A familiar face returns to the BBC Jerusalem bureau

Long-time readers may have noticed that a familiar name appeared in recent written and audio reports concerning incidents in the Gaza Strip.

Gaza explosions: ‘Suicide bombers’ kill three police officers, BBC News website, August 28th 2019:

“The BBC’s Wyre Davies in Jerusalem says these rare attacks are embarrassing for Hamas and could be interpreted as a renewed effort by Salafist jihadists to confront the group.”

BBC Radio 4 ‘Six O’Clock News [from 22:13], August 28th 2019:

Newsreader: “The militant Palestinian group Hamas has carried out a wave of arrests of radical Islamists known as Salafists who, it suspects, have been behind two suicide bombings in Gaza. Three police officers were killed in the attacks on security checkpoints, which have been blamed on extremists with links to the Islamic State group. From Jerusalem, Wyre Davies reports.”

The background became evident the following day:

The context appears to be a vacancy advertised by the BBC as follows:

Wyre Davies previously reported from Jerusalem (see ‘related articles’ below) between 2010 and 2013. He was also brought in for a short period of time during ‘Operation Protective Edge’ in 2014.

Related Articles:

Revisiting a BBC journalist’s claim about ‘Palestinian land’

BBC ESC: ‘lack of due accuracy’ on Davies Tweet from Operation Pillar of Cloud

BBC’s Davies suggests ulterior motives for IDF Sarin report

BBC’s Davies describes new Golan fence as ‘controversial’

 

 

Advertisements

BBC WS radio corrects inaccurate claim of a ‘siege’ on the Gaza Strip

At the beginning of August BBC World Service radio aired an edition of the programme ‘The Food Chain’ which was titled ‘Food under siege’.

“Emily Thomas meets people who have lived under siege in Aleppo, Syria, the Gaza strip, and Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. They reveal the uncomfortable reality of eating behind siege lines.”

BBC WS food programme: inaccurate, lacks context and promotes Hamas propaganda

BBC Watch submitted a complaint concerning that programme’s repeated inaccurate portrayal of the Gaza Strip as being “under siege”, noting that in the week that this programme was aired twice, 1,768 truckloads of goods entered the Gaza Strip from Israel, including 6,785 tons of food. We pointed out that the “intermittent power supply” portrayed in the programme has nothing to do with Israel and that as well as breaching BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy by leading listeners to wrongly believe that the Gaza strip is “under siege”, it also compromises the BBC’s impartiality seeing as that false claim is one of Hamas’ main talking points.

On August 31st we received a reply from the programme’s editor.

“Thank you for your email and your comments about the episode of The Food Chain titled ‘Food under siege’.

I’m sorry you were unhappy with the programme and I should say from the outset that I agree with some of the points you are making.

The use of the word ‘siege’ in the programme was intended to be a colloquial reference to the difficulties of food provision in different parts of the world, with the programme focusing on the creative solutions that people have adopted in such circumstances.

As a food programme our aim was simply to examine how people cook under duress and we didn’t intend to imply there were exact political or military similarities between three different parts of the world.

But on reflection we can see that in the absence of providing more context about Gaza, the title of the programme and the reference to the historical notion of a siege might have led listeners to infer that we thought this was a precise description of the position in Gaza, which was not our intention.

So we agree that this episode would have benefited from more information about the blockade and I am sorry we did not provide this.

This is, as I say, a food programme rather than a detailed examination of the background to any of these conflicts so I do not think we needed to go into any great detail but even within these confines I think we should have provided more context, for the reasons I have suggested.

As a result, we have included more information about the blockade and re-worded the programme script in places where we accept the position in Gaza should have been made clearer.

We have also placed a note on our correction and clarifications page.

Best wishes,

Robb Stevenson, Editor”

We have not yet been able to locate that note on the BBC’s correction and clarifications page but the amended synopsis to the programme now reads:

“Emily Thomas meets people who have lived under siege in Aleppo, Syria, and Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. A journalist reveals how it feels to feast in a cafe in the middle of a city where most are struggling to eat, and an electrician explains why feeding cats in the middle of a war-zone felt like a message of compassion and resistance.

We also hear about the Palestinians living under the blockade of the Gaza strip. A cook explains how to run a catering company when electricity, water and some ingredients are scarce.

This programme was originally broadcast on August 1 but has since been re-edited to provide more context about the Gaza blockade and to distinguish this more clearly from conditions in Aleppo and Sarajevo.”

Several significant amendments have also been made to the programme itself.

Update: The following clarification has been published.

 

 

 

 

Weekend long read

1) The ITIC analyses last weekend’s attempted infiltration from the Gaza Strip, which the BBC chose to ignore.

“On August 17, 2019, IDF observation posts identified five suspects approaching the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip. At least one of them was armed. IDF forces were rushed to the site. An IDF tank and helicopter shot at the suspects before they could cross the security fence (IDF spokesman, August 17, 2019). The attempted penetration came two days after four rockets were launched at Israel in two separate incidents (August 16 and 17, 2019). The Palestinian ministry of health reported that IDF forces had killed three Palestinians and critically wounded another. The five belonged variously to Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Fatah. Some of them had participated in the return marches and were Night Harassment Unit operatives in the northern Gaza Strip. Senior figures in Hamas and the other terrorist organizations publicly praised the operatives who were killed and blamed Israel for their deaths. Senior Hamas figure Isma’il Haniyeh paid visits, well covered by the media, to the families of the dead operatives.”

2) Writing at the Jerusalem Post, Jonathan Spyer takes a look at recent moves by the UAE.

“In Yemen on July 8, the Emiratis announced the drawing down of their forces from the country. Abu Dhabi’s soldiers have played the key military role on the ground against the Houthis since 2015.

Having departed the Saudi-led coalition against the Iran-backed Ansar Allah or Houthi insurgency, the Emiratis subsequently threw their weight behind their local allies in Yemen. […]

The UAE has notably refrained from directly accusing Tehran of carrying out the attacks on four tankers in UAE territorial waters which took place in May. This despite there being no other serious candidate for responsibility. And in late July, a UAE delegation travelled to Tehran and, with exquisite irony, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Iranians to “enhance maritime border security cooperation.” “

3) At the FDD Aykan Erdemir discusses recent events in Turkey.

“The Turkish government on Monday removed from office three mayors from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) less than six months into their five-year terms. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who suffered an embarrassing defeat in last March’s local elections, continues to disregard the will of Turkey’s electorate by appointing trustees to replace opposition mayors.

Erdogan first introduced the practice of removing elected mayors from office in September 2016, taking advantage of the state of emergency declared shortly after Turkey’s abortive coup. Together with his ultranationalist allies, the Turkish leader first targeted pro-Kurdish officials, replacing 90 of the 102 HDP mayors with trustees. Shortly after the March 2019 elections, which provided many HDP mayors with a renewed mandate to assume office, Turkey’s High Election Board overturned the election of seven HDP mayors, handing their offices to losing candidates from Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).”

4) At the Times of Israel Abraham Rabinovich recalls “How an Australian sheepshearer’s al-Aqsa arson nearly torched Middle East peace”.

“One of the first stories I was assigned as a young journalist in Israel in 1969 was the trial of an Australian sheepshearer who set fire to the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, an act that threatened to unhinge the Middle East. It remains for me the most vivid story I covered during my 25 years with The Jerusalem Post, a period that included several wars.

August 23 marks the 50th anniversary of the event. The Muslim world assumed that Israel was responsible for the arson and Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal ordered his armed forces to prepare for a holy war. The Arab League met in emergency session, and from distant India came reports of rioting in Muslim areas, with many casualties.”

 

 

 

 

BBC repeats uncritical promotion of ‘Gaza’ film

h/t AB

Earlier this month we documented the BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme’s one-sided presentation of the Gaza Strip in an item concerning a new film about that location.

Gaza propaganda on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’

The August 19th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘World Update’ devoted over nine of its fifty-three minutes of airtime to a similar exercise.

“And a new documentary shows everyday life for those living in Gaza.”

Presenter Rebecca Kesby introduced the item (from 43:38 here) using some bizarre linkage that included an unsupported assertion. [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Kesby: “Now, the Palestinian territories have been in the news over the past few days, partly because Israel denied permission for two US Congresswomen to visit them following pressure from President Trump. Israel did then allow Democrat Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib permission to make a humanitarian visit to her grandmother who lives in the occupied West Bank but she rejected that offer. She said she couldn’t comply with the oppressive conditions being imposed. Whatever your view on the political situation in the Holy Land, there is little debate that life for Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip is very tough. It’s only 25 miles long and seven miles wide but home to two million people, many of whom live in desperate poverty. A new documentary film has just been released called ‘Gaza; and it depicts ordinary life in the territory. [clip from film] And that’s the sound of children playing in the sea off the Gaza coast, the beaches of Gaza being some of the only open spaces available in a densely populated city. It’s the beginning of the film and earlier I spoke to the production manager Fadi Hussam Hannona in our Gaza bureau and first to the co-director of the film, Andrew McConnell.”

McConnell began by repeatedly promoting the claim that the film shows audiences aspects “that they don’t expect to see in Gaza”, and:

McConnell: “…it’s only later on that we bring in sort of the familiar imagery; that of protests and conflict.”

Turning to her second interviewee, Kesby commented on one part of the film.

Kesby: “…the young lad to begin with, he says he’s from an enormous family – I think he’s one of 14 children – and he says he quite enjoys sleeping down by the sea because there’s more room down there. It gives you a sense of just how densely populated and, I suppose, pressurised that area is.”

Hannona: “Listen Gaza has been used to an image of violence and destruction on the news. Yes, there is a conflict in Gaza but people here just want to live a normal life like you, like everyone. So we tried through our film ‘Gaza’ to show the other side of Gaza: the side where the normal people are suffering every day. And the Gaza Strip cannot be understood by only looking at the political and focusing on the conflict – no. It can be understood by living with the people. So we did that. Through our film, through our character, the audience will have a chance to spend hour and half with the normal people from Gaza and see how they live and think and worry. So we just want to be like everyone else. This is our message.”

Kesby of course refrained from reminding listeners that those “normal people” voted Hamas into power in four out of five Gaza constituencies in the 2006 election and that “everyone else” does not elect a terror organisation that dedicates itself to the destruction of a neighbouring country. Instead she went on to bring up another character from the film.

Kesby: “…ehm, there’s a young girl in the film who plays the cello.”

Hannona: “Yeah Karma she’s a young girl and I found this character, you know, we need to show the people on the world we have children. They need the right to live a normal life and Karma one of them. But Karma also she have problems. She can’t keep living under this situation, you know, every month, every two months, we have some problems in Gaza. We hear bombing, we are under siege, we can’t…we can’t leave Gaza, you know. You need to wait one year if you decide to leave to study or to attend a festival outside of Gaza. So they need their rights.”

Kesby made no effort to clarify to audiences that the Gaza Strip is not “under siege” or to provide the context of the terrorism perpetrated by numerous armed factions in the Gaza Strip. In fact the word ‘Hamas’ was not uttered even once by any of the three participants in the item.

Kesby: “Hmm…have you ever left Gaza?”

Hannona: “No, actually I…actually it was a chance for me last…in the beginning of this year to attend the world premiere of ‘Gaza’ documentary at Sundance Film Festival and we did everythingeverything – just one day before the day I was supposed to leave they closed the border between Gaza and Rafah.”

Kesby: “Wow.”

Hannona: “And I didn’t…I lost the chance.”

Kesby: “What a pity.”

Seeing as Hannona told that same story in his Radio 4 interview eleven days earlier, Kesby should have been able to inform listeners that “they” are the Egyptians, who closed their border crossing with the Gaza Strip in February due to Hamas’ take-over of the Rafah Crossing after Palestinian Authority staff had been withdrawn.

Kesby then asked McConnell how he and Hannona met and his answer included the following:

McConnell: “…we also returned back last year – 2018 – and the border protests had started and which has now become sort of a huge part of everyday life in Gaza and these continue to this day, over a year later. Many people have been killed. And we…so we managed to film a lot of that, especially on the 14th of May when the embassy was moved to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv and that was one of the bloodiest days since the war in 2014 when over 60 people died.”

Kesby made no effort to clarify to audiences that those so-called “protests” are in fact weekly episodes of premeditated violent rioting organised by terror groups and that fifty-three of the sixty-two people killed that day were claimed by terrorist organisations. Instead she continued her innocuous questioning.

Kesby: “And was it quite challenging to strike the right balance between reflecting ordinary live people, you know, getting married, going about their normal lives, trying to educate their children, trying to enjoy themselves and this constant pressure and…and, you know, elements of violence and threat that people live under?”

Towards the end of the item listeners heard three times – twice from Hannona himself and once from Kesby – that he has not seen the film “because there’s no cinema in Gaza”. Seeing as that talking point also arose in the earlier ‘Today’ interview, Kesby should have been able to inform listeners that the reason there is no longer a cinema in Gaza is because it is ruled by an extremist Islamist terror organisation.

And so for the second time BBC audiences heard uncritical, unchallenging and uninformative promotion of this film in an item which only served to hinder their understanding of a complex topic.

BBC News continues to ignore Palestinian terrorism

On August 15th an Israeli policeman was moderately wounded in a terror attack in Jerusalem.

“Graphic video footage from the scene showed the two teenagers walk up from behind a group of police officers stationed in the Old City. As they approached, they suddenly pulled out knives and began repeatedly stabbing one of the cops. Other officers at the scene opened fire at the pair as they were stabbing the victim.

The injured police officer was approximately 40 years old. He sustained multiple stab wounds to the upper body, medics said.”

On August 16th two siblings were wounded in a vehicular attack in Gush Etzion.

“Two Israelis were hit by a car and injured on Friday while standing at a bus stop outside Elazar in the central West Bank, just south of Jerusalem, in what the military said was a terror attack.

A 17-year-old teenager was seriously wounded and a woman, 19, was moderately hurt, the Magen David Adom ambulance service said.

The two were identified as brother and sister Nahum and Noam Nevis from Elazar. […]

The director of Hadassah, prof. Yoram Weiss said Nahum was in surgery fighting for his life, with a skull fracture and a brain injury.

Doctors at Shaare Zedek said Noam was conscious, but suffering from injuries to her limbs.”

Later the same day a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip was successfully intercepted.

“Rocket sirens wailed in southern Israel on Friday evening near the Gaza border and local residents reported hearing explosions.

The sirens sounded in the town of Sderot, and in the communities of Or Haner, Nir Am, Erez and Gevim.”

Twenty-four hours later, on August 17th, another rocket attack took place in the same district.

“Incoming rocket sirens on Saturday sounded in Sderot and several communities in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council at 9 p.m. The military said that two of the three projectiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

The city of Sderot and Israel Police said that shrapnel from the third Qassam rocket launched from the Gaza Strip landed in the yard of a home in Sderot. A 30-year-old woman was treated by Magen David Adom paramedics after she fainted at a bus stop during the barrage.”

Hours later another serious incident took place in the northern sector of the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

“Three armed Palestinians were killed by IDF troops as they tried to cross into southern Israel from Beit Hanoun shortly after three rockets were launched into southern Israel, the IDF said on Saturday night. […]

The three armed men were reported to be members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s military wing, Saraya al-Quds. They were engaged and killed by IDF troops after they attempted to infiltrate across the border fence. 

They were identified by Palestinian media as 21 year-old Mohammed Al-Taramsi, 23 year-old Mohammad Abu Namous and 22 year-old Mahmoud Al-Walaydeh. Their bodies were recovered by medical crews and moved to the Indonesian hospital.

The three were wrapped in flags belonging to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Fatah and Hamas’ Izzedin al-Qassem brigades during their burial.”

The BBC once again did not find any of those attacks newsworthy: audiences have yet to see even one word of coverage of any of the five incidents that took place in just over 50 hours.

 

Related Articles:

BBC continues to yawn at Gaza border incidents

No BBC reporting on serious Gaza border incident

BBC continues to yawn at Gaza border incidents

One theme repeatedly promoted in cross-platform BBC reporting is that the situation in the Gaza Strip is essentially the result of the “blockade” imposed by Israel and Egypt. Often no attempt is made at all to explain why the counter-terrorism measures had to be put in place. On other occasions the BBC uses the “Israel says” formula to tick the impartiality box but without any substantial explanation of what Israel’s “security concerns” or “security reasons” actually entail. Some more recent examples include:

“A blockade, which Israel says it’s imposed because of security concerns, has severely restricted imports and exports and the movement of people.” BBC World Service radio 1/8/19

“But peace didn’t last long and Israel still controls who and what goes in and out of Gaza. It says the blockade is for security reasons.” BBC Radio 1 & BBC Radio 1 XTRA 14/5/19

“And really the context to all of it is that the Palestinians in Gaza say they want an easing of the blockade that Israel says it carries out for security reasons.” BBC Radio 1 & BBC Radio 1 XTRA 13/5/19

“…Israel tightened its blockade on the region citing security concerns and strictly controlling all movement of goods and people in and out of the Gaza Strip.” BBC Two 13/5/19

“One of the demonstrators, Bahaa Abu Shamala, said Palestinians were highlighting their historical dispossession and calling for an end to the blockade which Israel says it imposes for security reasons.” BBC Radio 4 30/3/19

“Hospitals have been badly affected by the economic blockade maintained by Israel and on the other side by Egypt – they say for security reasons.” BBC Radio 4 18/1/19

“Gaza’s economy has also been badly hit by a blockade by Israel and Egypt – needed, they say – for security reasons.” BBC News website 30/12/18

“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.” BBC Radio 4 24/12/18

“The economy’s been impacted by a blockade maintained by Israel and Egypt – they say for their security…” BBC World Service radio 17/12/18 

“Gaza is a place that the UN said six years ago could be unlivable by 2020. Today they’re warning that two million people who live here are slipping deeper into poverty because of what they’re calling deplorable living conditions. The blockade maintained by Israel and Egypt – they say for security reasons – is a major factor.” BBC Radio 4 17/12/18

Early on the morning of August 10th a serious incident took place in the southern section of the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

“The Israeli military said on Saturday that a “large-scale terror attack” was thwarted as troops killed four Palestinians who attempted to infiltrate into Israel from the Gaza Strip, armed with AK-47 rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades, hunting knives and bolt cutters. The Israel Defense Forces released a number of photos of the seized weapons.

The army said in a statement that the incident began at 4:00 a.m. Saturday as lookout troops spotted four figures heading toward the border fence “in military formation” from the direction of Khan Younis in southern Gaza. […]

The four Gazans were killed by Israeli soldiers who “opened fire once one of the terrorists scaled the fence,” the military said in an initial statement, adding that a hand grenade was thrown at the troops during the clash but none of the soldiers were injured.”

On the morning of August 11th another incident took place in the northern sector of the same border.

“Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian gunman who opened fire at them while attempting to sneak into Israel from Gaza early Sunday, the military said, as fresh fighting broke out on the tense border. […]

“IDF lookouts spotted an armed terrorist approaching the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip. The terrorist shot at IDF troops. The troops, who were prepared for the event because of the lookout, opened fire at the terrorist,” the army said in a statement.”

Earlier this month a similar incident took place in the southern sector when a Hamas operative infiltrated Israeli territory, injuring three Israeli soldiers.

A media outlet truly committed to providing “impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them” would of course report such incidents in order to provide its audience with context to the phrase “the blockade which Israel says it imposes for security reasons”.

The BBC, however, has to date ignored all three of those serious recent incidents in its English language reporting. The two latest attacks have however been briefly mentioned on the BBC Arabic website.

Related Articles:

No BBC reporting on serious Gaza border incident

 

 

Weekend long read

1) The Washington Institute for Near East Policy reports the results of an opinion poll.

“A new poll by the Palestine Center for Public Opinion, taken June 27-July 19, indicates that the majority of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza oppose their leaderships’ preemptive rejection of the Trump administration’s peace plan—despite widespread popular disapproval of the current U.S. president. The survey also shows a dramatic rise in the proportion supporting an enhanced role in peacemaking for the Arab states. More specifically, however, only a minority voice a favorable attitude toward the June regional economic workshop in Bahrain, with many saying they have not heard or read enough about it.”

2) Jonathan Spyer takes a look at Turkish ambitions in the Mediterranean.

“Turkey’s efforts at building influence and power in the neighborhood are not restricted to dry land.  Rather, an important currently developing arena for Turkish assertiveness is the eastern Mediterranean.  This area has been the site of major gas discoveries in Israeli, Cypriot and Egyptian waters in recent years.  Lebanon too is seeking to open exploration in its territorial waters. […]

As Turkey moves further from the west, and closer to alliance with Russia, so it is emerging as an aggressive and disruptive force with regard to gas development in the eastern Meditteranean.  The main area of current concern is that around Cyprus.  Israel, Egypt and Lebanon have all signed delimitation agreements with Cyprus. Turkey refuses to do so.”

3) At the INSS Raz Zimmt asks ‘Has Ebrahim Raisi been Tagged as Iran’s Next Supreme Leader?’.

“Recent months have seen increasing signs that the head of Iran’s judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi, has emerged as the leading candidate to succeed Ali Khamenei as Supreme Leader. Since his appointment as head of the judiciary in March 2019, there have been increasing efforts on the part of Raisi, a conservative cleric, apparently backed by the Supreme Leader, to advance changes in the legal system, improve his public image, and increase his media exposure, particularly in view of his loss in the most recent presidential elections in May 2017. It is still too early to assess Raisi’s chances of winning the battle of succession for the leadership of Iran, which will necessarily be affected by the timing of Khamenei’s departure from the political map. However, his closeness to the Supreme Leader, his experience in the judicial authority, his tenure as chairman of the Astan Quds Razavi foundation (and the Imam Reza Shrine) in the city of Mashhad, and his hardline positions, alongside his increasing efforts to improve his public standing, make him the leading candidate at this stage in the battle of succession.”

4) The ITIC documents how Hamas is “using youngsters as a tool for violence near the security fence in the Gaza Strip”.

“The return march in the Gaza Strip on July 26, 2019, was similar in most respects to the previous marches. About 4,500 Palestinians participated, gathering mainly at the five return camps. As usual, the march was accompanied by violent activities near the border fence carried out by several dozen Palestinians, most of them adolescents and children. The violent activities included throwing IEDs, hand grenades and Molotov cocktails at the IDF. Several Palestinians tried to sabotage the security fence and some crossed the fence into Israeli territory. Videos photographed at the return march clearly illustrated the exploitation of youngsters handled for military missions, endangering their lives. Harm that may come to them serves Hamas as a propaganda and lawfare weapon against Israel, which is represented as Israel’s killing youngsters in cold blood.”

 

Gaza propaganda on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’

h/t FB

The August 8th edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme included an item (from 44:25 here) concerning a film about the Gaza Strip. Presenter John Humprys began with some unsurprising framing.

[emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Humphrys: “Gaza is by any standards a pretty bleak place to live. Now a documentary called ‘Gaza’, which had its premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is about to be released in this country. It’s been called a portrait of Palestinian life in which a series of people talk about how they live amid restrictions and lack of any opportunity. Mishal has spoken to Garry Keane – co-director of the film – and Fadi Hussam Hannona the production manager in Gaza. She asked Garry Keane why he made the film.”

“Mishal” is of course the programme’s own Mishal Husain who has herself produced no small amount of one-sided reporting from or about the Gaza Strip in the past.

Keane: “The film was born out of a conversation I had back in 2012 with the documentary photographer Andrew McConnell. And I had always wanted to meet someone who had access to the Strip, who had an awareness of working on the ground there. And most importantly to meet someone who had shared, you know, shared my sensibilities about the situation there. So when we both realised that we had a passion for the plight of what we consider the trapped and tortured people of Gaza, we decided to combine our skills – as I was a documentary maker, he was a photographer – and join together to make a film about…from the point of view of the ordinary citizens of the Strip. So that conversation happened in 2012 and it took us until 2018 to finish.”

Following a clip from the film Husain introduced its production manager.

Husain: “Fadi Hannona – you were the production manager in Gaza. There are a series of individuals who are seen in the film. A couple of them are teenagers. How did you decide on those people and what was the process of filming on the ground in a place like Gaza like for you?”

Hannona: “Actually I didn’t decide. I understood what the directors wanted. The research took long time thinking about how we can present these characters to the audience in the right, most natural, real way. And look, the media around the world deal with Gaza only as a breaking news so we decide to do something completely different and we did. We have Gaza film now.”

Husain failed to challenge that inaccurate claim and listeners heard another clip from the film before her interviewee continued:

Hannona: “Gaza has been reduced to an image of violence and destruction on the news. OK yes; there’s conflicts…conflict in Gaza but people here just want to live a normal life and people want a chance. So we tried through our film to show the other side of Gaza: the side where the ordinary people are suffering every day.”

Husain: “Have the people featured in it – or indeed anyone in Gaza – got to see it?”

Hannona’s reply did not inform listeners that there is “no cinema in Gaza” any longer because it is ruled by an extremist Islamist terror organisation.

Hannona: “Actually no because there’s no cinema in Gaza and after what happened in Sundance I was very upset back then and I’m still very sad and angry about it. Not only did we miss the festival and the chance to present the film but it’s just another reminder of how wrong it is that we can’t travel. It’s, you know, it’s unjust.”

Husain: “You mean because you didn’t manage to get out of Gaza to go to the Sundance Festival yourself?”

Hannona: “Yeah I lost…yeah I lost [unintelligible] to bring me at Sundance. They close the border one day before I should leave Gaza.”

Listeners were not told to which of Gaza’s borders Hannona was referring or who “they” are. The Sundance Festival took place in the US between January 24th and February 3rd 2019. Egypt had closed its border crossing with the Gaza Strip earlier that month due to Hamas’ take-over of the Rafah Crossing after Palestinian Authority staff had been withdrawn. According to the UN that closure lasted until January 28th. On January 22nd:

“…shots were fired at Israeli troops stationed along the security fence across from the northern Strip. In response, an IDF tank destroyed a nearby observation post belonging to the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group.

On Tuesday afternoon, during a small riot next to the border, another sniper opened fire at a group of soldiers positioned along the border, hitting a Paratroopers Brigade company commander in his helmet, causing light injuries.”

Whether or not that was the reason for a closure of the Erez Crossing is unclear but notably BBC audiences heard nothing about the responsibility of Palestinians for their travel difficulties.

Listeners heard another clip from the film before Husain went on:

Husain: “Garry Keane; do you think it is a fair portrait of Gaza? And I ask that because you talked about ‘trapped and tortured people’. The Hollywood Reporter felt that you airbrushed Hamas and its responsibility out of the story.”

The Hollywood Reporter review of the film includes the following:

“The press notes for Gaza say Hamas is one of the villains of the story, but that’s a ludicrous statement. Hamas may be one of the villains of the actual historical record, but it’s a non-factor in the documentary. Occasionally we pass by a military-affiliated figure with a rocket launcher or a machine gun, but to watch Gaza you’d think such weaponry was only used to be fired in the air when the Israelis free unjustly imprisoned Palestinians.”

Keane: “Ahm…we have been accused on occasion – on very few, you know, very limited occasions – of making a propaganda film for Hamas but anyone who claims that we feel has an agenda to serve. We show Hamas armed military wing on the streets conducting large rallies with enormous rockets on display. A character in the film says that Palestinian problems would be solved if Hamas weren’t there. We don’t serve the views of Hamas or any of their supporters. Our film is all about highlighting the effects of an unjust blockade on the ordinary people of Gaza. You know, a blockade that even the UN constitutes as collective punishment. So I think it’s ridiculous to say that, you know, that just because we disapprove of the actions of the Israeli government and want to highlight that, that we’re accused of racism or…this film is not about race or religion or about propaganda. It’s about human rights violations being perpetrated on two million citizens of the Gaza Strip. You know this is a film about promoting understanding.”

With nothing at all to say about the human rights of the Israeli civilians living for years under the shadow of Hamas terrorism, Husain closed the item there.  

Husain: “Garry Keane and Fadi Hussam Hannona, thank you both.”

Once again BBC Radio 4 has presented a one-sided item which does not even pretend to fully inform audiences but promotes plenty of buzz words and slogans which conform to the corporation’s standard politicised messaging on the Gaza Strip.

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – July 2019

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during July 2019 shows that throughout the month a total of 92 incidents took place: 54 in Judea & Samaria, 24 in Jerusalem and inside the ‘green line’ and 14 in the Gaza Strip sector.

In Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem the agency recorded 66 attacks with petrol bombs, six attacks using pipe bombs, four arson attacks and one vehicular attack.

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

Five members of the security forces were injured in a vehicular attack on July 6th near the Hizme checkpoint in Jerusalem which did not receive any coverage whatsoever on the BBC News website.  

Two incidents of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip on July 12th were likewise ignored, as was the death (not included in the ISA report) of an 89 year-old woman who was injured during a rocket attack on Ashkelon in May of this year.

Since the beginning of 2019 the BBC News website has reported 28% of the terror attacks which have taken place and 75% of the resulting fatalities. Four of those seven months saw no reporting on terrorism against Israelis whatsoever.

Related Articles:

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

BBC ignores another cross-border terror tunnel

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – June 2019

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – May 2019

Will BBC audiences be told this Gaza healthcare story?

Readers may recall that in early June listeners to BBC domestic radio’s news and current affairs station, Radio 4, were told by a presenter of the ‘Today’ show that:

“The fact remains that healthcare restrictions are being used [by Israel] to dehumanise the Palestinian people…” 

BBC R4’s ‘Today’ listeners get a distorted view of medical permits – part one

BBC R4’s ‘Today’ listeners get distorted view of medical permits – part two

The BBC of course has a history of ignoring stories which explain the need for security checks before permits are given to residents of the Gaza Strip to travel to or through Israel for the purpose of medical treatment. 

At the end of June the Israeli news website Ynet reported (Hebrew) that:

“This morning the surveying stage begins for the construction of a big international field hospital on an area of 40 dunams with 16 different departments near the Erez Crossing, which will be run by an international medical team. The hospital will be funded by a private American organisation and [will be built] with Israel’s permission and it will bring significant improvement and [provide] services which are not given today in the Gaza Strip to Palestinian patients.”

However the Gatestone Institute now reports that the Palestinian Authority is objecting to the plan.

“Palestinian Authority Minister of Health Mai Kaila, during a meeting in her West Bank office in Ramallah, reportedly told the UN Deputy Special Coordinator for Middle East Peace Process Jimmy McGoldrick on July 31 that the field hospital was part of a plan to separate the West Bank from the Gaza Strip and that the Palestinian Authority government considers the plan to build a hospital a “part of the Deal of the Century.”

“If the objective of establishing this hospital is humane, it would have been better to support and develop existing hospitals in the Gaza Strip,” the Palestinian minister told the UN official. “This project wears the dress of humanity while concealing a dangerous political aspect.”

Kaila asked the UN official to relay a message to all relevant parties: The Palestinian Authority government has effectively washed its hands of the new hospital.”

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.