One month on BBC corrects inaccuracy regarding Israeli cabinet decision

In the original version of its February 6th report on a terror attack near Ariel – “Israeli man stabbed to death at West Bank settlement” – the BBC News website claimed that:

“It [the attack] comes a day after Israel retroactively legalised an unauthorised settlement outpost in response to the killing of a resident last month.”

A later version of the same report included the same claim:

“Israel retroactively legalised Havat Gilad, an unauthorised settlement, in response to the murder [of Rabbi Raziel Shevach].”

As was noted here at the time:

“Both those statements are inaccurate and misleading: Havat Gilad was not “retroactively legalised” on February 4th as the BBC claims. Rather – as the Times of Israel reported: [emphasis added]

“The cabinet on Sunday voted unanimously to begin the process of legalizing the Havat Gilad outpost less than a month after the murder of resident Raziel Shevach.

The approved proposal declares the government’s intention to establish the hilltop community southeast of Nablus as a full-fledged settlement “on lands that are privately owned by Israelis or state lands.”

The proposal authorized Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to instruct relevant government bodies to examine the legal aspects of recognizing Havat Gilad as an official settlement. It also tasked the Finance Ministry with auditing the financial costs of establishing a new settlement. […]

However, the proposal’s language regarding the legal ownership of the land hinted at a significant hurdle that still remains ahead of the outpost’s legalization.””

BBC Watch immediately contacted the BBC News website to point out that error but did not receive a reply and no action was taken to correct the inaccurate claim. A complaint was therefore submitted and the response received includes the following:

“…after considering this complaint we have amended the sentence in question to now read:

The Israeli cabinet backed a plan to retroactively legalise Havat Gilad, an unauthorised settlement, in response to the murder

We hope you’ll find this satisfactory and thank you once again for getting in touch.”

A footnote advising readers of the amendment has not however been added to the article and of course the enduring absence of a corrections page on the BBC News website means that those who read the claim that “Israel retroactively legalised Havat Gilad” over a month ago will remain completely unaware that it is inaccurate.

We have previously observed here on many occasions that it would not be difficult for the BBC News website to set up a dedicated corrections page along the lines of the one run by the NYT. As Craig Silverman wrote in the Columbia Journalism Review in 2011:

“The point of an online corrections page is to have a centralized place where readers can see the latest mistakes and corrections. It gives them the opportunity to discover if a recent article they read, or reporting they heard or saw, has been updated or corrected. It also provides a basic element of transparency. A dedicated page makes corrections more visible and accessible, and it increases the likelihood that people will receive the corrected information. After all, that’s the point of making correction in the first place.”

After all, one would expect that an organisation which regularly promotes itself as a trustworthy media source would be enthusiastic about taking onboard such a simple method of increasing transparency and improving its reputation for accuracy.

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BBC misrepresents cabinet decision in report on Ariel terror attack

Another ‘stealth’ correction on the BBC News website

 

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BBC misrepresents cabinet decision in report on Ariel terror attack

At around 2:30 p.m. on the afternoon of February 5th a terror attack took place near the town of Ariel.

“An Israeli man was killed on Monday afternoon after he was stabbed in the chest in a terror attack outside the West Bank settlement of Ariel, the army and medics said.

He was identified as Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal, 29, a father of four from the nearby settlement of Har Bracha.”

At the time of writing, the search for the terrorist continues.

“The terrorist, investigators found, is 19-year old Israeli-Arab resident of Jaffa Abed al-Karim Adel Assi, a son of an Israeli mother and Palestinian father from Nablus. […]

After he was stabbed, Ben Gal ran to a bus that stopped at a station nearby while al-Karim gave chase. Reaching the bus, the rabbi knocked on its door for help before immediately collapsing.

The terrorist then fled the scene. An off duty IDF officer who witnessed the attack then chased the assailant in his car and rammed him. 

Despite being hit, al-Karim was able to escape with the help of an unidentified driver who picked him up near the scene of the incident.”

Some three hours after the attack took place a report was published on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the headline “Israeli man stabbed to death at West Bank settlement“. The incident and its victim were described in 137 words in the article’s second version and in 117 words in its third version published the following day. [emphasis added]

“An Israeli man has been stabbed to death outside a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, in what Israeli police say was a terrorist attack.

The victim, Rabbi Itamar Ben Gal, was attacked at a bus stop near Ariel.

Israeli security forces are searching for the assailant, who they identified as a Palestinian man.

CCTV footage of Monday’s attack shows Rabbi Ben Gal, a 29-year-old father of four from the settlement of Har Bracha, waiting on a roadside when another man crosses the road and stabs him in the chest.

The Israeli military said a soldier had pursued the suspect in his vehicle and hit him after witnessing the incident, but that he managed to escape.”

The fourth paragraph of the article’s first and second versions implied linkage between the attack near Ariel and a different story.

“It [the attack] comes a day after Israel retroactively legalised an unauthorised settlement outpost in response to the killing of a resident last month.”

In the third version readers were told that:

“Israel retroactively legalised Havat Gilad, an unauthorised settlement, in response to the murder [of Rabbi Raziel Shevach].”

Both those statements are inaccurate and misleading: Havat Gilad was not “retroactively legalized” on February 4th as the BBC claims. Rather – as the Times of Israel reported: [emphasis added]

“The cabinet on Sunday voted unanimously to begin the process of legalizing the Havat Gilad outpost less than a month after the murder of resident Raziel Shevach.

The approved proposal declares the government’s intention to establish the hilltop community southeast of Nablus as a full-fledged settlement “on lands that are privately owned by Israelis or state lands.”

The proposal authorized Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to instruct relevant government bodies to examine the legal aspects of recognizing Havat Gilad as an official settlement. It also tasked the Finance Ministry with auditing the financial costs of establishing a new settlement. […]

However, the proposal’s language regarding the legal ownership of the land hinted at a significant hurdle that still remains ahead of the outpost’s legalization.”

The third version of the report includes an amendment relating to events that took place after its original publication.

“Israeli troops meanwhile have killed a Palestinian who they say shot dead a rabbi as he drove near Havat Gilad outpost in the West Bank last month.

Ahmad Jarrar was shot when security forces raided his hideout in al-Yamoun village near Jenin in the northern West Bank on Tuesday, Israeli media said.

Jarrar is suspected of killing Rabbi Raziel Shevach, a father of six, in a drive-by shooting on 9 January.”

As noted here previously, the BBC did not report the arrest of one member of that terror cell and the killing of another on January 18th.

Readers once again found statements that have been recycled using different numbers on numerous occasions for more than two years. Although the information is readily available, the BBC did not cite the actual number of Israelis murdered in terror attacks since September 2015 but made do with an approximation which is lower than the actual number of victims.

“The attack is the latest in a wave of stabbings, shootings and car-rammings against Israelis, predominantly by Palestinians or Israeli Arabs, since late 2015.

At least 52 Israelis and five foreign nationals have been killed.

Some 300 Palestinians – most of them assailants, Israel says – have also been killed in that period, according to AFP news agency. Others have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops.” [emphasis added]

Notably, the BBC continues to use the “Israel says” formula in that statement and – despite having had over two years to do so – has apparently not bothered to independently confirm how many of the Palestinians killed during that time were in the process of carrying out terror attacks.

While the terror attack which is ostensibly the subject matter of this report got 117 words of coverage in its third version, one hundred and eighteen words were devoted to the topic of ‘settlements’ – including the BBC’s standard portrayal of ‘international law’ which fails to inform audiences of the existence of additional legal opinions. Readers were not told that the Clinton Parameters of 2000 also proposed keeping the larger blocs of Israeli communities under Israeli control.

“Israel has previously said it intends to keep Ariel and some other large settlements blocs in any final peace agreement with the Palestinians. The Palestinians want all the settlements, built on land they claim for a future state, removed.

More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

There are also some 100 outposts – small settlements built without the government’s authorisation.

Last year, the Israeli parliament passed a law allowing for the retroactive legalisation of 55 of them, including in some circumstances those built on private Palestinian land, whose owners would be compensated.”

Clearly the BBC News website needs to amend its inaccurate portrayal of the February 4th cabinet decision concerning Havat Gilad and to inform audiences of the correction.

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BBC News continues to entrench a narrative by means of omission

As was noted here previously, in BBC News website coverage of the murder of Rabbi Raziel Shevach in a terror attack near Havat Gilad on January 9th audiences were twice told that “Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad praised the attackers” but were not informed that the Palestinian Authority president’s party, Fatah, also lauded the attack.

Nine days after the attack the security forces tried to arrest the suspected perpetrators in Jenin. One member of the cell escaped, one was apprehended and one killed after they opened fire on the soldiers. The BBC did not produce any reporting on that incident.

Unsurprisingly, BBC audiences also remain unaware of the fact that senior Fatah figures and Palestinian Authority officials subsequently visited the Hamas-affiliated family of the dead terrorist to offer condolences.

“On January 22, 2018, three senior Fatah figures paid a condolence call at the mourning tent erected by the family of Ahmed Isma’il Muhammad Jarar […]. They were Mahmoud al-‘Alul, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee and deputy Fatah chairman; Jamal Muheisen, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee and in charge of the bureau of mobilization and organization; and Dalal Salameh, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee. […]

Before the visit of the senior Fatah figures, Ibrahim Ramadan, the governor of the Jenin district, came to offer his condolences. He was accompanied by several commanders of the PA security forces. He also gave the family the condolences of Mahmoud Abbas.”

The public purposes laid out in the BBC’s Royal Charter oblige it (inter alia) to:

“… provide impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them: the BBC should provide duly accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming to build people’s understanding of all parts of the United Kingdom and of the wider world. Its content should be provided to the highest editorial standards. It should offer a range and depth of analysis and content not widely available from other United Kingdom news providers, using the highest calibre presenters and journalists, and championing freedom of expression, so that all audiences can engage fully with major local, regional, national, United Kingdom and global issues and participate in the democratic process, at all levels, as active and informed citizens.” [emphasis in the original]

However, for years the BBC has hindered rather than built its funding public’s understanding of and ability to engage in an informed manner with the topic of the Arab-Israeli conflict – and in particular, the ‘peace process’ – by serially avoiding stories relating to the Palestinian Authority and its leadership which do not fit the BBC’s chosen narrative on the topic.

This past month alone we have seen the corporation heavily censor a speech given by the PA president (and reject a subsequent complaint on the topic), fail to report decisions taken at an important meeting of the PLO, refrain from reporting on another history distorting speech made by Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo and – as we see above – ignore Fatah and the PA’s lauding of terrorism.

The result is that audience understanding – and consequently views – are being shaped by omission.

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BBC News continues to blame Palestinian violence on US

On January 11th an article titled “Two Palestinian teens killed in clashes with Israeli troops” appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page. 

“Two Palestinian youths have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry says.”

Whether that refers to the PA health ministry or the Hamas-controlled health ministry in the Gaza Strip is unclear. The article continued:

“Amir Abu Musaid, 16, was shot near Gaza’s border fence, reportedly during a protest at the recent US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The Israeli military said it fired at rioters who “put our forces in danger”.

Another 16-year-old, Omar Qadous, was shot between the villages of Iraq Burin and Til, in the northern West Bank.

The Israeli military said troops had come under attack from a “massive barrage of rocks” and that they had fired at the main instigator.”

However, the article then went on to promote the following claim:

“But Palestinian Authority official Ghassan Daghlas told the Wafa news agency that Israeli soldiers manning a checkpoint there opened fire “without any reason”.”

As was the case when the BBC last quoted Daghlas in one of its reports, the relevant issue of his job description (mentioned in the quoted Wafa report) and his dubious record of unsupported allegations was not clarified to readers. The BBC’s report continued:

“The Maan news agency cited local sources as saying that shots were fired by a sniper during a protest against restrictions put in place in the area as Israeli troops searched for the gunmen who killed an Israeli settler on Tuesday night.”

In fact the Ma’an report refers to those efforts to disturb the security forces’ search for terrorists at large as “clashes” rather than “a protest” as claimed by the BBC.

The link in that paragraph leads to a January 10th BBC report on a terror attack that was published some seventeen hours after the incident took place. BBC Watch has since learned that the corporation was provided with information and photographs authorised for publication immediately following the incident. As was the case in that report, this one too erased Fatah’s praise for the attack from audience view.

“Raziel Shevach, a 35-year-old rabbi and father-of-six, was shot several times as he drove along a highway near the settlement outpost of Havat Gilad.

No group has said it was behind the attack, but the Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad praised the attackers.”

The report then went on to promote equivalence between the murder of an Israeli civilian in a terror attack and the deaths of Palestinians engaged in violent rioting and terrorism.

“At least 16 Palestinians and one Israeli have now been killed since 6 December, when President Donald Trump reversed decades of US policy by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and starting preparations to move the US embassy.

Fourteen of the Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops, while two have died as a result of Israeli air strikes in response to rocket fire from Gaza.”

The BBC refrained (once again) from informing readers that the two people who “died as a result of Israeli air strikes” were members of Hamas.

“In one of the IAF strikes late Friday on a Hamas base in Nusseirat, located in the central Gaza Strip, two Palestinians were killed. The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza named the men as Mahmud al-Atal, 28 and Mohammed al-Safdi, 30. […]

The terror group later confirmed the dead men were members of its military wing.”

As we see the BBC continues to frame the recent rise in Palestinian violence as having been caused exclusively by the US Administration’s announcement recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – rather than by the choices made by those throwing rocks and firebombs, launching missiles, stabbing a security guard at a bus station or shooting a volunteer first-aider on his way home.

At the same time, the corporation continues to refrain from producing any serious reporting on the long-standing efforts made by terror organisations to increase attacks (particularly in Judea & Samaria) and the incitement appearing in official PA media and on the social media of Palestinian factions.  

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The BBC, violence and promotion of linkage – part two

 

 

 

BBC News airbrushes Fatah praise from report on terror attack

On the evening of January 9th an Israeli man was murdered in a terror attack that took place not far from his home in Havat Gilad.

“Rabbi Raziel Shevach, 35, died of his injuries at a Kfar Saba hospital after receiving initial treatment by medics at the scene of the attack, the Havat Gilad Junction.

The father of six came under fire in his car while driving past the junction, the army said.

Medics said he suffered a gunshot wound to his upper body and his condition deteriorated as he was taken to the hospital. […]

He is survived by his wife, four daughters, and two sons. His oldest child is 11 years old and the youngest is eight months, according to a local official.”

At the time of writing the search for the perpetrators of the drive-by shooting is ongoing.

Some seventeen hours after the incident took place the BBC News website published a report which was presented to visitors together with two items of related reading: “Israeli soldier killed in ‘terror attack'” (a report on a terror attack at the end of November -discussed here) and “The murky world of Israeli snatch squads” (Jane Corbin’s recent article about a TV drama – discussed here).

The main link led to an article titled “Israel searches West Bank after settler killed in drive-by shooting” which opened (not surprisingly) by informing readers that the victim was a “settler” before any personal details were given.

“Israeli security forces are searching for a suspected Palestinian gunman or gunmen who killed an Israeli settler in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday.

Raziel Shevach, a 35-year-old rabbi and father of six, was attacked as he drove near the settlement outpost of Havat Gilad, west of the city of Nablus.”

Later on in the report readers were told that:

“No group immediately said it was behind the shooting, but the Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad praised the attackers.” [emphasis added]

Ynet reported that:

“Hamas’s military wing released a statement following the attack, saying: “The Nablus attack is the first practical response with fire to remind the enemy’s leaders that what you feared has now come. The West Bank will remain a knife in your body.”

The political wing of Hamas also praised the shooting. “We welcome this heroic action that came as a result of Israel’s crimes against our people in the West Bank, Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa Mosque. The Israeli government is responsible for the ramifications of its extremist racist policy,” the statement read.”

The BBC did not inform its audiences that the PA president’s party, Fatah, also lauded the attack.

Readers were told that:

“US ambassador David Friedman wrote on Twitter that Rabbi Shevach was killed “in cold blood by Palestinian terrorists”.

He also condemned Hamas for welcoming the shooting and the Palestinian Authority for providing an estimated $347m (£257m) last year in payments to the families of Palestinian militants killed or imprisoned by the Israeli authorities.”

The Palestinian Authority of course does not give financial rewards to “militants” but to terrorists. Nevertheless, readers who bothered to follow the link found a Jerusalem Post article relating to a topic which has long been gravely under-reported by the BBC.

Readers once again found statements that have been recycled using different numbers on numerous occasions for more than two years. Although the information is readily available, the BBC did not cite the actual number of Israelis murdered in terror attacks since September 2015 (fifty-six including the latest victim) but made do with an approximation.

“Some 51 Israelis and five foreign nationals have been killed since late 2015 in a series of gun, knife and car-ramming attacks, predominantly by Palestinians or Israeli Arabs.

Around 300 Palestinians have also been killed in that period. Most were assailants, Israel says, while others were killed in clashes with troops.”

Notably, the BBC continues to use the “Israel says” formula in that statement and – despite having had over two years to do so – has apparently not bothered to independently confirm how many of the Palestinians killed during that time were in the process of carrying out terror attacks.

The report closed with the standard promotion of the BBC’s chosen narrative, presented in language that endorses the claims of one side in the unresolved dispute and fails to inform BBC audiences of other interpretations of “international law” that contradict that narrative and of the reasons why “Israel disputes this”.

“More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem – land the Palestinians claim for a future state. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

There are also more than 90 settler outposts – built without official authorisation from the Israeli government – across the West Bank, according to an Israeli anti-settlement watchdog.”

Although that “anti-settlement watchdog” was not identified, on the basis of previous BBC content it can be concluded that the article is referring to ‘Peace Now’ – a political NGO frequently quoted by the BBC on that topic.

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