inform audiences that the PIJ leader “was in the midst of launching a series of attacks against Israeli civilians and IDF troops, including preparations for sniper and kidnapping attacks, killer drone attacks, and preparations for rocket fire throughout Israel”.

BBC audiences of course have never heard of Baha Abu al-Ata was or his terror activities. Following a barrage of rocket attacks by the PIJ on November 1st (which was completely ignored by the BBC), the veteran analyst Avi Issacharoff explained the situation thus:

“The growing trend of escalation by Islamic Jihad is being led by the figure thought to be the head of its military wing in northern Gaza, Baha Abu al-Ata.

Time after time, the Israeli security establishment takes pains to publish or leak al-Ata’s name to various media outlets as the person behind the rocket fire and efforts to launch other attacks, in the hopes that Hamas will rein him in.

Hamas, however, is not doing so.

Al-Ata is a serious troublemaker in Gaza who no one wants to confront. That includes Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar, who fear him and the possibility of being accused of collaboration if they act against him.

Even Ziad al-Nakhala, Islamic Jihad’s leader, hasn’t succeeded in dealing with al-Ata, who is acting from a clear personal and organizational agenda.

Al-Ata holds a particularly extreme stance against Israel and opposes the current ceasefire between it and Gaza-based terror groups, including the agreement to allow money from Qatar into the enclave. Friday’s rocket fire came shortly after Mohammed al-Emadi, Qatar’s special envoy for Gaza, left the Strip after again coming to distribute funds there.

Al-Ata, whose picture has previously been released by the IDF spokesperson’s office, wants an even more extreme and uncompromising stance toward Israel and does not necessarily adhere to Iranian orders, but rather his own whim.

At the organizational level, he is not considered an enthusiastic supporter of Nakhala and has frequently acted against the Islamic Jihad leader’s orders to prove who is in charge.

Furthermore, Al-Ata understands that in order to boost Islamic Jihad’s standing in Gaza, he needs to differentiate it from Hamas and the Gaza-ruling terror group’s agenda. As Hamas leads a policy of seeking quiet vis-a-vis Israel and improvement in Gaza’s economic situation, al-Ata is trying to brand himself and his organization as the true “resistance” in the Strip.”

There is of course no room in the BBC’s typical one-dimensional portrayal of the Gaza Strip for such nuanced analysis and together with the corporation’s serial under-reporting of rocket attacks against Israeli civilians, that means that audiences once again lack the full range of information necessary for proper understanding of Israel’s actions.

Subsequent versions of this BBC report will be discussed as necessary.

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Weekend long read

1) The ITIC looks at the Palestinian Authority policy of rebuilding the houses of terrorists demolished by Israel.

“On the night of October 24, 2019, the Israeli security forces demolished a building under construction in the al-Am’ari refugee camp near Ramallah. The house belonged to the family of Palestinian terrorist Islam Abu Hamid, who killed an IDF soldier in May 2018. Following the destruction Palestinians rioted and clashed with the Israeli security forces. Senior Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah figures rushed to announce that the PA would rebuild the house demolished by Israel. The rebuilding of terrorists’ houses demolished by Israel is a pattern that repeats itself, part of the PA’s consistent policy of providing benefits to terrorists and their families. The PA policy is also a way to challenge the deterrent message Israel tries to convey by demolishing the houses.”

2) Also at the ITIC: analysis of the appointment of a new ISIS leader.

“Beginning on November 2, 2019, in the wake of Al-Baghdadi’s death and the new spokesman’s call to pledge allegiance to ISIS’s new leader, pledges of allegiance from the various provinces and individual operatives and supporters began to appear. It is to be expected that additional pledges of allegiance will be published in the near future.

The first province to issue a pledge of allegiance was the Sinai Province. Operatives of the province posted two photos on Telegram documenting a group of operatives pledging allegiance to ISIS’s new leader (November 2, 2019). A few hours later, a photo was posted documenting another pledge of allegiance from the Bangladesh Province. On November 4, 2019, a photo was published documenting operatives of the Somalia Province pledging allegiance to the new leader.”

3) At the JNS Yaakov Lappin discusses the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.

“PIJ wishes to position itself as the “authentic” jihadist organization in the Strip at the expense of Hamas, which unlike PIJ has to balance out its considerations as a government with its commitment to armed conflict and terrorism. […]

It is more than willing to use its rocket arsenal, which is larger than that of Hamas, to upset the security situation. Iranian funding and rocket-production know-how has helped make PIJ a significant terror army, with some 15,000 armed operates (compared to Hamas’s 25,000-strong military wing).”

4) Emily B. Landau and Shimon Stein of the INSS analyse “Turkey’s Nuclear Motivation”.

“Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently complained about the unfair situation whereby some countries are free to possess nuclear tipped missiles, while others are not – a situation he cannot accept. What might be motivating Erdogan not only to raise the nuclear issue at this time, but for the first time to threaten to develop his own capability? If Erdogan decides to go down the nuclear path, this decision will have implications for Turkey’s relations with NATO/EU, the nuclear nonproliferation regime, and the Middle East.”

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – October 2019

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during October 2019 shows that throughout the month a total of 112 incidents took place including 92 in Judea & Samaria, 16 in Jerusalem and inside the ‘green line’ and four in the Gaza Strip sector.

In Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem the agency recorded 82 attacks with petrol bombs, 14 attacks using pipe bombs, four arson attacks, one shooting attack, two stabbing attacks, one vehicular attack and one stone-throwing attack.

Incidents recorded in the Gaza Strip sector included two attacks with petrol bombs, one shooting attack and one incident of mortar fire.

Two people were wounded in attacks during October – one in a pipe bomb attack at Rachel’s Tomb on October 16th and one in a stone-throwing attack in Samaria on October 26th.

The BBC News website did not report any of the incidents which took place throughout the month.

Since the beginning of 2019 the BBC News website has covered 22.2% of the attacks which have taken place and 72.7% of the terror related fatalities. In five of those ten months no reporting on terrorism was seen at all.

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Summary of BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians – October 2019

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – September 2019

 

BBC’s UK reporting hindered by its own record on Gaza casualties

On November 4th the BBC News website published a report titled “Labour Coventry South candidate Zarah Sultana apologises for ‘celebrate deaths’ post” on its regional ‘Coventry & Warwickshire’ page and on its ‘Election 2019’ page.

Interestingly, although the article was apparently not deemed relevant for publication on the website’s ‘UK’ or ‘England’ pages, it did for some reason appear in the ‘updates’ section of its ‘Middle East’ page.

“A Labour general election candidate has apologised for saying she would “celebrate” the deaths of world leaders, including Tony Blair.

Zarah Sultana wrote on social media in 2015: “Try and stop me when the likes of Blair, Netanyahu and Bush die.””

Readers are told that:

“She [Sultana] told the BBC the tweets were from a “deleted account dating back several years from when I was a student”.

“This was written out of frustration rather than any malice,” she said in a statement, explaining that her anger had arisen “from decisions by political leaders, from the Iraq War to the killing of over 2,000 Palestinians in 2014, mostly civilians, which was condemned by the United Nations”.”

That reference to “the killing of over 2,000 Palestinians in 2014, mostly civilians” of course relates to Operation Protective Edge which began after Palestinian terrorists launched hundreds of missiles at Israeli civilians and dug tens of underground cross-border tunnels to facilitate terror attacks. Notably the BBC’s report made no effort to introduce that relevant context or to inform readers that the claim that the Palestinian casualties during that conflict were “mostly civilians” is questionable.

That will of course come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the BBC’s own track record on the subject. Over five years after that conflict there is still no evidence of the BBC having ever independently verified the civilian/combatant casualty ratios which it continues to promote.

Instead, as noted here in the past, the BBC quotes figures attributed to “the UN” which are in fact sourced from the controversial report commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council more than a month before the conflict ended (originally headed by William Schabas) that was published in June 2015. 

A close look at that report’s methodology shows that the Hamas-run “Ministry of Health in Gaza” is one source of the report’s data, together with the UNOCHA “Protection Cluster”. As has been noted here previously, that “Protection Cluster” includes political NGOs, some of which also have a financial relationship with UNOCHA.

And so, with the BBC having spent over five years amplifying casualty figures and debatable civilian/combatant casualty ratios supplied by Hamas and NGOs involved in ‘lawfare’ campaigning against Israel that were funnelled through a UN agency and subsequently promoted in a controversial and biased UNHRC report, it is hardly surprising that the corporation’s journalists are incapable of informing their domestic audiences that according to studies, a significant proportion of the Palestinians killed in Operation Protective Edge were terrorist operatives.

Also notable is the fact that although this BBC report is based on an article published by the Jewish Chronicle which notes Ms Sultana’s prior connections to the controversial advocacy group MEND (see p21 – 30 here), the BBC apparently did not consider it necessary to communicate that information to its ‘Coventry & Warwickshire’ audiences.

 

BBC News ignores Gaza rocket attacks yet again

On the evening of November 1st residents of Sderot and surrounding communities had to abandon their Shabbat dinner tables when terrorists in the Gaza Strip launched two barrages of missiles, with one home in Sderot taking a direct hit.

“According to the IDF, seven projectiles were fired during the first barrage. All were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. Following the first barrage, Palestinian media reported that an IDF tank shelled a Hamas observation post in the Strip.

Shortly afterward, three more projectiles were fired during a second barrage. Only one was intercepted.

The Sderot municipality spokesperson confirmed in a statement that a home sustained damage, but there were no injuries as all of its residents were in a bomb shelter.

“When I arrived at the street, there was chaos,” said Magen David Adom (MDA) paramedic Alex Kosinov. “Nearby there were numerous vehicles with shattered windscreens. The residents of the building, a 40-year-old couple with their children, were in a nearby building. They told us that they immediately entered the protected area and left a few minutes later. They were not injured and did not require medical treatment.”

MDA reported that it treated a 65-year-old woman in mild condition who fell while trying to reach a bomb shelter. The woman was evacuated to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashdod for medical treatment. Several others were treated for shock.”

Israeli forces responded to the attacks, which were attributed to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

News agency reports on the incidents were published by numerous media outlets but visitors to the BBC News website saw no coverage whatsoever of those Palestinian rocket attacks against Israeli civilians.

Since the beginning of the year twenty-nine separate incidents of terror attacks from the Gaza Strip using rockets and/or mortars have taken place. BBC audiences have seen coverage of just eight of those incidents.

 

A Gaza healthcare story the BBC chooses to ignore

In early August we noted that work had begun on a sixteen-department field hospital near the Erez Crossing at the north of the Gaza Strip and that the Palestinian Authority was objecting to the project.

“Although BBC audiences are told plenty about the dire state of medical services in the Gaza Strip, they rarely hear about the PA actions which exacerbate that situation such as the longstanding insufficient supply of medications. Whether or not they will be informed of this latest own goal from the Palestinian Authority remains to be seen.”

Despite the fact that the BBC has a staffed office in the Gaza Strip, audiences have indeed heard nothing about the new hospital or the Palestinian Authority’s specious claim that the field hospital was “part of a plan to separate the West Bank from the Gaza Strip”.

Since then the PA’s official media has managed to come up with even more bizarre claims – as reported by PMW.

“A private American organization is to build a hospital at the northern end of the Gaza Strip. Israel has already admitted hospital equipment into the Strip. But the project is being condemned by the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Health, which claims that “the American hospital project is not innocent, and its goals are dangerous.” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 27, 2019]

Elaborating on these alleged “dangerous goals,” an op-ed in the official PA daily claimed that the hospital is run by “the CIA,” and its purpose is not to treat the sick Palestinians but “to carry out experiments on the sick Palestinians,” and “to be a partner in trafficking in human organs”.”

As the Jerusalem Post reminds us:

“In March, the Palestinian Authority announced it would stop providing its citizens with medical treatment in Israel. This was its reaction to the Israeli decision to withhold $138 million in tax money from the PA, which is the implementation of the Jewish state’s “Pay-for-Slay” law that instructs it to deduct and freeze the amount of money the authority pays in salaries to imprisoned terrorists and families of “martyrs” from the tax money Israel collects for it.”

Apparently the BBC is not interested in stories relating to healthcare in the Gaza Strip if they cannot be used to promote the inaccurate view that (as also claimed by Hamas) that the system’s many problems are primarily attributable to Israel’s counter-terrorism measures and the roles of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in creating and exacerbating the crisis cannot be airbrushed from the story.

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Will BBC audiences be told this Gaza healthcare story?

 

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – September 2019

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during September 2019 shows that throughout the month a total of 140 incidents took place including 89 in Judea & Samaria, 36 in Jerusalem and inside the ‘green line’ and 15 in the Gaza Strip sector.

In Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem the agency recorded 105 attacks with petrol bombs, 7 attacks using pipe bombs, five arson attacks, two shooting attacks, three stabbing attacks and two stone-throwing attacks.

Incidents recorded in the Gaza Strip sector included three attacks with petrol bombs, two attacks using pipe bombs, two IED attacks, one shooting attack and five incidents of rocket fire.

Seven people were wounded in attacks throughout the month of September. Three members of the security forces were wounded by petrol bombs in Jerusalem in two separate incidents. Two civilians were wounded in a stabbing attack in Azun on September 7th. On September 20th an off-duty soldier was injured in a stone-throwing attack while driving near Ma’ale Shomron and on September 25th a civilian was wounded in a stabbing attack near Modi’in. None of those incidents was given any coverage on the BBC News website.

Neither did the BBC report the death (not included in the ISA report) of a 74-year-old woman who was seriously injured in a rocket attack on Ashkelon last November.

Just one of the five incidents of rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip during September received any mention from the BBC and that was because incoming rockets interrupted a September 10th election rally in Ashdod.

The BBC News website reported 0.7% of the terror attacks during September and since the start of the year has covered 23.6% of the attacks which have taken place and 72.7% of the terror related fatalities.

Related Articles:

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – August 2019

Summary of BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians – September 2019

 

Revisiting a BBC Radio 4 Christmas report from the Gaza Strip

Readers may recall that last year’s BBC Christmas programming included a report by Mishal Husain which was aired on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme on Christmas Eve.

“This time last week we were reporting from Gaza and for its small Christian community this of course is the time of year when many dream of getting to Bethlehem which isn’t, after all, that far away to celebrate Christmas. However, given the blockade maintained by Israel – it says of course that’s for security reasons – travelling to the West Bank requires special permission which many do not get. Mishal Husain went to meet Palestinian Christians at one church in Gaza City.”

As was noted here at the time, Husain was conspicuously silent on the topic of how many Christians actually currently live in the Gaza Strip and her report was obviously intended to promote the politically motivated narrative that Gaza’s Christian population lives happily under Hamas rule, with its only tribulations caused by Israel.

Last week Israel’s Channel 12 aired an interview (in Hebrew and Arabic) by Arab affairs correspondent Ohad Hemo with a Christian who escaped the Gaza Strip four months ago.

“Since Hamas came to power in the Gaza Strip the Christians living there have become scapegoats and the targets of that organisation as well as Salafist extremists. Due to their difficult situation most have fled and from a community of 4,200 people, now only a few hundred remain. Kamal Tarazi was there until recently. Four months ago he managed to escape: “Hamas people took over my home and turned it into a command post”, he recounts. […]

‘They put me in a number of prisons and Hamas’ prison is all just beatings and psychological torture’ he recalls. According to him the harming of the Christians in Gaza has become routine and does not stop even during times of conflict.  […]

‘They harass and harm the Christian public and Christian institutions, churches and charities’.”

The calibre of Mishal Husain’s reporting on the topic of challenges faced by the Christian community in the Gaza Strip is again all too apparent. 

Related Articles:

BBC Radio 4’s selective framing of the “hardships” of Gaza Christians

BBC Radio 4’s inaccurate claim about Israel’s Christian community

Follow up to a story the BBC reported in April

Over the years BBC audiences have seen several reports concerning two zoos in Khan Younis and Rafah in the Gaza Strip.

April 2012: Gaza zoo resorts to displaying stuffed animals

“Mohamed Owaida from the Khan Younis Zoo says it is proving too costly to feed his living animals, and he can not always get live specimens through the Israeli blockade of the Gaza strip.”

August 2016: The last tiger to leave Gaza zoo

“He [the tiger] has lived with me through three wars. He saw disaster and terror. He lived through difficult nights. Like all of us, like me.”

“Dozens of animals died during fighting between Palestinian militants and Israel.”

August 2016: BBC Radio 4 ‘PM’, Yolande Knell

“Akram Mahali says daily life is a struggle. Neither he nor his six children have ever seen life outside Gaza and they’re not likely to any time soon. With Hamas in control of the Palestinian territory, both Israel and Egypt impose tight border restrictions and limit travel.”

“Then, just after dawn, the animals leave Gaza. Their suffering will soon be over but they leave behind Palestinians who continue to feel trapped.”

April 2019: Gaza zoo animals evacuated to Jordan by Four Paws group

“Mr Jomaa blamed the Israeli and Egyptian blockades of Gaza, which is controlled by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, and bad economic conditions for the squalid conditions in the zoo.”

Now the Times of Israel reports that the Rafah zoo has reopened.

“In April, international animal rights charity Four Paws took all the animals to sanctuaries, receiving a pledge the zoo would close forever.

But last month, it reopened with two lions and three new cubs, penned in cages only a few square meters in size.

Critics say the owners want to bully Four Paws or other animal welfare organizations into giving them thousands of dollars to free the animals into their care.

Four Paws paid the zoo’s owners more than $50,000 in the year before its closure for medical treatments, food and caretakers. […]

The newly reopened zoo’s manager, Ashraf Jumaa, from the same family that owned the old one, said they brought the new lions through tunnels from Egypt.”

Given the BBC’s previous record, should it decide to cover this latest development in the story it reported in April we can no doubt expect to see more politicised commentary blaming the conditions suffered by animals in Gaza zoos on inadequately explained Israeli counter-terrorism measures.

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