Revisiting two BBC News website reports from July 2019

In early July 2019 the BBC News website published a report headlined “Clashes as Ethiopian Israelis protest over police shooting” which remained on its ‘Middle East’ page for two days. BBC audiences were told that: [emphasis added]

“Protesters have clashed with police across Israel following the funeral of a teenager of Ethiopian descent who was shot dead by an off-duty officer. […]

The killing of 18-year-old Solomon Tekah near Haifa on Sunday caused outrage among the Ethiopian community, with one member of the teenager’s family accusing the off-duty police officer of murder.

A police statement cited the officer as saying he had tried to intervene in a fight between two groups of youths. After he identified himself, the youths began throwing stones at him and he opened fire after “feeling that his life was in danger”, the statement added.

However, Israeli media cited witnesses as saying the officer was not attacked.”

A photo caption stated:

“The family of Solomon Tekah said the off-duty officer’s actions were disproportionate

The BBC also told its readers that:

“Tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews were brought to Israel in the 1980s and 1990s. They say they have faced systematic discrimination, racism and a lack of empathy for their hardships ever since. […]

“We’ll do whatever we can to make sure police will stop killing people because of their skin colour,” one protester told AFP news agency.”

A week later the BBC News website decided to publish a video also dated July 3rd in the ‘Watch/Listen’ section of its Middle East page. By the time that video was published separately on July 10th, a ballistics report had confirmed that “the officer fired at the ground and the bullet apparently ricocheted into Solomon Tekah” and the DNA of the deceased had been found on a rock recovered from the scene. Nevertheless, the BBC presented that video with a synopsis stating that:

“Israeli police used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse protests by Ethiopian Jews prompted by the funeral of a teenager who was shot dead by an off-duty policeman.”

Details of the investigation into the incident that sparked those violent protests in July were recently published by the Justice Ministry. As reported by Ha’aretz, the BBC’s second-hand quote from “witnesses” who claimed that “the officer was not attacked” was shown to be fabricated.

“The latest findings also reveal that two teenagers who initially said they had witnessed the incident later testified to department officials that they lied, and weren’t even in the area at the time. One said he had deliberately lied so the officer would be punished for Teka’s death. […]

The findings also suggest that some evidence had been fabricated. Two 14-year-old boys who claimed to have witnessed the shooting later turned out not to have been at the scene.

These so-called witnesses became instant internet stars on the day of the incident when they were videotaped claiming, in front of a large audience, that the officer had shot Teka in the chest for no good reason. The video clip was circulated on the web and cited as proof that “Israeli policemen murder under the auspices of the law,” as one person shouted in the footage.

But when the two youths were summoned for questioning, they said that they hadn’t been at the scene. One of them initially stuck to his story of seeing the shooting but later retracted it when questioned a second time, and said he had lied “to protect my friend” and so that “the officer would get what’s coming to him.”

The other youth told ministry investigators: “They dragged me there and I spoke under pressure. I said what my friend had told me, but I wasn’t there. I was at the gym.””

The BBC’s repeated claim that Teka was “shot dead by an off-duty policeman” was shown to be an incomplete portrayal of events.

“Teka died after the officer shot a bullet that ricocheted off the ground, during the altercation in a park in the Kiryat Haim neighborhood north of Haifa.

The details released by the ministry department in charge of investigating police misconduct attest that traces of DNA had been found in the park that support the officer’s account that he suffered bruises from stones Teka had thrown at him. Information on forensics tests indicate that sizable quantities of alcohol and hashish were found in Teka’s remains.”

Back in July 2019 we noted that the BBC had failed to produce any follow-up reporting to inform audiences of the findings of the early investigation into the incident. To date the BBC has likewise shown no interest in informing its audiences of the Justice Ministry’s latest findings. That of course means that the BBC’s “permanent public record” – the reports which remain available to the public online without any update – continue to promote partial and inaccurate information, including the allegation that the Israeli police kill people “because of their skin colour”.

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BBC News website promotes context-free video

 

 

BBC shoehorns partisan political NGO into report on policeman’s promotion

On April 13th an article appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the headline “Israel promotes Arab police officer to senior rank“.Jamal Hakrush art

“An Arab police officer has been promoted by Israel to the highest rank ever attained by a Muslim in the force.

Jamal Hakrush starts his job as deputy commissioner after months of violence between Israelis and Palestinians.”

While the BBC curiously found it necessary to note Deputy Commissioner Hakrush’s religion, the article does not adequately clarify that his promotion elevates him to the second-highest rank in the Israeli police force.

Towards the end of the report readers are told that:

“Deputy Commissioner Hakrush, from the Galilee village of Kafr Kanna, will be in charge of a newly-created police division established to improve policing in Arab communities, The Times of Israel reported.

Deputy Commissioner Hakrush was formally appointed into his new position on Wednesday at a ceremony attended by Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich. One of his main responsibilities will be to stop illegal weapons falling into the hands of the Arab community.

Mr Alsheich also wants to reduce domestic violence, murder rates and other crimes in the Arab sector.

He and the government wants [sic] to recruit 1,300 new officers and construct several new stations in Arab population centres.”

All well and good, but the BBC report does not provide readers with any background information concerning the scale of the issues as presented by Commissioner Alsheich in February:

“At a meeting of the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, Alsheich said that although Arabs constitute 21 percent of Israel’s population, they account for 58% of total crimes, 55% of attempted murders, 47% of thefts, and 27% drug dealing.

“This picture is not only of concern to the police, but also to the Arab community itself,” he said. “There is a strong desire to strengthen policing in the Arab community. I met dozens of heads of Arab local authorities and discovered that there was great willingness. ‘Just send in the police already,’ they told me.””

However, the writer of this report did find it appropriate to steer readers towards the conclusion that the high rates of crime in the Arab sector in Israel can be attributed to ‘discrimination’ and he or she conscripted unprovided ‘evidence’ from a highly partisan political NGO involved in the lawfare campaign against Israel in order to advance that notion.

“He [Deputy Commissioner Hakrush] will oversee policing in Arab communities where there is a longstanding distrust of the police.

A fifth of Israel’s population is Arab and they often complain that areas in which they live are not so well policed and have poorer public services.

Their grievances have been supported by Human Rights Watch which in recent years has published several reports highlighting the discrimination which it is argued the Arab population faces.”

Yes – even an article about the unprecedented promotion of an Arab-Israeli police officer can be used by the BBC to advance politicised messaging.