BBC News parrots inaccurate claim from a politicised UN agency

On April 27th an article titled “Palestinian Authority ‘stops paying Israel for Gaza electricity’” appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page.  

“The West Bank-based Palestinian Authority has told Israel that it will stop paying for electricity supplied to the Gaza Strip, Israeli officials say.

There was no confirmation from the PA. But President Mahmoud Abbas has threatened “unprecedented steps” to end the political division with the rival Hamas movement, which dominates Gaza. […]

On Thursday, the Israeli military’s Co-ordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (Cogat) announced that it had been notified by the PA that payments for electricity supplied to Gaza would stop immediately.”

The report provides readers with accurate background information relating to the chronic power crisis in the Gaza Strip.

“Israel currently provides Gaza with 125MW, which accounts for 55% of the territory’s usual electricity supply. Israeli media say the cost is about $11m a month, which Israel deducts from tax revenue collected on behalf of the PA. […]

On 17 April, the Gaza Power Plant, which produced about 30% of the territory’s electricity supply, was forced to shut down completely after exhausting its fuel reserves and being unable to replenish them due to a shortage of funds.

Days later, malfunctioning power lines coming from Egypt, which accounts for 15% of the supply, exacerbated the outages.”

However, the broader background to the article’s subject matter is less accurately portrayed.

“On 12 April, Mr Abbas said Palestinians faced a “dangerous and tough situation” and that he was “going to take unprecedented steps in the coming days to end the division [between Fatah and Hamas]”.

He did not elaborate, but the PA has already cut the salaries of civil servants based in Gaza and taxed Israeli fuel for Gaza’s sole power plant.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said the salary cuts would stay in place until Hamas moved towards reconciliation.

“I think there is a golden and historic chance to regain the unity of our people,” he said. “Hamas should relinquish control of Gaza.””

Those “civil servants based in Gaza” are of course the former PA employees who have been paid to stay at home for almost a decade. As for the PA’s policy of demanding payment of fuel taxes, it is not – as suggested by this report – new, having first been introduced in 2015.

The BBC’s report does not provide readers with any further information concerning the apparent reasons behind Abbas’ moves – as explained at the Times of Israel two days previously.

“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is set to issue a dramatic ultimatum to the Gaza Strip’s terrorist Hamas rulers, demanding that they either hand over governance of the area or face a funding freeze, sources close to the Palestinian leader said. […]

Among Fatah’s leadership there is a consensus supporting the measure. More than one senior official told The Times of Israel that there is no sense in maintaining the current situation.

“This time, Abbas is serious” one official said on condition of anonymity. “He doesn’t plan to drag things out and is unwilling to allow Hamas to continue to play games and drag its feet. It can either hand over authority in Gaza to us, or take responsibility and start to pay.”

Officials said that while Hamas is collecting tens of millions of dollars in taxes from the residents of Gaza, it is in no hurry to help the PA pay to run the Strip.

“It’s incomprehensible,” one official said. “In the past 10 years Hamas’s coffers have been enriched by more than a billion dollars in taxes, and yet they never shared the [financial] burden of the Strip. They invested most of it in their military wing.””

The ToI has also noted that:

“The renewed push by the PA to regain a foothold in Gaza comes ahead of Abbas’s meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House next week. Ahead of the Washington confab, Abbas was under pressure to show that he represents all Palestinians, including those in Gaza.

In March, Hamas announced it would form an administrative committee to further its governance in Gaza. The announcement infuriated Abbas, who immediately began taking steps to squeeze Hamas out of power.”

As usual, readers of the BBC’s article were given a toned-down portrayal of the violent coup which led to the terrorist group taking control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

“In 2006, Hamas won Palestinian Legislative Council elections. It reinforced its power in Gaza the following year after a violent rift with Mr Abbas’ Fatah faction.”

And yet again, the BBC could not resist promoting the false notion that the chronic shortage of electricity in the Gaza Strip is in part attributable to Israeli counter-terrorism measures.

“Gaza’s electricity supply has been also affected by restrictions on the import of goods imposed by Israel as part of a land, sea and air blockade that is now in its 10th year. Egypt is meanwhile blockading Gaza’s southern border.

Israel and Egypt maintain the blockades as a measure against attacks by Islamist militants based in Gaza.”

Interestingly, an almost identical statement is to be found in a document produced by UN OCHA to which a link is provided in this article’s fifth paragraph:

“Gaza’s longstanding electricity deficit has been also affected by the restrictions on the import of goods imposed by Israel as part of a land, air and sea blockade, now in its 10th year.”

Obviously if BBC journalists conducted their own research rather than blindly parroting claims made by a highly partial and politicised UN body, their reporting would be more likely to meet the BBC’s professed standards of accuracy.

Related Articles:

Revisiting the BBC’s 2013 PA funding audit story

More BBC disinformation on Gaza power crisis

Gaza Strip background the BBC does not provide

BBC News again avoids telling audiences real reasons for Gaza power crisis

BBC’s sketchy reporting on Gaza power crisis highlighted

 

How will the BBC report Hamas’ upcoming botoxed manifesto?

Along with other media outlets, the Times of Israel reports that:

“The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas said Wednesday it is to unveil an amended version of its 1987 founding charter next week, without detailing the change.

The terrorist group, which rules the Gaza Strip, said on its website that the announcement would be made on Monday in Doha by its chief Khaled Mashaal, who lives there in exile.

Hamas’s charter advocates the destruction of the Jewish state and the establishment of an independent state in all historic Palestine. […]

Observers say the pending changes could refer to a Jewish state within the borders it held prior to its 1967 capture of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Or it could drop references to its ties with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, its parent organization.”

As noted here last month, that upcoming event has been on the cards for some time.

Several weeks ago, Arab affairs analyst Avi Issacharoff reported on the leaked version of the new document.

“The document reportedly states that the terror group “distinguishes between the Jews, as the people of the book (i.e., the Bible), and Judaism as a religion on the one hand, and between the occupation and the Zionist project, on the other, and believes that the conflict with the Zionist project is not a conflict with the Jews because of their religion.”

While Hamas will not of course recognize the State of Israel, it does agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, while stressing that it will preserve weapons of “resistance” in order to liberate the entire land of Palestine, including Israel.

“There is no alternative to the liberation of the entirety of Palestine, from the river to the sea, no matter how long the occupation persists,” the leaked document continues, leaving no doubt as to the fact that the ultimate goal of the group, which has always included Israel’s destruction, hasn’t changed.”

Issacharoff points out that:

“The target audience for the revamped charter is not the Israeli public, a fact that should be remembered while examining it. Rather, it is intended for young Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and for the Arab public around the world, particularly in one critical country as far as Hamas is concerned — Egypt.

Let’s start at the international level: the case Hamas is making to the West is, “We are not anti-Semites, only anti-Zionists.”

Having internalized the enormous weight that the world attaches to anti-Semitic and other racist rhetoric, Hamas is trying to present a different face that would distinguish it primarily from the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. The group no longer speaks using the language of “Western infidels and crusaders,” as its even more radical competitors do.

As for Egypt: a cursory reading of the updated charter reveals the miraculous disappearance of one of the most prominent sections of the original, which stated that “the Islamic resistance movement (Hamas) is an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine.” […]

The Brotherhood has been a critical point of contention between Hamas and Egypt in light of the de facto state of war between the regime of Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo and the group, whose democratically elected president Sissi deposed in a coup in 2013. […]

This “new charter” […] will not bring about a change in relations between Gaza and Israel. Neither will it reduce the potential for military escalation in the Strip that has become an annual hallmark of the rapidly approaching summer months.

Rather, by adopting positions that seem closer to those of the Palestinian Authority, the amendment is intended primarily to show the Palestinian public that Hamas is prepared to go a long way towards national unity.”

While the question of whether this new document replaces the original Hamas charter or exists alongside it still stands, analysts agree that it does not represent a real change of policy on the terror group’s behalf.

Pinhas Inbari writes:

“…a review of the text shows that Hamas has not renounced its principles but simply “powdered” them slightly. Furthermore, angry reactions to the new text show that it is unacceptable to the movement’s power base in Gaza.

The conclusion is that this change has more to do with the West Bank than with Gaza, and serves the interests of Hamas Political Bureau Chairman Khaled Mashal and, as such, cannot be acceptable to the movement in Gaza.”

Dr Denis MacEoin concludes that:

“The truth is that the new Charter, though vaunted as a major shift for the group, is, in reality, little more than a public-relations exercise. Hamas leaders have got smart, but have not changed their spots. […]

The New Charter is mere window-dressing; even a casual reading of it should show that the new Hamas is the old Hamas wearing a different face to try to disguise the true intransigence and hatred that have always characterized it.”

For years the BBC has been (inaccurately) telling its audiences that Hamas has “agreed to accept the boundaries which existed before the 1967 Middle East war as the basis for those of a future Palestinian state” and recently it promoted the claim that the two-state solution is the “declared goal” of ‘Palestinian leaders’. It will therefore be all the more interesting to see how Hamas’ new ‘botoxed’ manifesto is portrayed by the corporation to its audiences around the world.

Related Articles:

Revisiting Jeremy Bowen’s facilitation of Hamas PR

 

 

 

Follow up on a Gaza story ignored by the BBC

Back in February we noted that – despite its practice of extensively amplifying UNRWA messaging – the BBC had chosen not to cover the story of an employee of that UN agency who was suspended after he was allegedly elected to the Hamas political bureau.

“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.”

A similar story that emerged the following month was likewise ignored by the BBC.

On April 22nd it emerged that al Hindi is no longer employed by UNRWA.

“The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees said Saturday a Gaza staffer suspected of having been elected to Hamas’s leadership no longer works for the agency.

Agency spokesman Chris Gunness said that Suhail al-Hindi was no longer employed by the UN Relief and Works Agency. He declined to say whether al-Hindi had quit or was fired, saying the agency doesn’t “discuss the terms of departure of individual staff members.””

However, the ITIC – quoting Hamas linked sources – reported that al Hindi was presented by UNRWA with the choice of resignation (together with preservation of his social benefits) or dismissal. The ITIC also noted that it is unclear whether al Hindi’s resignation applies both to his position as chairman of the UNRWA staff union and his concurrent post as the principal of an UNRWA school.

Given that, according to UNRWA figures, the UK was the agency’s third most generous donor in 2015, members of the British public would no doubt have been interested to see 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.

BBC ignores another story explaining the need for Gaza border restrictions

A video currently appearing on the BBC News website’s Middle East page includes the following statements:

“There are strict controls on the movement of goods and people going in and out of Gaza.

Israel and Egypt tightened their blockade after Hamas, a militant group, took control in 2007.”

Similar messaging – often with political overtones – is frequently seen in content provided to BBC audiences.

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

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

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

However, beyond the ‘Israel says’ mantra, BBC audiences rarely hear about the reasons why restrictions placed on the border with the Gaza Strip are necessary because Hamas terrorism is consistently ignored, downplayed or erased.

On April 19th another story illustrating the need for border restrictions came to light.

“Israeli authorities on Wednesday morning intercepted material used to manufacture explosive devices hidden inside spools of medical material at the Erez Crossing, the Shin Bet announced in a statement.

According to the statement, the material was located during the security check at the crossing in the luggage of two sisters who are residents of the Gaza Strip. The two women had been approved to enter Israel for the purpose of receiving medical treatment for cancer, which one of the two sisters suffers from.

An initial Shin Bet investigation indicated that the explosives were sent by Hamas and that the group was planning to carry out terror attacks in Israel in the near future, the statement read, adding that the material was destroyed by a sapper of the Southern District police force.

“The terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, including Hamas, continue to exploit the humanitarian and medical assistance provided by Israel to the residents of the Gaza Strip in order to perpetrate terrorist attacks in Israel.””

Predictably, the BBC has not found that story newsworthy.

As long as it continues to avoid reporting such stories and the broader context behind them, the BBC’s omission of vital information continues to shape audience views of Israeli counter-terrorism measures in a manner clearly incompatible with its supposed commitment to accurate and impartial reporting. 

Related Articles:

Documenting the BBC’s continuing silence on Gaza smuggling

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

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

 

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

As noted in part one of this post, between January 1st and March 31st 2017, ninety-one reports relating to Israel and/or the Palestinians appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page, some of which were cross posted from other sections of the site and seven of which were carried over from 2016. 12.09% of those reports covered stories relating to security/terrorism.

The remaining 87.91% of those articles 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.)

Five reports (5.49% of the total) related to historical subject matter:

‘Anne Frank link’ unearthed at Sobibor camp (16/1/17 to 17/1/17)

‘Yolocaust’: How should you behave at a Holocaust memorial? (20/1/17 to 29/1/17)

New Dead Sea Scrolls cave discovered (9/2/17 to 12/2/17)

British WWI alcohol stash unearthed in Israel (22/3/317 to 23/3/17)

Holy Sepulchre Church: Discovery at ‘Jesus’s tomb’ in Jerusalem (22/3/17 to 26/3/17)

Middle East page, 13/2/17

Four reports (4.4%) can be categorised as miscellaneous:

Hilarion Capucci: Arms-smuggling archbishop dies aged 94 (2/1/17 to 4/1/17)

Peru asks Trump to consider deporting ex-President Alejandro Toledo (13/2/17)

Jordan releases soldier who shot Israeli schoolgirls (12/3/17 to 13/3/17) discussed here

Israel: Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine ‘killed by own men’ (21/3/17 to 23/3/17) discussed here

One report related to the US administration:

Pro-settlement hardliner Friedman confirmed as US envoy to Israel (23/3/17 to 26/3/17) discussed here

35 reports (38.46%) related to Israeli diplomatic/international relations and/or political aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict:

Israel and the Palestinians: Can settlement issue be solved? (29/12/16 to 3/1/17 – date stamp later changed) discussed here and here

Trump and the Middle East: an impossible disengagement?  Jonathan Marcus (30/12/16 to 7/1/17)

Obama and the Middle East – too little, too late? Paul Adams (29/12/16 to 7/1/17)

Five issues which shaped the Middle East in 2016 Jeremy Bowen (31/12/16 to 8/1/17)

Downing Street criticises US comments on Israel (30/12/16 to 2/1/17)

Israel’s ambassador sorry over ‘take down’ Sir Alan Duncan comment (8/1/17 to 9/1/17) discussed here

Can Paris summit save fading two-state solution? Yolande Knell (14/1/17 to 20/1/17) discussed here

Mahmoud Abbas: US embassy move to Jerusalem would hurt peace (14/1/17 to 16/1/17) discussed here and here

Israel-Palestinian conflict: Summit warns against unilateral actions (15/1/17 to 17/1/17) discussed here

Why aren’t the Israelis and Palestinians talking? (14/1/17 to 22/1/17) discussed here

Obama fears moment ‘may be passing’ for two-state solution (19/1/17 to 20/1/17)

Israel approves settlement homes following Trump inauguration (22/1/17 to 24/1/17) discussed here

UN condemns Israel’s West Bank settlement plans (25/1/17 to 27/1/17) discussed here

Netanyahu: Iran missile test must not go unanswered (31/1/17 to 1/2/17) 

New Israel settlements ‘may not be helpful’ to peace, says US (3/2/17 to 6/2/17) discussed here

What will the Trump presidency mean for Israel?  Jonathan Marcus (3/2/17 to 8/2/17)

Benjamin Netanyahu discusses Iran threat with Theresa May (6/2/17 to 8/2/17)

Is a new Middle East war on Israel’s horizon? Jonathan Marcus (8/2/17 to 14/2/17) discussed here

Trump urges Israel to ‘act reasonably’ on settlements (10/2/17 to 12/2/17)

Do Trump and Netanyahu see eye to eye? Barbara Plett Usher (14/2/17 to 20/2/17)

Israel-Palestinian conflict: Two-state solution not only option, US says (15/2/17) discussed here

Trump relaxes US policy on Middle East two-state solution (15/2/17 to 16/2/17) discussed here

Trump and Netanyahu – in 90 seconds (15/2/17 to 16/2/17)

Trump: ‘Mideast peace up to them’ (15/2/17 to 16/2/17)

PJ Crowley: Trump unveils a subtle but vital shift in US policy (16/2/17 to 24/2/17) discussed here

Israel-Palestinian conflict: US ‘thinking outside box’ (16/2/17 to 19/2/17)

Israel and the Palestinians: What are alternatives to a two-state solution? Colin Shindler (17/2/17 to 24/2/17)

Israeli PM criticises UN ‘hypocrisy’ on historic Australia visit (22/2/17) discussed here

Australian ex-PM Kevin Rudd berates Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu (23/2/17 to 25/2/17) discussed here

Banksy decorates West Bank hotel with views of Israel’s wall (3/3/17 to 6/3/17) discussed here

Banksy hotel, The Walled Off, opens in Bethlehem  3/3/17 to 7/3/17) discussed here

Putin and Netanyahu: A complex diplomatic dance  Jonathan Marcus (9/3/17 to 20/3/17)

UK pro-Palestinian activist deported from Israel (13/3/17 to 14/3/17) discussed here

UN’s Rima Khalaf quits over report accusing Israel of apartheid (17/3/17 to 20/3/17) discussed here

Israel approves first new West Bank settlement in 20 years  (30/3/17 to 3/4/17 – date stamp changed) discussed here

Four reports (4.4%) related to Palestinian affairs:

Gaza electricity crisis: Hamas breaks up protest (13/1/17 to 14/1/17) discussed here

Angry protests in Gaza over crippling power shortages Rushdi Abu Alouf (14/1/17 to 21/1/17) discussed here

Hamas hardliner Yehiya Sinwar elected as Gaza leader (13/2/17 to 16/2/17) discussed here

Trump Middle East: Palestinian leader invited to White House (10/3/17 to 13/3/17) discussed here

The thirty-one reports (34.07% of the total) concerning Israeli affairs can be divided into sub categories including:

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

Israel’s Netanyahu denies wrongdoing ahead of investigation (30/12/16 to 2/1/17)

Israeli police question PM Netanyahu in corruption probe (2/1/17 to 4/1/17)

Israeli soldier Elor Azaria convicted over Hebron death (4/1/17) discussed here

Israeli PM Netanyahu backs pardon for manslaughter soldier (4/1/17 to 5/1/17)

Israel police arrest two over threats to judges in Elor Azaria case (5/1/17 to 6/1/17)

Israel PM Netanyahu questioned again in corruption probe (5/1/17 to 8/1/17)

Israel bribery inquiry: ‘Audiotape’ adds to pressure on PM Netanyahu (8/1/17 to 9/1/17)

Israeli soldier gets 18 months for killing wounded Palestinian attacker (21/2/17 to 22/2/17) discussed here

Israeli policeman filmed beating Palestinian driver (23/3/17 to 26/3/17)

Video of Israeli policeman hitting Palestinian driver draws anger (23/3/17 to 24/3/17)

Israel holds 19-year-old over threats against Jewish centres (23/3/17 to 26/3/17) discussed here

b) society:

Israel’s Mossad spy agency on the hunt for women agents (5/1/17 to 7/1/17)

The female soldiers serving in Israel’s army (11/2/17 to 14/2/17)

Israeli army sets sights on recruits with autism (1/3/17 to 8/3/17)

c) domestic news/politics:

 Israeli policeman and Bedouin killed during clashes over demolitions (18/1/17 to 19/1/17) discussed here

Israel ‘to take in 100 Syrian orphans’ (26/1/17 to 27/1/17) discussed here

Israel approves 3,000 new settler homes as Amona evacuation begins (1/2/17) discussed here

Amona settlers dragged from homes by Israeli police (1/2/17 to 3/2/17)

Israeli police move in on unauthorised Amona outpost (1/2/17 to 2/2/17)

Israel police evict settlers from unauthorised Amona outpost (2/2/17)

Amona: Israel police clear last protesters from settler outpost (2/2/17 to 3/2/17)

Israel passes controversial law on West Bank settlements (6/2/17 to 8/2/17 – date stamp changed)

Rights groups challenge Israel settlements law in court (8/2/17 to 10/2/17)

Jesus miracle church in Israel reopens after arson attack (12/2/17 to 14/2/17)

Israel’s Netanyahu criticised over 2014 Gaza war preparations (28/2/17 to 2/3/17) discussed here

Israel marijuana: Users to face fine rather than criminal charge  (5/3/17 to 7/3/17)

Israel Arafat street sign dropped after Netanyahu anger (6/3/17 to 7/3/17) discussed here

Israeli Arab anger as parliament backs ‘muezzin bill’ (8/3/17 to 10/3/17) discussed here

Israeli nurse dies after being set alight by patient (14/3/17 to 17/3/17)

Netanyahu denies claim he was ejected from convoy by wife (14/3/17 to 16/3/17)

d) technology:

Intel buys driverless car technology firm Mobileye (13/3/17 to 15/3/17)

As was the case throughout 2016 (see ‘related articles’ below) Israeli domestic affairs once again received considerably greater coverage (34.07%) than did Palestinian affairs (4.4%) in the first quarter of 2017. Remarkably, 16.48% of the headlines of the 91 reports published included the name Netanyahu while Mahmoud Abbas’ name was present in just one headline. 

Related Articles:

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

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 one

Between January 1st and March 31st 2017, a total of ninety-one reports with content relating to Israel and/or the Palestinians appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page. Seven of those reports were carried over from December 2016.

Some of the reports were produced by other departments (e.g. BBC Business) or appeared on other pages of the website (e.g. ‘Europe’ or ‘US & Canada’) but were also posted on the Middle East page.

Although the Israeli security services recorded 321 terror attacks during the first quarter of 2017 (see ‘related articles’ below), just one of those attacks received coverage on the BBC News website.

(The dates in brackets represent the period of time in which a report was available to visitors to the website’s Middle East page.)

Jerusalem lorry attack: Four Israeli soldiers killed (8/1/17 to 9/1/17) 

Jerusalem attack: Uncle of the lorry driver speaks out (8/1/17 to 12/1/17)

Jerusalem attack eyewitness: ‘I saw the truck hitting the soldiers’ (8/1/17 to 17/1/17) 

Jerusalem lorry attack: ‘I fired until my magazine was empty’ (9/1/17 to 18/1/17) 

Netanyahu: ‘We will overcome terror attacks’ (8/1/17) 

Jerusalem lorry attacker ‘was IS supporter’ (9/1/17 to 10/1/17)

One article (carried over from December) related to a terror warning issued by the Israeli security services:

Israel warns of New Year terror threat in India (30/12/16 to 1/1/17) discussed here

Two articles related to Hamas:

Israel will no longer return bodies of Palestinian Hamas militants (1/1/17 to 2/1/17) discussed here

Israeli soldiers ‘caught in Hamas online honey trap’ (12/1/17 to 13/1/17)

Two articles related to Syria:

Syria accuses Israel of bombardment (13/1/17 to 15/1/17) discussed here

Israel’s Arrow anti-missile system ‘in first hit’ (17/3/17 to 20/3/17) discussed here

In all, 12.09% of the BBC News website’s reports in Q1 covered stories relating to security/terrorism. The additional topics found in the BBC’s coverage of Israel and the Palestinians during the first quarter of 2017 will be discussed in part two of this post.

Related Articles:

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – January 2017

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – February 2017

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – March 2017

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

More BBC disinformation on Gaza power crisis

The chronic shortage of electricity in the Gaza Strip is – as frequently documented on these pages – a story that is consistently badly reported by the BBC. Rather than informing its audiences of the real reasons behind that permanent crisis, the corporation’s journalists regularly promote the entirely inaccurate notion that it is connected to the restrictions on entry of certain dual-use goods to the Gaza Strip that are part of Israel’s counter-terrorism measures.

In recent days the crisis was further exacerbated.

“The Gaza Strip’s only functioning power plant was not functioning Sunday after running out of fuel, the head of the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave’s electricity provider told AFP.

Samir Metir said that all the plant’s fuel, purchased with funding from Qatar and Turkey, had been used up.

He said it was not clear when the Palestinian territory would receive more, owing to a “dispute” between the electricity authority in Gaza and Palestinian authorities in the West Bank.

The Gaza Health Ministry warned of a humanitarian crisis as a result.”

As the Jerusalem Post notes, this is yet another chapter in a long-running dispute between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

“Hamas appealed to Ramallah on Monday to lift an onerous fuel tax which it said would force the Gaza power plant to shut down on Tuesday for the third day in a row.[…]

“We were surprised by the decision of the government [in Ramallah] to fully reimpose the taxes on the price of fuel used for operating the power plant,” the Gaza Energy Authority said on its web page.

The authority added that it “appealed” to Ramallah to waive the taxes. It further charged that Ramallah had delayed projects that would help resolve the electricity problem in Gaza.

A similar electricity crisis in December was resolved by tax-free donations from Qatar and Turkey that ran out last week. The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah is no longer willing to allow the plant to operate on tax-free fuel.”

On April 18th the BBC News website posted a filmed report – apparently also shown on BBC television news programmes – titled “Gaza power cuts: Man shares his tricks“. The report profiles an engineer from Gaza who has developed alternatives to mains electricity and the background to that story is described as follows:

“Power cuts in Gaza typically last 8 to 12 hours a day – sometimes longer. […]

There are strict controls on the movement of goods and people going in and out of Gaza.

Israel and Egypt tightened their blockade after Hamas, a militant group, took control in 2007.

Electricity is imported from both countries and there’s only one power plant.

Demand far outstrips supply.”

Leaving aside the predictable whitewashing of Hamas’ terrorism, obviously BBC audiences would understand – wrongly – that the electricity crisis in Gaza has something to do with the “strict controls” imposed by Israel and Egypt.

Not only is that not the case but the BBC has once again erased the real reason for the crisis from audience view.

Related Articles:

Gaza Strip background the BBC does not provide

BBC News again avoids telling audiences real reasons for Gaza power crisis

BBC’s sketchy reporting on Gaza power crisis highlighted

 

 

Gaza Strip background the BBC does not provide

Last November we noted that the commander of COGAT, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, had written to several international bodies warning of a potential water crisis in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2017.

In January we noted that the BBC had not reported the opening of a desalination plant (constructed by the EU and UNICEF) in the Gaza Strip.

“It is the Hamas-ruled territory’s second and largest desalination plant. While it will not solve Gaza’s water woes, officials say the project marks an important step. […]

The European Union says it invested 10 million euros, or $10.6 million, in building the plant with UNICEF. It has pledged a similar amount for a second phase meant to double capacity by 2019.”

However, it turns out that the desalination plant is not functioning and, as reported by the Times of Israel, COGAT has once again called on international bodies for help.

“In a letter sent last week to representatives of the international community in Israel and to the Foreign Ministry, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, who heads COGAT, warned that the Strip’s aquifer has been destroyed by years of excessive pumping and an estimated 96 percent of water in the enclave is now unfit to drink. It is the second such warning Mordechai has issued in the past six months.

To improve the situation, Israel supports the establishment of desalination plants, he said. In January a UNICEF team finished construction of a desalination plant in Khan Younis with a production capacity of 6,000 cubic meters of water per day — enough for 75,000 people.

However, according to Mordechai, the Hamas terror group, which rules the Strip, won’t allow the plant to be connected to the electric grid.” [emphasis added]

Only last month the BBC found it appropriate to provide unchallenged multi-platform amplification for water-related propaganda promoted by the PA’s Husam Zomlot:

Zomlot: “Steve, the whole situation here is that of a system of entitlement. These people – some people in Tel Aviv right now – the government, the Right-wing extreme government, wants to keep a system whereby there is a group that are privileged as per these numbers. It’s our own water that they consume, most of it. Some groups that are privileged and others that are disprivileged [sic] and discriminated whether by means of occupation or by means of colonisation or by means of apartheid.” [emphasis added]

Significantly, BBC audiences have not been informed of Israel’s actions to ease the water crisis in the Gaza Strip – and the lack of effort on the part of Hamas and the PA.

“A second desalination plant is in its planning stages and Israel supports the construction of a third, larger plant in Deir al-Balah, but only part of the money has been raised by the international community.

Until those plants are completed, Israel has offered to double its supply of water to Gaza, from 10 million cubic meters per year to 20 million. However, Mordechai told Army Radio that the Palestinian Authority, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, is not rushing to implement the offer.” [emphasis added]

In addition to water, the topic of the electricity supply in the Gaza Strip is also serially misrepresented in BBC reporting. From the same Times of Israel report we learn that:

“The water shortage is compounded by the ongoing electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip. The energy shortfall is an estimated 200 megawatts a day. Israel currently provides 60% of the electricity for Gaza, a power plant in the Strip provides some 30% and Egypt provides the remaining 10%. […]

Israel has approved the construction of another high-voltage power line to Gaza, which could provide an additional 100 megawatts of energy. This will take a few years to complete and is intended to provide power to the desalination plants.

Additionally, in September 2015, Israel approved construction of a natural gas pipeline to the Strip which could provide cheap, efficient energy to the Palestinian population. However, the PA has yet to sign a deal with any gas supplier.” [emphasis added]

If a serious water shortage does occur in the Gaza Strip this coming summer, BBC audiences will lack accurate and impartial background information essential for proper understanding of the causes of the crisis.

Related Articles:

Why BBC audiences need an impartial explanation of water issues

BBC News ignores two water-related stories

BBC’s sketchy reporting on Gaza power crisis highlighted

BBC News again avoids telling audiences real reasons for Gaza power crisis

BBC News recycles a confusing Amnesty euphemism

On April 11th the BBC News website published an article titled “Death penalty: Global executions fall 37% since 2015 – Amnesty” which is little more than a rehashed version of the press release put out by Amnesty International on the same day to launch its annual report on the subject of judicial executions.  

In that article, BBC audiences find the following paragraph:

“Meanwhile, Belarus and authorities within the Palestinian territories resumed executions in 2016 after a year’s hiatus, while Botswana and Nigeria carried out their first executions since 2013.” [emphasis added]

Who exactly are those “authorities within the Palestinian territories” and how did that odd and confusing phrase come to be included in the BBC’s report? The answer to the latter question is found in the AI press release which states:

“Belarus, Botswana, Nigeria and authorities within the State of Palestine resumed executions in 2016…” [emphasis added]

One has to search out the full AI report (which is not linked in the BBC’s article) in order to learn that those “authorities” are not – as readers may understandably have concluded – the Palestinian Authority but in fact the terror group that violently seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 and that the executions it carries out are in breach of PA law.

“Three executions were carried out in Palestine (State of). Mohammed Fathi Mohammed Othman, Yousef Mohammed Abu Shamleh and Ahmad Helmi Abdel Qader Sharab were executed on 31 May 2016 by the Hamas de facto administration in the Gaza Strip; the executions were carried out without the ratification of the death sentences by the Palestinian President, contrary to the Palestinian Basic Law of 2003 and the 2001 Penal Procedure Law. Amnesty International recorded 21 death sentences, all in the Gaza Strip. There were 12 death sentences issued by military courts and nine by civilian courts. At least 21 people were under sentence of death at the end of 2016.”

As we see, the BBC edited the information it took from the AI press release; according to its ‘style guide’ the corporation does not generally use the term ‘State of Palestine’ and so that terminology was replaced with “Palestinian territories”. BBC audiences would obviously have benefited had editing also included replacement of the euphemistic and unhelpful phrase “authorities within” with clear identification of the group responsible for those executions.  

Related Articles:

Why did the BBC downplay years of Hamas extrajudicial killings?

BBC News’ confused messaging on Gaza Strip executions

BBC’s Connolly ‘contextualises’ Hamas torture and execution (spoiler – it’s Israel’s fault)  

BBC framing of Iran’s president once again shown to be redundant

 

Revisiting the BBC’s 2013 PA funding audit story

In December 2013 the BBC News website reported the conclusions of EU auditors in relation to funds transferred to the Palestinian Authority. Audiences were told that:

“European auditors say the EU should stop paying the salaries of thousands of Palestinian civil servants in the Gaza Strip who are not going to work.

The auditors examined about 1bn euros (£840m; $1.3bn) of EU spending in Gaza between 2008 and 2012.

They called for a major review, saying money spent on civil servants there should go to the West Bank instead. […]

The EU pays about one-fifth of the salaries of the PA’s 170,000 civil servants, both in the West Bank and Gaza, under a programme known as Pegase.

Hans Gustaf Wessberg of the European Court of Auditors said overall EU funding had played an important role in supporting vulnerable families, and maintaining health and education services in Palestinian areas.

But he pointed out that “the payment of civil servants who do not work does not meet one of [the EU’s] main objectives to provide public services to the Palestinian people”.

When Hamas took control of Gaza, President Abbas decided to keep paying the salaries of the estimated 61,000 civil servants and members of the security forces who stopped reporting for the jobs, so long as they stayed home and did not work for the rival administration.”

Since the EU auditors’ report was published over three years ago there has been no follow-up reporting on that story from the BBC and audiences were not informed whether or not the recommendations were implemented. 

Last week – apparently in light of a recent EU announcement that, for the first time, its 2017 contributions would not include funding for PA civil servants in the Gaza Strip and an earlier UK announcement to the same effect – the Palestinian Authority decided to make some changes.

“The cash-strapped Palestinian Authority announced on Wednesday it was slashing by nearly one third the salaries of tens of thousands of government employees in the Gaza Strip who have been sitting idly since the rival Hamas militant group took over the coastal territory a decade ago. […]

In the West Bank, government spokesman Yousif al-Mahmoud said a reduction in foreign aid had forced the Palestinian Authority to cut Gaza salaries by 30 percent. “Without this step, the government cannot pay the salaries of its employees,” he said.

Affected workers expressed shock, anger and frustration as they gathered outside Gaza banks. In Gaza City, nearly 200 people joined a protest outside a Bank of Palestine branch. “The salary is our children’s right,” said one of the banners.”

On Saturday, a demonstration was held in Gaza City.

“Tens of thousands of Palestinians protested in Gaza City on Saturday against recent salary cuts announced by the Palestinian Authority.

The decision on Wednesday by the West Bank-based PA to impose pay cuts on its civil servants in the Gaza Strip has sparked anger among government employees affected. Demonstrators at Saturday’s protest, the largest since the 30 percent cut was announced, called on PA President Mahmoud Abbas to sack his government. […]

On Friday, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah defended the salary cuts, saying they were necessary in order to “manage financial crises suffered by the Palestinian government due to reductions in international funds,” […]

Hamdallah also blamed Hamas for the economic situation in the Gaza Strip, while also calling on the terror group to return to control of Gaza to the PA, “the only representative of the Palestinian people.”

Hamas “keeps its income for himself, while the PA has spent more than 17 billion dollars in the Gaza Strip during the last 10 years,” he said. […]

Hamas condemned the PA salary reductions as “abusive and irresponsible,” while the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror group said they were “illegal and unacceptable,” according to Ma’an.

On Friday, the Islamic Jihad terror group held a rally in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis protesting the pay cuts, which demonstrators said were mean [sic] to “drown” the residents of Gaza…”

Although tax payers in the many countries which donate aid to the Palestinian Authority – including of course Britain – would no doubt welcome some objective, in-depth, fact-based reporting on the subject of the perennial PA budget deficit and the related issues of prioritisation of payments to civil servants in the Gaza Strip who have not worked for nearly a decade, payments to families of terrorists and salaries for imprisoned terrorists, those topics remain firmly off the BBC agenda.  

Related Articles:

BBC report on EU audit of PA – starring Israel

PA’s salaries for terrorists in the news again – but not at the BBC

Updates on a Hamas story under-reported by the BBC