A Gaza medical story that is not newsworthy for the BBC

Between mid-September and the beginning of November 2017 the BBC produced numerous reports on the topic of a Hamas-Fatah ‘reconciliation’ which was supposed to put the Palestinian Authority back in charge of the Gaza Strip ten years after the Hamas coup.

Superficial BBC reporting on Hamas-Fatah ‘unity’ returns

The BBC World Service’s Hamas-Fatah ‘unity’ binge – part one

The BBC World Service’s Hamas-Fatah ‘unity’ binge – part two

The BBC World Service’s Hamas-Fatah ‘unity’ binge – part three

BBC News sidesteps the topic of Hamas disarmament yet again

BBC’s Bateman misleads on US and Israeli approach to Hamas-Fatah ‘unity’

BBC News continues to mislead on Gaza electricity crisis

BBC’s chief international correspondent claims Hamas changed its charter

BBC adds superfluous punctuation to US and Israeli statements on Hamas

BBC News continues to conceal Hamas refusals to disarm

Selective BBC framing of Hamas-Fatah ‘reconciliation’ continues

However, as that ‘reconciliation’ began to falter, so did BBC coverage and so audiences were not informed that the deal it had so generously reported failed to immediately solve an issue which was also the subject of many BBC reports – the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip.

Gaza’s electricity crisis continues but BBC reporting does not

BBC fails to produce follow-up reporting on Gaza power story

Another crisis related to that failed ‘reconciliation’ has recently emerged in the Gaza Strip – as Ha’aretz reports.

“The cleaning and maintenance staff at Gaza’s hospitals went on strike Sunday until further notice to protest the nonpayment of wages.

The 830 people involved work via manpower contractors, but the Health Ministry in Ramallah has failed to pay its share of their salaries for four months. The ministry accuses Hamas of failing to hand over full control over the Strip, a charge Hamas denies. […]

In January the cleaners struck for a few days but returned after receiving part of the money owed them.

At the end of last week, a Hamas delegation headed by Ismail Haniyeh spoke with Egyptian intelligence officials in Cairo. The Egyptians hope to help the Palestinians resolve the Palestinian Authority-Hamas rift, with the aim of resolving Gaza’s humanitarian crisis.”

The Times of Israel adds:

“Shifa Hospital, the largest medical complex in the Gaza Strip, announced on Sunday that it was suspending all surgeries, with the exception of emergency cases, due to a cleaners’ strike over unpaid salaries.

“It has been decided to postpone all scheduled surgeries, including those for patients with tumors,” the hospital said, noting that the decision excluded “life-saving cases.” […]

Last month, the cleaners agreed to return to work after the Palestinian Authority government promised to pay them their salaries. However, the government has since paid salaries for only two months, prompting the cleaners to renew their strike.

Hamas officials have accused the PA government of failing to provide funds to the health system in the Gaza Strip despite a Hamas-Fatah “reconciliation” agreement signed in Cairo in 2017. According to the officials, many hospitals are suffering from a severe shortage in medicine and generator fuel as a result of the PA’s failure to carry out its duties.”

Notably the BBC – which only last month aired a programme in which a Hamas official was allowed to promote the inaccurate yet unchallenged claim that the problems plaguing medical services in the Gaza Strip are exclusively the result of Israel’s counter-terrorism measures – has not found this particular story about Gaza’s medical services newsworthy.

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Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q4 2017 – part two

As recorded in part one of this post, between October 1st and December 31st 2017, one hundred and six reports relating to Israel and/or the Palestinians appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page (compared to 58 reports in Q3), some of which were cross posted from other sections of the site. 12.3% of those reports covered stories relating to security/terrorism.

The remaining reports can be grouped into a number of categories. (The dates in brackets represent the period of time in which each report was available to visitors to the website’s Middle East page.)

Six reports related to historical subject matter:

Albert Einstein’s happiness note sold for $1.6m (24/10/17 to 25/10/17)

‘My house was occupied by Israeli soldiers’ (4/10/17 to 5/10/17) discussed here

Battle of Beersheba charge recreated for centenary (1/11/17 to 2/11/17) discussed here

Israel’s ancient underwater treasure BBC Travel (9/11/17 to 10/11/17)

Was this the first Dead Sea Scroll? BBC Travel (2/12/17 to 3/12/17)

‘It was an uprising from the heart’ (20/12/17 to 26/12/17) discussed here

Seven items can be categorised as miscellaneous:

Poland asked to explain naked Nazi gas chamber video (30/11/17 to 2/12/17)

Argentina judge seeks arrest of ex-leader Cristina Fernández (8/12/17 to 10/12/17)

Who invented hummus? BBC Travel (12/12/17 to 14/12/17 and 16/12/17 to 19/12/17)

Bethlehem Christmas: Church of the Nativity hosts pilgrims (25/12/17 to 26/12/17)

Bethlehem celebrates Christmas amid heightened tensions  Tom Bateman (24/12/17 to 27/12/17)

Urbi et Orbi: Pope calls for peace for Jerusalem (25/12/17 to 26/12/17) discussed here

Urbi et Orbi: Pope addresses world crises (25/12/17 to 26/12/17)

Fifty-one reports (48.1%) related to Israeli diplomatic/international relations and/or political aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict – with two main topics apparent.

a) the Balfour Declaration centenary – 7 reports:

The Balfour Declaration: My ancestor’s hand in history Jane Corbin (31/10/17 to 6/11/17) discussed here and here

Balfour Declaration: Banksy holds ‘apology’ party for Palestinians (1/11/17 to 2/11/17) discussed here

Balfour Declaration: The divisive legacy of 67 words Yolande Knell (2/11/17 to 7/11/17) discussed here and here

New Banksy work unveiled at ‘apology’ party for Palestinians (2/11/17 to 4/11/17) discussed here

Balfour Declaration: Theresa May hosts Israeli PM for centenary (2/11/17 to 4/11/17) discussed here

Balfour Declaration: 100 years of conflict Yolande Knell (2/11/17 to 5/11/17) discussed here

Palestinians call for Balfour Declaration apology  Tom Bateman (2/11/17 to 7/11/17) discussed here

b) the US administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – 34 reports:

Jerusalem: Opposition to mooted Trump Israel announcement grows (4/12/17) discussed here

Jerusalem: Turkey warns Trump against crossing ‘red line’ (5/12/17) discussed here

Why Jerusalem matters Yolande Knell (6/12/17 to 11/12/17) discussed here

US to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (6/12/17)

Jerusalem: Trump move prompts negative world reaction (6/12/17 to 7/12/17)

Palestinians and Israelis on US Jerusalem recognition (6/12/17 to 9/12/17)

Jerusalem status: World condemns Trump’s announcement (7/12/17)

What Trump’s Jerusalem decision means for peace Lyse Doucet (7/12/17 to 11/12/17)

Trumplomacy: Key takeaways from Jerusalem policy shift Barbara Plett-Usher (7/12/17) discussed here

Middle East media reacts to ‘slap of the century’ BBC Monitoring (7/12/17 to 8/12/17)

Trump says US recognises Jerusalem: The speech in full (7/12/17 to 8/12/17)

Trump’s Jerusalem move: Anger in Ramallah and Israeli delight Yolande Knell (8/12/17 to 21/12/17)

Trump’s Jerusalem move: US warns against scrapping Abbas talks (8/12/17)

Trump Jerusalem shift puts counter-terror efforts at risk Frank Gardner (8/12/17 to 22/12/17) discussed here

Tensions high in wake of Donald Trump’s Jerusalem announcement (8/12/17 to 11/12/17)

In Jerusalem on the ‘Day of Rage’ (8/12/17 to 9/12/17)

Muslims protest worldwide against Trump (8/12/17 to 9/12/17)

Jerusalem clashes: Sheltering in a sweet shop (9/12/17 to 12/12/17)

Trump’s Jerusalem move: Arab allies attack decision (10/12/17)

Netanyahu: Palestinians must face reality over Jerusalem (10/12/17 to 11/12/17)

Beirut protests: ‘Jerusalem remains a rallying cry’ Martin Patience (10/12/17 to 19/12/17)

Trump Jerusalem move: Tear gas at Lebanon US embassy protest (10/12/17 to 11/12/17)

EU’s Federica Mogherini rebuffs Netanyahu on Jerusalem (11/12/17 to 13/12/17)

The Israeli PM meets EU foreign ministers, but differences emerge immediately (11/12/17 to 20/12/17)

Muslim nations urge recognition of East Jerusalem as Palestinian capital (13/12/17 to 14/12/17) discussed here

Jerusalem: US vetoes UN resolution rejecting Trump’s declaration (18/12/17 to 20/12/17) discussed here

UN Jerusalem vote: US ‘will be taking names’ (20/12/17) discussed here

Jerusalem UN vote: Trump threatens US aid recipients (20/12/17 to 21/12/17)

Trump: Jerusalem UN votes being watched by US (20/12/17 to 21/12/17)

Jerusalem: UN resolution rejects Trump’s declaration (21/12/17 to 22/12/17)

How did your country vote on the Jerusalem resolution? (21/12/17 to 23/12/17)

Nikki Haley warns US will remember UN’s Jerusalem rebuke (21/12/17 to 23/12/17)

Jerusalem: Palestinian leader Abbas spurns US peace plan (22/12/17 to 25/12/17)

US plays hardball at UN over Jerusalem vote Nada Tawfik (23/12/17 to 24/12/17)

c) other:

Israel to join US in quitting Unesco (12/10/17 to 16/10/17) discussed here

Texas city requires Israel pledge for hurricane relief (20/10/17 to 22/10/17) discussed here

Iran ‘sentences Sweden resident to death’ for spying (24/10/17 to 25/10/17)

Miss Iraq and Miss Israel selfie strikes a nerve BBC Trending (16/11/17 to 24/11/17)

Kuwait Airways ‘within its rights’ to ban Israeli – German court (16/11/17 to 20/11/17)

Israeli man’s photos in holy Muslim site cause social media rage (21/11/17 to 23/11/17) discussed here

Israel and Saudi Arabia: What’s shaping the covert ‘alliance’ Jonathan Marcus (24/11/17 to 27/11/17)

Outrage as Iranian wrestler ‘forced’ to lose match BBC Trending (27/11/17 to 5/12/17) discussed here

Jerusalem: Guatemala follows US in planning Israel embassy move (25/12/17 to 28/12/17) discussed here

Saudi chess tournament starts without Israeli players (26/12/17 to 28/12/17)

Ten reports (9.4%) related to Palestinian affairs with half of those devoted to the topic of a Hamas-Fatah ‘unity deal’:

Palestinian PM in rare Gaza visit as rift with Hamas eases (2/10/17 to 4/10/17) discussed here

Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah end split on Gaza (12/10/17 to 16/10/17) discussed here

Palestinian unity deal: Gazans hope for end to feud Yolande Knell (13/10/17 to 23/10/17)

Hamas must disarm to join Palestinian unity government – US (19/10/17 to 22/10/17) discussed here

Gaza conjoined twins ‘need life-saving treatment abroad’ (23/10/17 to 24/10/17) discussed here

Gaza amputees explain their unique friendship (13/10/17 to 17/10/17) discussed here

Hamas hands PA control of Gaza border crossings (1/11/17 to 2/11/17) discussed here

Gaza commemorates Yasser Arafat anniversary (11/11/17 to 13/11/17)

Palestinians ‘could freeze US ties’ over Washington office closure (18/11/17 to 21/11/17)

Palestinians recall envoy to US (31/12/17 to 1/1/18) discussed here

The thirteen reports (12.3% of the total) concerning Israeli affairs can be divided into sub categories:

a) reports relating to legal and/or criminal issues:

Paradise Papers documents raise questions over African mining deal (6/11/17 to 8/11/17)

Israeli president rejects pardon for soldier Elor Azaria (19/11/17 to 21/11/17) discussed here

b) society:

‘Bloody hour’: Israeli bar discount for women on period (29/10/17 to 31/10/17)

Aharon Shteinman: Ultra-Orthodox spiritual leader dies in Israel (12/12/17 to 14/12/17)

Teva Pharmaceuticals: Israeli drugmaker to cut 14,000 jobs (14/12/17 to 17/12/17)

c) domestic news/politics:

Israel Facebook: Mistranslated post creates security alert (22/10/17 to 23/10/17)

Israel approves 176 new settler homes in East Jerusalem (25/10/17 to 27/10/17) discussed here

Israel honours first recognised Arab Holocaust saviour (27/10/17 to 30/10/17)

Israel health minister resigns over Sabbath rail works (26/11/17 to 28/11/17)

Jerusalem: Israel plans ‘Trump station’ near Western Wall (27/12/17 to 28/12/17)

Israel parliament passes law restricting police powers (28/12/17 to 30/12/17)

Israel: Minister leads prayers for rain to end drought (28/12/17 to 31/12/17)

d) science and technology:

Israeli spies ‘watched Russian agents breach Kaspersky software’ BBC Technology (11/10/17 to 12/10/17) 

Three reports related to British politics:

Priti Patel held undisclosed meetings in Israel  James Landale (3/11/17 to 5/11/17)

Priti Patel apologises over undisclosed Israeli meetings  (6/11/17 to 7/11/17)

Priti Patel quits cabinet over Israel meetings row  (8/11/17 to 9/11/17)

Three related to the US and the JCPOA:

What will Trump do about the Iran nuclear deal? Jonathan Marcus (12/10/17 to 16/10/17)

Trump aims blow at Iran and threatens landmark nuclear deal (13/10/17) discussed here

Iran nuclear deal: Global powers stand by pact despite Trump threat (14/10/17 to 18/10/17) discussed here

As was the case throughout 2016 and in the first three quarters of 2017, (see ‘related articles’ below) Israeli domestic affairs once again received more extensive coverage than did Palestinian affairs in the final quarter of 2017 – notwithstanding the story of the Hamas-Fatah ‘unity deal’.

Throughout the whole of 2017 security related reports accounted for 14.2% of the BBC News website’s articles pertaining to Israel and/or the Palestinians. 25.2% of the coverage related to Israeli affairs while internal Palestinian affairs were the topic of just 8.6% of the articles. The subject most frequently covered in BBC reporting continues to be international relations and conflict politics – 37.9%.

Related Articles:

An overview of BBC News website coverage of the US embassy story

Reviewing BBC coverage of the UN GA Jerusalem vote – part one

An overview of BBC coverage of the Balfour Declaration centenary

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q4 2017 – part one

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q3 2017 – part two

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q3 2017 – part one

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q2 2017 – part two

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q2 2017 – part one

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q1 2017 – part one

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q1 2017 – part two

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q4 2016 – part two (includes links to previous reports)

 

 

 

BBC fails to produce follow-up reporting on Gaza power story

Back in November 2017 we noted that BBC reporting on the electricity shortages in the Gaza Strip had come to an abrupt halt.

“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. […]

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.”

Just as those getting their news from the BBC were told nothing of the Palestinian Authority’s continued refusal to renew payment for the electricity supplied by Israel to the Gaza Strip after the latest Hamas-Fatah ‘unity deal’ was announced in September 2017, they also saw no reporting on the reversal of that decision at the beginning of January 2018.

“The Palestinian Authority said on Wednesday that it is ready to resume paying for all of its share of electricity for the Gaza Strip, ending more than six months of restrictions for the already power-starved Strip. […]

Abbas had dramatically reduced payments to Israel for the electricity — effectively slashing the supply — in a bid to pressure Hamas to loosen its grip on Gaza.

The PA has now requested that Israel now resume supplying another 50 megawatts to Gaza’s power lines, restoring the provision of electricity to Gaza to what it was prior to June 2017, said Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh in a statement to the official PA news site Wafa.

The return of the regular power supply to the Strip would mean Gazans would again see six to eight hours of electricity a day, rather than two to four hours a day they received during the reduction.” 

A few days later full power supply was resumed.

“Israel is to restore its full share of electricity supply to the Gaza Strip from Monday, ending more than six months of restrictions for the already power-starved Strip, officials said.

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz on Sunday instructed the Israel Electric Corporation to increase the supply to maximum capacity, after more than half a year of a 40% reduction after the Palestinian Authority intentionally decreased payments to Israel.

Israel’s 10 power lines into Gaza, which can provide up to 120 megawatts, will be “fully operational” by Monday night, at the request of the PA, the Defense Ministry said.”

Despite its vigorous promotion of the story between April and September 2017 – which not infrequently led audiences to mistakenly believe that the crisis was connected to Israeli counter-terrorism measures – the BBC has not produced any follow-up reporting informing audiences of the developments in the story.

Related Articles:

Gaza’s electricity crisis continues but BBC reporting does not

 

 

 

Hamas ‘Hardtalk’ interview rebuts BBC messaging, perpetuates inaccuracies – part one

On January 8th the BBC programme ‘Hardtalk‘ aired (not for the first time) a televised interview with Hamas’ Mahmoud Zahar on the BBC World News channel and on the BBC News channel.  An audio version of the same interview was also broadcast on BBC World Service radio and a clip from the interview was promoted separately.

“Stephen Sackur speaks to Mahmoud al-Zahar, co-founder of the Islamist movement Hamas. Donald Trump broke with long established diplomatic convention by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. His recent tweets on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been music to the ears of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. So what do the Palestinians do now? Hamas controls Gaza and has been at loggerheads with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank for more than a decade. Are the Palestinians staring defeat in the face?”

One noteworthy aspect of that programme was Stephen Sackur’s presentation of terrorism as a matter of conflicting narratives.

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

Sackur: “My guest today was one of the co-founders of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas. Mahmoud Zahar became used to the rigours of violent conflict with Israel. He was imprisoned, deported, his home was targeted, family members – including his son killed. But he and his Hamas colleagues remained committed to an armed struggle whose ultimate objective they characterise as the liberation of all the territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. To Israel, Hamas is a terrorist organisation and Mr Zahar is a terrorist with blood on his hands. To Palestinians he is one player in a prolonged internecine struggle between Fatah – the organisation led for so long by Yasser Arafat – and Hamas.”

And [from 04:56 in the audio version]:

Sackur: “The truth is, since that decision taken by Trump in December on Jerusalem we’ve seen – what? – a dozen or so rockets fired from Gaza toward Israel. The Israelis have responded by targeting weapons dumps. The truth is everything that you talk about in terms of violent military resistance plays into Israel’s hands. It allows them to characterise you yet again as terrorists out to kill Israeli citizens.”

Sackur’s presentation of course would not have surprised anyone familiar with the BBC’s long history of promoting the ‘one man’s terrorist’ narrative that fails to distinguish between means and ends and results in inconsistent BBC reporting on terrorism in differing locations.

Another notable point was Sackur’s adoption of Hamas’ own terminology and his breach [from 20:09] of the BBC Academy’s “journalists’ guide to facts and terminology” which, as noted here recently on two occasions, instructs the corporation’s staff not to use the term Palestine except in very specific circumstances.

Sackur: “Is the resistance in Palestine now in the hands of ordinary people – young people particularly – not with veteran leaders like you?”

Viewers and listeners may have noticed that during this interview some of the messaging they have previously received from the BBC was contradicted.

For example, the BBC’s long-standing and repeated claim that the Gaza Strip is occupied even though Israel withdrew from the territory over twelve years ago was contradicted by Zahar [from 04:00].

Zahar: “But lastly, lastly by our method of self-resistance, self-defence against the occupation in Gaza we succeed[ed] to eliminate the occupation in Gaza.”

In September of last year the BBC began reporting on Hamas-Fatah ‘reconciliation’ and produced a considerable amount of content promoting that topic. However, Zahar dismissed the claim of ‘reconciliation’ proposed by Sackur [from 09:02].

Sackur: “I mean you in Hamas, as of October 2017 – just a few months ago – are committed to a reconciliation agreement with Fatah which is supposed to lead to a reunification of the administration in Gaza and supposed to see Fatah and PA – Palestinian Authority – forces take security control in Gaza. Are you suggesting to me that that deal is now completely off?”

Zahar: “First of all I’d like to address that it’s not a reconciliation. This is a misleading name actually. We in Cairo on 2011 agreed to have a deal and agreement in Cairo. This agreement includes the most important point is to run election for the ministerial level, for the legislative council and for the national council level. And we are dead sure that we are going to win this election. At that time we are going to change the attitude of this authority from cooperating with Israel to the degree as we did with the Israeli in 2005. For this reason we are…”

Sackur [interrupts] “We don’t have time for a long history lesson but the bottom line is just a few months ago you were prepared to talk about a deal with Fatah and Fatah insisted part of that deal would be that you would accept Palestinian Authority security control in Gaza and Hamas would ultimately have to give up its weapons. Are you prepared, in Hamas, as part of a national deal, to give up your weapons?”

Zahar: “It’s not a national deal. It’s between Fatah and other national factions but the Palestinian people in the refugee camps, more than six million people outside, they’ve not shared it. I’m speaking about what is the substantial core of this deal you describe in the last few months. It was implementation of the agreement in Cairo 2011. It’s not a reconciliation.”

Another interesting point arising from this interviewee is the discovery that the BBC does know the purpose of the cross-border tunnels dug by Hamas and other terror organisations – despite its ambiguous description of their purpose in the past.

Sackur: [11:43] “…you’re not prepared – are you? – to give up your weapons based control of the Gaza Strip and your continued determination to fire rockets into Israel and dig tunnels under your territory into Israeli territory in order to conduct terrorist operations inside Israel.”

Last year the BBC amply covered the story of the Hamas policy document published in May with some reports inaccurately describing it as a ‘new’ charter signalling a different approach from the terror group and Yolande Knell, for example, telling BBC audiences that “it really drops its long-standing call for an outright destruction of Israel”. However, when Sackur brought up that topic, Zahar put paid to that claim from Knell.

Sackur [from 18:27] “…in May of 2017 your movement came out with a new policy document. For the first time they…you in Hamas said that you would accept a solution which gave the Palestinians a state on the ’67 lines and it looked as though – with a new leader Mr Haniyah in place – it looked as though Hamas was beginning to search for a way to play a role in the peace process; to become – if I may say so – more moderate. Have you walked away from that now? Are you not interested in being more moderate anymore?”

Zahar: “I’m sorry to understand from you because we are speaking about establishment of an independent state in the area for occupied ’67 but this is the continuation of our argument. But we are not going to denounce a square meter of our land which is Palestine.”

Throughout the interview Zahar was permitted to promote inaccurate claims unchallenged by Sackur, as we will see in part two of this post.

Related Articles:

Selective BBC framing of Hamas-Fatah ‘reconciliation’ continues

BBC coverage of new Hamas document – part one: website

BBC coverage of new Hamas document – part two: World Service radio

 

 

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.

 

Weekend long read

1) Khaled Abu Toameh discusses “The Iran-Hamas-Hezbollah Connection“.

“Indications show that Iran and Hezbollah are also planning to extend their control to the Gaza Strip. Iran already provides Hamas with financial and military aid. It is precisely the support of Iran that has enabled Hamas to hold in power in the Gaza Strip for the past 10 years. It is also thanks to Iran that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another major terror group in the Gaza Strip, are in possession of thousands of missiles and rockets. It is Iranian money that allows Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad to continue digging terror tunnels under the border with Israel.

Relations between Iran and Hamas have grown stronger in the past few weeks. Last month, a senior Hamas delegation visited Tehran to attend the funeral of the father of the senior Iranian security official, Qasem Soleimani. A few weeks earlier, another senior Hamas delegation visited Tehran to brief Iranian leaders on the latest developments surrounding the “reconciliation” agreement reached between Hamas and Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (PA).”

2) Haviv Retting Gur analyses the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal.

“Hamas’s political leadership has spent the past 10 years attempting to prove that the movement was more than a narrowly conceived paramilitary organization. By 2017, its military wing, which took control of the organization with the rise of Yahya Sinwar in the last internal elections in February, had concluded that the attempt to expand Hamas’s agenda and vision beyond the narrow confines of its guerrilla war against Israel had become a trap, a distraction. It saddled the organization with the thankless monotonies and shackling responsibilities of civilian leadership. It was suddenly in charge of the economic wellbeing, health, education and safety of millions — and for what?

And so both sides in the reconciliation deal believe they are gaining something important. Fatah restores some of its lost privileges and powers after 10 long years of embarrassment in Gaza. Hamas sheds the distracting albatross of civilian rule that so diminished its standing and, many feel, set it up for failure.”

3) At MEMRI, Ze’ev Binyamin (Benny) Begin MK discusses “The Impossible Deal Of The Century“.

“Last year, adhering to the infamous PLO Charter, PLO Chairman ‘Abbas stated at the UN General Assembly (September 21, 2016): “The notorious Balfour Declaration in which Britain, without any right, authority or consent from anyone, gave the land of Palestine to another people. This paved the road to the Nakba of the Palestinian people and their dispossession and displacement from their land.”

The political significance of this statement is clear: Palestine was plundered from its sole legitimate owners, the Palestinian Arabs. In other words, the PLO cleaves to its fundamental ideological claim that the Palestinian Arabs enjoy the exclusive right to sovereignty in the whole of Palestine. Political recognition of Israel, such as in the Oslo Accords, or even declaring the acceptance of its “right to exist,” (but not as the nation state of the Jewish people,as categorically reaffirmed by Fatah’s Seventh Congress in 2016) do not contradict this ideology as long as this claim is being kept alive. Therefore, the PLO is unable – and indeed has refused – to sign a peace treaty with Israel that includes the essential “end of claims” declaration as long as a sovereign Jewish entity exists in Palestine.”

4) Those who missed Simon Schama’s Balfour Declaration centenary lecture at the Royal Society can find it here.

Selective BBC framing of Hamas-Fatah ‘reconciliation’ continues

The November 1st afternoon edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ included an item (from 19:18 here) described by presenter Razia Iqbal as follows:

Iqbal: “Let’s stay with Palestinian issues now and specifically Gaza, which has been controlled for the last decade by the Islamist group Hamas. Now Hamas has begun handing control of the border crossings with Egypt and Israel back to the Palestinian Authority which controls the rest of Palestinian territory. This is part of a reconciliation deal negotiated in Cairo last month between Hamas and Fatah, which dominates the Palestinian Authority. I’ve been finding out more from our correspondent in Jerusalem Tom Bateman.”

Tom Bateman began by describing the ceremony at Rafah crossing on that day, then telling listeners that:

Bateman: “However, that crossing remains effectively completely closed and at the crossings with Egypt [sic – he apparently meant Israel] the very heavy restrictions remain in place. However, what has happened there is the dismantlement of the Hamas checkpoints there so when you cross between Israel and Gaza there is the Israeli side – the security there – and also the Hamas checkpoint. But the two sides obviously do not talk to each other so there’s always been a small PA checkpoint in between them. Now that checkpoint becomes the main checkpoint for the Palestinian Authority.”

In his response to a question from Iqbal about how the lives of people in Gaza are expected to change because of this hand-over of control of the Palestinian side of crossings from Hamas to the PA, Bateman suggested that it might lead to changes in Israeli policy.

Bateman: “But of course over time there is some hope that perhaps it may see restrictions eased and then of course that blockade on the Gaza Strip perhaps begin in some way to lift. Time will tell.”

What Bateman described as “that blockade” is of course restriction on the import to Gaza of weapons and dual-use goods that was introduced after Hamas’ violent coup in the Gaza Strip due to the need to protect Israeli citizens from Hamas terrorism.

The trouble is that nowhere in this report did either Bateman or Iqbal clarify to listeners that Hamas is a designated terror organisation that is very frank about its persistent aim to destroy the Jewish state by means of violence. Even when Bateman briefly touched on the topic of Hamas disarmament at the end of the item, he failed to inform listeners that since the announcement of the ‘reconciliation deal’ between Fatah and Hamas, various officials from the terror group have repeatedly clarified that no such step will be taken.

Bateman: “But over time the very big stumbling block – and what’s been the big problem in the past – is over the control of weapons; over Hamas’ armed wing…ah…with the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas saying, you know, there will be one law, one authority and one gun. But of course many people doubt whether full disarmament, you know, will take place.”

Neither did Bateman bother to explain to listeners that the failure to disarm Hamas will put the Palestinian Authority in breach of both its existing agreements with Israel and the Quartet Principles.

Since the story of Hamas-Fatah reconciliation first broke in mid-September, none of the BBC’s numerous reports concerning that topic have provided its audiences with a proper explanation of why Hamas must be disarmed if the PA is to meet its existing obligations.  Neither have any of those reports on a variety of BBC platforms included coverage of statements by Hamas officials clarifying the terror group’s refusal to disarm its militias and its intention to continue attacks against Israel.

As this latest report by Bateman once again indicates, the BBC’s failure to provide its funding public with the full range of information needed to properly understand this story is obviously not a matter of chance omission but of deliberate framing.

Related articles:

BBC News continues to conceal Hamas refusals to disarm

BBC adds superfluous punctuation to US and Israeli statements on Hamas

BBC News continues to mislead on Gaza electricity crisis

BBC News sidesteps the topic of Hamas disarmament yet again

Superficial BBC reporting on Hamas-Fatah ‘unity’ returns

Weekend long read

1) Khaled Abu Toameh discusses an issue on which the BBC has yet to produce any serious reporting in an article titled “Militias vs. Palestinian “Reconciliation”“.

“The notion that Hamas would ever dismantle its security apparatus and deliver the Gaza Strip to Mahmoud Abbas’s forces is a fantasy. Hamas has no problem allowing Abbas loyalists to return to the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, as was the situation before 2007, when Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip. But this is the most Hamas would be willing to sacrifice to support the success of the “reconciliation” accord with Abbas and his Fatah faction. […]

The statements of Hamas leaders in the past few days show that they are seeking to duplicate the model Hezbollah uses in Lebanon. Hamas wants to remain in charge of security matters in the Gaza Strip while restricting the Palestinian Authority’s responsibilities to civilian affairs. Hamas’s refusal to disarm and hand over security responsibilities to Abbas could torpedo the Egyptian-sponsored “reconciliation” agreement — especially in light of the PA’s rejection of copying the Hezbollah model in the Gaza Strip.”

2) The Fathom Journal carries an article by Ronnie Fraser titled “Before Balfour: The Labour Party’s War Aims memorandum“.

“Ronnie Fraser tells the little-known story of the British Labour Party’s support for Zionism. Three months before the Balfour Declaration, its War Aims Memorandum made clear that ‘The British Labour Movement expresses the opinion that Palestine should be set free from the harsh and oppressive government of the Turk, in order that the country may form a Free State, under international guarantee, to which such of the Jewish People as desired to do so may return, and may work out their salvation’.”

3) Petra Marquardt-Bigman reviews British sociologist David Hirsh’s new book.

“A recently published book on “Contemporary Left Antisemitism” is an arguably long overdue study of “antisemitism amongst people who believe that they strongly oppose antisemitism.” That’s how the author David Hirsh, a sociologist at London’s Goldsmiths University, puts it in his Introduction, acknowledging that he is examining “a phenomenon whose very existence is angrily contested.” One reason Hirsh’s book is special is that he – a man of the left for all his life, and a veteran opponent of anti-Semitism – has experienced up close and personal just how angry reactions can get when a leftist insists on calling out left-wing anti-Semitism.”

David Hirsh will be giving talks in various locations in Israel this coming week – details here.

4) At the Algemeiner, Dr. Rafael Medoff asks “Why Do Zionists Celebrate Unfulfilled Promises?

“In the coming weeks, numerous Jewish organizations and institutions will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, and the 50th anniversary of the United Nations partition plan for Palestine.

Remarkably, however, the proposals that will be celebrated were just that — proposals. Neither of them actually was implemented, at least not in the way that their authors intended.”

 

BBC News continues to conceal Hamas refusals to disarm

The transfer of control of the crossings in and out of the Gaza Strip was the topic of an article published on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on November 1st under the headline “Hamas hands PA control of Gaza border crossings“.

“The Islamist group Hamas has begun handing control of border crossings in Gaza to the Palestinian Authority (PA) as part of a reconciliation deal.

A ceremony at the Rafah crossing with Egypt saw a formal transfer from a Hamas official to his PA counterpart.

At the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings with Israel, Hamas offices and security equipment were being dismantled.

Next month, the internationally-recognised PA is due to take full control of security in Gaza.”

Quite how the Palestinian Authority is to “take full control of security in Gaza” when numerous heavily armed terrorist groups in the territory refuse to be disarmed is not clarified to BBC audiences.

Later on readers are told that:

“The issue of the tens of thousands of civil servants employed by Hamas in Gaza will be resolved by February 2018, but the role of Hamas’s 25,000-strong military wing was not mentioned in the agreement.”

None of the reports on the topic of Hamas-Fatah ‘reconciliation’ that have been published on the BBC News website since mid-September (see related ‘articles below’) have informed audiences of statements made by Hamas officials such as Moussa Abu Marzouk and Yehya Sinwar concerning Hamas’ refusal to disarm. This article continues that editorial policy of concealing Hamas statements such as the ones made recently by Sami Abu Zuhri in an interview with an Iranian news agency: [emphasis added]

“I assure everyone that, with regard to the current and future situation of the resistance, the national reconciliation will never harm the resistance. For this reason, after the meetings in Cairo, our first official visit was to Iran in order to stress again that we are standing fast alongside the resistance. In contrast to what some are saying, our aim in the reconciliation is to make ourselves more available to engage in resistance. In actuality, our aim in the national reconciliation is for us to be able to devote more attention to the resistance.

“In the arena of the fighting, the resistance is very strong, and can inflict heavy blows upon the Zionist enemy. We will invest all our efforts in obtaining all the tools and equipment needed for strength and might, so that we will be able to take back our rights from the enemies.”

“During the talks, no topic called disarming came up, and this matter is not under discussion. If some are dreaming of disarming the resistance, we can dash their dreams. These are dreams that will never come true.”

Moreover, as has also been the case in previous reporting, this article fails to make any mention of the Quartet principles and excludes the existing agreements between Israel and the PLO from its framing of the story, thereby steering readers to the inaccurate view that the statements from the US and Israel paraphrased in its final paragraphs are mere caprice.

“Israel and the US have expressed reservations about the reconciliation deal.

The US said any Palestinian unity government would need to recognise the State of Israel, disarm “terrorists”, and commit to peaceful negotiations. If Hamas was to play any role, he added, it would have to accept those requirements.

Israel – which like the US considers Hamas a terrorist organisation and has fought three wars with militants in Gaza – said it would not deal with a Palestinian government that “relies on Hamas”.”

If BBC audiences are to understand this story fully, they obviously need to be informed that the statements concerning a Palestinian unity government put out by the United States and Israel are in line with the Quartet Principles. The continuing failure to do so clearly hinders audience understanding of the issue.

Related articles:

BBC adds superfluous punctuation to US and Israeli statements on Hamas

BBC News continues to mislead on Gaza electricity crisis

BBC News sidesteps the topic of Hamas disarmament yet again

Superficial BBC reporting on Hamas-Fatah ‘unity’ returns

 

 

 

BBC adds superfluous punctuation to US and Israeli statements on Hamas

On October 19th a report relating to a statement put out by the US envoy Jason Greenblatt appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Hamas must disarm to join Palestinian unity government – US“.

Mr Greenblatt’s statement read as follows:

“All parties agree that it is essential that the Palestinian Authority be able to assume full, genuine, and unhindered civil and security responsibilities in Gaza and that we work together to improve the humanitarian situation for Palestinians living there.  The United States reiterates the importance of adherence to the Quartet principles: any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognize the State of Israel, accept previous agreements and obligations between the parties – including to disarm terrorists – and commit to peaceful negotiations. If Hamas is to play any role in a Palestinian government, it must accept these basic requirements.”

The BBC’s reporting of that statement erased its reference to the Quartet principles – thereby (once again) steering readers to the inaccurate view that the conditions described are solely the view of the US and excluding the existing agreements between Israel and the PLO from its framing of the story. Superfluous use of scare quotes around the word terrorists was also evident.

“The United States says the militant Islamist movement Hamas must lay down its weapons if it is to play a part in a new Palestinian government. […]

US special envoy Jason Greenblatt said any Palestinian unity administration would need to recognise the State of Israel and disarm “terrorists”. […]

In a statement issued on Thursday, Mr Greenblatt said it was essential that the PA was able to “assume full, genuine, and unhindered civil and security responsibilities in Gaza” and that the humanitarian situation there was improved.

He also stressed that “any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to non-violence, recognise the State of Israel, accept previous agreements and obligations between the parties – including to disarm terrorists – and commit to peaceful negotiations”.”

Later on in the article readers were told of the Israeli view and once again unnecessary punctuation around the words terror and terrorism (that was not present in the original document paraphrased by the BBC) was added by the BBC.

“…Benjamin Netanyahu […] insisted he would “not conduct diplomatic negotiations with a Palestinian government that relies on Hamas” unless the following conditions were met:

  • Hamas recognises Israel, “desists from terrorism” and disarms
  • The bodies of Israeli soldiers and civilians held by Hamas are returned
  • The PA exercises full security control in Gaza
  • The PA continues to act against Hamas “terror infrastructure” in the West Bank
  • Hamas severs its ties with Iran
  • Funds and humanitarian equipment continues to flow into Gaza only via the PA”

While the BBC’s report included paraphrased quotes from a Hamas official taken from an AFP article on the same topic, the corporation did not update its report to include comments made by Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar later on the same day, as reported by Ha’aretz.

“Hamas will not disarm, recognize Israel or cut off ties with Iran, as Israel and the United States are demanding of it, Yahya Sinwar, the organization’s leader in the Gaza Strip, said on Thursday. […]

Meeting with Palestinian youths, Sinwar declared, “The discussion is no longer about recognizing Israel but about wiping Israel out.”

He said Hamas would disarm “when Satan enters paradise,” and that no one can force it to disarm. “There’s not one minute of the day or night when we aren’t building up our military might.” […]

At Thursday’s meeting, Sinwar discussed the demand that Hamas cool its relationship with Iran. He stressed that Hamas is not willing to sever its ties with Iran. “Anyone who thinks we’ll sever ties with Tehran is delusional,” he said. “Our relationship with Iran or Egypt or any Arab or Muslim state provides us with strategic depth.””

If BBC audiences are to understand this issue fully, they obviously need to be informed that the statements concerning a Palestinian unity government put out by the United States and Israel are in line with the Quartet Principles. The BBC’s policy of placing the word terror and its derivatives in scare quotes and its failure to inform audiences of the extremist response from Hamas’ leader in the Gaza Strip also clearly hinders audience understanding of the story.

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