BBC News reframes and politicises an animal welfare story

A filmed report which appeared on the BBC News website’s homepage as well as on its ‘World’ and ‘Middle East’ pages on August 24th revisited the location of a previous BBC report from April 2012.

Back then, the report titled “Gaza zoo resorts to displaying stuffed animals” told audiences that:

“A zoo owner in Gaza has had to resort to displaying stuffed animals, because of a shortage of live ones.

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

Around the same time, the Times of Israel also produced a report about that zoo.

“Flies swarm around some of the 10 animals that have been embalmed so far. The makeshift cages housing the exhibits — fashioned from fencing salvaged from Jewish settlements that Israel dismantled in 2005 — are littered with empty soda cans and other trash.

An emaciated-looking stuffed lion, its coat patchy and mangy, lies on an exhibit cobbled together from crates and shipping pallets. A monkey had missing limbs. A porcupine had a hole in its head.

The zoo’s 65 live animals, which include ostriches, monkeys, turtles, deer, a llama, a lion and a tiger, don’t fare much better. During a recent visit, children poked chocolate, potato chips and bread through the wire. There’s no zookeeper on the premises. Gaza has no government body that oversees zoos, and medical treatment is done by consulting over the phone with zoo veterinarians in Egypt.[…]

Owner Mohammed Awaida said he opened the “South Forest Park” in 2007, only to lose a number of animals during Israel’s military offensive against Hamas that began in December 2008. During the three-week offensive, launched in response to rocket attacks on Israel, Awaida said he could not reach the zoo, and many animals died of neglect and starvation.”

Earlier this year the international animal charity ‘Four Paws’ began trying to save the remaining animals in Khan Younis.

“The zoo at Khan Yunis is considered “one of the worst zoos in the world,” according to Dr. Amir Khalil, 51, an Egyptian-born veterinarian and director of project management at Four Paws, an international animal welfare organization. “It’s less than a zoo,” Khalil tells Haaretz. “It’s a prison.” […]

The zoo animals “are not in good condition,” notes Khalil, who lives in Vienna and directs the Gaza efforts from Amman, Jordan. “They are facing death, cold weather, no food, bad captivity, cages and no proper care,” he says.

On August 24th the last remaining animals were evacuated via the Erez crossing to new homes in Israel, Jordan and South Africa. The lone tiger is the subject of the August 23rd BBC filmed report titled “Gaza’s last tiger to leave for new home in South Africa“.tiger report

“There have been many troubles since Khan Younis zoo opened in 2007.”

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

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

However, viewers of that report heard nothing of the starvation and substandard conditions to which the tiger and other animals had been subjected.

Obviously for the BBC, even an animal welfare story can be can be reframed to focus television audiences’ attentions on the politics of ‘the conflict’. A clue as to how that came about was found in the August 24th edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘PM’ when presenter Carolyn Quinn introduced an item (from 25:40 here) by Yolande Knell, reporting “from Gaza”.PM 24 8

Listeners once again heard the zoo owner say:

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

Yolande Knell added her own commentary: 

“Dozens of creatures died when he couldn’t reach the zoo during the last conflict between Hamas, which controls Gaza, and Israel.”

Knell then introduced interviewees with no relation to the story’s subject matter. 

“In Khan Younis at the Mahali [phonetic] family home, the children show me their plastic zoo animals and I tell them Laziz [the tiger] is moving to South Africa.”

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

Voiceover Mahali: “There is nothing nice in Gaza. Really if I could I would take them out. I wish I could. There is no money, no happy life and there is no work. There are power cuts. I see now the animals are living better than humans.”

Failing to make any mention of the very relevant context of the Hamas terrorism which has brought about “border restrictions”, a succession of conflicts and the delay in reconstruction of civilian structures in the Gaza Strip, Knell turned to another unrelated topic:

“Across Gaza people are still having their homes rebuilt after long delays. The last conflict caused massive destruction and killed more than two thousand Palestinians and over seventy Israelis.”

Knell ended her politicised report as follows:

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

Clearly telling BBC audiences the story of the relocation of abused animals from the Khan Younis zoo was of much less interest to Yolande Knell than the opportunistic promotion of her long apparent political agenda.

Related Articles:

BBC’s Yolande Knell ditches any semblance of impartiality

 

 

First BBC English language report on a Gaza missile attack in eight months

Well over 24 hours after the incident took place, a day after colleagues at BBC Arabic published two articles on the story and following the appearance of this post, the BBC News website finally informed its English-speaking audiences that a missile had been fired by “Palestinian militants” in the Gaza Strip at an Israeli town.

Titled “Israel launches Gaza strikes after rocket attack on Sderot“, in its fourth paragraph the report from August 22nd tells readers that:Sderot attack art

“Earlier, a rocket launched in Gaza landed near a house in the Israeli town of Sderot without causing any injuries.”

It continues:

“Israel and militants in Gaza led by Hamas, which dominates the coastal territory, fought a 50-day war in the summer of 2014.

Since then, a ceasefire has largely held, but some small jihadist groups have defied the agreement and periodically fired rockets at Israel.”

Does that portrayal provide BBC audiences with an understanding of the rate of missile fire from the Gaza Strip since the end of the 2014 conflict? The facts behind the BBC’s claim that the ceasefire which came into force in August 2014 “has largely held” are as follows (an attack represents one incident rather than the number of missiles fired. Short falling missiles which were fired towards Israel but landed inside the Gaza Strip are not included):

2014: September: one mortar attack. October: one mortar attack. December: one missile attack.

2015: April: one missile attack. May: one missile attack. June: three separate missile attacks. July: one missile attack. August: three separate missile attacks. September: four separate missile attacks. October: five separate missile attacks. November: two separate missile attacks and one mortar attack. December: one missile attack.

2016: January: two separate missile attacks. March: two separate missile attacks. May: two separate missile attacks and twelve mortar attacks. July: one missile attack. August: one missile attack.

In the 24 months since the ceasefire came into effect, fifteen mortar attacks and thirty missile attacks have taken place. In addition, shooting attacks, IED attacks and one incident of anti-tank missile fire have also occurred. According to the BBC, that is a ceasefire which has “largely held” and the attacks can be described as ‘periodic’.  

The 2014 ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas reportedly stated that “all Palestinian factions in Gaza will stop all attacks against Israel by land, air or sea, and will stop the construction of tunnels from Gaza into Israel”. Not only has Hamas obviously flouted that latter term, but it has also neglected its obligation as party to the agreement to prevent attacks by other factions. That point, however, is not adequately clarified to readers of this article. Instead, the BBC chose to amplify the terror group’s messaging.

“Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said: “We hold [Israel] responsible for the escalation in the Gaza Strip and we stress that its aggression will not succeed in breaking the will of our people and dictate terms to the resistance.”

Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahhar later blamed “a group not committed to the principles of the resistance of the occupation” for firing the rocket at Sderot.”

As regular readers are aware, the majority of the missile fire directed at Israeli civilian communities since the end of the 2014 conflict has been ignored by the BBC. This article is the first English language report on missile fire since the beginning of 2016, despite the fact that seven previous attacks have taken place in that time. BBC audiences have certainly not been provided with any reporting in the last two years on how the people who live near the border with the Gaza Strip cope with the continuing attacks, despite the fact that the corporation’s Jerusalem bureau is less than an hour and a half’s drive from Sderot.

The corporation’s public purposes remit commits it to “giving insight into the way people live in other countries” and building “understanding of international issues”. The BBC apparently believes that on this particular issue it can meet those obligations by producing one belated report in eight months which includes a generalised portrayal of ‘periodic’ missile fire rather than providing audiences with the readily available concrete statistical information.

BBC News website continues to ignore missile attacks on Israeli communities

At around half past two on the afternoon of August 21st, terrorists based in the Gaza Strip fired a missile at the Western Negev town of Sderot.missile 21 8 police

“The rocket landed between two homes, near a college and the local train station. Locals said it was “a miracle” that nobody was injured.”

The IDF responded with strikes on Hamas infrastructure in Beit Hanoun and later carried out additional strikes.

The BBC News English language website did not provide any coverage of the missile attack against Israeli civilians.

The BBC Arabic website, however, produced two reports – here and here – about the Israeli response to the missile fire. The second report and the website’s homepage both used a photograph of a water tower allegedly damaged during the Israeli response to the missile attack.

BBC Arabic HP 2 reports response missile 21 8

BBC Arabic art 2 missile 21 8

However, as noted at the Israellycool blog, photographs showing the same damage to the same water tower were published by AFP nearly a year ago.

This latest missile attack from the Gaza Strip is the eighth such incident to have taken place in the eight months since the beginning of 2016. The BBC has not reported on any of those attacks on its English language website but has covered the Israeli response to most of them on its Arabic language site.

January 1stBBC News ignores Gaza missile attacks, BBC Arabic reports Israeli response

January 24thBBC News ignores Gaza missile attack again – in English

March 11thBBC News continues to ignore missile attacks on Israelis – in English

March 15thmissile attack not reported.

May 6thPatchy and selective BBC News reporting of Gaza border incidents

May 25thBBC News fails to report another Gaza missile attack to English-speakers

July 1st: Another Gaza missile attack ignored by the BBC

August 21st: missile attack not reported in English, response reported in Arabic.

The same pattern of reporting has been evident since the end of the conflict between Israel and terrorists in the Gaza Strip in 2014, meaning that English-speaking BBC audiences – including its funding public – are not receiving the services pledged to them in the corporation’s public purposes.

Update: the BBC News website has now reported this attack – see details here

 

Revisiting a BBC story from 2002

During the Second Intifada, on September 9th 2002, BBC News reported the arrests of three Jerusalem residents in an article titled “Palestinians ‘planned to poison diners’“.Cafe Rimon art 1

“Israel is holding three young Palestinians from East Jerusalem on suspicion of plotting to poison diners at a café in the city.

Two of the men, who were arrested in August, are also suspected of planning to mount a suicide bomb attack.”

Six days later, BBC News produced another report on the same case – “Palestinian ‘poison plan’ cook charged” – in which audiences were told that:

“A Palestinian cook has been charged by the Israeli authorities with plotting to poison customers at a restaurant in West Jerusalem where he used to work

The man – named as 23-year-old Othman Said Kianiya – was arrested last month along with two other Arab residents of East Jerusalem who have already been charged.

All three were alleged to be working on behalf of the militant group Hamas.”

This week the ringleader of the would-be poisoners was released after completing a fourteen-year prison sentence and photographs of his reception in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Jabel Mukaber show that the BBC’s use of the word “alleged” with regard to Sufian Bakri Abdu’s links to Hamas was superfluous.

Jabel Mukaber 1

Jabel Mukaber 2

Over the last couple of years, BBC reports have variously told audiences that terrorists hailing from Jabal Mukaber were “ground down by the occupation“, angered by the demolition of houses of other terrorists or enraged by “threats to an important Muslim site“. Audience understanding would of course have been enhanced had BBC also covered the topic of the long-standing links of some residents of that Jerusalem neighbourhood to proscribed terrorist organisations and carried out some serious reporting on the much neglected issue of Hamas’ efforts to boost its infrastructure in PA controlled areas. 

BBC policy of ignoring Gaza smuggling continues

More attempts to smuggle restricted items into the Gaza Strip were thwarted last week.

Photo credit: Ministry of Defense, Twitter

Photo credit: Ministry of Defense, Twitter

“The Crossing Security Services Authority in the Defense Ministry thwarted an attempted smuggling into the Gaza Strip of commando knives on Tuesday.

The discovery of the knives was made by the authority and the Shin Bet at the Kerem Shalom border crossing on the Strip’s Egypt-Israel border on a shipment of plumbing tools.

 Two crates, concealed between different plumbing tools, were found to contain the professional commando knives, 30cm in length.”

In addition:

“Officials also recently intercepted a shipment destined for the Palestinian electric company in Gaza containing concealed graphite strips, the Government Press Office said in a statement, noting the raw material is often used to make rocket fuel.”

As has consistently been the case for many months (see ‘related articles’ below), there was no BBC coverage of these latest smuggling attempts.  That of course means that when the BBC states (as it frequently does) that “Israel says” that the restrictions on the import of weapons and dual-use goods into the Gaza Strip are for reasons of security, audiences have an insufficient understanding of the background and the facts to be able to put that statement – and the restrictions themselves – into the correct context.  

Related Articles:

Hamas terror cash shoes not news for the BBC

Gaza terror smuggling again not newsworthy for the BBC

Smuggling of rocket fuel to Gaza thwarted: BBC yawns and ignores

Celeb wedding makes front page BBC news but terror doesn’t

Israel seizes chemicals bound for Gaza – BBC yawns

BBC silent on latest Gaza Strip smuggling attempt

 

 

 

 

Mapping changes in the BBC’s disclosure of restrictions on journalists

“The movements of those reporting from Baghdad are restricted and their reports are monitored by the Iraqi authorities.”

That footnote was added to BBC News articles produced in 2003 (see examples here and here) and its purpose is very clear: to alert BBC audiences to the possibility of inaccuracies and/or compromised impartiality in reporting as a result of the restrictions imposed on journalists by a dictatorial regime.

As the Guardian reported at the time:

“The Times journalist Janine di Giovanni has also said that the demands of real-time television, combined with the restrictions placed on reporters in Baghdad by the Iraqis and the difficulties of getting to the front line are making it virtually impossible for journalists to cover the war properly.”

The addition of written or spoken footnotes to reporting from Iraq was not uncommon in BBC coverage at the time and the corporation obviously considered that it was important to communicate to audiences the conditions under which reporting was being produced. An article from 2003 about BBC reporters embedded with US forces pointed out that:

“There has been no censorship, says Van Klaveren [BBC head of newsgathering at the time – Ed.], and reporters are not required to submit scripts before broadcast. There are, however, a couple of golden rules – journalists cannot give specific details of locations or outline the future plans of their unit.”

In August 2006 – just after the Second Lebanon War had ended – the then head of BBC newsgathering, Fran Unsworth, wrote a blogpost on the topic of restrictions on reporting that war.

“Some blogs, as well as emails we’ve received, have said that BBC correspondents are failing to report that when covering the war, they are operating under reporting restrictions imposed by Hezbollah. Others complain that we did not refer to Israeli censorship rules on air. I’d like to answer those points.”

Inadvertently clarifying Hizballah’s use of the civilian population as human shields, Unsworth wrote:

“So what about Hezbollah? Were they any better able to control what reporters can and cannot see? Jim Muir – our correspondent who has just spent the last month based in Southern Lebanon – says…

“There have basically been no restrictions on reporting as such – there’s been no pressure in any direction with regard to anything we actually say, indeed very little interaction of any sort. There was however an issue at the beginning of the conflict over the live broadcast of pictures of rockets going out from locations visible from our live camera position. We were visited by Hezbollah representatives and told that by showing the exact location of firing we were endangering civilian lives, and that our equipment would be confiscated.”

Editors in London discussed both how we should handle both this request, and the Israel rules, in terms of what we said on air.

We agreed that rather than begin each broadcast with a ‘health warning’ to audiences, we would only refer to it if it was relevant. If rockets started to go off while were live on air, we would not show the exact location but would tell the audience that we had been asked by Hezbollah not to; on the grounds they claimed it endangered civilian lives.

In the event the situation never arose. Apart from that one incident we have been free to report whatever we wanted.”

Some of the below-the-line commentators on that blog pointed out the discrepancy between Unsworth’s and Muir’s benign portrayal of Hizballah restrictions on BBC journalists and the situation as it was portrayed by correspondents representing other media organisations.BBC brick wall

Eight years later, during the 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas, the BBC did not make any public statements concerning restrictions placed on its journalists by Hamas and no footnotes were added to reports to alert audiences to the fact that media freedom was compromised.

We of course know that Hamas employed censorship and placed restrictions on the foreign press because not only did numerous journalists later report their experiences, but Hamas itself admitted to having deported journalists who did not toe its propaganda line.

One of the outcomes of the BBC’s failure to publicly acknowledge Hamas censorship was that it took over a month before BBC audiences were told that terrorist groups were firing missiles from residential areas. The BBC ‘explained’ that using the following disingenuous excuse:

“…we did raise your concerns with the relevant editorial staff at BBC News who covered the recent conflict in Gaza. They explained that there are number of reasons why BBC News has not shown images or footage of Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants firing rockets. The main reason is that militant groups keep the location of launch sites secret. It was very hard for journalists in Gaza to get to see rockets being fired out….” 

During the 2014 conflict one former BBC employee noted that:

“…the only truths about Gaza that BBC reporters can convey are those that a camera can point at. Never has a BBC reporter broken a story from Gaza, interviewed a Hamas commander at any depth about splits in the ranks, examined the Palestinian justice and detention system, exposed the climate of fear that Gazans are subject to, shown missile stockpiling or residential defensive positions, or challenged the brainwashing of children in schools.”

And as the hostilities ended, another former BBC journalist wrote:

“Where Matti Friedman is entirely correct is in the failure of news organizations and their correspondents to point out the controls and “pressures” both implicit and explicit exerted upon them in Gaza by the all-pervasive and tightly-run Hamas media operation. This inaction can only be seen as – at best – moral cowardice by media organizations. […]

…the (Western) media must also account for itself and for its own conduct, including apparent omissions and failures in the reporting of the conflict. It must question where reporting may have ended and emoting began; if it held Israel to a standard apart from all others; and why it allowed Hamas a free pass in controlling the flow of information.”

And that, of course, is the crux of the matter: when restrictions are placed on the media by dictators or terrorist organisations, the picture journalists paint for their audiences changes. Significantly, over the years we see that the BBC’s approach has changed: in 2003 it rightly found it appropriate to advise audiences that Iraqi restrictions were likely to affect its reporting. In 2006 it acknowledged Hizballah restrictions days after the conflict ended. But in 2014, the BBC chose to be completely silent on the issue of Hamas restrictions on its reporting and it has maintained that policy ever since.

In 2010 a former BBC World News editor wrote a blogpost in which he recalled the “censorship” and the “minders assigned to news organisations to “monitor” their reporting” in Iraq. He closed his post with the following words: 

“Journalists have a responsibility to be accurate and fair – we don’t want, and don’t ask, for special treatment. However, we do want the ability to operate freely, without fear or favour. Our audiences deserve nothing less.”

Given the corporation’s track record, the BBC’s funding public might well wonder whether or not those words – and the principles behind them – will apply during the next inevitable conflict between Israel and a terrorist organisation.

Weekend long read

1) With the misappropriation of funds and materials intended to better the lives of ordinary residents in the Gaza Strip by Hamas recruited NGO workers having made headlines in the last couple of weeks, Professor Gerald Steinberg takes a look at the bigger picture.Weekend Read

“The broader problem is that due diligence for humanitarian aid in war and terror zones requires the allocation of significant resources and a professional staff capable of detaching itself from the pressures and sympathies of the local environment. World Vision, like most aid groups operating in Gaza, clearly failed in this respect. […]

World Vision’s troubles in Gaza reflect the broader moral failures of the humanitarian-aid industry. The narrow vision of aid workers contribute to a willful blindness to terrorism. The competition for publicity and donations results in alliances with brutal regimes and corrupt warlords. But thanks to the NGO “halo effect,” many donors also neglect due diligence, instead relying on the pure reputation of the recipient organization.”

2) The WSJ’s David Feith takes a look at an issue which, as has frequently been noted on these pages, has long been avoided by BBC journalists: the Palestinian Authority’s payment of salaries to convicted terrorists.

“For two decades the Palestinian government has used U.S. and other foreign taxpayers’ money to pay generous rewards to the families of terrorists. The deadlier the crime, the larger the prize, up to about $3,100 a month, or several times the average salary of a worker in Palestine’s non-terrorist economy. […]

No U.S. official can plead ignorance. Palestinian law has sanctioned these payments since at least 2004, specifying how much money is earned depending on the circumstances of the attacker and the body count. A Palestinian from Israel with a wife and children who kills many people and dies in the act, or is captured and sentenced to more than 30 years in prison, earns the most. Single, childless attackers from the West Bank or Gaza earn less. The incentives are clear.

Palestinian leaders once tried to obscure their payments by characterizing them as “assistance” rather than “salaries.” They also shifted nominal responsibility from the Palestinian Authority (PA), which takes donations from foreign governments, to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which doesn’t. But this was a sham, as both bodies are run by Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party.”

3) The Fathom Journal has a very informative article by Shiraz Maher of KCL titled “Mapping contemporary Salafi-Jihadism“.

4) With the BBC so far having refrained from covering the run-up to the municipal elections scheduled for October 8th in PA controlled areas and the Gaza Strip, Khaled Abu Toameh’s reporting on the campaigning provides invaluable background.

“Hamas, whose leaders seem to be enthusiastic and optimistic about the upcoming vote, has seized the opportunity to wage a massive election campaign on Facebook and Twitter to promote its extremist ideology through intimidation and by accusing its rivals of infidelity, blasphemy and profanity. Hamas’s message to the Palestinian voters: Vote for us or else you will be considered infidels and you will end up in hell.

The first sign of Hamas’s frightening platform emerged when one of its top muftis, Yunis Al-Astal, issued a fatwa (Islamic religious decree) banning Palestinians from voting for any other party other than Hamas. “Any person, male or female, who votes for a party other than Hamas will be considered an infidel and apostate and his or her repentance will not be accepted even if they fasted or prayed or performed the hajj [pilgrimage] to Mecca,” the mufti ruled.

The Hamas fatwa sparked a wave of anger from many Palestinians, who were quick to accuse the Islamist movement and its leaders of waging a campaign of intimidation and terror against voters.” 

 

Omissions in BBC News coverage of Gaza UN worker conscripted by Hamas

“Confusion over the role of the press explains one of the strangest aspects of coverage here—namely, that while international organizations are among the most powerful actors in the Israel story, they are almost never reported on. Are they bloated, ineffective, or corrupt? Are they helping, or hurting? We don’t know, because these groups are to be quoted, not covered.” [Matti Friedman, “What the Media Gets Wrong About Israel“, November 2014]

August 9th saw the appearance of an article titled “Israel: ‘Gaza UN worker helped Hamas’” on the BBC News website’s Middle East page. The article opened:UNDP Gaza report

“Israel has charged a UN aid worker from Gaza with using his position to help the militant Hamas movement, in the second such case in a week.”

When the BBC reported on that previous case, it took seven paragraphs before audiences were provided with the obviously very relevant information that Hamas is a proscribed terror organisation. In this article, readers have to plough through its entire seventeen paragraphs before they are informed that:

“Hamas is designated a terrorist group by Israel, the US, EU, and UK among other countries.”

Readers are told:

“Israel’s Shin Bet security agency said Waheed Borsh, an employee with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Gaza since 2003, admitted aiding Hamas.

It said he used UN resources to build a military jetty and prioritised rebuilding homes of Hamas members.”

The BBC’s use of the economical terminology “military jetty” does not of course tell the full story about that project.

“Bursh is an employee of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), which undertakes such projects as rehabilitating Gaza Strip homes damaged in warfare.

He has worked as a UNDP engineer since 2003 and was tasked with overseeing the demolition of homes and evacuating the waste.

According to the Shin Bet, Bursh was approached shortly after the 2014 Gaza war by Husseini Suleiman, a messenger for senior Hamas commander Abu Anas al-Andor, who asked him to use his position to help the terrorist organization. In April and May 2015, he allegedly helped build the naval commando port in the northern Gaza Strip.

Bursh is said to have used his authority to transfer to the site 300 tons of construction materials.”

Later on readers are told that:

“It [the ISA] said he [Borsh] had been instructed by Hamas to ensure UNDP projects would benefit the militant group. The ISA said Mr Borsh confessed to carrying out activities that aided Hamas.

This included informing the group when weapons or tunnel openings were found in houses where UNDP workers were operating, it said.

As a result “Hamas would take control of the site and confiscate the arms and other materials,” the ISA said.”

The BBC omits a vital piece of information from that portrayal.

“Additionally, Borsh disclosed information regarding cases in which Hamas would blatantly and aggressively exploit UNDP humanitarian activities for its own purposes. For example, when weapons or terrorist tunnel openings were discovered in houses being handled by the UNDP, Hamas would take control of the site and confiscate the arms and other materials. This violates clear UN procedures according to which UNMAS is supposed to be immediately notified as the United Nations Mine Action Service is the UN body in charge of dealing, inter alia, with explosive remnants of war.” [emphasis added]

The article promotes an unqualified quote from the terrorist organisation concerned.

“Hamas said the allegations were “incorrect and baseless” and part of Israeli efforts “to tighten the siege of the Gaza Strip by prosecuting international relief organisations”.”

However, the statement was not attributed to the person who made itSami Abu Zuhri – and the threat included in his statement was edited out.

“Hamas, meanwhile, denied the allegations in an official statement. The group’s spokesperson Sami Abu Zurhi called the accusations “false and baseless,” and said they were aimed at helping Israel strengthen its “siege” of Gaza.

If Israel persists in its policy of accusing aid organizations in Gaza, it would face “dangerous consequences,” Zurhi said.”

As regular readers know, the BBC has in the past frequently and enthusiastically promoted UN politicised messaging on the topic of reconstruction in the Gaza Strip while concurrently ignoring the flaws in the UN’s system. Obviously it is high time for the BBC to meet its public purpose remit by finally providing audiences with some in-depth and objective coverage of the various UN agencies (and additional humanitarian organisations) working in the Gaza Strip.

Related Articles:

BBC News report on Hamas infiltration of a charity downplays UK angle

Rubbish reporting from BBC Arabic

A view of Gaza that BBC audiences can not recognise

On August 9th the Palestinian Islamic Jihad announced that it will not take part in October’s municipal elections in the PA controlled areas and the Gaza Strip.

““We will not participate in the municipal and local elections,” the terrorist group said in a statement.

The movement, a splinter and sometimes rival of the Islamist terror group Hamas which runs the Gaza Strip, said the elections were not an “appropriate way out of the Palestinian national impasse.”

Instead, the group called on Hamas to reconcile with its rival Fatah, the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas.”

Another terrorist group is however participating in the elections and on August 8th its supporters put out a video designed to boost Hamas’ election campaign. As the Times of Israel reports, the film features “smiling people holding up signs with the hashtag “Thank you Hamas””.

Channel 10’s Arab affairs correspondent Hezi Simantov described the video as being aimed at showing that Hamas has rehabilitated the Gaza Strip and that its residents live normal lives. He added that the film is intended to create the impression that Hamas takes an interest in – and cares about – the situation of the residents of the Strip but that it has already raised a storm of criticism from those who (rightly) claim that it does not depict the whole picture of the situation in the Gaza Strip.

The BBC has so far refrained from reporting on the scheduled elections at all but if and when it does get round to doing so, it is unlikely that its audiences will learn of this Hamas campaign material which promotes the water parks, luxury hotels, restaurants, green sports fields and smart shopping malls that BBC audiences have never been told exist in the Gaza Strip.

Related Articles:

Inaccuracy in BBC’s Fatah profile exposed

 

BBC News report on Hamas infiltration of a charity downplays UK angle

The story of an international charity allegedly having been infiltrated by a terrorist organisation was covered by the BBC News website in a rather short-lived report which appeared on its Middle East page on August 4th and 5th under the headline “Israel: World Vision Gaza boss diverted cash to Hamas“.World Vision art

The report opens: [emphasis added]

“Israel has charged the Gaza head of an international charity with diverting millions of dollars of foreign funds to the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The Shin Bet security service said about 60% of all funds sent to Gaza by the World Vision charity was being diverted to the Islamist movement.

It said Hamas recruited the charity’s head of Gaza operations, Mohammed Halabi, more than a decade ago.”

Readers have to proceed to paragraph seven in order to learn about the obviously very relevant topic of Hamas’ terrorist designation and readers of the original version of the report were told that:

“Israel and a number of other countries consider Hamas a terrorist group.”

Some three hours later that sentence was amended:

“Hamas is designated a terrorist group by Israel, the US, EU, and UK among other countries.”

The BBC report states:

“World Vision said it had no reason to believe the allegations were true.

It said it carried out regular audits of its Gaza programmes and was “shocked” by the charges.

“We will carefully review any evidence presented to us and will take appropriate actions based on that evidence,” a statement said.”

Readers are not informed that World Vision International has been registered as a church in the US since 2007 meaning that its reporting obligations to the tax authorities there are different from those of 501 c 3 registered non-profit organisations.

The BBC report goes on to amplify a predictable statement from the terrorist organization concerned:

“A Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said the group had “no connection to [Mr Halabi] and therefore, all Israeli accusations are void and aim to suppress our people,” Reuters news agency reported.”

From the point of view of the BBC’s funding public, perhaps the most remarkable feature of this report is its downplaying of the story’s British angle. Readers are informed that:

“The security service said these funds were used, amongst other things, for the digging of tunnels intended to be used for attacks on Israeli civilian communities, the building of military bases and for the purchase of weapons.

It said one base costing $80,000 was paid for in cash from UK donations.”DEC appeal on BBC

World Vision is one of the thirteen charities which make up the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC). The DEC’s Gaza Crisis Appeal (which raised some £19 million) was broadcast on BBC channels in 2014 and the British government pledged matched funding for the first £2m raised. Whether or not the $80,000 used to construct Hamas’ military facility in Jabaliya came from donations to that DEC appeal is unclear but as Sir Eric Pickles recently noted:

“Worryingly, the UK – via the Department for International Development – reportedly gave £2 million to groups in Gaza in 2014, including World Vision, when they matched charitable contributions pound for pound made by well-meaning Brits to a Disaster Emergency Committee appeal. The Department has conceded that it cannot guarantee that British taxpayers money has not been given to Hamas.” 

Obviously this story will be of considerable interest to any media organisation intending to serve the British public interest by carrying out investigative reporting into the question of why legal safeguards appear to have failed the donating public and taxpayers – especially as the problem shows signs of being by no means limited to one NGO alone.

However, seeing as the BBC has over the last two years put considerable effort into persuading its audiences that the dire economic and social conditions in the Gaza Strip are primarily attributable to Israel – while serially ignoring Hamas’ abuse of its civilian population and misappropriation of resources intended to better their lives – it is perhaps unlikely that it will be found at the forefront of such investigative reporting. 

Related Articles:

BBC’s Matthew Price produces superficial report on charity audit

BBC amends article on DEC Gaza appeal concerns