BBC continues to conceal Gaza missile attacks from its audience

On the morning of March 18th residents of the western Negev region once again came under missile attack, just days after a previous incident.

“Rocket sirens broke the Sabbath calm and sent residents throughout the Gaza periphery scrambling Saturday morning, as two projectiles were launched from the Strip.

One rocket exploded near the city of Ashkelon, north of Gaza, causing no casualties or damage. The second apparently fell inside Palestinian territory.

The Israel Defense Forces responded with tank fire and air strikes at several Hamas targets in the Strip. There were no reports of casualties.”

Yet again the BBC chose not to report the attack.

Since the beginning of the year seven missile attacks against Israel have taken place – five from Gaza and two from Sinai – none of which have been reported by the BBC’s English language services. Israel’s response to three of the attacks launched from the Gaza Strip has however been the subject of coverage on the corporation’s Arabic language website.

The pattern of reporting whereby the majority of missile attacks from the Gaza Strip are not covered in the English language but Israel’s response to those attacks is reported in Arabic has been in evidence since the end of the summer 2014 conflict. Throughout 2016 just one of ten attacks received BBC coverage in the English language.

Related Articles:

BBC ignores Gaza missile in English but reports response in Arabic

BBC ignores Gaza missile in English but reports response in Arabic

Late on the evening of March 15th a missile launched from the Gaza Strip exploded in the Western Negev district.

“A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed late Wednesday in an empty field in the Sdot Negev Regional Council near Netivot.

The rocket exploded on impact. No one was hurt and no damage was reported from the explosion.”

Hours later the IDF responded with strikes on two Hamas installations in the Gaza Strip.

No coverage of the attack appeared on the BBC’s English language website despite the fact that a member of staff at the BBC’s Gaza bureau knew it had taken place. However, the BBC Arabic website did publish a report concerning the Israeli response to the attack.

Since the beginning of the year six missile attacks against Israel have taken place – four from Gaza and two from Sinai – none of which have been reported by the BBC’s English language services. Israel’s response to three of the attacks launched from the Gaza Strip has however been the subject of coverage on the corporation’s Arabic language website.

The pattern of reporting whereby the majority of missile attacks from the Gaza Strip are not covered in the English language but Israel’s response to those attacks is reported in Arabic has been in evidence since the end of the summer 2014 conflict. Throughout 2016 just one of ten attacks received BBC coverage in English.

Related Articles:

BBC News silent again on Gaza missile attack

Differing BBC definitions of human shields in Iraq and Gaza

h/t JC, YM

Back in November we noted the contrast between BBC reporting on the use of human shields by ISIS in the Mosul area of Iraq and its silence concerning Hamas’ use of human shields in the Gaza Strip during the summer 2014 conflict.

As readers no doubt recall, within hours of the 2014 conflict’s commencement the BBC began to repeatedly amplify false claims that Israel was ‘targeting civilians’ – and hence committing ‘war crimes’ – while failing to report Hamas’ placement of military assets (including missile launchers) in populated civilian areas.

BBC News promotes and amplifies falsehood that Israel deliberately targets civilians

Third example of BBC promotion of the lie that Israel deliberately targets civilians  

BBC’s Bowen promotes accusations of Israeli ‘war crimes’

A written report which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on March 13th (“IS fighters left in Mosul will die, says US envoy McGurk“) again informed BBC audiences of the use of human shields by ISIS.

‘”Mosul’s liberation is increasingly in sight, albeit with increasingly difficult fighting ahead,” Mr McGurk [US envoy to the multinational coalition] told reporters on Sunday.

He said Iraqi forces were retaking “some of the most difficult ground that we knew would have to be reclaimed”.

He added: “They’re doing this in a dense urban environment facing a suicidal enemy that’s using civilians as shields.”’ [emphasis added] 

A filmed report – also shown on BBC television news programmes – that appeared on the same page of the website on the same day under the headline “Tamer Suhalia Najaf: ‘Three of my daughters were killed’” features an injured civilian from Mosul whose three daughters were killed in an airstrike by Iraqi forces and/or their coalition partners on an ISIS position placed near their house.

In contrast to the BBC’s 2014 reports from the Gaza Strip, viewers of this report did not hear any claims of deliberate targeting of civilians or allegations of ‘war crimes’.

Viewers of another filmed report, which was shown on BBC television news programmes and posted on the BBC News website on March 10th under the title “Battle for Mosul: The high price of freedom“, heard Orla Guerin tell the story of a woman whose house had been taken over by ISIS militiamen.

“She shows us how they hid when IS fighters stormed in to use them as human shields. One went to the roof, she says, but he started to shoot. He attacked the army.” [emphasis added]

As readers may recall, in an August 2014 report titled “Gaza conflict: Allegations of war crimes” the same Orla Guerin told BBC television audiences:

“While there are growing allegations against Israel, it claims civilians here have been used by militants as human shields but so far there’s been no evidence of that.”

Complaints concerning the accuracy of that statement were repeatedly dismissed by the BBC, with the BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee calling the complainants’ definition of human shields into question.

“The Adviser considered first the complainants’ concerns that overwhelming evidence existed at the time that Hamas was using civilians as human shields and that to suggest otherwise was untrue. She noted that one point of dispute was how the term “human shield” was defined – and whether it meant Hamas using the proximity of civilians to deter an Israeli response to their actions or Hamas forcibly moving or keeping civilians in a location, on the basis that it would be likely to reduce the Israeli response.”

When that ESC decision was published in 2015 we noted that:

“The BBC Trust is charged with the task of ensuring that the BBC delivers its mission to inform, educate and entertain its funding public. Not only does the ESC’s ruling on this subject serve to compound the issue of the BBC’s self-censored reporting on Hamas’ use of human shields throughout last summer’s conflict, but it also does nothing to ensure that in relation to other or future conflicts, audiences will benefit from a higher standard of journalism which will ensure that the BBC meets its public purpose remit of building ” a global understanding of international issues”.

That, of course, does not only apply to conflicts involving Israel and Hamas: unless it intends to apply a different standard in the case of other conflicts, the ESC’s adoption of an unsourced interpretation of the definition of human shields which includes only civilians forcibly relocated close to a military objective is bound to affect the accuracy of the BBC’s reporting in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Ukraine and elsewhere.”

As we see, the BBC has indeed chosen to apply a definition of the term human shields in its reporting from Iraq which is markedly different to the one used in its coverage from Gaza.

Related Articles:

Comparing BBC reporting on human shields in Gaza and Iraq

BBC pot calls the Russian media kettle black

BBC Trust’s ruling on Hamas’ use of human shields makes for future inaccurate reporting

BBC News ignores another UNRWA – Hamas story

At the end of last month we noted that the BBC had chosen not to report the story of an employee of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) who was suspended following allegations of his election to the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip.

Now another similar story has come to light.

“A senior Palestinian employee of a Gaza-based United Nations humanitarian agency was reportedly elected to Hamas’s political bureau, the top governing body of the terrorist organization the rules the Strip.

One the 15 members elected to the bureau in February’s internal elections was Muhammad al-Jamassi, a senior engineer employed by UNRWA, the UN agency in charge of Palestinian refugees, according to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.

Jamassi has held various positions within Hamas since 2007, including in the group’s public relations department and its affiliated charities, the center said.

He currently serves as board chairman for the UNRWA engineering department in central Gaza, and oversees all off the agency’s infrastructure projects in the area.”

According to UNRWA figures, the UK was its third most generous donor in 2015, contributing nearly a hundred million US dollars to its budget. Hence, members of the British public may well be interested in seeing some serious investigative reporting from their national broadcaster on the issue of alleged links between the UN agency they help fund and the terror organisation that is proscribed by the British government.

Despite being one of the few international media organisations to have an office in the Gaza Strip and therefore being well-placed to cover this story, the BBC continues to date to refrain from doing so.  

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – February 2017

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during February 2017 shows that throughout the month a total of 102 incidents took place: eighty-two in Judea & Samaria, fourteen in Jerusalem, one in Petah Tikva and five attacks from the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula.

The agency recorded 86 attacks with petrol bombs, 8 attacks using explosive devices, one shooting attack and one vehicular attack in Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem as well as one shooting attack in Petah Tikva and one shooting attack and four missile attacks from the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula.

Fourteen people – nine civilians and five members of the security forces – were injured in attacks during February.

As regular readers know, the four separate incidents of missile attacks from the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula during February did not receive any coverage whatsoever on the BBC News website.

A vehicular attack at the entrance to the community of Adam on February 2nd in which three people were injured was not reported by the BBC. A shooting attack in the market in Petah Tikva in which seven people were wounded on February 9th also did not receive any coverage. A petrol bomb attack on Route 443 on February 12th in which one civilian was injured, a petrol bomb attack in Issawiya on February 24th in which two members of the security forces were injured and an IED attack in Balata on February 23rd in which a soldier was injured were also among the attacks not reported by the BBC.

In conclusion, the BBC News website did not cover any of the terror attacks which took place during February. Since the beginning of the year, the corporation has reported 0.49% of the total attacks that have taken place and coverage of missile attacks stands at zero.

Related Articles:

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – December 2016 and year summary

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – January 2017

Fourth missile attack against Israel in three weeks ignored by BBC News

 

BBC News continues to promote dubiously sourced Gaza statistics

On February 28th an article appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the headline “Israel’s Netanyahu criticised over 2014 Gaza war preparations“.mevaker-report-art

Relating to a report on Operation Protective Edge published by Israel’s state comptroller, the article includes background information concerning the 2014 conflict, part of which relates to the subject of casualties.

“The 50-day war left at least 2,251 Palestinians dead, including more than 1,462 civilians, according to the UN, and 11,231 others injured. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers and six civilians were killed, with scores more wounded.”

Since the end of that conflict the BBC has published varying accounts of casualty figures and civilian/combatant casualty ratios in the Gaza Strip, all of which cite the UN as their source. In August 2014 a graphic told BBC audiences:

“2,101 people killed in Gaza – UN estimates 70% of deaths are civilians”Graphic Op PE

In October 2014 the same graphic was amended to read:

“2,104 people killed in Gaza – UN estimates 69% of deaths are civilians”

In December 2014 the BBC told its audiences that:

“The 50-day conflict in Gaza between Israel and militant groups led by Hamas left at least 2,189 Palestinians dead, including more than 1,486 civilians, according to the UN, and 11,000 injured. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers and six civilians were killed, with scores more wounded.”

So where has the figure 2,251 cited in this latest article come from? Its source is the controversial report commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council more than a month before the conflict ended and originally headed by William Schabas that was published in June 2015. Section V of that report states:

“In Gaza, in particular, the scale of the devastation was unprecedented. The death toll alone speaks volumes: 2,251 Palestinians were killed, including 1,462 Palestinian civilians, of whom 299 women and 551 children and 11,231 Palestinians, including 3,540 women and 3,436 children, were injured, of whom 10 per cent suffered permanent disability as a result. While the casualty figures gathered by the United Nations, Israel, the State of Palestine [sic] and non-governmental organizations differ, regardless of the exact proportion of civilians to combatants, the high incidence of loss of human life and injury in Gaza is heartbreaking.”

A footnote states that the quoted figures come from:

“Data compiled by the OCHA Protection Cluster, 31 May 2015. For its methodology, see A/HRC/28/80/Add.1, para. 24, footnote 43.”

That reference leads to a footnote which states:

footnote-43

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

“During the 2014 Gaza war, three NGOs from the cluster – B’Tselem, Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) – were designated to provide casualty statistics. In turn, their statistics were repeated without question by OCHA and other UN bodies, the media, European officials, and the Schabas-Davis commission. […]

Al Mezan and PCHR are also leaders in promoting “lawfare” cases against Israelis in Europe and the International Criminal Court (ICC).Their lack of credibility is also reflected in their highly politicized agenda, including accusations that the IDF (“Israeli Occupation Forces” in NGO parlance) is responsible for “massacres,” and “war crimes,” as well as “disproportionate” and “criminal” attacks against civilians.”

Those sources are of course the same ones that produced data promoted by the BBC almost from the very beginning of the 2014 conflict – as BBC Watch revealed at the time.

Readers may also recall that last August the BBC Trust published  the findings of a review of the impartiality of the BBC’s reporting of statistics in its news and current affairs output. That report included “10 Golden Rules”, one of which is:

“Check your source. Is it likely to be someone with a vested interest in interpreting findings in a particular way?”

The UNHRC is of course notorious for its anti-Israel bias and to describe it – as well as the Hamas health ministry, UNOCHA, the PCHR, B’tselem and Al Mezan – as having “a vested interest” would be gross understatement.

Nevertheless, as we see, over thirty months since the 2014 conflict ended the BBC is still amplifying casualty figures and debatable civilian/combatant casualty ratios supplied by Hamas and NGOs involved in ‘lawfare’ campaigning against Israel that were funneled through a UN agency and subsequently promoted in a controversial and biased UNHRC report.

Related Articles:

BBC continues to avoid independent verification of Gaza casualty ratios

The BBC and the UN HRC report on last summer’s conflict – part one

The BBC and the UN HRC report on last summer’s conflict – part two

Continuing documentation of BBC double standards on disputed territories

On several occasions in the past we have documented the difference between the terminology used by the BBC in its coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict and in its coverage of the Western Sahara conflict (and others).

BBC double standards on disputed territories

Another example of BBC double standards on disputed territories

Disputed or occupied? Documenting the BBC’s continuing double standards

Disputed or occupied? How location dictates BBC terminology

Another example of that double standard appeared on the BBC News website on February 27th in a report titled “Western Sahara: Morocco to pull out of UN buffer zone“.w-sahara-art-27-2

In the caption to the image at the top of the article, readers are told of a “dispute”:

“As a result of the dispute over Western Sahara, thousands of people have been living in refugee camps in Algeria.”

That terminology is also found in the report itself.

“Morocco is to pull out of a UN buffer zone in the disputed Western Sahara territory, an official statement says.”

A map shows readers “Morocco-controlled territory” – with the term ‘occupied’ avoided.

The term ‘controls’ is also used in the text, with none of the accompanying comment concerning legality or ‘international law’ that is standard in reports concerning Israel and no information regarding the absence of international recognition of Morocco’s annexation of the territory.

“Western Sahara is a sparsely-populated area of mostly desert situated on the north-west coast of Africa.

It was annexed by Morocco in 1975 – a move resisted by the Polisario Front.

A 16-year insurgency ended with a UN-brokered truce in 1991 and the promise of a referendum on independence.

But this has yet to take place and Morocco still controls two-thirds of the territory, while thousands of refugees live over the border in Algeria.”

The only use of the term ‘occupation’ comes in quotation marks.

“Mr Guterres’ predecessor, Ban Ki-moon, infuriated Rabat by describing Morocco’s annexation of Western Sahara as an “occupation” – a remark he later apologised for.”

Once again the BBC’s presentation of Western Sahara as “disputed” territory contrasts markedly with its inevitable – and specified – portrayal of Judea & Samaria, parts of Jerusalem and even the Gaza Strip as “occupied”.

As long as that double standard in terminology persists, the BBC cannot be surprised that its impartiality is called into question. 

 

BBC News silent again on Gaza missile attack

Late on March 1st another missile launched from the Gaza Strip exploded in Israeli territory.

“A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip struck an open field south of the coastal city of Ashkelon on Wednesday night, causing neither injury nor damage, the army said, the second attack in a week. […]

The projectile struck the Hof Ashkelon region shortly after 11:00 p.m. on Wednesday, the Israel Defense Forces said.

Israeli troops began searching the area to locate the rocket, the army said.

No terrorist groups immediately took credit for the attack.

There were also no immediate reports of IDF retaliation.”

At least one locally based BBC employee was aware that an attack had taken place.

shuval-tweet-missile-1-3

Nevertheless, there was no coverage of the attack on the BBC News website.

Since the beginning of the year five missile attacks against Israel have taken place – three from Gaza and two from Sinai – none of which have been reported by the BBC’s English language services. Throughout 2016 just one of ten attacks received BBC coverage in English.

table-missiles-2017-c

Related Articles:

BBC News continues to ignore Gaza missile attacks – in English

BBC News again ignores a missile attack on Israel

BBC News disregards Sinai missile attack once again

Fourth missile attack against Israel in three weeks ignored by BBC News

 

Contrasting BBC portrayals of the Gaza Strip in English and in Arabic

At the beginning of February Tim Franks produced a report from the Gaza Strip (see here and here) which was part of a special feature for the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’.

Citing “stifling border closures […] the people here say are for collective punishment”, Franks painted a monochrome picture of dire poverty and deprivation:

“Gaza’s everyday problems don’t stop though with unreliable electricity; the rest of the infrastructure is shot. A lot of recent war damage lies unreconstructed. The economy is lifeless, unemployment sky-high.”

“But there’s a more immediate point I think…ahm…which is that, you know, the people here have far more direct concerns. It’s about the next meal, when is the power going to go off, how do you make money, what’s the water supply like – answer: not terribly good. So it’s those sort of much more quotidian dreary concerns that are driving people rather than any grand thoughts about a solution to all of this.”

Franks’ did not, however, clarify to audiences that his portrayal does not represent the whole picture.memri-gaza-restaurants

MEMRI has translated a filmed report (available here) produced by BBC Arabic in December 2016 on the topic of Gaza restaurants.

“BBC Arabic recently broadcast a TV report on restaurants in Gaza, in which it showed “an aspect of luxury, vibrancy, and riches” to life in Gaza. Restaurant owners and patrons talked to the reporter about eating out, describing the menus and the prices. A group of women sitting at a restaurant said that they would often come for “a coffee and a chat,” and that dinner would come to 250-300 dollars. The report aired on December 20, 2016.”

Notably, we have found no evidence of that report having been shown to English-speaking BBC audiences. 

No BBC reporting on suspension of allegedly Hamas linked UNRWA employee

As regular readers know, representatives of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) featured regularly in the content produced by the BBC during the summer 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas as well as in previous and subsequent reports concerning the Gaza Strip.

UNRWA does not confine its activities to humanitarian work and frequently acts as a political campaigning group, with one focus of its efforts being the issue of the border restrictions imposed by Israel in order to curb Hamas terrorism.  Notably, UNRWA’s approach to that issue dovetails with Hamas’ standpoint, as seen in the terrorist organisation’s ceasefire demands made during the 2014 conflict.UNRWA WS tweet

The BBC has frequently used its various platforms to amplify UNRWA’s political campaigning  on that topic – examples can be seen hereherehere and here. UNRWA employees are also not infrequently given unchallenged airtime to promote their messaging on additional subjects – see examples here and here – and as we know, in 2014 UNRWA’s spokesman (and former BBC employee) Chris Gunness successfully pressured the BBC to get the content of an article about casualty figures in the Gaza Strip amended to be more to his political tastes.

It is hence all the more noteworthy that the BBC has to date ignored a recent UNRWA related story. 

On February 23rd the ITIC published a report concerning the election of the chairman of the Hamas-controlled UNRWA staff union to the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip.

“One of the newly-elected members is Dr. Suhail Ahmed Hassan al-Hindi, who holds a PhD from Cairo University (his thesis dealt with improving the conditions of Palestinians teachers under the Israeli “occupation”). Since 2012 he has been the chairman of the UNRWA staff union in the Gaza Strip, controlled by Hamas. […] In addition to his role as union chairman, he is also the principal of the Palestine Boys’ Elementary School, an UNRWA school for refugee children.”

Both Hamas and al Hindi denied that he had been elected to the Hamas political bureau despite reports in the Palestinian media and UNRWA’s Chris Gunness issued a statement saying that the organisation “has neither uncovered nor received evidence to contradict the staff member’s denial that he was elected to political office”.

On February 26th the head of COGAT commented on the issue and on the same day, al Hindi was suspended by UNRWA.

“…in light of our ongoing independent internal investigation, we had been presented with substantial information from a number of sources, which led us to take the decision this afternoon to suspend Suhail al Hindi, pending the outcome of our investigation,” UNRWA spokeswoman Chris Gunness wrote.”

Although UNRWA’s initial statement claims that “[s]taff members are prohibited from engaging in any political activity which is inconsistent or might adversely reflect upon the independence and impartiality required by their status”, the issue of the connections of UNRWA employees to Hamas is by no means new.

“Elections for the unions of the UNRWA workers in 2009 ran from March 16 to March 24. It was estimated that some 97% of those eligible to vote participated; balloting was held at UNRWA headquarters in Gaza. Once again, Hamas-affiliated candidates won all 11 seats in the teachers’ section, guaranteeing Hamas control of UNRWA schools in Gaza.

Almost immediately, a representative of Hamas in Gaza released a statement, declaring the result an indication of the “enormous support” Hamas enjoys.

Within days, John Ging, [then] UNRWA director of operations, threatened to relieve UNRWA personnel of their positions if they were associated with political parties.

Ging wrote letters to a small number of employees, indicating his concern about a “worrisome” situation. In this letter, he observed that parties “hostile” to UNRWA have advertised the victory in UNRWA elections of certain political candidates over the years, but only now did these statements come from inside Gaza, giving them enhanced credibility. […]

One of the persons who had been mentioned as having been suspended by Ging was Suhail Al-Hindi, who had been elected chairman of the teachers’ section.”

However, UNRWA did not take action against those employees in 2009, its parent organisation the UN remained silent. Al Hindi was briefly suspended by UNRWA on similar grounds in 2011 but reinstated after the UNRWA staff union declared a strike in 243 schools. In the next elections in 2012, Hamas once again received the majority of votes.

Although this latest story has been reported by a variety of local and international media organisations which do not have permanent staff and offices in the Gaza Strip, such as the Times, the BBC – which does have a bureau in Gaza – has to date chosen not to cover it.